Here are just a few of our FWH clients willing to share their experience. Enjoy!
“I think there are a lot of people who think they’re too old, or too out of shape. It doesn’t seem to phase Kelly or this community here at Franklin Wheelhouse. I don’t think there’s anyone who would watch someone walk in and think, “Oh wow, they won’t be able to workout.” That would just never happen here.”
Suzanne arrives at Franklin Wheelhouse with her signature ginger hair and impish smile. We’re meeting on an off-workout day, so she’s in between her work at Centennial High School and getting her granddaughter from Pre-K.
Married to Doug. Two kids, Adam and Sara and I have one grandchild, Zoe.
Have you always lived here?
I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa. I moved here in 1981 to Nashville and married my husband Doug. He was the Assistant Dean of Students at Vanderbilt and I got my MBA from Belmont. Then we moved away for eight years to Rapid City, South Dakota, when our kids were little. Doug was the Vice President of Student Affairs at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology. Then we moved back to Franklin 17 years ago. I worked in the office at Ravenwood. Then, I got my teaching license and taught at Grassland Middle School. Now, I’m at Centennial as the Gifted Consultant.
This is your journey according you. How did it start?
Well, I ended up at Franklin Wheelhouse because I had several friends I worked with who were working out here. I was having trouble getting to Cool Springs—I was going to Curves. I wasn’t seeing great results. It wasn’t doing it for me. These gals kept pestering me to join here. They looked good, but they are a bit younger than me. It wasn’t until I read Denise’s story that I was inspired. She and I are close in age, and I thought, “Maybe I can do this.”
This is close to where I live and where my granddaughter goes to Pre-K. It was so convenient. Once I started, then it became this [She pauses.] it’s just such an amazing community. I felt like this was some place I could be successful. That was October 2016.
Did you have any particular goals?
I did. Most were anti-aging goals. [She laughs.] Trying to beat back the clock. That sounds vain—it was not a vain thing. I have a little granddaughter I want to see grow up. I want to be active with her and involved with her. I felt like I needed to get stronger, to lose weight. And, since I’ve been here, I’ve discovered I need to regain some balance. I had walked two miles a day every day. I’ve been on and off at different exercise places. Maybe more off than on. I felt like maybe it wasn’t too late. I think that’s what inspired me about Denise. She was so transformed and close to my age. I thought, “Well, if she can do, maybe I should at least try.” I was kind of scared. I talked to Kelly a few times. I knew it was intense. “Would I be able to keep up? Would it be too much?”
What did she say?
She said, “Let’s just take it one step at a time. Just come in and we’ll go from there.” And, she has. I have a sore knee. Every step of the way, Kelly is always super careful to tell you—she’s really good about giving ways to modify. She lets you choose how to modify, but she’ll always give you a nudge if you’re wimping out of it. She recognizes I have a knee that’s sore, but [laughs] if she feels I’m trying to use it as a way to get out of something, she’ll nudge me back the other way.
When I started, I made the commitment. In the beginning, I felt like I would never get through it. I would never hold a plank. Never be able to do some of the other more challenging movements. I made up my mind the very first day, whatever it was, I was going to at least try it. Some movement is better than no movement—even if I had to modify the heck out of it.
So, when I got to the point where I could hold a one minute plank, I thought that was the best thing that ever happened to me. When I finished, I said, “I did it!” [Suzanne pumps fists in the air.] And, everybody clapped! That was an amazing moment. That was the turning point when I thought, “I can do this. I can really do this.”
There’s a lot of support here, rather than competition.
That’s the piece I had to come back for. I’ve been at gyms where it mattered what you wore, what you looked like…that doesn’t even enter into the equation here. I don’t feel there’s anyone who is petty or competitive. It’s too supportive of an environment. People cheer and clap for others all the time. They are genuinely happy for them—that they’re able to do something.
What happened after the turning point?
I could tell I felt better. I was starting to see changes. I felt stronger. Being able to do that plank I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do…
You inspired yourself.
I inspired myself. So, I just kept going.
Do you have new goals?
I’m about halfway through my goals. I’d like to lose 20 more pounds and be able to get through an entire workout where I do everything the correct number of times.
You mean “Kelly’s Workout?”
Yes, Kelly’s workout, but my workout. I try everything, but whatever my workout looks like that day, I’m okay with it. I want to be the best me. I want to be strong and healthy. I want to be able to do stuff. Kelly gives me the freedom and space to do that without feeling shame. She’s looking for process, not perfection. It’s an internal challenge, a self-focus.
How do you like TRX?
I do like the TRX. I was terrified at first. I thought there would be no way it would hold me up! There are a few [exercises] that are hard for me. They involve balance—if I have a real fitness goal this year, it’s to work on balance. That’s something that older Americans need help with. Kelly’s classes are really geared to help with that. The exercises improve balance even outside of my workout, in my daily movement.
How has your fitness journey affected other parts of your life?
I generally feel better, mentally. It’s changed dinner time at our house. I don’t like to have to cook two dinners. It’s challenged me to cook what we can all eat.
…And, I would say I’m a pretty positive person.
I would affirm that.
I have more energy without the sugar. It seems ironic, but it’s very true. I thought there were some things I’d never give up, like tea. I would make at home and put artificial sweeteners in it. I didn’t think I’d ever be able to that give up. Coffee with creamer. Now, I use almond milk. Small changes that reap huge rewards.
Do you have a few go-to recipes that everybody loves?
There’s a “chicken thing” I make that has pesto and tomatoes on top. Lots of vegetables. Brown rice. I have a pork tenderloin recipes with a bunch of onions.
There’s a new year coming…
I have to confess, I’ve been a little bit off track. I want to get back on track with the food! I’m really looking forward to our January 2018 start up—both training and nutrition. I’m looking forward to receiving new recipes. I feel like I need that. I don’t have enough variety. Breakfast and lunch I can handle, but when I have feed other people, it gets challenging.
If you could you tell Suzanne of October 2016 something, what would you say?[She pauses for a long moment.] Not only is it going to be okay, it’s really going to be great. I feel like I’m a different person than I was a year ago…yeah.
I look at time for fitness and Franklin Wheelhouse as gifts I give myself.
Yes, particularly as mothers. Over the years, you sacrifice everything for your kids. We always get the last scrape of the bowl. We all do it. You forget sometimes you need to pamper yourself—it’s not even pampering. That sounds frivolous. This is not frivolous at all. It’s not going to “work out at the gym.”
I don’t know. Maybe, happy..
I was driving over here wondering what I might say. I usually shun the lime light. I feel so strongly that when we get older we think, “Oh I can’t do that.” It’s not like at all.
That’s a really good message.
Yes, and I think there are a lot of people who think they’re too old, or too out of shape. It doesn’t seem to phase Kelly or this community here at Franklin Wheelhouse. I don’t think there’s anyone who would watch someone walk in and think, “Oh wow, they won’t be able to workout.” That would just never happen here.
There’s something else I want to say. Kelly always believes in you. She always always always believes in you. She always believes you can do it. In a genuine way, not a pie in the sky way. She genuinely believes you can do it.
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
If you know Suzanne, you know she’s authentic…and she’s got grit. She’s willing to put herself out there and has tried everything I throw her way. She’s experienced both success and failure, but most importantly, she shows up. I wish I had tape to show you how differently she moves now than how she did a year ago. It’s incredible how she’s evolved physically and personally. Yes, the scale has changed, but there are markers that go beyond a size or scale.
My goal as a trainer is to empower others to live their best lives—not to win marathons or wear bikinis. And yes, I truly think it’s possible for every human to feel good, to live well, to contribute. I truly believe that. For Suzanne, it means a healthy weight, more strength, balance and energy. It means mental and emotional focus and vitality. It means giving herself 3 hours each week to fuel her body, mind, and spirit so that she can give better to others.
My contribution is to help you walk out your process and reach your goals, with intentional training plans, coaching techniques, nutrition programming, and even group support. This is the conduit Franklin Wheelhouse was created to be.
“I was at the end of myself and ready to do something about it. I never thought I’d lose 70 pounds. Didn’t think I would be as empowered as I am…as a woman. I feel like I can do more things. I didn’t think I’d transform like I did.”
Anne walks into The Good Cup dressed in jeans and a form-fitting flowered wrap. Her eyes are bright and she’s smiling. We’re meeting to talk about her fitness and weight loss journey since joining Franklin Wheelhouse. Anne attended college at Vanderbilt University. She married in 1998 and then moved back to the area from Memphis in 1999. She and her family live in the Cottonwood neighborhood, where they have lived since moving to Franklin. “We had a day to look at 30 houses. I remembered the neighborhood from college. It was afternoon, we drove up to the house, and I said, ‘This is the one!’ It reminded me of how I grew up.” Anne loves to travel, loves the beach. “I love to be with my family, my kids.”
You said you were a little nervous about sharing your story… why is that?
I’m not a big talker about myself. I prefer to blend into the background.
Have you always been like that?
No, I would not say I was like that in high school and college.
Sometimes when you’re overweight…it’s hard to put yourself out there. For so many years I’ve maintained a surface level with people; I have a few close friends I’ve shared my story with. I love to listen to everyone else’s story, but sharing mine…[Laughs.]
So, why now? You’re ready?
Yes, I think it’s God’s timing. He has a good way of knowing the right time. I’ve done every weight loss plan known to man and I never met a goal—not once. I’ve always gotten injured. Then, I would go back to what I was doing before. I came to Kelly with that thought. I was at the end of myself and ready to do something about it. But, I still thought, “I don’t know why this will work. Nothing else has.”
When was that?
I read Denise Gilreath’s blog in December , and I saw it on Facebook. Daggumit, I was ready. I had to do something because I was so miserable and uncomfortable! Nothing fit! I had to get to the point where I did it for me. Then, on Facebook, there was a New Year’s special, and I thought, Why not?” I hit the button and signed up for three days a week. I hadn’t worked out in years—years! I knew I had to do the combination of exercise and nutrition. It wasn’t like I had to lose a mere 20 pounds.
How much have you lost so far?
I know, it’s crazy! I walked in and had my consultation with Kelly. I had 90 pounds to lose to get to a healthy weight. It was a total wake up call.
Exercise—Franklin Wheelhouse—is a vehicle to all of this other stuff unfolding [inside].
Kelly had no clue what was coming through the door. Yes, I came to exercise.
And, it was really, really hard. I went in with stipulations: “I’m not walking on my off days.” “This is all I can give.” Doing the nutrition—and there’s something about the movement at Form—letting myself do something I wasn’t good at…I don’t know. It was just crazy. Kelly, with the empathy she has—she is a really good listener. I told her yesterday, “I’m eating my lunch and counting my blessings, thanking God for bringing an angel into my life in the form of a trainer.” I never thought I’d lose 70 pounds. Didn’t think I would be as empowered as I am…as a woman. I feel like I can do more things. I didn’t think I’d transform like I did. I’m so emotional about it! It’s been a 180 degree turnaround. I don’t like to talk about myself, but if it helps one person, then I’ll do it! Every day people are saying something to me. “What the heck are you doing?” I say, “It’s in Grassland, right in front of your house!”
Over the years, I put everything on hold to be a mom, and I let that take over. I kind of lost who I was. Then, I decided to do something for me and…and, here I am.
The best thing is to be a mother, however, I don’t think we’re supposed to put a box around what that looks like.
Yes. I signed up with Kelly, and I had friends ask what time I worked out. I said, “Four fifteen.” They said, “My gosh, how are you going to do it?” And I thought, I’m fine. I’m doing this for me. “We will figure it out, and the kids are better for it.” I had to decide that the hour was for me, and it was ok.
We often come to Kelly carrying more than extra weight…And, we walk out shedding more than a few sizes and extra pounds…Did you come into Franklin Wheelhouse carrying something else?
Yes…I came carrying shame.
Shame is a horrible feeling.
Yes, but I didn’t know what shame really was. Kelly texted me one day, “I want you to go for a walk. It’s a pretty day. Get some fresh air, breathe, think, listen.” Another friend had sent me a podcast to listen to, and I thought, “Great! I’ll listen on my walk.” And so, I did. I listened to “The Power of Vulnerability” by Bréne Brown. A lightbulb went off—that’s what I was carrying: the shame of being overweight for a long time. I didn’t feel good about myself. I couldn’t do a lot of things. When I went on an overnight trip with my son, there was a ride I couldn’t get on because I weighed too much. I don’t want to be that limited.
Have you shed something that surprises you?
I had this…feeling of unworthiness, and I don’t know where it came from. It’s [mostly] shed now. It will pop up, but it’s pretty much gone. I did this. I’ve lost 70 pounds! My husband described it the other day. “Anne, you used to throw your hands up at things and say you couldn’t do it. But, when you started at Form, you flipped a switch. You accomplished a goal.” He’s right, and he’s my biggest cheerleader. I’m still losing weight. It’s a journey, like peeling an onion. Along with the nutrition and exercise, I feel like I’ve shed the feeling of unworthiness. It’s sad being a Christian and saying that, but it’s true.
This is your story…if you could tell yourself something a year, or 5 years ago, about this journey and about your life now, what would you say?
That I’m worth it. [She laughs, then tears up.] You get it. It’s almost laughable, because I didn’t think that.
Give me three words…
What do you want to say to Kelly?[Laughs.] The whole thing is incredible. “Thank you!” I don’t know if she knows how valuable she is in this place. Life-changing. Hope-filled. I think that’s my best way to describe it.
I have a hard time accepting compliments, but I train myself to say, “Thank you.” This [interview] helps me tell my story. People ask what I’m doing. When you take away all of the poor coping skills—comfort food, sonic drinks, sugar, any vice like that—when it’s stripped away because you’re trying to get healthy, all the real stuff is in your face.
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
Because being overweight can be such an emotional struggle, it tends to dominate your awareness and can be completely overwhelming! It becomes your identity, something you have to hide behind. It was really important for Anne to reframe being overweight within the context of her whole life. She was NOT Anne Clinton, overweight mother of three! She is Anne Clinton, strong, compassionate, and fearless! And now, her physical transformation is a reflection of that. At Form, she gains additional resources—encouragement, accountability, education, and insight to help her identify with who she really is. And let me just say, this girl is a fighter, I’m amazed at her strength!
In the words of Dr. Larry Dossey, “Health [wellness] is not static like a machine but is rather a constant and continuous process, like an unfinished symphony, absorbing what is happening so that it can shape the next movement.”
Anne has redefined her own wellness. She’s created a new harmony, using all of her resources. I am thankful to be one of them.
“Not only have I shed inches, but I’ve shed the worries about the inches.”
Where are you from?
My Dad was an IBMer, so we moved around. We’ve been here since ’98 from North Carolina.
I’m married to Jeff. My daughter Amanda, 22, just graduated from University of Alabama. She’s engaged to a young mann named Paul and both live in Memphis. They’re living the life in a downtown apartment. Walk to work and to eat. My other daughter, Savannah, 19, just transferred to UT at Knoxville and is going to school for computer science. My husband is a technology person for the state of Tennessee. And I have a dog Bubba, and a cat named Piper.
What do you do?
I teach 6th grade math at Grassland Middle School. This is my ninth year.
Tell me a bit about your fitness journey?
When I was approaching 40, I wanted to celebrate it. All my friends were complaining about how they were falling apart and didn’t like a lot of things. I got a tooth capped, a new haircut, and joined Weight Watchers. I lost 25 pounds before I turned 40. So, I met my goal and was very happy. I continued to go to the YMCA a few days a week. And slowly, those pounds have crept back on. So fast forward to October 2014, I went to the doctor and they said that I needed to lose weight. I said I exercised 3 – 4 times a week, and they said that cardio is not the answer at my age. That I needed core training and strength training. When Christmas hit, I gained a few more pounds (laughs), as we all do. I was searching for what I wanted to do, and I heard about this class from a former students parent. She talked about Kelly Kanski starting a new group fitness class in the afternoons. So another teacher, Julee Pousson and I joined. We’ve been doing this together. It has really helped having group accountability…having someone say, “Where are you? I miss you!” The camaraderie of the class. How friendly and warm everyone is. That gave me a start on losing a few pounds. Then Kelly decided to for a SlimDown group, so I did the diet and FAITHFULLY came to TRX class all summer. And I’ve had these incredible results. I followed the diet really strictly the first two months and worked my summer schedule around class, because I decided my health needed to be a priority. So, I’ve been trying to encourage other friends to come. They look at the cost as being a little more expensive than a gym. My response is, “Here I have a personal trainer, who is a personal friend. I have her cell phone so I can contact her anytime with a question. Someone who has hugged me to celebrate my successes. She’s been as excited as I have.” I don’t have a group of people at the Y or a professional exercise person who’s as concerned about me as Kelly – or Christi or Kim! To make the changes I needed to, I needed to have the support that I get at Franklin Wheelhouse. The reaction from my colleagues, who didn’t see me for 10 weeks has been…what’s the best word? Very affirming. I don’t suffer from low-self esteem, but I certainly had a low self-image last year. I almost feel sorry for my students last year. I don’t think I’m the same teacher I was then. I have more energy. I’m more apt to smile than frown because I’m happy with myself, with life and how I feel.
What’s your family’s reaction?
My husband sees me every day, but I’ve managed to change some of his eating habits. And, my daughters are proud of me. I’ve almost apologized to them for not raising them with healthier eating habits than I did.
It does take time and effort. At times it drove me crazy to focus on food, so I had to plan ahead. I eat two eggs every morning. On Sundays, I chop up green peppers and turkey bacon, if I have it. I get a healthy omelet every day. My eating habits have changed. Now, my husband is eating eggs in the morning.
Was there a moment when your transformation took a turn or leaped over an obstacle?
I was just ready for it. When Christi said Kelly was forming this class and it was so convenient to school, it made sense. I thought I’d give it a try. I’ve tried everything else. I didn’t want to get up at 4:30 in the morning to go to the Y with my husband. When Kelly hugged me it was really meaningful. She is as personally invested in my success as I am.
How does your fit life affect other areas of your life?
My students don’t know a difference because they are new students, but when I’m at school, I’m happier. I smile more. Everything’s better. Oh, and the clothes (laughs)…now, I can look in my closet and wear anything I want – it’s not my fat clothes. I have choices. I’ve celebrated and bought a few new clothes. Before, I just wanted to hide. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself. I just wanted to be in the background, because I didn’t feel good about myself.
Describe how you feel now in a few words.
Happy and confident. I feel lighter. I know physically I’m lighter. I feel like not only have I shed inches, but I’ve shed the worries about the inches. That goes back to the clothes. I’m so comfortable in my clothes. I’m more confident. It’s a different confidence. Empowered is the word I’m thinking about too. I’ve taken control of what I choose to eat. Of my schedule and making exercise a priority. When you consciously make these choices, it does empower you.
What do you like best about the classes?
If there are exercises I don’t like, I won’t see them for awhile. I’m not bored. We don’t have a routine, because Kelly continually modifies her instruction to meet the best needs of the individuals. That’s part of what keeps my attention and my desire to keep coming back. I’m never bored. It’s always something new.
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
I always tell people I only need two things in order to help them reach their goals. 1) Show Up 2) Give Your Best – whatever that is on the given day or stage in the journey. Patty is successful because she does both of those things – consistently. She chose to make herself a priority. It really starts there. She’s a great example to women who are familiar with putting themselves last. Patty made a choice, set a goal (or a few) and worked at the changes…and we managed to have some fun along the way.
My goal is to empower people to become their best self, so they can be BIG contributors in life and with others. This is it! We only have one body and one life here. It’s important to feel good in your skin, to love yourself. I see that in Patty – it practically jumps off her now! To associate fitness and nutrition with how good it makes you feel physically, mentally and emotionally is a powerful thing. I feel privileged to be part of Patty’s journey. She’s a beautiful personal and has enriched my life. Power on Patty!
“Kelly is so encouraging and makes it fun and interesting. So many different things. You never do the same thing…Who knew this little bit of guidance could be so effective in my life!”
Gilreath. Is that Irish?
Scottish, I think.
Where are you from?
I grew up in South Holland, IL, which is a suburb of Chicago.
What brought to Nashville?
My husband is from New Orleans. We had thought about moving to Atlanta, but met somebody who was from Nashville. My husband helped him with his first record. So, when we came to visit, we fell in love with it, and thought we wanted to live here.
How long ago was that?
25 years ago in June.
What do you do outside of Franklin Wheelhouse?
I work at Grassland Middle School as a teacher’s assistant for special education.
I have a wonderful husband of 30 years, named Steve. I have three kids, Graham, 25, who lives in Chicago working at a video game development company, daughter Alex, 22, just graduated from Auburn, and working at J.Crew, and last is Hayden, 21. He’s a junior at UT Knoxville majoring in Marketing and Business Analytics.
Tell me a bit about your fitness journey?
I was a PE major in college at Eastern Illinois University. Taught Driver’s Ed and a little PE right out of school for 10 years at Lake Forest High School. I coached there when everyone was doing aerobics, so I warmed the kids up with aerobics. And, I taught aerobics at my church. So, I was pretty fit through that time. Then, I was pregnant with my first, and we moved down here. I was no longer working outside of the home, and became Mom and Homemaker. All that activity went to the wayside, except chasing around kids. I was thinking today…about 13 years ago I thought, “I have to get something going.” So, I bought “Body for Life.”
Oh, great book!
Yes. I was working out with weights, exercise and diet. I lost a lot and got into better shape. That only lasts awhile, and then, I put all my energy into being Mom and caring about everybody but myself. You think you have all this free time, but it just went away. Just before Hayden went to college, I was taking a walk and praying, “Where will you have me?” The position at Grassland opened up. I threw together a resume and got the job. I’ve loved working with those kids. It’s been a blessing to me. I saw the Form Fitness article about Patty Norem. She sent it to everybody at school. I thought, “Wow that’s great. I need to look into this.” I work with Julee Pousson too, so I asked them about it and signed up. I came in that first day and weighed myself—I’d had an old scale at home that kept staying at the same weight, so I thought I could eat what I wanted, but…! I was like, “That is more than I ever weighed when i was pregnant! What an awakening! I quickly determined the program at Form was what I needed. Then I talked to Kelly, and she explained the nutrition component. I thought, “I’m in!”
SO, then what happened…
I dove in headfirst and haven’t missed a class, except when I had to be out of town or a work commitment. I’ve been very, very serious about sticking to the diet.
Kelly is so encouraging and makes it fun and interesting. So many different things. You never do the same thing.
How much have you lost so far?
30. It’s been 90 days.
Wow! How does that feel?
FABULOUS! I get chills coming to Franklin Wheelhouse and weigh in. I think, “Really?” It just encourages me to continue. My family has been really supportive. My oldest has been on his own diet and exercise journey. 50 pounds. My husband and daughter are self-sufficient, so I haven’t had to worry about cooking for them – that really allows me to focus on me.
Have they adopted any eating changes?
My daughter loves everything I buy because she’s already been eating healthy, so now she has everything on hand. And, my husband tells me, “Well, I didn’t want to start when you did, because I didn’t want you to be jealous about how much I would lose.” She laughs. But it’s true, when he puts his mind to it, he really does lose weight. I’ve been eating a lot of salmon, and he didn’t want anything to do with it. He went on business in Seattle, tried salmon, and loved it.
So is he eating salmon now?
Oh, yeah. He used to always make burgers. But, he made salmon for some friends and we all loved it! He has definitely been inspired, and is trying to change how he eats too. He has started to exercise some and has been losing weight.
I noticed how much you concentrate on form. Is that your PE background?
Yes, and I used to lead aerobics. So, I do what Kelly says to do!
How does your fit life ripple into other areas of your life?
It probably helps my confidence. You even said I walk differently. People notice that I look different. My pants are falling off of me, but I don’t dare go shopping because I continue to lose!
Do you have a goal?
You know, I don’t have a number. I’m just really excited about what’s happening, so I’m going to keep on, and see what happens.
Was there a moment when your transformation took a turn or overcame an obstacle?
I think for the last five years I really haven’t felt great about where I was – I kind of felt stuck. My daughter has been encouraging me to walk. I had already started drinking water at school. But, I think just seeing Patty and Julee’s excitement about this place drew me in. Then the whole shock of the weight loss, I’m like, “O.K.! It’s on!”
Who knew this little bit of guidance could be so effective in my life.
How has the Nutritional Coaching impacted you?
I went to the initial Nutritional meeting and started on the food plan immediately. Kelly called me later to say she felt bad she hadn’t checked in, and I said, “It’ O.K.! I’m doing fine. I’m serious about it.” People say to me, “When are you going to have a drink? When are you going to have a dessert?” I say, “Not right now. I don’t feel the need.” I haven’t missed anything. When I go to a restaurant, I try to pick the healthiest thing on the menu. I knew I could do it when my husband took me to a Red Robin, and I learned they have unlimited steamed broccoli like their fries. So, I ordered a turkey patty, broccoli, and a grilled romaine salad.
Oh, grilled romaine is good!
Yes, and Steve said, “If you can find something at Red Robin and make it work, you can do it anywhere.”
Three words about how you think of yourself now?
What’s another good “E” word? Elated!
It’s very comfortable. Everyone is very welcoming and helpful. Just because of the people, it makes you want to be here. You don’t want to NOT come. Accountability, i guess. It’s kind of fun to suffer through the workouts together.
Oh, and sweet potatoes…
Somebody in our neighborhood has a relation who grows sweet potatoes in Tennessee. So, I bought a case. That has been one of my carbs per day, and it feels like I’m eating candy. I have one every night, and I eat carrots in the afternoon. I feel like I might be turning orange! It’s just a plus not adding sauces to everything and appreciating the taste.
And that’s not the end, my neighbor thought that I hadn’t gotten my first case. So, she dropped off another. I called her and said, “If that’s extra, I’ll take it!” I have two 40 lbs cases in my garage that’ll last until May. So, by May I won’t have to sit in the sun because I’ll be as orange as can be!
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
I am so thankful Denise has joined our Small Group Training program! She is a positive force and so inspiring to the rest of our class. Denise has taken ownership of her lifestyle. She has put herself in charge of her own success. You don’t need to radically change everything to make an impact. For Denise, it’s simple things. She shows up – every class. She follows her food plan – every day. It’s the small changes, the day-by-day, that over time, result in HUGE TRANSFORMATION! One that amounts to 30 pounds…18 inches…and some sexy leather pants. And just to show off a little, here’s a before and after photo of Denise in her leather pants – pants she bought 15 years ago. They’ve never looked better!
I’m seeing less and less of my wife these days. It’s not that we aren’t getting along—it’s just that she is literally getting smaller every time I see her!
The last six months have been pretty magical around our house. I’ve watched Denise transform her life by finding a comfortable path to more energy, getting in shape, eating healthy and, as a result—losing weight. And, she’s done all of it with a smile!
As I write this, she’s down about forty-five pounds! So, what does it take to lose the equivalent of a seven-year-old child? The secret? Well, that’s the hard, frustrating part for most people to understand when they see Denise as a sliver of her former self. They want to hear that there’s a secret formula or some sort of sorcery that helped her get the results they see. The real answer? It’s the old tried-n-true “eat right and exercise!”
Okay, to be fair, HOW she eats, and WHO she works out with has been a large part of the secret. Kelly Kanski of Franklin Wheelhouse in Grassland has been the drill sergeant, nutrition mentor, and encourager that Denise needed to find her focus. The community of women who work out at Form Fitness provided the perfect push/pull for Denise. She was pretty sore after working out the first few sessions—and occasionally still gets a little tender when Kelly puts them through the paces. All in all, Kelly helped design a program that Denise could commit to.
The impressive part to me is watching Denise’s commitment. I know that others scratch their head sometimes, wondering why they don’t see the same results that she does. The answer is as simple as it is—she simply just doesn’t cheat. Really. Never. She loves the routine, eats all the time, but never strays outside the family of recommended selections. Never. We eat out all the time, and she’s been able to piece together the exact portions of proteins, carbs, and whatever she’s got “left” for the day. But, when the bread comes by, if she’s had her share for the day, she just lets it pass. With a smile. With no guilt for us. She has her eyes on her goal. At home, we often have different meals for the rest of us from what she eats. It’s a little more work, but well worth it. She smiles all the way through it knowing what the end result will be.
I love her no matter what—before, after—whatever. I’m so happy for her to have found this path that has brought her more energy, more fun, better health, and good friendships—the weight loss is really a by-product! And, it is infectious! Yes, I’m eating better, and once my broken leg heals (skiing accident), I’m headed for the gym!
“Exercise gives me confidence. And, certainty in my person. Clarity in my person.”
Where are you from?
I’m a Nashvillian and now a Franklinite, or however you’d say it!
Very small family. Living, I have a sister and a mother, a husband and two dogs. I very much enjoy my “stepmonstas.” They call me “stepmonsta.” They’ve been great and that’s not always the case. It’s been so special. And, I have two nieces.
Tell me a bit about your fitness journey?
I was never a very competitive kid. I had terrible vision, so I was not good with hand-eye contact. I was afraid of things coming at me. I started taking ballet in high school, into college, and even after. When I left college I had a sedentary job—and was in horribly destructive relationship— I put on at least 20 pounds.
It’s amazing what stress will do.
Yes. One day, I got up and said, “What am I doing?” I ditched that guy, quit that job, and decided to reinvent myself. I knew at 24 that I had to drop the weight and feel good about myself as a single woman. I started ballet again at Vanderbilt. Then, I started swimming. I swam and swam and swam. I would get in the swimming pool and do a half a mile a day. I had a great friend who talked to me about calories and food intake. I’d always been a tiny, thin little girl, but I had to start learning about calories and food. I was doing all of these fitness classes—this would have been in the 80s. Got thin. Got a great new job. Realized that exercise mattered a great deal to me psychologically and physically. Basically, I’ve never stopped after that. Did boxing…pilates, yoga, Zumba. I actually taught Zumba a few years back. I hike a great deal. I walk. I never was a runner. I couldn’t get any solace from running.
Solace. That’s interesting.
Yes, exercise keeps me sane. Something that’s really compelling to me is that I have a sister with Stage 4 lung cancer, and she has lived two and a half years to the complete consternation of the doctors—and my husband, who’s a doctor. It’s been even more important to my sanity and a sense of purpose. I believe life is the cause of death…all the exercise and diet in the world does not prevent what’s in your destiny. But, you give your time here a better run if you proceed with things you know, which is that good diet and exercise are never a bad idea. I quit smoking. I smoked for 30 years. Haven’t had any fun since! [She laughs.] Miss it every day and managed to exercise despite it. But, I certainly don’t ever want to be a smoker again.
How did you find Kelly?
I was going some to the Williamson County Rec Center, and I think I simply rode by a few times and thought, “What is that?” I pulled in one day, popped my head in, and met Christy and Kelly. “Who are you guys and what are you doing?” I was elated. It’s within 10 minutes of my house. I love functioning out of the Grassland community. I’ve become increasingly stressed going in and out of Nashville. I like being able to do as much in the Franklin area as I can.
When was this?
They just celebrated their two year anniversary here. And now, other than doing my own outdoor exercise, this is all I do. This is exactly what I want and need. I love these six-week programs. TRX, I think, is a game changer for more than just me. TRX classes are very difficult to find and none around here. I think for women, or men, who are dealing with knees, ankles, and joints, it’s the easiest way to get as much as you can without injury. I love the suspension. I think TRX is one of the greatest forms of exercise out there.
I agree! We were chatting earlier about making changes in our diets, hence the coconut-oatmeal-almond butter muffin we dunked in our coffees a few minutes ago…
Yes, I’ve been backing off sugar, potatoes, breads, pasta. I basically eat protein and salads. Backing off cheese too.
How does your fit life ripple into other areas of your life?
Confidence. And, certainty in my person. Clarity in my person. I see myself most of the time as strong and powerful and aware. Solid in my thinking and opinions based on my physicality. It contributes to all of that. That isn’t the only thing, ironically enough. It makes me less judgmental, because I get to watch the people around me discover themselves.
Kelly’s an old soul and a special piece of this studio. In the past, I’ve gone in and out of other places and participated in classes, but the hospitality has been seriously lacking because it’s mostly lulu-lackey, competitive people. Kelly never allows the energy to be competitive. She doesn’t encourage competition. I don’t want to feel that I, at almost 60 years old, need to strive to do what a 40-year-old can do. She has a beautiful way of having the time spent here be something for everybody, no matter your fitness level or your age, which is hard to do. That’s why other places have senior classes and separate age groups. Kelly doesn’t do that. She could easily have made me feel that I was a little too old and not the client she had in mind. I would have picked up on that immediately and not come back, because I don’t need to prove anything.
I love the age ranges at Franklin Wheelhouse, too.
The people who end up becoming regulars at Franklin Wheelhouse are the kind of women I want to be around, whether they are 25 or 45. They are people I would enjoy socially. They are my kind of women—and, I’m very specific about my kind of women.
If you could sum your fitness transformation into two or three words?
I don’t know that it’s the right, but I’ve always loved the expression, “It’s better to wear than rust out.” And, “Blessed are the flexible for they shall not be bent out of shape.” [She laughs.]
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
People like Lori are my inspiration to exercise—truly. For me, it’s not a number or a size, it’s about empowerment, balance, and being my best true self—and that looks different for everyone. Our classes are inclusive for that reason, we are all on individual journeys. Clients come to Form for different reasons – connection, mental release and even recovery. Physically, an exercise that is easy for one person might take someone else four months to conquer. We celebrate it all! And I mean we—the whole darn class! I watch Lori in class and think, “I want to be 59 and move like she does.” She is strong physically and centered personally. She believes exercise is a big contributor to that. “Hold on to the things that serve you and let go of what does not.” Wow, that’s so Lori. She has a frank honesty that’s really refreshing [laughs]. She believes in the importance of exercise, and her no-nonsense attitude is a reminder to live boldly, without excuses. I really love that. She has more life in her at 59 than most 30 somethings I know. It’s not just about the hour in the gym, it’s about how that single hour impacts all the other hours, the days, and the years after.
It’s hard to explain, but once that fog of solitude and loneliness was lifted, I thought, “I’m not going to live like this the rest of my life.” I wanted to go back to the gym.
When I arrive at the Franklin Wheelhouse, Heather Williams is outside pruning a large flower pot artfully filled with Scotch broom, miniature boxwood, and a few annuals. She’s in her workout clothes, hair in a casual ponytail. When she waves and smiles at me from ear to ear, I’m struck by how happy and relaxed she appears.
What brought you to this area, Heather?
My hometown is only two hours away. I lived there until I was about thirty, then took a job at the Navy hospital in Florida for three years. I decided I wanted to be closer to my own kind of people. [She lets out a signature short burst of laughter.] I love it here. I’ve been here about nine years. It’s as big as I want — a small town, but you can be in the big city anytime. And, it’s a day trip to go back and visit my dad.
Tell me about your family?
My brother and dad both still live in Hazel, Kentucky. I’m a daddy’s girl. A few years ago, my brother lost 200 pounds—he’d gotten to over 400 pounds. I don’t pray for a whole lot, but there are two things I pray for: I prayed, prayed, prayed for him lose weight and get healthy, and for my dad to stop smoking.
It was inspiring to me. It hurt him to walk. To simply live. It was also good for his kids to see their dad care enough about himself and his health to make a change.
What’s your fitness journey?
I never had to lose that kind of weight. I was kind of a chunky kid. Always had a body image issue – I thought I was fat. [She shakes her head and smiles.] In middle school, I decided I wasn’t going to be a fat kid anymore. Back then, we didn’t know much about nutrition. I think I pulled a diet out of McCalls’ magazine…like one half of a hamburger patty for supper and one half of an apple for lunch. I dropped a lot of weight. I don’t think I developed anorexia—it wasn’t diagnosed anyway. But, the diet infuriated my parents because I wasn’t eating, and I was losing weight. Being a teenager—and a fairly rebellious one—I saw how much it infuriated my parents, so I wanted to eat less and exercise more. By the time I entered 8th grade, I was less than 90 pounds.
Yes, and I didn’t look well. I developed a really unhealthy relationship with food. So, my mom dragged me to the doctor—who was a country doctor. “Look,” he said, “You’re gonna start eating or I’m going put you in the hospital.” And that’s all the therapy it took. Since it wasn’t my choice anymore, I could start eating again. I thought, “Thank God somebody gave me permission to eat again, because I love food.” I gained the weight back and didn’t have any health problems.
Now, I’m more focused on being healthy. Ever since then, I’ve worked out….gone to aerobics classes with my friends and never had to watch what I ate until my I turned 40. As long my clothes reasonably fit in an age-appropriate manner, then I’m okay.
That sounds like a healthy attitude. What is Franklin Wheelhouse to you now?
It’s really a big part of my life. It’s my social outlet since I work from home. It’s where I go on class days. The women that come here…they’re my circle of friends. Even though we don’t do anything outside of exercise, the relationships are really strong. We’ve all chosen the same thing. It’s cool because everyone who comes here—teachers, stay-at-home moms, business professionals—we’re here with no make-up or pretense because we’re here to work out. I’ve made friends with people I wouldn’t have normally. [She pauses for a moment, and then, laughs.] We’re like bees: we come in and buzz around and make jokes, then we go back to our world. It’s a big part of my life, and I look forward coming in.
Have you overcome something on your fitness journey?
Several years ago I started getting anxiety and having panic attacks. If you’ve ever known anyone who’s had panic attacks, it’s a misery beyond misery. It’s embarrassing. You think it’s all in your head. There’s no test for it. It’s not quantifiable, and it’s really scary. You realize what they are, but I was embarrassed for anyone to know. I withdrew, because, I was afraid. So, I didn’t go anywhere, because I didn’t know if I’d have an attack. Eventually, it was—the progression of the disease, if you don’t do something about it, you can end up agoraphobic. Your brain wants to keep you safe: if I have an attack at O’Charley’s, then I don’t want to go back. Well, the list can grow long for where you can’t go. One evening, I had an anxiety attack…and I had a Bell’s Palsy attack…I was carrying a lot of stuff.
We really need people…[She nods.] I didn’t know if I was having a stroke. The whole left side of my face was numb and paralyzed.
I would have freaked out.
I did. I thought, “You’ve gone around the bend.” I decided I wasn’t going to the doctor. I can’t believe that now. I was driven to the doctor. This was quantifiable, so I went. When you have BP, your eye doesn’t shut. I went to the doctor—and God bless her—she was so kind. In the process of her asking about the physical things, I finally just blurted it out. She said, “It sounds like you’re having a panic attack.” She asked a few questions, and I was amazed: this happened to someone else. She laid out a plan. “What are you doing for yourself? For fun?” I said, “Nothing.” She said, “That’s one of the first things we’re going to do.”
It’s hard to explain, but once that fog of solitude and loneliness was lifted, I thought, “I’m not going to live like this the rest of my life.” I wanted to go back to the gym. My face still had some paralysis, so I was embarrassed. When I went to the gym, I didn’t know anyone. I thought, “This is safe. I won’t have to speak or smile because that’s when it’s noticeable.” I’d gotten so de-conditioned after six months of not working out. I could only walk on the treadmill, but every day I made myself do something…mostly, just solitary.
There was a lady who would talk to me, and — she was so kind. She acted like she didn’t notice my face. I was so grateful for her…that’s one of the things I try to do, because I know how it feels. I don’t want anyone to ever feel like they’re not fit enough to work out. You have to start somewhere. My brother started with a quarter mile, and it was a major change in his life. After I started at the gym…after I got over these things, I started making friends. I love the physical exertion. Now, people say, “You’re so happy.” It’s true. I remember how dark those months were. One day—once I got out of that—I got up to go to the gym, and I realized I wasn’t feeling that again. I was so happy.
I still have a panic attack once or twice a year, but I know what to do now. It feels like you’re going to die, but once I shared with people, I was amazed at how many other people had experienced it. Speaking it makes you feel less ostracized. I don’t mind telling anybody what I went through if it will help. Once you tell someone, it’s a relief beyond imagination.
When you have a bad body image, you go overboard to conceal it. You don’t want to commit to an exercise program, because you’d have to admit to the truth. I truly believe that exercising and eating well will help keep me sane. [Laughs.] I really do.
How has Kelly factored into your journey?
One of the things I love best about her is she is an awesome listener. When she asks you what’s going on in your life, she really listens. I don’t think she realizes what a rare quality that is. She’s adventurous in everything she does. She makes it [fitness] fun. Kelly has a way of pushing us when we would not push ourselves.
The programs she puts together progress us as we go along. Somehow, she has cultivated this atmosphere that’s not judgmental. Just people who want to lose weight, connect or be a better version of themselves. They all come here because of her. She wouldn’t admit that. I always tease her because she makes people cry. She’s like Oprah. It’s because she’s honest with people. They cry because she listens to them, and she may be the only person who’s listened to them in a long time.
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
It’s such a privilege to hear Heather’s story. Not all of us come to exercise for weight loss. There may be a need for connection, self-improvement, emotional healing, or even sanity! Our small group trainings have become a ground zero for transformation. We’re all striving to find our best selves. My clients often hear me say, “I don’t care if you need to stand in the back corner of the room and march in place. You’re here, and sometimes, that’s enough.” There is no judgement, no competition and no condemnation. Come as you are, leave your fancy Spanx at home and bring your baggy sweat pants. And yes, all the physical benefits still happen. You will get stronger, but more than that, you will be empowered. We have pressures from all sides telling us we’re never good enough. Health and fitness should not feel like a punishment or obligation. My passion is to give clients a launch pad for really living! So that’s what we do. We roll up our sleeves, we move, we connect and somehow…we realize our own potential and our greatness.
I am so thankful Heather decided to connect. She is, in fact, the brightest smile in the room and frequently bursts out with the most infectious laugh. I am reminded how important her first link was to a random lady as she walked alone on a treadmill. We’ve all been there, haven’t we?
“Never be afraid of being a broken thing. Unless a seed breaks, there is no life.”
“…So, when you’re hit by the breaking waves, break deep.”
“It’s a self-confidence. I was trying to hide before. I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m comfortable in my own skin.”
Where are you from?
Louisiana, home of Britney Spears. I took aerobics from her mom.
My husband is from Louisiana, as well, Mitch, and our three kids, Mitch, 19, Madeline, 17, and Christian, 15.
You had your kids close together.
Three in 3 years. It was a crazy time.
Tell me about your fitness journey?
I’d always been fairly in shape in my younger years, but you hit the 40s…I’ve done—let me list them: AdvoCare 24 Day Challenge; Weight Watchers; Cocoa Fitness, and walking – each with no success. Nothing. A pound or two, after being faithful without cheating. Then, I talked to Kelly about doing personal training last fall, and that didn’t work out for me. Afterwards, I found out about the Small Group Training and jumped on it. But, I was still eating like a crazy person. While I stopped the gaining, I wasn’t losing. I loved the small group camaraderie. It was very motivating. We started the Summer session, and it was a no brainer. Kelly offered the nutritional component, and reluctantly—and with a bad attitude—I started about a week after everyone else with no hope it would work because of my previous attempts. I have no idea if it is the combo of TRX training with the nutrition—or that I began to walk or run 2 days a week—but, the weight started falling off.
Was there a moment when your transformation hurdled an obstacle?
When I do try to eat healthy, I do it. I very rarely cheat. But, I wasn’t having success on other plans. I’d tell you, my metabolism was shut down. I don’t know what kicked it in, but it did, and I started losing with this program after a week or two. I was shocked because of everything I’d tried before. It has to be the combo of all that we’re doing. I thought, “It’s working!” Then, my weight proceeded to keep dropping. I didn’t even set a goal at first because I didn’t think it would work. I set one after I’d lost about 10 pounds. Now, I’m down 22.6 pounds and within 1.5 lbs of my goal.
Three words about what this has done, how you feel now?
I don’t have the aches and pains I was developing.
But, you know what else? I started all of this for the weight loss part, and now, I’m almost as excited about the strength part. I have not been this strong since I was a teenager. To do a real push up with my nose to the floor, over and over..that’s exciting to me. Now that I’ve lost the weight, I’m so excited.
How does this seep into the rest of your life?
With me being so petite-framed, Osteoporosis is a concern. I’d always heard that it [strength training] is good for that. Now, I’m seeing the results of strength training. For the last three or four years, I’d wake up stiff, with a sore neck. I attributed that to age. I don’t have that anymore. Now, I only ache from class, and that’s a good ache! Those are good pains.
And, your personal life?
Yes, it’s helping me keep my sanity. I’ve gone back to school and work full-time. I’m sometimes overwhelmed with being a mom of three teenagers. This is my outlet to keep…balanced. It’s something for me. I give myself 3 – 5 hours a week.
I hear you!
It’s a priority now. It’s not an option of, “Can I make it, or can I not?” I was worried once school started, but the priority is there.
What do you do?
I teach 7th grade science at Grassland Middle School. I love my 7th graders! I’m also in graduate school for speech pathology.
What are your teenagers saying?
They think it’s great. They’ve noticed. My youngest is very strong and athletic. When I showed him my push up, he was pretty impressed. Then, he proceeded to show me HIS push ups with claps in between. I showed my husband. He said, “You need to go down a little bit further.” Three weeks later I showed him that I could go all the way down to my nose! It’s amazing how you progress if you are faithful and push yourself. I’ve done so many things before, but with those programs you do the same thing for six weeks. Maybe I gained a little strength. But, here, Kelly’s got something going on. It’s different all the time – always challenging. It’s really good.
I’m to the point now if someone told me I couldn’t come to Franklin Wheelhouse anymore, I think I would go into a panic!
I agree! I think it’s the muscle confusion.
I’m telling you, when I did that 24 day AdvoCare Challenge—eating like we do here and walking—I lost one pound. With Kelly, I think it’s the muscle confusion. It’s been amazing. I’ve lost weight before, but now my body has been reshaped. I’ve lost more than 22 lbs AND I’ve gained serious muscle. I’m wearing sleeveless shirts again!
Yes, I remember you saying you wouldn’t wear sleeveless shirts.
I look so much better. I feel so much better.
One thing I notice with women who invest in themselves and begin to transform, they walk differently.
It’s a self-confidence. I was trying to hide before. I don’t have to do that anymore. I’m comfortable in my own skin.
What would you say to someone else with a negative attitude?
I would say…#1, don’t stop trying different things; and #2, give it six weeks, and see what happens.
How much of this transformation has been a mental journey?
Staying mentally focused? You have to be committed. That’s why I say give it six weeks; you’ll see results and keep going. You’ve got to decide, “I’m not going to eat that chocolate chip cookie I just made for everyone else.” I do like to have a glass of wine on the weekends, so I give myself a little treat every now and then.
I feel healthy, mentally and physically. And GR-eat!
Trainer Thoughts: Kelly Kanski
One of the moments I love most in Julee’s story is that she is managing the rest of her life better because she has added time to exercise and eat well. That is so counter-intuitive, right? When there are only 24 hours in a day and you are struggling to manage work, mom responsibilities, meaningfull relationships, schedules and even in Julee’s case – grad school, I know diet and exercise are easily pushed down on the list of priorities or viewed with guilt that it’s something you should do but just don’t have time for.
Make time! I encourage you to try our program and see results! You’ll gain confidence, strength, insight and a greater love for living. See if everything else just falls into place. Do not be surprised if your new lifestyle permeates into your relationships, work performance and self-esteem. But also be aware that you’ll most likely lose – you’ll lose weight, inches, excuses, baggage, and that nagging guilt. Hmmm…not such a bad deal in my book. 🙂