CKO Success Story (Heather Saldivar)

Written by Robert Rivera:

Heather joined CKO one year ago (Nov 2012) and made really good progress her first 7-months. She was happy with her results but was not satisfied, she knew she could do better and she knew she had more work to do in order to reach her full fitness/health potential but she needed that extra push! The first seven months at CKO gave Heather the strength, the endurance, and the confidence needed to take her fitness to the next level. So at end of July 2013 she inquired about doing a personal 10-week challenge which consisted of nutrition counseling, attending a minimum of  3 classes per week, and a weekly circuit training session.

Heather after

Happy and tone!

We had instant chemistry, what really impressed me was her passion and her drive, I have seen/heard a lot of people talk about fitness goals but quit as soon as the going gets tough, but not Heather, she talked the talked and walked the walk! I would set weekly goals and every time she consistently exceeded the requirement-pushing herself harder and harder each and every workout. The nutrition portion of the 10-week challenge, is based on a primal diet which means, NO SUGAR and NO GRAINS. Within one week, I noticed an immediate physical appearance in her face and her level of energy was up too. Heather was super fun to train, as time went by her strength, speed, stamina, and health continued to improved. I was also very excited to see her food choices significantly improved, she became much more aware of what she ate and how it affected her body.

Mitt sessions are her favorite.

Mitt sessions are her favorite.

I truly believe this is only the beginning. She deserves all the credit and remains focused on her goal to get six-pack abs. What I admire about her most is her drive. I thank her for letting me train her because she truly is an ideal client with an amazing attitude. I want Heather to know that the sky is literally the limit and she has the potential to do great things in this world! 🙂

Heather’s testimonial is below.

Written By Heather:

Health is Your Wealth

My fitness journey began with the purchase of a Groupon for CKO Kickboxing. One of my good friends, who has since become a CKO instructor, thought we would try it out to see if we liked it. The summer I joined CKO, I was going through one of the hardest times in my life. I had just broken up with my boyfriend of almost seven years, who I had been through so many ups and downs with during the relationship that it totally weighed me down. I barely could get through the day at times, but I always looked forward to getting to CKO after work; it was my therapy.

Heather ( on right) before CKO

Heather (on right) before starting CKO

When I finally joined CKO, I fell back in love with fitness. I was reawakened and finally felt like myself again after losing touch with who I was for so long. I started wanting more than just group classes. I wanted to get stronger and toned. The best decision I ever made was hiring Robert Rivera as my trainer and nutritionist to take my fitness to the next level. I was quite honestly a little scared because I had heard he made you cut out all grains, pasta and sugar from your diet. But I had made up my mind and set my eyes on the prize. I was fully committed to a healthier lifestyle.

Punching cancer in the face

Punching cancer in the face

I started seeing a difference in my body within the first week. My stomach looked smaller and leaner and my body continued to rapidly change. I was motivated and wanted to get better every day. I have gone from a size 6/8 to a size 4 and I’m finally close to being back to my college size. I haven’t touched grains in almost five months and I don’t understand why people love bread so much. When people ask me what kind of diet I’m on or how I eat, I tell them this is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle change. I can’t be happier with the results I was able to achieve during the course of 13 weeks.

100% committed to a healthy lifestyle

100% committed to a healthy lifestyle

CKO Kickboxing is far more than just your typical gym. This place has completely transformed my life. Everyone here is rooting for you and wants you to achieve your goal, which is not something you’ll find at any other gym. This is a special place. Thank you CKO and Robert Rivera for the daily nutrition text messages, checking in on my food log and always going above and beyond my expectations. But I’m not done yet. Robert and I have already discussed new goals and I’m ready for the challenge!


Get To Know a Member (Shannon McKeon)

If their was a contest for the happiest person on Earth Shannon McKeon would be my favorite to win. Every time I see Shannon she is smiling, even during class when I receive stink eye after stink eye from many of the other members (lol), Shannon is still grinning from ear to ear. Her positive energy is really contagious.  Shannon has been a member of CKO since April 2013 and is in the Century Club (100 classes at CKO) and a regular member of the got to get hot club!

Shannon at our 1 year anniversary class

The Shannon McKeon interview:
How did you first learn of CKO?
My friends Dee and Michele (aka our very own DJ, Miss Shelrawka) told me about this great kickboxing gym they had joined. They said the classes were a killer and that I would enjoy it. I went to my first class on President’s Day. I had an absolute blast!  I had never punched a big bag before and I loved it.  It was so much fun to be bouncing around with boxing gloves, throwing punches and kicks at the bag — all set to music. I got tied up with work and did not go back to CKO until two months later in April. I thought I would try it out, see if I could continue going to classes. Turned out I could make the evening classes. I loved the workouts and signed up for a year membership.
What are some of your fitness goals?
I would like to run a marathon one of these days.
Also, I have no self control when it comes to happy hour food and drinks. I am trying to be healthier on the weekends.
The only time she has not smiled ;)

The only time she has not smiled 😉

What is your favorite aspect of CKO?  
 My favorite aspect of CKO are the people at the gym. It is astonishing how inspiring the members are.  I’ve met a woman who was working out a few short weeks after having a baby, a gentleman with Parkinson’s Disease, a young one who can jump over six feet in the air (Kevin you know you are amazing!), people recovering from injuries, and scores of people who continually make the time in their busy lives to do something good for their bodies. It is a privilege to work out with such a remarkable bunch!
What motivates you to walk through that door day after day and continue to push yourself?
 My job can be incredibly stressful. I used to throw on my sneakers and run up a hill to dissolve the tensions of the day. While I still run, I have found that CKO is an even better mechanism for dealing with work overload. In our busy lives, it is so important to make the time to take care of ourselves. Accordingly, I go to a CKO class as often as I can. What can be better than to pummel a bag after a day of chaos? Thank you for this CKO!
What’s one thing you still find yourself struggling with? 
 The most difficult part of the classes for me are the sprawls. I am not kidding, sprawls are no joke for me. Sometimes I’ll drop down on the ground after a long, hectic day at work and think how nice it would be to simply lay there for a few minutes and catch my breath.  But then I think of what the fighter Jack Dempsey said, “A champion is someone who gets up when he can’t.”  I love that quote.
What can we do better to help you actualize your true potential? 
I can’t think of anything that could be done better.
Share any relevant information you’d like about yourself that other CKO team members might not know about you!
I grew up in a tiny town in Montana and moved to the Seattle area after university. I met my husband when he was in town on a break from crab fishing on the Bering Sea. We are the proud parents of a darling, 8-year-old Beagle named Walter. That dog has buried all of my wrist wraps, so you will generally see me at the gym without them.
Shannon on Team CKO for the World Concern 5K

Shannon (on knees in middle) on Team CKO for the World Concern 5K

10-Week Challenge Lyzz Wells

Front final

Looking healthier and happier!

If I could use two-words to describe Lyzz Wells it would be NO EXCUSES! After 21-years of serving our country she was considered 100% disabled and then a year later she won the battle against breast cancer! With a medial “rap sheet” like that no one would dare question her if she said that she was not able to workout. But giving-up or giving-in is not in Lyzz’s vocabulary and instead of dwelling about her past medical issues she made the choice to move forward, get healthier, get stronger, and take charge of her life! Another admirable quality about Lyzz is never once did she complain or use her previous injuries as an excuse during the 10-week challenge workouts, especially the sprints. Sprinting was definitely hard for her and I could see the pain on her face but she kept moving forward and wound not quit!

We hear excuses everyday and it is so refreshing to see someone who does not dwell on past hardships and is only concerned with moving forward! Lyzz Wells you are definitely an inspiration to me, thank you for your dedication and thank you for your 21-years of service! 

Testimonial written by Lyzz Wells:

In September 2004, I retired from the Army after 21 years of active duty.  Unfortunately, I had many physical issues during my service, to include 5 major abdominal surgeries to repair damage cause by running.  I was told I should never run again and that push-ups and sit-ups would be problematic for me for life.  After the Veterans Administration reviewed my records, I was determined to be 100% disabled.

Side Final

Look at that improved posture!!!

Thirteen months later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer and had to undergo surgery and radiation for that.  After recovering, I did not continue with the active lifestyle I was used to.   Over time this really took a toll on me both physically and mentally.  The only real activity I was doing was bowling and walking a couple times a week…during the spring and summer. But, I felt sluggish and I was not happy with how I looked.

I finally decided it was time to do something.  I tried yoga, but it just wasn’t what I was looking for, not active enough.  One day I saw a Groupon for CKO, so I checked out the website to see what it was about.  I decided to sign up for an introductory class.  When I came in Robert showed me all the punches and I attended his class.  This was the hardest I had worked out since doing Army PT.  But, I was sold. I signed up for a membership as soon as class was over.  Due to my disabilities, I am forced to modify certain moves, but I know my limits and I push myself at every work out.

Back final

A couple weeks later I saw the sign for the upcoming 10 week challenge and I decided to go for it.  The first day of the challenge, Garett told us all about the Paleo diet and what all the expectations were for the next 10-weeks.  The hardest part for me was giving up my artificial sweetener, but I’m grateful that they made me do it.  Then we took a fitness test and had our measurements taken.  I was very embarrassed at how I fared on both of these.   I began attending four kick boxing classes a week and a boot camp on the weekend.  The workouts were hard, but I could see progress all the time.  It was very motivational to see the other challenge participants in the classes.


Punching Breast Cancer in the Face

When I came in for final measurements and fitness test, I knew I had made progress, but had no idea how much.  I was blown away when I found out that I had lost 17 inches overall.  Then, on the fitness test I improved, a lot, on all of the events.  I was so psyched!

I know now that this was not just a 10-week endeavor.  I am determined to continue with this new way of eating and the kickboxing classes.  I will also be starting personal training with Robert to supplement my workouts.  I am so happy that I discovered CKO and I can’t wait to see what comes next.

-Lyzz Wells

Lyzz’s results of the 10-week challenge were amazing losing 17-inches off her body and also improving on every part of the fitness test! Results are listed below:

Body measurements:

  • Right Arm = – 1.25-inches
  • Left arm = -1.375-inches
  • Chest = – 1.25-inches
  • Waist = -3-inches
  • Booty =  – 3.25-inches
  • Right Leg = -3.75-inches
  • Left Leg = – 3.125-inches

Total inches lost = 17-inches of fat!

Fitness Test Results:

  • Push ups = +16 in one minuet
  • Squats  = +22 on one minuet
  • Sit ups = +35 in one minuet
  • Wall Sit = +45 secs
  • Run = – 33 secs off a 300-yard shuttle run
  • Plank = + 1 min 2 secs

Self-Sabatoge part 3 – Fear of Commitment

Many gyms operate using a subscription type business model where a customer pays a monthly rate and gets access to the facility and, like most subscriptions, the longer the customers “commits” the cheaper the subscription. Sounds simple enough except for the word commitment, which is the scariest word that can be said in a gym. The word is so scary that I know of many instances where one spouse has said to the other, “don’t commit to anything and don’t you dare sign any gym contract!”

Really!? You signed up for a gym membership with out talking to me first, I thought you loved me...

Really!? You signed up for a gym membership with out talking to me first, I thought you loved me…

Ironically, many people “commit” to buying a house, car, timeshare, relationship, Direct TV, parenthood, and cell phone service all without much thought, but a gym membership, that’s where people draw the line. That’s right, many people put more thought into a gym membership than they do to having children, which is an 18-year commitment at a minimum. But for a gym membership people need to go home and talk it over with their spouse, go over the budget to see if there is room, and “try” to find time in their “busy” schedule, but creating a child, a real living breathing human that will be 100% depended on you for at least 18-years…not much thought.


True story:

Customer – “How much are your membership rates?”

Me – “After you take your free trail class we can go over the different membership options”

Customer – “I understand, but I am afraid I will love it, only to find out I can afford it”

That’s right, people are so afraid of “committing” to a gym that they are actually in fear of enjoying their workout. Am I the only one that thinks this sounds crazy? When people say this, this is what I hear, “I am afraid of enjoying something that will make me stronger, healthier, smarter, more attractive, increase my confidence, increase my pocket book, and significantly increase my overall quality of life. Yes, I am deathly afraid of that! But hey – check out my cable TV subscription streaming on my new iPhone 5s that required a 3-year commitment. “

So how does you not wanting to sign-up for a 1-year agreement sabotage your fitness goals? Because you are not serious about investing in yourself “long term”. Instead of thinking, “man, 1-year is a long time, and that’s a lot of money”. You should be thinking, “What if today, I decide to be serious and commit to working out consistently for 1-year?” You should be asking yourself:

  • How much weight could I lose in one year?
  • How strong and healthy could I get in a year?
  • What could I accomplish in one year if I focused on improving myself?


You should think of a gym agreement as more of an agreement with yourself than it is with the gym. Sure, gym owners love year agreements, they are good for business, but a specialty gym will only stay in business if they produce results and it is hard to produce results if people are not committed to becoming healthier. So it really is an agreement on both sides. I agree to help you, if you agree to come in to the gym on a consistent basis.

Remember when you were a kid and 1-year was an eternity? But as an adult, a year flies by extremely fast, and the older you get the faster the years fly by! So how many times have you gone to a gym for one month, stopped going, vowed to return (to the gym tomorrow), and then before you knew it 2-years flew right by. Then the real mind-bender, you start to wonder where the time went and how different your life would be had you just worked out for those two years.

“Some people have enthusiasm for 30-mins, some for 30-days, but it is those that have it for 30-years that are successful.” – unknown


Also out of all the members at my gym the people that lose the most weight, build the most muscle and benefit the most overall are the people that sign up for at least 1-year. This makes me think of another quote:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You’re playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you.”
― Marianne Williamson


Let your light shine!

Committing to yourself, to your health for 1-year is not easy, in fact it is going to be hard work. Instead, it is much easier to plead ignorance, pretend you are weak, play the victim role and blame others. You are not scared to commit to a gym membership for one year.. You are actually afraid of succeeding because once you accomplish your fitness goals you start to realize you are capable of accomplishing much more. Being successful is not easy; it takes a lot of hard work and you, yes you, would rather play small. You would rather take the easy road. You would rather be average than a trail blazer.

What could you accomplish in a year?

Always Use “Protection” Before You “HIT IT” (Best gloves for Kickboxing)

Do you have sore knuckles? Do you know the pros and cons of both boxing gloves and/or MMA gloves (fingerless)? In this post I will discuss both hand protection and the major differences between boxing and mma gloves.

Both have pros and cons

Both have pros and cons

To have the best experience at CKO you should always wrap your hands and wear gloves. Luckily it has only happened a handful of times but every once in a while we have had some people take off their gloves in the middle of class cause they think they are tough enough to punch the bag without gloves (usually wannabe tough guys). Striking the bag without gloves is just about the dumbest thing you can do, cause our hands are relativity delicate. Walk in to any Professional boxing or MMA gym and you will see every fighter wrapping hands and wearing gloves to strike the bag, and hit focus mitts, cause hand/wrist injuries, such as sprains and fractures, are all too common in combat sports. In fact Floyd “Money” Mayweather has broken/sprained his right hand so much that before everyone one of his fights, his hand durability is always “called in to question”. Let’s not forget that “Money” is probably the best pound for pound boxer that has ever lived, so if he can hurt his hand, so can you!

Even the best pound for pound boxer in the world has hurt his hand

Even the best pound for pound boxer in the world has hurt his hand

It is not just a question of perfect technique or doing the ancient hand strengthening techniques we saw in 80’s karate movies, it comes down to the fact that our hand and wrist contains 35 bones which is ideal for very fine motor skills and not very ideal for repeated slamming. Just like many professional combat sport athletes, in any given CKO class we easily punch the bag several hundred times in just one hour, so if the pros use hand protection, I think we should too!

Boxer's fracture

Boxer’s fracture

Please don’t let this talk of injury scare you away from CKO kickboxing, with some knowledge and some preparation you can significantly reduce the likely hood of hand injuries. Most pro fighters hurt their hand during a fight not during training so if you take precautions the chances of you breaking your hand at CKO is basically zero. In fact we have not had any member break their hand, but we have had some sore knuckles and sore wrists. Here are 5 steps to protect your hands:

  1. Always wrap your hands!
  2. Wear/use good quality gloves. Just like anything else, glove quality matters, if you have become a CKO addict, make sure you are using quality gloves, and not just the “starter” bag gloves.
  3. Snap you punches like a whip, this helps minimize the amount of time your hand makes contact with the bag.
  4. When striking the bag use proper technique and don’t lose focus. If you need help with technique I recommend coming to class early and asking for another orientation or signup for a few mitt sessions. Focus mitt sessions really help with technique, are a lot of fun, and a great workout too!
  5. Don’t wait till you get injured. Our body is usually very good at giving us warning signs, so if your hands start to become sore take necessary action. As we will discuss later, MMA gloves don’t offer the best protection, so if your hands start to become sore, invest in a pair of 12-oz to 16-oz boxing gloves, get some knuckle guards which go under your wraps or get the new gel shock handwraps which is an all in one knuckle guard/handwrap combo. My recommendation would probably get the knuckle guards and wrap my hand as the gel shock handwrap maybe hard to wash (but I have never used them).

MMA Glove are usually put into 3 different categories – Bag gloves, Training and Competition.

  1. Bag Gloves – Usually have an grip bar for comfort and protection and contain added protection compared to competition gloves
  2. Training – No grip bar (better for grappling) and usually added protection compared to competition gloves.
  3. Competition – Very little protection, not practical for a fitness class.
MMA gloves are great for class

MMA gloves are great for class

The pros and cons of MMA gloves:

Pros –

  • More comfortable
  • More appropriate for a fitness class – better for push-ups, water bottle, grabbing bag, towel, etc
  • Improve technique – This is more out of necessity, because their is less protection so they force you to improve form.
  • Washable (At least some are)
  • Smaller
  • lightweight

Cons –

  • Less protection compared to a boxing glove – bad striking form increases the chance of injury
  • Not recommend for mitt sessions.
  • Tighter fit makes it hard to use hand wraps or add knuckle protection

Boxing gloves are usually put into 3 different categories – Bag gloves, Training, and Competition.

  1. Bag Gloves – Usually lighter weight around 8oz to 12oz
  2. Training – Usually heavier weight 12oz to 18oz
  3. Competition – Usually have laces and are not recommended for a fitness class.
Boxing gloves

The added weight of boxing gloves really raises the intensity of class!

The pros and cons of boxing gloves:

Pros –

  • Provides lots of protection
  • Loose fit allows for longer hand wraps, knuckle guards, etc
  • Heavier 12oz to 18oz – A 16oz or 18oz glove makes your workout much harder. Over the course of a hour the added weight will surely be felt and this increases muscle, burns more calories, increases hand speed and punching power. Using heavier gloves creates a very different workout.

Cons –

  • Awkward for push-ups, water bottle, or other class related tasks
  • Added protection can promote bad form – less feedback to your hand.
  • Hard to keep clean – not washable
  • Will eventually start to stink

A good pair of both MMA and Boxing gloves is recommend for a Cardio Kickboxing class!

My recommendation is to have both a pair of MMA fingerless gloves to be used most of the time and a pair of decent boxing glove to be used if hands are sore or if looking to change up your workout, improve hand speed and/or punching power. Also invest in added knuckle protection and make sure you always wrap you hands!

Most importantly – Please don’t be cheap when it comes to protecting your hands! I have seen way too many people go down to Big 5 or Sports Authority and buy Gel Wraps because they don’t want to spend $50 for a decent pair of gloves. First of all these are not even “bag gloves” they are “wraps” that you put inside your boxing glove, using these alone will not provide you the proper protection. Secondly our hand is a delicate instrument and should be treated as such, so please invest in the proper equipment, go train, and become a bad-ass.

These are not gloves! Only buy these if you intend to use them under boxing gloves

These are not gloves! Only buy these if you intend to use them under boxing gloves.