This coming April it will be six years since I walked into the Williamsburg, Va., YMCA, took a Zumba class, and fell in love. That day my love for exercise was born. Until that time, though, I really had little interest in a healthy lifestyle, exercising, or clean eating. Weight had always been an issue for me. I had been on diets and exercised sporadically, but was never committed. Truth be told, I love to eat! My desire for food outweighed my care for my body. I was over 200 pounds on my wedding day.

Unlike many women, my two pregnancies resulted in the most significant weight loss I had ever had. I was diagnosed with hyperemesis in both pregnancies and lost over 40 pounds with my first son and 35 with my second. Needless to say, that was not healthy weight loss and while I didn’t gain all of that weight back, some of it did return. Despite the trouble I had with my boys, I was pregnant two other times that ended in miscarriage.

It was at that point that I realized my life needed to take a new direction. It was clear that my two boys were miracles and that I needed to be content. I was at a broken point mentally and was looking for change. It was soon after my second miscarriage that I started exercising. We had bought a membership at the YMCA several months earlier that we weren’t using and my husband was ready to cancel. I asked for one more month and that one more month turned into a change of life.

Zumba. I know it’s not for everyone. But for me—the movement, dancing, great music—it hooked me. More than the music, though, was the instructor. She lit a fire in me. Not only was she energetic, fun, and knowledgeable about fitness, she was also interested in the people and had a true desire to be an instrument of change in people’s lives. I couldn’t get enough. My Zumba love soon turned into kickboxing love, and from there weight training love. For a year, I took every one of her classes and soaked up all the knowledge she had to offer. My weight loss was steady that year. Slowly but surely, with a proper diet and commitment, I lost almost 60 pounds.

I began to think that maybe I would like to become an instructor. I wanted the chance to inspire other people the way I had been inspired myself. My first certification was for Zumba and soon after I began teaching at the same YMCA. That same instructor became my close friend and she began to mentor me. I started adding to my certifications because Zumba wasn’t enough. I wanted to teach everything!

I have been teaching at Loggerhead Fitness for over three years now. I can truly say that my love of exercise only continues to grow. The platform I have been given to inspire, train, and energize other people is not something I take for granted. I always want to be learning and growing and doing what I can to make my Group X classes something you don’t want to miss. In my mind, we are in this together. We are working along side each other for a healthy lifestyle. I’m just the facilitator. I’m so thankful for everything I’ve learned over the past six years and the chance to try and inspire others on a daily basis!

[Amanda Hollingsworth is the director of Group Exercise classes and teaches at Loggerhead Fitness]