Staff profile: Anne Mellor

Just before she turned 40, Anne Mellor’s body started going through a lot of changes—“getting soft and mushy” as she puts it—and when she researched what to do about it, she learned that strength training was the answer.

Nearly 20 years later, she’s got a career in fitness that she loves as the Group Fitness Specialist, a personal trainer and a Wellness Coach at the Wellness Center.  Like so many current staff, she too started her work at the Wellness Center shortly before it was fully open for business some 10 years ago.  She began by doing orientations for incoming members.  Once classes got going, she was also teach  in the group fitness studio as well as the pools, all while also working as a library assistant at the Fitzwilliam Town Library and working at three other gyms.   She was teaching fitness classes in Winchendon, on the Franklin Pierce campus and at the former Cleveland Health and Fitness Center in Peterborough.

“A couple of  years before coming to the Wellness Center, people started asking me if I could personal train them and I realized I needed more education and another certification for that.  I took an eight-week course and immersed myself in it and I haven’t quit studying and learning yet,” she said.  

She loved working with the variety of people, each with their different bodies, personalities and goals, and she still does. “I get asked if I get tired of it and I say ‘Absolutely not.’ People are different on every single day, their needs change and I’ve not been bored once,” she said.

In addition to managing the entire group exercise program, Anne also teachs Essential Pilates, Intermediate Pilates and Ease into Yoga.  She has clients who use her for personal training, and she spends a lot of time focusing on Wellness Coaching, a relatively new offering for members here. “I was getting discouraged, realizing I’m working with people in the gym who have these goals and in the gym everything’s going great, but they go out and they come back in a week and what we’re doing in the gym is not enough to meet their goals,” she said.

About four years ago, Carrie Levesque began talking to the staff about Wellness Coaching and it just seemed right to Anne. “I can teach people, educate them and show them what works, but there is still the part about getting yourself to do what is necessary when you are on your own,” she said.  “It’s not just exercise in the gym, it’s lifestyle changes that make the difference.”

She went through the training and certification process for Wellness Coaching and found her passion.  “I love it even more than personal training,” she said, “because I can see people gather their own way to do things.  The clients come up with the answers, not me. They know what works for them and I just help them figure it out.”

Wellness Coaching, Anne said, is about discovering each individual’s unique motivation, revealing barriers that can prevent forward movement, testing old assumptions and then co-creating a plan of action that almost makes it inevitable for clients to reach their goals.

Though Wellness Coaching is not therapy, it has a basis in cognitive behavioral therapy and in positive psychology.   Anne explains, “We differ from therapists in that we don’t deal with ‘What in your past caused you to be this way – what is your pain’, but we ask ‘Where are you now and what will it take to get you to a different place?’’’ 

Now engaged in advanced professional coach training, Anne is excited about coaching even more effectively than before. “We are great at maintaining the status quo and when we are struggling with making change, it’s often because we have one foot on the gas pedal and one on the brake,” she said.

After years of working at the Wellness Center, Anne says, “It still blows my mind when I watch people fall in love with exercise and go on to do incredible things.”

And she’s seen some incredible things. A competitive body builder who came here to train and then won several competitions;  a teenager who needed very specific help with his unique sport; older members who can do things younger members just can’t do.

“When people come to me with goals or needs and it’s something new to me, I get excited.” she said. “I get to do the research—what does this sport need, this ailment. And there are a lot of great brains I can pick here on staff.”

Anne’s had her own challenges recently. Diagnosed earlier this year with rheumatoid arthritis, she’s had to modify how much she actually does and how much she demonstrates in the classes and on the fitness floor.  It causes swelling—at random intervals—in her knees, feet, hands and shoulders and, she says, “It really does a number on the joints.”

“But, she says, “It has helped me work with people who have a chronic illness or chronic pain. I have a lot more empathy now.”

And if she could accomplish anything at the Wellness Center?

Anne says she’d love to live in a world where everyone who wanted one could have a Wellness Coach. She points out that in Michigan, Wellness Coaching is billable to insurance when it comes with a doctor’s order and is provided under the umbrella of a medical clinic or practice. 

In the meantime, she intends to teach (and coach!) at the Wellness Center when she is 97. 

“It’s a great place that allows employees to develop and grow, more than any place I’ve ever worked,” she said.

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