By Ali Booth
Among blondes and browns and burnt reds, Megan Kennedy’s hair is glittered in ocean teals, magenta pinks and sunshine yellows. Even more so than her rainbow inspired locks, Megan herself is passionately colorful.
She always wanted to be a part of something bigger than herself, and desperately attempted a handful of activities. But, Megan never felt like she stood out: huffing and puffing behind the rest of her travel soccer team, performing a full eight counts behind the music at her cheerleading tryout, the only 16-year-old in a figure skating class for fourth graders—the list goes on. “I always felt like I was mediocre at a bunch of things instead of being really good at one thing,” she says, her grinning smile seeping into the air around her. “Every time I thought ‘maybe this could be my thing.’”
As long as she can remember being stuck in a limbo of mediocrity, Megan also recalls being uncomfortable in her body, attempting self-induced diets from the age of ten. “Today is the day,” she would tell herself. “It was never the day,” the English major says, shaking her head regretfully. It wasn’t until her junior year of high school, when she finally asked her mom for help, that she began to see the glimmer of change.
By the end of that school year she’d lost 30 pounds. By the end of the summer she’d lost a total of 50 pounds. “I went back to school and none of my teachers recognized me,” she laughs, flashing a bright smile.
Fitness and clean eating quickly became Megan’s “thing,” the thing she’d always been looking for. At the end of her sophomore year, she pushed her anxiety away and ran a marathon. “It definitely forced me to see how strong I actually was. Around the 20th mile, it felt like my whole world was crumbling…but all the awfulness went away in the last mile because I knew that I’d done it. I’d done it,” she repeats proudly.
At Marist, her passion for fitness found its home in teaching zumba and pop pilates classes. Despite initially feeling out of place on campus and contemplating transferring, Megan fearlessly threw herself into changing her negative experience. She joined Kappa Lambda Psi, spent a semester doing Marist in Manhattan, continued teaching her classes, and never looked back.
“Allowing myself to have new experiences opened my eyes. I’d always been so held back by fear,” she explains, citing those countless years of struggling to find her niche as the source of that hesitancy.
Now Megan doesn’t let mental barriers restrict her from pursuing what she wants. After interning at Health Magazine, where she put her English writing studies to good use, she realized that it wasn’t what she wants to do. Of her epiphany, she says, “I was happy to be around health and fitness, but it’s such a background role. I wanted to be more active role in the community considering how much it’s impacted my life. I didn’t want to be the one behind the computer screen reporting about it.”
Instead, the 22-year-old hopes to pursue exercise science, and eventually open her own facility offering group fitness classes that accommodate people of all skill levels and all ages. “If I had had the knowledge and resources earlier, I wouldn’t have had to struggle,” she says, her voice riddled with hopefulness.
Megan’s experience with transformation, however, goes far beyond the way in which her body and mind have changed through her never tiring love for fitness. She’s a frequent cosplayer, creating her own original designs and wearing them to conventions.
Her favorite was a Las Vegas show girl version of Rainbow Dash from My Little Pony, a character that she’s known and recognized for around the convention scene. The look earned her first place in competition thanks to the real ostrich feathers that Megan used in the design and the 30 hours of work she spent creating it.
Whether it’s altering her mindset to be more fearless, finding balance in her body, or metamorphosing into an out-of-this-world character, Megan recognizes her ability to change, the fluidity of life, and the positive mentality that comes along with that. She wears her confidence like she wears her hair: bright, bold and striving for new shades of life.