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Have you ever wanted to do something to improve your health and fitness, but just couldn't seem to pull the trigger and do it?

Maybe you tend to overthink and overanalyze things. Perhaps you repeatedly play a story in your head about how things will go terribly wrong before you ever give it a shot.

Carol Kemna was in the same boat when she wanted to start exercising after battling several health issues.

In 2016, Carol was diagnosed with breast cancer. She endured several surgeries which led to myriad complications.

"I went through multiple surgeries, complications, infections, more surgeries, medicine, chemo, radiation, another surgery or two, and more medicine," she said. "I felt terrible and too weak to do anything about it."

Her weight climbed higher than she ever imagined it would, and she was constantly fatigued, dealing with bone and joint pain, and fighting high cholesterol. She was even told she was borderline diabetic.

"While some of these things were side effects from my medicine, I knew some were caused by years of inactivity, increased weakness and poor diet all things I could change," Carol said. "I just needed to get the strength and motivation to do it."

Carol knew she needed help and guidance, but when she thought about hiring a fitness professional to help her on this journey, she seemed to keep putting it off.

"I was very worried that a trainer would not understand I really was too weak to do the things other people my age can usually do," Carol said. "I was also afraid a trainer would push me to do things that would hurt, yell at me or sort of embarrass me."

Knowing she needed professional help to reach her health and fitness goals, Carol took a leap of faith and, along with a workout buddy, met with Thomas Shields, NASM certified personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist at the YMCA. During their consultation, they discussed previous medical issues, injuries and any other questions and concerns she and her training partner had.

"Thomas relieved my many fears very quickly," Carol said. "He urged us to keep him informed when an exercise was too uncomfortable or painful, and he promised to tweak exercises as needed to help us build up our strength."

Carol has no regrets in hiring Thomas as her personal trainer.

"I like that Thomas genuinely values good health and fitness. He is focused on our workouts and helping us feel better," she said. "I came in wanting mostly to get thin. Now that I am really feeling better, I can appreciate that working out is about more than getting huge muscles or getting skinny. I'm feeling happier and more confident that I have for years!"

For better or worse, many people are scared to go to a fitness center and hire a trainer. Lots of people assume all personal trainers are like the celebrity trainers we see on reality TV who always get in your face, yell and scream, and force you to push yourself far beyond your limits, which often leads to injury and burnout.

Fortunately, most fitness professionals are nothing like that. However, you should do your due diligence when looking to hire one. At the very least, you should check to ensure that your prospective trainer holds a nationally recognized certification, and you should ask for testimonials and/or references of former or current clients.

See if you can purchase a session or two as a trial run to make sure he or she will be a good fit before committing a larger sum of money. Many fitness centers offer trial or intro packages for this very purpose. This is an affordable way to overcome your own doubts and fears to see if hiring a fitness professional is right for you.

Carol is happy she didn't let her concerns stop her from hiring Thomas.

"This has honestly been one of the best things I've ever done for myself. I wish I would have done it sooner," she said. "I now really miss workouts if I have to miss a day. I appreciate the feeling of accomplishment and motivation I feel after going to the gym."

Luke Lamb is the director of sports and performance at the Jefferson City Area YMCA. He can be reached at 573-761-9003.

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