1.   Hi Sabrina! Please tell us about yourself.

I was born and raised in Anchorage, AK and I am 28 years old. I am married to my husband, Adam, and we live with our two miniature dachshunds, Oscar and Lola. We have a baby on the way, he (Baby Leo) is due on April 1.

I was born with a genetic lung disease called Cystic Fibrosis that currently has no cure. I run and regularly attend Figarelle’s Fitness boot camps, small groups and personal training to help stem the negative effects of this disease. I am also a cancer survivor, when I was 18 years old I was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. I went through chemotherapy and radiation and in December 2015 it will be a celebratory 10 years of being cancer free!

2014 Burpee Challenge at Figarelle's Fitness by Chris Cupp Photography

2.   What role does exercise play in your life and why is it so important for you to stay healthy and fit?

Exercise is essential for me stay alive. Cystic Fibrosis (CF) causes thick and sticky mucus to build up in my lungs and creates the perfect environment for bacteria to thrive. Bacteria causes lung infections that eventually cause irreversible scar tissue damage and decreases the lungs’ ability to function. I do cough and breathe very heavily during my workouts but I am not contagious.

In order to get the mucus out of my lungs I run and participate in boot camp 2 days a week. These activities cause me to breathe hard and shake loose some of the mucus that has built up in my airways. I have found these workouts, combined with running several days a week, to be the best form of airway clearance which is essential in preventing lung infections and hospitalizations.

3.   What motivated you to seek out FF for your training?

Adam participated in FF boot camp for several years; he would come home and tell me how intense the work out was. He mentioned flipping tires and doing burpees (I didn’t know what that was, but it sounded strange and scary….and gassy?). At the time running was the only form of exercise I had ever been familiar with. I kept coming up with excuses as to why I couldn’t try out a session at FF. Essentially, I was scared because I wasn’t sure if I could handle that type of work out and I thought it would be embarrassing if I was the weakest person at boot camp (we all have to start somewhere!)

Adam reminded me that I had dealt with much harder obstacles in my life and to just try out a boot camp session. I went to my first workout in October 2012 and I was borderline debilitatingly sore for about a week. I immediately realized how I needed to incorporate a strength and high intensity cardio training routine into my life to enhance my physical capabilities, thus improving the health of my lungs and my overall lifestyle.

FF was the perfect place for me to start and after attending the first session I saw how supportive and safe the FF gym environment was.  In the end, these classes have been a huge component in helping me to build strength, become a faster runner and to also set bigger and better goals for myself.

4.   You have run a lot of races over the years. What are a few that really stand out to you? (Some of your favorites). 

My favorite races are the Lost Lake Run, Her Tern Half, Mayors Midnight Sun (half), and the Twilight 12k!

5.   The Lost Lake race in Seward is such an important event. Can you tell us more about what makes this race so special?

The Lost Lake Race is important to me because this race benefits those with Cystic Fibrosis. Cystic Fibrosis does not have a cure and the only way to find a cure is through research and currently research for a cure is solely funded by donations.

This is also a race that I participate in. It has difficult terrain and it is long, but it is a reminder to me that I am still alive and breathing. I do not want Cystic Fibrosis to be an excuse for why I can’t accomplish something in my life. The 16-mile trail has half-mile markers with pictures of local Alaskans who have Cystic Fibrosis. The finish line has pictures of those who have passed away due to Cystic Fibrosis. Each half-mile is a reminder to keep on fighting and the finish line is my reminder to not give up.

6.   You’re currently 8 months pregnant and still exercising regularly. What advice do you have for pregnant women who may be hesitant to continue working out throughout pregnancy?

I jog for 20 minutes 3 times a week and attend boot camp twice a week. My doctors have given me the ‘okay’ to exercise and I have not endured any complications by doing so. I plan to exercise until the end. Exercise is highly recommended for pregnant women, unless there are complications or conditions that prevent a pregnant person from doing so.

2014 Burpee Challenge at Figarelle's Fitness by Chris Cupp Photography

I choose to continue working out because it keeps my body strong and prepares it for all the changes that it will go through. I may not be moving as fast or keeping up with everyone else, but I am still staying active and building strength and having great time doing it!

I want to be strong for labor and I want to be strong after my baby is born so that I can take care of him to the best of my ability.

7.   You’ve included all three of our programs into your exercise regimen; private personal training, small group personal training, and boot camp classes. What are a few of your favorite things about each of those programs?

Personal Training: I love the one-on-one training and guidance. These workouts focus on specific goals that you want to achieve. Personal Training focuses directly on your own personal and specific goals. I value my time during these sessions because the trainer can evaluate, push and monitor you in a safe setting and environment.

Small Group: Small group is great because it is a work out that is a combination of personal training and boot camp classes. Small group has a small class size that allows 1 trainer to help guide and monitor each person in the group. I feel small group has a great structure to involve more strength training while also incorporating the camaraderie of working out with other FF folks.

Boot Camp Classes: This is wonderful because it is fast paced and cardio intensive. You have to be moving at all times and it keeps your heart rate going. You also have a whole clan of people cheering on the group and motivating you to keep on going!

8.   We’re excited to host our 3rd annual Burpee Challenge at the FF gym on April 26th, 2015. Why is this event so important?

The Burpee challenge is important to me because it helps me raise funds for my Lost Lake Team donations. The funds that are raised for The Lost Lake Race go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. The Cystic Fibrosis Foundation is the main organization that funds research for Cystic Fibrosis.This research helps to create medicine that helps reduce the negative effects of CF and they are also searching for a cure! Each donation provides me with hope that a cure will be found in my lifetime!

CF Facts: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a life-threatening genetic disease that primarily affects the lungs and digestive system. An estimated 30,000 children and adults in the United States (70,000 worldwide) have CF.

In the United States:

·      About 1,000 new cases of CF are diagnosed each year.

·      More than 75 percent of people with CF are
diagnosed by age 2.

·      Nearly half of the CF population is age 18 or older.

In people with CF, a defective gene and its protein product cause the body to produce unusually thick, sticky mucus that:

·      Clogs the lungs and leads to life threatening lung infections.

·      Obstructs the pancreas and stops natural enzymes from helping the body break down food and absorb vital nutrients.

In the 1950s, few children with CF lived to attend elementary school. Since then, tremendous progress in understanding and treating CF has led to dramatic improvements in the length and quality of life for those with CF. Many people with the disease can now expect to live into their 30s, 40s and beyond.

 9.   We all have days where we’re not super excited to workout. What keeps YOU motivated, every day?

When I was diagnosed with CF at the age of 4, the doctor told my parents I would most likely not make it past the age of 8.  Tremendous advancements have been made in how to treat the effects of CF to improve overall health and slow the progression of the disease.  Today the projected average life expectancy is in the late 30’s.

Living life keeps me motivated. I do not want to take one breath or one day for granted. I am so fortunate to be living and breathing. I have to work to stay healthy and that includes being proactive and accountable for my health. My daily routine involves around 30 pills, 2-3 inhaled antibiotics and some type of exercise.

While being pregnant I am also monitoring my blood sugar 4 times a day and giving myself a daily anticoagulant therapy injection to help thin my blood to prevent a blood clot from forming. I do not want to pity myself, but my daily routine is a reminder why I fight so hard to live this life. Exercise keeps me alive!

10. What are some important things you’d like to accomplish in 2015 and beyond?

Run a marathon, Continue to Run Lost Lake, Run in the Klondike Road Relay. My goal is to always achieve better times in races and become stronger all around. When I first became pregnant my lung function was at 67%, right now it has gone up to 80% and my goal is to maintain that number.

I can do this through consistent exercise, running and taking my daily medicine. I also want to live my life for as long as I can without needing a lung transplant. For me, medicine is an inevitable part of my life but I try to focus on holding myself accountable for my health and doing all that I can to improve it through running and exercise.