Profile of a Mentor: Debbie Williams

Training to become a certified fitness instructor is a big undertaking. Training to be a certified instructor for our communities with the highest rates of chronic diseases is an even bigger task. But each year, a class of Active RVA Warriors does just that! With a little help.

Active RVA Warrior Mentors are a key ingredient to the success of this program to support and inspire greater fitness and activity in our most vulnerable communities. Mentors work one-on-one with Warriors to ensure they’re growing both as technical fitness professionals and as effective community leaders. And our Mentors know their stuff. They come with impressive resumes, respected reputations, and a track record of making a difference for the Richmond region’s health and wellness.

Profile: Debbie WilliamsDebbie Williams - Active RVA Warrior Mentor

How’d you get your start as a fitness leader in our community?

I got my start as fitness professional while in college, working part-time in sales and as a fitness instructor at an all women’s fitness studio. In addition to selling memberships, I taught group exercise classes and worked with women individually to help them achieve their personal weight loss goals. Witnessing the transformation that these woman made by changing their diets and committing to exercise fueled my passion and desire to pursue a career in this field. My ambition is to educate women, men and children on how small lifestyle changes can improve the quality of their lives. I became a Certified Life Coach with a focus on Health and Wellness for that very reason. As a certified life coach, my goal is to guide and assist individuals through a process that combines fitness and exercise strategies with better eating habits to improve their overall health and well-being.

What’s the connection for you between physical activity and public health? 

Many of the illnesses and chronic disease that members of our community face are preventable and often reversible. Evidence has proven that an important part of health and well-being is physical activity. Exercise and being physically active provides benefits to health at all stages of life. Regular activity makes the body healthier and stronger and reduces the risk of diseases and other illnesses. Having more “active warriors” in our communities where a gym is not accessable or is unaffordable would allow those individuals the opportunity to be motivated, inspired and educated on the importance of engaging in physical activity and exercise.

Why did you want to be a Mentor for the Active RVA Warriors? What interested you about the program?

I love Active RVA’s overall vision-“Improving the quality of life in Richmond through active living.” I wanted to become a Mentor  for the Active RVA Warriors, in particular because the Warriors will need support and encouragement to work within their perspective communities. By serving as a mentor, I can help ensure that our Warriors are trained professionals who are committed to the goals of getting more Richmonders active.

How else are you involved in the community?

I am actively involved with the fitness program at my church. In that role, I work with our youth and adults promoting exercise and healthy eating habits. We also partner with the East End District Health and Wellness Initiative which supports healthy lifestyles within the East End/Church Hill community.

Where do you see Richmond in 10 years? How are we going to improve the quality of life for every Richmonder through active living?

I am optimistic that in the next 10 years, Richmond will be a healthier city with an increase in citizens adapting a more active lifestyle. With programs like this and other initiatives in the city that promote healthy eating and physical activity, more individuals will be educated and inspired to make changes to improve their health. We’ve got to form partnerships with community leaders, city officials, and schools to promote policy changes that would be beneficial to the well-being for all citizens especially those who live in improvised areas of the city.