After battling depression and weight gain her freshman year, Oklahoma State University student Rachel Hester found the help and inspiration that made her career choice clear.
Hester was an athlete in high school and regularly worked out, either at volleyball practice or the gym. She carried this routine through the summer. but challenges during the first month of her freshman year of college caused the exercising to taper off.
By the close of that fall semester, Hester had gained 35 pounds and was trying to deal with severe depression. Tired of feeling down all the time, she reached out to Emily Belz, a good friend and workout partner she’d recently lost touch with. Belz noticed Hester was not doing well and asked her if she needed help.
“I was like ‘Yes. I need some help,’” Hester said. “It was hard getting started. Emily and I would try to do the same workouts every day and compare our results so we started to develop a mutual accountability.”
They furthered that accountability by sending each other pictures of the meals they ate. With the support of her friend, Hester began working out consistently. By the end of the spring semester, her depression slowly went away and she lost the 35 pounds she had gained in the fall.
Although Hester found success, it was still a long process with many ups and downs. She had a difficult time finding support around her. Especially disheartening was the relationship she was in at the time. It took a lot of determination to continue to improve when the person she was spending so much time with was not eating healthy or helping her stay on track.
Realizing the importance of an encouraging and accountable support system, Hester spent less time with people who were holding her back. After making this decision and continuing to become mentally and physically healthier, Hester became a personal trainer herself.
“Seeing the effects training had on my life is what drew me to personal training,” Hester said. “I want to help people going through the same thing I did or anything similar.”
During training sessions, Hester enjoys the connections she is able to share with her clients. Whether introducing new equipment or different ways to use the equipment, it’s important to Hester that her clients learn something valuable.
Hester looks forward to her client’s satisfaction when they receive their improved assessment and reassessment results and that fuels her own motivation. It means a lot to her to be the factor in someone’s life that can make them happier.
“I have this simple goal to make at least one person I have never met smile,” Hester said. “It can be during a training session or walking by someone at the Colvin and asking about their day. Something so simple can make a huge difference, so I do my best to live by this goal every day.”
Hester will celebrate two full years as a personal trainer in August. While at OSU, she worked directly with Todd Christensen, the assistant director of fitness for the department of wellness, as the program assistant. She was in charge of scheduling and supervising fitness assistants’ hours as well as day-to-day tasks.
“Rachel has served the fitness department with excellence as a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, program assistant, and intern,” Christensen said. “She exhibited maturity, professionalism, and character every day. Whatever comes next for Rachel, I am confident she will continue to set herself apart as one of the best.”
Hester will graduate with a bachelor’s degree in health education and promotion on May 12. She has accepted a graduate position this fall at Wichita State University, where she will oversee its fitness department and work toward a master’s in exercise science.
“I have always wanted to have my own facility—a giant community that welcomes everyone who comes,” Hester said. “I want to work with all different people, whether athletes or people with disabilities. It would be an open-door facility for the whole community.”
Story by Michaela Gleason