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Fitness instructor in Mishawaka says persistence is key to fitness

Sooka Elliott-Mackey, a certified personal trainer and fitness guru for almost 35 years, can pretty much predict who will hang on and who will give up.

We’re talking about people’s New Years Resolutions – a lot of them are about getting fit.

“A lot of new people will be gone by March,” said Sooka, whose classes at ICE Athletic Center in Mishawaka have names like Boot Camp, Body Pump and Spinning. “They are the ones who are starting to come less and less. Consistency is the key and realizing that this is going to be a challenge. “

Not much over 100 pounds and almost all muscle, Sooka might not seem like he could relate to them. Yet she once struggled to get back in shape – long before she became an American citizen… mother of two daughters… and now grandmother of two.

“I grew up in Seoul, South Korea, and came here with my family when I was 17,” she says. “I was planning on going to Columbia University in New York, but my family thought it would be better if I started at a small school. So I ended up here at Bethel College.

She had adorable roommates who also loved sweets. And Sooka discovered that she too. “They’re talking about the Freshman 15, aren’t they?” she said about her sudden weight gain which continued until her junior year.

It was the same year that she was elected to the reunion tribunal. “And that became my motivation to lose weight,” she says.

Sooka visited American Health & Fitness near Bethel and watched an aerobics class. It sounded interesting. She signed up and soon after she was good enough that her instructor asked her to replace her when she went on vacation.

And that’s how it started. Sooka eventually opened his own aerobics center, then added a second. After 12 years, she decided to sell her businesses and expand her expertise into weightlifting, spinning and other fitness disciplines.

You could say she turned into a real abs beater.

At ICE, she teaches eight classes a week – two at 5:15 a.m. – and is in the gym at 5 a.m. every morning. In addition, she serves as a personal trainer for more than 30 people. One of his clients is the Reverend John Jenkins, President of Notre Dame.

“I give it all the credit (for me being in good shape),” Sooka’s father Jenkins said after one of his early morning Boot Camp classes.

She’s a great motivator and in better shape than most people in her mid-age. “I consider those I coach to be my family,” she says. “When I go into one of my classes and people turn to me, it gives me energy. My goal, in turn, is to give them back their youth.

Her husband, Greg Mackey, is also a spinning instructor at ICE and has taught all kinds of racquet sports. They met, where else? – in a training course.

It would be hard to find a better fit couple than them. They feed off each other’s energy and efforts. “I think it’s important for people to have a workout buddy,” Sooka adds. “It makes it easier when someone you know is working as hard as you are. “

She keeps tabs on those New Year’s resolutions this time of year. “A lot of people will gain 5% of their body weight while on vacation,” she says. “I try to encourage them, but they have to realize that it can be a challenge to stick with it.”

Sooka took up the challenge to be able to tuck into her evening dress. And now she’s the queen of the gym.

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Bill Moor

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