Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Annie Locke Knows How to Fight to Survive

Written by Marie Bradby
Photo by Melissa Donald

"You have to keep going," says fitness guru and co-owner of a Pure Barre studio, Annie Locke. She survived a tumultuous childhood with a severely alcoholic mother, and a car accident as a teen that required thousands of stitches in her head. "You make your life what it is."

Annie tells it like it is: how she started as an impoverished girl in Charleston, W.Va., moved to Louisville, and worked her way up to opening and running several fitness businesses over the past 27 years.

"We were extremely poor," says Annie, 49, whose father left, causing her mother to spiral down due to alcoholism. "I started working at 13 doing odd jobs." By age 14, she and her brother were living alone, struggling to get back and forth to high school and surviving on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches fried in butter in a pan. At 17, she flipped a Jeep and was severely injured.

Annie got a part-time job spinning the wheel as the "lottery girl," and because the pay was so low, moved to Louisville, hoping to be the Kentucky lottery girl. "I was eating peanuts out of the bird feeder of the neighbor's place and sleeping on the floor. I went to a bar and ate the chips and dip and put two dollars on the counter. I was determined not to go home."

Landing a job at an insurance company, she met her future husband, John Locke, the company owner. When she started to teach aerobics, "It made me feel like I had a purpose in life," says Annie, who in 1984 opened her fitness studio, Power Moves, now part of Baptist East Milestone Wellness center. Two years ago, she opened a Pure Barre studio at 4284 Summit Plaza Drive. "I can look back because it makes me better," says Annie, who, with John – a best-selling author and commercial property owner – has a daughter, 19, and a son, 14.

Annie's Survival Tips:
  1. Get support, and give support in return. You never know who might be able to help you at a critical time in your life.
  2. Take control of your destiny. Have a healthy respect for the unknown, but don't fear it. Fear will keep you from taking action. The way I grew up, I should not be alive...but I always bounced back.
  3. Stick together. My brother is my rock. He kept us alive for two years when we didn't see either of our parents.
  4. Be a leader. This doesn't mean tell others what to do. It means be the type of person others choose to follow.
  5. Find your strong. I like the saying, 'Your mind will quit 10 times before your body does.'

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