Breakthrough Spotlight – Aja Johnson
Our Breakthrough Spotlight member for February is Aja Johnson! She embodies strength of mind, body, character and spirit. We are so inspired by her work ethic, awesome attitude, and love of lifting!
Breakthrough: So, Aja, we feel so lucky to have you as part of our FitFam… you really bring your best every time you train, and we are so excited to share your story. Can you start by telling us where you were at before you started training here at Breakthrough?
Aja: Prior to coming here I had tried a lot of different gyms. I would go and work with a personal trainer, but I never felt like I had anybody who was working on things that were specific to me and my goals. They would just work me until I was as tired as I could be, but I never felt like I was making any real progress because the next training session would be something totally different.
Breakthrough: Yeah, it’s hard to see progress that way for sure.
Aja: And then when I wasn’t with a trainer, I would work out on my own, but I didn’t really know what I was doing. So I would just do the treadmill, or try to figure out how to lift on the machines on my own. And usually what would happen is that I would get some kind of injury and have to take a few weeks off training.
Breakthough: That’s a tough cycle to be in.
Aja: Yeah, you never make progress that way. I was at LA Fitness for a while, but that was such a “jock” type of environment. Then I tried Total Woman, thinking that would be different, but it really wasn’t. There was no sense of community. No one talked to each other. Everyone was in their own bubble and it just didn’t feel like a great place to be. Then fortunately my friend Sarah told me about Breakthrough…
Breakthrough: And we are so glad she did!
Aja: I noticed right away when I came here that it was a community. It was just so different from any other gym environment I have been in before. It was supportive and everyone was helping each other, not to mention there were milestones being met so that I could track my progress. I get to work out with other people, but I’m always guided to progress in the way that is right for me.
Breakthrough: Well, I can imagine how frustrating it was to be putting in the effort and not seeing results, because knowing what I know of your work ethic, you are no slacker! You are consistent and you work really hard! In the past year, you’ve competed in a Tactical Strength Challenge, you completed our 100 Workout Challenge, you did our Break Even Challenge and did better than break even – you lost weight over the holidays! And of course I have to mention that you recently have been working on your pressing and just got a new PR of a 24kg (53 pounds) military press… which is the current gym record for ladies, so congrats on that!
Aja: Thanks! I’m really happy about that. In addition to needing the community, I really also needed a pathway that would lead me from one place to someplace else. And losing weight has always been a goal, but being more physically fit is my higher goal. If I lost all the weight tomorrow, but I couldn’t put the 24kg over my head, I don’t think that’s where I would want to be in the end. And I feel like if I keep working on goals like that, the weight loss will come naturally.
Breakthrough: Exactly! And you will be more inspired by that than just focusing on the scale. So, I’m sure you have a pretty powerful “why”… would you be willing to share that with us?
Aja: I’ve got a lot of “whys”. Probably the most important one is that I haven’t been physically healthy in a really long time, and before I hit 40, I would like that to change. I would like to see myself become physically fit in my 30s. I would like to reverse some of the damage that has happened as a result of being overweight for a long time, and I know it’s not too late to do that. I have already made huge strides with that between working with my doctor and now being here.
Breakthrough: Yes! It’s a powerful to recognize that there are things within your control that you can do to improve your health, and you are really doing it! You are doing great with your nutrition, you are consistent in your training, and you have the right mindset, so you have all you need to succeed right there. Is there anything else you’d like to share? Anything that has really excited you?
Aja: Of course I’m really excited about the 24kg press! When that went up, that was just the best feeling. And deadlifting at the TSC, I know what I did that day is nowhere near my real max, so knowing I have further to go with that is really gratifying. And I’m excited to start powerlifting now – I think I’m just gonna love the heck out of that!
Breakthrough: Oh you will! With your pushing power, you’re going to be a natural at the bench press.
Aja: Yes, I can’t wait! I just love pushing heavy! There is just nothing more satisfying than seeing a heavy weight go up – nothing has ever beat that feeling!
Breakthrough: Oh, Aja! We feel the same way! Where have you been all our lives?? Haha!
Aja: At the wrong gyms… not lifting…
Breakthrough: Oh no! Well that’s over now!
Aja: I just wish I had started all this sooner, because there really is nothing more empowering.
Breakthrough: I agree! Our mission statement here at Breakthrough is to help people develop physical strength, knowing that that will also build strength of mind, character and spirit. So, I’m sure seeing your physical capabilities grow also helps you know that you can handle whatever life throws your way, like your focus on improving your health for example.
Breakthrough: Well, we couldn’t be more happy to have you as part of our community and we really appreciate you sharing all this with us! We can’t wait to see your next PR!
Aja: Thanks! Me too!