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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 (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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Motivation: The Key to a Better 2018

So just like that .. it’s the first day of 2018!  Let me start off by wishing everyone a Happy New Year. I’m sure you are tired of seeing all the “New Year New You” posts.  I know my eyes are tired of being rolled after seeing so many of those posts myself! After all, how many people actually keep their New Year resolutions? As you probably guessed, not many. Roughly 80% of Americans give up on their resolutions by the second week of February! Yup, that’s pretty disappointing 😔 .
Building the Right Habits
I take my health and fitness very seriously, and I understand the importance of eating right and exercising.  Since our health is the one thing we can’t buy back, why should we wait ’till Monday, or next month or the beginning of the year to take care of it?
PEOPLE – The time is NOW to get started (kinda funny that Jan 1 actually lands on a Monday this year though huh)!  So what is stopping many of you guys from reaching your goals? The answer is MOTIVATION
If you are looking for long lasting results, you must be able to identify what drives you, what motivates you.  Many of us know “what we should do,” however if there isn’t a meaningful reason to change…  it’s highly likely you will fall way short of your goals.
The reason again is LACK OF MOTIVATION
Let me give you an example.  For those who even slightly know me, know that I have an insane sweet tooth.  I mean, Yogurtland was practically listed as my emergency contact address since I was there so often.  Well, on Thanksgiving of 2016 I decided to give up sweets until my birthday, which was the following February. I mean this was something seemingly unsurmountable since I love sweets so much, but guess what .. I did just that!  As a matter a fact, I went ONE ENTIRE YEAR without eating any candy, chocolate, cake, or ice cream. You know what my motivation was? It was everyone who ever doubted me. I wanted to prove a point to myself and everyone that if you put your mind to something it can be done. 

4 Ways to Motivate Yourself
  1. Incentives & Rewards: This is pretty obvious. People driven by rewards or incentives are willing to take action when they know they will have something tangible at the end. Creating “S.M.A.R.T.” goals will help us reach our goals:
    • make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timeable.
  2. Fear: Ask yourself, “Why do you want to make this change? What would it mean to you and others in your life if you made these changes?” The other question you need to ask yourself is, “Who you are making these changes for?” Your motivation must be significant to you. You’re always going to choose feeling good over feeling uncomfortable, so be honest with yourself. 
  3. Growth: If you want to grow as an individual in the new year, you have to make this a priority and take initiative.  An easy way to make sure you stay on track is to have an accountability partner who will you keep you in check. This is where KEEN comes in!  We are here to keep that booty in check 
  4. Support: We all need encouragement and support throughout our journey of change. You don’t have to do this alone. Plus, it’s no fun that way. Whether, it’s KEEN or another fitness group, find what you like to do and stick with it! 💪🏼
Why is it so hard to stick to your goals? Because change is big. It’s scary. But you don’t want to hit next January with the same resolution.  How boring. How tedious. How last year haha!

So what do you do? Put one foot in front of the other for a start.

You need to lose weight and get healthy?  Go to the gym, preferably KEEN, so you can get all 4 of the motivational steps above in one place!

So remember, you have to give yourself tools and methods to execute your resolution.  Like, ‘You need to think positively?’ Well, try giving yourself a mirror mantra every day. ‘You need to quit smoking?’  Ok, go buy yourself some nicotine gum.  Change starts in small ways.

 

Knowing what you value is a big part of motivation. 

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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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