Your Story: Brenda

Meet Brenda!  

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A certified personal fitness trainer for over 15 years and mother to 3 amazing young men ages 23, 21, and 17. Her focus is Functional Training, High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT), Weight Loss, Corrective Exercise, expertise in TRX Suspension Training and Kettlebell Lifting.

If you live in upper Westchester or Putnam County and want to consult Brenda about your fitness goals, she can be reached at the New York Sports Club in Somers and via email at brenda.cohen@newyorksportsclubs.com

Hope Fitness Gear recently interviewed Brenda about her career as a fitness trainer, how she balances family and career, and what motivates her to do her thing.

What inspired you to become a personal fitness trainer? 

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I began skiing at age 3, and swam and played baseball by age 7. In high school, I participated in cross country skiing and running. By college, weight training became an integral part of my life. (Oh, recently I’ve added kayaking and hiking to the activities list!) As an avid sports participant, I have trained my entire life to stay healthy and active. It’s great to wake up feeling strong and to be able to participate in activities that you enjoy. It also helps you better handle life’s stresses and obstacles with much more ease. Over time I realized that I wanted to share my fitness knowledge with others. My goal is to help people reach their fitness goals and full potential, whether that entails overcoming injuries, losing weight, gaining strength and flexibility, or training for that first 5K run. Teaching clients how to lead healthier, stronger lives is the most valuable lesson I can impart on them. 

What is the best piece of advice you could give women who want to improve their fitness level but don’t know where to begin? 

We have one body to wake up with each day, so why not make it a strong, happy and peaceful one? A little exercise and healthy eating can go a long way in helping you get through the day feeling less tired and less stressed. There are so many health benefits to exercising, both psychological and physical. Throughout my years as a trainer I’ve witnessed the benefits my clients experience from exercise: recovery from sciatica, lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improved self-esteem, and increased activity/energy from weight loss, just to name a few.  

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For those who want to get started with a fitness routine but don’t know how to begin, I say - Just get up and move! Keep it simple – start with a walk in your neighborhood. Start with one push-up. Then do it the next day too. Grab a friend to join you or go with your kids. It’s a great way to connect with your children and teach them life-long healthy habits. When my children were young I was always playing ball with them on the baseball field, or tossing a football at the beach. Now that they are older and away at college and grad school, we still stay connected and active together hiking in New Mexico, kayaking on the Charles River, ziplining in the Berkshires. Find your fun fitness activity and get your kids involved!

For those having a hard time getting motivated or have specific fitness goals and are not sure where to begin, I definitely recommend having a personal fitness trainer to guide them. Their expertise can help find the appropriate work-out routine to match an individual’s fitness goals, prevent injury, and keep them accountable and focused. A personal trainer gives clients the tools to succeed.

What would you say is the greatest challenge you face in balancing your career and your family? 

As a mother of three very active boys, life was always hectic. We all need a little down time, and when mine was due I headed to the gym. It was my once-a-week alone time. That was, and still is, my stress reliever. I was very lucky to have an amazing sitter that I found through the local high school’s pre-school teaching program, which allowed me to get those much-needed workouts in. I also found baking to be very therapeutic! At night after the boys were asleep I’d put on some music and whip up something yummy!

What motivates you to get up each day and do your “thing?” 

I love what I do, so I look forward to going to work. What motivates and makes me happy is that I know I am helping someone, in some way, to feel better about themselves. It’s important to find something that you are passionate about. Going to work will not be a struggle if you love what you do. If you find that passion is waning, then it’s okay to make a change. I did years ago – I worked 8 years in the city in a 9-5 corporate job. It wasn’t for me. The career change to become a personal trainer was the best decision I made. I’ve never regretted it or looked back.

What gives you hope? 

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My children give me hope. When my boys were 13, 11 and 7 years old I got them involved in community service. We volunteered for Midnight Run for the Homeless in NYC and Global Family Philanthropy (helping the 2010 Haitian earthquake victims). I am so proud of them that they have found their own passions and continue to give back to their community. They each take on different causes including science public outreach, fighting educational inequity, and promoting youth civic engagement. It gives me hope to know that they truly care and are trying to make the world a better place. That is also true of the younger generation as a whole. I’m hopeful and inspired by their passion for social justice and enacting social change in our society today.

Tom Harrigan