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Who is Your Successnet?


In my book, Woman of Influence, I encourage women to have a “successnet”- a group of women that surround her life to help make her better, stronger, wise, fitter, and more Christ-like.  We need women in a variety of fields surrounding us so we move forward emotionally, spiritually, physically, relationally, etc. For the next few blogs I will introduce you to some people who are a part of my successnet on my wellness journey in hopes you can decide who you might need to ask to be on your team too. I think I coined the team, “successnet” because to me life is a lot like a tight rope walk, it can be a little scary, dangerous, unsettling, but if you know people are holding a net under you, so that even if you fall down, you will be okay and can get back up because strong people were holding the net.

I want you to meet Donna Roberts, one person on my successnet team, a trainer I met through First Place 4 Health ministry. She is the personal trainer for Carol Lewis, the President of First Place, and she specializes in helping women in life’ “Part B” season of life through her website: .  I interviewed Donna to get a few tips on how to find someone like her, or how to connect to her ministry so we all might have success on the tightrope walk to wellness.

 What should women look for to find a qualified personal trainer?

Currently, there are thousands of personal trainers out there….and honestly, it doesn’t take much to become a personal
trainer. Unfortunately, a quick on line course for $100 can make someone certified. I have seen the same thing happen over and over:  lots of people who like to “work out” decide it would be fun and easy to work out all day and make a lot of money at the same time, so they take a quick course and then start training people at the gym.   When you watch them you find that they train their clients all the same way: the 17 year old male performance athlete, the 64 yr old osteoarthritic woman, and the 33 year old post-natal woman– it’s exactly the same workout!  For those who don’t know better, they think that is ok– but it’s not!

A good trainer will take the time to do a complimentary assessment (yes, it should be FREE) It should include getting to know each other, and lots of active listening and questions on the trainer’s part: Goals, health history, postural assessments, flexibility and
balance assessments, heart rate, blood pressure, cardiovascular assessments, and scheduling and expectations on both ends need to be reviewed and discussed.  A good trainer is willing to take the time to listen to her client, show a genuine concern for her needs, and be able to design  an  INDIVIDUALIZED program that takes into account their current limitations and safely and progressively bring them to the next level and toward their ultimate goal.  After designed, the trainer should review their planned approach with their client.  Also, a trainer should keep good records, including baseline measurements of weight, body fat, and circumference measurements and a summary of each of their clients’ workouts.

Personally, I think food is a big part of training as well. A good trainer should be a good accountability partner, who monitors her clients eating and food habits and addresses ways to better them (but not beat the client up for being bad).

NASM ( National Academy of Sport Medicine) is the best certification (and not an easy one to get) If your trainer doesn’t have an
education in exercise science or something related in this field, then MAKE SURE they have the above certification and at least 5 years experience.  You can go to NASM’s website and put in your trainer’s name to check their certification.  It’s also a great idea to ask for some referrals. If a trainer is good, it should be easy for him or her to give you at least 5 current clients phone number or e-mails who would be willing to vouch for their quality.

What is the most common piece of advice you give?

I have two answers to this question 1. SMR (self-myofascial release), or more simply, foam rolling.

We have learned a lot in the personal training world by looking at the other health industry worlds out there, one of them being physical therapy.  God designed our bodies to move at an optimal level and due to life and past injuries and being de-conditioned and muscle imbalances (and many other reasons) our bodies have learned to move in very different ways than they are supposed to! Believe me, I have seen people in constant pain, because they refuse to just move, because it hurts!  Well, think of foam rolling like self massage. By applying gentle force on a knot, the muscle fibers alter from a bundled position into a straighter alignment with the direction of the muscle or fascia–the way it was supposed to be–and ultimately the client is able to better and over time, feel better (and decrease their risk of injury and pain in the future.) It is the single best thing I believe someone can do before beginning their workout each day. (There are some people with certain limitations who are not able to tolerate SMR (severely arthritic people), so please be sure to check with your trainer first.)

2. The second most common pieceof advice I give is: Change your thinking!! God says in His word to take every thought captive, and women on a journey toward better health need to get rid of their stinking thinking!  I cannot begin to tell you the negativity, bondage and depression women are in because of their obesity or negative self image…and the way food has become an escape to deal with the pain of their reality! Although their greatest desire is to be healthy and look good and feel good again, they don’t want to be uncomfortable!  And when I start messing with their comfort, they don’t like it!

I urge my clients to start looking as food simply as fuel and to only eat enough to get to their next meal (which is usually in about 3 hours!)We review emotions when they binge and other ways to deal with their feelings as well as how they see their new
journey and how great they are going to feel when they achieve their goals (always keeping them in front of them)  Victory comes with every good choice they make (…and you know Pam…that little positive steps each day, eventually add up to huge ones over time!)

3 Easy to apply training tips that every woman should know….

My clients that have achieved lasting success always:

1. SET A GOAL: Think seriously about what you want to do and what it’s going to take to get there.  Make it realistic, but don’t underestimate yourself. Those people with bigger fitness goals tend to have the most success. Once you have the goal, make a commitment to the goal and then keep your mind set. You need to keep it in front of you on days when you are not motivated, don’t feel like it, or just have a ton of things going on.

2. HAVE ACCOUNTABILITY.  I don’t care who you are, you need it.  Even I have a fitness accountability partner who I workout with and keep accountable to.  You cannot do this alone. You were never meant to do this alone. Enlist people who are on the same journey and workout with them.  Friend people on to watch what you eat.  You will be 100% more successful if you are accountable to someone.

3. BE CONSISTENT.   No stopping and starting.  No thinking it’s too hard.  Don’t quit.  Don’t be critical of yourself.  Don’t give into having to be perfect either.  Just do your best every single day. Don’t look back if you messed up–keep going forward.  Enjoy the benefits of exercise–you can’t help but feel more energized and stronger after a good workout!

I promise, in the past 18 years I have worked as a trainer, I have yet to hear one person feel bad about themselves for exercising. It’s always a positive thing for people!! Taking care of the body God has entrusted to us is an important responsibility we all share and I am so thrilled He put me right in the middle of it to help others along their fitness journey!!

A Trainer to Help YOU too

I’ve had a growing unease with the fact that I am only been able to train a small number of women at a time. I knew what I was doing was right, something I felt called to do and something that WORKED. But after 18 years I was frustrated because I knew that no matter how many hours I worked, no matter how many women I helped to get fit and stay fit, I would never have the impact Iknew was desperately needed by women of all ages. I was encouraged by many of my clients to somehow, some way, reach more women. While I wasn’t sure how, I knew that the internet was the answer. So I put together a team, and did what I have always done, found the

You see, weight loss and fitness is not just about doing one thing. It’s about nutrition, physical training, spirituality and not least of all support and accountability through community. That’s why I started

Now it doesn’t matter where you are, you get the same workouts and guidance as if I was training you in my gym. (Note from Pam: And Donna is a wonderful mix of encourager, equipper and exhorter (a trainer should compel you to want to change). As with any exercise
and wellness advice, check with your doctor first, get his/her green light, then gather your successnet (and sound like Donna is willing to be one of those holding YOUR net on your journey to wellness and fitness success!)

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