Angie Veneklase looks like an athlete. Ordinarily it wouldn't be worth mentioning for an instructor at Phoenix Fitness to look like an athlete but in Angie's case-it's really remarkable how hard she continues to push herself with some rather significant physical issues. She is so relatable in that way to our members and we are so grateful they have her to remind them that wellness is a journey and, no matter the setbacks, it's important to make exercise a priority in life! Angie teaches RPM at 5:30am on Fridays!
PF: How did you get started in fitness?
AV: I’ve been active for as long as I can remember! I started playing soccer as soon as I was old enough to play and continued through college. I was also a cheerleader and ran track & field. In high school, I started lifting weights in the school weight room and I’ve been hooked on weight training ever since! I love sports in general and have also played on various softball and volleyball leagues over the years. I started taking Les Mills classes once I moved to Kalamazoo and joined SWAT. I loved all the classes and took BODYPUMP, RPM, BODYSTEP, BODYATTACK, and BODYCOMBAT regularly. After my 3rd knee surgery on my right knee, however (sports injuries), my orthopedic surgeon recommended that I stop all sports/running and focus only on cycling, swimming, low impact cardio, and weight training (due to my severe arthritis and lack of an ACL). Thus, I started focusing on RPM frequently and my love for the program grew exponentially. One day, Marta suggested that I become an RPM instructor. This idea sounded crazy to me since I typically prefer not to be in front of crowds. But, I took her advice, pushed myself out of my comfort zone, and now I can’t imagine life without teaching RPM!
PF: How did you choose Phoenix Fitness?
AV: After belonging to the SWAT community for so long, I was thrilled that Marta and Scot created Phoenix to carry on that sense of family and the true essence of Les Mills. I felt privileged to join such an amazing team of instructors! Plus, I get to continue seeing so many of the people that I have always looked forward to seeing in class over the years!
PF: What do you love about teaching?
AV: I truly love to live a healthy lifestyle, strive for fitness, and to push myself to be better in all aspects. RPM is such an amazing program – it is truly the one workout I cannot live without! To be able to be up on stage, leading a group of like-minded people through my favorite workout and seeing them push themselves to become stronger/faster…I just adore it. If I can inspire someone to make a healthy difference in their life, no matter how big or small that is, I feel accomplished. And if I just so happen to be in a bad mood, I always end up in a great mood after I teach RPM!
PF: What are a few of your go to healthy snacks?
AV: I always have healthy snacks on hand and usually spend time on my days off doing food prep. Some of my healthy snacks are hard boiled eggs, celery with almond butter, just about any type of fruit, Greek yogurt w/chia seeds, raw nuts, and I’m totally obsessed with Cookies n Cream Quest Bars! My favorite “healthy dessert” lately is UMP pudding.
PF: Do you work outside of teaching at Phoenix Fitness?
AV: Yes, I’m a small animal veterinarian at the Kalamazoo Animal Hospital. I love my career but it can be very busy and stressful at times. Exercise is essential for me to control stress and keep my sanity J
PF: What are your hobbies outside of teaching at Phoenix Fitness?
AV: Road cycling, swimming, weight training, and hot yoga are a few. I also like to participate in aquabike races (triathlons minus the run portion) and this year will be my second year participating in the Make-A-Wish bicycle ride, which is a 300-mile, 3-day ride through Michigan that raises money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I’m a member of the Kalamazoo Trikats and the Kalamazoo Masters Swimming group. My husband, Brett, is a runner and is also very much into fitness so we tend to stay active a lot and even started taking ballroom dancing lessons! I love to hike with my dog Mia, snuggle with my cat Lillie, and just generally spend time with my family and friends. Traveling is a huge hobby as well - Brett and I try to take as many vacations as possible! I also like to garden and do home-improvement projects.
PF: What is one thing people at Phoenix Fitness might now know about you?
AV: I love to scuba dive! Ok, so some people at Phoenix already know that, but I’m sure some don’t. I am fascinated with the underwater world and love trying to identify all the different types of fish and other creatures I see. Brett and I have been lucky enough to dive several of the largest coral reefs in the world including the Great Barrier Reef, the Mesoamerican Reef (Cozumel), the Andros Barrier Reef (Bahamas), and the Florida Keys Reef to name a few. We’ve even been on a shark dive (not in a cage) where a group of 10-15 Caribbean Reef Sharks swam all around us and were being fed just a few feet away!
Thank you so much, Angie! We think your hobbies sounds pretty amazing right about now on our first day of sunshine in what feels like weeks! Thank you for being a valued member of the team!