I once heard that for moms, the beginning of the year is not January 1, but the first day of school. I wholeheartedly agree. There’s something about September that unleashes my curiosity and resolve.

The change of pace from laid back summer to having the kiddos out of the house for a good six hours is kinda magical and in all honesty, I have to admit, that a venti pumpkin spice latte thrills me into action!

While they are away, I clean my home, go for walks and make plans.  This September, one of those plans is to get in shape.

As a dance major at the University of North Texas, staying active was a breeze— I danced anywhere from ten to twenty hours a week.  Then when the babies came along, right after each in quick succession, I had a solid season of chasing little ones, going to the park, and walking them in the stroller.

Personal trainer traits

But a few years into motherhood something curious happened: as they became more active, I became less so.

While they played outside with their friends, I stayed inside reading, writing, or catching up on missed episodes of “Say Yes to the Dress”.

We lived in Boston at the time where six months out of the year it’s cold and this Texas girl couldn’t put my brain around jogging in January. So, I stayed in indoors. I wasn’t opposed to getting out and moving, I just didn’t have a reason to, and slowly the number on the scale crept up.

Now that we’re in California and I’m eager to explore all the trails in the foothills behind my home, it’s both easier and harder to get active.  Easier because of all the opportunities, but harder because, let’s face it, I’m out of shape.

Enter Amy.

Amy is gorgeous.  She’s your ideal California beauty.  Blonde, dazzling smile, and of course, thin. Even when she was pregnant, Amy remained svelte and lean.

Personal trainer traits

The first time I saw Amy, she was coming down the aisle to receive communion. My husband is one of the pastors so we usually sit close to the front which I especially love during communion.

As people pass by me on their way to the communion table,  I pray for them. Amy came down and I found it hard to pray for her.  I kinda wanted to hate her just a little bit— I mean, she embodied everything I feared about moving to L.A.

Don’t judge, you would too.  But hold on, I don’t stay in that space of kinda sorta hate for the perfect beauty.

After the service, I talked to her and found that she was sweet and kind and super passionate about fitness. A personal trainer in fact.  With her own YouTube channel.  Kill me now and bury me with a pack of Girl Scout Thin Mints.

God’s sense of humor came into play when we ended up joining Amy’s small group and our friendship grew.  So much so that when I signed my book deal, she attended a little prayer gathering of the women in our community— my book baby shower we all joked.

At the “shower” someone asked me, “What do you need in this season?” and I responded with the author’s usual suspects: coffee, time away to write, child-care help and good self care.

Then I surprised myself by saying, “I really want to work out more often. I find that I’m more creative the more active I am.”

Personal trainer traits

Later that week Amy sent an email offering to help with my fitness goal by training me for a bit.

Thank the Lord, that smidgen of disdain in my insecure heart had been stomped out months ago, because her email could have sent me off the rails. It didn’t and I said yes. And here’s the crazy thing about that decision— I’m actually excited to start working with Amy!

I’m confident that Amy is going to be a peacemaking personal trainer for me—  a personal trainer who is going help me make peace with my body and food and ultimately, point me towards wholeness in my body and not just an arbitrary number on the scale.

When looking at Amy through the lens of a peacemaking personal trainer:

1.  Encouragement

When you talk to Amy about anything but in particular fitness, you can tell she’s done her work but she’s marrying that with what she knows about you.

When she heard I used to dance, she encouraged to me explore Zumba and even gave me the pep talk I needed to think about becoming an instructor.  This encouragement is critical in not just helping me plan my current but dream about how fitness will work into my life in the future.

I could tell that Amy’s an encourager who is passionate about building a healthy lifestyle not a quick fix.

2. Gentle Persistence

I wish I could tell you that I emailed Amy immediately with an enthusiastic yes. Nope.

I hemmed and hawed and denied that I needed help. I wished Amy would forget, but she didn’t. She reminded me with sweet texts, or kind phrases when we hung out like, “if you still want help, I’m here.”

The gentleness of her persistence was what assured me that Amy wasn’t judging me. If she came at me like, “Girl…when are we going to start working out?!?” I probably would have run the other direction.

Personal trainer traits

3. Body Positive

Amy understands that this is a deeply personal and spiritual issue, and so she treats it as sacred.

I can tell in the way she talks about her work that she wants women to feel good in the body God gave them— specific sizes and numbers are secondary to self-esteem and gratitude.

I once wrote to Amy, “ God has worked on me for so long to get to a place of wholeness about my body in that I’m grateful for it and I love it and I want to honor it for how it keeps me going everyday. I just want to feel healthier and have more energy. One of the Shalom Sistas’ Manifesto Points is: My Body is Wholly Good. It’s a whole chapter on my journey learning to love the body I have, my skin, my shape, everything.  So, I’d love to find some really body positive, yet effective help to stay active”.

She wrote back a resounding “YES!”

The biggest thing to consider if you’re like me and planning to get in shape this fall: find someone you click with. Maybe you don’t want to be besties with your personal trainer— I get that— you need someone who will push you and not worry that your friendship will get in the way— but you at least need someone who you enjoy being around.

I enjoy Amy and I’m so grateful for her generosity.  She may be be gorgeous on the outside, but she’s stunning in the inside— a trait that makes for not only a lovely personal trainer by a truly lovely friend.