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By Gwen Hansen CPT/CSNS
A few weeks from now I will be competing in Eastern USA Championship. When I am there on the stage, I will seem to stand alone. I will not be alone though because I am only the representation of the work, sacrifice, loyalty, love (& even hate) a team of people have put in to creating the art of my physique. As hard as I work, my coaches Irina & Robert match me & support me 24/7, day after day, year after year. My husband Paul lives this lifestyle with me since the beginning…never failing with encouragement.
At 55 years old, to still be making improvements to my physique is an amazing thing that I am most grateful for. People question what I do & on difficult days I sometimes question myself. Fortunately, I have a circle of friends that believe in me & guide me in my growth physically, spiritually & mentally. 
Certainly being a coach is not something for the faint of heart. More times than not it requires an incredible amount of patience because significant improvement will take real time. MINDSET is EVERYTHING. The right mindset is an ongoing process that must be discovered daily. Robert & Irina have invested a great deal of time directing me on the path of self-discovery. At some point in your own journey you may come to realize that it is self-discovery, and the desire for growth that may be  the most valuable gifts that you can be given through your process. These things will affect every aspect of your life. I recently heard someone say “look at a tree, it is either growing or it is dying”. That is nature. It is a good analogy; without a desire for growth we decline. And to truly know & conquer oneself is the greatest challenge in our lives.
So surround yourself with people that make you better. Most athletes out there know there are times when you have to convince yourself that something is possible when almost everyone in the universe thinks it is not. Having support is priceless. As for the negative people you come across, who may even be in a part of your life where you cannot avoid them…there is a good technique. Use them as a warning sign. Recognize their behavior as a reminder of something you never want to become. 
If you are reading this you are probably a part of my development. Thank you. At the gym, especially at Apollon & at NYSC in SI, I am constantly motivated by the AMAZING accomplishments all around me. There are powerlifters working lifts that seem super-human, pushing themselves to points beyond failure. Trainers so involved with their clients that their own energy is certainly helping to move the weights. Bodybuilders generously post/share their own knowledge & training techniques on line. Friends that run the gyms & supplement businesses with encouraging words. All of these things surrounding us become part of us…personally I am greatly appreciative.
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