MONTVALE, N.J. — Christina Rottinger could barely walk the few blocks from her Montvale home to her twin son and daughter's bus stop in 2013.
Now, she can run it.
Rottinger is the one who put in the work, but she says she owes her life-changing success to fellow Montvale mother Anyssa Lucena, a nutritionist and fitness trainer.
Life had taken a dark turn in 2012 for Rottinger, a once-muscular and slim carpenter’s daughter, when she suffered a blood clot in her leg.
Exercising was impossibly difficult for Rottinger. She couldn’t walk down isles in supermarkets without leaning on shopping carts. She became out of breath taking care of ordinary household chores.
She feared of dying young, like both her mother and grandmother, and wanted to make a change if not for herself, for her two children and husband.
All she needed to get moving again was a little bit of encouragement.
“You’ll never be able to help someone who needs help unless they recognize that they need it,” said Rottinger, 41.”Anyssa saw potential.”
Lucena says she could sense Rottinger was looking to change her life when she began talking to her at a New Years Party in 2015.
At first, it was Lucena who inspired Rottinger, then 233 pounds.
“Anyssa is ridiculously positive,” said Rottinger. “She’s very enthusiastic and it’s contagious and I felt that as well.
“She made me believe that it was doable.”
Lucena provided Rottinger with the roadmap and support to a healthier life. They started with a nutrition plan before transitioning into weight training, rowing and rock climbing at Gravity Vault in Upper Saddle River.
Rottinger’s physical strength and resilience impressed Lucena, most recently when she beat her in an annual rowing competition at Don Bosco Prep in Ramsey finishing first in her age group.
The encouragement now goes both ways for the Montvale mothers.
“It’s a mutual inspiration,” Lucena said. “That’s what makes us both successful.
"That's the main philosophy behind all that I do — lift women up. Lift each other up," she said. "There's enough cattiness in the world sometimes with women."
Rottinger has lost the weight she put on in motherhood and during the blood clot, but has regained her sense of empowerment.
“That’s what I love the most,” she said. “I feel powerful, strong and confident.”