Staying Active

Meet my Staff!

Holy crap! Can you believe I have had my business open for over a year and a half now! It seems unreal. It was such a challenge to get to opening day that I may have missed a few months! It’s okay now though and we are plugging along like a normal, happy family. Everyone is finally talking to me without being scared that I will start hollering. Oh come on, I only holler occasionally.

I have people ask me all the time about my staff, so I thought I would introduce you to them! They are a great mix of backgrounds and personalities, which is vital for this business. If you didn’t know, we are a corporate wellness management firm that manages programming and an onsite facility for a large manufacturing company.

We don’t just sit around and work out all day. We produce multiple events yearly, from a golf tournament, 5K walks, weight loss challenges, we teach 20+ classes a week and we maintain a facility with 1000+ members. We are busy! And we LOVE it! We truly are a family and enjoy being at work. That makes a huge difference in our lives!

Meet my staff and see the signs I made for each one at our birthday party:

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Hannah Fitch

Front Desk Manager/Assistant Director

Hannah is my go to person. She pretty much does everything for our onsite facility. She is a super sweetheart and fits in perfectly in my environment. She has also just started studying for her group exercise certification. She is like a sponge and just watches and listens to everything I say. Which can be bad or good. Bringing her on has been one of my best decisions! She has recently completed her Piyo Live certification and started teaching regular classes. She is crazy smart and has started questioning my moves and ways. I love it! Let’s just hope that she doesn’t start cussing like me though!

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Evan Menzel

Front Desk

Evan is awesome. He started with me years ago and is a hoot to have around. He is an instructor at several local universities and is my resident Biologist. He is the "knower of all things" and if you EVER need an answer - find Evan. He is also a great friend of mine and has talked me off several ledges before. He also is a fantastic cook! I have been known to lie and steal his leftovers. Also, do not go to his house if you are scared of snakes. 

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Folonda Wynn

Front Desk

When I moved to the area 13 years ago, I started working at a facility and Folonda worked there. Years later, she started working for another company at Mercedes and we met again. Then - she asked me about a job. And here we are. She works the notorious night shift. The one that has swallowed and broken every other person that has tried it! Even the college kids that feel they are invincible and only work one day a week. They cave the fastest! Folonda asked for that shift and would leave this job and walk next door to her full time job. She then went full time for me and ALSO still works her other full time job! We have bets when she actually sleeps and no one can figure it out. She is the sweetest person alive, even at 3 am. She rarely complains too! She has always believed in me and I will always believe in her!

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Thomas Hall

Front Desk, Running Coach

Here is an actual picture of my relationship with Thomas.

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Thomas is one of my favorites! He rides bikes, runs a million miles a year, works for MBUSI, lives 9 hours away and does a zillion other things every.single.day, so he is a WILD SOUL. He’s like my male version. I never really know where he is. He’s somewhere, living his best life. He started as a running coach and now works the front desk when he needs a nap. If you need to run or a good conversation, call Thomas.

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Brooks Smithson

Front Desk

In this business, we often call on favors. Trust me, we keep track of our owed favors. Two different people called and said they had someone to work for me. It was Brooks. I said no both times. Both kept telling me that I would love him. I gave in and fine, I love him. He was actually the first employee to work for MB Fitness! I even paid him out of my pocket for 2 months. He is an engineering student at The University of Alabama and is a great guy. He is remarkably smart and will do anything to help out. Like the time I asked that he take the diameter of a pink ball and see how many I would need to fit in a pool. He did it very enthusiastically.

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Rick Clementz

Group Fitness

Rick started coming to classes years ago and quickly became an instructor. He works for MBUSI as head legal counsel and has a huge family, but still manages to make me a priority. He truly is one of my favorite people. I have sat across from him numerous times with personal and business issues and he has always helped me. He was one of my biggest supporters here at Mercedes and for bringing MB Fitness onsite. He is a wonderful person, father, attorney, friend and staff member. I will always succeed with Rick beside me.

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Darla Rhodes

Front Desk

Darla is freaking adorable. I met her on her first day of kindergarten when I dropped off my daughter, Annabelle. They were fast friends and have managed to stay in touch after 6 years and different schools. I have always called her my other daughter and when she wanted a summer job, I said sure. She is a hard worker and super sweet. We have also found out that she is amazing at event planning! A huge perk in this business!

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Shane Booth

Front Desk

Shane is a team member here at MBUSI and was interested in working for some extra hours at the facility. He is adorable and always ready to work. He loves to work out, play golf and enjoys time with his son (who accompanies him sometimes to work). I love having Mercedes staff work for me because they are dedicated and always professional. That is Shane!

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Josh May

Yoga and Group Fitness Instructor

Josh started coming to my yoga classes years ago and he would always ask me the most detailed questions. I would answer him and just give him a look. He would smile and walk away. After about 2 million questions, I finally said - “Why don’t you look into getting certified?” He just smiled and said he might do that. And he did. Twice. We began teaching together and he has now taken over the yoga classes here at the MAC. He is a great guy and a huge asset! He also works for MBUSI full time and has two beautiful daughters.

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Chad Johnstone

Group Fitness Instructor, Personal Trainer

What can I say about Chad? He is the guy that I said I would NEVER hire and here we are. He works for MBUSI full time and was a member with a sole mission in life to annoy me. Here we are. He is very passionate and an excellent instructor. I do have to walk by and thump him on the head occasionally but that’s okay. He also LOVES to spend my money on the latest cool toys for the facility. He has an adorable family with two small daughters and still manages to work out constantly. He is an avid runner, Kettlebell trainer and weight lifter.

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Annabelle Blomeley

Website Design, Writer and Front Desk

Yep, Annabelle is my adorable oldest child. She does a lot in the business. She works the front desk some but mostly works behind the scenes. She is my content writer, website design and graphic designer. Yep, she does all that and WAY better than most. She attends the Alabama School of Fine Arts and will graduate this spring. She is the one that will discuss the most random things and research things that I’m sure she shouldn’t be. I’m sure her plans are to overthrow me at some point and take over completely. I’m actually fine with that.

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Jeff Morrison

Group Fitness Instructor

Jeff teaches all kinds of classes for me! He began as a member and started teaching a few of our Beachbody programs. He works for MBUSI full time, loves to run and bike and enjoys teaching. He is also a big softball dad and seems to travel to Disney at least 100 times a year. We share a love of cats, so I will randomly get a video of his babies playing!

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Kyle Warram

Running Coach and Non Staffer

Kyle is the only staff member that is not a staff member. We treat him like staff and he gets all the perks of being a staff member, but no one knows why. Joking, I made him a running coach so he could have a “title.” Kyle helps run our running program and the gear up towards our marathon each year. He also runs our internal systems for MBUSI. He works full time for MBUSI, loves power lifting, running and has a large family that he provides for. He is a sweet guy that also enjoys spending my money. You rarely see him without Chad somewhere near.

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Eric Watts - Personal Trainer

Eric is a personal trainer and group fitness instructor. We rarely see each other with his busy work schedule. He works for MBUSI full time as well. He is a fantastic trainer and loves to run obstacle races in his spare time. He has a big family and somehow manages to juggle his crazy schedule too!

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Jessica Wantman - Front desk

Jess started as my intern several semesters back and decided to stay on. She is freaking adorable! She immediately fell in love with group fitness and is currently studying for her license. She is my Piyo lover and a whiz at music and choreography. She is a student at The University of Alabama and I hope that she stays on for awhile!

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Josh Kimberly - front desk

Josh is my little energetic, happy guy. He also works full time at MBUSI and occasionally works the front desk for me. He met his beautiful wife while working out at the MAC! I see her more now than him! Come see me JOSH. Like tomorrow.

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abbey payne - nutrition intern

Abbey is my newest intern. She is freaking adorable. She is specializing in nutrition and has been a huge asset in my nutrition business. She is like a sponge and sits down and soaks up everything I say. I look forward to seeing where she takes herself in the field! She already teaches group fitness classes and is hoping to gain her personal training license soon.

Gracie Springer - virtual assistant

Gracie is my Virtual Assistant and does things in about a tenth of the time that it takes me. She has literally finished things before I even completed my sentence before. She is a fantastic with research too. She is luckily staying close for college!

Adrienne avery - Group fitness instructor

I met Adrienne when I contracted with a local school system to train their teachers after school. We immediately became friends and she is one of the most fantastic humans alive. She has helped me through some of my darkest and most desperate times. Me and my girls slept on her floor for months when we didn’t have a place to go! It never phased her and she was always happy to have us. She is one of the facilities favorite instructors too. She can teach most anything but her specialty is TRX. She is currently a stay at home mom to two little girls and seemed fine when I told her that she couldn’t teach anymore unless she brought the babies for me to hold. So, most Fridays I get some baby time. I love it!

So, there is my wonderful team! It has been a challenge for me but I wouldn’t change a thing. Especially with this team above. I keep pushing for my girls and this team! I may work wild hours way past bedtime but that’s ok. It’s a small journey and I am proud to be on it. Thanks for all your support and dedication! As always, if you need me or one of the team members above - let me know!

Happy New Year and we wish you much success in your health and fitness goals!

Much Love,

Molly

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Staying Active Despite having a Chronic Pain or Inflammation Disease

One of my talents- I am a master of disguise when it comes to hiding pain. Am I proud? Sorta. Does it bring me comfort? No. I am a personal trainer, group ex instructor and fitness blogger that manages to put on a strong front while in ridiculous pain.  I've written about this before and I have also spoken to many groups on this topic and have managed to compile some data. When I walk into a room to speak, I generally can put you into 2 groups. 1. The give up group. 2. The wants to give up but will die swinging group. 

In my years of having Lupus and belonging to several support groups, online and in person, the one's that have lost their battle are always in the "give up" group. Always. Maybe it's a coincidence for me but I don't feel it is. They have the sad, I don't care look. They don't care what they eat, how they survive, they are just trying to survive somehow. This is a bad and lonely place. 

I'm going to hopefully push you to the other "fighter" group. There are some things that I do and have taught people in pain for years to do that has always kept them on the fighter side. Don't worry, you can walk over to the other side occasionally, just don't hang out over there. 

1. Grieve. This took YEARS for me to master (or sorta kinda). I'm not sure I can even speak on this because I've done such a pathetic job here, but pretend I know what I'm talking about. It's imperative that you grieve for your life that you thought you were living. If you have been diagnosed with something as debilitating as Lupus, regaining your life just as it was years ago is probably not going to happen. I'm sorry to say that but it's just a fact - your life is forever different. Take time to grieve that fact properly. Grieve that adorable, spunky sweet girl. The one that could climb hills and hills. Is she forever gone doomed to a wheelchair? NO. I swear. After years, I can say that I am in better shape than before my diagnosis. It's painful and sucks ass, but I can do it. Allow your family time to grieve as well. They are also losing one way and needing to understand the new way.

2. Find your inner strength. Trust me here. You're going to need some major strength and it has to come from you. Unfortunately, I have tried every approach possible and I have learned that you can't put everything into your spouse or children or doctor. Or cat. I go through spells and I will actually say, "I'm hunkering down, so let me do it my way." My partner - oh geez! That tactic does not work well. But, after several years, we have found a common ground. The pain and stress are remarkable and I have to shut my outside world down at times or I won't survive the day. It isn't a jab or direct hit at him, I am turning my survival mode on. I have no idea how I've managed to still be standing, but I believe it's because I have something within me that has managed to take over. And when I have gained some strength, I will walk back up to him. He has adjusted to my strategy finally but he has also shown me that I can't handle it all alone at times.

3. Find other "fighters." Let me introduce you to some of my friends. We all have severe health problems and we have managed to find deep friendships with each other. I have two great friends, Alanna and Katina. We all have the same doctor and spent time in chemo together. What's the difference here? If you randomly open my phone and see our group texts, you would be wildly surprised. We are honest at all times with each other. One will nicely ask 'how are you' to the group.  And we answer with a barrage of explicits about what is truthfully going on. The others listen and encourage with the same amount of explicits. We just understand. We laugh when one of us goes down with something major, again. I told them that I dislocated my knee and several weeks later, I sent a message about my recent issue. "I guess I broke my neck." The comments and laughs that came back were fantastic! It was funny people! I was getting hurt every single step I took for months. It became hilarious. My partners at the gym started laughing too! It is so stupid how much we deal with at times and sometimes you can't help but laugh. We also are better researchers than most. Fighters surround themselves with knowledge and they aren't afraid to use it! Find a group of fighters and they will be your best asset. I have put concerns on something out to friends all over the country and they have responded with answers and things that I have taken to my doctor. I knew of a research drug being studied before my doctor. Fighters find ways to survive no matter what. Learn to be a fighter.

4. Know your limits. This is a brutal reality. You have to know your limitations and what is going to hurt you in the long run. This is something that sucks the most. Chronic sufferers live each day with something nagging them and we will go to great lengths to quieten this. Unfortunately, it never quietens. Spend a week in the sun, spend two weeks feeling like you were hit by a truck. Eat bad for a week, it will take my stomach three weeks to level out. Go heavy in the gym and I'll spend weeks with a swollen knee. It truly hurts when I have to explain why I can't do something. It makes you feel like you actually are sick. Ironic. But, you have to find your limits. My oldest daughter would ask to swing all day, every day. "Swing, please," she would beg. No one understood, but I actually lost the mobility in my right hand for almost a year. It hurt constantly, but I hid it well. The thing that hurt it the most, pushing a swing for some reason. I tried everything. Pushing with my hand closed. Pushing only with my left hand. Pushing super hard several times and then stepping away to rest my hand. I tried bribing her with sugar. Toys. But, all she wanted to do was swing with me pushing her. I started telling her no. It was the only way I felt I could help my pain in my hand. (I do still have terrible guilt about not being able to play with her. I imagine that she doesn't even remember this.) Either way- I knew my limits. 

5. Do your best. I have tried all kinds of approaches to feel better. Hello... I am a personal trainer that works in a gym full time. And I hold a Nutrition license. It's imperative that you continue to exercise and eat healthy. I have had several doctors tell me that the only reason I am not crippled (their word, not mine), is because I have always worked out. Insert the fighter group again here - The fighters continue regardless. Maybe we are masters of our pain thresholds or maybe we are just fighters. Or maybe something happened in our childhoods that taught us this vital skill. I happen to believe that it has to do with your surroundings and support systems. If you treat me sick, I will show you not sick. If you treat me not sick, I will eventually show you sick anyway. But, do not remind me because I can do as much if not more than you. Even sick. I live with my reality everyday and I don't need someone reminding me. I will talk to you about anything if you ask me nicely, but I'm not going to discuss it on my own. Because, unless you feel my pain or live with me, you will not understand how hard I try to do my best each day. In my years of speaking to chronically ill patients, I can also tell you this - we hurt more just knowing that we are affecting the people close to us as well. By bringing it up, you are reminding us of this as well. I can say that I truly do my best every day. I may sit down and play on my phone at work, but I'm really trying to divert my attention away from my pain. I may have an unorganized pantry with random foods in it, but if I can't cook tonight, my girls can find something. I may have pulled a random pain pill out of my boyfriends glove compartment last week that I hid in there for emergencies. It was an emergency dear!

I learned at a very young age that I had to be strong for myself, that other people won’t always fight for you. They may care for you, but nobody can do the work of building you up like you can. This disease has been at times the most defeating thing I’ve ever experienced because there is no control over it. I want to keep it real and say that I fight everyday but that’s not the truth. Some days I don’t fight at all. That use to make me so emotional and depressed but what I realized is sometimes not fighting is still a form of fighting.
Katina

6. Don't be a dumb ass. You have to listen to your doctor and your body. I have fought remarkably hard and I still get lectured by my doctor. However, my doctor is at the top of his field. I have laughed and lectured other doctors about being wrong though. I do not have a bone sticking out of my armpit idiot girl resident from three years ago. There is an idiot here, but it's not me! I have been with my doctor for 11 years and he knows me very well. He says something and I listen. Listen to your body too. Is jumping at the trampoline park really a good idea after you spent two days with a swollen knee? Do you get sick and feel worse after eating crap for a few days? Don't be a dumb ass - your body is giving you the signals to make some changes. Change your diet and see how you feel. I swear that you will survive two days without corn chips. (They are over there on the table staring at me. Just staring.) Hire an awesome nutrition coach. I know one if you need a suggestion. 

7. DO NOT GIVE IN. Being diagnosed with a disease, suffering an injury, or just losing your way is not a reason to give up. If you want to lay on the couch everyday and whine about how shitty your life is, then do that. But don't wonder why your family is concerned, why you are gaining weight, why you suddenly feel even worse, why your kids aren't hanging around as much, why your finances are getting worse, etc. Get your ASS UP. Walk to the bathroom every hour. Walk to the kitchen. Walk to the mailbox. Turn the TV off and reflect/meditate. Here's a true story that I have only told to one group. I only told it because a lady was crying in the front row. (We are still friends.) My oldest had just started school and I was at home with my youngest. I was at my sickest and had started working from home because I couldn't load up the little one, drive and work all in the same day. Well, Haley Jane was a little spit fire. She needed to be right near you. And talked the ENTIRE time. I just wanted to sit and suffer but that couldn't happen. I finally figured out how to help us both. We had three trees in our front yard and we went outside. I concocted this ridiculous game with these trees. We would walk around the trees in varying ways. Once she learned the game, I would sit down. I would sit there and tell her what to do. Everyday, we went outside and played this game. I would sit down immediately and tell her what to do. I essentially just ran my two year old until she gave up. After a few weeks, I made a loop with her. Then two. Then we added the mailbox. Then we added the neighbors tree. It wasn't much to a high impact trainer but it wasn't me sitting on the couch. And yes, it hurt like hell. I was brutally sick, but I wasn't going to give in.

I had a great friend that gave up. She hired a driver if she ever got out, which was rarely. She hired a cook. She had a housekeeper. She had nurses that came to her. She hired a lady to do her shopping. She would shop online and find something and then have the lady go buy it at the store. She would then tell her family that she had went and bought it. She often told me that she was done fighting. She didn't even want to walk to the bathroom alone. She suffered greatly. She got up, walked to the bathroom and sat down and died on December 15, 2006. She was 51. Her daughter later told me that on Christmas morning, the family came to the house to have Christmas anyway. They had explained to the grand kids how they wouldn't be getting any presents from their grandmother because she of course had passed away weeks before and they assumed she hadn't purchased gifts. The families arrived and began having Christmas. Everyone had brought gifts and placed them under the tree. When they began opening, they noticed gifts addressed to the grand kids in their mother's handwriting. The grand kids began opening these gifts and they were prerecorded story books from their grandmother. Recorded in her own voice, all with a handwritten note telling them how much she loved them. There was even one for an unborn grandchild. I was at her house on December 10th and she gave me a Christmas angel that I still put out every year and say a prayer for her grand children that she clearly loved tremendously. I also ask her why she gave up. Why she didn't fight just a little harder. She was able to walk, eat, talk, cook, drive - yet she felt she couldn't. It was stated that she died from low blood pressure and complications from Lupus. It may be rude of me to say, but I feel she gave in to her disease years before and had stopped fighting. She did not have to die. Her husband was asleep in the bedroom and she never woke him up to say she wasn't feeling well. She always woke him up to help her to the bathroom, this night she didn't. Her unborn grandchild was born just three months after she died, she could have been there. Maybe it was her time to go and nothing could have stopped that. Or maybe she gave up.

I fight for my husband and son. They are the ones that keep me going no matter how bad I might feel. I also fight to prove that I don’t give up that easily!
Alanna

I truly understand how hard it is to wake up "differently" than you used too. I understand the constant issues and concerns. I understand the incredible burden that is placed on your shoulders. I understand the desire to stop and give up. For some reason, you have been made differently or been given something else to handle. The most exciting part is that you can show your true strength and somehow climb out of this. I show my girls everyday that a mother can accomplish so much even with crippling issues. I may holler or react harsh on my bad days, but I also make homemade cupcakes with little ABC sprinkles for the first day of school every year. I may not have pushed my daughter for five straight hours 12 years ago on the swing, but she does get a birthday cake made by me each year. Most importantly, they have been taught compassion and independence. 

So, despite your struggles, I encourage you to continue staying active and to fight for yourself. Do it for you, no one else. You are enough - I promise. 

Alanna is going to die because she has no makeup on! Alanna, Katina and myself at our chemo treatment.

Alanna is going to die because she has no makeup on! Alanna, Katina and myself at our chemo treatment.

Love, Molly