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Muna R – Empowerment

At a very young age I became what I thought was overweight.  I was a little active, playing softball, basketball, and doing tumbling. Nothing to give me very much motivation to think about physical fitness.  As a navy brat with a lot of siblings and little money, our nutrition was never a focus and both my parents smoked.  

As it usually happens, I picked up that habit as well.  Mainly because it meant I was more grown up.  I wanted to be the boss of my life.  

As I became a teenager and a young adult, I gained more weight, smoked more cigarettes, and became generally more unhealthy and unhappy in life.  I married quite young, you know, to be an adult as early as possible.  The cycle continued.  

Fast forward through years of unhealthy behavior and sticking around in a physically abusive marriage, I topped out at 230 (5’2” btw).  I started to know that something had to be done.  My mother was in and out of the hospital for countless ailments that I never believed existed.  I didn’t want to end up like her.  I felt very out of control.

So I joined a gym.  Bally’s Total Fitness.  I guess I can’t credit them with saving my life.  I would suppose it was the managers and directors at my company who encouraged me to join a gym, and made it to where I could afford to join a gym.  I fell in love with step like I never thought.  It was hard, but oh so much fun to complete a combo.  I lost a little weight, enough to make me want MORE!

I was starting to enjoy LIFE.  

With that came the next step, education.  I was encouraged by my mentor, Estelle, to go back to school.  So I did.  With that came empowerment.  

So I left my husband and started to feel LIFE.  

So down I went, to 135 lbs.  and then I decided to train for my first 5k! The Pilot Fireball Classic.  I ran for 30 minutes a few times per week and then ran my first race on that warm July night in 2005.

My mother passed away March of 2006.  I chose not to deal with it.  We had argued a lot because I was so frustrated with her health choices.  

I continued on in running a few races here and there, and then ran my first half marathon in April of 2006.  Now that was empowering.  To start and finish something so tough.  So I did another in 2007, and then my first marathon in 2008.  

So bucket list done! I felt like I was done and could go on about my life.  So I did.  I continued to teach group fitness and run here and there.  I had a baby, but then went through a bad divorce.  My empowerment had been taken away.  I had this baby who would have to be away from her mother for days at a time.  It was devastating to me.  

Then one day a friend called me and asked me to train her to run a half.  She had just gone through a divorce and her counselor told her to train for a half marathon.  So every weekend we met to run.  I researched and created a running plan for us.  I ran next to her and Amelia, my daughter, in her stroller.  Rain, sleet, sunshine, snow….we ran through it all.  Our half marathon came and we met and exceeded our goal! I got a sub 2 and she got a 2:30!

That was empowering. I felt empowered again! It was like a drug I couldn’t stop.  I had even quit smoking through all of it.  

I have now run 15 marathons, countless half marathons, 8 half Iron distance triathlons, 2 going on 3 Full Ironman races, countless miles on the bike and run….but what makes me feel more empowered is that I can do this, and I am helping others to do it.  Even though I continued my accounting degrees up to my masters, I decided that I didn’t want to be in an office crunching someone elses numbers.  I was put here to teach people from my knowledge, take away their excuses and replace them with empowerment! So now not only do I train runners and personal train those that need help, I also direct races and work races so that others can inspire and use their empowerment! If my first word is empowerment, my other first word is LIFE.  Running and triathlon has helped me to be empowered and live life.  Helping others with running and triathlon has helped me to give others empowerment and to live their life.  

#REALwomenmove #IronMuna #EMPOWERED #LIFE


Muna is a USAT Certified RD and Certified Personal Trainer and Mossa Group Fitness Instructor living in Knoxville, TN.  You can find her on facebook, Instagram, and at