Tania Yelton

Tania was born in Woodland Hills, California and then moved to Tucson, Arizona where she graduated from Canyon del Oro High School. While considering college, she fell in love, got married and moved with her new husband to his hometown, Athens, GA. Tania was working for New York and Company and commuting to Atlanta but decided to stay home when her children were born. She got into fitness as a stay-at-home parent and was taking classes at the YMCA when she thought, “I can do that!” and began teaching courses herself. She has since become a personal trainer and helped open Orangetheory Fitness in Athens, where she works as a trainer and manages the fitness programs at both Orange Theory Athens locations. Tania is also the founder of Shared Spaces, a virtual Health and Wellness group and she teaches Zumba on Zoom. She lives in Five Points with her two children, Bella (14) and Hunter (17) and their two cats, Suki and Skittles.




What is your favorite part of your job?


My favorite part of my job is getting people at their most vulnerable place. Fitness is really tough because I am getting people who may have been out of the game for a while or had children and come back. Sometimes they have a low sense of self-worth because they feel like they should do more, or should feel better, or be thinner, or whatever. So my favorite part is teaching them they are an athlete no matter where they are. No matter where. If you are conditioned, de-conditioned, an elite athlete, there is something in everybody that I get to see and that is my favorite because no day is exactly the same. Every day is something different. It is not monotonous and then you also get to tell people it is okay to slow down sometimes. That is truly my favorite part, meeting people where they are.


When you are not working, what is your favorite thing to do in Athens?


I am a runner. I love to run whether it is out and about on the streets or in the trails. I love to run because it is my only time to disconnect from being the trainer or the health and wellness coach. It is my time to shut down and just let my body move. I like Sandy Creek Nature Center. It has been my favorite for years because the trail is really predictable, not incredibly technical so you can go out there and really just kind of rail it in. There are a lot of trails in Georgia that are really rooty so you have to be really on and paying attention. So for me, whether it is Cook’s Trail or the Lakeside Trail, I can kind of shut off and let my feet do what they are supposed to do. That is my favorite thing, or walking into five points and having happy hour somewhere. Those are equal. They fight one another. Sometimes one wins and sometimes they both win.


If you could see any band or show anywhere, who would it be and where?


Hands down I would have seen Michael Jackson in his prime, and I would have Isabella Yelton with me because we both have an obsession with Michael Jackson. I would choose to see it probably on a beach somewhere. My mind is going to this swim up arena that I know doesn’t exist, but in my mind I want it to! We would be in some kind of float with cocktails and with her sparkling cider and we would be watching Michael Jackson.


What advice would you give to your younger self?


I would absolutely tell my younger self that no matter what everybody is doing, it is okay to follow your own journey. Even if that goes against what your parents are saying. I think a lot of times we get caught up in societal standards of what we should be doing based on our group of people that we have grown up with. Looking back, I feel like I did that for the most part, but there was part of me that was trying to fit into a mold of what I thought stay-at-home mom was going to look like. For me, working outside of the home and being a mom, fitness was the perfect blend for me. I think to wrap that up: resist the urge to check the boxes of what everyone else around you is doing. Think for yourself as much as you can.


Do you have a favorite book that you find yourself rereading, referencing or gifting most often?


Untamed by Glennon Doyle. Hands down. It is a life changing book. I got that book the first week of quarantine, and I will tell you it hands down changed my life. There were relationships and friendships around me that were no longer serving the needs of what a good relationship or friendship should look like. I think for many, many years I was afraid to say what I need, ask for what I need. You know, I was a mom and did everything for everybody else and the book really gave me the feet to stand on to ask for what I need. Unfortunately, everybody did not make it through the book in my life, people had to go. I read that book and was like I am done with you, I am done with you and I am done with you. I am not your mother. I am not here to take care of you. Nope, not going to happen. So, the problem with it now is once you have read it you can’t go back. Oh crap, all of those mediocre relationships I was willing to tend to–nuh-uh, not going to happen. I gift it to everybody I know.


Do you have a favorite movie, or remember the first movie you saw in a theatre?


My favorite movie is The Breakfast Club. I remember seeing it and thinking about all of these different types of people coming together and watching them change as they were in that detention all day long. Hands down it was my favorite movie growing up and still in my 40s as well!


If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?


Costa Rica is coming up for me right now because it has a little bit of everything. It has the relaxation, but it also has the adventure side of it. So, I think if I could, I would swoop both my kids up and take them to see what unplugging looks like, how people are able to move through their life without ninety percent of the things we have here but be fulfilled.


What is something interesting about you that most people might not know?


I am an introvert. A lot of people because of my job think I need to be around other people all of the time. I am the biggest homebody you will ever meet. When people find that out about me, they are shocked. If I am not working or running with somebody, my favorite thing to do is sit on the couch and watch tv or movies. I think a lot of people think I am just going, going and going. Another weird fun fact about me is that I did not use Amazon until about three months ago. I have also never internet dated. I just want to be in my home with my things that I like and Amazon was overwhelmingly scary to me.


If you could have lunch with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and where?


If I could have lunch with anyone, it would be with my dad who passed away when I was sixteen, and I would have lunch with him probably up on top of a mountain in Georgia somewhere. I love a spot where you are just not going to be bothered. A picnic backpack lunch where there are no other tables around and just no phones allowed. When you lose a parent when you are young, you miss the questions of the things you wanted to ask them, like what did you do when you were thirty? How did you feel when you were watching your child grow up? Those are the things I think I would want to ask, but not have people close by to make sure that answers were pure.


What three words or phrases come to mind when you think of the word “home?”


Safe, cozy and snacks.





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