At the suggestion of a friend, I decided to look into a “Boot Camp” exercise class given by Mah-Ann.
I really had no clue what that would entail and I was a little nervous about it, it didn’t help that first she weighed us and then checked our body fat with calipers. Being a fun, outgoing person, Mah-Ann made us all feel comfortable, in spite of our apprehension about the workout ahead. It also helps to have the added support of my friends in the class! I ended up living through the experience and enjoying (that may not be the right word to use) it so much that now I am in my fourth month.
There is a great energy and team spirit with everyone who works out there. We are all rooting for each other, which come directly from Mah-Ann. Don’t get me wrong…I’m sweating like crazy, but actually enjoying it along the way (ok maybe not pushups). There is a great deal of satisfaction with every improvement I make, whether pushups or lifting weights. Improvements are not just physical, they are also mental. Mah-Ann’s true campaign is “Let’s get healthier by making wiser choices, whether by exercising or eating right! Don’t let bad decisions force you to take care of yourself after the fact – start doing it before it comes to that, but also know that it is never too late!”
Mah-Ann grew up in the Philippines until her mother decided she wanted something different for the family and brought them to America in 1976. Mah-Ann graduated from South Salem High in 1978, where she was always very involved with sports. Whether volleyball or basketball, she loved it all! Sports gave her such a sense of empowerment and independence. After school she started doing 1 on 1 personal training at the Courthouse, which seemed a perfect fit for her. When she was almost 30 her boyfriend took her to the Emerald Cup in Washington, a body building competition; he thought she may be interested in trying it. Her first thought was “I can do this” and she set out to not only win
Her main focus now is helping others to realize what they can do through healthy eating and working out. She has many clients of all different ages, up to a 69 year old. By doing all these things the aging process is slowed. It helps with blood circulation, joint movement, heart issues, cholesterol problems and osteoporosis and translates to less chance of having to take medications throughout your life. She has learned much of this from her own personal experience, having gone thru 4 cancer surgeries and chemo in 2011. Nothing was going to stop her! She wanted to use herself as an example by doing one of her last competitions (Toronto Pro Show 2011) to prove to others that you can still strive to do the best you can no matter what.
She worries about the changes in the world for our younger generation. Right now everyone is so sedentary, lots of things are so mechanical or technical and there is no human movement involved. That’s why we have this epidemic of obesity. Kids think… “I can do anything I want…” not looking down the road and seeing how those things will affect them later. Everything they do now is cumulative on how they will function later in life. It takes drive and motivation to overcome those problems and she’s not sure they have it.
Her advice to younger women is simple “Believe in yourself, see every day as an opportunity to face and welcome whatever comes through the door. Never seek validation from others, it comes from within. As we grow up, our parents use validation to make us into what they want us to be, but then we have to learn who we really are, make our own decisions, and follow our own paths. Those are the things that will give you satisfaction in your life.”
Mah-Ann’s 18 year relationship with her life partner, Lisa, which she describes as a “phenomenal journey,” is the main reason she feels so happy with her life. They first met at Gold’s Gym Downtown during workouts. Both of them being so athletic, driven, and sports-minded, they were a perfect fit. Lisa graduated from Medford High school and held the record for discus throwing as well as doing track and field. Mah-Ann was married for 12 years at one time and when asked why she converted, she said “It wasn’t a matter of converting or which gender they were, it was the person I was attracted to.” She has seen some discrimination throughout her life, whether because she is gay, Asian, or just short, but feels it’s important to know it is all about being oneself. “I am who I am; you need to accept me as a whole package, not just the parts that meet your standards.” She also knows “we all have rules that we live by, but I am confident in who I am and I don’t need anyone’s validation whether I am gay or not. But I am okay with their choices because we all have our personal set of rules we live by. I know I can live without those people in my life. It won’t change who I am, I will never ask permission of others about who I am supposed to be.”
I asked “What do you still want to accomplish?” Mah-Ann said, “If I die right now, I’ll die happy! I have a good life, a wonderful wife, a dog (Max) and I feel like I have built a legacy whereby people will think of me in a positive way. They trust me, respect me, and value what I have done for the community. No, I’m not rich, but that’s not what matters. I am not the type of person who wants to retire and then travel. I am pretty content with what I have. I just want to see my business thrive and watch the transformation in each of my clients. That is really what keeps me going!”
Knowing Mah-Ann is there to support and teach me in this class has helped push me past my comfort zones and every time that happens, I feel more confident about who I am and what I can do! That’s why I picked her for my Incredible List!