Joy de Soto is the owner of Birchwood Fitness, 105 Edella Road, South Abington Township.
She is a personal trainer, nutritionist and fitness instructor.
She has two grown daughters, Elena, Atlanta, and Dana, Fort Worth, Texas. She lives in Waverly with her two dogs, Brutus and TacoBella and chinchilla named Rico.
How long have you been a fitness instructor, and can you describe what types of classes you teach?
I’ve been a fitness instructor since 1988. I’ve taught basically everything that doesn’t involve dancing. I am currently teaching cycling, a total body resistance training, and an original class called Spintensity, which is an interval class that fuses the cycling and the total body resistance. I also coach our Bootcamp classes which are large group trainings that blend resistance training with cardio intervals. We combine weights, body weight, medicine balls, battle ropes, running, boxing and water rowers.
How did you first get into fitness?
I went to college and graduate school for nutrition and started to take more classes in exercise physiology. During that time I used fitness to clear my head for studying and to help me lose weight. When I got my first job as a clinical dietitian, I knew I had to do some public speaking; but I was always quite introverted and uncomfortable in front of groups. So I decided to become an instructor which would combine what I loved doing and also give me the experience and practice of getting outside of my comfort zone.
How has fitness impacted/influenced your life?
I’ve always embraced fitness as a habit without question…like brushing your teeth. Since I was choosing a profession that was so closely tied to fitness, I knew if I wanted to influence other people’s health decisions, I wanted to be authentic about my reasons. I’ve relied on my passion for fitness to help others and to also hopefully set a healthy example for my kids. More importantly though when some life circumstances knocked the wind out of me a few years ago, I relied on my fitness to stay strong, physically and mentally. I needed to portray to my kids that we were strong and healthy. Even when motivation was hard to scrape up, I didn’t want to risk sliding backwards. This has become a greater focus for me, even with my clients. I want people to realize how they too can overcome obstacles if they just keep striving to be strong.
Do you have any personal fitness goals for 2019, if so, what are they?
I definitely need to work on some of the nagging things that stand in my way. I want to be able to move better without the fear that I will be sidelined by an injury. I tend to hold back from trying new activities because of this. And I absolutely need to management my time better, so I’m not squishing in my workouts. I actually really enjoy working out, and I dislike being short on time and skimping.
What advice would you give to someone trying to start a fitness journey?
To embrace fitness as a journey. If you think about what you can achieve versus how you can look, you place less emphasis on the short term goal and you allow fitness to integrate into your life. Too many people are looking for the most intense or the shortest workouts that will get them to the goal of just burning calories; and they lose sight of the social aspect or the fun that fitness can be. This usually leads to injury and burnout. So find variety, fun, friends and a few backup plans should you miss your favorite class because of a school delay.
What other hobbies and interests do you have?
Since becoming owner of Birchwood Fitness, I’ve let some of my outside interests fall by the wayside, so maybe that’s a goal I should bring back for 2019. I’ve been teaching a spring semester at Marywood University as well as training the tennis teams at the University of Scranton. I truly enjoy these experiences. When I can, I love traveling to visit my kids and traveling with them. And I certainly love spending as much time with my dogs as possible. I would enjoy more social time with my friends and family.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I am truly inspired by the great fitness instructors who work at Birchwood Fitness. I have given away many of my own classes in order to make room for an incoming new instructor. Every instructor brings a different personality and energy to their classes and they really raise the bar for instructors like myself to keep up.