Publication: Natural Muscle Magazine – 2013 ©
By Carolina Gonzalez
Photography by Carolina Gonzalez and Alex Gonzalez
Page layout by Alex Gonzalez
Embracing an integrated active lifestyle has been proven to be quite the challenge for most people, but assuming it despite life-threatening obstacles is a difficult challenge, especially for those who have been born to be active, to be champions, and to be the best!
Idalis Velazquez, also known as Idalis Quiles, used to be a professional track and field competitor who broke records representing Puerto Rico. During the last years of her athletic career, she was a member of the Florida Atlantic University team in The United States. Currently, Idalis is 27 years old, a wife, a mother, and a survivor. After a life-threatening incident, she has become a certified personal trainer whose goal is to share her knowledge and invite women to get out of their comfort zone, get healthy, stronger inside and out, and get their lives back.
“Sports gave me a purpose and a goal in life.”
Dozens of medals, titles, and scholarships are a testimony to Idaliz’s dedication and winning nature.
Idalis was a child when she began dreaming of being a champion. “Sports gave me a purpose and a goal in life. Tennis was one of the first sports I played at a competitive level, and by age eleven, I had played nationals and got second place in doubles. Around that time, I was chosen to attend the best School of Sports in Salinas, Puerto Rico. I also competed in high-impact sports like Judo and Track and Field, including distance running, hurdles, high jump, long jump, and other events.”
Idalis’ first years were as bright as gold, so it was her entire athletic career. She won multiple medals. Among those are three gold medals in 1996: 80 Meters, High Jump, and Pentathlon. The latter is a track and field competition in which each participant competes in five events. The same year, Idalis won bronze at the Rhode Island Nationals in Judo.
In 1999, while still competing at doubles in Tennis and winning second place, Idalis became, once again, the National Champion in High Jump. She competed at dozens of sports events worldwide for over a decade, including Heptathlons – 7 Track and Field events. Universities in the United States and Puerto Rico wanted her, and world-known companies wanted to sponsor her.
From 2002 until 2005, under a scholarship supporting female athletes, Idalis attended Turabo University in Puerto Rico. The list of titles is impressive, and her achievements have become landmarks for others as she holds records. For example, in 2003, Idalis set the National record in Long Jump with 6.07 meters. Around that time, she also became the first Puerto Rican female competitor to score over 5000 points in the Heptathlon event during the Pan-American Juvenile Games while setting the third-best record in the country. Even Coca-Cola Company, which used to sponsor only male athletes, decided to support Idalis.
Becoming a Mother
In 2005, Idalis was forced to take a break from the world of sports. She had suffered a hamstring injury and had severe neck pain due to a previous car accident. “According to the doctor, I should stop playing sports!” This news did not settle well with Idalis and her coaches. However, she took the summer to heal.
At this time, her life changed, and she met the love of her life. Soon after, she moved to South Florida, got married, and started a family. Her first daughter was born in 2006.
Quickly in 2007, Idalis found herself in the middle of a powerful comeback as part of the FAU Owl team. “I was an honor roll athlete student with a full scholarship, and on February 8th, 2008, I broke another record, this time the FAU record at the Indoor Track and Field Long Jump Event: 05.77m.
With 11 gold, five silver, and three bronze medals as part of her national resume, along with the FAU record and her National Record in PR still standing, Idalis’ athletic career was on the right track.
Becoming a Personal Trainer
“My goal is to have a positive influence on others while embracing a more balanced and integrated lifestyle.”
But in 2009, Idalis’ world changed in a matter of hours. She suffered a Subarachnoid Hemorrhage while pregnant with her second daughter. This type of bleeding, also known as SAH, occurs in the subarachnoid space in the brain, and it is considered a form of stroke that can lead to death or severe disability. “I was in the best shape of my life before this incident. I had improved my nutrition; I had great endurance, stamina, and speed. I was looking forward to being a champion at big international competitions, but suddenly, I was taken to the ER with my life at risk. Doctors did not know what caused the bleeding, but the prognosis was devastating for my athletic career. I was in the hospital for a week. For a year and a half after leaving the hospital, I lived under a cloud of fear because it could happen again.”
After this occurrence and an MRI, doctors instructed Idalis to avoid high-impact sports. “It was a challenging time for us, and it took me quite some time to accept the fact that sports – at a competitive level – would not be a part of my life anymore.” Moments of deep sadness made Idalis’ healing process longer. She was devastated, but with the support of her husband and looking forward to her daughters’ future, she refocused her energy and discovered a new way to become active and remain athletic. “We were, and we are extremely grateful that I am alive and that my second child did not suffer because of it. As a result, I found the strength to realize that although Track and Field is my passion and I miss it a lot, I was still full of life. So now, I have modified my focus. My goal is to have a positive influence on others while embracing a more balanced and integrated lifestyle.”
By incorporating everyday exercise routines and maintaining healthy nutrition, Idalis has found a positive balance that is still challenging but not tremendously demanding. “Once the doctor gave me the green light to play sports again, I tailored my training and made it suitable for my new present. I could not continue living and enjoying life because I was not competing. On the contrary, I adapted to a new training routine and a lifestyle that still includes my passion for sports while keeping in mind that the goal is to be healthy and happy. Now I Live Life in Shape”.
“I am a winner, and I want others to be winners so we can all achieve our goals.”
When it comes to Track and Field competitions, there is always a finish line to be crossed or a time to be surpassed. Nowadays, Idalis embraces the finish lines of everyday life. “Teaching others what I know makes me happy. Setting targets and achieving them is still very rewarding, no matter how big or small. I am not a professional athlete anymore, but I am still an athlete, and I train like one. It is my nature to try to be the best I can be in any field. I can ignite the same fire in those who want to achieve wellness and athletic purposes. I did not settle. I am a winner, and I want others to be winners so we can all achieve our goals.”
Currently, Idalis is coaching women in South Florida. But her ambition is to spark the athletic light of millions of people. With confidence, we can all visualize her dreams becoming a reality.
Follow Idalis via Social Media under @IVFitness