inSPIREd Member: Robin Esch

Tells us all a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? What brought you to Milwaukee?

I'm from (and currently reside in) Racine, but spend a great deal of time in Milwaukee. I enrolled in Alverno College as an undergraduate in 2007, and then completed my Master's Degree in Education at Alverno last year.  I've worked at an office located in the Third Ward for over six years, and this office happens to be located within walking proximity to SPIRE.

What first brought you to SPIRE? What was your first impression of the studio?

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I came to SPIRE because I was fed-up with being unfit, and as the result of a desperate Internet search for a spin class.  I was unhappy with my weight and overall health. Via meager attempts at fitness at various local gyms, I discovered I enjoyed spinning and the camaraderie of classes.  However, I was unable to find spin classes I could attend consistently, as none aligned with my schedule and location. I wasn’t a fan of working out independently at a gym.  I didn’t even know how to work out independently at a gym.  What I knew for certain was that I needed a change, but I had no idea where to turn.

While googling “spin classes” at 5 AM one morning, I came upon SPIRE’s website.  After work that day, I walked to the studio and was thrilled to discover a vivid, clean, cheerful décor, which had no semblance of the stereotypical gym, along with upbeat music pumping throughout the studio. Most importantly, I felt esteemed by the warm, positive staff, and friendly clientele.

Following a studio tour, staff informed me that class was about to start and asked if I’d like to join.  My initial response was “Thank you, but not today; maybe tomorrow.”  I headed out the door but thought, “What am I waiting for?”. I couldn’t come up with an answer to justify that question, so I turned back.  Before I knew it, I was on a bike experiencing one of the most exhilarating and exhausting times of my life!

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What keeps you inSPIREd for your workouts?

The changes I’ve seen in myself, both mentally and physically keep me inSPIREd for my workouts. Not long ago, after being challenged by a new class, an instructor acknowledged how difficult it was.  She reminded me that I will get stronger with each class, and I hold onto that encouragement every day.  I have come to realize that every effort yields change.  Similar planting seeds, increments of growth may not be visible to us every day, but before you know it, you’re reaping a harvest.

What is your favorite class to take here at SPIRE?

My favorite class to take at SPIRE is "SPIRE Fire".  I avoided because the class description, along with the concept of high intensity interval training, just sounded scary.  However, I wanted to be sure I was incorporating as many different exercise elements into my work-outs as possible, so I decided to be brave and give it a try.  I was initially intimidated when listening to the evening’s class agenda, but I know I’m in an environment in which it’s okay to try and failure isn’t failure, but change and improvement.  I now find myself doing things I never thought I could, and it makes me feel proud of what I can accomplish. The Fire HIIT workout is fast and furious, and I love it.  Bring it!

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While you aren’t at SPIRE, what are you two doing?

My partner and I are both fitness fans.   He’s been a die-hard work-out enthusiast his entire life, while I’m newer to all of this.  So, we enjoy biking, running (sort of) and working out together.  We also like to venture to Chicago for good food, live music, and the iO Theater to watch the Improvised Shakespeare Company (I’m an English major – there’s nothing funnier to me than a Bard comedy improv).  I’ve also become interested in clean cooking, and I’ve been experimenting with a variety of healthy recipes, even though sometimes I just want a great big chocolate chip cookie.

Additionally, I have two boys who are now young adults doing their own things (I think they’ve lapped me in age), and I appreciate every opportunity to catch up with them and their friends. 

Do you have any advice to someone that is interested in taking classes at SPIRE?

Do it!  Come on in and do what you can – don’t feel like anything is beyond you. We all start somewhere and we are all works-in-progress.  Walk in the door and be proud of yourself for showing up.  Positive energy permeates the studio, and you’ll have fun, challenge yourself, and be surprised by what you can do. 

What is something you have accomplished with the help of SPIRE?

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With the help of SPIRE, I have not only lost over 35 pounds, but I have also completely transformed my body.  Many years ago, I lost quite a bit of weight through strict dieting, but I never made any real fitness changes.  For example, despite being thin, I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without gasping for breath, and I certainly couldn’t do a single push-up or burpee.   

The fitness regimen and variety of classes SPIRE offers produces results.  I am strong and fit.  Along with muscle and endurance, I’ve also gained a tremendous amount of confidence, which translates into happiness.

Tell us a unique or fun fact about yourself!

I am an avid animal enthusiast.  I grew up riding, training, and showing horses, and I also gave riding lessons.  When my boys became interested in horses, I served as the Co-District Commissioner for the United States Pony Club, which is a national organization that helps youth develop character, confidence, and leadership skills through horse-care.  Sometimes I think I enjoy spinning so much because, these days, it’s as close as I can get to riding a horse.

I’ve also had up to three dogs at once that I’ve shown in competitive obedience.  My sheltie, Joshua, was titled as an Obedience Trial Champion, and was ranked within the top ten obedience dogs in the USA.  We currently have two naughty dogs who sort of know how to sit and sometimes come when they are called, but are lovable none the less.

What is your favorite post workout snack or meal?

Chia pudding or overnight oats! But my soul craves a Heath blizzard from Dairy Queen.  A large one.

If you had three wishes, what would they be?

If I had three wishes, I would wish for prosperity and happiness for loved-ones.  It sounds trite but really, I would.  I would also wish that, just once out of the few times I buy a lottery ticket, the machine would tell me something other than, “Sorry, not a winner.”  I’d also wish that humans would stop being so judgmental and unaccepting and hurtful toward other humans.  Seriously.  Just stop it.

You come into the studio pretty often, at least a few times a week—what’s a motto you use to keep you going?

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A motto that keeps me going is “Choose your hard.” It was hard to change the way I eat and think about food.  It’s hard to make it through that last sprint on the rower, the last hill on the bike, that final set of burpees, or to hold a side plank for just sixty more seconds.  However, it was even harder to feel unhappy with myself – not only how I looked but, more importantly, how I felt, both mentally and physically. The benefits of the working-out “hard” far outweigh the being unhappy with myself “hard.”

I keep coming back to SPIRE because I’ve found a supportive environment where I can challenge myself and grow alongside a community of positive, like-minded people.  To me, there’s no better feeling than sweating it out with a team of fitness enthusiasts who not only want to better themselves, but also encourage you along your journey toward bettering your health.  SPIRE is a place where, as it’s written on the spinning studio wall, I only look back to see how far I’ve come. While I know still have work to do, I realize I’ve come a long way.  SPIRE is my happy place.