When I think of what fitness looks like for the rest of us, I think of Angela Thompson.

The very essence of what Elizabeth Gilbert described in her book The Signature of All Things when she wrote:

“The women whom I most admire in the world are those who have lived long and survived much. They have been through love, amazement, loss, catastrophe, sorrow. Most of all, though, they have been through DISAPPOINTMENT — and they have each individually found a way to live through it. Not only have they lived through disappointment; they came out on the other side much stronger as a result, having earned perspective, endurance, and wisdom through their trials.”

Most will recognize this other passage from the same text:

The women whom I love and admire for their strength and grace did not get that way because shit worked out. They got that way because shit went wrong, and they handled it. They handled it in a thousand different ways on a thousand different days, but they handled it.

Both excerpts equally describe my friend Angela. A married mother of three who in her spare time kicked thyroid cancer’s ass and converted her garage into a gym. Not just a few pieces of equipment for home recreation, mind you. But a space where a growing number of men and women flock multiple times each week to train with her – the founder of GoFitWithMe.

In 2007, shortly after giving birth to her third son, Angela began experiencing postpartum depression. An advocate for her own health even then, she didn’t brush it aside or try to handle it on her own. Proactively, she approached her doctor, who told her she could either try exercise or medicine.

Declining the meds, she took the exercise advice to heart, confronting her lifelong and somewhat ambivalent approach to fitness.

“I had never really done it before,” Angela said. “I was always bony skinny, or what some might call ‘skinny fat.”

Shortly after joining a local gym and committing to a regular exercise regimen, Angela said the depression resolved. She quickly fell in love with kickboxing, became certified to teach it, and the rest is history.

With several years under her belt as a group fitness instructor, Angela began personal training. And all was going smoothly until a routine physical around her 35th birthday spelled trouble.

Totally asymptomatic and in the prime of her life, Angela learned she had thyroid cancer.

The early diagnosis spared her from radiation. And while the cancer had spread to her lymph nodes, she is on a care regimen that allows her to return the personal training she so deeply loves.

When she’s not advocating to friends and loved ones to “Check your neck”, Angela is hustling on behalf of GoFitWithMe, the business she launched in 2016 with her husband Nathan.

The boot camp style program is anchored by her exercise videos, covering everything from Around the World Planks to Russian Twists.

I’ve completed many of them on the nights when I haven’t made time for the gym, and the only equipment I’ve ever needed was a pair of paper plates (fitness in the kitchen pantry!).

“Some people don’t want to work out in a gym setting or be around a lot of people,” she said. “That’s where online training comes in handy.”

Whether you follow GoFitWithMe for another group, do yourself the favor of researching options that appeal to you, choosing one, and going all in with it.

I’m partial to GoFitWithMe for two reasons:

1.) I know Angela personally and have experienced the holy butt kicking sweat sessions that take place in her garage and;

2.) Her only end game is to foster personal wellness, and I respect the hell out of that.

Not pushing product or angling for any kind of self-serving reason. Just a goodhearted human on a mission to be her best self, thyroid cancer be damned.

Get moving, y’all!