Nicole Smith: An inspiring story of dedication

Apr 15 2016 | 02:49 AM

— There’s a certain feeling of accomplishment a person gets when completing a goal they sought out to defeat in the beginning of the year. It goes far beyond the acknowledgement given by others and deeper into a person’s own heart. It’s most definitely not easy completing a set goal in this day and age either. The hustle and bustle of life is a dominant force and to be able to commit time away from it requires a certain dedication that isn’t easily held on to. So what is it that keeps someone in check enough to be able to take that final step and achieve that all encouraging goal?
Nicole Smith, 24, of Wantage, is an exuberant fitness professional who works for a constantly growing gym named, CKO Kickboxing. In the beginning of 2015, she set the goal that she wanted to complete not just one Obstacle Course Race but three and then multiply that by three more. She set her eyes on the coveted Spartan Triple Trifecta Medal. The Spartan Obstacle Course Races are an intense challenge split into different size courses, each getting progressively tougher and longer. Earning a medal at each race garners an extra piece of the Spartan Trifecta medal that comes together with the next two to create a bigger, more sought after, Trifecta Medal. Achieving this once in a year is no simple task – achieving it three times in a year is even tougher. Nicole knew she could do it, though. She just needed the right tools, and luckily, they were right under her nose the entire time.
CKO Kickboxing isn’t just any old gym with free weights and lackluster routines that require headphones and an ability to count repetitions. Instead, it is one hour classes anyone can take that incorporate a real heavy bag, real kickboxing moves, and the addition of bodyweight sets to get your heartrate up and body fat down. The music is always pumping and the trainers are always calling out new moves during the class to keep you active and engaged. Any age, any size, and any person can go at their own pace to lose weight, build muscle, reduce stress and have a fun workout that takes them to the next level of fitness. Nicole trained these classes and inspired so many people to build better lives – to her, it just made common sense that the way to achieve her goal was to not just teach classes but to take them.
Her drive was motivated and her heart was in the right place. Three trifectas. Nine races. Her training began. She varied her classes and paid attention to all the details and suggestions her fellow CKO Instructors gave her during classes. It wasn’t long before she started seeing changes in her body and her abilities. Things she thought she couldn’t do were suddenly things she did and improved on. She kept going and finding ways to get to classes. The CKO schedule for classes always had a timeslot that she could fit into her busy life. Whether it was early in the morning before her day, right after work in the middle of the afternoon, or late at night for those longer days, CKO was always right there for her. She kept going – up until race number 1.
To say she simply completed it would be an understatement. Nicole didn’t just finish the race, she powered herself right through it. Those CKO classes increased her stamina, helped her breathing, got her to climb obstacles quicker, jump over rocks easier, and beat every daunting task in front of her with so much more ease. That first of six races only inspired her to keep taking more CKO classes. She was instructing them and taking them all while juggling a life most would agree was filled. Her desire to keep challenging herself kept growing. She started to be able to challenge herself on hikes and see the world from a different point of view while finding a way to reduce all the stress she had each day. The members she trained and her friends supported her just as much as she supported their goals and suddenly, before she even knew it, Nicole had gained her first Trifecta Medal. Three races down, six to go.
Inspirational and life changing are words to describe what happened in 2015 for Nicole Smith. She didn’t just continue her training with CKO Kickboxing and gain her Triple Spartan Trifecta Medal – she completed the 2015 year with an incredible rank of number 9 in the country of female elite racers in her age group and number 15 in the world for the same category. Imagine how many entrants there were in these worldwide races and look at what one year of training at CKO helped her achieve. Nicole ended 2015 with her goal achieved and well earned. She intends on continuing her racing career for 2016 and will do it carrying the CKO Logo on her at every race. In addition, she also instructs classes at CKO Wayne and CKO Skylands in an effort to help so many others reach their goals as well. We asked her what words she could offer people out there reading this article to help keep them inspired and motivated and this was her response:
“Nothing worthwhile is easy. It takes work to get it. You need to surround yourself with a positive and effective system. Keep people around you that want to see you do well and make sure to help them do well too. Always remind yourself to keep going and never forget that when it’s tough – there are others watching that are inspired by you – inspire them by not quitting. Find a place you love with people you love and take everything one step at a time. The best step I could have taken in my life was walking into a CKO that first day. I found my dreams there – along with people I’ll never forget and a workout I’ll never give up.”
You can schedule a free trial class with a CKO local to you at or you can meet Nicole in person when she is instructing classes at CKO Wayne and CKO Skylands. For more information, please visit and