How I Came To Be Considered “Fit”

allison tai

allison taiBy Contributor Allison Tai

I wasn’t always the “fit” girl… the one who everyone asks for advice on toning this or completing this goal. In fact, for most of my life, I was just the opposite. The last picked for team sports, the one weaselling out of gym class, the girl who always went missing on track and field day.

As a horse crazy girl, I spent most of my days letting someone else do the running. Sure, it’s a sport and it takes muscles most people don’t have – but it’s not marathon running. When I went back to school as a mature student, I started jogging to stave off college weight gain. It snow balled from there: making the national team for cross country, winning the provincial road race series overall.

I realized that my whole life I thought I was terrible at running and sports in general… since most sporting activities involved short distance running. If I was consistently the slowest person in the bunch at the short distances, I figured running longer would only widen the gap. Turns out that I was wrong. Even running competitively I would be the last one out the gate but slowly and methodically be able to pick the tiring speedsters off one by one. It’s like I couldn’t run fast enough to tire out. And it still is.

I did a marathon.. and a 125km ultra marathon called the Canadian Death Race. I did two Ironman distance triathlons, and placed second in my age category at one. People started seeing me as an endurance athlete. I started seeing myself as an endurance athlete.

And in less than a few minutes, everything changed. Everything.

I was hit while riding my bicycle at highway speed. I broke my back, pelvis and arm. I couldn’t roll myself over in bed. I couldn’t dress myself, feed myself or even sponge bath myself. It took me months to be able to walk around the block.

I had worked so hard to become that “fit girl” to others and to myself. And I had to work five times as hard to get it back.

As soon as I could hold a book up I studied. I earned my group fitness and nutrition and wellness specialist certifications. And as soon as I could walk I started coaching. I was lucky enough to be one of the pioneers in the “bootcamp” movement and had the opportunity to introduce fitness into the lives of people, like me, who had never known it… and people that had lost it somewhere along the way.

Since those days, I have completed races from triathlons to marathons to 24 hour obstacle course races. I have felt the pride and glow of standing on the podium. I have also felt the unparalleled joy of seeing a client cross the finish of their first 5k race. Without my accident, I am not sure I would have ever gotten to feel that immense connectedness to someone else or their achievements.

We all have obstacles on the road to a better us – but if we just keep on, we might find more than we ever could have dreamed!

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Allison Tai is mother to two young girls, Amelita and Seren. She is also an elite obstacle course racer and fitness coach. You can find her blog at where she muses about her life as an athlete, and her life as a mom.

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16 responses to “How I Came To Be Considered “Fit””

  1. What a wonderful story! Inspirational 🙂

  2. great post! Thanks for sharing your story!

  3. great read, thanks for sharing!

  4. You are definitely someone to look up to, for motivation and health.

  5. Thanks for sharing your story

  6. You are a very strong woman

  7. Thanks for your kind words ladies! I look forward to connecting with you all in the posts to come!

  8. Sometimes even the woorse things bring out the best. You had a passion, and you didnt wallow in self pity again you chose to RUN. You ran with a purpose, you ran to help others succeed.
    My younger brother was a marathon runner.. he made it to the NY marathon 3 times he qualified. Then out of the blue he had a heart attck. Now he helps coach kids and enjoys what he does he still works full time elsewhere but coaches and loves it.

  9. Wow, amazing story. You are so hardworking and motivated – very inspirational for me!

  10. I really enjoyed reading this. It’s a lesson to us all to get back up and keep going, thanks for posting this. 🙂

  11. I so enjoyed reading this,thanks for sharing

  12. I grew up riding horses too, and I miss it dearly. I never could get into running, though we live in a city with lots of runners. The only exercise I’ve been able to stick regularly with is yoga, which i like because I use all the muscles in my body. I feel stronger since starting yoga, and I think that’s probably an important part of feeling fit.

  13. I am so proud of you

  14. Wow I’m in awe at your strength and resilience. Stories like yours really inspire me to never give up when I face my own challenges.

  15. I have always wanted to ride a horse but never did

  16. This is a wonderful precis of Allison’s journey to be “fit.” She certainly proved that she had the stamina and determination to be a long-distance.
    Coming back from such a horrific accident would have broken a weaker person.
    However, you fought your way back and are using your expertise to help others.

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