A 44-year-old Erie woman has used fitness as an outlet to deal with hardships in her life.
She is now using her platform to bring awareness to causes that mean a lot to her. At one point, Michelle Gonda was afraid to enter the weight room at the YMCA, but fast forward to now, and Gonda is lifting more than what she weighs.
For some people, fitness is just a way to get in shape, but for Gonda, it’s a lifestyle that gives her purpose.
“It’s more than just the physical aspects of it. It’s more mental at this point,” said Michelle Gonda, bodybuilder.
Gonda is 44-years-old and a mother of four. For the past six years, she has been competing in bodybuilding competitions. She said those competitions helped her get through a difficult time after her son took his life in 2017.
“The same things I needed to do to get through competing also helped me through that grief. It forced me to get out of bed. It forced me to eat. It forced me to workout,” said Gonda.
After competing in nationals, Gonda said she lost some of her momentum, so she decided to find another passion that was near and dear to her heart.
Since two of her sons were Marines, Gonda decided to use her Ms. Health and Fitness Magazine platform to raise money for the Wounded Warrior Project.
Gonda’s friend Kelly Gibson said it’s been very inspirational witnessing Michelle’s journey.
“Michelle is so spot on when she says ‘everyone has something going on, and that fitness, strength, and conditioning just gets your mind off everything,'” said Kelly Gibson, Health Living Director, YMCA.
Gonda is already in training for next years competition. She said she is aiming for first place.
During Gonda’s time as a fitness model, she was able to raise a substantial amount of money for the Wounded Warriors Project through the Ms. Health and Fitness Competition.