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Meet Melissa one of the park's Boot Camp Drill Sergeants

Lauren Smart

Melissa Villamizar has been leading Monday night boot camp classes in the park since week one! Her enthusiasm for an active lifestyle has park visitors inspired and Klyde Warren Park's Communications Specialist Lauren Smart (a regular at the boot camp classes) took a minute to chat with Melissa about her classes and her business: Live Whole. Be Free.

Melissa Villamizar
Title: Founder, Personal Trainer + Boot Camp Instructor at Live Whole Be Free
Hometown: Lake Zurich, IL

Age: 31

LS: How did you develop such an active lifestyle:
MV: I grew up playing soccer, volleyball and running track and played college soccer on a scholarship. Since I have been an athlete my entire life, I don't really know how "not" to be active!
LS: How long have you been teaching boot camp classes? What got you started?
MV: I started teaching boot camp classes back in 2009. When I moved to Dallas in 2004, I was playing a lot of soccer through some pretty serious injuries. I ended up having reconstructive ankle surgery in 2008 which really opened my eyes. After the surgery I realized I couldn't go back to my old reckless ways of playing soccer because I would quickly reinjure that ankle. I had been taking a Boxing Boot Camp class for years, and it turned out they were in need of additional instructors. I got this crazy idea in my head to audition and the next thing I knew I was teaching several classes a week and loving it! I never returned to soccer because I now have something so much more important to me—helping others get healthy and enjoy fitness! I'm currently teaching anywhere from 7-11 boot camp classes a week and am a NASM- and NESTA-Certified Personal Trainer as well.
LS: What should a newcomer expect from your boot camp class in the park?

MV: Expect an amazing workout and a fun time! Regardless of fitness level, this boot camp is perfect for everyone because it puts the focus on the individual. The goal of each workout is for each person to work as hard as they possibly can, regardless of what level that is. All ages and fitness levels are welcome and I can guarantee you will leave tired, happy and grateful that you came!
LS: What is your number one tip for someone who's looking to get in shape?

MV: If you truly want to get in shape, don't wait any longer. It is easy to find reasons to put it off, but it won't do you any good. Countless people that have told me over the years "I need to get in shape before I come to your boot camp, then I'll come." Unfortunately, 100% of those people are still not in shape and have never tried my boot camp. Just think of where they might be if they had just come anyways! Instead, start right now. You'll have a huge advantage and will likely be much more successful!
LS: What is your favorite exercise?
MV: I'm a huge fan of core exercises because good core strength is so important for so many other things like better athletic performance and to help alleviate low back pain. I think my favorite core exercise would be Swivel Kicks, because as well as activating your core, you work your entire body and even incorporate movement in the transverse plane, which is often times overlooked.
LS: When did you start Live Whole Be Free and what is the idea behind it?

MV: Live Whole Be Free was started in July of 2011 with the idea of being a trusted resource for anyone seeking information in regards to health, fitness, nutrition and motivation. It is the goal of LWBF to help people make healthier decisions today which will lead to a happier and healthier tomorrow. LWBF shares health/wellness articles, clean recipes and products and offers personal training and nutritional consultations. We address good health from all angles since a truly happy, healthy life involves more than just hitting the gym once in a while. In fact we find that the more "whole" we live in terms of whole food, stress management, keeping healthy relationships, etc., the more "free" we become. 

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