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A New Attitude

Who knew 12 weeks could change your life? When we first met Ellen Klingler back in October she was taking her first tentative steps toward creating a new, healthier lifestyle. She entered the Bulletin's fitness makeover contest and won a free, 12-week personal training package from Campus Recreation that included fitness assessments, one-on-one training sessions, and health and fitness advice from certified trainers.

Today, watching her move confidently from free weights to the treadmill and on to the resistance training machines, it's hard to believe she ever felt uncomfortable in a fitness center. But, like many of us, she was never very athletic and the gym was, she admits, "like a foreign land." 

That changed in October, when she met her personal trainer, George Place.

"Having George has meant that I have been able to do some physical activities that quite frankly I never would have thought to do," she says.

Like bench presses.

Ellen Klingler's new confidence in the fitness center keeps her workouts fun and satisfying.

That's right, Klingler has no problem slapping weights on both ends of a barbell and pumping iron. At first it seemed intimidating. Now it's a fun and satisfying part of her fitness routine.

"If you had told me before that I would be able to bench press 95 pounds, I would have said no way," she says. "I never would have walked up to the barbells to try."

It's all about having a new mindset, she adds.

"In the past, I would look over at the barbell area of the gym and never see anybody who looked like me," she explains. "I'd see them on the treadmill or the stair-stepper or the cycle, but never pumping iron. To be able to have the confidence to walk over to the free weights and know what equipment to pick and use has transformed my workout routines."

In fact, Place has Klingler doing a whole array of new activities, like hopping up three flights of stairs and running sprints.

"I have little short legs," she laughs. "It felt like I was hopping 20 feet in the air. At first I said, 'I'm never going to get my butt up one step. How am I going to hop up three flights?' But George said I could do it. And I did."

Incorporating new activities into her workout routine and mastering new skills led to physical changes, like a drop in one dress size and increased energy. For Klingler, those results were almost beside the point.

The real change – the important change – was in her attitude.

"When I'm working out, it's almost like it doesn't feel like me," she says. "I can't believe I just ran sprints or did leg presses. And then I think, 'I can do anything.'"

She has a sense of excitement now, and an eagerness to challenge herself, that she never had before when it came to health and fitness. Wiping away a tear, she admits that she's as surprised as anyone by the change.

"For me, the biggest challenge was just finding the courage to go. Being an overweight person I thought I'd never be able to keep up with it," she says. "I've gotten such a taste of it now. I'm in a rhythm and starting to see results."

When the conversation turns to a discussion of her goals, Klingler takes a long view.

Almost there. Klingler prepares to hop up the top set of stairs in the Carmichael Recreation Center.

"This will be a lifelong thing for me. I recognize that," she says. "It's not just about wanting to lose a hundred pounds in a year, this is about my lifestyle. My goal is just to go. I feel like if I go to the gym, I've met my goal for the day."

She doesn't want to sugar coat the process; it's still hard work, even with a new attitude.

"Not every workout is the best workout of my life," she says. "But now I see myself as an exerciser. I didn't a year ago."

Klingler has become an ambassador of sorts for NC State's Carmichael Recreation Center and the programs offered through Campus Recreation. She urges her co-workers to take advantage of the low-cost fitness classes and facilities that are available to faculty and staff.

If you're new to exercising, she recommends starting with a fitness assessment and working with a trainer, like George Place.

"I think everybody needs to know George," she says. "He's changing the world. He changed mine."