So many of our members have powerful stories about their fitness journeys and October’s Member of the Month is no exception!
Meet Renee Grant Bluechel! Renee has done a lot of awesome things in ther life – multiple Ragnar races and marathons, summiting Mt. Rainier, and even a stint as Chuck E. Cheese in college. Perhaps most amazing of all, she is a 2-time breast cancer survivor.
Renee sat down with me to chat about her ZUM experience and how her battle with cancer has impacted her approach to fitness and life. Her story is an inspiring one, well summarized by her final thoughts in this interview, “Don’t wait until tomorrow. Do it today.” Enjoy reading more about Renee.
When you first joined ZUM what made you want or need to join a gym?
I had just started working at Nordstrom. Not only was ZUM convenient, but it was an awesome, boutique-style gym where I could get personalized attention with fun classes in a cool atmosphere. Fitness is really important to me as a two-time breast cancer survivor. I battled breast cancer in my 20s and 30s. Those were really eye-opening experiences for me. Fitness has to be a priority, because I want to live a long, healthy life. I need to take every measure I can to build up my defenses and be the strongest person I can be. It really bothers me when I see people when I see people aging riddled with aches and pains – I don’t want to be that person. I want to be 70 and running marathons. So I figure if I’m healthy and strong now, it’s only going to set me up for success in the long run.
So inspiring! Fitness has clearly been important to you for a long time, but what results have you achieved since joining ZUM?
Number one, fitness has never been about a size or a number on a scale for me. It’s about feeling healthy and good about myself. My best accomplishment has been feeling stronger and more confident as a person. On the physical side, I’ve been able to knock out more push-ups than some of the boys, summitted Mt Rainier, and completed ultra races like Ragnar.
Awesome! We’re super proud of your for your recent Rainier summit! Tell us more about it!
The first time I ever visited Seattle before I even moved here, I was struck by the beauty of Rainier and determined it was a hill I had to conquer. But I never trained for it. I’d never done any climbing or hiking of any sort. One day I decided, I want to do this before something happens down the road, and I don’t have the ability to do it anymore. I don’t want to look back and say “woulda, coulda, shoulda” when I was healthy. I decided this was the time, called up my friend Annie saying, “hey, let’s climb Rainier,” and she said “ok.”
What do you like best about ZUM?
At first I was going to say Derek because, he’s my trainer, but honestly, it’s everyone at ZUM – all the trainers, all the staff. Everyone makes me feel so welcome. It’s like you’re my friends – you know my name and you care. And not just about me – about everyone. You care about everyone and make everyone feel welcome.
That’s the environment I’m really looking for. I’ve joined a lot of gyms in the past, and there’s a lack of personalization and community. I feel like I know everyone at ZUM – the staff, as well as the members who come in when I do. I at least know people’s faces, and we can smile at each other on the gym floor, wave at each other on the street, talk to each other if standing in line. There’s an automatic bond.
ZUM’s my happy place. If I’ve had a bad day or a bad week, I can come in and let that stress go and unwind, I’m always more mentally energized when I leave.
What would you say to someone who is new or thinking about joining ZUM?
Dive in! Take some classes and really enjoy yourself! Let loose. Don’t be afraid to fail, don’t be afraid to look stupid. No one is judging you. Everyone is there to support you. Taking classes at ZUM is like having your own personal trainer, because you get such focused, personalized attention – the corrections, the coaching – it’s really unparalleled to any gym I’ve ever been to.
What’s a fun fact about you that we may not know?
I was Chuck E. at Chuck E Cheese during college. The costume was about 5,000 degrees, but that wasn’t the worst part. It’s a big mouse head with awkwardly placed eye holes, right? You have all these toddlers running up to your knees. You can’t hear them or see them, because you have tunnel vision, so Chuck E. starts walking and knocking over kids like they’re bowling pins. The kids are looking up at Chuck E. like “what did you do to me?” and Chuck E. isn’t supposed to talk, so Chuck E. has to mime “oops, clumsy me!” And it’s hard to do the YMCA in that outfit.
Hilarious! That is a super fun fact! I wish we had photos or videos of that! What is your guilty pleasure?
I believe in everything in moderation. I don’t deprive myself too often, but I will say it’s a toss up between Scotch and marathons of adventure reality shows like Alone. They drop these people out alone in the wilderness and see how long they last. It’s awesome.
On that note, favorite TV show?
- Ray Donnovan
- Game of Thrones – but I fell way too far behind, so now I’m waiting for the series to end and binge the whole thing.
What’s your favorite movie?
People will make fun of me…The Wizard of Oz.
There is nothing wrong with that! Mine is The Sound of Music or My Fair Lady, so we can own our nerdiness together. 🙂 Favorite music?
- Grateful Dead – Touch of Grey
- One Republic – I Live
- One Republic – Good Life
I just read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah – loved it! I love Born to Run. I’ve read it multiple times. There’s about 10 books on my night stand that I’ve started, but haven’t gotten to far into.
Favorite ZUM class?
Derek’s Monday Xcelerate class is my absolute favorite, but it’s tough for me to make it. I also love Joe’s HardCore class on Tuesday nights, but I train during that time now, so I don’t get to take either of my favorite classes.
Favorite movement or exercise?
- Push ups
- Romanian Deadlifts
Any final thoughts for us?
Don’ wait until tomorrow. Do it today.