“My favorite food is pizza… Actually, I’ll eat anything you give me,” Caroline Dockery, UNC Asheville’s newest fitness instructor, told me as she took a big swig of water.
She had just finished teaching two back-to-back fitness classes - abs blast and tabata express - and the last thing I thought she was going to tell me was that her favorite food is pizza. I don’t know what I was expecting, but I certainly loved her honesty.
Dockery, a freshman, completed the instructor training during her first semester at UNCA in Fall 2016 and jumped right into teaching three cardio and strength training classes each week during the Spring 2017 semester.
“I started my fitness journey my junior year of high school,” Dockery said. “I really wanted to change my body composition and it has evolved into my lifestyle.”
With that being said, you might be surprised to learn that Dockery is an art major with a concentration in photography.
A common misconception about being a fitness instructor is that you have to be a health and wellness major; and although many fitness instructors are health and wellness majors, the job opportunity is open to any student who completes the training. And Dockery is more than qualified for the job.
Her physique is lean and her muscles are prominent, but she has a certain softness about her. Her lightly tanned skin and her jade green eyes paired with her relaxed body language is welcoming, an important attribute to have when you’re teaching a high-intensity fitness class that can be intimidating for the average college student.
What’s more is that Dockery treats each of her students as a friend. At the end of each class, “goodbye’s” and “see you next week’s” travel down the hallways of the UNCA's Sherrill Center as Dockery earnestly thanks her students for coming to class and giving it their all.
“As a fitness instructor, it's very rewarding to see people make progress with their form throughout the classes,” Dockery said. “Also, I get to do what I love and teach people about fitness so it really isn't even like work to me.”
From planks to high knees, Dockery’s weekly cardio and strength training classes consist of a variety of bodyweight and free weight exercises that help tone and strengthen your muscles while improving cardiovascular fitness. Although her classes can be challenging, Dockery keeps her participants motivated by playing an upbeat playlist and by leading the class with a warm smile as she speaks words of encouragement.
Her drive to take charge and lead isn’t surprising, as both her parents own their own businesses. Her father, Shane Dockery, owns Dockery Gas Piping and her mom, Tracy Brown, owns Lotsa Loaves, a baking business based out of Brevard, North Carolina, where Dockery grew up.
With a population of less than 8,000 people, Brevard is a very small town. But Dockery’s small-town upbringing isn’t stopping her from setting large goals for her future.
Within the next six months, she plans to become a certified personal trainer and to upgrade to a more accredited certification after she graduates.
“After graduating college, I'm looking at moving to either Seattle, staying in Asheville, or possibly Colorado.” Dockery said. “I understand that a photography career is extremely competitive so I'm OK with leading a flexible lifestyle as a personal trainer and a photographer."
Dockery's dedication to stay true to herself and relentless hard work to achieve her dreams while doing what she loves is not only inspiring to all college students, but all the women who believe they can't do something simply because they are not a man. She is not only clearing up common misconceptions about being a fitness instructor, she is challenging gender norms and breaking barriers.
Visit the UNCA's website for more information regarding Dockery’s three fitness classes. All classes are free for students and staff with a valid OneCard.