Andra Takalo

Categories: News & Events,Stories

Although I only knew Steve for five years, I am now able to finally understand that the memories and lessons learned from Steve during this time are enough to last a lifetime. I first met Steve when he was new to Lifetime. I was referred to him through another personal trainer. Within the first minutes of working out with Steve, he made fun of me for not being able to do a proper lunge or squat. To this day I can still see that smirk on his face. At the time, I did not think much of starting to work out with a new trainer, but as time went on, Steve became more than our trainer at Lifetime. He became a friend, mentor, and someone I could look up to in all aspects of life.

Commitment Day 2013

If everyone cared about others like Steve did the world would truly be a different place. His love for others was contagious and it gives me something to strive for each and every day. From the bottom of his heart, Steve lived to help others. It took me a while to figure it out, but I now realize that his passion for life and helping others came from his faith. He not only cared about helping people to reach their fitness goals, but he also reached out to others in all aspects of life. He cared enough about others to share his faith with them. He wanted others to know the Lord like he did. He never forced, just told me his new favorite “Jesus songs” or about a really great message he heard at church the weekend before.  As his faith grew over the years, he became the friend and mentor that I will forever remember him by.

A training session with Steve was unlike any other I have experienced. Somehow he could push me in a way that made me believe I could achieve anything. When I would say that I couldn’t do anymore, he would crack a joke or tell me I didn’t have a choice. His responses always worked and always came at the right time. He had a special way of knowing exactly when to say the right thing.  He understood people and knew exactly what they needed. The way Steve believed in me allowed me to believe in myself.

Looking back on the last five years, I have so much to be thankful to Steve for.  Not only did Steve help me to achieve my goal of becoming a college athlete, but he also gave me so much more. Without me knowing, Steve gave me an entire support system and friends for a lifetime. Throughout the past five years, Steve would have us train with other incredible young athletes. Each of us, he invested his time into to help us reach the level that we wanted to be at. He referred to us as his kids. He really did care about us as if we were one of his own. He taught us how to live a healthy lifestyle and how to truly enjoy working out. He was the link that helped us to become friends. Most importantly, he gave us friendships to help support each other through the ups and downs of life and being competitive athletes. Steve also introduced my sister Alexa and I to his beloved Ashley and her amazing sister Mel several years ago. In the beginning, Steve invited us to come to boxing class. He would pair Alexa and I up with Ashley and Mel and we would try to keep up with them during the workouts. Through this, Steve gave us two beautiful and inspirational women of God that Alexa and I look up to. Their relationship as sisters helped Alexa and I to see how much of a blessing a sister really is. The fact that my main training partner when we trained with Steve was Alexa was a blessing in itself. As many people who trained with Steve know, he always had little nicknames for everyone. Alexa was forever known to Steve as “the twelve year old” because when we began training with him she was just that.  On the other hand, I was Gumby due to my inflexibility and awkward lunges. As the years progressed, Steve helped Alexa and I to learn how to encourage each other and to have healthy competition while training. As many of you know that can be difficult to do with siblings. I really do believe that the fact that we could inspire and help each other in training sessions helped us to shape our relationship as sisters. I am so thankful that Steve was able to teach us these lessons so early on in our lives.

Several times the topic of Steve possibly transferring to different clubs had come up. We always told him that we never wanted to lose him as our trainer so the answer from us was always that we would follow him wherever he went. Steve always promised that he would do whatever it took to continue training us. In fact, when I left for college I could always count on getting weekly workout plans from Steve in my email as well as a call or text to check up on how I was doing. Whenever I came back in town, Steve made a point to fit me into his schedule or he would come in early on the weekend to get me in before I left to go back to school. The week Steve passed away we had a plan to get together on that Saturday to discuss my post-season workout plans. He was always there for me during every step not only in the fitness aspect, but also in everyday life. My family developed a friendship with Steve and Ashley that has really changed and impacted my life. Seeing Steve and Ashley commit themselves to each other and seeing the strength of their faith as a family is something that will truly stay with me forever.

It is crazy to think that I always knew it was a possibility that Steve would not be right down the road from my house, but it never occurred to me that there would be a day that he would not be with us in person. To this day, it still does not seem like reality. However, I have started to see the good that God has brought from such a devastating situation. Steve’s life was truly a testimony to God, he spoke his faith and along the way he impacted an incredible amount of people. In fact, because of Steve, hundreds of people recently committed to living a life of vitality on Commitment Day in honor of Steve and on the day of Steve’s funeral, numerous people gave their life to the Lord. This is truly an incredible feat for one man to accomplish. The more amazing thing is the fact that Steve will continue to change the world for years and years to come.

Steve has left behind his lessons, his ideas, and countless memories that will live on through other people. As Steve carries out his eternal life in Heaven I hope he is able to look down on others and myself and be proud of how we changed before we had to. Steve will forever be an example for me and to anyone else who either knew him or is getting to know about him through others. I will keep with me the memories of Steve’s passion for fitness and living a healthy lifestyle. Importantly, I will never forget his compassion and love for others and the Lord. I will remember the countless conversations that involved the words protein, meathead, and beast mode. I will laugh when I think of the many med ball, bosu, booty band and box jump incidents throughout the years. When I am down or struggling to push myself I will hear his humorous remarks or words of encouragement. I will remember the importance of always getting new running shoes and of course the even larger importance that they were stylish and a good color. The thought of Steve will remind that I am able to reach my goals in life and go above and beyond.  Both Alexa and I owe our extreme thanks to Steve for helping us to be where we are at today. The times Steve told us that he was proud of Alexa and I is something that I will hold in my heart for forever.

I can only hope that one-day I will be able to impact others like Steve has impacted me and a countless number of people. For now, I will continue to strive to live a life of vitality by using what Steve has taught me in every aspect of life. Through my faith, I am sure that I will see Steve again. Until that day, I will continue to live how Steve would have wanted. After all, my first Heavenly workout with Steve will not be very pleasant if I am not in shape and haven’t mastered my lunges.  My challenge for you is to do the same. Live a life of vitality and change before you have to as Steve committed himself to doing so. Help me impact others to help Steve Toms continue what he started in order to change the world.

A few of Steve’s kids at Steve and Ashley’s Wedding 2012

Leave a Reply