Reneta Music kettlebell

Reneta Music leads a kettlebell class at the Mansfield YMCA.

MANSFIELD -- Reneta Music has dressed as Wonder Woman for Halloween in the past.

She just acts like one the remainder of the year, seldom slowing down a fitness/training pace that would have made Queen Hippolyta proud.

Kettlebell classes. Karate classes. Nutrition classes. Personal training sessions. Teaching school gym classes. Mornings. Afternoons. Evenings. In-person. Online.

Fitness and strength. Discipline and joy.

Reneta Music karate

Reneta Music teaches a karate class at the Mansfield YMCA.

And the 1989 South Central High School graduate, now approaching her 50th birthday, has no intention of slowing down, not even as the COVID-19 pandemic swirls through the world.

"I want to do this the rest of my life," Music said, preparing to teach one of her classes at the Mansfield YMCA. "I want to be 90 years old, sitting here teaching karate. I want to be 90 years old, reaching over there to pick up a 106-pound kettlebell.

"I love what I do," said the 7th degree black belt, who also owns and operates her own business, Hard Style Body.  "I am doing exactly what God designed me to do.

"When I was a little girl, there were two things I wanted to be. I wanted to be a mom and I wanted to be a teacher. And when my son was born, I couldn't wait to be a grandma. Kids are amazing," said Music, a 5-4, 155-pound fireball of energy.

Music and her husband, Gary, a long-time local karate instructor, are both StrongFirst elite team leaders, meaning they have achieved the program's top level and are certified instructors of all three of the program's modalities -- kettlebells, barbells and body weight.

Reneta Music

Reneta Music, working with a kettlebell, has resumed teaching classes at the Mansfield YMCA.

StrongFirst is a global fitness program which was started in Santa Monica, Calif., founded by Pavel Tsatsouline, who introduced the Russian kettlebell to the West in 1998.

Watching Music lead a kettlebell session at the Mansfield Y is like observing organized fitness madness -- music blasting, kettlebells swinging and participants loving it.

Moments after the kettlebell class ended, Music changed into her gi and was back in the room, this time with young, eager karate students.

The musical madness was replaced with the required discipline of martial arts.

Music, who also teaches self-defense classes, is thrilled to be back at the Mansfield YMCA in "her" room, something she was unable to do when the pandemic reached Ohio in March, leading to business closures, including gyms. She has taught at the local Y since 2009, taking over the karate program in 2011.

"It hit me hard in the beginning and it was really hard," Music said of the pandemic closures. "But once I got up and got moving, I found there were things I could do. There would be days I would be out (at my house) trimming trees for five hours, all by myself.

"I just dove into it. And that's good for me. That's how I handle stress. I do physical stuff. Plus, I love pushing my limits," Music said. "But I really missed being here at the Y."

Reneta Music mirror

Reneta Music writes down instructions before a kettlebell class at the Mansfield YMCA.

Music also did online training sessions from home and posted training videos on her YouTube channel, all while understanding the need for caution during coronavirus.

"I found it safe. I found it very safe. I personally think the governor did a great job trying to protect his people and keep us all as safe as possible because of the unknown of this illness," Music said. "I mean, looking back on it, I think we were hyper-safe, but I think it was warranted."

For those who think it's too late to begin a fitness regime or have pre-existing physical issues that may get in the way, Music can help with that, also as a certified Function Movement Specialist instructor.

"I screen people for movement finding asymmetries and dysfunctions in the body. Those need to be fixed before strength should be added," Music said.

Music, who instructs 75 to 80 people a week, is a strong advocate for strong women, something first noticeable in 1991.

"I went to one of my brother's karate classes, just to check it out. I threw a kick on the bag after watching someone else. His instructor looked at my brother said, 'That was a good kick.' My brother said, 'Well, girls can't do karate.'"

Music admits she doesn't react well when people tell her she can't do things.

"Even now, at almost 50, I don't take it well at all," Music said with a laugh." I started karate shortly after that and got my first-degree black belt in May of 1994."

"I've always liked to be physically active, but I think I'm more physically active now than I ever have been during this decade of my life.

"I am so thankful that the Y has allowed me to teach here and for seeing the potential and the abilities that I have. They just let me go with it. I'm very, very, very thankful for that. I get to give to people unconditionally and absolutely, as freely as I want to."


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City editor. 30-year plus journalist. Husband. Father of 3 grown sons and also a proud grandpa. Prior military journalist in U.S. Navy, Ohio Air National Guard. -- Favorite quote: "Where were you when the page was blank?"