Nov. 2023 Member Spotlight: Alicia Delaney

We are happy to spotlight Alicia Delaney as our November Member of the Month.  Alicia and her husband Marty have been members of Forward Fitness for about a year and a half and their positive attitude and energy has been a wonderful addition to our Fit Fam!  We are very excited that Alicia will be helping Suzanne lead our series on Taking Control of Stress this month.

One of my favorite parts of the member spotlight is finding out a little bit about where and how our members grew up.  This is what Alicia told us, “I’m a St. Louis gal, born and raised. I grew up a shy only child who loved to spend time alone doing any craft I could get my hands on. I taught myself to knit, crochet, paper quill, and make jewelry, and was always taking classes or camps for even more creative outlet. Sports were really the last thing on my mind. I enjoyed riding my bike and jumping on our trampoline, but never had an interest in sticking to physical activities, especially once they got competitive. I danced ballet for a year, played softball for a season, and made it to pre-comp level in swim, but was much more interested in reading and making art. In middle school, though, I found tae kwon do. It really changed my perception of my own strength, and allowed me to develop a confidence in myself I hadn’t had before. Martial arts helped me carve out an enjoyable relationship with physical activity, and made me a lot more willing to do and try things that were physically demanding. Because of the discipline I learned through training, I earned my black belt at the age of 14. I competed that same year and won the bronze medal in flyweight sparring at the Junior Olympics in San Antonio.

Once in high school, I quit martial arts and explored other interests in band, choir, and theater, but I always knew I wanted to teach. I experimented with multiple teaching gigs while studying English in college: academic writing for undergrad students, conversational English for international students, U.S. Citizenship/Naturalization tutoring for immigrants and refugees, and swim coaching for children. I developed a real passion for working with language learners, so after graduating, I tutored for a summer in Brazil, then came home to earn my MA in Teaching English as a Second Language. During my five years as an adjunct at multiple universities, I taught over 250 students from 40 different countries! My life has taken me in a new direction since then, but I still enjoy connecting with people from other cultures whenever I can.

We asked Alicia, why health/fitness is important to her?  She has a great answer. “I am a better friend, a better daughter, a better wife, and a better teacher when I take care of myself.”

Alicia told us this about why she joined Forward Fitness. “I used to teach yoga out of the massage studio across the street, and passed by the motivational sign outside the gym on lots of neighborhood walks. I always felt encouraged by the sign, looked forward to seeing it each week before my class, and even used a few of the quotes as inspiration for what theme I would weave into class that day. Years later, when Marty and I were looking to get serious with a workout plan after the pandemic, that positive association meant Forward Fitness came first to my mind. It made me smile to pass by the sign one more time to go inside for our first meeting with Suzanne. Afterward, it was clear we had found the perfect place to help us reach our goals, but we really had no idea just how impactful Forward Fitness would be for us!”

It is always interesting to find out how our members prioritize health and fitness.  This is what Alicia had to say about this,After quitting tae kwon do, I really didn’t have much of a physical outlet through high school or college. Everything I did was brain-powered, and my habits of rushing and overextending myself really started to catch up with me toward the end of college. I experienced a period of burnout and knew something needed to change—I couldn’t continue relying only on my mind and willpower to push through challenges. I decided to try yoga, and took a few classes here and there, but as a college student, I didn’t have the budget for a membership. It wasn’t until another major burnout episode trying to work two jobs while going to grad school full time that I finally dedicated myself to attending yoga consistently. At first, my practice was super slow—I was recuperating from years of overworking myself, and even fell asleep in the middle of the studio floor several times. After a while, though, I explored the stronger side of things, and began to feel a self-confidence and respect for my body and mind that I hadn’t felt since tae kwon do. I spent more and more time at the studio and my life dramatically changed for the better. In 2017, I completed my 200-hour yoga teacher training, and have been teaching private and group classes, facilitating workshops, and helping lead destination retreats ever since. Motivation to truly challenge my body didn’t surface until I joined Forward Fitness, but now I’m doing and trying things that I was never physically capable of (hello, pull-ups!), and I have really noticed that my strength training complements my yoga practice. The community and encouragement here have totally leveled up my interest in making fitness a non-negotiable part of my life.”

When we asked Alicia about challenges that she has faced she told us about losing her father.The most difficult experience for me thus far has been losing my dad. Between his very unexpected cancer diagnosis and his death, we only had 46 days together. We tried really hard to balance so much during that time: drafting end-of-life documents while offices were closed in that first summer of covid, waiting for answers on treatments, getting evaluated for hospice, and figuring out how to say goodbye. Yoga became my grief practice, and I relied on every single mindfulness tool I had to stay present and attentive as we navigated my dad’s fluctuating condition and our fluctuating relationship. Ultimately, this was my biggest teacher: to be present and not replay the past or dither over the future kept me from adding on to the sorrow and helplessness I was already feeling. If I had not been able to practice staying in the here and now, I would have robbed myself of feeling the joy, contentment, peace, love, wonder, hope, and gratitude that also existed amidst all my sadness and anger.”

Alicia has a lot of accomplishments to be proud of.  “I feel an immense amount of pride over starting my own business three years ago. I run a platform called Slow & Steady Yoga and teach people how to incorporate more relaxing practices into their busy lives (and make their lives less busy as a result). There is a head-spinning amount of logistics that go into working for yourself, creating your offerings, promoting what you do, continuing your own education, and maintaining clients. Even though the self-employment hours can be unpredictable, I feel so energized by the creative freedom that goes into my offerings, and I absolutely love connecting with folks over these practices. While the main aspect of my work is teaching restorative and gentle yoga, the larger focus and impact is in relationships, community building, and inspiration to live bigger than “the grind.” That’s where the magic happens and why so many people credit yoga as life-changing. It’s an honor to play my small part in that type of transformation for others.”

This is what Alicia had to say when we asked, what she would say to someone considering adding a fitness routine to their life. “Get ready to do a lot more laundry! 😉 In all seriousness, although there will be workouts to schedule, sweaty clothes to wash, and sore muscles to nurse, it’s worth the friends you’ll make, the goals you’ll crush, and the new perspective you’ll gain from being active. The best advice I can give is to find an activity you enjoy that gets you moving, or to find a place centered on fun and community like Forward Fitness and SCHEDULE your time there.  To have my workouts already on my calendar for the week has helped keep me consistent above all else. Knowing that I’ll see familiar faces and be missed when I’m not at the gym is the other main reason I attend. Working out doesn’t feel like a chore when I get to do it with friends.”

We always ask our members if there are any fun facts they would like to add.  I’m going to have to check out this game now.Part of my morning routine is playing a game called Heardle. You’ve likely heard of Wordle (which I also play), but this is a bit different. It’s a song recognition game with lots of genres and decades to choose from. You get to listen to only the first second of a song, and then you try to guess the title and artist. If you get it wrong, the game plays the first two seconds of the song and you get another try. The game maxes out after the first 15 seconds of the song, so you only get about 5 attempts to name the tune. I can usually start the day with multiple one-second wins! (Yes, I’ll be on your trivia team.)

And…Let’s Go Blues!!”

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