By Jill Farr
Seven years ago, Angela Stevenson was newly divorced, broke, and still 3 months away from receiving her Bachelor’s Degree, with four little boys to support.
Desperate to make ends meet, she turned to fitness as a way to bring in money while she finished her education.
“I began teaching Zumba classes,” Angela says, “Spin classes, any classes I could to make extra money.”
“My life was literally falling apart, but I managed to find the strength to finish school, graduate with honors, and get a job teaching kindergarten.”
With her career headed in a different direction, fitness still had a big place in Angela’s life, and the rewards that she began reaping from that time went beyond financial ones.
“I felt as if I had been a victim,” Angela says, “And I never wanted to be a victim again. That’s when I took an interest in bodybuilding. I trained for my first figure show, and found that body building made me feel as strong as I felt inside. I felt I needed an "extreme makeover", and even though my outside body was changing, the real change took place on the inside. I found my strength and inner peace through weight training.”
Although Zumba remains Angela’s first love—she still teaches classes in the evenings—preparing for that first figure show instilled a love of strength training that has grown into a desire to share the power of weights with the world.
“My interests grew broader when I began training to do my first figure show 3 years ago,” Angela says.
“I worked with a diet coach, and trainers, and through that journey, I decided to study to become a trainer. I wanted to help people reach their goals. Today, I teach bootcamps, train clients…I want to share this with women as much as I can.”
“I feel it is a kind of "pay it forward"--helping people reach their goal, and empowering them to find their strength. I had a weightlifting seminar, and as I shared my story of how and why fitness became so important in my life, I realized that many other women had their own demons to conquer as well. My story wasn't so unique after all. Many other women had their own stories, and needed an outlet. Weight lifting seem to be their outlet too.”
The inner strength and peace that Angela found through building her body led not only to an increased love for herself, it served as the medium for finding another kind of love, as well.
Angela met her current husband, Glen, in the gym, he proposed to her while she was teaching a Zumba class. They were even married in the gym…with their wedding photos featuring the bride and groom both holding weights.
“We competed in a bodybuilding show together,” Angela says, “And after dieting together and not killing one another, we thought we should get married!”
As Angela pursues her dreams of continuing to compete, train, and coach, she believes that her singular spin on fitness comes from the example she sets; of a normal, everyday woman setting out to maintain personal fitness despite the obstacles that everyday life throws at us.
“I think women can relate to me, because I am an average working, busy mom,” Angela says. (She and Glen have seven—yes, that’s right, seven—children between the two of them).
“I’m a kindergarten teacher, and I train and teach classes at night. I also just completed my Master's degree! I still find the time to work out, even when I have every excuse not to. I am passionate about being healthy in mind, body and soul. It is all about balance. I don't always do a perfect job at this, but I try every day.”
More than just a word, “strength” is a mantra to Angela; it’s emblazoned on both her car—as the phrase, “Where there is no struggle, there is no strength”—and on her body.
“After a long, hard journey in my life,” Angela says, “I had the strength symbol tattooed on my foot as a reminder of how far I’ve come in life.”
“I love what GORGO stands for, motivating women to be strong, to encourage and lift each other, and to love yourself. Strength is a powerful word to me.”
Finding that self love through strength starts with choosing your activity, Angela believes. She maintains that jump starting your fitness journey starts with finding the pursuit that makes your heart beat faster, not just literally, but figuratively.
“My advice to women,” Angela says, “Would be find your passion in fitness. Everyone is different, maybe it’s running or Zumba, crossfit, or weight training, but whatever inspires you, do it! Exercise is not just for the body, but for the mind as well.”
“Inspire, love and lift each other always!”
(You can find Angela on Facebook as Angela Stevenson and on Instagram as ANGELA_FIT4LIFE.)