Have you always been an active, fit person? Did you play sports growing up?
Yes, I grew up in a house with six females, and my mom, in particular, was very athletic; she grew up when women didn’t really play team sports, but she has a competitive drive. I was her opportunity to do those things. She would bring me out and we’d play catch, play tennis, kick the ball around, she’d take me to dance. My body always felt best when it was moving, so I was always climbing things, jumping things.
I played fast-pitch softball, soccer, basketball, and competitive dance when I was younger. Then, in high school, I started to do more martial arts, and at the end of high school I discovered racquetball, and that became my passion and I took that one to the next level.
(We had to pry it out of her, but Natalie won the Minnesota Women’s Open twice and won Women’s Elite Division title at the U.S. Open. She was ranked as high as #37 in the nation–including professionals–and was offered training to turn pro, but chose not to pursue that.)
Do you have a favorite quote, something that summarizes your philosophy on training?
“All is good.” We have to stop being so strict. It’s not either all or nothing. Stop being so strict, stop being so hard on yourself, just give yourself the opportunity to try things.
Fitness is just a way of life. I don’t always use the word ‘exercise’ because sometimes that can make it sound like a chore. It’s a chance for adults to play again. We kind of lose that as we get older. This (the gym) is our adult playground.
If you would not have become a fitness professional, what would you have pursued, career-wise?
The only other thing that ever crossed my mind was becoming a school teacher.
You’re a serious violin player, too, right?
Yes, I’ve been at it since I was four years old. I played vigorously for years, then in high school I put it down. I picked it back up when my grandma passed away. She wanted me to play a certain song for her at her funeral.
It was she and my mom who really wanted me to play. It was not a strong interest of mine at first, but I have grown to love it. It’s a way for me to hold onto my grandma.
What do you do for fun outside of the gym?
I really love my dog… she’s an Australian Shepherd, and I love going for nature walks with her, looking for new paths and just having fun. We’re buddies for real.