Who says a dog can’t learn new tricks?

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Many people say that the 30’s are the best years of your life. You are old enough to know who you are, and adult enough to be able to act on it. While I have always been active, there are things that I was never able to do. Since I turned 30, I have embarked on a journey, to do things that I had never given myself the credit to be able to do.

Unlike most children, I never really got the hang of training wheels on a bike, so I never really learned. It was never really an issue of balance, as I was quick to learn ice skating and rollerblading. Once I got to college at UC Santa Barbara, a campus with a complex bicycle highway, people told me I would never make it through without learning. I tried once and hit a fence and a parked car. As I started teaching group exercise classes, I also became certified in 24 Cycle, Reaction cycle, and took many other cycling classes. I never felt I should teach it as I didn’t properly know how to ride and was worried about what the real cyclists in my classes would think. Once I got asked to sub for a month, I was hooked. After teaching for a while, I decided it was time to learn how to ride for real. My dad bought me a 24” girl’s bike at Wal-Mart. I ride it low so I can have access to the ground in case I feel like I’m going to fall. I pushed myself along to my mom’s a few times, a block down the street. I was finally able to go that little way. I had heard about the San Jose Bike Party and really wanted to take part in it. This would be a huge test.

They publish the course the day of the ride. I went with two of my girlfriends who had done this ride before. As much as I tried to express that I would be far behind, they did their best to try to wait for me and encourage me. But this was a battle within me. By the time we rode to the start, the SJBP route and then back, it was approximately 30 miles. I have never ridden a mile in my entire life. I kept thinking of what I would do if I got lost from the group, or couldn’t do it, or got hurt. But I pushed this to the back of my mind. All my life I had never been able to ride a bike and here I was determined to go these 30 miles. I fell to the back, as knew I would need lots of room and space to fall and make mistakes. I managed to complete the ride. I was very sore, very bruised, but the sense of accomplishment I felt was amazing. After that ride, I did my research and got a new bike seat, lights and accessories

Another adventure I embarked on was learning how to snowboard. I had skied in high school, but it was a relatively few times. I took a snowboarding lesson the first time, and didn’t manage to get back to Lake Tahoe until a year later, where I rented and fell – a LOT. Then I decided to get my own gear. I did a lot of research on how to snowboard, what to get, etc. When I decide to do something, I go full out. I went 5 or 6 times that year. This year I went, and am still working on the basics, but I learned how to carve and go toe-side and that was a huge accomplishment for me as that was my biggest challenge.

My next trial is running. I do not run. I joke that I only do “paid cardio”, as in when I teach cardio classes. I, by nature, am a lifter and am more comfortable in strength training. Many of my friends have run marathons and half-marathons and I want to be a part of that. I may not be able to do that. But most of those events have 5k & 10k options. When I rowed crew in college and we had to run, I was always one of the last. But just like before, this is not going to stop me. I have set my mind to it and it will be done.

In the last year I have also kept my mind open and I have gone whitewater rafting and ridden a horse. With all the technology that is now available to us, all the help that is out there, the gadgets, the online how-to’s, audio training and apps on iTunes, there is no reason to be afraid to embark on an adventure of your own. I am not an athlete. I was never ‘the best’ at anything. I believe that I can accomplish what I set my mind to. My method of training is to start with what people have to bring. You can’t train everyone the same and not all people can be ‘beaten’ into shape. I want all people to be able to feel the way I have felt as I work on these new things. You can start at any age, and any level. There are SO many options out there, and resources that will help, guide and encourage you every step of the way. I want to encourage everyone to get out of their heads and into something new and exciting.

“If you can run a mile, you can run a marathon” – See Jane Run www.seejanerun.com

“When I first started running, I was so embarrassed, I’d walk when cars passed me. I’d pretend I was looking at the flowers.” Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic Marathon Winner

Sites to get you started / Recommended links



I have been a Certified Group Exercise instructor and Personal trainer since 2001. (ACE, AFAA) I have a Dual-track minor from UCSB in Group Ex & Personal Training as well as graduated from SJSU Kinesiology:Exercise Physiology,MA with my project and studies on exercise and pregnancy.


My main concern over the years working with clients is extreme diets, unhealthy perceptions of what is ‘healthy’, finding something that works for you, and being able to maintain it.

Nicole M Thompson MA, certified personal trainer and group exercise instructor has been in the fitness industry for over 10 years. She has used her own body for experimental practice by competing in NPC Figure and Bikini competitions. While able to push herself to her limits, Nicole believes in finding out what works for each person to give them the best shot at sticking to a healthier, better lifestyle. Contact Nicole at ytweety79@gmail.com.

Nicole M. Thompson, MA
UCSB, Sociology, minor Group Ex & Personal Training
SJSU, Kinesiology: Exercise Physiology, minor Sports Nutrition,
specializing in Exercise & Pregnancy
NPC Figure & Bikini America competitor

2 thoughts on “Who says a dog can’t learn new tricks?”

  1. LOVE this article! I was just thinking about how much crow I’m going to have to eat when finally getting on top of the activities I missed out on in my twenties due to weight. This inspires me!
    As a skier, I’ve also always wanted to learn to snowboard and have been hesitant to try again since I swear I almost broke my tailbone the first time. Now I’m going to go for it! Yeah!!!

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