You have two master’s degrees, in counseling and sociology, and a Ph.D. in family studies. So why are you most enthused about making people grunt and sweat in the gym?

It’s about improving people’s lives. To get people excited about their health — it changes lives, the chemicals in the body. It’s almost protective. When times get tough on the leg press, on the biceps curl — it hurts and it’s the same thing with life. They get through it. When someone’s struggling, I’m their support system, and they’re going to translate that into their lives. They feel like, ‘Wow, I’ve accomplished something today,’ and that carries over into that person’s life. I’ve been cursed at in session but they keep coming back.

What’s the biggest mistake women make about fitness training?

Women need to lift heavier weights in order to change their bodies. They think if they lift weights, they’re going to look like a body builder. It ain’t gonna happen. Cardio strips the fat. Resistance sculpts the muscles underneath.

Have you always been a fitness buff?

I used to run a lot. I didn’t like the pressure to compete with someone else. I became more interested in yoga. People ask, ‘How did you get your shoulders?’ That’s yoga, that’s "downward dog" and plank. But I didn’t have a lot of definition and I just wanted to sculpt. Resistance training — it’s like the whole world opened up. Then I’d be in the gym and I’ve have guys ask me questions and I thought, ‘Maybe I can really do something with this.’

What’s your day like?

I’m up at 4 a.m. and working out by 4:30. I’m training clients from 6 to 8 a.m. I work (at my office job) from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Then I might have a client from 4 to 5 p.m. From 6 to 7, I’m putting away my bags and getting ready for the next day and eating dinner with my husband. By 8, I’m in bed.

Is your husband also into extreme fitness?

He’s not a freak about it like I am. But he has maxed out his PT test every time he’s taken it.

Are your clients alike in terms of motivation?

Some want to work hard and have no interest in talking. Some people don’t want to work and just hire me to talk to me. I’ve had some people hire me just to teach them yoga, one on one. I just give them what they need.

What’s the best exercise?

The one you’ll do.

Laura Cobb

Age: 35

Title: Family Advocacy Program assistant at Tompkins Barracks in Schwetzigen, Germany

Also: Personal trainer at several local base gyms; yoga instructor

Weight: 115

Maximum weight lifted on the lying leg press: "Something over 500 pounds."

Europe readers: Know someone whose accomplishments, talents, job, hobby, volunteer work, awards or good deeds qualify them for 15 minutes of fame? How about someone whose claim to glory is a bit out of the ordinary — even, dare we say, oddball? Send the person’s name and contact information to:

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Nancy is an Italy-based reporter for Stars and Stripes who writes about military health, legal and social issues. An upstate New York native who served three years in the U.S. Army before graduating from the University of Arizona, she previously worked at The Anchorage Daily News and The Seattle Times. Over her nearly 40-year journalism career she’s won several regional and national awards for her stories and was part of a newsroom-wide team at the Anchorage Daily News that was awarded the 1989 Pulitzer Prize for Public Service.

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