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RF Featured Member: Susanne Sutherland

Susanne is what we call an Founding Member, meaning she has been with RF since it was just an idea! Since then, she has been a consistent member and has grown with RF. She is always welcoming to new members, helps coaches keep an eye out in class, pushes herself in each class, and brings the BEST pirogis to our potlucks! She goes out of her way to be helpful and friendly anytime that she is in the gym and other members are always happy to see her. Susanne is the embodiment of our core values and we are so proud of all her progress and growth in the gym. Thanks for being one of our OGs, Susanne!



If there was one thing you could say to your Coach, what would it be?

Thank you for always “keeping it real”. You all make sure the classes are fun and meet our needs wherever we’re at when we walk in the door. The community that you have created at RF is a very important part of my life, and I’m very grateful.


Tell us a little about you. Where are you from? Are you a parent? What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I’m a 50-something mom, VERY recently empty-nested. My husband and I have lived in Tucson to raise our 2 sons, but we have lived in a number of other places around the country. I am a pharmacy practitioner and work for the Department of Veterans Affairs. When I’m not working, I like to spend my free time doing fairly typical things like spending time with my family, reading books (fiction), cooking (NOT baking), and playing with my dog. I like the outdoors and hope to have more time for short weekend trips. My ultimate love is traveling and seeing new places.

What was the moment that made you decide to join Resilient Fitness?

I am an OG- followed Jesus on his big adventure to start RF. I felt like my fitness journey was ready for the change.


What is your fitness/nutrition experience prior to RF?

Prior to RF, I worked out with Jesus and other trainers at Tucson Strength/Evolution Fitness. I was not a regular gym-goer until I was 45! My first adult training experience was with Stacie LaPointe and Jesus in the “Strong & Healthy Woman” Program at Evolution. It’s fantastic that she’s joining the RF coaching staff. I attribute a lot of my skills to her training and patience.


What were your fitness habits like before joining RF? Were you already active? Were you new to fitness?

Prior to Strong & Healthy Woman, I was not that active other than lots of dog-walking. My only association with fitness was the nightmare that we called “GYM” in the late 70’s and 80s. Gym was a daily exercise in humiliation and bullying and I carried that forward as avoiding anything that resembled structured exercise.


In my mid-40’s my kids were old enough that I could carve out more time for myself. I was driving down Speedway one day- running an errand while my son was at his club swim practice. I pulled over to take a phone call and happened to be stopped on the street in front of the old Evolution Fitness building. I saw a lot of people coming and going that looked normal and were friendly with each other. I’m not sure why, but I decided to see what it was about. I was in my 40’s and tired all the time. My parents were in their 70s and I was watching the effects of age and debility. I guess that subconscious voice in my head just pushed me to take a little action. I signed up for a few intro sessions. From there, I joined the Strong Health Woman program and then just kept showing up.


Why do you think RF worked so well for you compared to other programs and instruction?

The small group training model works for me because I like the social aspect of that shared experience. It changed me from associating exercise with my horrible past experiences, to having it feel supportive and friendly. It also is a place that I feel comfortable sharing my failures and deficiencies. I don’t HAVE to be able to do everything perfectly. It always meets me where I’m at on any given day. Nobody is there to impress anyone or find a date. It always feels safe. That’s a big issue - especially for women in the gym.


What was the biggest challenge or change when you first started with RF?

My biggest challenge when I first started working out was my complete physical un-coordination and lack of body-mind awareness. I’m still not great, but it took YEARS to improve.


Starting with RF was a change for me from my prior gym because it’s more than twice as far away from my home. My prior gym had been my only frame of reference, but it’s growth in size and change in character nudged me to follow Jesus. He’s the person that I felt best supported the style of training that got me started with my journey.


What has been your biggest success while attending RF?

I don’t know that I have a single “biggest” success. One thing that I never expected of myself was to be able to do heavy barbell training. Picking up over 200 lbs feels pretty cool.


I guess I consider my commitment to be my strength. I have maintained my 3 day weekly strength training for a long time. Getting the program done every week (only skipping if I’m traveling or very ill), continues to be my long-term goal. I can hardly believe it when I look back and see that I’ve pretty much maintained this for about 8 years!


What were 3 major non-scale victories you experienced with RF?

  1. I feel fairly good that I have decent kettlebell skills and technique. It took me FOREVER to learn to swing properly and handle weight. I now LOVE my kettlebell work - so much so that I had to own some to get through the lock-downs.

  2. My social community at RF is important to me. I look forward to seeing my usual and less-frequent work-out friends. Sharing our experiences in and out of the gym makes RF a community. Since I’ve been with the group since the start, I feel like it’s part of my job to welcome new faces and help them feel like part of our group. I try not to be too strange or pushy - but maybe I’m at least a little entertaining. Editor's Note: Trust us-- Susanne is one of our friendliest members!

  3. One of my gym friends described it best - She said it’s a place to come to get “filled up”. Most days, I don’t get excited about trekking across town through traffic to go put in the exercise. The minute I walk in the door, I get a greeting, I catch up with friends while rolling out and stretching. Then I focus on the exercise and making my body take over the other garbage and stress in my life. The physical work and friendly support fill me with all the right stuff. I feel full of good fatigue with my head on straight.


How has your life improved thanks to your time with RF?

I think the biggest impact on my life is my overall functionality. I feel like I’m aging better. I’m certainly stronger and able to do fun things that would be impossible without regular strength training and conditioning. Plus, I can do really fun stuff when I travel - like long hikes and bikes.


What are 3 tips, based on your experience, that you’d give to new members of RF to help them see success early on?

1. Make a plan to fit workouts into your schedule at a time that works for you.


2. Tell people about your workout plans. I almost always tell someone at the gym when I’ll see them in class next. It increases your accountability to your plan. Also, tell your friends and family that gym classes are a priority. My family always helps make sure I can get to my classes. I think that they like that I’m also nicer to them when I have my work-outs to keep my sanity in check.


3. Don’t worry about being able to do everything. Ask for modifications and start slowly with new things. It’s the best way to not overdo it and hurt yourself.


If someone is thinking about joining RF, what advice would you give them before beginning their journey?

.Same as the question above.

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SUSANNE, I "sort-of" met you when we were in Covid Lock-down, working from home(s) with Jesús (and sometimes Annette and Allison!) from their garage via ZOOM. You actually recognized me by name at the first RF social event I came to, which made me feel very welcomed and included! It meant a lot to me that day.

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