Physical fitness can be a solitary pursuit, but there’s fun and fellowship in flying in a flock.
That’s why area native Angela Alvarado launched the Los Altos-based Geese Revolution in January, a fitness group designed for individuals and families who want to spend as little money as possible while they expend their energy partaking in a fitness regimen. Her enterprise’s name is a nod to the concept that geese fly in formation, with each one taking its respective wind. When one falls out of line, the rest notice the loss.
The new tribe in town offers inclusion at $250 annually for one person, $350 for multiple relatives.
Alvarado is a community prosecutor for the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office by day and was previously a Weight Watchers leader by night. She mustered up the courage to start her own collective this year after more than 20 years of corporate gym affiliation, in search of a model that fit real-life needs.
“It was really frustrating to see people lose weight and then gain it back, and then gain it back more,” Alvarado said. “I left that job and thought, ‘You know what? It’s time for us to not live our lives feeling like we are either on a diet or off a diet.’ It’s a group of normal people who didn’t want to live in a gym and didn’t want to focus on never eating a carb again.”
Winning the battle
Geese Revolution aims to help people find and maintain long-lasting results, according to Alvarado. She saw too many people she cared about spending money they didn’t have and coming in and out of dieting programs. The same clients she had trained for 15 years were hitting a wall, she said. They deserved better, she thought – to find fun in something that had become a seriously large burden.
“We have a hashtag, and it’s #wecandohardthings, because we get into this pattern of feeling like it’s a losing battle,” Alvarado said of Geese Revolution. “We don’t even follow a food plan specifically, and our group has lost over 600 pounds. It’s keeping with basic things, like cooking sometimes and eating whole foods.”
Alvarado wanted to help people prioritize and restructure what they considered an accomplishment – typically success in the workplace or the achievements of their children, not completing a marathon or cooking nutritious meals for an extended period of time. She missed seeing people beam at personal achievements.
Alvarado gathered like-minded clients and formed Geese Revolution, which meets regularly Saturday mornings to weigh in and learn the science behind how the body functions. “Master geese” – clients who attain balance in finding workouts that work for them and identifying healthful food that nourishes them – lead optional workouts and challenges during the week.
The group’s indisputably competitive nature stems from participants’ desire to see how far they can push themselves, but not because they’re conforming to the Silicon Valley mind-set of being the best of the best, as Alvarado explained in a recent blog post.
“We are competitive, we want to see what we can do. We are excited to see how amazing we can become,” the endearingly nicknamed “Mother Goose” writes. “But there is a key to using the competitive fire to keep us warm without getting burned. You have to surround yourself with positive competition. … You always need to remember that being competitive simply means being a little better at something each day and never comparing yourself to someone else.”
Diversity is Geese Revolution’s selling point, Alvarado said. People from all different occupations come from all over the South Bay to be part of a fitness philosophy founded in uplifting one another. The ages of group members vary, with the youngest a recent high school graduate and the oldest in their early 70s.
An unintended beauty has arisen since the group’s inception, Alvarado said, with several mother-daughter pairs joining the flock. The cross-generational participation has prompted a new admiration in daughters they had not previously had for their mothers, she added, as well as a sense of confidence in mothers they had not had in them- selves.
“I always say if we’re hiking up at Rancho (San Antonio), ‘Bring your kids. Let them see that their mom is a badass,’” Alvarado said. “My daughter is not going to be happy about her body unless I show her how to be happy about her body. She’s not going to learn that; she’s not going to listen to what I say. She’s going to watch what I do.”
While exercising is important, Alvarado and her geese also emphasize what goes on in the kitchen. More than 60 flock-tested and -approved recipes are on the group’s website. Each week the group is required to make a few recipes together, and recent menus included pre-packed smoothies, Crock-Pot burrito bowls and no-flour muffins. Each recipe features ingredients that would likely be in the average person’s cupboards, another way Geese Revolution cuts costs.
Group members know they are only human, which is why instructors OK a cheat meal now and then. For Alvarado, that means the occasional piece of banana cream pie from Los Altos Grill, which she enjoys with her coffee in the morning before her children are up.
Any of Alvarado’s frustration in forming the group, or keeping track of her own habits, falls to the wayside when she witnesses that moment when group members realize that they have accomplished something they never thought they could, she said. Recently, her group was the largest participating in the Los Altos Hills Pathways Run/Walk. Many members had never competed in a race before, much less a trail race. Many cried when they reached the finish line.
Geese Revolution has surpassed Alvarado’s wildest dreams.
“When I left Weight Watchers, I just left with 30 people,” she said. “Then it was like, ‘Can I sign up my family? If I really want to live a healthy life, it has to be the whole family.’”
For more information on Geese Revolution, visit geeserevolution.com.