Our Story

“Great things never come from comfort zones”

Shannon's Story: 

At the age of 26, I became the youngest Director of Catering for a luxury hotel chain and had the honor of opening up their newest flagship hotel in Coronado, San Diego.

Approximately 9 months into the pre-opening I started getting pains running down my left arm and I got pretty scared.  It just didn't seem fathomable that I could have a heart attack at 26, I was too darned young! 

I was pretty frightened and called my parents.  My dad came down to San Diego and went to the Cardiologist with me. 

I was put through a stress test along with a battery of other exams including blood work with the diagnosis was that I was under an extreme amount of stress and I needed to immediately change my lifestyle. 

At first I didn't want to believe that it was stress but the symptoms didn't lie.  Sleepless nights because I couldn't get my brain to shut off, my eyes had a constant twitch, and the palm of my hands were even peeling!. 

And if all of that wasn't enough, I was also 50+ pounds overweight and my size 14 pants were getting extremely tight.  My work life was 14 to 16 hour days, even though food was provided I ate poorly. and never exercised.   How could my professional life be so great as my personal life was falling apart?. 

I decided this wasn’t how I wanted to live, much less die. 

I slowly starting to move my body by adding in daily walks and eventually hired a personal trainer to help me with weights. I overhauled my nutrition and started to eat regular small meals, I shortened my work days, and started getting regular sleep.

Now while this didn't happen all at once, it was the small habit changes that were made over time, little by little improved the quality of my health and life. 

This was the beginning of my journey into taking care of my health and wellness and an understanding that it was about more than about just diet and exercise.....

Rob's story:

Like most people, I never really thought about “stress” or “resilience” for most of my life.

Nor did I really connect my current, or future, health to those things.

Heck, before I was 35 I didn’t even think about that stuff. I mean, really, I was “young” and “able” and that is just part of life, right?

In these aspects, and many others honestly, I operated on autopilot. 

Unfortunately, these behaviors and beliefs create fundamental lifestyle habits which are hard to break. 

Well even though I was supposedly pretty intelligent, I didn’t know what I didn’t know and consequently, I wasn’t open to hearing about it even if I had the chance of someone trying. 

I mean really, back in the day no one talks about this stuff. No one teaches us about it or its effects on our physical and mental self.

When I was growing up, for a guy to talk about stress affecting you, your health, and needing a rest, was taboo… it meant that you are weak, soft, cant “man-up”. 

I was taught that when (not if) you get knocked down, you suck it up, you get back up, you keep going and keep trying, period.  Well, stress wears on your mental and physical health like the Colorado River wears on the ground in Arizona… you’ve heard of the Grand Canyon, right? It is a slow, eroding process that eventually wears you down and breaks you if you do not redirect it.

Fortunately for me, I learned how to direct and handle my stresses in time despite being taught and trained for years to take it on and continue to take action no matter what <the consequence to my health>. I learned my ways through 12 years of multi-sport competition, 16 years of academics, 6 years active duty military, and 10+ years of a quickly advancing professional corporate career in the petroleum and aluminum industries.

It all came crashing in on me in my late thirties. In prior years I had worked through many “opportunities” to handle and recover heavy stress loads. But in a period of a little more than 5 years I lived through a 6.7 earthquake, got married and was instantly stepdad to 2 young kids, bought a house, remodeled the house, had a daughter, my position at work phased out, found a position in another industry, sold my house, moved across country (with step family= HUGE legal issue!), bought a new home,  started a new job, got divorced, lived as a single parent, had my position at the new company phased out, sold my house, found a new job in a new industry and moved back across country, started new job, lived as single parent.

Did you catch all that?

My potential breaking point was my separation and divorce. It could have gone either way. At this point I was very overweight (5’11’ and 230 pounds), hardly sleeping, distracted, no appetite, my pride and confidence had been stripped away.

In order to survive, I decided to control what I had control over, my thoughts and my actions. All I could do to save my identity was to be my true authentic self; that is ALL I control. I decided to act in a way that prioritized my daughter; I did whatever it took to be friendly during the separation, for the time being I cut out all alcohol, I got active and exercised every day, I ate better, I focused on time with my daughter, and I focused on my mental health by reading self-help and improvement books and going to counseling.

Fast forward to our 50's  

In 2018, we had our annual health exams before making our relocation to the Pacific North West.  The proof of our dedication was in the results. We had complete physicals, blood work, colonoscopies and Coach Shannon had her mammogram and pap smear.  All of the doctors were very pleased and told us to keep on doing what we are doing!

We both chuckled every time a nurse or doctor commented "Really at your age you don't take any medications?"

On starting new routines

In July of 2018, we started the transition of closing our brick and mortar gym to 100% online platform. While the timing was much earlier than we'd originally  planned we decided to take a leap of faith when the rentals on our gym and condo were escalating to $5,000.00 a month (and we didn't own any of it!).


August 2018, we took our daughter to Cal State San Marcos in San Diego and returned home to begin packing up the condo for our move.

Needless to say, exercise wasn't the first thing on our "to do" list and we got off track. Instead of beating ourselves up, we choose to relax into the calamity called life.

And boy was it a calamity!

It was the first time in several years that we'd taken that much time off from our regular routine. We both noticed a difference in our body and energy levels.  We were more stiff, our sleep suffered, we both started to feel like we were in a funk, and our pants got a little tighter (thank goodness for leggings!).

Everyone told us that this is what "getting old" were here to call a bit of BS on that because we knew that the changes were a result from lack of exercise, thank you but we'll choose how we get old!

It's never too late, you are never too old - and we are proof of that! 

We arrived in Washington on the 2nd of October 2018 and have slowly gotten back into a simple exercise routine. We joined the gym at a local college and do two to four strength sessions a week and one to two cardio sessions. (rowing, elliptical or fast walk)  We eventually found our new home and have built a small home gym which we love!

With transitioning to an all online platform we now sit more than ever, I've jokingly called us "Chair Warriors".   Sitting for too long is a hazard for our health so we set alarms to get up and move and we take one if not two short nature walks a day.

We are both multi passionate about whole health which is why True North Fitness didn't stop at Fitness.

Whole health is about the balance of deposits and withdrawals that we make on a daily basis that add up over our lifetime.

We all need to learn what is at the root cause of our stressors.  In doing so, you can adopt tools and techniques that will help you find your balance.

Our goal is to make sure that over time at the end of the day, week, month, and year that we make more deposits than withdrawals.


Life is meant to be enjoyed and should be cause for celebration just not to excess.

Reach out and please know that this is a judgement free zone.

We want you to know you are not alone!


Thank you for listening to our story!

Coaches Shannon & Rob



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