Alexandra Williams, MA and Kymberly Williams-Evans, MA
Back in 1983, I was invited by Kymberly to come to West Berlin and join her in teaching at a club that offered a new kind of program – aerobics! As we had grown up with dance and soccer, it sounded like an ideal way to travel and earn money.
Kymberly told me to take a few classes at the Jane Fonda Studio (I lived in L.A. at the time) so that I could figure out what the aerobics hoopla was all about. Besides learning some cardio moves and instructional tips, my forays to the Jane Fonda classes taught me a lot about spot poaching. People really like “their” spots in the group fitness room! But I digress.
When I flew to Berlin, my sis spent the week giving me teaching tips so I’d be ready for my first class. The two that really stuck with me were, “If you forget what comes next, do eight more of whatever you’re currently doing,” and “Smile and make eye contact.” I still use those tips on the instructors I mentor and train.
Thanks to her, I got to live and work in Berlin, including a stint on the U.S. military’s TV channel there, demonstrating exercises. If only Kymberly and I had owned video cameras back then!!
When I got back to the States, I taught aerobics as a way to make money while I studied Russian at San Diego State University. What started as a side job then turned into a 30-year (and still going strong) career. When IDEA Health and Fitness Association needed fitness writers, my sister recommended me, and I’ve now had hundreds of articles published (and am an editor too). I’ve traveled to many parts of the world as a fitness leader, and met thousands of active, happy people. Even better, I’ve met thousands of inactive people who became active once they found how much joy and energy they got from moving and exercising. More importantly, my boys have spent their entire lives as part of an active family that values health. They see movement and good nutrition as normal.
If Kymberly hadn’t talked me into moving to Berlin, I doubt I would have become an instructor. Upon reflection, it’s funny how one seemingly minor decision led to an entire lifestyle. I live #FitClean.
Remind me to tell you some of the funny stories about Alexandra learning to cue aerobics in German. Or the time I borrowed her workout gear without asking for one of the TV episodes she was not in. Oops – forgot she planned to watch the show.
Anyway, my fitness inspiration is my mom. Growing up in the 60’s in Hermosa Beach, CA was a lot of fun and the decade we got a black and white TV. But that inspir-poopy mom of ours limited our tv time to two hours … per WEEK! From a list of approved shows. What’s a baby boomer girl to do with only 4 siblings, a big front and back yard, a ping pong table, and a trampoline when she can’t watch the telly? Why, play and fight outdoors of course!
Our mom taught modern and performance dance when we were young. Twice a week she would take us all with her to the dance studio, where we’d join in the classes and productions. That meant we also rehearsed at home, made up dances for each other, and generally leapt about the house with dramatic flair and em-PHA-sis. Always moving, always moving.
As well, mom (and dad) encouraged us all to play sports. Keep in mind this was pre-Title IX when sports did not really exist much for girls. Heck, girls had to wear dresses or skirts to our elementary school — no pants or shorts allowed. In a family with four girls and one boy (the baby, poor thing), my mom was quite progressive for her time. She instilled in us a confidence and belief that girls could do everything boys could do, both academically and athletically. When AYSO (American Soccer Youth Organization) FINALLY formed the first ever girls’ soccer teams, my parents enrolled Alexandra, our younger sister, and me lickety split. Around then, my mom went back to college to get a Master’s Degree in Dance (the first of a few advanced degrees). So you can see that she valued movement. Or time away from a passel of kids. We’ve always wondered.
Never once did she nag any of us about our weight, though she did have strict rules about food. No sodas, max of one piece of candy per day (Two after Halloween. Whoo hoo! Live it up!), no sugary cereals (“Please let us have Captain Crunch or Sugar Pops, please!), dessert only after dinner. Mom herself was never on a diet, nor did I ever hear her express dissatisfaction with her own body. The focus was on how our bodies moved and functioned, not how they looked. Only in hindsight do I realize she was an anomaly among her peers in that she had no eating or weight issues.
When I left for Berlin after college, ultimately teaching at the first aerobics studio on the European continent, my mom gave me great advice: “Have a wonderful time; make lots of memories; be open to new things; find many adventures; don’t fall in love and stay abroad!”
Yup, even though she’d miss me, she supported my going far away — first learning to teach fitness, then training new instructors throughout the world. But I heard my mom’s message – move across the globe, move to music, move others to move. Then come back to the States!
Our mom just celebrated her 84th birthday. Guess how? She drove herself to her weekly acting class followed by her twice weekly aqua aerobics class. I think it was the two birthday cakes that inspired her. She does have a sweet tooth these days. She’s earned it! Thanks mom for inspiring me to be active all my life!
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