Get our newsletters
It's a Living

Finding strength to move forward leads to personal training career


The thread that seems to run through the lives of everyone I’ve written about regardless of age is the continual demand life makes on us to reinvent ourselves. No resting on laurels nor extended time to recover from personal setbacks allowed.

Change or die is the evolutionary mandate and forward is the only direction permitted. That’s the common factor in every life.

But the real story worth telling is in the endless permutations of what prompted the reinvention.

Marissa Diaz is a personal trainer. She is in peak physical condition…Now.

Ten years ago, she was an overweight, out of shape, stay at home mom of two little boys whose husband, Jason, had just died at 43 of brain cancer. She was understandably depressed and suffered from anxiety. Her physical condition, she says, was “a reflection of how I felt inside.”

Years before that, Marissa and her husband had fallen in love with Bucks County and moved here because it was “charming,” with lots of open space and excellent schools for their boys.

Then her husband’s death made that life no longer livable and demanded a new way of being.

“I wanted to honor my late husband,” she says. And she wanted to get herself together enough to be there for her children. The problem: “At the time, I didn’t think I was capable of being around people.”

Anais Nin observed, “Life shrinks or expands according to one’s courage.”

Somehow, Marissa mustered the courage to start taking classes at the Solebury Club to try to pull herself out of despair. “But I was too intimidated to use the free weights and the weight machines.” To make a start, she bought a book on bodybuilding and eating properly to gain muscle.

Just as things were starting to look a little better, COVID shut down the world, including the world’s gyms. “I was upset because I had come to love weight training and was just beginning my journey.”

Yet like so many unforeseen developments, being shut in, instead of hindering her further, turned out to be the catalyst for her future career. “I went to my dad’s house, and I asked for my late husband’s free weights that had been stored in my dad’s shed. While we were all shut in, I spent my time writing resistance training programs for myself. I worked out almost every day, sometimes twice a day out of boredom.”

And just like that, what had seemed a trial gave way to a passion. “I fell in love with the programming aspect of training, and I wanted to learn more about it. I signed up to get certified as a personal trainer with the National Academy of Sports Medicine. The course opened my eyes to different modalities of strength training, specifically functional strength training.”

Once Marissa became certified and the Solebury Club reopened, the new owners asked her if she would like to be a personal trainer for them. “I jumped at the opportunity which I am very grateful for.”

Today, Marissa is an established personal trainer whose clients range from teens to older adults. “I start by doing a static posture movement assessment. I look at how the client moves and their posture. I identify any imbalances and see how their body functions during different movements. This helps me design a program that addresses their specific needs, and I can create a customized workout plan for them.”

Marissa believes functional strength training can greatly benefit older adults by improving their ability to perform daily activities with ease and reducing the risk of injuries. It enhances balance, coordination, and flexibility, which can help prevent falls. Additionally, it strengthens muscles and bones, supporting better posture and reducing the likelihood of age-related ailments, while also promoting greater independence and a higher quality of life.

Today, Marissa’s reinvention is complete…at least for now. She is a private contractor who travels locally to homes. She also trains virtually.

“When I got in shape, I realized I had to make that change for myself. My mindset had to change first, and that’s something I try to instill in my clients.

Marissa can be reached via her website

"It's a Living" is a weekly column showcasing residents who are making a living in an interesting way, or people who’ve reinvented their careers because they could no longer ignore the voice in the back of their heads telling them to start over, take a risk, chase a dream or set out on their own.

These are stories of bravery, persistence, resilience, and vision.

Join our readers whose generous donations are making it possible for you to read our news coverage. Help keep local journalism alive and our community strong. Donate today.