We are very excited to spotlight one of our hard working and dedicated members Monica Gallas this month. Monica grew up in the “booming metropolis” of Jacksonville, Illinois (population almost 20,000). She went to college in Iowa and graduate school in Chicago. She moved to St. Louis for a job about 13 years ago. She said that it was a rough transition moving to a new city by herself, so she joined a local running group to meet people. She ran during graduate school it seemed like a logical way to find a community here. In 2014 she was peer-pressured into doing a week-long bike ride across Iowa (RAGBRAI). Since then, she has purchased 2 more bicycles and is now the proud owner of 4 bicycles – all of which she says, “are completely necessary”.
Monica states that health and fitness are important to her because she has, “bad genes”. She has a family history of diabetes and high blood pressure so she feels that staying active and eating well are impactful things that she can do to avoid those health problems in the future. She feels better when she is working out and eating well. “I have my moments where I get lazy and lapse into bad habits, but I try to keep my WHY in mind and that always brings me back on track again”.
When asked about challenges that she has faced during her health and fitness journey, Monica said that her marathon training consisted only of running, with ZERO strength or cross-training. She barely made it through that race and ended up in physical therapy after. It was there that she learned about the benefits of strength training and has tried to integrate it into her workouts since. The accomplishment that is she most proud of was winning a 3rd place trophy in a gravel bike race a few years ago. It is the only athletic trophy that she has ever earned.
Monica found Forward Fitness when she won a raffle at the pet store, Airedale Antics, in Maplewood. The price was a 30-day trial membership to Forward Fitness. She really enjoyed her experience and decided to join. It was also helpful that the gym is conveniently located around the corner from her house.
When asked what she would say to someone considering adding a fitness routine to their lives, Monica had this to say, “I would say start small and you’ll be surprised at how you’ll progress! Growing up, I was NOT an athletic kid. I didn’t play high school sports—rather, I was the kid in Science Club and marching band. I started running a little with one of my college roommates once the all-you-can-eat dining hall started to take its toll on my waistline. I ran my first 5K after graduating and then slowly started increasing my distances during grad school so a 5K became a 10K, then 10 miles, then a half marathon. Eventually I managed to complete the Chicago Marathon after grad school, but it took years for me to get to the point where that was feasible for me.” Monica also added this about being a member of Forward Fitness, “I’ve really enjoyed being a member of Forward Fitness. Over the years, I’ve been a member of several different gyms and the community at FF is unmatched. It’s not just the coaches, but also the other members that are so encouraging to everyone around them—both in class and outside of class. It is so motivating!”