Updated: Dec 11, 2018
HSS tribe, meet Hope! Hope is a former gymnast of 18 years turned Physician Assistant who also loves helping women, particularly former athletes, achieve health and fitness goals, find their new tribe, become part of a community of supportive and encouraging women and achieve what they thought may have been impossible.
She is pretty amazing and is truly making an impact in the lives of her patients and former athletes! >>> insert ALL THE GOALS here <<< I had the opportunity to talk with Hope over the phone however, we initially connected via the Her Sports Story Instagram. We chatted on Her Sports Story and all things related to the journey: the ups and downs, the challenges, the valued memories and her eventual transition out of sports. We agreed and could relate on many levels… on “being defined by achievements”, how difficult it is to just “workout” to stay healthy after you have been a competitive athlete, and how the journey is not what you expect but everything you need to propel you to the next level of your life.
So here is Her Sports Story!
Hope started gymnastics with her three siblings at “Mommy and Me” classes at the ripe ol’ age of three. Gymnastics veins ran strong in her family as her brother and her both became collegiate gymnasts! #powerfam As most gymnasts’ pathways go, she was a club gymnast for 15 years! Yes, 15 years by 18 years old. Tis’ the gymnastics lifestyle. It is one of those sports that has you training an average of 20-30 hours per week for years to attain the level of skills that, most of the time, are borderline elite. So props to Hope for enduring and excelling in the club-gymnast-life-journey because we all can relate to that dedication. That level of commitment alone is an accomplishment!
After roughly 13-14 years of club, the time came to choose where she would embark on the next chapter of her gymnastics: collegiate athletics. Hope decided to attend West Virginia University! #letsgomountaineers During her collegiate era she grinded it out as most Division I athletes do --- giving it her all in school and at practice, she made some of her very best friends, and experienced a little drama here and there. (Loved the transparency there: that “drama” though serves as a growing experience and allows us as young women to identify our values!)
“I am so thankful and appreciative of my gymnastics journey”
In addition to experiencing ALL OF THE THINGS in her athletics journey, she discovered herself, her values, and her faith. Growing up, she was always reaching for the next accolade: all A’s in school, that new skill, a perfect routine, and had realized that she defined herself by these types of achievements. These goals and accolades were “expected” however, she grew to find out it was not a sustainable identity. Placing her faith in Jesus allowed her to realign her identity and come to the realization that we are all a part of something much greater than our achievements. We are all a part of something more. As Hope approached the end of her undergraduate academics, she began the process of searching for her next “career”. Hope attained her Bachelors of Science degree in Exercise Physiology yet was unsure of the path ahead --- she sought advice post-graduation and found sound advice from her academic advisor who suggested taking a year off and pointed her in the direction of a medical scribe company that staffed the University hospital. Hope knew she had always succeeded on a team, knew how much she thrived when helping others, and naturally thought that an aspect of the medical profession would best align with these characteristics. Since time was limited during her collegiate athletics journey, she spent a year being a medical scribe in a “gap year” before starting any additional schooling. (Which is so SMART! If you have the opportunity in your life to take a period of time to explore, research, and then reflect on what you really want --- it is GOLD!)
“Taking a gap year was one of the best decisions I could have made”
Hope continued to explore professions and shadowed Physical Therapists, Physician Assistants, Nurse Practitioners and Doctors. She originally thought she would pursue medical school and eventually become a doctor, however from those she shadowed she became aware of how unhappy many physicians were in their jobs. She even had some physicians tell her that if they had to do it all over again, they would not pursue the med-school route. Through this year of working and shadowing, Hope decided that the Physician Assistant profession best complemented her goals --- she would be able to help people locally and abroad, she would be in the medical field, and she wouldn’t have to endure the eight years of med-school and its investment.
So she applied to PA schools and was accepted into two Physician Assistant programs however, she ultimately decided on South University in Savannah, Georgia. PA school was CHAL-LEN-GING however, she made it through and attested her ability to manage everything because of her athlete experience. Yet, struggles surfaced on the physical and “working out” front.
Workout: (n). a perplexing concept to a former competitive athlete (How does one “workout” ??? With no team and no definite team goal?)
Formerly balancing twenty hours a week of practice and a full academic load, she could definitely handle the grind but she found that this time she didn’t HAVE to workout. She admitted that she went through a rebellious stage after exiting gymnastics (me too girl, me too!) and dropped off physically. She partook in some Ultimate Frisbee however, could not seem to find the consistent fitness routine that fulfilled her.
“It was now my choice to workout, and I had no one, no team to do it with.” –
So she did what most of us do when we need to “get back in shape” and she got a GYM MEMBERSHIP. We both could relate that a gym membership was not necessary… seeing as gymnasts did most all workouts with just their own body weight and we only had 15+ years of “working out” experience: we knew we were fully capable of making our own workouts! So needless to say, on the road to post-athlete workouts was not as easy as one would assume. It was a little aimless… A little here and little there and not any one fitness thing stuck. (Anyone else felt this way?... I’ll just raise my hand over here!)
One day scrolling on the book (aka Facebook) she noticed a former teammate sharing her journey on getting back into fitness. Her former teammate posted workouts and shared challenges, so Hope decided to give them a go! Not only did her former teammate provide workouts, she provided a platform for her Facebook friends and followers to be accountable and post after they had completed the workouts. Hope noticed that this almost had that team feeling again and seemed to provide a sense of community.
She began to re-experience the aspects of being a part of a TEAM and reaching for a common goal --- that being to “be your best, healthy YOU”! So she joined her former teammate in becoming a Beachbody coach. Signing up to be a coach not only served as a way to help young women reach their goals, but also allowed her to connect with former teammates, and was able reconnect as best friends!
These former teammates that were stuck in their post-athlete fitness journey, not knowing what to do, found a guide in Hope (fitting right?!). And it’s because of Hope’s own journey that she can completely understand what these former athletes are going through when transitioning out of sports! Because of community, accountability, and the chance to serve others, Hope is now closer to her own fitness goals than she was a year out of competing.
She now serves as a connection to a community that’s aimed to achieve health goals, discover purpose, gain confidence and become their best both physically and mentally. YASSS! So for those former athletes that feel lost in their fitness practices, YOU ARE NOT ALONE!
It is now a matter of where your drive is found...
Is it found with a community or with a team?
Do you want to feel in alignment with your purpose?
How can you become the best version of you both physically and mentally?
Find a mentor, find a guide, and who knows maybe find Hope! So I hope that Hope’s story resonated in some way. And if you believe it could resonate with someone you know, share it! There is power in story and something special about finding your own stories in others.
Cheers HSS tribe!
Connect with Hope on Instagram: @hsloanhoffer