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The focus for March for the 2017 Challenge is Strength Training & our goal is to get at least 2 days of strength training in every week.

We have a lot of strong women to choose from, but I couldn’t think of a better person to highlight than Melissa Hill. Melissa has been really consistent with her strength training since she started at Pacific Strength back in 2009. She has made HUGE strength gains in that time & everyone loves when Melissa’s in class – she encourages everyone who trains with her to push it to the next level.

Here’s what Melissa had to say when I told her she was chosen for our Student Spotlight:

Melissa: Wow! What an honor!! I am thrilled – I’ve always wanted to be a student of the month!! Here is what I can say first before I answer your questions: it was when I met you and Katie Pike down at those surf lessons and watched you surf standing straight forward on your board (just the first few waves then your turned sideways) and riding the waves like you were a bullet, that is when I realized I wanted more. You were fearless out there, no matter the size of the wave or the force of the rip. I came to realize that your fearlessness and confidence came from your strength. I didn’t realize your strength until I saw you without your wetsuit and could see your strong back and shoulders. That’s when I knew that I wanted to be like Val. Being like Marilyn is awesome and I hope to be like Marilyn my entire life. I will always strive for her attitude, her strength and her mental sharpness. But, I know I just have a few years to Be Like Val. I want to have strength. I have always wanted muscles and you were and are my inspiration. You have never judged and have always encouraged to try more, do it again, lets try it this way. You have even have called me and asked me to come train when there wasn’t even a class. I have so appreciated the past 8 years and my 7 pull-ups are because of your encouragement and training. Thank you.

Thank You, Melissa! So, yes, Melissa & I met in a Surf Class for women, taught by two female professional surfers. I had no idea what I was doing. None whatsoever. And I was afraid of the ocean. Growing up in Buffalo, I didn’t have much (ok, any) experience with the ocean and it was really scary. BUT, I wanted to learn how to surf. The ocean is so beautiful & calming & people talk about how invigorating surfing is… I was something I needed to do. In those surf classes, I felt like a bumbling fool, just trying not to break my board. I don’t remember being fearless or confident. But I do remember admiring Melissa for her great attitude & positivity & for her ability to encourage others to do things they didn’t think they could do (and she is still doing that in class today). Funny what each of us remembers and how we see others v. what we see in ourselves… (but that’s probably for another blog post)

Back to Melissa & the Questions!

Pacific Strength: In our 2017 Challenge, March’s focus is on getting at least Two (2) Days of Strength Training every week. You’re a busy mom with 4 very active kids. Is it ever a challenge for you to get it in? 

Melissa: Getting into class used to be much more challenging than it is now. My kids are all in school and if I can get them out the door without forgotten lunches, instruments or projects, I know I can make it to class on time! I really enjoy the class so I try my best to organize my morning to ensure I can get to the 8:30 classes.

PS: You started at Pacific Strength back in 2009 & I remember clearly that if was difficult for you to squat without any extra weight. Now you can squat with double 20kgs (that’s 88bs!) & you’ve trained for a couple TSCs. I know for most people, those first few weeks or months of strength training are really tough. What made you push past that initial phase? And what kind of things are you able to do now that you may not have been able to do before you started strength training?

M: This is the big one and the reason I keep coming. I vividly remember the first week after my introductory class. I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t sit, I couldn’t stand. I knew that I had to get back in there quickly or I’d never go back again. I went back 3 times that week and just tried to work out the soreness. I can now probably squat 20’s, maybe 22’s (almost 100lbs!), I’ve come a long way since that first crazy swing/squat ladder we did that I couldn’t squat with a bell at all! I have two favorite new things that I can do that I certainly could not do before training. The first is the Pistol Squat (one-legged squat). I never thought that would be possible and then I had it for awhile and then lost that ability. Not sure if it was strength or confidence that was missing, but now it has come back together and I can do the Pistol again. And my second favorite new strength is pullups. From the beginning I strived for 1 pull up and could never get past the sticky spot. It took me years but I just got the pullup for the October TSC and now I can do 7… hoping for 10 by April 8th!!!

PS: You came to kettlebells at my old gym after we met in a surfing class. I remember you having a great & infectious “I’ll try anything” attitude back then and in the years I’ve known you, that has not wained. Have you always had that? & what would you say to someone who is nervous about getting into strength training?

M: “I’ll try anything” is the only way to try something new. If I am taking the time and energy to do something, I have to do it like I mean it. I really don’t like wasting time and there is no point in trying something without jumping in with your whole body. Just go and give it all you’ve got. As far as telling hesitant friends, I try to emphasize the importance of strength training as we age and it will never be easier than it is now. It will only make us better in all aspects of our lives. There are no negatives to strength training, other than it’s hard and there will be a week where you won’t be able to sit, stand, walk or move, but it’s all worth it after that week!

OMG. See why we love Melissa?

PS: We’ve joked about you “bulking up” with all of the heavy weights you use… People can see in the picture, but you are tall and thin & I’m not sure we could do much in the gym that would change that. What has your experience been with lifting heavy?

M: I never knew how much I would enjoy lifting heavy weights! It has taken me a few years to get the confidence and the desire to lift heavy. I have always been quite lean and had skinny limbs. I love that with challenging myself in each class to do my best, I can see that I have muscles! At 44 years old (almost 45) I know that I am stronger now than I have ever been and I am thrilled.   

PS: Final thoughts?

M: The group of people down at Pacific Strength is what makes this place awesome. The workouts are killer but the people in the class are so encouraging. Val, you are the glue of everything and Gina and Sharon make us want to do more. I love being surrounded by strong, like-minded women (and men) that are doing everything they can to stay fit and make their lifestyle active and strong. I love this place and look forward to class everyday that I go.

Thanks Val!  It’s not often we get to sit back and take the time to think about the reasons behind things.  This has been quite a journey with KB and I love it!

And people like Melissa are why we do what we do. Truly. Helping people find their strength is so rewarding. Thank you, Melissa, for being a part of our journey!

Join the discussion One Comment

  • Erika Bonilla says:

    I trained with Melissa last Saturday. I witnessed everything this article says about her. I have not done a pull-up in over a year due to an injury. Seeing her do 7 pull-ups was amazing and inspiring. I tried 1 pull- up, then 2 and stopped. She was so encouraging and it made me believe that I can get back to loving pull-ups again (maybe getting past my sticky point and doing 3). Thank you Melissa!

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