Grant Cole has had a phenomenal knee rehabilitation. The ease and intelligence he approaches his body with inspired me to interview him. His message about the benefits of “dorky” physical therapy exercises and an optimistic, empowered mindset are staples for anybody going through the challenges of physical rehabilitation.Continue reading
Becky and I met for the first time about a year ago to discuss her interest in training. She is the Managing Director for ACT Theater here in Seattle (go see Romeo and Juliet this spring!), and as such, has a very busy schedule. However, she explained how important it was to her to start moving more regularly. It didn’t take much time for us to get on the same page once we realized we have many outdoor activities/interests in common, and Becky dove right in. I’ve been increasingly impressed with her commitment and drive to put her health and well-being first, especially with such a demanding career.
Becky has really been hitting her stride this winter, so I felt the time was right to reflect on her successes, and I reached out to her about participating in our Succeeding and Thriving blog series. Becky was already familiar with this blog and it didn’t take much convincing. When I sent the set of questions to her for review prior to meeting up, I was surprised to get a response in less than 24hrs. What I read humbled me as her trainer, and I now just want to get out of the way and let Becky take if from here.Continue reading
When I came to ZŪM last January, my very first client was Michael Sharps, who had a goal to get to 12% body fat and, preferably, be completely shredded before going on vacation to Ibiza just over 3 months later. It was a big ask in a short period of time, but we both worked hard and came within 2% of his goal. Nearly a year later, we’re still working together and Mike has made an impressive physical transformation, and is such a disciplined and motivational person as far as fitness goes, I decided to interview him for our Succeeding and Thriving series.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down with ZUM member and client Billy Morales to chat about fitness and training. Billy and I have been working together since the beginning of this year, and I could not be more proud of his hard work and the progress he’s made. Aside from the accomplishment of losing over 50 lbs. and gaining strength in the process, the thoughtfulness and enthusiasm of Billy’s personality have been obvious since our first day of working together. Below are excerpts of our chat, conducted at ZUM’s partner Sweetgrass Food Co:
We couldn’t be happier to introduce you to July’s member of the month, Vini Gupta! Vini’s been at ZUM about a year now and embodies how patience and persistence leads to incredible progress. Not only is she getting stronger every day and has lost almost 30 pounds since joining, she’s taken up skydiving and recently earned her Class A License!
Be sure to check out Vini’s story to learn more about how connecting with the ZUM coaches helped her overcome her personal doubts and inspired her to strive for consistent improvement – which she now applies to her skydiving. Oh, and you’ll get to see her in action! Vini, you rock!
Vini, I’m so excited to share your story with our ZUM community! Thanks so much for agreeing to chat with me! First off, when you first joined ZUM, what made you want to join a gym?
I moved to Seattle in January of 2017 after completing my Masters at the University of Southern California. The previous couple years had been pretty stressful with moving to the States and getting back into the college culture after a few years in the workforce. It was really difficult to make time for myself. After I settled into my job at Amazon, I thought, “ok, now I have time to work on myself, lose weight, and get fit.”
I thought the free gym in my office building would be perfect – workout after work, shower, head home. But every time I went, I’d hurt my back because I’d do too much, or I didn’t really know how to workout. Eventually, I realized I needed some supervision – someone to tell me how to workout.
ZUM was super close to work and really convenient. I figured I’d go and ask for help so I could learn something, and then I could probably start working out on my own again. But then I loved it so much, I extended my six month membership to a year membership. Now I never want to leave!
We don’t want you to either! We’re so happy you’ve found your fitness home at ZUM. What would you say made you enjoy ZUM so much?
I made friends! All the coaches are super friendly. I discovered it’s so much fun to workout in a group setting. I also loved that I could see my progress. I started with two pound dumbbells and then moved to three pounds. I used to stay away from Jordan’s ZUMx class, because I thought it was too challenging, but now it’s my favorite class of the week. Similarly, I have progressed from Joe and Jordan’s classes to Sierra’s. I find her’s very tough, but I’ve been able to them, so I feel I’ve made a lot of personal progress.
That’s awesome! How about that back pain you were experiencing, is it better?
Yeah! I think Jordan was the first coach I met when I came here. He said he’d always keep an eye on me whenever I was in his class. He would often check-in – “are you keeping your back straight?” He took good care of me. I gradually learned for myself how to position my body, so I wouldn’t hurt my back – keeping my core tight is key!
You’ve touched on this a little already, but is there something you would consider your greatest achievement since joining ZUM?
I lost a lot of weight! I came down to 59kg from 72kg (that’s almost 30 pounds for our non-metric system inclined friend,s) and I’m not going to stop here, because I feel so great!
Wow! Congrats! Tell me more about that, how do you feel different?
Well, my clothes fit a lot differently! Everytime I go shopping I buy a jean size lower which feels super awesome! People notice and give compliments too – that also feels really great.
Back in India, there’s a different idea about fitness – we only go to gym when we have something big to prepare for (like a wedding) or if we want/need to lose weight. People used to tell me about how they would go to the gym and lose however much weight, but I tried and that never happened. I always felt like, when is that going to happen for me? Now it has and it feels super awesome!
It’s also been a huge stress buster for me. While I’ve been at ZUM I’ve gone through various intense production releases at work. But the hour and a half I’m at ZUM, I just completely forget about it. During all those butt burner exercises, I don’t find time to think about anything else.
Ha! Totally! What do you like best about ZUM?
The people! I have made so many friends here. Jordan is there. Joe is there. They’re always so fun! In class they’re always pulling your leg and joking around. It feels more like family, not just a gym.
What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking about joining?
A lot of my friends ask me how I lost weight, so I keep telling them about ZUM and encouraging them to come to classes with me or at least what classes to start with. Like HardCore – that’s what I started with. They often find it hard, and then I tell them, “Don’t give up! Come twice a week, do both the HardCore classes, and rest for the rest of the week.” Take it easy, but don’t stop coming. It will hurt your muscles, but then you will start enjoying it, and you’ll make friends. Pretty soon you’ll become regular. That’s a great feeling.
Gosh, that’s fantastic advice. Now it’s time to get to know you a little better. What’s an interesting, fun fact about you we may not know?
I recently got into skydiving! I started in April just earned my A license!
Woah! Awesome! So what does that mean exactly?
That means I’ve cleared a certain level of checks and have done enough jumps. I’ve made 29 jumps total – 25 by myself. 6 in one day. I still have a lot to learn, and there’s a long way to go.
29 jumps? Wow! How did you get into skydiving?
Skydiving was on my bucket list, and I didn’t want to do a tandem. That was the only option I knew, but I used to be like, “what do you really gain out of it?” There’s the free-fall time. There’s the landing time. Sure, you feel the the wind and everything but you don’t learn anything. It seemed to me that you were just a passenger on a tandem jump.
Then I met my now boyfriend who skydives. When I saw his videos, I was like, “whoa! You can do it by yourself?” I learned a lot about the sport from him. When we got into a relationship, that was a bigger motivation for me to actually get the nerve up to jump. He was having so much fun going every weekend, and I wanted to have that fun too!
I had a friend who was taking an advanced skydiving course in April, and I signed up too. I didn’t think about it too much because I’d start stressing, so I just did it.
It was a 4 hour accelerated free-fall training program learning all about the sport – safety procedures, emergency procedures, how to handle your parachute and canopy, and then you jump. I jumped by myself, but there were 2 instructors holding on to me until 5500 feet when they left me after my parachute was deployed, and then they coached me via radio until I landed safely.
That’s amazing! You must really love it if you got your license. What’s do you like best about skydiving?
I love so many things about skydiving. Like right before I’m about to jump out, and I have that butterfly feeling. There’s that moment of panic where I think, “what if I fall?” Oh wait, I’m here TO fall. And what’s the worst that can happen? I fall out of a plane? haha
It’s a very challenging sport. If you make a small movement, it does something in the air – you turn, you flip, you make formations. I love that there’s lot to work with and learn. Like here at ZUM, every day we try to improve ourselves – it’s the same idea.
So does your training at ZUM help your skydiving?
Definitely! I have to have a strong back, knees, quads, core. There is so much you can do with your core alone. If I arch, I fall faster, if I round, I fall slower. You know the dead bug exercise? That is that is exactly what you have to do to back fly (fly on your back). So, yeah, these things help.
So inspiring and so flippin cool! I feel like we could talk about this all day, but there’s so much more to you than skydiving. Do you have a guilty pleasure?
I really enjoy reading fiction. I love sitting in nature and reading some silly novel.
Favorite TV shows?
I’m currently watching Community for the second time. It’s really good. .
Favorite music or artists?
I love Pearl Jam. I’m really excited for their upcoming concert.
Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It’s very funny.
Favorite ZUM class?
Slow mountain climbers.
Any final thoughts for us?
I’m really grateful to all the coaches. When I joined ZUM, I did’t have high hopes. I thought it would just be another place I’m trying out. But then I had classes with Jordan and Joe, and that was what hooked me. They were so entertaining, and so passionate about what they were doing. It’s inspiring and contagious.
I saw so many people in class fitter than me, who were still sweating and working hard. There are always progressions for the movements – first progression. second, and third. I would see people around me in class, and I’d think, “I’m going to do it like that! Someday I’ll do progression number 2!” And eventually I did. Keep having faith in yourself that you’re going to be able to do it. Just keep going. You’re gonna be amazed by your progress.
Father’s Day may have passed, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to feature one of our amazing ZUM dads, Ian Anderson, as our June Member of the Month!
Ian’s been contributing his warm, joyful energy to the ZUM community for almost 6 years now. Although he’s a bit of a loaner when it comes to his workouts, but it’s the familiar faces and warm ZUM culture that keeps him coming back to ZUM day after day. Ian’s life has changed a lot these 6 years, but ZUM has always been constant. We hope you enjoy learning more about Ian, how ZUM kicked off his Seattle experience, and how fitness supports his jam-packed daily life – especially now with an active 3 year old son!
Thanks so much for agreeing to chat with me and share your story with us, Ian! It’s really fun to share your perspective on your experience at ZUM as someone who comes in mostly sticks to yourself, but is still such an active, present member in our community for so long! Not to mention, you’re one of ZUM’s most famous dads with that photo of you working out with your newborn son, Patrick, in the Kinesis area. How is Patrick? I’m almost afraid to ask how old he is now.
It’s my honor to be featured! Patrick is great! He’s three now and such a sweet boy, but very boisterous. He loves playing at playgrounds, goes to soccer every Saturday, and he’s even learning how to ride a tricycle. He’s very much in a jumping stage – testing out his daredevil skills. I try not to be the helicopter dad finding balance between keeping him from doing anything too daring and letting him be a three year old boy. It’s amazing to see him test himself with what he can do physically and watch him learn and realize he can do new things seemingly everyday, get comfortable in them and then challenge himself again.
I love that! It sounds like his a very active little guy. With the amount of time you spend at ZUM, I’m guessing he takes after his dad. Were you always an active kid?
Definitely! I grew up in north suburban Chicago playing baseball, basketball, tennis, soccer, golf. I was always playing sports, watching sports, all that stuff. So, I was definitely very active. By the time I got to high school, I focused in on my best sport, baseball. I played Varsity and was certainly at a point where I could have kept playing, but was very much burnt out. My heart wasn’t in it anymore. My senior year, I c decided not to play and switched to track. I quickly really took to it’s training regimentation and realized, although I was in good shape as a baseball player, I had little appreciation for how good of shape you had to be in to be an elite runner. I love the track training regimentation, had really great coaches and it was a great feeling to see myself develop and progress as an athlete. That year really put my fitness journey in motion. It’s been continuing ever since through my time getting my Undergrad and Master degrees from Notre Dame and my early career in Miami, and now at ZUM in Seattle.
How awesome that you were able to find your fitness footing so early in life! I didn’t realize you lived in Miami! How did you make your way to Seattle?
Yeah, after living in Illinois and Indiana, I had a desire to upgrade from a climate perspective and professional opportunities that took me to Miami after grad school. I lived there for about 6 years and worked extensively throughout Latin America doing various accounting and consulting type work. I met my now wife there, and about a month after our wedding in 2012, she was offered an exciting opportunity at Nordstrom, so we moved to Seattle.
How did you find yourself at ZUM?
Actually, our first introduction to ZUM was on a Saturday morning prior to moving on a 36-hour apartment hunting trip. We stayed at the Westin and were up super early, got coffee and stumbled across ZUM. We were like, “Sweet! Let’s go check it out!” Ann Johnson (who’s still here!) was at the desk that morning. She gave us a tour, and we knew there was a seemingly great place to workout right downtown.
I love that you went gym shopping the first 36 hours you were in Seattle. What were you looking for?
I had my routines established at that point, so I was looking for a place where I felt the people were friendly with great facilities and equipment. It’s amazing to me that six years later, so many of the people who I would encounter early on then are still here today. Even if I didn’t realize it at the time, there was a community here that was so welcoming – especially for someone in my situation who had moved from out of state and was not necessarily cemented to Seattle by work and life. ZUM was one of the few places where I could go and see familiar faces.
I couldn’t agree more. I’ve often said ZUM is one of the first places for me that made Seattle start to feel like home. You’re not a traditional goal-oriented person in the sense of weight-loss or lifting a certain amount of weight, but is there something you would consider your greatest achievement or result over the course of your time at ZUM?
I realize turning 35 is not an old birthday, but because of the motivation I getting to ZUM as many days as possible, working in my workouts here with running, cycling, and hiking and my other activities outside the gym, I feel I’m in better overall physical shape in my 30s than I was in earlier periods of my life when I didn’t necessarily have as many demands on my time. I’m just as motivated, just as excited, and just as happy when I get here today, as I was 6 years ago when I was still acclimating to the community. Even if I didn’t necessarily give credit in my own mind to ZUM enabling that, it’s been a huge part of my daily routine. I’ve had multiple jobs during that time, we had my son (who’s now three), and there have been a lot of other life changes, but ZUM has been a constant.
That’s really awesome. With all the changes in your life in the past 6 years, has the role fitness plays in your life also evolved or has it remained consistent?
Exercising has never been something that I have to talk myself into. I’ve always enjoyed fitness, so I work it into my daily routine as much as possible. In my 20s as I was building my career, fitness was an outlet from corporate life and the stresses that come along with that, and it was easy work into my schedule easily because I was single. It’s certainly shifted though. Now, fitness has become much more of a way for me to clear my head, de-stress from professional challenges and worries I tend to carry with me outside the office. Exercise is by far the most effective way for me to constructively work through that stress. I always come out of working out feeling better than I did when I started. Not once have I been on the fence about exercising, worked out, and then said, “I shouldn’t have done that.” It’s had a huge impact on my stress management.
Since becoming a dad, I’m so much more aware of my energy levels, because I have someone who relies on me 24/7. Especially now that he’s 3 – his energy levels seem boundless. I want to be able to be active with him as he grows and becomes more active in different things. From a mood and energy stand point, even after long days, I want to be able to make the most of our time together and be as good of a dad to hi as I can. Having a regular exercise and routine, on top of other good, healthy life habits, is the best way to ensure I can there for him in the ways he enjoys. As he gets older that’s going to be all the more important.
So powerful! You so beautifully articulated what we believe fitness is all about at ZUM – being able to be your best self for the people who are important in your life and do everything you want to do. It’s one of many things I love about ZUM. What do you like best about ZUM?
The best thing about ZUM is the sense of warm, welcoming community. Which is kind of funny since I’ve been a member for almost 6 years, and have never taken one group class or done a personal training session. Typically when I’m here, I have headphones in and I’m in my own little universe. I certainly enjoy saying hello to all the people I know and love having conversations with so many folks who are always up for a chat. I may not be drawn to the group classes, but I like that fact the community they build is such an important part of ZUM’s warm, welcoming culture. I might be a little on the outside looking in, but I love that it exists and it means a great deal to me to be a part of that.
Aww, I love that so much. It means a great deal to us to have you in our community! That’s one of the reasons I wanted to share your story. You took a less traditional route by doing your own personal workouts and being open to connecting. I think that’s really cool. What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking about joining?
If someone is thinking about joining I would say, “stop thinking about it and do it, because you won’t regret it.” To someone who is new I would say, “if you’re someone like me, who’s maybe a little on the shier side, don’t let that stop you from making relationships here as much as you possibly can. There’s not a single person here who won’t answer questions you have about whatever fitness goal you’re working toward, or how to use a piece of equipment, or who to go to if you’re looking for a trainer.” I’ve developed friendships with enough people here who leverage what ZUM offers to a pretty wide extent and they’re all finding their niche in what this community has to offer. Most places, you can’t really get there without reaching out to people. The nice thing here is you will also get reached out to. ZUM has been part of my Seattle experience living here for 6 years now and hopefully for many years to come!
Heck yeah! We sure hope so! Now it’s time to get to know you a little better. What’s an interesting, fun fact about you we may not know?
Well, I’m an accountant which probably makes me all the less interesting. My experience traveling in Latin America early in my career was something I certainly something I learned a lot from. I studied in Spain my junior year in college and was able to travel pretty extensively though Europe during that time. Travel has been a big part of my development and I hope to have more opportunities with my family as Patrick gets older.
I love audio books and podcasts. When you see me here with my headphones in, probably 75% of the time I’m not listening to music. I guess I’m kind of a furious multi-tasker. These days I don’t have as much time for pleasure reading, so I have to find other ways to satisfy my desire for new perspectives and knowledge and information.
Every day after work, I like to eat a combination of cashews, pistachios, and macadamia nuts. I have a really particular preferred balance of those three. It’s a weird routine I have.
What’s your guilt pleasure?
A guilty food pleasure would be Lou Malnoti’s deep dish pizza from Chicago. Any ZUM members who are transplants from Chicago hopefully know how awesome that stuff is! When I’m home in Chicago it’s always a must. They also ship their pizzas anywhere in the lower 48 Statess, so I have two in my freezer right now.
That’s a tough one. I would say the movies I’ve seen the most are Godfather I & II.
It’s totally cliche, but as a kid, teenager, and then as a student at Notre Dame, I was a big fan of the movie Rudy. I’ve probably seen that as many times if not more than the Godfathers. I don’t see a lot of movies anymore. The last one I went to in the theater was Moneyball in 2011,
Favorite TV shows?
We went through a Homeland phase, a House of Cards phase, so pretty much anything we can stream on Netflix or Prime. We have a tendency to fall asleep about 30 minutes into a show.
Growing up my siblings and I would watch a lot of Full House and Saved by the Bell, so I have certain nostalgia for those shows.
I try to read the Sunday New York times every week – the print edition. If I can get though that every week, I’m feeling pretty good. I also read a lot of business publications.
I’ve gotten into the author Matthew Kelly recently. I’m currently rereading his book Resisting Happiness. I’ve been on sort of a self-performance type kick for the past 6-12 months, so I like a lot of the Tim Ferriss books too.
It sounds like you often listen to podcasts rather than music, but do you have favorite music?
I’ve listened to very little new music since college. If you look at my iTunes library or if I’m actually working out to music it’s probably going to be 90’s hip hop from high-school: Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul, Camp Lo. If I’m just listening to music for pleasure, odd are it’s probably going to be jazz – the 50’s and 60’s John Coltrane era music. I can listen to that era of jazz over and over again and never get sick of it.
Any final thoughts for us?
As my perspectives have changed and I’ve matured, since becoming a dad, in particular, I’m keenly aware of how everything you put your energy toward, every decision you make plays into the things you can do to make yourself the best version of yourself which will let you be so much better for all the people you interact with and who rely on you. Whether it’s the energy you put into a fitness routine, or how you spend your day, where spirituality plays into your life, the meaningfulness you get out of your vocation, all those things balance together in a way that I had very little appreciation for in my 20’s when I was just working and traveling a ton and was untethered. Finding a balance that works for you to make you the best version of who you are and how that plays out in your relationships is something I’m so much more acutely aware of now.
ZUM is a big part of that for me. I love coming to ZUM – multiple times a day when I’m lucky. I hope that everyone who is a new member or long time member is as thankful as I am for the gift it is to be part of such a special community. Uniting around fitness and well being is a really cool thing to do, and this is a really special group of people to be able to do that with, so I’m just thankful.
Since you were one of the first members I recall connecting with at ZUM, it feels like you’ve always been part of the ZUM community, but how long have you officially been a member?
Almost exactly 15 years!
Wow! I wasn’t too far off! How did you first discover ZUM?
I was working in Belltown, and the old location was 2 blocks from my office. I wasn’t working out anywhere at the time. In fact, I’ve never stuck with any sort of a gym or athletic program. I’d gone to other gyms and never lasted more than a few months. Out of the sheer convenience, I figured I’d check it out.
Interesting…we’ll come back to what the difference was, but when you joined what were you looking for? Trying another spot to see if it stuck? Did you have specific goals?
I’ve always had weight issues and have always wanted to lose some weight. At that time, that was probably the driving factor along with wanting to get into something that felt like “shape.”
That’s pretty relate-able for many of us, but it can be daunting to start. How did you go about tackling that goal at ZUM?
Since ZUM was so close to my office, it was easy to go at lunchtime. I took a couple of classes on my week trial, and they set me up with Derek to do a Baseline after I joined. He showed me some exercises, but I was completely clueless (I still largely am) about how to put together a workout, so for me classes were a good gateway. I didn’t have to figure it out, I could follow someone’s instructions. I did yoga once a week, a dance-based class taught by a guy named Ross, and HardCore – I was pretty addicted to HardCore early on.
So you weren’t training with Dr. Butler (as he’s referred to in the Karp family) right away?
No, I think we started about 6 months after I joined. He would put together workouts for me, so I could come in and workout on my own in addition to our training sessions and taking classes. Before I knew it, I was coming in and working out 4-5 days/week during my lunch hour. Derek also suggested I work with the nutritionist ZUM had at the time, so I was getting a lot of support on all fronts.
Did that help you obtain your initial goals?
Absolutely! Like most people when they first begin things, I was pretty gung-ho about it, and actually lost quite a bit of weight within the first 4-6 months. I joined in the spring and went with a friend to Aruba in early November. That trip was the first peak of my journey. I had lost weight; I was feeling good. That was probably the best I’d ever felt about myself physically.
More importantly, I started the process of actually being able to feel how my body felt when I changed things up – exercising more or less, doing different types of workouts, changing how and what I ate.
I remember having an epiphany one day right around Christmas-time. I worked in an office, and people would bring in all the traditional goodies. After grazing on goodies all morning, I came in to workout with Derek. I was surprised how sluggish I felt. I mentioned it to Derek who asked what I’d eaten. All of a sudden, I realized I had been eating treats all morning – there was my “aha” moment. That was the first time I was ever really conscious of the effect of what I ate was having on how I felt.
That’s such a huge, Self-empowering moment! So here you are 15 years later, still making it to ZUM at least once a week. What made the difference for you here compared to the other gyms you’d joined?
First of all, it’s the people. I’ve said many times, “ZUM is my Cheers,” for anyone who’s old enough to know what that means. It is the place where everybody knows my name. People greet me; we have things to talk about, and there’s history. I feel I could go into ZUM any day, any time, and there would be people there who know me. I don’t necessarily hang out with the people at ZUM, but I feel like they’re my friends, and, to some extent, my family. It’s a good place to be.
The results too, obviously. Thanks to “Dr.” Butler. I couldn’t do it without D.
Speaking of results, what would you say your greatest achievement has been since joining? After 15 years, there’s probably a lot to choose from!
15 years is a long time, and there have been a lot of ups and downs. I turned 41 right before my son was born. The fact that I am a mother in my 40’s (and staring 50 right in the face) and can keep up with my very active 8 year old son? That’s got to be my greatest achievement. If it weren’t for ZUM, I don’t think my son or I would be having the same family experience.
That’s powerful. As most things appear to after having children, have your reasons for working out changed too?
Yeah, it’s all about how I feel and keeping up with Simon. It’s about being able to do all the things I both need and want to do in my life.
Which hasn’t been the easiest thing to do within the past few years, right? Would you be willing to share a little about your health issues?
Of course. I’m 3.5 years past my initial diagnosis of colon cancer. I’ve had multiple surgeries and a total of 18 months of chemotherapy. During some of that time, working out has been just to feel like I can still do something – just to keep moving. Some of the time, it’s been about recovery and rebuilding – “now that I’ve been through this latest step, let’s find out what can I do.”
During my chemotherapy it was always very important for me to schedule my chemo in a way that I could still come to the gym once a week. Making it to the gym during that time was a victory.
And you did! There were very few times we didn’t see you. Where are you now with your cancer?
I’m in the “wait and see” period, but I’ve been in remission for about a year. Now I feel like I have the ability, while I’m not actively sick or in treatment, to really get back to working out. I feel like I’m in as good of shape as I was shortly after my son was born – maybe the best shape of my life.
You look amazing. Clearly, you’ve got renewed inspiration and new physical goals you’re working toward. What was the trigger for this new journey you’re on?
It really was the surgery I had a year ago. Between the steroids I was taking with chemo, the medications, the stress, and my dad dying – my weight had really ballooned.
I lost a little bit of weight just from the surgery itself. It was an opportunity to say “ok, I want to get back to feeling strong and healthy.” Part of that is getting rid of the extra weight I’d put on. At my peak, I was 65 pounds heavier than I’d been when I took that trip to Aruba. I have lost 40 of that. I’d like to lose more, but I’ve also come around to realizing it’s not necessarily about the number on the scale – it’s about how I look, how I feel, and how my body is functioning.
How do you feel?
I feel great! I’ve had a huge energy increase. I walk to and from my office 3-4 times/week. I’m an addict to my Fitbit, logging about 5 miles daily. It’s so great. I love walking around our neighborhood with Simon, to the farmer’s market on Sundays, to Simon’s baseball practices and games. Looking forward to a lot of bike riding with Simon this summer!
There’s no denying you’ve always been an incredible mother, but how has this new personal journey impacted your relationship with Simon?
In our family, I’ve always said that my husband was the “fun” parent, and I was the “rules” parent. Being able to be more active makes me able to be more fun too. I can go out and ride bikes with him, I can go out and play catch with him and help him practice baseball. I’m not just the “rules” parent or the “sit on the couch and read together” parent anymore.
That’s awesome! Do you see fitness as an important part of your own self-care as a mom?
Absolutely. The one hour a week that I’m at ZUM working out with Derek, is the one hour that is absolutely 100% my time. That’s part of why I hold onto it so tightly and won’t cancel unless I absolutely have to. It’s important for me physically, but it’s also and emotional and mental outlet for me to hold onto.
But that hasn’t kept you from sharing ZUM with your family though, has it?
No, not at all! Simon came with me a few times as an infant – exposed him early. One time when he was about 3 he came to HardCore with me. He had his own bench and was doing the workout right along with me. He’s worked out with Derek and me a few times and just loves ZUM. He says that as soon as he’s old enough (18 in his mind), he’s going to come workout at ZUM, and if I’m lucky enough to be working out at the same time, I might get to see him there.
Before Simon, I shared ZUM with my dad, Larry. He was a doctor and very rigid in his thinking about medicine and exercise and what things could and couldn’t be done. Dad had back problems and on-going pain for years. After I started training with Derek, I told him how wonderful it was and how much better I felt. Despite my best efforts to encourage him to try it out, he insisted nothing could be done to help him; going to the gym would just make his back pain worse.
Finally, when I was about 7 months pregnant he joined me for a session, He’d been an ob/gyn and was concerned about my working out so late in my pregnancy, so I invited him to come observe and see for himself. Derek worked with both of us that day. The next day when I called to see how he was feeling, he said, “It’s amazing. I have no pain.” He was hooked.
He joined ZUM and worked out with Derek religiously. He loved ZUM as much as I do. In fact, he worked out at ZUM until weeks before he died.
One of his last visits he raced me up the stairs and he beat me! I think I was even sort of trying. I have a lot of favorite members, but Larry was in a league of his own. We all really miss him and the joy he brought to ZUM.
You’re no stranger to introducing people to ZUM, so what would you say to someone who is new or looking to join?
The breadth of knowledge at ZUM is astounding. There is someone at ZUM who can answer any questions you might have. If, for some odd reason, they can’t, they will find an answer for you! They know so much about fitness and health from so many different perspectives. It’s almost more of a question of why wouldn’t you go to ZUM? If you have any sort of health or fitness related goal, don’t go with canned video workouts – go to ZUM! There is someone there who will workout with you and you will get what you need out of the experience. I can pretty much guarantee it.
That’s darn good advice. Ok, let’s get to know you a little better! What’s something interesting about you that we might not know?
After college, I lived and worked in Tokyo for 2 years. I’m extraordinarily, rusty, but at the time, I spoke fluent Japanese.
Amazing! How about a guilty pleasure?
Chocolate. I will eat any chocolate, anywhere, anytime – except white chocolate. Given the choice, I will always opt for dark chocolate.
When my husband and I were first getting to know one another, he asked for my list of top 5 best movies of all time and then he sent me his list and I said, “how on earth can you not have Casablanca on that list”? So, I think that may be it, but it’s next to impossible to pick one favorite, so:
Harold & Maude
Benny & Joon (I was a big Jonny Depp fan until he got creepy)
anything with Katherine Hepburn
Favorite TV show?
The West Wing – without anything else being anywhere close.
I love reading. There are good books and then there’s brain candy, which I read a lot of these days. One of my favorite books of all time is Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund.
I’m an 80’s kid. It’s so hard to pick a favorite song or artist, but one of the musical highlights from recent memory was 11 days after my last surgery, my family and I went to the U2 concert. It was amazing.
Favorite ZUM class?
HardCore. I would still take it if it was easier for me to get downtown.
Favorite movement or exercise?
Right now, I’m really liking chest presses. The stretch feels really good. Luckily, Derek always has me trying new things, so I never feel like I’m in a rut – even after 15 years!
Is there anything else you’d like to share before we wrap up?
Yes! Conventional wisdom used to be that you don’t need be screened for colon cancer 50. The rates of diagnosis in people under 50 are going through the roof. Get screened. If you’re anywhere close to 50 or have any symptoms – go see your doctor. No one wants to talk about colon cancer because we’re still embarrassed by it, and no one wants to deal with everything that goes into a colonoscopy. Yeah, the prep isn’t fun, but the procedure itself is a piece of cake. Going through the prep for a colonoscopy is so much better than going through treatment for colon cancer. Do yourself and your family a favor and get screened.
I hope ZUM stays around for as long as I stay around. I only make it down once a week, but it is the highlight of my week in so many ways. People should bring their relatives and friends. But if you don’t, you’re going to have friends at ZUM!
When you first joined ZUM, what made you want or need to join a gym?
I got into the gym culture in undergrad. Each dorm at Notre Dame has a small gym, and I was lucky enough to be in one run by an avid crossfitter who outfitted the space with incredible equipment. I think because of how great the dorm gym was, most of us just worked out there which created a really tight-knit community. When I came out here after graduation, I found it crazy challenging to make friends; the whole “Seattle Freeze” thing totally kicked-in in high-gear. To make this worse, my first year I didn’t join a gym because I was concerned about the cost (Seattle is expensive compared to the Midwest!). Having lost all my muscle mass (I was 5’10” and weighed 125 pounds) and needing community, it was time for a change. I started researching gyms online and almost all of ZUM’s reviews mentioned community and family which seemed exactly the kind of place I needed. The next week I came in and had lovely visit with one Meghan Dahl and, no joke, within 30 seconds of leaving the gym I texted my mom, “I found the place. It’s done.”
Ha! That’s awesome! I totally remember showing you around too. Needless to say, the feeling was mutual. I thought you’d be a great fit and was really hoping you’d join. Since joining ZUM what has been your greatest accomplishment?
Honestly, it’s been more a of meta-life change. ZUM helped me realize I really have a passion for fitness and overall well-being. It’s led me to investigate ways that I can incorporate that passion into my career long-term. For example, I’m a product manager at Amazon, so is there a way I can go into product for fitness or health and well-being in some way? The resources at ZUM have really allowed me to explore that in a deeper way than I have before.
On a more personal level, having access to trainers who are willing to support you even if you’re not paying to train with them is an amazing perk. If you approach Sierra and say “hey, I’m looking for a way to gain muscle mass, what do you recommend for a hypertrophy program?” she’ll take 10 minutes to show you a few things you can do or talk through the latest research, encourage you to go play, and then check-in a few weeks later to see how things are progressing. It’s so cool that the trainers and other gym staff work to cultivate that sense of community and family. ZUM has really helped me, not only to gain confidence and muscle mass and reach my physical goals, but also to identify future goals.
So inspiring! You’ve really bulked up too since you’ve been here. May I ask how much muscle you’ve put on?
Ha! In the year and a half I’ve been part of ZUM I’ve gone from 125 to 155. I’d like to say it’s all muscle, but maybe it’s just the hair (I haven’t weighed myself since donating it).
Damn! That’s incredible, Tom! I’m pretty sure I know the answer to this next question, but what do you like best about ZUM?
Meghan Dahl. Was that what you were thinking?
Ha! Ah no, that was not it at all! I was thinking the community.
Yeah! I think it’s really cool. I come in at 5am, right? At that time there are traditionally about 4 or 5 of us there when the doors open. It’s been amazing connecting with those guys. There’s Chad who inspires me professionally and has become both a mentor and friend. Dr TJ who’s like flippin Superman. And then Mike, who’s this incredibly happy soul – even at 5am he’s full of energy rivaled only by you. But ya, the idea that I can come in at 5am during the week and have one community and then that weekends (when I’m a little lazier in the mornings) I can come in and have a totally separate but equally fantastic “family” with Brian, Sierra, Liz, you, etc., etc is so cool!
What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking about joining?
First of all, I’d say join. Then I would say explore. The thing that I loved about my first couple months at ZUM was that I didn’t know what my fitness goals were yet, and I didn’t know what I wanted to focus on so I just tried out different classes to get back into the swing of things and to meet the people. That was when I fell in love with ZUM – that exploration period.
Exploring also had a big impact on me pushing my boundaries. I’ve always been the kind of person that felt a little threatened by the idea of working out in front of people – like they’re going to judge me. I distinctly remember when Joe invited me to go to HardCore. At first I thought, “no way! I’m just going to do my thing off in the corner alone.” After a couple more invites, I went, and it whooped my ass but also helped me break down those barriers and realize I can talk to people in class and gain that confidence and try out boxing or cycling or lifting and other things that I never would have considered before.
Is there a fun fact about you we may not know?
I mean most recently? The hair. That was a lot of hair.
But in my lifetime? I was once almost eaten by Shamu.
Wait, what? Are you serious?!?
Yeah! My mom was the lab manager at the Sea World in Cleveland back when it existed. Growing up, I would go to work with her everyday and once, towards the end of the day, she went to talk to the head whale trainer. Whenever she did that, I got to come along and feed Shamu which basically meant they lifted me up so I was hanging on the glass abutment and I got to throw a fish in his mouth. This particular day, they gave me a little more autonomy than I should have had, and I reached too far and fell into his mouth. My mom’s back was turned, so it was only because the head trainer peered around that they saw my feet sticking out of Shamu’s mouth. Shamu was super well trained so he was literally just chilling there with his mouth completely open but obviously it was a little freaky for my mom and the trainer. I was totally fine – not traumatized at all. That’s probably my most fun story. Can you imagine if I’d been eaten? Obviously, a much sadder tale.
That’s crazy, Tom. Ok, I’m almost afraid to ask more questions now, but what’s your guilty pleasure?
I don’t think I have any…I really like ice cream? But I never eat it, so I’m not really guilty about it. I like wine and vodka too, but I’m a pretty big “moderation” person so don’t feel particularly guilty over those either.
The Lion King. Easy. Always and forever. My top five movies are all Disney. I’m totally still at 10 year-old.
Favorite tv show?
Sherlock – fantastic and mind-bendy.
The West Wing – absolute classic.
Ooooooo, I like all forms of music. If you were to ask me what I listen to on a regular basis:
at the gym – alternative
in the car – 50’s, 60’s, 70’s, 80’s – oldies essentially
at work – jazz
at home – whatever strikes me
Oh this is really tough. I’m an avid reader. I love East of Eden by Steinbeck. It’s his most under-appreciated novel. A timeless classic – long, but truly beautiful.
I’m currently reading It by Stephen King but also enjoyed Big Little Lies and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. And The Lord of the Rings. I was obsessed when I was a kid.
Favorite movement or exercise?
I love hip thrusts. I also like all forms of squats. Essentially, I love leg day even though my legs look the same as they did when I was 10. I’m not like you, I don’t like burpees. I do them, but I’m not a fan.
Favorite ZUM class?
HardCore. I love HardCore. The diversity in age and fitness-level is incredible and, regardless of either, everyone gets a killer workout. You’ll learn new movements and how to perform them well; I think the coolest part is how form-focused it is.
So before we go, we’ve got to talk about your hair. I realize that’s an odd topic for most of these interviews, but you’re unique – clearly, Mr. Almost Eaten by a Whale. For a while now, you’ve been growing out your hair and it got quite long, but here you are in front of me with no hair! What is up with that? Word on the street is the whole thing was all for charity?
Yeah! I got involved with an organization called St. Baldrick’s Foundation back in college. It’s one of very few foundations that specifically supports pediatric cancer research. They do everything from research to helping connect patients with providers to even providing temporary housing during treatment.
St. Baldrick’s is cool because it has a dual-focus: fundraising and solidarity with cancer patients. The first is obvious, you raise money for their research. The second (solidarity) is fun,. because it basically means shaving bald which anyone could do; you don’t have to donate hair or anything – you simply shave your head in solidarity. I did that 3 times with the Bald and Beautiful campaign at Notre Dame, which is how I got to know St. Baldrick’s and fell in love with their mission. My last year I realized they also partner with Pantene Great Lengths, so people with 8+ inches of hair can donate their hair for wigs when they shave their heads. A couple years back I decided to do both!
My last hair cut was September of 2016…until it all got shaved off on April 1st.
Wow – that’s a long time to go without a haircut, but for such an amazing cause! Not to be too personal, but is there a reason you chose to support pediatric cancer?
I’m lucky enough that I haven’t been personally effected by pediatric cancer, no. My first job in high school was coaching a local swim team. I loved working with kids. Not only did it allow me to be more of a kid, but they have this infinite, boundless amount of joy and love to share that you miss with adults. They’re so open. They don’t try to hide themselves the way we as adults often do. The idea that any kid has to forgo that carefree part of life and adopt more adult tendencies to face the pain and embarrassment of cancer is mind-boggling.
It really hit home last week. I was waiting in line to go into the Basilica on Notre Dame’s campus for Easter Vigil, and randomly started chatting with the guy standing in front of me. Without prompting, he suddenly opened up about losing one of his daughters to cancer at 15. She was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor at 14 and was only given a few months to live. For the first 6-months of treatment this guy and his wife tried to shelter Elizabeth by avoiding discussions about prognosis or longevity; they closed off to each other and to her and watched as the entire family was sapped of that joy she’d formerly brought. Then one day, Elizabeth sat him and his wife down and told them she knew they were hiding something from her and it was making her feel powerless, like because she didn’t know her tormentor she couldn’t battle it back. From then on they were totally open with one another and noticed how much happier all of them were as a result. She died a year later but he talked about how much grace and hope and strength she brought to them, even after she was gone. Hearing him talk about how mature she was, almost becoming the parent in that moment; yes, it’s a beautiful thing, but it shouldn’t have to be a thing. No 15 year-old should have to be that mature and that aware of their own mortality. That was powerful.
So after a year and a half my hair is all gone, and I’m freezing! It’s so cold. Long hair is like a scarf and hat combo, and I’ve lost both. What is the weather? It’s too cold for April!
You’re so inspiring, Tom! If people would like to join you in your fundraising, how can they do that?
I did reach my goals, but it would be so awesome for the ZUM community to join in and support the St. Baldrick’s Foundation. Here’s the link to my Facebook fundraiser or, if Facebook’s recent data breach has you worried that Cambridge Analytica will see you donated to a good cause, here’s an alternative link on St Baldricks website.
Thanks for the info! Any final thoughts for us, Tom?
ZUM is my home. I’ve been thinking a lot more about moving and getting closer to family, and the biggest obstacle for that right now is ZUM, because I don’t think I could ever find any place better.
Back in 2009, after almost 50 years of playing soccer, Chuan Nguyen found himself looking for a new way to stay fit and found his outlet at ZUM. Since then, he’s become a fixture in our community, even winning a Zummie award at our February Member Appreciation Party!
Chuan truly enjoys the journey that is life, and movement plays an important role in his human experience. In this interview, he opens up about the profound ways movement and exercise have effected him. We think Chuan’s life-long fitness journey is inspiring and hope you enjoy learning his story.
Chuan, I can’t remember a time when you weren’t a member. How did you find your way to ZUM and what were you looking for when you joined?
When I moved to Seattle, I heard about ZUM, but I didn’t check it it out until I decided I couldn’t play soccer any longer. You see, I’ve been an athlete all my life. I used to run track – 100 m, 400m relay. I also played a lot of soccer – a lot, a lot, a lot, a lot of soccer – like 6 times a week. I played all over for years. To make a long story short, I played so much soccer that I wore out the inside of my right knee. I have no cartilage left. When you play 5-6 times a week, and it takes 7 days to recover each time you play that’s a diminishing return.
When the time came, it was still very important to me to stay active, so Essie and I decided to join. That was around 2009 or so when ZUM was still over on 5th and Bell, and then we moved over to the new location. I took a hiatus while I was in Vietnam for work for 2 years, but Essie was still a member, so when I moved back, I rejoined. That’s how I found my way to ZUM. I was looking for a new way to stay active and fit.
Here you are all these years later, still spending hours at ZUM working out. What keeps you so engaged?
I think a big part of it is because it’s very unique. I’ve checked out a lot of the gyms around town. They’re nothing like ZUM. For me, ZUM is designed for people who are serious about working out – people who really want to make a change in their life or who are serious about conditioning and having a healthy lifestyle.
It serves me really well, because I love training. When I was playing soccer I loved training I almost more than playing. I love the process of getting ready for the season. You start working out outdoors – running hills to strengthen your quads and hamstrings, build up your wind doing sprints.
Now, I’m not training for soccer, but I am still very driven by the same process. When I workout I pay close attention to my body movement. I have a lot of problems physically, so I make adjustments to compensate. I pay attention to how I feel everyday and change my routine around accordingly. I increase or reduce intensity when something is effecting me. I pay a lot of attention to my body – how I stand, my posture, my motion/mobility. Most people don’t realize how important that is – a strong mind-body connection. And ZUM promotes that. Not many gyms around town do that.
Have you always had a strong mind-body connection or is it something you’ve developed as you’ve matured?
I’ve always been keenly aware of my body, but I do what I can to help myself. I read a lot about training. I’ve also worked with a couple trainers here – Jared at the old location and Chris Zilliax at this location. Since I pay attention to my body and I’ve been working on my mind-body connection all these years, I’m very receptive. When a trainer gives me an adjustment, I get it and apply it.
Now that you’re not training for soccer, why do you work out?
Primarily to stay fit. I love being fit. Working out makes food taste better. It makes the day much brighter. It gives me more energy. And it helps me cope with the sadness of the loss of Essie. I miss her dearly, but I don’t get depressed because there’s something I do everyday for myself that’s important to me.
You and Essie were together for a long time. Any loss is challenging, but that is significant.
We were together 37 years. It’s a loss that will never be filled because we were so in love with each other, and we’d been together so long. There was an album that Carlos Santana and John MacLaughlin made a number of years ago when they were disciples Sri Chinmoy named Love Devotion Surrender, and that’s what I decided to do the last 8 months of Essie’s life – love, devotion, and surrender. I surrendered myself to the love I have for her and devoted whatever time was left to be with her, because she was the most important reason for my life. I took a leave of absence from work and dedicated my life to taking care of her. She wanted to die at home, and she did. I was there by her side until her last breath. I’m an intensely emotional person, so I felt it down to the core of my being.
That’s another reason I needed to workout. I was devastated. I was starting to get into a depression. I needed to find something to do everyday that would give me some semblance of structure and would help me take care of myself and be as fit as I could. The first year I did that was 2016. I decided I was going to go to ZUM at least 300 times out of the year. I ended up going 320 times. And I continue that! I love working at it.
That’s a very powerful story and testimonial for to the power of movement. Thank you so much for sharing. I think a lot of people, myself included, can relate to working out as a coping mechanism and energetic outlet.
It has it’s objective benefits too. During that time, I went from 156 down to 144 pounds, and my body fat went from 11% to 7% I think I lost more than 12 pounds, I just gained it back in muscle. So I’m lean and mean!
That’s wonderful! Has that been your greatest achievement since joining ZUM?
Yes, I think so! I don’t set concrete goals – that’s not for me. My goal is to get fit and stay healthy, and everything else results from that. I’m more fit. I’m stronger. I have more muscle mass. My diet has improved. I’m enjoying food much more. When your digestive system and physical health is good, you enjoy things more.
What do you like most about ZUM?
I love ZUM because of the trainers. It’s a great place to workout because it’s not packed with people all the time. There’s lots of classes going on. I’m not a class person myself, but everyone is different. And everyone at ZUM is so friendly and happy to help.
What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking about joining?
It’s the best gym and workout space I’ve ever come across. Bar none. The environment is fantastic. The equipment is fantastic. It’s clean – the locker room is fantastic. The trainers are great, the classes are great. And there’s no pressure here. It’s not a meat market. People get along with one another and they’re very helpful. Really what more can you ask for?
Before we go into my usual “get to know you” questions, I’d love to hear more about your soccer experience! How long did you play? What position? What’s at the root of your passion?
I played from about 6 years old until I was 55. I grew up playing with the Brazilian, Peruvian, and Argentinian players in Bethesda, Maryland. It was such a unique situation because they were these amazing guys who had soccer in their blood. It was all about the joy of touching the ball, the joy of rolling the ball, making beautiful plays, not about scoring.
I played left back for the Brazilian Embassy team. Then I joined the Jamacian Nats and played left wing. I was a sprinter, so I was always fast and loved being able to cover the field. One time during a game, we had a counter attack against the other team and broke on a fast break and one of my guys carried the ball and shot. He beat the goal keeper, but the ball hit the post, but I was there when it rebounded and tapped the ball in. The goal keeper was like “where did he come from?” I sprinted 80 meters on this counter attack. I really did come out of now where. I had the speed and stamina.
That’s awesome! What’s a fun fact about you that we might not know?
Ha! There are so many!
I used to have long hair down to the middle of my back. I was a hippie. I wore sandals – even in the winter.
Another fun fact is at one point of my life I was making pottery – functional clay.
I have an edible garden. I grow a lot of my own vegetables. I love flowers. I just planted two flowering quinces a week ago. I got that from my mom. She always loved flowers and food, so I learned that from my mom – eat good food; eat the freshest food that you can buy – not too much. Get the best food, the best ingredients you can buy.
I’ve traveled a lot. I loved Spain – Catalonia, Barcelona, the Basque region. I also love taking road trips to National Parks in the US. They are treasures. This fall I I drove down to Yosemite to spread some of Essie’s ashes.
I know a lot about Washington wines and have a lot of wine-maker friends. My favorite is Cayuse. It’s outstanding.
My favorite restaurant is Tarzan and Jane. It’s a Spanish restaurant in Fremont and the chef is from Valencia. It’s the only restaurant I will go to at the drop of a hat. The chef is the best in Seattle bar none. It’s incredible.
I love food. I love wine. I love life. Live life.
It certainly appears so! Usually I ask about a guilty pleasure, but I get the feeling guilt is not really in your vocabulary. Is there anything you consider a guilty pleasure?
No, everything is a pleasure. I don’t have guilt. So many people live their lives with guilt. A Tibetan monk said “the life we live, we borrow this life, make the best of it.” He also said “the minute you’re born, is the minute you start to die.” It’s true! It’s not how long you live, it’s how you live your life. It’s profound. You can be scared, but death is inevitable. It’s the journey between. What do you do with your life? How do you live your life? For me, you try to live a decent life – not deliberately hurt anyone, but if you do, you recognize it and stand up and apologize – and you do that without guilt. You just remedy it the best you can.
You strike me as someone who doesn’t watch a lot of tv or movies. Do you have any favorites?
I don’t watch tv, no.
But a movie that really spoke to me was Wings of Desire. It’s incredible. It’s a story about an angel who was banished to Earth and fell in love with a circus performer. As an angel he had felt nothing, but as a human being he could feel. He stood there in the rain, felt the rain on his face, and realized this is what it’s like to be human. He wanted to remain human – to see the sunrise, feel the breeze on his face. It’s such an affirmation of life. He could live forever as an angel, but he didn’t want to because he wanted to live a life where he could feel. For me, that movie is an affirmation of life. It effected me profoundly.
Favorite music or artist?
Coltrane, Miles Davis, Duke Ellington, Bucky Hill, Archie Schepp – jazz. But I listen to everything – hiphop, Lady Gaga, everything.
Favorite book? Or something you’re currently reading?
The Encyclopedia of Wines – hahahaha.
You don’t take ZUM classes, so you probably don’t have a favorite, huh?
I used to take classes a long time ago. I’m not a class person, but I loved Yamuna.
Do you have a favorite movement?
I think my favorite is the cross body stretch.
I feel you’ve already given us some pretty profound thoughts, but do you have any final thoughts for us? Although, taking a page from your book, I suppose thoughts are never really final, rather always evolving.
Yeah! Thoughts are kind of like a compost pile. You keep on adding stuff to your mind and it keeps fermenting and good stuff comes out. I love information. I absorb it and it’s in the brain somewhere and eventually it comes out. Germination. For me that’s creativity. As an architect, that’s how my brain works. It’s a compost pile – throw stuff in there and eventually things start clicking.
It may not be an old adage, but we think there has to be some truth to the idea that the couple who works out together, stays together, so we thought it would be fun to showcase a ZUM couple as our February members of the month! Meet Amy Leigh Morgan and Trevor Smith!
If you’re a lunch-time class attendee, you undoubtedly have seen Amy and Trevor getting their sweat on and then sharing some quiet time together afterwards. It might be surprising to know these two sweet, awesome people are self-proclaimed “non-joiners” who had never taken a group fitness class prior to ZUM. Read on to find out what made the difference for them at ZUM and enjoy their banter on their delightful observations about ZUM over the years like the shocking amount of squat and lunge variations that exist. We hope you enjoy learning more about Amy and Trevor, their stories, and the benefits they’ve experienced working out together at ZUM.
It’s so fun to you feature you two as a couple as our February members of the month! When I think about ZUM couples, my mind goes straight to you two sitting on boxes chatting after class. It’s always so sweet. I can’t remember though, did you join together?
A: I started first, and Trevor joined shortly after.
T: We actually hadn’t been together very long. I feel like ZUM was a big part of us meshing as a couple.
That’s the cutest. Ok, interview over. Kidding! That’s pretty gutsy to join together early on in a relationship. I always say a relationship must be getting serious if a member invites their partner to join them at ZUM.
A: Yeah, that’s pretty hard core.
T: Honestly, it was kinda a bigger deal than inviting each other to meet our parents.
A: Yeah, that only lasts for a little bit. Gyms…that’s like all the time.
T: Parents are transient. The gym is forever.
Too funny! Amy, what was your experience with fitness before ZUM?
A: I went to this super weird little strip mall gym in Bothell before moving to Seattle. It was 24 hours, so I got an access card and there was never anyone there – no trainers – just a room with machines and treadmills. I’d go there in the middle of the night and would just do weightlifting on the machines. I had my little circuit I would do 3 or 4 times a week – sometimes more.
Trevor, in the past when I’ve asked you this, you mentioned that you “don’t remember the dark days before ZUM,” but what was your pre-ZUM fitness experience?
T: I was a long distance runner. I ran all through college. A few years before Amy and I met, I was training for half marathons. Never got the urge to do a full. A half is fun because you feel like you achieved something, but you didn’t ruin your body.
Ah-ha! See, you were thinking like a ZUM member even before you were a ZUM member.
A: I know, right?
T: But my knees were starting to become problematic.
A: Yeah, your knees were starting to make that noise.
T: Yeah, they made a bad noise -like a crunchy, snappy noise when I went up stairs. About the time Amy found out about ZUM, I knew I had to start to look for some other kind of activity. We started trying classes and that just worked for us.
I will always remember meeting you for the first time, Amy. You had this awesome, big furry hat on and such amazing energy. How did you first find ZUM?
A: Oh, man! That was a really good hat! ZUM was across the street from my job, and I was looking for something close. I hadn’t worked in an office or been on a schedule for a really long time. There was just a lot of structure that I hadn’t had in my life for like a decade or more, so I was trying to figure it all out.
At first, I just walked up and down stairs in my building during breaks, but that felt stupid after a while. So I went across the street because I saw this gym. They gave me the tour, but I remember being on the fence. I’d never done classes, and it felt sorta fancy. I like fancy, but I wasn’t sure I could afford it. I just didn’t know. Then I started my trial and was like, “oh this is amazing.”
So neither of you tried and true lunchtime class people had ever done classes before joining ZUM?
A: No. We’re not really class people.
T: No, we’re not joiners.
A: We’re not joiners at all…at all.
So what was different at ZUM to make two self-proclaimed “non-joiners” opt in?
A: Part of it was the fact that our friends, Arlene and Laurion, who are long-time members, love it so much. I trust them completely, so I figured if they love it so much, and I love them so much, then it must be good. But, ultimately, I think it was just the trainers.
T: Yeah. They were grown-ass professionals.
A: Totally! Grown-ass professionals. I had done a trial at another gym in the area, and it was the worst experience. Everyone was really young. It felt careless and very rote like they were listening to me or paying attention to me or my body or what I wanted at all. And it was a continuous up-sell to a personal training package. Everything about it was gross.
Then I went to ZUM. I loved that everyone in the classes was an adult – the members and the trainers. The trainers were were so thoughtful, especially Derek. I loved that in every class they gave a million variations. Like here’s the next thing we’re going to do, and here’s 3 different levels of intensity from here’s what you do “if don’t think you can’t do anything at all” to “if you’re Sheena,” here’s the extreme version. That felt real sweet. I never felt less than or dumb or intimidated. It always felt fun.
T: Honestly, I love the trainers. They are definitely the core piece for me. In addition to just being pros and super knowledgeable, when they saw something was problematic in my body, like with my knees or posture or something, they were always willing to take a few moments after class to converse with me, but also to tell me what I could do to start a longer program.
A: But for yourself, right? It was never like, “oh, you should come work with me for $xxx”; rather pay attention to yourself for yourself.
T: Right. Like, here’s a thing you’re struggling with. Oftentimes I wouldn’t have even clued into the fact, but at soon as they said it, I was like “oh my god, that’s totally it.” Then they’d offer to meet and work on it. It never up-selling thought. It was always for some fitness goal, which I really appreciated.
So, it’s safe to say what you like best about ZUM is the trainers, yes?
A: And the other members. I love that people go to ZUM for…ever. I want to go to ZUM forever. I get to work out with a ton of people who feel like my family – like my gym family. And they’ve been going there longer than me. When somebody new comes in, I always think “oh, I hope you like it! I want you to think this is awesome.”
Similar to what Trevor was saying, it’s very clear that there’s no agenda behind ZUM besides giving me information that will help me do what I want to do better. Nobody pushes me to have goals if I don’t want them. I love that I’ve been coming to Derek’s Monday class for like 6 years and never once has he been like “you should step it up.” I’m in control.
You must have some underlying goals though, right?
T: Amy and my goal has always been to have fitness be a lifestyle where we enjoy going and we feel better. It’s never wanting to bench a certain amount or run this fast or anything like that.
A: Yeah, there’s not an endgame.
T: They’re not achievement goals; they’re lifestyle goals. I feel ZUM is perfectly set up for that. If you want a fitness lifestyle where it’s part of your life and just some numbers on a card, then ZUM is for you.
A: If you want to get goal oriented, you can. But with a lot of classes the focusing on mobility and functionality in your daily life, ZUM is beautifully tailored to help you keep moving and stay functional, especially as you age.
It was super alarming the first time my hips didn’t feel right just from life. You know, like I slept weird on my side, and now I’m going to walk awkwardly for 2 days? I mean what kind of old person sh*t is that? That’s horrifying!! But it’s part of life, and ZUM keeps you going.
Speaking of that, Trevor, you’ve had some injuries that have taken you away from ZUM. How are things going?
T: It’s been rough. First, I took a new job which made it really tough to make it in for lunchtime classes since it ends up being about 2 hours away from work. Then I also realized I have some odd heart behavior. That, combined with low-back pain, put me on the sidelines for ZUM for a while. I had great support mitigating my back pain and avoiding injury at ZUM working one-on-one with Joe and getting great adjustments in classes, but I had one bad sciatica episode that just kinda took me out.
Honestly, being away from ZUM has been a little hard on our relationship. As you mentioned, one part of our workout routine was having 15 minutes of cool-down time together after our workout. Not having that time in the middle of the day is a huge bummer for us. We miss it. I’m continuously trying to figure out how I can get an office downtown, so I can make lunchtime classes more viable again.
I always loved catching a glimpse of you two during your cool-down time. If it’s not too personal, what is that time about for you two, and what are benefits you experience by having this shared experience?
A: Well, first there’s just the shared endorphin state afterwards, right? There’s something nice about knowing you’ve been through this together. It’s also a re-set. If you start out like grumpy in the morning or disconnected or static-y, then you go and work out. You’re literally syncing up during a class being in the same space, doing the same motions. Then just sitting together in a nice, relaxed, post-workout state. It’s just a great way to connect with each other and be like, “oh right, this is who we are.”
T: Amy is a night owl and I am a morning person, so that mid-day 15 minutes was often the only time together we were both fully awake, and we’d just worked out, so we felt great. It was a dedicated time and some days it was really the only time we could connect. Between raising a kid and working and all the other stuff we do, we’re busy. So, that was a non-trivial piece of time for us.
A: Yeah, for sure. There’s something fun about both being sore in the same places from the same workout and being able to commiserate together.
I know you guys aren’t super motivated by achievement-oriented goals, but what have been your greatest accomplishments since joining?
T: I’ve felt awesome for 5 years.
A: Yeah, I’m healthier and stronger than I’ve ever been in my life. Considering I’m almost 50, that feels pretty rad. The fact that I can sprint to the bus and not die – that’s awesome. Yup, being able to run for things when I’m late is my biggest achievement.
Yes! Training for life, right? What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking about joining?
A: Show up. Just keep going. I’m always trying to get people to join ZUM. Just show up. It’s an awesome re-set in the middle of my workday. Sh*t that’s gotten blown way out of proportion, things that I’ve had way too many extreme emotions about that don’t matter at all – I get to let it all go. I work out, change locations, see people who’s interest in me is not based on anything that I can do for them.
T: When people ask me what works for me, the thing I always try to tell them is see if you can make it as much of a part of your upkeep as eating and sleeping. You don’t eat or sleep with goals – they’re just part of your life. If you can pick fitness up and treat it as such opposed to “I need to look good for bikini season” or whatever, you may have more success. Those people reach the goal and then what? I feel like ZUM gives you the ability to mix fitness into your life like eating and sleeping as a part of life.
What’s something interesting about you that we might not know?
A: Well, I’m a certified hypnotherapist, so that’s weird.
But awesome. Trevor?
T: I make virtual worlds.
Ok…also awesome. What’s your guilt pleasure?
A: Cheetos popcorn.
Did you say “Cheetos popcorn”? I didn’t know Cheetos made popcorn.
A: Yeah, girl. Cheetos does not make popcorn, but the movie theater does. Regal Meridian movie theaters basically pours Cheetos into popcorn.
T: It’s not just that though. They put the powder in to the popcorn, so the popcorn tastes like Cheetos and then there’s Cheetos in it.
Wow – who knew? Sounds like quite the savory treat. And your’s Mr. Smith?
T: You took the good one. I like shredded wheat before bed. Not the mini ones – the kind you could make into a raft if you needed.
Ha! Nice. Favorite movie?
T: What’s the one with Johnny Depp?
A: Oh yeah!! Mortdecai! It’s an ensemble film from a couple years ago. So funny! It was panned.
T: Everyone hated it, but we loved it. Very controversial.
A: It’s so good! Totally like a Peter Sellers 1970’s wacky comedy. It’s so funny. We should watch it again.
Favorite TV shows?
A: Blackish is a big favorite. And The Magicians. It’s really good – fantasy and sarcastic teen drama – basically Harry Potter for the CW.
T: I don’t really listen to music.
That’s cool. How about podcasts?
T: Yeah, l like news podcasts and the BBC. The Bugel – John Oliver’s old podcast. Amy Leigh listens to a lot of music.
A: A lot of music. Spotify has sort of ruined me for knowing what music I’m listening to. I just listen to my “Discover Weekly” playlist. However, thanks to Spotify, I have been getting into African pop music.
So you have eclectic taste. Do you have a go-to happy song?
A: I have been listening to this one song, let me find it…
T: Tiny Dancer
A: Hahaha! Yeah, Tiny Dancer. No, this song right now is at the top of my cheer me up playlist – Cash Machine by D.R.A.M. I really love this song.
You both strike me as readers. Favorite books?
A: Oh yeah, big readers.
T: We both like The Expanse series.
A: I just read a really beautiful book I think everyone should read called All the Crooked Saints. Lovely.
T: What’s Brene Brown’s book?
A: Oh yeah! The Gifts of Imperfection.
T: Anything by Brene Brown.
Favorite ZUM class?
A: Oh, that’s too hard!
T: Don’t make us choose! Anything at lunch.
A: Yeah, anything at lunch…expect spinning.
A: I don’t know. That’s really hard. There’s some that I hate so much, but then afterwards I like.
T: Bear crawl, box push…
A: Star jumps. I hate star jumps so much.
T: Tony Moses…
A: Yeah, Tony Moses on star jumps, “you can rest in the air…” Motherf-er….
T: He actually said that to us. Our other favorite Tony Moses quote we use all the time is, “You gotta get right for pumpkin pie”!
A:: Yeah, that was a pre-Thanksgiving workout. “You gotta get right for gravy”!
I do love a good clean and press.
T: One thing we remark on a lot is just how many kinds of squats and lunges there are.
A: So many kinds!
T: We had no idea.
A: It was shocking.
T: There is an infinite universe of variations of squats and lunges.
A: Oh no! Now I’m going to do it sideways on one leg over and over again. Sh*t!
It’s so true. Is there anything else you want to share about ZUM and your experience?
A: I really like having Aveda in the dressing rooms. I’m just going to reinforce that. That’s great. The dressing room amenities in general alone are worth the membership.
I also really like all the random toys all over ZUM, and how much people are encourage to go do weird sh*t. I love how many unique things you can go in and see people doing – like Steven or Zane doing their thing. When I first started there was a circus person doing her hand work. I’d come in and there’d be a woman balancing on one arm. Um, #workoutgoals. Or like Nicholas who balance-walks up the stair-rails. I love all of that. Or even how you guys are totally cool with Blake and I doing our kick boxing thing. Oh you want to spar? Cool, just sign a waiver. It’s awesome.