From Craving Chocolate to Paving New Roads

From Craving Chocolate to Paving New Roads

“Back then, what I thought was healthy for me, wasn’t. I wanted to be healthier for my children and set a good example.

Waleska M.

Waleska is a mom with 2 part-time jobs who decided it was time to change the direction her weight was headed. In our interview with her, she shares how, even when surrounded by unhealthy food choices, she was able to decide on a lifestyle change and stick to it until she lost over 60 pounds! If you’re worried that you can’t make time for your health goals or that your environment hosts too many temptations to set you up for success, you need to read Waleska’s story! 

From Craving Chocolate to Paving New Roads 

My fitness journey started about 5 years ago,” explains Waleska. I was very overweight, and I realized I had to make a change when I gained 20 pounds in a single month. At the time, I worked for a chocolate company. I ate many chocolate chip cookies, drank hot chocolate, ate ice cream, and just overate when I was bored; but the chocolate boutique was the culprit. 

Back then, what I thought was healthy for me, wasn’t. I wanted to be healthier for my children and set a good example. 

Early Mornings at the Gym 

Once she realized her health was on the line and decided to be healthier for her kids, she started to plan around her existing schedule. My fitness routine starts in the morning right after my kids leave for school [and] I try to get it done before I start work. 

I first start off with a 5-10 min warm up on the treadmill or elliptical. I like to mix it up to avoid boredom, so I tend to alternate between lifting and calisthenics. I like to do overhead presses with squats, bicep curls, deadlifts, and chest flies. If I can’t make it to the gym, I try to do a 30minute workout video from YouTube like “Strong by Zumba. 

The important trend to notice here is in Waleska’s commitment to consistency. If she can fit gym time into her schedule, she’s got a backup plan and she sticks to it! 

 The Goal to Inspire 

Oftentimes we worry that we’ll have a hard time adjusting or adhering to whatever health goal we’re trying to accomplish. However, Waleska’s experience is a great example of how a healthy lifestyle is possible when you focus on what you love about it.

I enjoy working out and I’ve lost more than 60 pounds with physical activity and by watching what I eat,” she explains. I enjoy working with others, so I am currently studying to become a personal trainer to help others with their journey.  

In the end, the most important thing is that you “never give up” and that you “keep going, she exclaims. We all have the power within us to succeed in what we want to do! 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

For grammatical correctness, length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

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Member Spotlight | The Way to Wellness

Member Spotlight | The Way to Wellness

Be kind and gentle with yourself. In working out, praise yourself for what you were able to do.”

Ann B.

LA Fitness Member

Ann is an LA Fitness member who tells us she has always been on the heavy side. Partly after the emergence of some health problems, Ann began her movement towards weight loss.  

In the past 25 years, Ann has had 6 back surgeries, and again finds herself with 2 bulging discs. She joined the gym to build up strength in her body, especially her legs, hips, and arms. 2 mini strokes also left Ann with balance and endurance problems, yet this past fall she has already worked her way to losing 50 pounds! Her goal is to lose at least another 40 to 50 pounds. 

Read on to learn Ann’s story and to see how she determined that it was time to make a change. 


Emergency Surgery

In August of 2019, Ann underwent emergency surgery for a perforated bowel. While in the hospital for recovery, she rapidly lost 10 pounds. Upon returning home, her reduced appetite prompted even more weight loss: another 10 pounds.  

Seeing that she had lost 20 pounds, what was at first a scary situation became an opportunity for change. Now feeling better from her ordeal, Ann decided she would stick firmly to a 1200 calorie diet to start losing weight healthily. “I wasn’t exercising very much, so the weight was coming off slowly,” she shares. 

Despite her minimal exercise, the changes in her diet were helping. However, Ann still wanted to add activity to her life. 

I used to walk around the block everyday which equaled a mile with my walker. I can’t do that right now, so I was looking into finding a gym. I tried one I knew many people went to, but it was always too crowded, and I had to wait for machines. That’s not my cup of tea.  

I decided to look into LA Fitness. It is close to my home and things move right along. LA Fitness seemed to have what we needed. So, my husband and I became official members.” 

Finding Her Flow

“I feel better when I work out,” Ann says. The days she doesn’t, she feels like she’s just dragging through her day. Part of her transition to an active lifestyle, however, involved the need to find what worked for her body. If you recall, she has had her fair share of back pain and surgeries.  

“One day I over did it with some heavier weights and I had a painful back for four days. I need to find my comfort zone and stay there. I see others pushing themselves, and even though I want to, I know I can’t.” 

Ann’s experience with the heavier weights reminds us that even if we’re eager to make improvements, we can only do so by monitoring our progress with a critical eye. It’s important to ask yourself if your form is still good and if you are compromising your safety by trying to do too much before your body is ready. 

Ann’s Advice to You

We asked Ann, if she could give other gym-goers a piece of advice, what would it be? Her response was perfect: “Take care of yourself because no one else is going to. We are so busy taking care of others, we forget about ourselves. Be kind and gentle with yourself. In working out, praise yourself for what you were able to do.” 

We love this advice because not only do we agree on the importance of remembering to care for yourself, we also don’t think you have to keep up with everyone else in the gym. Your aim should simply be to challenge yourself to do better than you did in the past.  
Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

For grammatical correctness, length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

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Member Spotlight | Be Your Own Hero

Member Spotlight | Be Your Own Hero

The defining moment for me was definitely when I was chasing around my 15-month-old and realized that I was out of breath after just a couple of minutes. I knew that I could never be a good, active father if I kept up with the unhealthy lifestyle that I was living.

Tyler W.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

Moving Forward

Tyler is an LA Fitness member whose re-introduction to the gym completely changed the direction his life was headed. Having served in the U.S Army, Tyler was committed to training hard and staying in shape. With time, however, his activity levels dropped, and he found himself spending more and more time on the couch. In his interview, Tyler shares an honest admission to where he was before he turned onto a different path:  

“Anyone who knows anything about me knows that I’ve made mistakes in my life. Sure, I know we all have, but I know I’ve made some very big mistakes. My mistakes have cost me everything from my family, friends, finances, career advancements…you name it, really. I’ve screwed it up.

Earlier this year I found myself in an incredibly dark place. I had lost everything and everyone I cared about. I didn’t know what to do. I buried myself in work, and that didn’t help. It made my productivity even worse. I would come home and sleep. I would do nothing but lay on the couch and sleep.” 


Life Changing Moments Can Renew Your Motivation

If you’ve ever been in a dark place, you know how difficult it can be to find the motivation you need to pull yourself out of it. The longer you sit in your discomfort, the more difficult it becomes to find your way out. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle. Often, you’ll need a wakeup call that strikes a certain chord to help you. This is what happened with Tyler: 
“One day I met up with my son and his mom so that he and I could run around and play and so she and I could discuss our options moving forward. As my son and I ran around in front of Starbucks, I noticed that I was literally getting winded from just the small amount of time chasing him around. Now, while I was absolutely no Captain America, I served my time proudly in the US Army. I did ridiculous amounts of PT and kept myself in good shape. Oh, yeah…and then I got old and lazy. I couldn’t believe I was winded chasing around a 15-month-old! 

It was at this moment that I decided to try and get back to the gym. Now, if I’m being completely honest, I used a 5-day free guest pass because I almost knew that it would be just a couple day phase and then I’d be back on the couch. I worked out that first day (and by workout, I mean I did the stair-master at a pace that would have been laughed at by sloths). Before I left, I was approached and taken over to a desk to discuss membership options. In all reality, they were dirt cheap. I didn’t pay any enrollment fee, and it was all month to month, so I figured no harm no foul. 

I found myself back the next day. And the next day. And days upon days in a row after that. Every time I’d go, I would re-familiarize myself with a machine or a workout that I hadn’t done in...uh….quite some time. It became a personal challenge to myself to see just how long and hard I could push myself. In three months’ time, I lost 3 inches on my waist. I’ve lost 7% body fat and I’ve lost a total of 35 pounds. Most people would say, that’s awesome! For me, it’s not about what I’ve lost. It’s about what I’ve gained. I have gained an entirely new outlook and perspective on life.  

Being at LA Fitness everyday has become my therapy. It’s become my sanctuary. It’s given me more mental strength than physical, and for me, that’s exactly what I need.” 


All You Need is to Take the First Step

This all took place over the course of just a few months! Tyler made the decision to change his physical and mental well-being in late June of this year. It really came down to the fact that he made a choice and was determined to follow-through. He goes on to say: 

“At the end of the day, I say all this, not for a pat on the back or for a “yay me” moment. I’m hoping that if there is anyone who needed to hear these words, that they have heard them by reading this. No matter what you’re facing in life, you can go out there and make it better. You HAVE to keep pushing. Find something that will keep you going. Find your sanctuary.” 

Tyler plans to continue his health and fitness endeavors by studying nutrition and learning how it works for everyone individually. He attributes a lot of his success to his mindfulness of his food choices and hopes to expand his knowledge even further. He has also recently added HIIT by LAF to his routine and happily reports “I am LOVING it!” 

LA Fitness played a role in his motivation too. There’s just something contagious about the energy of others who are also working hard to achieve their personal goals. Tyler explains: 

I love the familiar faces at my gym. Seeing the same people day in and day out, pushing themselves to their limits to reach their goals helps me keep going. 99% of the people, you never meet, but just seeing their drive on a day to day basis helps keep you going.” 


Be Your Own Hero

Tyler has seen his fair share of hard times and knows that other people face similar struggles. His advice? 

“Don’t stop. Whatever you do…don’t stop. There are times it’ll hurt. Keep pushing. Sore? Keep pushing. Tired? Keep pushing. Emotionally drained? Keep pushing. Frustrated? Keep pushing. Never tell yourself that you can’t do something. Get out there and keep pushing. Be your own hero.” 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

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Member Spotlight | Fountain of Youth

Member Spotlight | Fountain of Youth

“If there is a fountain of youth, there’s a good chance it can be found (after a certain amount of sweating) within the walls of the gym.” 

Paul S.

LAF Member, LA Fitness

Paul and Karen have been members of LA Fitness for over 25 years and have lived an active lifestyle for even longer than that. We reached out to this inspiring couple to hear first-hand how they made fitness a priority and managed to maintain it as a lifelong standard. 

Where Their Story Begins 

Well before these two even met, they each enjoyed activities like swimming, jogging, cross-country running, and long bike rides in the city and by the river.  

These weren’t any ordinary activities, however. Karen started swimming at age 6 and eventually joined her high school swim team, while Paul’s bike rides would typically be around 20 miles long! 

In 1978, Paul was hit by a car on his bike ride home from work. He had his eyes set on a 10K that was merely a month from then, and though he had stopped running due to a cross country injury 7 years prior, he promised himself he would recover from the accident in order to run the 10K. He has been running ever since. 


Paul and Karen Meet and Compete 

“Karen and I met at UCR where I had noticed her swimming and found out about a team triathlon coming up,” explains Paul. “She said she’d do the one-mile ocean swim in Baja on our team…We won that triathlon in 1982. Ever since, we have inspired each other to keep going and shared and traded our fitness ideas and commitments.” 

Winning the triathlon was clearly only the beginning of a lifetime of setting and hitting fitness goals together, but it was never just about training for the races. Paul reminds us that together, they “have looked at fitness as a very important part of life in the very long run.”  

“Probably the most unusual thing about both of us,” he says, “is that we both value health and fitness very highly and have for a long time, long enough ago that we can’t say when this commitment began.” 

25 Years of LA Fitness 

Over the years, Karen adopted some of Paul’s fitness routines, like lifting weights, and he adopted some of hers, like swimming. “In 1994, Karen had an opportunity to join LA Fitness (in Upland, CA) and she got me to join then too,” says Paul. “There was no LA Fitness near our home (in San Diego County) for another 8 years, but we used the Upland gym whenever possible, in hopes that someday one would open closer to us.” 

To put this information into perspective, consider this very rough estimate: San Diego is about 116 miles from Upland. This means that in moderate California traffic, that drive can take over 2 hours! 

Paul and Karen’s Fitness Regimen 

To keep his exercise routine consistent, Paul continued to work out at UC Riverside. In the ‘70s, he took a weight class that utilized an old Universal all-in-one station. “My current routine may still have echoes of those early days,” he says.  

“Later, when I had access to free weights and separate weight stations, I observed others and developed a routine that focused on my weaknesses and mixed up lifts so different muscle groups wouldn’t get overused. I added or modified lifts and the order I did things to get the most out of my time.” 

When Karen graduated, she found a job and utilized her lunch times to swim or run. “Later, she attended various gyms (that are no longer in existence) near home when she had the chance. She has expanded and adjusted her weight program as well, finding a routine that fits her best.” 

Building onto Their Routine 

“Once our local LA Fitness opened in Vista, we were in heaven. Our formerly limited routine could be infinitely enlarged because of all the machines and range of weights and cardio equipment available. Karen found much more suitable machines for her and continues to add or adjust her program. I have done the same.” 

At this point, Paul and Karen were able to add a core weight and a core cardio routine to their gym sessions. They complete their weight circuits twice a week and do various cardio workouts 4 days a week. “We don’t do cardio and weights on the same day,” clarifies Paul, because that would mean “we would have to reduce the intensity of both if we had to do both in one session.” 

“Here is where we might be different than most people,” says Paul. “We like cardio and we push hard. We attend one spin class each week and run once a week. Karen likes the different elliptical machines and will use the pool, while I will go between the stationary bike, rowing machine, and elliptical machines.” 

For the most part, Paul and Karen work out 6 times a week and have been doing so for years. Still, “we look forward to our trips to the gym as much as ever.”  

The Fitness Bug is in The Family and Encouraged by Friends 

As regular gym-goers, Paul and Karen have come to know many people at the gym who they’ve become close friends with over the years. “Even the maintenance guy at our gym often seeks us out to ask how the machines are doing,” Paul says.  

“Having been doing fitness for so long, age has become a slight modifier as well.  Neither of us can run or swim as fast as we could in our invincible 20s, but surprisingly we can do just about everything we ever have, with little change over time. We still challenge ourselves and will increase a weight every now and then. Karen and I do bench press together, and have fun encouraging each other (and now our sons, who also are members).” 

The Fountain of Youth 

If there was one thing these two enjoy most about working out, “it would probably be the satisfaction of knowing that we are doing the most important thing we can do to maintain a high level of health. We are evading a lot of problems people acquire as they get older mainly because we are serious about staying as fit as we can. If there is a fountain of youth, there’s a good chance it can be found (after a certain amount of sweating) within the walls of the gym.” 

Perhaps a great advantage is in the fact that they share the same love for fitness and healthy living. “We have met a lot of people at the gym who wish their significant other was there with them,” explains Paul. “Without that encouragement it must be a lot harder to maintain what should be a lifelong commitment. We both willingly set aside the time to work out and understand how important it is for both of us.” 

In addition to working out together, they also work out alone. They make sure to do what they individually need to do in the gym and will help each other on certain equipment throughout their exercise.  

Their Advice to You 

“If there could only be one piece of advice, it would be: Make fitness an essential part of life.  

The unsaid corollaries of that statement would be ‘Don’t quit, ever!’ and ‘Do a lot of cardio, and a lot of sweating.’” 

It may be easier said than done, but Paul and Karen have proven that despite injury, regardless of age, and with the support of like-minded support systems, maintaining an active lifestyle is possible and enjoyable! You just need to find what works for you and keep driving yourself forward. 

Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 

For length and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 


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Member Spotlight | Lessons from Triathlete, Dave Ruby

Member Spotlight | Lessons from Triathlete, Dave Ruby

“There’s an entry level for everyone…Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something. Don’t let your head tell you, you can’t.

Dave Ruby

LAF Member and Champion Triathlete

Dave Ruby is a fierce athlete with an impressive drive and an even more impressive attitude. At age 59 and having competed in and conquered Triathlons all over the world, he is certainly a force to be reckoned with.  

To give you some perspective, Dave Ruby has raced in Ironman and Xterra Triathlon Championship Competitions on 6 continents and has earned World and National Champion titles in addition to claiming multiple first place wins.   

While his accomplishments are staggering, Ruby sets his focus on the enjoyment of his lifestyle and the benefits of cultivating a healthy body and mind. We interviewed him to find out how he manages his training and stays physically and mentally dialed in. After all, before he was Dave Ruby the Triathlete, he was a surfer, cyclist, and regular LA Fitness gym-goer. 

To show you that the willingness to put in the work, and the enjoyment of that work, can take you from ordinary to extraordinary, allow us to take you into the life of Triathlete, Dave Ruby. 

Where Ruby’s Fitness Journey Began 

Before he started competing in Triathlons, Ruby enjoyed running, surfing, and cycling. One year, he decided he would enter his first Ironman run. As he ran, his body protested, and his mind told him this was something he should never do again. He has competed every year since. 

We asked Ruby what many of you are probably thinking now. What got you back out there after that first punishing experience?  

He responded that he learned to listen to the aches and pains in his body and take breaks to recover. Yes, that first experience was physically and mentally taxing, but caring for his body is what made the difference. It probably also helps that he is surrounded by others who also love the active lifestyle. In fact, his wife also happens to be a Triathlon champion! 

The Transition to Competitive Training 

Transitioning from training for the sake of living a healthy lifestyle, to competitive training for advanced challenges like Triathlons, was another turning point. Ruby reminds us that this isn’t an overnight change and that the body gets faster and more fit the more you continue to workoutwork out and test your limits. 

There seems to be no active intention to give a little more to each training session because he genuinely enjoys the process. Race day is, in his mind, another (but more challenging) workout. We think this is likely the key to it all. The mindset doesn’t sit in the idea that this is just hard work; it revels in the process and enjoys the moment. 

It’s true that for Ruby, sometimes it’s about setting a personal record and seeing himself outperform his prior abilities, but his favorite thing about competing is actually the travel and comradery! He enjoys the landscapes, the wildlife, and the people wherever he goes. 

“I absolutely love traveling to far off places, seeing a new part of the world, [and experiencing] the heart of the area,” says Ruby. You are sure to find him “wandering like a local and experiencing the heart and soul of the cultures” when he’s not competing. 

Preparing for Competition Day 

All year long, Ruby keeps a base in terms of physical activity. “I put in 5 to 6-mile bike rides to train and do a lot of off-road bike rides,” he says. “While I’m out there, I look for wildlife, and enjoy it too. I enjoy the work. I strength train 3 to 4 times a week at the gym and swim,” he explains. Essentially, he strengthens the swimming, running, and cycling muscles so that they are conditioned for the type of work they need to do in competition. 

His mental preparation looks a little different. There’s really no preparation beforehand because “running is a form of meditation” in and of itself, he says; “you get into a zone.” Perhaps the only thing he does differently, is the way he focuses his mental state before competition. He recognizes that “I’m out there to do the best I can for that day. A win isn’t a guarantee, anything can happen” (like a mechanical issue, an injury, etc.). He acknowledges the lack of control over certain environmental, mechanical, and chance-based circumstances and can simply focus on giving the best he has to offer.  

It’s also important not to overdo your preparation before a big race, he notes. “You’re better off going into a race 10% undertrained than 1% over trained,” Ruby says, and we completely agree.  

Ruby’s Advice 

If you’re skeptical of your own ability to live an active lifestyle or accomplish a challenge you’ve set your eyes on, Ruby reminds us that “there’s an entry level for everyone.” Everyone’s starting point will be different and even the best athletes were beginners at some point.  

Unless you’ve got doctor’s orders, you’ve got to start with something,” says Ruby. “If you think you can’t do it, that’s an excuse. If it’s doctor’s orders that’s different, but don’t let your head tell you that you can’t.” 

Closing Thoughts 

In the end, whether you are a serious athlete, you exercise for your health, or you’ve struggled to get started, what you can take away from Ruby’s story is this: 

  1. Everyone starts somewhere so don’t be afraid to take the first step 
  2. Choose an activity you get enjoyment from and look forward to 
  3. Surround yourself with people who share the same passion for living an active lifestyle 
  4. Come to terms with the possibility that anything can happen to mentally prepare for big challenges 
  5. Don’t let your head tell you that you can’t accomplish something big 

To hear straight from the man himself, listen to Episode 35 of our Podcast and listen to our discussion with Dave Ruby. Do you have an inspirational story you’d like to share with us? Email us at for a chance to be featured in an upcoming post! 


For length, and clarity, minor edits – none of which alter the original or intended meaning – have been made to the quotes provided. 

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