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Shannon Reese

A ray of sunshine!

Shannon Reese

Q&A With Couch to Active Community Member Shannon Reece

Q: Let's talk a little about you before you started with Couch to Active. Where were you as far as your fitness level and fitness journey?

A: Well, I was physically strong. Like, I could walk forever, I could pick up a five gallon jug of water to put on the water cooler, but I didn’t know how to engage my core or how to really exercise correctly. I had done a lot of swimming in high school, a lot of gymnastics and some judo, but I was not in shape. I didn’t have a lot of muscle tone and that kind of thing, and I also wasn't eating exceptionally well.

I was trying to lose weight and it just wasn't working well – like I might drop five or so pounds, but then it would come back on again. I'm also a barbershop singer, so I noticed that when I was singing, I couldn't maintain a long note and I used to be able to do that. I was getting kind of disgusted with myself and it was sort of like, “Oh come on, you can do better than this.”

Q: How did you find out about Couch to Active?

A: I had a friend who was a part of the community and I had heard her talk about Lyn before, and then all of these other people kept talking about how great she was. But initially I wasn't physically, financially or mentally ready to start.

Q: What was it that eventually made you pull the trigger with Couch to Active?

A: I don't have any real health problems, like arthritis or low back pain, so I didn’t really have problems like that to “fix”. But I did have a desire to stay strong and to stay fit, and to not be a doddering 80 year old.

Overall, for me, it’s about mobility and health. I have a cognitively delayed daughter and she's 23. My husband and I are her parents and her legal guardians, and I don't want to die before she does. Chances are that I won't because of her genetic disorder and her life expectancy is probably in her 50’s, but I don't want to put her in some sort of a group home with people that are going to mistreat her and stuff like that. So my main goal is to stay around as long as possible, and if I can live one day longer than she does, then it will be okay.

Also, I wanted to lose weight, but I didn't want to do exercise alone. I wanted to be with people that I knew. So when I joined Couch to Active, there were at least three people that I knew that were doing it too. I didn’t feel like I was walking into a room of strangers who were going to say, “gosh, you look so awful” or whatever. I felt like there was some sort of protection about that, being with people that I knew.

The year before last I was going through a lot with my dad and after he passed, I was the one who managed his estate. He left me a little something and I thought, “Okay, he would want me to do this.” So that's sort of what got me started, because I could do the plan that I wanted and I didn't have to take it out of a family budget. My husband would have supported my choice, but it was really, really important for me to not have to take the money out of a family budget.

Q: When you first started Couch to Active, did you sign up for the package right away?

A: Yes I did, because I do like to save money. There was no doubt that I would sign up for all of the classes, so I thought why not just start out right. So I did the two times a month personal training plan and I've been doing that pretty solidly ever since. Then I did Strength for Beginners, and I think I did Beginning Pilates. I didn't do Yoga right away – I had to work myself up to that, and boy am I glad I did! I was probably doing five or six classes a week to start.

Q: So what would you say is your favorite class or classes right now?

A: Oh… that is a toss up between Yoga and Pilates Fusion. I really hate cardio, but I like the strength aspect of yoga and pilates. I like to just feel my body get stronger. And even though you're working hard, you're not breathing hard, so it's different then cardio.

If Lynn said to me, “Look, you can only do three classes,” it would be anything pilates and yoga that she had. Those are the two things I really want to get better at. Yoga and pilates are just my thing, they make me happy!

Q: Talk a little about your thoughts on Lyn’s approach to fitness and how it helps you as someone who is visually impaired? Maybe how it’s different from some others or how she makes you feel comfortable enough to do this?

A: You know, one thing that I think she does really well is she'll say, like, if this is where you are, then there you are. Keep doing what you're doing! Like in Pilates or even her Stability and Mobility class, there are lots of ways to make it harder, but she'll say things like, “if you can only do this, then you are doing what you need to do for yourself. If you can do this, then that's good, too. But if you can only make it here, then that's where you are right now, and next week you might be able to do this better.”

She doesn't put anyone down for their inability to understand or to do something. She meets you where you are and she tries to get you to do better. If you feel like you can't do something, then she tries to work with you. After class she's got a 15 minute time frame that she answers questions and she tries to help you to be better.

She also doesn't just say things like, “Oh, well, that's good, at least you're moving your leg up and down.” She’s more encouraging and she'll say, “Well, right now, if that's all you can do, then that is what your body is telling you to do and just stay right there.” She doesn't put anybody's abilities or inabilities above or below anyone else. And that's one thing I think she has got down. If everybody could be like her, exercising might be a lot of a lot more fun.

Q: You’ve said that since you started working out with Lyn and Couch to Active, you were definitely having a lot more fun and loving your body more, which is very important. I feel like as women, a lot of the talk for fitness is losing weight, but you say your big thing was more mobility and stamina.

When you look back at your goals for when you joined Couch to Active and how you felt physically, and look at where you are now, what's the difference that you notice?

A: Well, I like looking at my body for one! I'm also learning more about how my body moves. I haven't lost much weight yet – I'm still battling with that one – but my muscle tone is better, I’m stronger, I can do more than I could previously, and my breathing has gotten better when I’m singing.

People say I look better, but I don't really care about that. I just feel better and I don't want to stop. I can seriously sit here, be honest, and tell you right now that I don't care if I lose another pound. I'd like to and I'm going to try to, but if I don't, what I like is the way that my body feels and the things that I can do with it.

Q: Do you have any advice for those who may be on the fence about trying out Couch to Active?

A: I would say that the only way you're going to find out is to give it a try. Yes, it can be a financial outlay, but if you really care about this, come on in and give us all a try! With the Couch to Active community, I haven't seen any sort of friction or dislike or anything. We all support each other. Some of us know each other better than others, but we all try to meet where we are and encourage each other. It’s like when I did the 100 swimmer in Pilates, they all cheered. There were people in that class who couldn't do it yet, but they were all cheering for me just like they were doing it. Nobody was sarcastic, nobody was cynical saying “I'll never get there,” we just don't see that here.

I think it's because Lynn makes us feel good wherever we are on the journey. She doesn't put anybody above or below anybody else.

Q: Any final thoughts?

A: I'm just looking forward to continuing with Couch to Active. My next big goal is to try to change my eating and I don't quite know how to do that yet, but I'm working on it. I just like the exercise, and I just don't see myself stopping. It is so much fun!

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