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I Am No Longer a Manatee

I have been overweight all my life. I had never really tried any diets or anything until I was in my mid-20’s. I lost and gained the same 30-40 lbs. for quite a while until I had my son in 1998. Ironically, I was at my lowest weight when I got pregnant. After giving birth, I suffered from depression and then 3 years later went through a divorce. During the divorce I lost quite a bit of weight due to the stress. I spent some time healing and trying to figure out what direction I wanted my life to take. After much thought I decided to go back to school. I was working a full-time job and being a single parent I had convinced myself that I had a full plate and my health would become first priority after graduation. So while undertaking all that in my life my weight kept creeping up, and up, and up until I was the heaviest I had ever been. I graduated in June 2007 and it wasn’t until March 2008 that I decided it was time to do something about my weight. The push that started this lifelong journey was the defective digital picture frame on my desk. It would freeze periodically and the most common picture was one of a manatee. There would be days I would look at that picture and think to myself “that’s what I look like – big ole body and little bitty head.

Jennifer - 2 years ago

Jennifer - 2 years ago

I wasn’t quite sure which direction I wanted to take. I wanted someone to know who I was and care if I showed up or not. I wanted to meet “real women” you know the kind – with kids, career, home – probably the very type person you are. I was not too thrilled with the idea of joining a gym. I also looked into a personal trainer but after doing some research I knew that it was too expensive. I remembered seeing an ad for WoW! Boot Camp and thought I would check out the website. I still wasn’t too sure of this decision but told myself that if the digital picture frame froze on the manatee again that I was going for it! Well, I am sure you can guess what happened!! Yep, manatee! I took a deep breath and signed up for the first month thinking that I would at least give it a month – after all I was only committed for a 3 days a week for 4 weeks. I knew that I could do anything for 4 weeks. If it wasn’t something I enjoyed then I didn’t have to go back – not a whole lot of commitment there. When I went for my first assessment I was amazed at how April really seemed to want to get to know me—what I was here for and what my goals were.

The first day of boot camp finally rolled around and I was both excited and nervous. April told us to do the best we could and not overdo it. I thought I was going to die! For someone who had not worked out in years – what a shock! I was slow and came in last in everything we did. April and Karen did nothing but encourage me and make me start to believe that I could do it. The day was beautiful and when the class was finished I felt proud that I had completed an hour of exercise that was harder than any class or video that I had ever done. I can’t say it was a walk in the park because it wasn’t. IT WAS HARD!! The next class I was there again – ready for more and it was still hard. At the end of the month I was pleased that I had not only lost weight but I had lost inches too. Granted it wasn’t a whole lot but it was more than I had lost last time I had attempted to lose weight! One month turned into two, two turned into three – hey, what’s wrong with me…I actually LIKE this stuff?!?! While I wasn’t breaking any speed records I was feeling good about myself, and I just felt better.

Jennifer – in her “Goal Weight outfit”

Jennifer – in her “Goal Weight outfit”

After 6 months of boot camp I decided to my first 5K. One of my WoW! friends had said that she did her first 5K after completing 6 months of boot camp and if she could do it so could I. I came in next to last but I had finished and I was still alive! Ironically, there were only 2 people in my age group so not only did I cross the finish line I received some hardware to boot. There is nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line knowing what you have accomplished – that you have finished something that no one can take away from you. I now run most weekends and enjoy myself almost every time. There is something so empowering about crossing the finish line, whether it is an “official race” or just going out and coming back home. The fact that I have this time for myself with nothing but my thoughts and ipod has become my therapy. It has reduced my stress and just makes me a happier person and a better mother to my son. There are so many amazing things I have learned about myself and one is that I can do anything as long as I have the proper training and a great support system.

There is no way on this earth that I could ever thank all the women who have come into my life through WoW!. We are all there for different reasons and all bring unique elements to the class. These women love me for who and where I am. They believe in me as much I believe in them. We have become more than workout partners – we are friends and truly care for each other. These women have inspired me every step of the way – from the ones that can run marathons to the ones that are still walking their first mile. They encourage me when I am struggling that day for whatever reason – whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual. If you are thinking about WoW!, please just sign up for the first month, it will be the hardest thing you have ever done but I am proof that the rewards come if you stick with it.


 
 
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