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Yoga Strength & Flex

From February 07, 2017 To December 26, 2017
10:05 AM - 11:15 AM

Yoga Strength & Flex

From February 06, 2017 To December 25, 2017
10:05 AM - 11:15 AM

Yoga Basics

From February 06, 2017 To December 25, 2017
8:45 AM - 9:40 AM

Battling Weight Loss: Q&A with Michael Thomas

We first sat down with long-time Center for Health & Fitness (CHF) member Michael Thomas back in 2013 to learn about his ongoing fight to shed weight from his nearly 400-pound frame. At the time, he had successfully dropped nearly 80 pounds in just four months and his trainer, Derick Malit, had set a goal for Michael to someday earn recognition at CHF’s annual Spirit of Wellness celebration, which honors members who are overcoming daunting health challenges through determination and fitness.

We recently sat down again with Michael, 63, to talk about his progress since the last interview and to explore what drives him to keep returning to the gym and fighting to lose weight.

It’s been awhile since our last interview, so how are things going for you physically?

“I’m getting better in terms of working out on a regular basis and getting stronger. I’m seeing improvement in the exercises that my trainer, Derick (Malit), asks me to do, especially the outdoor cone drills that we do. When I started doing those drills it took me more than fifteen minutes to complete them, but now I’m doing them in seven with fewer rest breaks. So I’m happy about that.”

How has your weight loss been going?

“My weight is going down slowly. I’ve lost about 90 pounds in the past five years. I’ve hit some plateaus, which stalled my progress, but my weight hasn’t ever gone back up. Since my leg injury, I’ve started going on walks around my neighborhood streets on every off day to stay active. What’s funny is my neighbors are always stopping and asking me if I’m okay, because they see me sweating like crazy and probably looking really bad. But I just laugh and tell them, ‘I’m okay. I’m just exercising!’”

Have you suffered any setbacks since our last interview?

“About two years ago, I hurt my knee. I was doing something that I shouldn’t have been doing. I was getting into a car awkwardly because I was standing in a ditch essentially. I ended up putting too much stress on my knee and had to go see the doctor.”

How did the injury impact you mentally?

“It was tough, but I knew I could get through it. What helps is I have a positive attitude. I never say, ‘I’m never going to be able to do it,’ or ‘I’ll never make it.” I just take it one day at a time, because it’s about making little lifestyle changes like ordering grilled fish and vegetables at dinner instead of the burger and fries or steak. Simple stuff, but not always easy stuff. And Derick’s voice is ringing in my head all the time, because I know that each week I have to weigh myself. So that motivates me to make better, healthier decisions.”

I see you’re wearing a Fitbit now, has it helped?

“Getting a Fitbit has helped motivate me to walk more. The goal is 10,000 steps a day, and if I’m anywhere near that by 8, 9 o’clock at night you might just see me walking around the block to get those extra steps in before bed. I’ve done it so much at this point that I know exactly how far around the block I need to go to get those last 2,000 steps, too. One night my wife and I were both outside our house at 10 o’clock at night just pacing back and forth trying to hit our goals before bed. I really like using the fitbit because it’s so satisfying to reach those little goals.”

What’s been your biggest challenge?

“Nutrition, because I slip sometimes, but also building muscle strength and getting my body in sync to where walking or running isn’t an issue. But I’m getting there with Derick’s help. I know I can do it, and he keeps pushing me.”

What are you doing to overcome those challenges?

“I stay on track and keep coming to the gym. I’m here three days a week, even my family knows not to bug me on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Those days I belong to CHF. And it’s easy for me to come to the gym because it makes me feel good; I like the people and the atmosphere because they help keep me on track.”

What are your goals for the next year?

“I need to lose another 50 pounds. My doctor set that goal for me because I don’t want to get the weight-loss surgery he recommended. So once I drop another 50 pounds, we won’t have to have that conversation again. So that’s my first big goal. I’m not looking for a quick fix. I’m interested in living a healthy lifestyle and making choices that make my life better.”

What does health mean to you?

“Health to me is a feeling. When you’re healthy you enjoy life and participate in the things going on around you. At some point my daughter will probably have kids, and I want to be able to keep up with them, play with them and just be with them. So my vision of health is living a lifestyle that allows me to do the things I want without much trouble. And that’s what I’m working towards; that’s why I keep coming to the gym.”

What advice would you give to someone struggling to lose weight?

“Just keep at it. Don’t look for a quick fix. Take it slow and keep making baby steps. Find positive things to focus on, like if you’re eating better or exercising more, and don’t let yourself give up on a healthy lifestyle.”

CHF Open House, January 7th

Bring a friend to the Open House and you’ll receive a $20 credit on your account!

Start the New Year off right by attending CHF’s Open House on Saturday, January 7th from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. The event is open to the public and will include free classes (Yoga, Group Exercise and Mat Pilates), free educational health lectures from subject-matter experts and healthy food samples.

What’s more, any CHF member who brings a friend (non-member) with them to the Open House will receive a $20 credit on their account – which can be used toward any purchase at CHF, including massages, personal training, etc., but excluding monthly membership dues.

If your friend decides to become a member at the Open House, they will get a free month of membership and a $100 credit.

Visit for complete details.

‘Joie De Vivre’: Carol Schiewe’s Unshakable Love of Life

Carol has two types of cancer, one extremely rare neurological disease and ZERO reasons to skip the gym.

Carol Schiewe refuses to let anything strip away her joy for life. And by anything the 57-year-old member of BCHD’s Center for Health & Fitness (CHF) means anything.

A malignant tumor in her breast that was larger than any her doctors had ever seen didn’t dampen it. A second cancer diagnosis just a year later, this time in her thyroid, couldn’t shake it. And being blindsided in early 2016 with news that she was just the 271st person in the world to be diagnosed with a rare degenerative brain disorder that threatens to leave her immobile, deaf and incontinent, well, that actually made her laugh.

“When they said I had superficial siderosis, I smiled and said ‘okay, well, check that one off the list,’” laughs Carol, a loving mother, wife and former registered dietitian for trauma and cancer units. “My reaction may seem odd to some, but there’s not much that can get me down at this point because I stopped taking myself so seriously a long time ago. I live in the moment and take the time to appreciate the life happening around me. This allows me to find joy in little things, like going to concerts with my daughter. My challenges are honestly just a blip on the radar.”

Carol applies this positive, can-do attitude to every aspect of her life, including fitness. Back in 2010, the year of her second cancer diagnosis, she joined the Center for Health & Fitness — a low-cost community gym operated by Beach Cities Health District in Redondo Beach — and began taking a slew of exercise classes, doing cardio and working with a personal trainer five to six days a week to keep her weight down and offset the negative effects of cancer treatments.

In the six years since, despite enduring an unimaginable number of surgeries, treatments, tests and doctor appointments, she still hasn’t deviated from her exercise routine. In fact, she’s lost 30 pounds, packed on lean muscle and reports to be “in the best physical health of my adult life.”

We sat down with Carol to hear more about her inspirational journey as well as to discover what fuels her insatiable resolve to keep fighting, laughing and living with contagious joy.

Q: Wow, where do we start? What was it like …

Carol: “Being diagnosed with cancer twice in two years, and then finding out about my brain disorder?”

Q: Yeah, how do you even begin to process that?

Carol: “The first cancer diagnosis was surreal. I was so used to being on the other end of that conversation from my time as a registered dietitian in cancer wards, that it really hit me hard to hear the news. But I did cancer by acceptance, meaning I didn’t go to any support groups or seek counseling. I just followed my doctor’s instructions, took the treatment and kept moving forward. Kept checking off the boxes and following the plan. That approach worked for me. One step, one day at a time. It’s like that song 99 bottles of beer on the wall, ‘you take one down, pass it around’ … I put my head down and just keep going. It’s gotten to the point where I keep getting dealt strange hands, but I’m not giving up. So bring it on.”

Q: You have such a good attitude, but what motivates you to keep fighting?

Carol: “I have this incredible kid, an amazing young woman who is 21 years old. Emma is brilliant, she listens to me and we can have conversations that most mothers and daughters don’t. If I didn’t have her, this might have been a different story. Because when I don’t want to take my medicine or do treatments, I’d remind myself that I’m doing this for my daughter. I want to see her grow up, graduate college and start a life. Without that motivation, yeah, I may not be able to keep going.”

Q: Is that the key to persevering when you have cancer — focusing on what or who you’re living for?

Carol: “Yes, but I also think you have to find the humor. Find the humor, humanity and the beauty, or whatever aspect of the situation that you consider to be positive in your life. It’s difficult to explain, but with my third diagnosis — the rare brain disorder — I really had to find a static focus and hone in on what keeps me going, which is laughing, my daughter and living with joy.”

Q: How did you receive the news that you became only the 271st person in the world diagnosed with superficial siderosis?

Carol: “When my doctor said that I have a degenerative brain disorder that only 271 people on earth have, I looked back at him and said ‘okay’ and then just laughed at the absurdity of it all – I mean who knows what that all means anyway?”

Q: But it’s a very serious disorder, right? How do you laugh in that situation?

Carol: “Well, what are you going to do? Yeah, it’s serious, but it’s not going to stop me in my tracks. I guess I’ve always had a very sick sense of humor, which helps. But as I’ve aged, I’ve become this different person who doesn’t take me too seriously. It took time to learn that life isn’t all about me and it’s so dynamic that I have to evolve and just go with things. And that’s what I’m doing.”

Q: What role has exercise played in your recovery, either physically or mentally? Is it an escape?

Carol: “Honestly, I love the accepting atmosphere and people at the Center for Health & Fitness, but I hate working out, because I sweat like a pig and it’s really difficult for me. But I know that it’s what I have to do to give myself a fighting chance. So, again, I put my head down and keep going. Exercise isn’t really an escape for me — music is my escape per say; I absolutely love music — but I know that keeping my body in as good of condition as I can gives me a better chance to survive surgeries, treatment and to keep living with a good quality of life. For example, I was walking around the halls of Cedar Sinai completely unassisted the morning after my spinal surgery; and I was back working out at CHF within 12 days of the operation. That wouldn’t have happened if I didn’t make myself exercise.”

Q: Can you describe your current exercise routine?

Carol: “I go to the Center for Health & Fitness five to six days a week to take group exercise classes. I do Pilates, yoga, spinning — I love Manuela’s spinning class, she’s amazing. I also do at least an hour of cardio and, of course, meet with my trainer at least two to three times per week. Like I said, exercise doesn’t come easily to me, but it’s something that I know I need to do for my health. So I do it.”

Q: How do you motivate yourself to keep coming back to the gym in the midst of so much adversity?

Carol: “I don’t allow myself to wallow in my sorrow. I don’t have time for that. It’s just mind over matter: ‘I don’t mind, and it doesn’t matter.’ I also have a great personal trainer, Derick Malit, the man with the 100-watt smile, and a gym full of supporters and friends. So I keep coming to the Center for Health & Fitness, keep sweating and keep living.”

Q: What’s the current status of your cancer and superficial siderosis?

Carol: “I don’t get a pass on my breast cancer until I reach ten years, because of the size of the tumor. So it’s active. I just had a genetic test done and two markers lit up, which likely means breast cancer and colon cancer. So I have to be vigilant because I will likely still develop something because of my family history and the scope of my tumor. It would be amazing if I dodge the bullet, but not likely. And there’s also a good chance I will start seeing symptoms like loss of hearing, possible loss of mobility and bowel control from my siderosis 15 to 20 years down the road. But that remains to be seen, so I’m not worrying about that stuff. Remember, I just keep smiling and moving forward.”

Q: So how do you plan to live out the remainder of your life, however long it may be?

Carol: “With joie de vivre.”

Q: What does that mean?

Carol: “That’s French for joy of living. I cannot allow cancer or anything else to define who I am. I have cancer, but cancer doesn’t have me. I have superficial siderosis, but it doesn’t have me. I’m not going to let it have me. So right now I’m going to keep laughing; I’m going to keep singing like a crazy person in my car; I’m going to keep going to concerts with my daughter; and I’m just going to keep loving life.

‘Black Friday’ Deal: Free H2GO Force Water Bottle

From Nov. 21-28, purchase a CHF exercise pack and receive a customized stainless steel water bottle

During the week of “Black Friday,” Center for Health & Fitness (CHF) members who purchase an exercise pack will be rewarded with a free special-edition CHF water bottle – making now the perfect time for you to reward yourself with the gift of fitness!  

The 17-ounce “CHF Blue” water bottles are stainless steel and double-walled with copper vacuum insulation to keep cold drinks cold for up to 24 hours and warm drinks warm for 12 hours.

The Black Friday Deal is limited to the first 130 people who purchase a minimum of one 4-pack of yoga, Pilates, personal training or massage – or enroll in Small Group Training, Foundation Series or Weight and Nutrition Management – between the dates of Nov. 21-28. The offer is limited to one water bottle per person and past purchases do not qualify.

Visit the CHF front desk to see the special-edition water bottles. For more information, please click here.

Shoo the Flu

Learn healthy tips and strategies to help guard against the seasonal flu – which generally peaks during the winter months

Flu season is beginning to peak in California, and early surveillance indicates the potential for a severe season due to constantly changing and emerging strains of the virus (i.e. H3N2 in 2014/15 and H1N1 in 2009). Outbreaks of the flu can occur as early as October and as late as May – this eight-month window is known as flu season.

What type of flu season is expected this year?  

It’s impossible to predict how the current flu season will play out, however, we do know that the flu spreads every year during the same general timeframe (Oct. – May). So it’s very important to use preventive measures to limit your exposure to the virus during this time.

When should I get vaccinated against the flu?

The CDC recommends that everyone six months of age and older receive the vaccine as early as possible – usually in October or November depending on supply. It can take up to two weeks for the antibodies to develop in the body and fully protect against the flu virus. If you haven’t received the flu shot, please do so as quickly as possible to maximize its effectiveness for the current season.

What additional measures can I take to protect myself and my family from the flu?

When it comes to a virus like the flu, an ounce of prevention is worth more than a pound of cure. Preventive measures to guard against the flu virus include:

  • Washing your hands regularly with soap and water. 
  • Eat a rainbow of farm-fresh fruits and vegetables with every meal.
  • Play outside with your children as much as you can.
  • Teach your children to sneeze and cough into the crooks of their elbows.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, face and nose.  
  • Keep your children home from school when they are sick.
  • Stay home from work when you are ill.
  • If you or your children are sick, limit their contact with others.

If you are at high risk for flu-related complications and experience flu-like symptoms, contact your health care provider as soon as possible. Your provider can prescribe antiviral medications, which work best when started within two days of the onset of flu symptoms.

Visit for more information about the 2015-16 flu season.

Long-time CHF member helping to create safe “Streets for All”

It’s rare that a simple purchase has a long-lasting impact on your life. But for Center for Health & Fitness member Julian Katz, purchasing a bicycle 27 years ago sent him pedaling down a path that eventually landed him the well-earned nickname of “Cycling King of Hermosa Beach.” During the past three decades, Julian worked tirelessly as a community advocate for safer streets and respectful use of the roads for everyone. His efforts led to the installation of 40-plus miles of bikeways throughout seven separate cities in the South Bay, including the first bikeway in the Beach Cities.

We sat down with Julian to see how he put his plan into gear to help make safe “Streets for All.”

Q: You've been referred to as the “Cycling King of Hermosa Beach.” How did you earn this title?
“When I first came out here, my wife was still in Philadelphia. The first weekend it seemed like there wasn’t much to do, so I figured I'd buy a bicycle. I hadn't been on a bike in 30 years probably, so I started to just ride in the afternoons after work, and on the weekends. I just liked it.

I kept riding recreationally and about nine years ago, I became a Public Works Commissioner in Hermosa Beach. In that commission, I encouraged the department to form a subcommittee to see if we could develop a Bike Master Plan in Hermosa Beach, because I would ride a lot and see there were very few facilities for bicycles. So we formed a subcommittee with the Parks and Recreation Commission and developed the Hermosa Beach Bike Master Plan, which allowed us to put the first bikeway on Hermosa Avenue.

In the course of doing all of that, I got to know fellow cyclists in Manhattan Beach and Redondo Beach and we decided we would try to get seven cities together and develop a multi-city bike master plan, later called the South Bay Bicycle Master Plan. We corralled the seven cities (El Segundo, Manhattan Beach, Hermosa Beach, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Lawndale and Gardena) and got them to apply for a grant with the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health and they were awarded a quarter-million dollars.”

Q: What would you say was the biggest challenge in applying for the grant and getting seven cities to collaborate?
“After getting the grant, building the plan and getting it approved, we discovered the biggest obstacle is getting the cities to implement what they said they were going to do – set up 213 miles of bikeways by 2020 – and we've probably done only 30 or 40 miles. So there's still a long way to go, and we've eaten up five years. So that's the challenge.”

Q: For those who are not familiar with the South Bay Bike Coalition, can you explain your role with the organization and what the SBBC does?
“We created the South Bay Bike Coalition to apply for the grant. Our role has been constructive advocacy. We worked through the plan and are constructively advocating for its implementation. Jim Hannon was part of our coalition. He founded the Beach Cities Cycling Club and asked me to be the Vice President of that organization, so I fill that role too. Our objectives are very similar, but the cycling club isn’t meant for advocating. They are ride monitors and leaders who provide education. We're in the midst of trying to merge the two organizations because it seems like a natural way to get people more into advocacy and to bring them together, so hopefully it will work out.”

Q: What is your favorite Blue Zones Project “Power 9 Principle?”
“I like Purpose. That's been pretty important in my life. To have an objective, a goal and a plan. I'm an engineer, and we work pretty much according to a plan. We have a schedule, we write things down and we have a goal – it may not be today's goal, but I try to stick with it. I don't operate randomly very often.”

Q: What further improvements can be made to increase the livability of our streets?
“Making it safer for pedestrians – getting cars to slow down is a big one. We don't need to drive as fast as we do. We're going to get out of our cars whether we like it or not. By making the streets safer for pedestrians and cyclists, we can encourage younger people to ride or walk to school, get exercise and be healthier. It's pretty clear from what I've read that if you get exercise in the morning, before you go to school, you're far more alert when the day begins, and you're more open to learning, instead of waking up during first period.”

Q: What can bicyclists as well as motorists do to help improve bike safety in the Beach Cities?
“The most important thing is to be respectful of any person with whom you share the road. We have a pamphlet called "Share the Road" – it’s rules of the road for cyclists and motorists. And that's one of the things SBBC works for is to get people on bicycles to be respectful and not try to take the whole road. We have a lot of cyclists in the South Bay who like to ride fast in groups and not share the road, and they can be very aggressive. That's not an effective way to get cooperation, so it’s really about mutual respect.”

Q: What sparked your transition from bicyclist to bicycling advocate?
“It wasn't safe enough! I looked around at the rest of the world and a lot was happening to increase bike safety in Europe and other parts of the United States, but not much was happening in the South Bay. And it’s the perfect place! The weather is good all year around, but there was very little interest. So we worked to spark interest, and the number of people riding bikes has increased noticeably over the past 5 years, especially among women. So I’m doing what I can to help those new riders and make all rides safer.”

Q: If you could live in any of the original Blue Zones which would you choose?
“Oh, well I like Sardinia. We've been there! I loved the island. I like the beach. I have a boat, so why would I want to be in Loma Linda? You can have a boat in Sardinia, easily, but not inland like that.”

Q: Any words of advice to someone interested in biking in the Beach Cities?
“We always welcome new advocates and people who want to work with the public, cities, commissions and city councils to make the cities safer for everyone! We all can benefit from safer streets.”

-- By Michael Lindsey, Communications Intern

Q&A: Meet CHF’s Newest Personal Trainer, Danielle Clark

Finding and selecting the personal trainer who best suits your individual health needs – and personality! – can be a bit overwhelming. Fortunately, we’ve done most of the work for you by assembling a deeply qualified and credentialed team of personal trainers who will help you achieve your fitness goals and commit to a lifestyle of health – regardless of your age, experience or ability level.

Today, we’re excited to introduce the newest member of our fitness team, Danielle Clark – who sat down with us recently to discuss her background, training style and to offer up some fun facts about herself along the way.

Q: Where are you from?

A: I was born and raised in a small town in eastern Idaho called Idaho Falls, where most of my family still lives today. I moved to Boise for college and earned my bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology from Boise State University. After graduating, I made the move to Southern California to pursue my dream of living in year-round sunshine, because those Idaho winters are cold.”

Q: So is it safe to assume you’re a Boise State football fan living in Trojan/Bruin country?

A: “I’m still a Bronco fan, but a lot of my interest in college football left with coach Petersen’s departure to coach the University of Washington. The rumors floated around for years, but we never thought he’d actually leave.”

Q: Can you describe your background in health and fitness?

A: “I earned my master’s in exercise physiology and nutrition from California State University, Long Beach, then spent time working as an exercise physiologist/research assistant for UC Irvine on an NIH-funded study examining the health of middle school students.

Currently, I’m working as an exercise physiologist for the Santa Ana College Fire Technology Department, where I assist with the administration of fitness assessments to fire fighters throughout Los Angeles County to ensure they are physically fit for duty. Most of my time is devoted to evaluating internal and external signs of physical health, so I bring that unique perspective to my clients as a personal trainer.”

Q: What do you like most about the Center for Health & Fitness?

A: “Honestly, the people and the environment. CHF has such a community feel, and the members are so welcoming and supportive of each other’s goals. It’s a completely different experience than 24 Hour Fitness or Equinox where it can be intimidating for a person in their 50s, 60s or 70s to exercise. CHF removes that barrier completely, which is really special.”

Q: What can a client expect when they sign up to train with you?

A: “So many burpees! No, I’m kidding. In all honesty, I try to make exercise fun for my clients, because the perception that exercise can’t be enjoyable deters people from coming to the gym. Yes, I’m going to hold my clients accountable, but I’m also going to be a good listener and tailor the training program to fit their unique needs and incorporate exercises they enjoy.”

Q: What is your personal philosophy on fitness?

A: “Fitness is all-encompassing. So just going to the gym everyday doesn’t mean you’re healthy. It requires a holistic approach – working on cardio, using resistance training, improving flexibility as well as committing to a healthy diet and lifestyle outside the gym. I encourage my clients to focus on small changes now that will make a big impact down the road.”

 Q: Have you met the other CHF personal trainers and, if so, will you wear brighter neon clothing combinations than fellow trainer Derick Malit?

A: “The other trainers are really great. And, yes, I think I comment on Derick’s flashy outfits every time I see him. Oh by the way, his color-coordinated ensemble was neon red today. But I just might be able to give him a run for his money with my colorful collection of yoga pants.”

Q: Are you going to be teaching yoga class at CHF as well?

A: “Yes, I’m going to be teaching a yin and yang combo class for all ages and abilities on Friday mornings at 8 a.m. I’ve been practicing yoga for more than eight years and earned my teaching certifications earlier this year. I love yoga, so I’m really excited to get started.”

Q: What is something fun or interesting about your life that might surprise people?

A: “I danced competitively my whole life and actually danced on an NBA D-League team in Boise called the Idaho Stampede for four years.”