Our August Client Spotlight is on one of our long time clients and our 2014 Fab Fusionista – Emily Cowden. You’ve probably seen her around the studio, noticing at first her svelte, sculpted body and stylish dark hair with blunt bangs. And if you’ve ever talked to her you’ve no doubt seen her gorgeous, kind smile – she’s one of those women who exudes originality and a genuine interest in others so that you just can’t help but to feel good around her.
Her dedication to almost daily Fusion classes (“when you find a fitness routine you love, you’ll prioritize it”) made her the perfect candidate for our Fab Fusionista – but even more so, her positive and supportive attitude towards the women around her is a characteristic to be celebrated. As a wife, mom of three boys (6,9, and 11), and part time Nurse Practitioner in children’s oncology, she shows us that it can all really be done if it makes you happy - we sat down with her learn more about her family, her healthy habits, and what she enjoys outside of getting her sweat on at Fusion.
How did you end up in Kansas City?
We bounced around before settling here – three kids born in three different states – but eventually landed for good as my husband grew up in KC and wanted to be close to family. Having lived in Boston and Seattle I really appreciate how little traffic we have here! I am also still, after eight years, floored by how friendly everyone is. It’s the default-mode to be nice, polite, and neighborly. Even the sullen teenager will look you in the eye and say hello and hold the door for you. I love it!
What are some of your favorite family summertime KC activities?
We’re a bit of a soccer family. Two of the boys play year-round and we are big Sporting KC and FCKC fans (the women’s pro team) so have season tickets for both. We also like to travel & do fun road trips, hang at the pool or over at my in-laws house. We can walk over to their house and love that they are so involved in our lives.
Where do you and your hubby like to hit on date night?
When my husband and I have a date, it’s usually a long run, tennis at a local park, a Sporting KC game or trying somewhere new to eat.
You’re a busy woman with your career and family life – is it hard to find time to exercise?
Working part-time helps, but I also make it a priority because it’s important to me and plus, I just love my workouts. I think that’s really the key – you have a million different options for a workout, and when you find one you like, it becomes a priority rather than a task. In the past I’ve found when I have trouble sticking to a routine, it’s because I’m not really enjoying it. I look forward to going to Fusion pretty much every time – it’s been a lucky find for me.
Why is fitness something you choose to include in your life?
It’s my mental time out, and I feel accomplished if I get it in. My day can go however it’s going to go, but if I’ve worked out I feel like I got what I needed out of it.
Has fitness always been a part of your life?
Yes, it really has. I was competitive in gymnastics and trampoline when I was younger. In high school and college I was a rower (“crew”). I also ran cross-country in high school. My Mom and sister are also really active. At a time when most people are slowing down and well into retirement, my Mom still teaches 9 yoga classes a week. I hope I have her genes!!
How did you first find Fusion? You’re one of our long timers.
I started coming to Fusion about 6 months after it opened. My youngest son was almost a year old. A good friend told me about it – I remember after my first class I could hardly walk down the stairs. Actually I had the same can’t-walk-down-the-stairs experience a few weeks ago (Sadie!).
What made you come back after your first class?
I just knew that this method would work and get me into shape. I had no doubt about that. It was so hard, I thought, how can this not be effective? It took me a few months to ramp up and go as frequently as I do now but once I did, I was hooked and dropped going anywhere else.
What sort of changes have you seen, being here since the beginning?
There has been tremendous growth. Both with the physical space(s) and the number of clients. Despite this though, I’ve never felt “just one of the crowd.” I think Darby and the instructors have a pretty unique way of making everyone feel like they are an important part of this community.
If you were to tell someone who’d never heard of Fusion to come to their first class, what would you say to them?
I’ve never tried to recruit, actually. I don’t want to guess what suits people as far as workouts as it’s such an individual fit. When people do ask, I tell them that it’s hard, but if you stick with it, you’ll suddenly realize that you’re getting through a class without feeling like you are modifying the whole thing… then, I say, don’t look back!
Do you do anything else outside of Fusion?
I do like to run. It’s such an efficient and convenient form of exercise that it’s hard to ignore it as an option when you want to mix things up, are short on time, or traveling. I also like to walk – like, power-walk I guess you’d call it. I love that I can walk with a friend and be social and active at the same time. I was so sad when my kids outgrew strollers because I walked all the time with them when they were little – for hours – we just loved it. At one point I had two in a double stroller and had one strapped on in a baby carrier. I was determined.
Are you a pretty healthy eater?
Everything is relative but I’d say I’m more or less a healthy eater. You won’t find me eating much dessert, but I know I could do better with decreasing carbs and increasing lean proteins. My husband and I are about 90% vegetarian, I eat masses of fruit, I love tortilla chips and I’m addicted to coffee. I don’t know if I’d call that healthy, but again, everything is relative!
Do you find it hard to keep healthy meals on the table for your family?
It can be a challenge to make sure everyone eats well, but it doesn’t rule my day. I have one kid who is super-picky and one who likes Indian, Asian and Mexican foods (no PB&J for him!). If the kids have been served a meal but are still hungry afterwards they can have a fruit, vegetable or protein. They protest, but are used to hearing my line. We don’t go out to eat very much and rarely “drive-through” but they definitely eat their fair share of ‘junk’ nonetheless! We could do better with healthy eating, but we could certainly do worse.
Where’s your favorite place to grocery shop?
I grocery-store-hop all over town. Trader Joe’s, Hen House and Whole Foods are probably the places I hit most often. I’d love to go to Whole Foods more, but I walk out of there with half a bag of groceries and am down $80 bucks. Happens every time.
What’s a favorite treat you like to eat?
Tortilla chips. Seriously. I could eat them all day. Just straight out of the bag. If I’m in the mood for something sweet I’ll dig into trail mix with chocolate chips or “convince” the boys to go to TCBY… :)!
Do you have a favorite go-to meal?
For breakfast, or even lunch, right now I’m totally loving oatmeal with Trader Joe’s Omega trail mix and fresh fruit. Fish tacos is a go-to meal for dinner. We put out all the ingredients and do it family-style: fish, guac, salsa, cilantro, cabbage (Mexican-style), rice, lime, etc. Super easy and everyone finds a combo they like. We also make homemade pizza a lot with dough from Trader Joe’s and whatever toppings each person wants. Again, an easy way that you can customize the meal to everyone’s tastes.
How do you make healthy choices when on-the-go with the kiddos?
It can definitely be challenging. If we are out and I haven’t packed anything, we typically hit Chipotle, Pizza 51 or Planet Sub. I don’t really know how much better these are than some of the other fast-food restaurants, but I pretend they are!!
As a mom, what’s one thing that’s surprised you about motherhood?
I didn’t anticipate how different each child needs to be parented. I knew they’d have different personalities but I’m realizing they aren’t a little package-of-three that we can parent on auto-pilot. Each kid needs completely individualized approaches and I have to stop and remind myself of that all the time. This is something I’m still figuring out!
Being a mom – even just a woman in general – in today’s society can start to feel competitive. How do you keep your confidence and self esteem in check?
First off, I think the main thing in being a mom/wife/friend – is that you do what you are comfortable with, and when it doesn’t feel like you – don’t do it. I try to surround myself with loyal and supportive friends; I try to internalize when someone says something complimentary; I don’t own a scale; I love my family; and I try not to take things for granted. Easier said than done, I know.
Tell us something not everyone knows about you:
I’m not a US Citizen! I was born and grew up in Canada. I didn’t move to the US until I was 24 – I can’t vote and get nervous every time I cross the border, even though I have a green card and I’m legit.
Lastly, what does being healthy mean to you?
Working in oncology, I have to say that healthy to me is ‘the absence of disease’. I can’t help it. I feel fortunate every day for my family’s health.
The Fun 5
Favorite Restaurant: Chai Shai at 59th &Holmes. If you like Indian/Pakistani food, this is amazing. Little place tucked into a residential neighborhood. So delicious.
Favorite Place to Drink a Glass of Wine: I don’t drink wine (I get a headache almost immediately, too bad) but I’ll take a Margarita on a patio, or a Pacifico beer/limeade combo poured for me by my husband.
Inspiring Book: Expecting Adam by Martha Beck
Beauty Tip You’d Pass Along: Nourish your friendships. It helps with inner beauty.
“I Find My Confidence In…”: My family. Both immediate, and extended… and I include my friends in that group.