In the Spotlight: Meet Danielle S.

THE FIT LIFT’s In The Spotlight category will interview active, inspiring women from all walks of life who demonstrate strength in many ways. Whether you've made small steps to lead a more healthy lifestyle or train like a best, we want to celebrate YOU. We believe that by sharing our stories, we can help others to both start, and continue on the path of living a healthy lifestyle by leading by example.  If you would like to be featured on our blog, please email us.  

Danielle teaches fitness classes for River City Fitness and the City of Edmonton facilities and I had the pleasure of meeting Danielle in the fall of 2011, a few months after my daughter was born.  I had always been active, but she showed me a new way to love, appreciate and strengthen the new body I was left with after having a child.  Danielle is one of the most positive and motivating instructors I have ever has the opportunity to learn from.  I have been fortunate to have her as a support and friend these last few years! Please read through her responses below.

1. Provide us a brief introduction about who you are.

My Name is Danielle Smith.  I am a mom, a wife, a daughter, sister, friend and group fitness instructor.

2. What does STRENGTH mean to you?

Strength is a character trait, it is emotional, physical and spiritual.  It is found within us.  
We sometimes lose sight that it is there; but when we find it on our own, in our own time, it is present from that moment onward in our lives.  Think of a moment you felt strong and then how you haven’t compromised that belief since.  Strength is overcoming doubts.  It is always looking to grow.  It is being more than we thought possible.  Strength is something that you own and no one can take from you.  Strength can not be left stagnant, it has to be given opportunities to grow.  Don't let it sit; it can rest and renew but the more you feed it the more your strength will grow.

3. What does BEAUTY mean to you?

Beauty is our ability to love and be loved.  I feel beauty lies within passion you have in your dreams.  When you are immersed in your passion it shines.  I have let love into my life, and it started when I began to love myself.  Yes I can work on that everyday as I am my own worst critic, however, when I am in the moment of instructing a fitness class, talking to a group, or next to just one person in a fitness setting, and I help someone see their strength within, try harder, push past limits… I am filled with Beauty.  It is in those moments I feel beautiful. I have never been more complimented in my life than when someone is in my class experiencing my passion for fitness, or seeing me teach and show others what they can do because I believe in them. 

4. What inspires you? What is your driving force?

I am inspired by my husband, kids, and friends.  My husband and children are always dreaming and wanting more out of life.  My husband and friends challenge me and tell me I can give more, do more and be more.  I am so fortunate to have a circle of friends filled with strength that like me, always want to see what else their bodies can do; push forward, never standing still. 

Find a new limit to break. There is always another race, fitness challenge, new obstacle, or workout to conquer.  My friends and I are passionate about always changing and we are always finding new ways to challenge ourselves. 

I  am inspired by my participants that begin their fitness journey not believing they are strong or beautiful, and seeing them hit fitness milestones and begin to believe in the power and strength of their bodies has happened in these various instances.

  • Seeing someone do a box jump unassisted for the first time. 
  • Having someone tell me at the end of an outdoor class they made the whole time running no breaks. 
  • Having a participant filled with excitement because they had previously never done a push up from their toes, and now they can! 
  • Recognizing the accomplishment of a participant's significant weight loss and their lifestyle transformations. 
Whatever fitness goal a participant has, I love seeing them reach and surpass it.  They begin to want more and see their strength.  Watching their growth is inspiring.

5. What is your proudest accomplishment?

My accomplishments that I well up with tears of joy over are plenty. I am grateful for earning my certification in fitness instructing and each certificate I have earned thereafter.  I am thankful for the education I have attained and the opportunities I have had to grow.  

There is one particular fitness moment that changed my life.  I ran a 35 km leg of a race with a team of 6 friends.  I was going into the race with an injury that manifested during the training schedule 2 months prior to the race, and was concerned about my performance. I was running up a mountain with bears, cougars, and who knows what else.  This leg of the race was all mental, and I was going to need to do it solo. I had emotional and mental support from my dear teammates and other Sinister racers and Family. This leg of the race was designed solely for me; I believe I was MEANT to  be in that moment, at that precise time.  My daughter had given me the best advice, “Mom.  Don’t cry until you cross the finish line, until it's done”. I took her words to heart.  Once upon a time there would have been a girl inside of me that would have quit when I stumbled.  I didn't EVER quit.  I ran , hiked, climbed, stumbled, jogged and just kept moving until I knew I had changed.  

That girl who once would have been full of doubt and quit is not a part of me anymore, the new me persevered.  The Strong Danielle made the 35 km and met a few friends along the way( not of the bear or cougar variety!).  I did not shed a tear until I accomplished my goal.  When I crossed that line, the joy was oozing out my eyes as tears!  My friends were waiting to welcome me and I was immediately on the   phone with my family to share my joy that I did it!  My husband's reply was "I never had a doubt."

6. What is your biggest challenge?

Challenge in my life is sometimes physical.  I want to do more pull ups.  I want less injuries.  I want to run faster and conquer more obstacles.  A huge challenge is time. Making time to get my own workouts in while managing a family, household, planning safe effective classes and instructing them is tough.  

Another challenge I face is that I have separated abdominal muscles from pregnancy and this causes my core and lower back to be weaker and this affects my ability to stay in 100% physical condition. When I have to take rest time because of an injury, my mental well being is negatively affected.  The bright side to these challenges is that it makes me very comfortable to talk to others experiencing the same issues  so we can get stronger together. When you understand a challenge because you are experiencing it or have experienced it, it gives comfort and common ground.

Challenge also lies for me in my constant desire to grow and push myself. I have done Obstacle Course races of varying kinds and distances since 2012. I love these races as they hold the unknown as to what lies ahead or how much farther to go. The obstacles vary from slippery rope climbs, grueling barbwire crawls, memorization from the first  4 obstacles of the race and being able to apply it again at km 20.  I have signed up to race in the Elite heat of the Spartan in Red Deer, Alberta this September and this means I will run my best race with no assistance. This scares and excites me. If a challenge is worth doing it should scare the heck out of you!

7. What is your mantra? What are your favorite words to live by?

I can do that. You can do that.

"We are capable of so much more that we can imagine.  Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure." ~ Marianne Williamson

You can do anything you want, but you need to want it!  Give me a challenge and I will do it and train for it.  Tell me your goals, and I will help you achieve them. I believe in myself and others and that is the first huge step to success.


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