Dana Nichols

By Jalynn McColey
Photos by Dustin Nevill

“I’m 31 years old. My husband and I have been married eight years and have two little boys; Seth (7) and Dean (3). I’ve been working as an attorney downtown at Vratsinas Construction Company for six years and have been a member at the Downtown Athletic Club for about five and half years.

I was always involved in sports throughout high school and college, but wasn’t really active during law school or the years following. As I settled into my career at VCC, I learned about their wellness program that offers a gym membership and I knew I couldn’t pass up this opportunity to get back into an active lifestyle. At first I was a little intimidated by it all and would just run or walk on the treadmill. Shortly after, a coworker and I decided we wanted to train for a half-marathon. At this point it was the fall of 2011 and neither of us could run a single mile without stopping. Yet with a goal in sight, we signed up for the Little Rock Half-marathon in March 2012. We trained on the treadmills at Downtown Athletic Club, and on the nice days we would run outside across the bridges and around downtown. In March 2012, we both successfully ran 13.1 miles!

After the half marathon, I decided to attend Amy’s CardioSculpt class three days a week. This class is a really good workout and is full of a bunch of great people. The camaraderie is a huge draw to the class; everyone is friendly and supportive. On Tuesdays and Thursdays, a group of us from class would run together, keeping me active on the days that CardioSculpt was not offered.

After watching the CrossFit (DACfit) workouts for a while, I became intrigued. I finally decided to give it a try about a year and a half ago. I was nervous to go to my first class, but immediately loved it and haven’t looked back. I’ve enjoyed learning all the Olympic lifts and watching myself grow stronger. It’s awesome to set goals and reach new personal records and I enjoy that feeling of achievement. Our instructor, Steven, cares about each of us and helps us achieve our goals. I’ve learned to do kipping pull ups, improved my form during lifting, and learned all the “whys” behind the stretches and techniques.

The best advice I can give anyone looking to get serious about a lifestyle of fitness is to find a partner and get into a routine. Once you get used to going at the same time every day, it really does become a habit. Going with an encouraging friend helps eliminate excuses for skipping out. And lastly, finding a gym where you feel comfortable and have support is key to success. DAC has improved both my physical and mental health and I’m so grateful they’ve given me a place to “Play On!”