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Johnson finds self through fitness

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Mother of four also is teacher, trainer, competitor

By Becca Owsley

As a single mother of four boys, 34-year-old Angela Johnson finds strength through teaching and fitness.

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A second-grade teacher at Lakewood Elementary School, she earned a teaching degree, graduating with honors, while going through a divorce.

Her inspiration to become a teacher was two-fold. Her own children inspired her and she wanted to change the lives of other children. That goal is more difficult to achieve than she imagined, but so far it’s been a rewarding career, she said.

Ages 6 to 13, Johnson’s sons keep her busy. Her oldest is artistic and wants to be an actor. Her 10-year-old plays baseball all summer. When they all are home together, they like to be silly and dance.
Johnson wants to be the kind of mother her boys can be proud of.

That’s what led her to fitness.

Moms tend to lose themselves in their children. Focusing on children is good, but sometimes mom disappears, she said.

“You’re their mom, but do you know who you are and feel confident in who you are?” she said. “I think my kids have seen that part of me grow and that’s a positive thing for them to see.”

It’s OK for parents to be proud of their kids, but moms have to be role models as well, she said. It’s a lesson that took her a while to learn.

She teaches Zumba at several local gyms and likes to talk to moms after class because she knows how hard it is for them to balance it all.

The message Johnson wants her life to convey is she’s a normal mom who has struggled with the same things all moms struggle with. She experienced weight gain after pregnancy and had babies that cried all night, too.

That’s why she likes Zumba. It can be a fun getaway for moms who don’t want to go to clubs to have a good time dancing. It’s a safe environment where they can build trusting friendships.

Zumba also is fun and takes the fear out of exercise, she said.

Her joy comes from seeing the ladies in her classes grow in their confidence and take better care of themselves.

She later became involved in competitive body building. She’s competed once and hopes to do so again some day.

While training, exercise wasn’t the hard part, she said. It was dieting.
Johnson’s mother, Kerrie Lewis, was a big supporter during that time. She went online to find recipes that met Johnson’s diet criteria.

“No matter what I do in life, even if she doesn’t understand it, she’s right there with me,” Johnson said of her mother.

When Johnson decided to compete, she not only made the decision with her heart, but also used her head by gathering support and information that allowed her to develop a strategy to succeed, Lewis said.

“Passion for something may get you started but knowledge and wisdom is the fuel you need to maintain the journey,” Lewis said. “I am proud she not only developed her physical strength, but she found and developed her inner strength as well.”

Lewis enjoys watching her daughter balance all her responsibilities with wisdom and maturity.

Anyone who goes through a divorce knows it’s hard,  but you have to find an inner strength, Johnson said.

For Johnson, she found it through fitness and building friendships with many strong women.

Bodybuilding was about cleansing her body and focusing on her emotional health.

“Sometimes when you have struggle in your life, a lot of people get depressed, but fitness has always been what I run to and it’s been a positive thing,” she said.

Becca Owsley can be reached at (270) 505-1741 or bowsley@thenewsenterprise.com.

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