They Make My Day

 YTurner gym

They Make My Day

I have absolutely found a job that I love and even better, I am surrounded by some of the most amazing people.  I think the fitness business is one of my callings and each day look forward to the people I work with.

Monday night was a typical Zumba (Learn the Steps) Class at my Fitness Studio.  At the end of each class, we go around, introduce ourselves and get to know each other.  Our groups are always so diverse in age, ethnicity and background.  This night we had one young lady from Iran.  She had a heavy accent and said she had been in the states since January.  After class, she came up to me and said how nervous she had been for the past couple of months to come to a Zumba class.  She actually almost didn’t come.  After attending the class, she had the brightest smile on her face and talked about how welcome she felt and how nice everyone was.  She made me feel good because she showed that the energy, dedication and passion that Jessica and I put into our classes in seen by our wonderful participants.  And, my smile was doubled the next day when I saw her return for another class.

I spend the other half of my time at the Fitness Center at St. Stephen.  There are many people there that are “young at heart” (but not necessarily young in age).  I’ll never forget when Ms. “E” came to the gym for the first time (she’s over 70 years old). Several of her friends brought her.  She walked with a walker at a slow pace.  She wanted to try to use the seated elliptical.  As she sat down, it was painful for her to even move her leg into position to pedal.  She didn’t even have enough strength to push the pedal down.  I suggested she take it easy her first day and not to do more than her body could handle.  She instead went and walked/pushed herself around the track two times.

Spring forward a week later and Ms. E is sitting on the elliptical pushing the pedals down.  Week later, she has a full range of motion.  Weeks later, she’s doing multiple laps around the gym.  And each time she comes in, her smile gets a little brighter.  Here was someone so down on her health unable to do much of anything, now feeling on top of the world and celebrating all of her accomplishments.

Both of these ladies showed me that when times seem fearful and you feel you don’t have the strength to go on – don’t give up.  Sometimes you have to take that first step in order for blessings to come your way.  Remember, an object in motion stays in motion but you have to start moving first!

Fit Life

Fit Life

Feb 11-1If you know me, you know that I love fitness.  If you know me, you know that I love helping others.  If you know me, you know that I have been seeking a career change for some time.  This time last year, I was on a major search for new career.  I looked on websites, talked to people – I was a woman on a mission.  But nothing happened.

So, I became a certified personal trainer.  I trained at a couple of places, but still held my full-time job.  I continued my fitness competitions and working out.  One of the places I trained had negative energy.  I wasn’t happy there.  However, while I was there I had the opportunity to get Zumba certified.  And boy was I hooked.  I kept saying my prayers to do fitness full-time.

Then I met Tomarcus.  He gave me the opportunity to teach Zumba classes at APT Fitness in St. Matthews.  Loved it.  I then told any and everyone that I wanted to expand my business.  This was December 2010.  This led to classes at First G and Greater Friendship Church.  First G has over 70 women coming out weekly.  Then Living Social said they wanted to advertise my Zumba classes.  Then Velocity called wanting to put me in the Spotlight.  Then Fox 41 called about doing segments on Fox in the Morning.  Then I did a panel at St. Stephen entitled ‘New Year New You’.

We always say that we want a sign from God showing us what to do.  Well – all of my signs were loud and clear.  It was such a breath of fresh air to submit my two weeks notice at my job.  And then there was the offer.  St. Stephen’s Family Life Center offered me a position as their new Fitness Director.  They have so many amazing services there and I’m excited to create healthy lifestyles for all that want to be involved.   But there’s more.  I’ll be introduced to the congregation this weekend and every service.  So, if you’ve ever wanted to see one of my fitness routines – make sure you’re at St. Stephen Church this weekend!  God is good and I am embracing all of his blessings.  It’s all still a work in progress.  I am still a work in progress.  But, it’s great to see others believe in my passion!

M.Y. January 2011

Bull’s Eye

Bull’s Eye

June10-2I have a bull’s eye on me.  It’s right smack in the middle of my forehead.  I didn’t realize it was there at first.

When I first started competing, I researched competitors to see the skills that I’d be up against.  I remember being intimidated by certain people, like Allison Ethier.  I just wanted to represent myself well.

Last year when I went to my first national fitness competition (in Charleston, SC) nobody could have cared who I was.  I was a skinny, black girl that stayed to herself backstage.  I didn’t work with one of the powerhouse trainers.  I was just Michelle Yeager from Kentucky.  Out of six women in my class, I finished third.  I was pleased, determined to come back stronger for the next one.

Then September came, and my next competition was in NY, NY. I had a better routine and worked on my physique.  This time when I showed up, I was a familiar face.  I was a friendly face.  People remembered me from the last show, but still didn’t think too much about me being there.  Out of 10 competitors in my class, I finished third.  The top two turned professional.  Just one spot away.  I received compliments on my routine and was told that my glutes were holding me back.  (I’m a black woman – what do you expect?!)

Then came the Arnold this past March.  Instant international exposure.  While I was waiting backstage to compete, a competitor said,” I Googled your routine, it was awesome.”  Various people were interviewing me.  And, I won my class!  Great, great feeling.  I was on a high for several weeks.  Then I realized – I’M NOW THE PERSON TO BEAT!

I’m at the top with the expectation of turning pro this year. And as exciting as that is, the stress is just as tremendous.  I’m expected to bring a powerful routine, one that will have folks talking.  The judges are looking for my glutes to be smaller than before.  It’s go big or go home!

So, I have two chances – June 18/19 in Chicago (where I have to win my class) and then July 9/10 in New Jersey (where the top 2 go pro).  I want to go pro.  However, I know all things happen for a reason and that when it’s my time to shine – it will. The smell of success is at arms length away ….. and it smells just like pizza!

M.Y. June 2010

Happy? Birthday

Happy? Birthday

June10-1Last week, on May 26, I celebrated another birthday.  I turned 34.  Now usually a new birthday doesn’t affect me too much.  But for some reason, this year was different. I woke up with back pains and I was more tired than usual.  I quickly made an appointment with my chiropractor, but felt if this was the way 34 would be, then  I needed to roll back over and just stay 33.  I then realized that I would be 35 next year which is just one more stepping stone closer to 40.  I’M GETTING OLD.  I’M FEELING OLD.  Ahhhhh!

From there my mind came to the realization that my plan to be married with kids by 30 didn’t come true.  Although there is great potential that those things are in the works, the reality is that they don’t currently exist.  So, while last Wednesday should have been a Happy day, it started in a funk.

As I started thinking about it, though, I realized that everything I saw as a negative, really was a positive.  I woke up sore, because for the past couple of weeks I’ve been practicing my next fitness routine.  I do back tucks and one-arm pushups.  I should be grateful that God has blessed me with those skills and still provides me the strength to do them!

There’s a reason I’m not currently married.  My mother had cancer for five years.  During that time, she became the most important person in my life.  I was in a relationship – with her. God needed me to be there as her support system and I cherish those times we spent together.   She taught me a lot of life lessons that I now can manifest into a marriage.

Kids – I love kids.  I taught 24 every year.  And then, I was able to send them home on the school bus.  God gave me the time and freedom to travel whenever and wherever my heart desired.  Last year I took 15 trips – fifteen!  I have been able to follow my passions , create my dreams and just be me.

I realized that all of our paths are different.  And while mine might not have been the one I planned or “thought” I wanted, it was the one specially designed for me.  I’ve accomplished some amazing things, met some tremendous people and been given some splendid opportunities.   I’m proud of who I am at 34 and can’t wait to see where God will lead me into 35!

M.Y. June 2010

The Ah-nold

The Ah-nold”

Mar10-2On Sunday, Monique won an Oscar for her performance in the movie Precious.  During her acceptance speech she said, “Sometimes you have to forgo doing what is popular in order to do what’s right”.  I’ve felt this way the past 12 weeks while getting ready for my last fitness competition.

The competition, The Arnold, was this weekend in Columbus, OH.  Arnold Schwarzenegger was there in full force and there were competitors from many countries around the world.  I knew that not everyone could win, so I prayed to God and set three goals – 1. To bring down my glutes (black women, we know our butts look great in jeans, but we aren’t packing too much muscle),  2. To increase my routine placing (last year it was 7th out of 8) and 3. – to increase my overall placing of fifth from last year.

I was pretty nervous all last week about competing.  All my days of not hanging out with friends, or skipping invites for great meals – would they pay off?  All the many days spent in the gym and in the basement doing cardio – would it be enough?   All the money spent on costumes, travel and prep – would anyone notice?  All the fans and supporters that stood by my side – would I let them down?

The competition was Thursday night.  On Thursday afternoon I went to a MAC store there and had my makeup done.  After my visit with Janelle, I felt absolutely beautiful!  That moment was the first moment that I felt prepared to compete.  I was no longer nervous, I was excited.  I knew as long as I brought my best package to the stage, I would be proud.

My routine went well and I had a cheering section that was heard loudly throughout the arena.  For our two piece round, I wasn’t in the exact middle (which is where the favored person stands).  So ,going home I really had no idea how I would place.

Saturday morning was the awards on the Arnold expo stage in front of thousands of visitors.  The top five in my class were announced and I was one of them.  5th, 4th and 3rd were announced.  That only left two of us.  I felt like a Miss America contestant.  As the announcer said 2nd place, I realized that he did not say my name.  I WON!!  I ACTUALLY WON MY CLASS AT THE ARNOLD!

I was speechless, overjoyed and glanced out in the audience and saw my coach Ceal beaming.  The crowd was actually cheering for me.  I received the winning trophy, me!  I received the jacket – and for that moment, it was my moment to shine.

Dreams do come true.  Goals can be set and accomplished if you stay focused.  Be patient for your time to shine, because it could be just around the corner! (and boy was that Dominos pizza good on the car ride home!)

M.Y. March 2010

Begin Again in 2010

Begin again in 2010!

First of all – Happy New Year to each and every one of you! 2009 was a overall good year for me.  I traveled, traveled and traveled some more by taking 15 trips.  I fell in love with someone that lives 1,000 miles away, made a name for myself in the fitness world, and experienced history with Obama.  Unfortunately I also lost my grandmother, realized I need a new career and woke up one morning with a paralyzed neck.

Last year I set three goals. 1) to get my fitness pro card, 2) to open my heart to falling in love and 3) to increase the OnyxLouisville presence.  I was very close (4 points) to getting my pro card. I spent a year in a relationship and to feel loved was amazing!  And, I met my goal for OnyxLouisville.

This year with 2010, I decided to do “10 for 10 in 2010″!  I have set ten goals this year.  Some are continuations from last year like getting my fitness pro card.  Others are extensions of last year.  Although my relationship started out great, toward the end of the year I wasn’t sure if it was “the one”.  So, I am starting out this year single again with a goal once again of developing a new successful relationship.  Then there are new goals like doing more public speaking for community service organizations and seeking another career.  I might not achieve all of my goals in 2010, but it’s a direction to work toward.

Why not join me in “10 for 10 in 2010″?!  Think about ways you want to improve yourself. Whether big or small, set some goals and try to achieve them.  Share your goals with others so they can offer you support and encouragement.  The sky should be the limit for all of us this year.  If you believe, you can achieve!

M.Y. January 2010