Mar 5, 2018
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The old school WWE wrestlers were my personal favorite—you know it’s a good costume when you can barely recognize the person wearing it. Theresa swathed in a fringe jacket and cowboy hat throwing her vicious power hooks and Liza’s petite frame donning a muscle tee, bandanna and hulk Hogan handlebar mustache—not to mention the major props for waking up at 4am to glue them on.
“That was a last minute one actually,” Liza laughed, “Gotta thank Pinterest for that one.”
“I missed that day,” added Lisa, a bit deflated.
“Which one was your favorite?” I offered. “Maybe 70’s day—or…hmm, what was that one where we were Black Widow and Princess Leia?”
“Comicon I think?”
“Oh yea that’s it!” Lisa said her blue eyes shining and a smile playing on her kind face.
Odds are if you’ve been to any early morning classes, you’ve heard of Team Evil. Three of Title’s most dedicated and fun-loving members, the trio of Lisa Brady, Theresa Bilon, and Liza Finnegan have been boxing together at the Clarksville club together for the last year and a half—on a near daily basis–at the 5:15 am weekday sessions. The three friends not only keep each other accountable in class, they are stalwart fans of our “Fun Friday” costume challenges–waking up early to put on crazy get ups for the bi-monthly events; everything from to dressing up as the male trainers (Theresa says she had to order a mohawk from Amazon just for the occasion) to showing up in in day-of-the-week grey flannel and pointy tooth hats with several other women from morning crew to make up “Shark Week.”
The name seemed so ironic to me when I first met the quirky group, they seemed like just about the furthest thing from evil. You would be hard pressed to find a bad word to say about any of them, all three accomplished women raising families and maintaining their vigorous workout routines—all while keeping a truly inspiring air of positivity.
“Well, of course, the name came from King,” Theresa Bilon laughed, referring to Title’s facetious morning trainer, Linden King. “He called us evil the first time we came in because we didn’t sweat.” She explained that he had given nicknames to other groups but most didn’t stay long enough for a name to stick. As Team Evil became a morning staple, he gave each of the women their own nicknames: “Lil’ Mean” for Theresa, “Shuriken” for Liza because she was quick like a ninja star, and ever the politically correct, King dubbed Lisa “White Devil” because she was the only white one in the group.
“Well, that kind of has some racial connotations that might not go over so well so I just write ‘W. Devil’ whenever I sign a bag,” Lisa added, chuckling.
The women had known each other before, Theresa is Lisa’s neighbor and she and Liza go way back. “We grew up together,” Theresa explained. “Old school Filipino friends—and our husbands were friends in high school.” Theresa was the instigator; she started at Title in July of last year and had been coming to the club for a month before she got her friends in the door.
“My first class I thought ‘Oh my God I hate her’” Lisa Brady admitted as the girls laughed. “I thought, ‘I’m never coming again’ but then I signed up right after class for a year.”
Since joining, the girls have been regular attendees of the morning 5:15 classes almost every weekday. It might seem crazy to an outsider looking in—willingly waking up close to four every day to come to a loud, brightly-lit room and hit a heavy bag–all while being (lovingly) berated by the morning trainers; but as a fellow fan, I could understand the appeal.
“For me it’s the only time I can work out is in the morning,” Liza said. “Because if I try to work out in the afternoon, it’s not going to happen.”
“Then it’s like the hardest part of your day is already done,” I replied.
A dedicated athlete, Liza Finnegan rarely misses class, but has to leave early to make it to her job on post at the Warrior Transition Battalion. “I worked at the athletic club, and worked on my own some and did weights and stuff like that–but there’s something about working out here—you’re working out as a family,” she explained. “Everyone comes in and says ‘Hey how’re you doing’ they’re smiling, they want to talk to you. You don’t feel like you’re by yourself—it’s motivating that way, and it keeps you wanting to wake up every morning–I hate when I miss it.”
The accountability aspect of morning crew is one of the secrets to its success, members and staff have been known to call others out on social media–you can always tell when someone hasn’t been tagged for a while in one of Sergio Rodriguez’s (another early morning client) daily after class “family photos.” “Theresa helps me stay accountable because she picks me up every morning,” Lisa said. “And she doesn’t miss for anything; and with me, more than likely I would find some excuse to not be here that early.”
But Lisa claims that despite her reluctance, Title has had an overwhelmingly positive effect on her health. “It’s very therapeutic, and there’s just something about punching things that makes you feel tough,” Theresa Bilon added. “My endurance has built up a lot, Title is the only thing that I would wake up at 4 in the morning for—it’s opened a lot of doors for me.”
Since joining, the three friends of Team Evil have also done small group training with Title trainer and parkour specialist, Storm Sims, and competed in several obstacle course races outside of the club including a Tough Mudder, a Foam Run, and one Spartan Race. “Training with Storm helped out a lot,” Theresa explained. “Getting over the walls, we had to climb on to each other, I would have never done that before—but everyone was so supportive, even people you didn’t know would help you.”
“We knew what to do–a lot of people you could tell didn’t know what to do and it just made the obstacles that much harder for them,” Lisa added. “But Storm showed us tips and techniques so we were very well prepared.”
“Also, he stuck with us the entire way, that was really motivating,” Liza said. “He pushed us to not quit and to finish it—that was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done.”
When I think about the future of Title, and what comes next for Team Evil, I knew that they would rise to meet every new challenge—and continue inspiring other members to come along for the ride. So as I sat down to plan the upcoming Fun Fridays for January, I debated between some easy costume themes like “Crazy Socks”, or “Sunglasses.” But then, my mind went to something off the wall like “Pirates and Aliens.” I thought about the girls in their disco gear, Theresa as Flashdance and Liza in her giant Maleficent headdress–and suddenly, the decision was easy: Pirates and Aliens….definitely. I knew that these ladies would always step up to the plate–and no matter what, there was no denying it–Title just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Article by Kirsten Hall