Sports Stories

Lynda D. Christopher, a personal trainer in the Verde Valley, was named the International Fitness Professionals Association’s personal trainer of the month for August, a national recognition.

Christopher, also a fourth-degree black belt in Taekwondo, has been a trainer for more than 30 years.

“I was just shocked when they notified me and said I was selected,” Christopher said. “I was just really surprised. I’m humbled because there’s a lot of really good trainers out there. I’m just really grateful for the award .... I always thank God for everything.”

Although Christopher has had a long career as a personal trainer, this is her first award.

Throughout her life she has had an extensive athletic career that included being a distance runner, world-record holding weight lifter and an accomplished martial artist.

Without first getting a personal trainer, her career would not have been as decorated. In 1975 she needed to lose weight to improve her marathon running, in which she wanted to qualify for the Olympics.

Back then the thought was, the skinnier the runner, the faster the runner. She also began body building and wanted to compete in a fitness pageant at Universal Studios Hollywood.

In 1978 she became a personal trainer herself with the IFPA. She wanted to teach others what she learned from having a trainer.

Since many people, even nowadays, are skeptical of going into a gym and using the weights and machines, she wanted to instill that confidence in them as her trainer once had.

“If I hadn’t gotten in the door in the gym and gotten over that fear of the equipment, and the ‘Oh my gosh,’ [then I wouldn’t have continued],” Christopher said. “It was the trainer that gets you through that then you realize, ‘Oh, you can do this.’”

Many of her clients still come to lose weight, widely acknowledged as one of the larger health-related issues in society.

“It’s really a cruel world if you’re overweight,” Christopher said. “And so to get in there with a trainer you gain that confidence and better self image.”

While a lack of confidence in everyday people who have little to no experience in a gym still exists, some of the trends in personal training have gone away.

Christopher said that when she was a trainer in the late ’80s at Palos Verdes Health Spa in California, she had to wear high heels while instructing. It came as little surprise that it was quickly realized that exercising in heels was not a safe practice.

She still works with a lot of individuals looking to lose weight and tone up. But she also has begun to work with more younger people, many of whom are high school athletes looking to get stronger. That is because there has been an upward trend in young people exercising.

“I’m seeing people of all ages wanting to get fit,” Christopher said. “They’re not afraid to come into the gym anymore. It’s a cool thing to work out now.”

One of the lesser-known things that she works with clients on is injury prevention. Rather than helping them get strong, they work on developing the health of tendons and ligaments, which keep bones, muscles and cartilage attached.

What also helps is that it has gotten cheaper, she said, to get into a gym. And trainers now are much more educated and experienced than in decades past, when toned muscles were enough of a resume.

Her older clientele simply look to stay active. It is widely known that a sedentary lifestyle is harmful to anyone’s health; Christopher works with a walking group in West Sedona.

“You’ve got to keep moving no matter who you are,” she said. “If you sit in a chair, you don’t keep moving, you’re going to start having major issues.”

Some of those older clients have also looked to her for her martial arts background to teach them self defense.
Christopher works as a trainer at various Snap Fitness locations around the Verde Valley, as well as in people’s homes.


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