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Life and Work with Nichelle Garnes

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nichelle Garnes.

Nichelle, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My mom and I moved to Rancho Cucamonga, California when I was three years old because my parents divorced. I came from a family of athletes so my mom decided to enroll me in a track and field club at a local high school. At first, I resisted but after my first practice, I fell in love with the sport and went to have an impressive 20-year track career. In high school, I set school records and competed competitively against the top athletes in the state. In community college, I was ranked 4th in the state in the 400 meters for two years, and once I transferred to California State University, Los Angeles, I made my way to competing in three NCAA Championships, obtaining an All American Award, and was ranked within the top 25 in the nation in the 400 meters for Division II. Throughout my track career, I suffered from a knee injury and decided to have a procedure done on my knee after my last season in 2012. Right before graduation, I was offered a coaching position at a community college but that shortly fell through which is part of the reason I came to Arizona. My father lives in Arizona and at that time, he offered to help me get on my feet while building a relationship with him. I took his offer and moved to Arizona a month after graduation. Little did I know, what I was in for. Arizona has been a blessing and a curse for me, but this journey in my life has been necessary. The first two years were rough because I was living with people I did not really know, rehabbing from my knee surgery, and getting adjusted to working in corporate America. I found a training partner and began training with a post-collegiate team for two years. During that time, I was introduced to another coach which I knew instantly that he would be the coach to get me to the Olympics. We trained for about six months before we had to have a heart to heart conversation about continuing to run because my job becomes too demanding and we were both concerned about my health if I kept pushing my body like I was.

At first, modeling was only meant to help me grow as a person and get me out of my comfort zone because I am an introvert, but through the journey, I have grown to really like it and keep getting excited to see the continuous improvements I will have on my journey. I still felt like I was missing something so I started coaching at a local high school. I became the girl’s sprint coach which I enjoyed, but it was too far and I realized that I prefer to do private coaching because of how much I want to focus on technical details. I took a break from coaching and told myself I was going to work on my personal growth. Part of that was getting back into yoga. I started doing yoga back when I was in community college and took classes every once in a while but wanted to take it more seriously. I realized how much it has helped me through my depression that I wanted to help others that may be going through the same thing, so I recently enrolled in the RYT200 teachers training to become a yoga instructor. This process was amazing and provided so much clarity in my life that I had been looking for for years. I am still not sure exactly what I want to do with my life, but I am excited about this journey in front of me. I have learned so much about myself in the past three years. A big part of me still does not feel complete without track. It is hard to explain to others because from the outside looking in I am where I should be. I have an amazing job in corporate America, I reconnected with my father, I travel, model, coach, do all kinds of fun things, but at the end of the day, I still do not feel complete. I am on a continuous journey to finding what truly brings me joy again.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It definitely has not been a smooth journey for me. I have been battling a lot of things from my childhood that I thought I could push aside but realized when I moved to Arizona you can only push things aside for so long because it comes to light. Some advice I would give to a young woman is 1)It is okay. You are not alone with whatever issues or trauma you may be holding onto. We all have things that we are dealing with but you can not hold onto them forever. You have to let them go and set yourself free. Going through my yoga training really brought a lot of pain to light that I thought was buried, but I now realize that pain has been holding me back from being who I am meant to be. The second advice I would give to younger women is that it is okay to seek counceling  or some type of therapy. Yes, we may have friends or family we can talk to, but sometimes we just need someone to listen and not have a bias opinion or comments because they know you or is your friend. The last piece of advice I would give is do what makes YOU happy not what others expect you to do or makes them happy. You need to put yourself first because what good are you if you are not your best self.

Please tell us about your business.
My passion is with health and fitness. I am a track coach that specializes in technique and mid-sprinting events (400 meters & 800 meters). I am also a yoga instructor. As a coach, my goal is to provide the same treatment to all of my athletes no matter what their talent level are and to teach them the basic techniques for running that are needed on the track or for any other sport that requires running; because running is the foundation to any sport. I also incorporate my learnings from yoga into my coaching with breathing and meditation.

Outside of health and fitness, I am a freelance fashion and fitness model.

Who have you been inspired by?
My mother and grandmother are my biggest influences. Both of these women are extremely strong. For my mother, watching her work hard when I was a child to make sure I had everything that I needed and never complained is extremely motivating and inspiring. She always found a way and made things work no matter what obstacles are in front of her. She is  loving, fun, goofy, and always pushes me to enjoy life. I inspire to have my mother’s strength because nothing can break her down. My grandmother is inspiring because she has so much wisdom and she loves sharing it with others and helping those in need. She has taught me you are never too good to help others and is my voice of reasoning.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
BYOH Photography- Joshua Dhonte Barnes, After Six Photography – Chaz Wheeler, Platinum Exposure Photography- Roland Reed

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