Hi, I’m Lori Clark. I’m a wife, mother of 6, grandmother of 5, and I’m CRAZY about fitness and nutrition! I’m also crazy about people! I love encouraging people to workout and eat better, helping them achieve their goals, and educating them about overall wellness. I know that when we are fit and healthy, we are more likely to be able to achieve our goals in life and be happy.
For as far back as I can remember, I have loved to exercise. Whether it was riding my bike down a red dirt road, playing tag, running barefoot through the peanut fields with my cousins, or mastering the hula hoop or lemon twist, I was constantly moving. There were lots of grandkids on my mother’s side of the family, and when Granny would shoo us outside to play, we always made the most of it.
I have fond memories of my mom teaching me to do a cartwheel when I was about four. About seven years after that, Mama further encouraged my love of exercise when she bought me a pair of red, white, and blue roller derby skates at the local second hand store. I was ecstatic, even if they were boy skates. I spent hours on the road in front of our house skating back and forth with our dog, Barkley, full speed ahead with the wind blowing through our hair. It was also around that time that my dad spent hours spotting me while I did back handsprings as I practiced to make the cheerleading squad. He would continue as my spotter for years.
My sister, Lisa, also encouraged me. She will never let me forget how crazy I looked doing my cheerleading jumps. I would do them over and over again, and she would give me a score between 1 and 10. I usually couldn’t get a 10 because of the crazy faces I would make. Of course, in those early days, I only knew it was fun. Learning that it was something called exercise and was good for me would not come until years later.
It was around the time I was 11 years old in 1981 that I began to think about all the activities that I loved as exercise. Coincidentally, it was also in 1981 that Shape magazine began to be published. I know this because since I helped my dad build a workshop, he gifted me the upstairs portion of the workshop as my “exercise studio.” I thought I was hot stuff with my slick new linoleum floors and stack of Shape magazines!
In addition to Shape magazine, I read everything I could get my hands on when it came to exercise. I had my first gym membership when I was 18. Again, my sister, Lisa, was there with me. I remember the first, which was also the last, aerobics class we took together. We started out on the front row together. A few minutes into the class, I looked over to say something to her, but she wasn’t there. She had moved further back in the class, and waved at me as I looked at her in confusion. As I looked back to her a few minutes later, she had moved even further back, all the way back. She had plopped herself in the floor at the very back of the room. When our eyes met, she waved and laughed. Aerobics was not her thing, so from then on, she would get her exercise in the pool while I was in the group fitness room. That was my first lesson of how everyone should do the exercise they enjoy most. One size does not fit all. She was more content in the pool, while I loved the front row, all the while dreaming of being good enough to actually lead the class someday.
A few years later, I had moved and no longer had a gym to attend, so I would walk/run six miles just about every day. I would run when my mom couldn’t see me and walk when she could. You may wonder why I did this. My mom was a nurse who had seen many people with knee replacements, and she was sure if I was a runner, I would ruin my knees. While I’m not a runner, my knees have seen lots of stress and pounding over the years, yet they are holding up just fine. These bodies of ours are simply amazing!
Speaking of our amazing bodies, mine has borne six children for which I am extremely grateful. Our fourth daughter was stillborn at 36 weeks, and I struggled with my weight and my health for a few years after she was born, but I continued to work toward optimum fitness. I had a treadmill and weight machines in my home and worked out most days. I would watch Body Shaping on ESPN every single day to learn how to lift, do step aerobics, and floor exercises. Even though I couldn’t get to a gym, my love of exercise never waned, and I always found a way to exercise. My weight was not always ideal during those childbearing years, especially after the stillbirth, but I never stopped exercising regularly.
Around the time my fifth child, and only son, was born, I decided to join Gold’s gym to get rid of all the weight I gained during pregnancy – and it was A LOT, about 45 pounds in addition to the extra 20 I was still carrying after the stillbirth two years earlier. Gold’s was awesome! I would do the 5:30 a.m. classes every day of the week. I loved cycle, step, and pump. I was in my element. I knew what to do and how to do it, even if I was overweight. There was a fit chick in there somewhere. I may not have looked the part at the time, but I knew I was meant to be a fitness professional. I could anticipate what the instructors were going to say, and I even knew if they gave incorrect information because of all I had studied and learned from watching ESPN. Every time that would happen, this little voice inside my head would say, “You should be teaching this class. Why aren’t you teaching this class?” That little voice got me to thinking that maybe I could lead a class. I remembered taking classes when I was 18 and wanting to teach.
As I left class that day, I looked at the pictures of all the instructors to see what their credentials were. I saw names of organizations like AFAA and ACE and decided to go home and look them up on the internet. I looked them up, but I didn’t move forward with any plans. I don’t know if I was scared or what, but I just sat on the information for a little while.
While I was sitting on the information, I came across a PBS special with Dr. Wayne Dyer. If any of you know anything about Dr. Dyer, you know you can’t listen to him and put off living your dreams. That program came at precisely the right time. He told his audience to begin right now to move forward and live your dreams. He said do a little something each day to move you forward. I was inspired and looked online that very night for the next CPR training because I had learned that I needed to be CPR certified in order to get my group fitness certification. The next day, I ordered my study materials and signed up for the certification that would be held in Riverdale, GA. I had make at least an 80% on the written exam and also pass a practical exam.
The day arrived for me to take my exam, and I was so nervous. I aced the written part, but I have always been a good test taker. I worried how would I do on the practical portion when I had to stand up in front of everyone and teach. The practical exam went well also. I was so relieved and excited to start teaching. My first class was the cycle class I had been attending for over a year. They were so supportive and cheered when they found out I had received my certification and was going to be their new instructor. People are great, and I was so blessed to have my Gold’s gym family that encouraged me as I worked to get better at doing what I loved.
I set a goal to learn all I could each year and take a variety of continuing education courses. For several years, I was true to that goal, but then I became complacent. I began to “rest on my laurels.” I began to get too comfortable and not venture out of that comfort zone anymore. When Zumba came out, even though I loved to dance, I let fear hold me back. It took me several years to even try it at home by myself, and believe me, it wasn’t pretty! Still, I loved to dance and wanted to get good at it.
I soon got good enough to not feel embarrassed to attend classes at the gym. It didn’t take long before I was wanting to be in the front of the room teaching the class. I registered to become a licensed Zumba instructor. Then out of fear and hesitation to come out of my comfort zone, because I knew I would have to practice for hours to get my first class ready, I canceled my registration. I would register again two years later and cancel that one too. Finally, I decided I HAD to take the Zumba training. When I checked the schedule online, the nearest training was on my 44th birthday. That was a sign to me. I had to do this for myself for my birthday, and I did it. I was nervous, but I did it. I’m not the best dancer, but I love to teach, and I love my students, and that’s what’s important.
It’s also important that we all continue to grow, to stretch ourselves, and continue to do things that scare us and bring us out of our comfort zones on a consistent basis. I was not truly happy just being in a class because I belonged at the front of the class. My heart would not let me rest until I did what was needed to propel myself forward to where I was supposed to be, and that is the way it is for all of us. In our hearts lies the answer.
Our hearts will continue to nudge us in the direction we need to go. When we ignore that nudge, we have all the negative emotions that come from a life that is stagnating or moving in the wrong direction. We tend to blame our circumstances or people around us for our unhappiness, but the trouble is within us. The trouble is a heart not being listened to and a dream not being followed.
I hope if you are reading this and are not following your dream, you will take Dr. Dyer’s advice like I did over 17 years ago. Begin today to take small steps in the direction of your dreams. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” It might mean making major changes in your life, and that’s always scary, but you must follow your heart.
I’m extremely grateful that my husband, Brian, has always been so supportive of me as I followed my heart. He cheered me on as I got my group fitness certification, my personal trainer certification, and all the other certifications I have gotten since. He never once called me a quitter when I chickened out of the Zumba trainings. He just loved me, even when after having all A’s in college, I called home after clinicals one day and asked him “What would you say if I told you I don’t want to be a nurse anymore?” He replied, “Fine with me. Come on home.”
I was taking my prerequisite courses to become a nurse before we married, but we started our family right away, and I became a stay at home mom. Becoming a fitness instructor later on was great because it allowed me to work part time and take my children with me. During all that time, I thought I would go back to nursing school when my kids all went to school. That’s exactly what I did, but I soon realized I was much better suited to preventive healthcare. I revere the nursing profession. My mother was a nurse. It is a noble profession, but it’s not where I was meant to be. I knew if I had to work anywhere 8-12 hours a day, I would much rather be in a gym than a hospital. Helping people prevent disease through diet and lifestyle changes is where my passion lies.
The gym is my second home, and I never get tired of learning new things about fitness and nutrition. It was during all my years as a stay at home mom that prepared me for my career in fitness. Though I wasn’t formally enrolled in school, I was constantly learning about the body and how to keep it healthy. It was that learning that would help save my husband’s life and eventually lead me to a passion that means just as much to me as fitness, if not more, and that’s nutrition.
It was because of all I had learned about the body’s capabilities to heal itself when given proper nutrition, that I refused to believe my husband’s doctor when she said he would be on insulin for the rest of his life. He was only 34! I saw a better life for him than that. We were able to find a doctor to work with us to get him off medications as he ate better and lost weight. I’m sorry that my sweetheart had to go through the health struggles that he did, but it was because of those struggles that we were able to test all I had learned about proper nutrition and healing. Though we weren’t on a whole foods plant based diet yet, we were on the right track, and we were now firm believers in the body’s capability to heal itself when given the chance. We knew it was possible without drugs. We had been able to prove what I believed in my heart to be true.
If you listen to your heart, it will lead you where you should be. Mine sure did. It eventually led me to information about a whole foods plant based diet. When I got the opportunity to take the Plant Based Nutrition course from eCornell, I was thrilled. I learned a lot and continue to learn more every day. My health and my family’s health has drastically improved because of switching to a whole foods plant based diet. Our story is just beginning! My mission is to teach everyone who will listen about the importance of exercise and encourage them to move every day. But even more important than that, I want people to know how they can heal their bodies with food and be able to live the life of their dreams free of the health problems that plague people on the Standard American Diet.
I hope you’ll join me on my mission. I hope you will visit my website often and read what I have to share, and then leave some comments of your own. Teach me and those who visit my website. I encourage you that each time you learn something new, that you go out and share it with as many people as you can. Be the example of committing to change, challenging mind and body, creating a new paradigm, and conquering anything! As you stretch yourself and start making your dreams come true, you will inspire others and make this world a better, happier place.
Thanks so much for stopping by. I wish you joy, peace, love, and abundance.