Let’s face it. The issues surrounding obesity affect all of us. And Natasha Weddle, the executive director of New Beginnings, is doing her part to make a difference. Through New Beginnings’ individualized exercise and wellness programs, any woman, regardless of age, background or income, can achieve new levels of fitness, strength, well-being and confidence. For the low-income women Natasha’s organization serves, this is an especially powerful game changer: overcoming physical limits and becoming healthier not only makes these women better able to provide stability for their families, it opens the door for hope and makes fulfilling dreams a possibility. It is with great pleasure that we introduce you to Natasha Weddle today.
Are you originally from Nashville?
No. I am from Trafalgar, Indiana—a very small farm town just south of Indianapolis.
Who was an early mentor to you?
I knew I wanted to become a strength and conditioning coach while I was playing basketball at The University of Evansville. We had a very intense strength coach, Jeff Sellers. He was very motivating, and having always been a kid with exceptional work ethic to begin with, I really appreciated having someone push me harder toward reaching my potential.
What is a valuable piece of advice you have been given?
I’ve learned a great deal from the process of starting a nonprofit and all that goes into it, but the advice that stands out the most is to not let fear stand in the way. It’s impossible to focus on being successful while simultaneously worrying about failure. These two thoughts can’t co-exist. I’ve also come to realize that there is no “they” out there who will ridicule me for failing … only I could do that.
At New Beginnings, you empower women of all races, income levels, and ages to improve their health. Why are you called to this type of work?
New Beginnings was born out of my friendship with Chris McCarthy. Chris was the former Habitat for Humanity CEO when I met her, and she asked me if I had ever considered working with the low-income population. I thought, “Why not?” And now a dream has become reality. I don’t regret leaving collegiate athletics for one minute to do what I do now. I have built so many wonderful friendships with women that I would never cross paths with otherwise. This work has given a whole new layer of meaning to my life.
Obesity is a national epidemic. Why do you think that is?
I think there are several factors, but the top three are 1) our food supply today compared to what we are designed to eat, 2) lack of activity, and 3) a toxic environment.
TNB-Fitness is different from a regular gym experience. Can you elaborate about the program and its objectives?
TNB-Fitness is a for-profit business that is run out of the same building as New Beginnings. Since we only use the facility in the evenings for scholarship programs, we have a wonderful facility just sitting there so we use it as a women’s personal training studio. Part of the money earned goes towards off-setting our overhead costs for New Beginnings and to provide scholarships. Having been a collegiate strength coach for 18 years, I have a different paradigm that I view strength and fitness through. There are many things that make us different than the typical gym: We are women-only, for starters. We use an in-depth assessment protocol to build each woman’s program as well as her goals. I include corrective exercises in each woman’s program because proper movement comes before building strength or endurance. You see, there is a hierarchy that needs to be followed for someone to reach their goals safely. Most people and trainers are impatient, and this results in either lackluster results, injury, or both. We don’t give women workouts that are just made up on the spot; we put them on programs that are designed specifically for them. We fix their faulty movement mechanics, build strength, power and endurance, improve body composition and, ultimately, get them to a place that they would never reach on their own.
What is the greatest challenge you face as executive director of New Beginnings?
Currently it’s getting the word out that we exist. There are so many people that would be interested in New Beginnings or TNB-Fitness if they just knew the option existed.
Is there an event coming up that you are looking forward to attending?
I’m looking forward to the women’s Final Four this year. (The NCAA Women’s Basketball Final Four is scheduled to be at Bridgestone Arena, April 6-8, 2014.)
What meal at a local restaurant has recently wowed you the most?
What books are on your bedside table?
Well, I’m constantly reading about exercise, nutrition, how to change behavior, new age stuff. A few of them are The Happiness Advantage, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, and Why Quantum Physicists Don’t Get Fat.
Do you have a favorite vacation spot?
I love to travel, and I love variety. One vacation spot I return to again and again is the Adirondack Mountains, but I love Asheville, North Carolina, as well.
Is there something our readers would be surprised to know about you?
That I’m as sensitive as I am. I come off as an intimidating coach, but those who go through our program soon realize that this is just a front. I’m a Cancer …hard shell, but soft on the inside.
What are three things you can’t live without, excluding family, friends and God?
Thanks, Natasha! And thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s photographs.
- Important to note: During the day the building is used as a woman’s personal training studio (tnb-fitness.com). Part of the money earned goes towards off-setting our overhead costs and providing scholarships for women in the New Beginnings program.
- To learn more about New Beginnings, visit: www.thenewbeginningscenter.org.
- To see more of Ashley’s work, visit: ashleyhylbert.com.