Meet Christopher Young and Vanessa Piepszak, two of the Tone House’s bad ass athletes and endurance race competitors. Through Tone House training, Chris and Vanessa have shaved time off their races. Chris recently finished an Ironman at Lake Placid in July and Vanessa is currently training for an Ironman in Atlantic City. We’re excited to have been able to chat with these two athletes about what training has been like and what keeps them motivated and performing at their highest levels.
Christopher Young (CY): Head of Product at VenueBook
Vanessa Piepszak (VP): Registered Nurse – Emergency Room
CY: Lacrosse and Track. Endurance sports in the past few years.
VP: Two sport collegiate athlete / Triathlete / Fitness addict / Ironman in the making
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN COMING TO TONE HOUSE?
CY: 15 months
VP: I first started coming to the house in January 2015 after @Flexxandthecity told me about “this super intense badass gym in the city.” Like any challenge, I was up for it. Little to my knowledge I walked into a real-life nightmare as the theme song to Halloween was blaring through the speakers, so naturally, I went into panic mode looking for Michael Myers himself. Instead, and possibly ten times more terrifying I caught a glimpse of Zo and thought “this is it, this is the day I’m going to die.” Now it’s an integral part of my training regimen.
FAVORITE TONE HOUSE CLASS (CONDITIONING, UPPER BODY, ETC.):
CY: CORE DAY – it’s the perfect combination a conditioning day (lite) + some core strength (bonus: lots of sprint work.) Conditioning day is a very close second.
VP: CONDITIONING DAY – the day that everyone loves to hate. There is something about that day specifically where you can look at anyone in that class at any given moment and shoot them “What did I get myself into, again” look. Funny how when a class is over and you know you’ll say “see ya same time next week?” for some more twisted tricks Coach Alonzo (Zo) has up his sleeve.
FAVORITE TONE HOUSE “TOY” (EQUIPMENT) TO USE IN CLASS:
CY: Sleds – particularly low pushes with high push back (multiple times). For me, this is a great way to build leg strength and endurance.
VP: Valslides – again, love to hate. Especially after rounds of sprints then gallops… then “oh wait grab these you have four rounds of runners.” Whether your hands or feet are on them, I always feel every muscle in my body firing to keep me moving. Also, easy to re-create when I come home after a 12-hour shift, or on vacation!
DO YOU HAVE A FAVORITE COACH THAT YOU ENJOY TAKING THEIR CLASS? WHY?
CY: There is not a coach at Tone House that isn’t absolutely amazing, but Adrian, Greg, and Christi all know how to push me and get another gear out of me. I’m constantly amazed at how personal each TH coach makes the experience for all the athletes (whether you’re a 17th street OG or at your first TH101).
Additionally, have to give a shout out to my fellow Tar Heel – Coach Courtney – who will call me out when I don’t do proper form (read: cheat) on some exercises.
VP: All the coaches have their own special flair when it comes to style, music, and motivation so you can’t go wrong. HOWEVER… Shaun and Evan would be my perfect combo! I know it’s time for business when Evan walks into the studio holding his Michigan coffee mug and says “Y’all ready to F&*K S*%T up?” OR when Shaun is dogging me and in my face the entire class to push me beyond my limits.
WHAT RACE DID YOU PARTICIPATE IN?
CY: Ironman (Lake Placid in July – plus two half Iron Mans and one full in 2018)
VP: I’ve done several races throughout the years, however, this year I changed my training up to do more endurance based activities. I’ve decided to start doing Iron man 70.3’s (seems like a great idea, right?) I’m currently training for Atlantic City 70.3, then I’m taking these talents to South Beach to do 70.3 Miami in October. I like having the raw athletic ability to pretty much do anything I want to, but don’t get it twisted, I spend long hard hours in the gym to keep performing at top shape. Recently, I participated in Turf Wars and had the opportunity to compete with some badass lady killers! I took home third place and it was a humbling experience. Again, lots of hard work, but you’ve got to be willing to work for what you want.
HOW DID TONE HOUSE HELP YOU ACHIEVE YOUR RACE GOALS?
CY: I wouldn’t have even had the idea to sign up for an Ironman if it wasn’t for Tone House. Coming to TH and seeing improvement after each class helped me believe I could do anything. From a performance standpoint, I’ve dropped 25 seconds off my minute/mile in endurance runs since my first TH class and I recently broke 19 minutes in my 5k time.
I wouldn’t have even had the idea to sign up for an Ironman if it wasn’t for Tone House. Coming to TH and seeing improvement after each class helped me believe I could do anything.
VP: Physically fine tuning my athletic abilities and mental toughness, to say the least! Being able to train with people who are just as intense and crazy as I pushed me far past my athletic threshold. I was able to shave minutes off my miles, and the power I can produce on the bike has increased exponentially! This is just the beginning of my journey.
I was able to shave minutes off my miles, and the power I can produce on the bike has increased exponentially!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE THING ABOUT TONE HOUSE THAT MAKES IT DIFFERENT FROM OTHER GYMS/WORKOUTS?
CY: The coaches, the community, the studio and the workouts, but the community/coaches stand out above the rest. There are so many amazing people who go to TH and push themselves to be better in some type of physical activity, that it’s impossible for the attitude to not to be infectious. You’re bound to meet someone who is faster or stronger in an exercise and that is both a humbling and motivating experience.
And on a personal note – the words of encouragement during my training helped me keep going on days when I was struggling. I was also raising money for my race and some members of the TH crew were critical in helping me reach my fundraising goal.
VP: The team aspect is the driving force! As an athlete, there is something about the camaraderie that propels me. A room full of complete strangers / newcomers / OG’s become a team and there is one common goal in mind; survive and enjoy the suffer-fest. I love how every class is something new and creative, and even when you thought you’ve seen it all, Zo literally unleashed something demonic that breaks you down but keeps you wanting more.
FAVORITE MOTIVATIONAL QUOTE:
CY: The entire “Inches” speech in Any Given Sunday.
VP: “Winners focus on winning, Losers focus on winners.”
CY: I just want to thank all the coaches and staff at Tone House for changing my life for the better.
Interested in contributing your story to our next MEET THE TEAM profile?
Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with MEET THE TEAM in the subject line to nominate you or a teammate.