The Glory of “Group Training”

by Emily Williamson

Group Training 1
A RHF member during Group Training

Rainier Health & Fitness member Nancy Shore was hesitant to try Group Training due to back pain, but within a year of working out three times weekly, she experienced both a stronger back and more energy. Recapping the transformation, Nancy wrote:

“I remember telling Patrick that I thought Group Training would be a bad idea due to back pain. Patrick told me that the Group Training would help my back and even promised me I’d gain the strength and form needed to pick up my son. I gave it a try and realized that Group Training would help me move beyond doing just cardio on the elliptical. The trainers are amazing at working with you and modifying the exercises as needed. My son is now five and over 50 pounds and I can still give him uppies. The Group Training classes have been amazing—my back is definitely better and the trainers and other gym members in the class always motivate me. I am definitely stronger than I’ve ever been and find that starting my day off with Group Training energizes me and helps me focus throughout my workday.”

Members like Nancy are exactly who the trainers have designed Group Training to impact. As a program of a non-profit in the Rainier Valley, Rainier Health & Fitness has attracted many residents who never before stepped inside a gym. Consequently, the staff found that a number of these newcomers are intimidated by weights and large equipment so stick to treadmills and ellipticals rather than pushing themselves to a total body workout.

To expand members’ fitness routines at a reasonable cost, the trainers implemented a program called Group Training. These workouts enable participants to vary their exercise routine, receive a total body workout and get guidance from a certified trainer…plus get to know a few of their neighbors in the process! Most importantly, the program encompasses three of RHF’s core values:

  1. Motivating members to take control of their preventative health
  2. Cultivating community
  3. Making high-quality fitness affordable and accessible.

Group Training is the type of service people would otherwise only get through Personal Training or CrossFit. And although RHF offers both Personal Training and CrossFit at rates greatly reduced from their competitors, many members still cannot afford these services. Group Training fills the gap. Compared to most gyms where a single session with a trainer costs upwards of $40/hour, Group Training gives members unlimited access to workouts guided by a certified trainer for just $30 per month (that breaks down to approximately $3/session for members who come at least 10 times in the month. Training is offered six days a week nearly every hour so if utilized more, the cost decreases even further).

Capping classes at a maximum of 6 people, trainers are able to offer more personalized feedback in Group Training than in larger CrossFit classes. Meanwhile, workouts offer varying routines so no two days are exactly alike. Sometimes members do circuits and other times a set number of reps. Unlike CrossFit, however, Group Training does not involve heavy lifting but follows the NASM Optimum Performance Training™ (OPT™) Model focusing primarily on functional movements.

“We meet you where you are at based on your physical exercise capabilities and work on improving your capacity to perform functional and physical work,” says RHF trainer Patrick Otieno “For example, tasks requiring you to lift loads or move furniture without experiencing back pain.”

Although each session varies, Group Training breakdowns to essentially 5 phases:

  1. Warm up on a treadmill, rower, bike, elliptical or other cardio of choice (5-10 minutes)
  2. Stretch with a trainer (5 minutes)
  3. Core and corrective training (15-20 minutes)
  4. Circuit or muscle specific workout (20-25 minutes)
  5. Cool down (5 minutes)

One of the best aspects of Group Training is that it makes fitness fun. “Group training is fun and holds them accountable to coming to the gym,” said trainer Mike Nienaber. “There’s always variety, whether the instructor differs or the workout.”

Group Training isn’t for everyone. But for people who are new to fitness, who want to vary their workout without getting injured or who desire to connect to the local community, this program is perfect.  As Nancy said, “I also think the group training classes are very supportive and a lot of fun. I believe a strong sense of community forms through participating in these classes.”

Emily  Williamson is RHF’s marketing coordinator. Her own experience of suffering a back injury and recovering through exercises prescribed by a chiropractor who doubles as a cross-fit instructor gave her a passion for helping others experience life fully through fitness.

Residents Call “Stepping Forward” a Huge Step Backwards

by Curran Knox

Residents gather at City Hall plaza to protest potential Seattle Housing Authority rent increases. Photo Credit: Celia Berk
Residents gather at City Hall plaza to protest potential Seattle Housing Authority rent increases. Photo Credit: Celia Berk

October, 24th Seattle- “Let us fight together, we will win” – Fatimah, a resident from Yesler Terrace called out on the microphone at Friday before last’s rally in opposition to the Seattle Housing Authority’s (SHA) Stepping Forward proposal- one that would affect many South Seattle residents. The protests have reached the epicenter of bureaucratic engagement, City Hall.

On the 4th Ave terrace, there were almost as many signs as there were people. The mostly adult crowd included residents and activists amongst the few trees and stone tiles that approached the seemingly never ending steps that led to the council chambers.

At the rally residents had the opportunity to share their mounting concerns about “Stepping Forward,” including their anxieties over potential evictions that could ensue if the measure was enacted, the struggle to afford rent at its current rate, language barriers that hamper communication with city officials, as well as doubts about any additional assistance the proposal will provide to low income households.

Over the course of the past two months the SHA  has held five Stepping Forward Open Houses across the city, including some at current and former public housing projects, such as Yesler Terrace, New Holly, High Point, in addition to the Rainier and Meadowbrook Community Centers.

At the Stepping Forward Open House that took place at the New Holly Gathering Hall- City Councilmember Kshama Sawant joined community members in organizing counter actions to what they feel is an SHA “public relations” tour.

During the High Point Open House, they successfully led a walkout were a large majority of individuals in attendance made a show of leaving the SHA meeting to occupy the community center’s gym- which had been reserved in advance.

A huge turnout of residents was also seen at the Yesler Open House, all with questions they felt the SHA has yet to address in regards to ensuring that the proposal created and maintained affordable housing in the Seattle area.

In response to an evaluation of the efficacy of the current subsidized housing system, SHA Executive Director Andrew Lofton drafted a new proposal that would affect 35 percent of households supported by the Housing Authority. The Stepping Forward Proposal would impact households receiving Housing Choice vouchers (Section 8) who have at least one “workable” adult.

While the proposal would potentially increase rents up to 400 percent over a 6 year period, in turn the SHA would provide additional employment and education assistance to help “workable” adults find sustainable employment.

“Workable” adults are considered to be anyone in a household between the ages of 24-61 who do not identify as having a disability that prevents them from finding employment. Should households be unable to pay the increasing rent then the Housing Authority will have the right to pursue evictions. Households with no “workable” adults will continue to pay income-based rent.

The current policy requires households to pay 30 percent of their income in rent with no fixed yearly increase. SHA has assessed that the resources currently available to households has not proved sufficient.

With the suggested proposal, SHA would also increase services available to tenants and households by providing more resources to obtaining financial success. All “workable” adults will have a workforce assessment plan managed by the SHA staff.

Considering that the SHA identified a lack of support and connection to resources as a crucial issue that exists with the current subsidized housing system, this plan would suggest increased staffing support and overall redetermination of the way in which SHA has been structured to provide support to households and tenants, and investments in city wide partnerships.

The amount of community feedback and protest has caused the Mayor and City council to take notice and question whether or not the needs of the communities in peril are being addressed in an equitable and responsible way. The entire City Council sent a  letter to Andrew Lofton, in opposition to the Stepping forward proposal earlier this month.

Some of the demands that residents and tenant activists want SHA to consider:

-Rejection of the SHA Stepping Forward Proposal

-Tenant activist to be appointed to the Mayor’s Committee on Housing Affordability

-The construction of more affordable housing for low income families

-Tenant representation in the SHA board appointment process

Serving as SHA’s Executive Director since 2012, Lofton also sits on Mayor Ed Murray’s newly minted Housing Affordability and Livability Advisory Committee. In early September Mayor Murray issued a formal Housing Affordability Statement in which he expressed that “many of Seattle’s low-and middle-income workers families, artists, students, and immigrants new to our country are struggling to find homes at prices they can manage.”

Afford 4
Photo Credit: Celia Berk

SHA provides over 8,500 Housing Choice vouchers units, which allows low income families access to rent affordable and privately owned property. SHA also oversees approximately 6,000 public housing units, currently serving over 26,000 people combined. The Seattle Displacement Coalition reports that after the redevelopment of New Holly, Rainier Vista, Roxbury Village, and High Point, over 1000 public housing units have been lost as a result of the newer mixed income housing models. One can only guess that the redevelopment plan for Yesler Terrace housing project will displace some low income residents as well. This Phenomenon isn’t new, and as Jon Fox from the Seattle Displacement Coalition reported “They still think we are taking advantage of the system.”

Organizations that were present at the City Hall rally against the Stepping Forward Proposal included Socialist Alternative, The Tenant’s Union and Radical Women Seattle. This same contingent of protesters made a public address during the City Council business meeting directly following the rally, asking councilmembers to sign a petition in opposition to Stepping Forward. Only councilmembers Sawant and Mike O’Brien signed.

The contingent then took the petition to the Mayor’s office where they had the opportunity to speak openly with Deputy Mayor Hyeok Kim. Though adults represented the majority of leadership at the rally, the presence of youth activists was hard to ignore.

“So many people that are great leaders in the community are teens. Let the youth voices be heard, let them speak up and have a voice,” Nimco

Nimco Abdirahman addressing City Council. Photo Credit: Celia Berk
Nimco Abdirahman addressing City Council. Photo Credit: Celia Berk

Abdirahman expressed over the microphone, as one of the few youth voices represented at the rally.  As she addressed both the public and Deputy Mayor Kim, Nimco stated how important safe and affordable housing had been to her family. She also pointed out a potential shift in the distribution of resources that may have something to do with the redevelopment of public housing into mixed income communities.

Nimco spoke to the changing demographics of housing projects, and what this means as far as accessibility and equity within these restructured communities. She wants to illuminate awareness around the idea that there is money out there, but where it is- and why the system seems to continuously withhold options from low income residents in South Seattle- is a question all should be asking.

“No one in this community knows about scholarships,” she mentioned, recalling her own story of learning through a serendipitous occasion about the scholarships offered to youth living in the High Point community. Self-identifying as someone who has grown up in the system, she speaks to the changes seen in access and the equity of knowledge as some of the invisible barriers manifest in what was once a community serving only low income families, but now provides mixed income residents. Only certain people know about the scholarships, and for some reason, word hasn’t gotten around. Nimco expressed that once she found out, she told her mother that my little brother could be eligible for a scholarship and her family started telling others in the community that these scholarships were available so that some of the youth and families would know. Nimco envisions the creation of a youth council to advocate for youth and families in the community, as well as families. She already serves on the High Point Council and she is the youngest member by over ten years.

To help sustain attention around the issue, Radical Women of Seattle held a  forum at New Freeway Hall in Columbia City the day after the rally that consisted of community members, SHA staff, a former SHA commissioner, and residents from both New Holly and Yesler Terrace.

“We need to stop destroying what’s left of the affordable housing in this city, which is getting destroyed rapidly as neighborhoods gentrify, as buildings get sold to developers, as things like stepping forward goes and takes things that are currently affordable and turns them into transitional housing,” expressed Ted Virdone, Legislative Assistant to Councilmember Sawant.


Additional Resources:

The Stepping Forward Proposal and potential rent changes can be seen at the link below on Seattle Housing Authority’s page and is available in ten languages:

Mayor Murray’s Housing Affordability Statement:

Seahawks’ Game Day Prediction

by Clint Elsemore

Photo courtesy of

Back home after a season altering win at Carolina, the Hawks face the only remaining winless team in the NFL in the Oakland Raiders.  Most expect a walk over as the Raiders have struggled to even be competitive in most games this year, but they present some challenges to a Seahawks team still searching for an identity and consistent play in 2014.

Oakland boasts a defense that has some playmakers, especially 1st round draft pick Kalil  Mack who looks to be the best defensive player coming into the league this year.  Oakland has done surprisingly well containing the run game of opponents recently, and tends to get exposed when stretched vertically or spread out exposing their lack of depth in the secondary.   Oakland has also struggled mightily, creating few turnovers and giving the ball up, consistently placing their defense in difficult situations week after week.

On offense Oakland had done a tremendous job protecting their rookie quarterback in Derek Carr who has looked extremely competent during his rookie season.  Carr has kept his interception numbers in check, but has struggled with fumbles as have the Oakland running backs who have found yards hard to come by with the weakest running attack in the NFL this year.  Their inability to run the ball is also compounded by the fact they are constantly playing from behind and are usually trying to throw themselves back into ballgames.

The Raiders have not given up on their season yet with a new interim coach and a proud group of veterans to accompany good young talent on both sides of the line.  The Seahawks getting off to a fast start will be a key to owning this game early and not letting the light shine on Oakland and provide hope of the upset.  Expect the offense to run more consistently through Marshawn in this game with him getting 20+ carries and finally cracking the 100 yard mark.  Russell should have a strong game manager type of game completing 75% of his passes for 200 yards and adding 30-40 on the ground.  This Oakland team showed Seattle they aren’t afraid of their defense in the last preseason game this year getting off to a 21 nothing lead early and cruising to a 41-31 victory in Oakland, but this isn’t the preseason, and the overconfidence has been sucked out of this group of Seahawks.  I expect they take this game seriously and start to create the turnovers that have been so few and far between this season.  Injuries are taking their toll on every team at this point in the season, and the Seahawks are no different, but reclaiming their identity on the ground starts this week in a resounding way.

Final game prediction: Seahawks 30 Oakland 13

10 People Injured in Rainier Valley Crash

originally published on

SOUTH SEATTLE — Ten people were injured Friday evening in a massive, multi-vehicle crash in Seattle’s Rainier Valley neighborhood.

The crash happened at around 5 p.m. in the 9300 block of Rainier Avenue South, according to Kyle Moore with the Seattle Fire Department.

Moore said nine vehicles — including a police cruiser — were directly involved in the crash, but another six parked vehicles were damaged.

Police believe a man driving a white pickup truck was responsible for the crash. They say he pinballed down Rainier Avenue hitting cars, and only stopped after he crashed into the patrol car. (Read More)

This Weekend In South Seattle: Screech at the Beach on Halloween, Fight for Climate Justice and Become an Opera Snob

Events this weekend in the South Seattle area


Friday, October 31st

Children:  Details: Firefighters read fire safety stories to preschoolers, dress in full bunking gear and help children explore a fire engine or ladder truck.. – Time: 11:00am-12:00pm –Where: New Holly Branch Library (7048 32nd Ave)- More Info:

Movies: Opening of Dear White People – Details: Winner of the 2014 Sundance Film Festival’s Special Jury Award for Breakthrough Talent, Dear White People is a sly, provocative satire of race relations in the age of Obama. Writer/director Justin Simien follows a group of African American students as they navigate campus life and racial politics at a predominantly white college in a sharp and funny feature film debut that earned him a spot on Variety’s annual “10 Directors to Watch.”- Showtimes: 12:30pm, 2:30pm, 2:45pm, 4:45pm, 7:30pm, 9:45pm –Where: Ark Lodge Cinemas (4816 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info

Community: Columbia City Halloween Trick- or -Treat Details:The Columbia City Business Association CBA will be hosting a neighborhood trick or treat. This is an opportunity for families to go around to local business and collect candy. Look for orange and black balloons in front of participating businesses. – Time: 3:00pm-6:00pm –Where: Columbia City- More Info:

Community: Boo Bash at the Beach Details: This is the inaugural event, establishing an annual safe and fun place for kids to Trick or Treat through booths sponsored by organizations and community groups, hosted in the east half of the Rainier Beach Safeway’s parking lot.  Booths will feature games and activities, including a photo booth and costume crafting booths. Kids can also interact with the Seattle Police Department Mounted Patrol, the Mobile Precinct van, and a Seattle Fire truck. – Time: 4:00pm-9:00pm –Where: Rainier Beach Safeway (9262 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA- More Info:

Music:  Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble CD Release and Halloween Party – Details: Wayne Horvitz has continually inspired new Seattle jazz. He launches this extraordinary three-part evening at 6pm leading Royal Room Collective Music Ensemble, a large improvisational ensemble creating incidental music for the silent classic, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari. At 8pm the group celebrates its new CD. Proceedings continue at 10pm with Electric Circus, Horvitz’s arrangements of the classic fusion and fission of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and other little-performed gems of the new canon.- Time: 6:00pm-12:00am-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info

Community: Rainier Beach Pool Halloween Swim- Details: Come join in a a free community swim to celebrate Halloween-Time: 7:00pm –Where: Rainier Beach Community Center (8825 Rainier Avenue South)

Boo Bash


Saturday, November 1st

Environment:SE Seattle Climate Justice Forum- Details: Got Green’s Young Leaders in the Green Movement team up with the City of Seattle Office of Sustainability and Environment to learn together about the impacts of climate change to our community in SE Seattle and what we can do about it.Time: 2:00pm-5:00pm-Where: South Side Commons (3518 South Edmonds Street) More Info:

Community:Rainier Vista Lantern Walk- Details: Create your own lantern and join your neighbors in touring through Rainier Vista neighborhoods and Cheasty Greenspace Time: 4:30pm-7:00pm-Where: Rainier Vista Central Park (4410 29th Ave S)

Music: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyessy – Details: Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey is the acclaimed, road-sharpened trio of Brian Haas (piano/Fender Rhodes/bass Moog/synth), Chris Combs (electric guitar/lap steel guitar/synth), and Josh Raymer (drums). “It swings, it sways, but the jazz trio form in their hands has an almost primitive, inside-your-head, idiosyncratic quality” (DownBeat). McTuff, Joe Doria’s full-bore organ trio with the impeccable Andy Coe on guitar and the dazzling Tarik Abouzied on drums is becoming a Seattle legend.- Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info

Community: Detective Cookie’s Urban Chess Club with Pro Chess Instructor H.R.Pitre. Details: Learn to play chess from one of the best instructors in South Seattle Time: From 12:00pm – 2:00pm Where: Rainier Beach Community Center: 8825 Rainier Ave South Seattle.  More Info: 206-650-3621 (Detective Cookie)

Sunday, November 2nd

Music:  Kathy Moore and the Kicks – Details: Opera on Tap Seattle is a non-profit group dedicated to breaking down the stereotype that opera is an elitist art form by bringing opera to your local wine bar and pub. Join us for Royals at the Royal Room where we will celebrate all things bel canto. Featuring Megan Chenovick, Kim Giordano, Rob McPherson, Melissa Plagemann, Ksenia Popova & Charles Robert Stevens singing favorites by Donizetti, Rossini & Bellini.- Time: 8:00pm-10:00pm-Where: The Royal Room (5000 Rainier Avenue South Seattle, WA 98118- More Info


If you have an event to post, please email



Man Fatally Shoots Daughter and Grandchild

by Cornelius Williams/Staff Writer

South Seattle — Last night a man in his 60s shot and killed his daughter and teen granddaughter before fatally shooting himself, the Seattle Police Department said in a statement.

Police officers responded to a report of a shooting with multiple victims in the 6300 block of South Fountain Street just after 8:00pm.

Officials have stated that police received a call from a 10-year-old boy who said his grandfather brandished a handgun at the boy’s mother and sister before shooting them.  His grandfather then proceeded to turn the gun on himself.

Police discovered the three victims dead at the scene when they arrived.

No motive for the shootings has yet been determined.

Emily Taibleson: Portrait of an Artist as a Young Woman

by Robin Boland


Taibleson's contribution to the Columbia City Mural Project.
Taibleson’s contribution to the Columbia City Mural Project.

Artist Emily Taibleson went away to find her way back home. Her work currently on display at the Hillman City Collaboratory, a show entitled “Over the Stones on the Edge of a Bluff” (also the title of a compilation of poems she published in college), is a reflection of her personal journey as well as part of a larger community narrative. The story arc of the show follows Emily’s efforts to communicate her impressions and experiences on paper and canvas (and, in one piece that stayed with me, on dense burlap due to running out of canvas mid way through). Some pieces evoke the Northwest with color and texture, some reflect struggle and isolation in stark black and white. Throughout the show runs an underlying theme of connection and community.

One of Emily’s first jobs upon returning to the NW, after completing a rigorous arts program on the East coast, was a mural project intended as a vehicle to express the voices and stories of a group of at risk youth. In projects like this she acted as the framework within which the young artists learned to become the narrators of their own tale.  This community method of storytelling is again reflected in the Columbia City Mural Project, a large, vibrant mural on the west side of Rainier Ave S. (in the Hummingbird parking lot). A powerful piece, the mural project was a community effort weaving together a wide spectrum of voices. Emily was tasked with representing these contributors’ intimate stories and she did so with respect and consideration, feeling honored to represent these stories within the community. These projects highlighted for her what a privilege it is to have paint or canvas, to have a space to create or to display one’s work.  These things are ‘not a given’ despite what one might believe after being ensconced in an academic environment focused solely on creating art. The Collaboratory show in some ways reflects this change in her personal perspective, understanding the reality of privilege against the backdrop of being an artist.

Emily shared a sense of unburdening herself with this show, building off of the lessons she has learned up to now with an intention to re-focus and start fresh. Letting go of expectations, her own as well as the “industry’s”, has lead her to this jumping off place. The next chapter, blank canvas, awaits.

Amplifying the Authentic Narratives of South Seattle