Sheronika Walker was overweight, out of shape, suffering severe depression and facing potentially serious health issues after losing her second baby nearly three years ago.
When the St. Louis, Mo., native went to the doctor one day for a check-up, reality hit.
“I got on the scale and I was at the heaviest I’ve ever been,” the 36-year-old Copperas Cove resident said earlier this week. “I broke down crying. I was borderline diabetic … and a whole lot of borderline stuff with my health. That had never happened to me before.”
Walker said she lost her first child six years ago. She also explained that due to a condition she has, she will have to be on bed rest for the entire term if she gets pregnant again.
“Then, I lost my second child in November 2018 due to sepsis,” Walker said. “I was 20 weeks and six days, and my baby was stillborn. I flatlined (and) I was on life support for three-and-a-half days. I went into heart, lung, and kidney failure, and was hospitalized for two weeks. I had to learn how to walk again — do simple things like drink out of a straw.”
Walker explained that she went home to Missouri, and after she came back, she dealt with her depression by eating.
Frightened by her health scare, Walker was driving through Copperas Cove one day last September when she spotted Manny Morales’ Crossbox Fitness Club on South Farm-to-Market 116. The gym, which opened not long before, is home mostly to up-and-coming young boxers training for fights, but she was intrigued and decided to stop in.
“I saw the tire(s) outside, and I thought, ‘That’s what I need.’ I felt like I needed someone to hold my hand, push me, and tell me that I could do it,” Walker said. “So I came in and met Manny. I ran through my story with him and told him I’d be back (the next) Monday.”
At first, Morales doubted her commitment.
“I said, ‘Yes, I am. I’m not going to let my health get me down again.’ And I showed up,” Walker said.
Morales, a former professional boxer, remembers:
“She came in one day and she was like, ‘I’ve got to lose weight.’ She was under a lot of stress and the doctor told her she needed to do something,” Morales said.
“She started coming and I started pushing her and pushing her. (Recently) the doctor told her that her numbers (cholesterol and other blood work) were looking good. I take her to go run; I take her to the track; I take her to Temple (High School) stadium and we run the stands on Sundays.
“She hits the bag, flips tires, swings the sledgehammer, does the battle ropes — she does everything here. I’ll get in the ring with her and we’ll do mitts. She does the whole thing. I’m really proud of her.”
Walker has come a long way since she started, losing what she guesses is about 25 pounds so far. Although the numbers on the scale haven’t dropped as fast as she would like, she sees a big difference in her body composition and her overall size.
“With my weight, I’m at a standstill, but that’s because I’ve been building more muscle and losing inches. Clothes sizes are dropping. I can’t see it so much on the scale, but I can see it in pictures.
“A lot of people have noticed. They look at my pictures and they’re like, ‘Oh, wow. What are you doing?’”
Walker joked and laughed when she said she didn’t want to be too skinny.
“But my levels and everything have been down, so I’m not borderline (diabetic) anymore,” she said. “My goal right now is I just want to lose this stomach. This stomach is sticking with me like we’re best friends — and we’re not.
“When I got here, I couldn’t do a single pushup. Eventually, there was one day when I did over 120 pushups. I did it girl-style; knee pushups.
“I have worked my butt off. I was the only female for a while, and the guys were so encouraging. Whatever we did, everyone was like, ‘You got it, ‘Nika; you got it.’ That motivation was so important.
“I made sure I pushed myself to do what they did. When they go running, I’m right behind them. When we go on a seven-mile walk, I’m right behind them. I might be ready to pass out like a fish without water, but I just keep pushing. They’ll all be ahead of me, but I just don’t stop.”
Along with regular workouts, Walker has cleaned up her diet and drinks lots of water every day. She knows there is a lot of work to do, but she is proud of herself for what she has accomplished so far.
“Trust me, sometimes I don’t want to do it. Sometimes, I still slip into my depression moments and I don’t want to do anything. But Manny will call me and say, ‘Come on; let’s go,’” Walker said.
Walker praised Morales and his family for being, “the sweetest people ever.”
She said that Morales and his family are supportive and loving, and added that she’s never been to a gym that is more family-oriented.
“I never in a million years would have thought I’d be doing something like this. It relieves so much stress. You can go to that (punching) bag and just hit, hit, hit — go home, take a shower, and be proud of myself, because I got up and I showed up,” Walker said.
Although she trains with fighters in a boxing gym, Walker says she has no aspirations of actually becoming a boxer. She is, however, becoming a boxing fan.
“To get in the ring with somebody and actually fight — no. But I will be ready to knock somebody’s head off their shoulders if they try me,” she said, with a smile.