Staying healthy during the holiday season can be a challenge for any age. Keys Weekly recently sat down with Gisela Donahue, fitness trainer and owner of Inspire Fitness, to learn more about her journey and some tips on how to stay healthy and prepare for 2023.
We have lived in Naples since 2017 ago moving here in 2021. Previously, we lived in Southern Vermont; however, I am originally from Cape Town, South Africa. My husband, Paul, is from Boston. It was part of a ski restaurant group and after our first child, Kylie, we decided to move south for warmer weather.
When I was in Naples, I worked with many country clubs and ended up loving it. My client’s goals went from the typical “I want to lose 10 pounds.” for “I want to function, climb stairs and enjoy life.” It grew another side of my brain. In the Keys, I have a nice combination of both types of goals.
Since more love has been made about health and fitness than “I’ve lost 10 pounds”, I find I connect with a lot more people as they can see the value in the work they’re doing. I often hear the comments: “We went on vacation and I was able to carry my bags. I went to the beach with my grandchildren and I was able to carry on.
When it comes to everyday life, then you want to do it, and you do it with a different attitude. It’s a completely different way of thinking. Fitness is a way of life; it’s a journey. And it’s not just for the short term; it’s a life.
My business is mostly one to one, and I have worked with clients from ages 16 to 93. I’ve done bands before as well. Group placement can motivate customers. I originally had a studio at Cirque Salon until September, but now I have set up a studio in my home. I also have virtual clients and some clients I see by car. Virtual also works if people are traveling or snowbirds and want to stay in shape.
Core personal training focuses on strength and balance. Also, focusing on having a strong core to lean on. No need for heavy weights. The “old mentality” is that women didn’t understand the benefit of weights and mostly did aerobic exercise.
Therefore, we work with a variety of exercise equipment such as smaller dumbbells, resistance bands, spin bike, Pilates exercises and equipment, water rowing machine and short heart rate, AKA “kick” exercises. I adapt to what my client needs as I enjoy getting to know them and what works for them.
It is essential to strengthen your core and chest muscles. However, if there is an exercise that someone hates, like burpees, I will suggest another exercise that still targets the area. However, some customers love it.
For me, exercise helps clear my head; I like it. But you still have to find the part in your brain where you think it’s important to your life. I really don’t feel like I’m working – I’m extremely in love with what I do.
Part of my education is about nutrition. I do not push the food, but I am there for them if they want my help. I have found that keeping it simple has worked for me. Portion size and understanding what food categories foods fall into. I learned what is good for my body and roughly what I should be taking.
How did I start? I have been an athlete all my life. Then, in my mid-20s, I walked a long road of infertility. I gained a lot of weight during that time. After Kylie was born, we went to the mall together. I went to walk the stairs to the center and had to stop twice to catch my breath. I was only 30 years old. So, I had lost so much in my journey to motherhood that I hadn’t taken care of myself. It was a turning point.
Where we lived in southern Vermont, it was a small town, so there were no big gyms or trainers; therefore I began to learn and understand it myself; within the year, I went from a size 14 to a size 2. I’m 5-foot-3-inches tall, so that was important. Then I entered my first half marathon; people saw me running and working out and started asking me for advice. Why don’t I do this for a living? I did all the certifications I could and took all the classes. So, one by one, I started helping people.
I took the first responsibility and I realized what it’s like to be on the other side.
There are some simple things to think about to help you get started – do you enjoy working in a group? Look up Pilates or Zumba or start a walking group and meet up. Do you want to be outside? Is it walking or running? What kind of person are you and what will make it easy? What do you like the most?
But you have to show up. Short-term goals can work, but when you stop, it goes, versus seeing it as a lifetime commitment. Our bodies are designed for movement, heart health, bones and joints. Find what works for you, but then working with me will help you commit.
Why are we waiting for January 1? People like to hang out, so they like to have a date in the future. But I say let’s start today. You never know what awaits you, so why not start today? The right to please over the top. Portion size, learn to stop and don’t keep it during the holidays. Don’t think it makes you uncomfortable. If your stomach feels bloated and hurts afterwards, why eat it?
When I think about my holiday meal, I get my portion, my vegetables, but I don’t get up for seconds or thirds. Grab your dessert and your glass of wine. Choose what you like, the portion size and you’re done.
Top tips to help you:
- Practice self-control and responsibility, but don’t deprive yourself.
- Stay active – go on a family walk.
I work with clients to get them you want to be active, so you last. There will be times when it’s hard and difficult to work through an exercise, but then they say, “I just did it!”
Just give it to me 50 minutes, a few water bottles and a chair, and I can make you sweat.
Inspire Fitness hours are Monday through Friday. Follow on IG @inspirefitnessfl and contact for a consultation and pricing 802-558-7982.