Bike racers on dirt track

Gravel Goddess: Q&A with Competitive Bike Racer, Susan Robinson

She may look like the girl next door, but Susan Robinson is a serious badass when it comes to mountain biking. With more than 20 years of bike racing under her belt, the Montana native is known to leave competitors - both male and female - in the dust.

Always up for a challenge, Susan recently completed the Oregon Trail Gravel Grinder, a grueling, five-day gravel road stage race covering 400 miles and 28,500 vertical feet. In June, she took home top honors in the women’s 50-plus category in the 55-mile Idaho State Road Race Championships, shaving 45 minutes off her time on a longer course than the previous year. Earlier in the month, she finished third in her age group in the Lost & Found Gravel Grinder 106-mile race.

A certified Level 1 Professional Mountain Biking Instructor, Susan shares her knowledge and love of the sport as a guide and instructor for Sturtevants Sun Valley Mountain Guides and through private group clinics for women and girls.

We caught up with Susan to learn more about how she got into competitive mountain biking along with her race strategies and top tips:

Z: How and when did you develop a passion for mountain biking?

SR: It started when I asked for a mountain bike as my high school graduation present, which was a bit odd at the time. I started riding on dirt roads and was then convinced by a former boyfriend to try single track my sophomore year of college. I crashed pretty hard that first ride but I was

Z: What do you love about competing?

SR: I love pushing myself to my limit as well as meeting others who share the same passion and excitement. I’ve made some great friends and traveled to some pretty special places as a result of cycling. While winning an event is always awesome, I’ve also learned to accept defeat and poor results, and congratulate those who did well. Nobody likes a sore loser, and there’s no reason to be a jerk about it.

Z: How do you deal with pre-race jitters?

SR: Over the years, I’ve learned over the years to be focused and try to not let others distract me from what I need to take care of for myself. I’ve also learned to have realistic expectations--i.e., I know if I’ve put in the proper amount of training and prep, I should do well. That said, there are variables you can’t control such as crashes, mechanicals, or weather/ride conditions. I do my best to control what I can and not sweat the things I can’t.

Z: Favorite trail to ride for a grind?

SR: Cold Springs to Warm Springs is always a good grind for me. The climb up Cold Springs is never easy and I always feel terrible on the lower section regardless of fitness. Descending down Warm Springs definitely keeps me on my game between the pedaling sections and trying to not fly off the trail on the loose corners

Z: How do you train off the bike?

SR: In the winter, I teach a couple spin classes at Zenergy just to keep the cycling-specific muscle memory. But I love alpine skiing and backcountry ski touring and I’ll throw a little Nordic skiing into the mix as well. I also try to work on weight training during the off season, however I failed to do that this past winter.

Z: Favorite gear, gadget or technology to help with your training?

SR: I’m a nerd. I love to keep track of my rides and activities on my Garmin computer and Garmin Fenix 5. I can track workouts, sleep, heart rate, calories burned, etc.

Z: How do you fuel before a race?

SR: Great question. For me, it’s dependent upon start time and event distance, so if I have an early morning start, say, 6 a.m. for something that lasts four hours, I will have something that’s around 200 calories with protein, carbs and a bit of sodium, some coffee and start my hydration with electrolytes all about 90 minutes before. I stop drinking fluids about 45 minutes before start to try to limit trips to the portos. About 15 minutes prior, I will eat some sort of sport-specific gel or blocks and start hyrdrating again. My main goal is to take a drink every 15 minutes and take in around 150 to 200 calories every 45 to 60 minutes throughout an endurance event

Z: Are you currently training for a race? If so, what?

SR: I am! I have a race on June 1 in Portola, Calif., called the Lost & Found Gravel Ride. This year, I’ve stacked a few gravel events on my calendar but this one is an “A” event for me - 102 miles. I did it last year and bonked with 20 miles to go. I’m seeking redemption in that I’m better trained this year, planning to stick to my fuel program as much as possible and pace myself throughout the race. It can’t be won in the first 10 miles, but can certainly be lost. I am hoping for a top 5 result in my category.

Z: What’s your #1 form tip?

SR: Work on your pedal stroke. You want a round motion when pedaling; don’t stomp or mash on the pedals. Focus on having a flat foot along the bottom of your pedal stroke and that means not dipping your toes or dropping your heel. Also, engage your hamstring/glute muscles to ‘pull’ your foot up from that flat foot position to the top of your stroke - nice and round, like the second hand on a clock.

Z: What’s your advice to women and girls interested in taking up mountain biking?

SR: First, try on a bike that’s your size. Don’t try to ride on your significant other’s, brother’s, friend’s or neighbor’s bike. Spend the money to demo a bike. Plus, the shop will be able to set it up properly for you. Second, take a lesson! There are many instructors/ guides that can teach and give tips. It’s important to know body position on the bike for climbing, descending and just riding along, proper braking technique (especially descending), and how and when to shift gears. Third, when you decide to purchase your own bike, test ride different models to find the best one that suits you and your riding style. Then, have the bike shop help you fit it correctly. You can make some easy and inexpensive adjustments that customize your bike to you and make for an enjoyable ride experience.

Photo Credit: Derek Svennungsen

Casually resting fully clothed woman with sleepy eyes and tussled hair

Turn Sleep Into Your Secret Weapon for a Super-Fit Body

by Zenergy Personal Trainer Cory Duffy


How to know if you’re getting enough shuteye – and what to do if you aren’t!

First off, are you getting enough sleep?

Yes, of course, you may think. You sleep each night and manage to function each day, so you’re doing just fine. Right?

Well maybe, just maybe, you are falling a little short each and every night and have racked up a sleep deficit that is negatively affecting your health, performance and life.

If that is the case, there is a good chance you have simply forgotten how good it feels to perform at your best, let alone push the envelope.

Good news: With a few changes to your sleep routine, you will have a substantial advantage over those other 70 to 80 percent of Americans who continue to lack sleep.


What’s the Right Amount of Sleep?

The recommended amount of sleep for the average adult is 8 to 9 hours each night.

This means good deep sleep, not just lying in bed with your laptop. Sorry, I thought the same thing when I read it the first time.

The total amount of sleep needed varies from individual to individual based on factors including: physical stress (workouts/work), mental stress (work/school), emotional stress (relationships, etc.), age, etc.

But, in general, 8 to 9 hours a night is typically sufficient.

If you were to not set an alarm clock, would you sleep past it? If the answer is yes, then there is clearly more sleep needed. – Matthew Walker, PhD


The Secret Weapon

I highly recommend getting a sleep tracking app for your phone or some way to track your sleep. There are apps for wearables, phones and devices specifically for sleep tracking. I personally use the free app Sleep Cycle.

The key is to measure what you are doing so you can assess its effectiveness.

The Secret Weapon is… Create a Daily Bedtime Routine

First step:  Get out your trusty iCalendar or Google Calendar and block out 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night. Keep the timeframe consistent each day. Rhythm matters and puts your body into a cycle that will improve your sleep performance.

At right below is my current bedtime routine that takes about 30 minutes. It is scheduled in my calendar, with an alert, 30 minutes before my scheduled sleep time each night.



Top Tactics for Sleep Performance

Here is a list of top Tactics for Sleep Performance, in no particular order.  Pick the ones that you think will work best for you and add them to your bedtime routine.

  • Turn off all electronics. Two hours before sleeping, you should unplug or, at least, use blue light filters (apps for your phone, iPad and laptop that eliminate the blue light emitted by the device and replace it with a warmer red tone) Blue light interferes with the release of melatonin (a hormone that plays a role in sleep) because your body thinks it’s daytime.
  • Use black-out shades. When it stays light until 9 or 10pm, it can be especially hard to fall asleep. So block out the light.
  • Pop a supplement. I highly recommend taking Melatonin an hour or so before bed. My go-to is a spray from
  • Don’t lose your cool. The body cools down while you sleep. Therefore, having a cool room often help with getting and staying asleep. Leave a window cracked or fan on, if possible.
  • Avoid the fridge. Stay away from food two hours before your sleep. But be especially aware of eating carbs (sugars) in that window. Research also has shown alcohol and obviously caffeine to be major factors in sleep loss and poor sleep quality.
  • Relax your mind. Here’s a big one. It can be difficult to just turn off the brain at a certain time each night. I personally recommend reading for 30 minutes each night. For me, educational nonfiction seems to be the most relaxing.
  • Meditation is helpful in so many ways, but in this case, you can use it to quiet your mind and get ready for sleep. There are some great guided meditation apps out there, such as Waking Up-Sam Harris and Headspace. They even have sleep-specific programs.
  • Try essential oils. Opt for lavender or one of the blends for sleep.
  • Block background noise. Use a noise machine or sleep music to help your body and brain relax for a good night’s sleep. I’m a big fan of Spotify, which has a few sleep options available. You also can find several machines on the market designed just for sleep.

Build your routine, test and adapt it so that it works best for you. The end goal is getting a full 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night and waking up energized and ready to go.

With your snooze time blocked out and your bedtime routine dialed in to maximize your sleep, you will wake up more energized, focused and ready to take on the day—and your workouts.


About Cory Duffy:

Cory brings seventeen years of fitness experience, providing a wealth of knowledge that’s ready to be applied toward your fitness goals.

Cory's holistic approach stems from his varied background in general fitness, nutrition, recovery strategies, and overall mental performance. With over a decade of world-class instruction from the industry's top professionals, Cory is a recognized authority on Performance Health and Longevity.






motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Hard-Core at Any Age: Q&A with Ironman Champ (& Grandma) Jeri Howland

Jeri Howland isn’t your average grandmother. The 63-year-old powerhouse (and Zenergy member) competes against some of the world’s best female athletes in the ultimate endurance tests. Since age 42, she has completed 21 Ironman triathlons, topping the podium an incredible seven times. She’s also won over 35 ultra-marathons. She is living proof that age is just a number! Zenergy caught up with Jeri to learn more about her secrets for staying hardcore through the decades.

Z: Have you always been fit?

JH: I was fit before I went to kindergarten. My dad had three girls, he probably wished for three boys. He taught us every sport from football to whitewater kayaking, and made sure that we were good at them all so he had someone to play with all the time.


Z: When and how did you start doing Ironmans?

JH: I entered my first Ironman at age 42. I was intrigued by the idea for a long time but also had a young daughter and didn’t think I had time for anything more than a half Ironman until she was old enough to be home in the morning without me. I was successful at the half Ironman and, like a lot of things, I just threw myself off the proverbial cliff. I signed up and then thought, now how am I going to do this?


Z: Do you like to compete?

JH: I love it! Yesterday, I did a 25-mile trail race. The last three miles were up a very steep hill, and I could see three women ahead of me. I was pretty sure they were considerably younger and getting tired; I felt terrific and wanted to catch all three. I sprinted as hard as possible up this monster hill (14-20% grade), caught them all and, while I was first in my age division, passing them was the best part. Why? I do not know. What matters most is to do the best I can with what I’ve got on a given day. I also really love preparing properly to do my best come race day – this means I love the training – as much, maybe more than the racing, itself. Some say I train too much, but I know myself well and high-volume training works for me. Plus, I don’t care enough about the race to change my daily lifestyle. I want to be outdoors moving my body rigorously for at least a few hours each day.


Z: On average, how much do you train a day?

JH: I work out 2 to 4 hours per day Monday through Friday, 5 to 6 hours per day on the weekends. During the week, I get up as early as is necessary to fulfill my training and still be on time for my first meeting of the day. Then I do everything I can to delay meetings until 10am! That’s not to say I haven’t had to be ready for work at 8am or 9am. But if you don’t take control of your day, other things will fill the time. I want to make sure to live out my athletic passions AND do great work so it can be a bit of a juggle. It’s not for the faint of heart. A typical weekday morning starts with coffee and a banana, then a 75 min Masters swim followed by a run or a bike. Since cycling takes the most time, there are days I just bike for 2.5 to 3 hours. At the end of the work day, twice a week I’ll do a strength session that takes 45-60 minutes.


Z: Do you follow a set training schedule?

JH: I run, bike and swim 3 days per week in each sport. After an “ultra” race, I usually need to lay off running, so I will bike 5 days and likely swim 4 days of the week. On the weekends, plan to run 3 to 6 hours on Saturday, then swim with my Masters swim team, followed by a 2.5 to 4 hour bike on Sunday. In the winter, when I’m in Sun Valley, I keep the swim and run schedule going, but I add in Baldy climbs (always to the top) 3 to 4 mornings and skate skiing 2 to 4 hours on the weekends.


Z: How do you find the time while balancing work commitments, family life, etc.? 

JH: I’m a very driven person. I have never been one to let anything get in the way of my plan for life. And I love my work, so my trick is to start early as necessary in the morning to accomplish that day’s goals. No one wants me before sunrise anyway!!


Z: Do you ever struggle to stay motivated?

JH: I’m not sure where all my drive comes from, but I do love working out.  It reaps many rewards—from the top podium to a strong fit body to a sense of self-reliance. Fortunately, I have friends and a husband to train with, which makes it even more enjoyable. I can’t imagine any other lifestyle.


Z: Where do you find the energy?

JH: Energy can be an issue, and nutrition is key. We have all seen or heard of people who sabotage themselves with food by eating too much or too little. I’m fortunate to have a healthy relationship with food (there was way too much disordered eating in my family to go there) and understand what the body needs to keep the engine going for long times on the trail/road. (I studied Human Biology in college). I constantly fiddle with what seems to work best and stick with it until another adjustment is needed. I’m religious about fueling every 45 minutes while on a long run or bike. Never let the tank get low! I also use a fantastic hydration drink, Skratch, that never gives me cramps or makes me feel sick hours into a race or workout because it’s low in sugar.


Z: How do you stay so lean?

JH: Being lean is one of those unspoken commitments I made to myself years ago. Like many women, if I’m unhappy with my body, the frustration and effort to change takes up a lot of head space. I have been there before, fortunately not much, but it was so annoying and heartbreaking. My goal is to stay lean (not skinny) and not let food be an outlet for stress, frustration or instant gratification. My diet really works for me – I’m never craving anything or sitting around starving. I’d like to think I’m very sensible about my eating habits. While training multiple hours a day certainly helps, food choices really matter. Fresh veggies and fruit, no processed “snack foods” full of salt, sugars and chemicals, and mostly vegetarian, if not vegan, is the rule. I like a lot of food so salads, for example, create a lot of bulk without a lot of calories. Same with my handcrafted Bungalow Munch granola (a family recipe that I developed at the age of 12 and now sell at Atkinsons’ and online). I love a big bowl for breakfast but much more than ¼-1/2 cup of granola is too dense, so I fill the rest of the bowl with Puffins, then add fresh fruit and coconut milk. My daily diet is fairly consistent. I eat my Bungalow Munch every day – it’s special enough for Sundays, too, and, for dinners, we eat a huge salad, homemade gluten-free bread, and something else like homemade soup, pasta and pesto, homemade pizza.


Z: What do you eat before a training session?

JH: I eat my main breakfast late morning after I’ve worked out for hours, but to fuel the workouts I eat little bits throughout starting with a banana and coffee, then athlete fuel like bars, gels, and the little gummy blocks every 45 minutes. After my XL bowl of cereal I don’t feel hungry till late afternoon. Dinner is my favorite meal. I love to cook and experiment with Asian-inspired tastes – fresh ginger and garlic are in all my recipes!


Z: What’s your exercise philosophy?

JH: JOURNEY, PODIUM, LIFE! When I started my coaching company, I wanted to make sure I branded it in a way that valued wherever an athlete is on the “spectrum,” thus the name and tagline:

I ask of myself and my athletes to bring a goal, if not several, and from this the journey begins. Unless the goal is contained to a once-in-a-life experience, then this is a lifestyle.

For me, my journey, my podiums, my lifestyle have been all about opening doors to new places, emotions, relationships, and connection with nature. While I’m a bit of a creature of habit, and have many routines that start and end at my home, I also love to travel to a race or a “traincation.” This is for me the most satisfying way to explore a new place.

I’m not sure it’s a philosophy, but one of the great benefits of taking on these substantial athletic feats, like the Ironman distance triathlon and ultrarunning of 50K to 100K distances, is the time out training and racing too. It’s the only time in my life I really feel quiet. I look for this!

While the podium for me is important, I try to achieve first place, but realize there are many ways to think about your podium. Today, at age 63, my goals are still to achieve the top step of the podium but the focus is really more about adventure and testing myself. I’m still searching for new experiences, whether it’s a trip to some far-off place like New Zealand or heading out my front door in search of a new trail.

At the end of the day, what fuels this kind of life is a combination of passion and a little bit of OCD, as my daughter says. Moving quickly in nature is like a religion for me – it’s where I find my truth and greatest purpose; besides if I don’t get out there, my blood starts to boil and as my husband says, if momma not happy, nobody happy!”


Z: Has your training program changed over the years? If so, how?

JH: The only thing that has changed is that I do less interval training and the hours I used to spend on the bike, I now spend running. But I recently spoke to the legendary Charley French and he says intervals are the key to his training at age 93, so I think I better get back to them soon.


Z: What’s your advice for other over-50 athletes?

JH: Don’t focus on age, listen to your body, eat well, don’t drink every night of the week; sleep enough – at least 8 hours every night – I’m working on this myself. Always have a goal in front of you! Don’t wait for others to join you. I am often reminded by this quote: “Winners are willing to do what others are not.”


Z: What’s the best thing about being a grandma?

JH: I lose myself in the joy of spending time with this little guy. He is so vulnerable, yet so open to his new world. His smile lights us up and we share hours of laughter.


Z: Will you ever slow down?
I doubt it.


Z:: You split your time between Marin and Sun Valley. How does that impact your workouts?

JH: Given my new role as senior advisor for development for Sun Valley Institute, I’m spending more and more time here. Sun Valley is a haven for training. No matter the season, I always feel when I’m training in Sun Valley that I have hit the jackpot. Zenergy pool is likely the best pool in the world and it is my happiest place of all!


motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Can’t Get Your Abs Back After Having a Baby? Read This.

By Stacy Whitman

After my twins were born healthy and robust at almost six pounds each, I did everything in my power to lose my post-baby pooch. Stability ball crunches, Body Pump, Pilates, yoga, even running a half marathon - nothing worked. In fact, my lower belly bulge only seemed to get worse. Weight gain wasn’t the issue: Any extra pregnancy pounds quickly evaporated with double breastfeeding.

Not long after the twins’ first birthday, an acquaintance innocently motioned to my protruding belly and asked if I was expecting again. Yes, one of those cringe-worthy moments - as the answer was no. It was obvious that I needed help. I remembered reading about the Tupler Technique(R), a research-backed “ab rehab” program for people with diastasis recti, during my days as an editor at SHAPE magazine. Wasting no time, I ordered a Tupler Technique how-to book and splint.

Diastasis recti (aka abdominal diastasis) is the medical term for separation of the two outermost muscles that run vertically on each side of your abdomen. During pregnancy, the force of your uterus pushing against your abdominal wall can cause the muscles to separate. In some cases, the gap is very small and goes unnoticed. But a surprising number of women are left with a pronounced separation that doesn’t go away. According to a 2016 study in The British Journal of Sports Medicine, 45 percent of first-time moms exhibited a diastasis recti six months after giving birth, and 33 percent still had one at 12 months postpartum.

Though often viewed as a cosmetic issue, diastasis recti can be more problematic. Your abdominal muscles have the crucial job of supporting your back and holding your internal organs in place. When a separation occurs, it can lead to pelvic instability and a host of related issues, including urinary incontinence and pelvic organ prolapse (when your pelvic floor muscles fail and your insides start falling out). Research indicates that 66 percent of women with diastasis recti have some level of pelvic floor dysfunction. Back pain, hernias, poor posture, constipation and bloating are more potential downsides.

Separation of the abdominal muscles during a previous pregnancy significantly increases the likelihood and severity of diastasis recti. The size of the baby (or, in my case, babies), abdominal weight gain, and genetics can be factors as well. While the condition is usually associated with pregnancy, it also occurs in men, post-menopausal women, and children, especially after a surgery or injury.


How do you know if you have a diastasis? Lie on the floor on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Place your fingers on the center of your belly. Lift your head and neck just slightly off the floor while you gently press down with your fingers. If you feel a gap or see bulging, then you have a diastasis. Repeat just above our belly button and below your belly button as the gap can measure differently.

While fully closing the gap may be impossible without surgery, significant improvement can be made by healing the connective tissue between your ab muscles and taking steps to prevent further widening. Developed by New York City-based fitness trainer and childbirth educator Julie Tupler, the Tupler Technique, which involves doing specially designed exercises and wearing a corset-like brace, is a great place to start.


Learn more about the Tupler Technique and available resources (including books, DVDs, splints, and online support program) here. In the meantime, here are a few tips to get you going:

Choose Your Exercises Carefully

Avoid like the plague any exercise or activity that stretches your abdominal wall in a forward or sideways direction - think traditional sit-ups and crunches, yoga backbends, and Pilates moves such as 100s, and workouts like swimming, golf and tennis. They can actually worsen a diastasis and make your recovery even harder. Don’t make my mistake!

Perfect Your Posture
Proper posture is key to minimizing pressure on your abdominal wall. For correct alignment, you need to make sure that your three main body cavities (abdominal, pelvic and thoracic) are linked in a vertical line. Be careful not to thrust out your ribs, tuck under your butt or push your pelvis forward.

Strengthen Your Pelvic Floor

Do those all-important Kegels! They are designed to help strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which support your uterus, bladder, small intestine and rectum. Learn more here. Aim for at least three sets of 10 to 15 repetitions a day.

Brace for Healing

Wearing a split, especially during pregnancy and in the weeks immediately after having a baby, can help prevent further stretching of your abdominal muscles and support the healing of your connective tissue.


motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Mountain High: Q&A With Champion Endurance Athlete Morgan Arritola

From Nordic skiing to mountain running, the former Olympian rises to the top.

Some words to describe Morgan Arritola the person: Quiet. Intense. Humble. One word to describe Morgan the athlete: Super-competitor.

In her early 20s, Morgan took the Nordic skiing world by storm, placing second at the U.S. Nationals in 2008 and representing the U.S. at the 2010 Winter Olympics. After returning from the Vancouver Games, she took up mountain running and soon earned top honors, finishing third at the 2012 World Championships and topping the podium at the U.S. National Championships in 2013 and 2015.

Today, the 32-year-old is back home in Ketchum after finishing a degree in respiratory therapy. She continues to compete in mountain running while contemplating her next life move.

We caught up with Morgan to learn more about her past, future and secrets to success:

Z: Are you training for anything now?

MA: I have my first 50k trail race (the Smith Rock Ascent in Oregon) in May. I am somewhat training for it, although the race in and of itself will be a bit of training as I haven't been getting the miles that I probably need. I have some other races this summer but a lot depends on my current job hunt.

Z: What do you love best about mountain running?

MA: I like the solitude. I need the solitude. I also like the ever-changing nature of trails. They come in all shapes and sizes and the idea that no five kilometers of a race are the same is exciting.

Z: What led you to get started in competitive sports?

MA: I have always been competitive. I did my first Ironkid triathlon when I was six years old. I did local running races, competed in high-level gymnastics and, later on, soccer before finding the endurance sport world. I like to win, and it's a double edged sword, but it's just ingrained in me.

Z: What's your approach to nutrition?

MA: I eat healthy for sure, and shout out to Mari Wania of Simple Kneads because her cookies and breads give me a lot of good energy that I crave. Breakfast is pretty standard: good coffee, yogurt, granola, and a banana. Otherwise, I could eat fish products for every meal, the fishier the better--sardines, anchovies, smoked oysters from the jar. I love vegetables and eat a lot of them, along with lots of bread and healthy fats like avocado, nuts, oils. I hate the word "diet" as I think it has negative connotations to the ThighMaster era. I believe people need to be better at listening to their body. I avoid processed food as much as possible and otherwise just eat food that looks like real food.

Z: Any tips for staying well hydrated during long races?

MA: Well, I struggle with this. I am working on my during-race nutrition as I don't really sweat that much and have a hard time staying hydrated. I also hate fruity-flavored sports drinks so I have taken salt tabs and played around with certain products. But, admittedly, I need a lot of work on it in the longer races.

Z: What's your favorite pre-workout fuel?

MA: Depends how “pre” and the workout. Before races, I have my normal granola and yogurt breakfast about three hours prior. The longer the race, the closer I can eat to the start. The night before, I eat a normal, balanced meal. Truly, there is no magic meal. It's about consistency and genetics. Everyone is so different.

Z: What was it like competing in the 2010 Winter Olympics?

MA: That's a very long answer. In short, I always knew that I wanted to walk at opening ceremonies. But I was really burnt out and mentally exhausted when I got to the Olympics. I was tired, overtrained, and beat myself down every day. It's not the ideal Olympic dream but it's more common than winning a gold medal, that I know. The hard part is feeling like you let your family, coaches, country, etc. down. It's a heavy burden. I know that's not the cheery story most like to believe, but the truth is, there is a reason the Olympics only takes place every four years. It's exhausting and, in my opinion, is more for the spectators than the athletes.

Z: Do you ever struggle to stay motivated? If so, how do you work through it?

MA: Absolutely. I have days where I don't do anything athletic but then I beat myself up mentally. Leaving the world of training full time is a hard, slow process. I have been working on my “why.” Why do I need to do this run? Do I really want to do this run? If I can honestly answer the question and I find myself saying the words "I have to," then I usually stop. I may go do something else just to move but that has no correlation to running or training. If I am unmotivated because I am tired, then I know that I need rest. I probably rest a lot more than most people in this town. There is a big difference between quality and quality and simply going through the motions with no intention. Again, a lot of that comes back to the individual's “why.”

Z: Who's your athletic hero?
MA: Lance Armstrong and local Charlie French. Always will be.

Z: What would you consider your biggest athletic accomplishment?

MA: That's really hard, honestly I'm not sure. I hope to be able to move my body and be healthy until I'm old.

Z: Your biggest regret?

MA: I can't say I have regrets, I am working on letting the regrets turn into experience and moments to pivot rather than bog down.

Z: What inspires you to keep going?

MA: Potential. Potential is that ever-dangling carrot just beyond reach.

Z: What do you wish people knew about being a professional athlete?

MA: I'm not LeBron. I have to pay my bills by other means. :)


motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Zenergy's Pivot Redesign Featured in IHRSA Article

Zenergy's 2018 redesign of it's underutilized squash court resulted in the versatile Pivot studio, and IHRSA, the chief organizing body of the global health club industry, took notice.

Click here to follow through to the IHRSA article by Jim Shmaltz.



motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Time For a Chakra Tune-Up?

Feeling a like you’re trudging against the current of life? Do you wish you had just a little more energy, a little more inspiration, just a tad less pain in your body? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, then you might be due for a chakra tune-up.

Chakras, the Sanskrit word for “wheels,” were conceived by the ancient yogis as spinning vortexes of colorful energy running along the spinal column from the base of the spine to the crown of the head. Each chakra has a corresponding color, element, quality, and sound, and associated body parts creating a bridge between the physical body and the more subtle realms of emotions, thoughts, and spirituality.


This may sound a bit esoteric, but we all speak in terms of energy without even thinking about it.  We have “low energy” days. We may instinctively feel a “negative energy” with someone, or, on the flip side, be inspired by someone’s “positive energy.” In fact, as solid as we feel, Einstein’s Theory of Relativity and the later invention of the atomic bomb demonstrated the vast amount of energy stored in matter.

In this vein, it makes sense that when our energy--or, in yoga parlance, “prana”-- gets blocked, we experience physical, emotional and mental repercussions. Our joints may become stiff, our muscles sore.  Perhaps these blocks manifest as a wrenched gut, a pain in the neck, or a throbbing head. Additionally, lethargy, dullness, self-loathing, poor communication, insomnia, anxiety, depression and difficulty focusing are all symptoms of pranic pinching. Yoga offers a systematic approach to clear obstructions in the chakras, allowing a steady stream of prana to flow through the vast energetic network of the body-mind complex.

Just as acupuncture uses needles to manipulate energy, yoga uses postures, breath, hand positions (“mudra”), sound (“mantra”) and visualization to tap into prana and chakras.  Take the muladhara/root/first chakra, located at the base of the spine.  This energetic center corresponds to the color red, the element earth, and the qualities of abundance, safety and stability.  When this chakra is blocked, an individual may feel anxious, fearful and scattered. The muladhara chakra is associated with the adrenal glands, which are responsible for the “fight or flight” stress response.

Furthermore, the energy of this chakra nourishes the base of the pelvis, legs, bones, and the entire skeletal structure.  Osteoporosis is an example of a first chakra issue, attacking the foundational structure of the human body.  An obstructed root chakra also may manifest as binge eating rising out of deep sense of scarcity and the need to hoard.  A yoga practice to open and nourish the first chakra will include grounding and long-held postures that wake up the feet, legs, and base of the body.  Long slow breaths emphasizing the exhalation, visualizing the color red, and chanting the sound, “Lam” also activate the muladhara chakra.


Voice issues and thyroid problems are associated with the vishuddha/throat/fifth chakra. Located at the cervical spine (neck), it is related to the color blue, the element space, and the qualities of purification, listening and clear communication.  The visshuddha chakra governs the entire neck and throat region as well as the thyroid gland, which regulates metabolism.  A closed throat chakra can manifest as a sluggish metabolism, laryngitis, lost for words and quite literally, “choked up.” An overly open fifth chakra can show up as poor listening, overly talkative, or a revved-up metabolism. It should be noted here that we focus more on opening closed chakras as opposed to closing excessively open chakras.  Over-active chakras are simply compensating for blocks in other chakras. For instance, a deficient heart chakra can lead to an excessive throat chakra. As pranic flow is resumed in restricted areas, the over-active chakras naturally adjust so that balance is restored throughout the entire chakra system.

A yoga practice to open and nourish the fifth chakra includes poses that naturally stretch the neck such as ustrasana (camel pose). Chanting is especially therapeutic for this region. “Hum” is the bija mantra (seed sound) for this chakra. Ujjayi breath is a practice that involves gently contracting the muscles around the vocal chords while breathing in and out of the nose, creating a soft “whisper” of breath. This gently massages the throat, stimulating the energy of the visshuddha chakra.  Visualizing the color blue will further activate this center.


While it is helpful to focus on individual chakras, it also is beneficial to move through a full yoga practice that includes a sequence of postures, breath work, sound, mudra and visualization to activate, balance, and integrate the entire chakra system.

This month, Zenergy is offering a series of such classes. “Healing Through the Chakras” will take place on Tuesdays, April 16, 23, and 30, from 5:30-6:45 pm.  The fee is $20 for members and $25 for non-members.  These are not physically active classes and are open to all abilities.  To register online: YOGA CLINIC SCHEDULE & REGISTRATION.  You may also call Zenergy Front Desk: 208-725-0595

Lauri Bunting is a Yoga Instructor and Wellness Coach living in Ketchum, Idaho.  To contact her directly, email Or, visit her website:


motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Exercise Can Help Reduce the Risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s

By 2050, more than 100 million people could have Alzheimer's, dementia or a similar memory loss-related disease. While there’s still no cure, new research shows that exercise helps patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia regain some brain function.

Read more

motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Buck Wilde, The Bear Whisperer

Reprinted courtesy of  Centre Magazine - all rights reserved. By Finn Farlow.

"The Seneca Tribe didn't like white folks moving in, so they raided settlements to reclaim their land. One day, the Indians snuck through the forest and attacked a family that was working the land. They scalped everyone but little Elizabeth and William. They kid­napped them away to Ohio. Elizabeth escaped and came back here to Pennsylvania, but Wil­liam liked living with the Indians, and when he grew up to be almost a man, they made him their chief, so he stayed." - Buck Wilde, from Breath of the Bear

Nature photographer, author and wildlife expert Buck Wilde, a Centre County, PA, native and Penn State grad (Class of 1971), has worked as a guide and cameraman on television productions for the BBC, Discov­ery Channel and National Geographic. He has written a dozen children's books about natural history and is currently preparing a new online series for young readers.  He has also published Breath of the Bear; a col­lection of non-fiction stories, including the tale of Buck's ancestor (and Seneca Indian chief) William Spicer, which is told, in part, by Buck's grandfather.

I met with Buck in January 2015, during his hiatus from the wilderness adventures he's enjoyed every summer for the past quar­ter-century. He talked about how a "CIA geek" named Sam Holderman became a wildlife behaviorist named Buck Wilde who, after being featured in a 2001 BBC broadcast, was dubbed "The Bear Whisperer" by the pro­gram's host, David Attenborough.

Read more

motion blurred imagery of yellow leaves on white barked aspen trees

Youth Aquatics Program Changes, Spring 2019

Greetings, Zenergy members and clinic patrons,

Zenergy has recently discontinued its Youth Aquatics Clinic programs. In their place, the club will offer semi-private Youth Swim Lessons, available to Duos, Trios, and Quads. These lessons are available to Zenergy Members only, and must be booked over the phone, via email, or in person at the club.

Zenergy's dedicated and talented aquatics instructors will be able to deliver a higher level of attention and more targeted instruction in developing youth swimmers as a result of these changes. The instructors are now more empowered to recommend to parents potential lesson groupings which will be of the highest benefit to their children, while parents will have increased control over their children's swimming schedules.

Youth Aquatics Clinics had frequently presented mismatches in terms of child swimming ability and compatibility. To relieve administrative burden and alleviate child frustration while also taking into consideration the overall demand of the Clinics on the club pool amenities relative to other usages, Zenergy made its decision to move forward offering Youth Swim Lessons in Duos, Trios, and Quads. Prior to the decision, we took note of feedback provided to us from various member and user groups, from our general membership, adult individual and Master's group swimmers, Pilates and Yoga practitioners, and from our clinic and its growing number of aquatic therapy patients.

If your family is directly affected by this change, please note that the aquatics staff, via Zenergy's Fitness Director Yvette Hubbard, can provide some level of assistance to you in coordinating child swim lessons. The goal is to match your child or children with others of similar ability and a complimentary disposition. While we hope to continue facilitating positive swim experiences for children, please do note that in this arrangement parents rightfully hold the primary responsibility of assessing all matters pertaining to our Youth Aquatics Lesson program.

At Zenergy, we have always been and will continue to be proud supporters of youth swimming. The Atkinson’s Park swim program has been with us for over a decade, a bond which represents just one of our long-term partnerships with the overall local community. All Zenergy swim programming for younger children has aimed to first and foremost get kids to being safe in the water. After that important goal is met, we have endeavored to take kids from being water-safe all the way through to the Atkinson’s Park program, where they get to work with our amazing swim coaches Ed and Maria. We have continued to be supporters of the Wood River High School Swim Team, with lap time provided at our outdoor pool over the past two years. Regardless of the youth programs we’ve promoted, Zenergy has always aimed to meet the needs of both parents and children, whenever and wherever we have taken on the responsibility and privilege of serving!

If these changes do affect you, I sincerely hope that your child benefits from the transition to our new Youth Aquatics Lessons program.  It is our sincere belief that the changes will result in a better experience for all, in and out of the water at Zenergy.

Sincerely yours,

Derek Agnew

Zenergy General Manager