How a Mom Turned Her Weight-Reduction Journey Into a Profession
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By Julia Savacool
On life’s laundry list of to-dos, losing weight rarely gets shuffled to the top spot. “Kids, work commitments, family obligations – life in general gets in the way,” said Natalie Gianesello, 45, a personal trainer in Riverside, Conn. “You have to be a little bit selfish and make taking care of your body your No. 1 priority.”
Gianesello knows what she’s talking about. Since having her two kids, now 14 and 11, she watched her weight climb higher, month after month. “I knew I had around 30 pounds to lose,” she said. “I just didn’t know where to start.”
Then, three years ago, after encouragement from a friend, she checked out her local gym. At the Sportsplex health club in Stamford, Conn., she signed up for the Lose Big program, an eight-week intensive weight-loss plan that included fitness and nutritional consultations for gym members seeking to shed unnecessary baggage.
“I was nervous,” said Gianesello. “I was not an active kid. I was not the person who went to the gym after work.” Though much of the health club scene was new to her, Gianesello quickly found her groove. “I felt comfortable in that environment, working out with other people who had similar goals.”
She lost about 14 pounds during the eight weeks of Lose Big, and kept chipping away at her larger goal after the program ended – first hiring her own trainer to customize a fitness routine, then signing up for bootcamp classes and finishing it off with weekly abs workouts. “By the end, I’d gone from around 169 to 129 pounds,” Gianesello said. “But it wasn’t just about the numbers. I got hooked on fitness!”
Gianesello’s enthusiasm for exercise did not go unnoticed. Her trainer mentioned her personality made her well-suited to becoming a fitness instructor herself. “I appreciated the compliment, but I thought he was joking,” she said. “Then after some more coaching, he let me teach one of his classes. And I discovered he was right: I loved it.” Gianesello began working toward her certification. Along the way, she learned invaluable lessons about helping others get fit. “I used to avoid group classes at all costs,” she said. “I did not feel confident walking into a studio and standing next to some skinny woman who knew all the moves.”
As she worked her way into better shape, she had a wake-up moment: “I realized that no matter what their size, all of the women in these classes were completely focused on themselves. That took a lot of pressure off.” She also learned that slow and steady wins the race. People who have a lifetime of fitness experience may be stronger than someone just beginning, but it’s the person who puts in the time, day-in and day-out, regardless of skills, who reaps the biggest payoff in the long run. “As a trainer, I see people of so many different fitness levels,” she said. “Everybody is working toward a personal best.”