Have you ever met someone who just radiates and makes you smile every time you see them? Our December Member of the Month Shavonne Tate is definitely one of those people! Shavonne joined ZUM a little over a year ago after relocating from Chicago. She’s been an awesome addition to our community – always putting in a lot of effort in classes and on the gym floor and not afraid to acknowledge and encourage the others’ hard work too!
It’s hard to believe that not too long ago, Shavonne was overweight and knew very little about fitness. Through grit and determination, she made some big changes in her life that have had made a big impact. We guarantee you will be inspired by Shavonne’s fitness journey and love getting to know her in this interview. She’s as authentic and hilarious as they come. Enjoy!
First off, tell us about how your fitness journey began, Shavonne!
My fitness journey began when I was 208 pounds back in Chicago in 2011. My boss, who was overweight too, went to a health camp for two weeks, and I was inspired to create my own mini weight-loss challenge in the office – complete with a weigh-in station in the employee kitchen and everything. I was super serious about it.
I just started by walking. I would walk home from work about 2 miles. I also started changing how I ate. I would walk to Trader Joe’s to pick up a kale salad for lunch and back again. Just by making these simple changes, the weight started to come off. I lost about 10 pounds in a month!
I love food, so when I started to eat the way I used to, I put on weight again. Immediately, I realized I needed to find something that I liked and would keep me motivated to keep moving. I found a Groupon for Crossfit studio literally walking distance from my apartment. I knew nothing about Crossfit – nothing. There were no intro classes. I just jumped right in – a team WOD (workout of the day) nonetheless. I was put on the team with the boot-camp style trainer. I hated her. That workout ended with me in tears and almost getting sick, but I don’t like to be defeated, so I went back and tried it again. It was so hard, and I hated every minute of it, but I kept going back again and again. I ended up loving that boot-camp trainer the supportive community. Four months into it (while eating well too), I had lost 44 pounds. I felt stronger, my body changed – I couldn’t believe it! I ended up doing Crossfit for 3 years in Chicago. I only stopped when I moved here.
Is that when you joined ZUM?
My office has a small gym, so I didn’t join right away. I wanted to lose some weight and get healthy again, but found I really needed community and support to stay motivated. I searched gyms in the area and discovered ZUM.
What made you choose ZUM as your new fitness home?
It was really the great care and coaching I got from Joe and Jordan – along with the great community.
I was dealing with a back injury from an old accident that was aggravated by the 20 pounds I’d gained back. I met Joe, explained to him what my issues with my back, and he knew exactly what was going on and how to help. It was amazing. He gave me one thing to correct on my form, and it made all the difference. I don’t have any pain in my back when I workout anymore.
After meeting Joe, I just fell in love with him. He’s the sweetest guy – he’s like Uncle Joe. For real. All of you guys – Jordan, Joe, Rick, Tony, Derek – everybody makes sure they know people. You know our names and make sure we don’t get lost in the shuffle. If we need help, everyone is there no matter what. Rick was even giving me career advice the other day. Joe will see me move a certain way and offer a correction. Jordan checks in every now and again to see how my back is doing. It’s just an amazing community. That’s what motivates me.
What results have you achieved since joining ZUM?
Being able to workout without the back pain is amazing. I don’t know how much, but I’ve definitely lost weight. My clothes are fitting differently and I feel better and stronger. I still do my best to make good choices in my diet, but I love food. I’m going to eat what I want to eat. I just try to be mindful. n
I’ve been able to shift to holding my self accountable for my own workouts and progress. When I first joined, I would take boxing and HardCore, and that was it. After getting back into a routine, I started to come in and workout 4 days a week. I’d incorporate some of the Crossfit lifting I’d learned, work on some of the movements that Joe and Jordan gave me, try workouts I find online – I just put in the work. And the result is seeing my body changing and strength coming back.
What do you like best about ZUM?
The best thing about ZUM is even if you’re working out by yourself, it still feels like a community. Trainers check in, other members are encouraging – everyone is supportive and roots each other on regardless if you’re in class or doing your own thing.
Not to mention everyone is so knowledgeable. All the trainers are certified and have text-book training, but also lots of experience. But they are still growing, learning, open to being coached themselves, and supportive of one another. For example, I love that Joe takes Rick’s HardCore class.
What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking of joining?
I evangelized ZUM to a co-worker who recently joined. I told him what I like best about ZUM (other than the convenience, obviously) is that it’s a real community and everyone is so smart, so nice, so helpful and so supportive. And it’s everyone – the trainers, the instructors, the front desk – everyone!
Is there a fun fact about you we may not know?
Hmm…well, I can literally have a conversation with anyone. And I think I surprise people sometimes – my personality and my humor doesn’t match what they expect from my appearance. I’ve been told I have a serious look. Me? Serious? Oh, please!!
I love to sing and do karaoke. Love to rap. My go-to karaoke song is Drake’s Headline. Hip-hop is my favorite – I know a lot about hip-hop and music. Actually, I tried managing a singer in Chicago for a short while.
I’m scared of pigeons. (Who isn’t. I’m not fan of any birds.)
I’m pretty decent cook. Soul food is my specialty – baked mac n cheese and candied yams.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I love sweets. Chocolate cake is my favorite. There’s a restaurant in Chicago called Protillo’s. They use mayonnaise as an ingredient, but it’s the best chocolate cake ever. Then they came out with the cake shake where they put the cake in a chocolate shake – oh man.
Favorite tv show?
Fresh Prince of Bel Air
70’s, 80’s and 90’s sitcoms were the best! I literally binge watched All in the Family. That doggone Archie? He cracks me up! It’s so funny to me.
Boss Baby is my favorite right now. A movie I can watch over and over again (and have) is Friday. It’s hilarious!!
There are No Children Here by Alex Kotlowitz. It’s the story is about two young boys forced to grow up too soon.
Hip-hop. I like thoughtful, conscious hip-hop. Talib Kweli, Common, Chance the Rapper, Kendrick Lamar, 2Pac, Nas.
Favorite ZUM class?
Favorite movement or exercise?
Heck, yes! A girl after my own heart. Any final thoughts for us?
One of the things I’ve come to learn from a good friend is to be comfortable with my decisions. For example, I say “I have back fat,” and my friend asks “do you like your back fat”? “No, I don’t like my back fat.” “Well what are you going to do to fix your back fat? If you don’t want to do anything to fix your back fat, that’s fine. If you want to fix your back fat, you have to do something.”
The point is to own every decision you make. If there’s something you want to do, do it. If you don’t do it, then be ok with not doing it – be ok with not changing.
If your goal is to get healthier, get healthier. But if you don’t, be ok with not being healthy.
Find balance in everything you do. Be ok with the decisions you make whether good or bad. And don’t talk; just do.
Oh, and the Golden Rule is the best thing ever created. That’s what I live by.