Maria Teresa Mendizabal, NSCA-CPT,*D

Maria_MendizabalMaria Teresa Mendizabal started her professional career as a ballet and flamenco dancer, dancing for several companies in Puerto Rico. She earned her first Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration at the University of Puerto Rico and was the owner of Ballet and Flamenco Dancing School for 25 years. During the 1970s the aerobic training modality was introduced in Puerto Rico and together with Christine Vega, Aerobic Trainings International, an educational organization for the personal training and fitness profession, was started. She then completed her second Bachelor’s degree (magna cum laude) in Physical Education, at the University of Puerto Rico. In 1997 she became an NSCA Member, and is a current NSCA-CPT,*D. She is also certified by the ACSM as a Health Fitness Instructor and holds a Personal Trainer Certificate. Mendizabal also holds Group Certificates from ACE, AFAA, and AEA. Additional certifications include Stott Pilates, TRX, Willpower and Grace, Kickboxing, and Zumba. She is an international presenter, having presented in the U.S., Venezuela, Colombia, Nicaragua, Dominican Republic, Rome, Spain and Puerto Rico. Additional achievements include a fitness weekly column for five years in “El Nuevo Día,” the first newspaper in Puerto Rico and in “Buena Vida,” a fitness magazine, as well as starring in a TV fitness program for 6 years. Mendizabal is the current NSCA State Director for Puerto Rico, and was awarded the NSCA Personal Trainer of the Year award in 2004, and the NSCA State Director of the Year in 2012.

1. How did you get started in your career?
I was a professional ballet and flamenco dancer, and then became a ballet and flamenco professor. In my classes I always included fitness and exercises for my students. I introduced aerobic dancing in Puerto Rico some time ago and from there I have not stopped studying and getting information from the best fitness organizations around the world.

2. Who has helped you achieve your personal career goals? How did they help?
For my personal trainer and fitness specialist career I have had three mentors, whom I will always be grateful to. First, my husband Hector, who has always given me the support and energy to go on. Second, Dr. Jose Vicente, Physiologist and Professor of Physiology and Anatomy at the University of Puerto Rico. After assisting him in two of his classes (without credit) he recommended me to continue studying and graduate with a second Bachelor’s degree in Physical Education. Third, my dear friend and partner, Christine L. Vega. Her trust in me filled me up with an everlasting energy.

3. How has the NSCA helped in your professional career?
Being an NSCA Member for so many years has given me much more than expected. Attending NSCA conferences, clinics, seminars, etc. has been a continuing education in my career; more so with their trust in my performance as State Director for Puerto Rico.

4. In what ways have you been involved with the NSCA?
I have been the State Director for Puerto Rico since 2003 and have been working with other committees for several years. Being the State Director for all these years has given me the opportunity to influence the fitness industry, help others learn about the benefits of NSCA Membership, and understand the value of NSCA certifications. Our fitness colleagues always look forward to our yearly state clinics; this is seen in how the NSCA’s Membership and number of people with NSCA-CPT and CSCS® certifications has grown in Puerto Rico.

5. How has volunteering helped you contribute to your community?
I love and enjoy my volunteer work as State Director. Offering my community continuous information about the NSCA, its Membership benefits, and certifications has raised the levels of our fitness professions to its maximum.

6. What personal goals have you achieved by volunteering with the NSCA?
Puerto Rico is a very small island. One of my first goals is to make every single fitness facility, gym, or university aware of the NSCA. This has been possible through the multiple newspaper and fitness magazine articles I have written, the numerous conferences I have held, and the personal contacts I have made.

7. What advice would you provide to those looking to volunteer with the NSCA?
Get involved; don’t lose a single opportunity to assist in NSCA’s seminars, conferences, or symposia. Realize that you are the NSCA.

8. What advice would you give to those just starting out in their career?
Never believe that you know everything, this will be the end of your career. Keep on studying, reading, and looking for ways to use new research. You are starting a profession were you can never stop learning.

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