Profile of a Mentor: Toi Dobson-Arnold

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: Toi ArnoldToi Arnold - Active RVA Warrior Mentor

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

I believe true leaders emerge versus from appointment. I never started out to be a leader in our community, it just happened as others saw what I was doing and accomplishing and wanted to be a part of that movement. Fresh out of college, I began my career in Human Resources Management and after 10 years, 2 pinks slips, and a desire in my heart to “really” impact a life, I stepped out on faith (and the thumbs up of a supportive husband) and began my first business, Your Career Confidence, LLC, a career services firm designed to provide those a Plan B in their career management endeavors. My journey in fitness was initially a very selfish one. I would diet and exercise simply based on circumstances or events like upcoming weddings, reunions, etc. After many years of growing tired with the conversations between girlfriends on how the weight was coming on easier than coming off, I decided to stop “talking about it” and finally, “be about it.” In 2011, I began my fitness journey and in 60 days, I was 35 pounds lighter and ready to conquer the world. Just like my corporate career, others wanted to follow me and do what I did. It was only after many requests and prayers, that I became certified to teach INSANITY, the Beachbody fitness program and the rest, as they say, is history. Fitness is now a labor of love and a lifestyle that I am so ever grateful to share with others in their journey to become their “BEST SELVES.”

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

I understand that not everyone has the opportunity to go running in their neighborhoods or access to fresh fruits and vegetables, so it will only be through a “community” initiative that obesity is minimized and healthier livelihoods become the new popular norm. We need more Warriors for physical activity because we are only as strong as our weakest link and I believe it is all of our responsibility to help one another to achieve healthy, productive lifestyles, one core movement at a time.

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

I reached out immediately when I found out about the role of Mentor with the Active RVA Warriors. As a group ex instructor, I didn’t want lack of money and economics to be a deterrent to getting fit so I wanted to be a conduit for others towards the joy, rewards, and countless benefits that I’ve received as a fitness professional. I am also encouraged to work harder and be better based on those in the program because I want to be a solid mentor for them to not quit and not give up even when things get tough….and they will get tough. I know this for myself.

How else are you involved in the community?

I currently serve of the Board of Directors for Richmond’s Dress for Success chapter where we empower women by providing career resources and professional outfittings for job interviews and career fair events. I believe everyone really only needs a hand-up versus a hand-out to realize and reach their full potential in all areas of their life.

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

Richmond is the 2nd most obese city in the country according to Gallup survey taken back in 2012. This really saddens me because being born and raised here; I love my city and its residents. It was this stark reality that finally cemented my desire to extend my fitness goals past those of my own and become a certified group ex instructor in the summer of 2013.
I think collectively, we can do ANYTHING we put our minds to. I think we’ve got to work on encouraging children and young adults to become more active now versus later building and strengthening healthy lifestyle and eating habits. I think we’ve got address myths about weight loss and weight management. I think we’ve got to help others find and hold on to their “why” in maintaining an active lifestyle. Once your “WHY” becomes bigger than your excuses, that’s where the magic happens in health and in life.