Monday, January 22, 2018

Real-People Superpowers

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by Michelle Sutton-Kerchner

Part 1 of a 2-part series

As the year closes, focus on your accomplishments. There are likely unmet goals and resolutions from 2017. Reevaluate their importance. (They were unmet for a reason.) Now, move forward powered by your successes and those of your fitness community.

Here, we highlight several members who share their stories to motivate yours. Perhaps you’ll find commonalities with your own journey. The specifics may vary, but the mission—to live well and live healthier—is a collective force.

Tea Evans, Strength in Numbers

As a Center member, Tea (pronounced Tee-ah) has been enjoying Group Fitness classes two or three times weekly for approximately 10 years. Although she has developed acquaintances, it was not until November when she truly bonded with her workout buddies.

Tea and her family were profoundly saddened when her 12-year-old daughter’s best friend, Maggie, was diagnosed with leukemia. Tea’s two daughters, ages 16 and 12, have taken karate lessons for over nine years, five of them with Maggie. With all that time spent at the karate studio, the students become like family.

Chef Tea.

After learning of Maggie’s diagnosis, Tea’s mission was to help. She decided to host a fundraising event at a local venue, which was generously donated for use. A renowned chef at two restaurants, she cooked up a feast for over 200 guests. Tea’s musician husband volunteered his band for entertainment. “I couldn’t just ask people for money. I needed to give them something in return,” Tea emphasizes.

“I never planned anything like this before,” she admits. Self-identified as a shy, old-fashioned European descendant, Tea needed her own support crew to launch this endeavor. Her Zumba® classmates responded enthusiastically.


Tea with her Zumba® buddies at Maggie’s fundraiser.

The Group Fitness gals formed a fundraising team. About 15 women were longtime pals from their Center fitness classes. Their friendships were solidified by monthly lunches and ongoing help in all areas of life—beyond grasping their class’s latest choreography. They embraced Tea’s quest and made it their own.

The fitness friends created baskets for auctioning. They sold tickets, helped run the event, and made other donations beyond their time. Monetary reimbursement was refused. All was generously given to the cause.

Over $10,000 was raised for Maggie and her family. And a healthy social network was established for Tea. The relationships between these workout buddies grew to a more meaningful level, one that now extends beyond the Center.  Thanks to Tea and the help of her Zumba® friends, Maggie’s family can spend more time at her hospital bedside where they need to be.

John Cullen, 145 Pounds Lighter This Year

John, before.

Member John lost 145 pounds since February (yes, of this year). Bad knees were the catalyst for this major endeavor. Life in a wheelchair was looming large when John’s knees grew too painful to carry his 395-pound body. His weight interfered with every aspect of his life, including the ability to fully enjoy his two grandchildren.

John, after.

John and his physician decided gastric sleeve surgery would be part of his weight loss journey. Before the operation, he needed to lose 50 pounds and initiate major improvements in diet and activity level.

In May, John joined the Center’s Bariatric Wellness Program. Over eight weeks, he was coached from a sedentary lifestyle to exercising 1.5 hours three times weekly (currently, five or more times weekly). A personal trainer taught John how to maximize the Center’s amenities to best accomplish his weight loss goals. He learned how to use fitness equipment, and the benefit of aquatics at achieving an intense workout.

“I did not know where to begin. My personal trainer guided me to equipment that would have minimal impact on my bad knees. Walking around in the pool helped build my endurance level,” shares John.

“The Wellness Program showed me how to exercise properly. I thrived by being constantly monitored and safely challenged,” John acknowledged. At 145 pounds lighter, John now takes to the Fitness Floor like a pro.

He still loves having ongoing support from personal trainers. “The trainers always are accessible on the Fitness Floor. They are friendly and caring. That’s the dynamite part about the Center.”

The Outcome

As a testament to John’s success, his wife, son, and older brother joined the Center. Their enthusiasm for fitness is a result of John’s progress. At 57 years old, John proudly admits his 26-year-old son is impressed with his workouts. After a recent shared workout, his son marveled, “Dad, you really bust your tail!”

A trip to Disney World proved a reward for all John’s hard work. An average day included walking 8.5 miles (according to his step-tracking watch). John admits he could not walk one-third of that before his weight loss. In the past, he had to spend the days sitting on benches or at the hotel.

Healthy and fit, John celebrated in the Disney magic with his grandsons and family. He was able to tackle all the rides. His biggest challenge was enjoying the thrill of the ride, not managing to fit in the ride’s seat. No Disney magic required for that, just dedication.

What was your superpower in 2017? Own it and hone it!

Next week in F&W News, we will continue to motivate with more member goodness.



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