August AOM – Denise Zembar

This was a fun choice for us to make. This wonderful woman makes the gym more enjoyable for us every time she is in.
She works extremely hard and moves extremely well. If you are lucky, you can catch her dancing through an aerobic base on Wednesdays.
Meet Denise Zembar, our August 2016 Athlete of the Month.

What have you accomplished in your life that you’re most proud of?

Well, one of my great accomplishments has to be joining TrAk. Very few really know what happened the first time I came to the gym.

You see, TrAk is really close to my home.  I live a couple of blocks away. I saw the sign and had looked at the website, but couldn’t even muster up the courage to email them! So I would walk my dog and stand at the top of the hill on Shiawassee, and look down the hill, but after a while, I would move on. Honestly, I looked like some weird stalker up there.

After weeks of that, something finally pushed me down that hill, I finally grew weary of my inaction, I guess, and I took the plunge.

“Come on Lennie” (that’s my dog, a Boston Terrier), and down we went to finally see what it was all about.

I noticed people were running out of the gym, down towards the park and back (something I’ve done now so many times). As I approached, they were looking my way and I heard someone say, “It’s the strange lady from the top of the hill, and she has her flying monkey with her!”

As I walked around the corner and stepped inside, there stood Dave, pale and trembling. The others had gathered behind him. They looked more curious than fearful. “How can I help you?” he said.

“I come in peace and I will not harm you!” I replied.

OK!!! It didn’t go anything like that. Except for Dave being pale. And the flying monkey (dog) part. If you have ever experienced a Boston Terrier, you know they can fly.

The truth is, I did go down the hill, and peeked my head around the corner, and Dave was Dave, all laid back and cool like he is, you know. He asked a few questions and told me to just try it out the next day … and you know the rest of the story. I’m here, I love it, and it has changed my life. More than just physically.

But that fake story is how my imagination and intimidation can converge together in my sort of disturbed mind. I really thought it might happen that way. I hope someone can somewhat relate to this or at least someone out there could at least pretend they do.

So I’m proud I walked down the hill that day.

If you could take 3 months off and do whatever you wanted, what would that time look like?

Wow. Since I don’t have the time or emotional energy while working, I would love to serve in some sort of mission/charity work. Helping the poor or those that are victims of human trafficking … to be involved in something like that and get out of my comfort bubble would be amazing.

If you were in a band, what existing band/group do you see yourself in?

I would love to be part of The Pretenders, but I don’t think they are still performing. The only band I can think of right now with a woman is The Lumineers. I’m positive I’d be great on the tambourine. (Sorry, kind of lame on this subject. Don’t know current bands!)

Favorite place to travel to?

One of my favorite trips was Taos, NM. The skiing is great. The town of Taos is full of artists and great food. The people are unpretentious and represent so many cultures. There is so much history. The mountains are beautiful. If you ever go, take the high road to Taos. You won’t regret it.

What personal failure has helped lead to your ultimate success?

As far as personal failures, the one that has taught me some great lessons, was when I was diagnosed 17 years ago with LADA – latent autoimmune diabetes in adults. Which means I am a Type 1 diabetic, but it’s just a slower progression than being diagnosed as a juvenile. I went through a sort of grieving process; I was angry, depressed, overwhelmed, and finally had to get to that place of acceptance. But it showed me a lot about how I dealt with many situations, and I had to stop and evaluate how I handled stress in my life.

I had to change more than just my diet. Initially, I became obsessive about controlling my glucose levels, and, yes, it does require a lot of attention. But everything became about my disease, causing my family and friends misery. It has shown me things like, I can never be perfect (Really?). It’s not all about me (What?). When you experience crisis or failure in your life, it never feels good, and it’s messy, and all that “stuff” sort of boils over. And, hopefully, we stand back and figure out what needs to change. Over the years, diabetes has shown me so much. Good and bad and ugly! But a negative in my life has lead to a lot of positive in my life. And I am so thankful for a good support system, especially my husband who has been there through some tough times.

What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen in the gym?

The craziest thing I heard about in the gym is the Murph party. Didn’t attend, but really, that sounded crazy. And fun. Maybe next year???

What three people [living or dead] would you go camping with next weekend?

Three people to go camping with … Well, I would be catching lots of fish, so I think Chef Curtis Stone should be there to cook them (and clean them, of course!) along with all the sides and wine pairings. Eric Clapton could join us and play his acoustic guitar and sing by the campfire. Hmmmm … maybe someone like Amelia Earhart — I would love to chat with such an adventurous woman.

Which sport/activity would you love to do, but are afraid to?

Downhill skiing looks like such a rush and absolutely terrifying. I can’t imagine the fearlessness, along with the technique and skill to go practically straight down those steep mountains at incredible speeds!

Funniest things you’ve seen your husband do?

It’s hard to describe funny husband moments. Most things you kind of have to be there. One time he decided he was going to saw a large limb off a tree. He actually climbed the tree and crawled out on that limb. He thought it was no big deal, “just throw me the chainsaw honey.” And then realized he wasn’t 9 years old anymore. He was really out on a limb … and seriously stuck, and really not sure how to get down. I was ready to call 911, “come get my husband out of the tree.” But he did manage to get down … eventually. No full body cast, no fireman. No chainsaw. Husband still in one piece. 

Favorite movie?

One of my favorite movies is The Matrix. The first one. Have you ever felt like you took the red pill, and everyone else took the blue one? I have that feeling quite often. Braveheart is one of my favorites, too. So many great quotes, and Mel Gibson in a kilt (it was 1995).

Best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

Best piece of advice is an acronym. Never get too HALT. Hungry. Angry. Lonely. Tired. Your mood, patience, and day will start to go south if you get too any of those. Take care of yourself.

At what age were you in the best shape of your life?

I think I might be in the best shape of my life now! Which is strange because I’m older. When I was younger I was, well, young. And could do things because I was young; you could just do stuff, you know? But when you are older, it’s much more difficult to just do stuff. So maybe I need to go out and do some stuff and see how it goes. I bet it might be OK … even better now than when I was younger. Could be. I’ll let you know.

Goals. .. personal, professional, family?

OK … goals … I truly feel like I haven’t even decided what I want to do when I grow up, and I’m not all that far from retirement age. So much for professional goals. I’m depressed from that thought. Thanks for that question, Dave. Seriously, there might be a new career out there for me. Have to make the effort to pursue it.

Personally, I would love to take piano lessons, something I wish I would have done as a child. Or take up watercolor painting. Just learn something artistic. I’m very analytical; I need some balance for my brain.

Words to live by or favorite quote?

One of my favorite quotes lately, because of recent events is “I must learn (purpose) to love good more than I hate evil.” I’m not sure who said it, but I hope we can always purpose for good. Dwelling too much on evil can tilt us towards bitterness, anger, resentment, etc., nothing of value. We must confront the issues, but can’t we still be kind, understanding, sympathetic, respectful, and hopeful? Something to think about.

What adventure do you plan to have in the future?

Adventures in my future … I would love to visit Europe someday. Maybe a river cruise. I’d like to visit the beaches of Normandy. To stand there would be indescribable, I’m sure. I would love to take a helicopter ride someday too.

Favorite book and why?

My favorite book is The Bible. God never changes, His truth never changes, and it is always relevant.

Something interesting we don’t know about you?

What don’t you know about me? I used to have a motorcycle. And I used to have a pot bellied pig. I raised him from a piglet. Had him for 13 years. No, I didn’t eat him. People ask me that all the time.

What do you like most about being a part of the TrAk Family?

That we come together for that hour — from whatever day we are having — and work hard, sweat, and support each other. It has been such a positive experience for me. I have never been athletic, or played in a team sport, so it is really fun for me to work out with all of you, and see myself along with everyone else on the journey, gaining strength and stamina. And you know, it’s about so much more than firming up my jiggly bits!!!

Biggest accomplishment at the gym?

My biggest accomplishment hasn’t happened yet. I want to get that pull-up. Without the band!!! That upper body strength is tough, and it’s going to take much longer than I thought.  Much, much, much longer??? We’ll see. But it’s all good.

Thanks, coaches, for all of your help and support.