Thelma Leuba, age 65, embodies the term “grit.” The nurse commutes more than an hour each way from Olympia to get to Kettlebility, in Seattle – the place she calls “her refuge.”
Impressed by a friend’s results from a Kettlebility Transformation Challenge, Leuba first trekked to the studio in 2013 to try the Challenge for herself after several years of emotional eating (“trying to fill up the empty spot”) in the wake of her partner’s sudden death. Thelma lost 25 pounds, felt great, and got hooked on what she calls the kettlebells’ “practically meditative” movement patterns.
But the hour-plus commute was tough. Thelma tried some closer-to-home exercise options but nothing felt quite right. Before coming to Kettlebility, Thelma was active in things like swimming and contra dancing but had never done weight training. “Once I started, I realized that it wasn’t enough for me to do those same things I’d always done if I wanted to keep the weight off.” Thelma also credits the work she’s done at Kettlebility with helping alleviate symptoms of depression with which she’s struggled for years. (She’s gotten entirely off one medication and takes another at half the dose she used to.)
Today, Thelma is finishing her 5th Challenge. So what keeps her coming back? “I feel totally safe and welcomed here. I appreciate the students’ diverse age range and the instructors’ approachability and attention to each student. They are very clear they don’t want you to feel pain or discomfort. You get corrections when you need them. And when you’re done, you’re done,” Thelma says. “The pressure is to succeed, not just to do more and more at any cost. And it’s tailored to who you are as an individual.”
She adds: “It’s really powerful to know you can still transform yourself at this age.” Her newfound flexibility, balance, and strength took her colleagues by surprise the day a treadmill fell during a patient’s cardiac stress test. Thelma simply bent down, grabbed a corner, and deadlifted it. “I wouldn’t even have tried that before my Kettlebility training,” she says. “I’m smart about my body and aware of it in a way I never was before. I have different tools now. And I’m real clear about what works.”
“People ask me all the time, isn’t there something in Olympia? Or Tacoma? But Kettlebility is the right place for me.” She pauses. “I don’t think the studio is magic… but it’s pretty close.”