Personal Training Spotlight: Elizabeth

PUSH511’s March Personal Training Spotlight is Elizabeth. Committing to working with her personal trainer, Shannon, three times a week has given her more than just physical benefits. Since joining PUSH almost a year ago, Elizabeth has given her confidence that has flowed into many areas of her life outside of the gym.

We have witnessed Elizabeth’s confidence also grow in the gym. In the past year, she has grown more confident with every personal training session she completes. If you are nervous about starting a new workout regimen, working with a personal trainer for the first time, or joining a new gym, you will be inspired by Elizabeth’s story!

When did you start personal training with PUSH511? I started in March 2023 six weeks after my Dad died. I promised my Dad I would begin to take care of myself.

What's your fitness background? I was a ballet dancer (and did toe for 1 year). I also played soccer and was obsessed with Pele as a child. When we first moved back to the USA from Venezuela, my town had only boys' soccer, so I joined a boys' team and was the only girl. I continued playing soccer and ran cross country until the middle of my junior year when we moved to Maryland. During college and into my 20s, I did a lot of running to stay in shape and would occasionally join a gym and not follow through with going. As I have gotten older, I have done more walking, yoga, and Pilates, but I have struggled with consistency.

What's your favorite movement to do in the gym? I love deadlifts because I am amazed at how my body works together to lift a heavy weight!

What's your least favorite movement? I'm not too fond of burpees because they are hard for me and take a lot of coordination and energy.

What do you do for work? I am the Chief People Officer for The Children's Guild, a large nonprofit organization serving children and families with education and mental health services. I oversee all employee engagement initiatives, mental health, and special education services. I have a Master's in Social Work and a Master's in Nonprofit Organizations from Case Western Reserve University. For much of my career, I have provided clinical services to children and families and supervised clinical staff in residential treatment, therapeutic foster care, and outpatient mental health. I love changing the lives of children and families by building effective teams and creating an organizational culture that brings out the best in every employee.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family. My husband Michael and I met in graduate school and married in 2001. We moved from Cleveland to Baltimore 12 years ago to be closer to my Mom, Dad, and siblings. We have lived in Brewers Hill for eight years with our dog Lucy and our cat Evey. We love animals, traveling, and finding great ethnic food restaurants!

Tell us something we don't know about you. I was born in Rochester, NY, but when I was six months old, my family moved to El Salvador, and when I was five years old, we moved to Venezuela, where I started school. I spoke my first words in Spanish, but when we moved back to the US, I was not around Spanish and lost my ability to speak fluently.

How has working out and personal training affected your life outside the gym? Where do I begin?

I would say that the most impactful way that personal training has changed my life is that I have started to trust my body again. I was diagnosed with breast cancer at thirty-nine years old, and when that happened, I felt betrayed by my body. For the first time in eighteen years I feel like my mind and body have reconnected, and I can honor my body's power and strength. I have grown stronger and I hold myself with straighter shoulders and confidence.

My job is busy and has a lot of demands. Until now, I have struggled to take time out of my day to care for myself. Making the commitment to attend personal training with Shannon three times a week has been huge for me. It has proven to me that I can make the time and prioritize myself. My ability to commit to personal training and consistently show up gives me the courage to lead more boldly and take other risks in my life.

Being an adult learner is challenging and uncomfortable. I used to hear the word CrossFit and be terrified of the whole idea, so you can imagine how scary the process of joining PUSH511 was for me. Meeting Ardy and hearing about her holistic approach to fitness made me feel a lot better about joining the gym. I was scared to take the first step and would never have done it if I had not met Shannon. She has been an amazing coach for me. She believed in me when I did not believe in myself, took the time to teach me, and made it okay to take the first steps and then the next. She intuitively knows when to push me and when to back off. She knows exactly how to motivate the competitive side of me. I am so grateful to have Shannon with me on this journey of self-care and well-being. I could not have asked for a better coach.

Elizabeth Garcia doing ring rows

What do you enjoy most about PUSH? The dogs (especially Sky), the community of people genuinely trying to suck less, the laughter, and the meaningful conversations!

What tips would you offer to someone who is just getting started with working out? Feeling uncomfortable and afraid is part of the process. Don't let that stop you from coming back. You will have days that you are so frustrated with yourself because you cannot get a movement right, and then a few months later, you will be able to do that movement!

Consistency and showing up every time is the key to become successful. Don't compare yourself to other athletes! We are good at some movements and struggle with others based on age and body type. This is your journey to own.

What's your favorite song to work out to? Anything Ed Sheeran, Firework by Katy Perry

What's your favorite restaurant? Woodberry Kitchen

What does your frequently used emoji tab look like? Plain old smiley face!

Words to live by or favorite quote? "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others. ― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

What's your favorite travel spot? Michael and I went to South Africa this past summer and I am ready to go back for another safari. I also love Popham Beach Maine where my family has a cottage. I have been going there since I was an infant.

If you could win an Olympic gold medal for any sport, real or fake, what would it be? Shuffleboard all the way!!

What's your hidden talent? My hands are crazy strong. One of my nicknames is "crab hands" because I can usually open the container everybody else has tried to open.

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