Life is About Stories ~ 2015 Collection


everyone has a story to tell

Courage. Trust. Support.  These are all of the things that make our #energylabfamily so unique and a one-of-a-kind community. Here are some of their stories.

My Story: Wendy H.

I think people sometimes look at me and see someone fit, strong and fast. I wasn’t always this fit and I certainly wasn’t always this fast. A little over 3 years ago while on a walk with my dog and husband I fell and broke my right patella (kneecap) in at least 3 pieces. This required surgery and a permanent screw to hold the pieces together. It left me unable to go to work, drive or exercise. My orthopedyour lifeic surgeon, when questioned by me about running again, stated that I “may be able to run 2-3 miles at a time at the most”.

I was active (running, group exercise) before my injury but mostly it was for vanity reasons or ‘because it was good for me’. Stuck on the couch and housebound (dependent on others if I needed to leave for appointments or for sanity reasons) for two months I had a lot of opportunities to think. These were dark days for me. A motivation that pulled me out of depression was a vow to become the fittest person I can be. No excuses.

Once I was cleared for physical therapy and activity, I started attending classes at The Energy Lab again-- At first just cycle classes and the occasional TRX class. I couldn’t stand up on the bikes and I couldn’t do a lot of the single leg moves in TRX. And I definitely couldn’t bounce on a BOSU. I started walking for exercise and 4 ½ months after surgery I started running—just a bit at a time during my walks. I worked at improving my core strength to not be so dependent on my legs. Within a year of my injury I was back to my previous fitness level.

Since then I have become focused on running and improving my form, speed and strength. I have specific time goals and have incorporated speed and track workouts (something I didn’t do pre-injury). I’m now almost 2 minutes per mile faster than pre-injury. I also look at the whole picture of fitness. This includes diet (especially for recovery) and continues to include maintaining/improving my core strength with classes at The Energy Lab. It’s a key to injury prevention.

As bad as my injury was and as horrible as I felt during my recovery, my lemonade is that it made me more focused and goal-oriented. I now look to continually improve.

One aspect I have neglected is working on mental toughness and strength. When the going gets tough, I tend to hold back. I don’t push as much as I know my body is capable of pushing. I don’t quit but I also don’t go all out. It’s what is holding me back in races. It’s now a focus for me and will be a part of next year’s story.

++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++i want to live a life worth writing about

Here is my story for your anniversary story collection. I hope that, between the lines, you can find gratitude for the change the Energy Lab has set into motion for me.

Happy 4th Anniversary and cheers to many more to come!

Andrea B.


My story is still being written; but this is how it starts: Some of my earliest memories involve a struggle with physical challenges. There was the tantrum in the “mommy and me” class where I refused to go down the slide, anticipating certain death. There are the numerous times when my parents had to rescue me from play-structures. There are the tennis lessons where I failed to hit the ball, the gymnastics classes where I was terrified of jumping over hurdles, the double diamond ski slopes that induced utter terror. Running around the track was torture as the coaches somehow expected me to keep up with the best of them. During dodge-ball games I would hide behind friends, terrified of the flying object aimed at me … and on and on it goes. Physical fitness was conceptualized as involving quick movements and coordination. My continued dislike and failure to succeed in these activities shaped the persona I developed around athleticism – one of fear, failure and utter dislike.

It wasn’t until I moved to the United States and was exposed to the gym culture that I thought to give exercise another try. I learned that I do well when I can set my own goals, work at my own pace and grow from that point. I loved running at the beach, enjoying the breeze, and challenging myself to go just a bit farther each time. I loved hiking. It was through this solitary practice that I learned to appreciate what my body could actually do for me. No peer judgment, no worries about being picked last for the team. Just me and my body, getting acquainted through movement.

One year ago I discovered the Energy Lab. The Positive Mental Attitude that accompanies each workout added a whole new dimension to growing stronger. I no longer approach exercise as being about only physical strength but now focus on mental strength as well. The workouts encourage me to evaluate my inner voice about what my body can and can’t do.  Let’s face it, I remain clumsy and uncoordinated but that no longer means that I can’t be strong and push my body into new directions. As I came to embrace exercise as a fluid process of ups and downs, something else became apparent: The Energy Lab has pushed me beyond solitary workouts and shown me that I can be part of a team, that exercising can be a group effort and that I can feel supported within this group.

Just after I joined the Energy Lab family last year, many of the members were gearing up for a Mud Run. I was intrigued but too uncertain still to participate. I set the goal to be able to participate in the Mud Run the following year. That time is now: I am looking forward to getting muddy with my fellow Energy Lab friends, and more than words can express, I appreciate the ability to honor my body with its strengths and limitations without judgment. To be continued….


My story, well, I’m not really sure where to begin...all I can say is that I am much happier than I used to be and I know the Energy Lab is one of the reasons that I’m healthier and have a lot more energy. As a kid, I always had a passion for soccer and that kept me pretty active all through high school. Even though I was active, I have never felt that I was thin or fit enough and I never felt that comfortable with my body. In fact, I struggled with my weight for years. When I did lose weight, it would not last for long and I found myself repeating the same cycle over and over. Around four years ago something changed, I decided it was time to get my life under control and to get serious about losing weight and improving my long term health. That's when Jill walked into my salon and had a very encouraging talk with me and my coworkers and introduced us to the Energy Lab!
We all started at the Energy Lab as a group on Mondays for a six week challenge. We had a great time and I finally realized how rewarding and fun a good workout can be. After those six weeks, I was hooked! Before the Energy Lab, I dreaded working out because I always felt embarrassed and compared myself to people at those other gyms. But the Energy Lab is different; Jill and her staff helped me understand that there was no reason to be embarrassed or to make excuses. They turned exercise into an achievable and fulfilling habit, something that I look forward to doing regularly, not because I want a better body or just to lose weight, but because it makes me a happier, healthier person.
Jill and the rest of the Energy Lab staff taught me that there is no such thing as “can’t”. I have a much more positive outlook about my fitness level and health. The Energy Lab has provided the kind of encouragement that helps me improve, even if it's just a little bit, everyday. I can genuinely say I'm happier now and I love that I can be an example to my friends and family. The Energy Lab is a part of my lifestyle. This place has helped me become much more confident with my body and my abilities, giving me the courage and knowledge to set big goalhistory needs your storys and challenge myself everyday.
Thanks for everything Jill.
I did add some pictures, crazy how i can see a difference through the years. ~ Dani B.

The last time we were asked to share our story, I chickened out. After reading the brave stories that were shared within our Energy Lab family, I realized what a wonderful opportunity I had missed. Determined not to make the same mistake again, I am putting my story out there knowing that I will be a better person for it. We all have many stories, but my Energy Lab story began about 6 years ago ...


In the spring of 2009, I was living on my own, in my first apartment; I was working in the Diagnostic Lab at Loma Linda Medical Center and I was tired!! No matter how much sleep I got, it never seemed to be enough. I can recall one time, after returning home from my 8 hour shift, I fell asleep on the couch (scrubs still on) and did not wake up until the following morning. Upon leaving my apartment for work the following morning, I discovered that I had left my keys in the lock ... all night!!

Along with the overwhelming fatigue, I was always cold. Once summer arrived, I remember when my little apartment approached almost 90 degrees inside ...and I was finally 'comfortable.' I also noted a strange rash on the backside of my forearms. At this point I'd been spinning for 5 years. Since moving to Redlands, I was now taking spin classes at the local LA Fitness, where I first met Jill. I brushed off this strange rash as nothing more than a contact dermatitis I had picked up from leaning on the handlebars in spin class. But by this point, my weight had started to creep up and I had no explanation other than I must have been sleeping too much.

The day that I knew something was wrong came a few weeks later. As I was settling in for one of my marathon nap sessions, I felt like there was a marble rolling around the back of my throat. I attempted to clear my throat by drinking some water, but the sensation would not go away. I also began to lose unusual amounts of hair. Let me say, we all lose small amounts of hair when we wash and brush our hair. The amount that I was losing was significantly larger than my norm. By this point, I was in a full blown panic, and I mentioned something to my mom (who is coincidentally a nurse). She told me to call and schedule an appointment with whoever could see me the following day, as she suspected I had an issue with my thyroid. For those of you who aren't familiar with your thyroid gland ... it's located in your neck, and is responsible for your metabolism, hormone balance and temperature regulation, among other things. Basically, when your thyroid is functioning properly, your body and all of its systems live in peace and harmony.

I called and got an appointment with a PA named Travis. When he met with me in the exam room, he asked me what was going on and based on what I had told him, he said to me very condescendingly "Let me guess. You think you have a thyroid problem." My icy response was "I don't know what my problem is ..." He did a quick physical exam of my throat, feeling for the size and shape of my thyroid I suppose. At one point, he stopped and focused on the right side of my throat and said to me "I just might believe you." I had 2-3 nodules on my thyroid and now he was interested in my case and what I had to say. He gave me referrals for blood tests as well as an ultrasound of my thyroid. He also wanted to see me the following week to get a biopsy of whatever rash was growing on the back of both forearms. This Travis fellow did not make a good impression, so I scheduled with a doctor in Dermatology for my biopsy instead. Once the biopsy results came back, the Dermatologist told me that the rash on the back of my arms was usually only found in patients with thyroid issues, which was confusing to me since all of my blood work had come back "normal."

A few weeks later, when I had my thyroid ultrasound, it was confirmed that I did indeed have nodules on both sides of my thyroid, however the right side was far more significant than the left. These findings got me a referral for an ultrasound guided thyroid biopsy, which was one of the worst experiences of my life! When the actual biopsy began, the pain was unbearable. I lied still on the OR table while doctors inserted large hollow needles through my neck an into my thyroid, taking samples of the various nodules. Forty-five minutes later, I was sent home with a band-aid on my throat.

The following week, someone called to let me know that I had been referred to an ENT who would go over my results. The biopsy results had found hurthle cells inside of the thyroid nodules on the right side; the left nodules appeared to be benign. The ENT explained that hurthle cells in the thyroid will eventually manifest into one of 2 things - thyroid cancer or a condition called Hashimoto's Thyroiditis, which is a type of autoimmune disease that causes your immune system to attack and destroy your thyroid gland. It was clear that the nodules on my thyroid were interfering with my thyroid function, and I was told that my thyroid had to come out - Surgery was my only option. I was relieved that I finally all my issues had a root cause ; I felt validated. However, I was terrified of having the surgery ... my throat was about to be sliced open!!

The day of my surgery, my ENT (who was also my surgeon) explained t o me that the right side would definitely be coming out; the left was a little iffy. During my surgery, he would take another biopsy of the nodules in the left side of my thyroid. If the biopsy was in fact benign, he planned to leave the left side of my thyroid in, with the hopes that it would compensate for the missing right half. This would keep me from requiring to take medication for the rest of my life. After my surgery, only the right half of my thyroid was removed. The biopsy on the left side was benign and my only job at that point was to rest.

Fast forward 4 weeks - I was at my second post-op visit. I had done another round of blood work and to be honest, I still didn't feel great. Don't get me wrong, surgery of any kind takes a lot out of you, but as far as my energy levels go, I was expecting to feel a significant improvement a month after my surgery. Unfortunately, I was still tired and cold. My ENT told me that blood tests showed the left side of my thyroid had not stepped in to compensate for the missing right half. In fact, the left side had actually shut down. I had virtually no thyroid function and my blood tests showed that I now had full blown hypothyroidism; I would have to be on thyroid meds for the rest of my life. I think the doctor was more upset about the meds than I was.

My care was turned over to an Endocrinologist (who I love) to help me attempt to balance my systems out and find my new normal. My new doctor wanted more blood work. What he discovered right away is that I was taking the wrong medication. He explained to me that my current medication (Synthroid) was comparable to depositing money into the bank, however my body was missing the ATM code to actually withdrawal and use the money. He changed my medication to a natural thyroid and within a few weeks, I started to feel better. My energy levels weren't where I wanted them, but there was a significant improvement and I was grateful. Following my surgery, the rash on my arms cleared up right away and my hair stopped falling out. However, my monthly cycle was all over the place and I had developed acne, from the shock my hormones took following my surgery. I had to see a specialist for each individual issue to get things running normally again. The final issue I struggled with was getting my weight back down. This entire ordeal had destroyed my metabolism and despite the fact that I was taking thyroid medication, the weight I had put on was not coming off. No matter what I ate or how much I exercised, my weight didn't budge. If anything, it continued to slowly increase.

Despite my frustration, I continued to spin with Jill at LA Fitness. Her Sunday classes were the best part of my week. She was always so positive and made class so enjoyable. She had a positive energy that was contagious; it was clear she loved what she did! Emotionally and physically, I always left class feeling better than when I arrived. Then one Sunday, she announced to the class that she would be opening up her own studio and that she would no longer be teaching at LA Fitness. I have to be honest, I was crushed. But I felt so strongly that no one else could properly fill her shoes, I decided to give her new studio a try.

The first spin class I took at Jill's new studio, The Energy Lab, was odd to say the least. There were only a handful of students in her first few classes, most of them familiar faces from LA Fitness. However, Jill was just a passionate about her class of 4 as she was about her class of 40 - her positive energy never wavered. And I have to say, my first time on the bike in Jill's studio was a real wake-up call. Her new bikes were so much harder to ride than those found at LA Fitness - it's impossible to cheat on them; I know because I tried to during my first class. You have to earn your ride on Jill's bike.

As word of mouth spread, Jill's classes grew in popularity and Saturday's Breakthrough grew so popular, we had to start sharing bikes. As a community, Jill introduced us to the TRX, Jungshin, and Viper training, among other things. I had started to form bonds with many of the people in class; we were all in this together and only they could understand the significance of a class called Breakthrough. I had found a second family at The Energy Lab, where the focus isn't changing from the outside in ... but changing from the inside out.

Today, I am physically stronger than I have ever been. I'm still working on getting my body back in balance, but I now realize that it's not going to happen overnight ... after all, it's taken me years to get to THIS point. I'm still adjusting to life without a functioning thyroid, but I have accepted that this is my new normal. I just have to find ways to adjust my lifestyle to live the best life that I can, and that lifestyle includes The Energy Lab. When you walk into The Energy Lab, you're in a place where there's no judgment and no tension; you're surrounded by positive energy and encouragement. I have found a wonderful support system in my Energy Lab family. I can honestly say, it is because of my Jill, and my Energy Lab family, that I did not give up on myself a long time ago. They all believed in me when I did not believe in myself , and I will be forever grateful! PMA really is contagious!! ~Angela A.


My Story

 And then I turned 40…..

My story of fitness and a healthy lifestyle started several years ago. I can remember the details as if it was just the other day even though it has been a few years.

I was working in an environment that had me stressed out and I was unhappy. My priorities had been all about climbing the corporate ladder and working for that next promotion. I had realized that my career had become more important to me than spending time with my family and taking care of myself. I had it all planned out perfectly in my mind but nothing had turned out the way I had envisioned.

The goal was to be headlong in my career success, have the perfect family and to be in the best shape of my life by the time I was 40 years old. And then I turned 40…

On my 40th birthday I looked in the mirror and realized how miserable I was at work and that the athletic mindset and body I once had were decades behind me. I knew I had to do something. It was up to me to get motivated. I had to make the decision. I wasn’t going to wake up one morning and suddenly have all of this newfound gumption.

I left that company I was working for and began a new path. The two owners of the company I had started working for had been going to The Energy Lab for about a year and would tell me about it almost every day. They talked about it constantly and began to invite me. It turns out it was just the push I needed.

I began to think about going to The Energy Lab quite a bit. I remember talking with my wife about it and telling her this was my opportunity. I was ready but I also knew that if I was “in” I had to be “all in”. No going half way.

I began training at The Energy Lab three years ago this month. I started off with personal training two days a week, then three and then attending Breakthrough as well. I was hooked! I was addicted! It is the best addiction I have ever had.

tiny storiesI enjoy the atmosphere and the community greatly. What’s more is I dropped 40 pounds that first year with the combination of training and a changed diet. If I miss a day at The Lab I feel as if I’ve played hooky from school…like I have called in sick from work when I’m not really sick. My day isn’t complete without time at The Lab.

Now I’m 45 and feel like I’m in the best shape, physically and mentally, of my life!

Jason P.


October 2013 April 2015 So I know you wanted a paragraph of our experience today, but I felt it was time to give you that before and after picture you had requested months ago! You shared a bit of your transformation with me a few days ago, in which I was so honored to get glimpse of, and because of that I felt it was definitely time to have the courage to look back at pictures before I came to the energy lab.(I really didn't have many pictures to choose from, at that time I really tried hard to hide when pics were being taken!) The picture on the left was taken in October of 2013, that was the picture that made me realize how much weight I had really gained after having Jax. I was horrified that the pounds weren't coming off like it had for some of my other friends who had just had babies. I had always enjoyed exercise, but being a new mom I found myself not able to figure out how make time for exercise. I felt guilty, like I would be selfish if I left my baby for hour to workout. So I put it off, put it off, and put it off. It wasn't until that December 2013 that I randomly walked into The Energy Lab and my life was changed forever! Sean was so welcoming and encouraging. I got the feeling that The Energy Lab was something really special. This was the place I'd been looking for but didn't even know it!Alissa Before and After I actually started taking classes at the end of Jan. 2014 because I had to have a small surgery done earlier in the month so I was just waiting to heal so I could start my journey at The energy lab. My first class was your Monday night TRX, and well I've been hooked ever since!! It was the most unique, fun and butt kicking workout I had ever had! I decided I wanted that feeling all the time! I felt like my mind and body were both saying "yes finally!" I gained more and more courage to try more classes and continued to love every class I took. Now here I am today I've lost 35 lbs and I've just completed by first triathlon and medaled! What?!? I couldn't believe how at easy I felt during the triathlon today. There was not one time where I felt like I couldn't do it! I felt power and strength coming from within, that was exhilarating!! I kept hearing your motivating and inspiring voice from Tuesday night cycle, I was in the zone. I would never have know how to get into that zone if it weren't for you Jill! I've learned things about myself that have truly changed me for the good. Instead of those past guilty feelings of leaving Jax to workout, I have confident feelings knowing that I've become a better mom because I care about my well being. I've made friendships at the energy lab that I treasure immensely. What a beautiful place you have created Jill. I am truly in awe of you. Thank you for all you do, I always feel like you teach class without the "stresses of life" holding you's like what you tell us to do when we come to class..."it's your time to escape for the next hour." You are a true example of a woman of power, compassion, integrity and wisdom. I feel truly blessed to be a part of The Energy Lab Family! Love, Alissa J.


long quote, sweet pictureMy story for the Energy Lab

My story starts in Holland, where I grew up. My life was awesome, being a girl with 2 brothers and lots of kids living in the same street on a quiet cul- du- sac, we roller-skated, rode bikes, we ice skated but most of all we played badmitton. Hours and hours after dinner, specially in the summer when it is light till 11 PM. We ate lots of cheese, grew our own lettuce and carrots. My mom cooked every day and baked bread. There were no processed foods. My mom was actually very ahead of the times by making us eat an orange every day and 2 vegetables, she used supplements and homeopathic remedies. I had chronic bronchitis and was sick a lot ….I was a bookworm!!! When I was 13 I was ice skating and my skate got stuck in a crack in the ice resulting in me twisting my knee and tearing my meniscus. Surgery soon followed and in those days (the early 70’s) it was custom to remove the meniscus followed by 6 weeks with some sort of a cast…. YIKES!!!!! More about the results of this “procedure” later in my story.

The body is a miraculous thing and my life continued and I healed. I had a career as a restaurant consultant, which means I was running 5 restaurants in down town Maastricht and walked around town on high heels on cobble stones. A glamorous look was definitely more important than sensible shoes but in your 20’s you can handle this life style. I also took up running and loved a good 10K run. A greater distance always resulted in little stress fractures here and there so I was happy to just do what I was doing.

At age 30 a life changing event took place. While vacationing in California I met my soulmate Bruce! You Americans always love a good love story so I will include it. I had been in the wine country and was heading back to my friend’s house in Huntington Beach. I was sitting on the plane and Bruce walked in…..he had been on a business trip and was dressed in a 3 piece suit and he looked fabulous !Now remember, I came from my high heeled lifestyle and was thorougly disgusted by the shorts and flip-flops beachy lifestyle here in CA, so a well dressed man was a welcome sight. We chatted, I wasn’t going to let this opportunity slip by and we went to dinner and to make a long story short we were married 6 months later. We lived in Belmont Shore for a while where we biked a lot and walked the beach. We have always been interested in food and we love to cook and enjoy eating . Seeing people stuffing food in their faces while driving was something so new to me, that is NOT enjoying a meal, that is just stuffing your face.It was also ahuge change for me to live here where in supermarkets you are surrounded by processed food and to have a fast food restaurant on every corner. Bruce’s family never ate fast food and were very health conscious and much to their amusement I HAD to try these places. NEVER in my life have I been so disappointed then when I tried McDonalds BBQ Sandwich, it was nasty. Till now I have never been to JackintheBox because Bruce renamed it BarfintheBox and I couldn’t get past that. I also had to try frozen meals…..YIKES…..gross! So in our own way we live pretty healthy, we cook and eat balanced meals, organic whenever possible.

We moved to Lake Arrowhead to start a life in real estate and we loved being in the mountains. Our daughters Erika and Kelli were both born there. I nursed my girls of course and actually had to drive “down the hill” to buy organic baby food. One day Erika was over at a friend’s house and the mom called me in a panic asking me what she could eat for a snack. When she had asked Erika what she wanted she had opted for some smoked eel and maybe some pate! Erika came home all excited that she had “crunchy cheesy things and little sausage’s” a.k.a.hotdogs. Gotta admit….I did feed them McDonalds nuggets too, sometimes you just have to give in.

The real estate office we worked for had a membership for all of us at the health club at the Hilton hotel in Lake Arrowhead and that was my first experience in a gym !!!!! There were no classes but I loved the rowing machine and the idea of being in a gym where people try to be strong and healthy and to take that time to take care of oneself, I really enjoyed that notion.

We have been in Redlands for 15 years now and of course the only gym option was LA Fitness and we have continued our quest for health over the years too. Much to my surprise our daughters are athletes (thank God for Bruce’s genes) and they inspire me.

Then came the day I was introduced to The Energy Lab by a friend who insisted I take a Melt class with Jill. I was having issues with my hip, my back, shooting pain in my leg and just a feeling of BLAH. That Melt class was like a light bulb going off in my head, it was an AHA moment. I needed to evaluate, I needed to make adjustments, I needed to make changes, I needed to DO something new and I joined The Energy Lab. The day after my 54th birthday was my first Pilates class and it sucked big time. Maybe the result of a few martini’s the night before ? I was intimidated by all the real athletes who were working out beside me and I really didn’t feel I belonged. But I continued on and discovered TRX and loved it, I got stronger. I hooked up with Raelena and together we won the “Lose 10 lb with a Friend Challenge”. This experience introduced me to Shakeology. I was on a roll. Jill invited David Dorian Ross to the Energy Lab to do a TaijiFit demonstration and I was hooked. I loved it so much that when the Certification Class was offered I took it and WOW….here I was all of sudden a Taiji instructor. It is my favorite work out, my meditation, my ME time. I feel my life has gotten a deeper meaning, a deeper feeling of contentment and health. Aging is a fascinating process and something was creeping up on me, last year my hip gave out and I had to have a hip replacement, The recovery was uneventful and I feel fabulous now, the hip works beautifully. Unfortunately my knee has now decided to work against me. The knee with the surgically removed meniscus needs to be replaced, doctors theorize that I have been overcompensating with my hip and now with the new hip the old knee is unable to keep up. The surgeon told me that 99.9% of people who had meniscus surgery in the 70’s will need a knee replacement. I am bummed but I know I am going to bounce back! After this surgery a few work out sessions with Jill will get me on the road to full recovery. I need to take this time again to evaluate, to adjust and to make some changes again and as part of the Energy Lab community there is always a person who inspires you, some one who picks you up, a smile and a giggle, a sweaty work out, we lift each other up and I do feel we make the world a better place…..we create the best version of ourselves!

Thanks to Jill and Sean,

My Story by Marja D.


The Next Chapter… by Cindy L.

Over the past few weeks, I’ve struggled to write the next chapter because I didn’t know where to go in my story. Mainly because it’s still just as scary as last year to open up and put your heart on paper for others to read. So where am I a year later? I find myself still in the process of making this life the best it can be. I’ve discovered deeper meanings to things that I was numb to before. Last year’s story was how life started and how I learned the ways of a healthy lifestyle. This chapter is about the background story to that life…it has impacted me more than I realized over the last year. It is the deeper reasons of why I do the things I do, why I exercise and make time for myself a priority.

The beginning of 2015 started out great, I was truly at one of my fitness peaks and ready for what the New Year had in store. But I was blindsided by an injury. It happened having fun in fitcore one night, I felt the pop in my calf almost like someone had kicked me. There was only Carrie to my left and she didn’t then my next step my leg couldn’t support my weight. Oh the word bubbles in my head… “Oh S***, this can’t be happening, Walk it off. You’re fine.” But I definitely was not fine and walking was a challenge. I tore my calf muscle and was put into a walking boot. It could have been a lot worse injury and I’m thankful that it wasn’t. So what did I do? I kept moving. I had to. Movement has much more of a deeper meaning to me because I’ve seen what happens when it stops. It stopped for my Dad a long time ago when he first got sick. All the pieces have been coming together over the last few months and are leading me here to this story. I came back from the Institute of Motion Anatomy Trains with such a deeper definition of movement and motion. That experience stirred up so many more emotions about my family life than I wanted to accept and it was hard to process. I tried to escape to my workouts but being in the boot and hurt, I couldn’t truly get to my happy place on the bike. I had to be cognizant of all my moves. It didn’t come natural to workout in a boot and a friend back home reminded me that those were not meant to workout in. I began to get angry. “You should stop and let yourself heal,” she told me. Movement and motion are essential parts of my being. I didn’t want to stop. I also couldn’t cope with the first anniversary of my Dad’s death the same way as I had the year before. Pushing myself in my workouts at the Energy Lab was the only thing that numbed the pain last year. I couldn’t cycle and escape temporarily. All things happen for a reason and maybe I needed to experience these emotions this time. It lead me to journal more and put deeper meaning to exercise for me. I watched my Dad loose his mobility over many years…he stopped and gave up. I don’t want that to happen to me.

I’m going to share a snap shot of life for us. You don’t have to read it (skip to page 4 for conclusion) as I’ve already rambled on quite a bit but somehow this is where my thoughts keep leading me to this story. The only way was through it…like a workout it has made me stronger, more compassionate, more in tune with life and relating to people.

I watched motion stop for my Dad about 17 years ago. I was in middle school when he had knee replacement surgery that he never woke up the same from. He went into a deep depression that at times had him suicidal and fearful of being left alone. He then was diagnosed with cancer in 2004 and then it reoccurred in 2009. My mom and I took turns taking him to chemo on our off days. At this time, I had graduated nursing school and was working nights. Doing that started taking a toll on my body and that’s when my workouts and healthy eating started to slip. The days I taught spin was really my only workout days. A year later Dad’s cancer was stable on chemo and I decided to go back to school to work on my Master’s for Nurse Practitioner. Soon after starting the program, my Mom had some health issues that landed her in the hospital for surgery. So there I was working, taking Dad to chemo and taking care of Mom too. I got a little burnt out to say the least. But made it through. Everyone recovered and I got a semblance of a life back. I had finished that semester of NP school but told the program I needed to take some time off. I ended up taking a lot of time off. During this time, I still taught a spin class a couple times a week and started working out more again. I found that piece of me again that needed to exercise to relieve all the stress around me. During that time I found my race spark again! Then randomly reconnected with a friend that was in LLU’s PA program and she said I needed to look into the program. Well as you can see I got into the program and here I am.

It was a struggle to leave home but I felt stuck there and wanted a change and it was only 2 years and I’d be home. At the time Dad’s health was stable and off to CA I went. When I came home for Christmas, I was shocked to see how rapidly he had declined in 3 months. Basically he was wheelchair and bed bound. While I was home for Christmas, we decided Hospice care would be the best option.

My Mom called me the night of Jan 24th 2014 to say that she did not think that Dad was doing so well. I called the hospice nurse to get a nurse’s opinion – nurse to nurse…and she said “you should come home sooner than later” not at all what I wanted to hear. We did Skype on Monday the 27th, so I could see him for myself. I didn’t like what I saw that afternoon. I needed to sweat to help clear my head so I went to TRX class that night. I was in tears as I drove home from class because I just didn’t know what to do. A call from a friend that night had me booking a flight for the next morning. Mom was glad the nurse was home. There were times he was awake enough to say, “There’s my girl.” He knew I was home. By Friday, he was just mumbling. We were at his bedside Saturday when he passed. When his breathing paused I had to do the hardest thing yet, to tell Mom “this is it.” I had done it many times as a nurse but this time plays over and over in my head. I checked for a pulse and he was gone. The days following were a blur.

When I came back to California…I still felt numb for a long time. Working out was the only thing that eased that pain. The community of the Energy Lab was my therapy, sweating was the best medicine I could take. There were ups and downs but I knew that I had to keep moving forward. I didn’t want to get stuck, I didn’t want to stop, or ever give up. This is probably way too much of a story being shared. But this is me and this is why I do the things I do. That’s why I push my body to the limits for my Dad because he couldn’t. So this is my next chapter. Last year that story was still too raw for me to share.

So yes I am that crazy person (that some may call me) that came to classes at the studio wearing a boot on my leg. During that time, I needed the community more than the workouts dealing with the emotions that came. I got through it and I know I’m stronger for it. And yes I’m still the crazy one that does two-a-day workouts when I can. I have big goals to conquer on my list and my mantra right now is “unstoppable”! Lessons learned over the last year: You can’t let setbacks control your life. It’s still just putting one foot in front of the other even if there’s a limp. I’m out to make the best version of myself that I can. Only because you never know what life is going to hand you. So it’s nice to have a body capable of handling it. Consistency pays off!

your story makes you specialWhere am I now? I got to race again a few weeks ago in the PossAbilities sprint triathlon. It was fun to have a big group of friends from the Lab out on the course and to see them giving it there all. Those are the moments that all your hard work and training pays off. The extra perk was crossing the finish line together with Alissa and tying for first place. That was the best feeling of accomplishment. I wasn’t out to medal that day just to have the best race I could and leave it all out on the course. The same feeling was surging through me during the Race day at the end of periodization training last week. Those endorphins during the ride are what makes training worth it. I love these quotes. "Race day isn't the challenging part. It's the REWARD for the months of hard work while you were training.” “Endurance begins when everyone else has given up and you're in competition with yourself, that's endurance.” So until next year…keep moving!


not the endingA year has passed since I wrote my initial story of how Jill Rooks, Sean Rooks, the Energy Lab and the Energy Lab Community has changed my life.  The experience of being a part of the Energy Lab community keeps evolving and growing.
The past year has been very challenging for me.  My sister was diagnosed with ALS about a year and a half ago. In the past year since writing my initial story, her disease has progressed tremendously.  It was still relatively new when I wrote last May - my sister was still self mobile, albeit with a walker or scooter.  A year later she is now full-time in a wheel chair, unable to care for herself.  I have committed to spending one full day each weekend to help her anyway I can since I work full-time during the week.  The day with my sister is very physical, helping lift her in and out of bed, into her wheel chair, helping her with showering, dressing, eating, shopping, really just anything she needs.  It's very hard watching the progression happen and the day-to-day struggles that she experiences. I wish there was more that I could do to help her be more comfortable.
The reason I share this and how it relates to the Energy Lab is the support I get from Jill, Sean, trainers, interns and all my friends at the Energy Lab.  I appreciate Jill so much, always reminding us that we need to put the work in.  I know I must stick to my work out schedule as best as I can because of the physicality involved with helping my sister.  I must continue to build my strength in order to be as helpful as I can during my weekly visits.  In addition, all the challenges that Jill creates for us, like periodization, #twobadbodies, mud runs, etc. help me stay mentally challenged to get through these tough times.  But probably the biggest thing that I appreciate from being part of the Energy Lab is the sincere support and friendship from so many.  I have made some pretty close friendships with many like-minded women who are just a joy to spend time with.  This all helps me continue to be a better version of myself.  The mantra of continuous learning and improving oneself I get from being a part of the Energy Lab family.
One other BIG thing that has happened this year is my hubby, Cory finally getting it:)  Finally it clicking that you need to first take care of yourself first to be the best you can be in all facets of your life.  I can say he is now a REGULAR at the Energy Lab.  He has consistently committed and pre-scheduled four day a week workouts.  I am so proud of him.  I will take part of the credit by not giving up on inviting him to join me…. but most of the credit goes to Jill and Sean for always encouraging him whenever he walked through the door.  And Paul, who I think Cory likes being buds with - he has a blast at Paul's Tabata classes (woo-hoo).  And the Energy Lab community for always welcoming him with open arms.
Happy 4th Anniversary to the Energy Lab!  Jill and Sean, thank you so much for all you do for all of us.  You both are amazing and very special individuals.  I cannot express how thankful I am to be a part of something so special! ~Laura N.