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Every month on Truly Madly Sassy, I like to feature someone who has been an inspiration to me and today, I want to introduce you to a woman who is near and dear to my heart. In 2012, after struggling to get healthy, I hired her to be my personal trainer. It was the first time I’d ever done anything like that, and I wasn’t sure we were going to be the perfect fit because she was so shy and quiet! It didn’t take long for her to warm up to me, though, and before I knew it, we were friends.
She didn’t just teach me how to work out, she taught me how to love my body the way it was and to know my worth in a way I never did before. I was astounded at how much I changed physically when I was her client and more than once, I told her I hated her! She took it in stride but sometimes, added three more minutes to those awful elliptical intervals, which led me to nickname her ‘The Devil’ (I’m still not convinced she wasn’t trying to kill me!). I not only morphed into a healthier person during that time, I watched myself grow emotionally as well. And when she relocated to another state? I cried…for weeks.
Over the years, she has inspired me to be the best version of myself that I can be. She’s been my personal trainer, my unofficial therapist, my source of laughter, my biggest pain in the ass, and oftentimes, my only voice of reason. Having said all that, it’s my pleasure to introduce you to June’s inspirational woman of the month: the one and only Miss Georgia Walker.
Name: Georgia Walker
Occupation: Performance Coach
Business name: GWalker Performance
Business Location: Main location – Asheville, North Carolina, but I do online programming, so I can be anywhere.
Why did you choose to become a personal trainer?
As corny as it sounds, it chose me. I interned during undergrad for the Sports Performance department at College of Charleston for hours for class. I also did one on one personal training for some extra cash. This continued into post-grad (until Grad school) as I started doing boot camps and training in my hometown under the name GWalker Fitness. Once I started Graduate School, I began interning in the Strength and Conditioning department at UT Knoxville. I worked with women’s soccer, basketball, and volleyball teams as well as baseball and the swimming and diving team.
While at UT, I got hired by the University of South Carolina as an Assistant Strength Coach. I worked down there for a little over 2 years designing and implementing workouts for sand and indoor volleyball, cross country, equestrian, and assisted other coaches with baseball and softball.
After my time with the Gamecocks, I moved to Boca Raton, Florida to work in the private sector again. I worked at a performance facility with a wide variety of clients and I had clients ranging from 5-72 years old. I worked with athletes, moms, retired golfers, people wanting to lose weight, those trying to gain weight, rehabilitation from injury or disease… you name it. I still worked with a smaller college by training their golf teams, but the majority of my clients were one on one, and that worked well for me. I liked the balance I was building in my career as a Performance Coach, doing private sessions while still being able to work with teams. However, I didn’t feel like Boca Raton was where I wanted to live or grow my future family, so I moved to Asheville, North Carolina and officially created GWalker Performance.
What kind of degree did you have to get in order to become a personal trainer?
Really the only requirement for most gyms is to have a nationally accredited certification. However, I happen to have a Bachelor of Science in Physical Education with a concentration in Exercise Science from The College of Charleston and a Master’s Degree in Exercise Physiology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. I am certified via USAWeightlifting as a Level 1 Performance Coach and I’m currently working towards getting my Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach certification from the National Strength and Conditioning Association.
Do you have a specific population you love to work with?
I’m flexible. I have worked with a broad spectrum of individuals. I like the variety and complexity of learning new things. Athletes are fun to work with because they tend to take direction well and pick up on movements quickly. However, helping someone learn to love training, reach a fitness goal, or overcome an obstacle is extremely rewarding. So, no – I like working with all populations, which is why I designed my business to accommodate all clients.
What’s the most satisfying thing about your role as a trainer?
One of the most rewarding parts of my job is seeing a client’s face when they accomplish a goal. They light up! You can see their confidence grow just a little and that’s how I know we’re on the right path.
Why should a person start an exercise regimen?
Because they are ready to make a change and/or live a healthier life. It’s a commitment and needs to be on his or her own terms.
Why should someone hire a trainer rather than just winging it themselves?
Hiring a trainer gives you direction and can help set you on the right path. You get a lawyer when you go to court, an accountant to do your taxes, a plumber to fix your pipes… etc.
In the initial stages, having a trainer can also help hold you accountable because they can design a program specific to you and your needs, which can make training less of a chore.
Is cardio more important than strength training or do they go hand in hand?
It depends on your goals! For general health and function, however, a combo of the two is desirable.
We know exercise benefits us physically, but what kind of impact does it have on our emotional bodies?
Exercise can greatly impact our emotional status! Exercise releases endorphins that act as a natural pain reliever while also giving us a euphoric feeling. Regular exercise has been known to reduce anxiety and depression, improve sleep, decrease stress, and boost self-esteem.
Personally, exercise has helped me overcome long-term depression. I’ve always been physically fit, but in the past couple of years I dedicated more time to my training and was able to completely wean myself off of daily anti-depressants. I haven’t taken medication for my mental health in over a year. I think that exercise and learning to live a healthier life has played a vital role in my personal mental health.
The Fun Stuff:
Starbucks or Dunkin’ Donuts?
Dunkin’ Donuts because I have a DD card with money on it that a client hooks up for me.
If you were stuck on a deserted island, what one food would you want to have with you?
Beer – does that count?
Beach or mountains?
I moved to Asheville because it’s in the mountains but only a quick trip down 26 to the beach!
Do you ever have people cuss you, from say, an elliptical trainer? I mean, besides me…hahaha.
Hahaha! All day, everyday people cuss me. I have learned to love it. I can be quite sassy myself.
What inspires you?
Seeing my clients improve on a daily basis.
Who has made the biggest impact on your life so far?
My parents. They taught me to be strong, independent, and that if I wanted something, I had to go and make it happen. They have always supported me which has helped give me the confidence to attack new, scary goals—like dropping a stable career to create my own business.
Dogs or cats?
DOGS! Particularly, my boy Ralph.
What’s your biggest struggle?
Finding balance is a constant struggle that I believe we all face. It’s a challenge to make everything work all the time – I’m no different than my clients.
Cardio or strength training?
I prefer strength – all day!
What exercise do you absolutely hate doing?
I HATE cardio!!
What’s your greatest achievement?
I think I’m still working on that… I find the little things to be so rewarding that I don’t know if I have a “greatest.” I’ve assisted athletes as they battled depression, helped an older lady gain strength so she could pick up her grandchild, watched as an awkward, overweight 15-year-old boy gained confidence and learned to love training, I’ve coached teams that won National Championships (University of South Carolina Equestrian) … I’ve done a lot of really rewarding things in my 10 short years as a Performance Coach.
What’s on your bucket list?
To build a balance between career and a family.
Anything you’ve marked off that list that you want to share?
As of May 31st, 2018, I’m a new homeowner! I signed on my first house recently. It’s been overwhelming and scary, but amazing!
What’s the most daring thing you’ve ever done?
Left a stable, growing career on a chance and prayer that my business would take off on its own… so far, so good.
Margaritas or cupcakes?
Margarita Cupcakes…?? (This—this is why I love you, GA!)
How important do you think it is for women to empower other women and have a tribe that is supportive?
We all need support and the backing of those believe in us. I was raised around strong, empowering women via the ladies in my church, Miss MaryAnn, my grandmothers, and of course my mom. I’ve always been surrounded by love and support; even in my darkest times, I knew that somehow, someway I would overcome.
Til next time, stay sassy!
Georgia is located in Asheville, North Carolina and offers in-person training, creates online programs for people who aren’t local, and constructs meal plans for those who are interested in making a healthy lifestyle change. You can reach her via her website, Facebook page, or through her personal Instagram account. As a past client, I can tell you that she’s worth every penny and that you cannot go wrong with her. She is kind, knowledgeable, and dedicated to helping you become an even better version of yourself!