Fit, Fifty & Feeling WTF ( Wonderful, Thankful & Freakin’ Relieved)

17 04 2015

FullSizeRender  Post Op Day 5 

Alive, thankful and on the road to recovery. Surgery took about 6 hours last Wednesday April 8th, 2015.  Exactly one week ago I laid in the ICU, opened my eyes, thought “thank god I’m alive” and then felt a two by four in my throat. The ventilator.  I’ve seen it on TV medical shows, heard other peoples stories of it, was told to be prepared for it and yet I still lost it.  Yes, if my arms weren’t strapped down I would have pulled it out of my mouth. “I can’t breathe” and the words are not coming out. The nurse standing on the other side of the large glass wall can’t hear me. “I can’t breathe”, banging my restricted arms and hands against the sides of the bed in a quick knocking like manner trying to get attention. “I can’t breathe, get this out of my throat.” All I hear is “Honey calm down, relax, it will be out in a few HOURS.”  And like I have also seen in scary movies, I am now playing the part of the person being lowered into the ground , dirt being shoveled on top of my grave…… I’m being buried alive.  But at this moment in my life it felt real and not like a movie. THIS is what I will remember most from my surgery, not the chest pain, headaches and nausea, but the ventilator freaking me out. Not that I didn’t expect to be awake, but I am sure many share with me this fear when having any kind of surgery where anesthesia is used.  Especially one where they tell you they are going to unplug your heart. Which is a great reason to get your ducks in a row, isn’t it?  My ducks were in a row, but unlike prior surgeries in my adult life this time I didn’t leave “the envelope” with letters addressed to my kids. I just couldn’t write them. Just the thought made me cry.  Instead, right before getting wheeled away to surgery I told my tatooed boyfriend “make sure they finish college and No Tattoos!”

I ended up not having a bicuspid valve but a badly deformed tricuspid valve. Option one: repair was out!  Option two: tissue valve was in. “Oink Oink”, I have a new pig valve.  The decision on which tissue valve the surgeon used, cow or pig, was based on what fit me best. Dr. Bavaria explained to my family that he prefered pig valves for athletes. I still think they are lying to me when they said he called me an athlete, lol.  Did he say gym rat, weekend warrior, daughter of parents who worked full time as a child and was told she can not play sports or she would have to find her own rides? Oh and no one tell my new friends on the Facebook group page  Bicuspid Aortic Valve Disease (BAVD) that I am now a poser.   The valve was a tri-leaflet. The leak in my valve was caused by a prolapsed leaflet and tears in the valve leaflets themselves, which are called fenestrations.   That was the result of the heart being enlarged and the blood trying to get out. Dr. Bavaria explained to my family that it was spraying like a hose in different directions.

I was was moved out of I.C.U. less than 24 hours after surgery to a room on Silver 10, one of the many cardiac floors at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.   I was told that I would wake up with things like that horrible ventilator, wires connected to the inside of my heart, drainage lines as long as knitting needles under my incision,  I.V. lines in both arms, and a line in my neck.  So like a puppy waiting for a treat, when a white coat appeared every day in my room  I knew something was coming out.  And one by one and day by day they did.  Ready to roll, I took to the hallways to walk and that is when I was immediatelt humbled. Heading towards me, moving faster than I was,  dressed in the same team uniform, white and blue gown, front pocket to hold a heart rate monitor, with wires dangling from everywhere,  I am passed by a 90 year old man. Really? WTF?  I give the typical head nod I use when a fellow mountain biker passes me and that’s when I notice….he’s cheating, he has a walker, that’s not legal!  Get his bib number!!!  Being the competitve person that I am, and hearing that he is on day 14 post op and I day 1 post op , I took a deep breath….and relaxed a little. I left the hospital on Monday, 5 days after my surgery with my new medal: a 10 inch scar down my chest with a bump at the top that looks like a nose of one of the presidents on Mount Rushmore. This I am being assured, will go down over time.   The absolute best feeling was coming home to my own house, taking a long hot shower, and crawling into my own bed. No more sounds of beeps and bells, and no one waking me up to check my vitals the second I doze off.  Other than dealing with some insane pressure headaches I am good. My daily walks around my neighborhood are getting a little longer each day. Breathing better each day. And getting my ball up higher and holding it longer each day on my spirometer. That same spirometer that I would wave in my dads face when I visited him after his heart surgeries. “Did you suck today Dad?” is now  “Hope did you suck today” Crazy how things change when we least expect it.  Crazy how hard that spiromoter is. FullSizeRender copy                                                                Being initiated into the Zipper club by my dad. 

Each morning we wake up and we have a choice to pick our attitude for the day.  It’s a daily decision we make. Am I going to be miserable or am I going to be motivated?  This surgery leaves me not in pain but with the joy of knowing how lucky I am to have the life that I do.  The gift of fitness is what allowed me to get to 51 without dying, and it is now giving me a much easier recovery.   And if anyone thought I didn’t shut up before about being heathy, then look out.  I am on fire.  Just the fact that the nurses told me the average person stays 14 days in the hospital for my surgery freaked me out. You make life altering choices each day and yet people take better care of their yards than their bodies. Yes I saw the eyes as I walked the halls of the hosital.  Looks of sympathy from visitors and from other patients. But what they didn’t know is one, don’t feel sorry for me, and two, I’m  looking at you thinking that you probably need my business card!  I’m in pain from not working out. I am dying that I can’t go lift and just sweat my ass off. The luxury of being able to workout I treasure daily as do so many other people. Just ask someone whose lost that opportunity.  It’s my life. It’s your life. It’s your choice.

I am up for air, breathing and look out, this gal is on fire……..but let me sit down for a second, I just got a little dizzy.

*The pre-op blog posted the day before my surgery FIT,FIFTY & WTF can be found at and scroll to prior post or at:


Shout out to the N.A.’s, N.P’s, and the lovely gals on Silverstein 10 at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania who took care of me, listened to me complain “my head hurts” and my nurse Jenny from Utah who let me interagate her about her life and explain that people from Philly are not ALL angry we just look that way and by gosh gave me the biggest compliment of my life when she said “the other nurses think you’re in your thirties”.  “STFU Really?” Really!!!

IMG_8176Post op Day 6 – writting my lattest blog, having my Starbucks and staring at the piles of medical bills only these are pre surgery. 


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Fit, Fifty & W.T.F.

8 04 2015

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 7.17.25 PM

There’s that saying that goes when one door closes another one opens. Usually that door opens to bigger and brighter things. After 18 years of an ugly marriage followed by 6 years of an ugly divorce, complete with astronomical divorce lawyer bills I am finally able to come up for air. I am in my early fifties, fit and finally free of some very heavy baggage. But why am I still out of breath?

To me there is nothing more important in life than family, and certainly nothing more valuable than good health. As a personal trainer, fitness instructor, and workout devotee, I preach about health and fitness on a daily basis. I am passionate about it and, because I am that annoying fitness friend who works out all the time, posts fitness quotes on Facebook, likes to tell you what to and what not to eat and as you can see, also blogs about it. I don’t have a problem telling people they’re overweight, their diet sucks and that they are a heart attack waiting to happen. I take care of myself so you should too. Listen to me……I’m Ms. Know It All. My motto is: “take care of your heart and your heart will take care of you.” And my personal mission is to not end up with a bad heart like my dad and his dad.

Recently I said to a friend that I would love to see how healthy my heart is for a 51 year- old woman. I bet it’s like that of a 30 year old. I do a ton of cardio and eat well, I don’t drink alcohol or smoke, I take fish oil supplements and I eat only dark chocolate. In fact, I think I am looking pretty pretty good for 51. I think 50 is the new 40. Did I mention that I have been feeling a little fatigued for the last few years. I’ve been told it’s from stress, my divorce and most recently menopause. I just had another physical. I know my body something isn’t right. I am told I should schedule a routine colonoscopy because I’m 51. Huh? I don’t think the problem is up my ass. Why isn’t anyone listening to me? I know my body and know something isn’t right. I think I need a new doctor. Yippee I found a new doctor and bonus she’s close to my house. Double bonus she had a cancellation. I have an appointment with my new doctor. Ah, I think my new doctor needs her hearing checked………
What? A heart murmur.  I now have a new doctor and a cardiologist, both whom do not have hearing problems. Although the lips are moving and I am being told that I was born with a genetic heart valve defect, I hear nothing but the words “Open Heart Surgery.” I am pretty pretty sure they both must have made a mistake because I have worked way too hard to avoid any problems with my heart, and look at me damn-it I look pretty pretty good for 51. Plus I just opened a new door in my life, I just came up for air. Let me catch my breath please.

The fall of 1980 I saw my father at the age of 43 lay in a hospital bed post-op from a triple bypass surgery after suffering his first of many future heart attacks, followed by subsequent heart surgeries and heart procedures. Wearing his scar like a badge of honor, he would parade shirtless around our house in Northeast Philly to the sheer horror of my teenage friends and I. To this day a phone call in the middle of the night always means hearing my mom say “Daddy’s in the hospital.” Now at the age of 82 my father Morty has had way too many heart procedures to list. But it’s this medical technology that keeps him alive and on the golf course in sunny Florida. That and someone, upstairs must like him a lot and knew that I would need him around so we can compare our badges of honor, our open heart surgery scars.

I’ll admit I have never even heard of a Bicuspid Valve, BAVD or let alone a Thoracic Aneurysm but when I’m asked if I know who John Ritter was I say yes and that I never thought he was funny. I couldn’t begin to comprehend what the cardiologist was saying. I have two daughters who need me. I can’t have open heart surgery…that would be insane. I’m too young. That’s for old people, people who are out of shape, people who eat bad, drink, and smoke. It’s not for me—the high and mighty personal trainer, amazing Spin instructor and fitness nut. Come on—I have to do the Broad Street Run. I need to teach my Spin class. I have people to train and preaching to do about the importance of doing cardiovascular exercise to strengthen the heart. And I have a list of personal “to do’s” like hiking the Grand Canyon, doing the Leadville 100 mountain bike race, and running the Disney Princess half marathon with my daughter, in of course Micky Mouse ears. In other words I have LIFE to do and don’t have time for this crap. More importantly I need to work, make money. I am a single mom. I don’t have workman’s comp or a job with benefits. How will this happen? And why did this happen? And another thought…OMG I’m going to have a gross scar down my chest like my father! Breath Hope. Just breath.

As I sat waiting for Penn Medicine’s top Aorta Specialist Dr. Joseph Bavaria to see me I was convinced that he would say we’ll monitor you and check you again in 12 months. But when he entered the room with this god like presence I knew immediately that “see you in a year” wasn’t coming out of his mouth. Instead he said “ John Ritter died from what you have.” “Yes I’ve heard” I said. And as I sat there wearing a shirt with a giant pink heart that I wore on purpose, listening to Dr. Bavaria and his Assistant Kristen tell me that my heart was way too big for my body size and all about artificial valves, cow valves, pig valves, two days in intensive care, and a week in the hospital I suddenly felt more like a confused child and not the strong confident mom of steel I am. Sadly, as I put my coat on over the cute pink heart shirt the heart surgeon never even noticed nor chuckled at, I gather my things and drove back into the suburbs in silence. Rush hour traffic on the Schuykill Expressway for once in my life didn’t seem to bother me. I thought about my kids and that I now had to call my dad and tell him the secret I have kept from him for two months. “Daddy, I have a heart condition and I am having open heart surgery in April.” And in true form my father said “BULLSHIT, that doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You were not born with a valve problem. It’s from too much god damn exercising”

Bicuspid aortic valve disease, or BAVD, is a congenital heart defect. Most people are born with a normal functioning tricuspid aortic valve. Some, like myself, are born with a bicuspid valve. A bicuspid aortic valve can be a serious heart valve disorder in which the valve only has two leaflets, or flaps, that control blood flow through the heart causing blood to regurgitate back into the heart rather than exit. It is a genetic mutation that occurs during pregnancy that causes the leaflets to fuse together. All of that causes the aorta to stretch and bulge and possibly cause an aneurysm. Oh yeah, I have one of those too that has to be repaired during my surgery. Some people are diagnosed at birth and therefore monitored as they age. Some like myself find out later in life that they were born with this valve disorder. To say I wasn’t prepared for the news that I had a life threatening heart condition would be an understatement. So I am beyond grateful and very fortunate that my new doctor, Dr. Hannah Chung heard the murmur and even more grateful that I didn’t cancel my appointment with Dr. Andrea Becker the cardiologist. Believe me I thought about cancelling.

On April 8th I will be sawed open through my sternum and have my bicuspid valve and aneurysm repaired or replaced. My surgeon, Dr. Joseph Bavaria will attempt to repair my valve rather. However if it cannot be repaired a replacement valve will be inserted.  At the old age of 51 I have no clogged arteries and one big strong heart so I am really hoping for a repair that hopefully would last for the rest of my life.  Tissue valves (cow or pig) only last roughly ten years when a person is active and therefore I could be facing open heart surgery again in ten years. I am praying for repair. I am not a candidate for a mechanical valve for other reasons. So, besides constantly thinking about my upcoming surgery and touching my left side of my chest all the time like Fred Sanford, I am cleaning my house like a nut, organizing my things and stocking up on diet ginger ale and soup. Plunging neckline shirts I once wore out whoring with my single girlfriends after my divorce have been dropped off at the good will box because something tells me that a 6” scar down my chest will not be so sexy. While I await my surgery I am restricted from doing anything that causes me to make a grunting sound like lifting heavy weights especially above my head. I am still training my clients, teaching spin and working out. I am training for the biggest race of my life – MY LIFE. I plan on walking into the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania on the morning of April 8th being one Fit Fifty-One year old Female and walking out a week later ready for my road to recovery and the opportunity to begin each day with a grateful heart.

Occasionally we hear a sad story about a kid playing football and dropping dead on the field, a basketball player collapsing on the court, a child who has a heart attack at recess. We find out they had an unknown heart condition and that had it been detected their lives could have been spared. Today there are national campaigns designed to stress the importance of early detection of heart conditions in youth which can lead to Sudden Cardiac Death.

Simon’s Fund is just one of the many organizations dedicated to raising awareness about the conditions that lead to sudden cardiac arrest in young athletes and children. Sudden cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of student athletes and cardiac arrest is the #1 killer of adults in the U.S.  As such, we should be checking the hearts of our children. Simon’s Funds latest success is the passage of The Sudden Cardiac Arrest Prevention Act (HB1610) in Harrisburg, PA. Hundreds of childrens lives have been saved thanks to the screenings that have taken place in schools all around the country. Go to for more information.

I am fortunate that as active as I am I did not drop dead from my unknown heart condition. My bicuspid valve wouldn’t have been detected therefore not allowing my children to be tested for this genetic disorder. While most adults discover their unknown BAVD in their thirties when they begin to get out of breath more easily, my body learned to compensate for my hearts inadequacy. I always thought my racing heart during the first mile of a run was due to the stress of hating to run. I will be curious to see how I feel when I recover. Will I breathe better? Will my heart rate be the same when I workout? Will I not sweat as much? I know I have a tough road ahead of me but I am going into this mentally tough. Because guess what? I know my body and I am sure I will do pretty pretty well. T minus zero it’s race time.  Deep breath Hope.


Please follow along my journey as I recover the days, weeks and months to come.

Check out my post op blog Fit, Fifty & WTF – Feeling Wonderful, Thankful & freakin’Relieved


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Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

Pre-op testing day Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.  Feeling thankful in Philly.

Pre-op testing day Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. Feeling thankful in Philly.



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or phone 610-608-6087


10 02 2014

“Success is not to be measured by the position someone has reached in life, but the obstacles he has overcome while trying to succeed.”  Booker T. Washngton


Johnny Quinn IFBB

“I can’t exercise.” I hear it every day from people I know personally, not strangers.  Bad knee, bad back, bad hip, headaches, etc. And while I don’t discredit their discomfort, as I too have a bad knee, a bad back and my newest pain my hip, I do question their reasoning for not exercising.  I personally know people on disability for ailments that I question, “you really can’t work with that?” This is a subject that makes my blood boil and is something that I have a hard time with. I mean, if you could exercise and feel better, lessen the pain, and improve the quality of your life, why wouldn’t you?

While at the gym recently I noticed a guy with an amazing physique that was training with a fellow trainer Joe Quinn of ProQ Fitness  What I noticed first and then later say’s it all, and is the reason why I personally can’t accept some of the reasons why able bodied people tell me they can’t exercise.

Joe yelled over to me to see if I could I help him with a spot for this client. It wasn’t until I was walking over to them that I noticed that the guy with the huge biceps was in a wheel chair and was about to do a shoulder press with some heavy weight that needed a little assist. When the set was done Joe introduced me to his younger brother Johnny.  I walked away but throughout my workout I couldn’t help but watch Johnny because there seemed to be no obstacles in his way.  Although Johnny has some huge muscles I found 12 that were by far being used the most: Zygomaticus major and minor (4), Orbicularis oculi (2), Levator labii superioris (2), Levator anguli oris (2) and Risorius (2)… the 12 muscles that make up a smile.  A smile that said: I am one lucky guy to be able to exercise.

Meet Johnny Quinn, IFBB International Federation of BodyBuilding & Fitness.

In 1998, Johnny was involved in a near fatal motorcycle accident that left him with a 10% chance to live. Two broken femurs, a broken arm, a broken jaw, massive head trauma and a spinal cord injury that left him paralyzed from the waist down.  He was 21 when this happened.

At age 19 if I asked Johnny Quinn what is the meaning of success in one word, what would teen Johnny have answered me? 


Your body screamed “COMPETITION” when I first saw you at the gym.  Some people notice eyes, some breasts, I notice biceps. Are you use to people staring at your physique?

Thanks! At first I felt like everyone would look at me because I was in a wheelchair. Now, I’m up on stage showing off my body and the last thing people see is the chair.

After the accident how many months did you spend at Magee Rehabilitation in Philadelphia?

One month in ICU, three months at Magee Rehab. Three long months, but it gave me the foundation to rebuild my life.

Prior to your accident you worked out, but nothing like now.  After the accident and being confined to a wheel chair you told me you watched your stomach get bigger and bigger.  Some people would have never even dreamed of heading back into the gym but you decided to take back control of your body, and head back to the gym. 

Mentally I was determined to beat this thing from day one. I never lost control of that.  The first year out was the toughest, but I had a lot of support from my family and friends. I discovered that with God all things are possible, and took it one day at a time. Oh, I had some battles with fear, anxiety & depression but I never let it take control. However, physically, I had to heal before I could really do any weight training. I had to focus on just being able to perform the daily activities of life. About two years after I got home I felt strong enough and independent enough to join back at the gym and to start weight training. The rest is history.

First days back at the gym, what was it like?

Without the use of my legs or my core muscles that help stabilize myself, training was very challenging at first and frustrating. We just had to think outside the box and always think safety too. I have titanium rods in my spine and have to be careful not to break them. Once we did start learning what works and developing a routine, it felt like a victory in itself. It was basically trial and error to see what works best. I am still discovering different ways to train the muscle in a different way to shock it and stimulate more growth.

You were shown a Flex magazine article which featured Men’s Wheelchair Body Building. That picture spoke something to you?

As soon as I saw that article and pics of those wheelchair bodybuilders I knew that’s what I wanted to do. If I had to be in a wheelchair, I wanted to look like that!

How long after your injury did you enter your first body building competition? 

My first competition was in 2001, three years after my injury. I was the only guy in a wheelchair, but once I got out on stage and heard the response from the audience after I rocked the house with my posing routine, I was hooked.  The support from all the other bodybuilders was awesome too! As nervous as I was they made me feel relaxed and confident in myself. It was a life changing event. It’s now 12 years later and I have since become an IFBB Pro Wheelchair Bodybuilder.

Are you always training? 

Bodybuilding is a way of life, a lifestyle. You are always training to make improvements for the next show, consistency is the key. It takes persistence, dedication, and devotion. Not everyone can do it. I’ll take a week or two off after a competition, but I get back on a schedule depending on my next show. However, taking some time off is always needed if you want to survive in this business.

Finish this sentence….. When this show is done I am eating ……..

Pizza, cheesburger and fries!

Yummy but I think I hear the Mcgurgles!  What’s playing in your ear buds when training?

Heavy Metal

What playing on the stage when you’re posing?

At first heavy metal, but then I wanted to do a song that meant something and allowed me to share my faith, so I toned it down and tried some christian praise songs. That was definitely moving, but I needed more power. I found this christian metal band “Disciple” who have the power and message together, so that is my music these days.

Here you are more than  decade later I’d say you proved the doctors wrong and then some, and some more!

I guarantee I would never have done many of the things in my life that I’ve done sif not for my accident. Most of all being a professional bodybuilder.

In the past 12 years tell me what shows you have competed in?

 In 2002 I competed in my first NPC National Wheelchair Bodybuilding show in Florida, where I placed 4th in my weight division. I continued to compete each year getting bigger and better each year. Along with the NPC Wheelchair Nationals in Palm Beach, Florida every year I also competed at the NPC Junior Nationals in New Orleans, now called the NPC USA Wheelchair Championships. Two shows a year is enough, and they are really the only wheelchair shows out there. In 2010 I achieved my goal I set from day 1, and that was to win the Overall title at the NPC Wheelchair Nationals. Winning the overall title earned me my official IFBB Pro Card. That was a great feeling of accomplishment. My greatest actually.

Tell me about your training program.

I train 4 days a week. One body part at a time, except for arms. That way I can focus 100% to one muscle and just kill it. Get in and get out. So many people spend way to much time in the gym. I’ll add cardio in getting ready for a show.

Diet? Share please! We want to know. 

Diet is the key to successful bodybuilding. You have to eat to grow. My diet consists of 6 meals a day. My protein sources consist of grilled chicken, turkey, lean red meat, eggs, fish, and whey protein powder by Tak-N Sports Supplements. Carbs are mostly oatmeal, sweet or white potatoes, rice (white or brown) and cream of rice. Green veggies also like broccoli, asparagus, and green beans. I never used to calculate my calories. I just judged by how I look, but since I turned pro I want to take it to the next level, which is why I started working with Vic Tringali at With his knowledge and experience I look to make some major improvements in size & conditioning. After only 10 weeks of contest prep with him last year I made tremendous improvements from the previous year to take 3rd place at the 2013 IFBB Houston Pro Show. My calorie intake for the show was around 1800-1900 per day. This off season it’s probably around 4000. With a good off season program & contest prep with Vic this year I look forward to making some serious gains. Just wait and see what the finished product looks like come October. Stay tuned!

4000 calories off season do you know what us gals would do to be able to eat 4000 calories? Any Supplements?

Lots of whey protein powder by Tak-N Sports Supplements.  Amino acids, creatine, glutamine. Whole food is the most important thing though.

One moment can change your life but what  do you think makes the difference between the person who can accept the change and the challenges it brings and the person who throws in the towel?

It comes from within. It comes from the heart and when you invite Jesus into your heart, then there’s nothing too hard for you to overcome.  Because with God all things are possible. Sometimes it takes something tragic to happen for you to realize that, but it doesn’t have to.

You have a smile that lights up a room. You’re big and strong looking but you don’t look angry and mean.  Or am I wrong? Do you have good days and bad days? 

I always have good & bad days. I’m human. I get angry at myself than anything, but I try to always keep a positive mind. Yeah I try to play the tough guy part, but I am a big softy. I’m Italian. However, I will release the wrath of God if necessary. Lol!

Do you sometimes listen to people bitch about their problems and think, OMG you have have no idea what a real problem is! Or how about people who take beter care of their cars then their health?  Choose not to exercise.  I often say to people, do you know how many others would trade places with you to have your heart, your lungs, your legs?

I agree, but like I said, that’s why I like to get out and share my story and mostly just let people see the way I live my life. Walk the walk, not just talk the talk. No pun intended.. Bodybuilding puts me in the spotlight and I like to use that as an avenue to encourage & inspire people.

Your brother Joe owner of Personal Training is one of your biggest fans.  Joe had this to say about you. 

          Joe Quinn“I am his biggest fan! I am a proud big brother of all his life accomplishments, which to me seem unprecedented. His ability to thrive in moments of extreme misfortune and tremendous adversity is attractive, heroic and nothing short of amazing. He utilizes his ambitions when a specific opportunity presents itself.  Johnny is a celebrity in my eyes.”


Joe has been a tremendous help. Believe it or not Joe and I just started training together over the past two years. He has been   there as my training partner and pretty much my right hand man. He comes to my shows and helps me get ready.  Its nice to be able to spend time with my brother like this. Its a team effort! I can always count on him.

 Joe spoke about  training someone in a wheelchair.

          Joe Quinn “Learning how to train someone in a wheelchair was a whole new ball game. Most of my learning and expertise came from Johnny himself and I was able to obtain some valuable techniques from other fitness experts in the field. Once becoming familiar with the training process,  the biggest obstacle as a trainer in this setting is Patience. There is a lot of transferring of Johnny in and out of the wheelchair from one machine/exercise to the next in a very specific and safe fashion. I have to stay alert and  very attentive.” 

I know God and your faith is a huge part of your life.  Who else are thankful for?

I am thankful for so many people in my life who have made an impact one way or another.  But the one I can single out is my mom, who has put my life before hers since I was born, and has been like a rock through everything, I wouldn’t be where I am today without her. I owe my life to her. She is a blessing from God.

Is there anything you can live without?

It’s amazing what you can adapt to in the face of adversity and after all I’ve been through there’s nothing I can’t live without.

Today at age 37 I am asking you what is your definition of “success”?

Fulfilling Gods will for my life, meeting Him in heaven to hear Him say, “Well done my good and faithful servent.”

Do we stop when we are done or are we never finished?  Do we ever reach all of our goals?

I think that if we don’t continue to set goals our lives will become stagnant.

I love the quote form Epictetus: “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters”  

Thats what makes the man!

BAM! (just had to say that. lol) Thanks Johnny 

Johnny will be competing next in October in Houston Texas.  Besides bodybuilding Johnny works full time for an Insurance Company and also does motivaional speaking engagements. You can learn more about Johnny at or contact him at

Personal Training by Joe Quinn






Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

for information contact Hope at 610-608-6087








My VO2 Max and Threshold Test Experience

23 01 2014


Whether you’re a competitive cyclist, runner, or a recreational rider like myself, you might be curious about how physically fit you really are. When I saw a  $25, “Intern Special” at Cadence Cycling and Multisport  in Manyunk for a VO2 and Threshold test, I jumped right on that deal since I have been wanting to do this for several years.   The test can usually cost anywhere from $100- $300.


So what exactly is a V02 Max test?  Brady Gibney, who holds a national title in Duathalon, and is also a training coach and General Manager at  Cadence Cycling and Multisport, will explain:

“Vo2 max is a measure of an endurance athletes potential. Threshold (anaerobic, lactate or functional) is roughly a measure of your current fitness. We combine these numbers to define your efficiency; how hard you are working at a given intensity. You train, eat, and sleep your sport, and after a race inevitably ask, “could I have gone faster?” A test can help us create training zones to help you increase your fitness. Ultimately, we all want to get faster, and training at or near threshold is the best way to do this. The machine we use has a metabolic chart, which means not only do you get training zones after the test, but we can also tell how many calories you’re burning in any zone. This is immensely useful for marathon and long distance triathletes. We find most first time endurance racers aren’t taking in nearly enough calories for 4+ hour races. Many racers test 2 weeks before a big event at peak fitness and one of our professional coaches will help to create a race-day food plan, ensuring enough calories are being consumed for optimal performance. All of this is possible because of a test that lasts no longer than 15 minutes.”

John Abbott and Jay McDevitt, both interns from West Chester University, conducted my test. I know, you’re saying “cool internship!”  Precisely mounted  on the special bike, I was then fitted  with a mouth piece connected to a tube that would monitor my breathing and my nose was clamped. Being a mouth breather I thought this would be no problem, but I have to admit it feels a little claustrophobic, and reminded me of breathing while scuba diving  The test consisted of riding a stationary bike while John and Jay monitored my heart rate and stats, and increased the intensity about every 2 to 3 minutes, taking me into more difficult stages. The stages started out fairly easy, but before I knew it I was sucking air. Literally, my need for more air had my mouth open so wide it I went wider than the mouth piece.  John and Jay knew at that moment I was done even though I gave a hand wave.  “Cool!  How high did my heart rate go?” I exclaimed when I finally caught my breath.


Brady reviewed my test results with me, and I learned many things. The first ,which is both humbling and kind of aggravating to me, is I think I am in fairly good shape for a 50-year-old female and I now know I could be in better shape. By that I mean if I trained smarter I could increase my VO2 Max “Relative” results. Without getting into too much detail it’s a formula taking into consideration body weight, which differs from VO2 Max “Absolute”, which doesn’t figure your body weight into the equation.  Think of it as me at 137 lbs, having the same Vo2 “Absolute” results as a 200lb male. But our relative result is the more important number since we do not weigh the same.   Also, based on my numbers I know I spin too much, and don’t ride my bike enough! My body is used to me teaching Spin class  and therefore it’s not challenging enough for me.  I take my heart rate up, but I need more long endurance runs, or rides in the lactate threshold heart rate zone that I now know is for me, between 167 to 173 bpm.  My Vo2 number to increase is 48.08.

Bottom line: a higher max = a higher ability to intensely exercise. With my test results and new training program I got from Cadence I will definitely be back to re-test and see if I managed to increase my VO2 max. Testing should be done several times within a certain amount of months or a training season.

I want to thank the terrific guys at Cadence Multisport for making me feel like a serious athlete, which I am not!  Brady, John and Jay really treated my test no differently than if I was a  professional cyclist.  As a woman who has done some competitive mountain bike racing in the past, I know where women sometimes stand in the world of cycling, so I really want to commend them on this.  Did I ask a lot of questions? I think they couldn’t wait to put the mouth piece in me and clamp my nose off!

I highly recommend this test whether you are an elite athlete or just someone like myself wanting to train more efficiently.  If you live in or around the Philadelphia area give Brady and the guys at Cadence a call to set up a test at: 215-508-4300.

Check out their “Efficiency Test” SPECIAL that is going on right now


Whether you’re a complete beginner looking for a Philadelphia bike store, have questions about a cost-effective, entry-level bike or an athlete looking for world-class coaching to take you to the next level, Cadence can help! And at Cadence, it doesn’t matter if you’re a pro or a beginner, their professional sales, coaching, and mechanical staff treat everyone the same way: with the utmost care, concern, and respect. 

You can find Cadence Cycling and Mutlisport at:



Voted Top Trainer 2011, 2012 & 2013 on Philly’s Hot List  610-608-6087                                  e-mail



Biking in Whistler Canada a Mountain Bikers Oasis by Hope Nagy

12 10 2013


I just got back from a  trip to Whistler, in Canada.   Home to the  2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games ,Whistler is about a two and a half hour car ride from Vancouver along the scenic Highway 99, also known as the Sea to  Sky Highway. Whistler in  the winter months is a mecca for skiers and snowboarders.  In the spring, summer, and a little bit into the fall it is a mountain bikers paradise.  From cross country to downhill, Whistler offers it all. The views are amazing, also shared by road cyclists and hikers.



If you’re planning a trip to Whistler for mountain biking, I will tell you that September is the least expensive time of the year to go because it’s the end of bike season.   I would recommend going spring or summer if you can afford it.  Even though the prices for a hotel room are exceptionally low in September the risk of rain is high, as I found out first hand. Also the local bike shops sell off their rentals at the end of the season to make room for next years new models, so I did have a hard time finding decent bikes even though there are a lot of shops in Whistler Village and the surrounding areas. After several calls in the weeks prior to my vacation I was able to rent myself a 2014 Santa Cruz Juliana and my boyfriend a Santa Cruz 29’er Tallboy from Evolution.    Evolution Whistler: Snowboard, Skate, Bike, Fashion store is located right in Whistler Village, were very accommodating, and the bikes we rented were pristine.  Suddenly my vintage 2001 Cannondale Scalpel might need to be replaced by a new Santa Cruz!  I normally ride a men’s frame, but I enjoyed the ride and feel of this women’s bike. My boyfriend Kevin, who usually rides a 26″ tire, loved his 29’er Tallboy and confirmed for him that he wants to make the switch to a larger tire.


Whistler is home to Whistler Bike Park, The park is for riders of all levels. They have tight single track with drop offs, steep rock faces, roots, twists and turns, and ramps. After watching the awesome videos on their site  this non-armour clad gal decided to go the route of the hills and cross-country trails outside the bike park .  Body armour and motocross style downhill helmets are a must. The sight of dozens of downhillers walking their bikes through Whistler Village is pretty cool, and watching the downhillers race down the mountain is even cooler. I wish I had the balls to ride downhill!


I was lucky after a shout out on my Facebook page MotivateHopeStrength, to have the company Whistler Bike Guide recommended to me.  Some guides take their vacations at the end of the season, but I totally lucked out. Not only did I find a great guide, but I got the man who published the first Whistler bike guide, and one of the designers of the Whistler Trail System at Lost Lake Park!  Grant Lamont  guided us up some awesome climbs, and quick twisting descending single tracks. No map for us needed.  Grant lead and we followed.  The trail system is 126 miles of single track in the forest, and the trails are marked like a ski slope. Green circles, blue squares and black diamonds.  Every trail system has a name and we rode most of the Zappa system, with names like Disco Boy, we also caught a ride on Comfortably Numb and the ever popular River Runs Through it.   Grant gave us a three hour plus tour that gave me the hill climbs I wanted, and the downhills that my boyfriend loves.  His expertise was appreciated, and made the ride more enjoyable since we didn’t have to think about getting lost, and instead got to enjoy the ride. He also gave us an in-depth history of the trail system along with some other entertaining stories.


 Grant Lamont –Whistler Bike Guide

Whistler Village was quaint.  Great shops, lodging, restaurants, and an over abundance of coffee shops.   Like most resort towns, Whistler is pricey.  The Four Seasons Whistler was beautiful and at the off-season rate it was very affordable.  When I search for a hotel it must have a gym/fitness room.   Location and a quality gym are my top priorities. I really wish more hotels would understand that a lot of us gym rats actually do base our choice of lodging based on it’s fitness room.    I give the Four Seasons Whistler a 10 out of 10 for the beautiful room, impeccable service and amenities, but only an 8.5 out of 10 for the fitness center.  The cardio equipment was in abundance and was like new.  At least 10 treadmills, ellipticals, bikes and even 14 sparkling new Schwinn Spin bikes. There were a few machines all that I didn’t particularly care for and one that was broken.   I never saw one person use these machines, most likely because they were awkward and were not user friendly. The small weight area had just one bench, which sat snugly in a very small area making it impossible for more than one person to lift. I will say I was pleasantly surprised that there was a bench press with a bar and plates, and a nicely sized aerobic room where they hold classes in the busier season.  For a hotel of this size and grandeur the weight area could be a little bigger so that at least two people could use it at the same time. I did love that the gym was located right next to the spa and I throughly enjoyed going right from the gym to the outside hot tubes, steam rooms and showers. Note to the Four Seasons, you can hire me to design and equip your fitness rooms!




Heading back to Vancouver we stopped at the Capilano Bridge Suspension Park.  Spectacular and breathtaking bridges, cat walks contained in a rain forest. The perfect ending to a perfect trip! Now… where should I go next?


Hope Nagy Personal Trainer


Email Hope at:

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You Always Had the Power My Dear

9 10 2013

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The email usually starts the same “Hi my name is…” Then the person goes on to tell me that they are interested in hiring a personal trainer because they need to lose weight, never worked out, need to be pushed, motivated and accountable to someone, getting married, etc.  But a year ago I got an e-mail that included this:

After successfully losing more than 160 pounds over 6+ years, working a crazy desk job and being lax about working out, the pounds have started to creep back.  I’m getting married in December (and have already ordered my dress) so I’m looking to get stronger and healthier.

Can you  possibly get any stronger than the strength and dedication it took to lose 160 lbs this gal already had?  The answer is yes, yes and YES!!!!!

One of the best things about this new client that came to me in September of 2012 and was getting married in December is she wasn’t my typical bride to be. She didn’t say the things I usually hear from brides. The I’m wearing a strapless dress and I want to lose 40 pounds have sculpted arms, accentuated collar bones,  and my legs are fine cause the dress is covering them.”  Christine told me I don’t expect miracles in the next few months I just want to look good in my dress. Did I actually have a bride that I didn’t have to give my I’m not a magician speech and that these requests come with hard work and SWEAT?   Christine lost weight in the few months and  look absolutely gorgeous in her dress.  But this story isn’t about brides and training and looking great in a wedding dress. The real story begins the 6 years before I met Christine and continues with the year we have spent together once a week, burpee after burpee after burpee.  See un like most brides after their big day Christine didn’t turn down her exercise regime, or take time off.   This married lady turned it up and the pounds went down and down each week. Putting us at this very moment I am typing to 50 pounds in a little over one year.

Like most girls who are not comfortable in a gym atmosphere, finding somewhere to workout  that is not in everyone’s view is where they either request to train or somehow manage to move me. Can we go over there they say.   Listen gals let’s get this straight. Nobody is looking at you. The guys and gals in front of the mirrors are so vain they don’t have time to look at you!

So what prompts most over weight people to make a change? Sometimes it’s  a trip to the doctor, blood test results or maybe heart disease.   Christine had no alarming medical diagnosis she just was sick and tired of being over weight.   No more talking about it,  waiting for the right time, New Years Day or a Monday.  She pressed go and got up and went and put her plan into action with cleaning up her diet and exercising.  A year ago I was told by Christine that she doesn’t run. She does now. Did her first 5K this year.  “I can’t do a push-up” has been replaced with “how many and do I clap or burpee in between ?”  In 12 months I never heard Christine say  “I can’t do that.” She ALWAYS says to me the words, “I’ll try.”  One pound losses were never a bummer for Christine. No losses we never upsetting, but just more motivation for her to tighten up her diet and exercise a little harder.   This past year I witnessed the decline of jean sizes this year and saw how exciting it was for Christine to get rid of the old clothes and go shopping for new ones. My favorite texts said “Hi!!! I just bought a pair of 27, yes 27, True Religion jeans. I don’t have muffin top. I’m in shock!” and “I can’t believe the ass in the mirror is mine!”  That ass has done a million squats, of every version I can think of in the last 12 months, it better look good or my ass is grass! My business card is stamped on that ass of hers.

Whether Christine’s goal was looking good in her wedding dress, or recently zipping up a dress she wanted to wear to a friend’s wedding, she always set realistic goals and then worked, not wished towards that goal.  When she said to me in her initial e-mail she wanted to get stronger, she didn’t realize that she already had an over abundance of strength and dedication that even i I could not give her.  That type of strength has to come from inside. That strength is what is needed to succeed and never give up.  No personal trainer is going to give that to you. Trainers  might push you, pull you, and tug some things out of you give you muscular strength, endurance and cardio but  dedication and the POWER to succeed is internal and has to come from you.

Gone are the pink baby weights and hiding in the corner.  Christine is pressing steel in double digits, running, spinning, squatting, and standing in front of the mirror. Why? Because I tell her to. Look at your muscles. Check out your form. That’s what the mirrors are for. That’s why we gym rats hog the mirrors. Watching your body’s muscles is like sculpting a piece of art.

When someone loses weight they also lose some inhibitions. Confidence is often gained. Strength surfaces and is used in multiple ways. Yes there will be the haters. “You’re too skinny”, “You’re obsessed”.  Your real friends will let you know if they see a problem or in Christine’s case I told her recently  “I’ll tell you if you’re getting too skinny.”

There is a great saying from Glinda the Good Witch from The Wizard of Oz: “You always had the power my dear, you just had to learn it yourself.”

Christine you are an inspiration to the many people who have to lose weight and to get healthy. Being your bad bitch, oops, I mean bad witch this year was rewarding to me, and your constant smile and positive attitude is so refreshing. I thank you and I’ll get you my pretty at this weeks training.


Christine and a friends dog


Christine & Tom December 2012



Personal Training – 610-608-6087

Hope Nagy – Certified Personal Trainer

Voted Philadelphia’s Top Trainer on Philly’s Hot List

2011, 2012 and 2013

Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

Hope Nagy Certified Personal Trainer

Find MotivateHopeStrength




My Dad, My Hero.

16 06 2013


There are three stages in my life I recall.  “My dad is stronger than your dad.”   “Dad, you know nothing” and  “ My father says…….”  This Fathers Day I told my dad to go to his door and check if he received a package from me.  I live in Philadelphia and my parents live in Florida. Hoping he wouldn’t have a heart attack my daughters and I said “f”.  A little shakin’ and confused my daddy shed some tears.  “Better than a card?” I said to the “Worlds Greatest Dad”. With a hug he said “Of course” but why did you spend the money. That’s my dad.

Growing up I had the type of dad that always put his kids first. If it meant three jobs, he had three jobs. My favorite was as a Good Humor Ice Cream Man. If something broke he’d fixed it with duct tape. If mom said no he said yes. We didn’t grow up rich in money but boy did dad make sure we enjoyed life. While our modest row home in Philly seemed huge to me at the time I never really thought it was odd nor understood expenses such as going skiing on the weekends or taking a trip to Spain in 7th grade. Fancy cars and a big house were less important… we need to find snow on the east coast on the weekends and if it meant driving 6 hours to Vermont for the day we did. Laced up ski boots, wooden poles, hand me down ski pants and mismatched gloves awesome. Driving to Florida with no iPod or video fighting with my sister was divine.   Running to the bowling alley to tell my dad  it’s dinner time seemed normal.  Driving in a golf cart was cool. When people ask me do you play golf I say yes and kickball, handball, half-ball and shuffle board. Mt dad has made sure I learned everything.   I truly was blessed to grow up with the best dad. You know the one who knows everything and if he didn’t he was the best at pretending he did. Still does. lol

As a single mom today I know this day is hard for some. We take on the role of both mom and dad. I kill the bugs when the girls scream. I fix the closet door that falls off the hinges. I check the air in tires and the oil in my kids car. I sing at birthday’s extra loud and clap extra hard at graduations. In a perfect world it would be nice if all kids could grow up with two loving parents. But we do not live in a perfect world and parents are not perfect. I have made my mistakes and I myself am still learning from them. My daughter often ask’s “Who is going to walk me down the aisle one day?”  I tell her that I will hold her hand that day and everyday for life.

As a little girl I wanted to mary a man like my father. Unfortunately that didn’t happen.  I know this is said often  “Any fool can make a baby but it takes a man to raise a child”  No it should say  “Anyone” can make a baby but it takes a great person or people to raise a child.   Your either willing to take hold of that little hand forever or you’re not. This is a full-time job and anyone who thinks it’s not should be fired.

My entire life one thing I heard constantly…..”You’re Morty’s daughter? Your father is the best. I love your father.” I honestly thought every woman who said this to me was having an affair with my dad.  Why not? He looked like a cross between Hal Linden from Barney Miller and Tom Selleck in his leisure suits.  My father talked to everyone.  I inherited this from him. The gift of gab.  Thanks dad for being the one loyal listener I had when I was an overnight DJ on a New Jersey radio station in the 80’s. “ I like that Egyptian song you play.”  My mom “He keeps that radio on all night so he knows you’re at work.”  I still laugh out loud when I hear “Walk like an Egyptian from the Bangles”  I would sometimes announce “ This is Hope of WPST sending this next one out to my dad who I know is up listening.

I don’t remember the last time I woke up in the same house on Father’s Day with my dad.  I do know with his recent heart issues and the doctor saying it’s significantly much weaker,  that I needed to fly to Florida to hold my dads hand on this Father’s Day.  The man who taught me how to ride a bike, the man who stayed up and yelled at 3‘o’clock in the morning when I came home “Hope, is that you?” “ The man who tells me the same stories over and over and  still thinks I like tomatoes, which I hate.  “You like ketchup, what do you mean you don’t like tomatoes?” The grey hair man who still brags about me, who still worries about me and who still holds my hand.  I will never understand any parent who let’s go of that hand. I’m sorry I just can’t. My girls hands I will hold forever like my father will always hold mine in my heart no mater how many miles apart we are.   I might be one person but I learned how to be the best dad (parent) from the best teacher… dad.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy,

Love always,

Your little girl, Hope



                                         Morty The Good Humor Man


Voted #1 on Philly’s Hot List for Vest Personal Trainer

Hope Nagy – 

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When I grow up …. I want to be a Professional Mountain Biker.

25 02 2013

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I am a believer that everyone is born with a special gift.  Some spend their entire lives never discovering their own special talent. For some it shines through and they find it themselves, or someone else might assist in this discovery like a coach, teacher, instructor or parent. With hard work, dedication and discipline sometimes these people even excel.  As I finish up the last year in my 40’s I can tell you I am still searching for my own special talent. Maybe it lays in the second half of my century race I’m competing in daily.  I was 39 when I experienced my first mountain bike ride. Prodded by the guys who rode at my gym, I paid a guy who rode named Anthony, $20 to take me out for a ride.I borrowed a bike and a helmet, wore sneakers and didn’t bring a water bottle. What for? Peddling up the first dirt path I can remember thinking “someone needs to move these rocks.” I was serious! I eventually grew to love this thing called mountain biking and I even did some local racing for a couple of years,  often wondering if I had started sooner in life could I have found my special something? This all brings me to my latest…

“When I grow up I want to be a professional Mountain Biker”

and who better to speak with than one of the world’s top woman mountain bikers,

Rebecca Rusch.

Rebecca is a 4 time winner of the Leadville Trail 100 mile Mountain Bike Race, held each year in Colorado. Along with victories in three, 24 hour Solo Mountain Bike World Championships, she has won numerous titles in the mountain biking world. Before mainly concentrating on mountain biking, she also participated in Adventure Racing at the highest international level, including the well-known Eco Challenge series.  A skier, biker and adventure racer, Rebecca has dominated endurance sports and is known as “The Queen of Pain”!

Rebecca, Confucius says “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.”   You’ve worked hard to get where you are today. When did you realize that you would not be lying in bed Sunday night, dreading going to work Monday morning? 

Contrary to this saying, I have always chosen jobs I am passionate about and love doing, but I’ve also worked my butt off in each and every one.  I was owner/manager of a Rock climbing gym, a climbing guide, Limo driver, aerobics instructor, adventure athlete, firefighter, bike racer, public speaker, sports marketing consultant, coffee barista, ski instructor, event director and more.  It’s been a varied path, but all driven by passion.   My job is absolutely a ton of hard work, but it’s a path I’ve chosen so the work is what I want to be doing and pushing me toward a goal I’ve chosen.

Ever lie on the ground after a spill and say to yourself, “I could be sitting behind a desk”? 

Nope.  A desk job might be physically easier and pay more, but it would not take me around the world, challenge me every day, introduce me to inspiring people, keep me healthy and provide the sense of achievement, reward and adventure that I crave.

What are the advantages and disadvantages between riding solo to adventure racing.   Do you prepare differently for let’s say the Eco Challenge or a 100 mile bike race? 

Everyone should experience both solo and team missions.  Racing is such a great microcosm of life and I’ve learned some of my most important lessons on the race course.  With a team, acceptance, give and take, motivation and learning to read yourself and others is so key.  The reward is that when you make it through a really tough event, you have someone to hug at the end who really knows what you went through to get there because they did it with you.  Successes and failures are shared, which can be the ultimate reward or the ultimate disappointment.  I’ve had many disappointing team races where I was not the weak link physically and had to swallow a less than stellar outcome.  I’ve also had team events where I was physically carried and propped up when I needed it and the success would not have been won without my team support.  I love the dynamics and true sportsmanship that is required in a team event.  Everyone must give and also be able to receive help and the group is stronger as a whole than as individuals. A solo event is also rewarding in that it’s a brutal mirror and the success or failure is your own.  There is no one else to lend a helping hand or to blame or to offer you a shoulder to lean on.  Sometimes I like the purity and simplicity of this format, but I also feel like being a great teammate is often harder than being a great solo competitor.

Road biking or Mountain biking? Getting hit by a car or hitting a tree? I live in Philadelphia so I personally prefer a tree!  You?  

I feel mountain biking is a safer environment because you choose your challenge.  There is nothing in mountain biking that compares to the danger of an inattentive or aggressive motorist.  Personally, where I live, there are more trails than roads, so I spend more time riding my mountain bike.  However road riding is amazing and I want to feel like I belong on the road too.  If you want to make road riding safer, join Bikes Belong and speak up for bike trails and bike advocacy at

What’s in your water bottle?

For most of my racing and training it’s GU Roctane, lemon lime flavor.

I would not race without this.

For the final push when I am really running on fumes, I reach for Red Bull and water mixed together.

Five person dream team for an adventure race? List me 4, who’s on your team and why did you chose them?

John Jacoby, John Howard, Keith Murray, Robyn Benincasa.  Adventure racing old school legends, all of them.

When you know you’re going to crash what part of your body (teeth, face, shoulder) do you most want to protect? For some reason I think teeth, not my head or my face, but my teeth.  You?

All of it!  I want to protect all of it!  Tuck and roll!

What eye protection do you wear when riding?  Whatever brand I wear I find that the rubber ear grip always pulls my hair out when I remove them. Do you have this issue?  

I always ride/race in the Smith Pivlock V2.  They are frameless for great visibility, super light, super vented and have interchangeable lenses.  They have an adjustable nose piece for wider or narrower faces and the arms are new and improve to slide onto your head without pulling hair.  This was precisely a bit of feedback I gave them because it was a pet peeve.

Looking back to when your first started competing in mountain bike racing, how has the sport grown for women?  Are you satisfied with the growth or do you think it still has far to go?

Women’s sport participation is growing in a big way and it’s all about having great role models, opportunities and structure to support more women and girls getting involved.  The manufacturers are answering with better bikes for women, and you are seeing more female sports heroes out there, more girls who grow up with multiple sports to choose from.  This is progress and there’s still more to go.  The SRAM Gold Rusch Tour that I host is all about that, providing connections, opportunity and building the women’s cycling community.

Talk to me about fear.  Do you get nervous before a race? What do you do to calm yourself down? Or do you use this as fuel? 

Fear is mitigated by preparation.  If you have truly prepared for a race, then what’s to fear?  There is excitement of the unknown, anticipation of the day and the performance, but hopefully not too much fear.   A little adrenaline is healthy and means you are in the moment and alive.  Too much fear and you’re burning calories and affecting your ability to ride well.  It’s a control game that every athlete deals with and tries to master, including me.  The times I’m most afraid, like on really technical sections, are the places where I’m the least prepared.  Sometimes, jumping off the deep end and just trying works great.  Other times, it’s OK to walk around and save it for another day.

You’re a volunteer Firefighter. Obvious adrenaline junkie.  Did you play with Barbies growing up or GI Joe?  Do you ever find that guys think because you don’t mind getting all dirty and playing hard that you’re not a girlie girl? 

Hopefully, I’m a good combination of both.  I did play with Barbie’s, but also built forts and dirt castles in our back yard.  I wear Carhartts and dresses.  No one is one-dimensional, so it is fun to surprise people who only see me in athletic clothes by wearing heels or a dress.

Do you keep your friends close and your enemies closer? 

I try really hard not to make enemies and really, most people I interact with are amazingly friendly and passionate about cycling.  I’m intense when I race, but really, it’s just bike racing.  At the start of Leadville 2012, I had a big target on my back as the defending 3x winner.  The field was stronger than ever and the win was anybody’s.  I made a point of racing myself that day and targeting my own record time instead of targeting an individual person.  I can only control how I ride and race, so what’s the point of spending energy and focus on someone else.  I rode my own race and broke my own record again.  That happened to place me first and I was ecstatic.  If I’d had that same time and had not won, I still would have been pleased with my effort.

Do you like mountain bike skirts?  Would you wear one? Years ago I said to my best friend at the start of a race, “if that girl over there in the skirt beats you, I will never let you live it down.”  The skirt kicked her ass!

I like skirts but not for athletic activities: especially cycling. They just are not practical and get caught on things.  If that’s what it takes to get a woman riding, then that’s great, but you would never catch me riding in a skirt!

When will  you start training for Leadville 2013?

I’m always training.  Obviously there are different focuses at different times, but I’m the type of person who needs a schedule and to stay active all the time.  Work I’m doing now is definitely part of the building blocks for events in the summer.

26 1/2 or 29er?   I have an old Cannondale Scalpel. My 16-year-old almost killed it when she backed into it in my garage, but it gets me up and down the trails in Philadelphia’s beautiful Wissahickon Park.

I’m riding a Specialized Fate 29 and love it.  I would never go back to a 26. For my type of riding, there’s no question that a 29er is the right bike.  For endurance events, it’s the way to go.  I can ride better technically on a 29 and it’s more efficient on the less technical sections too.

I‘ve ridden Moab. Tell me where my boyfriend and I should go next for a great mountain biking trip in the United States? 

No question:  Sun Valley Idaho!  My hometown.  We have hundreds (literally) miles of single track right outside the door and the most beautiful mountain backcountry you’ve ever seen.  The single track goes on and on and on.  I’ve traveled all around the world and this is by far my favorite place to ride.  Need a race adventure?  We are hosting the USAC Marathon Nationals and Ride Sun Valley Bike Festival in July.  And I am launching a new event called Rebecca’s Private Idaho, a 100 mile gravel Fondo on September 1.  Check my website for more details a little later.

Both events are a great excuse to make the journey to Idaho to see what it’s all about.

Years ago when I first got separated I fell going slow on a flat and my friend said “go home and don’t come back until you’re back to being the sarcastic bitch you usually are.” I couldn’t ride. I couldn’t clear my head. 

You’re known as “The Queen of Pain”, what’s the one thing that hurts you mentally or physically? Was there a time in your career that you just couldn’t shake something that was clouding  your head and affecting your riding? 

See the attached Wend Magazine article I wrote.  That should explain it pretty well!

In 2004 Primal Quest expedition 38-year-old adventure racer Nigel Aylott lost his life to a terrible accident. Rebecca shares her story of that sad day in an article she wrote for Wend Magazine. 

Rock, Clock and Taking Stock

I posted on my Facebook Page MotivateHopeStrength to message me a question for Rebecca. I picked one.

Liz Finch From Overland Park, Kansas asks

What tips do you have for someone who is just starting out her fitness journey but wants to be like you and do crazy awesome stuff?

Congratulations on the start of your journey/adventure.

Advice:  treat fitness like an adventure!  Take part in things that inspire you and seem fun.  Say yes more than you say no.  Be prepared for your adventures, but don’t be afraid to jump into something without really knowing what you’re doing.  Risk is often very rewarding.
Spend your time at home getting strong and honing your skills so that you can say yes to adventures and be ready for them.  Take classes, educate yourself, join groups, find a posse of like-minded people to share your journey.  Most of all, just keep trying and moving forward.
It’s an answer like above that makes Rebecca not only an amazing athlete but a truly  amazing woman who motivates me and inspires me.  I want to thank Rebecca for taking time out her busy schedule to answer my questions. I hope one day to travel to Sun Valley Idaho and ride the beautiful trails there and meet Rebecca or maybe give her a head nod as I’m climbing and she is soaring down the downhill.   I will continue to search for my special talent as I hope everyone does no matter how old you are.  Heck I have another 50 years to keep exploring and searching for this gift I know I have.
“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.” 
― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez
Please checkout a special cause Rebecca is part of. World Bicycle Relief.  Check out this video and learn more about this program

Have the courage to follow your dreams. It’s the first step towards

attaining your destiny.

– Nikita Koloff
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Happy New You, New Attitude, New Beginning.

1 01 2013



A number of mixed emotions fill us all as we say goodbye to one year and move into a new one. We are not only saying goodbye to both good and bad memories, but we are also another year older. I will turn 50 this year. Yes, I said it. The big 50.  New Years reminds us all how quickly time passes. Were we not all here this time last year?  Reflecting  on things and making a list of what we hope this new year brings?

As I reflect back on 2012 I am happy to say I remain healthy, my family remains healthy, and the closest people in my life are all doing well. There were things that I wish didn’t occur, but with every obstacle I have faced or watch others face, I have also witnessed an unbelievable amount of strength from within.

I don’t believe in New Years Resolutions but I would be a liar if I didn’t admit I make one each year. To finally stop biting my nails took me about 18 years and a video of seeing myself doing it to finally stop.  Talk about a gross and disgusting habit! Did I really do that?  Each NYD the resolution made by most people is to lose weight or to start working out. I certainly never want to be Debbie Downer and hope that if  this special wish at midnight works for you ,then I am sincerely happy.

My clients, who always touch me in different ways, were absolutely amazing this year. I had no quitters. Not one person said to me this exercise stuff is for the birds. In years past I had people who opted for knee replacement surgery rather than just losing weight like the doctor suggested.  I saw in past years Type 2 Diabetes affect people, they start to exercise and eat better only to decide to take medicine because it’s easier than eating healthy and exercising.   I can rattle on here with a list of reasons why people quit exercising, but I am so happy to report that this did not occur this past year.  My biggest obstacle, or should I say client, was one girl who came to me over a year ago with this attitude. “I’m fat. I will always be fat. I do not have that kind of body. I have succumbed to this fact that will always be fat.” This pissed me off.  Week after week, weigh in after weigh in I heard this come out of her mouth.  As hard as I tried to convince her to stop thinking this way and have confidence I was failing.  I don’t like to fail and my biggest problem in being a trainer is that sometimes I want for someone to succeed more than they do.   Now, I am not a matchmaker, but on one hand I had someone who needed a little “umph”  and another client who was boiling over in “umph”. I know now they both thought I was insane when I suggested I wanted them to be each others workout buddies.  They each had qualities that would benefit the other.  I knew one of them needed the workout dates, the commitment, the positive energy that came  from the other one.  I love seeing these gals at the gym now. Most of the time together gabbing, but still working hard.  Together they lost weight.   As for the one who would tell me repeatedly that “I’m fat and will alway’s be fat“, well let just say she doesn’t say that anymore!  She has been successful in losing weight, getting under a certain number and continuing to set new, small goals.   This client made my year. Not because she lost the most weight, because she didn’t. She wins because she lost that horrible attitude and low self-esteem that I dislike so much.  She now comes in with a smile on that gorgeous face, and she might mumble to me to go easy on her, and mention some lame excuse as to why she is going to be dragging but she knows all I hear is “blah blah blah”, and she usually says “why do I even bother to tell you?”  She really made my year and made me proud to be her trainer. Sorry, cold exterior, soft heart.  But it all comes down to one thing, ATTITUDE. You have to start with a good one.  Remember, when you make a resolution or goal for this year you have to start things off with a positive attitude.

I’d like to conclude by letting you know last years New Years Resolution I made… to not go to Starbucks as much!  It was a way for me to be more practical with my expenses.   I started out doing pretty well, skipping every other day, only to end the year of 2012 with my Starbucks cup in my hand as I write this!

As another year passes us by, I relish in the fact that I am another year wiser and owe most of that wisdom to the mistakes I’ve made, the chances I have taken, and the valuable lessons I  learned from friends, family, clients and strangers.  I had another year of watching my two beautiful daughters grow, developing  into maturing young women.  I took my older daughter  to college and drove away numb and crying thinking, “stop the clocks please, I don’t want her to grow up!”  I also saw my youngest daughter  drive away in the mom taxi and tear the apron strings from my heart. I ended  2012 with my supermom cape on a hook nearby, available to grab when needed, and also officially being the shortest girl in the house, if you don’t count Marley my crazy boxer!

2013 New Years resolution I will tell you next year.  Thank you to all the amazing people who read my blogs, and follow MotivateHopeStrength on Facebook, TWITER, Tumblr, Pinterest and wherever else I have managed to post motivation.  Here’s to the New Year,  may your goodbyes be quick and your hello’s quicker and may you stay safe, healthy and happy.

Here’s to a great 2013,


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9 12 2012

When I asked people to tell me what was on their fitness gift wish list I expected people to post or send me a lot of new fitness gizmo’s that they hoped to receive this holiday. I was pleasantly surprised when I saw that people wanted basic fitness things. With the exception of the TRX suspension bands which a lot of people said they wanted, most of the items  are the tried and true. The basics.  In no order here are your top 10.

1. Heart Rate Monitor – Polar being most mentioned

2. TRX Suspension bands –

3. Resistance Rubber Bands and Free Weights

4. Gym Bag

5. Workout Clothes (Lots of Lulu Lemon  requests from the ladies)

6- Ipod

7- Gym membership

8 – Personal Training & Fitness Class Gift Certificate

9 – Treadmills

10 – Workout DVD’d (P90X(2), Insanity and Zumba topped the request list)

Here are some fitness related items that you might be interested in. They are on my fitness wish list or things I just really like. 


Oakley – Women’s Specific Sunglasses . I hate wearing men’s glasses. They fall off my face and annoy me.

Image  Interval timer.


WORDLOCK – Great for people like myself who forget the number combo.


This is a inexpensive cute gift $8 (keychain) and comes in 13.1


Love this Brave the Cold cap by LUCY.  It has a hole for my ponytail.,default,pd.html?cgid=Accessories&dwvar_110834_color=ASPHALT/POSEIDON


Vinyasa Scarf by LuLu Lemon. Love this.


This is great. It has a big zipper pocket in the back for my key and emergency 5$ bill. lol


FITMARK bag.  Tough strong bag which is great for gym, travel etc.  Different sizes and styles.


SOCKS SOCKS SOCKS – I have my favorites. But spending 10-14.99$ on a pair of socks kills me since I always lose one. So socks to me are a great gift. I’m showing my newest favorite pair which were a gift – Experia Socks by  Therlo. Low like I like them and not too thick and not too thin. Cool colors too and my favorite black. Right now I saw there is a sale buy 3 get one free.

Lastly, I also think the best gift is a heart rate monitor and hope to get one with GPS this year. My always love is UGG moccasins after a hard workout, rainbow flip flops after a hard workout and with the iPod this gal’s butt would never budge and inch. (Music make’s me move)

As I always mention the best gift comes from the heart and showing someone you care is what means the most. It is the season for giving and that doesn’t mean it has to come in the form of a wrapped gift. Take a walk or a run with a friend. Get someone you love to make a doctors appointment for a long due physical and offer to go with them. Make ammends with someone because stress wreaks havoc not only on your mind but on your body.  I can go on and on but be mostly be kind to everyone because we all are fighting some kind of battle.

Happy, safe and always a healthy holiday season. Now go workout!


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