Here’s the Advice Philly Fitness Instructors Wish They Could Give Their Younger Selves

For this International Women's Day–themed Transformation story, we asked Philly women to share photos of their younger, dorkier selves.

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When your favorite women fitness instructors have glowed up, too. / Photograph 1 courtesy Shoshana Katz/photograph 2 by Stevie Chris

You know all those glow-up posts going around a while back? The ones that made you remember why you tend to avoid looking at pictures of yourself between the ages of 12 and 16? Well, WE’RE BRINGING THEM BACK. (Sorry not sorry.) In honor of International Women’s Day this Friday, we wanted to highlight some of the female faces in the fitness scene that you’re used to seeing around the city and the suburbs — and how they’ve transformed into the health and wellness stars they are today. Read on to feel worse about yourself (of course they were all adorable as young’uns!) but also to see how even these kickass women have glowed up.

Shoshana Katz, founder and owner of BPM Fitness in Fairmount

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Shoshana Katz at her bat mitzvah versus fall 2018. / Photograph 1 courtesy Shoshana Katz/photograph 2 by Stevie Chris

What she would tell her younger self: “It is OK to not know the right answer. Time really is the best teacher.”

Crystal Widmann, founder and owner of Y2B Fit in Mount Airy

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Widmann as a senior in high school and as an adult. / Photograph 1 courtesy Crystal Widmann/photograph 2 by Mabel Luu

What she would tell her younger self: “Be patient, keep working hard, and just be yourself. Life is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Kate DeGennaro, instructor at Flywheel Sports in Bryn Mawr and Center City and at SLT in Rittenhouse Square

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DeGennaro as a freshman at College of the Holy Cross and in 2011 at a shoot for Addison Bay (she’s an ambassador for the local athleisure line) this month. / Photograph 1 courtesy Kate DeGennaro/photograph 2 by Carly Landolt Photography

What she would tell her younger self: “To take advantage of every opportunity that comes your way, until that advantage gets in your way!  Don’t think your next job is THE JOB or your relationship is THE RELATIONSHIP. Life and opportunities will continue to unfold like waves on the beach, so ride them all the way to shore, or bail and set yourself up for the next one.”

Larkin Silverman, co-founder of Lumos Yoga & Barre in Fairmount

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Silverman as a teenager and as an adult. / Photograph 1 courtesy Larkin Silverman/photograph 2 by Backyard Boutique Photography

What she would tell her younger self: “You are worthy and beautiful on your own terms, exactly as you are. Do not be afraid to lay claim to your truth, and take up space asserting it. Also, a moment spent snuggling an animal is never wasted.”

Jen Cohen Crompton, co-owner of and instructor at Fuel Cycle Fitness in Ardmore

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Crompton as a 12-year-old playing club soccer and as an adult. / Photograph 1 courtesy Jen Cohen Crompton/photograph 2 by KMS Fotografie

What she would tell her younger self: “I would use the Henry David Thoreau quote, ‘Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you’d imagined. As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler.’ I want to tell my younger self that no matter what, things will always work out, and my success will ultimately depend upon my unwavering passion and confidence to believe in myself and pursue my dreams.

Mary Henderson, instructor at WOWFit in Schwenksville

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Henderson as a five-year-old versus an adult. / Photographs courtesy Mary Henderson

What she would tell her younger self: “1. To not sweat the small stuff. 2. That she is good enough and to appreciate every season of life!  3. There will be ups and downs, and all of those will make you into a grateful human being. 4. Know your inner circle, be honest, and love them hard. Those will be the people who are with you through the good and bad. 5. Never let anyone tell you your worth.”

Ali Cook Jackson, owner and founder of Never Give Up Training in Manayunk

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Jackson as a teenager versus now. / Photographs courtesy Ali Cook Jackson

What she would tell her younger self: “Be strong, be yourself, and remember to always dream big and work hard. Through all the ups and downs, never give up — it will be worth it.”

Jenna Stern, spin instructor at City Fitness and community coordinator at Athleta

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Stern at junior prom versus now. / Photographs courtesy Jenna Stern

What she would tell her younger self: “I would tell her to be a lot kinder to herself. Being kind to your body goes a heck of a lot farther than being mean to it, and I wish I would have known that when I was younger.”

Morgan Dowd, personal trainer and manager at Never Give Up Training

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Dowd as a teenager and now. / Photographs courtesy Morgan Dowd

What she would tell her younger self: “Own your body and remember you have more to offer the world than being the smallest in the room.”

Jamie Promislo, owner of Revel Ride

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Promislo during her junior year of college and now. / Photographs courtesy Jamie Promislo

What she would tell her younger self: “Don’t get too upset when you get a D in Physics your senior year of college because you were playing Super Mario Bros. instead of studying. You’re not going to need it anyway.”

Rachel Sandler, Solidcore coach in Rittenhouse and Center City

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Sandler when she was 17 versus now. / Photographs courtesy Rachel Sandler

What she would tell her younger self: “Everyone is figuring themselves out, too, and the only things you can control are your attitude and your effort. Everything else probably won’t matter in five years, and prioritizing your overall being is worth the effort every time.”

Juliet Burgh, vice president of and nutrition director at Unite Fitness

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Burgh at 20 years old versus 30. / Photographs courtesy Juliet Burgh

What she would tell her younger self: “You’re going to go through a lot of hardships that will ultimately challenge your spirit and what you’re capable of. But you’re a strong-willed woman inside with perseverance and the ability to fight for who you are and what you stand for. The negativity from those around you trying to bring you down is their own projections of their own failed experiences, and you have every right to dream big and achieve those dreams. Your self-worth is not in how you look from the outside, but it is what you hold on the inside. The flame that you let others dim within you will ultimately light again and burn much stronger.”

Are you a female fitness instructor in the Philly area? Email with younger and current pictures (as well as what you would tell little you!) to be included.

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