Chiselling and sculpting—I am a work of art in progress and my trainer is my Michelangelo. Working with Drew Tyler has been a profoundly transformative, empowering, and life-altering experience that has elevated me to a whole new level of fitness, health and well-being.

I’ve had to work through excruciating muscle pain, soreness, and fatigue. I’ve been impatient to see results and at times discouraged and frustrated with the process, but my trainer has encouraged and motivated me every step of the way, reassuring me that my dedication, determination, and commitment will yield results. At times, my training feels like an exercise in patience, hope, and faith.

My training sessions at the GoodLife Fitness Liberty Village club in Toronto are the highlight of my day. They are the one standing appointment that is sacred and non-negotiable. The gift that only I can give myself. I look at each session as a form of self-love. Nothing can come between me and my training—not snow storms, hail or high-water!

Personal training is also tremendous fun. There is never a dull moment! I always feel challenged to outperform myself and to go to the next level. It’s also quite addictive. My favourite routines are definitely the CrossFit workouts. Training has been a journey of self-discovery in many ways. For example, I discovered that one side of my body is significantly stronger, while the other side is more flexible. Focusing and working with free weights has helped to correct deep structural imbalances, restore balance, and improve my overall coordination. When I first started training, I could barely jog for five minutes without hyperventilating and feeling like I was going to collapse. Now, I “glide” through an intense 30-minute run and have already run a marathon!

I feel more vibrant and alive. My skin is radiant and glowing and I actually feel taller! I feel invigorated and rejuvenated after every workout and look 10 years younger than my chronological age. There is a heightened sense of awareness to everything that I do and this awareness has extended to other areas of my life. I am calmer; I handle stress more effectively and feel more confident, stronger and empowered.

My concentration and mood have improved and, most miraculous of all, I have managed my seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and depression without prescription medications. All the endorphins pulsating through my body and the elevated serotonin levels provide me with a long-lasting natural high!

With every passing day, I feel stronger, more vibrant and more alive. Ultimately, all of these health benefits correspond to a sense of empowerment—and not just physical strength but inner strength too. I feel more in control of my life, although I know that control is an illusion as there are so many things that are beyond our control. Health and fitness are an integral, essential, vital part of my life and I can’t imagine living any other way.

What do I know for sure? The only person you can change is yourself. The journey of one thousand miles begins with a single step. My fitness journey has changed me in ways I couldn’t have imagined. Where will it take me tomorrow?

Ana Manao, PhD, is a writer/editor, social media maven and yoga teacher based in Toronto, ON.

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