Preston Center personal trainer teaches functional fitness classes, provides one-on-one training

Anna Simic, a junior from Louisville works as a physical trainer at the Preston Center. Simic says there’s a physical activity for everyone. However, she says, “it’s truly not about motivation, it’s about dedication. Motivation is hard to come by. Like if you are constantly searching for a person, or a body image, or a quote to motivate you are going to be struggling to get to the gym…it can’t do it for you sometimes. You still don’t want to get out of bed.”

Olivia Mohr

Louisville junior Anna Simic realized she had an eating disorder November of her freshman year of college, and she sought help from WKU dietitian Brandi Breden.

Simic said in an Instagram post that with help from Breden and a book she suggested, entitled “Intuitive Eating,” she overcame her eating disorder.

“Body dysmorphia is a real thing,” she said in an Instagram post. “Eating disorders are real. The frustration, anger, depression, anxiety and pain diets cause are real.”

In another Instagram post, Simic said she also used to try to numb the pain she felt with drugs and alcohol in high school. She said she now exercises to handle stress.

“Exercise has saved me from myself,” she said in an Instagram post. “Exercise has been the solution to more problems than you’ll ever know. It is the most underrated anti-anxiety and anti-depression medicine you could ever get your hands on.”

Last semester, Simic said she decided she wanted to be a American College of Sports Medicine, or ACSM, personal trainer at the Preston Center due to her enjoyment of exercise and the encouragement she got from friends.

“Exercise and fitness have done so much in my personal life and brought so much positivity to me that I wanted to show people that they could become anything they want to,” she said.

She took her test to become an ACSM personal trainer in February and did not pass. She took it again in March and passed.

Simic teaches a functional fitness class from 6-7 a.m. or 12:15-1:15 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at the Preston Center through Oct. 13. The class is $70.

She also teaches a Group X class called Totally Toned and Tan from 5:30-6:15 p.m. Mondays. It takes place outdoors.

To Simic, the term functional fitness means “how to not be a weenie in your daily life.” She said it is about becoming stronger in your day-to-day life, rather than developing muscle for aesthetic effect.

Simic said her classes are fast-paced and fat-burning, they implement equipment like kettle bells and battle ropes, and the goal is to get stronger.

“I guess one thing that’s been really eye-opening to me is just that there are so many different shapes and sizes of strong and so many types of strong,” she said. “I’m so impressed by every client that I have, every participant in my class. Everybody works so hard and they’re all at different levels.”

Simic said she believes her experience as a personal trainer will build her career, and she said she has many career goals.

She is studying to be a middle-grades teacher, but she said she would like to be a physical education teacher.

Simic said her uncle is opening up a rehabilitation center for people dealing with substance abuse. He wants her to work there as an exercise therapist “because recovery of an addiction is mind, body and spirit.”

She said she would also like to open her own all-female gym someday.

In addition to her classes, Simic provides personal training and buddy training at the Preston Center every day of the week during which she spends about an hour per session with individual clients or pairs of clients.

With her personal training, Simic said she starts with a consultation and listens to her clients’ goals and exercise preferences.

“It’s all about finding what works for everybody and also designing it based to what your goals are,” she said.

Natalie Corman, a sophomore at Bowling Green High School, said she started personal training with Simic in May and trained with her every Tuesday and Thursday until August before her cross-country season began.

She said that before she began training with Simic, she didn’t know much about equipment or working out, and she said she has noticed an improvement in her running.

“Now, I notice I am a lot faster at every practice I accomplish versus the year prior,” Corman said. “I’m more capable to do the workouts, and I built up muscular strength, which helps me run faster as a runner.”

Corman said she has also learned how to prevent injuries and ease soreness, and she said she wants to train with Simic again in the future.

“I never had worked out prior to this,” Corman said. “I wanted to kind of learn how to work out and build up muscular strength on my own, and she definitely taught me that, for sure. She knows just so much about the equipment and everything, and form.”

Lisa Wood, 53, is administrative assistant to dean Cheryl Stevens. She said she has been taking the functional training class for about six or seven years. She began taking the class with Simic about two to three weeks ago.

“Anna’s been great,” Wood said. “She’s adapting really quickly and learning quickly the things that work and the things that don’t work.”

She said Simic also works individually with clients during her classes and gives them pointers.

“She’s really good at giving you modifications if you need and stuff like that,” Wood said.

During a three week break during the summer, Wood said she began to feel weak, but her strength has improved since she started taking Simic’s class.

“I was starting to feel like I was getting kind of soft, and since Anna started, I can feel my strength already amping up,” she said. “I just feel better, healthier.”

Simic said her goal and the goal of other trainers at the Preston Center is for people to feel better and healthier.

“Our whole job and our whole livelihood is based around helping them meet their goals in a way that they enjoy,” Simic said. “There’s definitely tons of opportunities out there to get in shape, and not even to lose weight or to look better, but just to feel better, to live healthier.”

Reporter Olivia Mohr can be reached at 270-745-6011 or [email protected].