Written by Lynnette Martin
Write your story, she said. Writing has never been my forte, and I suppose being vulnerable is likely not either. Everyone’s journey to find their passion starts somewhere. Mine takes me back to sophomore year, and it is as honest a place to start as any. Spring break was fast approaching, and we were supposed to be planning who would be invited to the pool party. Music playlist, check; grocery list, check; what time it would start, check.
Instead I was cradled on the floor, in the darkness, next to my best friend. The debilitating migraines that were wreaking havoc on her life had been here for a week now. The multiple doctor appointments brought no relief. The mixed emotions were overpowering me, as I felt helpless and anger toward the doctors for not being able to make her feel like herself again.
Selfishly, I also felt a teen’s disappointment that we couldn’t have our celebration next week. You see, the celebration wasn’t really about Spring Break at all, it was about breaking free. This best friend wasn’t just any best friend, she was my mother. We were finally breaking free from her abusive husband. He doesn’t deserve to have his name typed here. But the thought of it stirs every negative emotion and torment I’ve endured in my life. He abused me physically, sexually, and psychologically. To cast him as the epitome of an evil stepfather would be an understatement. I survived the abuse for six long years, and we were finally free from his grips and from the suffering. We were going to celebrate being free from the nightmare that was living with him.
Yet here we were…watching my best friend suffer, and seemingly no one, not even me, could do anything to ease her pain. While at her final doctor’s appointment, we got the news. The news that a young, healthy 38-year-old mother, cannot fathom: five brain tumors. Within just four days of receiving the diagnosis, she was in a coma. They ran more tests, two showing she was ultimately brain dead.
Spring Break would never be the same again. March 18th would never be the same again. Every year on that day, I remember holding her hand for the last time, kissing her forehead, and telling her how much I loved her…saying goodbye. I didn’t just lose my best friend that day, I lost my mother. I lost the only true family I had. While we only barely made our escape from her husband, I vowed to never live like we did for the past six years again. I vowed I would never make the same mistakes she made.
After she passed, I lived with my aunt and uncle to finish high school. Graduation day arrived and we were literally driving home from the ceremony when my uncle informed me I must either join the army or find a way to pay for college — either way I had to go. He said I could go live with my Dad in Shreveport, Louisiana. The decision had to be made right that moment. You see, the Social Security checks from my mother’s untimely death ran out. The only family member I was close to was another uncle, and he advised me against joining the army, as he was in the Secret Service and knew more about service than I did. I admired that uncle, so I took his word for it and ruled out the army. I was young, alone, and had no idea how to pay for college, much less live on my own, Shreveport became my graduation trip.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten asked why I would leave California for Shreveport. I often kept it simple and honest, “Oh, my Mom died and my Dad lived here.” Invariably having to add, “Dad died from heart disease, but by now I’ve built up my clientele in my massage therapy and personal training career so well, I just stay.” Deep down I will always have my Sacramento, Sac Town, vibe. Shreveport has become home. My friends have become family, and my passion for the work I do truly brings me the greatest joy.
I have worked in many different fields, from insurance sales to the emergency room, and from a law office to hair salons. It’s been a long and winding road, from having been robbed at gunpoint at my very first job in Shreveport, to finally realizing a long dream of owning my own business, in partnership with James.
And we decided to go all in, more than doubling our space capacity and employees, and then… COVID. Opening a new gym during the month COVID shut down all gyms, yeah, well that was fun. Through it all, I take solace in the fact that I maintained my focus in all the stress, the let downs, the ever-growing dilemmas, and the mistakes.
Keeping that focus has brought me here. That focus has been you. It has been your spouse, your kids, your parents, friends, coworkers, your entire community. Every day my passion that drives me is how can I make a difference in my client’s lives for the better? How can I bring about an awareness of their choices and help prevent them from lying in an ICU and their families having to make the heartbreaking decision of turning a machine off, like I had to do with my mother and father? How can I help them not reach the point of a preventable disease caused by poor life choices? How can I make this one person believe in themself?
I could go on and on, for this has also been my journey. I was the one far too embarrassed to step foot in a gym, the low self-esteem paralyzed me in fear. I emotionally ate and drank, lacking self-discipline or awareness to make a change. I figured I had plenty of time to figure it out later, until one day my largest pair of jeans weren’t large enough any longer. Post pity party, i decided to make some changes.
My coworker convinced me to start running, which I, like many, despise. Years later, for what it’s worth, I have yet to find that “runner’s high” they speak of. Instead, I found some random fad diet and started watching what I ate. I lost some weight, but after a few years I gained back about half of what I lost.
I ultimately decided to find a personal trainer and set a goal to keep myself accountable. I told myself I wanted to do a triathlon, which seemed out of reach, and exactly the point. However, being a bit of a fearless adventure junkie certainly helped the goal along. Within the first month of training, I was absolutely hooked. I wanted to know everything I could about the sport and within a short time period, I lost over eighty pounds. Going from an uncomfortable size twelve, to a baggy size four was amazing, however I was not happy. I still saw the fat girl with the fun personality. I will always battle with this, but I continue to remind myself where I came from and all I have been through. I hope to use this to help others. I will always strive to put my clients first and help them reach their goals. I absolutely love what I do, and COVID or not, I’m so very proud of BodyPro Impact and look forward to whatever the future holds.
We want to use our facilities for community outreach and raise money for Gingerbread House and Children’s Miracle Network. My sister died when she was 4 years old. She was special needs, and when she died, my parents didn’t receive one medical bill. I raise money every year for our local Children’s Miracle Network through Miracle Tour cycle tour as a way to give back.
James and I partner with Gingerbread House every year. This year we intend to have charity workout classes and instead of paying for class, we will be adopting several families for Christmas and clients will be asked for items off the sponsored family list.
So as you can see this gym is a great tool to give back to the community and bring awareness to those around us that need our help. I feel deep in my heart that God brought me through all these things for a reason so I use my abilities to give back, lift them up, help them see their greatness within, and to see their glass is never half empty or half full, it’s always refillable!