inSPIREd Member: Andrea Foster

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

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I grew up in Maine and have lived all over the United States since then. Two years ago, I moved to Milwaukee from Boston to join Marcus Hotels & Resorts as Senior Vice President, Development. In my role, I focus on new opportunities to manage additional hotels across the country, and sliver equity investments. When I moved here, I knew nothing about Milwaukee - and I began to explore. Now I feel like I’m in on a hidden secret. People who don’t know Milwaukee, or who take it for granted, have no idea what they are missing. Living in such a welcoming, warm place with all this city has to offer has been so important to me. The cost of living in Milwaukee is really affordable (especially compared to Boston, Los Angeles, and San Francisco — all cities in which I’ve lived), and it’s easy and faster to get around and get things done. My friends tell me I’m a one-woman marketing machine for Milwaukee and that my posts on social media make them want to live here, too!

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

One of my colleagues first brought me to SPIRE shortly after I moved here, just over two years ago. My first impression of the studio was that it was very cool and fun. Spin wasn’t easy for me then. I’ve done Bikram yoga, barre, and kickboxing, and I was a dancer and cheerleader growing up. But I had the misperception that spin would bulk up my legs. Then I came to SPIRE and looked at all the instructors and saw that no one has big thighs! So I opened my mind and gave it a try. Then, a year ago I went “all in” with spin (and SPIRE). More on that later...

Re: SPIRE, it all goes back to the community and having worked with Hubie, the owner of SPIRE, as my personal trainer since April 2016. He really encouraged me to push past perceived limitations and find my inner athlete. It is so much about the support from this community and the faces I want to see each day cheering each other on, as opposed to just the workouts themselves (although the workouts are great, too!).

What keeps you inSPIREd for your workouts?

How I feel. The phrase, “hair of the dog” rings true for me: when I wake up with sore muscles, I go workout again! I feel great and I want to always feel this way. Plus, the community around the classes keeps me wanting to come back.

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

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I travel a lot for both work and fun, and am always up for an adventure and trying new things! I’ve taken up outdoor cycling and will do a century this year.

I am also the incoming chair of the Marcus Corporation’s United Way campaign; very involved with the board of the Cornell Hotel Society (my alma mater); chair of an industry scholarship committee; co-founder of an annual women’s leadership seminar at Boston University’s School of Hospitality Administration; and a mentor to young people I’ve met throughout my life experiences and travels. And you’ll see me this winter donning a hot pink wig as a “Big Wig” for the Susan G. Komen Foundation, fundraising for the organization. I also love spending time with family & friends and enjoying great food (both dining out and cooking in).

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

Just pick a class and go! I have a running joke with friends who visit me in MKE. They always ask, “You’re going to make me go to a spin class when I visit, aren’t you?” (YES.) So just do it! Even my Mom came and loved it.

When people ask me which class to take, I say, “Just pick one and go. Then pick another one and go.” You don’t need to research or think about it, just do it. When people tell me, “I need to get fit before coming to class,” I tell them that’s ridiculous. It’s like saying you need to get clean before taking a shower. You get fit by going and making the effort. No one is judging you. No one cares what you’re wearing or if you’re new to spin (or crew or TRX). Just show up and get your mind out of the way. It’s not mind over matter: it’s getting your mind out of your way. Don’t complicate it.

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

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SPIRE has helped me lose over 50 pounds. I could not have done it without the SPIRE classes and amazing community. They say it’s 80% nutrition and 20% fitness. Yes, that’s generally true, but not entirely...I do eat very healthfully and I work out almost every day, so it’s ok if I enjoy a treat from time to time. My metabolism takes care of it. My skin is better, my digestion is better; I feel absolutely amazing all around.

Tell us a little more about your weight loss journey.

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In the past, I had not have given myself the space to really live the life I wanted, and I didn’t perceive myself as an athlete. So first, I started “getting comfortable being uncomfortable” and completed a Tough Mudder, learned to swim underwater without plugging my nose, and repelled down a 26-story building (3 times!).

Then just over a year ago, I had another “ah-ha” moment, which kickstarted my weight loss journey. I have been slim & fit at other points in my life, but had fallen out of a routine. I was taking care of everyone else before myself. Once I realized I had stopped paying attention to my body, I checked back into myself. I changed my focus and recognized that I am being loaned this body for my lifetime, and I need to care for it as such. I shifted from perceiving it as a self-serving focus to being a caretaker of my body - respecting it, appreciating it, challenging it, and celebrating it.

That started with getting back into Bikram yoga a little over a year ago. Things then really accelerated when my personal trainer, Hubie, purchased SPIRE last December. That connection gave me the feeling that SPIRE was a place where I belonged. We then took my training up ten notches. And I had always admired morning people, so I made the choice to become one. I was ALL IN. To get maximum value out of my SPIRE membership, I booked a bunch of classes and went. Now my alarm goes off at 4:45AM every weekday (a bit later on weekends), and I’m in the earliest spin or crew classes. I can’t wait to sweat and push my body to greater accomplishments; I can’t wait to see all the friendly faces in class; and some days it may be as simple as getting to wear a new workout outfit that gets me out of bed! Whatever it is, I’m always excited to get up and get to SPIRE.

Now I am living an amazing lifestyle. I let go of being perfect. I am no longer afraid of failure. I now just engage, dive in, and enjoy the journey. When I started at SPIRE, I wasn’t good at spinning and I couldn’t easily jump up and down on the bike. But that didn’t matter. I knew that going to class was a better choice than hitting the snooze button. I let myself be open to what was going to happen and I had no idea I would be where I am today; I just enjoyed the journey. Now I love cycling and it feels natural to me. There was never any pressure to get good at it, it just happened through effort and consistency.

Tell us a unique or fun fact about yourself!

I probably drink more cold brew (iced coffee) than anyone else on the planet...I even bring it with me to SPIRE on weekends! Oh, and on a scale of 1 to 10 for heat/spice tolerance in food, I like a 12. Habaneros and Ghost Peppers are the two hottest I’ve consumed, and a friend gave me the One-Chip Carolina Reaper pepper challenge for Christmas. I guess I have the stomach of Ironwoman - HA!

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What is your favorite post workout snack or meal?

Green Kitchen’s Pear-adise Salad with chicken and avocado (and a cold brew!).

If you had two wishes, what would they be?

1. To always have my health and happiness, and the health and happiness of my family and friends.

2. I’m single, so LOVE! Joining Marcus is what brought me to Milwaukee, and I’ve created a wonderful life and friendships here. It is my hope that I will also find love here.

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

It’s not about seeking perfection - let go of that. Practice makes progress, not perfect. Keep things moving forward. Be open. Do what matters to you and do it NOW. After all, in life we are all headed to the same place in the end.