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Fitness instructor trains the strong-willed, determined

By Jane Blazer
On March 14, 2014

Kelly Halderman has no sympathy when it comes to a workout. At 47, the fitness instructor has been whipping people into shape for about 23 years.

"You have to treat exercise like flossing your teeth, you may not enjoy doing it but you have to and frequently," Halderman said. "I came to realize this more as I age and I can really tell if I quit working out for a long period of time."

Halderman currently teaches "cardio and abs," "spin and abs," "total body tone" and also works as a personal trainer at Miami University. She teaches a total body resitance exercise (TRX) at the YMCA in Eaton, Ohio, and even offers personal training out of her own home. However, it was a long path for Halderman to get where she is today.

Halderman grew up in the Butler County area, where she attended grade school and high school. After graduation, she attended Bowling Green State University, where she pursued a degree in mass communication with an emphasis in radio, television, and film.

Halderman started working for radio stations when she was 14, and continued to work on and off in the business until she graduated college. She then moved to Phoenix, Ariz. for two years, where she worked at a local newspaper and eventually in a magazine publishing house.

Kelly said working for the media wasn't easy and she never held a job for long.

"Because it's media, it had this change in hand," Halderman said. "A whole group of us would get fired and you couldn't take it personally, but after awhile it starts to eat away at you, and you loose your drive."

Kelly said she loved living in Phoenix, but had to move back to Eaton, Ohio when she received a devastating call from her father.

"I was in Phoenix and my dad called me and said my mom had ovarian cancer," Halderman said. "There was a 17 percent chance of surviving, so I packed up and moved back here because she started chemo, and it didn't look good."

She returned to Ohio in the early 90s and began working for a local newspaper, radio station, and eventually, the YMCA in Middletown as a group fitness instructor.

"I was taking group fitness classes and the girl quit and somebody asked me if I would start teaching her class, literally, that day," Halderman said. "I took the group fitness classes from this girl. She was teaching step classes on a wooden box. They [YMCA] would come in and look at the classes, so I guess they figured I had some right foot from left foot knowledge. I could keep a beat."

Halderman met her husband, Mike, a few years after moving back home on a blind date set up by a friend from high school. They had two kids, Burke and Brennan. Burke,18, is currently a first-year at Miami studying mechanical engineering, and Brennan, 14, goes to Eaton Middle School.

In 1996, Halderman started working for Miami, a few years after starting at the YMCA. She said it was a tough process to get the job, but wouldn't stop until she was hired.

"I pestered the girl who was in charge of group fitness to audition me and she said 'no.' She didn't need anybody, and man, I really pestered her," Halderman said. "I wanted the membership here, and I wanted to be able to workout here and get paid. It took almost a year of pestering her to audition me and finally she hired me."

Halderman's main source of inspiration when it comes to her tough, motivating workouts is her dad, who has a background in the Navy, and her mother, a survivor of ovarian cancer. She teaches her class in a strict, disciplinary way.

"Neither one of my parents are quitters, they don't understand 'quit,'" Halderman said. "My dad is pretty hardcore, pretty disciplinary with a military background and firefighter. And my mom was much more of a gentle individual, but if you were going to do something, they were very, very supportive, but they wanted 100 percent and you couldn't back out."

When asked about her method of teaching, she responded she didn't like quitters.

"Like I said, both of my parents aren't quitters, so I don't like 'wimpiness' or wining...My dad always said 'if you want to cry, I'll give you something to cry about.'"

Halderman said her philosophy is you get what you give, little effort results in little results. When it comes to personal training, Halderman said she think's it is best to start from what the client enjoys, and then progress from there.

"If you like to go out and walk, but you want to loose weight and walking's not doing it, then maybe you need to be carrying some weights with you or throwing in some lunges in or a few sprints," Halderman said. "You have to start with that foundation of what do you like to do. Cause if you don't, you'll loose it. It would be like eating broccoli when you hate it. You can't do that."

Halderman creates all her own workout routines for all of the classes she teaches.

"I make up a lot of my stuff, and I'm also a little protective of it because this is all I do," Halderman said, "and I think about what I do, and I think about what muscle groups we are working, and I know it probably sounds like too much attention to small detail, but it takes pride in getting people really good workouts, so I don't want to give away everything I got."

Halderman doesn't only have to be physically flexible; she also has to be mentally flexible due to her overwhelming schedule.

On average, Halderman works at the REC every weekday, and has clients throughout the week. On Tuesdays, she teaches TRX, a cycling class and family fitness at the YMCA. Halderman's schedule is always different.

"It sounds like a short day, but it isn't when its physical," Halderman said. "It's exhausting...people say 'oh that's such a short day, you don't work full time', well no, I don't, and a monkey could do it, but physically, it's very draining."

Halderman said she treats the workout the same at the YMCA and Miami, but there are differences in both, with an obvious age difference, but also a difference in the environment and communication.

"People that are community aged out of college, they're much more vocal, verbal, they talk during class as far as they interact with me," Halderman said. "There is a lot more eye contact, there is a lot more get to know you, there is a lot more feedback. While here [Miami Rec Center], they're [college students] a lot more inhibited, I think, being younger."

Halderman has a long, physically tiring day, however, she said she loves her career and like her parents taught her, doesn't plan on quitting.

"Well, I definitely feel myself exercising in the future. I don't see that stopping. As far as leading group fitness, definitely the age will be changing as I deteriorate physically. I would like to teach more different types of classes, more unique workouts such as a hula-hoop class."


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