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Tamatha Crowson -

Pickle Springs National Natural Landmark. This scenic natural area contains all sorts of fascinating sandstone rock formations, including box canyons and wet weather waterfalls. The sandstone rock here is the Lamotte sandstone that was formed from sandy beaches of a shallow ocean that existed here 500 million years ago. Since then, layers of limestone were buried upon this sandstone, but millions of years of erosion and uplift of the Ozark plateau have exposed the sandstone we see today. Over the eons, ice, rain, wind, plant roots, and streams have worn away this sandstone to form the many unique geologic features here. Some of the exciting geologic features include a double arch that holds up a shelf of sandstone, narrow slot-like canyons, hoodoos (mound or pillar-like sandstone blocks weathered into unusual shapes), a spring flowing out of the sandstone (Pickle Springs), and sandstone talus slopes.

So we thought we would put a personal trainer to the test by taking her out to Pickle Springs and running her boot camp style.

What is a personal trainer? A personal trainer is a fitness guru involved in exercise and lifestyle instruction. They motivate clients by setting goals and providing feedback and accountability to clients. Trainers also can measure and track their client's strengths and weaknesses with fitness assessments. They also educate their clients in many other aspects of wellness besides exercise, including general health and nutrition guidelines -kind of like a therapist who helps you stay in the game. So we thought we would put this one to the test by taking her out to Pickle Springs and running her boot camp style. The two-mile hike at Pickle Springs can get tough at times. Ok, she held up and ran us ragged for a few hours. Meet Tamatha Crowson.

Tamatha Crowson - personal trainer and fitness guru

"Hmmm. Well, I am pretty new to this area; I moved here in 2014 after having grown up at Lake of the Ozarks. I am a HUGE fan of the Cape. I love the youthful vibe of the college. I love the history of the town, I love the proximity to St. Louis, and I love that you can get pretty much anywhere you want to be in about 10-15 minutes - because I'm impatient."

"My personal philosophy in life is pretty much: take ownership, be real, have fun. I have been through and come out of some pretty rough circumstances - failed marriages and broken hearts, eating disorders, and low self- image. What I learned is that until I can see, accept, and own my part of whatever situation I'm in, nothing is going to change. It can be a challenging thing to do - to face your shortcomings and mistakes, but the result is always worth it.

I say "be real" because, for much of my life I walked around closed up and afraid of what people thought of me - I always compared my insides to everyone else's outsides and it caused me to feel insecure, and I'd look for that acceptance in really unhealthy ways. Later I figured out that there's not a person on earth who doesn't deal with those same feelings. To some degree, the only way to feel connected and accepted is to be willing to become vulnerable and authentic. Just show them my bright, shiny side, but also my dark, not-so-pretty side. And fun? Well, if life isn't fun, what good is it? Fun Matters. That's my motto."

"My specialty is working with women, primarily ages 35 and up. For years my work was centered around one-on-one personal training. I love the feeling of helping people reach their new goals, but it is difficult when I can only work with one person at a time, so last year I decided to focus my energies towards finding ways to kind of leverage my time and find new ways to reach more people.

Right now, I've got some cool things going on. Locally, I run a program called Boot Camp Challenge. It's a nationwide program, but I've added a lot of my own elements to it. I started with six people enrolled in January of 2016, and it has grown to about 60 or more per 6-week camp. I think what people like about it is the fact that there is a lot more to it than just working out...things like nutrition, behavior change strategies, plus you don't have to be in excellent shape to do it. I have people tell me all the time that they were so scared to join, afraid they would feel embarrassed in a group or look stupid. Still, it wasn't anything like what they imagined - there are all shapes, sizes, fitness levels in my camps, and I do everything I can to make the experience individualized and fun."

"Boot Camp Challenge is going stronger than ever. In 2019 we added a location in Jackson with two time slots. We now have four time slots in two locations with four trainers altogether. Our last six-week camp had 88 people register, which is a record not only for this area but also out of any Boot Camp Challenge group in the country (it's a national franchise, for which I am a licensee). We've had several campers lose 50 pounds and more in the program and four "Boot Camp Babies' (babies that were born to mothers who joined BCC, some so they could lose enough weight even to GET pregnant.

I'm excited about the direction the rest of my career is taking, too! Recently, I became Fitness Director for 180 Healthcare, a health and wellness management company based out of Cape Girardeau but serving seven counties in Southeast Missouri and expanding. Because a free gym membership is included in the 180 Healthcare membership benefits, part of my job is running our local gym partner, Snap Fitness Cape Girardeau. Here, I've built a fantastic semi-private personal training program that allows people to experience the benefits of some of the best trainers in town at a much more affordable rate.

Personally, I've been putting a lot of effort towards my favorite hobby: bodybuilding. This past year I did my 4th Figure competition and became nationally qualified and will compete in the NPC Masters Nationals in Pittsburgh in July 2020. Pretty exciting stuff!"

"I'm excited about is the new direction my business is taking me towards online training. This is the wave of the future when it comes to training and coaching. You might think it would be hard to train somebody when you're not there in person with them, but there's been so much progress made in the way of technology that it can be even better and more personal. I find that I'm able to do more with my online clients as far as nutrition and other aspects of fitness are concerned because I am not restricted to a 30 or 60-minute time frame for interaction."

"Pickle Springs was, in a word, breathtaking! I had no idea the place even existed. Everywhere I turned, there was a new and different kind of rock formation, or cave or cliff or stream... if you have never been, I highly recommend it. Just another thing to love about Southeast Missouri!"

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