Everyone at S.W.E.A.T. knows Maria Hall. You may not know her by name. You may not have spoken to her. But you know who she is.
Maria has been a fixture at S.W.E.A.T. since it opened April 17, 2011. She’s the woman who is always in the first row, right in front of the stage. The woman who attends nearly every class, no matter who is teaching. She’s the woman who gets the 12 and 15 lbs weights, even for R.I.P.P.E.D.
Maria is the woman in the front row, with great muscle tone and an inspiring story, that began with Jessica Sands and her S.W.E.A.T. Fitness Studio.
Like many people who go to S.W.E.A.T., Maria wasn’t always a fitness guru. A full time Physical Therapy Assistant and mother of two, she often struggled with her weight. For years, spring would begin and she would say she was going to “diet” to lose some weight, but would never stick to it.
In March 2011, a coworker repeatedly invited Maria to go to a Zumba class with her. Even though she liked the idea of dancing, she was still hesitant. Eventually, Maria gave in and attended her first Zumba class at Nutrifit in Kingston. Our very own Jess 1 was the teacher.
As a former cheerleader and present cheerleading/dance coach, Maria easily fell in love with Zumba after the first class. After speaking with Jess a few times, she made a commitment to losing weight and becoming healthier.
Maria began taking classes three days a week and removed soda and sugary drinks from her diet completely. Even now, she only drinks water and coffee (she could NEVER give up her coffee.) Once that became a habit, she began cooking and eating healthier. She even gave up eating sugar completely.
After enjoying a few weeks of Zumba, Maria learned that Jess was leaving Nutrifit to start her own fitness studio. Loving Jess’s classes, Maria followed. She fell in love with S.W.E.A.T. and not just because of its awesome Zumba classes. She tried all the classes, all the instructors and loved them all.
Before she began learning from Jess about diet and exercise, Maria had never been a breakfast eater or a healthy snacker. As many of us know, Jess always advocates for feeding your body when its hungry. She reminds all the clients, they should always eat breakfast to get their metabolism moving and eat healthy snacks throughout the day.
Maria went from eating two meals a day to eating five healthy meals or snacks. Initially, she thought she was crazy eating more frequently, but after doing a lot of research and talking to Jess, she realized how much healthier it really is.
To help her keep track of her 5 healthy meals, she began using the MyFitness Pal app, which keeps track of your food intake and your exercise minutes.
With Jess’s help along the way, Maria’s devotion to fitness and a healthier lifestyle helped her reach and maintain her goals. She never took any supplements or diet pills. Maria knew, if she was going to begin this journey, she had to do it all herself or she wouldn’t stick to it.
After eight months of dedication, she reached her maximum weight loss of 94 lbs. Maria went from a size 16 to a size 2. Her significant weight loss and smaller clothes size was a huge accomplishment to celebrate, but Maria found something more important than that.
“More important than (my new size), I felt the best I felt in a long time. I actually felt almost 20 years younger and (even now) have so much energy. I felt like I could conquer the world.”
Although Maria met her weight loss goal a long time ago, her dedication to S.W.E.A.T. and a healthier lifestyle has not faltered. Her fitness journey still continues everyday, which is why she challenges herself in classes. Her current goal is to continue to build muscle and feel healthy.
Maria knows she would not have accomplished her goals without hardwork and dedication.
“Your mind needs to be 200% in it to lose the weight and stay committed. It should never be called a diet but lifestyle change.”
She knows that if she could make a change at her heaviest weight and stick to it, then anyone can.
“My advice for someone who is just starting out would be to get educated and do research and/or ask alot of questions. Don’t focus on one exercise program but start with one and when ready make sure to mix classes, both strength and cardio. Take one step at a time. Don’t go in with everthing full force, remember that walking through the door at a gym/studio is way more than the person home sitting on the couch watching TV for hours.”
Thanks to Jess, the other instructors and her fellow clients pushing her to stay committed, Maria not only achieved that initial weight loss but also, made a major lifestyle change.
Like Maria, we should all use everything that S.W.E.A.T. offers to stay motivated.
Maria loves when fellow clients push her to do better than her best. When other clients grab heavier weights than they are used to, she does it to. When someone adds on to a burpee or a jumping jack, Maria does it too. When Jess says “your mind will give up before your body,” Maria knows she’s right. And she keeps going.
There are so many ways that the instructors and fellow clients inspire us: Jess’s new Youtube videos, the S.W.E.A.T. motivation Facebook page, fellow clients texting us to get our butts out of bed on the weekend.
Use it all to your advantage, just like Maria does.
Hope everyone enjoyed this inspiring story! Get moving, get motivated and get to class! You won’t regret it!