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Life and Work with Angela Ellefson

Today we’d like to introduce you to Angela Ellefson.

Angela, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I am a mother, wife, WBFF Pro Fitness Model, and Personal Trainer/Group Fitness Trainer. I wish that I had a super crazy and inspiring tale of physical transformation to share with you as part of my journey, but that just isn’t the case. My journey has been more about self-discovery and spiritual awakenings that have manifested into a healthy body and career in the Health and Wellness Industry that I am grateful for.

Honestly, ever since I was a child in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, I’ve been pretty active and full of energy. My single mother had a hard time keeping up with me, but she always encouraged my natural athleticism and curiosity, yearning to give me the kinds of experiences she wished she could have had as a child. I was a child model and actor, played soccer, gymnastics and competitive ice skating. I excelled in these pursuits, learning quickly and feeling my happiest when I was active.

Although dance, athletics and performance felt like a natural for me, I went to college for Journalism and Literature, and later went on to get an MBA in Business. I was doing what I thought I was supposed to, but my heart wasn’t in it and I ended up miserable in one office job after another.

In an effort to find myself again, I moved to Long Beach and started training in Martial Arts. Something about the discipline, the sweat and dedication spoke to me and I quickly fell in love with it. I started to learn about nutrition and the benefits of plant-based eating. I read a lot about health and fitness. I found myself enlightened; through the work on the mat I felt the resistance of my life melt away, and I realized that I needed to align myself with my true purpose.

I ended up meeting my husband in Mixed Martial Arts! As we started a family together, I also launched my career, beginning to coach other women so they can reach their fitness and life goals. I love my job. I wake up every day feeling fulfilled and with a more than full bucket ready to serve others. I love that I am still learning and I will never claim to be an expert – in the world of health and wellness things are constantly changing and evolving. My two daughters are my “why,” my reason for continuing to do what I love. They help me to see that each day is precious and should be lived with intention.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I was always a natural at sports and dance, but that didn’t mean things were easy for me growing up. I suffered from ADHD, and I had a hard time dealing emotionally with the harsh competitiveness of my fellow ice skaters (and their parents). I reconnected with my father, who was a competitive weight lifter, during high school, and that relationship was very meaningful for me, but we also butted heads a lot, and he died unexpectedly when I was 17, which threw me into emotional turmoil.

I ended up at Military School at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin- middle of the woods, with a bunch of delinquents who had far worse track records and harder-lived lives than mine. We were up before dawn, taken on road marches to cut down trees and work on local projects and we were cut off from the outside world with no communication from back home and at 17. I felt for the first time, broken. They stripped us down of our identity and little-by-little built us back up. I excelled in the physical tests and was the first girl in the academy that passed her PPFT (presidential physical fitness test) with higher scores than most of the boys. I was coined “Miss PPFT” by one of the other cadets. Little did I realize then, the hard lessons and practices they were instilling in me that would stay with me forever.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with Duchess Fitness – tell our readers more, for example what you’re most proud of and what sets you apart from others.
I am an online trainer and nutritionist, as well as a Personal and Group Fitness Trainer. I like to do both because I love to be around people and I love the energy I receive when teaching a group class. I love having people come to class and leave feeling their best. It’s very invigorating. I also love to train one-on-one so I can help my clients reach their personal goals quicker.

My online business is my way of reaching a greater audience. I have put many women on stage for their first bikini competition or helped them reach a wedding, vacation or photoshoot goal. I love to coach women and especially mothers. I can relate to being a mother and finding the desire to take something back for yourself after being of service to others and always putting yourself last. I can relate to that and I know the best way to serve is when you feel whole. When you are in that place of wholesomeness you have so much more to give!

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
I truly believe in growing your circle of influence. Network as much as possible and “put yourself out there”. It’s ok to be vulnerable once in a while. I have several people I consider mentors and I can reach out to a number of people for different needs or advice. I try to build relationships with all of my clients and I consider so many of them friends. Make time to go out and be social. If you are into health and wellness, attend seminars and workshops. Continue to educate yourself and learn about things you are interested in and make friends there. Find common interests with other like-minded women and remake, we are far more similar than we are different. Talk to strangers. Live full out.

What has worked best for me personally is making friends with women who are both older and younger than I am. I love to learn the wisdom of older women who have made many choices and lived different paths – they are my mentors and they are the ones that I can save myself a lot of unnecessary worry or wasted effort if I just choose to learn from some of their mistakes. They help me to see the bigger picture and not focus on the things that can waste my precious energy. Similarly, I love being around young women who are reaching out to me for advice. I can also be of service to them and share the same. It’s the yin and the yang; the giving and receiving.

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Image Credit:
Devon Shallop, Dennis Cruz

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