Who’s the Newbie?

The Annapolis Athletic Club welcomes their newest personal trainer, Caroline Heimerl! Caroline comes to us as a recent New Jersey export and is happy to call Annapolis her new home. As a rugby player, heavy lifter, and clubfoot advocate, Caroline has developed a multifaceted approach to functional fitness. We spoke with her at length about how her background influences her style of training here at AAC.

Mid-tackle while playing for the Lehigh Valley Hooligans.

On Rugby

“Rugby is the reason I am here today. Prior to starting in 2012, I had zero athletic experience. The inclusivity and encouraging culture of the sport lead me to push myself, on and off the pitch, until I eventually fell in love with fitness at large.

Without a doubt, rugby is a grueling workout. It’s 80 minutes of continuous running, tackling, and getting taken down over and over again. But most importantly, the camaraderie, competition, and mental health focus is what keeps me coming back. 

I like to take the same approach with my clients. You can provide the most intense, calorie-burning workout, but if it doesn’t incorporate elements that they enjoy and can identify with, it’s not sustainable. Movement is not punishment, it is medicine. Whether it’s rugby, biking, skiing, or lifting, an active lifestyle needs to feed the soul.”

On Lifting

“Weight lifting became therapy for me as soon as I began. I could walk into a gym session feeling powerless due to whatever frustration I was having at the time, and leave feeling powerful. Resistance training was also benefiting my athletic performance immensely, and I quickly noticed. 

As I started to talk to more of my female friends about my newfound passion, I realized that there was an unfortunate stigma surrounding lifting. Many women I knew were staying clear of it for fear of ‘getting big’ or ‘looking manly.’ I became determined to get as many women as possible to look at lifting in a new light and to realize that it would only aid them in their existing goals.”

Caroline’s two year transformation with her foot, ankle, and leg stability.

On Clubfoot

“I was born with bilateral talipes equinovarus, more commonly known as bilateral clubfoot. Essentially, my feet were completely turned inwards to the point where the soles of my feet faced each other. I went through multiple surgeries and sets of orthotics only to make limited progress with my ankle flexibility and lower limb muscle balance. 

While I’m thankful for my surgeon’s encouragement, I unlocked my potential only when I started working with a personal trainer. Learning about body composition and the kinetic chain was the greatest thing I could have done for my physical health. My trainer’s dedication to my progress was what inspired me to pursue my own certification.

Since making these improvements in my range of motion and relative flexibility, I’ve found so much joy in sharing my findings with others, especially others with clubfoot. Showing my ‘clubbie’ clients that they are capable of more than they’ve let themselves believe is incredibly rewarding. However, prioritizing functional fitness is important for everyone, regardless of their disability status. That’s why I don’t just tell my clients what to do, I aim to teach them why we do it.”

When she’s not sharing her philosophies with her clients, you can find Caroline working behind the scenes in our marketing department, and debunking popular fitness myths through her own video content. To inquire about working with Caroline on your own routine, contact her at caroline@clubaac.com.