Woman Up: Heather Burba


By Jill Farr

Connect with Heather: @babies_to_biceps


The impetus for many women’s fitness lifestyle changes isn’t always positive. Often, it’s a dissatisfaction with our appearance or strength and energy levels that makes us realize we need to get back to the gym. (Or start going in the first place).

Sometimes, dealing with a curveball that life throws is what leads us to seek out physical strength.

When Heather Burba was pregnant with her third child, she found out her husband was cheating on her. To say it was devastating was, as anyone who has been in those shoes knows, an understatement. 

When it became apparent that the infidelity wasn’t going to stop, Heather packed up her three kids and moved across the country, to try and start over. With three small kids to support, she knew that she needed a stable long term career, so she took out loans, applied for all the assistance she could, and enrolled in nursing school.

The pain of a deep betrayal, the stress of nursing school and the pressure to build a career and suddenly become a breadwinner for a little family--not to mention the interim poverty while she got her degree--added up to a huge amount of stress.

“I was so angry,” Heather says.

“I was angry about buying Goodwill stuff for my kids, I was angry that my ex-husband was galavanting around, living the single life, while I was doing this.”

“So I started running. I had no clue about how to run, I just started, and I ran and I ran and I ran. I would walk until I caught my breath, then I’d run some more. I did that to stay sane. And I was a better mom because of it. Sometimes I would park in the daycare parking lot before picking up my kids, and go run in the neighborhood.”

“I had just spent 8 hours at school, now I have to go home and be a mom and do homework. It made me angry. So I would run, to get all that out.”

The running did its job, and Heather not only became stronger physically, but psychologically. She became a nurse, she bought a house...and she found love again.

After getting stood up for a date, she went to a friend’s house to vent and eat ice cream...and the friend’s younger brother happened to stop by. Fate conspired, a romance blossomed, and eventually she and the little brother (John) fell in love.


Even in the midst of building their “happily ever after”, however, there were challenges. And once again, those hardships served as a springboard to Heathers strength. Heather discovered her boyfriend’s porn use, and without her realizing, it fed some unresolved insecurities she had about her own body.”


Eventually, even though her initial reaction was to try and change to fit what she thought he wanted, Heather decided that this wasn’t about her--it was about them. She also decided that instead of starving herself for a man, she would get stronger. For herself.

Two things came from that moment; Heather had a heart-to-heart with John about how his porn use made her feel, and she had a talk with herself. “There’s no man on Earth that’s worth killing yourself for.” It turned her towards strength training.


“Instead of being skinny, I wanted to be strong. I went in--didn’t know what I was doing--and just started lifting. Like with running...I just started. I’m a personal trainer now because I want to give that feeling to women--look how strong you are!”

That moment was a huge turning point for Heather and John, by tackling the issue of pornography and healing the residual emotional damage left over from her first marriage, they realized that together they could conquer anything and got married, on a Tuesday afternoon 3 years later.

In addition to being a personal trainer, Heather is also a doula--bringing the same empowerment mindset to birth experiences that she does to fitness training. As far as her own personal fitness goals, she doesn’t really have any end game in mind, other than the best fitness level possible.

“I basically just want to live forever--to see my grandbabies have babies and not have my children have to care for a sick, elderly mother.”

When asked about her message for other women, Heather doesn’t hesitate.

“I would tell them, ‘You have the power to create the life you deserve and are dreaming of.’  It doesn’t matter how long it takes. It doesn’t matter how many times you start over or try a new idea.  Slow deliberate movement forward will always keep you moving. You can do every single thing you put your mind to. I am living proof.”

“You just have to woman up.”

Lessons from Heather:

Make a 10 minute investment.

When Heather was at a low point, her dad gave her this advice: You can’t look at the end.

“I never looked at the end of nursing school,” Heather says. “I couldn’t look at it as “the next three years”...I had to look at it ten minutes at a time.” That same philosophy is her fitness mantra. “Just go to the gym/run/spin/whatever for 10 minutes.  If you still want to quit after 10 minutes, then quit. I can almost guarantee you that you won’t. If you do, then it’s still 10 minutes of something that you wouldn’t have gotten otherwise. Give yourself 10 minutes and see if it changes your day.”

Don’t stuff your emotions.

“Everyone tells women, don’t be angry,” Heather says. “I say...Eff that! Maybe that’s your fuel! You don’t have to live there forever...but you need to be able to remember where you came from.”

“I don’t live in the past, but I know the past can repeat itself, so you can’t forget. Those are the moments that built who you are--I would never know how strong I am and how resilient, if not for those moments.”


Heather has some mindfulness backup in this area; while a lot of positive thinking teaching will have you only focus on happy thoughts, many mindfulness teachers advocate acknowledging your feelings as they come up--not stuffing them--and then finding ways to comfort those feelings. Heather’s system of pouring anger into a fitness pursuit is a healthy expenditure of physical energy--consider a meditation or relaxation practice, as well.

Just get up and do it.

It’s more than a sports slogan--just doing what needs to be done is a key part of success in physical fitness and overcoming heartbreak--both areas of expertise for Heather. And her spin on the traditional “Man up!” is a long overdue one.

“I was never late with my rent, but I did have the electricity cut off on one occasion,” Heather says. “I was in the midst of cooking dinner, and the power shut off. I thought maybe someone had knocked down a pole, but no...I had stretched it out too far and let the bill go too long. It was a low moment.”

“But again, it was one of those moments where, you have to be a woman. You have to woman up.”

“We lit candles, and I took the meatloaf outside and finished cooking it on the gas grill. We slept together in extra pajamas to stay warm, because it was December.”

“But in the middle of all that is where I found my fitness, where I found my power.”

“If I can do it, you can too.”


#GORGOGirl Leah Brouwers

When you are part of a movement, a gathering of compassionate, direct yet gentle, all-kinds-of-strength women equipping one another in more ways than technique under the bar, you accept the challenge and choose to leverage on this opportunity for permanent personal growth. I can’t wait go back and re-connect with the amazing women that collectively make Camp Gorgo!

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Get Over Yourself: How your Mindset is Affecting Your Results (and your life)


By Ali Ludovici


Having had the honour of successfully coaching many clients in health and wellness, in addition to my own experience as an athlete and weight-loss journey, I can tell you with certainty, that mindset is the single most important element of success. If you don’t have the right mindset it doesn’t matter how credentialed your coach is, what exercises you are doing or what diet you are on, success will be elusive.

What you perceive and believe creates your reality. Though you may be predisposed to a positive or negative mindset, you can choose your perception (how you interpret the world) and your attitude (your beliefs and reactions/interactions).

In the world of health and wellness, your mindset will determine whether you succeed in achieving good health and peace with your body and food. You can purchase all the nice workout gear, fancy gym memberships, coaching, and diet plans you want - if you don’t have the right mindset, you won’t achieve what you desire. So what exactly is the right mindset?

Believe in yourself

Your body and mind are intimately connected; if you believe you can, your body will find a way. Disbelief leads to self-sabotage as you will create your reality to prove your mindset correct. Set your goal and believe in your ability to achieve it. You are stronger and more capable than you give yourself credit. Just because you can’t do something today, doesn’t mean you won’t be able to in the future. Keep working and believe in yourself. In time, you will amaze yourself with what you have accomplished.

Focus on the solution

Your health and wellness journey will certainly have its ups and downs. There will be nights you don’t have the energy for a butt-kicking workout and the days where you just don’t have time to pack a healthy lunch, don’t beat yourself up. No road to success is straightforward or easy - but all good things are worth the effort. In fact, having to put in some challenging work and overcome a few obstacles, makes you value your success that much more. You can choose to focus on the obstacles, or you can choose to focus on the solutions. “Obstacles are what you see when you take your eyes off your goal”, Henry Ford.

Be positive in your self-talk

Many of our limitations are created within our own mind. You tell ourselves you aren’t good enough, strong enough, fast enough. You create excuses and barriers where there needn't be any. What you tell yourself, your mind believes. Change the way you talk to yourself and you infinitely increase your ability to succeed. Tell yourself it is possible, believe it is possible and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish. Challenge yourself to replace any and every negative thought, with a positive (and realistic) alternative.


Seek pleasure and balance

Despite the “hustle harder” and “no pain, no gain” mentality perpetuated by some fitness personalities, exercise and good nutrition can be pleasurable. You can enjoy both health and, athleticism while having a fulfilling and joyful personal life. While I do encourage every woman to lift weights for the physical and mental benefits, I also encourage them to seek exercise they find pleasurable. Whether you enjoy swimming, yoga, running, kickboxing or pole fitness, find something that gets you sweaty and smiling. When it comes to nutrition, trust the innate wisdom of your body. As long as you are predominantly eating whole foods (healthy fats, proteins and carbohydrates) with a plant-based focus, you are welcome  to enjoy a treat now and again. Balance, pleasure and respecting your body and its wisdom, is how you will discover a fulfilling healthy lifestyle.

Focus on Abundance

When trying to achieve a specific fitness goal, you will likely need to be more diligent with your nutrition and fitness routine. You can choose to focus on the lack; of calories, indulgent foods, and changes to your social life.  Or you can focus on the positive; your improved aesthetic, all the delicious nutrient dense foods, and the pleasure in seeing results. If you perceive your journey as a punishment, you will have a negative experience that will work against you and increase your odds of rebounding. Choosing to see the positive, you will have a more pleasurable journey and be more likely to create a healthy lifestyle with life-long reward.

Your mindset is the single greatest influencer on your reality. You can choose to have a pleasurable journey towards achieving your goals; you can choose to see yourself as a strong, capable woman; you can choose pleasure and balance. You can also choose to see the opposite. Your reality, your success, is in your control.


Ali Ludovici is a blogger at Charm and Grit, writing about fitness, nutrition and strategies for extraordinary living. As a wellness and mindset coach, she specializes in helping women create healthy and fulfilling lives they love. Ali promotes respecting the innate wisdom of your body, doing exercise that gets you sweaty and smiling, as well as recognizing the power of your mindset to create your desired reality. She is well known for her tough love attitude, no excuses mindset and her supportive positivity. She is a natural bodybuilder, who also enjoys yoga, running and trying new forms of fitness. Ali is on a mission to inform, inspire and empower women to live extraordinary lives.


#GORGOGirl LIFE: Shelley Heavens

Today, I am in the best shape of my life. Over the last decade, I am proud to say that have lost over 100+ pounds. I have worked hard to accomplish my goals that I have set for myself. As I have focused on my health, I have less flare-ups in my joints and less RA symptoms. Taking care of myself really is the best medicine.

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The Power of Femships: Finding a Modern Day Tribe

The Power of Femships:  Finding a Modern Day Tribe

Finding balance between work, family, and fitness is a topic that has been discussed with frequency, but the need for female support systems is often neglected. Gorgo Magazine and Camp Gorgo tackled this often overlooked imbalance by introducing thousands of women to the theme – MY TRIBE. 

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Inspired by Lisbeth Darsh's article "How to Change the
World" we have an ongoing GORGO challenge, #thebarbellproject

"...when we put barbells in women’s hands, we change them for
the better." ~Lisbeth Darsh


1. How do I take part?  Share this image on social media tagging us and letting the world know that you believe in the movement and accept the challenge to teach at least one woman or girl to strength train.

GORGO Instagram - @gorgomag

GORGO Facebook - GORGO Women's Fitness Magazine

GORGO Twitter - @gorgomag

2. Challenge your fitness friends to take part by tagging them too in your post!

3. Find your girl! Let your circle of friends and family know you are looking for a willing soul to introduce to the power of the barbell.

4. Bring us along! Tag us along your journey on social media.  We want to be a part of it!  We definitely want to see a picture of you handing the barbell to our new sister in iron.  Let them tag along with you when you work out.  Introduce them to the world we love.  Show
them the way.



Change the world … if you dare." ~Lisbeth Darsh
from "How to Change the World"


Kinsey Baker: Confidence Through Fitness, Vulnerability, and Giving Back

Kinsey Baker: Confidence Through Fitness, Vulnerability, and Giving Back

Kinsey shares her journey with the hopes of inspiring other women. “People need authenticity. Your life is your story. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If it’s relevant, don’t hold back from sharing it… because it could change someone else’s life.”

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Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Don’t Be Naïve

Performance-Enhancing Drugs: Don’t Be Naïve

The unfortunate fact of the matter is that some of those "inspiring" physiques you see online have been achieved by using performance-enhancing drugs.  While the scope of this article is not to pass judgment on the morals of using those drugs, it is important to always keep in mind why you were inspired in the first place.  

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New Ways to Be Strong: Krista Morgan

Krista’s goals as a fitness mentor mirror the ones she has for herself; to find happiness, and to appropriately respond to challenges. The metaphorical equivalent of finding a window to climb through, when it seems like a door has been shut, and finding a little healthy self-improvement along with your self-acceptance.

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Learning to Heal through Faith and Fitness: Lindsey Demetro

Learning to Heal through Faith and Fitness: Lindsey Demetro

If you ask Lindsey Demetro what keeps her strong from day to day, she’ll tell you it’s through her faith, family, friends and fitness. Aspects that have always been important to her… but have taken on a whole new, deeper meaning for her in recent years. Lindsey shares her story of love, loss, learning to heal and finding a new normal…

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Finding Strength in Uncertainty: Natasha Hopkins

By Jill Farr


Natasha Hopkins was in probably the best shape of her life, training for a figure competition, when an auto collision derailed her fitness track and put several aspects of her life on hold.


The carpal bones--the one that allow for full functionality in your wrist--were broken in Natasha’s right hand, and her recovery has been a process.

“The surgeon said mine was the worst he’d ever seen,” Natasha says of her injuries. “Steel rods were placed in my hand to allow it to repair properly--I just had the surgery to remove them, 12 weeks after the wreck. Now I’m looking at extensive physical therapy, to get as much range of motion back as I can.”

Needless to say, the weight lifting inherent in preparing for a figure competition became impossible, and Natasha went from being in peak condition to recovery mode.

Natasha went from being in peak condition to recovery mode.

“I literally couldn’t do anything for the first 9 weeks,” Natasha says. “I knew my body couldn’t do it.”

Natasha learned to focus more on other fitness facets, while her physical activity was limited, in order to hold on to health gains. “I have learned so much,” she says, “I’ve had difficulties that have challenged me, because I went from prep mode to nothing. I bloated up 20 pounds almost right away, after being the leanest I’d ever been when the accident happened.”

“Nutrition has been huge for me during this time.”


In addition to putting more focus on her eating, Natasha has taken baby steps to get back to training--with respect to what her body can handle.

“I’ve been to the gym a couple of times,” she says, “Mostly just doing leg stuff, but a lot of it is mental. I can’t lift at the same rate, but I’m starting to get back. I was ramping up, but having surgery again, to remove the pins, set me back again.”

“I will never be the same as I was before.  But I am committed to be as dedicated.”

In addition to her figure competition aspirations, Natasha does personal training--a passion born from another challenging time in her life, when she struggled with postpartum depression.


“I haven’t always been fit,” Natasha admits. “But I’m small, a more petite person--I’ve never had to deal with being overweight. I was “skinny fat’ when I was younger, though.”


“Fitness and health came to me when I became pregnant. That triggered me--I wanted my baby to be healthy, I wanted to be healthy. I’d also gained a lot of weight and I had terrible postpartum depression.”

“The fog finally lifted--it took a few years--but after my second son was born, my doctor said, “You’re going to have to take medication, or exercise.” That’s when I got passionate about it...it was my response to postpartum depression. I was doing a great job with the kids--breastfeeding, feeding them good food--but I wasn’t taking good care of me.”

“Shortly after my second child, we moved to England, and my husband (who is in the military) was deployed….I just turned to exercise. It became my drug, literally.”

A benefit for education for military spouses prompted her to look into the requirements for becoming a personal trainer, since it dovetailed with her personal fitness pursuits.

“I signed up for training and finished it without having any real intention of doing anything in particular with it,” Natasha says, “It just sort of happened, and grew.”

Physical gains are secondary, in Natasha’s mind, both for personal fitness and the growth she helps others to achieve.


“Because I was already small, and didn’t really need to lose weight--fitness for me has been  mental. It’s about developing a mindset. It’s not just about grinding it out at the gym, it’s about finding yourself. Sometimes I think that’s the most challenging part--clients think “I want to look a certain way” and I feel like, “No, you have to know yourself. You won’t follow through if you don’t learn that.” You have to learn how to help people dig deep and deal with things they may not want to deal with. I don’t believe I wanted to know how badly postpartum depression had affected me, but once I saw, I could address it.”

While she knows that the day is coming when she can get back to the gym, Natasha understands that physical recovery is a process, and the trauma she suffered may have long lasting effects that will change how she trains.

“I have no flexion,” Natasha says of her injuries, “And I have a ton of scar tissue. I’ll never have full range of motion in it again, but the goal (of physical therapy) is to get me as close as possible. I’ve been told that I’ll never be 100 % again.”

“I’ll have arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome...sometimes the body doesn’t allow blood to flow to heal, and the actual bone itself can die. There’s no way to predict.”

When asked how she handles the uncertainty, Natasha points back to the lessons that physical challenge can provide for mental strength, and encourages other women facing setbacks--both mental and physical--to not only dig deep...but reach out, as well.

Reach out to the people that you know motivate you--don’t give up on yourself.


“Reach out,” Natasha says. “To the people that you know motivate you--don’t give up on yourself. There’s a reason for everything, and you always have the choice to come out stronger. I have a coach, and I reached out to her, and she’s been instrumental in my healing, even though there remains a long, long way to go. It’s hard for me--I tend to be one of those people that don’t open up, but you have to be vulnerable...it allows people to help.”

You can find Natasha on Instagram @nfhopkins