"I wanted to take a minute to share my personal fitness journey and the amazing success that I've had because of my trainer, Mark Shields. I would never have considered myself to be someone who would become addicted to a healthier version of who I once was, but here I am. I knew what I needed to do and I knew I was going to start my journey with a personal trainer, but that was the extent of my plan. In the past nine months, I have been lucky enough to not only have a dedicated trainer, but I have gained an amazing friendship.
My perception of training has always been the idea of a specified amount of time a week plus tips to help me be successful while I traveled down the path to a healthier lifestyle. I was wrong. The connection I've made with Mark has far exceeded my expectations.
Nine months ago (June, 2020), I was both excited and committed to continuing the course of getting fit. I met with Mark for my intake session. He did exactly what I was expecting he would do. Measurements, intake, food planning and prep, and a weekly fitness goal. I was 225 lbs and almost 50% body fat. I never had the tools to measure anything but pounds lost, so I thought I was already ahead of the game weighing in at 225 because I was once over 300 pounds. Mark took the time to explain the value of every number on my InBody scan, not just the pounds. He explained why it was even more important to get to a healthy body fat % and that being skinnier doesn't always mean being healthier. We committed to the Summer Edge Challenge together. Eight weeks. That was it. Like so many others, I would do the training just until the challenge was over then I would cancel. At the end of the Summer Challenge, I came in second place for women. The competitor in me wasn't going to settle for that so rather than canceling, I kept my training with Mark.
Once again, Mark and I committed to taking on the Fall 2020 Edge Challenge as a team. Two days after the fall kickoff, I had to fly to Florida. We were given the devastating news that my stepfather was on a ventilator in the ICU and wasn't expected to survive. I needed to go. I needed to be with my mom. As a single parent my kids had to come with me. In my frantic state to make airline reservations, car rentals, etc., I called Mark to cancel my upcoming training appointments. His response wasn't a simple "okay". His first response was one of genuine concern and dedication both in and out of the gym. His response was "I will come get your dog and take care of her until you get back." He didn't think twice. He just stepped up, as a friend would. Needless to say, the word "challenge" took on a whole different meaning for me after that. I talked to Mark and told him I would do what I needed to do, just to finish. I did. My head just wasn't in it. and I finished 5th overall for the women.
Bring on 2021 and another Edge Challenge. Mark and I once again sat down and talked about what strategies we would take going forward with the third challenge. We focused less on pounds and more on body fat and inches. While those numbers aren't what wins the challenge, my journey is more valuable than 8 weeks of hard core dieting. I reluctantly agreed. But that competitor in me still said "Go Big or Go Home". Last week was our final weigh in. Last week, Greg again announced the winners during The Edge Challenge Finisher Party. Once again I took second place for the women. And you know what, I am okay with that. I am 50 pounds lighter and measuring in at 34% body fat. I am a size 8 in jeans and a medium top. I don't ever remember wearing that size. And that number on the scale is one I haven't seen since I was a freshman in high school.
Absolutely NONE of this would have happened if it weren't for Mark's determination in helping me become the best version of myself. Sometimes, all the knowledge, schooling, and marketing in the world can't compare to connections you make with people every day. Mark has literally been my lifesaver in many, many ways.
While my commitment to Mark is unbreakable, this has been a year of uncertainty and many schedule changes. That being said, I find it equally as important to recognize Jimmy Lanziero for stepping in for Mark when he was under the weather. Jimmy helped me during my final days of the challenge. It is a testament to how both Mark and Jimmy work as a team to ensure I was heading into the finish line as strong as I could.
I am an average woman with average goals, just like many others who join the gym. I optimistically stepped into The Edge Orange on that warm June day, committed to becoming a little healthier, a little skinnier, and a little stronger. Here I am, a little healthier, a little stronger, and a little skinnier. But even more than that, I am a whole lot happier (and I'm not done yet)!
Thank you to Mark and Jimmy. I will never be able to express my gratitude enough.
-Tara, Edge Orange Member