Meet the Chief Motivator
Meet the Chief Motivator!
LaTasha Barnes, Owner & Chief Motivator at Imani Wellness is a 10-year military veteran, Personal Trainer, Urban Dance champion, and Entrepreneur.
Dreaming big and achieving big was a way of life for LaTasha as she entered the US Army in 1998, having overcome childhood asthma to compete regionally in both Track & Field and Cheerleading. She was always eager to share her athletic knowledge and work with others to develop new methods of performing better. As a member of our armed forces, she continued to challenge conventional notations of success in her military career, becoming one of the youngest black females to make Sergeant First Class – a feat she accomplished in 7 years, (the average is 12-16 years.) She was hand selected twice in her career for special assignment. First to the personal communications element of the European Commander in Chief and most impressively to the operational command for the President of the United States at the White House Communications Agency. She further distinguished herself when she was inducted into the prestigious Sergant Audie Murphy Club for demonstrating exceptional leadership and care of her soldiers’ total well-being. Leading and coaching was as natural to her as breathing, she established soldiers and family training groups on base to educate and improve the lives and concepts of wellness of the forces and their families. She made it a priority to ensure that her soldiers (and peers) were “prepared for every opportunity that may present itself,” helping others to be their best was clearly what she was made to do.
LaTasha found the opportunity to heed her own advice on more than one occasion. She stepped out of the shadows of athletic maintenance to become a USAEUR Powerlifiting Champion in 2001 and Presidential Physical Fitness Awardee 8 of her 10 years of stellar service. Never one to rest on her laurels or be sidelined by pain, “Mighty Mouse” as she was affectionately called challenged herself to move her physical prowess to even greater levels by entering fitness competitions and became the number two amateur fitness competitor in the Eastern U.S. in 2004.
Then, tragedy struck. LaTasha sustained major injury to her left Piriformis, hamstring, and hip during warm-ups at the Jr. Nationals in 2004. She competed with a mouth guard to endure the pain, and ended up taking 2nd place. As a result of her injuries, she underwent physical therapy for 2 agonizing years.
On the very day that LaTasha was released from PT, March 10, 2006, tragedy struck again. As a pedestrian, an accelerating car struck her on her left side. In addition to re-injuring herself, LaTasha was also diagnosed with a fractured wrist, and accelerated degenerative disc disease due to her spinal misalignment and other joint dysfunctions noted as a result of the impact. The year that followed was lived in angry defiance of the doctor’s recommendation to “sit still,” having gone through 2 years of PT just before.
In 2007, faced with a “debilitating” disease and extensive injury recovery, she began anatomical research to find alternative methods of treatment to regain her athleticism, during which time she received her first Personal Trainer cert from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. After many unsuccessful traditional reconditioning and running programs, she turned to Dance Therapy. Even though it was “therapy” she thought it should at least be challenging and fun – so she looked to urban dance (Hip Hop & Popping to be exact). She found that dance improved her muscle endurance, hip mobility and flexibility, along with her athletic confidence. She found the catalyst she needed to begin again. LaTasha knew that she couldn’t be the only injured person in the world who desired to do more so she began to teach others about Corrective Exercise and shared the benefits of Dance as therapy to any who would listen. She also gave herself permission to dream bigger and joined Urban Artistry Dance Company as a member of their Artistic Direction Team. To be a professional dancer was something she held very close to her heart and because of her recovery needs the dream was coming true.
Seeing the opportunity to have an even greater impact, LaTasha combined her 15-year career in personal training and fitness, with the discipline and focus of the military and dance to begin her company Imani Wellness. Armed with her unique blend of knowledge she built her company to focus on wellness education, life coaching, one-on-one training, injury recovery and prevention training. Her mission – to teach the world, by example, how to live it’s best. Always being one to practice what she preaches LaTasha achieved a dream within a dream when she claimed the titles of US and World Champions in House Dance with her talented dance partner Toyin Sogunro in NYC & Paris, France in 2011. Creating a two-fold opportunity to share the inspiration and culture of urban dance and show the world how living in optimal health can be – full time. LaTasha with the support of her husband Richard Hall, left the corporate world to devote herself fully to the wellness and inspiration of others.
LaTasha Barnes is a living example of how every experience in life can have a positive and endlessly effective purpose.