You love her Trainer Tips (as do we!). Now we get to share Sandra Ferrerio’s inspiring story with you! Sandra truly has passion for fitness and a heart for helping women overcome personal challenges. We’re happy to have her as part of the Lucille Roberts team!
How long have you worked as a personal trainer at Lucille Roberts?
I was certified 23 years ago when I was 16 years old. I have been a personal trainer at Lucille Roberts Yonkers for about 2 years. I help women lose weight and get or stay fit. I work with women on a range of issues, such as rehabilitating injured clients, dealing with special medical conditions, and of course training beginner to advanced/elite athletes, as well. Each client is special to me. I learn from them every day. Each client brings something unique to the table.
What inspired you to work in fitness, and how long have you been working in the field?
When I was a teenager, my mother enrolled me in a local women-only fitness center and spa. I was approached by the manager, who later became my mentor. She thought I would be perfect for teaching aerobics and toning classes. I was flattered and terrified. I received my first certification a short time later with ISMA/AAAI. The test was rigorous, and I had to perform a practical exam as part of it. I had to demonstrate perfect form and execution of many exercises. To this day, ISMA/AAAI does not allow online certifications. I have received a number of certifications since then, including Nutritional Counselor, and Level II Master Personal Trainer. I learned quickly that I LOVED teaching and training women. It became my passion.
What do you love about your job?
I love everything about my job! I am truly blessed to be able to help so many women, on so many different levels. I love the day-to-day interaction with people, and I love researching behind the scenes. I love looking for new ways to challenge each and every client, according to her own goals and/or restrictions. Once I deal with any medical issues that need to be addressed, the fun begins. We have a lot of fun! When they tell me about their achy, sore muscles for “days”, we laugh, and I can relate!
What’s the hardest part about your job?
The hardest part about my job is the heartache I feel when I encounter women with medical conditions that make it difficult to exercise or that present unique challenges. I have to shed tears as I write this. Breast cancer, mastectomies, tumors, Type II diabetes, thyroid conditions, and patellar or spinal surgeries, even eating disorders, are all part of my daily work. I work very hard to do as much research as I can, to help these women find the strength in themselves to heal themselves inside and out. Fitness and nutrition are key in disease prevention and control. I am here for a higher purpose—to help others.
How do you decide what exercises each client should do?
After all medical conditions are on the table—for some lucky women, there are none at all—I choose a fitness routine that is based on their desires, goals, and current fitness level. Each client is unique. I don’t think I have ever done the same routine with someone twice. I base their workouts on what I did with them in the previous sessions and what classes they have or will be taking that day. Perhaps most importantly, I pick exercises that will get them to their goals quickly and safely. I also spend a bit of time telling them how to reach their goals when they are not with me. That is a BIG part of their success.
I work out first thing in the morning, after my coffee, on low glycogen stores. I eat nothing before my morning cardio. My routine usually involves running or walking on my treadmill and may include plyometric bouts, such as plyo push-ups or jump squats. This is followed by strength training one of my major muscle groups, core work, and stretching. I train myself as I would a client. I always mix it up with HIIT, hill climbing, or jogging and use different resistance exercises. I also enjoy taking classes at Lucille Roberts. I have not taken one yet that I don’t love!
How do you balance being a mom with work and your own personal fitness? Any tips for women who are trying to do the same?
That is a big challenge. I consider myself a role model for my daughter, and she looks up to me a great deal. She does as I do, as all children will imitate their parents. I do my roughest workout in the morning, when she is sleeping—and so are most other people I know! I eat healthful meals with my daughter and my boyfriend. Nothing is off-limits, except foods that I am dead-set on not having in my home. High fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils (trans fats) are common words to my daughter. They are BAD. Period. She is a label-reader and enjoys eating healthfully. However, she is also a kid. I bring her to the gym, as I advise moms to do. I encourage her to run, skip, and play for fun and not to be body-conscious. I nurture her mind and her heart with love. We will even walk to the nail salon for a workout. Since Patience was a baby, I took her everywhere, to the gym, for a walk, everywhere. Thank goodness for the nursery at Lucille Roberts!
Would you please share the story of your recovery from the life-threatening car accident you survived? How did you overcome the injuries?
My car accident always makes me cry. I was the passenger, and no one was to blame. I was taken via helicopter to the trauma center, in and out of consciousness. I remember nothing. I was told in no uncertain terms by the surgeon at Westchester Medical Center that I would have to change professions. I vowed to defy him. I was looking at a lifetime of braces, walkers, and medications. I fought being debilitated with a team of amazing doctors, a loving family, my daughter’s bright smile, and every ounce of mental and physical strength I had. I was teaching high impact aerobics again and running daily within 6 months of my first surgery. I have had two spinal surgeries since my accident and will have screws and anchors in my lower back for the rest of my life. I am happy to be alive and thank God everyday for the ability to run, jump, teach, and smile. Overcoming a physical impairment is one of my personal and professional passions. Fitness is not just about looking good and losing weight; it is about living your life with strength, purpose, and courage. Looking great and feeling fit are benefits.
What’s the best advice you have for women who are trying to lose weight?
I struggle very hard to maintain a healthy weight. Unfortunately, obesity, hypertension, and multiple strokes run in my family, on both sides. When looking at weight loss as the primary goal for exercising, it can and will be misery. Fitness is about treating your body kindly and lovingly while challenging it to strive for greater challenges. Nutrition is very much the same. We must eat to fuel our bodies for energy, vitality, and strength. The pounds will drop with the right guidance and a belief in yourself. I have gone against the odds in terms of my family history, and so far, I have won the battle against obesity and all of the ills that come along with it. Find a trainer that you trust and a certified nutritional counselor or weight loss coach and take it one step at a time. You will cross that finish line if you just persevere.