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Center Snapshot: Adrianne Flinn
Adrianne Flinn.

Image Above: Adrianne Flinn, fitness specialist at NASA's Langley Research Center, reached new heights in 2012, with new depths on the horizon for 2013. Credit: NASA/Sean Smith

When 2011 was coming to an end, Adrianne Flinn, fitness specialist at NASA's Langley Research Center, had a conversation with a center employee about his plans to travel the world with his wife after his retirement.

"But he never got the chance to do that," Flinn said. "She passed away just before he retired."

That led Flinn to take a closer look at her own life. And she decided to make 2012 the commencement year of many adventures she'd always hoped to experience.

She started out big. She shook nervously the first time she rode a plane 13,500 feet high, only to return to land by way of a parachute that would be released by the instructor she was harnessed to. But 35 skydives later, Flinn takes the leap on her own after receiving her skydiving license.

Adrianne Flinn.

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Adrianne Flinn prepares for another skydrive. She has skydived 35 times this year. (Photo courtesy of Adrianne Flinn)

Sometimes, she's still a bit nervous in the plane, but she also finds the experience to be a meditative one.

"The door opens up and the fresh air hits you in the face," Flinn said. "The only place you are is in that moment.

"You’re letting go of everything; you’re free."

As she falls to Earth, she focuses on her dive flow, as she essentially drives herself through the air.

"Any small movement causes a reaction," Flinn explained.

She is now learning to jump with groups that dive into formations.

To scratch another item off her 'list' this year, she went snorkeling in Aruba. Next year, she plans to reach new depths by scuba diving.

Flinn also decided it was time for a specific change of scenery, so she moved across the street from the oceanfront.

"To wake up in the morning and to be able to walk across the street and see the ocean before work is amazing," she said.

Next year, she also plans to scratch off kiteboarding, which combines two of her favorite things: wakeboarding and parachutes.

Flinn says she "learned how to swim before she could walk." She's always loved the water and grew up swimming at a community pool in Midlothian, Va.

She attended Longwood University and majored in kinesiology, specifically exercise science. It was the perfect option for Flinn, who took naturally to exercise and physical activities, and was intrigued by science.

Adrianne Flinn instructs fitness classes, educational presentations and personal training for members of NASA Langley's fitness center. She organizes a monthly fitness program or challenge, and holds weekly competitions for members. She also writes a weekly wellness tip for employees, presents two "lunch and learns" each month on various health topics, and presents one clinic a month demonstrating and educating members on a specific fitness topic.

Her certifications include: Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (C.S.C.S) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA), STOTT Pilates Certified Instructor, TRX Certified Instructor and Certified CORRE Barre Instructor. Adrianne is a certified BLS instructor through the American Heart Association and teaches CPR and AED classes at NASA's Langley Research Center.

"It really makes you think about what's going on in your body as you are exercising," she said.

It also allows her to help fitness center visitors at NASA Langley to understand their own bodies, and how exercise plays an important role in their health and fitness goals.

When Flinn accepted the job opportunity at NASA Langley, she was working as a personal trainer and Pilates instructor in Charlottesville. She considers Pilates her niche, and appreciates the "huge, functional kinetic chain when you exercise." She continues to teach Pilates at a few studios in her spare time.

She also does yoga after work, and considers it a hobby.

"When you make your love and hobby your work, you have to take the time enjoy things on your own — away from everyone else," Flinn said.

She has worked at the fitness center for more than two years. This month, she helped to coordinate the "12 Days of Wellness," which included activities that focused on the mind, body and spirit.

Flinn understands that this time of year people are faced with added temptations and that their focus can turn away from the gym. Her advice is to "do everything in moderation." She usually advises people not to make a goal of losing weight during the holiday season, but rather to maintain it.

In January, she will lead a "New Year's Weight Loss Challenge" at the center.

She looks forward to reuniting with her parents and younger sister during the holidays, and possibly running into the familiar faces of friends.

After learning that she became a trainer at NASA, friends sometimes ask, "You train astronauts?"

She tends to respond: "No. But I train some of the engineers behind it all."

By: Denise Lineberry

The Researcher News
NASA Langley Research Center
Editor & Curator: Denise Lineberry
Executive Editor & Responsible NASA Official: Rob Wyman