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Member of the Month (June 2018): Helen

Summer is finally here (yay!) and y’all know how much I love this season.. especially enjoying the sun as it brightens up our beautiful LA days.  So why am I randomly bringing this up?  Because this month’s member of the month, Helen, does exactly that for all of us at KEEN, every time she steps inside our four walls.  She is a bubbling ray of energy, always so positive and I just realized that she literally brightens up my day every time I see her.  So fitting for her to be this month’s spotlight member, since she is our first super star of the summer season.  Helen exudes commitment, focus, dedication, and a ‘can-do’ attitude with every workout, which has translated to her phenomenal results over the last couple years.  Congrats Helen… and this time, I get to call you the ‘brilliant’ one (said with a British accent of course… you’ll find out why below).



Ok let’s start off with your age.. is that ok?
Haha ya of course.  I’m 49 years old.

Damn lady you look good! When do you turn 50?
Actually next May. Any big plans when you turn 50?  Nothing special, no.  Actually I take that back, I want to have abs like Ankeen.  That’s my goal.

Are you  married? Any kids?
Yup… married and have a daughter who is 14 years old.  Does she like to workout too? I think I can probably take her in most things, haha.  I think she likes the idea of working out. She wants me to train her more on push-ups.  We’re working on her noodle arms at the moment.

Have you always been athletic?
I would never call myself athletic per say.  At school, I always got the score of ‘she tried’ in the area of physical education … and I still feel like that applies to my mode of operation today.  I always try. I give it 110%. Well you realize you found the secret right?  What’s that?  Consistency… you always trying means you’re consistent.  That’s the most important piece.

So you’re from England right? Yup!  So how did you end up as an LA transplant? I was working in London for an animation company, but when it got acquired by Dreamworks, the team moved to Los Angeles.  I met my husband in animation too, so we all ended up moving to LA at that point.  Wow that’s so cool.. what do you do exactly in animation? I work in whats called ‘traditional animation’… I’m the person who puts the character on model, and puts details on it. I never went to art school… I just started working in the industry since I was 17 years old, and just stuck to it, and learned everything through experience.  Hmmmm … there’s that ‘trying’ and ‘can-do’ attitude again.  I love it!

How did you hear about KEEN?
I actually heard about KEEN from Coach Ani, because I was taking spin class with Ani at the spin studio.  I took the free class here at KEEN and literally jumped into a 6-month membership. That first class was the most amazing class.  It was with Ankeen, and I’ve never looked back ever since. It’s now been a little over 2 years, and I absolutely love it.

So what was that first class experience like?
Obviously I was already going to the gym, so I wasn’t totally out of shape or anything, and she still completely kicked my ass.  It was just ‘brilliant’ (said with British accent… love it). I’ve been to many many gyms, and this place is HANDS DOWN the BEST one I’ve experienced.  This place transformed me, and my body totally changed for the better.

How do you motivate yourself to stay so consistent at the gym?
Well I come at least 6 days a week.  Sometimes I do 7 days, but I listen to my body because sometimes my body needs a day off.  I have double-dipped on days too.  Those are interesting, haha!  It’s this contagious awesome cycle that when you start coming more and more, you crave it more and more.  KEEN is a huge part of my daily routine and lifestyle.

What’s one of your favorite exercises?
Usually anything that involves upper body work.  But in general, I love every class because of the variety.  You never know what you’re going to get walking into class, and that’s exciting and fun.  It’s hard to pick a single favorite exercise.

Tell us something we don’t know about you?
I am half Greek.. My dad is from Cypress.  I have 6 siblings, and the youngest of our siblings is 15 years younger than me.  Sadly, everyone is back in England but when I do go home to visit, it’s ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ style.  So, is there lamb roasting on the front lawn when you arrive?  Haha pretty much… definitely lots of people constantly feeding me – that’s for sure!

Does your husband know how much of a badass you are?
Yes he does…. he calls me Rocky, haha!  Of course he’s teasing me, but I think he ultimately admires my dedication.  He acknowledges he doesn’t have the same drive for fitness as I do, but I try to push him to do things as well.  We like to take walks as a family together, and just be outdoors together.

What would you say about Ankeen and how does she influence your experience at the gym?
Hmmm, what would I say?  Where do you start? She has a HUGE personality, that lights up the room.   She is HILARIOUS, which was a huge draw for me.  She cracked me up on that first class, while she kicked my ass, so that hooked me in.  She is a great motivator and leader, and has put together an amazing crew of coaches. This place is my happy place. I love all of the girls here… it’s such a great energy.  If I miss a workout, I legitimately feel sad about it.

What  advice would you give someone who is hesitant to try the gym?
Look at me.. I’m 49.  I wasn’t an athlete. You just have to TRY. YOU are the one who is in charge of your destiny at the end of the day.  You gotta persevere… when I first started, I couldn’t even do a burpee. Fitness is not about how much you weigh … it’s about how you FEEL.  Just come and get your endorphins going and you’ll realize how this one hour workout will change the entire energy of your day, for the better of course!

Any routine outside of the gym that helps you?
I think diet is super important, because if you don’t watch that, you’re basically unraveling what you’ve worked so hard for in the gym.  I literally go through a carton of egg whites a day. A day?!  Are you drinking it straight up? Haha sometimes, if I’m in a hurry.  Or I make a huge scramble, and sometimes I add it to a shake.

 

 

What’s your favorite place you’ve traveled to?
Well I grew up in London, so I’ve been all around Europe but that was normal for me.  Moving to LA, I was so excited to visit Mexico actually. It’s so beautiful and exotic. My worst vacation, for sure, was Tahiti because it was soooo expensive and it rained the whole time we were there.  I’m sure if we hadn’t had weather issues, it would have been amazing.

 

 

What’s your jam right now?
I’m kind of old school… I like what I like.  David Bowie and Queen, you know them?  Haha of course.. That’s the good stuff!  Oh good, my daughter warned me not to embarrass myself on this question.

Restaurant:
My daughter and I always go to sushi on Wednesdays, as a girl’s afternoon out.  We typically go to Blue Fin, but sometimes try new places too. I’m Greek.. I love food. I will eat anything.

 

 


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Keeping FIT while on Vacay

 

We all live in a busy world. As much as we want to be able to stick to our normal gym schedule, life throws us curve balls: an emergency staff meeting, playing the chauffeur to and from soccer practice, that guy you met at the party asks you to catch dinner tonight. These things happen.  It happens to ALL of us! Guess what though: you can have results… or you can have excuses. NOT BOTH.

Allow me to share some top excuses that I hear all day long:

  • I don’t have enough time
  • I’m way too tired to workout
  • I don’t like exercising
  • I have kids to look after
  • The gym is too expensive
  • I need to start off slow on my own, first.

 

BLAH…BLAH….BLAH. 

What… do you think people who workout consistently never feel those same things? Of course we do!

I have a confession to make. I am an exercise addict. I work out six days a week, like clockwork. I work out almost every single day on vacation. I’ll work out in a tiny hotel room, an empty field, someone’s driveway. It doesn’t matter how the conditions are, I will still work out. Why? Because it’s become part of my lifestyle. I don’t even think twice about. Yes, this can be viewed as a bit excessive. I am here to tell you how leaving town or missing the gym should not derail you from your goals. But once you build up the habit, it actually becomes harder not to exercise because you become so used to prioritizing it in your life.

The holidays are right around the corner. Which means tons of food, alcohol, parties, and vacations. Putting on a few pounds seems effortless around this time of year, but believe me trying to shed them later is much more difficult.

Vacay Tips

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when leaving town.

  • Eat before arriving at the airport
  • Beware of buffets
  • Don’t drink all your calories
  • Take the stairs
  • Check to see if your hotel has a gym
  • Do it anywhere (I mean bodyweight exercises. Duh)
  • Take your workout outdoors

 

Visit “The Traveling WOD” for countless workouts you can do when stuck at home or out on vacation, without any equipment.

“I regret that workout” – said no one, ever.

 

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Member of the Month: Dinah

Welcome to our member of the month blog series, where we want to shine the spotlight on one of our awesome KEEN ladies who has shown amazing character, strength, progress, dinah1performance, motivation, and attitude.  This month we’re proud to interview Dinah Chua, one of the many moms at KEEN, who is an inspiration and motivation for everyone she interacts with.

Q:  When did you join KEEN, and why?
A: I joined KEEN Fitness about 2 and a half years ago because I was training for a half marathon, and funny enough, my husband saw a KEEN Facebook Ad and I decided to give it a try to help me train.  I didn’t realize I’d get this hooked.

Q: How did you take the suggestion from your husband encouraging you to workout? Some women may get offended by that.

A: My husband and have always worked out together… it’s part of our lifestyle.  We wanted to mix it up a bit and so it was perfect timing for me.

 Q:  Want to talk about life after kids?
A: There is no life after kids – haha just kidding!  I have an 8 year old boy, and 6 & 4 year old girls.  Going to the gym is ME time.. I can choose to stay at home and watch TV but coming here is so much more fulfilling.  Gives you so much energy to deal with 3 kids all day, everyday …

Q: How do your kids perceive your fitness level?
A: My son competes in Tae Kwon Do, and my girls are in gymnastics so fitness is a big deal for our family.   I want to set a good example for my kids:  if I ask them to push themselves then there is no excuse for me.  I need to show them it’s a family philosophy.

When my kids have watched a workout at KEEN, they’ve told me “Mom.. all the mommies at your gym are so strong!”  I love that.. .my 4-year old tells everyone that “my mom is the strongest in our entire family”

dinah2Q: What is your favorite part of KEEN
A: I love that the exercises are never the same, and we’re always being pushed to achieve more.  Boredom is never an issue.  You would think a gym full of girls would be full of drama… so not the case.  I love how supportive everyone is of each other

Q: How do you motivate yourself?
A: I know deep down inside that after the workout I’ll feel like a million bucks.  There are days I’m super tired or fatigued, and I listen to my body and take a day off.  But after my morning workouts, I’m pumped for the day and this is what drives me.

Q: Describe the perfect meal:
A: Definitely Sushi.   I love Sushi Monster in Montrose … they go minimal on the rice and have super fresh fish.   My kids love it too so works out for the family.

 Q: Give a recommendation for someone considering trying out KEEN:
A: Don’t watch the scale! Set you expectations realistically and give your body time to change.

If you’re looking for a change, whether in your body or routine, you need to give it a shot.  It won’t be easy the first couple weeks, but you will see tremendous benefit once you keep at it.

 

Q: Any feedback for Ankeen (Keen’s owner & lead trainer):
A: Ankeen – and all the other coaches – are amazing! I love how Ankeen speaks the truth.  She genuinely wants the best for you.  Also, her style for explaining exercise movements is unique, hilarious, and just relatable.

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Dinah Chua, KEEN Member of the Month: August 2016

Q: What’s something we don’t know about you:
A: When a workout is hard I actually sing out to the song playing and that takes my mind off of the workout.   Q: Are you a good singer? I’m a horrible singer, but when the volume is super high I sound amazing.  Don’t we all?

 

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Voyage LA Article: Meet La Crescenta Fitness Trainer: Ankeen Tashdjian

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Today we’d like to introduce you to Ankeen Tashdjian.  Below you’ll find edited excerpts of our interview with Ankeen.

 

Can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.

Growing up, I was very involved in sports and loved to be active. TV was never for me. I was a waitress at Hot Wings cafe for many years and throughout the years customers would ask me for advice on health, what to eat and how to exercise. It came to a point where they were literally asking me to start a fitness camp, so I did just that. I left my comfort zone and rented out some space at a kickboxing gym that I attended. I started off with a group of 10 women 3 days a week for a few hours. A year later and over a 100 women later I had no choice but to expand. This is how Keenfitness came about. Truly a blessing! We just celebrated our 3 year Anniversary and looking forward to celebrating many more! Keen Fitness is an all women’s gym located in Montrose, CA. Our classes are one of a kind, just come see for yourself.

 

Has it been a smooth road?

Absolutely NOT! There have been countless battles and struggles along the road…..

READ MORE

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My Dirty Little Secret

Ok ladies, its time I get something off my chest. I have a secret. I have had it as long as I can remember. I never wanted anyone to find out because they would not think I was the person they believed me to be. I thought once they found out they would think I was fat, lazy, unattractive, and unfit. What’s my dirty secret?

I have cellulite!

I have spent years evaluating it, looking at it and schemed about how to get rid of it. I thought about it every single day. Why am I so obsessed? Because every “FIT” woman I saw in magazines and on TV never had cellulite. So I thought to myself that I wasn’t fit enough to wear shorts or anything that revealed the back of my legs or my butt.

 

So what is cellulite?

 

Cellulite really has everything to do with the structure of our skin. The outermost layer of the skin is called the epidermis. Directly below the epidermis is the dermis, which contains things like hair follicles, sweat glands, and connective tissue. Under this is the first of two subcutaneous/fat layers. When this first layer of fat protrudes into the dermis, it causes the dimpling appearance we refer to as cellulite.  

Areas like women’s thighs and buttocks are especially prone to cellulite because that’s where we tend to store body fat (my trouble areas). I bet you’re still wondering why some women – even thin, lean, athletic women – tend to have cellulite while others do not. Genetics my friends. It took me many years and $$$ to finally believe that. Mother Nature decides if you are to be dimple free or not. 85-98% of females have cellulite. Yes! That means almost all women have cellulite.

Facts, research, and studies have shown us that cellulite isn’t a disease or problem of the obese. It’s normal. In fact, it is quite possible to be very lean, very fit, very athletic, and still have cellulite.  I encourage you to keep working out and keep eating well. Keep doing what makes you feel good and what you enjoy. But do it in shorts. Do it in bikini bottoms. Screw trying to hide the dimples. 

 

Stop worrying about what others will think. Its time to show what real fit, athletic woman look like!

I am fit. I eat a healthy diet. I am the strongest I’ve ever been in my entire life. I can see my abs… AND I have cellulite! 

 

 

 

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