I grew up as a missionary kid, living in several countries around the world until the age of 7 and a half. Ah yes — that explains the name that doesn’t seem to go with my blue eyes and freckles. I moved to the US with my parents and 4 siblings when we were ages 2, 4, 6, almost 8, and 10.

I was raised on a lot more values than dollars, learning how to squeeze blood from a turnip, make lemonade from lemons and how to pack a lot of people in an old but reliable car (picture everyone coming through the driver’s side because of the ever-jammed passenger door).

That said, I’ve never felt entitled to anything I didn’t work hard for, I have always had a sincere love for people just as they are and was fine to quickly pivot to Plan B when needed (as long as I could still get an “A+”).

As a spirited, creative kid, dance was my outlet. If I wasn’t dancing, I was talking (to anyone who would listen, writing poetry or songs, cooking up entrepreneurial ideas, or out with friends).

I’ve been a driven entrepreneur from as early as I can remember… painting door-stopper rocks with felt-bottoms in 2nd grade and carting them in a wagon around the neighborhood to sell, DIY-laminating membership cards for the 4th grade “Club” I founded and spending the 1-dime dues at the nearby candy store we’d walk to. I crafted early “nineties” earrings for custom orders in high school (anyone remember that iridescent, melty stuff?).  I’ve never been short on ideas, words or enthusiasm.

My love for movement to music, my drive, my natural knack for entrepreneurship, and my constant flow of words brought me to where I am today as a part of the SCW team of educators. I love it and am honored that Sara asked me to share my story with you.

Nutrition got on my radar by way of my older sister’s 10th grade Health Class calorie-counting project. Then fitness came into the equation as the answer to my question that came up a little later- once I decided not to major in dance for college. Since my introduction to nutrition started with calorie counting, the question I found myself asking was, “How will I maintain my weight if I don’t dance?”

You see, I was the runt of my 10th-grade class — prepubescent and ugly-skinny (my bangs were bigger than ME), but I got the message from my high-school friends and those in my dance company: “avoid fat tissue and cellulite like the plague. Watch vigilantly for it, and when it comes, eat less or exercise until it’s gone.” Noted.

That next summer, my growth spurt came suddenly and with a vengeance. I gained about 30 pounds and 4 inches in just a handful of months. Once returning for the new school year and dance season, I regularly heard the words, “what happened to you?”

So, I kept trying to figure it out! Hmm…what did happen to “skinny Sohailla?” In addition to my competitive dancing, I began doing quite a bit of more cardio to keep my curves in my plastic neon early-nineties’ shorts!

My freshman year of college I started lifting weights, and in the summer worked at a gym, orienting members on the weight-machines. By 19 I got certified as an instructor at UGA and fell in love with good ‘ole fashioned aerobics.

In the background of this newfound fitness passion, I was being closely monitored in the dining hall by girls who knew I was a dietetics major and fitness instructor. They would say things like, “I can’t believe you had a brownie!” I unknowingly allowed words like theirs to shape my values regarding food over those college years.

Between studying nutrition and being studied by onlookers, I found myself literally unable to stop thinking about food and exercise, and how they both impacted my body. I thought in order to be lean I would have to do the exercise and eating thing perfectly.

I didn’t realize, until I was in too deep, that by way of my initial healthy intentions and efforts, I was becoming consumed to a point that was unhealthy. Food and movement became too big a piece of my identity. It was crowding out other important things as if it mattered most.

By the time I was finished with college, I had been counting calories and killing the cardio for about 7 years straight, each year almost-unintentionally reducing my calories to see if that “helped.” I was thinking if 1500 calories “worked” a little, wouldn’t 1200 work better? Hmm…how about 1000…

I began to believe that no matter my 4.0 in Nutrition and the impressive awards and opportunities that followed, I wasn’t ever going to be able to master it. I would seemingly never be able to eat what everyone else was eating without gaining weight. It was quite consuming, as was my gym-time and perfectionism. No matter how much my knees hurt, I believed I was going to have to keep up the borderline-excessive exercise hours, or else!

I was stuck! Food (especially sugar) and fitness had too tight a hold on me, and I wanted it to be over. I was weary, teary and weak from this non-stop struggle that had been gaining steam since my early teens.

Why wasn’t I losing weight on the super low-calorie diet, you wonder? My metabolism dialed itself way back to deal with the minimal intake I was giving my body. Between that and the somewhat uncensored relief-splurges I had from time to time between my extremely restrictive periods of eating “very healthy,” I never got skinny enough to exhibit the more serious physical symptoms that would be expected based on the very little I was eating most days. Regardless of the lack of impact my choices made on the scale, the impact on my mind and identity was painful.

I had always been a praying girl with big faith, and I hoped a heartfelt ‘final’ prayer would make it all end, like it had for another friend of mine on a similar journey. Though I knew God had the power to change me instantly, it turns out that would be her story, not mine.

I would have loved to hit a “reset” button or escape food altogether to get over the hump of what is now diagnosed as Orthorexia, but instead I began to walk out my journey to wellness, one day at a time, with a new viewpoint, a new mindset.

I learned I have much more to offer the world than my six-pack (which I was giving too much value to, not mention the numbers on the scale, my report card and my paycheck). I had to surround myself with folks who believed that, too. This value shift and adjustment of my surroundings allowed me to pursue true wellness – with intention and a strategy.

I became less and less impressed by anything visible, tangible or achievable. I became more impressed by what God could do through authenticity, relationship, and commitment to “majoring on the majors.” If we don’t get first things first, we’re just wasting our time on the trivial aspects of life, right? Perhaps you’ve been there, too?

To enjoy a lifetime of true wellness, we must actively choose to focus on something greater than our immediate wants and wishes — whether those wants are related to our naval-gazing or perfection-seeking (often masked as worthy goals), or whether those wants are sugar, alcohol, or late-night media binges (often excused as stress-reducing “needs” to be met).

I have figured out how to untangle my needs from my wants, keep sugar cravings at bay, and how to truly enjoy exercise for its intrinsic value. I have learned to intentionally set up my surroundings with people and tools that propel me towards progress and balance and have even created a platform around that with my business, Best Body Nutrition & Fitness, so others can experience the same freedom that comes from healthy guardrails and better understanding the body.

With the goal of preventing others from going down one of the many bumpy roads to which imbalanced choices can lead — from Type 2 Diabetes to disordered eating — I’ve written 3 books, created 8-week programs, e-courses, memberships sites, and given many a lecture.

A healthy lifestyle can’t be maintained without living decisively with resolve, all the while welcoming accountability and community. If unchecked, our outlook can be our greatest barrier to the impactful, joyful lives we want: innate navel-gazing and wandering eyes that search incessantly for a quick-fix or a comparison.

My goal is to instead keep my eyes on the prize of being uniquely who God intended me to be and serving you all is one of my favorite parts of that!

More favorites? I’m a mom of 2 boisterous biological boys (14 and 12), and a determined diva we adopted from China (8). I’m a devoted wife to the fella that asked me to the Senior Prom: I said no to Prom but married him 5 years later (and we’ve been married just over 20 years now). I love playing games with my kids, traveling with my hubby, running with my girlfriends, cooking with my siblings, singing in my church worship band, and listening to podcasts while hustling through airports.

I attended my first Atlanta MANIA® in the early 90s and thought, “one day I’m going to be “up there!” Just after I wrote my first book, I decided to see if could get my nutrition voice heard from “up there.” It was my time to share my message. I had no idea then that I would be so blessed to call those who were leading out 20 years ahead of me my friends…When Dr. Kravitz (one of my heroes since my teens) told me last weekend in Philly as I was climbing into my Uber ride that he was using my Self-Publishing session guide to write his book, it made my day! I love soaking up the wisdom and support of my fellow SCW presenters: what a privilege to eat early morning breakfasts with them every handful of weeks, and share chocolate covered strawberries to celebrate new book releases!

I love meeting new friends via my travels and the pages of the books I’ve authored keynote speaking engagements around the country, blog posts, Facebook groups I manage, trainings for my Best Body Countdown Facilitators, and in coaching aspiring authors to self-publish. (Phew, that sounds like a lot…it is, but works because it’s streamlined with the highest priorities strategically placed – with the Lord’s daily guidance.)

I have been presenting with SCW for 5 years as of this past summer. I love it! I am honored for the opportunity to humbly share with you what I’ve learned over 2+ decades of working in the fitness/nutrition industry. As we walk out our wellness journey together, let’s keep each other accountable — not allowing what might seem like excellence in one area of wellness be to the detriment of another. #balanceisbetter

Enough about me – please join me for one of my SCW sessions, as I’d love to get to know YOU too!

Find Sohailla at SCW OnDemand — with instant access to over 500 unique workouts and live sessions available at your fingertips! Visit (www.scwfit.com/store/on-demand/) to access titles like:

For live instructor trainings, helpful sessions with expert presenters, and your main source of motivation, fitness education, and inspiration attend a MANIA® conference in a city near you! Visit scwfit.com/mania today!

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston


SCW MANIA® is pleased to partner with Rykä as one of our industry leading brands for female fitness professionals. You can find Rykä representatives at MANIA® conventions around the country (www.scwfit.com/MANIA).

Rykä shoes are unlike than their competitors because of a unique design made just for women. For 30 years, this “Made for Women” mentality has served as their guiding principle in creating footwear tailored specifically for women.

Their footwear has been recognized by Self Magazine, New York Magazine, and Today.com among others, as one of the best walking shoes for women.


Rykä knows that women’s foot shape, muscle movement and build are all inherently different from men. The “Q-angle”(quadricep angle)–the anatomical relationship between the hip and knee–measures 5-7 degrees greater for women than men. As a result, we tend to shift more weight to the outside of our feet, which leads to instability at foot strike and higher risk of injury.

Our design philosophy integrates all of our technologies into one of the most researched, women-specific fits in the industry. A complete footwear solution customized to fit the shape of a woman’s foot perfectly–with a narrower heel, roomier forefoot, increased instep volume and a more secure footbed. The result is footwear engineered to address our unique biomechanics for unsurpassed fit, comfort, cushioning and control.

SCW Expert Presenter and Rykä Ambassador Irene Lewis-McCormick, M.S., C.S.C.S, says the Ryka shoes are a great choice for women searching for functional and affordable athletic shoes:

“Not only do they have a casual line that’s really fashionable and functionable, but they are an athletic shoe designed for women because women generally have a different foot shape than men. They need a bigger toe box and women also need more forefoot cushioning and arch support,” Irene said. “Another thing that’s really cool about Rykä is that they are super affordable, especially with the instructor discount program available. “Wearing the same shoes workout after workout prematurely wears them out, so it’s a good idea to alternate your fitness shoes and Rykä makes that easy because they’re so affordable.”

Rykä believes that a woman’s participation in fitness programs builds and strengthens her self-esteem and confidence. With this in mind, we support fitness industry professionals through our Rykä FIT program and alliances with various fitness groups like Jazzercise, Curves and R.I.P.P.E.D.

We also create community and share inspiration and support on social @Ryka. Join our tribe: #RykaTribe.

Get to a MANIA® near you to try on and experience Rykä for fitness professionals first hand!

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston


WATERinMOTION®, a premier aquatic exercise program, receives the first ever endorsement from SilverSneakers®, the nation’s leading community fitness program for older adults. This is the first program SilverSneakers® has endorsed in its 25-year history, underscoring the impact and importance of WATERinMOTION® aqua fitness education for older Americans.

With this endorsement, SilverSneakers® instructors can now gain certification in the WATERinMOTION® exercise program, conveying it to a larger audience.

Sara Kooperman, JD, co-founder and CEO of WATERinMOTION® shared that “WATERinMOTION® is honored to be working with SilverSneakers® and excited to begin this journey with the most respected and well-known Active Aging Organization in the World.  Being the first-ever endorsed fitness and wellness program, WATERinMOTION® guarantees to stay true to the goals and standards or SilverSneakers®.  I am truly touched that they have the faith in us!”

The endorsement is the latest in a series of awards and recognition for WATERinMOTION®, including winning the Aquatic Exercise Association’s Global award for Contribution to the Aquatic Industry.

WATERinMOTION® was created nine years ago, and has since become a leading aquatic exercise program with more than 16,000 aquatic exercisers daily, guided by 400 certified fitness professionals in more than 200 facilities nationwide.

Check out this short video and get a splash of a WATERinMOTION® Platinum Digital Release Kit! Download the warm-up, Track 1, and Choreo Notes to start teaching classes today! Visit http://waterinmotion.com/ for more information now!

Visit WATERinMOTION.com to learn more about WATERinMOTION® Original as well as the newest program, WATERinMOTION® Platinum.


WATERinMOTION® is a pre-choreographed, quarterly-released group aqua exercise program that refreshes the moves, music, and member experience every three (3) months by delivering a new choreography video, downloadable 55 minutes of music, complete choreo booklet, flash cards, and one (1) page choreo quick guide. In addition, the program also provides stellar banners, posters, and marketing kits.

WATERinMOTION® includes a comprehensive certification (both live and online) featuring leaders with over 100 years of combined teaching experience guaranteeing safety, structure, and creativity in EVERY class! Check out www.waterinmotion.com to learn more, and Enter to Win FREE Online Certifications, WiM Programming & more!

About SCW Fitness Education

SCW Fitness Education has been in business for 34 years and is the largest provider of continuing education conferences for fitness instructors with nine (9) regional shows (MANIAs) every year. Reaching over 10,000 fitness professionals in face-to-face contacts, and another 200,000+ in virtual reaches annually. During MANIA®, we have 17 sessions running per hour on all different aspects of the fitness/wellness industry (Functional Training, Cycling, Mind/Body, Dance, Nutrition, Recovery, etc.). SCW is unparalleled in its provision of certifications, continuing education courses and conventions to fitness professionals in multiple disciplines both live and online.

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston


SCW is proud to partner with WaterRower and host sessions like “Pulling for Power” with Sgt. Ken. Check out the video and register for SCW MANIA® to experience a WaterRower workout near you!

According to the American Council on Exercise (ACE), indoor rowing challenges your body to recruit muscle groups for a total body, cardiovascular, muscle building workout – a recommended addition to your weekly routine.

“Rowing is also impact-free and non-weight-bearing, which makes it even more appealing because you can work intensely without putting added stress on your joints.”

The WaterRower’s unique WaterFlywheel design uses a specially formed paddle to cup the moving water, reduce slippage and produce an unrivalled simulation of the benefits of rowing.

There is no jerkiness or jarring which is often associated with conventional mechanical rowing machines making the exercise unpleasant; only smooth even load, kind to the body, and relaxing to the mind.

There is no “solid” connection between user and the moving water, simply an immersed paddle which dampens out any detrimental mechanical feel Providing some “give” is essential for accommodating bad or developing technique, lessening the risk of injury.

A uniform stroke is essential to spreading the work more evenly over the muscle groups, working the muscle groups in proportion to their strength, optimizing exercise benefit while reducing risk of injury.

The WaterRower’s unique WaterFlywheel has been designed to reproduce the precise physical dynamics of a moving boat; the surest way to replicate the physiological benefits and aesthetic pleasure of rowing.

Like rowing, the WaterFlywheel does not apply resistance to you, you apply work to it; you are the engine. By the “rule of cubes,” the amount of work you apply dictates the speed at which you row. From a gentle paddle to a “give it your all” workout, you are in control When rowing, remember, you are the engine. The amount of work you do is dependent on you, not on the machine.

The more work you do, the more resistance/drag you can overcome, and the faster you move. The speed which you can maintain is dependent on the level of work you can maintain and, again, is limited only by you. Row harder and you go faster, row easier and you go slower. This is the self-paced nature of the WaterRower and Rowing and allows anyone to row regardless of age, sex, size of level of fitness.

Try a WaterRower at an upcoming SCW MANIA®. In Midwest, Boston or find a MANIA® nearest you on our website!

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston


SCW is excited to bring 3X3 Fit to SCW MANIA® Midwest! Visit our website to find session outlines and additional information about Midwest MANIA®.

What do you call a 54-year-old grandmother of 5 who’s in way, way, way better shape than the average 20 year old?

You call her Kim Marie Ross.

Kim is the creator and developer of the 3x3Fit fitness program now sweeping the nation and popping up in gyms and homes everywhere. As Kim recalls, “I was 15 years old when a doctor gave me the bad news: I needed to wear a brace to slow my severe spinal curvature (Scoliosis). He told me that I would face increasing pain as I aged. I refused to wear the brace. And by the time I was a young mother, barely 20, I suffered chronic pain. To make it worse, I was way out of shape and self-conscious around others. I hated the mirror.”

Then, boom! “That’s when I discovered fitness. It changed everything.”

“I taught myself.” Kim says. “I started working out regularly. I learned to tone my muscles. I strengthened my body. Eventually, I was pain free. I was hooked. By age 25, I was fully committed to conditioning. I made it my commitment and career to help others find the joy and tremendous benefits of fitness.”

As Kim approached her own fitness goals, she became unsatisfied with the usual get-fit-quick schemes, and by age 29 she began creating her own fitness equipment and sharing it with others. Kim has launched nearly 20 successful fitness devices internationally through infomercials, QVC, and HSN. She holds multiple patents. By age 31 she was featured on the cover of Ventures Magazine as one of 10 women to watch.

But something was missing. In all her inventing and experimenting, Kim says she still had not found “it.”

“Don’t get me wrong; I was glad I had affected so many women and helped thousands achieve their fitness goals,” she explains. “But still, I knew there was something more, something better, something that could literally encompass a total fitness program that you can experience anywhere, anytime. Something easy for everyone to use, regardless of her fitness level, but truly effective to enhance full-body strength, flexibility, and endurance.”

Then it came to her. And now it’s coming to living rooms, bedrooms, gyms, and fitness clubs everywhere. In 2012, Kim launched 3X3Fit.

“3X3Fit is truly it!” Kim gushes about why 3X3Fit is becoming such a rapidly growing success. “It’s the perfect capstone to all those years in the gym and at the drawing board, all the hours working out, all the fitness equipment and workout programs I’ve developed in the past. I’m so proud to share 3X3Fit with others because of the simply amazing things it has done for my own health and fitness.”

Kim says that despite always maintaining a high fitness level through the years, “3X3Fit has made me more fit at 54 than I’ve been in my whole life. I mean it. I have more strength. I have better balance. I have way more flexibility. Sometimes I have a hard time believing just how effective it truly has been for me.”

3X3Fit is a patented device accompanied by dozens of creative and effective workouts. “There’s just no way to get bored with this. I’m discovering new ways to use the device every day, and I’ve been adding at least one new full workout every month. Each workout inspires new possibilities. It’s that versatile.”

The device actually assists beginners to perform athletic exercises they could never perform without it while giving athletes a challenging training experience as well. “It really, really is for everyone,” Kim says. “The already-fit, the barely-fit, and the not-at-all fit write me every day saying how much they love the improvement they’ve experienced. Women who are wheelchair bound, seniors, and elite fitness instructors have all told me that they love the 3X3Fit device and the 3X3Fit workouts suited especially for them. In fact, two women who are missing limbs are featured in one of the many workout videos available in the program, and they are fully engaged and as successful as everyone else.”

Kim adds, “People tell me that they’ve never experienced a workout that is so effective but so gentle, with little impact to the neck, back, and joints. Users can perform excellent muscle-strengthening exercises without the jarring impact of weights or the clumsiness of machines.”

And there’s more to come. Kim says 3X3Fit will soon launch a new, Pro Model 3X3Fit especially designed for professional, collegiate, and high school athletes. She also has plans for an Aqua Model 3X3Fit device for water training.

3X3Fit is an approved provider for SCW Fitness Education MANIA® conferences and continues reaching fitness professionals all over. Kim offers free Online Certification Training, email for details: ([email protected]).

3X3Fit classes will be featured at upcoming MANIA® conferences: Midwest MANIA® and Boston MANIA®. Visit the website scwfit.com/MANIA to register for MANIA® in a city near you!

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston


Whether it’s to get you through the holidays or to save up for a winter vacation, many people consider working a side job at this time of year. A good side job, also known as a gig, a side hustle, or contract work, should allow you to use your skills to make extra money on a flexible schedule. This form of work isn’t just about money, either – a side job can be a great way to grow your network or build new skills.

If you’re thinking about taking on a side job for any of these reasons, you should consider becoming a Zumba® Instructor! As an instructor, you get PAID to:

  • Help people get a good work out and improve their health
  • Bring a positive, party atmosphere to others around you
  • Give back through charity and community events
  • Shimmy, shake, and drop it low – in other words, HAVE FUN!

As a Zumba Instructor, you set your own hours and determine when and where to work. In some cases, you’ll determine how much you charge per class, how many students you’ll have, and other details. You can work as little as one hour per week, or you can build a full-time career (according to McKinsey, about 45% of people who work as independent contractors make their full-time living this way!). As an instructor, you can get all the benefits of being your own boss while getting resources and support like music, choreography, marketing help, and more.

We asked instructors how teaching Zumba has served them as a side job, and we heard amazing stories from mothers, retirees, corporate employees who need a change of pace, and do-gooders who wanted to give back to their communities:

I was a full-time graduate student and I left my job to focus on finishing school. I was backed up on bills and in a rut. I always wanted to become an instructor, not only as part of my hustle but because it changed my life. Becoming an instructor has made me realize purpose.

– Chinequia, Connecticut  

I’m not going to lie. I became an instructor to avoid paying for classes because I loved Zumba® so much that I was spending too much money on classes! Once I taught my first class, my “why” became more focused on inspiring others than saving a buck or two.

– Rhia, Alaska

I went to law school and have done research as a law librarian for 15 years. The job is really challenging, and I needed more “action” in my life since I’m sitting down all day. I started with one hour a week, now I’m up to four hours a week. Is it challenging at times? Yep. Would I change anything? Nope!

– Maggie, Germany

When I retired after 33 years in education, I knew I had to do something to stay active physically. And, as a grandmother of five I know my health is important so I can remain actively involved in my grandchildren’s lives. I teach a few days a week to remain active, so it’s not about the money… although I appreciate it!

– Peggy, Colorado

Ready to make money and change lives? Find out how you can become a Zumba® instructor today!

SCW Fitness Education is proud to partner with Zumba® and provide fitness professionals with MANIA® sessions and certifications that enhance careers in dance fitness. Register for a Zumba® certification at SCW MANIA® Midwest online (scwfit.com/midwest/certifications/) or attend an upcoming MANIA® conference in a city near you.

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston


This Halloween, lure your next victim into the kitchen with this delicious Vampire Bark recipe. It’s sweet and tangy and packed with the antioxidant benefits of pomegranate seeds! It’s a treat without any tricks.


  • 1 C pomegranate seeds
  • 9 oz bittersweet dark chocolate, finely chopped
  • 1 T sea salt


  1. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or wax paper
  2. Melt your chocolate—either using a double boil (boil water in a saucepan and melt the chocolate in a separate bowl above it) or throw it in the microwave for 30 second increments until melted
  3. Scrape the chocolate mixture evenly onto the baking sheet and create a rectangle shape about 1/4 inch thick
  4. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and sea salt
  5. Refrigerate for 10 minutes

This October enjoy tricks for healthy treats from SCW MANIA® sponsor P.O.U.N.D. on their blog “The POUND BEAT.” Rockout and Workout with P.O.U.N.D. at an upcoming SCW MANIA® conference near you or register for Midwest MANIA® October 5-7, in Chicago .

MIDWEST: www.scwfit.com/midwest
BOSTON: www.scwfit.com/boston