Breakthrough Spotlight – Susan

Our Breakthrough Spotlight for July is Susan, who became a member a few months ago. She talks about exercise being a big priority for her now that she is retired, and staying strong for all of life's adventures. Susan is dedicated, always challenges herself and brings a positive spirit to every training session!

BREAKTHROUGH: Thank you, Susan, for chatting with me today. I like to check in with people at different points in their journey, and you have been with us for about three months now….

SUSAN: Right. Three months.

BREAKTHROUGH: I already know the story, but so that our readers know, what brought you to us in the first place?

SUSAN: Well, two things. I retired in February after working at Northridge Hospital for 35 years. Prior to retiring, everybody said I should have a plan. I didn’t want to have a plan; I wanted to be free to do whatever I wanted to do. The only thing I knew I wanted to do was to join a gym. Over the years, I have joined all kinds of gyms – CrossFit, Pilates, 24 Hour Fitness, etc. I had a hard time being consistent when I was working. I could never make it a priority. Chris McDonough, a Breakthrough member here and a good friend at work told me about Breakthrough; it seemed like a perfect fit for me so I decided to try it out!

BREAKTHROUGH: Yay! I am so glad you did! So, what do you notice after training for three months? How are you feeling?

SUSAN: Good! 9 AM at Breakthrough is a perfect start to my day! I enjoy the schedule and options for additional classes – twice a week plus two Endurance classes. Initially I thought that this was not enough, but then I realized that if you are going to do something for a long time, you can’t do it every day. In between, I have added walking and other physical activity. My endurance is definitely better. I did the Alzheimer’s Fundraiser – the 1600 rep workout!


SUSAN: I was here for at least three hours! It was great!

BREAKTHROUGH: Ha, ha! It was a lot! That was amazing!

SUSAN: Yes, it was great! I really enjoyed it. I am definitely stronger and have more endurance. I am more motivated to be active and more mindful of living a healthy lifestyle. When I started, you asked me not to chew gum because you thought I might choke! I love chewing gum, but have been drinking a lot of water instead.


SUSAN: That was actually great feedback. I now drink water throughout the day instead.


SUSAN: I also requested to have a 1-1 Zoom with you regarding my eating habits and any opportunities for healthier living. I appreciate your flexibility. I have requested this from the trainers at other gyms in the past and was advised to document everything first. It’s not that I am trying to be non-compliant, but it just doesn’t work for me. It makes me crazy!

BREAKTHROUGH: Most people don’t like to track their food.

SUSAN: You and I had a great conversation, and I know what to do. I just really enjoy coming. It gets me up early, gets me going and gets me focused; I work the rest of my day and my week around Breakthrough. I love it! When I learned about the flood on that Monday, I was really sad that we weren’t going to be able to workout; but we’re back! We only missed one day.

BREAKTHROUGH: Exactly! We wanted to do whatever we could to get you guys back to training.


SUSAN: Walking is not the same as working out at the gym.

BREAKTHROUGH: No, it’s not the same. I try to walk every day, but we need to train strength and mobility too.

SUSAN: I also really appreciate that you are also flexible with the exercise routines. You listen to our likes, dislikes and anxieties. You work with all of us regardless with our age and skill level. You are really positive and motivating and keep us going. It’s a positive environment. I love coming to Breakthrough.

BREAKTHROUGH: We sure love having you!

SUSAN: Thank you!

BREAKTHROUGH: Ok, the big question I like to ask everyone is what is your why? What’s your motivation? You are so dedicated. You are in here 3 -4 times a week.

SUSAN: I love exercise, but am not a big gym person. I don’t like big gyms because they don’t focus on each person and their abilities and goals. My husband is always like – you can do this at home. I really can’t! I don’t know how to progress my exercise routine and weights. I like the class / group environment. I like having someone telling me what to do. Even though I have a hard time following directions! Ha, ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: That’s not true! Ha, ha!

SUSAN: I appreciate the fact that you progress my program incrementally so that I am successful. You tailor the programs to each individual’s abilities, needs and desires.

BREAKTHROUGH: And those needs, and desires are part of everyone’s “why”…

SUSAN: I like being active. I have a hard time sitting still. Breakthrough is an integral part of my daily routine; like going to work used to be!

BREAKTHROUGH: Yep, part of your retirement routine. I know you guys who recently took a trip to Spain. I feel like you are definitely not the type of person who is going to retire and sit on the couch.

SUSAN: Correct!

BREAKTHROUGH: So, we have to keep you strong for all of the adventures you are going to have!

SUSAN: We did a lot of walking – 21,000 steps one day! I quickly realized that it’s a good thing I am working out now. Before I retired, I was just sitting at my desk all day! I have always enjoyed exercise, but I never found a way to consistently integrate it into my life; I was a workaholic! But now that I have time for me, it is one of my main priorities.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah! Taking care of yourself.

SUSAN: Yeah. I enjoy it. And these are my new work clothes!


SUSAN: My workout clothes, my t-shirt, and my crocs! Ha, ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: That’s the best! I love it!

SUSAN: I appreciate everybody’s support. Everybody is positive and caring. I trust everybody. When you guys push me, I am willing to try to do it. Or if I say no, you trust me and we do something else. I appreciate this as we all have our likes and dislikes and degree of confidence in our abilities; things we don’t want to do or think we don’t want to do. I participated in the Kettlebell training a few weeks ago. I had my reservations as I was concerned about my safety and abilities.

BREAKTHROUGH: It can be a little scary. It is a little bit scary until somebody teaches you.

SUSAN: Now I have a better understanding of the proper technique. Or maybe it is easier for me to do it than at the beginning. I don’t think I had the stability in my back. But I think I am stronger now.

BREAKTHROUGH: Of course you are! And we can’t wait to see all you will keep accomplishing. Thank you for sharing all this!

SUSAN: You are welcome!

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