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The Now What Fitness Series lays out the foundation of fitness in a concise and simplified manner, making for a collection of books that help the reader truly comprehend how to improve one's health and well-being from A to Z. I've broken fitness down into comprehensive concepts, giving anybody who truly wants to change their health and their lives in profound ways, the step-by-step tools and knowledge to do so. 

Diet and Exercise Tips Interview Question #1

Tell us a little about your background and how you got started in fitness?

My personal trainer story began as a means of weight control about a thousand years ago. Haha! Just kidding, but I think that many people (especially younger people) get into fitness for the same reasons I did in the beginning. Not so much to get healthy as to look better; it’s more about vanity. Unfortunately, I think the media feeds this with so much emphasis on youth and looks.

Current headshot pic of meMe 2015

As we age, thank God, we wake up to the fact that our health is one of the most important things in our lives if not THE most important thing. 

I’ve also learned that while some things may seem out of our control, our lifestyle isn’t. We can make the decisions about what we eat, whether to exercise or not, and what we do with our lives as we co-exist with our fellow travelers. 

Looking back at my formulative years, I never was sports oriented, unfortunately. I wasn’t raised that way and nobody in my family was a jock. My family didn’t have a lot of money to do extracurricular activities. 

I clearly remember going through puberty and being concerned about my appearance and wanting to fit in; I would exercise at home every night before bed. I would do sit-ups, toe touches, and jumping jacks. Get this, I’d do 1000 each. Crazy, I know. It was obsessive but all we had back then (at the risk of giving away my age) for role models and guidance was Jack Lalanne—not that there’s anything wrong with him. 

my before weight loss pictureMe at 45 after taking sit-down job for 3 years.

Around the age of 25, I started noticing about 10-15 extra pounds wanting to hang around on my body; like many women, I was constantly fighting off that same 10-15 pounds. Somewhere along the line those 10-15 pounds started turning into 15-20, and I knew that I needed to do something about it before it got completely out of control. 

To this day if I take my eye off the ball for long—whoop there it is!!!

Proof is in this pic where I had taken a full-time medical transcription position to supplement my trainer income. Around 2005, I went down to 1-2 clients and began typing 10 hours a day, 6-7 days a week for a couple of years.

It was after seeing this very snapshot that I realized exactly how out of control things had gotten. Even though I had continued to do my daily cardio, my strength training and nutrition was in the dumps, and my appearance and sense of wellbeing along with it. I was miserable!

I heeded that WAKE-UP CALL immediately! I joined a gym and within weeks had lost all the weight and became a successful trainer in that gym for about 8 years. But I digress...that is a story for another day.

Back to My Personal Trainer Story

One year when my parents asked what I wanted for Christmas I told them about a special a local gym was having and they purchased a 6-month gym membership for me. I was living in Nashville, TN, at the time. 

Now, I’d never stepped foot into a gym before, so needless to say, I was really nervous and felt horribly out of place. That’s why I can so relate to my clients now when they first enter the gym. I recognize the look of terror in their eyes. I have been there and done that. 

Who knew I’d end up becoming a personal trainer? I obviously eventually got comfortable in the gym. I bought a book by a lady named Joyce Vedral called “Now or Never.” I still have that book and it is still in my opinion one of the best guides to sculpting a beautiful body that there ever was or will be. Let me state right now, Joyce Vedral is my hero. 

That is how I got into lifting weights. The before and after pics of Joyce Vedral and some of her followers in the book were amazing and it was all due to proper diet and exercise. I was immediately a convert! Finally, something I could actually control! 

my biceps picture

As I began to implement weightlifting and proper nutrition, I quickly noticed huge changes in my body. I found that I loved having biceps. I lost all my weight and completely transformed my body by the time that 6-month membership was over. 

I bought a weight bench and some free weights and a stationary bike and continued to work out at home with my “Now or Never” book. 

my home gym pictureMy present home gym. My old one bit the dust many years ago. lol.

I loved the fact that I could actually sculpt my body. I could change it from shapeless and flabby to toned and healthy. I’d been bitten by the fitness bug and it has been a lifelong addiction ever since, and one that I know I will never lose. My name is Linda Burke and I’m a fitnessholic! 

After many years of working out diligently at home, I joined a gym called The Club in Green Hills in Nashville, TN. One day around 1993, someone approached me at the gym and suggested I become a personal trainer since I seemed to love it so much and spent so much time in the gym anyway. 

My first thought was, “Yeah right, I could never do that.” However, once that thought was planted in my head, I couldn’t quite seem to shake it. So, I researched it and low and behold I decided to do it. 

I wanted a certification with prestige so I decided to go for my ACE (American Council on Exercise). I’d heard that it was very difficult to get. I studied for a year and in May of 1994 I tested for my ACE certification. It was the hardest test I’ve ever taken. 

In fact, I was so sure I’d failed that I went ahead and went to a weekend seminar and workshop and tested and passed for my AFAA (Aerobics and Fitness Association of America) certification a few weeks after I took the ACE test. It was imperative that I have a certification since I already had some clients lined up and ready to train with me. 

I’ll never forget receiving notice in the mail a couple of days after returning from the AFAA workshop that I’d passed the ACE. It was a very proud moment. What a perfect world: I was now ACE and AFAA certified. Very cool. 

That began my journey as a fitness professional and a certified personal fitness trainer. 

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