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East County Wednesday, Apr. 15, 2020 4 months ago

Lifetime of fitness for Lakewood Ranch trainer

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Lakewood Ranch resident encourages fitness at any age.
by: Liz Ramos Staff Writer

Lakewood Ranch resident Kourtney Kalahar has had an interest in fitness since she was in middle school.

She would spend her days after school at a YMCA doing her homework while her dad, Dean, worked out. Kalahar wasn’t allowed on the gym floor, but her dad was there so often that she would be able to sneak some time on the floor to do a few exercises with him. 

In high school, she danced competitively, whether it was tap, ballet, jazz or Irish dancing. She was also on her high school’s dance team.

While participating in dance, Kalahar started getting interested in nutrition. She was going to the gym and making healthier choices in her eating habits. During college, though, Kalahar started compulsively exercising, which led to malnourishment. She also started using too many laxatives.

“I lost years of my college life,” she said. “It consumes you to a point that you push away from your family, and you push away from your friends. You’re so consumed by what you’re eating, what you’re not eating, how much you’re exercising.”

Kalahar said her eating disorders inspired her to help others be healthier. She’s now a cycling instructor and personal trainer, and she sells nutrition products.

“I just don’t want anyone to ever hate themselves, to have an eating disorder or to think they can’t work out,” she said. “Ever since, I’ve been teaching people how to eat healthy but [also how to] learn about their bodies individually because every single person’s body is different and reacts differently to different foods.”

Kalahar works out five to six days per week for an hour.

“I just love working out, and I love sweating,” she said. “I like to do 60 minutes of getting my heart rate up or just making sure I’m sweating because if I’m not dripping sweat, that’s not a workout.”

Kalahar took her first cycling class three-and-a-half years ago and fell in love with it. After developing plantar fasciitis, cycling was the perfect alternative to running. Within months, CycleBar asked her to be an instructor for some classes.

“[Cycling is] kind of like a dance party,” she said. “Everything is to the beat of the music. You have choreography in there. It can be like therapy.”

Since the coronavirus outbreak, Kalahar has been hosting free workouts at Nathan Benderson Park while following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention social distancing guidelines and state orders.

“I really, really enjoy helping people learn about their bodies and see what works for them and what doesn’t and see them feel better and have more energy, without even having to deal with the fitness side of it because that’s its own thing,” she said.

Whether a child or an elderly person, Kalahar believes it’s never too late to start working out, eating better and living a healthier overall lifestyle.

Another piece of advice: Don’t make excuses.

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