Trainer passionate about health, wellness

Janelle Paulson is the exercise specialist at Shape Fitness, located in St. Luke’s North Hospital-Smithville off U.S. Highway 169. Paulson said she loves learning about health and has since childhood.

SMITHVILLE — Shape Fitness Exercise Specialist Janelle Paulson said her passion for health and fitness began as a child. As her older sister began to play sports, Paulsen practiced with her in their childhood residence’s yard.

”That is probably what got me into sports, which then led me to get into health and wellness,” Paulson said. “When I started track is when I realized my food had a really big impact on my performance. At a really young age I started taking interest in what foods would help me compete at a high level and which foods would hurt me.” Paulson is the only exercise specialist at Shape Fitness, a part of St. Luke’s North Hospital—Smithville, 601 S. U.S. Highway 169. With weight and cardio rooms and group fitness classes, Paulson said the facility is open to all ages, with current members ranging between age 12 and 93.

”It’s cool because we aren’t really a competitor with any of the fitness centers,” she said.

With 9Round focused on boxing and Anytime Fitness open 24 hours, Shape Fitness focuses more on community programming, health and wellness and fulfilling the “healthcare continuum.”

”We are right down the hall from the emergency room, behavioral health, the physicians so it encompasses that last step, ... not just treating your illness but preventing your illness.”

What would surprise people most

to learn about your job?

“I think most people don’t really understand a lot about health and wellness,” Paulson said. “... Anyone can walk in this door and gain something by coming in and interacting with me. ... I can connect with anybody about health and wellness just because food and exercise effects every single person on this planet.”

Would a 10-year-old you be surprised you are in this position or field?

“I would say at about that age is when I started being invested in my health and wellness so no, I don’t think I’d be surprised at all,” she said.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

”I would say the generational barrier that I face.” Paulson said, adding transitioning from training athletes to training community members is a significant adjustment. “Communicating with seniors is just a little bit different than communicating with everyone else. When you take time to understand how they receive information, you realize their needs aren’t really different from anyone else’s, they just communicate them in a different way.”

An added challenge is running a fitness facility in a hospital.

”It is a hospital, but we are equally a fitness center. ... It’s open to the whole community,” Paulson said.

What do you like about this job

or field in particular?

“I love that I get to help people with something that I’m passionate about,” the trainer said. “It is something that comes naturally to me. I’m so passionate about it that I love learning about it and I love helping people learn it in their own unique way. Each person needs different pieces of health information so it is fun helping people understand what they need.”

When outside of work, what tips you off that someone is also a personal trainer?

“Physique is sometimes an easy catch, but there are a lot of people that are fit who aren’t trainers, ... trainers who aren’t fit,” she said. “I would say verbiage, the way they talk about things. You just have a different view of exercise, the way you set up your plate,” Paulson said.

What is the most common question you are asked about what you do?

“Should you be eating that dessert?” she said. Her answer: “I love dessert. I eat dessert and I always say you can eat anything in moderation.”

What advice would you give someone starting a job similar to yours?

“Understand that most people are not as passionate as you about getting fit or healthy. You have to find what motivates them to come to the gym. For some people, it is socialization. They want to see people in their class and catch up with people. For some people, it is just getting out of the house, ... the mental clarity that comes with it, ... the adrenaline you get from exercising,” she said. “You just need to find what makes them tick or what makes that person want to keep coming and make sure you feed into that.”

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