Natasha Johnson has been on the other side of skinny.
Once obese and staring down a diabetes diagnosis, the energetic 43-year-old now leads more than a half-dozen group fitness classes a week.
People who meet me think I’ve always been as is and think I’ve always been small, she says. The rewarding thing is being able to walk that extra step going to the grocery store. You know, because I like to park way back. I like to get that extra step when I walk.
It was those extra steps, too, that played a significant part in her weight loss. It began with a walk at lunch one day, and she walked again the next day. On her days off, she would walk around the neighborhood and play with her daughter.
Before I knew it, I was down 85 pounds. My knees no longer hurt, I was no longer out of breath, my clothes started falling off, she says.
Johnson also began taking group fitness classes at the Old Fort YMCA branch before it closed and eventually took over for an instructor who retired.
The things that I do in class, I’ve done for myself. These are things that I do know work, she says. I’m able to train them the way that it would work for them as well.
The workout: Group fitness
Class schedule: Johnson teaches four nights a week at Renaissance Pointe YMCA, including water aerobics, cardio conditioning, core strength and Silver Sneakers. Afterward, she’ll join her sister for a dance class.
Good times roll: We have a good time in class. We laugh, we talk, we dance. It’s fun. It’s making working out fun instead of just counting reps or counting calories. We don’t do any of that, she says. A lot of my students come straight from work, and this is their time for themselves – to have a good time and to lose weight.
Gear: Johnson uses a variety of equipment in her classes, including hand weights, mats and exercise balls.
Double duty: The exercises in Johnson’s classes are full-body, she says. It’s not just going to work one area without working another. If we’re squatting, we might be curling at the same time.
Tipping point: Johnson was 26 when she found out that she was diagnosed with diabetes. At the time, she weighed 206 pounds.
(It was) either lose the weight or deal with it, she says.
Advice to beginners: When Johnson began walking, she would join a group as they lapped a school. Eventually, though, she found that she was the only one walking.
You’ve got to want it, she says. It’s OK to start with others, but be prepared to continue on your own if the others decide to quit! This is your lifestyle, no one else’s.