This past weekend was the Tactical Strength Challenge (TSC) a competition for your max deadliest, max reps of pull ups, and max kettlebell snatch in 5 min. This is one of my favorite events of the year! Instead of competing, I was able to be one of the officials at FUELhouse who was hosting it for their first time! Such a thrilling event! It was full of anticipation, encouragement, and halloween costumes.
Many of the competitors, it was their time participating (so exciting!). It was amazing to watch each individual push past through the struggle to perform their best! There were many surprising looks on the competitors’ faces as they out preformed their anticipated goal. This is every Coaches’ dream! Seeing their clients go beyond what they thought they were capable of doing!
Remembering back to my first TSC, I was so nervous going into the event. I was scared of not being able to perform to the level of my goals and anxious for the outcome. It wasn’t till my third TSC when I was able to accomplish this feeling of performing well past my anticipated goals. But it was only a result of working with coaches to help me overcome my fears or what I like to call it the “scary struggle.” In my case the deadlift.
Yes, I am a personal trainer and I have a love-hate relationship with the deadlift and I constantly have to work through this “scary struggle.” We all have a love-hate o relationship with at least one of the lifts in the TSC (deadliest, pull-ups, and Kettlebell Snatch). But when we overcome our fear, it is then we learn the art of struggling well!
As Alex Elle (author) puts it “I am thankful for my struggle because without it I wouldn’t have stumbled across my strength”
No matter if you can deadlift 300lb or 125lb, do 10 strict pull ups or hang for 10 sec, perform 100 snatches or 65 snatches within the five minute, we all have our own struggle. And a struggle is a struggle! No matter what your fitness level may be. We all struggle for one more rep. It is when we work through our struggle, we are able to produce our new found strength.
Keep the “scary struggle” alive! It is what keeps us moving towards the potential beyond our belief!
As a trainer and coach, I always want to know my clients’ why, the what for, . . . the deeper reason why they are working with me. At first, it can be as simple if dropping some weight or fitting into a pair of jeans, but I usually find there are deeper reasons why behind their goals, even through their goals are GOOD!
It wasn’t till Strength Matters posted the question “why do you swing” wanting to know the reason behind many people’s swing. Right away I thought, I swing to help with my sport. I posted this picture at the beginning of the water ski season, now with it is the end of the season I find I am asking myself do I have a deeper reason behind my swing then just for off-season training? If I am asking my clients to discover their “why” or “what for” I thought I would share my reasons.
I swing for my mom; she has been the one who has always believed in my dreams and my wild hippie-gypsy spirit. Without her I would not be the woman I am today! She has taught me there is a powerful source living within me! It is through the power of believing I will be able to unleash this source. This power has lead me to have a passion for exercise, health, movement, nutrition etc! But it is only a result of my mother leading me to discover my passions and most importantly this power that is bigger than life. She has taught me how trusting and having faith in this power leads us to your passions and the process of discovering your true strength. She has taught me so much about power strength, and living life with passion, but most importantly she has taught me to stand for my beliefs and for those who I love.
It is now my turn to demonstrate to her all she has given to me! And this is the reason I swing for my mom.
A year ago, my mother went into brain surgery to remove a tumor. Leading up this event was her neck and back pain. After two different MRIs, it was confirmed she had a herniated disk at C6- C7. For those who may be wondering what do those letters mean if you were to bend your head down toward your chest it is the main vertebra you feel at the base of her neck.
To the doctors and my parents surprise there a tumor trying to make itself a home in my mother’s brain. This was a blessing in disguised! The surgery was an easy success! Yes it was a huge success, but that was the easy part. Recovery has been a different story. My mom was not only recovery from a major surgery but she was and is still trying to heal her neck. She decided one surgery was enough and she was going to heal her neck with the holistic approach. Because of where the herniated disk is located it has caused her shoulder and hand tremendous pain. She continues to fight this through chiropractor, massage therapy, acupuncture, and pulse therapy.
The cost of the surgery and the fact she has maxed out her insurance coverage, I am asking for your donation to help my mother fight this battle of regaining her health without another surgery.
Knowing she gave me this amazing gift of life, I cherish this gift through my health.
Most importantly, I am committed not just my health and my mother’s but to your life’s health. I swing for you to know life is amazing wonderful life and we are to enjoy this gift through this complex amazing bodies of ours.
I SWING for my MOM
My mom is my why S- She is my
Passionate, strong, W-warrior
Who continues to I- inspires me to live life to the fullest
When you enter a gym or see advertisement for gyms or a workout, it is usually with BEAST MODE ON! Yeah lets get after it! As a coach, it gives me chills when I am instructing a group of people beast moding it up and killing a workout!
There is nothing wrong with BEAST MODE ON! But there are times for BEAST MODE to be OFF.
O – Optimize
F – Frolic
F – Freely
In my case rest is not something I do not do very well and when I transition from a summer of water skiing to off-season training I usually go BEAST MODE ON all the way! Well as you can guess, out of excitement of being at a new gym, I rushed back to my kettlebell routines . . . and . . . my back pain has returned with a vengeance!
In the past, I would panic and start to worry what would my future look like if I am injured AGAIN! Saying things like “you are an idiot” and “you are a trainer you should know better, how could you let this happen AGAIN!” I would say these things over and over again beating myself up mentally. Little did I know I was creating a trap for myself by allowing the past to relive the future just because if felt like the past creped into the future . . .. But I invited it.
This time I knew exactly what I needed to do . . . Step away from the bells and most importantly turn BEAST MODE O.F.F. I am still learning the importance of transitioning from my sport to off-season training. So I came up with this little acronym O.F.F. Optimize Frolic Freely to help me not beat myself up with injuries but find the joy in the struggle and the opportunity it provides. To Optimize Frolic Freely is to simple enjoy playing again y with a different movement, walking, or running, crawling for finding new toys to play with. Though I am injured again this is an opportunity for me to explore something new! First you have to be Free to live Freely!
This time I am at peace with my flare up! The way I am able to be free is through knowing I am not the same person compared to my first injury. I am at complete peace with my past and keeping it my past. Even though it feels like I am reliving parts of my past, I come back to who I was during that time and the lesson learned leading me to who I am today. Most importantly I am look areas of what I can still improve my current status. I have a positive outlook verse being Negative Nancy
It may feel like you are reliving parts of your past because you are right back where you started . . . it could be your 2nd or 5th transformation challenge, your 10th time running that mile loop, or your million visit to the gym with the wonder if you will ever get past this point? And maybe you have a similar voice like I had allowing the past to haunt the future.
I know this feeling and have asked this question of myself way to many times in relationship to my injuries. Instead of wondering if you will get past this point try turning BEAST MODE O.F.F and free yourself of your past expectations. Look and see if there are something different you can do through your journey towards your health. Maybe it is helping someone in your challenge with an areas you struggle with or simply relating the struggle together. Maybe it is time for a your mile long loop to be a different loop or your exercise in the gym needs a little change to spice things up again!
Even though you may not be where you want to be try to optimize frolic freely! Personally, I want to be with my new training friends beast moding it up, instead I will be practicing BEAST MODE O.F.F. optimize frolic freely . . . maybe trying something completely new like Indian club!
Somedays will be BEAST MODE ON and other days BEAST MODE O.F.F. Enjoy the journey and go out and play freely!
As you start reading this, I will be on the road again across the state from a weekend visiting my family in Spokane. I have made this trip uncountable times in my life. I started making this trip when I was in college traveling to the Big City. I was filled with excitement!!! Dreams flashed through my head as I passed each mile marker. Dreams of living in the city, becoming a personal trainer and water skiing!
The end of this October will mark 5 years of me living on the west side of the state with numerous trips back and forth to and from Spokane. Within these 5 years, I have learned so much through injuries, through relationships, and through my goals! But through these multiple trips in life I learned it is ok to give up on dreams.
The last blog post may have been a little surprising or devastating as you read it.
Lets just say this was a big obstacle to manage and still is! The news of your mother having a brain tumor is something no one wants to face. Yet this was my reality a year ago and we are still learning how to navigate post her surgery.
Throughout this year, I had an opportunity in Orlando, FL! The feeling of starting something fresh, a new beginning, warmth sunshine was so appealing to me. It took a long time for me to decide if I was going to take this chance or not. I wanted to forget the hardship and start with a clean slate working toward my goals as an athlete and professional career training.
After long talks with my mom about this opportunity, she reminded me this is the one and only life I get to live and encouraged me to make the jump and go for it! So at the end of April I was in Orlando!
As soon as I arrived there the opportunity had vanished! Devastated with this reality, I went to my “Never-Land” aka Coble Ski School. There I was able to of course ski but more importantly come to the conclusion I am a northwest girl!
After two wonderful months at Cobles, I was back to the Northwest! Don’t get me wrong I love being in the Northwest, it is my home and where my heart belongs. But it is not where I thought I would be. I thought I would be on a new adventure in a new city, making new friends and chasing new dreams.
Since my time here in Seattle, I started to give up on my dreams. Yes I gave up my dreams! CRAZY (I know)! As the doors were obviously closed in Orlando, I started to question my dreams and wondered how they would become a reality.
My gypsy spirit is starving for a new adventure yet my heart and soul is directing me to stay in Seattle.
Afflicted inside, I continue to trust my ultimate coach who is the one who directs my heart and soul. Not understanding how He is directing my compass to stay in the Northwest, my gypsy spirit grieves the path it thought it would be taking to achieve her dreams. Knowing how He give us dreams as a calling to do His work, I will believe He has a much bigger adventure waiting for me here in Seattle! I may not know the steps of my journey, but living the unknown is the greatest adventure.
I may feel like I have given up on my dreams with “settling” being back in Seattle, the path has changed but my dream continue to live.
I have faith in the unknown Knowing the one who knows the Unknown.
I go back to my car and turn the key with the normal anticipation my car would start. Nothing happened! Nothing! My car was dead . . . . Again! Ugh Really!
The drill of me calling for road side assistance was unfortunate something I did on regular basis last summer. Knowing it would be about an hour for them to arrive, I walked to the nearest gas station. Starving at this point, I pick up a cup of coffee and a protein bar that was more like a candy bar with all the added sugar. This killed about 15 minutes even at a very slow walking pace.
So I sat on the curb and waited and waited. I tried to find some type of comfort with my “protein bar” and coffee but at this point nothing would be able to comfort me. As the minutes went by, slowly my emotions started to go numb. I just had finished a Chiropractor appointment to fix my broken back (fish out of water post), I had a broken car and I was literally broke since I was only able to work part-time. As I sat there completely still, my thoughts were racing each other trying to find the future, a future.
I continued to wait. I had no words, no feelings, no emotions expect hopeless. I was lost for the right direction to get me out of this brokenness. The only thought on my mind was to get home to Spokane.
After exactly an hour, the mechanic got my car up and running! Without a second thought racing ahead of my decision, I was on the road to Spokane! Before getting on the 4-hour stretch I knew I needed some fuel. So I went to Starbucks. I usually park the car and walk in to order my drink. Fearing that my car would not start again, I chose the drive-thru. While I was waiting for my order, I sent a text to the family I was renting from. I needed to let them know I would not be home that weekend. My text started “My Mother has a brain tumor.” As I hit send, my hands started to shake uncontrollably. The reality hit me unexpectedly. Trying to control my nerves I reached for my coffee. Spilling my coffee on my car, these words ringed over and over in my head! This is really happening! I already was preparing myself to have surgery at the end of October but now I needed to be there for my mother’s brain surgery in the beginning of October.
Almost a year ago, I was started to suffer from a hip/back injury. It was two years to the date from my first back injury. I did not want to admit I was hurt again. I did not want to look weak again and was afraid to admit I needed help. But the pain increased quickly and soon I could not walk without discomfort.
“How could this happen to me? ” I thought to myself. I felt I learned my lesson from my first injury to prevent this to happen again! I learned the importance of owning my movement and became smarter with my exercise program. The question of why or how I became injured was an unknown. The severity of the pain resulted in three weeks of rest and again I found myself without work. At first I was devastated with this reality, then the memory of how it was a blessing in disguised to the first time I was out of work two-year prior. I learned so much from my experience from being injured (see letting go letting God post in July) and I knew there was a reason for this darkness of being injured and without work.
It was during this dark period I was able to see the light! There where numerous other events that intensified the darkness but I continued to see the light shine brighter and brighter. I saw this light through my clients, family, co-workers, and Ultimate Coach. Through this time, I was able to quiet my soul and find peace with darkness as I kept my eyes on the light.
It was only then I was able to rest in peace and hear a small still voice.
Everything in my life came to a complete stop; work, co-workers, workouts, planning, family, friends everything, which allowed me to clearly hear this voice. The voice that speaks without words can only be heard through peace of mind body and spirit creating harmony within one being.
The voice soon turned into a calling a calling that created a pull in my heart. This pull started a tug of war on my heart for I knew I was about to leave everything to obey the voice. I was devastated with the action I needed to take, for I love life here in Seattle. Seattle you have given me amazing clients, co-works, and friends creating my Seattle family. The calling burns deeply inside me and I cannot ignore this pull. I have a duty to respond by doing.
As I finish this blog, I am finishing my last day at PRO Sport Club. It is a bitter sweet but I am excited for the unknown as I continue to trust in my Ultimate Coach as he continues to speak to me and through me. He is the one who has given my passion for water skiing and for exercise / health. It is through these passions I will shine my Light of Love giving others a hope, a dream, and the courage to believe.
As a trainer I always encourage my clients to use S.M.A.R.T. to formulate their goals. Even for my personal physical goals I have used these “smart” goals. Smart goals are great and I will continue to use them in my career for both clients and for my personal purposes. But it wasn’t till I wanted more in life I had to use F.E.A.R. to understand how to formulate a life of my dreams.
Focus ~ Goals need Focus! Focus of a sniper instinct. Instead of dreaming of goals, focus creates opportunities to live out the goals. Discover your goals then focus in on them just like a photographer focuses on an object.
Energy ~ Allowing your passion to fuel you energy will direct your actions to take the right baby steps toward your dreamful goals.
Attitude ~ Positivity, Smile, Laugh! Life is never as plan! Learning to laugh and smile will help your perspective with your goals. Being positive in life will keep the momentum moving in the right direction.
Resilient ~ Self doubt will always creep in if you allow it. Having a resilient spirit over rules this self doubt. Resilient is demonstrated every minute every moment of each day.
I had to look Fear in the face to be able to take this next step to achieve the life of my dreams. My passions of life have directed me to make this move for Orlando, Florida. Leaving all my family, all my friends, and all my co-workers/clients has been one of the most hardest decision in my life. For these people are the ones who have all taught me how to live out my F.E.A.R.s. Out of gratitude for all they have taught me, I wish I could take everyone with me on this journey. Taking this first baby step (putting my two week notice), I realize we all have very different dreams, and goals that will lead us down different paths. Theses goals and dreams will strengths us to be the best version we are meant to be. So as I make this jump across the country, I encourage you use F.E.A.R. to create the life you where created to live.
Summer bliss, Fun in the sun,Sun out Guns out, are some popular sayings during the summer. One phrase you would hear if you went to a local swim pool or lake is “do you have your swim buddy? ” we had a swim buddy keeping us safe and accountable for not drowning. While at the same we were able to share the joys of summer together.
Today we still use the buddy system, yet this may look very different compared to our swim buddy. It may be grabbing coffee with a co-worker and bouncing ideas off each other, it may be a girl friend to go shopping with. Buddies help each other to be our best, best businessman or finding the best outfit. The buddy system is designed to help each other to be the best we are meant to be.
In the gym world we have our workout buddies. Working out with a buddy can help keep you accountable for getting your workout in and helping you stay on track with your goals. Training with a partner can be so much more than just these good aspects. Here are the benefits of training with a weak partner.
For these benefits to accrue we need to be open and honest. First, we need to be open with our self, admitting our weakness. This takes mental strength. We all have our strength and weakness, as much we don’t want to admit we have weakness, (speaking for my self here) we do.
Before we can learn we have to admit our starting point, our weakness. This takes guts to admit where we are not strong! It can be scary because it means we have to be vulnerable with each other to gain strength. Being honest with each other invites coaching, learning and progressing. Your buddy may be stronger in an area you are weak. This allows you to lean how to improve your weakness and transform it into your strength. At the same time you may be strong in an area your partner is weak. You are now challenging each other to learn through strength to improve weakness.
We must be open to weakness, open to learn, open to transform. Only then are we able to convert our weakness as strength. This is when you will have developed a stronger mind.
You will start complementing (verses competing against each other, another blog post on this to come) each other with your strengths and your weakness. Working with each other you will use your strength to transform what could have been your Achille’s heel into a powerful force. Together you will become mighty warriors by working through different limitations. When we recognize we each have different strengths to offer one another, it balancing out our own weakness, creating a stronger you. Once you have developed a stronger you, we start building stronger community.
A strong community is working together and bringing out the best in you, a stronger you. Let us thrive together through this “buddy system” enjoying each other’s strengths. For without our buddy we might be drowning through life.
A little over a week ago we watched the devastating lost of the Seahawks to the Patriots in the 49th Super Bowl. Since then there have been many inspiring posts reflecting the Seahawk’s attitude and their amazing season.
I have to admit (again) I have never been a huge football/Super Bowl fan; however, after reading a blog post from Adrian Robles (http://www.vigorgroundfitness.com/getting-rut/) — a good friend and mentor – I was inspired to write how the Seahawks have impacted my life. My hope with this post is that you may be impacted the same way.
There is a ME in team. I have always loved playing team sports (basketball was my fav) for they created opportunities to bring out the best in others. We all had different roles with one specific goal — > TO WIN. Understanding our individual roles, it unites us together to fight for the main purpose.
Russell Wilson and the Seahawks demonstrated this beautify in the playoff game before the super bowl (sorry – I know it is a championship of something before the super bowl – do hate). Even though I did not watch the game, the entire city and maybe the entire country talked about the amazing win. After hearing rumors of the amazement, I had to check it out.
Watching highlights from the game, I soon had chills for I knew what it felt like having 3-4 minutes on the clock without the lead score; the familiar emotions of fear and hopeless rushed over me as I caught glimpses of the game. Even though I had the advantage of knowing the outcome. The Seahawks win was amazing, but what stood out to me (as it did for many of us) was the post-game interview with Russell Wilson. His fearlessness to proclaim God’s love and His work in his life astonished me. Seeing his fearlessness gave me the courage for this post.
Russell Wilson did not see fear; he kept his eyes on hope, hope for the win, hope in God. Like he said as a team they kept fighting the fight and did not doubt. They believed in each other and they believed in themselves. They believe in the ME in team uniting them as one to win! Russell (from what I understand) probably had one of his worst games with (what was it?) four interceptions at the beginning of the game? Yet his teammates very doubted him and he never doubted them. Most importantly he never doubted himself. He kept believing in the ME in team. They all believed in each other to do their role they were set out to do for the win.
A team unites our difference, the ME in team means embracing one another to be our best even at our weakest moments.
There are times in life when it can feel all odds are against us (similar to this particular game). It becomes hopeless. This past October it felt like all odds against me. I was schedule for my first surgery to remove some bone spurs in my foot; after the car that I had since college broke down several times (aka silver rose) I was forced to shop for a new car, the same week my mother was schedule to have her brain tumor removed. Everyday felt like I was waking up out of a horrible nightmare literally saying to myself “wow glad that was a just a dream,” but once I would walk to my new car in the morning I realized this was my reality. Scared and fearfully for the future, I started to feel lost. As I started opening up to my clients they helped me see the light and to have hope. They believed in me and helped me to have the strength to struggle well through the unknown. I had to be real with “me” and my current status for other to do the same; to show their strength embracing their “me.”
Through the support of this team, this community, I am surrounded by, I was able to find a joyful strength despite my odds. I am happy to say I have a new car (aka madam blue beery), I am healing quickly, and most important my mother is healthy and healing and tumor free!
Thank you Seattle Seahawks for having hope and seeing the light, for having a dream and following the calling, for believing by doing! By your doing I see the light, I hear the call, I will believe.
P.S. If you want to know the 3 benefits of having a weak training partner clink on the link for my “renewed mind transforms body” emails http://ow.ly/Iz9xW
Tasha Whelan: a Beauty and a BEAST! And my best friend! –
These last four years I have been living in a man cave aka the gym. At first I thought it was a flirtatious fun being the only female trainer. Very quickly I found how lonely it became. I discovered the importance of having girl friends in this industry and this is when I found my best friend, Tasha Whalen. I have been blessed to be part of her beautify transformation of becoming a world class lifter! She encourages me everyday with her Fearless spirit as she continues to conquer her dreams demonstrating what I like to call having an “Iron Will.” Enjoy reading Tasha’s journey!
Tasha is a strong mo fo! Despite our crazy schedules limiting our time to lift, talk or just hang out together we are still best friends. We share the same struggles of being a woman in a man world and never being able to “man up.” Instead we “women up” everyday! We show this through our stronger strength in our smiles, in our attitude, and in our beauty. Creating a mask to our deeper strength. Yes we may lift some heavy shit but there is a deeper reason why we lift heavy. Tasha and I train completely different but our purpose of why we train is the same. We unite together to give women space in the gym through our silent strength. We train with a purpose.
Question how did you get into the fitness world?
Tasha: When I was young and in school, I was never the pretty girl, never the smart or popular girl but, I was always the tough girl. The girl who could out run all the kids, all the boys. I had something in me that always wanted to prove to the boys that I was just as good or better and sports, being strong, fast. I completed against them so they always knew girls are just as good. I good run or throw “like a boy”, do pushups and pull-ups better than the boys. I remember as a kid, boys always telling me I couldn’t do things because I was “like a girl”. So I showed them what “like a girl” could do, and it wasn’t me who would walk away in embarrassed. Stereotyping as children really pushed me to keep on striving towards being a strong women, and that is exactly what I grew up to be.
What attracted you to this career?
Tasha: Being in the fitness profession is a very empowering career. My admiration towards people, especially women, who dedicate their time, and life to building there physiques to look and being strong, and those who help others feeling that empowerment is a truly beautiful thing. I truly love to help people feel strong, sexy and confident in their bodies. It is more than just a physical thing, but mentally and emotionally, spiritually you can alter and better all components of life through fitness.
What type of life where you living prior to becoming a trainer?
Tasha: I received my first degree from the University of Washington in Anthroplogy/ Archaeology. I loved the idea of being a women version of Indiana Jones :D. I also danced all through college, mostly as a hip hop dancer. Worked in local gyms as a reception and as a waitress and bartender as I went back to college to pursue Exercise science and Athletic Training.
What sparked your interested in power lifting?
Tasha: I always admired strong women roles, G.I. Jane, Ayla from Clan of the Cave Bear, Laura Croft etc… I always loved sports and being “tough”. I was quite the runner growing up, a sprinter, very fast and hard to catch. I loved the women that had muscle, and strength. In my early twenties I decided I wanted to stop admiring the strong, buff women and become one. So I worked and worked and worked and building muscle mass. In about 2 years’ time of eating the right things and lifting the right way I managed to put on almost 20lbs of lean mass. It felt AMAZING!!! I loved looking muscular and feeling strong. With the muscle came strength, but I realized that more than the looks of the muscle, I loved the feeling of being STRONG. I met my current training partner who was training more of a powerlifting style verses bodybuilding and he helped me discover that I was actually pretty good and lifting heavy weight. We both decided to enter a powerlifting competition, both placing well for our first one… loving every minute of it… and went from there. It’s the happiest I’ve ever felt.
How has power lifting changed your life and created the person you are today?
Tasha: The most important thing personally that powerlifting has done for me is build confidence. I lacked that before, especially when I was younger. I feel empowered every day, not only in the gym where my strength is shown, but on a daily basis with the people I am around. It has built my character to be better, not better than anyone else, but better to those I surround myself with, better in my relationships and interactions with people. I have learned a lot about myself through powerlifting, competing, learning from other people, other women, who are strong and independent. It helps me help others build their self-esteem, the bodies, mentalities…etc… I have become more disciplined because of it, I work harder in my daily life because I have a goal, something to focus on, something that will continue to help me be a better person, not only to myself through the lifestyle change, but to inspire others to better themselves. I’ve always wanted to be a positive role model, and now I am. I am truly happy for discovering the passion I have for this sport.
If you can say one thing to other female trainers what would it be?
Tasha: Don’t be afraid. By that, I mean do not be afraid to ask for help. Do not be afraid to learn from others, to grow, to be strong, independent, or afraid of change. BE FEARLESS in your career in the fitness world. Strive to make a difference in people’s life. That’s not exactly one thing… but it all goes together. J
Tasha: Thank you Anna for the opportunity to share these things about myself. I love the fitness world and industry more because of the people I meet and make me a better person as well. People like you Ms. Anna. You are a marvelous part of the fitness industry and I am honored to call you my friend. You, are a strong, independent women who inspires women each and every day. I thank you for being exactly who you are, and wish you the best of luck in this industry and know you will be very successful in all your endeavors.