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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 (Mar ’17): Melineh Morad

I’m so proud of this month’s member of the month!  Melineh is the pure embodiment of perseverance, determination, and overcoming challenges.  Mel comes to the gym at least 4 times a week, if not more, and gives it her all.  Her results are clearly tremendous and noticeable, but I think what impresses me the most is that her level of commitment and determination hasn’t faded one bit.  Congrats Mel on being this month’s featured member!

mel-weightsHey Mel.. first off congrats.  Tell us some quick stats on yourself?

I’m 35 years old, and I have a 4-year old daughter.
How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?
Honestly I drove by and got curious. thinking, “What is this place?”  I kept seeing women working out and honestly I drove by like 10 times before I finally made the decision to try it out (best decision I have ever made by the way).
What was your level of activity or fitness prior to joining?
I wasn’t really working out… on a scale of 1 to 10, maybe a 3 at best.  At first when I joined, I really just wanted to be healthy.  I wanted to get it together. I had gained a lot of weight, and I knew I needed a big change in my life.  I knew it was going to be challenging, and I had some fears, but I just knew I needed big changes in my routine.
What’s one of your favorite workouts?

I really like the boxing… definitely a great  stress release.  Your time to just break sh*T up ! … and just funnel that energy into a killer workout.  I like weights now too because of Ankeen.  It totally makes you stronger, and when they tell you you will burn fat throughout the day it’s true.  I actually feel myself having more energy throughout the day too.

 

Something we don’t know about you:

I’m an accountant haha… if you know me, that will probably surprise you.  Oh, also I have a set of identical twin sisters… they’re a year younger than me.

Dang your mom was busy huh!

Yes I don’t know how she did it.. I couldn’t handle it!

 

Has your experiences at KEEN affected your life outside of the gym, and if so how?

It’s totally made me stronger and healthier, and the friends I’ve made here are priceless.  Generally, I’m so happy.  Working out is a natural high for sure.
What’s your least favorite activity at the gym?
Oh my god RUNNINg… I hate it!! People who say they love running … I don’t understand those people.  BUT I understand that it’s so important for cardio.

 

mel-and-ankeen-mar-2017-keen-fitnessWhat advice do you give people thinking about trying out a KEEN class?
Just do it… don’t be scared.  the people here are so great… don’t be intimidated.  My first few weeks, I couldn’t keep up with anything.  After a while, I got stronger and stronger.  Everyone here is so motivating.  And Ankeen… oh my God I thank God every day that I met her.  She really pushes you and has your best interest at heart.

I’ve had a LOT of trainers in my life…and no one even comes close to Ankeen.  This place is like family to me.

 

 

Do you workout with your daughter?

Ya she’s 4 years old, and I have her do squats and plank with me.  She actually enjoys it.

 

What’s your jam right now?
I’m all about rap… Future and Drake.

 

Fav Restaurant:   Rocky’s Fish & Poultry in Burbank… OMG best food ever.  Very clean and healthy… get the lemon chicken + brown rice.

mel-before-and-after2

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Member of the Month (Sept ’16): Jen

jen-1We’re excited to announce this month’s Member of the Month! All of our members are bad asses, so it makes this decision a truly difficult one.  But this member has shown tremendous motivation, mental focus, dedication, and positive attitude from day 1.  Jen Lee, congrats on being this month’s spotlight member.  Checkout our interview with Jen below.

So let’s start with how old you are and where you’re from:

I’m 26 years old, and was born and raised right here in La Crescenta actually.

How did you hear about KEEN? And what made you try it out?

I went on Yelp, and found KEEN because I was looking for a good workout.  I was in a slump and and wanted to do something for myself.   I loved this decision… I never thought I could weight lift and be this strong.  Everyday I feel amazing after I come here.

 

What was your level of activity or fitness prior to joining?

I did pilates twice a week before I came here, but I never did cardio or anything strenuous.  Coming here I realized I had to push myself.  

 

So what makes you push yourself?

Uhhhhh… Ankeen..  Haha.  My biggest fear was people would be judgemental if I wasn’t doing things good enough, but the vibe here is not like that at all.  The members and the trainers are super supportive and helpful.  It’s such a great environment.

What were your goals when you first joined/started?

To get Abs!  And they’re starting to show… and of course to  become stronger, and I’m definitely feeling that.  I think I’m pretty girly, but I want to be strong nevertheless.


Considering you are now lifting 60lbs or more (actually 145 when you see the photo below…Ankeen is solid mass!), and by the way 60 Lbs is one of the heaviest weights being lifted at the gym, how does that make you feel?

jen-and-ankeenWell I was always scared that if I lifted weights I would get “bulky” but that’s simply not the case.  My strength makes me awesome.  My body is more toned, leaner, and just more solid, and I see and feel it everyday.

We see you at least 5x/week in here, but is there something we wouldn’t know about you?

I’m a total introvert, and I like to be quiet.  Coming to KEEN is totally out of my element.  Oh and I’m a die-hard Bieber fan… and I’m not embarrassed to say that!

What were your thoughts after your first workout?

This is ridiculously hard and the trainer is on you!  But I wanted to come back because I never was excited to work out until I came here.

What’s your favorite workout?

Bear complex for sure… I never thought I would like lifting weights, but it really gives me a rush and it really requires mental strength.

When you’re not at the gym, where are we most likely to find you?

Probably at the beach.

Has your experiences at KEEN affected your life outside of the gym, and if so how?

I feel like I have more energy.  The one thing I look forward to on weekdays is working out.. And that positivity carries throughout my week.

What advice do you have people thinking about trying out a KEEN class?

Don’t be afraid.  Everyone was once where you are now.  You will be surprised how strong you can be, especially being surrounded by such strong and positive women at the gym.

 

You Fav Music: Hip Hop, and anything Bieber of course.  Oh and country music … I know I’m Asian, you’d never think it.  I secretly wish I was from the South. (check out Jen’s Southern impression below … love it!)
jen-2

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