TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis

West Coast Coaches Laid Off Plus Our Interview With Christina Sandefur

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


  • The West Coast Coaches get downsized.
  • The Tonal blog has tips for people new to strength training.
  • There are no Apple Watch Complications for Tonal.
  • There are updates for movement replacements and tracking.
  • You can now use the mobile app to share your stats in style.
  • Tons of new content to check out.
  • Upcoming Tonal Talks include Meet The NYC Coaches and a Q&A with Dr. Brad Schoenfeld, PhD.
  • The August Challenge looks a little different.

All this plus our interview with Christina Sandefur!

Watch the episode here


Listen to the podcast here


West Coast Coaches Laid Off Plus Our Interview With Christina Sandefur

We are back from our cruise. I learned something about myself on the cruise.

What did you learn?

I have been using the Tonal for a few years now. I still don’t like free weights in the gym. I had it all planned out. We went through my routine of what I should do, and then we ran the calculations to make the free weights equal the weight I would use on Tonal. I walked into that gym, looked around, and said, “Hard pass.” I turned around and walked right back out. I couldn’t do it.

Tell us why you couldn’t do it, Tom.

I felt weird and out of place like, “I don’t belong here.” I don’t really know what to do. I felt on display while I tried to figure it out.

It’s the display part. If you could go in there and nobody was watching, it wouldn’t be such a big deal. Honestly, nobody cares but you feel.

I feel in the way because other people were using the weights. I’m sitting there being like, “Which is 15 and which is 20?”

Do I need 15 for this? I totally get it. I always feel that way in the weight room, and on the cruise ship, they had it split where they had a weight room. It was across the hall from the cardio room. I could even give you moral support either I had to be lifting with you or it wasn’t happening. I got a message, “I’m gone. Bye.”

You didn’t even get out of your warm-up on the tread yet.

I was like, “What just happened?”

I can’t do it. All my, “I suck at sports,” came flooding back and was like, “I’m not doing it.”

I really do get it. I hate that you feel that way but I understand it. What this reinforces is the magic of Tonal and having the ability to do the workouts at home in the privacy of your home but also having amazing instruction.

Having it spoonfed to you because I need to be spoonfed.

Tonal does it.

I am woefully ill-prepared. I thought I had it down, and then as soon as there was someone standing there and there were multiple, it was crowded in there. I was like, “No.”

I walked in and was like, “I don’t want to be here.” I ran over into the cardio room, where I could stare at the ocean and pretend I was the only person there.

A quick dose of reality and I’m like, “I will be in the stateroom.”

You did go back to the room and do bodyweight exercise. You did that a couple of times over the week. That is still the win, Tom.

Don’t be afraid of looking dumb. Everybody’s got to start somewhere. Click To Tweet

I did something. I also ate a lot. We landed at 11:00 on Saturday night and Sunday morning, right back to what I’m supposed to be doing. Before this, I did a go big or go home. I’m on my third trip around that. It was the lower body. That was over 11,000 pounds for me, which I know for a lot of people isn’t much.

What did you do the last time you did it?

It was up from the last time I did it on this particular day, 1,100 pounds, 1,200 pounds. It was a lot. I’m glad we record these sitting down. When we’re done, I might need help standing up. It’s funny. I have zero stage fright until it gets to that.

You can go into a room full of people and say anything funny. It doesn’t matter. You can say body as a joke.  You can introduce a band while everyone is yelling at you and throwing things. It doesn’t bother you at all. On the opposite side of the thing, walk into a weight room with twenty people, and you’re out. We all have our things.

Moving along, what pre-tell do you have in store for people?

Honestly, this is a pretty sad episode. There’s a lot of sad news that we are going to cover, and I will be honest. Frank, I have been avoiding this episode. We are going to dive into the news that we know about the coaches and then talk about the stuff that Tonal has going on. We will cover all that.

Before we get to all that, shameless plugs, don’t forget we are available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, iHeart, and TuneIn, wherever you find a podcast, you can find us. While you are there, be sure and follow us so you never miss an episode. Maybe leave us a review if you would be kind, so people come along after you, and know that we are worth checking out.

You can find us on Facebook, Facebook.com/supersetpodcast. While you are there, like the page and join the group. Of course, you can watch these episodes if you are so inclined at our YouTube channel, which is YouTube.com/theclipout, the name of our other show. All our episodes for both shows live over there at that same place. You can go there and look at us while we say all these things. There’s all that. Let’s dig in. Shall we?

This is not a fun topic to cover. This is unlike anything we’ve really had to cover on either of the shows. People have left Peloton, but not a whole front-facing employee swept out. They let go of a bunch of people, but not instructors that you interact with on a daily basis if you use the product. In case you missed the announcement or the title of this episode, Tonal Closed Down Their West Coast Studio, which means that they let go of all West Coast instructors. Unless you bought a Tonal in a few days, basically, every instructor that you are used to working with is no longer there.

I’m still struggling with my thoughts about this. I love the LA coaches. Every class I’ve taken has been with an LA coach. I had my favorites. They are going to continue to be favorites in my mind. They are really good people like the people that were working as coaches in LA. They are awesome. They were so helpful and available to us when we asked questions. I don’t mean us, as a show. I mean, us, as a community of Tonal. This is heartbreaking. I know that this could not have been an easy decision for Tonal. There are a lot of really angry people out there, not sad but angry. They are mad.

People form a very personal relationship with the instructors. It’s like having a favorite TV show or a radio station, and then all of a sudden, all the DJs are gone. People get upset about that, and understandably so. Even if they end up liking the new people that come onboard, it’s still a culture shock. It’s an unusual situation. It’s hard to understand for the average person. We include ourselves in that, in terms of like, “Why did you hire a bunch of new people just to let go of these people? Why couldn’t you keep these people and not hire the new ones? What’s the difference?” We don’t have answers, and they have not provided them.

I also would like to add that, even though I know there are a lot of people that I feel are angry and sad and all across the board, I’m not judging for those emotions. My reason for saying that is that it’s like any grief cycle you have. You have a whole host of different emotions that you feel, and you are entitled to any of those. If you want Tonal to continue as a company even in your anger, you might want to think about how your wording certain things because people that come along after are going to see what’s written out there on the internet forever.

We don’t know why Tonal made these decisions. I believe in my heart that there is a bigger thing happening here, and it’s going to become clear why the decisions were made that were made. I don’t think we are ready to be able to see that yet because things are happening, and I don’t think we can see them yet legally.

To be clear, we have no inside information that wholly conjectures on our part. It’s such a major, radical decision. It’s hard to believe it was like, “Get rid of them.”

Logically, everybody keeps saying, “Why would you move to New York?” I don’t think that was the plan. I think the plan was to expand. It’s simple logic. I believe Tonal had every intention of keeping the West Coast instructors and adding on the East Coast instructors. If it were a matter of they always planned it, that they were going to get rid of the West Coast instructors, then they would have moved those West Coast instructors to the East Coast.

At least offer them the opportunity.

My understanding is that there were instructors who were interested in moving, and they were not allowed to do that. That’s through the grapevine but I still think that it’s true. It appears on the surface that Tonal made a very cold decision but I can’t help but feel that there is a much bigger thing happening here. That’s going to come to light in time, in a couple of months, maybe. We are going to see it all play out.

I definitely think this is part of a larger strategy that’s yet to be revealed. We shall see but in the meantime, what we need to remember is that it’s still a great product.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


It’s a fantastic product. The West Coast coaches that are no longer there will be the first ones to tell you that it’s a great product, and they loved working with it.

It was part of why they were so upset if it wasn’t a great product and didn’t love working there. I used to work at a concert venue in town, and I got let go and hated it. When I got let go, I was like, “That’s a damn shame. Can I use your fax machine?” I wasn’t upset. The fact that they are tells you that they did love it and they did and do believe in the product. The other thing to keep in mind is that with the new coaches, is that the same people or same team that hired the original coaches has hired these coaches. If you feel like their picker in the past, you got to think that their picker is still picking.

I also think that if you love the product, then we owe it to ourselves to give it a chance. It’s hanging on your wall. You are already there. You might as well see what happens. You are here, and I personally want to see Tonal continue to thrive. I am choosing to look at this as it is a very sad event. I don’t want to overlook that or gloss over that in any way, shape or form. I am choosing to look forward and the future and see what’s next before I make a final judgment of anything other than I hope this is headed in a positive direction.

I certainly want it to continue to succeed because it’s the only exercise I’ve ever done ever.

I hope that no matter what, we are going to continue to see programs and see high-quality programming. Let’s not forget that this letter from Alli says, “We are going to continue to support these coaches in every way that we can.” Having said that, not only are the coaches going to get a severance package and their healthcare benefits but also do other things professionally, and Tonal is not going to interfere. That sounds like a very small thing but it’s not. In this very cutthroat market, and make no mistake, it is a cutthroat market.

They could hold these instructors too. I’m sure there are non-compete agreements in place, and they could hold them to it. I’ve seen it happen, and they are not. That is a big thing. In my mind, we need to give positivity and space to the instructors that have left to go through this process in whatever manner they need to. I am going to choose to support not only the instructors that have left but also the instructors that are still here, and Tonal, as a company, I believe in the product with all of my heart. There’s a bigger picture that we are going to see that is going to make sense, and then I will make a decision about how I feel about that when the time comes.

Moving on to other topics. It’s standard episode fair.

How do you transition from that?

The Tonal blog has a thing about it for people who are new to strength training tips for them like the workout, not the instructor.

This particular article talks about if you are new to strength training, learning the basics in this particular program. This one is with Trace, who is not here anymore. By the way, I have one more thing to say about that. Don’t forget. We are still going to be getting new content from the instructors that are no longer here. There are a few things that are still dropping, and Tonal is not getting rid.

They are not purging. They are saying that they have no intention for the foreseeable future of getting rid of any of the programs or classes that are out there.

There’s a lot of excellent quality content out there. I’m so glad to hear that they are keeping that.

In the short and middle term, you don’t have to worry about them getting rid of the conduit. They haven’t gone as far as they will never go away, and that’s a big promise but it certainly sounds like they don’t have any intention of getting rid of it. Nobody wants to make this blanket statement of, “It will never go away,” because then that’s how you get class action lawsuits. Don’t worry if you are in the middle of go big or go home.

It’s not disappearing off your trainer. Back to this. This is a beginner program, and it talks about the behind the scene. This is called behind the workout. This is the second one that we’ve seen of this. Hopefully, we will continue to see more. It gives all of the really in-depth details. Why were these exercises chosen, and for what reason? They go through and explain how the program works, why they were chosen, how many reps you are going to do, and what the key moves are. I absolutely adore these behind the workouts. It’s really good to be able to understand it for people that are nerds like myself.

It’s funny. I’m sitting there, I’m like, “I bet you, there are people that are really fascinated by this. I’m not that guy.”

You should be that guy because here’s the thing. It helps you understand the why behind what you are doing. You always tell me that you are the person that needs to understand.

I’m like, “Tell me what to do, and I will do it, and then I will be done.”

I love to understand it because then it’s like, “I don’t want to do another goblet squat.” This explains why you need to do the goblet squat. Also, they give you some suggestions for classes to take with it, which I love. That’s really helpful as well.

We have new Apple Watch complications. Here’s the thing. I don’t have an Apple product, and I don’t wear a watch. I haven’t worn a watch in 30 years. It took me forever to figure out what the hell Apple Watch complications meant. I was like, “What?” Especially because of the tone, they are so excited, “We have Apple Watch complications.” I’m like, “It means something is going wrong.” When your doctor calls you and says, “You have complications,” you’re not like, “Hooray.”

There’s a limit to what you can do cardio-wise if you don’t have muscle. Click To Tweet

This is exciting for people that like to change their watch faces. In the past, you only had one ability with your Tonal to turn it off and on. It was a little doodad on your watch.

Does Apple call it a doodad too?

You would click it, and that would start your connection. Once it’s connected, you could then do things like changing the music, etc. Day-to-day, as you’re walking through your day, you really couldn’t interact with Tonal on your watch, but now, you can see a streak. You can see how many days or weeks you’ve done the streak. You can also see your volume. There’s volume, all of your different stats, and then being able to see how many hours in a day or how many minutes you worked.

Do you think it’s the number of movements you’ve used?

I don’t know. I have no idea. I really did read this. I read the blog and was very excited about it. I went and played with it on my watch. You must update the app on your watch and the watch on your phone for these to work. Mine on my watch doesn’t actually do any of this yet. I have a little Tonal doodad still. It’s because I never got it successfully removed from my watch and then put back on. I kept getting distracted. I’m excited to see all this in progress but these beautiful screenshots of what it’s going to look like, I am so excited about. I love seeing streaks. It’s neat to see all your Tonal details right there. That’s an Apple thing that is not a Tonal thing. When you go to set up your watch, it will be like, “What complications do you want?”


That’s what it says. It’s like, “Do you want an upper left-hand or bottom right-hand corner?” Everything on these watches you see in front of you is different complications.

As I said, it’s a weird thing to call it but I’m excited that it’s there. I know people will totally dig it.

They have some interesting things going on with movements and movement replacements and things about movements.

Now there are some updates, so you can go in and replace moves in all of the on-demand workouts. This is really good for you. If it’s on-demand, you can now do that. That will be a big deal for you because I know you don’t like those front squats. That will be something that people can change. That has been something people have been asking for, and you can do it while you are in the workout by tapping on it or do it at the very beginning when you do the workout detail screen, which gives you a list of the moves either place works. The other thing is that for two-sided movement sets or two-sided duration-based movement sets.

You are going to have data showing side 1 versus side 2, and they are right next to each other. You can clearly see your power and range of motion on each side, which to me is endlessly fascinating how weak my left side is compared to my right side. It drives me bonkers but I love seeing it because it gives me something to work on. When there are alternating moves, you are going to be able to see the actual power between your left and right side. You are going to be able to see that, so you are going to be working on trying to get even efforts versus what I do. Again, power is not as good on my left as it is on my right.

When you get even efforts, are you supposed to try harder on your dominant side or on your non-dominant side, or try less on your dominant side?

In a perfect world, if you can do harder with your non-dominant side, that’s what you want to try to do but not all moves you are going to be able to do that if you have a huge difference between the two. If you do have a huge difference between the two, you should back the weight off a little bit so that you can complete that move a little bit so you can complete it better. What you want to do is make the evenness. You want to make both sides even, and to do that, you might have to make it a little lighter than you did before.

Finally, under new features, we have an update to the mobile app.

You can review and share your monthly stats in style, as Kate likes to say. It’s a fresh, new way to do it. It’s a new look. It’s beautiful. When you do want to look at your stats from the last month, now you have a whole new look to enjoy, and you can share it. I love all those little badges.

As always, there is tons of new content, and we will blow through the highlights here real quick for you.

I dropped on the first. There’s a new quick-fit dynamic delt with Nicolette, a quick fit twist and sweat with Paul, and new vacation cardio with Jared. It would have been nice if it had dropped three days earlier. New Pilates length and strength with Coach Francis. They have new live to on-demand. These are part of live classes that had been done. They were live workouts, but now, that they’re done, they’ve turned them into a program. There were several classes, for example, called 20 and 20 metabolic burn with Ash. You can take those as an entire program.

Also, power build with Joe Rodonis, perfect the rep with Tim Landicho, and strength ramps up with Kendall. Lots of really great content that is now out and in program form. These just came out, a new program, plus the show up with Coach Allison. It’s one of those that you can adjust the level and the duration. I love those. This one is full-body 5 days a week for 4 weeks. You get days 1 and 3 lower body, days 2 and 4 upper body, and 1 day a week is conditioning work. That would be my least favorite day but most needed. There’s a new live on-demand. I talked about those 20 and 20 metabolic burns and all the other ones that were built for a push-pull builds with Tanysha Renee and built for strength risks with Kristina Centenari. Lots of good content is still coming out.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


We got a couple of Tonal Talks coming up. First is the member Q&A with Dr. Brad Schoenfeld.

One of the amazing members of the Tonal Strength Institute. This is a great opportunity to ask tons of questions. You can ask your questions at a time, and then Kate is going to submit them. That is going to take place on Wednesday, August 24th, 2022, at 6:00 PM Central time. I say Central because that’s where we are.

Also, on August 31st, 2022, you have a get to know the NYC coaches, which I guess should be, “Get to know the coaches now.”

You will have an opportunity to get to know the New York coaches. There will be Coach Woody, Ash, Joe, Kristina, Tim, and Tanysha. This is your opportunity to ask them questions, get to know them, and understand their backgrounds, what they have, and what they are bringing to the table. This is your opportunity to do all of that in a positive way. Maybe they will have him play like some icebreaker game or something.

The best way to look at it is when SNL gets new cast members.

That’s a really good comparison. It’s always that awkward two-week phase where you are like, “I don’t know about this.” Before you know it, they’re part of a whole bunch of routines, and they win you over time.

The August challenge looks a little different. Obviously, things are in flux over Tonal.

They don’t have an official member challenge because there are not enough people to run one but what you can do is find a workout buddy and then go through and work on it together. That’s what Kate has put forth, and it’s an excellent solution. Don’t work out alone, and find people to be able to work out together. You can go and do those group virtual workouts. How amazing is that? There are all the different comments that have been posted here on the post that was on July 26, 2022.

If you go out there, you can look through the comments to find people that match your requirements. Let’s say you, like me, are in Central time. You, like myself, are in the Central time zone, and you usually work out at 7:00 AM. Look for people in the comments doing that same thing, find your match, and then you are going to be able to work out with them and do those virtual classes together. You can pick your own program and keep each other accountable all month long. It’s a fabulous solution.

Joining us via the magic of ZoomTube is Christina Sandefur. Christina, how’s it going?

It’s great. Thanks for having me.

We are so glad to have you. You, showing up in your Tonal gear, are ready to go. Is that an actual room or is that one of those fake backgrounds?

This is my house. This is our library. It looks way cooler on screen. There are IKEA shelves, and IKEA is awesome. If you want cheap stuff that will fit into your budget but they don’t help you at all. I had to do the math to get all of that crap to fit. It was super stressful but it looks pretty cool.

If you had to do the math to get that to fit, you should star in hidden figures, too.

We had just gotten married first of all, because my husband and I were both big readers. We brought the books together. We had so many doubles where like, “I have that one and that.”

That’s how you know you are a good fit.

Except if it doesn’t work out. We are going on over eleven years but if it doesn’t work out, who’s going to keep the prize possession books? I don’t know. It’s one more reason to work at it.

Did you already get rid of them? Maybe you should box those.

You've got to have really strong muscles around those joints because that's the important thing that's going to keep you moving in the future. Even if you have a flare up, if you're strong, if you've got a good muscular skeletal… Click To Tweet

We went to college and Law students who were both lawyers and gave them free books because when I was that age, I loved getting free anything.

Is that something people age out of? I still love getting free spins.

Nobody offers it to me anymore, though.

Once you become an adult and have demonstrated that you can take care of yourself.

Once you become a lawyer who married another lawyer.

Here’s the thing that sucks so bad about that. We both worked for nonprofits, and we are very blessed. We can definitely earn a living. We are very fortunate but people assume when they hear that. You can’t go into a store and have, “What do you guys do?” “We are lawyers.” They are like, “Let me show you what’s in the back room.”  My husband Tim always says, “We found the one kind of law that you can’t get rich doing.”

If they see your zoom screen and those bookshelves.

They are like, “She can afford everything.”

This is literally over multiple decades. Entire lifetimes collection of two people. It was quite the ordeal but I was so stressed when it was all going up. I’m like, “This is on me. If one of these pieces doesn’t fit, the whole thing is screwed, and it was my fault.”

First off, you are saying you pared down the books, and also, you are both lawyers. That’s going to be a fist fight. What was the metric for which version of a book got kept?

It’s mine because I take better care of my things. Mine is always in better shape.

If you guys ever do split, we know who’s going to win.

It’s sad. It’s like, “We have a copy of that, and it probably has got here.” However, I will say that Tim would be horrified if I didn’t clarify that he will not dog-ear any book he gets so upset. I will be reading a book and taking very good care of things but books are meant to be dog-eared. I will dog-ear it. I will put it down. I will come back to my spot, and there’s a bookmark in the place. This passive-aggressive is like, “Realize you didn’t have a bookmark and decided to destroy the book.”

I’m the same way as your husband with books. My mom beat this into me. Not literally but when I get done reading a book, even if it’s a $4 paperback back when paperbacks are $4. It looks brand new. I don’t even break the spine of a paperback.

You can gently open it and read.

I take such good, pristine care of my things, my books. I feel like it’s an experience reading a book. It’s great because you could give your books away as a gift afterward then.

There are times when I’m like, “That book was awful.” I will take it back to the store. They won’t ever know.

I have some first additions of things that I will not let people borrow, just showing my nerds side. George RR Martin, the guy that wrote A Game of Thrones, which became such a huge hit, and they did it on TV and all that stuff. Before that, this guy has been writing these books since the ’90s, and I have all of the first additions. I read them long before they became TV shows. When people want to read, I’m like, “No, not that. You can not read my first edition, George RR Martin.” It’s going to die before he finishes the series in real-life. I know HBO finished it. Whoever did it, I know they’ve finished it but the actual series has never been finished.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


I’ve never read or seen Game of Thrones. I’m the only person in the world that said that. The ones that are above the door are all Stephen King. He’s my favorite author. I have every single book that he’s ever written.

I read a lot of Stephen King.

It’s not just the stories are interesting but he’s such a well-read intelligent person and a good writer. I make our legal interns read Stephen King’s on writing and I’m like, “This will make your briefs better.”

The secret to one in a legal case, I don’t have to tell you, it’s whoever builds the better narrative. You need to learn how to construct a narrative. I have the three first editions in hardback of Gunslinger books, which are really hard to find. I sold it when I was going through my divorce because I was hard up for cash. I actually, at one point, had a copy of The Long Walk written by Richard Bachman with no mention of Stephen King anywhere on it. It was a fairly beat-up copy because I loaned it when I was young. I bought it when I was in the eighth grade, and I loaned it to my sister’s boyfriend. He liked reading books like you read books. I still got $140 for it.

You are like Thomas Jefferson. You sell all your books, and then you must go back and rebuy them again. We have a library of Congress now. Thanks to Mr. Jefferson.

To be clear, I have never been impregnant with a slave.

I was wondering about that one. I’m glad we cleared that one out.

I had never thought to ask that in a decade. We went down some major rabbit hole. Usually, I talk about Tonal by this time. When did you find out about Tonal and your fitness journey?

Crystal, you are responsible for my purchase of a Tonal and didn’t know it at the time. I was a Peloton user. I’m a big fan of The Clip Out. You started talking about Tonal. Right when this show started, it was around the time I was thinking, “I have to up my strength game.” I went out and purchased a Tonal sight unseen. It was during the pandemic. It was in 2020. I waited to have it installed. You are credited or blamed for my purchasing. This is why my husband has known your name for so long.

When you bought the Tonal, it was atrophy. You could only read novelas.

I’m a Stephen King reader, so I’ve got those guns.

You’ve got some guns for real. You use that Tonal.

It’s so weird because I was the kid who was afraid of gym class. Even hearing those fitness-related compliments is still so weird for me.

It’s weird for me on the other end because our relationship has developed as we have this ongoing conversation about, “I want to try this. How do I try this? How do I do this?” To me, you embrace every challenge that I throw at you, and you ace it. I can’t imagine you being that person.

My secret once I got older and over those fears is you find the people who know what they are talking about, and then you listen to them. You do what they tell you to do. It works out.

That’s where I’m at. That’s how I am with Tonal. I’m like, “I don’t know. I just do what it tells me to do.”

You said you used to be scared of gym class. Do you want to share your medical journey that went along with that?

When I was very young, around two years old, I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis. Medicine for RA has come a long way in the past couple of years but at the time, it was tough to figure out the diagnosis. I was young. I was fortunate that my parents were dedicated to my health. We lived about an hour or so away from the University of Michigan. They had a great research hospital. I went every single month. I had to be taken there to get treatment, and they were very diligent about that.

Working out is easier if you have a goal to work towards. Click To Tweet

The great news is that because of that treatment, and my mom still encouraged me to be as active as possible and move a lot, I went into remission when I was a child. The downside was I missed those years when everybody else was learning to ride a bike, roller skate, and get into sports. I never did any of that. By the time it was safe for me to do some of that, I was so intimidated because all the other kids knew how to do those things. At this point in my life, those things don’t worry me anymore but at that age, you still want to be the cool kid.

I remember distinctly this moment in fourth grade when the teacher was asking us all to push our desks into a different formation. At that point, that would have been an okay activity for me but my mother had put under medical rheumatoid arthritis on the school forms for the year. It’s one of those things that you never get rid of. You can go into remission and have flare-ups but it’s always there and you have to put it.

The teacher knew this about me. She didn’t mean to but yelled in the middle of class, “Don’t push that desk. You can’t do that.” I was mortified. She made a boy come over and move my desk for me. It was long ago but it still scars me. This teacher was looking out for me. For a long time, I was terrified of being the center of attention over something like that.

I was the last one picked in the gym. I didn’t get involved in sports but I liked to play. I was active. I learned to ride a bike pretty late. One day, I was like, “I’m years away from being able to drive, and I want to be able to go places, so I better get on this thing.” I had my mom’s old three-speed, bright yellow Schwinn bike. I was like, “I’m going to get on and make it work.” I was always active in that sense. I would walk and bike a lot.

In my head, I always thought, “There are certain things you can and can’t do.” I knew it was important for me to stay moving but I was never going to be an athlete. That was not for somebody like me. Frankly, the doctors at the time discouraged you from doing too much activity. They wanted you to move but running or anything high impact was completely off the table. I was told as a kid I wouldn’t even ever be able to ride a bike because even that would be too hard on my joints. You get that in your head.

I got to college and realized that my metabolism wasn’t the same as when I was a child, so I started doing things like Pilates. I got into bars and some low-impact stuff that could help me build strength. That was it. I hit my early 30s and felt things were changing a little bit. I knew people who had RA and other medical issues, and they were able to do more. I thought, “Maybe there are some more things that I can do.”

My biggest fear is not being able to move. I want to make sure that I’m doing the most that I can do for myself to be healthy and live a long life. I’m terrified of being stuck in a chair and not being able to move around. I thought when I was a kid that I might have to be wheelchair-bound one day. I thought, “I’m going to do everything that I can do to make sure that that’s never going to be me. Everything within my control.” I started ramping it up little by little.

I went to my first group fitness class in my 30s at Pure Barre. I decided one day, “I’m not going to be afraid of looking dumb anymore. Everybody’s got to start somewhere.” I went in and tried to keep up with the class and then kept going from there. I found Peloton. I was not Peloton OG but I was pre-pandemic Peloton.

That is the new OG.

I know John Mills has a whole skit words he used I can’t remember.

You are mid-wave.

That sounds pretty cool. I will go with that. I got my bike, and that changed a lot. I started doing power zone. I would do climbs. I felt myself gaining strength there but then I realized there’s a limit to what you can do cardio-wise if you don’t have muscle, and I did not have muscle at all. I did arms and lightweights. I did some bootcamp things but had never done serious lifting. I had no idea how to do it. Even though I say I’m less afraid as an adult but still, a gym is an intimidating place.

A big thing too is as I continued to see doctors, they say, “You’ve got to build up your bone density. You’ve got to have strong muscles around those joints because that’s the important thing that’s going to keep you moving in the future. Even if you have a flare-up, if you are strong and got a good muscular-skeletal system, you are going to be able to keep moving.” I was listening to The Clip Out. I was searching for that strength product, and lo and behold, it turned out to be Tonal. The rest is history.

The RA, is that something that is always out there that has a potentiality of coming back around, or can you keep that at bay?

I have been fortunate for a long time. It has been decades since I’ve had any major problems. When you are somewhere where it does rain, I feel it in my joints. I had my jaw joints completely replaced because arthritis had sufficiently destroyed those joints that I couldn’t even bite a piece of pizza or a sandwich anymore. That is a cool thing because, at that point, technology had advanced enough that I went in, got an MRI, and they 3D printed me joints that are exactly made for my face. In the past, I kid you not, there were four choices. There were four jaws, and they picked the one that was closest to your size. Who knows what you will look like when you are done?

I was very fortunate that there is a lot of good medicine in Arizona. We have the Mayo Clinic and a lot of good places here. I found a wonderful doctor. He was capable of doing the surgery a lot quicker than most surgeons, which meant less scar tissue and better healing. He got this titanium joint made for me and got that replaced. Half of my head is metal, frankly. It’s a Terminator situation.

You travel all the time. Do you have to declare that?

My surgeon goes through this whole thing like, “We are going to stack your head up. Any questions?” My first question was, “Am I going to set off a metal detector?” The answer is, technically, you could if they had the setting sensitive enough but for all the flying I’ve done, it never has. A knee is a lot bigger, so when you get a knee replacement, that will. It’s possible but it has never happened to me before. If you look at my X-ray, it’s not just the joints. They had cracked my upper and lower jaw, so I’ve got plates and screws. It’s super cool and a little crazy.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


How long of a recovery period was that? That seems like that would be a lot.

I wanted it to be as short as possible because who wants to sit around and recover from something like that? I’m lucky my surgeon was very good. It was overnight in a surgical facility, and that was it. I went home. I took a couple of days where I answered emails and then worked from home for a week. After that, I was back in the office. Two weeks after the surgery, I was still really swollen but I gave a speech. I then did an oral argument in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals a month after that surgery. It was tough to talk that long. It would get really sore but it was a lot easier than you would think.

When I think of rheumatoid arthritis, I think of fingers, elbows, and knees but your jaw is also a joint.

You use it probably as much as any other joint.

Especially if you are a lawyer.

I believe you like to do programs.

I do. Nicolette was my first coach. I started doing a program with her. It was one of the beginner ones. I can’t even remember which one it was. I was very much drinking from a fire hose when I started. It was all new to me. The heavy lifting was new to me. She was so accessible. There were a couple of things I noticed right away, for example, the overhead presses with a barbell. In addition to arthritis, I also have moderate scoliosis. It’s not super noticeable except when you go to do movements where you need to be perfectly balanced. I have a hard time reaching directly overhead because I’m a little imbalanced there.

Nicolette is postural specialist. I was able to reach out to her. I posted something in the community, “Does anyone have recommendations? I want to make sure I get the most out of these movements but I can’t quite emulate what the coaches are doing on the screen.” She direct messaged me. I did not pay her extra for this but we talked through what my imbalances were. She explained to me modifications I could make. It was incredible.

I felt completely different when I was doing that movement afterward. It was great. I was able to get all the way through the program. That was before they did movement replacement. The only way I could progress through the program was by doing those movements and getting no credit for it. It was phenomenal.

For me, working out is easier if I have some goals to work towards. I’m not like, “Every day, I should work out because it’s good for me.” I want to have something I want to achieve. That way, you know if you skip a day, you might not achieve that thing. I had been doing some hiking. I live in the Phoenix area. There are a lot of good hiking places around here. I had some coworkers that hike the Grand Canyon rim-to-rim every other year. That seemed like something I could never do.

They say only 1% of all people who visit the Grand Canyon do that. I don’t know what percentage of those people do it in one day but it’s not many people. I started thinking, “Maybe I could do this. Maybe I could work toward that.” Tonal helped me get prepared and build that lower body strength that I needed to be able to make it all the way across the Canyon. I asked for recommendations from the coaches like, “What program should I be doing that will complement the Peloton cardio I’m doing, and that will help me prepare for this serious hike?” I am convinced if it weren’t for Tonal, I would not have made it to be able to do that hike.

How long does it take to do that? That’s a massive hike.

There are two different ways you can do it. There are two trails at the South Rim and then one option at the North Rim. We took the longer one because we are gluttons for punishment. It’s almost 24 miles across. It’s an elevation loss of around maybe 4,000 feet down and then 6,000 feet coming back up. We did South and North Rim. It’s no joke. It took us a little over twelve hours but we took our time. We stopped for an hour to have lunch down by Phantom Ranch.

It’s so incredibly beautiful. I can’t even describe what a transcendental experience doing this was. It was amazing. The thing is, there is no way to experience those parts of the Canyon if you don’t do that type of hike. It was a special reward. That’s why Tonal will always have a special place in my heart. This is the girl who was afraid of gym class, got tired of walking up the stairs, and was the one who wasn’t supposed to be able to do any athletic activity.

It felt special making that hike. I know there are many people who have hiked many different things but for me, that was a huge achievement. There are only certain times of the year you can do it because at the top, it will be snowing and too cold, and then at the bottom, though, it’s as hot as it is in Phoenix. We started at 40-some degrees in the morning, and at the bottom, it’s 100 degrees during the day. Even that, you are figuring out how to acclimate your body to that. You are also carrying a ton of water because you are drinking constantly.

You probably had to take clothes too.

I had a jacket to start out, and then I took extra socks. Do you know how in Forrest Gump they are like, “Make sure you take care of your feet?” It is true. The number one thing is, “Did you get a blister when you hiked?” I didn’t get one blister. I did lose a toenail that still, to this day, is not quite right. It doesn’t want to grow back. That’s what acrylics are for.

What an adventure, and what year did you end up doing that?

If you don’t try, you don’t know. Click To Tweet

I did that in September of 2021. I had Tonal for about a year leading up to that, and that was perfect. I spent the first six months learning the basics. The form is so important for strength. It’s important for cardio too. For strength, it’s so critical. I spent that first six months building up my base, learning from the coaches and the exact right form. That second 6-month period is when I really started training. I did a ton of Tonal. I had bike rides a lot too but did a ton of Tonal. I supplemented with some hikes around here, although it’s hard to hike in Phoenix in the summer because it’s 110 to 115 degrees here. It’s high heat to dry heat.

It makes a difference. We live in an area where it’s humid.

She grew up in Michigan, so she knows about that.

When we were in Sedona, we were stunned. People always say, “It’s a dry heat.” In St Louis, when you go in the shade, it’s 1 degree warmer or cooler. In Sedona, you would get in the shade, and it dropped 20 degrees.

When you are inside, there’s not much moisture. Your bed isn’t wet from the humidity. The dry heat, 100%, is better. Our summer is like your winter. People don’t go outside during the summer, and all come out in the wintertime. It’s very weird. They play outdoor sports in the winter like softball and things like that. It’s a health hazard.

You should not be out there in 115 degrees running around.

You have all your outdoor concerts in the winter. Is that how that works?

We do. We have a lot of outdoor concert venues. Although I will say being from the Midwest, Phoenix is the fifth largest city, and everybody skips us. You will get these bands. They will do five shows in LA and then nothing in Phoenix at all. To the extent, we get concerts that are worth seeing. We can do that outdoors in the winter.

LA sucks up all the good concerts.

I grew up being able to see everybody. Everybody comes to Detroit.

I would think Phoenix would be a major stop for concerts. That’s surprising.

You would think. Most of the bands that I like seeing are starting to not perform anymore. I’m very much a classic rock person.

I’m starting to realize, “This is why people in their 70s don’t go to concerts. It’s because all the bands they like are dead.”

I’m pretty sure Bob Seger’s last concert was in Phoenix because it had to get rescheduled, so we do have that. I love Bob Seger. I got to see him in Phoenix, and I’m pretty sure he will never do a concert again.

We saw him on his last run. Was it his last one or did he do one more for that?

It was the last one.

The J Geils Band opened and sold the show. They were good.

I love J Geils but they didn’t steal the show from Bob Seger.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


They had so much energy.

Peter Wolf is all over the place, and Bob Seger just stands there.

He does this little boogie.

It’s so cute though, isn’t it?

I know. I said the same thing.

Do you know who else I used to love? It’s Tom Petty, which I’m still not over. He would take bows after his songs. I had an opportunity to go to that Hollywood Bowl concert. We could go to California a lot to go to concerts. I used to go every single time he would tour. I would tell Tim, “It’s all right. I’ve dragged you to enough Tom Petty concerts. He will be back. We don’t have to go.” We didn’t get tickets, and that was his last show.

I’ve never seen him live.

Tom Petty is one of the few I’ve never seen.

He was great. He wasn’t playing his harmonica and lead guitar as much anymore but you could tell he appreciated that he got to do that.

That’s why I see The Monkees every time because I know one time it would be the last, and it was. The last time I saw him, I booked him but I stood at the foot of the stage and watched the whole show because I could. Seriously, a month later, Mike died. That was it.

You never know. Crystal, I know you are not as into Rush but I used to play the drums. Neil Peart was a hero to any drummer. I never went and saw that because I always thought I would be able to see them. You were young-ish. I don’t even know if I used to consider Rush classic rock, but now, the ‘90s is classic rock. It’s terrible. I don’t listen to the radio but I visited my parents, and they put on the oldies station. I kid you not, they were playing ‘90s music. I’m the oldie station.

It’s not right. What happened?

Oldies is a certain period. I don’t care that the ‘90s are however many years behind us but that’s still not oldies.

Don’t call it oldies.

Call it something else.

Oldies will always be the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Classic rock is the end of the ‘60s, ‘70s, early ‘80s, and early to mid-‘80s.

Here’s how I always delineate it in my head. Oldies is up through Revolver. It was ‘65 and ‘66, and then The Beatles came out with Revolver. The Beatles were half classic rock, half oldies. For me, Revolver on is classic rock Beatles. Pre-Revolver is oldies Beatles. All the stuff that comes out after that, you stop seeing all oldies. It’s more AM Gold if it’s not classic rock. It’s classic rock or AM Gold.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


I know you always love to have a goal. What are the goals that you are working on now?

We started working together. The one piece that was missing for me was nutrition. I started working with you a little bit before you started at MetPro on some fitness goals. Now, we work together. Crystal’s my MetPro Coach. It has been incredible because right around that time, I decided that I wanted to try running. That was the one thing that you don’t do when you have arthritis or at least back in the day. That’s what they said. Everybody is different. I’m not giving medical advice to people with arthritis.

Since I loved the Grand Canyon hike so much, I wanted to continue hiking but it is tough to do that during the summer to get outside of the city or go super early. I thought, “If I get a Peloton treadmill, I can do hikes inside and keep up with that and Tonal.” I got curious. I’m like, “Look at all these fun runs. I wonder if I can run.” Right when I started, that was when I started working with Crystal. She helped me get my nutrition. We did Tonal, better bike, and tread programs so that I was able to compliment that started running. I am training for my first marathon, which will be in January of 2023 at Disney World of all places.

The Disney races are super hard to get like anything at Disney. It is always so stressful. If you want to do something at Disney, you got to log in and have four devices open. I was originally going to do the 10-miler but they had a challenge where you could do a 5K, 10K, and then a 10-miler 3 days in a row. They opened up some late last-minute ones right before the event where you could do that whole challenge. Crystal had gotten me in such good shape, and I was ready. I was running. I felt like, “What’s the worst that can happen? If I don’t finish, which would be a bummer but that’s okay. I might as well try it.” If you don’t try, you won’t know.

I have the same issue with getting into Disney stuff but it is more like Le Cellier or T-Rex Cafe.

I want to do that new Space one.

Space 220? That looks really cool.

That was when I got into the race but we could not get into that. Maybe after the marathon, although probably not because everybody will be there.

I found a website called MouseWatcher. It costs money but you give them your information. For $12 or $15, they will monitor dinner reservations. They will text and email when there are new openings. We are going on a cruise. We will fly into Orlando a day early. We are going to go to the Cirque Disney show and I was like, “The kids like T-Rex Cafe. Let’s go there.”

I couldn’t get a dinner reservation, so I booked a 10:00 PM, thinking, “We will go and then have dessert when we are done so we can still go.” I did this MouseWatchers thing. Whenever somebody drops a reservation, it texts you. I ended up being able to get a 4:30 reservation because it texted me. It tells you the super quickly. When I got the 4:30 reservation, I was like, “I can cancel my 10:00 PM reservation.” I canceled my 10:00 PM reservation, and within 60 seconds, I had a text telling me that there was now a 10:00 PM slot open if I wanted it.

That is incredible. I will be signing up for that. Do you know their ice room in T-Rex Cafe?

That’s my favorite room.

It’s beautiful but I’m someone who’s cold all the time. Tim and I were there with my parents. They love Disney too. We have been a Disney family our whole life. My mom and I were like, “It’s so cold here.” My dad and Tim were like, “You know it’s not real ice.” We walked into the other room and said, “It’s so much warmer in there.” Something about Disney is that good at creating an ambiance that I was freezing in the ice room.

Whatever you do, don’t go on the Frozen ride.

The last time we were at Disney, we tried to go on the Frozen ride but it broke down.

I got cold on the Frozen ride, and then when I got up Splash Mountain, I was a racist.

They are working on that, though.

They are converting that to Princess and the Frog.

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid Arthritis


Here’s the thing. I like Princess and the Frog a lot. I want to ride it but have never been on Splash Mountain because I don’t like rides that make you soaking wet the whole day.

I’ve never done Splash Mountain either for that same reason.

It doesn’t do it that bad.

That’s what they all tell you, and then you walk out drenched.

Seat in the middle.

None of that works. Everybody says that.

I’m sorry, Crystal. I’m with Tom on this one.

You get done. You look like you left the front row at a Gallagher concert. I’m not doing it. You got to walk around the rest of the park all day in wet denim.

That’s the thing because it’s humid out there. If you did that in Arizona, you would be dry within ten seconds. I hope people video the Princess and the Frog experience. I can watch it that way.

They have great ride-through videos on YouTube, which is also great if you are a huge Disney fan. You can go there and watch the ride-through videos from other parks like Disney World France or Shanghai.

I have never been to Asia and wanted to see Japan but we have a hard time taking more than a week of time off work. We were going to do a cruise around Japan. Since it’s a cruise, it has to leave from somewhere else. It was going to leave from Shanghai. I was like, “If we are going there, we might as well do Shanghai Disney.” We had all of that booked for March of 2020. Thank God, though. They didn’t cancel it on us until the very last minute but I ended up canceling because I saw those people on that cruise ship. Not to mention, we weren’t going anywhere for COVID. I’m thinking, “I hope they give us our money back.” If we had gone there, we would have gotten stuck in Shanghai.

That would have been so horrible. I hope you still get to go. You need to rebook.

Someday, I would like to see all the Disney parks in different countries. That would be cool.

That’s one of our dream trips too. We got to wrap this up because we will never stop talking about Disney. I know we don’t usually talk about leaderboard names. We haven’t gotten into this habit, but share with everyone what your leaderboard name is.

It is Kuokoa Kristina. Kuokoa is the Hawaiian word for freedom. I don’t think we talked about this but Hawaii has been a part of my life forever. It’s a second home that I can never afford. It’s a place where I visit family. Freedom and personal autonomy are incredibly important to me. That’s why I chose it. Hawaiian words are all pretty phonetic. I know that’s confusing because my name is spelled with a C and H but I liked the K and the K. I’m very much into alliteration and the balance of that. Also, it’s more efficient because it’s one less letter.

That’s my Instagram as well. The only thing I do on Instagram is fitness stuff. It’s where I connect with people from Peloton and Tonal. It’s our own little nerdy universe to be able to encourage each other. I love interacting with other people who do Tonal, sharing program ideas, and talking with the coaches. Follow me, and I will follow you. It will be a good time.

To that end, do you have any advice for people getting a Tonal?

The things that people typically say on the show are, “Try all the coaches and get your form right.” Those are all great tips and probably the ones that you should start with but I wanted to say something a little bit different and was also important to me. Modifications don’t mean that you are doing something lesser. Everyone’s body is a little bit different.

For you to get the full benefit of that lift or that program, you may have to modify it. Don’t look at that as, “I’m not doing the program or I’m not doing the thing right.” The coaches are incredible. We are so fortunate to have them. Don’t be afraid to ask them how to modify your body type. Don’t be afraid to switch out a move if you can’t tolerate that move.

I did a few things. When I started being able to lift heavier, I would get blisters on my hands, so I bought weightlifting gloves. When my deadlifts started getting better, and I was able to lift a lot more weight, my grip strength wasn’t that good because of arthritis, so I bought hooks. They are cheap. I got them on Amazon. Get the ones you would use for normal barbells.

They strap around your hands. They are hooks. That way, when you are lifting that heavy weight, it doesn’t matter if your fingers can’t hold the weight because the hooks hold it for you. It’s not a cheat. You are doing the exact same lifts. Your legs are bearing the load. It helped me a lot. I would encourage people not to be intimidated by things that they think aren’t quite right for you or your body type. There’s always some workaround, and you can still get the benefit of it. Don’t be afraid to ask the coaches or people in the community because that’s what I did.

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to join us. We greatly appreciate it.

Thank you both so much. It was a lot of fun.

That brings this episode to a close. Until next time. Where can people find you?

People can find me on Facebook at Facebook.com/crystaldokeefe. They can also find me on Twitter, Instagram, and the Tonal leaderboard, @ClipOutCrystal.

You can find me on Twitter @RogerQBert or on Facebook at Facebook.com/tomokeefe. You can find the show online at Facebook.com/supersetpodcast, while you are there, be sure and like the page and join the group. That’s it for this one. Thanks for tuning in. Until next time, keep lifting.


Important Links


About Christina Sandefur

TSS 46 | Rheumatoid ArthritisChristina Sandefur is the Executive Vice President at the Goldwater Institute. She develops policies and litigates cases advancing healthcare freedom, free enterprise, private property rights, free speech, and taxpayer rights.

Christina is a co-drafter of the Right to Try initiative, now federal law, which protects terminally ill patients’ right to try safe investigational treatments that have been prescribed by their physician but are not yet FDA-approved. She has won important victories for property rights in Arizona and works nationally to promote the Institute’s Private Property Rights Protection Act, a state-level reform that requires government to pay owners when regulations destroy property rights and reduce property values.

Christina is the co-author of the book Cornerstone of Liberty: Private Property Rights in 21st Century America (2016). She is a frequent guest on national television and radio programs, has provided expert legal testimony to various legislative committees, and is a frequent speaker at conferences. She is the recipient of the 2018 Buckley Award in recognition of her leadership in the freedom movement, and she is an Advisory Board Member of the Network of enlightened Women. Christina serves on the boards of the Phoenix Lawyers Chapter of the Federalist Society and the Paragon Health Institute, and is a member of the executive committee for the Federalist Society’s Regulatory Transparency Project: FDA & Health, as well as the Arizona State Advisory Committee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

Christina is a graduate of Michigan State University College of Law and Hillsdale College.


Love the show? Subscribe, rate, review, and share!
Join The Superset community today: