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Why This Mom Says It’s Important For Her Kids to See Her Exercise

Shinneka “Nikki” Baker usually puts others first but never sacrifices her me-time on Tonal.

Tonal member Shinneka "Nikki" Baker
Michelle Wie West. Photo by Tonal

By Shinneka “Nikki” Baker as told to Karen Iorio Adelson

I love to take care of other people before myself. I’m a mom of five, I have four dogs, and I recently became a nurse, so I’m always looking after someone else. As long as everybody else is good, then I’m good. 

When it comes to fitness, though, I need to take the time for myself. Because of my experience working with hospitalized patients and my own family history, I know how important exercise is for health. I’ve seen bed-bound patients who can’t move their arms or legs because they’ve been inactive for so long. If you don’t use it, you lose it. 

My grandma had hypertension, diabetes, and neuropathy pain. I remember her sitting in her bed with a big bag of all her medications. She always told me to eat healthy and work out so I wouldn’t get diagnosed with diabetes. Now, I try my best to honor her wishes. My mom has chronic asthma; witnessing her asthma attacks is one of the scariest things ever. Watching them both suffer made me realize I didn’t want to be like that. I don’t want to wake up every day and have to take a ton of pills. 

I’ve been on a weight loss journey for years, but I figured out that what works best for me is strength training instead of just cardio. While you lose weight with cardio, you can also lose muscle mass. With strength training, you build muscle and lose body fat. That’s what got me interested in Tonal.   

Tonal member Shinneka "Nikki" Baker working out on Tonal

I first tried Tonal out at the Nordstrom store in the King of Prussia mall last August and went back and forth about buying it for a few months. I already had a stationary bike and some home gym equipment, so I wasn’t sure I needed Tonal, too. Then, my daughter and her dad actually ordered one for me as a surprise. 

I loved it right away. The programs and the coaches are just awesome. My favorites are Ackeem, Tanysha, and Tim—I love their energy, how they demonstrate proper form, and how they push me. Even when I’m busy with work and my kids, I try to get on Tonal just for a quick workout. Even if I only do a 10- or 20-minute workout with any of those coaches, I feel like I worked out for an hour. 

My goal is to tone up, specifically my arms and my stomach. I’ve lost weight before, but that included both body fat and muscle, and now I want a toned, muscular appearance. I stay away from the scale because in the past weighing myself made me feel like I wasn’t accomplishing anything. Now, I measure my progress by how much definition I see, how my clothes fit, and what I’m able to accomplish 

I’ve already noticed so many changes in how I feel and what I can do. When I finish a workout on Tonal, I feel like I can conquer the world. At work, other nurses are impressed when I’m able to lift and move patients on my own. Every day, I pat myself on the back for the small things, even just being able to get up out of bed and move. Working in a hospital, I know that not everyone has a chance to do that. Being able to move my body and work out is a blessing.

Tonal member Shinneka "Nikki" Baker stretching after a Tonal workout.

I’m still on my fitness journey, but now I see it as more of a lifestyle. There have been times when I get discouraged, but then I find the courage to dig down and keep going. This is a marathon, not a sprint. 

That’s something I try to instill in my kids: Don’t start anything you won’t finish. I don’t care how long it takes me, I’m going to do it. I recently finished Coach Ackeem’s High-Energy HIIT challenge in the Official Tonal Community. The last few days coincided with my nursing board tests and it was hard to find the time to work out. I could have said I was too busy and given up, but I pushed through. No matter what time of day it was, I took that time to myself and made sure I completed that program. 

It’s important for my kids to see me taking that time for myself to exercise. They understand that’s my me-time because I don’t do anything else for myself. Sometimes they’ll even work out with me, but they know they have to take it seriously. 

For me, working out is about discipline, not motivation. You can lose motivation at any time, but when you have discipline, nothing is going to stop you. That’s how I’m able to keep making exercise a priority even with my busy life. Once you condition your mind like that, you’ll be golden.