When Yvette asked me to share my fitness journey, my first thought was where do I begin?? Yvette and I go back many years, many ups and downs, with many different stories of people, places and things in our lives. But simply put, it is through the gratitude I have today, for the amazing women in my life, I have met at YSF, trainers, clients, and friends, that I write this essay. It’s been over 15 years, Nov. 1999 to be exact, that I made a decision to quit smoking, once and for all, and enter back into the work force, as a health professional. With that said, I did not want to gain weight and equally as important, I needed to do something to manage my stress, anger, hunger, sadness, all the emotional triggers that use to signal me: “time to light up”. So I joined the gym, American Women in East Brunswick. I always enjoyed group fitness, and this is where I meet Yvette; the class was called “Step with Weights” and it was a killer, but I liked how I felt afterward. In time I noticed her working individually with women out on the floor, and I thought this would be an excellent way to learn about the other things to do in a gym, of which I knew nothing! Since that time, Yvette, has been my personal trainer, fitness mentor, life coach, nutritional consultant (nag) and of course friend. Her first fitness studio was the second bedroom of a two bedroom apartment, which included one spin bike, a large plastic ball and weights, and I was hooked. I followed her to WOW, because I needed to start to do different cardio workouts, and she recommended Spin, which I still do today and Kick boxing, which is still a personal favorite. I witnessed her one bedroom fitness studio; expand into a gym in the basement of the home, she shares today, with her husband and two children. This is where she introduced me to hard core group fitness training, w. amazing women, clients like myself, who were from different local gyms she worked at; many of whom I still work out with today, and, they have become my friends. Finally, it was overwhelming to see, and be a part of the basement gym transforming into the YSF studio on Main St. in Spotswood. Throughout all the transitions, especially in my own life, including job changes, empty nest, menopause, vacations, injuries, grief etc. , I have always continued to make my work outs a priority, well, to be honest, not on vacation…lol. I have grown to love the changes I see in myself, especially with my fitness level. This brings me to the most recent part of my journey. Several months back, the position at my job was eliminated, and I was given the dreaded notice of termination. I was devastated, however decided to use the time, I now realize was a gift, to take care of many put aside personal tasks, professional studies, endless correspondences, and put my efforts into becoming the best person I can be physically, mentally and spiritually. With this in mind, I cleaned up my diet, put the Vitamix on the counter, and looked up many saved recipes and nutritional tips from trainer Chris N. and Laverne W. I had filed from the monthly newsletters. I began to put together and incorporate all the new and old training techniques I learned over the years, not just from Yvette, but all the trainers. I’ve enjoyed learning core workouts using TRX techniques w. Shannon, Shred workouts with Chris, identifying with the self care/nurturing advise from Laverne and most recently meeting all the new women clients of Sandra’s in our group classes. Over time I have been blessed to know and work w. everyone at YSF and it is through them, and my willingness, I have been inspired to finally change “the physical”. I really do not know how much I weigh, nor do I care about the number, however, I will confess that it feels real good to be down two ->three overall sizes in clothes. I have started a new job, and I need to thank all my fitness family at YSF for the love and support that was given to me over the last few months. I hope to continue to advance in my fitness journey (of which I’m certain Yvette will be a part of), and continue to “push out of the box”. As a close friend of mine says, “there is no price tag on maintaining good health”, and this has become my motto.