February 2015

February 2015 Athletchic

Fit for Life

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Is your life on the right course? Every once in awhile we meet someone who we know is doing what they were meant to do. How did they find themselves?

Sometime in everyone’s life, the big question surfaces. What are we really meant to do? It’s hard to answer, especially for women who are so often caught treading water in a whirlpool of other’s needs.

This month’s Athletchic started out as a story about a woman who began working as a personal trainer out of her own home—a neat concept—but it turned out to be a story about life, faith and finding the path that you were meant to follow.

The Athletchic

Jeri Pistone loves God, her family and life in general. She also loves working out and working with women.

But her passion is teaching.

She was a full-time special education teacher after she married and, even after her third child was born, she continued teaching on a part-time basis. Like many women, however, there were only so many hours in the day, and she was forced to put her teaching dreams on the back burner.

“But I never stopped teaching,” She said. “I made everything a teaching moment.”

Pistone taught Bible lessons to children on her front porch in the summer and spent Wednesday nights teaching children at her church. She also taught math and Healthy Relationships classes part time in a local school district over the years.

“I even went to Nicaragua and took the Healthy Relationships Program there to the middle school and high school students.”

Pistone found a way to fulfill her dreams at every turn in the road. She remained positive and said she trusted the plan that God had for her life.

“I felt that every season I was in, I was accomplishing that plan for that particular time. But I never dreamed that I would be personal training and teaching in a completely different way!”

The Path that led to Personal Training

Let’s preface this with Athletchic’s experience with Jeri. She’s an Athletchic—physically fit for as long as we’ve known her. She recently ran a half marathon with her youngest son, Michael. And

Jeri and son Michael crossing the finish line of the Cincinnati Flying Pic Half Marathon

Jeri and son Michael crossing the finish line of the Cincinnati Flying Pig Half Marathon

many years ago, Jeri trained for and cycled 750 miles to raise funds for charity.

Fast forward twenty years after that charity ride.

Jeri’s daughter, Erica, had become a personal trainer, and since Jeri had such a passion for working out, her daughter suggested she obtain her certification, too. Jeri said being in her 50s never fazed her.

“Honestly, when Erica suggested it, I thought ‘Why not?’ And that was the end of that.”

No need for God to hit her in the head with a hammer. Acceptance is clearly one of Jeri’s virtues. An idea was born, and she ran with it. She found an on-line course, studied her heart out and passed the test.

“That was only the beginning,” she said. “Then the real training began.”

She studied under the tutelage of someone who had been training hundreds of clients for several years and learned all she could as quickly as she could. In true Jeri fashion, she became the best that she could be, so she could bring her best to others.

“Now that I am 60, I feel like I have to work even harder to keep up my image,” she said. “Who wants an old-looking personal trainer?”

The Neatest Personal Training Concept

IMG_2701 What sets her business apart is that she has a personal work-out facility in the lower level of her own home. She can roll out of bed in the morning, throw on gym clothes, have a cup of coffee and head downstairs.

“Before bed I look at my schedule for the next day and plan my sessions,” she said. “I write everything on the white board in my gym, so I and the clients can see what’s on the agenda for that day. Then I set up my gym so everything is ready in the morning.”

Her gym is complete with rowing machine, stationary bike for spinning, a half rack, bench with weights, kettle balls, Suspension Training Equipment, and a sled. She emphasizes push, pull, squat, lunge, twist to build her client’s core and provides 30 to 60 minute workouts depending on the client’s ability level and need. Because Pistone uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), her clients can get an incredible workout–all in the seclusion and privacy of her home.

Her husband Dennis, a contractor, built the gym, and Jeri’s daughter, Erica, also has a gym in IMG_2702her home. She lives next door.

“Erica and I have a different clientele. We are competitive and supportive at the same time. It’s great. We can use each other’s gym if we want.”

Her Call to Help Women

 She admits she was nervous to begin accepting clients, but even that has a hint of being orchestrated by above.

“My first client was an acquaintance of mine who just happened to be on the seat next to me on an airplane,” she said. “She saw me studying the huge NCCPT (National Council for Certified Personal Trainers) book for my certification and began to ask questions.  Long story short—she asked if she could be my first client!”

That client, Annie, who is still with her today, helped calm Jeri’s first-client jitters and opened the door for Jeri to accept others—most of whom are women.

“I have a passion for helping women,” she said. And personal training has helped reinforce that passion. She said many of her clients hate looking in the mirror when they first come to her.

“They don’t feel comfortable in a normal work-out facility. They feel like a fish out of water,” she said. Her private gym gives them a place where they feel like they belong.

“My ultimate goal is to help them feel comfortable enough to become a member at a gym,” she said. “Now days, membership fees are reasonable. Anyone can belong to a gym. I help them get to a point where they are comfortable enough working out to take that step and join a gym.”

Her rates are affordable. “Personal training fees at a regular gym can sometimes be high,” she said. “I want to provide a service they can afford.”

Jeri currently has 15 clients and said several of them told her they are more positive and have more energy since they began her personal training. Her favorite story is of a client who had brain surgery 20 years ago.

“I’ve been working with her  over a year now,” she said. “Two weeks ago she told me that for the first time since her surgery, she was able to stand up from a sitting position without holding on to anything.  All of the squats and core conditioning paid off!””

Something taken for granted by most women was a huge accomplishment for this woman.

Accomplishing goals is the targeted end result, but Pistone says it’s about having fun, too, and some of her clients agree.

“Jeri makes working out fun in her state-of-the-art fitness facility.  She’s taught me many new exercises along with valuable nutritional tips,” Client Renee Mazzone said. “She is highly motivating and full of energy with a new fitness routine for each visit. Before you know it, you are accomplishing way more than you thought you were capable of.”

Fit for Life

A staunch Christian, Pistone said she wants to be fit for life and help others to become fit for life.

“As a believer in God, I feel that I am on this earth for a designated period of time and with a specific purpose. I also believe that the bodies our Creator has given us are amazing and precious vessels,” she said. “Being fit for life means, no matter our age, we should be fit to do whatever we’re called to do—and do it with as much vim, vigor, and energy as we can.”

Pistone said when women grow stronger physically, they grow stronger spiritually and IMG_2705emotionally.

“Endorphins and dopamine are produced in response to exercise. These are the hormones that give us the ‘natural’ high and a sense of wellbeing. Who doesn’t want that?” she said.

So Jeri opens her home, so that women have a comfortable place to build their core, stay in shape and ready themselves so that when they find that perfect path in life—they, too,  have the strength to do what they were meant to do.

“The beautiful thing for me today is that I have coupled my passion for teaching with my passion for fitness,” she said.

And what could be better than being passionate about fitness and helping other women to be the same?

Athletchic hopes Jeri has inspired you to search for your true passion in life—and if you can share that passion with some of your sisters out there—well then, like Jeri, you are probably looking down the right path.

Carry on Athletchics!

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Cyndie Zahner is a public sector grant administrator and freelance writer. Follow Cyndie  on Twitter at @TweetyZ.

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