The Campbell Reporter, December 24, 2003

Posted by on Dec 24, 2003 in Reviews

Reprinted from The Campbell Reporter:

December 24, 2003

Achieving a perfect body changed one trainer’s total way of thinking
By Amy Wicks

In the last decade health clubs have become as prevalent as Denny’s restaurants. They’re open 24 hours a day and offer specials, but these deals are easier on the waistline.

Adding to the quest for the perfect body, there are fad diets like the South Beach and Atkins diets, which have become so common that eateries like T.G.I. Friday’s are customizing their menu options so Atkins devotees will have a place to eat.

Despite the growing number of dieters and fitness fanatics, Campbell resident and longtime fitness guru Tami Anastasia is eager to squash the fitness status quo and introduce everyone to her unique exercise philosophy.

Yet she admits that her stance on exercise and nutrition weren’t formed overnight.

She grew up working at her family’s business, Anastasia’s Athletic clubs, which began in 1967, and were known as places to play handball, swim and do weight training. Over time she watched the fitness club trend evolve into a burgeoning number of large warehouse workout facilities filled with complex weight rooms and rows of treadmills and StairMaster machines.

Anastasia says that during her early 20s—while an undergraduate student at Santa Clara University—she became obsessed with dieting and exercise while working at her family’s club.

The environment created the pressure to look perfect, and it was magnified by the positive reinforcement she received from co-workers when she lost weight. Her pursuit for the perfect body began at 125 pounds and turned into an eating disorder by the time she dropped down to 95 pounds.

At that point her doctor gave her two choices: either gain weight or be hospitalized. The shock of his negative reaction regarding her body weight would ultimately change her life.

Although she viewed her frail frame as the epitome of health and fitness, she listened to his advice and decided to gain weight. But with no understanding of how to balance exercise and diet, she quit physical activity altogether and gained back all the weight that she had lost and more.

“I gained around 65 pounds and felt horrible,” she says. “It wasn’t until I quit listening [to what is culturally acceptable] and wiped the slate clean that I began working out for myself.”

Now at age 44, she has tossed the book out on attaining the perfect body through hours of exercise and dieting and written her own book, Toward A Magnificent Self.

It chronicles her unique fitness philosophies based upon the motto “no blame, no shame” instead of the widely known workout adage “no pain, no gain.”

“Many of us see working out as a form of punishment,” she says. “I work to restore people’s self-confidence and build their self-esteem.”

At her small Los Gatos studio, Toward A Magnificent Self, she is a personal trainer working with approximately 30 people. She tailors her program toward each client’s individual needs, gradually reintroducing the client to a more active lifestyle. For some, it is just being able to walk around the neighborhood; for others, it’s just making it to the mailbox.

Anastasia deals with many clients who have a history of chronic pain, so she customizes their workouts accordingly.

Many of her clients commonly say, “I hate exercise.” But Anastasia says she tries to tap into each person’s needs and decide what works best for that person.

Anastasia isn’t overly worried about her clients losing weight—she is more interested in building stamina, strength and endurance.

“If you never lose another pound, but build body strength so you can walk or sleep better, that is an accomplishment,” she says. “If you lose weight as a byproduct, then that is great too.”

Her goal is to get her clients feeling better physically and emotionally. They range in age from 12 to 88 years old.

One client who is thrilled with Anastasia’s personal instruction is Christine DiLacqua.

She has visited Anastasia’s studio, which has been helping clients for four years, for one hour twice a week during the past two years.

DiLacqua says she likes Anastasia’s approach to exercising because “it’s not obsessed with body image, looking perfect. It’s about making modest goals and accomplishing them.”

For DiLacqua, 50, the exercise formula created for her has been a perfect fit.

“I keep making progress,” she says. “I was expecting her to give me a piece of paper with six weeks’ worth of workouts, but she works with me every step of the way. I feel so strong and I carry myself so differently now.”

At Campbell’s The Right Stuff Fitness Center, Assistant General Manager Paul Galante also sees many people like DiLacqua every day and isn’t sure he totally agrees with Anastasia’s fitness theories. But he says he also isn’t familiar with her philosophy, which makes it difficult for him to judge her program.

“It’s hard to say that one philosophy is more fundamental than another,” he says. And he notes that although some individuals will consistently work out an average of three times a week, 90 percent of the population doesn’t work out at all.

As with any business, there are diverse approaches, and the fitness industry is no exception when it comes to interpretations about exercise, diet and what determines a balanced lifestyle. But Anastasia isn’t too worried about those who dissent with her exercise program, because she is confident in her approach. For her, it’s no weight scales, no guilt, no numbers.

“There is no magic pill to a healthy lifestyle,” she says. “Ultimately, people have the answers inside themselves.”