Without resolutions

Find a lasting fitness routine with healthy habits and a little help

Story by Joey Carreon, Associate Editor  |  Photos by Emilio Huertas

New Year’s resolutions can be daunting. More often than not, they fail not because of how they end but, rather, how they start. Instead of committing to a big change this year, consider taking small steps toward healthy fitness routines you can stick with for the long run. To help inspire you, we asked four WAC members to share their stories.

Mitzi Carletti
Member since 1984

Mitzi Carletti jokes that she and a friend used to work out at the WAC to look good in their swimsuits but now they work out to stay alive. Now in her 60s, Mitzi is as active as ever and has been for most of her life. In fact, Mitzi says she started running before companies made running shoes specifically for women.

“In fifth grade, I borrowed a pair of track shoes from a male classmate to run the 100-yard dash at the state meet,” she recalls. “To make them fit, my mom had to make insoles out of athletic socks and taped them into the shoes.”

Mitzi didn’t let that stop her. She ran the 50- and 100-yard dash throughout grade school and middle school, and continued to run recreationally to stay in shape in college. It was around then that she also picked up cross-training to improve her running performance and break up the monotony of track training. She soon found out that cross-training also helped improve her intramural soccer skills and swimming.

“Cross-training for runners is good for several reasons,” WAC Senior Fitness Specialist & Personal Training Coordinator Michelle Payne says. “The main reason is that it corrects any muscular imbalances, which decreases chance of injury.”

As Mitzi left school and became a young professional, balancing training with her career and social life became increasingly difficult—until a co-worker introduced her to the WAC. During more than three decades as a WAC member, she has shifted her focus from setting personal bests to prioritizing strength and flexibility to stay limber and avoid injuries.

“As I’ve aged, I realize how important cross-training is to keeping your body healthy and injury-free,” Mitzi says. “I trained for my first marathon when I was 30 and ended up with a serious knee injury. That’s when I started training with weights. Since then, I haven’t had any injuries.”

Mitzi trains with Michelle as well as Pilates instructor Natalia Tikhonova, with hopes of running a half marathon this year. She is also a firm believer that her exercise routine helps her mental health as much as her physical health—especially during the pandemic.

“Working with Michelle and Natalia gives me something to look forward to, which keeps me sane.”

Natalie Heard
Member since 2014

Prior to the pandemic, Natalie Heard’s trips to the WAC primarily involved spending time in the sauna or steam room in Women’s Fitness to decompress after a hard day’s work. Nowadays, you can find Natalie hard at work in Coed Fitness on the 4th Floor—doing Bosu ball workouts, lifting free-weights, and running on the treadmill.

Natalie was born and raised in Seattle and grew up visiting the WAC with her father, so she’s no stranger to the Club. She spent many childhood days in the WAC Café doing homework after school and shared many meals with her grandma in Torchy’s. As soon she could no longer stay on her family’s membership, she got her own.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Natalie realized she needed to shift her priorities after her fast-paced job and on-the-go lifestyle caused the lines between work and home to blur. Natalie made it her mission to prioritize her health and get active.

Starting twice-weekly Pilates helped her “double down” on that mission. “Pilates is the best gift I’ve ever given to myself,” Natalie says.

When her Pilates instructor went out of town, she began to work with WAC personal trainer Kodie Trinidad, as well. Three months later, Natalie says Kodie not only helped her with her goals of improving upper-body strength and posture, but she also gave her the tools to work out on her own.

“I realized how important it was to not only have outlets to move your body, but to be fit to enjoy the life you want to live,” Natalie says. “I just feel so much better.”

Through this self-discovery, Natalie found her fitness focus and something just as important—comfort with her own body. “Confidence is a ripple effect,” Kodie says. “Once a client is feeling more confident in their physical abilities while training, they start to feel more confident not only in how they look, but what they can do during workouts.”

Since making fitness a priority, Natalie says she feels stronger and more enjoys the things she loves to do, including running with friends and hitting the ski slopes. Natalie plans to continue to train on her own, keep up with Pilates, and work with Kodie to keep the ball rolling in 2022 and beyond.

“What’s made a difference for me is the accountability a trainer brings,” Natalie says. “It’s easy to miss a workout on your own, but if I have classes with friends or a session with a trainer, it’s so much easier to keep that commitment. The WAC has helped me honor those commitments.”

Small steps are often the best way to establish lasting habits. Here are some tips for how to start small.

Lester Brown
Member since 2018

Lester Brown has gained nearly 30 pounds of muscle since he began regular weight-training more than eight years ago. Recently, however, his goals have shifted. Last September, Lester became a new father with the birth of his son.

“Nowadays, it’s more about how to live a long time, how to stay healthy, and how to do the right lifts so I don’t get hurt,” he says. “It’s more about long-term sustainability than it is about taking my shirt off at the beach.”

Lester works for a real estate development firm that actively encourages employees to exercise regularly and prioritize their mental and physical health. He first visited the WAC with co-workers and joined shortly thereafter.

“The WAC has all the gear, equipment, space, and specific training areas to keep my programming fresh and energetic,” he says.

Lester also uses the WAC Wellness Center’s Body Blueprint service, which has helped him tailor his fitness program to his body composition goals. “I think a lot of people would say that getting to the gym is half the battle when trying to stay in shape,” he says. “The WAC has made the ‘getting to the gym’ part very easy for me.”

Lester regularly works out in Men’s Fitness, training on a five-day workout split that prioritizes different muscle groups each day and allows time for rest and recovery. With a new fitness focus geared toward being healthy for his family—and with the Club here to help him achieve that goal—Lester believes his hard work will continue to pay off and positively influence other aspects of his life.

“It almost seems like being disciplined enough to eat right and come to the gym is the hard part,” he says. “If I can get the hard stuff done, most of the other things, like parenting, work, and relationships, seem to fall in line.”

Claire Taylor
Member since 2014

Claire Taylor keeps active by two wheels. For Claire, official “workouts” play a secondary role to healthy habits incorporated into everyday living. Whether working, shopping, or recreating, Claire almost always chooses her bike to get there. She took up the habit five years ago while living in Belltown and working in Fremont. “I love the flexibility that biking provides,” she says.

Claire attended Rice University for undergrad and Louisiana State University for grad school. But it wasn’t until moving to Seattle that she took up biking. “Riding up—and especially down—the hills around where I live is exhilarating,” she says. “It just feels great to be on a bike.”

Claire moved to Seattle to live with husband Matt Brannock in 2013 and joined the WAC a year later. In addition to her regular cycling, Claire lifts weights and rides spin bikes in Women’s and Coed fitness. “Biking indoors is a nice alternative to outdoor rides,” she says. She also frequents group fitness instructor Linda Schetky’s Blitz 45 class, a high-efficiency 45-minute workout that incorporates strength-training and plyometrics—perfect for Claire’s other passion, downhill skiing.

“Linda is so positive and encouraging and has created an awesome space where you get to know other folks in the class,” Claire says. “It’s a tough workout, but she helps keep everyone engaged.”

Linda mixes up exercises each class and employs a straightforward approach that allows anyone to get up to speed quickly. But she says there’s one thing that matters most: “Number one is making it to the gym. That’s a victory within itself. In order to achieve the other ‘little wins’ you have to be consistent and show up.”

For Claire, keeping something on her calendar also helps keep her on track. This year, she’s training for Passport2Pain, an annual Vashon Island bike ride known for its wacky checkpoints and creative disorganization. After successfully completing the ride’s 50-mile event last year, she plans to tackle it again this September.

“I’m very much motivated by having a ‘thing’ I want to do,” Claire says. “And putting in the time to make that ‘thing’ feel easier or more doable.”

As published in the January/February/March 2022 issue of WAC Magazine

—Posted January 3, 2022

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