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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 (May 2018): Stella

We are so close to the official start of summer, and what better way to kick it off than to congratulate one of my bestie beasts on winning this month’s ‘Member of the Month.  She is the POSTER CHILD of no excuses, no BS, and no frills… she is the real deal.  Stella shows up pretty much every day of the week, bright and early at 6 AM, ready to conquer the world.  She’s SUPER competitive, but always with a smile (those are the ones you gotta look out for! =)   Her commitment to health, fitness, and improving herself, has resulted in massive results, not only in weight loss, muscle and strength gain, but also in endurance and overall fitness level.  Great job Stella, I love you so much sister!


So you’re known around KEEN as a total beast, and a veteran of the gym.  So how old are you exactly?
I’m 39, and I have an 8 year old son and a 10 year old daughter.

Wow so you’re almost 40… and a mom?  Have you always been athletic?
Yes, I was always into sports as a kid. I was on the swim team and in water polo, in both high school and college.  I’m super super competitive… I’ve just always been that way, and sports has always been a huge part of my life. My husband is on the same boat … we love being active, especially with our kids.

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
My friend joined actually, and she told me about it.  I kept seeing KEEN show up on social media, and it took me two full months after my friend invited me to join, to actually come to my first class.  I had always been into fitness, but at that time, I hadn’t worked out in a while and was at my highest weight ever.  I remember walking in at 6 AM, and back then, 4 years ago, Ankeen only had a few people at that morning class.  I’ve consistently been coming for 4 years now, at least 4-5 times a week, at 6 AM, bright and early!

What’s the biggest improvement you’ve seen?
Definitely my energy level  and my endurance in general.  I mean my body is completely different too, and clearly I have more muscles tone, but my endurance is so much better now.  I don’t feel like quitting ever in a workout, and I am able to keep going and have a great day after an amazing morning workout .

What was your first experience at KEEN?
I remember my first class was heavy on pushups, and I hadn’t ever done real pushups.  I remember doing just one, going down and up, was impossible for me. Now I can do a ton… in fact, in my 2-minute pushup challenge I did 69.  I love seeing progress like that when you reflect back over a long period of time.

What made you stay so persistent?
Well like I said, I’m a SUPER competitive person, especially with myself.  So giving up and not coming back to master the push-ups, or the next workout, was just not an option for me.

How does working out affect your personal life?
KEEN is my sanctuary … It’s my go-to place where I don’t have to think or worry about anything: life, kids, work, whatever.  That 1-hour is my time of meditation. It allows me to go home and be more calm. Everyone in my family knows this is my ‘me-time’, and they see me more happy afterwards, and of course, that allows them to be more happy.

Haha you said the gym is your sanctuary… you realize we have like gangster rap or reggaeton blasting all the time right?  Does that help your ‘meditation’?
Haha I love the music.. It pushes me so hard.  Ankeen is ON POINT with the music.

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
Bear Complex:  I love it. I knew you would say that.. All the gym beasts say that.
Well because it’s mostly upper body and I love working on that!  But you know what? It’s also a lot of lower body.  I love it because it’s such a full body movement.

Does your husband know how much of a badass you are?
(immediately responds) Yes!  He calls it the “KEEN Cult Club” …    He knows I can take him down in anything fitness (editor’s note: Stella’s husband literally walked into the gym when we asked this question)… haha!

What would you say about Ankeen and how does she influence your experience at the gym?
She’s is the super woman of fitness, and she makes every class just so much more enjoyable because of her genuine dedication, her extreme passion, and her motivational energy.  She literally loves every single one of us, and we feel it.  But let me be clear… she’s FAR from being a softy.  She will stare you down if you pickup a light weight that’s not challenging for you, because she genuinely wants you to achieve your best.  She is what makes this gym so special, and it’s why I have been so loyal to this place. She is a lifetime friend.

Tell us something that we don’t know about you?
I think people at the gym who know me, or my friends and family, know how OCD I am about cleaning and organization.  It’s actually really really bad, and it’s getting worse by age. Like after a crazy tiring workout, I’ll be super exhausted, but I HAVE to organize the dumbells all in ascending order, with the numbers facing up, and all aligned properly.

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Dubai… I actually lived there for 2 years.  My husband got a job opportunity there, so we packed up our bags and went.  It was awesome. Were you scared at all? Not all, but it was hard because we had to shift our life entirely.  It was difficult for sure, but an amazing experience. We met people from all over the world.  My daughter actually went to preschool there. Of course my parents were in shock at our initial decision, but it was a good family decision for us.

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
You know what… every person I have a class with who is trying out their first class:  I tell them, you GOTTA stay consistent. You GOTTA commit to it and then you will see results and progress.  I know making that first decision to get here is so difficult, because that was me 4 years go. But it’s all about just doing it and getting here.  You will LOVE your new KEEN Cult family haha!  And you know what, it’s totally OK to throw up on your first day. Just Sayin’

Any routine outside of the gym that helps you?
OMG I’m all about routine haha… remember I’m OCD.  But with my husband, we love doing active things together… like hiking or walking the dog.  

What is your food indulgence?
I can’t really say I’m a food fanatic or a person who watches what I eat either … but my go-to cuisine is sushi, for sure.   Albacore and salmon sashimi is my JAM!

What’s your jam right now?
I’m such an 80s music fan, since I grew up with an older brother, and so anything 80s, especially the old school stuff.   Like Madonna, Prince… omg even Elton John. You’re not going to include that right? (hehe of course we are)

Restaurant:
Joselitos in Montrose, FOR SURE!  Margaritas Baby!

 

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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 (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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