Member of the Month

August MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Alysha B.

 

What got you started with Plates on Plates?

“It’s kind of a long story! I had gotten into fitness for a while in college, but senior year got busy and fitness was one of the things that fell by the wayside. I spent two years after graduation halfheartedly trying to rebuild the habit, but I wasn’t very motivated and I was struggling for most of that time with low-grade symptoms of depression. Fast forward to summer 2015, and a cluster of crises made my depression symptoms much more severe very rapidly: within six weeks, I ended a toxic 4-year relationship, I got laid off with no savings and a maxed-out credit card, and I found a new job the same week my grandfather passed away. By the end of it I was overwhelmed and suicidal, occasionally fantasizing about self-harm, smoking half a pack a day and binge drinking several times a week to cope. Not good. I opened up to some friends who had dealt with depression before, and they all told me the same things – get into therapy, eat as healthy as I could stand, and exercise. I sought therapy right away, and promised myself that as soon as I paid off my credit card debt I would get back into a gym. To close the exercise gap I used workout videos on Youtube. I paid off my card that November (the same month I broke my smoking habit) and signed up for Classpass in January 2016, which is how I found PoP. I fell in love after the first class and I signed up here that April.

By the time I signed up, I had made enough progress in therapy that I was thinking of my depression as in remission, so of course I hit another roadblock right away: that same month, I got diagnosed with ADHD and started medication. That kicked off 8 of the most challenging months I’ve ever had with my health. Stimulant medication is HARD on your body – favorite side effects include reduced appetite, disrupted sleep, upset stomach, and an elevated heart rate that skyrockets even more during aerobic exercise – and it took a lot of tinkering with my meds and working with a nutritionist and primary care doctor to get my body to a place where I could push harder in class without literally feeling like I was going to pass out. I turned the corner in January of this year (after taking a month off to rest and handle a final medication change), and it was like a switch flipped – I finally started to make real progress. I can’t oversell how cool it felt, after spending all of 2016 stuck using the 20lb kettlebells, to be experimenting with using the 35lb ones for kettlebell swings by this April or May, and if you’d asked me this time last year I would have laughed in your face if you’d told me I’d start taking the advanced weightlifting class this summer. I have never been this strong in my life.”

What keeps you motivated and coming back for more?

“I’ve lost momentum and slowly dropped out of my fair share of gyms. I think a lot of what keeps me coming back now is that my reason for exercising has changed. I’m not primarily here to get thin (my old reason for exercising), I’m here to keep my head screwed on straight enough that I don’t feel tempted to hurt or kill myself. I realize that sounds very dramatic, but I am definitely the type who thrives on having a Very Dramatic Reason to be consistent at this. I can’t exactly recommend depression, but if you struggle with motivation, try to identify a Very Dramatic Reason to go to the gym! It helps.

The other big factor is the community. My coaches know me and care about my progress, and I know from Kristina’s posts on Instagram that I’m not the only one here who has struggled with self esteem, bad relationships, and unhealthy coping mechanisms. It makes a huge difference to be in a gym where nobody is pretending that it’s always easy to be healthy or shaming people for struggling, and where the coaches are reinforcing positive body image and encouraging you to do your best. Plus, nobody tell Juston I said this, but the workouts really are fun.”

What’s the biggest change you’ve noticed since starting?

“One of my friends told me recently, “you are so in tune with your body. It’s really amazing.” I hadn’t stopped to think about that before she pointed it out, but I think that has been the biggest change. Doing workouts as intense as PoP’s demands that you learn how to listen to your body. Everything I do in class, whether it’s learning how to stay active while healing from an injury, correcting my form, or concentrating on activating a certain muscle during a movement, has taught me how to tune in and strengthened my mind-body connection. The way I related to my body when I signed up here is so different from the way I relate to it now. My attitude is much more compassionate, and I think of what I’m doing here as nurturing and growing instead of disciplining or punishing. I’m not the thinnest I’ve ever been as an adult, but I’ve never felt so grounded and at home in my body.”

What’s your favorite part about working out with PoP?

“Progress is addictive. The sense of accomplishment I feel when I find out what I’m really capable of has had me walking out of the gym on cloud nine so many times. We tested our 1-rep maxes on the first day of the advanced weightlifting class, and when I realized that just from bootcamp I had become strong enough that I can deadlift 165 lbs, I felt like Wonder Woman.”

What advice do you have for someone just starting their fitness journey with PoP?

“Consistency is everything. The most important thing is to just show up to class regularly. I’ve noticed it’s common for people who are just starting out to believe that if you can stay motivated you’ll stay consistent, but motivation tapers off pretty quickly for everyone, and it’s not realistic to keep counting on it to get you over the hump and into class. The real trick is to make the hump smaller so that you need to work up less and less motivation to keep going. Even the tiniest changes can help. I started setting out my gym clothes before bed, because hunting for a second sock at 6-something in the morning is The Worst, and hitting the snooze button once before I go to class never stops feeling like I’m getting away with something. If something about getting to the gym is The Worst, figure out how to get that thing out of your way. If the hump is something big (hello chronic health issues), find one way to make one part of the problem easier on you and do just that one thing. No step in the right direction is too small to be worth it. Obstacles will always pop up, and the people I see achieving the most at the gym are the ones who expect them to be there and persist in finding ways around them.”

July MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Casee L.

What got you started with Plates on Plates?

“I started at Plates on Plates Fitness (POP) in late November 2016 knowing that I didn’t want to suffer through another winter just like I always did — gaining weight and being depressed. I already knew that exercise made me feel amazing, and I felt pretty darn fit from softball. However, it physically pains me to be in the cold, and since September my exercise had declined and my weight was creeping up. I looked all over the Austin area for a gym that would fit my needs: 1. nearby my work, 2. Available/open after work hours, 3. indoors, 4. classroom style session where i could make friends with other regular attendees, increasing my accountability, and 5. instructor-led so I wouldn’t wimp out before seeing benefits. I found the POP Groupon special. After one week, I was hooked on POP. After one month, my psychiatrist had noticed a big improvement in my satisfaction with life, and he wrote me a Letter of Medical Necessity for my insurance. This Letter of Medical Necessity stated that exercising at POP was part of my treatment plan for the following year, and I was able to pay for a year’s membership with my pre-tax FSA dollars.”

What keeps you motivated?

“I am motivated to keep attending because: 1. I am on a strict budget and I already paid for this gym, 2. I feel strong and I look strong, 3. I feel beautiful and I look beautiful, 4. I have friends in POP, and Kristina is my friend, 5. Knowing that I am steadily succeeding in my goal of being strong, fit, and healthy, it makes me feel like I can meet any goal, even if I totally suck at it at the beginning.”

What is the biggest change you have noticed so far?

“I can see muscle definition in my arms and quads. Other people comment on my muscle definition, too, and they ask how much weight I’ve lost. I can do pullups for the first time in my life! I feel like a badass. My clothes fit, and sometimes they fall off. I have to tie my shorts on real tight just to ensure I don’t moon my teammates. And I am so focused on my fitness, because it makes me feel soooo good, that I now tell all my dates that I am not available until after 6:30 because that’s when I leave the gym. :)”

What advice do you have for someone just starting?

“I highly recommend signing up for Kristina’s 8-week nutrition counseling. If you aren’t completely on top of your eating habits, you need to be in order to see results from all your hard work in the gym. Why pay all that money for the gym without covering your home habits, too?  I’ve signed up twice for Kristina’s 8-week plan and I needed it both times. Getting my nutrition in check is what has allowed me to see the muscle gains I have. If this class makes you feel good in any way at any time, please come back the next day. And the next day. The class is always hard; it’s hard for everyone! But if you were strong enough to make it through, even part of it, then you are strong enough to keep going. If you are like me, these exercises are kicking your ass and it’s depressing to watch everyone else be so much better than you. Fuck that! If you feel like your body worked hard, then that’s what you want. That’s how you improve.”

June MEMBER(s) OF THE MONTH: Sean and Melissa

Sean and Melissa are leading examples of “relationship goals.” 😉 The inspire, support, and encourage each other inside and outside of Plates on Plates. Check out what they have to say about their fitness journey together.

Melissa’s Story

“Sean is what got me started with boot camp workouts. We had been together for about a year and I had started going to Golds gym to do some of the classes. I was 44 years old and had never worked out in my life! After a month of these workouts Sean suggested I reach out to Kristina and start doing HIIT camp. I thought he was nuts but here I am 3 years later, in the best shape of my life and I love it (which is what keeps me motivated to keep coming back.) I love working out with Sean because knowing he’s there makes me work just a bit harder. My advice for other couples that aspire for a fit and healthy lifestyle is to just do it! There are days we really just want to go home after work, but we push each other to go to camp and we are always glad we did. Kristina and PoP are a huge part of my life and from the bottom of my heart I thank you for helping me be a better me!”

Seans’s Story

“POP keeps my wife and I connected on all levels, and it’s a lifestyle we’re committed to.  There’s nothing sexier than being in great shape! Working out together also gives us topics to talk about over dinner. My advice to other couples would be to make the commitment to be healthy. Meal prep together, and plan your entire week out in advance (dinners.) Also make sure you have one free meal a week and live a little! Set realistic expectations, including short-term and long-term goals.On a side note, I started boot camp workouts with Kristina almost 5 years ago, and I weighed 247 pounds and showed minimal results after a month of working out 5 days a week.  Kristina put me on a meal plan, and within 90 days I was at 205, 13.8% body fat.  I’ll be 50 in a little over 6 months, and I can say that I feel better today than I did in my 20’s. My wife and I live a clean, healthy life style and it’s all been possible because of Kristina.”

MAY MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Lori S.

Huge congrats to our MAY MOTM, Lori Scott. Lori is the definition of strong. Not only has she made awesome progress since starting with PoP, she genuinely cares about her PoP fit fam. She encourages them to do their best on a daily bases, and has a positive attitude that is infectious. Read below for Lori’s story!

I was doing triathlon and half marathon season for about 9 years, and as my race distance increased (70.3 Ironman, full marathons) so did my training time, minor injuries, and time away from my husband and our two little girls. I wanted to stay super active and not spend as much time away from my little tribe. So during the off season, I was going to try Plates on Plates for the summer.

This summer it will be two years and here I am! I go to the 5:30 am class and I am home by 6:30am just in time to wake up my girls and get their day started on the right foot. One of the biggest changes I have seen is challenging my food mindset. I did paleo for about 5 years before coming to Plates on Plates: I was perfectly good or perfectly bad. Kristina has changed the way I see food, she guided me in the right direction, convincing me carbs are not the devil and to keep striving for that balance. I am still striving! I want to be positive role model to our girls. I know they will do what I do not what I say. I brought my little one in to meet Mackenzie and I told her that her and her best friend built this business together – she was in awe, as am I! Mackenzie pushes me everyday to keep my butt down and chest up; yes I still want to hit that next level. I push my self everyday to operate at 100% so I can give the people I love & this world everything I have got! All you have to do is show up!

April MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Cassy W.

Just 3-months ago, Cassy was in a car accident that almost took her life! It’s been absolutely incredible watching her transform mentally, emotionally, and physically. Her positive attitude is inspiring in so many ways, and we are proud to have her as our April MOTM! Read below for Cassy’s story!

Prior to the accident, I had a pretty pessimistic outlook on life in general, and let the little things bother me. I would overthink a lot, which would sabotage any goals I had set for myself. The biggest obstacle I had was not being able to return to my ‘normal’ immediately. I was impatient with my progress, and wanted to be better immediately. I learned to be patient with myself and not force anything too quickly. After the accident, the one thing that kept me motivated was having to learn to walk again. After having to do that again – I knew anything after that would be easy. Throughout this, my attitude improved tremendously. For anyone who is suffering from an injury or a limitation, stay positive and adjust your self-talk to a positive narrative. You’re your own best friend in that kind of situation. Also, make sure to ask for help when you need it. Pushing yourself will only further frustrate you when you can’t do what you used to right away.

I’m no longer stuck in a constant negative narrative. The picture on the left was truly remarkable at the time. Walking without a walker, with balance, moving my arms, going up the stairs. Focus on your progress in life. The positives. Trust in Him. You don’t need an experience that shakes you, you can enjoy every aspect in life even in it’s imperfect state. All you have to do is focus on the good things instead of staring at the things that aren’t right. Surround yourself with people who share in your triumphs. Shift your thinking and focus.

March MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Molly H.

 

Congrats to our March MOTM, Molly H! Molly is currently a mother-to-be, and we are so proud of her efforts to have a fit pregnancy! Check out what Molly has to say about what keeps her motivated, exercising while pregnant, and her advice for mothers-to-be!

I’ve been doing boot camp style workouts now for almost 5 years. Initially I was looking for something different besides a gym membership that would keep me motivated and accountable for working out on a regular basis. I enjoy knowing what areas of the body we will be working on each day, as well as knowing that I can get a really great workout in less than an hour. I know I personally don’t push myself as hard when I’m at the gym, versus when I’m working out during boot camp, so boot camp is also a good way for me to know I’m getting the best workout I can. It’s also great to have the motivation of a coach while you work out to not only make sure you’re doing the exercises correctly, but also for that extra push.

Research has continued to show that working out/staying active during pregnancy is great not only for pregnancy, but for childbirth, as well as bouncing back after pregnancy. I’ve asked my doctor at just about every doctor’s visit questions regarding working out, to ensure that what I’m doing is safe. I’ve needed some modifications, but overall as long as I feel comfortable with the exercises I’m doing, I’m good to go!

I also want to make sure I stay in shape as best as I can while pregnant. Pregnancy is an interesting time in your life where gaining weight is actually healthy and required. That being said, I definitely want to gain weight appropriately and in a healthy manner, and not pack on extra unnecessary pounds that will be that much harder to get rid of after the baby is born. Being active and working out while pregnant will hopefully continue to help me maintain this goal!

I’ve been in generally good shape most of my life, but I definitely feel I’ve gotten more toned and defined since being in boot camp. There are some days that you just don’t want to work out…. usually because it’s just part of my daily habit, I still find my way there, and I’m never upset at the end of a boot camp session for having gone and worked out. Some days I’m more glad than others to be done and over with my work out, but I’m never mad at myself for having forced myself to go to boot camp.

Since I’ve gotten pregnant, obviously the major physical change is that I’m getting bigger, not smaller. I think having been in good shape before I got pregnant has definitely helped me to gain weight appropriately. I also have felt great throughout my pregnancy. I know some of that may be genetics and luck, but I think being healthy and physically active has definitely played an important factor as well. There have been some days during boot camp where I have definitely noticed that I am unable to push myself the way I was before, or I will get out of breath a lot quicker than I ever did, and that has been a change I’ve had to get used to.

I think the most important factor for me mentally and emotionally during pregnancy is staying as healthy and as active as I can to ensure I’m doing the best to keep my baby as healthy as he can be. There are some days you’re just not mentally in it to work out, but even those days just getting there is usually the hardest part.

Pregnancy is so different for every woman, but that being said being active or staying active during your pregnancy is so important. Ask questions regarding working out at your doctor’s visits. They will give you good guidelines for what you can and can’t do, and from there you are able to modify and adjust exercises to where you feel comfortable. Most doctors won’t recommend pushing beyond what you’re already used to, but being able to maintain your current fitness levels (or somewhat close to current fitness levels) is generally very safe and beneficial to you and baby! There’s a few different things during boot camp that hadn’t been addressed with my doctor, but your body will know when something just doesn’t feel right, or if something feels uncomfortable, it’s important to listen to that and adjust/modify. Kristina has been great with helping me modify or change activities when needed, and I’m sure all of the coaches would be just as helpful!

 

February MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Amanda B.

 

I started coming to POP shortly after they started the free saturday class (with my friends Sharon and Emily). Saturdays quickly became my favorite day of the week, but I wasn’t quite ready to make the financial commitment of a membership. I was already spending $30 a month on another gym I hadn’t been to in a few years.

I was also really stressed out due to a new job and having to buy tons of new professional clothes because none of my old clothes fit me anymore. I’m not sure why, but I was holding on to all those “skinny clothes” for that day I’d magically lose a bunch of weight.

I had to get a physical as part of the new job and found out I was the heaviest I had ever been, I had high cholesterol, and I was pre-diabetic. I also have PCOS, which was out of control at the time. That appointment was sort of a slap in the face. I realized I felt hopeless, and in a lot of ways I sort of didn’t like myself. This was a really hard for me because as a therapist, I have spent years trying to empower girls and teach them self-love, but I was not showing myself the same love. After I got the call with my results, I went home, donated all the skinny clothes, and signed up for a membership at Plates on Plates, so everyday could feel just as good as my Saturdays.

Since then, my ever growing workout crew and the positive atomosphere have kept me on track with my journey to self-love. The set up of the classes (with short intervals) allows me to stop all the negative self-talk (I can do anything for 40 seconds). If for some reason I feel like I can’t do something, I turn the station into a dance station.

Now, there aren’t many things I can’t do. I feel stronger everyday, and regularly push myself to pick up the heavier weights for each exercise, usually trying to out-lift the guys in class. I’ve lost 35 pounds, and suddenly have muscles in places I didn’t know I had them. I’ve had to buy more skinny clothes since I’ve droped from a size 24 to 14. I no longer have high cholesterol and I’m not pre-diabetic anymore. I also feel like a self-care ninja and regularly get comments at work about my postive mood and energy. I would highly encourage anyone to try out Plates on Plates. Find a buddy to bring with you to help hold you accoutable, and if you can’t find someone, come anyway. I will work out with you, and so will everyone else! Also, if it is the money that is holding you back, just remember, you are worth it!

January MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Jade D.

 

I decided to start working out with POP to look and feel better. I couldn’t fit a lot of things in my closet and no longer liked shopping for new clothes. Additionally, I, like a lot of people set the New Year’s resolution of losing weight, but found it hard to commit to it. I knew that for me to commit to working out and losing weight, I had to do what works for me, and that is group workouts.

My motivation to stick with boot camp has been how good I feel afterwards. Even though I complain…. A LOT, I never regret going to boot camp. Beyond how I feel afterwards, comparing my performance currently to a week ago keeps me motivated (ex: doing more burpees, getting farther on a ladder workout, adding more boxes for box jumps). Additionally, taking progress pictures helps a lot when I feel like nothing is changing.

The physical changes are the easiest to spot. Since starting POP, I’ve lost about 35 lbs. Additionally, I’ve gotten stronger, faster and my endurance has really improved. However, beyond the physical changes, I feel happier (which is priceless), and I think the motivation I’ve gained while working out has translated to other aspects of my life too! I don’t put limits on what I can do anymore.

My advice to anyone new is to stick with it! I’m pretty sure I felt sore from the ab roller exercise we did on my first day for an entire week. It won’t get any easier **looking at you double floppy burpees** but you will get better at it. Also, It’s refreshing to come to work out and people know your name AND know if you weren’t here last week. It keeps you committed.

December MEMBER OF THE MONTH: Andres Z.

   

I never imagined myself writing my own fitness success story. I wish I could write a whole book about my fitness journey to be able to motivate and reach out to those who think there is no hope. BUT HERE IT IS….

Throughout the majority of my life, I have struggled with my weight. Back in my middle school years I remember going to Wal-Mart and shopping for the biggest size of jeans, biggest size of shirts, and biggest size of belts. I was 8 years old, 175lbs, and wearing XL shirts and Husky Jeans. Of course my self-esteem was very low, always worrying about what people would think of me. In my high school years I joined the soccer team and that helped a lot. I would also workout at home after school, and sometimes run in the mornings. I was at a point in my life where I actually felt good about the way I looked. My junior year in high school I thought I would take it step higher and start doing P90X. I was really excited to begin this program. Three weeks into the P90X program, I faced one of the scariest moments of my life. One day while playing soccer, I tore my left knee ACL. With no financial way to afford a surgery, my well being went from being super confident, to dropping out of college and going through depression. Two years went by until I was finally able to have my surgery. Even after going through countless therapy sessions, physically I did not feel the same. I gave up on trying to re-gain muscle mass and strength in my knee. Not only did I gain weight, but my self-esteem was at its lowest.

Before getting married I tried to lose weight on my own. I managed to lose a few pounds, but it was definitely not permanent. A few months after getting married I put on 25lbs. I’m not tall by any means.. I’m 5’8 and was weighing in at 205lbs (the before pictured below). This is the heaviest I have ever been and felt.

My wife, sister, brother-in-law and his sister, and myself decided one day to join POP. Wow, let me tell you, BEST decision I have ever made. We all went in with a goal in mind. Mine was to challenge my self, but most of all to get out of my comfort zone. This will be my 20th week of attending POP, and definitely not my last.

August 1st was our debut at POP. It is now December and I have managed to lose a total of 34lbs and feel extremely happy and so much stronger! Thanks to the AWESOME coaches at POP, I am now living a better and healthier life. I noticed a massive transformation in the way I see my life. I am now dedicated and motivated to continue my fitness journey. I am not where I want to be yet, but definitely closer.

There is HOPE! My biggest piece of advice that I can give is, don’t expect to see a big difference in such a short time. Don’t weigh yourself every night; because it doesn’t work that way …trust me! Just stay committed, keep pushing yourself to get out of your comfort zone, and challenge yourself! It works for me, I’m sure it will work for you. HUGE shout out to our 7:30 pm coach Sarah! To our once in a while (hilarious girl Kim) coach, and the one and only, our first coach that started it off Kristina 🙂 . WE LOVE YOU GUYS!!! Couldn’t have asked for better coaches.

Andres Z's Progress