by Sherida Mock


Joanne Blackerby started working in the fitness industry as an aerobics instructor to pick up a little extra spending money for college. That passion stayed with her over the years, as she undertook jobs, pursued a graduate degree in social work and raised three children. Today, she trains clients and mentors other trainers at her own space in north Austin, Spirit Fitness. She sat down with us to talk about her life and work and give us a jump start on a healthy new year.

Her family. Chris and I have been married for 21 years. We have three kids: Caleb is 19, Tyler is 15 and Bennett is 10.

What they do together. We like to hike around. We go to Pease Park; we walk the dogs. The goal is to get outside. I’m not a really big competitive sports mom. I’m happy that they’re doing it, but I refuse to feel guilty if I’m not there for games. I relieve myself of the pressure of having to attend extracurriculars. It’s okay for them to have those times with their dad.

Her book, Training Effects.My book was my shout-out to my clients and the industry that I recognize what an honor it is to work with people’s bodies and their minds. People don’t come here just to sweat. I see people struggle, and it was my chance to say, “I’ve shared struggle, too, and thank you for humbling me with your trust.”

That big award in 2012. The award that shocked me most and spurred me to keep fighting a good fight in this industry was the Personal Trainer to Watch 2012. I was selected out of over 1,000 global nominees. That has opened so many doors for me, in terms of giving me the motivation and the validation from my peers to continue moving fitness to a valuable and recognizable space in the healthcare continuum.

 New Year’s resolutions. It’s a good time to set a resolution, but it also becomes a thing. So my caveat is: is it really something that you want to change, and is it measurable and is it realistic? What’s the plan? Life is a journey, as is fitness. The idea that there would be a beginning and an ending is false to me. There is no ending in vitality and movement. You want to start the New Year healthy? Clean out your kitchen cabinets. Food is fuel. It’s enjoyable, but it’s just fuel. Break yourself—and children especially—from the idea that food is reward. Start small. Make it measurable. Start at home. So simple, right?

People who hate to exercise. I’m sorry, but there are certain things your body needs. Don’t you have to bathe? Don’t you have to brush your teeth? You have to move your body. You don’t have to be crazy; you have to get in more than 30 minutes of activity, more than 3 times a week. It doesn’t have to happen all at once. You could do five minutes in the morning, ten at lunchtime; it all adds up. You don’t know what you’re missing, if you’ve never tried a boxing class or you’ve never tried swimming because you’re afraid of what you look like in a suit or you don’t want to go run because your feet hurt. Challenge yourself on that. These are the things I get: “I don’t have time.” You have to have time. It’s simply got to be a priority. “I don’t like to get sweaty.” Turn on a fan. Sweat is good for you. You can always take a shower later. “It’s too expensive.” You can do everything at home. “I’ve never been athletic.” Athleticism and exercise are not equal. Our society lies to us. I guarantee you that anyone who’s overweight is going to make themselves feel better because they can always find someone who’s bigger. Refuse to settle for that. You have six 5-minute slots in your day. The time is past for us to have excuses.


What she’d do with those six slots. Every time I got a phone call, I would walk and talk. I’d take the stairs. I’d make myself park further from the door. I’d get up and stretch. I’d have resistance bands, and I’d be doing pull-ups and chest presses. There are some great apps for all levels. Max Capacity Training: the entire workout takes 16 minutes and requires no equipment. It’s a 12-week program. Do it with your kids.

Good exercises for new moms. Number one, do Kiegels; get that pelvic floor back. And even though you can’t feel your abs right away—and I’ve been there—just fake it. If you can’t feel the work, think of the work. New moms can be really hard on themselves. Remember that you spent 10 months doing the most beautiful thing; you gave up your body to be a vessel for a life. But stop using the baby as an excuse. Pregnancy is not a disease. Get out and get active. Instead of having mommy coffee dates, have a mommy workout date. Find the right support system. Don’t sit and wish together; move together.

Starting a family fitness routine. Understand what minimal effort it takes. People get excited and sign up for something big; well, that just becomes another thing to have to do. It doesn’t have to be this big thing; it’s an accumulation of little things. Just open your front door and go walk with your kids. Get them a jump rope. Bounce the ball with your kid. I’m terrible at basketball and football—and I certainly don’t love to do it—but I’ll get Bennett out there with me and say, “Show me how to do this.” Give them a chance to show you skill. When you travel, pick active things. Or if you’ve got teenagers, they may not want to do something together. So tell them, “Go have an experience and come back and tell me about it.” People keep thinking of fitness as an activity, but it’s not; it’s a state of being, which directly reflects your health and your way of life. Choose experience, not a place where experience is defined for you.

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