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Member of the Month (October 2018): Leah

I view the Autumn season as a time of transition.  Leaving the hot summer months, seeing the tree leaves turn to orange, red and yellow and fall to the ground, only to prepare for an upcoming new Spring.  As corny as this sounds, I feel like Leah is the PERFECT choice for our October member of the month, because I have literally watched her grow from a teenage girl to the amazing young woman she is today.  She joined my gym at the age of 16, when I first opened my doors, at a time when she had never attempted anything fitness ever in her life. And now she is one of our strongest ladies, powering through her workouts, life for that matter, as she goes through law school and achieves all the goals she sets for herself.  Seeing the confidence and determination in her every day makes me smile and fulfills me as a coach and friend.  Congrats girl… you deserve every bit of the accolades.  Can’t wait to see what you accomplish in the next 5 years!


 

Congrats Leah.   Did you expect to be chosen? Honestly, no, it was a total surprise.  But I’m definitely very honored and excited.  KEEN is a big part of my life, and it means a lot to me. Well you mean a lot to KEEN too!  Let’s start by establishing your age.  I’m 22 years old =).  Damn, to be that young again…haha!

So how long have you been coming?
Since it opened in 2013, so it’s been 5 years.  So you were like what, 4 years old then? Haha, I was 16.  I stopped coming for a while when I went away to college in San Diego, and it was torture being away from KEEN. What did you study?  I studied communications at UCSD, and now I’m in law school.  Awesome! So if you slip and fall in the gym, you can sue me in 3 years right?  Haha.  Technically, I can sue you now but I would never do that to KEEN!

Have you always been athletic?
Not at all!  I literally failed PE in middle school. I had straight A’s and 1 F, and it was PE.  Running was my worst nightmare, and now I, myself, am even surprised in myself how fit I’ve become.

How did you hear about KEEN?
I saw one of my friend’s cousin’s transformation on social media or something, and became very interested.  What was your goal at that age? I was really lazy as a teenager, and I really wanted to do something to become more active and just increase my overall fitness level.

So what was that first class experience like?
I don’t know if I remember.  Haha, it was that bad?  I know it was one of the hardest classes I had ever done.  It was a great experience though, and it was with Ankeen, and she provides such a unique experience.  Were your parents on board with you coming as a teenager?  Actually, my mom started coming with me, and it was a mother-daughter thing in the beginning.  Was she fit? Ya totally, she really held her own.

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
I would have to say the bear complex.  How did I know you were going to say that? Haha how did you know?  Well because the girls who have evolved into strong beasts like yourself all love the bear complex.  Haha that’s true, I can see that.  It’s an exercise that I really feel so strong afterwards.  I can really tell how strong I have become after that workout since it involves so many different movements and muscle groups.

After coming for about 5 years, on and off, what is the biggest improvement you’ve seen?  I truly feel I have gained a lot of strength.  I haven’t noticed any raw weight loss, but I’ve become so much more fit and strong.  I can lift heavy things, I can do intense workouts. And my running is so much better. 

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I’m actually a vegetarian.  I have been for 5 years. In fact, I started being a vegetarian around the time I started at KEEN.  So, what’s your favorite vegetarian meal? Cheat meal or legit meal?  Ok, cheat meal: for sure fries or cheese pizza. As a vegetarian, it’s so easy to indulge in those since they’re always available at a restaurant, and they’re so damn good.  And legit meal? I love avocado rolls… it’s totally my go-to snack.

So besides working out, what do you like to do for fun? Hanging out with friends and my boyfriend.  Ahh so you have a boyfriend? Yes I do, hehe.  I have the typical 22-year old life of a student.

What would you say about Ankeen and how does she influence your experience at the gym?
Ankeen is one of my biggest motivators.  She’s one of the most inspiring women I have ever met in my life.  She has inspired me to change myself a lot, and just how to view myself.  Just to be more confident, and more comfortable to be a stronger, tougher girl.  She’s been in my life since I was 16 years old, so her impact on me has been tremendous and deep.

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try KEEN?
At a minimum, they should take the first class.  C’mon .. it’s free! Everyone starts somewhere, and really you have to stick to it for a month to know if it’s right for you.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
St. Petersburg, Russia.  I looooooved it. The vibe and energy of the young generation there is so diverse, and the city itself is gorgeous.  That city does not sleep. The vibe there is very different than Moscow.

Random question: are you a good driver? Umm, yesss? Yes.  I’ve improved a lot, let’s just say that.  So I didn’t get any tickets for the 5 years I have been a driver. And then I literally got 4 tickets in the past year.  Wow, that sucks! Did that bankrupt you? Haha, I got it taken care of 😉.   Good pre-law experience for sure!

 

What is your food indulgence?
Again, for sure fries.  Smothered in cheese and ranch dressing.  Yummmmm.

What’s your jam right now?
Definitely Hip Hop.  “No Stylist” by French Montana and Drake is high up on my playlist right now.

Restaurant:
I love Mediterranean food.  Lemon Zest Cafe in Glendale is really good – totally recommend them.

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Member of the Month (September 2018): Sam

September marks the beginning of Autumn, and the end of Summer of course, when things go back into a routine, and school is back in session.  What a perfect month to celebrate this special member of the month, since she is a busy mom to 2 grown boys, who decided 4 years ago that it was time for a change.  Time for her to focus on her health and well-being, and really start a workout routine that nourished her physically and emotionally.  Sam, I am so proud of you.  You have been committed to the gym and to your fitness routine for 4 straight years, and your results are truly remarkable.  You bring a smile to my face every time I see you in here, and your ‘can-do’ attitude is contagious.  Congrats, you deserve to be celebrated!


Congrats Sam! So let’s start by establishing how old you are: Hmmm… I’m 43… I don’t know how I became to be 43, but ya I am.  Are you sure?  Haha yes!

Are you  married? Kids?
Yup.  I have 2 fully-grown boys.  One is 22 and the other is 17 years old.   Was that hard raising 2 boys?  They are super energetic and athletic, so ya keeping up with them has always been a lot of effort.  I was never active like I am now.

So for those who don’t know you here at the gym, you’re always focusing through on a workout, and getting it done with no complaints.  Were you always this athletic? NO, not at all.  It was very difficult for me to actually come to my first class because I was always so inactive.  Running around the block for my first ever warm-up at KEEN was torture.  I thought I was going to collapse after that warm-up lap actually!

How long have you been coming to KEEN?
Since January 2015 actually, so it’s gonna be 4 years this January.  Crazy how time flies. When you’re having fun right?  Haha always.

How did you hear about KEEN?
I had tried personal training with a small group of women, but after a year it unraveled and it didn’t work out.  So a friend of mine had told me there was an all-women gym in Montrose and we decided to give it a try. It really appealed to me that it was all-women, and I felt comfortable coming in for my first class.

So what was that first class experience like?
It was physically challenging.  I had never done anything that hard in my life, honestly.  It took me a couple months to get over my fear of coming to every class haha!  It took me 6 months to feel comfortable coming into each class. So what made you stick to it then?  Most people wouldn’t stay committed like that.  I just loved the energy of the gym.  I feel so accomplished after each class, and that feeling is so much more worth than being scared of coming into the class.

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
I don’t have a favorite since everything is still very challenging for me.  I can’t say that I have mastered any one exercise yet.  Burpees are the hardest for me for sure. But I am the most comfortable with back squats, and I’ve gotten so much better at them throughout the years.  
So after coming consistently for 4 years, what are the biggest improvements you have seen?  Well of course my endurance has increased quite a bit.   It’s a night and day difference. I was somewhat emotionally depressed prior to joining, and that has improved so much. My life has gotten brighter and happier, and just more full of energy.  Does your family pick up on that?  Yes, they see the difference in me.  My husband pushes me to come, because he sees the difference in me after EVERY class.  He is very supportive, and in fact if I have missed coming to class a couple days in a row, he encourages me to go to the next upcoming class. 

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
Well, I do a lot of hand work.  I do pottery and ceramics, and I take classes very often.  Wow, I know ceramics isn’t as easy as it looks.  No it isn’t at all… it’s very skill-oriented actually, and I learn new techniques all the time. I do quilting and cross-stitching… hand crafting give me a lot of stress-relief.   Do you ever sell your hand-crafted items?  No, I just make things for my kids and family members.  I still have my son’s first quilt I made him.

So we know your husband is super supportive and proud of you.  But does he know how strong and fit you have become?
He says he actually ‘feels’ my punches now, haha!  He says he can tell how strong I have gotten, so ya he knows!

So you’re a hiker right? Yup, I love to hike.  I have hiked the tallest mountain in the US, which is Mt. Whitney.  How long did that take? Well I had to hike overnight, and it was about 25 miles in total.  It was a looooong hike, and it was definitely hard. I went with my husband, and we were part of a larger team.  What would you say about Ankeen and how does she influence your experience at the gym?
Ankeen is one of the greatest people I have ever met.  I admire her so much… not just her physical fitness, but her emotional fitness.  She is so self-aware. Her energy level, and her passion for every single member is remarkable.  She is such a special person in my life.

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
First of all, come to the first free class.  And plan to stick around for a month. Your first week will be hard, regardless!  So please stay committed and you will see fantastic results.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
I love love love Kauai! The scenery is gorgeous and everything is so green and lush.  The beauty of nature always gets me. It’s so soothing and peaceful.

What is your food indulgence?
Brownies for sure.  Oh and chocolate cake. I’m guess you like chocolate? Not really, but when I’m really tired and my energy level is low, my craving turns to chocolate cake.  Do you bake it at all?  No no no, I try not to make any sweets because then I will go crazy eating it!

What’s your jam right now?
I’m really into Maroon 5 lately.  Cardi B too. It totally pumps me up, every single time.

Restaurant:
Around here, I really like Sol BBQ on Foothill Blvd.  Interesting, another member of the month had recommended them too. Ya, it’s super tasty!

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Member of the Month (August 2018): Elena

A big part of being successful at KEEN, and in any fitness routine for that matter, is passion and emotional commitment.  You have to be all in, and you have to be real with yourself.  And with that, it’s my great pleasure to announce this month’s member of the month… Elena.  She is the poster child for holding yourself accountable, and making the right changes to get to your goals.  She’s lost 20 pounds in the past 4 months, and gained a lot of muscle during the process too.  She is a silent force to be reckoned with… very shy, quiet, observant, but an undercover beast!  Congrats sister… you earned it!


Great job Elena.. really, so awesome.  Ok, let’s start out with your age:

I’m 28.   Ahh, what a great age to be at!  Married? Nope not yet!

So how did you hear about KEEN?
Just driving by honestly.  I came once 3 years ago, but I got super busy with my master’s program and stopped coming.  About 7 months ago, I knew I needed a drastic change in my routine and I knew I needed Ankeen back in my life.  I was going to the gym here and there, but nothing compares to the intensity and efficiency of the workouts here.

What were you studying for your masters?
Global medicine actually.  Lots of info about disease control haha.

Oh wow.. so what’s the weirdest disease you learned about?
For sure schistosomiasis. It’s a super rare condition that happens when you get infected by freshwater worms carried by snails.  So gross.

Ok so let’s back to working out haha.   How would you describe your first KEEN class experience?
Well, I definitely remember that I couldn’t walk straight for a week afterwards.  Ankeen was sooo welcoming. I felt like I had known her for years.

So what is your favorite workout here?
Deadlifts, actually, as weird as that sounds.  I always prefer lower body workouts, and deadlifts are amazing for your legs.  I always feel the soreness the next day.  My hamstrings are on fire but I absolutely love it.

How different do you feel now that you’ve become a KEENFIT power woman?
I mean this is definitely the fittest I have ever been in my life.  I feel so strong and energetic all the time.  I try to come 4-5 days a week, and this is the best hour of my day.  I get so excited to come here.. it starts my day off right.  Literally an hour of not worrying about anything except your workout and just focusing on YOU.

So what do you think about Ankeen.. how does she influence you?
Her energy is insane.  She is extremely helpful, and never judgmental.  She is hilarious also… I literally enjoy her company all the time.  I have never seen someone like her at a gym.  She genuinely cares about every member on a personal level, and she really has helped me individually with a very unique perspective and approach.  I truly love her!

 

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
I’m a very shy person, and someone who had a lot of fears trying something like this.  You just have to put those fears aside and come in.  You will be pleasantly surprised.  I love spending time with these women, and we all empower each other.  Everyone is here for the same purpose.

So you’ve lost about 20 pounds recently right? How did you get to that milestone?
I completely upped my protein and increased my water intake.  Exactly what Ankeen tells us to do every single day.  I started doing that, and guess what, she was right!  I’ve been taking in more lean chicken protein, a few protein shakes here and there, and lots and lots of hydration.

That’s awesome.  Great job on changing your eating habits.  Diet is extremely crucial for getting drastic results. 

Real quick… tell us something we don’t know about you?
Well I’ve been technically diagnosed with misophonia, which is hatred of loud sounds, such as chewing or frequent sneezing.

Like will you punch them in the face if someone is just schlapping their food into their mouth?
Yes.  If someone is chomping away at a bag of chips in class, I want to punch them in the mouth.  Literally.  I haven’t done that yet, but let’s just say it’s very distracting.

Restaurant:
I’m really into Medici Pizza in Sherman Oaks right now.  Typically I’ll be obsessive about some place until I get over it, and then I switch to my next obsession.

Jam:
Kygo, “Remind Me To Forget”.. I’ve been listening to that nonstop lately.  Are you a good singer? Definitely not.  Does your singing qualify as a ‘misophonia’ obnoxious sound?  I would say absolutely yes.  I would understand another misophonia individual wanting to punch me in the mouth after hearing me sing haha!

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Member of the Month (April 2018): Lernik

If you know me, you know how much I preach consistency and determination as the key to fitness success.  If you wanted a poster child for those 2 characteristics, it would be this month’s member of the month, Lernik.  She shows up to class at least 4 times a week, if not more, and is laser focused on her workout.  She is strong as HELL, a sweetheart through and through, and one super determined power lady.  I love you Lernik, and am so proud of your success over the past few years.  Can’t wait to see the goals you surmount in the coming years as well!  Congrats!


Yay for Miss Determined Lernik! You rock… ok let’s start with how old are you ?
I’m 29 years old, but in 3 months I’ll be 30.

So your wedding is coming up right?
Yea it’s actually Sept 21st, so coming up in a few months.  

Oh so you’ll be 30 already at your wedding? Yup!

Are you having a large wedding? Ya kind of.  How many guests? About 400.  Holy shit, that’s ‘kind of’ ?!  Do you know all of them?  No not really… haha, but I’ll smile and take pics with every single one like I do.  

Are you ready for married life?
Kind of yeah.  We just bought a house too… So lots of stress, but it’s labor of love all around.  We are very excited.

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
Actually I was with my close friend.  Her name is Lernik as as well, funny enough.  She encouraged me to give KEEN a try, so we both came to our first class together.  It’s been 3 years now since I’ve been coming, and I absolutely love it.

What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen?
Strength, first and foremost.  I feel healthier and much more toned.  I would always wear loose clothes, but now I wear fitted clothes and have a lot of confidence doing so.  I feel good in my own skin now.

What was your first experience at KEEN?
It was with Coach Stephanie actually: a non-stop kickboxing class on a Saturday.  I was sore for a week, maybe more. I had sharp pain in my upper body from how sore I was.  But you know what … I got over it. So yea Stephanie KICKED my ass, big time, but I was hungry for more.  I was determined to get better.

Haha that’s funny since you would never think it looking at Stephanie.  She is a downright beast. Yup, she proved that to me on my first day.

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
Kickboxing – especially when I’m stressed out, I can take it out on the bag.  It’s a perfect combination. And I also love how much it has molded my body into a more toned physique. My legs especially … I’ve never had this much definition in my legs, and now I take pride in them haha! I terms of lifting, I love the bear complex.  

Does your fiancé know how much of a badass you are?
Oh ya.. He’s a little scare

d of me.  Haha actually he is very proud of me.   

What would you say about Ankeen and how does she influence your experience at the gym?
First off: she’s an amazing woman, period.  Her strength and determination is like no other.  She wakes up at 4 AM, and deals with us women until 9 PM, working straight through.  And any time I’ve seen her, she lifts me up. She literally changed my life. She improved my life.  I’m so happy my friend dragged me here that first day 3 years ago. Also I love that she pushes me to my limits, even when I think I have achieved those limits.  It truly is proof that she genuinely cares.

Tell us something that we don’t know about you?
I have bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.  Right now I’m in social work, but my goal is to work in crime scene investigation in the near future.  I love the mystery part of working a case: taking all of the evidence and piecing together, and hopefully cracking it.

Whoa … your fiancé better be on good behavior all the time then huh?! Haha ya for sure!

Does working in an intense line of work like social work affect you, emotionally, after you leave work?  Ya totally, but you really have to learn to compartmentalize and separate the two.  I’m a really good listener, and I love to help people, so it’s a great fit for me. But there’s a lot of intense situations out there, especially in the realm of mental illness, so I’m happy to be able to contribute to being part of the solution.

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
I would tell everyone even considering coming to just give it a try.  Just don’t give up… You owe it to yourself to see it through. Everyone can accomplish the goals they set for themselves… trust me, one day you will see the results you are seeking.

Any routine outside of the gym that helps you?
Liquid protein after workouts is a must for me… Churro flavor all the way.  It keeps me full, and helps me recover, especially after heavy or intense workouts.

What is your food indulgence?
Sweets, anything sweet!  If you give me quadruple layered chocolate cake, I will take that thing down!  But since this past December, I stopped eating sweets and I lost a lot of weight and saw great results.  But it’s depressing… haha I need my sweets. On my honeymoon, all bets are off… dessert table here I come!

What’s your jam right now?
House music.  Can you really sing to that? Ya some of them have lyrics.  So can you do beats? Well my fiancé is a DJ, so I better have some rhythm huh

Restaurant:
Cheesecake Factory.  Their Caesar salad… omg and their bread.  Can’t get enough.

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Member of the Month (Mar 2018): Jennifer

So you know those people in your life, that are quiet, dainty, and gentle, yet you know that deep down, they are also bad asses with a lot of spark and a force to be reckoned with?  Well that’s Jennifer.  She is extremely kind, pleasant to be around, but if you give her a challenge and some dumbbells.. welp, she morphs into BEAST MODE real fast. I’ve had the privilege of coaching this lovely woman for the past 4 years, and I’m so excited to crown her as this month’s member of the month.  She is the embodiment of HARD WORK PAYS OFF! Love you Jennifer!


Congrats on being this month’s featured member.  Let’s start by establishing your age (just to get these youngins a bit jealous):
Haha.  I’m 41, Any Kids?  Yes! I have two littles.  A 7 year old girl and 5 year old boy. They take up so much of my energy, but as time goes on, they’re really getting better at being self-sufficient.  

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
I moved to this area about four years ago, and I was looking for a place to get back in shape after having my 2nd baby.  I had really stopped working out, and I had belonged to 24 hour fitness gym nearby, but I knew I didn’t want to go back there.  I wanted classes, so I went onto Yelp, and KEEN was the first place that I found. I looked at Ankeen’s profile and read her bio, and I got super inspired.   I decided to email Ankeen and try it out.  That was 2014 – almost 4 years ago actually!

What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen?
Noticeable strength, hands down.  I feel healthier; I feel more active and energized.  For me, it’s about feeling healthy and being here long term for my family.

What was your first experience at KEEN?
My first class was the Fran workout, and I should have ran away and never come back. (Attention Reader:  The “Fran” workout is considered CrossFit’s most difficult workout around 😳). I came home and was crying from being so tired, but I thought to myself, “hey I got what I asked for”.  During the class, I just wanted to get through it, that’s it.  But now, I look forward to my workout. This place is a FEMALE POWERHOUSE full of positive energy.   Encouragement and good vibes all around. Always.

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
It’s not Fran for sure haha.   Probably any kind of upper-body lifting.  I’m trying to increase my upper body strength, and I love the Monday circuits, because it gives your whole body a workout all in one night.

Does your husband know how much of a badass you are?
He sure does – I think he notices the extra energy that I have now.  Interestingly, the energy I gain from working out consistently has transferred into my household, and creates good vibes in the home.  Now that the kids are older, my husband and I make lots of effort to be active outdoors with them.

Do your kids know you’re a badass?
Yes I think they really do.   My son is fascinated by me kickboxing on the bag, and honestly I think he likes seeing me beat up that bag.  Hmmmm.

What would you say about Ankeen and how does she influence your experience at the gym?
I gotta use that word “POWERHOUSE” again:  not only does she talk the talk, she walks the walk.  How she trains us, is exactly how she trains herself, so you know you’re getting the real thing.  On a personal level, she has given me so much confidence in knowing that I can push through something that is extremely challenging, both mentally and physically.  And then seeing you come out of it not only feeling ok, but energized from accomplishing that. It’s magical really.

Tell us something that we don’t know about you?
Well I’m planning to go through the training to become a reserve deputy sheriff for Los Angeles County, and had I never come to KEEN, I wouldn’t even be in the realm of being physically prepared for this.  This is a huge goal of mine; I’ve always been fascinated with law enforcement and I’m a lawyer now. The reserve program is something I can do while I continue practicing law as an attorney.

So can you give me a ticket once you’re a deputy?
Hehe no, I’ll most likely be part of the search and rescue teams (that is once I go through the training, graduate and get certified of course)

OK so can you clear a ticket for me?
Um probably not. Haha!

So speaking of being a lawyer, we see you multi-tasking conference calls and roundhouse kicks on the bag.  How does that work out for you?
You know it’s all about managing my demanding job, while sticking to my fitness.  It’s nice to have tools to be able to plug into work when I need to, remotely, and have an ease of mind that I’m able to fulfill my work duties as well.  Usually those multi-tasking events have been during less important calls, let’s leave it at that!

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
Don’t hesitate.  Just try a class, and have an open mind.  My first class was very tough, but I decided to stick with it.  You will get to your own goals as long as you are consistent and preserver.

Any routine outside of the gym that helps you?
I have a protein drink right after the workout, and I can totally see how it helps with muscle recovery.  Also stretching is very important – I mean I can’t do the splits or anything, but helps me be more agile in the gym

What is your food indulgence?
Chocolate chip cookies.  For sure. I can’t turn down a cookie.

So if I was in a litigation case against you… all I would need to do is bring your some cookies?
Oh ya, I’ll hand over anything you want and settle the case that second.  

What’s your jam right now?
I don’t sing well, at all, so I would be dancing.  I love any music that makes me feel like I can get up and dance, especially songs from The Weeknd.  I love his songs.

Restaurant:
I’m in love with this Korean teriyaki chicken place on foothill, called “Chicken Day”  – it’s soooo delicious. It’s addicting.  

 

 

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Member of the Month (Feb 2018): Alida

I just realized that beyond the fact that Alida is a real force to be reckoned with and a beast babe at the gym, she is someone who brings cheer, love, and passion to the gym, and February, the month of love, is the perfect time to award her with the “Member of the Month” title.  Alida is the one you see lifting a crazy amount of weight, mastering it, and then salsa dancing to the next circuit station.  We love you and can’t imagine a gym atmosphere without your bubbly fierceness.  Congrats Alida, I commend you and am blown away by the progress you continue to have.  Mental toughness is definitely your strong suit!


Congrats on being the this month’s featured member – let’s start off by establishing your age:
Really? I’m 40. For-Tay baby.

Well, you age extremely well, let’s just say that.  You have kiddos?
I have one son, he is 9 and half years old =). 

Does he take after you?
He has a bit of both of us actually.  He’s like me in the sense that he’s determined. Even if he’s scared to do something he’ll still attempt it.  I love that about him.

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
I don’t know… hmmm, I think through Facebook. This was like 4 years ago but for like 2 years I was intimidated and I didn’t come.  Now I’ve been here almost 3 years.  Longest I’ve ever stuck to 1 gym.  Best decision I ever made.

Can you describe the energy you feel at KEEN ?
Basically how I feel at 40, I never felt in my 20s and that’s due to everything that’s come to me form KEEN.  It takes over and betters your life – that’s it.  You have to be open to receiving that energy though – that’s important.

 

What is the biggest progress you’ve had?
Strength for sure.  And determination.   Always pushing myself to go stronger and to the next step.   I try to not to quit, even at times when I don’t think I’ll make it or I can’t go any faster or pack on more weights.  I always attempt my ‘max effort’, and sometimes that gets me in trouble hehe but I love attempting the challenge.

 

Does your husband know how much of a bad ass you are?
Yes… we battle it out sometimes actually.  He’ll try to wrestle me and trust me, I don’t get pinned down.  

 

 

 

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
Bear complex – because it’s working out your full body.  I feel like every muscle in my body is being worked out, at my desired weight.

 

What would you say about Ankeen?
Best soul I have ever met.  Period.
Her energy and patience can’t be found in other trainers (or other professions for that matter).  She’s so unique. She’s much more than just our ‘ coach’ – I’m honored to call her my friend.

Tell us something that we don’t know about you?
I play the piano.  I just started back at it … I’m still very rusty but my son was even shocked to see me bust out “Fur Elise”.   And I’m really artsy-fartsy … I love to draw.  I’m not that great, but I used to sketch a lot.

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
Don’t be stupid like me, I wasted 2 years because of my hesitation and intimidation.  Don’t be afraid… JUST DO IT.  

Any routine outside of the gym that helps you?
I watch what I eat.  It’s so important to do that so you don’t undo all the hard work you’ve done at the gym.  I really started being vigilant of my portions after I started at KEEN, because you see immediate differences.  It’s all about discipline.  I actually started weighing my food and making sure I wasn’t over eating.

What is your food indulgence?
Oh my God sushi.  

But that’s pretty healthy no?
I’ll overeat though.. There is no stopping me until I’m literally about to explode.

You did the firefighter challenge in 2016 right?  How was your experience training for that, and tell us about the injury you got right before the big day, and how you mentally prepared to overcome it.
Training was really intense and fun, but takes a lot of willpower.  They’re difficult exercises and all you got to think the whole time is ‘mind over matter’.   A couple weeks before the challenge, at class, I had one of the worst injuries of my life.  I missed the box.  We always hear Ankeen warning us about not missing the box, and I did it.  Let’s just say I gashed my shin and have a permanent “KEEN tattoo”.  For a moment, it discouraged me to compete and I felt like I may let my team down on competition day.  But my team, along with my friends and hubby, encouraged and supported me, and it was a great day.  I’m glad I went forward and overcame my fears, and just did it.

What’s your jam right now?
Reggaeton baby … specifically Nicky Jam.  

Restaurant:
Yummm Yuzu Sushi in Studio City.

 

Alida was 1st Place Winner of last year’s gym-wide fitness challenge.

Photos don’t lie. Progress feels and looks sooooo good!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Member of the Month (Oct 2017): Tania Vartanians

Nope… that’s not Tania in costume.. and no she is not dressed up as a pregnant lady for Halloween.  She is actually pregnant as she continues to ROCK the gym in her 2nd trimester!  Tania is the definition of POWERHOUSE, as she is one of the STRONGEST ladies at the gym.  She never ceases to amaze me, not only by her sheer ability to overcome her personal bests, but also her phenomenal focus and motivation every day to just KILL it in her workouts.  Congratulations Tania on being member of the month… this is the first month that our winner is 1 and a half humans =).  We congratulate you and your family on your beautiful baby boy – can’t wait to meet the cutie! Check out my interview with Tania to learn how much of a badass mama she really is:

Congrats Tania on being this month’s member of the month.. so how old are you?
I’m thirty—- hmm– six… I always have to think about it.  I have a daughter, 3 years old… and a boy on the way, as you can tell haha!

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
Drive by.  That sounds bad.. Haha.  I was driving by Trader Joe’s, and saw it from the outside and it always looked very interesting.  I’ve always been into working out, but it took me several months of “Ankeen-Stalking” on Instagram to make the first move.

How long have you been coming?
Just over a  year and a half… and I feel spectacular.

 

What is the biggest progress you’ve had?
Physically or emotionally?  It’s so much of both… like even though I’m older, I’ve never been in better shape.  And emotionally, I can tell I’m mentally more clear.

Where do you think that mental clarity comes from?  Definitely from having time to myself, and when you do good for your body, it absolutely benefits your mind.

You always have such a determined attitude.. And your ability in the gym gets crazier by the day.  Have you always been this driven?
Yes… I’m a bit of an over-achiever.

Haha – So basically you just want to make all of us look bad?
Actually I’m not competitive with others.  I really hate competition in general.  But with myself, I’m super competitive.  I’m my own driver.

 

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
I absolutely LOVE the bear complex, because it makes me feel like a bear.. Like a beast.  I feel accomplished afterwards.. Super strong.

Why did I know you were going to choose the bear complex… you are a beast!
So you can lift some serious weight… were you always this mega strong?
No Actually… that  was all Ankeen haha.

Does your husband know how much of a badass you are?
I think he’s in denial actually…  I don’t think he wants to accept the truth hahah!

So should we set up a sparring challenge with him?
Oh ya, bring it on… even while I’m pregnant!  He’s definitely not a couch potato.. But we do get some serious strength training here at Keen.

Any feedback about Ankeen?
She’s real.. What you see is what you get.  Listen to her and trust her.  That’s all you gotta do.

Tell us something that we don’t know about you?
I’m a PA (Physician’s Assistant), and I specialize in hematology / oncology.

Is that difficult emotionally?
It’s challenging.. but it teaches you to take nothing for granted, and enjoy every single day of your life.  And be grateful for your health and to take care of yourself.

What’ advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
Honestly JUST DO IT.   Come with an open mind.  Be prepared to fail the first week.  Be prepared to feel nauseous, and tired, and challenged… but push through, and after that, you’ll be amazed at the results you see.

How has working out while pregnant been a new experience for you?  And would you recommend it?
It’s an empowering feeling.  The female body is amazing, and we don’t give it enough credit for all it’s capable of.  We are strong beings.  And this is my bonding time with the baby… I think he enjoys Ankeen’s playlists too.  He’s always dancing around in there during the workouts.  I would absolutely recommend staying fit and active throughout your pregnancy if you’re able to.

Any routine outside of the gym that helps you?
Definitely my protein powder and lots and lots of water all day long.

What’s your jam right now?
Don’t judge:  my toddler is into the “Sing” Soundtrack… so I’m into the “Im still Standing” song by Elton John, and “Shake It Off”.

Restaurant: Sake Sushi.. Even though I can’t have it right now =( … I love their Omega 3 Roll!

 

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Member of the Month (August 2017): Salpi Pirverdian

What better way to kick-off (umm maybe the better word is “celebrate”) back-to-school than by honoring our August member of the month Salpi, a mom to a 7 year old boy!  I can not get tired of the phenomenal progress and changes Salpi has seen in her strength, body, and overall fitness performance.  She is a true power-house… everyone in the gym knows when Salpi is around, because her kicks on the bag make thunder echoes through the building.. fa real!  Congrats Salpi on a long-time-coming, well-deserved Member of the Month win! 

Hey Salpi so congratulations on being this month’s member of the month.. so how old are you?
I’m 36 years old… married for 10 years with a 7.5 year old son.

 

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
So Ankeen is my cousin, and I was at the hair salon and Ankeen told me just to come.  I tried to fight it hard, and told her there is no way I can do this.  After that first class, I honestly didn’t feel too bad.  I did much better than I thought actually.. I was mostly scared about heavy lifting.

 

That’s so funny that you say that, because you’re literally one of the heaviest lifters at the gym:
Ya I know huh.. It’s crazy how your body transforms.

 

What is the biggest progress you’ve had?
Well I’ve lost 17 lbs and I’ve built a LOT of strength.   

 

Can you give us tips?
Well working out is half of the equation.  Building muscle and and cardio strength is so crucial to success.  The other HUGE half of it is your diet.  Since March I started watching my sugar intake (I have an insane sweet tooth) and upping my clean protein and I started losing a ton of weight.  Abs start in the kitchen.. Guess that saying is true!  

 

How has that changed your day to day? 
Well I definitely have more energy and strength throughout the day.. Definitely a lot more confidence.  

 

You always have such a positive attitude and always smiling and laughing.. What’s your secret?
I love working out.. It’s my happy place.  At this intensity, I really get addicted to the rush of it.  It’s a natural high.

 

What’s one of your favorite workouts?
Bear complex for sure… I love the lifting part of it.   Which is crazy because I didn’t ever think I would come to love the weight lifting part of an exercise.  (Check out Salpi’s custom “Bear Complex Instructional” GIF below)

 

So most women think lifting weights won’t help them achieve their goals.  In fact, they think it will do the opposite and make them “expand.”  Can you give us your feedback on that?
Oh my god.. Lifting weights itself is a great cardio workout.  Like when you’re doing the bear complex, you heart rate is super high and racing.  You lose more weight in the long run too.

 

So you are NOTORIOUS for your kicks on the bag… is your husband scared.. Because we are.
I always tell him, “I swear I can kick you a** …”  jokingly of course, but in a little way I’m being pretty realistic.  I love kickboxing.. It’s the ultimate stress reliever.  I even told my husband that I’ll get so strong that I can power lift him too haha!

 

Does your son know the level of bad ass you are?
I was tell him, “you know I’m stronger than your dad right?” He laughs… doesn’t say anything.  I always show him the workouts we do but he’s shy about doing them too.  But I’m definitely always advocating fitness to him.

 

So we know you’re related to Ankeen… is there something you could tell us that we don’t know about her?   An embarrassing story would be great…
So Ankeen is 3 years younger than me, and when she was underage, she would borrow my ID.  So we had a good system where she would pick it up in the middle of the night from my mailbox, but she was also VERY punctual about returning it back into the mailbox the next day.  Well she knew she had too… or else she would lose that “privilege” real quick – haha!

 

What advice do you give people thinking about trying out a KEEN class? Specifically people who say it’s just too hard or intimidating?
I tell them that’s exactly how I felt.  Just come once… and you’ll see what an amazing environment it is.  Especially all the ladies here… all of them are just so amazing and supporting.  Just come once!  The coaches, all of them, are so awesome… all different with great variety – thank you to our coaches!

 

What’s your jam right now?
I love all kinds of music… except I hate rap…ehh and country is kind of blah to me, but everything else I love.   Right now I love that Martin Garrix + Dua Lipa song, called “Scared to be lonely”

 

Restaurant Pick:  TAKU-YA Sushi in Glendale.. The protein roll there is DA BOMB!

Those Crazy Salpi Kicks!

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Member of the Month (July 2017): Maria Dzulfayan

I literally can’t get tired of our Member of the Month Posts because I am constantly inspired and amazed at every one of our power woman stories.  This month we honor and celebrate a young woman who is truly remarkable: she is one of our youngest members – but don’t let that fool you on her level of determination, maturity, and focus.  Maria has had TREMENDOUS progress in just the short 4 months she’s been attending KEEN:  she’s lost 25 pounds and gained tons of strength and muscle.  Although she is naturally on the quiet side, don’t underestimate her   .. she is a true BEAST …  especially when she’s beatin’ up on those punching bags!

Hey Maria so congratulations on being this month’s member of the month.. so how old are you?
I’m 17 and entering my senior year at Clark Magnet High School =)

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
When we were moving down the street, my mom saw it and told me about it and encouraged me to come so I started.  I’ve been coming for about 5 months… I love it.  I feel really really really good!

What was your level of activity or fitness prior to joining?
I would go to the gym 4 times a week, and I’d always do cardio … and I never felt like I had a good workout.  The 1 hour I spend at KEEN ruly pushes me and I actually FEEL worked out EVERY SINGLE TIME!  Just from being at KEEN, I’m surrounded by so many positive people and that group motivation is sooo powerful.  It really makes a difference not doing things on your own and getting that professional advice and feedback.

What are some of your hobbies outside of coming to KEEN every single day haha…
I’m studying to go into art school.  I plan on going to Art Center after I get my general education at Glendale Community College.  I’m still trying to decide which type of art I want to go into:  either animation or illustration.

Cool.. what do you like to draw the most:
I love to draw eyes.. It’s always that one thing I go to.

What draws you to the eyes? (no pun intended.. haha ok just a little.  I love bad puns)
Well every eye I draw is different, and they all have their “voice”.. Like they’re trying to say something to you.  Really just like they say,  “eyes are the window to one’s soul”… I truly believe that.

What would be your dream job?
Probably working at Disney.  I would love to be part of their animation studios.

How do you feel about your experience at KEEN will help you later in life?
I feel like I’m getting an earlier start to be healthier in the future, and set a good foundation for good habits. Like already I’m changing my eating habits… and I’m already seeing such a huge benefit.  In this short amount of time, I’ve seen these new habits changing my life for the better.. I can’t imagine not coming to KEEN at this point.

What’s one of your favorite workouts?
Hmmmm… probably kickboxing and circuits, for sure.  I love the fast-pace of the kickboxing … and to be honest, I love beating up that bag =).

What is something we don’t know about you:
I love to travel a lot.. I was baptized in Italy actually.

Oh ya? What’s your fav travel spot?  My parents really like to go to tropical places, but honestly I love Europe.  I love discovering all the new mysteries and secrets hidden throughout the cities.

 

Has your experiences at KEEN affected your life outside of the gym, and if so how?
Oh definitely… It’s made me want to use every opportunity to be active.  Like sitting idle now is such a death trap for me.  I literally want to be in motion every moment of the day.  It’s an amazing feeling!  If I’m bored at home doing nothing, I want to go on a hike or on a walk.. I just can’t sit down and do nothing!

What’s your least favorite activity at the gym?
Burpees and running.

You literally gave me that answer instantaneously.. You feel pretty passionately about hating those exercises huh?  Haha ya for sure.

What advice do you give people thinking about trying out a KEEN class? Specifically people who say it’s just too hard or intimidating?
Honestly the positive atmosphere here is unexplainable.. The feeling of accomplishment every day is so powerful.  I’ve tried to convince my friends to come and honestly they have a ton of excuses that it’s too hard – but if you put your mind to it, it’s all doable.

 

What’s your jam right now?
I love Bruno Mars  … he always makes me want to get up and move.  Just love him.

Restaurant Pick:   Die hard sushi fan… My favorite spot is this tiny place nearby called Sushi Monster on Honolulu, and their volcano roll is awesome!

 

 

 

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Member of the Month (April 2017): Crystal Bairian

crystal-kickThis month’s member of the month lives up to the phrase, “So What’s Your Excuse?”  This woman literally came to the gym and kept up her fitness until her last month of pregnancy!  I’m so proud of what Crystal has achieved prior to her pregnancy, and just the phenomenal shape she maintained during her entire pregnancy.  Crystal comes to the gym with her positive and HILARIOUS attitude, and always puts a smile on everyone’s face.  We’re lucky to have her at the gym!

Hey Crystal, so congrats on being this month’s member of the month.  Tell us some quick facts about yourself:
I’m 29 years old and I just had my first baby.  She’s 4.5 months old and her name is Arianna.

So now you’re no longer annoyed when people tell you their kids’ ages in weeks right?  Haha not at all.. clearly I just did it too!

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
I moved to La Crescenta and was looking for a local gym. On Instagram, I saw Keen Fitness was opening and I signed up in Ankeen’s garage actually.  I was here on the first day it opened.. and fell in love and haven’t stopped coming since.

What was your level of activity or fitness prior to joining?
I would do reformer pilates 4x a week.  This is different:  it’s a good mix of cardio, strength training… it’s a fun environment and getting in shape is a plus.  A lot of my friends come here too so it’s an opportunity to see them and get fit together.

You literally came to the gym up until giving birth to your first baby.. How did that feel?  Was it challenging to motivate yourself to come?
I came until I was 8 months pregnant and yes towards the end I had to really give it my all to come.  But seeing that it was keeping me in a healthy pregnancy weight range, and that it was giving me more energy that kept me motivated.  I honestly think my strength training and fitness level led me to have a more positive and easier labor, and definitely faster post-partum recovery. All those damn squats!

Do you feel like your experience at KEEN, or just being fit will affect how you parent your kids?
Oh definitely.. I think even making it a priority for me and my spouse to make time for each other to work out is important because then your kids can see you valuing that, and they learn to understand the importance of being fit and healthy. That’s how I was raised and it totally attributed to me valuing my health and level of activity as an adult.

What’s one of your favorite workouts?
Oh Boy! I like when Ankeen does circuits… oh my god, I love Abs.. I always make Ankeen do abs for me.

crystal-punchingSomething we don’t know about you:
I’m a clinical pharmacist (aka legal drug dealer) at a Kaiser anti-coagulation clinic.

So that makes your really smart right?
I wouldn’t say really smart.. Just have a lot of training, education  and a sh*t ton of student loans to pay off haha!

You have a quirky side to you don’t you… tell us a bit about that:
I’m always trying to make fun out of any situation, and be positive.  I’m a bit of a goof ball… and even if I have to embarrass myself, I feel it’s worth it if it makes someone else feel better.

Has your experiences at KEEN affected your life outside of the gym, and if so how?
My husband and I both motivate each other to work out, and I feel like now it’s something we both have in common.  It’s definitely contributed to the confidence and morale in the marriage, because we’re both on the same page on fitness.  It’s fun to do active things together and actually enjoy it as well!

What’s your least favorite activity at the gym?
Bear complex… I just hate the process of it.  I feel like it’s such a long exercise …

Are you too ADD for that?  Haha yes.

What advice do you give people thinking about trying out a KEEN class?
Whether you’ve never worked out, or you have experience working out.. Or even if you’re post-baby seriously just try it.  It may feel tough initially, but just stick it through and in the long-term you’re going to feel healthier.  Also specifically for women who are pregnant now, I definitely want to stress the fact that working out and being fit contributed to a healthy labor and delivery for me, and my recovery was so much quicker and easier!


crystal-pressWhat’s your jam right now?
I love listening to Hip Hop twerking music.  That’s what keeps me going.

 

 

Is that what you listen to at the Kaiser anti-coagulation clinic when you’re filling drugs for patients?  Ya when I’m not with a patient, you can find me twerking in the corner with headphones on.. Haha jk!
Fav Restaurant:   I love Bestia … I recommend getting the Barrata pizza for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

crystal-and-baby

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