By Nikki Halvorsen

Each year, Raintree Athletic Club offers up the RAC Scholarship to one deserving club member. The RAC Scholarship entitles the recipient to 12 personal training sessions, nutrition education and planning, and a whole year’s worth of support to help him or her achieve their health and wellness goals. As 2018 comes to a close, we checked it with last year’s scholarship winner, Annie Carey. In the beginning of the year, Annie might have needed some inspiration from us, but now the tables have turned, as her story and commitment has left us the inspired ones.

Annie submitted a humble yet to-the-point letter to us, describing her fitness goals as well as her fears and insecurities regarding her then current health, activity level, and nutrition. Sadly, Annie’s parents both passed away before age 50 from heart-related issues, and she also lost a sister and a brother to heart attack. Annie has two older sisters that she explained were dealing with health issues of their own, and it was difficult to watch them struggle with everyday tasks as a result of their ill-health. Annie, a mother and elementary school teacher, did not let these hardships discourage her. Instead, she took them as her wake-up call that she needed to do the work to take care of herself. While it is always difficult to choose only one winner for our RAC Scholarship, we were so impressed by Annie’s positive attitude in the face of adversity that we knew we wanted to help.

We connected Annie with our personal trainer Tracy Ibarra, with whom Annie immediately felt a connection.

“Tracy was a great match,” says Annie. “She really taught me how to balance between pushing too hard and not pushing enough. I will never forget when she told me ‘I want to see you sweat’ because I knew she meant business!”

Another aspect of the personal training that Annie said helped her was the inspiration and advice she could take with her after the session was over, like how to modify her regular walks with her dog into a more effective workout. She also felt like she could come into the gym on her own with more options for exercise and less inhibitions, having set a steady foundation with Tracy.

“I used to feel intimidated by others at the gym,” she says. “They seemed so in-shape already. Now, though, I’m just inspired by them. Nobody is judging you the way you’re judging yourself.”

Along with the impactful personal training sessions, Annie also found herself trying lots of new classes outside of her usual routine. She was thrilled that even after a year, she still has new programs to try. LesMills BodyCombat was already a favorite, but now she also loves BarrePower, BodyFlow, and Yin Yoga.

“I have made great connections with the instructors here,” she says. “They always welcome all shapes and sizes.”

Along with her newfound approach to exercise, Annie also worked on improving her diet. By cutting out prepared, frozen foods and committing to making her own food more often, Annie felt her energy levels increase dramatically. She also reduced her sugar intake and felt that the less she consumed, the less she wanted it. Most importantly, Annie took away that not all calories are created equal, and making smart nutrition choices comes easier over time.

When asked what Annie would tell herself a year ago, just starting out, she said, “Acknowledge and be ok with the ebb and flow of fitness or nutrition. If you struggle, don’t get frustrated and quit. Don’t beat yourself up, just keep trying.”

With 2019 on the horizon, we are currently accepting letter or videos of submission for our next recipient. This time, we are teaming up with our partners at Colorado Nutrition to offer a personalized nutrition plan with bi-weekly counseling and check-ins (valued at $3000) in addition to our personal training package and club support. If you were as inspired by Annie’s progress as we were, and want a chance at the 2019 RAC Scholarship, send your testimonial to amanda@raintreeathleticclub.com by December 31st. Self-submissions only please.

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