Being part of Families in the Loop has lots of perks. At the top of the list is the incredible group of Chicago professionals and business owners I’ve come to know over the past year. Each day they’re hard at work, achieving excellence in their industries and inspiring dreamy entrepreneurs like me to keep going. So this month I’m dedicating the Families in the Loop blog to these Chicago superstars. And since it’s the month of love, I’ve added a twist. I have asked these experts to share how love has factored into their career choice. Was it love at first sight? How about a breakup? Find out here, all throughout the month of February. Parents, it’s time to recharge our career batteries with FITL’s “Live It - Love It” career series.
A Healthy Choice
~By Traci Danielson Mitchell
When I was a kid, health and fitness were the last areas of expertise I ever imagined would become associated with my name. Born with a hip disorder, I was bound to permanent casts and leg braces while other toddlers were running around the playground. When it came to athletics in school, let’s just say I was a late bloomer. I was always picked last for any sports teams and always first to occupy the center circle in dodge ball.
It wasn’t until college that I actually starting buying into the notion of fitness for health. I started running every now and then — but only at night, because my legs didn’t run like everyone else’s. I enjoyed exercise, but I still wasn’t ready to make a commitment.
After college, I moved to Minneapolis and joined a health club. To get to know more people in my new town, I decided to do the AIDSRide from Minneapolis to Chicago, an experience that changed me forever. I soon became a Spinning® instructor and developed a whole new appreciation for and perspective on health.
My 9-5, however, had always been in marketing. I was a good writer but wasn’t working in a field that was truly fulfilling. This need for fulfillment was galvanized one December morning when I felt a lump under my left arm. I let it go for a couple days, but the lump quickly became painful and then spread down my entire arm.
A disease called necrotizing fasciitis had found its way to my lymph nodes via a stubborn paper cut on my finger that wouldn’t heal. After several surgeries and removal of any infected tissue, I came out alive on the other end, for which I will always be grateful. It is because of this disease that I made the commitment to pursue the things that mean the most to me: health and fitness.
Later, when I decided to move to Chicago, I knew I wanted to continue teaching Spinning® classes, but I had no idea where to start. So I opened up the phone book to the health club section, closed my eyes, and put my finger on a listing. That listing was Lincoln Park Athletic Club (LPAC). I called the club, flew down for an audition, and got the job. (Keep in mind I was teaching only two times a week, so you know I had to love it!) I walked into LPAC for the first time and saw a cute man standing at the front desk — little did I know that four years later he’d become my husband and the father of my two children.
I went from being a Spinning® instructor to a personal trainer within a couple of years. Around this time, I also became interested in nutrition. I received several notable certifications in nutrition and began freelance writing on all things food and fitness. Today I work with clients to improve how they move and what they eat. I have appeared on TODAY talking about nutrition and on every media outlet in Chicago discussing wellness. I also blog regularly at TraciDMitchell.com to a steadily growing number of people who share my same interests. I truly love what I do. There is nothing better than helping other people make their lives better through exercise.
Filed under: Live It - Love It... Career Stories