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Meet Sue Vaughan–53 years young and rocking her workouts
1. What is your motivation behind working out?
I love working out! Exercise makes my brain happy and finding challenging workouts that I do at the gym, home or on the road has been a hobby of mine for a long time. My husband Kevin and I met in college and spent a good amount of time in the gym together and finding like minded people to share this passion with me everywhere we have lived is such a great way to connect and meet new friends. I have a son, Daniel who is 25 and my daughter, Kelly is 23 and we have striven to teach our kids about being active and living a healthy lifestyle as they get older. We spent 13 years living in Colorado prior to moving back to Chicago in 2014 where my kids basically grew up skiing, mountain biking, hiking and being immersed in their sports, Hockey (for Dan) and Kelly is a black belt in Tae Kwon Do.
2. Last year you had major surgery on your foot. How did you overcome your injury? Any advise for those who strive to continue their workout routines while on the “DL”?
I had a bunion/hammertoe deformity on my left foot that hurt my foot mostly when I wore heels or constricting shoes but when I started getting pain in my knee and hip because of the rotation in my leg I knew it was time to do something about it. I underestimated the recovery time for this surgery which required breaking my foot in 3 places and leaving me with 4 permanent screws in my foot. My first couple of days after surgery I started stretching and doing light core work and by the end of the first week, I was tricep dipping my way to my home gym in the basement and did a seated routine that I adopted from a You Tube blogger, Caroline Jordan, along with free weights and a lot of one legged squats and push ups. I really started focusing on what I could do rather than what I couldn’t. I was in a surgical shoe for about 4 months and along with my home workouts, I did a few privates with Stacy Krueger learning some Pilates routines that I continued at home. That, along with a bit of swimming was my main routine. It was a long recovery and I’m still struggling with things like running and lateral moves but there are still so many things I can do! My advise is to stay positive and find what you can do- it might be swimming or core work, moving a bit slower than what you are used to but keep your body moving and don’t forget about nutrition! Fueling your body especially while on the mend is so important.
3. You seem to enjoy traveling often. How do you stay active on your trips? 
I know this sounds crazy, but one of the priorities we have when choosing a hotel is what type of gym does it have. I have a ton of workouts I’ve written and saved everywhere from Vegas, to Barcelona, to Cabo and a hundred places in between. I travel with my TRX if we are staying for more than a few days and I take advantage of the environment. There is just something about a beach towel, music, a tabata timer, sand and a beautiful ocean view to motivate you! I’ve hooked my TRX to playground equipment, weight stacks in gyms and even a palapa on the beach. Bring confidence and a plan and you can have an awesome workout anywhere! The extra vacation drinks and food that I typically don’t indulge in are also a good motivator to “get it done”!
4. How does wearing a heart rate monitor help motivate you? Does it help you train harder, smarter or both?
This is an interesting question. I started wearing the MyZone brand heart rate monitor when we moved to River North and were members of East Bank Club. EBC’s entire gym is wired with monitors that our straps would register on as we moved from the spin room to the performance center to a Barre class etc.. (this place is enormous). The concept is similar to OrangeTheory’s monitors for comparison. At first it was all competition. The unit of energy burned is called a MEP so, who had the most MEP’s in a workout, how many classes can you do a week, who is working the hardest etc. Each client had a code name so you had an idea who was working out with you in large classes based on their code (mine is Ninja ;)) When I moved to Elmhurst and joined FITT-RX, I still used the information with the APP on my phone, to see how hard I could push myself and what workouts gave me the most bang for the buck so to speak. After my surgery and taking 5 months off my normal routine, I’ve had to scale back my intensity and I’ve found especially in spin, that my brain tells me that I totally can ride at my previous intensity but my heart and body is saying, Whoa – you need to slow down. It’s cool to be able to plan a weeks workouts being able to estimate how many calories and how hard you will work in each workout or class so I can balance my workouts and not kill myself in the process. I strive for a 500 cal burn each workout but there have been a few outside circuit classes and spin boot camp workouts that have been in the high 700 range and knowing how these workouts affect your heart rate and calorie burn lets me work smarter.
5. Besides exercise, do you have any other health-related rituals?
I have a great friend in CO that introduced me to a program called Whole Life Challenge. I have actively participated in this program about 5 times over the past few years and when I’m not immersed in the program I still follow their guidelines. It’s not a diet but encourages healthy eating by cutting back on foods that cause inflammation and for me that is flours of all kinds, sugar and processed foods. It also has you cut back on alcohol for the six week program. That’s typically my personal challenge. There are different levels and I typically follow the least restrictive level. I really enjoy finding creative healthy recipes to try and I’m lucky that Kevin is willing to try anything I make. In addition to eating a healthy diet on a regular basis, I sleep at least 8 hours a night, try to stretch at least 10 min everyday, practice some sort of gratitude either via writing or action, and exercise for a minimum of 10 min every day so that even on off days, I’m still moving.
6. Do you have days where you lack motivation to workout? If so, how do you overcome those feelings? 
I think everyone has those days! If I am seriously tired, then my body needs the break and I rest. If I just need a lighter workout, I will do a home pilates workout or maybe just a walk. Usually, if I have committed to coming to class, I’m all in and I will make it count. If I’m just being lazy, I’ll plan a workout at home in my gym and it typically only takes a few minutes to get into a groove and I can overcome the feelings. I keep coming back to the idea of balance in my routine. If you do the same thing everyday, not only does it become tiring mentally, it is also hard on the body!
7. How have your workouts changed over the decades? 
What a fun question! In the 80’s in college, my first gym was what I will call “old lady aerobics” complete with leg warmers and a jiggle strap machine in the locker room. As I progressed in my fitness journey, I did nautilus machines, free weights and even mini trampoline classes. Our first move was to LA when we got married and Kevin and I roller bladed the strand and played a lot of beach volleyball. After the kids were born in the early 90’s, I typically ran or participated in large group classes. In 2001 we moved to Colorado and I skied, trail ran, biked 20-40 miles on an average road bike day with friends and found my mojo with a small group of people where we used every kind of equipment from, Kinesis, Power Plates, TRX when they were just red “straps” and crazy partner workouts. At EBC, even though it was a huge gym, I found “my people” and continued with creative body weight classes, spin, yoga, barre and running along the lakefront. I joined FITT-RX in 2015 when we moved to Elmhurst. I love FITT-RX because of the trainers, and friends I have made. I love the variety of classes that allow strength days, cardio with spin as well as my Pilates fix while still giving me the small gym feel and camaraderie of family.


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