Endurance and Obstacle Athlete
We’ve all heard the stories about the gym transforming people’s lives – “before and after” shots and inspiring quotes line gyms the world over. We love those stories too. And actually, this is one of them. But what those stories too often leave out is the most vital step in that transformation – the courage it takes to walk through the door the very first time. This month’s Sport Kilt Ambassador is Leah Hensley, and this is a story about how the first time she walked through that door led to her breaking down doors ever since.
These days Leah Hensley spends her days conquering obstacle and endurance courses around the world, always adorned in her signature pigtails and black and yellow Gridiron Sport Kilt. But it wasn’t that long ago that she was regularly stopping and turning around before entering the gym. “I was absolutely convinced that everyone in the gym was staring at me, “says Hensley. “I would muster up the courage to sign up for a gym and a personal trainer and then want to cancel the entire time.”
After having two kids and falling into a pattern of inactivity, Hensley knew it was time to make a change when she wasn’t allowed to board a ride at Disneyworld with her family because of weight concerns. “I was mortified and it was a real wake up call. But I finally got up the courage and found a trainer I absolutely loved. He wouldn’t let me feel sorry for myself and focused on small, attainable goals. He also challenged me to choose an activity that would challenge me. I chose a 5k and I hated it. After begging a friend to come with me to a mud run, I got dirty and knew I found my calling.”
That first race was in 2012. In the five years since the 4’10” dynamo has racked up quite the race resume and reputation, despite still working a full time job. But no following means more to her than the people she’s managed to help along the way. “These days I organize moms to run, workout and diet together. Us mom’s never put ourselves first so sometimes we fall back on bad habits. I just like to help my fellow mother’s get back on track and build new, healthy habits.”
To Hensley, her success isn’t reflected in her athletic ability. “I’m not a typically athletic person. To me, any success I’ve had in these races comes down to that initial success I had pushing outside of my comfort zone. I’ve learned that bravery simply means taking chances. We’re all on our own journey and the bravest people are those that don’t let fear stop them. For some that might be something huge like skydiving, but for others it might be as simple as applying for a new job or taking a group fitness class. For me it was finally walking through that gym door and getting control of my life back.”
Sport Kilt is proud to call Leah Hensley and Ambassador but even more proud to be a part of her story, “My Sport Kilt has become my identity at these events, “says Hensley. “By being remembered and recognized people approach me to talk about my story and I always try to encourage others. It’s just so easy to stay in our own bubbles of comfort, but if I can push past that and find inspiration, then truly anyone can.”