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Apr 02nd
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Strong Like Susan

susan 1Santa Cruz local selected as YouTube Next Trainer

Before this year, Susan Becraft was just your average corporate professional. But her rock-hard abs and perfectly defined biceps were proof that outside of work, she had a passion not shared by most of her colleagues. The 46-year-old Santa Cruz resident recently made the switch and became a personal trainer, a decision that has already earned her international recognition. Becraft began working toward her goal earlier this year, and in July she landed a job at as a personal trainer at Rocky’s Gym in Santa Cruz.

For all her hard work, Becraft was awarded one of just 16 spots in YouTube’s Next Trainer program. The program was developed to give support to ambitious trainers working to expand their audience and grow their careers. Fitness professionals in eight different countries competed for a chance to participate in the program, and Becraft knows just how lucky she is to have been chosen.

“This was a completely surprise. This is the cherry on top of the ice cream,” says Becraft. “This is completely unexpected and everything is just amazing right now.”

Becraft has already seen an uptick in support from the Internet community. Though her YouTube channel has been active for almost a month, she had only 86 subscribers the day she was selected for the program. Less than a week later, that number had jumped to 360.

YouTube has provided Becraft and the other participants with $5,000 worth of video production equipment and $10,000 worth of promotion. Becraft will take part in a 12-week virtual course through Google+ Hangouts, a video chat program. Participants will learn the basics of video production and editing, as well as receiving guidance from fitness industry gurus like Billy Blanks, the inventor of Tae Bo.

With her perfectly chiseled frame, Becraft looks to most like a lifelong athlete who has spent decades in peak physical condition. But she wasn’t always so lucky. At 22, Becraft was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that causes joint pain, muscle weakness, memory loss, fevers and crippling fatigue. When she was first diagnosed, Becraft was bedridden for 2.5 years. Some days, she feels perfectly healthy. But on others, she can become so weak she can’t even take herself to the doctor.

“It literally hit me like lightening,” she says. “It truly tested my inner strength and there were days I didn’t think I could make it much longer.”

But the illness became an inspiration for Becraft, motivating her to work her hardest with the body she was given.

“Exercising was my way taking some control back after not having any during the years I was bedridden,” says Becraft. “Staying not only physically fit, but emotionally fit, is the key for me.”

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