Get Moving! IAW Fitness Experts Share Tips for Healthy Living



May is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month—a great time to get moving and commit to maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle.

Physical fitness has the power to increase brain function, maintain heart health (along with a proper diet) and improve how you feel. In fact, according to IAW Foundation partner the American Heart Association, physical activity boosts mental wellness and prolongs your optimal health, reducing your risk for serious physical issues.

This month, we’re featuring two remarkable IAW members who have made it their mission to help professional women stay fit and active. Read their inspirational stories and tips and get motivated to start moving and stay healthy.


IAW Member, Sandra Roshonda Thomas
Owner, Fortitudine Studio
Project Leader, Michelin

Sandra’s story begins at a gym in El Paso, Texas, where she had been volunteering three-to-four days a week and learning from other fitness instructors. She eventually received her group certification and left Texas for six months to stay in Virginia to complete Captains School. She was hired at American Family Fitness and taught 5 am classes, twice a week. “It was brutal getting up that early,” Sandra says. “Even though I was used to running that early, lifting weights and doing choreography requires a different type of mindset. It was a great six months and my love for fitness grew.”

When Sandra found out she was pregnant, she was determined to keep teaching. She was hired at HP Fitness and taught until she was nine months through her pregnancy. She received her Madd Dogg Spin certification, Aqua certification, R.I.P.P.E.D. certification and Piloxing certification within the first two years. Sandra then found a new love for PiYo, a fusion of Pilates and Yoga, and a program called VixenMuscle. She was a part of the group/boot camp training for about five months prior to coming off Army active duty in April, 2015.

“Since then, I have moved two times, parted ways from a Fortune 105 company, took a new corporate job at Michelin and opened my own gym. Every obstacle and experience has made me a stronger woman. It has been a roller coaster, especially after being a mother of two without a husband for nine months. He finally came home from the Army in November and it has been a ‘fun’ integration process. We are living life every day and making it happen.”

Sandra’s Tips:

  • Hold yourself accountable. Take ownership of your decisions. No one is making you eat junk food or telling you not to eat. When we don’t eat, our bodies store the food as fat. Your body is just like a hibernating bear. It will store the food because it does not know when it is going to get its next meal. It’s carnal and an easy concept to grasp. Don’t eat and you will gain weight—Eat frequent meals and your body will release fat and allow you to optimize the food you are eating.
  • Plan your meals ahead of time. We are all busy individuals. Even if you are traveling, plan ahead for what you are going to eat. Order grilled chicken instead of fried without oil or seasonings. This will help with sodium and fat. Have a sweet potato instead of a regular potato or eat half of the regular potato if that’s really what you are craving. Add a salad to your dinner and eat it first so that you are fuller on veggies. Take the remainder of your dinner home for a snack the next day. I try to drink 1/2 cup of water before eating my dinner so that I eat until I am satisfied instead of overeating.
  • Exercise Daily. Make time for some moderate, physical activity every day. Inquire about classes at your local gym to get a structured workout. If you live near Anderson, SC, come visit Fortitudine Studio and ask about my program D.I.V.A., an all women’s bootcamp where functional fitness meets cross-fit for women. It’s thriving and I am branching into a daily diva app for home-based workouts and combining mom/daughter “workout with me” and a kids programs at my studio.

Connect with Sandra on today.

Social Media: Instagram @diva_becomethedifference;  Facebook: Fortitudine  D.I.V.A.



IAW Member, Kenya Gipson
National Academy of Sports Medicine Fitness Trainer
Digital and Integrated Media Specialist, CBS Radio

“You don’t happen to make it; you make it HAPPEN!” These are words Kenya Gipson lives by.

90 pounds ago, Kenya was depressed and in danger of inheriting type 2 diabetes and heart disease, which runs in her family. She was a single mom, pretty much broke and had three guest passes to her local gym. On her last guest pass, she took a leap of faith and applied for a part-time position in exchange for a membership—and the rest is history.  A few years later, she would find herself leading group exercise classes and inspiring as many people as possible to love themselves enough to create a life they love through healthy living. Her journey with fitness has helped her overcome many life obstacles and made her stronger in mind, body and spirit.

“Fitness has fueled my purpose, especially when it comes to my love for women,” says Kenya. “Busy moms and professionals such as myself often sacrifice our own well-being to ensure everyone else is taken care of. It is the inherent nature of women to nurture, however this cannot be done at the expense of our own health and well-being.” This is the very platform Kenya uses to inspire those who attend her classes.

Coach Kenya’s Tips: 

  • Set realistic expectations. EveryBODY is different and will experience their own unique results.
  • Clean up your food game. Remove the food that is a waste of time and replace it with food that is going to be meaningful to your life and your results. Give yourself one “cheat” meal a week so you don’t feel deprived.
  • Find an exercise program you love. There is no “one size fits all” to fitness! If you find something you love, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.
  • Get off the scale in your head. Don’t torture yourself with a number. Instead, measure results in inches. How you feel in your clothes is one of the best indicators of your progress.

IAW Members are welcome to take complimentary classes with Kenya.
PiYo Live & Turbo Kick Live, Tuesdays at Athleta Flatrion. Sign up today and find a class.

Connect with Kenya on today.

Social Media: Instagram @coachkenya; Twitter @coachkenya1.

We want to hear from you! How do you get moving? Share physical fitness tips that have helped you stay active and healthy.

Please leave your comments. When you’re done, keep the conversation going on Facebook and Twitter.



  1. Dianne Strickland
    May 11, 2016 at 12:26 pm

    Ms. Thomas,
    I love the idea behind your “Workout With Me” classes! Our kids need positive roll models and motivation to want to workout in these times. There are too many TVs, Ipads, Iphones, etc. and not enough pony softball, tag, red rover, etc. Please expand this idea so both our kids and us can get healthier together.

    • Sandra Roshonda Thomas
      May 12, 2016 at 8:22 am

      Hey Diane shoot me an email when you can and let’s chat.

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