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The Power of Fitness: Real Women Share Their Stories

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You know that exercise is great for your health, but it can also help you muscle through major life challenges. From fending off an attacker to defeating a deadly disease, these four women are living proof of the power of fitness. Read on for serious inspiration.

"Fitness gave me the strength to fight off an attacker."

The encounter started like a bad horror flick. It was still dark outside one morning last September when Katy Vander Roest, 24, suddenly woke in her Cincinnati sublevel apartment. "The room felt strange somehow, and I sat up in bed," she recalls. "I put my arms at my sides, and then I felt a gloved hand." Screaming, she looked down to see a man crouching on the floor.

Katy, a student and bartender, wasn't about to be a helpless victim. First she punched the intruder in the face. Hard. Then she jumped out of bed and pinned the would-be rapist, who police estimate was six foot one and 185 pounds, over a low dresser. "I held him down with my left hand and hit him in the face with my right," says Katy, who is five foot eight and 145 pounds. "I was yelling at him to get out, and he was begging for me to stop."

She maneuvered him out of her room, down the hall and through the front door. She literally punched him out of her apartment, an outcome Katy credits to CrossFit, an intense strength-and-conditioning program that is especially popular with police academies and military units. Katy, who had played soccer and basketball and run track as a kid, was introduced to the tough training regimen by her boyfriend; she'd been doing it daily for several months. She loved the challenge and variety of the constantly changing workouts and was putting in up to 12 hours a week at her local CrossFit gym. At the time of the break-in, she had five new pounds of solid muscle to show for her dedication and hard work.

Police arrested the intruder that night; he was eventually convicted and sentenced to five years. "Looking back, I realize how scary it was," Katy says. "Other girls I've talked to say that if the same thing had happened to them, they would've frozen. But I felt as if I were physically ready to fight back, and that made me less afraid. I feel strong on the outside and the inside."

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kristanoelpeterson wrote:

The first one, about the woman who punched the rapist out of her apartment, was probably the best thing I've read in my entire life.

8/4/2010 10:32:13 AM Report Abuse
ronniegramma wrote:

I know personally how fitness can make recovery so much faster and permanent. after a heartattack my Dr said my fitness level saved my life, I am 72 yrs young

7/29/2010 07:24:33 AM Report Abuse
exurena wrote:

Thank you for sharing these stories, this has motivated me!

7/28/2010 01:06:29 PM Report Abuse
bckuntz1 wrote:

Amazing stories!

7/28/2010 10:35:24 AM Report Abuse
dawnd17 wrote:

All these women are so inspiring! When I feel like I can't do another push-up, I can think of these amazing women to remind me that I can. Thanks for sharing your stories!

7/28/2010 10:16:16 AM Report Abuse

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