VERA ROSS // I AM VIRAGO

Full Name: Vera Ross

Nick-name: "V"

Occupation or dream job: Current occupation: personal trainer, group fitness instructor; dream job: health and wellness coach

Home-town: Moraga, CA

Fitness Secret: Workout whenever and wherever you can!  Some days when I do not have a full hour to devote to working out, I do several mini-workouts throughout my day - I have been known to sprint up hills with my backpack on, drop and do 10 push-ups, or park intentionally far away from the grocery store so that I can carry my heavy groceries and bottles of water back to my car!  Use your body in any and all ways - anything to sneak in a small workout. The world is your gym!

Causes or organizations close to your heart: I have hosted boot camps for GenerateHope, which is an organization dedicated to rehabilitating and empowering young women who have been the victims of human trafficking.  I am passionate about this issue because it is happening every day, right here in our own back yards.  Many people would like to imagine that human trafficking is only something that effects women and children thousands of miles away, however San Diego is among the top 13 US cities with the highest prevalence of active human trafficking networks.  This issue is affecting our sisters, friends, and loved ones every day, and I plan on doing more work with GenerateHope to raise awareness for this important cause.

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Does putting on workout clothes affect your motivation to work out? Absolutely!  There are some days where my new workout outfit is my only motivation to get to the gym- when I am tired, or just not feeling like working out, it is often my workout gear that makes me look forward to stepping into the gym.  Part of feeling good is looking good and Virago is a brand that represents the power of positivity!

Turning Struggle into Strength: Throughout college, I ran cross country and track. The athletic scholarship I received enabled me to get my undergraduate degree, and I will forever be grateful for the opportunities that my athletic ability has allowed me to pursue.  However, approximately one month before the championship races of the last season of my track career in college, I became cripplingly depressed.  I remember showing up for workouts and runs, and bursting into tears.  On one long run- about a 15 miler- I can remember vividly running behind all of my teammates (when I would normally be up in front, chatting and laughing along with the rest of them) and crying uncontrollably throughout most of the run.  After a decade of competitive racing, my body and mind were exhausted - I was afraid that I had lost my love of running.  I called my high school coach, who had always been a mentor, and to my surprise he told me to quit.  Just like that? I asked. Just like that, he assured me.  He asked me if I loved what I was doing- was I still in love with running.  I had to answer that, and at that moment, no, I HATED running.  The thing that had always been there for me after a bad day, the thing that took my stress away and made me feel invincible was now the thing that was my greatest burden.  I was no longer running for the love of the sport.  My high school coach counseled me that if I did not take a break from running, I would end up hating and resenting the sport.  "If you want to be a runner for life," my high school coach told me, "you need to take a step back and take a break. Give yourself some time off."  So, even though I was weeks away from finishing my last season as a collegiate runner, I quit.  Although this was by far one of the most difficult decisions I have made, it has also been one of the best.  After taking some time away from the sport, I can now say that- almost 10 years after that decision- I am still a runner, and a competitive one.  I run races, but I do them for me.   Discovering that I do indeed love the sport of running, and that I do it for no one else but me, has been one of the most powerful things I have learned about myself.