Share this page
Pin It

ACE-certified Success Stories

Petra Kolber
ACE-certified Group Fitness Instructor
Reebok Master Trainer

I became ACE certified in May of 1990. I was still living in Florida at the time working as a professional dancer in musical theater. I was thinking of moving to New York and thought it may be a good idea to have something else other than dancing under my belt. I had recently taken the first ever Step Reebok Workshop with Gin Miller. At that time I knew little about fitness but I did know that I felt terrific after that experience.

I understood that I would need to have more to my credentials than just “dancer” under my belt before hitting the New York Clubs. After some research I decided it would enhance my credibility to become ACE certified before making the move and help me immensely in trying to obtain new work at some of the top gyms in Manhattan.

I was working in Miami at the time and was planning to move to NYC around September of that year. Unfortunately the closest venue where I could take my exam in time was Tampa Florida. For weeks I would study for the exam during intervals in the show and at home in between rehearsals. One Saturday I remember getting up at the crack of dawn, flying to Tampa, renting a car, taking my exam, flying back to Miami all in time for my 7:00pm performance.

I have been extremely blessed throughout my career in fitness, which really started in 1991 where I was honored to be teaching with one of the pioneers of fitness, Molly Fox at her NY studio. I remember those days with such joy. I had more energy than the energizer bunny. I would get up at 5am to open a smaller gym where I gained my experience as a personal trainer. The afternoons were spent running from gym to gym teaching way too many classes. The highlight of my week was always Saturday mornings at The Molly Fox Studio. Here a group of 80 highly enthusiastic members led by me would go crazy in a 9am high/low aerobics class. We had such a wonderful together, working out to great music and losing ourselves for that one hour in the joy of movement. Good times!

I was blessed early on in my career to team up with Reebok who I have been sponsored by for the past 10 years. They have been a huge supporter of my work and even when I was taken ill five years ago and needed to lay low for 6 months there was a never any question of their continued support.

In June of 1999 I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma stage 2A – 2A means that the lymphoma was in 2 areas of my body and I was non symptomatic – meaning apart from a large lump on my neck (which I had kind of gotten used to) I had no typical symptoms – night sweats, weight loss etc. In fact apart from feeling a little tired, which I attributed to all my traveling I was feeling pretty good. Long story short during my yearly physical my doctor knew that the lump was more than a swollen gland and immediately sent me for a barrage of tests. Two weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.

My treatment was 6 months of chemotherapy and 3 weeks of radiation. Fitness for me was one of my greatest coping tools during this time. While I lost my hair I kept my strength through daily workouts. When I gained weight from the medication I let go of working out to lose weight but change the focus to work out so that I could stay strong through the treatment.

Going through cancer is a very personal thing and I cannot say one thing works for everyone. For me I would have chemotherapy on Monday and teach my 9am step class on Tuesday. Getting up and moving and motivating others helped me feel as though I still had some control over my life. Through cancer I came across Tai Chi and began implementing it into my workouts. During this time I created a new workout called Breathe. It was a big step away from my normal routine but was so well received that I developed 2 best selling videos Breathe and Breathe 2. I would say that this is some of the work that I am most proud of within my career.

I am now 5 years cancer free and the outlook for me is great. I do not know if I will be lucky enough to never have to deal with cancer again, however I do know that for now I am blessed with the greatest gift of all – good health.

I think as fitness professionals we need to remember that everyone we teach comes into the studio with a story. Some stories are full of joy and wonderment, while others may be of survival. As an industry we can do wonderful things to help empower and strengthen the spirits of our students and clients. If we use fitness as a way of ensuring that we can be the best we can be and enable our bodies to be ready for what life brings our way –we are doing great work.

I commend all of you who are out there every day, day in and day out, inspiring others to be the best that they can be. I also thank ACE for 15 wonderful years as a member and I look forward to many more years to come.

For more information about my story visit my website at

INSPIRE,MOTIVATE,EDUCATE...become ACE-certifed today!