As the holidays slowly approach, we dedicate this article in the name of peace and gratitude. Born and raised as a military kid from Dallas, Texas, Alysia Rieg came from very humble beginnings. Her father, a Vietnam War Veteran, took his anger out on his family both emotionally and physically. But for Alysia, seeking refuge was only through sports, running track to be exact. She says, “It was the only free sport and I had all that I needed… the shoes on my feet.”
Although she found peace of mind in running, she could not run away from reality. Alysia stayed at her parents’ house for as much as she could endure for the sake of her siblings. Meanwhile, she had a boyfriend who introduced her to bodybuilding, which she started to love and appreciate. But in the midst of finding normalcy in the Wheeler household, the wrath of Alysia’s teenage years grew too strong. At 18 she left home to attend college in Hawaii and got married to a Marine.
Alysia and her husband started their life together in North Carolina with great paying jobs, three children, a beautiful home and consistent family trips. Nearly two decades go by with no sign of storm or misfortune headed their way. But in 2012, Alysia had no idea that the life she helped build would soon crumble. Out of nowhere, her husband filed for divorce and withdrew all individual and joint bank accounts. Leaving her for a fellow Marine Officer 10 years her junior, he told Alysia: “You should see her; she’d beat you in a fight.”
Devastated and with two young daughters in her care, Alysia’s endurance was tested yet once again. After months of severe depression and sadness, her ex-husband, influenced by his new girlfriend refused to sign as her and the children’s sponsor for base housing. Just like that, Alysia was homeless and lived on donations for months to come.
One day, Alysia went to the gym crying and praying on the treadmill. While other gym-goers mistook her tears for sweat, little did they know that they were staring at a soon-to-be personal trainer, author and sponsored athlete. Alysia says her belief in God was so strong that she would hear a voice inside her say, “You were worth more than this. Your past will not go in vain.”
Depleted but not destroyed, Alysia was determined to get her life on track and go back to bodybuilding. One by one, Alysia started to ask fitness trainers for free lessons. Some offered, some refused and others stayed with her to the end. Eventually, a Pro Natural Bodybuilder caught Alysia’s attention and helped train her and ignite her career. Shortly after, Alysia started connecting with the MMA community and was hired as a personal trainer at Five Star Fitness in Yucca Valley, California. There, through Smart Fitness, she was introduced to NCCPT, where she passed her exam with flying colors.
At 43, Alysia is currently training for a bodybuilding competition, the Legends Football League and an amateur boxing match, which will be her first. Although her life is still a work in progress, Alysia donates her time to the less fortunate. She recently joined the advisory board for the H.O.P.E Culture in San Bernardino, which puts together free fitness camps for underprivileged kids and pro athletes. As Alysia looks back at her life, she learned to not just forgive those who took things away from her, but thank them for bringing out the best in her. She says, “You have to be your own cheerleader and I will always have a fighting mentality inside of me. Life is not about happiness… it’s about freedom.
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