By Gail Robinson
Pat Vedomske and I had a heck of a time meeting up. We played email tag, phone tag, and we both suffer from a failure to turn on the ringers on our phones. But Luke told me, “You need to meet Pat so you get her energy and spirit. She is a special person.” Of course, Luke was right; I’m just so grateful I met her. Pat is funny, passionate, and large-hearted. Though I know her so little, I’ll venture to say that Pat is a person who follows her heart even when it takes her places she doesn’t expect to go. Maybe especially when it takes her places she doesn’t expect to go. She truly is an inspiration.
I mean, who else do you know who plays West African-style drums, or who is a Firewalk Instructor, or who is a passionate supporter of Clowns without Borders? Who else do you know who quit her job and sold her house in order to travel in Canada, the US, Europe, and South America? Who else do you know who hounds Beck about having pizza at workouts and even wrote a percussive song to the beat: “Ex-er-cise. Ex-er-cise. I want. Some piz-za.”
Pat’s passion for a life that is engaged and rich most certainly extends to Sweet Momentum. She is quick to sing the praises of the trainers and the Sweet Mo community, both. When Pat came to Sweet Mo last October for the 21-Day Challenge, she was, as she says, “a mess.” She suffered from a great deal of pain and had “a weak mid-back, repetitive stress injuries, curved shoulders, neck pain, headaches…”
When her chiropractor recommended that she do the 21-day challenge, Pat originally said “No way. I don’t do gyms. A bunch of sweaty guys who don’t clean the equipment when they’re done. It’s not for me.” But then her chiropractor explained that the Sweet Mo community really is different. It was learning that the owner and some of the trainers are transgender that made Pat decide to give this “gym” a try. Pat told me when she heard this, she thought, “Huh! Now that might be OK. A trans guy knows what it’s like to be in a woman’s body. That just made me more comfortable and confident. It made me willing to give it a try.”
When Pat started out at Sweet Mo, she couldn’t do a single burpee. She said the first three weeks were unbelievably hard. And part of what she loves is that it’s still hard, but she’s able to do so much more now and she has seen radical transformation in her body and her Self. When I asked her how many burpees she can do now, she shrugged and smiled. “I don’t know,” she said. “However many the trainers tell me to do.” She loves doing the bear crawl because it makes her feel like Spiderman. She can even run uphill in San Francisco! Before Sweet Momentum, she had stopped drumming due to repetitive stress injuries in her shoulders and arms. But now, she says, she can play twice as long as she ever could and she’s even considering beginning to teach drumming.
Pat told me that after she’d been working out at Sweet Mo for about six weeks, she woke up one morning and felt a lump on her back, up near her neck. She was worried about it until she realized, “It’s a muscle!” Pat says that she’s in the best shape of her life and that becoming fit has helped her become pain free. More importantly, maybe, she said she’s in a good mood most of the time and is happier than she’s ever been.
Pat loves what a smart, on-the-ball businessman Luke is and says of him, “He’s a force of nature!” She says all the trainers are excellent but most of her workouts have been with Beck, and she is continually impressed with his talents: “I just can’t say enough about Beck. He’s fantastic. He can work with six people, at six different fitness levels, and never break a sweat. Everyone gets an appropriately hard workout, geared to their level. Amazing!”
In talking to Pat about her experience at Sweet Momentum, she used the word “supportive” a number of times. When I asked her to share an example of what makes it supportive, she told me this story: “I was in the midst of a personal crisis when I showed up one morning for my 6:30 am workout. I could hardly get out of the car and didn’t feel at all like moving, but I had dragged myself to Sweet Mo. When I walked in, the 5:30 group was finishing up and someone asked me how I was doing. I was just so overwhelmed that I started crying and that group of people was really there for me. They were caring and sympathetic. They were just so supportive. When I said I thought I needed to go out to my car and pull it together, Beck, in his kind way, suggested that maybe movement was what I most needed and he encouraged me to stay and start the workout, so I did. And he was right. It was exactly what I needed. I mean, that’s support. What other gym has people like that?”
I agree with Pat. I don’t know of any other gym with people like that. People who are both supportive and badass. Tough and up-beat. These are words that Pat used to describe Sweet Momentum and they are words that I would use to describe Pat herself. She, too, is a force of nature, and I hope that one day she’ll bring her drum to the gym and play her pizza song for Beck!