Women do incredible things. Here, we feature the stories of women who are a part of the Southeast Missouri community by way of living here, being from here or passing through. We hope these stories inspire you to connect with others and that they encourage you to be who you are in the world. We need you and your unique gifts.
Tamatha Crowson of Cape Girardeau is a successful personal trainer, business owner and founder of the largest boot camp challenge in the nation. Over the past four years, she has immersed herself in a mindset of perseverance, hustle and drive. She has created strong connections with people in the community and believes healthy relationships — first with yourself and then with others — is the key to success. But to get where she is today, Crowson has had her fair share of struggle, and for a time, she was homeless. This is her story.
Native to the Lake of the Ozarks in Missouri, Crowson grew up the oldest of two children until the age of nine. At that point, her mom remarried and she gained a stepfather and two more siblings. Looking back, it was this transition from oldest to middle child where she “got lost in the shuffle,” slowly putting into motion a string of choices and decisions that would deeply impact her future.
After high school, Crowson began taking classes toward a major in psychology, first attending Missouri State University in Springfield, then transferring to Mizzou and finally ending up at Mississippi State University, where she switched majors and graduated with a degree in fitness management. Though happy to be in the fitness world, she never quite settled in one place or in one relationship. For years, she moved in and out of marriages and towns, admittedly burning a few bridges along the way.
By 2013, Crowson was operating as a single mom of two boys and feeling down on her luck. She ended up living in a homeless shelter with one of her children for approximately five months. By 2014, she had hit a low and attempted suicide. As bad as that experience was, Crowson says she believes “that was a turning point for me.” Having a few connections left in Cape Girardeau, she packed up her belongings and set out for a fresh start, leaving her two young boys behind.
For about a year, Crowson lived with friends and worked part-time as a trainer. After establishing housing, her boys joined her in Cape Girardeau. She was making progress, but by continuing to earn minimum wage, she was quickly falling behind. It was at this time Crowson received assistance from the Community Caring Council’s housing program.
“I tried for a long time to get assistance,” Crowson said. “You had to almost sleep by your phone so you didn’t miss the call.”
But it was worth it in the end, as the Community Caring Council paid her rent for almost a year, allowing Crowson the breathing room she needed to get back on her feet. During that time, Crowson also gained a fair amount of confidence, a little bit of success in business and found herself moving in a forward motion with her personal training services.
She spent a considerable amount of time looking back at the difficult decisions and failed relationships that had led her down this path. Admittedly, her dad — whom she was not very close to — was one of the people in her life who really forced her to take a hard look at the truth. Spending hours with him on the phone, Crowson began to own her mistakes and take responsibility for the bad decisions she had made, helping her become the person she is today.
That person is positive, upbeat and optimistic; a champion for anyone going through a hard time, both physical and mental. Crowson says she wants people to know: “You are capable of way more than you ever dreamed or imagined. When you change the things you say to yourself, you can change what you believe about yourself. And ultimately, it’s not about you, so don’t take it personal. Be willing to open up and become vulnerable. When you try to appear like you have it all together, you are only hurting yourself by putting up a wall. Success happens when we help each other.”
This past year, Crowson experienced the most difficult grief of her life when she lost her oldest son, Blake. What would have taken her out in the past has only made her stronger, and her story is not complete without him. Being surrounded by community, she has been able to let herself cry and feel the pain she would have once tried to mask.
“I have layers of resilience built up in me from all the years of tough times,” she says. But today, no matter what she faces or what obstacles she overcomes, she can survive it. Her struggle had a purpose.