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How a personal training certificate turned Navy vet’s passion for fitness into a dream job

At 38 years old, Ann Scott retired from the Navy and needed a new career.

GI Bill benefits in hand, she explored a plethora of options at Tidewater Community College, which played to her love of learning by offering so many versatile programs.

That explains why Scott has an Associate of Science in General Studies to go with an Associate of Applied Science in Accounting along with her Career Studies Certificate in Accounting Technician. She also took classes toward an Associate of Applied Science in Physical Therapist Assistant, but then stumbled into a career field that was the natural fit all along.

Scott and husband Jeffrey are fitness buffs who would rather be in the gym than anywhere else.

“I’ve got 20,000 steps today, which is about normal,” she says, glancing at her Fitbit.

In addition to the physical benefits, both needed the social aspect the gym offers given the challenging transition from military to civilian life.

“Body pump and doing yoga really helped me adjust,” said Scott, whose final deployment in Iraq involved working for Gen. Petraeus’ Boots on the Ground operation.

Ann Scott student center
Scott works out at the gym in the Virginia Beach Campus Student Center.

When Scott discovered TCC’s Career Studies Certificate in Personal Training and Fitness, she was thrilled. She and Jeff both completed the 24-credit program on the Virginia Beach Campus that stresses anatomy, weight lifting, nutrition, health, communication and marketing together. Instructor Rachel Thompson became a mentor.

“I love how the human body works and you can apply it to anything you do – any sport, any physical activity,” she said. “Something as simple as good posture can impact having a strong core.”

They graduated in 2016, and while Jeff went on to be certified in massage therapy, Ann went to work in Virginia Beach Public Schools. While working as a substitute physical education teacher, she was hired as a cross country and track coach at Salem High. She did some substitute teaching, too, and was inspired when she saw the interaction between the kids at Old Donation School in Virginia Beach and Thompson, who works there as a physical education instructor.

“She was so good with them and they loved her,” Scott said. “I realized that would be a pretty good job.”

Scott got hired to teach physical education at Pembroke Elementary, where she has spent the last two years.

Scott stressed more than jogging and jumping jacks to her students. At Salem, she’d spy the high school athletes filling up on burgers, fries and soda before a meet and cringe. So she started showing up with a cooler of her own snacks – granola bars, pretzels, chocolate milk – healthy options that provided fuel instead of sugar. She also introduced high protein options to run clubs at the elementary level, and soon had youngsters more cognizant of what goes into their bodies.

Next month Scott is primed to start a new position as a physical education instructor at Old Donation. She’s realized her joy comes in impacting youth at an early age.

“You want health and fitness to be a lifelong thing,” she said. “If they find it and love it, they’ll do it for the rest of their lives.”