The pungent aroma of fish and green beans hung in the air, a scent familiar to many, health conscious Californians. A beautiful tanned woman sits down to a light, healthy meal, clad in athletic gear and sporting a high pony. Everything about Shilo Nelson gives a distinct feel of a women on the go, fueled by an abundance of ambition and unwavering resilience. Even among the stacks of paperwork invading her desk she displays a fiery persona and a toned frame that shows she can tackle anything.
Nelson started her career as a Pierce College instructor in 2010, eventually becoming Chair of the Kinesiology and Health Department. Although Nelson has been teaching health and fitness at Pierce College for six years, but her background extends much further.
Nelson got her introduction to the world of professional athleticism during the 1995 to 1996 NFL football season as a cheerleader for the Seattle Seahawks.
“I was a Seattle Seahawk cheerleader back in the 95’-96’ season, when they weren’t winning, I have no Super Bowl rings. I’m still a die-hard blue and green. I did that for one season,” she says.
Nelson’s time with the NFL organization didn’t result in a Super Bowl ring, nor the fame and fortune you’d expect, receiving little pay for the work she put in.
“I thought I should have gotten paid something for my time, for practicing but I knew going into it, they told us everything up front. We got $200 per season and two free tickets per game,” Nelson says.
Despite that, she still enjoyed her time with the team immensely.
“It was great, I made the most amazing friends that I’m still friends with today and I still go up there occasionally for games.”
Professor Nelson teaches kinesiology activity classes as well as “Health 2: Fitness and Wellness” and “Health 7: Fitness and Nutrition.” Although she wasn’t sure this was the field she wanted to go into initially, Nelson’s 4-year stent in the United States Air Force kindled a love for exercise.
“I didn’t know what I wanted to do out of high school like most young people so I went into the air force, then I found exercise and found that I liked it. I went through a college there that had a 6-week training program for aerobics instructors. I got my certification and started teaching in health clubs.”
Mary Cox, facilities manager for the department of Physical Education believes Nelson is passionate about her job and her students.
“I find she’s [Nelson] very conscientious with her classes, she does a good job, she’s thorough when she teaches, she’s pleasant with her students,” Cox said.
Nelson’s coworkers are not the only ones who hold this sentiment. Princess Dulao is currently a student studying under Nelson. She has seen how devoted and engaging Nelson is toward her students.
“Shilo is a good teacher because you can tell she’s enjoying what she’s doing and from the way she interacts with her students you can tell she’s very passionate about her job.”
After getting her aerobics certification she began to wonder about career opportunities available with a degree in the same field.
These days Professor Nelson, along with her work as the chair of her department, prepares for her upcoming fitness competitions. She will be competing against other female bodybuilders and fitness aficionados in the bikini category. Competing for the recognition of the NPC (national physique committee) isn’t easy. Preparation for shows often includes strict diets and intense training but Shilo Nelson is a determined woman with her eyes on the prize.