Written by, Coach Dani Zarate
My desire to be a coach was not something that happened over night, but instead it was an idea that was brewing inside of me for years.
It all began at age 12, when I started my first fad diet to lose weight. At such a young age, I was constantly reminded that I was “chunky” or “not skinny” or even worse “fat”, which led me to diet with my mom for years. Finally at age 14, I was introduced to exercise and running, but instead of viewing these activities as fun they simply became another weight loss source for me. I feared going to big box gyms like 24 Hour Fitness, since I did not know how to workout on my own or use the machines, so instead I found a small boutique gym that provided HITT group classes. Before I knew it I became obsessed with the classes and found myself attending 5 to 6 times a week, but my idea of working out had not changed, it was still just another way to lose weight.
Though after a few months of being a member at the gym, I was able to meet all the coaches and realized that they were not all “skinny”, but on the contrary they looked “buff”, “toned”, and “strong”. My idea behind wanting to be skinny was slowly evolving into the desire to look strong and buff. I found myself staying after class to learn from each coach a little more regarding the exercises in class and learning a little more about the workouts they did on their own time
A few months later, I was hired on as a front desk receptionist at the gym, which became my key into the fitness industry. Believe it or not this job was harder than I expected, I was very shy, which made it hard for me to have conversations with clients and on top of that I feared talking to people about memberships. Though there was one thing that kept me going and it is going to sound very selfish, but that was my free employee membership.
After a few weeks of working at the gym, I discovered another perk and that was joining the coaches in their workouts. I remember feeling like a badass my first time using the barbell and performing a back squat, but ultimately what fully changed my perspective towards fitness was hearing Kellee’s story, a trainer who I worked with and who now is one of my closest friends. As I saw her before and after pictures, I thought to myself how can her before picture be a before picture if she does not look “fat” or “chunky” and that is when it clicked, fitness is not all about losing weight or being the smallest person in the room or being categorized as “skinny”. In that moment my desire to learn more about fitness and my curiosity to see what other workouts were out there grew, and one of the first types of workouts I experimented with was OCR/ Spartan training.
After completing my first race in 2017 and seeing girls of all sizes crush the obstacles and speed past me, I realized that my fitness goal did not need to revolve around being a size 2 or “skinny”, but could be focused on getting stronger or simply challenging my current fitness level. And that is how my desire to be a coach and help others realize that there is so much more to fitness than losing weight rose.