All Hands on Deck

By Kayla Gahagan

Images Kevin Eilbeck Photography

Nana out on the paddleboard

For the Martin/Aschwege family, it’s not a stretch. And
neither is Nana swimming, or Nana hiking, or even Nana working out alongside the grandkids at a CrossFit Gym.

“Nana” – or Sharon Martin – is 62 and believes there’s something powerful about modeling a healthy lifestyle for
the people she loves most. “I think people stress too much
on weight and not enough on health,” said Sharon. “Tami always says being thin doesn’t always equal healthy.”

Sharon’s daughter, Tami Aschwege, has been the lynch pin in helping the entire family get healthy and stay healthy. Aschwege is married to Travis and they have four boys, Quinn – 14, Landon – 13, Macoy – 8, and Bruin – 4.

Aschwege, 38, is a co-owner and coach at Kados CrossFit with Anna Luthy and Mandy Mertes.

“You find time for the things that are important to you,”
she said. “If you want to be healthy and active, you will make time for it.”

Making health a priority took root many years ago while playing sports during childhood.

“We didn’t have a very good focus on nutrition so even though I was active, I had poor nutrition habits,” she recalled.

It was during training for her first half-marathon in college that she started learning about nutrition. After the run, she started workouts at the YMCA and eventually found CrossFit after her husband returned home from a military deployment.

“I focused even more on nutrition when we had our boys,” she said. “Their amazing bodies and brains grow so fast and I wanted to supply them with the most nutrient dense foods and lots of activity as they developed.”

The couple started CrossFit in 2018. Tami passed her Level 1 Certification in June of 2019 and Level 2 in the Fall of 2022.

Not too busy

Besides being a mom and coaching at the gym, Tami works full-time for a software company, so she simply doesn’t buy busyness as an excuse.

“Travis and I get up around 4:45 a.m. and attend the 5:30 a.m. class together every day,” she said. “It’s so important to us as a couple. There are no games or appointments at that time in the morning so no excuses.” 

They also maintain healthy sleeping habits.

“Our children go to bed early and we are in bed
by 8 p.m. each night,” she explained.

How they feed their bodies is just as important
as movement and sleep.

“Our society is sick; our kids are sick,” she said. “Our faces are in a screen and our food is processed (fake) and full of sugar and preservatives. All of this starts in the home. It is so important for us to be an example for our children.”

Travis and Tami integrate fitness and healthy eating into daily life in order to normalize it for their kids.

“We show our kids how to make fitness fun,”
she said. “We also teach our kids that food is fuel
and what we fuel our body is important.”

She stocks their refrigerator and pantry with fruit, vegetables, eggs and meat.

“We don’t keep juice, pop or sugary treats in our home,” she said. “We teach them that cake, candy, cookies are treats and they can be part of a celebration 

but that too much of those treats will make you sick.”

She includes the kids in meal prep, cooking and she has them make their own lunches.

“You are what you do consistently,” she said, whether that’s eating or working out. “Be an example and include your family whenever possible. They are much more likely to eat something they helped prepare. Our kids go shopping with us and can read food labels. How much sugar is in something versus how much protein? What is a real food?
It doesn’t have a nutrition label. A banana is a banana.”

Nana is right there in the mix.

“My mom is a huge part of our lives,” Tami said. “She comes to the gym and takes the boys on ‘Nana Adventures’ where they go to the lake, hiking, swimming, and out of town trips. She has to keep herself active if she wants to continue to spend that valuable time with them. She truly invests in their lives and I know they will be investing in her as they grow.”

It’s incredible accountability, Sharon said. And Tami’s insight into health and not weight loss has given her valuable perspective.

“At my yearly physical with my doctor, I was upset at
my weight and asked about the weight loss drugs available,” said Sharon. “He said he would not prescribe them to me because I’m so active and all my blood work
was good.”

Wake up call

Sharon started exercising 20 years ago. Her mother was diagnosed with Polycystic Kidney Disease and started a long journey on dialysis. The disease is genetic and it opened Sharon’s eyes.

“I’ve had a grandfather and several aunts and uncles die from it,” she said. “There is no cure besides a transplant.”

Her mother was denied a transplant because she had fought cancer and it was during Sharon’s research on being a transplant donor that she realized being in shape was one of the prerequisites.

“That started my journey of wellness,” she said. “I thought at some point in my life I would eventually need a transplant or need to donate one to my siblings or kids.”

It’s still a motivator to this day, but equally important is keeping up with her grandchildren.

“As my friends are having hip and knee replacements, I’m out on a paddle board,” she said. “It’s boosted my confidence. It’s never too late to start moving. You have to find an activity you love and just start.  For me, it’s my love of nature and a good hike is good for my soul. I enjoy all the wonderful nature God has given us.”

Tami agreed and said fitness and healthy eating can be fun and normal, not restrictive and frustrating.

“We all brush our teeth, shower, pray, etc. daily,” she said. “Fitness and healthy eating is just another normal daily task. Make it fun, like hiking, games, competitions, cooking together.” 

There’s no question it has changed their family relationships, Tami added.

“When you do hard things together and encourage each other, you are forming bonds,” she said. “How amazing for a child to see a parent struggle but overcome an obstacle.”

Travis and Tami compete in one to two CrossFit competitions a year and the entire family, including Tami’s brother and sister-in-law typically join them for “Murph” each Memorial Day, which is a workout to remember military veterans.

Sharon feels a sense of pride for her family as
they pursue health, even on the days when it’s not easy.

“My son is also very athletic and he and his wife exercise daily,” she said. “I’m so proud of both families and it does my heart good to see their healthy lifestyles.  I also like to think it encourages my grandchildren to see their Nana trying new things and being involved in their lives.”