Some good advice: "Ditch the snowblower. Shoveling snow is hard work, but it's also the MVP of chores, burning a whopping 476 calories an hour." - Warren, Gazelle Sports Grand Rapids
It’s a cold and snowy Saturday morning. The sun has just risen, and the group is beginning to gather. Most of them would not normally be up and out of the house by now, especially on such a blustery morning, but for one fact - there are others waiting for their arrival.
Accountability is one of the very first things people often cite when asked what they value in Gazelle Sports Run Camp. During the winter when the sun hides behind clouds, the flakes fly, and the temperatures drop into the low double or single digits, there is always someone there every Wednesday evening and Saturday morning waiting for you.
Run Camp is a training program unique to Gazelle Sports. It draws people of all ages and abilities - from first time 5k-ers to those who have run multiple marathons. The community and camaraderie is unrivaled.
Included in the program are clinics to help combine different aspects of training with running, as well as nutritional guidance and samples and team leaders to get you to the finish line.
But the real value comes from the motivation you get from the people around you. I may be at the head of the programs here in Holland now, but before that I was a participant and a team leader. This place and this training program are the reason that I still run. If I hadn’t had the support of the team leaders and group members the first winter I ran, I can almost guarantee I would have given up. The environment was welcoming, and everyone was so encouraging. I had never considered myself a runner before, but through the community and support of the training programs, I am now now able to say that I love running and it’s a major part of my life. I am a runner.
All this to say - Gazelle Sports Training Programs will get you there. Whatever your pace, whatever your goal, we will help you arrive at the finish line.
- Allison, Gazelle Sports Holland
Some good advice - "During my first week at the gym another member came up to me and introduced himself. He asked how I was doing and I responded that I was feeling really beat up. It was hard! He gave me some great advice that I pass on to other newbies: The first 2 months the workouts attack you, but after that, you can start attacking the workouts. Basically, it's really hard to get started, but stick with it and things will get easier." John, Gazelle Sports HQ
"My relationship with running has been off and on. We've always gotten along, but sometimes I forget about running because she feels high maintenance. What I've noticed about running is that when she and I are on good terms-- she's a very loyal friend; she reminds me of my confidence and self worth... she also helps me become closer with other people who get along well with her. Through the Gazelle Sports Run Camp and the whole community of runners in Holland, I have seen running benefit many people; she's a good one, that running. Running and I are becoming closer as I grow to remember that I am worth her investment." - Kessie, Gazelle Sports Holland
The best way to get moving and stay motivated is to find a group to move with! They keep you accountable on days you just want to skip and encourage you in your goals. When you sign up for one of our training camps, you'll meet the absolute nicest people and train for anything from a 5k to a full marathon with a dedicated, fun group, including experiences leaders to get you to the finish line.
Learn more about our training programs here.
by Eric Gollannek
For Alyssa Neumen, ‘Michigan movement’ has always been a team sport. She’s lived the role of student athlete since elementary school, first as a gymnast and then as a founding member of the Rockford lacrosse team. She went on to excel on the women’s lacrosse team at Grand Valley State University and as a recent graduate, she’s continued to keep herself in the game, serving as an assistant coach for the women’s team this year. Her role in building traditions at Rockford and GVSU embodies the values of care as does her work supporting and advocating for student athletes as a coach and mentor.
Alyssa’s active living story, not surprisingly, starts close to home; her family always placed importance on the student athlete experience. While Alyssa spent eight years deeply immersed in gymnastics, it was her dad’s influence that led her to lacrosse. Her dad grew up in Long Island and played lacrosse there prior to resettling in West Michigan. As a 6th grader in Rockford, she found herself in the right place at just the right time as lacrosse took off as a ‘new’ sport in Michigan. She earned her spot on the 7th-8th grade team as a young athlete and enjoyed the experience of playing on the first state championship team for Rockford! As the sport has taken root, it’s become a family affair. Her mother (Sarah) and father (Mark) are both immersed in the sport with Mark serving as the JV coach for Rockford and Sarah running the middle school program. All four of her younger sisters have also played on the Rockford team: her sister Erica is currently on the team at GVSU; Becky recently graduated after playing for Rockford; Brooklyn currently plays for Rockford and is committed to play at UNC; and Alexis (in 6th grade) currently plays for Rockford.
Though lacrosse has experienced rapid growth in popularity in Michigan only recently, lacrosse is an ancient game, played for hundreds of years in the Great Lakes region by ‘First Nations’ people, especially among the Iroquois. The sport took shape in its modern form by the late nineteenth century across a territory overlapping that of the historic areas of the Iroquois confederation: northern New England, Quebec, and Ontario. Often referred to as ‘the fastest game on two feet,’ women’s lacrosse is a game of finesse and teamwork. Alyssa describes it as a blend of basketball, hockey, and soccer with notable differences in physical contact between the men’s and women’s games.
Nevertheless, the intensity of year-round elite level play can take its toll and a back injury in high school impacted Alyssa’s ambitions. After her recovery, she found a home at Grand Valley where she enrolled as a Biomedical Science major with an eye towards medical school. The program is one of the most rigorous at GV and she balanced that with lacrosse. “College was extremely challenging as a student athlete,” Alyssa says. “I always wanted a career helping people but by my junior year I didn’t see becoming an MD as my next step.” She completed her Biomedical Sciences degree along with an Anthropology minor this past spring and took stock of her life’s journey. “I always thought life moved in a straight line but I’ve learned it’s not so straightforward.” With her passions for public health, mental health, and nutrition, she sees a future for herself as a coach and mentor “giving back to the student athletes and helping players on and off the field.” She could also see herself as an administrator in an athletic department, continuing her work in “building up a tradition of excellence” in women’s sports.
Alyssa credits her time at Gazelle with giving her balance between lacrosse and a broader view of healthy lifestyle in her community. Her sister Erika recently joined the Gazelle Sports team, ‘making movement across the Mitten’ even more of a family affair. Learning the culture of running and helping a broad spectrum of customers has helped her in her own running goals. “It’s helped me explore running for enjoyment rather than as punishment,” she smiled. Alyssa has marathon training on her list of personal goals, building on her two-time success in the Bridge Run. Thinking about her compact schedule as an assistant coach, she observed that “If the weekends line up right, I think I can run the Gazelle Girl half marathon this spring.”
Reflecting on her journey and asked what wisdom she shares with student athletes and customers alike, Alyssa didn’t hesitate. “Enjoy the process,” she says. It can be easy to get locked into a goal or outcome, but it’s often the ride more than the destination that creates our most lasting memories and accomplishments.
We here at Gazelle Sports believe that running can change a person’s life, altering it so drastically that you’d never believe there was a “before,” only an “after.” And that “after” is something so very amazing. Allison Land, one of our training program coordinators, is an amazing “after.”
Her “before” story really starts on the shores of Lake Superior. While attending Northern Michigan University, Allison experienced what many of us experience when we go off to college, and often experience during the rest of our life: weight gain.
“I gained the freshman fifteen, and then some,” Allison said. “At college and after I graduated, I was largely inactive. In August of 2012, I was the heaviest I’d ever been and I didn’t like it. I didn’t feel
good and I didn’t feel like me, at least not the me I wanted to be. I felt lazy.”
So, Allison turned to a solution that was relatively inexpensive and would end up changing her life. She started running.
Allison had never been a runner. She was mildly traumatized by the torture of the mile run in those physical fitness tests during middle and high school gym class, and basically had avoided running ever since. However, eventually a Couch to 5k program got her running along beautiful Lake Superior.
She would plod through those first runs, wishing with every fiber of her being to quit, but somehow making it through. The runs got longer and Allison got stronger. She started to see changes in herself, both mentally and physically.
“I felt better,” Allison said. “I felt more like myself. And then I signed up for my first 5k, a trail run called The Firecracker in Ishpeming.”
Allison is not the first person, and certainly won’t be the last, to underestimate the difference between road running and trail running.
“There were hills, rocks, roots, twists, turns, stinging branches and myriad other things I’d never encountered before,” Allison said.
“It would have been easy to quit. It would have been easy to just stop. I remember a man in the final stretch wondering aloud if the stupid race was ever going to be over as he walked, slumped forward, toward the finish line. Instead of dropping to my knees right there, crying and yelling, ‘No! This race will never end!’ I laughed. I laughed and slowly shuffled past the man towards the finish line. I crossed that stupid finish line and learned that ‘quit’ was a word that should not be included in my vocabulary.”
Allison has continued to run the past four years, increasing from the 5k to the 10k distance, then from 10ks to half and full marathons. That freshman fifteen, and then some, are long gone. She’s since moved to Holland and now facilitates Gazelle Sports’ training programs there.
“I’ve accomplished some crazy things in the four years I’ve been running, but only because I learned from that first race how to keep moving, even when the will isn’t always there to do so,” Allison said. “Running has given me so much - confidence, health, friends, a job - and I wanted to give something back to the sport.”
Allison chose to run her tenth marathon, the 2016 Chicago Marathon, in support of the Gazelle Sports Foundation.
“It was my way of giving back,” Allison said. “I decided to raise money for this amazing cause because the mission aligns with what I so strongly believe in. Running, in many ways, saved my life. It certainly changed it for the better, and if I can help make that happen for others, that is everything.”
Allison finished her tenth marathon in two years on October 9 with a PR of 3:59:00 and raised $210 for the Gazelle Sports Foundation. In her role at Gazelle Sports, she’s also helped more than 175 other runners cross the finish line.
We have a lot to be thankful for here at Gazelle Sports. We're thankful for our co-workers, who we're lucky enough to count as friends. We're thankful for our mission to bring movement across the Mitten, which allows us to help others live a healthy lifestyle. And we're thankful for you, the community that supports us and allows our business to thrive.
When you're done with your Thanksgiving feast and you've had a good night's sleep fueled by tryptophan and too much pie, and you're up on Friday and considering your shopping options, we hope you'll take a moment and contemplate this:
Small, local businesses like Gazelle Sports are where it's at! We strongly believe (and we've got the data to back this up!) that small businesses are essential for healthy, vibrant local communities. When you shop small this weekend and every day, you help keep money filtering through the local economy, helping our community thrive.
Did you know that for every $100 spent at a local small business, $68 returns to the community? Compare that to the less than $14 that would return if you were shopping at a chain store.
And according to the Small Business Administration, since 1995, small business have generated 66% of all new jobs in the U.S. Small businesses also give on average 250% more support to non-profit organizations than their big box counterparts.
If those pretty compelling numbers won't convince you to shop small, how about this: small local businesses can often provide the same access to product but with at least one added benefit – superior customer service.
Gazelle Sports is committed to providing you with the best possible service and care. Our single goal when you walk through our doors is to provide you with an exemplary experience.
This holiday, and every day, remember to shop locally. In a world of big box sameness, small business are a breath of fresh air. They are the place where people know your name, work to help you and truly care about you. They are what makes a community strong and unique. They make it home.
I don’t know about you, but I despise having wet feet when I run. The squish, squish, squish with every step is uncomfortable. Peeling off sloppy, wet socks only to reveal pruny, blistered feet is the last thing I want after logging mileage on a snowy, slushy day. And the alternative - running inside on a treadmill for the entire winter season? I’d rather watch paint dry.
What if I told you there was a way to skip all of that? That you didn’t have to return from a winter sweat session feeling miserable because your feet are wet, frozen and blistered? Sidestep the discomfort this winter by checking out our selection of GORE-TEX® lined running shoes. Here at Gazelle Sports, we have expert knowledge on how to keep your feet warm and dry this winter, and GORE-TEX® plays a big part in that.
GORE-TEX® is a thin membrane inside the shoe that is waterproof, windproof, and yet, still breathable. There are over 9 billion pores per square inch of GORE-TEX® in a product. This is what gives the shoe its waterproofness while still allowing sweat to escape. The pores are small enough that water molecules cannot get in, but water vapor (sweat) can still escape. All GORE-TEX® products also meet the standard for being truly windproof. The lining is thin enough that it takes up very little space in the shoe, so your favorite pair of running shoes should still fit as normal. Of course, you should still try the shoe on and test it out for proper fit - which we can definitely help you with.
The GORE-TEX® implications? Dry feet. With a GORE-TEX® shoe, when you step in a puddle, a snow drift, or a pile of slush, your feet stay dry. Dry feet mean warmer feet. Warm, dry feet mean a happy run!I’ve been running in GORE-TEX® lined shoes for three winters now. I’ve never had to skip a run due to slushy or snowy conditions, and my feet have stayed warm, dry and blister-free all winter long, mile after mile! So, winter warrior, continue to run outside through the slush, sleet, snow and rain. Own the run, and keep your feet warm, dry and happy this winter with GORE-TEX®.
-Allison Land, Gazelle Sports Holland
Evan Groendyk is the embodiment of all the things most people think a Gazelle Sports employee probably is. He’s a wicked fast, vegan runner who lives in Patagonia button-downs and split shorts. He believes that movement can change people’s lives, and he’s right about that. He’s been dubbed the Positive Vibes Liaison at Gazelle Sports, and he takes that role very seriously. He takes great joy in caring for customers and sharing his passions with them.
What makes Evan a bit more unique, beyond his dedication to providing exceptional care and service, is what he no longer is. In the past, Evan was a long-time smoker who struggled to quit and didn’t do himself any favors by treating himself right or eating well. Though he grew up with a father who was doing ultra-marathons long before it was cool, Evan himself was not much of a runner.
While attending Northwestern Michigan College, Evan made a decision to take better care of himself, in part thanks to the influence of a woman who would one day become his wife. He quit smoking, started running, and has been a vegan for nine years.
“Running helps me be my best self,” Evan said. “Now, a healthy lifestyle for me is all about balance.
I say everything in moderation, including moderation.”
After transferring to Western Michigan University and graduating with a degree in Spanish and environgmental studies, Evan worked at an environmental consulting firm in Grand Rapids. Quickly realizing a desk job was not for him, Evan found his way to Gazelle Sports and has never looked back.
“Working at Gazelle Sports allows me to surround myself with like-minded people on a daily basis,” Evan said. “It’s a motivating, fun place to work.”
Evan gets motivation from his fellow co-workers, but also the customers he meets every day.
“It’s amazing, the stories you hear and sometimes get to become a part of,” Evan said. “It’s not just about the transaction. We help people every day and are building relationships so we can continue to help them. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been at a race and people yell ‘Hey shoe guy! You got me in these shoes and they’re awesome!’ Then I’ll see them back in the store or out in the community again and it gives me a chance to further solidify our relationship.”
It’s through leadership from people like Evan that Gazelle Sports can offer exemplary service and focus on customer care.
“Service these days is kind of a lost art in our society,” Evan said. “So many places don’t care one way or the other if you leave happy, as long as you’ve spent some money. The thing is, helping others and making sure they’re happy and satisfied, in turn, makes me feel good. It’s a symbiotic relationship,
one that continues to grow.”