Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Model Behavior: She Overcame MAJOR Health Problems & Came Out Swinging Kettlebells

“Appearances can be very deceptive,” Brooke Lehmann tells me as she recalls her first intro class at Seattle Kettlebell Club back in December. “I’m very thin, but my physical fitness level was not great.”

Just looking at Brooke (or her stunning modeling photos on Instagram) you’d never guess a simple task like grocery shopping used to be debilitating. 
Photo Credit: REDSUN OF NW

“Essentially everything that could have been wrong with me was wrong with me,“ Brooke said.

A myriad of health problems including immune dysfunction, neurological symptoms, and debilitating fatigue took a huge toll on her overall well-being for a long time.  

“At my worst, I had days where I basically had to stay in bed. Even on good days, I struggled to walk a block.”

Fortunately, Brooke made it through the worst of her health issues and started physically healing around the same time she moved to Seattle from North Carolina about a year ago.  After a Skype session with her chiropractor who recommended kettlebells, they did some research and discovered Seattle Kettlebell Club was only a mile from her house. 

In the beginning, Brooke was maybe making it to kettlebell class once a week due to post-workout fatigue, but she persevered.  

“I was very self-conscious about my level of fitness because at that time, it was really low,” Brooke said. “But I feel really safe here.  I was able to use the really light bells and not feel judged. I love that I can just come here and be myself. That’s a gift.”
Photo Credit: REDSUN OF NW

Week by week, Brooke became stronger and now you can catch her cheerfully power through the door for class several times per week.  In fact, Brooke notes that in addition to feeling more confident, she has more energy at 34 than she did at 20 or even in her teens. 

Turning the corner physically is a major accomplishment but it’s only a piece of the healing puzzle; another struggle for Brooke has been that like many people who suffer from neurological diseases, she never got an official diagnosis despite seeing countless doctors and specialists. 

So, understandably, she’s struggled to trust her own body.  

“Your brain structure changes when you go through something like that. You’re literally having to coach yourself, and tell yourself ‘okay, physically I’m not sick anymore,’ but there’s so much trauma in your memory," Brooke said.

"Your body is still dealing with the aftermath, and that’s where some of the PTSD and anxiety around using my body comes from. Coming to Seattle Kettlebell Club has really helped me work through that.”  

A few months before joining the club, Brooke started modeling professionally.  Both require mental and physical toughness, and she attributes taking on kettlebells to playing a major role in helping her overcome the nerves associated with walking the runway… as well as the ability to walk down seven flights of stairs in high heels, like she did when a fire alarm went off at her last fashion show.

Brooke's story highlights a super-beneficial aspect of pro kettlebell technique that doesn’t get mentioned much; its effect on the central nervous system. You’re working out your nervous system by constantly and quickly alternating between tensing and relaxing your muscles during the exercises. The main functions of the central nervous system are sensory, communicative, integrative and motor functions, so it makes sense that after coming to classes for a year she noticed those extra benefits.

“I used to just say that I wasn’t athletically coordinated, and that was my story, but coming here has really changed that narrative.”
Photo Credit: REDSUN OF NW

“With modeling, the end result is beautiful and glamorous, but it’s a lot of hard work,” Brooke said. 

“I don’t think that without kettlebells I would have the strength and endurance or even the mental focus to be able to do it.”

Thank you so much for sharing your inspirational story, Brooke.  Cheers to your continued success in all endeavors!

-Camille Borodey 
Seattle Kettlebell Club

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Four Reasons Why This Couple Loves SKC

With varying work schedules, Derek Wankel and Beth Winchell find that they cannot usually work out together. However, the couple has enjoyed finding a healthy hobby at a gym where they are both able to focus on their individual goals. 

1. Seattle Kettlebell Club’s training has improved their mental and physical health for the better.

“When I moved to Seattle seven years ago, I was at my unhealthiest. Now I’m at the healthiest I’ve been since my early college days,” Derek said. “Because of the progression I've made here, I definitely try to eat better, and I do find that I’m surrounding myself with more fitness minded people.”

Beth works as a consultant, so she appreciates that SKC has a variety of class times to cater to her busy schedule.

“With work, I’m often kind of stressed out and overwhelmed. When I come here, it just resets me and gives me a mental pause,” Beth said. 

2. While the classes are challenging, they are also beginner friendly.

Like many of our current members, Derek and Beth gave CrossFit a try but found that some of the exercises weren’t accessible. Derek recalls being asked to do handstand push-ups at his first class- a little intimidating for a newcomer!

“I think what made SKC effective for me was that I saw people of all ages and all ranges of health- tall, short, old, young, skinny, fat, muscular. Everyone here is super welcoming and going at their own pace. It feels like more of a community where people cheer each other on. I’ve never lasted more than 3 months at any type of strength program until now,” Derek said.

PC: Matt Burn Photography

3. They both love the coaches!

“That’s the number one thing that gets people coming back is when they have a good experience with coaches,” Beth adds. “I love that every class is different, and time just flies by. For me, I can come to any class, and I know that I’ll have a good time.”

4. They can continue to reach and make new goals for themselves.

With his own drive and help from regular training sessions with trainer Hailey, Derek has become ingrained in the competition lifestyle and notes he’s become addicted to coming to the 5 am classes.

“I like to come here and push and challenge myself,” Derek said. “I always think about when I started here and took a beginners class with 6-kilogram weights.”

Now, Derek is training hard for his third competition where he'll be doing a 10-minute biathlon (Jerk+Snatch) with 16-kilogram bells at Seattle Kettlebell Clubs's 3rd Annual Pro-Am.

“It has been really cool watching Derek do the sport stuff and be super focused. Just learning about the way they approach the training cycles is interesting to me,” Beth praises.

While Derek is engrossed in training for his next competition, Beth is focusing on keeping her workouts consistent, and she’s set a goal of coming to 100 classes in 2019. She also compares her training to learning a new sport as a kid.

“I really didn’t have much happening besides work, so it’s cool to just have another activity that I’m doing that I care about,” Beth said. “It’s fun to feel like I’m growing and learning something new.”

Thank you for being a part of the SKC community, Derek and Beth!

-Camille Borodey 

Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Retired Couple Works Hard at SKC

Former Captain of the Seattle Fire Department Peter Aoki and his wife, Lanell, who used to work for the city of Seattle, first gave SKC a try around the holidays when they purchased memberships as a Christmas gift.
Peter was recovering from a hip replacement and his chiropractor recommended kettlebells. While they had bells at home, they didn’t really know what to do with them, but now the couple is swinging bells like pros multiple times a week!
“I honestly didn’t think we needed to spend any money on a gym,” Lanell said. “Because we can run, walk, climb up the stairs, but now I think it’s just wonderful. As you’re getting older, if you should spend your money on anything, it should be your health and fitness.”
When they took our intro class, their instructor was Hailey, and the couple agrees that her fun and positive personality made for an enjoyable first class, and it didn't take long for them to fall in love with the club.

Lanell notes that since joining SKC, she’s gained more muscle and feels stronger doing yard work and other chores at home. The couple also participates in the Base 2 Space, and they are optimistic SKC’s pro kettlebell training will help with their annual journey to the top of the Space Needle. Pretty impressive considering Peter just turned 60! 
“I want to go into the next decade being healthy, so that’s another thing that bring me here,” Peter said. “It seems so old in my mind, and I just want to stay in good shape.”
“Paul (SKC trainer) said exercise is a way extend your warranty on your body,” Lanell adds.
Peter and Lanell have made their visits to SKC a part of their physical and social routine. They commute all the way from Lake Forrest Part 3-4 times a week, get coffee, come to the noon KettlFIT class, and take a walk around Greenlake. Sounds like the perfect couple's Kettle Date!
“Some people will ask why we go all the way to South Seattle to work out? We tell them we’re a part of this super special club, and they should come too!” Lanell said. “You just feel good about yourself. And I’d also like to say I think the club is beautiful. I want everyone to do kettlebells here!”
Thank you making SKC a part of your lives, Peter and Lanell!

-Camille Borodey

Monday, October 7, 2019

Motivation Monday: Michael and Lauren Stubel

Although Michael and Lauren Stubel are no strangers to the world of fitness, they love that Seattle Kettlebell Club is like no other gym they’ve been to, and admit that they were a little nervous about swinging bells for the first time. However, upon their first visit, that gymtimidation was quickly lifted.

“The nice thing is everyone is so eager to help, and you never feel embarrassed when you can’t do something,” Lauren said. “I felt so supported that I wanted to come back for the community long before I fell in love with the bells.”

“Coming into the first workout, I wondered how many workouts you could actually do with kettlebells,” Michael adds. “I’ve been pretty shocked with how many things you can do.”

“This felt like something I wanted to be a part of. I could tell that people like coming here, and they support you on your journey,” Lauren said.

Michael notes that other gyms simply have a goal of getting members to return, but he appreciates that SKC focuses on technique and safety while also wanting their members to succeed in their training.

“We were really close to building a home gym,” Michael said, “and [SKC] felt like everything a home gym is, but with the community, and a trainer telling me what I’m doing.”

While Michael has experience with a lot of traditional weight training, with his old routine, he got to a point where you felt like he was plateauing.

“I’m probably that obnoxious guy telling people kettlebell workouts are better than other things. I’ve done running, basketball, weightlifting- there hasn’t been one steady workout that I’ve done in the last ten years that I’ve felt this energetic about,” Michael said. “It just feels like I’m working out my full body rather than just doing chest or leg day.”

On a final note, Lauren praises that the class variety at SKC makes it so the couple has little difficulty motivating themselves to come to class.

“This is one of the places that even when I don’t want to work out, I still walk in the door, and I think it’s because I have a real relationship with all the instructors," Lauren said. "It’s the right amount of class for getting my strength and cardio in."

-Camille Borodey 

Thursday, August 15, 2019

From Swinging to Swimming: SKC Helps Member Get Back in the Water

Following his physical therapist’s advice, Alic Shook gave up swimming for several month to recover from a shoulder injury. However, since he spends hours reading, writing, and sitting as a PhD student in nursing, Alic knew he had to find something to prevent him from losing his mind. It took just one visit to SKC for him to fall in love with the gym and kettlebells. Over time, the workouts have helped him with strength, posture, and balance. PLUS, he’s even swimming again! 

“My goal in life right now is to just have a body that is moving and working in the way that I want it to for a really long time."

“I like that the focus is on individual teaching, and one of my favorite things about the gym is that there are all different people, bodies, and ages who work out here, and I love that. I think that’s the thing that stood out to me right from the beginning,” Alic said.  

Alic has always been drawn to long distance exercises (running, swimming, biking) but never got into weight-lifting because he found it repetitive and boring… and he’s had a hard time enjoying gyms in general.

“I have not had good experiences in gyms,” Alic said. “I’m transgender, and I haven’t always felt comfortable in those environments. The anxiety provoking aspects of other gyms are eliminated at SKC for me, and I can just focus on working out! I tell others that this is a gym for people who hate gyms.”

“Every time you come is a new challenge. Some days the challenge for me is just getting here and finishing the workout. Other days the challenge is a want to lift heavier weights or do higher reps with lower weights."

While Alic is passionate about his work in his PhD program, he notes that the hours spent writing and studying can be isolating for his extroverted personality, so he’s happy that SKC offers him a healthy social outlet.

“One of the ways I justify spending money on a gym membership is that this is high quality. You get a coached workout.” Alic said. “As long as I show up, I know that when I leave, I will be in a better mood than when I showed up.”

Good luck with your PhD, Alic, and thank you for making Seattle Kettlebell Club a part of your routine!

-Camille Borodey

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

Hello, Summer. Goodbye 30 Pounds!

At the beginning of 2019, Tim Mulligan knew it was time to take his health up a notch.

“I hit my 50's and decided to get my health and fitness in check. I wanted to be a good role model for my family, and I knew beach days were right around the corner.” 

So, with a change in diet and plenty of resolve, he hit the ground running by taking five KettleFIT classes per week at SKC and has lost 30 pounds since mid-January!

“I’m good at routines; especially this year when I committed to coming every single day. They say 21 days forms a habit, and I think I formed that habit.”

Tim notes it’s easy to motivate himself to come to class frequently because they’re only 45-minutes, and the large variety of exercises makes every day a new and exciting challenge.

I asked Tim if he thought that people have misconceptions about kettlebell training. He said friends and family often have the idea that the exercises are bad for your back (which is the opposite of true).

“In the past I’ve struggled with knee issues and trouble with my back, and I feel like I don’t have those issues anymore. As I’ve gotten older, I think [kettlebell training] has helped me rehabilitate.”

Tim Mulligan is the Chief Human Resources Officer for Vulcan, and he lives in the Mount Baker area with his partner, Sean, two kids, and three dogs.

Congratulations on the great work, Tim! Thank you for making SKC a part of your fitness journey.  

-Camille Borodey