After three babies my body wasn’t what it used to be. But with willpower and encouragement, I turned that all around, thanks to BODYPUMP.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao Tzu.

My first step happened on March 29, 2013. I was talking to a good friend who was the Business Development Manager for Les Mills in the state of Ohio, when I said, “I’m so out of shape, what can I do about these flabby arms?” I flicked my triceps for effect.

I hadn’t exercised since my last child was born in June of 2007. I had always been fit before that. I went to the gym and watched what I ate. When I first became pregnant, though, I threw caution to the wind and just ate with impunity. I relished my food like never before, but I went overboard and ended up gaining over 50 lbs. I rationalized that I would lose the weight after I had my child. Not only did I not lose all the weight, I gained more with every subsequent pregnancy. After my third child, I was 35lbs. overweight.

Seeing my desperation, my friend told me something that would literally change my body and my life: Do Les Mills BODYPUMP™. I had never heard of it. She explained that it was a weightlifting program of light weights and high reps done to music. I was intrigued, so I went home, googled it and saw there was a BODYPUMP home program (in the days before LES MILLS™ On Demand). I ordered it.

Several days later, I received the program and the weights. I watched the DVD first and I thought to myself, “This doesn’t look so hard.” The program had 20-minute, 30-minute, 45-minutes and 55-minute formats I started with the 20-minute. Well, not only did I sweat, but I cried – cried my eyes out. I couldn’t do a lunge to save my life, and I struggled to get through the workout. It made me realize just how out of shape I had become. I had to make a decision then. Was I going to quit because it was too hard, or would I persist and get it done? I decided to invest in me and my health.

I continued to do BODYPUMP consistently three times a week. Although it wasn’t always easy or convenient to work out, I stuck with it. I also changed my diet, and by Christmas I had lost the 35lbs. I loved the way my body had changed and how I looked now. I had strength and definition in my muscles that I had never had before. I could wear sleeveless shirts with confidence. My flabby triceps had transformed into long lean muscles. Others noticed the change and wanted to know what I did. I couldn’t stop talking about and recommending BODYPUMP.

That December the friend who’d introduced me to BODYPUMP told me about an Instructor training class happening in February 2014. She said I would make a great Instructor, though I wasn’t so sure. I had never taken a live class in a gym. I felt I was far from prime Instructor material. But my friend persisted and convinced me to take the training. She also set me up to work in a fitness club after training. I had nothing to lose, yet so much to gain.

The following two months I went to a local fitness club and took live BODYPUMP classes. If I was hooked before, after these classes I became excited all over again. The energy from the Instructor and the participants sent me buzzing. I couldn’t get enough. However, as the training got closer, the more nervous I became.

One weekend I went down to Columbus to see my friend, take some BODYPUMP classes and watch the latest release she had received. It was release 88 – the one I would be presenting. We watched it and I was awestruck. I was seeing it in a different light, no longer as a participant, but as future Instructor. The presenting Instructors looked like rock stars. They made the moves look so easy and seamless. They just flowed. I wondered if I would be able to do that. After watching the release though, I decided I wouldn’t want triceps as one of my tracks for presentation.

Well, ten days before initial training I received my presenting tracks: back and triceps. Oh no! I cried. I didn’t think I could pull it off. I talked to my friend and she reassured me I could do it. So, after I finished feeling sorry for myself, I decided to get down to work. I spent every waking moment learning my two tracks. I got to the point I could do it with my eyes closed.

I was a nervous wreck going into training but the Trainer, Meredith Leveto, was so kind, and the other Instructors-in-training so supportive, I was able to relax enough to enjoy the whole experience. The feeling of community was so tangible that I felt proud to be a part of something much bigger. The weekend flew by and I passed the training. A few weeks later I sent in my video for assessment. I checked that Instructor Portal every day until I got the news I’d been waiting for. I was a Certified BODYPUMP Instructor! I was thrilled. I was now officially part of the tribe.

I am still very proud to be a BODYPUMP Instructor and I truly love it. The positive changes it has brought to my life have been immeasurable. My journey has taken me to the depths of fear and to the heights of success, but I’m not finished yet. I recently completed AIM l and I look forward to AIM 2 and beyond. I went from a frumpy stay-at-home mom to an inspired BODYPUMP Instructor. I am so happy that I took that first step.

Claudia lives in Ohio, USA. She has been teaching for four years and is certified in BODYPUMP.