What does it mean to you to be part of the GGS Community?
To me, it means unapologetically loving and valuing yourself as a masterpiece and a work in progress. It embodies living in the present moment and loving the version of who you are right now.
How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I started strength training around 2013 as preparation for my first NPC (National Physique Committee) competition. It was a whole new world for me, but I quickly came to love how strong I was becoming, not just physically, but mentally as well.
I also quickly came to realize that training strictly for competition was not my thing. It was incredibly demanding and deep down I wasn’t really happy. Sure I was happy with my stage-ready body, but at what cost. After injuring my sacroiliac joint prepping for my last competition, I decided it was time to give up competing for good.
Unfortunately for me, what seemed like a small injury turned into a full on lower back and hip problem. It has taken several years, multiple doctors and therapists and even an acupuncturist to get me to the point where I’m not in chronic pain. Because of this my training slowed down tremendously, but I still managed to stay active through teaching pole fitness and bootcamp classes.
It was my next injury that would lead to an almost complete standstill in training and overall activity. It’s been a long and frustrating process but I’m hopeful that I will regain my strength and resume a normal training schedule. Until then, I’m focused on the present and loving myself just the way I am.
What does your typical workout look like?
Right now my workouts consist of mainly physical therapy-type exercises. In late 2017 I injured my left shoulder, followed by my right shoulder. While my left shoulder healed wonderfully, my right shoulder continued to give me problems — subsequently I lost most of my range of motion.
Right now I’m focusing on bodyweight and banded exercises to rebuild strength and hopefully regain range of motion and full use of my shoulder.
I’ve always been a fan of the Romanian Deadlift, but I’m not allowed to do that right now, so I’m embracing my modified resistance band deadlift, which is no joke. Like seriously, those bands sneak up on you.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I don’t have a playlist (gasp!!) I know, I know. I prefer to let the music flow to me and through me during my workouts. I find it freeing to have no expectation and be completely surprised and taken over by the music.
Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I have always enjoyed training alone. I’m very much in my head when I train, even now. When I’m training it’s just me against the world. Head down, headphones in and completely focused.
I love a good salad, and it has to be homemade. I’m a vegan, so greens are my jam. I love creating a buddha bowl-type salad with lots of roasted chickpeas, tofu, peppers and olives.
“The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments.” — Thich Nhat Hanh
The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam. I can spend hours reading and interpreting this book with my husband. It’s one of our favorite things to do.
What inspires and motivates you?
Watching others persevere against all odds. To be quite frank, being injured sucks.
There are moments when I feel like it’s never going to get better, and then I see someone rise above their challenges and suddenly I feel like I can see a light at the end of the tunnel again.
It inspires me to have patience, accept where I am right now, and keep moving forward.
What do you do?
I work for Diane Flores (another GGS community member and featured spotlight) at Venus Pole Fitness. I teach Pole flexibility and stretching classes, mindful movement and HIIT style bootcamp classes. I’m also a certified crystal healer and reiki practitioner. I help people balance and align their chakras through the use of crystals and intuitive healing.
What else do you do?
I’m actually quite the introvert. I love being at home and spending time with my husband and animals. A perfect evening for me is curling up on the couch with a great book and a really good glass of wine. I also collect crystals and minerals for my practice and for personal use. I could spend hours in a gem and crystal shop just soaking up all the good energy.
Your next training goal:
I’m trying to take it one day at a time on work on little goals. My next small goal is restoring range of motion to my shoulder so that I can reintroduce push exercises into my routine.
For what are you most grateful?
I’m grateful for the women who came before me and paved the way. Their sacrifices and the stories they shared have allowed me to be my authentic self.
Which three words best describe you?
Quiet. Loyal. Empathic.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
Lifting weights has shown me that I can accomplish anything I put my mind to. No matter what stage I am in my life, I know that consistent lifting at any range can make a difference.
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
It’s normal to be nervous or even intimidated by strength training. I would be lying if I said I wasn’t when I first started. This is what I know for sure, and it’s so cliche — you have absolutely nothing to lose so just go for it. As long as you have great training and support you will see results — physical, mental and emotional.
Pole performance photo by Albert Martinez Photo; all other photos by Angela Castro.