Highlighting Inspiring Women: She makes others stronger

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Throughout March, which is Women’s History Month, the North Iowa Times will again publish a series of articles highlighting local women. Whether it’s through their careers, hobbies, volunteer efforts or unique personalities, these women have become an inspiration to others.


By Audrey Posten, North Iowa Times

Tera Mathis has strived to be physically strong from a young age.

“I lifted in the weight room as a girl, in high school,” she recalled. “At the time, it was not a friendly female atmosphere, but I learned a lot from watching the boys.”

She’s tackled the demands of farming and firefighting. After having kids, exercise and proper nutrition became a way not just to keep her mind and body strong, but to set a healthy example for her sons. 

“I’ve always liked to be physically challenged,” she quipped.

A little over 10 years ago, Tera made that passion a career and became a personal trainer. Today, through Tera Mathis Coaching, she helps others hone their own physical and mental strength.

Tera coaches clients in a group setting out of locations in Waukon and Monona. But you won’t find a conventional gym set-up, with fancy machines. Instead, patrons train like athletes, utilizing equipment like kettlebells, ropes, even tires.

She offers nutritional advice that helps fuel their workouts and their lifestyles. Attendees also focus on their mindset, creating good habits, learning new things and building confidence.

People are discouraged from cutting foods from their diets or thinking of exercise as a punishment.

“What I do is different,” Tera said. “It used to be everyone would do the same thing, but I tailor it to where you’re at in the fitness journey. As you progress, I challenge you to push yourself more.”

“Things change a lot in the fitness industry,” she added. “It’s important to be adaptable. Every year, I try to better educate myself.”

Like Tera once did, her clients often hope to lose baby weight or drop a couple sizes. 

“But it’s not just about the weight loss. You don’t have to be a fitness model,” she stressed. “It’s good to be strong and empowered, to every day be a little better version of yourself.”

“I want your body to feel good, to crave this,” Tera said.

Tera coaches largely women, ranging from teenagers to 65 year olds. No matter your age or fitness level, she said it’s never too late to improve your health and wellness, to change your lifestyle.

New attendees ease into workouts. The other ladies in the group are welcoming—not judgmental.

“They’re all at different stages,” Tera said. “They feed off each other in a positive way.”

Tera personally strength trains three times per week and, outside that, remains active with her family, doing activities like playing tennis, hiking, fishing and karate. She encourages others to follow a similar routine.

“It’s hard this time of year,” she acknowledged, “but being active in life, outside the gym, sustains the results.”

Physical fitness is important, Tera explained, because of how it makes you feel. She recalled periods when she took time off or was busy with her kids. There was a notable difference in how she handled stress and how she ate.

“You can decompress, move and get the mental stress out,” when you exercise, she said. “It just makes you feel good. When you’re physically strong, you’re emotionally and mentally strong too.”

Because of her coaching, Tera said one woman admitted she finally gained the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Another woman felt confident and strong enough to try parasailing for the first time while she was on a recent vacation. Those experiences are what stick with Tera.

“For me, to see their success, it’s so much more than a number on a scale,” she shared, tears shining in her eyes. “It’s seeing them confident and crushing life.”

“I love helping people. You get so much coaching and support,” she reflected. “I pour my heart and soul into everyone who walks through the door.”

Learn more on the “Tera Mathis Coaching” Facebook page.

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