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Southern California Edit


Happy Smokin' Hot Friday Gritties!

Have you seen?

GritCycle is a proud sponsor of OC Fashion Week,  and we're thrilled to be hosting ALL of the model auditions at our Monarch Beach location! Want to walk the runway this year? Fill out your Model Registration form HERE, and join us on any of the following dates! Aug 5th 12-4pm Aug 12th 12-4pm Aug 29th 12-4pm

To get you in your best "werk it" mode, we were fortunate enough to get our very own supermodel, Shannon Barker, a devoted Costa Mesa gritty, to stop by the Outpost and share her Grit story with us.

Read about Shannon's rise in the world of high fashion and how she uses Grit Cycle to keep her camera-ready:


First of all, thank you so much for agreeing to let us interview you. Can you give us the nitty-gritty on you? 

I was born and raised in Northern California, after graduating from high school I moved to Orange County, and have lived here now for 4 years. 

How did you get into the modeling business? 

In high school, I started a youtube channel that grew to 70,000 subscribers before I ever started modeling. Through my growing Social Media presence, I had the opportunity to work with brands such as BCBG and O'neill Womens as an ambassador/ influencer, and this exposure led to modeling jobs here and there without being signed to a traditional modeling agency. It wasn't until my photographer-friend introduced me to Jules Newmark back in 2014 that I wanted to turn modeling into my full-time career. After meeting with Jules we decided to work together and I have been signed to her agency NewMARK Models in LA ever since!

 Had you always wanted to be a model?

In a way yes, I loved watching America's Next Top Model growing up and I thought that I could do that one day, but I never really pursued it. I've always enjoyed performing. I did competitive cheerleading for 11 years and I also took acting and dance classes growing up. So you could say I've always loved entertaining people and putting myself out there, which lead me to start my youtube channel while I was in high school.


Who are some of the Supermodel Icons that you favorite?

Candice Swanepoel, Romee Strijd are my personal favorite models. They both lead healthy lives they show their workouts and clean eating on their social media which I really connect with! They also have both had amazing careers and a lot of success which is really inspiring.

How do you prepare for a job? Nutrition? Exercise?

To consistently work I have to keep my measurements the same and keep my body in the best shape. I always have to be "swim ready" basically be prepared to be in a swimsuit any day of the week. I do this through clean eating and working out as many days of the week my schedule will allow me to. My favorite ways to work out are taking Spin classes at Grit cycle as well as pilates classes. I also try to walk as many places as I can. I aim to walk 5 miles a day.  Power walking isn't just for soccer moms! 

Do you do prefer photo-shoot or runway?

As an LA based model, I'd say 99% of my work is photo-shoots. I do love runway but the only time of year I do runway is when I go to Miami every July for Swim Week. I would love to travel and work in a different market for a few months sometime in the future and that would probably include more runway work. 

What is the best thing about being a model? What is the downside?

I love how every job is so different! Almost every day I meet and work with new people at a new location. I never get bored! The biggest downside is probably the commute. Since I live in O.C. I have to drive to LA at least three times a week. 

How does Grit Cycle help you with modeling?

Grit helps me to not only stay in the best shape but It also keeps me mentally strong. The instructors at Grit are really great about giving you inspirational tidbits throughout the class that really stick with you all week long! The modeling industry can be really tough especially the toll it takes on your body image and self-worth. When I start to feel like I'm getting in a funk I schedule a class at grit. Those endorphins, as well as the instructors words of wisdom, get me back on track.

What is your favorite thing about Grit Cycle?

I love the way I feel when I walk out of a class at Grit Cycle! I never regret coming. I don't only get an amazing workout I also leave feeling so motivated and inspired!

Do you remember your first Grit Cycle class? What made you want to return?

Yes! The first class I took at Grit was in December of 2014! My roommate loved grit so much and invited me to go with her. I was hooked immediately! Even though I was in the back row and could barely figure out how to ride the bike correctly I was obsessed!

What advice to you have for aspiring models auditioning for OC Fashion Week?

BE CONFIDENT! In my opinion, confidence is Key! Smile, be friendly, make conversation and be excited! At the end of the day personality and confidence trumps looks.. even in the modeling industry! The casting directors are looking for that" it factor" not necessarily the girl who is the tallest or has the most model-like figure. Try to leave your worries at home and remember that if it everything happens when it's supposed to!

In addition to her crazy-fun classes at Grit, our instructor of the month for June, Cassie Piasecki, is also Orange County's premier pilates guru. She knows the body better than anyBODY and is always giving great tips on how to restore, rebalance and preserve our muscles, tendons + bones.
One of the best ways to recover from indoor cycling is on a foam roller.
Cassie was kind enough to stop by The Outpost to give us her favorite and most useful exercises on the foam roller that target areas which tend to get irritated, tight or need extra attention after a Grit Class.
Foam rolling is one of the best ways to loosen up the muscles that get used during a Grit class.  Here are my top tips for using a foam roller and my fave exercises.
*Do each exercise at least 10-15 rolls or one-two minutes.
*Make sure you are drinking enough water to help flush out the toxins released during your foam rolling session.
*Aim to foam roll at least every day that you take a Grit class.
*Make sure you aren't holding your breath.  If you find a tender spot, inhale and exhale deeply to help the muscle relax.

All of you who come ride with us are family to us, our "gritties" as we affectionately call you; we know that each of you have a glorious story that deserves to be told and sometimes we're fortunate enough to share it.

Today we are thrilled to offer our first Monarch Beach studio "Grit Story" with Heather Bonnani.

 Heather is a Saddle Room favorite who embodies everything Grit offers: enthusiasm, joy,

Instructor Cassie says it best: I first met Heather about a month after we opened.  She thought she was hiding out in back!  I would talk to her for a bit before each class and got to know her.  Things like "off-road racer" would come up.  I knew she was a dynamo!  In just the short time that we've been open, I've watched her get stronger both mentally and physically.  She totally gets that GRIT is more than a workout for the body.  I always get excited when I see her face walk through the doors."

Here is Heather's Grit Story:

I currently live in Laguna Niguel where I work from home as an Esthetician so my schedule allows me to try all the different instructors! I am married and have 4 adult children. Only one still at home until the Fall, wooooo whooooo! (Just kidding Kalani) We also have two fur babies, Charlie a Golden Retriever and Koda a Maltipoo. I’d love to add chickens and goats to the list of pets but that’s where my hubs puts his foot down. In my spare time I race cars. 

What brought you to Grit Cycle?

A friend from the Costa Mesa studio {Gary Williams Jr.} kept telling me I HAD to try a class. Trust me, he kept saying….you’ll love it. Me loving it is an understatement. I only miss a class when I am out-of-town!

 Do you remember your first class at Grit? What was that like? 

My first class was an intro with Marisa. I was like, “What the F is this??!!! Motorcycle??? HUH??? I couldn’t even ride out of the saddle for the bounce! BUT, she was so encouraging I knew I had to come back.

What about Grit kept you coming back?

The instructors… their words after weights really spoke to me. Everyday I went I was up a little longer so I was getting excited to do better in the next class.

 Describe how your life has been affected by your time spent at Grit.

Physically I am definitely stronger. I’ve actually lost 15 lbs since I started in January. It would probably be more but I do love my vino! Mentally it helps to believe more in myself, which also falls into the emotional part too… I am really trying to make more time for me this year and Grit has really helped me accomplish that.

Have other people in your life noticed these changes? What are their thoughts?

Everybody has noticed the weight loss. I actually came home from a weekend of seeing people I hadn’t seen in a year and all they kept saying was “Wow! You really look great!” It felt good to hear but after so many of them said it I thought to myself, “Damn, I must have been freaking way out of shape!”

 What advice would you give to a first-timer coming to Grit, who’s a little unsure about the whole experience?

STICK WITH IT!!!! You’ll get it and when you do it’s such an amazing feeling!!!

 Do you have a class or ride that has been your most memorable or favorite?

The first time all my Crossfit girls came to Matt’s class. They were hooked so now Girl’s Night out has a whole new meaning! Wait until they take Dani’s class now that she is at Monarch Beach!!!

What is your favorite song to ride to and why?

 I love music and really pay attention to the lyrics. I never really have a favorite, it just depends what is speaking to me that day. Although when I hear “Bend Ova” after motorcycles, I do cringe a little! 

What was your “aha” moment, experience, ride, situation where you realized Grit was more than a spin class for you?

One day I was walking out to my car after really “getting” a lot of the moves. I was in such a great mood not only because of that but also from Lisa’s inspirational talk after weights. That’s when I knew this was more than just a workout for me. It was good for my soul.



Today's Grit Story is none other than our girl Katie Pond. A Saddle Room cheerleader for all, Katie's sparkle and spirit can ignite energy even from the most-exhausted, sprinted-out, tapped-backed Gritties needing a pick-me-up.  And not one to pigeon-hole herself to just one favorite instructor, you can find Katie across the board, at all hours of the schedule, from the 5:45ams to 6:45pm's taking classes.

She is a crowd and an instructor favorite with her effervescent energy-she's one of the best hollerer's in the pit!

This girl can also teach us a thing or two about dedication. She never misses class and today she is in our Grit Instructor Training program.

Let's get to know more about Katie Pond:


My husband and I are members of the DINK club (dual income, no kids) and we wear the badge proudly. We’ve been blessed to be married for nearly 12 years already – yes; our parents introduced us when I was 18! – but it was all part of God’s master plan and we legitimately wake up and wonder how we are so blessed to get to “do life” together. He is my best friend and I want to be a better person every day because of the man that he is and the leader that he is in our household.


While we may not have any human children, our fur child Tommy manages to keep us plenty busy with the antics that five-pound Yorkshire Terriers are commonly known for.


In addition to dancing on a bike, I love to lift weights, and I’m a regular face around The 12 in Irvine and Costa Mesa.  During the few hours a day that I’m not at the spin studio or the gym I work as a Director of Business Development for VIZIO, Inc. where I help to lead the company's corporate development, business strategy, and partnership efforts.  One of my other big passions is helping other young women plan for success in their careers – there’s enough room for all of us at the finish line and I will do anything I can to help someone else get there!

What brought you to Grit Cycle?

I had been taking Lauren Rasky’s Turbo Kick Boxing class at 24 Hour Fitness for over a year. She convinced Lauren Duff to try Grit, and since they were two of my good friends, I figured if they both loved it so much that I should give it a try.  They’re both instructors at GritCycle now, and I’m hoping to follow in their footsteps.

Do you remember your first class at Grit? What was that like?

My very first class was an Allie B. class. I loved the music and I distinctly remember my first “motorcycle” experience.  I left the class convinced everyone in the room was crazy and that I would never look as coordinated (and yes, sexy!) as everyone else did.  I worked up the courage to give it one more shot and I loved that second class so much that I bought shoes the same day.


What about Grit kept you coming back?

I could try to explain how much the Grit community means to me, but any explanation that I give will likely fall short. But, since I love to talk and write, I’m going to try to summarize it anyway.  There’s something about finding a group of people who accept you as you are, but who still care about you enough to push you outside of your comfort zone so that you can become the best version of yourself.  That the community that I found at Grit – those people who have hugged me while I’ve cried, encouraged me to try hard things (like audition to become an instructor), and rejoiced with me in moments of victory and success. The people here are not just my “fitness family” – we’ve forged lifetime bonds and connections that exist well beyond the walls of this place.

Describe how your life {physically, mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually, professionally, etc} has been affected by your time spent at Grit.

Everyone is so accustomed to talking about the amazing community and people at Grit that sometimes we gloss over how AMAZING the workout actually is! I used to run and take Turbo Kick Boxing, but after developing chronic IT band issues from running and multiple stress fractures in my foot from jumping during TKB, I realized I had to find another solution.  I actually started taking spin class at Grit when my doctor told me I couldn’t run or jump for 6 weeks.  Spin was the solution – and the amazing part is that I’m in better cardio shape than ever.  Not too long ago, I ran a 5K race without any cardio training other than Grit and I took 2nd place in my division.  Grit is the most fun I’ve ever had working out – it produces results – and it really is a party on a bike!


Have other people in your life noticed these changes? What are their thoughts?

I’m not gonna lie: I’ve never been a dancer, but my co-workers noticed my newfound confidence in my dance skills the last time we were all in Vegas together. I mean, they didn’t tell me I was better, but I’d like to think that dancing 5+ hours a week on a bike has helped my moves on the dance floor at least a little bit!

What advice would you give to a first-timer coming to Grit, who’s a little unsure about the whole experience?

When you come to Grit the first time, take a look around the room. Every single person that you see here was once taking their first Grit class and feeling as intimated as hell too.  The truth?  Everyone is so busy watching themselves in the mirror that nobody is actually watching you.  The other thing? Say hello.  After all, you may never know who is on the bike next to you.  That mom sitting next to you?  She’s going to be the one that you text when you think your knee is infected and need advice.  That beautiful girl who seems quiet?  She’s going to become your hairdresser and a good friend that you text every week.  That brunette?  You’re going to be one of her bridesmaids.  That new guy you introduced yourself to?  He’s going to be the one who invites you to dinners and parties and becomes one of your favorite people.  That green haired instructor?  Someday, you’re going to text her and tell her how she has inspired you to “be unapologetically you.” Well, those are just some of the people I met when I said, “hello” at Grit, and I’m so glad I did.

It looks like in two years you've barely missed a class!!?

To the best of my knowledge, I've late cancelled one time and no-showed one time in the nearly two years I've been coming to Grit. I have an alarm set for 12:29 pm each day, and yes, that alarm has been known to go off in the middle of a C-level executive meeting. Cue the blushing and the mad grab to silence the phone (followed by booking my bike on my phone under the conference table). I treat my workouts like the popular saying, "You wouldn't skip an important meeting on your calendar, so book your workouts and treat them like meetings."