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"Getting Fit Made Me a Winner"

 

Making a Change

Six years ago, Tammy Harris, 42, made a decision that changed her life. She left her job as a choreographer and director of a dance company to become a fitness instructor. "I wanted to help people of all shapes and sizes get healthy," she says. The move paid off big-time: This past summer, Tammy was voted Top Fitness Instructor by the viewers of LIVE with Kelly and Michael. (The editors of FITNESS helped select the five instructor finalists.) "It's been an unbelievable experience," she says.

A Late Bloomer

Tammy's quest to live a fit lifestyle started when she was in her early twenties. Hoping to become a professional dancer, she auditioned at an NFL cheerleader tryout. The coaches told her that she had the talent but not the athletic physique. "That inspired me to start running and eating healthy," says Tammy, who later landed a job as a cheerleader for the NBA's Houston Rockets.

In 2008, a friend who worked at a gym asked Tammy to create a cardio-dance class. "My goal was a routine that's challenging but that anyone can do," Tammy says. The result was Soul Grooves, a cardio-dance workout set to a Top 40 sound track. "Instead of making a perfect body the goal, we teach people how to let go of stress and build strength," Tammy says. The class was an instant hit.

Finding Her Groove

Between teaching, growing the business, and spending time with her husband and two kids, ages 13 and 10, Tammy juggles a hectic schedule. So she was shocked to get a call from LIVE informing her that she'd been chosen as one of five Top Fitness Instructor finalists. "My coworkers submitted my application," Tammy says. "I had no idea!"

Appearing on the show to teach hosts Kelly Ripa and Michael Strahan her signature moves has been the highlight of Tammy's career. "Becoming Top Fitness Instructor has inspired me to strive even harder to spread this healthy message," says Tammy, who is using the $10,000 prize she won to turn Soul Grooves into a franchise. "I tell my students that you only have one body, so you need to give it all you've got."