Have you met Heather Blanton? Not only is she an amazing book reviewer, but she is also a fitness instructor. Check out the question and answer session we had with her.
Candie and Michelle: What motivated you to get healthy and become a fitness instructor?
Heather Blanton: Wanting to get healthy was a decision made after the problems that came with being overweight, the ones I kept pushing onto a shelf and ignoring fell on my head and really got my attention. It started with the cute clothes I love shopping for didn't fit anymore. I started feeling tight and unfamiliar in my own skin. I was ashamed and my self-confidence was suffering. I began avoiding looking at pictures of myself because I would always experience the fresh slap in the face of how large I had really become. The last straw was Christmas and my attempt to sit in the floor and help my children open gifts. I felt suffocated by my body, awkward and stuffed into a too tight suit. I saw a family photo and decided I could either accept the inevitable consequences of my unhealthy lifestyle, or start working towards change. I chose the latter.
My decision to become a fitness instructor sort of came out of nowhere and I really believe it was a God thing. I had met some awesome instructors at the YMCA and thought, "Wow, I would like to be an inspiration like they are". I mentioned getting my certification to one of these instructors and she gave me information on what sort of certification would be most beneficial. Everything else fell into place. Literally. The money was suddenly available. I needed CPR and found it was being offered at the YMCA and I would have that certification before my test date. (CPR certification is required to acquire AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certification.) Most of the testing sites are in or around Atlanta and I was uncomfortable with the traffic. Then, one test date in Dahlonega appeared on the list. The test date would allow a perfect amount of time for studying and Dahlonega is reasonably close and ended up being a nice weekend vacation for my family. I really believe I am on a path that God has put before me, and how easy it has been to get here further enforces my belief.
Candie and Michelle: We are really proud of you for reaching your goals. What steps did you take to reach them?
Heather Blanton: I have not actually met my fitness goal. I am still around 40 pounds away from my ultimate goal but the journey is as equally as important.
My first step to begin my journey was to the join the YMCA. This has been the perfect gym for me and my family. My children love the childcare. The weight room is well stocked, cardio room has enough equipment that I have never had to leave or wait my turn. There are a ton of different types of group fitness classes. I do it all. I lift weights 5 days a week, do cardio as I have time, and I take whatever class strikes my fancy.
My next step was to join Weight Watchers to help me get my eating under control. I've lost around 25 pounds with them and recently discontinued my membership because I had stopped doing their program and was getting frustrated and beginning to put weight back on. I took a step back, a deep breath, and am continuing my journey on my own. I'm not doing anything special (counting calories etc.), but I am really thinking about my choices and working out a lot. I have lost the weight I had put back on plus around 5 pounds.
Candie and Michelle: Great job! What would you say to someone who is hesitant to participate in one of your classes?
Heather Blanton: It's OK, I'm hesitant to participate in my classes too. Just kidding. I wouldn't say that. Though I am. Kidding again, maybe.
I would tell them that the thing that got me into a class the first time and the thing that gives me the strength to go into one even now is remembering that my only competition in that room is me. Every person in a class is on their own personal fitness journey, even the instructors. Some are further down the road than others, and that is perfect. I would tell them that sometimes people are self-conscious. They are afraid the people around them are going to watch what they are doing and judge. In reality, most people are concentrating so hard on what they are doing, they only recognize you are there on a break.
I do tell people before class that they are in that class to have fun while working out and if I am doing four of something and they feel pushed to do two, then do two. If I do four and they feel they have four more, then do eight. This is their workout. I'm proud for the effort.
Candie and Michelle: That is great advice. How does your style of teaching differ from other instructors?
Heather Blanton: We all have little things that are uniquely us, though maybe not really different, if that makes sense. I am a laid back instructor and offer modifications for most of what I do.
In a dance cardio class, I favor metal, some oldies and rock, and more recent music. Since I am AFAA certified and not Zumba certified, I am not required to use Latin or international dance moves, though there are some in my routines. I don't incorporate a lot of high impact moves, such as jumping. I try to incorporate at least one song with toning moves in it as toning is a vital part of weight loss.
Candie and Michelle: That is good to know. What advice would you give to someone trying to get in shape?
Heather Blanton: Diet is 80% and exercise is 20%, so you really do need both to make it the 100%.
I do not recommend some fad diet or cleanse. Learn about nutrition, buy a book at your local book store, or consult a nutritionist. Start being mindful of your choices. This will set the stage for a lifestyle, not a temporary solution.
Join a gym or buy a exercise video. Find a exercise program that you really enjoy and feel excited about doing. Find a workout buddy or an online forum to talk about exercising. Talk about your exercise program and have a sounding board for new ideas. Have a way to boast your gains and weight losses and have someone to tell you you're doing an awesome job. These will all help you be and stay motivated.
The journey is as important as the destination, and by that I mean enjoy every small change. Celebrate every pound, inch, thing you can do that you use to not be able to, all of it. The smallest milestone is as important as the ultimate goal.
You will have really good days and you will have really bad days. They are both equally important. Go ahead and accept that both will happen. Don't eat a really bad meal and think "Well, I blew it for the day, might as well eat horribly the rest of the day/week/month and restart later." Restart with the next bite you put into your mouth. You are probably going to crave something horrible, go ahead and indulge in moderation and get it over with. Depriving yourself is no fun and is going to cause you to feel miserable and, eventually, to lose your motivation.
Candie and Michelle: I love that! Excellent advice. Tell us about the different classes you teach. What's your favorite?
Heather Blanton: Since I am AFAA certified, I can teach anything you throw at me. I have taught Zumba (though it becomes dance cardio with me as the instructor), several toning classes (high repetition / low weight, weight lifting classes), a flex class (stretching) and kickboxing.
Each class is my favorite at the moment I am teaching it. I push my body to the limit with each class I teach and totally get caught up in the work out. After every workout I feel like channeling Stuart from Mad TV and squealing "look what I can do".
Candie and Michelle: Ha ha. Love it. :) Thank you so much Heather for taking the time to chat with us. Wonderful job on reaching your goals. We are really proud of you.