I first became aware of Kita Johnson while taking a boxing class. And how could I not notice: tall, radiant, blond hair streaked with pink, zebra stripped boxing gloves rocking the heavy bag with each strike. This girl is bad.After class I introduced myself and thus began a close friendship. Of course I didn’t realize it then, but Kita had once been the toast of Chicago where she worked as a trainer to the stars while endorsing various health products on TV.
She was on top of the world. Then came her accident, some 15 years ago, where she was thrown from a horse and broke her back in five places. The doctors gave her the news that she would never walk again. Thankfully, Kita never listened.
According to her twin sister, Malia, “They didn’t know who they were talking to.” The words proved prophetic as Kita not only walked, but also returned stronger than ever. Then, in 2003, another horse riding accident left her with a broken neck. Flat out in a hospital bed, the doctors again pronounced her immobile for life.
“I knew I would walk again, however, and I had my sister Malia hold resistance bands in the bathtub for me, putting tension on my legs as she simulated walking movements.” Months later Kita had again defied all odds, this time returning to capture world titles in two martial arts disciplines.
You may recognize Kita, as she appeared as a fitness coach most mornings on KUSI for five years. She has also appeared on NBC regularly, stared in countless fitness videos and written a book with fitness guru Jay Robb. She has trained with Jack LaLanne, with whom she used to have push up contests.
As a trainer, Kita has countless success stories of coaching athletes in their comebacks, the latest being that of her fiancé, Josh Cangelosi, a surfer who shattered his shoulder while skateboarding six months ago. The doctors had never seen such a violent break, and prepared to replace the splintered bones with artificial parts. While the medical establishment was skeptical Josh would ever surf again, three months later he was surfing and training in martial arts, all thanks to Kita’s rehab program.
According to Kita, “I see many surfers making basic mistakes before and after entering the water. They should learn functional stretching, not just do that side bend thing. It’s also a good idea to warm up the core of the body with wind sprints and a few pull-ups, to jump up and down and do a few squats before paddling out. To keep hydration levels up, put a little L-Glutamine in your water pre and post surf sessions.
“Surfers often have back problems, and for those wanting to strengthen the lower lumbar, start with a single leg pelvic tilt and work up to double leg pelvic tilts. I’m an expert on curing back pain, after breaking my back, and I can teach people to get out of pain.”
About a year ago I offered my editing services on the book Kita is writing in exchange for training. I can honestly say there’s nothing like what she does, and every serious surfer owes themselves at least a few sessions with Kita, especially if they are in pain, considering riding big waves or competing in the pro ranks.
Contact Kita for a free 30-minute fitness evaluation at (858) 349-6333, or email her at Kitafit.com
Here’s to surfing your best!