100_4222I have a love/hate relationship with Natalie. I LOVE her because she is a bad ass athletic trainer and pushes me outside of my comfort zone during every workout. And I HATE her because she is a bad ass athletic trainer and pushes me outside of my comfort zone during every workout. Unfortunately, I haven’t been in quite sometime, so I’ve missed her.

functionfirstShe trains at Function First, which is the most amazing gym in San Diego, specializing in corrective exercise and individual performance enhancement. Natalie is very motivating and has so much positive energy to give her clients first thing in the morning. So, I was thrilled when she agreed to participate in Project: Face in Water, hoping I could challenge her in the water like she challenges others at the gym.

Natalie explained her  experience with swimming as “mostly un-athletic swimming…meaning I like to swim around pools, but don’t feel like I have the form to really do laps for exercise. I also feel as though I’m perhaps not as good at swimming as I should be with being in the ocean as much as I am surfing and paddleboarding. Generally I’m not UNcomfortable, but certainly don’t want to ever be unattached from my leash!” This is the exact opposite of me. I don’t mind swimming out into the water, but once you attach a board to me, I freak out. I’m always afraid it will hit me in the head.


Natalie explained, “When I swim it looks like a splashy, gaspy, slow-moving inefficient attempt at mobile buoyancy. I like to think of those Olympic graceful swimmers when thinking about what it COULD be like.” That is a fabulous visual description!  I watched her swim about 10 yards, head up, neck stiff, holding her breath. I knew right away that it was a breathing issue, like 99% of my adult participants.

100_4233We started with the concept of continuous breathing- inhaling and exhaling, which as an athlete, Natalie understood right away. She went from breathing to floating to gliding and kicking in no time. She kept saying, “This is fun,” which I love to hear. It’s always so exciting to watch someone go from discomfort to comfort to ease in the water. Especially in under 60 minutes. As she relaxed and had fun with it, I put fins on her and watched her go. By the end of the hour it looked so natural, like she had been swimming her entire life.


After the swim lesson, Natalie told me, “I feel so much more confident out in the water, surfing and SUPing. Like I would be able to actually stay calm and swim back to shore rather than panicking and probably getting nowhere. I also am definitely going to consider signing up for a triathlon in 2014.” I’m so happy I could push Natalie out of her comfort zone, the way she does for others all the time. Okay, Natalie, I’ll make you a deal…You sign up for the triathlon and I’ll get my butt back to the gym! Check out the VIDEO of Natalie’s lesson: