Jan 8, 2016
Former Strength Coach Switches Gears

Natasha Weddle was a college strength and conditioning coach for 17 years, working at the University of Tennessee, Kent State University, Purdue University, and Vanderbilt University. In 1997 and 1998, she helped Pat Summitt and the Lady Vols win consecutive NCAA Division I championships. She found the work empowering, but she was also growing “tired of living in the bubble of sports,” she told The Nashville Ledger. So four years ago, she opened New Beginnings, a non-profit wellness and fitness studio, with the aim of helping lower-income women get in shape and lose weight.

New Beginnings now serves 300 people each year. Weddle said that in the beginning some people told her that certain groups would never come to New Beginnings, and that others’ problems were too difficult to solve, but she persisted.

“The biggest obstacle for me to realize was that for every obstacle there really is a solution to it,” Weddle said. “You just have to be patient and find it.’’

Benita Rhodes, a regular at New Beginnings, said she had difficulty working out at other gyms, feeling as though everyone was staring at her. Before working with Weddle, Rhodes was overweight and could only walk with a cane. Now she has almost achieved her goal of losing 75 pounds and walks three miles each day without the cane.

“Even if you don’t go to a place like New Beginnings, I think it’s important to try to replicate a lot of what they do,” Rhodes said.

Weddle said she hopes to help participants develop a more positive view of exercise, and most leave the program with an average 8.2 percent weight loss, or 15 to 35 pounds.

“I don’t want people to have an association that says, ‘I don’t want to go to the gym, it’s too uncomfortable,’” Weddle said. “We find a way to get clients a little bit further than they’ve gone before.”

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