I met Francis about 5 years ago in a place we both love…the gym. She was a staff trainer and I was an independent, bringing in clients maybe a couple times per week. We always acknowledged each other but never really spoke much in the beginning. I’m a very quiet and observant person so I would just watch her as she interacted with everyone. Little did I know she was also watching me. The members loved her. She had a wonderful touch and an engaging smile. You just knew she genuinely cared. If she wasn’t on the floor training someone, or teaching one of her countless classes, I would see her sitting at her desk listening and advising. I was impressed by her.
One day Francis approached me and asked if we could have a conversation. She invited me to her office and begins by saying, “I’ve been watching you.” She commences to tell me of a devastating childhood injury that nearly kills her and left her without a chest muscle, an upper back muscle or a breast on her left side. Now, most people use even the slightest aches and pains as an excuse to do nothing. Their conversations usually start something like, ‘I would workout if…’. Well, not Ms. Francis. She decided to strip down. Ok, let me explain. There was a fitness competition approaching and she asked if I would be willing to prepare her to hit the stage. If you’ve ever seen one of these contests, you know the suits we have to wear are designed to show everything you’ve worked so hard to develop.
Now, I had personally trained and, trained with some of the best athletes in the world but Francis presented me with a new challenge. With her never having done anything like this before, could I get her as symmetrical as possible (remember she doesn’t have the musculature on her left), do it around her hectic schedule (work and 3 kids) and do it in 3 months (Whoa!). Every competitive and egotistical bone in my body roared, ‘OF COURSE! I CAN DO ANYTHING! What a nice feather in my cap this would be’. But, I didn’t give her an immediate answer. I needed to think it through. I had to be realistic.
The next day Francis and I sat down to put a schedule together. That’s when she informed me that she had the dates wrong. We didn’t have 3 months. We had 6 weeks! Oh well, we’re both excited at this point so we scratched the old schedule and made a new one. It was going to be an intense 6 weeks of training twice a day. Ok, I’ll fast forward to tell you about the true strength of this amazing woman. We trained on the track of Clark-Atlanta and as I’m leaving my house one morning, the sky turned black and opened up. What was normally an 18 minute drive took over an hour. I called Francis to reschedule but I couldn’t reach her so I kept driving. When I got to the track, what I saw brought tears to my eyes. She wasn’t sitting in her car waiting on me; she was doing her laps around the track completely waterlogged. I sat there for a minute just watching her. It was raining so hard I don’t even think she saw me.
Her dedication to achieve the goal she set for herself more than paid off. Not only did she grace the stage but, she dropped 11% body fat in only 6 weeks and placed 4th in her first showing ever! Think about that as you’re turning the pages. You’re getting life changing information from someone who understands the process, has done it and continues to do it with an unrelenting schedule and 3 little women at home.
Throughout my 15 years in the fitness industry, I have seen some great trainers – those that their clients rave about – and I have seen trainers that frighten me – whether through their lack of knowledge, desire, or seemingly total disregard for the client’s safety. Francis is perched on the apex of the great ones.
I’m sure some of you bought this book as a show of support for your friend Francis and others because they truly have a desire to make a change. Whatever your reason, know this; your life is your responsibility. Don’t allow her desires for a healthier you to collect dust on the shelf. If I know Francis, and I believe I do, she would prefer that you take this book with you to the gym, outside in your back yard, upstairs in the room with that beautiful treadmill you bought with the greatest of intentions, or lay it beside you on your living room floor. She’s given you the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ but they’re just words on a page without some energy being expended from you.
Your body was meant to last a lifetime…the span and quality of that life is up to you.
I wrote this forward for 'Weightlifting Made Simple For Women' by Frances M. Martin