Client Spotlight: Dana Varela

In all the hustle and chaos of opening the new OPTI facility, I haven’t had the opportunity to recognize all of the amazing clients who have made this business what it is today; who’s energy, enthusiasm and dedication are what propel this blossoming grassroots effort. Last week, one of my female group clients joyfully and humbly approached the pullup bar, and banged out her first ever unassisted chinup. And then she did another one. While I stood there, beaming with awe and pride, I made a choice to commit to a more regular client spotlight-regardless of the endless pandemonium that exhausts a small business owner. Because they deserve it. Because they are the reason we are here.

Dana's 14kg Turkish Get Up

Dana Varela, busy mother of two school aged children (one of which has a very demanding dance schedule!) is an unassuming athlete. She is adorably sweet and perpetually friendly; small in stature and a secret little powerhouse of awesomeness. When Dana joined my group training program in February, I was completely unaware of her untapped potential. It was only after getting to know her better, and watching her [seemingly] effortless progress and determination, that I realized how truly special she was.

Dana has a work ethic that cannot be taught; the kind that is inherently part of her indomitable spirit. She has quickly joined the ranks of the most impressive ladies, both in attitude and ability, I have had the pleasure of working with. Her jovial personality, ability to take coaching cues, willingness to learn and improve, and dedication to her training are just a few of the reasons why Dana is the client I chose to spotlight this month.

I’ve noticed a somewhat common and slightly disappointing theme throughout my career with regards to those who perform well or achieve greatness. Often when an athlete is accomplished, particularly a female, people tend to have an “it’s so easy for them” attitude. There is this assumption that all the tough stuff just comes naturally to them, and the sweat and tears of the training process are periodically overlooked. At a glance, Dana may seem this way-“easily” accomplishing feats of feminine strength and making just about everything look effortless. True, she is an easy student, but it’s not because it’s easy for her. Rather, it’s due to her consistency and focus, that she makes things look effortless. I always tell my clients that even when something is overwhelmingly challenging, it should appear effortless and graceful to those who view it. That’s what happens when we own our movement and respect the progressions. Dana’s movement is unrestricted and intentional, and I promise you, it has not been easy. She has earned every single PR, every single compliment and every single pound lost through persistence and discipline, all while maintaining good humor and a seemingly unwavering smile.

In less than 6 months, Dana has worked up to pressing double 12kg kettlebells, 14kg TGUs, unassisted bodyweight chin ups, double 14kg squats, double kettlebell complexes, 24kg swings, double 32kg deadlifts, unassisted pushups, and bodyweight one leg deadlifts-all with a movement quality that is enviable. She has lost 14 pounds and has gotten into the habit of blaming me for her need to buy new clothes! The truth is, I didn’t do anything but the job I’m paid to do. Dana made a decision to change her life-and it shows. She has infected me (and everyone else, for that matter) with her glowing smile and contagious laughter. She is a joy to train, and am lucky to have her-not the other way around.

Congratulations to Dana Varela on embarking on a journey of strength, fortitude and self discovery! The journey has just begun, and I for one am excited to see what the future brings for her.

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7 Responses to Client Spotlight: Dana Varela

  1. Dana says:

    Neghar, I am speechless. Thank you for the amazing praise. I love the class and you’re an incredible coach. I really am speechless. I started your class at my husband’s suggestion, but quickly found out I LOVED IT! It is challenging and has given me a new found sense of confidence. Thank you!!!!!!

    • Laura says:

      I am so not surprised! Dana is one of those people you love, but want to hate because she has it altogether. (But really I love her, despite the fact that she is near perfection) Sooo glad, she being recognized, we don’t do it enough in life! Thanks for helping her accomplish her goals & then recognizing her for it! She deserves it! Can’t wait to see that chin up, way cool! It’s hard to lose weight with all that muscle build up, so that too is awesome! Thanks for sharing.

  2. Susan says:

    This brings tears….because I’ve always known how awesome Dana is, and I’m glad others are catching on! (and also because now I’ll REALLY have to work on chin ups ; )

  3. Christine Fontana says:

    Dana – YOU GO GIRL! You LOOK AMAZING! So proud to call you my friend. You inspire me.

  4. sheila says:

    well done Dana!!!! I am very impressed with the chin ups. …..and thank you for introducing me to this program. I, too, am enjoying it.

  5. Sandy Sparrow says:

    I always knew Dana Lynn had alot of spirit and determination—but of course I’m her MOM. Even as a little one she would always say”I can do it MYSELF”,and she did. If she made her mind up to accomplish something,she carried it through,and I am prowd to call her my daughter. I am blessed.

  6. Jamie says:

    Dana it is truly amazing what you have accomplished in such a short period of time. I remember when you first began class and had so much to learn. Watching your videos now you show confidence, amazing strength and an “I got this” attitude!! You have gone from a novice to a role model for your fellow classmates. It is inspirational even to me, who has been training with Neghar for quite some time, to see the potential and drive you possess. Keep up the awesome work, I look forward to seeing what you master next!!!

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