Parker Rios: Taking his love of running to new heights!

By Dave Fidlin of Dave Fidlin Writing & Editing Services, LLC Runner Parker Rios on Elite Elliptical

In his youth, Parker Rios had little interest in running. It’s a fact many find surprising for a person who has competed in more than 100 ultramarathon races and is stretching his physical and mental capabilities in a series of hyper-competitive events. Parker, 46, began running as a student at UW-Madison. At the time, a roommate convinced him to take part in a 10k run to support a charity. The experience was intertwined with one of Parker’s greatest ambitions – competition. The rest, as they say, is history. Parker, a Brookfield resident and a member of Elite since 2004, is married to Kendra Wolff. They have two children: Lacey, 6, and Gillian, 5. Parker says he balances his time with family amid his workout regimens.

Runner Parker Rios Utilizing Elite Drop and Shop ProgramParker uses the club about five times each week for a portion of his rigorous workout regimen. He primarily uses Elite’s ellipticals, treadmills, resistance weight machines and free weights. Parker finds time to train in the club while his children are in Elite’s playroom or in Petite Elite, Elite’s pre-school. Parker sometimes utilizes the “Drop & Shop” program that gives club members an opportunity to drop off their children in the club’s play area and leave the club to run errands or literally run. He says Elite offers all of the amenities to assist in his training.

In the past two decades, Parker has competed in a variety of ultramarathon races – many with the Badgerland Striders, Wisconsin’s largest and oldest running club with more than 1,400 members. Parker has been actively involved with ultramarathon running since 1990. Ultramarathon races are runs longer than a 26.2 mile marathon. The most common distances are 50K, 50 mile, 100K, 100 mile and 135 mile races can last anywhere from 4 hours to 60 hours.

“I enjoy a lot of things about it,” Parker says. “Unlike a traditional race, such as the Boston Marathon, where there are anywhere from 10,000 to 70,000 people, ultramarathon races are held in more secluded and scenic areas.”

Ultramarathoners endure a variety of conditions through natural areas. Parker says running on softer surfaces has been less strenuous on his legs, knees and back than if he were running strictly on pavement. “Every step is very different, and it has resulted in less stress on my body overall,” Parker explains.

Parker emphatically states his love of ultramarathon running has never been stronger. In fact, he has been taking his competitive prowess to new heights by participating in a series of invitation only events.

Parker is in the midst of training for the self-proclaimed “Fire and Ice” ultramarathon races, a feat never accomplished before within a 12 month period by any person. The “Fire” taking place in Death Valley, California and the “Ice” taking place in Alaska. He had to undergo a rigorous application process and learned in February he was selected. Parker’s decision to take part in “Fire and Ice” came on the heels of a successful first-place finish in the Arrowhead 135, an annual 135 mile race held in International Falls, Minnesota, in February, 2013. The Arrowhead 135 is held during the coldest time of year in a city notorious for frigid conditions. Parker pulled a sled with 40 pounds of survival gear before reaching the finish line nearly 44 hours later.

The Badwater 135 Mile Ultramarathon, a 100-person competition starts in Death Valley and ends at one of the tallest portions of Mt. Whitney. Average temperatures reach about 120 degrees Fahrenheit when the competition takes place in mid-July. Parker is training for the heat by spending an exorbitant amount of time in Elite’s dry sauna. Once the “Fire” wraps in July, Parker will gear up for the frigid “Ice,” the Iditarod Trail Invitational, a 350 mile running race in Alaska, which will be held
in February 2014.

In the midst of his training activities, Parker also is fundraising to assist in the cost of the “Fire and Ice” competitions and to lend support to a cause near and dear to his heart. Corporate sponsors will help defray Parker’s out-of-pocket costs for the upcoming competition.

Individual donations will support a new recreational therapy program at the Clement J. Zablocki VA Medical Center in Milwaukee. Parker’s father, Robert, benefited from the center’s services in 2010 and 2011 before his passing. “He really received excellent care,” Parker says. “The people over there are great.”

Information on how to donate to Parker Rios’ endeavors:

  • Corporate Sponsorship for “Fire and Ice” expenses. Contact Parker via “Fire and Ice Runner” Facebook page.
  • Individual Donations to create a new recreational therapy program at VA Medical Center. Send check, payable to Zablocki VAMC with “Fire and Ice” on memo line, to: Zablocki VAMC – Voluntary Services (135) 5000 W. National Ave. Milwaukee, WI 53295

This member spotlight is from our Elite Sports Clubs seasonal magazine, in which we include an Activity Guide for upcoming programs and events, plus articles on popular health, fitness, and tennis topics written by our own trainers, tennis pros, and staff. Check out a digital copy of the West Side Summer 2013 Elite Magazine, the East Side Summer 2013 Elite Magazine, or pick up your own copy at any of our five Milwaukee-area Elite Sports Clubs locations.

We’d love to hear your story! Email us at MyStory@EliteClubs.com or tweet us at @MyEliteStory!

What’s the farthest distance you have ever run? Is an ultramarathon a goal of yours? How do you train for your own running races? Share with us in the comments!

Member Spotlight: Dan Buss “I decided I needed to make a change”

We’re extremely proud of our members. Over the years their work out agendas and sporting endeavors serve as healthy examples of how it feels to be Elite, and how exercise not only adds years to your life, but life to your years! Today we’d like to highlight another member’s accomplishments:

Photo of Elite Member Dan Buss My name is Dan Buss and I’ve been a member of Elite for about two years now. I’ve never been someone who lived a very active lifestyle and have been overweight most of my life. Two years ago, it all came to a head. I hit an all-time high weight, the result of bad eating habits and no exercise while I juggled getting my MBA and frequent travel for work. I decided I needed to make a change!

That’s where Elite comes in. I decided to join the club on the recommendation of a coworker. It was a great experience from day one. Since I was so new to the fitness scene, I took advantage of a promotion the club was running for a package of personal trainer sessions. I worked with Ariel to do a fitness assessment and come up with a base workout plan that I could build on. What I appreciated most was how comfortable everyone made me feel. Ariel would offer encouragement whenever she saw me, and other trainers like Rob and Sue would stop and give me pointers when they saw me trying something new. While the facilities at Elite are wonderful, it really is all the great people that make it such an outstanding experience!

Today, I’m happy to say that I’m down over 100 lbs from my peak! That’s a goal I thought was impossible two years ago. I’m working out six days a week doing strength training and some running. I’ve participated in several 5K races, including the Warrior Dash and have even started taking swimming lessons with Laura, for a new challenge. My time at Elite has become part of my routine and I look forward to it every day. Thanks for helping me completely change my life!

We are so proud of Dan for reaching his goal and exceeding his own expectations. We are happy our staff could be there to help you on your fitness and health journey! You are truly an “elite” member!

If you have an “elite” story to share about your own personal accomplishment or someone else’s please share it with us at MyStory@eliteclubs.com or tweet it to us @MyEliteStory! We’d love to hear from you too!

Member Monday: Greg Gorak Receives FAA Master Pilot Award

“Member Monday” is where we take the time to acknowledge one of our Elite Sports Clubs members for not just their health & fitness accomplishments, but also amazing feats in other aspects of their lives.Greg Gorak and his FAA Master Pilot Award

Today we’d like to acknowledge long-time Elite Sports Clubs member, Greg Gorak. Greg has been a member of Elite Sports Clubs for over 27 years and last fall was awarded the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award, which recognizes pilots who have demonstrated professionalism, skill, and aviation expertise by maintaining safe operations for 50 or more years.

Recipients are awarded a certificate and a lapel pin and are recognized in the Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award-Roll of Honor located online at FAASafety.gov.

Greg Gorak Receives FAA Master Pilot Award

We congratulate Greg on his accomplishment and truly believe he is an “elite” member!

If you have an “elite” story to share about your own personal accomplishment or someone else’s please share it with us at MyStory@eliteclubs.com or tweet it to us @MyEliteStory! We’d love to hear from you!

Star-struck! U.S. Olympic Swimmer & 12-Time Medalist, Dara Torres was at Elite Sports Clubs!

Wow! How could we ever describe yesterday at our Mequon club?! We were lucky enough to host a 5-time U.S. Olympic swimmer & 12-time medalist. Dara Torres was not only extremely friendly, but also very informative! She was quick to share her experiences as an athlete training for the Olympics as well as a mom training for LIFE.

Elite spin class with Olympian Dara Torres, led by Elite Group Ex Director, Annie Farley.
Elite spin class with Olympian Dara Torres, led by Elite Group Ex Director, Annie Farley.

Dara was at Elite with Koss Stereophones to release a new line of fitness-oriented headphones made specifically for women. We even got to test them out during a spin class led by one of our very own Group Exercise Directors & instructor, Annie Farley. The class was intense, but the sweat-resistant, and slightly smaller earbuds stayed put, good job Koss!

Elite Sports Clubs Owner, Kay Yuspeh meets 5-Time Olympian, Dara Torres
Elite Sports Clubs Owner, Kay Yuspeh meets 5-time Olympian, Dara Torres.

Even Elite owner, Kay Yuspeh got in on the action. A quick chat with Dara, and it was like they were old friends! We were so lucky & pleased to have such an accomplished athlete visit one of our clubs, opening herself up to our members for photos & autographs after the Koss media event was over.

Elite members & the public get to meet Dara after the announcement of the new Koss "Fit Series" headphones.
Elite members & the public got to meet Dara after the announcement of the new Koss “Fit Series” headphones.

Now that everything is all said & done, it makes us wonder what can the “average joe” learn from a star athlete like Dara Torres? As Dara made us realize, it’s not just about pushing yourself physically, but also mentally (and music is a great way to help you do that!) She also stressed varying your workouts. As an Olympic swimmer (and now), she didn’t just spend all of her time in the pool, she used the elliptical, she would spin, and of course incorporate strength training. It seems as if Dara finds great motivation in music, which makes her partnership with Koss very fitting. But who doesn’t LOVE music?! So, what songs really get you pumped up for your workouts…maybe even feeling like an Olympian yourself?

Oh! And not to get too much of an ego, but here’s a video of Dara telling us how much she loooved Elite Sports Clubs!

And here’s what the rest of the world thought of Dara, her new headphones & the spin class at Elite Sports Clubs.

What I want to share with you however is what she said when I asked for her favorite memory from her Olympic career. When she was young, she just wanted to win but as she kept coming back for more Olympics, her mission became broader. (From JSOnline, read more.)

The champion swimmer, who helped design the headphone line, was at the front of a spinning class of reporters, fitness bloggers, models and other women as they tested out the product in action Wednesday at Elite Sports Club in Mequon. (From BizJournals, read more.)

The Real Milwaukee ladies head to Elite Sports Club in Mequon to take a spinning class. Did they survive? (From Real Milwaukee, watch the video.)

Interested in trying out a spin (indoor cycling) class yourself? Head on over to any of our five Elite Sports Clubs locations and check out our group exercise class schedule. All group exercise classes are INCLUDED in your Elite membership, so you KNOW you will get the variety in your workout that you need to get & stay in shape for LIFE!

Dara Torres Introduces New Koss Earbuds Designed Just for Women at Elite Sports Clubs!

Koss will be releasing their new Dara Torres earbuds designed just for women at Elite Sports Club-Mequon! Come for a chance to check out these headphones made for women, by women. They are designed for women who EXERCISE: they are sweat resistant, ultra lightweight, and extremely durable!

Five-time U.S. Olympian and 12-time medalist Dara Torres will be at the club to help announce her new line of headphones for women that she is co-designing with the Koss Corporation, the Koss Fit Series.

All Elite members and their friends are invited to this special day. Fans can meet the most acclaimed swimmer in U.S. history and get pictures and an autograph. Attendees can be the first to purchase the Koss Fit Series Headphones, win both headphones and memberships to the club, and much more.

The event is free to public Wednesday, May 8th, 2:30-4:30pm. Don’t miss this opportunity! For more information, visit www.koss.com

Getting all set up for Dara Torres and Koss at Elite Sports Club-Mequon! — at Elite Sports Club-Mequon.
Getting all set up for Dara Torres and Koss at Elite Sports Club-Mequon!

Hope to see you there! But have no fear, if you can’t make it, stay tuned for an event wrap up!