Movers And Shapers -- Twenty Local People Who Have Influenced The Fitness World
IF YOU'VE EVER walked or run on a treadmill, you may have Wayne Quinton to thank. If you use exercise videos, you could easily have worked out with Kari Anderson. If you belong to a health club, you might well have benefited from the expertise of Roy Stevenson. If one of the reasons you exercise is to ward off osteoporosis, you're quite likely feeling the reach of Barbara Drinkwater. If you've cheered on the Mariners or the Reign or appreciated Pacific Northwest Ballet, you've acknowledged the work of Peter Shmock.
Recently we set out to identify Seattle-area people who are influential in the fitness world - inventors, manufacturers, retailers, teachers, coaches, trainers, therapists, nurses, doctors, researchers - and received more than 200 nominations.
Even relative strangers can have subtle but profound influence, as Bob Dunn has had on folks at the downtown YMCA, simply by showing up for a swim every morning at 5:30, six days a week. For 59 years.
Though we've selected these 20 fitness people of influence to feature, they aren't necessarily a "top 20" - this is fitness, after all, not a competition. But they are some of the most interesting "movers and shapers" we've come across.
Kari Anderson, 42, Seattle Owner, Pro-Robics Conditioning Clubs
Named IDEA Instructor Fitness Businessperson of the Year in 1993 and Instructor of the Year in '94, Anderson has produced 15 well-regarded exercise videos, presented workouts and instructor workshops around the world - and still teaches eight classes a week.
Willie Austin, 40, Seattle Co-owner, Gateway Athletic Club
The former Husky running back had won national and world titles in drug-free powerlifting competitions, but found "I got more joy out of watching someone else become champion." He's coached 15 national and world champions, his Pacific Powerlifting club has won five national titles, and he helps train pro athletes such as Michael Sinclair of the Seattle Seahawks and Ray Roberts of the Detroit Lions.
Austin's foundation donates educational seminars in schools to encourage students to take fitness into adulthood, and runs six-week "Youth & Fitness" programs that offer free club time each Sunday afternoon for kids' workouts at Gateway. He coaches Special Olympians and helps run their state games.
"To make sure that I'm walking the talk," Austin still lifts weights three times a week. "If I wake up and feel that the creator is not gonna be there with me, then I won't go out that day." He meditates 30 to 45 minutes each morning and evening, sleeps just three to four hours a night, and eats one simple vegan meal a day: "I consider meditation and prayer as a meal."
Cedric Bryant, Ph.D., 37, Redmond Vice-president, product management and sports medicine, StairMaster Sports/Medical Products, Kirkland
With its first product - a rotating staircase that looked like a mini-escalator - StairMaster invented the field of stair climbers, and later diversified with other health-club staples such as the Gravitron. A physiologist, Bryant carries the torch beyond the bottom line, with research, writing (10 books, more than 100 articles) and lecturing around the world.
David Buchner, M.D., 46, Seattle Co-director, Northwest Prevention Effectiveness Center, University of Washington School of Public Health and Community Medicine
For more than 10 years Buchner has been doing research and spreading the word about the benefits of aerobic, strength and flexibility exercise for seniors, to avoid falls, increase independence, lessen depression - and prolong life. "By doing 30 minutes of brisk walking every day," he says, "you're reducing risk of death by 50 percent or more."
Yueh-Chun Chang, 28, Seattle Champion powerlifter
The fitness community that raised one of the strongest, pound-for-pound, women in the world is now getting plenty back from Chang, who started off in Sue Turner's SCATS program at Sanislo Elementary School and was a gymnast and sprinter at Ballard High before discovering powerlifting.
Together in training and personally with Willie Austin for more than nine years, Chang has won five national and three world drug-free championships in the 111- and 114-pound weight classes and set five world records, with bests of 203 pounds in the bench press, 358 in the squat and 413 in the deadlift.
When not at her day job in consumer affairs and event promotion at Cascade Fresh yogurt company, Chang recruits students for the free "Youth & Fitness" program at Gateway, volunteers as a lecturer and mentor at local schools, has created a lift-a-thon fund-raiser for the Sharehouse program for the homeless, and last month started a six-week pilot fitness and nutrition program at Harborview for low-income obese children and their families.
"I don't have too much of a problem getting workouts done," Chang says, "though a lot of time I want to talk to my friends but I have to focus." One part of her diet is a particular challenge. "Coming from an Asian background, I love sodium and noodles. If I eat more sodium than I should have, then I'll drink a ton of water the next day."
Barbara Drinkwater, Ph.D., 71, Vashon Research physiologist, Pacific Medical Center, Seattle
Something sounded fishy to Drinkwater, a researcher in California in the late 1960s, when women were being discouraged from running in marathons. She tracked down the studies that showed women couldn't withstand endurance exercise, and found they'd used women off the street, not ones already in shape, like the men in similar studies.
Drinkwater began researching women and exercise, showing there was no scientific reason why women couldn't be involved in endurance events, looking into women and training at altitude, the effect of aging and the response to heat stress. After moving to the University of Washington in 1982, she published a study showing that athletes without regular menstrual cycles were seriously deficient in bone density, and in the past 15 years she's become a world-renowned expert on bone health in pre- and post-menopausal women. "I've been talking with medical people, coaches, trainers and athletes," she says, "trying to convince them that the lack of a monthly period is not a reason for joy but a red flag that something's wrong, and it's going to have disastrous consequences."
Drinkwater says time is her biggest fitness obstacle, but she tries to stay active with cycling, golf, weight lifting, summertime hiking and camping, and "a lot of heavy gardening: digging, chopping, lifting rocks. Gardening is really an overall type of activity. It takes a lot of flexibility, strength, and aerobic conditioning." Though she's never dieted and calls herself a chocoholic, "I weigh less now than I weighed in college."
Janet Edlefsen, M.S., Seattle Counselor, eating and weight problems
Now specializing in compulsive eating and chronic weight problems, Edlefsen has taught classes on sports nutrition, eating disorders, weight control and how to lose body fat throughout Seattle for 23 years, though private practice and through the UW's Experimental College and Intramural Activities, community colleges, Group Health and Seattle Parks Department.
Gao Fu, 82, Seattle Tai chi master
Bestowed the titles of Master of Martial Arts and National Living Treasure in her native China, Gao survived the Cultural Revolution and its attempts to limit tai chi's influence. She visited Seattle first in 1989 and returned last year to stay (pending approval of her green-card application), quickly becoming the teacher of many local tai chi instructors. She's been invited to participate in a Harvard study on Asian fitness and medicine and was featured on the cover of the most recent issue of the national magazine T'ai Chi.
Patty Hencz, R.N., 44, Seattle Founder, Northwest Senior Fitness Instructors Association
What began in 1990 as a support group for fitness instructors working with older adults has grown into a clearinghouse with a quarterly newsletter. Yet it's still a labor of love for Hencz, who volunteers her time when not working as a nurse manager at Children's Hospital or helping clients with personal training.
Susan Kleiner, 40, Ph.D., R.D., Mercer Island High-performance nutritionist
Kleiner has had a national impact on sports and fitness with her first book, "High Performance Nutrition," and the recently released "Power Eating." Both address not only nutrition but also the often confusing world of supplements and how it all relates to optimal exercise performance. An affiliate assistant professor in nutritional sciences at the UW, she's on the advisory board for Shape and Men's Fitness magazines.
With two young children and a home office, Kleiner makes time for exercise by taking a 5:30 a.m. step class at the Jewish Community Center. At home she'll ride a stationary bicycle or follow Rachel Hunter's "Power Conditioning" video - "It's short, it gets all the body parts trained and it's not loud, so I can use it during nap time." And she emphasizes family activities: "I want my kids to learn that it doesn't feel right to sit still all the time." She tries to not succumb to late-night snacking and eats plenty of grains, fruits and vegetables - "I make a great shrimp and broccoli stir-fry."
Alice Lockridge, 47, Renton Owner, PRO-Fit and Exercise Express, Renton
Conference organizers who need a humorous, energetic, knowledgeable fitness speaker often call Lockridge first. Her expertise reaches many corners of the fitness world: In the early 1980s she owned the Aerobium studio in Seattle and began PRO-Fit, one of the original fitness-instructor training programs accredited by the American Council on Exercise. Since 1988 she's designed occupational fitness programs for Seattle City Light and fire, water and police departments, helping train more than 700 women for nontraditional jobs, such as utility lineworker.
At Exercise Express, Lockridge aims to fix all the excuses people have for not exercising, starting with, "I promise that the teacher will be fully clothed." No initiation charges, no monthly dues, no wall of mirrors, no complicated dance steps. Just a per-class fee, group support ("We never make you work out alone"), a blend of weights, aerobic exercise and stretching, a teacher who instructs rather than leads exercise, and 18 pairs of five-pound dumbbells (among others) to make classes accessible to the under-fit.
Six months a year Lockridge's job has built-in exercise: assisting prospective utilities workers during their weight-lifting sessions, nine hours a day. The rest of the year, it's more of a challenge for this busy entrepreneur and former rugby player: "I have to build it in, just like anybody else."
Barb McEwan, Seattle, and Sue Turner, 51, Seattle Physical-education teachers
Seattle Public Schools (under the guidance of Bud Turner, Sue's husband) averages in the 67th percentile in fitness testing, best in the nation. McEwan's program at Schmitz Park Elementary and Turner's at Sanislo Elementary lead the way at the 80th to 82nd percentile. (Among 10-year-olds, in one event, to be at the 86th percentile a boy must be able do six pull-ups, a girl three.)
"It's important to make it fun and have something for every student," says McEwan, who has taught at Schmitz Park for 15 years. Fifth-graders arriving for their 9:45 a.m. class this spring encountered numbered tennis balls under cones, which were marked with colors linked to activities. The ensuing 30-minute team relay contest combined sprinting, jumping, strengthening, stretching, focusing, thinking, strategizing and teamwork. Such creativity has come in handy recently for McEwan's own workouts: Sidelined from soccer because of a neck injury, she's biking and in-line skating more to stay active.
Turner, who's been at Schmitz Park for 29 years, tries to give students many chances to improve test scores, emphasizing improving one's own marks instead of competing against someone else's, and combining many workouts in one. One recent class played "Dash for Cash," where pairs of students moved from one circuit-training station to another (step ups, sit ups, jumping rope, rolling a medicine ball, shooting a basketball, bowling and picking up your own pins), counting repetitions, collecting equivalent amounts in play money, a sort of interval training/math class. Turner, who squeezes in softball games for her own fitness and joins her students as much as she can, also coaches SCATS (Sanislo-Columbia Acrobatic Teams), which performs throughout the region. "I decided I wanted my kids to be real skilled and performance savvy," she says.
David Parker, Ph.D., 51, Medina Executive director, Washington Institute for Sports Medicine and Health, Kirkland
Chief physiologist for Boeing for 20 years - setting up physical assessments for pilots, health and fitness programs for employees and the first corporate cardiac rehab program in the country - he's one of four partners who've put together a world-class training center for not only college and pro athletes but also middle- and high-school students and adults interested in health as well as fitness.
Bill Potts, 51, Medina President, Precor Inc., Bothell
Started by David Smith in 1980, Precor found surprising early success, selling 15,000 rowing machines one month when the best forecasts had been for 400. Like Smith, Potts came from Physio-Control, becoming president in 1985, after Precor was sold to Chicago-based Premark International. When rowing sales dropped, treadmills and bicycles took over and a commercial division grew. In 1995 Precor introduced its EFX Elliptical Fitness Crosstrainer, igniting the current club and home fitness trend.
Wayne Quinton, 77, Seattle Founder, Quinton Instruments, Bothell
Quinton didn't invent the treadmill - human-powered ones were used in the 1800s in British prisons, not likely with inmate welfare in mind. But he just might be the father of the modern treadmill.
At Boeing during World War II, Quinton worked on the B29. A side job at the University of Washington grew into full-time work as a biomedical engineer. When the hospital wanted something for testing cardiac patients, Quinton recalled monstrous, 4,000-pound machines that used huge belts to transport rocks off mountains. In 1953 he put strings on one and gradually moved them closer together to determine the minimum spaced needed for walking - 18 inches wide and 49 inches long. To replace the smelly, heavy rubber transmission belts, he impregnated canvas with wax, lightening the load and lessening the friction, thus needing less horsepower to turn it. "I looked at it like an airplane," Quinton says. "You don't want it any heavier than needed."
Quinton had devised a lightweight treadmill, small enough to fit in an office but durable enough for regular monitoring of heart patients. Such devices helped fuel the fields of cardiac rehabilitation and exercise physiology, became essential training for NASA's first astronauts, and made their way into corporate wellness centers, health clubs and home workout rooms. Quinton treadmills and other stress-monitoring devices remain among the most highly regarded in the world.
Wayne Quinton may be better known for designing, along with UW doctors Belding Scribner and David Dillard, a way for kidney patients to be repeatedly hooked up to artificial-kidney machines. He sold Quinton Instruments in 1984 for $50 million and though officially retired, is still working on new devices to improve the lives of kidney patients.
A veteran of 19 marathons, Quinton now walks on his home treadmill three times a week for 30 minutes or more, and does back exercises and others for the upper body. "I'm not as diligent as I used to be," he says. "I sort of made a decision if I possibly could I'd keep my weight where it was in high school; I'm within about 4 pounds. If I start to gain weight, I just eat less."
Robert Schwartz, 50, Seattle Professor of medicine and gerontology, University of Washington
Among his studies on aging and exercise over 10 years at Harborview, Schwartz has examined the health risks of abdominal fat, looked into its connection to growth hormones, compared exercise with diet for weight loss (exercise seems to make more of a difference, medically), developed a test of everyday tasks to study what's needed for seniors to maintain their independence, and examined the effects of exercise on cancer and diabetes.
Peter Shmock, 48, Seattle Athletic performance consultant
He doesn't own a club, hasn't invented a product or written a best-seller. But Shmock was among the most mentioned in our search for local people of influence in the fitness world, as an innovative and effective teacher of fitness and conditioning.
A two-time Olympian (1976 and 1980) in track and field, Shmock was director of strength and conditioning for the Seattle Mariners for 11 years and training adviser to the Seattle Reign last year. He trains dancers at Pacific Northwest Ballet and has worked with other pro athletes in golf, football and basketball. Whether for world-class, high-school or recreational athletes, his classes (often at Sound Mind & Body or outdoors at Woodland Park) incorporate circuit training, weight lifting, endurance conditioning, tai chi, yoga, agility and explosiveness drills, relaxation and awareness practice - all with subtlety and humor.
For his own workouts, "I'm pretty good at finding levels of training that are moderate to fairly intense but fairly short in duration," Shmock says. "I don't run every day and I don't lift every day, I just do a smattering of things that make the most sense for my energy." And after observing how various foods affect his energy, he changed his diet to cut back on wheat, sugar, coffee and alcohol; otherwise, "I eat pretty much what I want."
Roy Stevenson, 43, Bothell Instructor, Fitness Specialist/Instructor Program, Lake Washington Technical College
Since starting that program in 1986, Stevenson has placed nearly 90 percent of his 400 graduates in health clubs and other fitness centers. Ninety percent also wind up certified by one of the country's two main groups, as a personal trainer by the American Council on Exercise or health/fitness instructor by the American College of Sports Medicine. That's the highest pass rate in the state and well above the national average of 64 percent.
Lake Washington and Renton's technical colleges helped fill the vacuum created when the University of Washington dropped its kinesiology department in 1984. Stevenson's program will shift from three to four quarters this fall and offer an Applied Arts and Sciences degree next year, with credits transferable to four-year university programs.
Stevenson also has put his mark on nearly 3,000 local runners through his workshops from 1985 to 1990. A New Zealand native who once logged 100 miles a week in marathon training, Stevenson gets in daily treadmill or bicycle exercise, jogs a bit, does split weight-lifting four times a week - and doesn't worry if he misses a workout: "That's not guilt, that's called rest."
Jeff Vandiver, 35, Seattle Aerobics champion, creator of Precision Biking
Vandiver co-starred on TV's "ESPN Fitness Pros," created or collaborated on several fitness videos and in 1990 became the first world aerobic champion. He developed Precision Cycling, a form of group stationary-bike training, which he teaches at Seattle Athletic Club, and is developing a traveling school for fitness education for teachers.
Molly Martin is assistant editor of Pacific Northwest magazine. Her telephone number is 206-464-8243.
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