Fresno fitness instructor Dina Juve is a perfect picture of fitness.
She will show off her healthy look on the cover of the July/August issue of Women’s Health magazine as one of five women vying to be “Women’s Health 2015 Next Fitness Star.” The magazine is running a contest to select the subject of a fitness DVD. The winner will be determined by a panel of celebrity judges and reader votes. Each finalist has a different fitness specialty. For Juve, it’s kettlebells.
Being in the kind of shape that gets you on a health magazine cover didn’t come easy for Juve. She was diagnosed with juvenile arthritis when she was 6 years old and spent years being inactive.
After years of weight issues, she finally decided to stop sitting around and do something.
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“I actually lost 80 pounds,” Juve says during an interview at her northeast Fresno studio. “Over the years I put on weight and thought that was going to be my life. I had a son when I was 18, and when I was 21, I couldn’t play with him very well. I just looked at him and knew I had to make a change.”
“I decided I was unhappy. I was overweight. What did I have to lose?”
The answer: a lot of weight.
The Bay Area native – who moved to Fresno 13 years ago – decided to change her eating habits and focus on living healthy. It was not easy. At the same time, Juve had to deal with the arthritis, spinal stenosis and an autoimmune disease.
The weight came off, but it didn’t happen overnight. Because she has made that journey, Juve can relate to what others are facing. She started by teaching private classes and worked her way up to where she now operates her own studio.
“I just wanted to be a positive influence to other women – and men. To show them that they could do it and they would have a partner who would stand by their side and help them out,” Juve says.
Today, the 41-year-old finds time to run FitnessSocial Studio, which she co-owns with Melissa Oberti, and be the mother to four children. What caught the attention of Women’s Health is her expertise with kettlebells.
The weights are similar to dumbells in that they feature progressively heavier poundage. The difference is that they are designed with a teardrop shape that focuses the weight to the middle instead of on each side of a small rod.
Being an expert in kettlebells is unique because it’s mostly men who select that form of exercise. Among those certified to teach kettlebells, 90 percent are males. Juve was the first woman in Fresno to get the certification.
Juve, who was selected from thousands of applicants, almost missed her chance completely. She got a text from a friend in March pointing out that it was the final day to enter the contest.
“What I found out later was that was the last day of a 30-day extension,” Juve says.
The bio part of the entry was no problem. There was no time to shoot a video showing her skills as a certified kettlebell instructor, battling ropes coach, TRX trainer and barre instructor. All she had was video from an appearance she made on a local TV station.
Juve got an email asking for another video showing her training process. That was quickly shot and sent. It was enough. Now, she gets to share her story of how an overweight young woman battling multiple illnesses found the strength and commitment to become an example for others.
Juve, who was too embarrassed to go to gym when she first started to get healthier, started working out in her living room using DVDs. She hopes to complete the circle by starring in her own exercise DVD.
No matter the results of the magazine contest, Juve considers herself a winner already.
“I literally never even thought that I would be this body person I am. Now I’m going to be featured in a magazine. If I can reach other women through this opportunity and help them know they can do it, too, what a great opportunity,” Juve says. “If I can help a woman lose five pounds or 300 pounds, I’m reaching and helping women become happier and healthier and live longer lives. That’s pretty incredible.”