Member Spotlight: Mary Back

We are very happy to feature Mary Back for our member spotlight this month.  Mary has been a member of Forward Fitness for over 5 years. Many of you may have had the opportunity to meet Mary as she is one of those rare people who has made the switch from afternoon to morning workouts. We are so glad that she did as it helped her find a way to continue her workouts with us even though her work schedule has changed. Now is your chance to get to know a little more about her.

We asked Mary to share about her life before joining Forward Fitness and this is what she had to say, “I was born and raised in Festus, MO to a single mother who started her own newspaper in Jefferson County, when I was 7 years old. She and I are VERY close and she has always encouraged me to do anything and everything I could, even if it was completely out of my comfort zone. She has always been the hardest working person that I have ever known, and I absolutely credit her with where I am today both personally and professionally. I am an only child and was blessed with an amazing childhood. Don’t let the “only child” thing fool you, I have a ridiculously large family and we are all very close! I started dance when I was 3 years old and loved it. I went on to take tap, jazz and ballet for over 15 years until I had to make a decision in high school between dance and volleyball… well, as you guessed it, volleyball won. I have played volleyball in grade school and then high school, then also started with club ball in the off season in 7th grade through my Senior year of high school. After that, I played in some rec leagues off and on and now I mostly get to watch my nieces and cousins play, which I love! I currently live in Barnhart with my husband, Ryan and our dog, Zoey. I have been with Panera Bread Corporate (previously located in Sunset Hills, we recently just moved our offices to Fenton) for 10 years. I started at the bottom of the totem pole as a specialist on the Accounts Receivable team and currently hold the position of Manager of Franchise Receivables, specifically working with our franchise groups throughout the US and Canada, handling franchise fees, contractual agreements, etc. So… basically Microsoft Excel is my daily life along with reconciling very large amounts of money along with an abundance of other things.”

Mary shared this about why health and fitness are important to her, “Health and fitness are important to me because as everyone knows, none of us are getting any younger. After seeing first hand, friends and family that have major health issues and a loss of mobility (if you don’t use it, you lose it!) and also having a career where the majority of my day is spent in front of the computer, getting up and moving my body has become key to not only my physical fitness but also my mental health as well!! I also love the challenge of lifting weights! The feeling of being able to lift something heavy and prove to yourself you can do it, is like no other!”

Mary found Forward Fitness when she joined one of our challenges, “I first joined FF when my cousin Nicole had asked me to join her in the “New Year, New You” challenge. At that time, I was in a workout slump and after working countless hours at the office (work/life balance was not common for me back then) and not taking my health seriously, I knew something had to change. After the challenge and experiencing the atmosphere and amazing support, I decided to join as a member!”

When it comes to challenges Mary has a COVID wedding story that we know was frustrating at the time but ended up being a great story. “Not long after I joined FF, my now husband Ryan and I became engaged in Feb. 2019 and we began planning our wedding for March 28, 2020 (insert dramatic sound effect here). As you can imagine what happened, our huge 300+ person wedding slowly but surely got canceled. By the grace of God and SO many wonderful people that surround us, I ordered a dress online (my actual wedding dress was not an “outdoor” dress…ha-ha) and received the dress on Friday and Ryan and I were able to still get married on our planned date 3/28/20 at an outside ceremony at the historic Sandy Creek Bridge in Hillsboro, with about 10 people socially distanced in attendance. At that point in the day, I was thinking to myself that this day couldn’t have been more perfect for the quickest unplanned “planned” event ever or so we thought until once we arrived home and our family and friends surprised us with what we called a “Parade of Love”. We had over 40 cars decorated and filled with our family and friends driving by honking, waving, yelling, playing music, etc. I still tear up to this day when I think about it or watch the video that luckily our family took for us. It truly was the best “unplanned” wedding day that we could have imagined. After all of this, we were able to plan on a new date for August 2020. Unfortunately, with gathering limitations again put into place the Monday of the week of the wedding, we had to resort to plan C. So… four dates, three planned events and ALL that entails combined, we were FINALLY able to have our vow renewal and celebration on Sept. 25, 2021. MANY people of the Forward Fitness family were along for the ride on this ridiculously long journey whether they liked it or not, HAHA! I was so thankful to have the support from every single one of you on every aspect of that journey!! You guys are amazing!!”

Mary shared this about making fitness a priority in her life. “I have realized that everyone needs to have fitness in their daily routine. Whether it is pushing hard during a FIT camp or a simple walk in the neighborhood, movement is key! Being able to feel the difference in my body and the strength and confidence I have gained by attending both FIT camps and mobility classes has helped many things in my everyday life improve, including making sure that Zoey gets in her daily exercise as well!”

Sometimes just getting to the gym is the hardest part. Mary shares how she conquered this problem. “Pre-COVID, Forward Fitness was about 10 minutes from my office, making it an easy part of my daily routine going to 5:30pm or 6:30pm FIT Camps. Since COVID, my team began a hybrid working style. I currently work from home, while going into the office once a week. While trying to get into a routine working remotely it was also difficult to make the drive to go to the evening FIT camps. Eventually I knew I had to switch it up and decided to try to start going to 6am FIT camps and it worked out perfectly! I can now say I am a 6am regular, never in my life would I have EVER thought I would have said that I am an actual morning person! There are some days that I turn up at a noon or evening FIT camp just to change things up or because of a scheduling conflict and it’s nice to see some of my other gym friends that I don’t get to see regularly.” Her afternoon friends are glad she comes back to visit us from time to time. 

This is the advice Mary would give to someone thinking about adding a fitness routine to their lives, “I would encourage people to find a routine that works for them. Many people often gasp when I say that I live in Barnhart or when people find out I drive to Maplewood for the gym and ask “Why?” and my answer is always the same and is very simple… because I love my gym! Living 30 minutes away from the gym, takes some planning ahead to make sure I’m there on time but going back to some advice I received from Suzanne years ago that if you set yourself up for success the night before, you can set the stage for productive mornings and balanced life, holds true. She was NOT wrong! It may take some trial and error to find activities that you enjoy and the right community for you, but when you do, being active will just become a part of your daily life.” 

Thank you Mary for being a part of our Fit Fam and for sharing your story.

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