Client of the month — Wendy Hebert

Wendy before and after

I could list all the weight loss/exercise programs I have tried but let’s just say, if you name it, I have tried it. I’ve had decades of trials and decades of short-lived successes — usually followed by an eventual epic fail. When I turned 45, I thought what more can I do or try? Since I didn’t want to spend another day, month, or year trying to make a diet stick, I simply gave up. I no longer wanted to hang on, white-knuckled, to some diet or exercise program … hoping … praying that it would work.

Then last fall my daughter asked me to go to Orange Theory. I honestly thought she meant Orange Julius (ya – I know – LOL.) I looked online and watched a video, then said, I love you kiddo but I also like not dying. Instead, we made a deal to try a few fitness centers together and see which one was a good fit for us.

I emailed IF on a whim. This place, honestly, it wasn’t even on my radar. I mean meeting with a freakishly fit person, one-on-one, definitely not something I would have ever even considered. When I met Jim, he was funny, fit, charming, and not what I expected. He didn’t try to sell me on IF. Instead, he was trying to see how I truly felt about myself. He asked me heartfelt questions about my life and what I had going on. He had a good chuckle when I told him I was there because of my daughter and my daughter said she was there because of me. The three of us had a few laughs and I left that meeting thinking what a genuinely nice guy. Despite my feelings of apprehension about personal training, I thought, should I give IF a fair shake? Would they be able to do something for me that I have not been able to do on my own after all these years of trying?

The answer is an astounding YES.

Over the last year, I have slowly learned to let go of body image expectations and my need to “think” I have to take care of everyone’s needs before my own. I am no longer wallowing in a dark, dingy attic of my own self-pity. I realize I have value, but that my value isn’t tied to being the perfect Mom, wife, co-worker, or friend. More importantly it is not tied to being 135 lbs OR bag of Cheetos. 

Of course, I had to change my eating habits and incorporate exercise to become a healthier me, but I think the majority of my success is how my trainer helped me realize how closely related my mental health is to my physical health. I am learning & practicing to be mindful of what drives the me-train. Most days I am like the locomotive for Amtrak, but who can keep that pace right? What I’ve learned is that when I have a bad day, when I don’t or can’t meet my workout goals or when I eat a cookie … well that day I am the caboose. I have found that the back of the train is a really nice place to reflect and regroup.


My trainer taught me that I have to strike a balance between my own happiness and everything life throws at me.

Balance is tough especially for a perfectionist. My character is built like a fence of perfectly placed pickets. In my world, if a picket is out of place, slightly bent, or isn’t just right, I might try to fix it. I will do a few things to try to make it work, but if it doesn’t look like the other pickets and if it’s not coming out as planned, I will pour gasoline all over it, light it on fire, walk away, and never look back. I realize now that I had to stop solving my problems with a match (I was such a Pyro.) Now I am working on giving myself & my fitness level the time I need to evolve. Looking back I never really gave myself this gift. Instead, when things get tough, I’m a distance runner. (I mean I can run like the wind and not in the sense my trainer would want.)

With John’s help, I finally see that it is okay to fail one day because as long as I keep going I have the opportunity to try and do better another day. It isn’t about being perfect. It is about being present. That was a hard pill for a gal that loves her matches.

John helped me become stronger & leaner physically, but the real acclamation goes to his spiels, instructions, and, of course, his one-liners (even the ones from movies.) I put all my faith in him almost a year ago. I said to myself, “Wendy, follow this guy, I think he might have the keys you’ve been looking for.” It’s funny because now I see, so vividly, that he is actually following me (he is tricky like that.) After quite a few months of working with him, I had an epiphany.

He was trying to hand me these keys. He showed me them one by one, demonstrated how they worked, and told me exactly how to open the doors. Day after day he clanged those things around. Some days he shoved them in my face (he’s bossy like that.) While other days, it seems, he was just there holding these keys for me. Then one day I saw what he was getting at. .. he couldn’t unlock the door for me – I had to help.

Once unlocked, we slowly open that door together. I mean it had been bolted shut for decades, ­this was going to take awhile. Behind that door I eventually found my strength, courage, and self-worth. I’m still finding stuff I lost, like my confidence and I stuff I didn’t even know I had like endurance. I truly have a profound admiration for him and all the trainers because I have seen how they show endless support and give selflessly to help people like me. Individual Fitness is so much more than a fitness center, gym, or place to work out. It is a support system comprise of good people that want nothing more than for you to believe in yourself as much as they believe in you.

I am so grateful to be a part of the IF community, staff and members alike – you’ve watched my progress from day one and I truly appreciate every stitch of encouragement, every smiling face (and believe me it’s hard to smile at 5:15 am,) and every hello – thanks for inspiring me, having faith in me, and encouraging me – you all rock!!!

To the IF team – I am forever in your debt,
Wendy sig

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