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 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 I 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.