By Nancy GouldDecember 7, 2012
Hunter Army Airfield--
Eyes follow Jodie Kofod, a petite Army spouse, on a hot August day as she walks into Tominac Fitness Center after a three -mile run around Hunter Army Airfield at noon. But it's not just a muscular physique that makes the 46-year-old figure competitor/ professional lifestyle coach attractive. It's also her compassion for others, particularly, military spouses like herself, who face challenges that deployment and relocation can bring.
Re-locating to Hunter seven years ago was one of those challenges for Kofod, who moved here with husband Michael, a pilot with 3rd Battalion, 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment; her son, Logan, now eight years old; and her therapy dog, Dawson, who she describes as a gentle but 'slobbery' Saint Bernard.
"You have to decide what new thing you want to conquer, then set out to reinvent yourself. People you meet in a new city know nothing about you and their first impression is not always correct. I had a long road before I gained acceptance," she said. After moving to Savannah, Kofod's 'new' thing was to re-enter the world of body-building/figure/fitness competitions that she had done 15 years prior -- but gave up to support her husband and have a family.
Since then, she is still competing between deployments with more than 20 competitions since that time. Her wins include the National Physique Committee Masters National Championships, where she placed fourth in the nation, and the All Forces National Championship, where she placed first. She took fourth place in the Master National Championships over age 45, and fifth placing the over 35 category. She also placed eighth in the prestigious Arnold's International Classic Competition.
Besides the fitness competitions, Kofod works part time at the Islands YMCA as a lifestyle transformation coach and a fitness and personal trainer. She has run nearly 30 full 26 mile marathons and she also has an on-line fitness blog at the Savannah Morning News site, called 'Hot 'N Healthy' where she answers fitness and nutrition questions.
But it's not just her on-line blog where she's approached for advice, according to Kristy Adams, the Tominac Fitness Center director, it's also at the gym.
"Jodie's friendly and approachable," Adams said. "She points Soldiers and spouses in the right direction when they ask her for fitness advice.
Kofod sees a real difference in the fitness challenges of men and women.
"Men, especially Soldiers, are empowered to do their job daily," she said, adding that for that reason, they sometimes don't understand why women struggle with consistency in their fitness endeavors. "Women, both spouses and Soldiers, feel they should hold down the fort and take care of their household and children," she said. "Even female Soldiers endure a different set of dynamic and struggles. But all in all, it's difficult for all of us to take time out for ourselves."
Adams said Kofod's accessibility and personality make her a real asset, especially to women.
"She's definitely a role model to spouses," Adams said. "Because she's a military spouse herself with a young child at home, they can relate to her. They see her working hard at taking care of herself with the same challenges they have in balancing time between themselves and their families and work. If Jodie can do it, they see that they can do it too."
Jodie has a long history of working hard and reaching goals. As a University of Florida graduate, she has worked in the fitness industry since 1983 as a master trainer, a trade show presenter, a product tester and a sales agent with Home Shopping Network in the U.S. and in the station's Spain and Canada equivalent. She has showcased fitness products on CNN morning news and with various local news media stations.
But with all those accomplishments, Kofod is quick to explain that her greatest pleasure is spending time with her family. She's proud of her husband, Michael, and his military career, and she describes her son, Logan, an upcoming third-grader, as her 'pride and joy, 'who she enjoys spending one-on-one time with. She also enjoys the various roles she takes on with Logan's growth and education, including that of 'room mother.' She uses many of the skills with Logan that she uses with clients, including her philosophy-- do your part for the team's success.
"I also tell clients to keep it real," she said. They have to find what works for them in their daily fitness routine and take baby steps toward their goal. They should strive for balance with nutrition, exercise and their time; avoid becoming obsessive in their fitness activities--and remember to have fun!
"If someone is used to having fried chicken and mashed potatoes for Sunday dinner, they can continue that if they want, "Kofod said. "They should just manage their portions and eat well throughout the week." Be true to yourself, make sacrifices when it's time to show your stuff -- but otherwise -- enjoy a healthy life."
Kofod lives that philosophy. She takes time to splurge and eat pasta and drink a glass of wine after dinner occasionally-- and more importantly, to have fun with close friends and Family members. She says that good health is a journey and a lifestyle that takes effort to develop. "Take time to relax; don't get fixated on your weight -- it's how you feel about yourself!"
She said success also depends on making a game plan and working it.
"Prepare your meals in advance," she said. "It takes some time but it's worth it. Read labels too -- it's all about balance. "
She also encourages kindness to others and planning for the future.
"Make a bucket list," she said. "You can find fulfillment and satisfaction by trying something new or by just doing activities that you know you like. Make yourself uncomfortable once in a while and do not be afraid to laugh at yourself…. You have only one life to live -- enjoy it. Be realistic and keep perspective."
To get additional fitness advice, go to Jodie@jodieshouseofpain.com . Also, Service Members, their spouses, DoD civilians, contractors and retirees can use Tominac Fitness Center, free of charge. Call the gym at 912-315-5078 if you want information about various fitness classes held throughout the week or about a personal trainer.