Author: Brandyn Roark

Outdoor Adventure Coach, Seattle Athletic Club Downtown

Wellness Corner with Behaviorist: Brandyn Roark | What Triggers you?

Ever wonder which part of your brain you use more often? Most of us honestly know more about how our car or credit card works, than our brain. Yet, if we can understand just a little about how our brain functions, we may be more effective in communication, self-regulation, and conflict resolution skills.

Think about the last time you got triggered. Don’t know the term? Well, it’s basically when you feel flooded with emotions because someone else made a choice which negatively impacted your thinking and feeling. These emotions can be anger, sadness, frustration, anxiety, and a whole host of feelings. Maybe a bully stole your child’s lunch, maybe your child is the bully and keeps getting targeted, maybe your boss didn’t give you a raise, your spouse let you down, your sibling brought up “old crap”, your close friend betrayed you, or, the stranger in the other lane flipped you the bird.

All of these incidents, and many more, cause our brains to be flooded in some way. Depending on which part of our brain is most developed, or has had the most “practice”, our reactions to these events can and will look different. For example: If someone cuts you off and pulls into your parking space, your reaction could be to flip them the bird, yell at them, or even bash their car in (has anyone seen the film Fried Green Tomatoes?). If this is your typical reaction (and yes, most of us FEEl like doing this) then you have built pathways in your brain to continue this behavior. Anytime someone “wrongs” you, your response may be to “wrong them back” or “teach them a lesson”, or to just get so flooded with negative thoughts and feelings, your whole day is thrown off. However, there may be a better way to deal with conflict and stressful situations which do not result in damage to your car, your ego, or your stress levels.

The amazing thing about our brains: WE control them. We get to make choices about our own thoughts and feelings, and if we learn to be intentional in our thinking, we may develop better coping, communication, and conflict resolution skills. The key word is INTENTIONAL. If we are able to take a moment, to stop and think, in times of conflict and stress; we can change the way we react to situations. We can even change the way we feel. Which, may just help you develop better relationships and minimize stress in your life. Ever wonder how some people just “shake it off”? It takes practice. It’s hard. But you can do it. Give it a try:

The next time someone really triggers you or wrongs you. Stop, for a moment, and think, “ I’m triggered right now, I’m super pissed, and I want to give this person the smack down”. Be intentional in identifying what you are THINKING. Then, attach an emotion to it, try and understand yourself more. Maybe, “I feel insignificant, frustrated, and disrespected”. Give yourself permission to FEEL this way. It’s okay.

DISCLAIMER: We are human, humans have emotions. It’s a good thing. It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to feel how you do. However, it’s how we react and behave which impacts either negative or positive consequences in our lives. So, here you go. Your challenge for this month is to be intentional. We will start there and move forward next month, but first, we need to identify what we are thinking and feeling. Change your thinking, change your life!

Challenge of the Month:

Step 1) Stop and think: be intentional in identifying what you are thinking in the moment.

Step 2) Identify: pause and focus on how these thoughts are influencing your feelings. How do you feel? Attach a word to it (joyful, frustrated, angry, happy, content, overwhelmed, etc). Remember the disclaimer: we are human.

Step 3) Be OKAY with feeling this way.


More next month! Go out there and be your BEST self! Remember, it’s a process.

Wellness Corner with Behaviorist: Brandyn Roark

Do you ever wonder why, when we are given positive feedback, we either don’t hear it, don’t believe it, or only hear the negative? There is power in positive feedback. In addition, there is power in negative feedback; it’s just in the HOW and WHY we deliver it. Negative feedback, which can arise from conflict, when delivered appropriately and effectively, has many pro-social functions. Dr. Gottman, from the University of Washington, states it well; “A relationship without conflict would not be able to move forward.” Conflict and negativity allow us to identify patterns in relationships which don’t work or lack appropriate function. Research also suggest that the difference between successful and unsuccessful relationships is in the balance of positive and negative feedback.

So why is it we seem to focus on or hear the negative more than the positive? Why do we tend to give the customer service rep from NetFlix an earful when they mess up our movie cue, yet forget to mention to the flight attendant that they provided the most friendly and accommodating service you’ve ever had on an airline? How is it that we correct children several times in an hour with: “don’t touch that”,” stop yelling”,or” that’s not nice” and we forget to praise them for what they are doing right, “great effort on your math” “way to sit quietly for 20 minutes!”, “great job using kind and gentle words”.

By building positive supports into our relationships; at work, school, home, and in our communities, we can make significant changes in our lives, and the lives of many around us. It takes effort though both intentional and deliberate effort.

Here are some potential strategies to help build a more positive foundation in our relationships:

    • Rapport Building:
      Don’t like someone but need to get along with them anyway? Feel disconnected from your partner or child? Try creating a list of 3 things you know and like about the person. Yes, you can try. We ALL have positive attributes, and if you can’t seem to find any about someone, maybe spend more time getting to know them. Dig deeper. Use this knowledge you gain to build an authentic rapport and engage in conversation on a new level with your co-worker, child, partner, mother-in-law, etc.


    • The 5:1 Rule: Give Praise 5 Times More Often Than Correction. Think about how you feel when someone gives you a pat on the back, Praises you for a job well done, or recognizes you in front of your peers. Now, juxtapose this to the feelings you have when someone tells you what you have done wrong, how you failed, or how you don’t do anything right. When you notice someone doing something right or above the bar, tell them. Point out their strengths before letting them know their limiters. Think of it this way: give them a compliment sandwich. Start the conversation with a few of their strengths and reflect on what they did right. Then, give them constructive feedback. Then, end with another compliment. You may be surprised at how much more receptive people are when they hear the good, with the constructive. It’s the 5:1 rule: for every one negative thing we hear about ourselves, it takes us 5 positives to balance the effects.


  • Use Solution Focused Directions and Feedback:
    Ever get frustrated when someone tells you what you have done wrong but they don’t tell you what to do or give you solutions? Ever feel like meetings at work are a waste of time because,  instead of being productive and proactive, they end up being cyclical sessions of complaints and criticisms? Instead of just stating the problem, present a solution as well. This does not mean it has to be the perfect, only, or right solution; just make the effort. Get the ball rolling in the right direction. Tell people what to DO instead of what not to do. (By the way, for those of you with children, this is called a replacement behavior and it works like magic!)

It is also important to understand that all of these skills do not come easy. We all have different patterns and rhythms in our lives that have been shaped from our past and current experiences. Some of us are more resilient than others. Some of us see the glass half full and some see the glass half empty. Some of us don’t see the purpose of having a glass at all. The point is, we need all of us. What a boring world it would be if we were all alike. So, when you are hoping someone will change their behavior, the most effective thing you can do is change YOUR behavior. This takes practice, just like anything else. So, while you work out your body this month, your challenge is to also work out your mind. Your mental challenge of the month: apply these three principles to a frustrating situation in your life and see if someone reacts or treats you differently. See if the outcome shifts.

When it Comes to the Spring Just Play

What is the one thing we often forget to do as we get older…play. Look around at children, they are our best examples of how to play…and sometimes, even when we should play. Yes, I said it, much of the time adults find that children’s spastic movements or loud boisterous play is out of place or distracting to what they are doing. Instead, I challenge each of you to take a moment in your day to stop what you are doing, smile, and be playful. There is no reason we cannot work hard AND enjoy what we are doing at the same time. You are having a rough day and have nothing to smile about? Then I challenge you to create something to smile about. Humans are creative, energetic, dynamic beings with a natural curiosity to be playful.

What is one of the best ways to play? Go outside. Once you are outside, here is something really fun to add…get dirty. I don’t care if its sweat or mud, sand or salt water…get dirty and stay present in what you are doing. It doesn’t count if you go run stairs outside SAC with your trainer and all you think about is the report or edit you need to finish by 2 PM when you get back. The best thing you can do for yourself is to be present in where you are, who you are with, and what you are doing. Have fun. Smile. Play. Here are some ideas for you this month as we dive into a gorgeous spring!

• Take a walk with a friend…but ten minutes in, start skipping, then do a cartwheel. Just because you can.
• Play hide and go seek with your dog.
• Mountain bike at Duthie Park…don’t know how? Take a class from Me, believe me, I’ll make you laugh, smile, and play on the trails.
• Ride around the city with trainer Thomas’ Urban Bike rides.
• Go run stairs outside SAC, then sit on the pig in the market until one of the Flying Fish guys talk with you.
• Go on a hike, at the top, try yodeling…don’t know how? That’s why I said try.
• Garden in your bare feet.
• Climb a mountain (you can do Baker with SAC this summer!)
• Buy the random person in front of you at the coffee shop their drink.
• Commit to learning one new activity this summer, maybe it’s climbing, maybe it’s riding a bike, maybe it’s swimming, maybe it’s a pull up…just smile knowing you are learning something new for yourself.

Have fun out there! Remember to play and stay present…you never know what you might find. Connect with me if you need help remembering how or where or when to play…I’d love to get you started again!

2013 is a great year to take it to the mountains!

Get ready! Seattle Athletic Club Downtown is bringing more Outdoor Recreational opportunities to its members.

Recently I wanted to check out Mt. Baker to get an idea of the opportunities it offers our members to climb, ski and adventure. I’m pleased to share that this summer, the Club will be launching a mountaineering aspect to our Outdoor Recreation program! Starting with an Intro to Mountaineering course; followed by a Level 1 climb on Mt. Baker. Our goal will be to have a blast and learn a ton!

In addition to the prep courses, this summer we will have opportunities available to climb some of the beautiful peaks that surround us. We’ll be focusing on teaching/offering hands-on knowledge about mountaineering, safety, and the beauty of our wilderness in the Pacific Northwest.

We’ll be announcing more details about SAC Mountaineering classes and climbs this spring/summer. Please contact Brandyn if you want to get on the early registration list for our climbs or to learn more about the programs we are planning.

Outdoor to Explore: Trail Run or Hike Mt. Pilchuck

Hello Seattle Athletic Club Outdoor Enthusiasts! Hopefully you have heard about SAC’s many outdoor opportunities we offer, and if you have not, I hope to bring you a wealth of information to make your outdoor adventures in the beautiful Pacific Northwest fabulous! If you have any questions, comments, feedback or requests please email me and I would love to help you get acquainted with the outdoors if you are new, or help you step up your adventures if you have already been exploring.

My goal as your Outdoor Recreation Director is to introduce you to more adventures outside! Every month I will post several blobs about gear, places to go, upcoming events, clinics or outings SAC is doing.

This weeks SAC “Outdoor to Explore”. Trail Run or Hike Mt. Pilchuck!
I just ran up this beautiful trail this week, the first 2 miles were wet but clear of snow and the top mile was hard snow-packed. I wore my trail running shoes and went light and fast, and there were a couple hikers out there too in hiking boots and gaiters. This trail can be run carefully in an hour and 15 minutes and can also be enjoyed for a 4 hour hike. Bring warm clothes, the wind can really pick up at the top. Bring a light snack, water and a camera…if it is sunny the view is unbelievable. It’s a steep run or hike, the snow is coming so be sure to check trail conditions prior to heading up there:

Details for your adventure:

  • Trail Length: 6 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 2200 feet
  • Peak: 5324 feet
  • Dogs Allowed!

Gear Review
I wore my lightweight trail running shoes from Mammut, my feet stayed warm and dry the entire time and the tread kept me on my “toes” through the ice and snow. Awesome shoes, check them out!

How to get there: Only 44 miles from Seattle

  • From Granite Falls follow the Mountain Loop Highway east.
  • One mile beyond the Verlot Public Service Center, turn right onto graveled Forest Road 42 immediately after crossing the “Blue Bridge.”
  • Drive 7 miles to the trailhead at the road end.

Let me know if you want to join the next adventure! See you outside…GET OUT AND PLAY!

Mediocrity vs. Greatness

What is mediocrity? The state of being mediocre.

What is mediocre? “of only ordinary or moderate quality, neither good nor bad, barely adequate”

Well, I don’t know how that sounds to you, but who wants to be mediocre? Sounds like a boring existence.

How about greatness? Having greatness in your life does not mean you have to graduate magna cum laude, it does not mean you have to be a professional athlete or win the Tour, it does not mean you have to land on the moon or lead the human genome project…it means that you set yourself apart from the mundane of the day EVERY day and you do something above the best of your ability.

Bring greatness into your life by smiling at everyone you see on the street one day…imagine what others will feel as well. Bring greatness into your life by doing 8 reps in your workout with PERFECTION instead of just trying to hammer through 12 them. Bring greatness into your life by not giving your best… give more…go above…go beyond. You can, we are capable of much more than we believe and the human brain has more capacity than you can imagine.

So, set out today and do it right. Mediocrity MIGHT get it done…GREATNESS gets it done with purpose, pride and perfection!

Why icing may not be your best bet for sore muscles…

We all know the acronym RICE (rest, ice, compression, elevation) but is that really the answer to all sore muscle pains? Research in Ireland is showing a different case. Most athletes or active persons involved in an injury or sore muscle issues will immediately place ice on the injury sight.

As a professional athlete who spends most of her time racing on a mountain bike or on skis, get bumps and bruises quite often and sometimes a sore shoulder from falling off my bike and hitting a tree or from completely annihilating myself off a ski jump while trying to do a 360 on skate skis. I have had my fair share of injuries, mostly muscle or bone bruising and I most often would ice the sore area…it made it feel better. And, one of my favorite activities are ice baths the night before a race. The feeling of the blood leaving my legs in the cold bath and then re-warming as I snuggle into some cozy sweats is wonderful. But, I’m not sure it is always the best idea to ice and then be active.

It is difficult with icing and research because there is really no way to do a “blind” test. You can’t blind people to whether they are receiving a therapy or a placebo, and people mostly know if their muscles are getting cold or not. Current research has indicated that icing significantly reduced muscle strength and power for up to 15 minutes after the icing had ended, and it also lessened fine motor coordination. Impaired limb proprioception was also a symptom from people in the study.

One idea for this decrease in performance and power is the ice reduces nerve conduction velocity. The impulses from the nerves are slowed down within the muscle and tendon fibers, thus decrease their seamless functionality. So, with impaired function the possibility of injury can rise.

So what’s the point here? Basically icing limits your muscular functionality for a limited time. So, if you are injured and you choose to numb the pain with ice…do not return to exercise after icing. Icing is great for acute injuries, just don’t go back to your workout. Chill out, hydrate and plan your next workout in your head!

What to do when Summer is over? Don’t get bored in Winter!

Perhaps it’s all a matter of knowing “what” is out there in the world of winter, snow and ice. Many of us love to cycle, run, swim, play tennis, garden, go boating and do a million things outdoors when it’s summer sunshine and warmth… but once the days get shorter and colder we sometimes feel at loss with what to do. Here are some tips to keep you motivated and encourage you to try something new!

Where to start…
Like anything in life, the more prepared we are for trying something new or unfamiliar, the more successful we will be. So get into SAC for one of our Winter Sports Prep and Play classes, a series of fun and kick-butt circuits designed to get you strong and coordinated for the snow and ice. OR sign up for a personal training session with one of our awesome trainers. OR email Outdoor Rec Coach Brandyn ( and she will get you motivated, moving, and mastering whatever skill you want to learn for the winter months!

What is out there…
There are a myriad of adventures waiting for you in the winter world. And YES you can stay warm while doing it! Don’t let the cold keep you from playing. Some Outdoor Adventures:

  • Snowshoeing
  • Snowboarding
  • Alpine (Resort) Skiing at Crystal Mountain (SAC’s “home” mountain)
  • Back Country Skiing and snowboarding
  • Heli Skiing and
  • snow boarding Ski Touring
  • Ice Climbing Sledding
  • Snow Ball Wars

If you are interested in ANY of these activities, Brandyn is here to help coordinate, plan or even take you out there herself to learn or dial in your skills! If you need help planning a ski vacation or want to know where to go and why…use Brandyn; she has skied all over the US, Canada and Europe and knows where to send you!

Need Gear?
Contact Brandyn, she will hook you up with great outdoor gear companies and teach you what you will need for your adventure or activity. She will find you a local supply and also share some secrets to SAC discounts for you!

It’s good to “mix it up” for the body. Have you done the same thing for years in the gym? The body gets bored when we don’t change it up and our ability to adapt and continually get stronger is limited if we don’t challenge the body in new ways. New movements, new levels of intensity, new muscles, new brain focus…these keep us YOUNG and healthy….and honestly….it’s WAY more FUN! Most of the reasoning behind why humans don’t change it up is due to “fear of the unknown”. So, this winter don’t let that fear or unknown keep you from a new experience in life. Be inspired. Get out there and change up the “same ol’ thing” for something new and exciting! We forget as adults to have fun… we often get caught up in the race of life and forget to play… try “playing” this winter. And if you need help remembering how to play, the Seattle Athletic Club will get you started…and most likely follow you along your way.

Indoor Adventures that may be new to you:

  • Rock Climbing (classes, group or 1:1 sessions with PFT Will or Brandyn) at SAC and Vertical World Try one new class a week at SAC…something you have never done!
  • Drop into Winter Sports Prep and Play with Thomas and Brandyn
  • Swimming… learn the “right” technique so you can have fun in the pool from any of our instructors or Outdoor Rec Coach Brandyn who is also a USA Swimming Coach

There are also tons of 5K and 10K walk/run and family activity days around the city through the winter… sign up for one!

Most exciting… but you have to get STARTED EARLY!!

  • Mountaineering Prep: summer 2012 we will be launching our SAC Ascents … the opportunity to climb one of our local mountains, Rainier or Adams. Instead of being “hauled” up the mountain by a guide with a random group of people, SAC will be organizing and facilitating our OWN ascents with a professional guide! Imagine a climbing adventure filled with education and prep work designed for you to have an experience of a lifetime. It’s more about the journey when you are in the mountains…not the end result. And Outdoor Rec Coach, Brandyn wants to give SAC’s members the best experience possible while in the mountains!

Take the opportunity to learn skills and get strong and stable for the ascent with Outdoor Rec Coach Brandyn through the winter. You can get started now and connect with her ( OR Look for details in January on climbs for next summer starting in June. If you are interested in SAC Ascents contact Brandyn now so she can put you on the start list for further details!

Whatever it is, wherever you go, just GET STARTED. Don’t wait another year to try something new. Live now, play hard, scream into the finish line of life tired exhausted knowing you got it all in!!

Are you inspired yet? Still bored and don’t know what to do this summer…. talk with Brandyn then….she’ll get you going. There are no excuses. You don’t need to “get to a certain weight, strength, ability, level, etc”…that’s an EXCUSE… just GET STARTED NOW with where you are in your life…GO!

Women’s Mountain Bike Clinic – Huge Success!

Recently Outdoor Recreation Coach, Brandyn Roark hosted the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown’s first Women’s Mountain Bike skills camp on July 3rd. The day started at Revolutions Coffee in Greenlake, where owner Phil hosted the group for coffee and a wonderful atmosphere to inventory the amazing swag bags from local and national sponsors: Hammer Nutrition, Title Nine, and Rudy Project USA!

Following coffee, it was time to head across the street to Gregg’s Greenlake Cycle where store manager Leif and Melissa gave an incredible presentation on basic bike mechanics and provided some tips on how to perform bike maintenance while on the trail. Leif graciously provided some of our ladies with demo bikes exclusive for the Seattle Athletic Club Downtown Mountain Bike Clinics.

Now it was time to head out to Duthie Mountain Bike Park! Once at the park the group began with a simple skills sessions – learning practical techniques in the open spaces, progressing to the more technical trails in the park. The group had a blast. Learned a ton and after a couple hours the ladies were riding amazing!

If you are interested in getting on to a Mountain Bike and developing a core set of skills that will make riding safe, fun and exciting, Outdoor Adventure Coach Brandyn Roark will be doing another Mountain Bike Skills Clinic in August… AND YES, all you men who have been asking, you can join the ladies now!

Clinics are open to beginner and advanced riders, as well as teens ages 14 and up.

Mixed Mountain Bike Skills Session/Clinic August 27th
8:00am – 2:00pm
$150.00 per person
Space is very limited in these clinics – Sign Up Soon!

You can also sign up anytime with Brandyn for a private or small group Mountain Bike Skills Session! Email Brandyn Roark to sign up.

What is a HR Monitor and How Do I Use It?

A Heart Rate or Fitness monitor allows you to keep track, “monitor” and/or record your hearts impulses while you workout or at rest. Before buying a HR monitor, it’s important to first understand how and why to use one. Below we will review a few different styles of HR monitors to help you choose the best one for your training needs. Then we will discuss the why and how of utilizing this instrumental training aid.

Who uses them?
A wide range of athletes and fitness enthusiasts use HR monitors. Some people use them as guides in their sleep or daily walk to work to follow HR variations throughout the night or day in their HR. They can be used in everything from swimming to hiking, or cycling to dance class or strength training. The main focus is to understand WHY you are using it and find the best fit for YOU.

What HR monitors are out there?
There are two main types of HR monitors. Chest strap monitors and finger sensor monitors.

  • The chest strap monitors are your classic HR tool, the strap fits gently across your sternum area and the watch on your wrist collects the data from your chest strap utilizing a wireless signal. It then records your HR data and helps you stay within your target zones. These models most often have a “coded” signal ensuring that you are collecting and recording YOUR data and not your training partner next to you. These monitors are great for cyclists, tennis players, triathletes, runners, swimmers, aerobics class participants, etc. When you need a hands free device and want constant feedback on your HR zones.
  • The second type of monitor on the market is a finger sensor monitor. The watch/device on your wrist has a small sensor designed to take your HR from your finger whenever you find it convenient. You do need to pause in your workout to take a reading and this monitor is estimated to be 95% accurate. This monitor is excellent for strength training, sprint or intervals, short duration or metabolic circuit training and when you need quick feedback at the end of your sessions.

Some popular brands of heart rate monitors are: Timex, POLAR, Garmin, Tanita, New Balance, Nike, Gaiam, Suunto.

In our PRO SHOP we have the POLAR FT4 for $99.00 This hart rate monitor features: auto age based target zones, heart rate, heart rate target zones with audio and visual alarms, caloric indicator, backlight, graphical target zone, date, time, key lock, water resistant. This is an excellent heart rate monitor if you want personalized target HR zones set for you, a consistent read-out of heart rate, time, etc.

Find out what it is you want to use your HR Monitor for, read about the features and functions and then choose your best fit!