Fitness trainer Ania Zalewski
Interview by Caroline Charron Stolzy
I recently spent time in Florida and hired Ania, a fitness trainer, to show me some new moves to increase the difficulty level of my training routine. I was immediately taken by her elf-like presence, poise and high energy. Not to mention her beauty! We had interesting chats between sessions and I could tell that her experience and knowledge would inspire many. We often hear the expression «listening to our bodies» or «getting into our bodies», but so many of us have become numb or cut-off from our body’s cues leading to various conditions such as obesity. Exercise can certainly help us reconnect with it. I have had clients who felt stuck in their lives and were greatly helped by physical activity. Putting themselves in motion seemed to have re-created movement in their lives and made them more embodied. During this time of year when a lot of you make the resolution to lose weight, to exercise more, or both, here are some tips and inspiration to help you stay motivated.
Caroline Charron Stolzy -What are some benefits from exercise that people discover and are surprised by?
Ania Zalewsky-The way you feel after a sweat session can be uplifting and energetic. Even if you were tired during your workout. Not only do you look better but you feel better. You’re smiling more, you feel like you achieved something… and you did. Small goals are just as important as big ones. Most people just say: «I want to lose 20 pounds!» Hold your horses, let’s start with: «I want to be able to walk for 20 minutes straight.» or «I want to stop eating a box of cookies.». These small goals will bring your weight down without you focusing on it. So, the surprise is even better when you get on the scale.
CCS-What are the psychological and mental effects of physical activity?
AZ-Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. So when you give yourself a goal, you feel an achievement and your brain wants to continue to feel that positivity. Your body releases endorphins («feel good» hormone) and your good moods become even better.
CCS-Our bodies are designed for motion, and exercise brings countless benefits, yet many people dread it. What would you suggest for such a person?
AZ-Find something you truly enjoy. Working out doesn’t mean you have to hate it or dread it. Dance in your living room, ride a bike with your kids, take long romantic walks, enjoy a healthy picnic afterwards. Climb a mountain, train for a marathon for charity, workout with a partner. Challenge a friend to see who loses 5 pounds first and the winner gets a pedicure. There are so many options, most people think it means going to a gym, but that is not the case. If you want a better lifestyle, it is a choice and it takes work, but it is SO worth it!
AZ-I believe our body is our temple and we feed it, work on it, make it look better, and our body gives back if we are good to it. So yes I do believe that empowerment comes through muscles.
CCS-Tell me about your daily healthy habits…
AZ-I generally live a healthy lifestyle, which to me means a «YES I CAN» attitude. I don’t mind parking far at the grocery store, I eat «clean», no fried foods, I cook at home 90 % of the time along with my boyfriend. I enjoy training my clients, and I walk with them too. I teach fitness classes, and I love to dance. I will continue exercising for the rest of my life.
CCS-What inspires or inspired you to implement your healthy lifestyle? What helps you keep it going?
AZ-When I was 18 years old, I had arthritis in my knees, I had no cartilage left. I could not stand up for 10 minutes at a time without pain. I had danced since I was 3 years old and put my body through major use. My muscles where long and lean but I was not that strong. The doctor suggested I work out with weights and build the muscles I had to be even stronger. So I did, and I fell in love with it. I felt better and couldn’t believe that was just from weight training. Soon after, I was asked by a gym owner to be a trainer for him, and he helped me study for my exams. I love what working out can do for an individual, and know that it can bring major relief to people with injuries or aches. My clients motivate me because I need to stay fit for them and myself.
CCS-What makes people think they cannot progress? What stops them most of the time? How do you help them overcome those obstacles?
AZ-Most people want results today, the fastest fad diet, the quickest workout programs, but good things happen to those who work for it. «Rome was not built in a day». I show people a lifestyle change, this is not something you can do for a month and expect to get the results, let alone keep them. If you put your body to work, it will work for you. Take small steps. For example, stop drinking soda, walk an extra 10 minutes, park in the last parking spot, take out fried food, cut the cake in half. A little at a time for 2 weeks then add the next thing. You can make your own list but start small and add bigger things. Bigger things are: to take a 40 minute walk, to add crunches for a whole commercial break when you watch TV, to join a gym, to take a salsa class or to get a trainer.
CCS-What is the main quality that a fitness trainer needs to have in your opinion?
AZ-Positive attitude, patience and the love of what they do. Know that every single person is different. I love making people feel better because that’s the bottom line to me. They do the work, I just show them the tools and motivate them.
For more information, visit Ania on her Facebook page.
Here is a breathtaking video of her dancing.