August 16, 2012 was the day that Daniell Nielson’s life changed forever. Her husband, Brandon Nielson, a St. John the Baptist deputy was ambushed and killed by anti-government extremists. “Everything changed that day,” said Daniell. “Everything.”
At age 35, Nielsen was left to care for the couple’s five children.
Realizing that she needed to be strong for the kids, just six weeks after her husband died, Nielsen joined Anytime Fitness in Destrehan. She and Brandon had struggled with their weight for years. Joining the club was part of process that Nielsen refers to as “a choice to be strong.”
“People say to me, ‘I don’t know where you get your strength,’” Daniell said. “I tell them that strength is not something you’re born with. You have to choose to be strong – every day, often multiple times in a single day.”
Personal trainer Brandon Hebert volunteered to train Nielsen for free.
“We talked a lot and I understood that she wanted to change her identity from someone whose life was just shattered and broken into someone who was able to mold herself into a better person,” said Hebert. “I was honored to help her do that.”
Working out at Anytime Fitness several times a week, Nielsen has lost more than 80 pounds and she’s strengthened virtually every muscle in her body.
“I don’t want people to feel sorry for me,” Nielsen says. “I want them to say, ‘This is what happened to her and this is how she reacted. This is how she overcame this tragedy in her life.’”