What It Means to Be a Woman in Progress
It was five years ago that Linda Lopez decided she had to make a change.
It was her 35th birthday and she had worked as a high-level executive assistant for CEOs and top executives for nearly 15 years. The pay was great, as were the jobs when measured by any conventional means.
“I had so much that was good in front of me,” she says. “But I was not as happy as I could be.”
After years of working in high-pressure, fast-paced office environments and reporting to others, Linda’s heart — and body — were ready for something different. She was not sleeping the way she wanted nor getting the exercise she needed. She was spending, she says, way too much time in front of a computer in air-conditioned offices.
“My jobs and life had always taught me to put my focus on other people,” says Lopez, who had become a mother in her late teens and long juggled work and career aspirations with parenting. “But what I really wanted was to focus on me, because that would in turn make me so much better in all my relationships in life.”
So she started a journey of fitness, wellness, mindfulness, and nutrition that has today become her own business and brand. Its name is Woman in Progress. Through it, Lopez has coached thousands of followers online and in person about how to live more holistically and intentionally and zero in on goals and personal fulfillment.
"After years of working in high-pressure, fast-paced office environments and reporting to others, Linda’s heart — and body — were ready for something different. She was not sleeping the way she wanted nor getting the exercise she needed. She was spending, she says, way too much time in front of a computer in air-conditioned offices."
She’s part of a growing movement of women (and men) who have left the corporate world to pursue jobs in wellness, yoga, meditation, fitness, and mindfulness. Using social media, many — including Lopez — have found national and international audiences they could have never imagined.
“I don’t like the term ‘personal trainer,’” says Lopez, a former bodybuilder and Equinox gym employee whose typical week includes training dozens of women each week in the backyard of her Miami home. She focuses on resistance bands, weight bars, cardio and, most of all, form.
“My experience with women is that they come to me wanting to work on personal fitness as a surface issue and then it really turns out that they want to take a deeper journey beyond just working out. I call myself a health and well-being coach.”
To her, Lopez says, fitness is “about more than the physical. It’s the mental, spiritual, and the emotional side of things. It’s making sure you are fit in all areas of your life.”
On her former blog (which is soon to be relaunched), Instagram and other social media channels, Lopez offers advice and a raw look into the world of a woman who, as she says, is “constantly evolving and building a new life.”
“I had my daughter young, married young, and divorced young. I’ve lived many lives. I discovered fitness and wellness and now want to help women who have had similar journeys to my own — and different ones,” she says.
"Lopez believes success is best defined as constantly being a "woman in progress." That’s because the best goals, she says, are the ones that always grow and change."
Each day, she uses Instagram to share meal-prep, no-alcohol challenges and running goals, as well as raw reflections on doubts and progress in her views on beauty and the ups and downs of social media for women.
Lopez believes success is best defined as constantly being a "woman in progress." That’s because the best goals, she says, are the ones that always grow and change.
While all her clients now are women, she never meant to work exclusively with a single gender. Things just happened to come together that way.
“It started by word-of-mouth. And I realized that a lot of women have that common factor where they have questions and struggles about their own image and identity,” Lopez says.
Part of what fueled the growth of Woman in Progress in recent years is the pandemic. Gyms were closed in Florida. Workouts were hard to come by unless a person had their own equipment and space. Lopez was feeling stagnant, like many Americans for whom exercise was a major part of their daily lives. She put out a message on social media offering to get friends together to train them.
“I had an outdoor space that was big enough to be safe and keep people distanced apart. What I heard from all these women who ended up coming to see me was that they didn’t feel comfortable in gyms even outside of the pandemic,” Lopez says. “The schedule didn’t work at gyms. Some felt intimidated. Many realized that working out just for the sake of working out was not enough. They wanted to learn and grow. I’m lucky I get to do it with them.”