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Alison Cardoza is a certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor at Baptist Health Milestone Wellness Center.

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2021 Most Admired Woman — Athletes/Fitness

Certified personal trainer/group exercise instructor, Baptist Health Milestone Wellness Center
Family: Husband John and daughter Alexa
Neighborhood: Middletown

With a degree in exercise science and sports medicine and experience as both a University of Louisville Ladybird dancer and Indianapolis Colts cheerleader, Alison Cardoza is all about movement and wellness, but even she has exercises she doesn’t enjoy. Her focus on finding what works for each individual and being motivational and supportive are some of the reasons why she has had some of the same clients for over 15 years.

Some people only think of cardio when they think of exercise, but is there more to it?

Balance is so important because that tends to go when we hit a certain age. A dancer or an 80-year-old woman might be a little different on how they stretch, but I always tell them static stretching and 30-seconds of hold improves you mentally and physically.

Women often struggle with body image. How do you help female clients address this?

First and foremost, I work on improving their confidence and feeling beautiful from within. Many women feel stuck in this pre-contemplation or contemplation phase. They’re nervous and don’t know what to do next. I help advance them mentally and physically into that action phase not only through exercise, but through meditation, relaxation or flexibility.

What is your favorite and least favorite way to exercise?

My favorite is dancing. I’m not a big fan of any type of cardio. I can’t motivate myself to get on a treadmill or get on a bike. I turned a negative into a positive because dancing is cardio. I have to have music, and I love dancing with my clients.

What traits do you admire in others?

I value commitment and motivation. The hardest thing to do is show up at the gym. The commitment to showing up is first and foremost.

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What are some songs that pump you up and get you moving?

I’ve got thousands of songs on my playlist. Better When I’m Dancing
by Meghan Trainor — I love that song. Happy by Pharrell Williams. And I love Feel This Moment by Pitbull. They are upbeat and get you moving.

What skills do you find most necessary to be successful in your profession?

Number one is patience. Also being understanding of what clients have been through in the past. It could be what they’ve been through in the past is the reason they are overweight or they’ve struggled with eating healthy. I have to have compassion and put myself in their shoes. I have to have the strength mentally and physically. I put my whole heart into them, and I want to help them reach their goals.

Who are some of your female role models or mentors?

Number one is my mom. She’s always been a positive role model in my life and raised me to eat healthy and exercise. We had treats around the house, but “moderation is the key.” That’s what she’d say to me. [Also] my bosses at Milestone, [who] are all women. They are so strong, present every day, and they have positive attitudes. They never give up, and in return I never give up.

What is a special treat you like to eat periodically?

Yellow cake with chocolate icing. My daughter and I will whip one up more often than we should. Life is too short not to indulge. I tell my clients, ‘You can have that piece of cake, just don’t overdo it.’ Or I tell my clients, ‘You’re human. Please eat that brownie.’ If not, you’re going to overdo it, crave it, and eat treats all day long.

What are some simple, sneaky ways you tell women to work easy exercise into their days?

I have some very busy moms right now I’m working with. They can’t even make it into the gym so those are the ones I’m Zooming with. I tell them, after they brush their teeth, do 15 push-ups into the side of the counter. After they get out of the shower, do 15 leg lifts. They find this the most do-able. After they use the restroom, do 15 sits-and-stands before they wash their hands.

P.S. Purchase your tickets for the revamped Most Admired Woman event, being held at The Gillespie. Be a part of history as former Today’s Woman owners Cathy Zion and Anita Oldham pass the baton to new owner Tawana Bain. You won’t want to miss this night of sisterhood!

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