By Kelley Vargo
The first fitness competition I ever attended, the largest one in the world, in my backyard, set the stage (no pun intended) for my dreams: The Arnold Classic.
When Jill asked me to be apart of the JillFit team as a physique and competition coach, I could not have been more honored. I’ve spent the past few weeks wondering what in the world I was going to write about in my first blog post. I have a ton of recipes, lifting regiments, cardio workouts, but I wanted it to have a little more personality :) So I thought, why not start off by introducing myself, my story, and hopefully, give you a little inspiration to go out there and make your dream your reality.
My passion became clear as a freshman in high school: my softball coach along with fitness guru Mike Davies introduced me to the world of fitness. I remember going to Mike’s bootcamps in Columbus and seeing Jen Hendershott do plyometric pushups like it was nothing. At the time, I didn’t know who she was, or for that matter how my passion for fitness and wellness would evolve into my career. In undergrad at Wake Forest in 2004, my first stop was the fitness center; my first friend was made asking for a spot in the gym; and my first real lifting partner and most inspiring friend was Jill Coleman. In the first five minutes of meeting we established we would workout together at 6:30am everyday and one day be on the cover of Oxygen Magazine together.
Seeing Jill pave the way in the fitness and modeling world showed me that if you want something bad enough, you really can have it. Being a few years younger, I was able to watch Jill transform through her 20s. While she was finding her way, she taught me so many priceless lessons that words can not explain. I saw her go from the gym to the stage to the cover and realized with hard work, dedication, desire, and passion, anything is possible. Once I saw Jill get on stage and work with the most amazing photographer, Lisa Brewer, I told myself I was going to do it too. I wasn’t sure how, but I was.
Well, here it is a few short, but yet long years later and I am now one of her trainers and an NPC Figure competitor. I am attending graduate school for what I love: exercise science. I have completed one of many shoots with Lisa Brewer, Ariel Perez, and Robert Taggart and with continued perseverance will be on that big stage back home in Columbus, Ohio, and who knows…maybe that Oxygen cover too!
I guess where I am going with this, is that anything, and I mean anything is possible. When I graduated from Wake at 22 years old, I was lost. I had no idea in which direction I was heading but I was certain l loved fitness and helping others. I tried many things, but still couldn’t find that the missing link that completed me. I didn’t feel fulfilled, and I didn’t feel happy. So I decided to really focus on my core being: what drove me to feel happy, what made me smile? Taking a risk is scary, but it is better than wondering what could have happened. Surround yourself with those who love and support you, and then go make your dreams reality. I could not have done any of this with out the love and support of my amazing family, friends and my faith. Remember: don’t force things, don’t worry about what others will think, and don’t beat yourself up! Follow your heart. Life is short & beautiful!
I’ll be in Columbus for the Arnold this week, if you get the chance, come see me at the Larabar booth if you’re there. I won’t be on stage this year, but soon JillFit will be represented on stage in Columbus! Have a great week guys and let me know your thoughts! I look forward to hearing from and working with you!