It can be easy to look at someone like me and think I can't relate to the struggle you may be going through.
You assume I can't understand what it is like to be overweight, or inactive, unhealthy or unhappy in my body. But that's not true.
Growing up I was always the smallest one in my classes. Naturally petite, I did not struggle with weight in my youth. My family was somewhat active; I remember going for family bike rides, playing tag with my friends, taking gymnastics and dance classes throughout my childhood.
My diet was the typical middle class American one. My mother cooked and made sure there were vegetables, even if we didn't want to eat them. We also drank pop and ate snack foods but not to excess.
It wasn't until I went to college that my diet mostly consisted of fast food. At that time, I was still active as a member of my college dance team, the University of Toledo Rock-ets.
After college, however, I kept the fast food and dropped the dancing. I began working full time and sitting all day. The weight started to creep on.
This picture was taken at Christmas 2005. I truly did not recognize myself. Not only was I heavier, I didn't feel good. I disliked what I saw in the mirror. The day I saw this photo I made the decision to change.
In January of 2006 I committed to exercising regularly. I actually already had a gym membership, I just never went.
I made myself a promise; at the time I was working 4am to Noon and every day I would come home, exhausted, and take a nap. So I told myself, "you can nap if you want to, but you have to go to the gym for at least a half hour *first."
I kept that promise, and started tracking in a little notebook every time I went to the gym. For three months, I never missed a day.
At first I just went to walk on the treadmill or do the elliptical. I did this consistently for months and the weight stared to come off. Not only that, I felt better and no longer needed those afternoon naps.
A few months into this journey, I happened to notice a group cardio kickboxing class going on at the gym. It looked like fun. After a few times of watching this class, I finally had the guts to join a class.
Putting it simply, I was hooked. The combination of the moves, the music, the energy and the group of people doing it together was so motivating and fun. I started taking this class three to four times a week.
Sometimes people in class would ask me if I was an instructor, because I always knew the moves so well. I was flattered, and it made me wonder if I could be an instructor. I thought, why not?
In 2008 I got certified to teach cardio kickboxing and other group fitness classes. I immediately started teaching as many classes as I could, up to ten a week. I loved seeing the other people in class smiling and enjoying their workout.
After a few years of teaching, I knew this was what I wanted to do with my life. Fitness had made my life better in every way. I no longer ate fast food and even cooked healthy meals at home.
I slept better, had more energy, liked my body, was a happier and kinder person.
In 2012 I told my husband I wanted to do fitness full time, and someday open my own studio. He was amazingly supportive.
Immediately I started working on my Personal Training certification and then taking 1:1 clients.
After a few years of working for various gyms, my husband and I started Melanie Ash Fitness. I was doing Personal Training, group classes and Online Programs.
We knew our ultimate goal was to be able to create a studio that made me feel the way I did when I first fell in love with that group fitness class. Energized, excited, supported, fit and healthy.
Our goal was to help others develop a consistent workout routine they could keep for life. We wanted to create a space that was bright, clean and professional.
When we saw the For Lease sign at 4828 N. High St. in February of 2017, we knew this was the place.
After three great years in our first location, we moved into a space next door twice the size.
Fitness Evolution has become everything I ever dreamed of and more. We help our clients get active, stay active, build a strong body and a regular workout routine so they can live a fuller life.
If you're feeling unhappy and wish you had a consistent exercise routine, I've been there. I know what it is like to not feel like yourself when you look in the mirror.
Fitness Evolution is about a sustainable and healthy way of changing your body and your life. I share my story because I want you to know what fitness has done for me, and why I am so passionate about sharing it with others.