Personal Fitness Professional - Spring 2018 - 13
Journey to Success
Bodies and Soul by Bender
Cooper Institute for Aerobics
Research; Yoga instructor
and PSM Meditation teacher
through Chopra Center for
Wellbeing AFAA Group
Fitness instructor, David
Ji Master Meditation
teacher, IFPA Functional
"There is nothing you can't
do if you put your mind to
it." (Reminder from her
mother) "Set your intention
in meditation, water it with
your attention and watch
your dream grow."
(Dr. Deepak Chopra)
By Lindsay Vastola
An unexpected journey of firsts that
has inspired lasting change
or more than 36 years, Laura
Bender of Missoula, Montana
has been active in nearly every corner of the fitness industry. As the industry evolved,
she wisely did so as well. But when you
learn about her story in greater detail, it
becomes apparent that she has done more
than just take advantage of opportunities
in a growing industry. Rather, there is one
theme that has been front-and-center since
the beginning of her journey to success:
Laura Bender is a woman of firsts.
A first in an industry, a first in her town
In 1982, Laura started as an aerobics instructor at a local spa. She didn't have a certification until 1985, because, well, certifications
were just on the horizon at the time and not
easily accessible. She made up her workout
routines from role models like Jane Fonda
and Jackie Sheppard. She continued to
evolve as the industry grew and had ambitions of being the best instructor in Missoula so began teaching in more health clubs,
schools and at any event or opportunity she
had to share her passion.
Laura organized local fitness demonstrations, fundraisers and warmups for charity
walks and events. Through the early 90s, Laura
successfully participated in aerobics competitions both locally and nationally. She was also
a fitness model and marketer for several popular companies like Nike, Eurotard and Spenco.
Laura attributes much of her growth initially as driven largely by finances. She had
several degrees, one in Special Education.
Her intention was to teach aerobics as a
hobby, however, in 1989, she couldn't find
a teaching job. One day she was reading
about this "new thing" called personal
training in Shape magazine. She figured if
she could bring it to her town, she could
use her teaching skills in a one-on-one setting, make money and help more people.
Laura's biggest challenge was educating
people in a small town about something
they had never heard of. But she was no
stranger to hard work. She refers to this as
her first expansion - to bring something
as new as personal training to a small town.
Cold calling, talking to service clubs, television, going door-to-door... you name it, she
did whatever it took to pursue her vision.
SPRING 2018 | WWW.PERSONALFITNESSPROFESSIONAL.COM | 13