About Our Cover Model

By Annette Pinder

Sarah was born in Pendleton, New York, attended Indiana University, and had a passion for fitness, nutrition, and dietetics. Her love for the Queen City brought her back to Buffalo. She met her husband, and soon after, the couple welcomed their first child, Sarah became a cycling instructor. Next, she worked at the JCC. After she completed several certifications, Sarah now oversees group fitness at the JCC Benderson Building in Getzville, and the Holland building on Delaware Avenue in Buffalo. She is also a personal trainer, and teaches group classes at the downtown location, where she is planning a 5K race this fall.

Sarah says, “People feel stronger and better about themselves when they exercise.” She also feels connected to and passionate about helping women, who frequently have unrealistic expectations regarding their beliefs about having the perfect body. She says, “I work with women who are so hard on themselves when it comes to body image. It is something that I have struggled with, too, but have overcome. What these women have taught me has been invaluable for my own fitness journey.”

Sarah confides, “After giving birth to my first son, I dropped a lot of weight, and was super-conscious of what I was eating. I was thinner than I had ever been. I was breast-feeding, running, wore a size 00, but had a normal BMI. Despite this, my hair was falling out and I couldn’t get pregnant. To my surprise, after gaining some weight, I felt healthier and was able to get pregnant again. I realized that my body was not meant to be that thin and I had let societal pressures get to me. Healthy looks different on each of us.”

Sarah has helped many people, especially women, who she says are more accustomed to being open about their feelings. “Open communication is important. I tell the women I work with that if they don’t meet their goals on a particular day, they can keep working at it. I ask them to not hold back when we are working together and to express themselves.”

One of Sarah’s clients, who was in her mid 30s, came to her in dire need of a change, for her mental and physical health. “It took her a year, but she quit smoking, changed her diet and lifestyle, and dropped 80 pounds. The experience has been transformative in terms of her confidence, personal life and, most importantly, her mental and physical health. It’s also been a bonding experience for us. We’ve become close friends and are still training together,” says Sarah.

An incident that played a significant role in Sarah’s life was when her father, a policeman, had a heart attack at the age of 39. “I was only 8 at the time, and my sister was 12. It was difficult for all of us. Dad was the kind of person who kept it all inside, and he was a smoker. After the heart attack, he changed his diet and worked out daily. We all lived through his experience, which had a profound impact on my outlook on health,” says Sarah.

Sarah and her husband have three children, an 11-year-old son, a 6-year-old son, and a 3-year-old daughter who are all extremely active. “They ski better than I do,” says Sarah. They also enjoy running and bike-riding. They especially love taking family walks with their puppy in their Elmwood Village neighborhood.

As for how they all manage to stay healthy, Sarah says that, aside from their daily activities, sports, and plenty of walking, she does her best with managing the family’s nutrition. She says, “I used to be stricter. I’d make tofu and hummus from scratch. I was extreme about not having sugar, which only made them want it more. I realized that the real key to health and success is moderation. My husband and I are mindful of the messages we convey. We don’t discuss weight and calories, we always fill our plates with veggies, but we are realistic and do the best we can.”

Sarah encourages people to strive to find the path of wellness, a place where they feel great and accept themselves. By working together, she helps clients navigate their way to achieving this goal. Her words of advice to others, “Turn your passion into something practical through which you can earn a living, because there is nothing better than doing what you love.” In addition to working at the JCC, Sarah is a real estate agent, property manager, and AIR BnB host.