The stretching, lifting and cardio are small challenges preparing Taniki Richard ’16 (College of Arts & Sciences) for an even larger feat, running in a marathon. It’s a challenge she believes God has called her to conquer in addition to the challenges brought on by the race of her everyday life as a mother, mentor, business-owner, undergraduate college student and now, reality TV star. All of this comes after returning home from combat as a member of the United States Marine Corps.
“I saw a clip on television with ‘I Got This,’ auditions,” said Richard. “‘Do you have a journey that you want to pursue that’s never been done before? Do you want to share that with the world?’ I knew right away that this was something I wanted to share with everyone. So, I went and auditioned, and they loved my story.”
Richard joined five other cast members on Fox 43’s reality TV show, “I Got This.” It’s filmed at locations around the Hampton Roads area, and each contestant is pursuing a separate goal with the hope to achieve the ultimate goal of changing their life and being able to say, “I got this.”
“I just started training on my own from what I knew from my military experience,” said Richard. “When I got out there, I quickly realized, Lord, I need help. Pride will tear you down, but when I got out there and I realized, I can’t do this alone, please send me people who will help me to achieve this goal. That’s how that journey started.”
Richard began training at Fit Performance 10 in Norfolk, Virginia. Her trainers Donna Karr and Earnest Jones are customizing her eating and exercise to enable her to perform to her best. They started with an extensive evaluation of Richard’s body composition, health history, and what she is facing physically and emotionally in her everyday life. Karr brings 20 years of fitness business experience and eight years of competitive bodybuilding to Richard’s training regimen, and Jones brings his experience training athletes for a variety of sports. Together they push her through her workouts.
“To not be an experienced runner and to take this on, it takes a lot of courage and strength,” said Karr. “She’s a wife, a mother, she has a big standing in the Wounded Warrior program. She splits herself up a lot, leaving little time to focus on just her. She’s doing the best she can up to this point.”
“Along with the running, the whole body works as a unit,” said Jones. “The strength/conditioning part comes in where as you’re running you have to be able to hold your body in a certain position to run properly so you don’t injure yourself. Everything from the shoulders, the hips, the back, the legs, the calves, the flexibility, the strength, endurance for someone who runs.”
In addition to changing her body, running a marathon and succeeding on “I Got This,” Richard has had the long-term goal of earning a bachelor’s degree. This requires her to hold herself in a proper position to succeed. Around her training, mentoring, and time spent as a wife and mother, Richard says she’s been able to balance Regent’s online classes with prayers and encouragement from her professors.
“I went to an orientation,” said Richard. “I went on campus. It was the first time I realized that God is everywhere, even in school. I met everyone and the eight-week program was excellent for me. In the military, I was used to fast-paced. Fast-paced this, fast-paced that. When they offered the eight-week program, and I said, ‘You mean to tell me that I don’t have to spend sixteen weeks each semester to get my degree?’ The answer was, ‘No, you can do it at home, in the privacy of your home. You can take responsibility and have a way to be self-taught, and not only taking that initiative, but allow the professors to teach you and interact with you online. It was really good for me.”
Richard served as an aviation electronics technician during her time in the military. She always wanted to get into aviation management, and when she began her undergraduate degree, she decided business would be the best route so she could learn more about management, the economy and marketing.
“At this point, God has taken me a different direction, which is television, and I just started a new company called JT Inspire,” said Richard. “It’s online as well. It’s an at-home business which is really good for me, because it helps me to manage my mental health and manage where I am in life but also give back to the community and the veterans that have served this wonderful country.”
JT Inspire takes Richard to different speaking engagements where she customizes a message for her audience to empower, motivate and inspire, just as her trainers are continuing to do for her as she prepares for her upcoming race.
“So it has really been awesome to see how God has put it all together, seeing how I can earn my degree in business, run a company, and still share my journey with the world,” said Richard.