Being an athlete, she had no idea what a weight issue was until she graduated, became inactive, and packed on weight on her 5-foot-10-inch frame. She went to the gym in 1996 and weighed in at 192 pounds – 30 pounds over her ideal weight.
“At that point,” she said, “I declared I would be 200-nothing. Period.”
She was at a low point. Her son, Dontre, was about to turn 3, her marriage was falling apart, and she had no money. Ward, who grew up in a strong Christian home, knew where to look.
“I was drifting, lost, going nowhere,” she said. “After a really trying season in my life, I turned my faith back to God and sought his plan for my life. Fitness was only one of the many positive turns that came next.”
She signed up and unsuccessfully attempted an aerobics class, losing only 4 pounds after four months of stationary equipment workouts.
After consulting with other women, Ward concluded that her diet and exercise routine would change. She went back to aerobics, stayed until she got the hang of it, and dropped more than 30 pounds in six weeks. She realized that her metabolism had been working but her diet was canceling it out.
By 1998, Ward had gone back to college, finished her master’s in education, and got a job as a guidance counselor in Orangeburg, S.C. She taught fitness classes at her school, where some teachers were fans of “Survivor.” They submitted her tapes to CBS, and in 2002 she was chosen to compete on “Survivor: Amazon.” People began asking her to be their personal trainer.
Ward, who lives in Lithonia, launched Hallelujah Productions dba JoAnna Ward Fitness in 2003. She teaches at Berean Christian Church’s Kerwin B. Lee Family Life Center. She combines strength training, cardio and nutrition counseling for more than 300 clients.
Ward will be among eight fitness instructors and personal trainers competing in the 2013 Fitness FaceOff at the Mall at Stonecrest on Jan. 26 during CrossRoadsNews’ annual Health & Wellness Expo. It starts at 1 p.m. on the Main Stage in front of Sears on the lower level.
She says faith and fitness are a great fit. “It sets the enduring foundation that is needed to go from fat to fit to fabulous and stay there.”
For more information, call 770-873-2497or visit joannawardfitness.com.