A common quote that comes up time and again is “I really want to get fit, but I don’t have time to get to the gym. What can I do at home?”. Melissa Bender is here to help. Melissa is renowned for her online videos demonstrating how to work out at home when the gym is just out of your reach.
Melissa is an Occupational Therapist who works in a skilled nursing facility, so some of her patients are there for short term rehab, and other’s live there permanently. Her job is to help people become stronger and more independent in all of their life skills. She has two cats, Gambit and Buffy who like to make guest appearances in her workout videos.
Can you tell us if you have always been into keeping fit, or was there a point in your life that you decided to change?
I have always been an active person. I went to high school in a walking school district (no buses), so I got used to walking 3 miles per day during my commute to and from school. I also danced, and later did yoga, which kept me active. However, in 2007 I decided to become a flight attendant and quit the dance team that I was on. I wasn’t living the active lifestyle I had grown up with. As someone who wasn’t used to an “exercise program” I lost a lot of my athleticism. When I started dating my husband I decided to start running with him. I was shocked to learn that I could only run a few blocks before I had to stop and walk. Slowly I built my strength and endurance back up, and learned to love exercise.
Tell us why you decided to focus on making videos for people to work out at home.
I decided to start making videos for people to work out at home for two reasons. First, I was in graduate school, I missed teaching yoga, and I felt like school was consuming all of my time and focus. I needed to do something for the pure enjoyment of it, and I had been planning on starting my blog/videos for a couple of years but kept putting it off. I decided to go for it, and start sharing my passion for fitness! Second, I believe that EVERYONE has a right to be healthy, happy and fit. I have often heard people say that they can’t get in shape because they can’t afford a gym. I firmly believe that you can stay in shape by creating a healthy lifestyle out of your own home, and I wanted to share that with others. If I can influence even one person to make healthy changes in their life I feel that I have made a positive impact on the world. As a therapist I see the difference that fitness makes on your overall health and recovery. Physical fitness can be a strong foundation for mental fortitude, and it teaches you what you are capable of. Everyone deserves to experience their own strength, and know that they are capable of handling anything that comes their way.
How do you stay motivated and focused on your goals
I am motivated by the way exercise and fitness makes me feel. It makes me feel strong, positive, energetic and alert. I set goals that are achievable, and get excited about all of the stepping stones I hit along the way. For example, instead of saying “I want sculpted abs” I focus on the functional aspect of the goal. So my goal might be to improve the length of time I can hold a plank by 10 seconds, or increase the number of hanging leg raises I can do in 60 seconds. By focusing on the small improvements you can make in your fitness, you are working toward the long term goal but you also recognize your progress along the way.
Do you have anyone you look to for fitness inspiration?
Absolutely! My husband inspires me. He is in the Athletic Hall of Fame at the University where we both got our undergraduate degrees for running. He inspires me daily through his own dedication, but also because when I got married I mentally decided that part of my responsibility as a wife is to stay as healthy as possible so that we can have a long and happy life together. I am also greatly inspired by Jamie (Eason) Middleton. She is a wonderful motivator and fitness inspiration. She seems to have found a wonderful balance in her life of faith, fitness, health and love. I find that admirable.
You look fantastic, do you eat healthily too?
I try to make healthy choices, and I love vegetables. I try to eat foods that are more natural. The list of ingredients should all be things I know and recognize. However, I also have a sweet tooth! I don’t consider any foods “off limits” but I do try to eat clean about 90% of the time.
What is your favourite body part to work out?
Abs! And glutes. That’s two body parts. I truly enjoy working my abs, and utilizing all of the muscles that make up the core. Glutes I enjoy working out because it makes me feel strong. Like the core, I enjoy coming up with workouts that utilize all of the muscles that make up the glutes.
What are your personal goals for 2013?
I have several!
-I am planning on competing in my first NPC competition in March. I think it will be a great challenge and motivator. It also encourages me to make healthy eating choices.
-I also want to set a new personal record for my 5K time. I am able to run a 5K about 2 minutes faster on the treadmill than I have done in races. I would love to change that!
-I want to make a fitness DVD.
-Run a half marathon.
-Increase my pull up personal record.
Interview by Barbara Graham through our Facebook resource – Beginners Guide to Getting Ripped – Check it out for more tips and information
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