Meet January’s Member of the Month – Brigid Johnson

 brigid johnson amazon horse riding zum fitness member of month january


As we embark upon a new year and start thinking about our 2018 aspirations, we can’t help but look to our community for inspiration. It’s everywhere, but we’re feeling particularly inspired by January’s Member of the Month, Brigid Johnson, and the success she’s seen over the past year!

Brigid’s goal was to “become a smaller human.” With regular personal training and nutritional coaching, she’s managed to achieve that goal! Her success busted the myth that becoming “smaller” is synonymous with a lower number on the scale. Rather, that number remained the same while she shrunk in her arms, legs and waist – over 11 inches total!

We hope you enjoy reading Brigid’s story and learning her experience as she made small changes to achieve a big goal. May you be as inspired as we are!


When you first joined ZUM, what made you want or need to join a gym?


In 2014, I moved to Seattle from Pittsburgh, where I’d been in business school and had dabbled in personal training. Upon arriving in Seattle, I had a strong interest in kettlebells, so I joined a kettlebell gym and stayed for about 2 years. Eventually, I felt like it was time to try something new, but I didn’t know what I wanted to do – maybe yoga, or spin, or a gym focused on weight training. ZUM was really attractive to me because I had all those options, as well as personal training.


You’ve been training almost the whole time you’ve been at ZUM! Why did you choose personal training?


I really enjoyed personal training in the past, so I knew I wanted to start that up again. When I joined ZUM I connected with Sierra and became her first regular training client. Above all, I wanted diversity, so we played with everything. This included strength training, cardio, cardio bursts, and intervals. She even had me working on movements I’d never done before like squats. I ended up squatting 135 pounds which felt awesome!

I knew I was strong, but I decided that I really wanted to become a smaller human (leaner).Around this time (April 2016), I also joined the Arivale Pioneer Program and began working with a certified nutritionist. It turned out to be a perfect mix.

I changed parts of my nutrition to fit my lifestyle, but I didn’t feel like I was going crazy. Rather it was really helpful having an educated person recommending changes in my diet and an equally educated person coaching me during my workouts.

We took my measurements when I started with Arivale and again in December. My weight hasn’t really changed, but I shrunk a lot – over 11 inches collectively! My legs shrunk, which I’ve never been able to do previously. My arms shrunk. Essentially everything shrunk. That was a really amazing feeling.


That’s awesome! Congrats! I think most of us have an idea of what it’s like to work with a personal trainer, but what was it like working with a nutrition coach? Was it what you expected?


Not at all! I thought she was going to tell me what not to do, but in reality, she told me what to do. I made seemingly simple changes that made a big difference. Every individual is different, but she had me drinking more water which immediately effected my overall energy. I drastically decreased my meat intake but didn’t notice because we focused on incorporating more plant-based proteins I enjoy like quinoa and lentils. I also didn’t realize I had fallen into the habit of having dessert every night. My coach suggested I switch out my evening treat for dark chocolate. Turns out I completely weened myself off having the sugar craving every night.


Good for you! How difficult was it to make those changes?


It’s interesting. Looking back it sounds really difficult, but at the time I was focused on what I could do versus what I couldn’t. One day I just realized I didn’t want that sweet treat anymore. It was all about the small, incremental changes. My whole journey has been. It’s not like I thought “I want to lose 11 inches.” That was never my goal. I just wanted to be smaller, and by making small changes I am – despite the number on the scale staying the same.


Would you say that your physical transformation has been your greatest achievement since joining ZUM? 


It’s one achievement. During my first year of training, when I was doing all the squats, I took my first backpacking trip in the Enchantments. It’s not an easy hike. Out of the three people going, I thought I was going to be the slow one, but I was actually leading the pack with easy. I attribute that to all the working out and strength training.

Yes, I lost inches, but the real achievement is being able to do fun activities.


What do you like best about ZUM?


My favorite part of ZUM is the community. I belonged to a gym for 2 years, and never had that community. With ZUM, I walked in the door and a couple months later, I had a bunch of friends who I look forward to seeing. They’re people who I actually want to spend time with inside and outside the gym. I think that’s a really important part of ZUM. It keeps me coming back and keeps me recommending it to people.

I also really like the games we play – Exercise Advent, March Madness, ZUM Games. Super fun!


What would you say to someone who is new to ZUM or thinking of joining?


My biggest piece of advice is to keep an open mind and explore things. ZUM is unique. My mom visited me for a month and worked out with Sierra while she was here. She commented on how she does all these crazy things and no one judges her at ZUM. We have a lot of people here who do crazy movements that are really good for you, but may not be done at other gyms or in online programs – like the monkey bars. So embrace everything ZUM is along with the community. Try out the classes you might be unsure about and have fun doing it! You’ll be surprised by how people join in with you.


Is there a fun fact about you we may not know? 


I’ve been a regular horseback rider since I was 12. I do both Hunters and Jumpers, riding twice a week in Woodinville. I love building a relationship with an animal while being able to escape and think about something else completely to escape. It’s so fun. Not to mention, thanks to strength I’ve developed working out, I have increased control over my body and have been a more effective rider.


What is your guilty pleasure?


Probably baking. Although that may not be a guilty pleasure outside the gym world. 😉


Favorite tv show?


The Walking Dead which is why I like the Outlast class. I think it’s a really interesting life problem. If you woke up tomorrow and there were zombies everywhere, how would you survive? You’d have to get really creative!


Favorite movie?


Forrest Gump


Favorite music?


Country. I really like Kip Moore.


Favorite ZUM class?




Favorite movement or exercise?


Kettlebells. I have a series I do with double-arms swings, single-arm swings and snatches. Do you want to know why I love kettlebells? When I use them I feel like Bowser from Mario Kart swinging that thing around his head. They make me feel very powerful and strong, so I gravitate toward them.


Any final thoughts for us?


Great progress is made one step at a time. You don’t have to go tackle the world, you can tackle it piece by piece and keep going. That’s true with a lot of things in life, but especially with fitness. And I love ZUM. It’s a great place to be.