In December of 2010 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. It was devastating and really scary at first, but I knew from other people and my doctor that it was entirely possible to get it under control by developing better eating and exercise habits. With guidance from Paula & Andrea and support from friends & family, I started training for the Rock ‘n’ Sole 10K (yes, the now infamous Hoan Bridge run!) Since then, I’ve run in several 5K events and plan to do a short triathlon this spring. My blood sugar and blood pressure are now normal, I’ve lost nearly 40 pounds and, most important to me, will soon be off all medication. It’s hard getting up in the mornings to run or workout, but the tremendous support of the Starting Line Athletics team and all the girls that I train with keep me motivated. I know this is a life-long commitment and it helps to have all my “Everyday Athletes” surrounding & supporting me!
Cindy T.

I started working with Paula because I was getting winded going up a flight of stairs, or dancing with my husband at Chill on the Hill. Three months later, I RAN a 5k! Training was challenging but fun, and I always felt encouraged and accepted. Training with Starting Line is now a permanent part of my fitness plan. — Carrie M.

I photograph Packer games and often work on deadline. The trip from the field to the photo workroom includes a lengthy tunnel and three flights of stairs. Not so long ago I was struggling to even walk up those stairs without getting winded after an afternoon of kneeling, bending, chasing plays and hauling gear.
This past season I came off the field and up to the workroom as usual only when I got there I realized I had run up the stairs with very little effort.
John Klein, Milwaukee

When I knew I wanted to train for my first open water swim, Paula was the first person I turned to (I live in the California Bay Area, but happily get to visit Milwaukee often). As a long-distance coach, she gave me superb advice, targeted workout routines, and (when I needed it most) a great deal of support and cheerleading. We worked together by phone and email in the months leading up to the swim. My first swim ended up being a rip-roaring success, and now I can’t wait for the next (and the next, and the next…). Paula helped me gain the confidence to dive in, and the training regimen that allowed me to finish with ease.
Sara Bixler, California

I had a devastating MS attack in 2009, and after a couple of years I figured that I had recovered as much as I was going to – my balance was still shaky and things (including staying upright) got much more difficult when I got tired or pushed too hard. I started training with Paula because I wanted to complete all 50 miles of a 3-day, 50-mile walk for MS (I have participated for 2 years but I’ve never managed all 50 miles). 5 months later I am much stronger, have more endurance – and best of all, my balance is back! Paula has been wonderful – never pushing me too hard but always pushing to help me get back what I thought I had lost forever. I am starting to run again, I can jump, and I look forward to being able to do everything that I used to do.
R, Milwaukee

Not only am I healthier and skinnier since I started with you guys, but I went on my first bike ride of the season – 13 miles with hills and I crushed it!! I have never had that much stamina and I have never been able to make it up hills before. Thank you so much!! — Lesley M (small group workout participant)

I can’t thank you enough for the work you did with [my husband]. This is so much bigger than swimming. He said that Andrea was awesome, he felt amazing and, although he knows he still has work to do, is looking for his next life dragon to slay. Facing your fears is heady, exciting and empowering stuff. I can’t believe what you have helped us achieve… and there is more to come. You are helping us turn “grow old together” into “grow STRONG together.” I’m so glad I know you two. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. — Sally W.

In January 2011, I was an obese, lazy, asthmatic, type-2 diabetic in my mid-40s who had long desired to achieve fitness but had neither the skills nor the motivation to actually begin. That month, I was handed the opportunity of a lifetime: a free one year membership to a local gym, and a free initial session with a personal trainer.

But a free membership wasn’t enough to motivate me to work hard enough to make the changes I envisioned for myself, long term, down the road. Not knowing any of the trainers, at random I chose to arrange an initial evaluation with Paula Suozzi. That was probably one of the hardest phone calls I’d ever had to make. First I had to admit to myself that I could not affect this on my own and secondly, I had to admit that to a complete stranger!

After that initial session with Paula, I realized she had (and has!) the right amount of “Yeah, I’m going to kick your ass, and it’s going to hurt, but I know you can do it, and it won’t kill you” attitude. With Paula, and her partner Andrea Hoeschen, I have been able to set and surpass many goals during the 2+ years I’ve worked with them. I know I had chosen wisely.

Most recently, I had a goal to run 1 mile without needing to stop and walk. That was something I never thought possible, not in a million years, maybe for others, but not for me. Then one Sunday morning, my GPS alerted me that I had in fact run exactly 1 mile, and I felt that I had truly accomplished something spectacular. Unfortunately, Andrea had other plans for me. She told me that although I had accomplished that goal, I now could only slow down if I needed to, I could not stop… and so I kept running! She did allow me to walk up the hill down by the lakefront, but that was the last time I would allow myself to walk up that hill. Two weeks later, I was able to run the entire 3.7 mile route without needing to stop and walk. I also have not needed to use my inhaler nearly as much as I used to. I now don’t use it preventatively prior to running or working out. My lungs are much healthier, as are most of my other muscles. I only use it preventatively prior to swimming, as the shock of cold water wreaks havoc on my breathing.

So far in 2013, in addition to running, these two awesome trainers have enabled me to bench press my body weight, leg press over 700 lbs, and clean & jerk over 100 lbs. Whether it’s swim classes, workouts in the park, or Sunday morning runs, availing myself of their offerings has made me a much healthier person. They don’t focus entirely on exercise: they have also made me consider my food and drink choices, and other aspects of my life that could use tweaking. They’ve suggested small changes, like not using my arms when I get out of a chair, or finding a few minutes while at work to get in some jumping jacks. These are things I may not have thought of, but they really do make a difference in my quest to become fit.

They put me through my paces, but only I can truly make the sessions work and not waste anyone’s time. It’s not about getting through the exercises, I have to truly concentrate on what we’re trying to accomplish. Each week Paula and Andrea devise new challenges and inventive new “tortures.” These trainers work with me to figure out what I want to accomplish, and help me get there. While both Paula and Andrea have applauded my efforts and accomplishments, they never let me rest on my laurels, and continue to set new challenges and formulate new goals. With their help, I have been able to lose weight, become more energetic, and my weight, asthma and diabetes are in much better control. I also enjoy having muscles where once there had been nothing but flab.

If my 2011 self could see me now, I don’t think he would recognize me. Paula and Andrea have truly given me the power to change my life in umpteen ways for the better, and I have become a different, stronger and certainly more fit and healthy individual. I have come so far in just over 2 years, and for that, I will never be able to thank Paula and Andrea enough. -– Ben D.