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Today’s post seems appropriate given the summer Olympics are taking place and my husband completed Pelotonia, a 100 mile charity bike ride, on Sunday. This post is about going from not making the team to making fitness a priority for 20 years.

I was thinking about how I stayed fit in a small town. After I was cut from the volleyball team my freshman year (if you missed that story, check it out in my post “It’s OK if you don’t make the team”), I knew I had to do some form of exercise to keep in shape.

I went to the local YMCA for a while, but that was 20 minutes away and required a licensed driver. Country roads weren’t conducive to running or other distance activities. Crossfit didn’t exist, so there was no Box in Republic, Ohio. Therefore, I utilized the resources available to me and assembled my workout station in our partially finished basement. I had a step for step aerobics and a few dumbbells.

I went to the local library and scoured the shelves for workout videos. I found every step aerobic, cardio, and resistance training video I could find. Against all copyright laws, I dubbed the library copies and created my own “mixed tape” of workout videos. Each morning before school, I would complete one of the workouts. During that 4 year period I got to know Jane Fonda, Karen Voight, Gin Miller and the dancers from MTVs “The Grind” workout. I’ve included links below to the YouTube videos of these routines so you can appreciate the 90s workouts in all their glory! This was my time to feel powerful and stay in shape on my own terms. I was as fit as any of the 3-sport varsity athletes in my school.

While my workout routine has shifted as I’ve gone through different phases of life, I’m now back at the workout-in-the-basement-to-videos morning routine. The main difference is that I don’t have to rewind the VCR tapes – and that I legally purchased all of the videos I use. My current workout companions are Shaun T and Tony Horton. They might not rock the aerobic leotards like my workout stars of the 90s, but they do motivate me to continue staying fit on my own terms.

Small Town Leadership lesson: Discipline is key to staying fit. I could have thrown in the towel on fitness after being cut from the volleyball team. I could have stuck to gym class. But I appreciated at a young age that physical fitness is extremely important for emotional and psychological well being. That’s why when my alarm clock rings at 5:15 every morning, I get out of bed and greet the day with a workout. If this small town girl could figure out a way to build a home gym and workout with the best of the 90s fitness leaders, then nothing should be standing in your way with the resources available to you today. Here are 4 of my “blast from the past” workouts to get you started!

Step Reebok with Gin Miller

MTV The Grind Workout

Karen Voight The Body Workout With Elle Macpherson


Small Town Leadership Founder; Natalie believes everything she needed to know to succeed in her career she learned by growing up in a town of 600 people. As a Certified Professional Coach and award-winning public speaker, she helps her clients and audiences make wherever they are feel like a small town. She lives in Dublin, Ohio with her husband, Rob, a professor at Ohio State and two little girls.

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