Breakthrough Spotlight – Colleen Shugerman

Breakthrough Spotlight

Colleen Shugerman

Our Breakthrough Spotlight Member for December is Colleen AKA Coco Shugerman! Coco just completed her first Tactical Strength Challenge and did an amazing job!  She shared how being stronger physically has changed her life in many ways, and given her the best mantra ever – “I CAN!”

BREAKTHROUGH:  Thank you for sitting down with us and being our Spotlight member for December, Coco… I guess I should say Colleen so people know your name, not just your nickname! I am so excited to chat with you because you just did the TSC for the first time and that is usually a huge moment for people when they do it.  But I want to start a little before that. You’ve been training with us for about 8 months or so… How were you feeling before you started and what brought you in to Breakthrough in the first place?

COCO:  To be honest, it was because I wanted to lose weight.  I wasn’t happy with my weight and I knew I was tired.  I just didn’t have enough strength and energy.  But quickly after I came here, I realized that it wasn’t weight.  You know, it was everything else I got from coming. But, definitely, it was that I wanted to lose weight.  I didn’t want to be stronger, I didn’t want to be mentally better.  I didn’t want to be anything other than skinnier.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Right, and you just talked about you need to buy new pants because they are too big.  Ha, Ha! But what shifted for you?

COCO:  You know, it’s kind of like you come to the gym, and yeah, you want to get stronger and you want to do all these things. But I guess it was toward the end of summer, I realized that a lot of it was in my head. You know?  I could do these things that, if you had shown them to me when I first came, I would have said no way can I never do any of that stuff.  I could never lift that, move that way, or bend that way.  And then I started taking that idea with me when I left.  Oh yes, I can do things.  I started realizing the things I was doing to myself in my head – like the negative thoughts or the bad things. Realizing that this carried on to every day life.  I can’t even put it into words –  it’s just this mental, emotional feeling that you get when see the things you can do.  And then you just start to see your body changing. Not even like, I have lost ten pounds.  It is like my body is shaped differently!  I did that!

BREAKTHROUGH:  Yeah!  That is so cool!  That’s why we do what we do.  When we realize what we can do physically, we realize that we can do stuff that maybe we didn’t think we could do throughout life.  Maybe we are more capable than we give ourselves credit for.  So then with the TSC, what made you want to sign up for that?


COCO:  I didn’t want to sign up for it!  I was scared because I had never done a snatch before.  I had done a little bit of deadlifting.  It just sounded scary – the Tactical Strength Challenge!


COCO:  It just sounds like there is no way I can do it.  But then Coach RT said, “I am signing you up.”  I said OK, I will do it.   I will do it.  I didn’t think I would be able to do that – at all!  And then you hear everybody talking about it and everybody says it is great! But these people have been here for a while and have been working out for years… I didn’t think I could do it at all!  But it was life changing!  Totally.  I remember before I’d leave after a workout, I would talk to Coach Caleb sometimes, and he said it will change you as an athlete.  It will change you as a person.   I thought, yeah, whatever.  Of course, he is going to say that.  They want you to sign up for it and do it with them and participate.  He was right!  He was totally right!  I mean there were times when we were training in the team practice when I deadlifted a weight I had never lifted before.  I would put the barbell down and I would cry! I didn’t want to cry in front of everybody because I would be embarrassed, but I could feel the tears welling up in my eyes. Like, oh my god, I did that. Whoa!  Amazing! It was incredible!

BREAKTHROUGH:  Oh, yeah, it is.  That is so great! I had no idea you were feeling all the feels!

COCO:  I mentioned it to somebody, and they said, oh no, people have cried before.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Oh, yeah!  People get emotional!

COCO:  It is just – I have never felt that feeling like – I am lifting something heavier than I have ever lifted before.  But I DID that!  I did that with every ounce of everything I have in me to lift this heavy weight.  And like I keep doing more and keep doing more.  It is just crazy what it does to you.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Yeah! The reason we encourage people to try – when they are ready – and we knew you were – to try something like the TSC is because it is totally different to have a date on a calendar and be working with a team when you know, on this day, we are all going to get together and see what we can do.  It’s not the same feeling as just coming into the gym on Mondays and Wednesdays to do your thing. It is not the same feeling. It is a different type of commitment. It feels different.  I am glad that you had that experience.  I can tell you are different from it.

COCO:  Yeah.  One thing I want to say, too, is for me, I am not really self- conscious, I just don’t like to be in groups of people. But this is more personal. That is why I love this setting and I liked it from the beginning.  I was able to get the personal training but with a group of people, so that eased me into not being afraid to work out in front of people. The other thing is with the TSC, I was worried because team stuff isn’t really my thing, but everybody was amazing!  Everybody was just encouraging and it was great watching people do the same thing that you’re doing.  They are getting PRs and they are encouraging you.  And that, to me was one of the best parts of it, the team aspect.  I didn’t realize it would be that way. I am just such a loner. Such a – I will do it myself, I will go shopping by myself, I will go to the gym by myself. But that was amazing!

BREAKTHROUGH:  I am the same way.  I am definitely more introverted and while I like people, I don’t tend to seek out team environments.  My instinct is to do what you are talking about and do things on my own.  But I think when you experience what that can do for you, it does elevate you.  If you don’t have that environment, you are not going to get certain elements.  If I didn’t do things like the TSC and have that team, I don’t think I would have the deadlift that I have or be able to do as many snatches as I did.  There is something about that energy that elevates you to be your best.

COCO:  Like there were times when I would lift something and, if it wasn’t for the people around me going, “Come on, Coco.  You can do it! Come on.  Come on!”  First of all, it is overwhelming, all that positivity, right?


COCO:  You aren’t used to it!  That is not how you live your everyday life. Not that I surround myself with negative people, but you just don’t naturally have that positive encouragement all around you on a general basis.   So, when you are around those kinds of people, you are like, “You know what? Heck yeah! I can do this!” There is no way I would have been able to deadlift the heaviest I have ever deadlifted without the people encouraging me, which is everybody that was there.  The family, the friends.  And you are doing the same thing for them. It is incredible.


BREAKTHROUGH:  It is pretty amazing what happens when people want you to succeed. You know?

COCO:  I guess we get so used to the competition mind-set in everyday life. At work you are competing for the next best position or the boss’s attention or the next big account. You don’t get that here.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Sure! There is plenty of strength to go around! The more the better.  The other thing we like people to share is their reason for doing this or their “why?”  What is your why, your deeper reason for doing all of this?

COCO:  That is a good one.  To be honest, my why was a little bit vain.  I was tired of being chunky.  I wasn’t happy with my weight.  The thing that keeps me coming, what is my why now, has completely changed. I am proving to myself that I can do it. That applies to pretty much anything. I can get up at 5:30 in the morning.  I can say no when something upsets me at work.  I can set boundaries for myself in my life.  I can, I can, I can, I can.  Which is not something I have really been able to do my whole life.  So, to be able to get that from something that strength has given me – that is my why.

BREAKTHROUGH:  That is amazing.

COCO:  I can  – fill in the blank.  Whatever it is.


COCO:  Sometimes I get to the point where I get so stressed out, I just say screw this, whatever it is.  Then I go – No. I can.  And I have the ability to do that because, you know what, I actually can! Which is amazing. Especially at my age.  I am not old or anything like that, but I am at the age where I can actually see decades of my life in the past and I can see that I have decades of my life in front of me.  So, I am at the weird phase of my life where I have never felt so good – ever.  I feel like I am 20 in my body!


COCO:  I was dancing when I was younger, so I feel like I have that energy.  I am walking up the stairs instead of the elevator and I am taking the long way.  Like OK, I will go get it and will run down the block.  Whatever it is! I feel amazing. I can. I can do whatever I want.  Whatever I set my mind to.

BREAKTHROUGH:  That is the most powerful thing ever!  To know that you can do whatever you choose to do.

COCO:  And to actually know it. That is the thing.  I can, I can, I can. That can be my mantra to wake up every morning. Put a little sticky on my mirror.

BREAKTHROUGH:  I know! I can see the words floating through the air! I can. It’s great!

COCO:  It’s an amazing feeling. And you guys have been amazing.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Oh, thank you!

COCO:  Everybody here at the gym is great.  Everybody is wonderful, and you guys are just so encouraging.  You listen.  One thing I love about you guys is – and I realized this right away – you go to other gyms and trainers might be like, “yeah, pump iron, go as fast as you can.  Yeah, you can do it.  Strong, strong.” I say ok but it kind of hurts and he says just push through it, push through it.  But if I tell you guys something hurts, you go, “where does it hurt,” you modify the exercise, or maybe the next program you give me something to focus on that area.  You actually listen to me. Or you will tell me to do a few less. You ask me next time I come in how does it feel. You don’t get that anywhere. I have had a lot of personal trainers and I never got the tender loving care that you guys give each one of us.  Each one of us!  Not the group, but each person.

BREAKTHROUGH:  We believe that is how it should be. We aren’t making you stronger if we tell you to push through the pain.  It is important to us to listen to what you are saying.

COCO:  I can tell you care.  If someone doesn’t show up, you call and ask hey, are you OK.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Exactly! We want you to come in.

COCO:  You guys are just awesome.

BREAKTHROUGH:  Aww! It makes all the difference to have awesome people like you here.  Connecting awesome people together and making the world even more awesome.  We are so happy that you are a part of it.  Thank you for sharing, Coco!

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