An Interview with Velma Garnes
I had followed Velma Garnes on social media for many, many (many) months before ever meeting this force of a woman I greatly admired from afar. She radiated power, strength, and intelligence.
Many moons later, I found myself teaching a class that started directly after one of hers. I discovered Velma was not only ridiculously strong, but incredibly kind and personable to boot.
Not long after, this woman I so looked up to presented me with a gift: an inspirational book with a page of her handwritten encouragement that undoubtedly changed my life for the better.
I am extremely blessed to have Velma as one of my most loved mentors and ultra-reliable friends in this world. I am grateful for her every single day.
She is the realest of deals, and truly a gift in my life—someone I can spend entire days with laughing and planning and working and playing.
Having three degrees and over thirty years of experience in the health and wellness industry, I believe in Velma with all my heart and can personally vouch for what a caring and motivating person she is in both her private and public life.
Velma strikes the perfect balance of being astonishingly resilient and genuinely sweet.
I love this woman with all my heart and recommend getting to know her immediately to anyone seeking more knowledge about fitness, wellness, and healthy living.
Velma is a true treasure, and one of the most meaningful people I turn to again and again in my life.
Without further ado, the one and only Velmanator!
KS: FIRST OFF—LOVE YA! SECONDLY—HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE FITNESS INDUSTRY? WHAT ARE YOUR DEGREES IN / WHAT'S A BIT OF YOUR BACKSTORY?
VG: Awww...I love you the mostest... and thank you for that amazing intro.
HA! That is one LOADED question.
I've been in the industry ever since I can remember, really. My mom was my first client. She was having issues with her weight and even though she was trying things that were popular back then, I knew intuitively (without knowing it) that whatever she was trying at the time was a terrible idea.
Gloria Marshalls and Ayds candies come to my mind. She had 10 kids and so had a hard time getting off the weight. She never really exercised, so I was the one who started her doing that.
So, it was then I noticed I had a real knack for motivating people. I'd get up with her very early in the morning and train with her, help her with her diet etc.
I also was starting to notice that it was easier to show up for someone else than it was for myself.
I have a master's in exercise science, cum laude. I have a bachelor's in health administration and an AAS in sports and exercise studies - so I'm committed to fitness across the board.
I've guess always had the same interest. I've taught yoga (trained in Ashtanga - it's my first love 💖) for 17 years and certified for about the same.
I've taught group cycling for 17 years and I've been a personal trainer for over 30 years.
I've owned and operated my own studio for many years. I've trained amateur and professional athletes. I've taught for several years at a small community college, and I competed in fitness competitions for a few years. I've also trained a quadriplegic, which was an amazing experience for me.
My most exceptional accomplishment has been raising my two boys. They are incredible human beings and the light of our lives and the lives of others.
KS: WHAT KEEPS YOU INSPIRED IN LIFE? WHAT GETS YOU OUT OF BED EACH MORNING WITH PURPOSE?
VG: Knowing that I can be pretty damn great, and the only way that I can do that is by getting up and trying to be.
While that may sound a little egotistical to some, it actually took me a very long time to get there.
The voice that we hear first and seems the loudest is the one that comes from the inside.
Like India Arie once sang in her song, "The words from your own mouth you're the first to hear so speak words of beauty. No matter what anyone says because what matters most is what you think of yourself."
We'll never be able to fight the enemy if we're always fighting the enemy within.
"If there is no enemy within, the one outside can do you no harm." -Muhammad Ali
Not everyone has to like me, but those that give me the chance to touch their lives (with an open mind) I like to pour into them what I feel would help and I am open to receive as well.
I'm also a pretty voracious reader and I find that having newer things pass through my head to contemplate on is inspiring to me.
My kids inspire me every damn day. My husband is my biggest cheerleader, the love of my life and my why. He's my why I do everything. I want to retire him.
KS: WHO IN YOUR LIFE HAS INSPIRED YOU THE MOST AND WHY?
VG: My boys. Teaching them that they can be and do anything they want was the best we could do for them. Now that they actually listened to us and are out there crushing it inspires me to do the same. I didn't want to be all talk.
My husband. He is truly a rock in my life. As cliche as it sounds, he really is my very best friend and I can't imagine what my life would be like without him. I am grateful for him every day.
My coaches. I've had numerous coaches throughout my life. I've had one for over 15 years. I'm not afraid to invest in myself and I believe some of the best coaches have some of the best coaches. I've worked with one very recently.
Sometimes if you don't find in your life what you need to move you forward, you have to go searching for what you need.
Also, if I'm being honest here, there are people that I'm not too particularly fond of that I find inspiring.
Success is the best revenge and those people light a fire under my ass.
KS: WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR GREATEST ROLE MODELS?
My boys. They listened to us and are pursuing their dreams with gusto.
My mom. She's raised 10 of us. But before she could do that, she had to give birth to all of us. I think that's pretty amazing.
She also had to give up a large portion of her life to be able to raise us all. My dad was always working. She also taught LD kids, and even after that still came home to us. I think that's crazy amazing.
My dad. He's a pretty stubborn guy, but I learned quite a bit about not complaining about my situation but to do something about it.
My eldest sister. I've learned and continue to learn lots of life lessons from my big sister. She's always been and continues to be there for me and for all of my siblings as well which is a huge duty considering I come from a family of 10. She is always encouraging, never judgemental.
I've read plenty of inspiring stories in my time, and continue to, but those are the ones close to my heart that truly inspire me every day.
KS: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE QUOTES?
I do believe in daily affirmations that I say out loud. Here is part of one:
Everything I lay my hand to prospers and succeeds; I am the head and not the tail, above and not beneath; I lend to many people and I never have to borrow.
KS: YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS OR AUTHORS?
VG: Me. I love to write.
Just to name a few of each:
Authors: Joyce Meyer, Sara Ban Breathnach, Og Mandino, Paul Coelho, Maya Angelou
Books: Millionaire Mindset, Fascinate, Simple Abundance, Man's Search For Meaning, Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself, First Things First, Differentiate or Die, Blue Ocean Strategy, The Motivation Manifesto, The Untethered Soul, I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, The Alchemist...
Tuesdays With Morrie, Essentialism, She's Come Undone, Younger Next Year, E-Myth, A Million Little Pieces, NUTS!, Never Eat Alone, How Full Is Your Bucket, The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari, The Motivation Manifesto...
Life is a Choice and the Choice is Yours, Garden Primer, 10,000 Garden Questions, Women's Wisdom, Women's Bodies, Letters To My Sisters, Anatomy of the Spirit, The New Psycho-Cybernetics, The Gift of Fear.....
KS: WHAT MISCONCEPTION ABOUT HEALTH AND WELLNESS DO YOU THINK EXISTS IN OUR CULTURE THESE DAYS?
That everything has to be super difficult/impossible to get anything out of it and that jumping and running all the time are good things for you.
KS: WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR GREATEST TAKEAWAYS ABOUT HEALTH AND WELLNESS AFTER SO SPENDING SO MUCH TIME COACHING OTHERS?
Mindset is far more important than sets, reps, and cardio. I would even say it's more important than what we eat.
KS: I ADORE YOUR NEWSLETTERS! WHERE CAN PEOPLE SIGN UP TO JOIN THIS FREE LIST?
Haha. Oh, those things? 💖 Well, thank you!
You can add yourself to my list by going to the home page of my website that you helped to design. 😉
Just scroll down that page until you see where you can subscribe to my CleanZine®.
KS: WHAT UPCOMING PROJECTS DO YOU HAVE BREWING? WHERE CAN WE SIGN UP FOR SOME OF YOUR AWESOME COURSES?!
I always have something brewing. 😉 Always.
While you know all that I'm working on projects, I generally like to hold things close to my chest until I'm ready to reveal them. All things in God's timing.
Currently, I'm creating a self-empowerment brand for regular people who appreciate being challenged and want to get back on track with their health.
I've trained athletes, former athletes, and the athlete within.
It's for people that like a challenging low-impact workout by a seasoned, experienced fitness professional that gets results without the pounding or abuse of typical workouts.
KS: WHERE CAN WE FIND YOU? ONLINE AND IN PERSON, WHERE CAN WE FOLLOW YOU?
KS: WHAT IS ONE OF THE GREATEST LIFE LESSONS YOU'VE LEARNED?
VG: I once read a quote that went something like: "I believe that the credentials on the wall do not make you a decent human being." It doesn't mean jack sh*t.
My parents were both educators and education was one of the things they pushed which is why I'm so "educated", but you still have to learn & you still have to gain experience and most importantly, connect with people.
I am a lifelong learner and truly believe I can learn from anyone.
We are all human beings first and deserve to be treated as such. No less.
People don't hear what we mean, they hear what we say.
Our words are very powerful. Written and spoken.
So if you decide to tear someone down with them, that takes thought and effort.
"There are two ways to exert strength: one is pushing down, the other is pulling up." - Booker T. Washington
KS: ANYTHING ELSE?!
I currently have a weekly gratitude challenge on my IG feed. #gratitudefridays @velmanatorcleanlife.
I saw an idea on Pinterest to get a jar, and then each week (day, or whatever works for you), to add a note to a jar. Then at the end of the year, or New Year's Day you go through them all.
My Gratitude Challenge came about from my struggle with anxiety and depression. After spending a year looking for medication to relieve symptoms, I finally figured out a solution to it by a suggestion from my longtime coach, Phil Kaplan, who just casually mentioned something about it.
I began to commit to write down 3 things into a mastermind group he runs (which took me too long to mention), but as I got better and better at it and took less and less time, my gratitude practice began to grow as well as the abundance in my life.
I grew my number from 3 to about 10 every single day.
What this has helped me do is to rewire my brain (yes, this really is scientific) to see more of the positive.
Because I knew I wanted to write down 10 things, I started to look for the tiniest, minutest things to be grateful for every single day. This has done more for me than any drug ever could.
What I was doing, and hadn't realized it, was rewiring my brain to perform that way automatically.
Thoughts become things! What they become is up to you.
My current course: you can access here!
I'm releasing another one very soon.
Thank you Kelli for asking me for this interview! I am humbled and honored. XOXO!