Woodland Hills

personal trainer in Woodland Hills CA Debby McKnight

Debby McKnight : Top personal trainer to Woodland Hills and surrounding areas

Woodland Hills Personal Trainer | Debby McKnight

woodland hills trainer profile

People often ask me what prompted me to becoming a personal trainer, but with over 30 years of experience it is hard to say where it really began.  Best to start here: I started out as a dancer in the seventies.   As a child, I was very shy, and suffered from a noticeable spinal curvature that other kids were quite brutal about... eager to point out my "deformity".   I also had an issue with weak veins in my legs, and blood clots.  In those days, the doctors would tell me that I would forever have to wear heavy duty support hose and that by the time I was 20 I would have ugly legs and veins that would require surgery.  It was quite an upsetting prognosis for a young girl.  After looking into it myself, and reading about how strengthening your musculature can help support the spine, as well as the veins in your legs, I decided to take up ballet.   Ballet I knew would help me with my postural alignment as well as strengthen my entire body.  Facing myself in the mirror every day was difficult.  But dance has a way of not only changing you physically; it also transforms you mentally and increases your confidence.

After several years, I began subbing for my teacher.   When asked to teach a dance fitness (Jazzercise-style) class, I jumped at the chance.  Eager to increase my knowledge in the fitness field to become the best, I attended what I believe was the very first AFAA group fitness certification course at Emory University in 1983 and became a certified group exercise leader.  I taught dance exercise in a high school P.E. department program, and at local gyms and churches.  This continued for over 12 years, until my vocal cords gave out... as this was before the age of the microphone in class.

During this time, resistance training had also become part of my life.  I was now a personal trainer and manager of a health club, attending training seminars in a variety of theories of weight lifting... everything ranging from power-lifting to Nautilus and their One Set to Failure principle.   Bodybuilding interested me because I liked the performance aspect of it, where the women combined posing and dance to highlight their physiques.   I also was living in the Deep South, where women seemed to always be limited in what was okay for them to pursue.  Early on, I was told that because I stood tall and walked like a strong person, I was too intimidating for Southern people.  I was told that I needed to look down demurely when I walked, and try to squeeze my arms to the side to not appear strong.   Well that felt ridiculous to me.... I always hated the persona of the weak and helpless female... and decided I wanted to see how far I could go with building my strength and physique.  Why shouldn't someone be the best they can be?  This started my bodybuilding career.   I won the first contest I entered, and continued until I won the Jr. USA championship, then the NPC USA Championship, heavyweight, mixed pairs, and overall in 1989.   From then on, I competed professionally with the IFBB, and became one of the top ten female bodybuilders in the world, being regularly featured in many fitness and muscle magazines including Flex, Iron Man, Muscular Development, and Women's Physique World.  I was also a contributing writer until I retired from competition in 1994.  My last show was 8 months after I had my 3rd child.

After winning the USA title, I gave up my job as the Operations Manager of a large hospital wellness center in Mississippi, and moved to Los Angeles. Currently I am working with clients in gyms in North Hollywood and Woodland Hills, and also doing in-home personal training.

Over the years, I have seen exercise fads come and go, then eventually resurface again.  Everyone seems to be looking for something new and different, the magic bullet that will give instant results.   The dance exercise classes I taught 20 years ago have been renamed Zumba.   The floor exercises that we did in those days disappeared for a time, deemed unsafe, then reappeared in recent years, renamed sports conditioning and stability training.  Trying to reinvent the wheel comes in cycles.  With my vast experience in fitness, I know not to fall for gimmicks.  I use what works.

I work with all ages, from children to older individuals; from professional dancers to bodybuilders; people just wanting to feel better, those wanting to lose weight, or to build strength and size, to train for an event, or those having a medical disability or postural issue that's affecting their lives and ability to function.  I've been certified through AFAA, ISSA (Personal Trainer), PFIT (Rehabilitative Exercise Specialist) and PRO-PTA (Personal Trainer, Nutrition Tech, and Director) as well as other specialized programs.

I've achieved success in my career in various areas, but what really motivates me and makes me feel successful is when I can take what I know and help someone transform their body and their life.  I work extensively on teaching proper technique, something most trainers don't do.  Without proper form, you can create muscular imbalances, postural abnormalities, and injuries; and you just won't get optimal results.  My methods are safe, efficient and effective.

Many years have passed since I began my career.   I am a mother of four, and grandmother of three.  I've proven doctors wrong; my own scoliosis became unnoticeable, and my legs are just fine.  The medical community relies on medicines and surgeries, but through a lifestyle of fitness and proper nutrition, so much of this can be eliminated or postponed.  So many things that are chalked up to the "natural process of aging" are really the result of inactivity and poor eating habits.  Instead of relying on osteoporosis drugs, why not build bone and muscle, and prevent bone loss?  Instead of accepting muscle loss and weight gain, and assuming older means fatter, why not train your body to be strong and lean for a lifetime.   I help guide my clients to work past the limits they've assigned themselves, and give them the confidence and knowledge to achieve whatever their goals may be.

 

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Woodland Hills personal training client Sophia before and after photos

Sophia