Breakthrough Spotlight – Gina Lannen

Breakthrough Spotlight

Gina Lannen

Gina is our Breakthrough Spotlight member for February! Gina shared with us a few things she found surprising about starting a strength training program: better results in less time without adding size, how her strength in the gym carries over outside the gym, and how a stronger body creates a stronger mind!

BREAKTHROUGH:  Thank for being our spotlight member for February, Gina!

GINA: My pleasure.

BREAKTHROUGH: Tell me a little bit about what you were doing and how you were feeling before you started with us… What was going on before you joined us here?

GINA: Well, I was working out on my own. I was a big follower of Tracy Anderson. And I was getting a little frustrated by just how thin everyone looked in her videos and how tired she looked every time she was teaching.


GINA: When I started noticing that, I realized, God, I am tired too.  Her workouts were so long.  They were usually an hour of what she called muscular structure work, which is on the floor just doing endless leg lifts with weights around your ankles. Plus, she wanted you to do cardio afterwards. You are supposed to an hour of that.  So, two hours a day, first of all….


GINA: Who has time for that?


GINA: Right!  It just felt really inefficient to me. It felt like a lot of work for very little results.  At least the results I wanted. I definitely wanted to feel stronger and wanted to feel like I had some definition in my muscles.  And I wasn’t feeling that with her.

BREAKTHROUGH: Was there a turning point for you? Was there something that you were like – okay, this is it!  I need to make a change?

GINA: Yeah, when I stopped looking forward to it.  It was like a dread to get up in the morning.  I noticed that I was slowly winding down from four days a week to three days, and then I was lucky getting two days.  And even then, I was cutting some of the workouts in half or I wasn’t doing cardio.  It just was no longer feeling fun or feeling good. I honestly felt like if you are going to workout that much, you should feel stronger.  You should feel like you have energy.  I didn’t feel that way.  And then around that time I was listening to Tim Ferriss’ podcast, which I still do.He was really touting kettlebells.  I started to research it and then, that is how I found you guys. You were the only ones doing kettlebells, at least in my neighborhood.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah, especially StrongFirst style.  I am sure there are people who use them but it’s definitely one of our areas of expertise.

GINA: I didn’t want to go back to a traditional gym, for some reason. Like an Equinox always felt like a fight to find a space.  Always felt like you were a number in there.  It was packed. So, I wasn’t looking for that vibe anymore.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah… Well we are really glad that you are with us!

GINA: Me too!

BREAKTHROUGH: So how have you been feeling now that you’ve been with us about six months or so?

GINA:  I don’t know if you remember, but after my first workout here, I told you that I felt like I wanted to run a marathon.  So that was really eye-opening.  Like, wait a minute- how did that happen so fast?  I got the energy that I was looking for.  And then of course, I made mistake of telling you, and you said, maybe we should add more weights.  And you know, it’s great!  If you come in here and you are not chatting, you can actually get your workout done in 45 minutes.  I feel stronger.  Clearly, I see some definition.  I have put on about 4-5 pounds. I wasn’t excited about that at first but then the measurements show differently.  So clearly it is muscle!

BREAKTHROUGH: The scale might be showing a slightly higher number but the way your clothing fits is not impacted.  You haven’t hulkedout or anything.  Especially if you were used to doing that other type of training.  You are not going to build any muscle mass doing that. I am not surprised that you actually gained a little bit without necessarily changing shape.  You are definitely not bigger!

GINA: No, I still fit in my clothes! Ha ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: Yes, you look amazing!


GINA:  One of the coolest things that happened to me is just – not just feeling stronger but clearly seeing the results of that. For instance, I just bought a new bed – I bought a Casper bed. And so, they come in a big box. And all they had were two plastic straps around it. The delivery guy put it on the front porch.  I put it aside, like this is a boy job, I am going to have my husband do it.  But it was raining. And I couldn’t just leave it out there.  It was so funny.  I wish you were there, Kati.  You would have been so proud.  I literally planted my feet.  And I did a squat and I pulled my lats down and I lifted it up and scooted it into the house!


GINA: I mean, that is a full-on king size mattress in a box, you know. I didn’t wait for my husband. Yeah! So, if that doesn’t tell you that I am stronger….

BREAKTHROUGH: Of course! And that is one of my favorite things. When you can see the stuff that you do in the gym apply to your life outside the gym – because you are only in here an hour a day, a few days a week.

GINA: That’s the other crazy thing, right.  Good weeks, I am here three times a week. Two times a week on bad weeks.  And I was working out 4-5 times a week with the other workout. And this is just way more efficient.

BREAKTHROUGH: It is!  That is one of the main things that drew me to this style of training in the first place, too.  Why waste your time with stuff that is not necessary, especially when you are busy person? Even if you’re not a busy person! Why not focus on the things that give you the biggest bang for your buck?

GINA: Exactly, exactly!

BREAKTHROUGH: When you can train in a way that is smart, you actually don’t need to spend two hours a day doing it.  Unless you are a body builder and you need to train for a particular type of look.  It is just not necessary, nor is it good.  You felt the results of that when you were doing the Tracy Anderson workouts and feeling tired and dreading itYour training sessions should leave you feeling better. They should leave with gas in the tank.  You should actually feel energetic.  Every once in a while, you are going to have a couple of times a year, a few days where you are pushing it really hard and you are more tired because you are maxing out or you have a competition or something. Most of the time you should feel more energetic when you are done.

GINA: Like you just exhausted your body in a good way. This otherkind of tired wasn’t a good kind of tired.

BREAKTHROUGH: It drains you rather than fills you up.  So then, one of the things that you were mentioning to Caleb a few weeks ago, and I sort of overheard you and wanted to sit down and chat with you, is about your mindset, and how mentally you feel different. Right?  How training can impact your mental health.

GINA: Yes, that was probably the biggest surprise, maybe the biggest benefit. I can’t think of any real specific examples.  But I just feel like when your body is stronger, your mind is tougher.  My daughter suffers a little bit from anxiety and I am always telling her, “You know you have got to try some strength training.  Because I think you can overcome some of the day to day stuff that you carry around with you. You can just let it go.”  Maybe we can go back to the Casper bed example.  It would have never entered my mind that I could do that. But I had to get it out of the rain, and it’s not like I have a dolly laying around. I just sort of felt like I could do this.

BREAKTHROUGH: It is so great! I love it!

GINA: Yeah! I know, right! I just feel like even the little things, like somebody cuts me off on the street or driving on the road or my kids get a little sassy. I don’t know – I just feel like I got this!

BREAKTHROUGH: Right, if I can dead lift hundreds of pounds, I can handle this…

GINA:  Yeah! I think there is a clarity that comes with strength training that’s similar to meditation.  There is a real requirement of focusing, especially if you don’t want to hurt yourself. You want to plan everything and put everything in the right place.  Somehow that seeped into my emotional or mental strength as well.

BREAKTHROUGH: That’s great! It should!

GINA: Do you know if there is science behind that? Is that a real thing?


GINA: Is it?


BREAKTHROUGH: Well, of course people generally think of yoga when it comes to stuff like this, but you know yoga isn’t the only practice that can connect body to mind.  If you are willing to stay present and engaged with any physical practice, you can achieve some kind of mind/body connection. Our mission statement for Breakthrough, it is basically that.  We want to help people practice physical strength so that they recognize how it all connects.  How your mind, body, spiritual and emotional well-being are all connected.  You could come in here and not do that, but you won’t get as much out of it as you could.  That’s why every training we start it with that breathing reset.  It kind of gives you a chance to internalize for a second and remember why you are here.  I do every single time -LIE – I should do every single time I am about to do my own training. Ha! I try to remember to take that breathing reset and set an intention for my training. Just like I do for a yoga class.

GINA: That’s good. I think we just don’t associate strength training with that.  We associate that with running and maybe even swimming, but definitely yoga.  But I was pleasantly surprised.


GINA: And I really think more women should do this kind of workout.  Like I said, I was one of those Tracy Anderson followers. And they are all these teeny, tiny skinny women who just don’t look happy.

BREAKTHROUGH: Well, I think as a lady, I definitely was exposed to that thinking that if you lift weights, you are going to get manly.  You are going to hulk out in some way. Fortunately, I was smart enough to move on from even really considering it for too long.

GINA: I will admit I did come in here thinking that old way of thinking was still there.  But when you are in here, you realize it takes a sh** load of weight to really bulk up.  I mean I’m lifting some pretty heavy weight surprisingly and, like I said, I still fit in my clothes.

BREAKTHROUGH: Certainly there are ways where if you did want to add size, we would write programs that would do that for you.  It would require more time in the gym.  But that’s not why most of our ladies come to us. Speaking of your “why”… Can you share that?

GINA: Well, it sounds a little self-righteous, but I just think it is the right thing to do.  I mean, you only get one body, right?  I do it for my kids.  It sets a good example.  I do it for my husband, so he knows I haven’t given up.


GINA: Right?  I wouldn’t want himto give up!  You know, I don’t want to be a burden when I’m older. I want to be strong.  I want to be able to travel with my kids. You know, this dimension that we are in is all about balance.  We have hot, we have cold.  You just don’t get to eat whatever you want and not pay the price.  It just makes sense to me that if we are all supposed to eat healthy that you are supposed to work your muscles.  I think your muscles want that, and your brain needs it, too.

BREAKTHROUGH: We are all born to be athletes.  We are physical creatures and, to do nothing, you are right, is not what we are made to do.

GINA: Plus, I am a sleep zealot.   I love to sleep!  I love to have a good night’s sleep.  I find that as I get older and go through these hormonal changes, sleep is so critical. Diet alone I don’t think can help you with that.  Exhausting the body, I mean not in the way where you are running a marathon, but just tiring yourself out just helps you have a good night’s sleep. And if you want to get political, why not do it for everyone around you.  It makes you a better person.  It keeps you out of the hospital for the people who really need it.  Maybe if we all got on this bandwagon, medical health care would be a lot cheaper.  You know what I mean?

BREAKTHROUGH: That’s true. I totally agree with that. That’s a really great Why!

GINA: Ha, ha!  A little too preachy?

BREAKTHROUGH: No, it’s not.  I think you are saying things that a lot people can relate to.  I definitely agree with that.  Like I think sometimes people who have families and busy lives feel like taking the time to go to the gym is selfish… But if you are stronger, you can do things for other people.  You can take care of yourself; you aren’t a burden to other people, like you are mentioning.  The more you have to give to other people then, yeah, you are, in a way, making the world a better place.

GINA: It is like when you are doing the emergency exercise on planes to…

BREAKTHROUGH: Put your own oxygen mask on first!

GINA: Yeah, it’s the same way.  What better to way to show your loved ones that you care about them then to take of yourself. Be in a good mood and look your best. And have energy for them.

BREAKTHROUGH: Of course. That is awesome!  I really like it. Anything else to share?

GINA: That you guys are awesome! It’s a good place.  You get results quick.  It is efficient.  You guys are so knowledgeable.  I feel like you guys have this endless repertoire of moves. You don’t ever get bored. I love you guys!

BREAKTHROUGH: Awe! Thanks so much!  We love you too!

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