Nayeli Knudsen is Styku's Marketing Associate and advocate for digital innovation in fitness. She also loves everything poetry!
Pictured above: Victoria Smishek - Fitness Manager @ Gold's Gym Regina East
What is the mission of your facility?
At Gold’s Gym our goal is simple: we’re here to help you Know Your Own Strength.
Tell our readers about your fitness journey
My fitness journey started at a young age. My mother ran a gymnastics program run out of the building that is now Gold’s Gym Regina South-so even before I was born I was a part of the fitness world. The first sport I ever did was gymnastics. My journey has changed a lot since the beginning however. I have played sports for my entire life. Sports are what really shaped not only my fitness journey, but my life as well; they have helped me grow as a person and learn a lot of life lessons throughout the years. Playing sports has also given me the opportunity to be introduced to the health side of fitness. I was able to to learn about nutrition and the benefits of eating healthy, as well as how to work out effectively for the sport you are training for. I was also lucky enough to grow up in a family with an extensive background in fitness because both of my parents were body builders therefore were very knowledgeable in nutrition and exercise which has helped shape the way that I live even now after my sports career is over.
"Being able to help someone achieve their goals and feel not only proud of themselves but also of what they have accomplished and overcome is what gets me up in the morning."
Because I have been an athlete for most of my life and because health and fitness helps change and shape someone’s future, sports, health, and fitness is truly my passion. There are many ways that I have been inspired throughout my fitness journey. When I coach I am inspired by my athletes-when I see them working hard and using the advice I have given them it shows me that my involvement can truly impact someone’s life, which is why I love the fitness world. When I was an athlete I was always motivated to do my best for the team; when you yourself work hard your teammates will see that and want to work hard too. With everyone on the same page you will all be able to achieve anything you set your mind to. While working at Gold’s I have been able to help multiple members take the right steps towards becoming the healthier, fitter, stronger and happier version of themselves, which is the best feeling in the world for me. Being able to help someone achieve their goals and feel not only proud of themselves but also of what they have accomplished and overcome is what gets me up in the morning. Seeing members finally reach their fitness goals with the help and support of our team at Gold’s gives not only the member but us as a community something to celebrate as well. We at Gold’s are a family and throughout my years as a member and now employee I can confidently say that it is the place to be if you want to achieve your goals.
What are some obstacles that you have experienced along the way?
Before you go thinking that I am just another athlete talking about being fit and living in the gym, let me tell you a bit about what I have personally overcome and am still working to overcome. Like I said, I was an athlete...‘was’ being a key word because I am no longer one and not by choice.
"I was living life in what seemed like a dream. I was a multisport college athlete, playing two sports I loved, studying Sports Management and Sports Marketing, a Resident Assistant and working for a pro hockey team. Life couldn’t get much better. Unfortunately in the midst of it all was when my string of brain injuries started."
I joined Gold’s as a member years ago so that I could workout somewhere in the summer when I was home from boarding school. As a multisport athlete you don’t really have an offseason- at least not if you want to be the best. I worked hard every day eating what I knew would benefit me and following my trainer-approved workout plan. Hard work paid off and I got a scholarship to play NCAA hockey in college, which was my dream. Fast forward a year and I had transferred to a new school where I was not only playing hockey, but D2 USA rugby as well. I was living life in what seemed like a dream. I was a multisport college athlete, playing two sports I loved, studying Sports Management and Sports Marketing, a Resident Assistant and working for a pro hockey team. Life couldn’t get much better. Unfortunately in the midst of it all was when my string of brain injuries started. As an athlete you are told about the dangers of the sports you play and warned that receiving a concussion no matter how minor you think it might be can affect you long term. I received my first major concussion in high school while playing hockey. I was a mess for about a month or so but pushed on because I had to. Not only was I in school, but I also had my team counting on me; I never really nursed the injury the way I should have. Fast forward a couple years to college, I get another one, but midterms are right away so I can’t take a break to heal. I also have my team once again counting on me...so I pushed through.
"The last concussion I received was the worst. I was told that if I play any impact sports and sustain another head injury it may be the last active thing I ever do. That hit me hard. Just like that my athletic career was over...or else."
The aftermath each time was a lot of headaches, concentration problems, not being able to remember things, struggling to read, not being able to look at screens without my head feeling like it was spinning and having to avoid light because I would feel like the world was collapsing around me. It was hell, but I pushed through it because I assumed it would eventually heal. After that I had a couple more concussions, some not from sports, and one landing me in the hospital multiple times because of being knocked unconscious; most of the time I was bruised so badly it looked like bone chips in my skull. The last concussion I received was the worst. I was told that if I play any impact sports and sustain another head injury it may be the last active thing I ever do. That hit me hard. Just like that my athletic career was over...or else. It has been over a year since that last concussion and the battle has not been an easy one. I could not read for many months and have severe memory loss because of it. My memory was impacted so badly I didn't remember my childhood unless provoked and short term memory is still a challenge as well. Reading is extremely difficult at times-even now as I write this my head feels like it is going to explode. My day to day life has changed completely, I used to wake up with the purpose to do well in school and in sports, and while I have been healing getting up in the morning at all can be a struggle. Once everything you built in your life is taken away the last thing you want to do is live because you now have nothing to live for-at least that’s what it can feel like. My biggest challenge each day is getting up, putting on a smile and living a life I didn’t intend to have. Depression can be a strong side effect of concussions and I would be lying if I said it didn’t impact my life day to day. Like I said, even getting out of bed somedays can be the biggest struggle, but I do each day because I know that I have the chance to help change someone’s life and that is something pretty amazing.
What advice do you have for others who may be struggling?
The best advice I have for anyone who may be where I once was is to keep pushing. You might have heard it before but you need to push through the bad. Everything happens for a reason-even the stuff that makes you want to give up completely; it might take a bit to figure out why something so terrible has happened to you, but things do get better and you need to just keep going. The hardest thing for most people who are just starting to work out or get back into things is to actually show up. Going to a place and doing a thing that you are not used to is hard...it can be half the battle.
"Everything happens for a reason, even the stuff that makes you want to give up completely, and it might take a bit to figure out why something so terrible has happened to you, but things do get better and you need to just keep going."
Once you get to the gym to start your new journey you will start to feel better. Starting the gym for the first time regardless of if you once were an elite athlete or not can be hard, but support is your best friend. At Gold’s consider the employees to be your best friends, because we are all there to help you in the best way possible for you. We have our front desk staff that is there to greet you with a smile, showing you that you’re in a safe place. Our sales staff that is there to give you the best deal and help make you feel like family. We have our personal trainers who are there to help you reach even your most difficult fitness goals. But most of all you have an entire family at Gold’s that is there for you anytime you need them even if it is just for a smile to help brighten your day.
What is a memorable experience you've had with Styku?
My entire experience with the Styku has been memorable. I started using it for our members and once I saw the results they were seeing I decided I should track my own progress, since I was just starting to work out again after my last concussion. At the time I was only working out twice a week for about 45min tops, which was quite an improvement for me. It has been a couple months since I started tracking my progress and I am now going 4 days a week for up to an hour and a half, which is super exciting! To see the change not only within how long I can work out but my body thanks to the Styku’s technology has been quite the asset to motivating me to keep training more and more. It has helped make me want to work out again, which I am extremely grateful for because exercise is one of the best outlets of stress you can have!
"I started using [Styku] for our members and once I saw the results they were seeing I decided I should track my own progress, since I was just starting to work out again after my last concussion."
Why do you think integrating technology like Styku into fitness facilities is impactful?
I see the Styku’s technology as a huge asset to any workout regime. To be able to track your fitness in any way is great, especially when it comes to comparing things like body fat and muscle gain, but to be able to see yourself in a 3D image that you can compare to a past version of yourself is a feeling like no other. Being able to see how much you’ve improved your own health and fitness and know what it takes to get there is so motivating. Being able to track my progress has been a huge reason as to why I have gotten to the point I am today: satisfied with my body. This is something I have never been able to say until now. That being said, I still have the athletic mindset that you can always push harder and go further, but to be at a state where I am finally comfortable with myself is something pretty wonderful. I am very thankful that I have had the opportunity to work at Gold’s Gym because I have been able to use the gym and Styku to my advantage to help me achieve my own fitness goals while also helping others achieve theirs. I am excited to continue to use the Styku system and hope that more and more people want to join the Gold’s family so that they can also take advantage of everything we as a gym have to offer, especially the opportunity to use Styku.
"To be able to track your fitness in any way is great, especially when it comes to comparing things like body fat and muscle gain, but to be able to see yourself in a 3D image that you can compare to a past version of yourself is a feeling like no other."