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Inspired Mover – Irene Vuu

IreneThis is Irene. She is one of MANY women at my gym who inspire me. You’re going to see more of these amazing movers in the coming months.

Irene is just one of those people who seemed to latch on to CrossFit like a fish to water. I remember when she started – she seemed a little nervous, but more excited. Within a couple of months she was kicking some serious a##.

For me, it’s always about watching how someone moves. Irene moves really fluidly – she throws around a great deal of weight, but it’s like the barbells are an extension of her own body. It’s really fun to watch her move. She inspires me.

I think she’ll inspire you too. Here’s her story, in her own words:

Have you always been a mover?
Yes — maybe not always in a specific sport, but growing up, I’d much prefer doing Maker:S,Date:2017-1-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Ysomething active (swimming, playing tag, etc) over watching TV or reading. I ran cross country and track in high school, and then continued running leisurely (with some 5k’s, half-marathons, and 2 marathons) since then.

What are your favorite ways to move your body?
Most sports that don’t require aiming, haha. In general, I’m not the best athlete when it comes to sports where there’s a target/goal involved, so that’s why I stuck with running for so long. Prior to joining CrossFit and outside of running, I occasionally enjoyed yoga, swimming, biking, and hiking.

How/When did you find CrossFit?
My classmate had really brought it to my attention about 2-3 years ago. Before she mvimg_20180502_110828.jpgmentioned it, I thought it just was for superstar athletes who are ripped. During the training for my most recent TC marathon, I got really bored of training/running by myself, and running in general. I knew I had endurance locked down, but I never thought of myself as being “strong.” The winter and spring after that marathon, I tried ClassPass, which allowed me to check out different gyms and workouts. I knew I had wanted to join a CrossFit gym then, but I couldn’t get over how much it would cost me. Finally, I was enticed by Timberwolf, and the rest is history.

What do you like about it?
I like that it’s constantly a new/different challenge. If it’s not a challenge with burpees today, then it’s a challenge with deadlifts or pull-ups or double-unders or etc. Because there are so many movements, there’s always something to improve on. I’m not sure I’d ever be able to master all of the things I’d like to (Rachel Shores is goals AF). Also, I really enjoy the TWCF community. Even though most of the workouts are done individually, I can count on other gym members to push me through it.

Is moving your body important to you? Why?
Definitely. Not only is it a stress reliever, but I have to be active in order to balance the sitting I do all day at school, haha. Not only that, but in my mind, it’s a privilege to be able to move my body. Maker:S,Date:2017-1-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-YOur bodies and the movements they can produce are gifts, and I consider myself lucky to be born relatively healthy and physically-able. I also think about how I don’t want to be sitting in my rocking chair 40 years from now thinking about how I wish I would’ve moved more when I was physically able to.

What have you learned?
I’ve learned so much about weights (in general) since joining CrossFit. I don’t feel as awkward walking into a weight room (there will always be awkwardness, haha). Also, I’ve learned more about my body and how it changes with the stresses I’m putting on it — how my shoulders take a lot of the hits that my hips aren’t helping with -_- (I really want to work on that).

What are your goals?
I want to be stronger – lift heavier (back squats and deadlifts), be able to a chest to bar, Maker:S,Date:2017-1-17,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Ymuscle up, handstand walk, and 2 double-unders in a row, and maybe also work on overhead lifts (snatches kill me). Another goal is do more research on nutrition, and how it can supplement/complement my workouts.

How does moving your body support the all of you?
Gives me a time and space to focus on me — because when you’re gasping for air after your 16th burpee, you’re not thinking about what frustrated you at work today or the many responsibilities you have to deal with after.

What advice do you have for people around movement?
Move in the way that goes with your flow and makes you happy and present.


Thanks Irene! You’re an amazing mover.

I hope we’ll get to work out together again soon.

Until then, know that you are an inspiration.
xo, Sarah


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Inspired Mover – Kate Havelin

kate by shore

This month Inspired Mover is Kate Havelin.

There is so much about Kate that inspires me. She has written a bunch of books – her latest that I highly recommend is called Explore Twin Cities Outdoors and please check out her blog Going Places where she writes about her travels, activism (the story on her arrest with BLM is outstanding), art and nature.

kate flowers.jpgKate is breathtakingly beautiful and seems to have no attachment to it. She is self-assured, incredibly smart, talented and articulate. She is also tremendously humble and loving with a deep desire to serve and make the world a better place.

Also, Kate is a kick-ass mover.
1) At Bootcamp, she always challenges herself.
2) She meets herself wherever she is on the day she comes to class. She modifies as she needs to without worrying about what anyone else thinks.
3) She moves in many different ways – paddling, yoga, walking, hiking…

Here’s Kate’s story in her own words:

What do you like about getting out into nature?

Being outside– exploring alone in the woods, strolling through parks, or walking along the river– makes me feel connected and part of the world. It’s a treat to hear wind kate kayak.jpgthrough trees, waves whooshing, birds chirping, people biking, walking, paddling along the river– it’s life in action! I feel lucky that I’ve gotten to explore nature for my work. I hiked dozens of trails to research my new trail guide, Explore Twin Cities Outdoors, which will be out this spring. It’s fun to get out and see new places!

Have you always liked to move your body?

Growing up, I had a big disconnect between my mind and my body. I believed that the ‘me’ that mattered was only from the neck up, my head. My body was just this thing that wasn’t the real me. I played sports– field hockey, soccer, lacrosse, but never considered myself an athlete. I was a writer, student, etc. I didn’t like my body, always thought my neck, legs were too big.

Kate outdoorsIn college, when I began running, just to run, I began shifting my idea of who I was. Running, at first, let me cope with a broken heart. In time, running helped me connect my body and head. I saw that I was strong and could run long distances. I was happy with what my body could accomplish and began to accept how I looked.

Is movement something you feel like you ‘have to’ do or something you ‘like to’ do?

I hear and read about how so many people have to force themselves to move their bodies. Sure, there are mornings when I want to turn the 5 AM alarm off and burrow Kate Nature1under the blankets, but I know when I get up, have coffee, and get moving, it’s the best way to start the day. That said, this morning, I did not set the alarm since i stayed up too late and know I needed sleep more than AM exercise. I do try to be balanced, and not force myself to exercise if other parts of my life are too crazy (ie. Too much work, not enough sleep, injuries that need rest more than movement)

Why do you like to move?

I know that exercise makes me happy and keeps me balanced. Moving my body– running, walking, Boot Camp, yoga– helps my mind as much or more than it helps my body. I am so thankful that I like exercise.

What are your favorite ways to move?

Kate Smiling.jpgFor three plus decades, running was the activity I loved most. I ran when I was antsy, sad, bored, angry. I ran regularly from my junior year in college until two years ago. I ran 18 marathons, along with a few ultra-marathons, in a decade, starting when I turned 40. By age 55, my body let me know running wasn’t working for me anymore. I have scant cartilage in my right knee, and I’ve accepted that I can’t run anymore. I miss the joy and freedom of running, moving through time and woods, like an animal, my mind floating free. I’m grateful for every mile, every race I had. Now, I focus on finding joy in other ways to move. Kayaking is the the closest thing to running I’ve found. It’s a delight to step into a kayak, paddle alone on kate nature3the water, and use my body to float free in the world. I can’t wait to get out and kayak this year. Until then, I’m enjoying working up a sweat at Boot Camp with you, Tula yoga classes, using cross-trainers, exercise bikes, rowing machines, and free weights at my gym, the Jewish Community Center, and walking outside. It’s been a treat to walk outdoors in California and Arizona this winter, with my husband. Hiking hilly trails, being in nature, is a delight. After breaking my wrist slipping on ice in December 2016, I’m really cautious about winter walking in Minnesota. But even here, I’ve been able to get outside and walk. Soon, I’ll be able to bike outside again!

Does your body feel differently now that you’re older when you move? In what way?

Kate by Sign.jpgI joke that aging is like playing Twister– having to focus on injuries and sore spots, Left wrist! Right foot! I’m 57 and expect that I will have to do more to keep my body flexible and healthy enough so I can keep moving. And I’m motivated to keep active. I know I have to manage my weight so my bones and joints aren’t forced to deal with excess pounds. I know I can’t do everything I used to do, and I will find new activities that suit my body– less pounding, no jumping, more stretching, more time in the pool, on a bike, in a kayak.

Does getting older frustrate you in any way or no?

The alternative to getting older is being dead. I don’t want to live forever, but for as long as I can, I want to keep moving.

How is your love of travel and exploration and movement connected?

I love, love, love seeing new places, heading out on trails and streets where I don’t know what’s around the bend. That’s a thrill of traveling.

What do you like about getting out into nature?

Kate Nature2Being outside– exploring alone in the woods, strolling through parks, or walking along crowded city sidewalks– makes me feel connected and part of the world. It’s a treat to hear wind through trees, waves whooshing, birds chirping, people, bikes, cars, and buses passing– it’s life in action!

How does moving your body support the all of you?

I get stressed easily and moving helps balance that stress.

What advice do you have for us?

Find some way of moving your body that makes you happy. Maybe it’s walking around a lake with a friend. Maybe it’s Tai Chi or martial arts. Maybe it’s swimming alone or racing with hundreds of people. All of us are animals who need to use our bodies.

Thank you Kate for inspiring me and so many others. xo

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Inspired Mover – Aisha Bams

One of the things I love about the world right now is that we are more socially connected than ever. I can follow and learn from and be inspired by people in different places on Instagram or Facebook. One of those is Aisha Bam. headshot.jpg I follow her and her group Fitte Factory on Instagram.

Aisha inspires me because her joy in moving her beautiful machine is evident in each picture. She is joy-filled.  She combines a love of strength and mobility and shares it with the world on her Instagram page. Aisha teaches yoga and is part of a group of teachers that share a love of calisthenics and yoga with people in New York City.

Also, Aisha makes movement a regular part of her life. She has found ways to move that light her up and she does them regularly.

Here’s her story in her own words:

Would you tell us please about your road to wellness? 

 I always had a curiosity for wellness and fitness but I didn’t have a solid foundation. I’d workout at the gym a little here and there, but I wasn’t consistent and didn’t really know what I was doing.

From my senior year of high school to my college graduation, I went from weighing about 145lbs to 214lbs. My cholesterol was high and reaching down to tie my shoes was a challenge. The weight gain was simply because I loved to eat (and still do).  I got my first job during my junior year in high school and was able to afford my own food.  I made it a point to eat at major fast food chains simply because my family couldn’t afford that type of food when I was growing up.  I was making up for all the times my mom said “I don’t have McDonalds money.” I also ate all of the food on my plate even if I was stuffed because I was taught not to waste food.

onphoneIn my mind, I knew that I would eventually lose weight after I left college since I’d have more time to focus on fitness.  By 2012, I had lost 40lbs on my own with little physical effort.  I was inspired by books like In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan and the movie Food Inc.  The one line in the movie that stuck with me was “we vote with our forks” so I started reading food labels and slowly changed my diet.  As much as possible, I try to stay away from processed foods with too many ingredients.  I try to avoid anything with high fructose corn syrup, soybean oil, hydrogenated oils and anything that’s difficult to pronounce.

The rest of the weight came off through boot camps and other fitness classes (like PRX14.) I enjoy working out in group settings.  I love the support of other participants who are going through the same process.

KettlebellOverheadIn 2014, a friend introduced me to Revolutionary Fitness.  I consider them the icing on the cake in my fitness journey.  They were big on food/fitness justice.  Their goal was to make high quality fitness accessible to underserved communities as well as to arm the people of those communities with the education and knowledge to take care of themselves.  In 2015 I went through their certification program and became a People’s Trainer. The director of Revolutionary Fitness added me to their teaching calendar and I taught kettlebell and yoga classes.

More recently a group of friends and myself started running boot camp classes under the name Fitte Factory.  We train in many different modalities which included HIIT, strength training, mobility and yoga.


Would you please share about your yoga journey?

My yoga journey started in 2011 when a friend of mine convinced me to go on a hunt with her for nice yoga studios around the city.  She wanted to start taking yoga classes YogainBrazilbut didn’t want to do it alone.  We started going to Pure Yoga and at the end of  my first, I felt a sense of pure bliss and presence.  It was unlike anything I’ve ever felt.  It helped me manage some stress and anxiety that I was dealing with at that time.  When I started yoga I was one of the heaviest women in the class and I didn’t give AF.  I was there for me and had fun with the practice.  I would laugh at myself when I fell out of poses or couldn’t get into a pose.  What mattered most to me was the attempt. I completed a 200 hour YogaWorks teacher training in the fall of 2016.

What are you favorite ways to move and why?

Yoga, calisthenics, workouts on monkey bars, suspension training and inline skating.  All of these modalities involve dealing with one’s own body weight.  I think it’s super important to be able to toss your own weight around before using crazy nonsensical gym machines and weights at a gym.

What has movement brought to your life?

 Peace, ease, energy, awareness, appreciation, gratitude and awesome friends.


When you started, was weight loss your goal?

Weight loss was the goal but I was also looking to become physically stronger.

How is your relationship with your body now compared to before your journey started?

handstandI was always grateful for what my body was able to do despite being heavier than I wanted to be at times.  Now I’m even more appreciative and I think that additional appreciation comes from my yoga practice.  I appreciate how my body is its own universe in a sense, so mysterious, and it works so hard to keep me alive and well.  There’s so many bodily functions and processes that are still unexplained but work so harmoniously to keep us balanced.

What would you tell people about getting started?

Start by moving your body in a way that you love or can fall in love it.  Try different classes.  Dance in the mirror or while you’re cooking or play in the park even.  If you hate going to the gym then don’t go to the gym.  If you hate running/jogging then don’t do it.  Once you start moving try revisiting those things later to see if you still hate them.  Live your life doing things you love to do.  It’s all a matter of finding what you like and doing it consistently.

DipsNutrition plays a big role as well so start making small changes and eventually it will lead to bigger changes and results.  Sometimes it’s a matter of trial and error when it comes to fitness and food choices.  What works for some may not necessarily work for you.  And even with all of that with time your body changes and you may need to adjust your level of activity and food choices.  Find balance in how you eat.  Enjoy your food, never call it a cheat meal or cheat day.  You’ve simply indulged.  Take the guilt out of eating something you’d consider unhealthy.  Your language and feelings towards foods that you eat can affect how your body processes it so be mindful of that.

What does movement mean to you?

Movement means life.

What would you tell people about staying with it?

 myparkIf you are moving in a way that you’re body loves, you will stay with it, even if you take breaks every now and then.  It’s also helpful to have a tribe to join you your journey.  Take breaks and rest when you need to.

What have you learned?

My road to wellness is ongoing and infinite.  The knowledge to be gained is never ending especially as my body changes with age.  So I’m always open to learning more and sharing what I’ve learned and keeping an open mind with regards to health and fitness.

The most important thing that I’ve learned is that everybody is different, what works for one person may not necessarily work for another person when it comes to nutrition and movement.

What advice do you have for us?

Get outside, get some sun, play like a child and have fun!

Thank you Aisha for inspiring so many.

Peace, S




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Inspired Mover – Rachel Hable

Over the course of the next couple of months, I’m going to feature some movers that inspire me. People who move their bodies regularly for many different reasons. People who have stories to tell. I have the absolute honor to introduce you to Rachel. 

Rachel & I went to the gym around the same time together for awhile. I was always inspired by her tenacity, consistency, and drive. She also had a lot of heart. Her heart and humor would shine through in her support of others and in the way she looked at her husband Seth.

Rachel also has a big job – and her company moved her to California. The whole gym really felt the loss of Rachel and her husband. But her story took a turn after their move.

Here is Rachel’s story, in her own words:

I found out about CrossFit from my husband Seth. We were training for a half marathon and about 2 weeks before the race he declared that we needed to do something after the half marathon and he thought that it should be CrossFit. So we went in and did a workout with Tony (he kept assuring us that it was a “hard” workout, but, of course it wasn’t). Seth loved it and signed up immediately. I had some knee and hip issues I needed to deal with so I didn’t sign up. I ended up having hip surgery about six months later. Then in January 2015, TWCF had a free week and Seth convinced me to try it again. I think I went nearly every day that week and then I was hooked. 

I have LOVED sports my entire life. I played basketball and softball through college. I was going to be a sportswriter. I am also probably competitive to an unhealthy extent. I think I once told Seth to “die mother&^er” when we were playing a friendly game of cards. So, I liked that CF had a competitive element. I also loved Olympic lifting, which I had never tried before. But mostly, I just couldn’t believe how much fun I had every day. My fellow CFers were interesting and fun and I loved getting to hang out with them.

I joined CF in January 2015 and I was diagnosed with cancer in October 2016.

The funny thing was that I didn’t feel sick at all. I PR’d my clean. I finally did a real pull-up right around that time.

I felt a lump when I was drying off after a shower. I convinced myself it was nothing. A few weeks later, I could feel my lymph nodes under my arm and I figured that there might be a problem. But I was really in denial. I just didn’t think it could be cancer—which was dumb because my Mom had breast cancer.

From the time I saw my primary care physician, to getting a mammogram and ultrasound, to a biopsy, to finally then getting the diagnosis was one of the worst times in my life. I didn’t want to tell anyone because I didn’t want to worry anyone in case it was nothing but I was falling apart. I couldn’t sleep. I had panic attacks. It wasn’t really surprising when the doctor told me that it was cancer but I just remember feeling numb. They try to tell you important stuff and tell you about a bunch of appointments and it was like I couldn’t keep anything in my head. I finally had to ask them to write it down.

Staying active made me feel a little normal in a time when nothing felt normal. It made me feel strong and I really needed to feel strong.  I got all this advice that I shouldn’t workout and should only be walking from support groups on-line and some doctors. But all my oncologist said was “don’t start any new rigorous exercise program or diet or anything” and I thought, well, I’m not actually starting a new one so this is fine. So I would walk when I didn’t feel good and I would do as much crossfit as I could when I felt up to it. The owner of the gym offered to refund my monthly fee when I found out I had cancer and I remember Seth telling him, “You don’t know Rachel.” 

Studies have shown that staying active during chemo makes it more effective. It was also great to have a community that was just happy to see me every morning that I showed up. I felt a lot of love and support from the gym family. Seth used to joke with me that I inspired him because “he couldn’t let the cancer lady beat him.”

I finished cancer treatment in July. I did chemo first, mastectomy and then radiation. About a week ago, I had breast reconstruction. I had a latissimus dorsi flap procedure with implant. They take a muscle from your back and make a pocket for a boob. I also had an implant put in on my good side. It’s a pretty major surgery but this should be my last big surgery. The next one will just be to try to get the two sides to match. I was on the fence about having this surgery since it’s cosmetic and I really just wanted to be done with doctors but my doctors thought I was young enough that I wouldn’t want to go through life with one boob.


rachelcrossfitcali.jpgNext for me is healing from this surgery and moving forward with life. The cancer could come back at any time and that is absolutely terrifying so I try really hard to be positive and not focus on that. I had Stage 3a triple negative cancer which is fairly advanced (lymph node involvement) and triple negative is the most aggressive kind of breast cancer with the highest rate of recurrence. So, I’m staying positive, trying to get back to my old crossfit self and kick ass at work.

What have I learned?

I learned that CrossFit made me mentally tough. I know that probably sounds crazy but those daily WODs build confidence and tenacity. And I needed every bit of that to get through chemo because chemo sucks beyond words.

I learned that I am still very much the same person I always was. You always read about people who had brushes with death and now they know that is really important in life and they are going to sell all their possessions and bike through Europe. That’s not me. But it did make me realize that my life is pretty great.

I learned that people are, for the most part, amazing and giving. I cannot tell you how much love and support I got from everyone in my life.

I am still learning to let that shit go. And to not be too hard on myself and to be happy with me. I’m trying to do better at evaluating what is and is not worth my time.

Advice. I used to beat myself up if I was not absolutely perfect all the time. Now I try to remind myself that everyone has a bad day. So, that’s my advice. Everyone has a bad day. It’s not who you are every other day.


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What Lights You Up????

Do you like to do things, make things, create things – and has that creative side of you slipped away because of life, lack of time, feeling tired??

What lights you up?

That buzzy, zippy, excited feeling – ahhhh…that is a beautiful thing. That is the Universe whispering to you.

It’s like the banker who writes poetry. Or the stockbroker who sells his jewelry on etsy – not because he needs the money.

Those things that light you up? Gardening, doodling, coloring, cooking, taking pictures, journaling…those things help to round out WELLNESS. They help us to FEEL WELL. They feed our spirits.

I just read a great book called “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. Have you read it? It reminded me that I used to be a creative being who did creative stuff all of the TIME!

So I got a camera. And I got some microphones. And I got some editing software…

And the results of which I’m unveiling to my mailing list on Friday, June 2nd. SO EXCITED!

If you want to see it, CLICK HERE:

Friends – it doesn’t have to be huge. It doesn’t have to be grand. Invite creativity in – let it come in and play in your body, mind and spirit.

Let it light you up.


I Come Alive When _______________.

I’m in the midst of Yoga Teacher Training through Yoga North, which is incredibly intense and wonderful, we did an exercise that I think EVERYONE SHOULD TRY.  And it dovetailed so nicely with our focus on Inspiration that I thought I’d share it.

We paired up and first checked in at the start noticing how we were feeling.  Then, one person served as the witness – just listening while the other spoke for 10 minutes.  And then we switched people for the next 10 minutes.

We were to fill in this phrase again and again, “I come alive when…”

I come alive when ________________.

When do you come alive?  When do you feel that zing full of electricity and excitement?

It’s one of my very favorite feelings and it’s not just great for you – it’s great for the people around you.  It helps THEM feel excited and electric.  How great is that?  We’re not just empathetic when someone is sad…we’re empathetic when someone is stoked!!

Buddhists have a term for a particular kind of enthusiasm that happens with new ideas and events.  It’s called Bright Faith. Bright Faith!  When everything is all aligned and you are standing in the middle of it!!

Wait…two more:

The word enthusiasm comes from the Greek root ‘entheos’ meaning ‘having God within’.


“Enthusiasm is the highest form of ‘awakened doing’.  – Eckhart Tolle

These quotes are all courtesy of the book, “The Firestarter Sessions” by Danielle LaPorte.  It’s a great read – I HIGHLY recommend.

After the 20 minutes is up, check in with yourself again.  Notice how FREAKING FANTASTIC YOU FEEL.  And then…remember a couple of things on your list AND DO THEM.

Good for the soul.  And good for the soul = wellness.

Much peace, love and joy to you.  🙂 Sarah

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BIG Inspiration – Carol & Rebecca / 60+ Crossfitters

There are so many people that light me up.  I look around my life and am so inspired by the people that populate my life; it makes me feel so much gratitude.  Towards the top of my list are Carol & Rebecca – the ladies that inspire me from my Crossfit class.

These women inspire me to my bones…why?  Because they’re fearless.  Because they are aging so beautifully – focusing on STRENGTH and DURABILITY.  Because they’re hella nice.  They have been so nice to me – teaching me and guiding me and offering me advice and tips.  And they happen to be (I’m guessing I’ve never really asked…) 60+ years old!!  I admire them so much.  Here they are:


Rebecca (L) and Carol (R) Great.women. #inspiration

Carol & Rebecca agreed to answer some questions about why they love Crossfit and what inspires them…enjoy!

What Inspires You?

Carol: Connecting to my inner self inspires me. I have never been a religious person, but I am seeking to connect with my higher self constantly. I think part of that is doing physical things. For me, being in my body and feeling the energy course through my body is the Universe giving me hugs.

Rebecca:  I am inspired by effort.  At a Crossfit competition, what I enjoyed most was watching athletes attempting heavier and heavier weight until they failed.  We don’t know our max effort until we reach just beyond what we can do.  I am inspired by stories of people who have overcome great odds by their perseverance and effort.

Why Crossfit? Continue reading