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Balance for Life

Today, we had a fun photo shoot with two members of my personal-transformation team: Julie Gronquist, owner of Balance for Life Fitness Center, and Sandra Swami, my amazing personal trainer.

My Balance for Life story actually began in October 2005 when I first emailed Julie and asked for help. Inspired by the then-new NBC’s Biggest Loser, and fed up with living a sedentary life, I conducted my first-ever online search for a personal trainer. I had never been to a personal trainer, nor had I spent much time in the gym.

But, I was convinced that I needed a personal training program and the accountability to finally do something about my life-long battle with obesity.

Julie received my email on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2005 at 2:11 p.m. and before 3 p.m. I had a return email offering to help. I had carefully selected Julie and Balance for Life from a host of trainers listed on the referral website. In part, because of the name Balance for Life – I was so desperately seeking some balance in my life, and also because of Julie’s friendly, welcoming photo and bio.

I joined the Balance for Life Fitness Center and worked out with Julie as my trainer, off and on from the Fall of 2005 to Sept. 2010. At one point, I lost 50 lbs and kept it off for some time, but then reverted back to old habits. I put all of the weight back on and then some, and remember thinking at the time that perhaps -50 pounds was the best I could do and that there was fundamentally something wrong with me.

Then, I started making excuses about why I couldn’t make it to my training sessions – I was too busy, clients needed me, I was sick – all things that seemed relevant at the time, but as I look back were just excuses. My commitment and my focus waned, and ultimately, I quit.

But Julie and Balance for Life didn’t give up on me. When I reached out in Sept. 2010, after meeting O’Neal Hampton from the Biggest Loser and making the commitment to attend his fitness boot camp, Julie was there. I enlisted her help to get out of the office chair and get moving again with the goal of being in better shape for the impending two-week, live-in boot camp.

We weighed and measured my starting place. And, from Sept. 2010 to the start of Fitness North in late Nov. 2010, I trained with Julie a couple of times per week and lost 20 lbs. She also helped me prepare mentally for the boot camp by offering tips about hiking and mountain climbing, the right workout shoes and clothes, as well as hiking boots. Most importantly, she helped calm my fears and boost my confidence going into the experience. Julie’s calm and supportive demeanor, dedication to me and my fitness goals, and thorough preparation helped me get ready for one of the biggest challenges of my life.

When I returned home from Fitness North, I started to train 2-3 times per week at Balance for Life and work the nutritional program laid out for me by Leif Anderson. That’s when the real transformation began. With fresh confidence and unwavering determination, as well as a laser beam focus on the goal, I was ready to roll. Julie introduced me to kick-ass personal trainer and wellness coach, Sandra Swami. Sandra would become my new trainer and would push me, challenge me, teach me, and not accept any crap or excuses. She did so with unwavering support and a big smile. She was direct and forthright – something I totally admired.

I will never forget the day I was emotionally blocked and my program was off, things were starting to slip. Sandra could tell immediately that I was struggling and took me outside the studio for a walk where she spoke, and I listened and cried. It was a breakthrough day. All, because she was intuitive enough to know what I needed and bold enough to step up in the moment and help me push me past the fear to imagine and embrace real success.There is no question that day was a turning point and without Sandra’s intervention, I don’t know if I would be standing here today weighing -200 lbs.

Sandra is an incredible personal trainer (and person) and I am fortunate to continue to train with her 2-3 times per week. She is in the trenches with me day-by-day, week-to-week basis and has helped me get in touch with my new body and learn what I am physically capable of. There are days I swear she has me working every inch of my body (which requires some crazy things). We are always working hard and having fun.

She has also pulled my hair (to get me to have my head in the right position during an exercise), pinched my loose flabby skin, held my abs so I don’t twist and turn incorrectly, stretched out an injured back, coached me through a chronic injury in my arm, tutored me through peri-menopause issues, gotten me dancing and doing step aerobics at 6 a.m., and more. She has cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, and encouraged me to think about the new fit me. And she has done so with an energy, creativity, passion and enthusiasm that I appreciate and admire.

What’s more, both Sandra and Julie have been willing to team up and work under the strategic direction of my lead transformation coach, Leif Anderson. A man whom they’ve never met! And, their commitment to me and my success through it all has been unwavering. Simply unwavering. I can’t wait for my team to meet in person for the first time at my celebration party on May 12.

I have devoted a lot of words throughout this journey to both O’Neal Hampton and Leif Anderson, and they deserve it. But the truth is, Balance for Life and my personal trainers Julie and Sandra hold an incredibly special place in my heart and have been a critical part of the excavation team. Their support, skill, guidance and enthusiasm has touched me and my life in immeasurable ways. They are a large part of my success and have raised me up when I have faltered. For that, I am forever grateful.

To anyone looking for a personal training experience in an extremely well-suited, privately owned, immaculate studio with all the latest state-of-the-art equipment, group classes and individual personal training, as well as Pilate’s and massage – combined with a team of skilled personal trainers that truly care about your fitness goals – I wholeheartedly recommend Balance for Life Fitness Center. Ask for Julie and tell her I sent you.

Sandra and Julie – THANK YOU for accompanying on this personal journey of transformation. I so look forward to the next chapter as a fit and active girl. Big hugs to you both!

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