Lisa Kent loves people. Most would say she’s extroverted, confident, and comfortable in her own skin. But what a lot of people don’t know is she wasn’t always a people person. In fact, Lisa was an awkward, insecure girl. As an army brat and child of divorce, she moved to a new school every year, always the shy, new kid, always on the outside looking in. By the time she stayed in one place, she had lived in Oregon, Colorado, Maryland, Washington, California, Arizona, Utah, Montana, and Idaho. Because she hadn’t been able to put down roots, making friends grew more difficult as she grew older. Some kids found her aloof; others called her stuck-up. It wasn’t until college, when she found her tribe in musical theatre, that Lisa felt a sense of belonging. Being an integral part of something special made a lasting impression that completely changed the way she saw herself. And the world.
In high school, although she was on the drill team, Lisa never thought of herself as athletic. Team sports terrified her; she was sure to be the one to drop the ball or strike out. In college, ballroom dancing, casual hiking, a little jogging and a game of racquetball now and then kept her active, but she didn’t consider herself an avid exerciser. In 1987, seeking to get back in shape after her second child, she discovered ‘aerobics,’ making it a fitness routine and dancing her way to weight loss and a whole new passion. For 20 years she could be found on the front row, getting stronger, having a blast, and making lifelong friends in the process. The steady presence of group exercise over those years saw Lisa through many transitions; divorce, career changes, relocation, remarriage, and the birth of two more children—one with Down syndrome, and one with a very big personality. At the age of 40, she faced the challenge of raising teenagers and toddlers simultaneously (not such different issues, actually), and the gym proved to be her solace as well as a tool for her survival. With hard work, she lost the 50 extra pounds she’d gained after her 4th baby, and her fitness journey took another turn in the road. In Austin, Texas, she fell in love with Les Mills classes, and BODYCOMBAT in particular. In 2006, she embarked on yet another cross-country move, this time, to Columbia, Missouri. Before leaving Austin, Lisa went online to look for a new gym, a prospect as important as finding the perfect house or the best school. She joined Gold’s before the moving van was packed because it offered Les Mills classes, though, at the time, there was no BODYCOMBAT to be had. Her instructor friends in Texas told her she would just have to become an instructor and bring the program to Columbia herself. The thought completely paralyzed her, though in her heart of hearts, she knew her uncertainty was rooted in the past, and teaching would be a dream-come-true if she could just overcome her fear. The opportunity presented itself within the first month she was in town, when a BODYSTEP instructor announced that one more trainee was needed for an upcoming training or it would be cancelled. Lisa felt a cosmic slap on the rump and stepped forward after class to sign up, setting her on the path to where she is today. Now she holds certifications in Les Mills BodyStep, BodyPump, BodyCombat, BodyFlow, and BodyVive, YogaFIT Levels 1 and 2, KettleWorX, BOSU and Practical Pilates. She is also certified by the American Council on Exercise in personal training, and has led boot camp and group training. She joined the team at Wilson’s in 2007 and helped expand the group fitness program one format at a time, each addition an exciting new adventure. She currently teaches BodyPump, BodyCombat and BodyFlow, and works as the Assistant Group Fitness Director. Lisa loves her work and even more, she loves the people she works with. “My relationships are the most important part of my life. I had to grow beyond my own insecurities to recognize what I have to offer, and in return, accept the incredible gifts coming back to me.”
In the past 10 years, CoMo has become home. Compared to her transient background, this is definitely the longest she’s ever lived in one place. Lisa and her husband of 22 years, Steven, are well and truly settled and have no plans of moving, giving their two younger children, Sydney, 17, and Haley, 13, the childhood she never had. Their oldest daughter, Melissa, 31, moved to Columbia from Austin 5 years ago, close by her parents. Last August she was diagnosed with breast cancer and just completed five months of chemotherapy. She will undergo a bilateral mastectomy in February and Lisa will be by her side as she has been, every step of the way. Lisa and Steven’s son, Jeremy, 30, lives with his wife, Carly and their two boys in Arizona, but come June will move to Wichita, Kansas for physician’s assistant school. Having her big kids closer and her grand babies only a 4+ hour drive away will make Lisa one happy Grammy.
In 1992, before fitness became her career, Lisa graduated from Arizona State University and worked as a music therapist in the adult psychiatric population. Now, she is pursuing a third career; writing creative non-fiction. Lisa has been featured in the Columbia Tribune and the Huffington Post and is currently working on a book. She brings all of it to her teaching; her love of music, her passion for working with people, her observation of the human experience, and fuels it with her fitness knowledge to create an approach that is full-bodied and rooted in connection. People in her classes know she cares about them. And she feels the reciprocation keenly. “I’m honored by the amazing individuals who trust me to lead them, and I’m humbled by the talents and gifts they bring to the classroom. Each person in the room lends their energy to the collective, creating a synergistic experience that is unique to every single class. No two are alike.” For Lisa, what happens in class is about far more than physical fitness; she knows lives are changed on a daily basis. She’s seen people take the energy from a 60-minute workout and find the strength to face and overcome their challenges. She knows because, after all, that’s what happened to her. “Every relationship, every conversation, every interaction stemming from a connection at the gym is important to me.” She says making a difference in people’s lives is the most rewarding work she could possibly do, no matter what form it takes. “If people walk away from my class feeling empowered and ready to take on life, if they leave me feeling good about themselves, there is no greater success.”