Bomb Squad Spotlight: Geek Girl Strong!

During the weekend of GeekGirlCon, we had the pleasure of meeting up with Robyn of Geek Girl Strong. GGS is an inclusive health-coaching community with a heavy focus on the physical and mental wellness of folks who “identify as girls/women and do not fit into any one box,” – particularly those of us that identify as being “nerdy” or “geeky.” If she looks familiar, you may have spotted her in the Jordandené catalog, sporting (among other awesome designs) her “Geek Girl Power” tank or tee.

We were elated when she agreed to a photoshoot with our photographer, Stephen Klise, and wanted to take the time to learn more about her journey to being the Geek Girl Strong. Make sure to check out the full gallery after the interview!


You’ve been pretty active all your life. Was there anything in particular that ignited your interest in athleticism?

Doing dips and looking fashionably non-compliant in #BitchPlanet-Floral

My mom put me in dance classes at a YWCA when I was 3 years old after I wouldn’t stop dancing around the apartment. I was literally that kid who’s mom would give them pots and pans to bang on while she was in the kitchen.

Both of my parents really love music and it was almost always on. When music videos (and MTV) became more popular my mom would have that on a lot and I’d stand in front of the TV, teaching myself the choreography. She also put me in soccer at age 5, which I loved.

From there it was a string of different activities all the way through my schooling. I was allowed to quit an activity but I had to have another one lined up that I was going to try before doing so. Those included; softball, theater (mostly as a dancer), track and field, cheerleading and probably a few others slipping my mind.

I recently got back into pole dancing in a way that I haven’t been for a while. I’ve been at it for about 5 years now and have only recently begun doing it for me again (not just so that I am skilled enough to teach my clients).

I was never really a “gym person” until after I left Cross fit about three years ago, now my time at the gym is solace to me. I spend more time doing cardio than ever before (I was a sprinter, not a distance runner). I’m always looking for ways to see what my body is capable of, from brute strength with power lifting, to more muscular endurance focused movements like 100 push-ups. As I get older I’m learning how to better listen to my body, rest when I need, rehab areas when they need it, stretch… I’m in a pretty good spot currently.

On the nerdier side of things, what’s your favorite geeky activity and/or series/fandom right now?

Right now, I think reading comics, though that’s been pretty steady for the last 10 years. I’m a huge Marvel Comics fan and Image does amazing things, I also love a lot of lesser known titles and creators.

I actually just finished Nautro Shippuden after having put it off years ago when I got too frustrated by fillers during [a particular story arc, omitted for spoilers]. I’m glad I finished it up though. I doubt I’ll be watching much of Boruto but it was fun to go down a deep Wiki and YouTube hole to see what happens with all the characters.

Oh, I’ve also been going pretty hard at Mario Party ever since getting that a couple of months ago! Nintendo has really impressed me with the Switch. 

“Geeky” hobbies these days have become a lot more socially acceptable than they were even just 10 years ago, but women, POCs, and people who otherwise don’t fit the “nerd” stereotype still have to work hard to be accepted and deal with gatekeeping. You’ve said that for you, “living [as an athlete and a nerd] as a teen was at times far from easy.” What kind of struggles did you find yourself facing back then?

Robyn (right) and a friend at Preview Night, at her first San Diego Comic Con. Via Instagram.

Ooph. Well, like I use to tell my students… being a teen is just hard. You’ve got a lot going on in that body and no clue what to do with any of it. I just didn’t “fit” anywhere.

My friends from my neighborhood (of mostly low income and black folks) didn’t fully understand the part of me that went to school in Chelsea, a neighborhood in Manhattan. A lot of my school friends knew I liked Pokemon and had a boyfriend who built computers in his room while I played his video games, but I didn’t talk about that stuff with them too much. My friends on The Sims Online (yeah, I did that) didn’t know much about me at all, even though I could spend an entire day in that world.

I was a small-statured black girl living in the ‘hood, who was trying to learn how to skate board (it didn’t work out), while practicing cheerleading moves, commuting 45 minutes to school, never failed a class, and would have other kids in the building over to play her N64 (later, Playstation 2 as well). All of this, and I came home from middle school with a black eye a couple of times, to my divorced parents’ dismay. There was a lot going on and looking back I can see how it is all related.

You’re an advocate for mental health as well as physical health. What would you say is the link between the two?

I wouldn’t even say that there is a link. Instead, it is just all intertwined. I fully believe that they are dependent on one another. If one is severely lacking, the other will not thrive.

Studies prove time and time again that addressing physical activity allows for our brains to function better and addressing our mental health allows us to physically feel better.

I’ve been so depressed at different points in my life that physically I felt that I just could not get up. I know that by taking care of my mental health it will allow for me to get to the gym, make dinner, and more. I know that by staying active it helps my brain deal with stressors that are all the more stressful for me since I live with a mental illness.

Though, that is just one simple example. There are lots more out there.

I know that Geek Girl Strong’s roots are in clubs and councils you founded at the school where you worked and that encouraged you to branch out and work hard to offer more to the masses. So how did GGS get started from there? (i.e. were you setting up local workshops or did it start with online coaching? Etc)

I decided to branch out because of people at Geek Girl Brunch asking if I trained adults! They would tell me that they might have enjoyed PE if I were their teacher (a huge compliment) and were willing to see how that would be.

I attempted online coaching at first and it did not really take, I have long distance clients now but at the beginning I did a lot of in person private training. Then when a local news network wanted to do a piece on me (which ended up never happening) they asked that I have a group they could come see. That’s when I started Fangirl Health Club; it was just a room full of people I always knew who were willing to let me try teaching a group of adults for the first time since college.

What do you think is the key to motivating kids, especially young girls, to get physically active and interested in athletics?

Early on… create situations in which they can feel successful. Who wants to do something they suck at over and over again? Especially in front of their peers?!

When they do well, celebrate that. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve watching young girls be reminded that they need to be smart while young boys are reminded that they should want to be physically dominant… and smart. I think we’d all be better off if we celebrated all skills and intelligences more often.

Most importantly, listen to them. Then meet them where they are, relate the activities to characters and stories that inspire them if you have to. It can be as simple as starting a game of “Steal the Bacon” off with “WELCOME! TO THE 75TH HUNGER GAMES! TRIBUTES, STEP FORWARD.”

Just let them know you see them.

What about adults? Particularly, adults that were never really into sports or being active as kids?

You know, I’ve realized in the last 3.5 years that it is almost exactly the same answer as above. Some big differences are in the fact that sometimes teaching adults movement can be difficult because they make have some un-learning todo. Kids are usually a pretty clear slate in this sense.

What’s exactly the same, is giving people the opportunity to experience success in movement. To create an environment in which they know they will not be judged for trying… and themes still work really freakin’ well.

For those of us nerds ready to get moving but not sure where to start, what are some activities we can do at home?

The first thing that comes to mind for me in terms of movement is honestly just to walk/move more. Go for a walk, park the car a little further away from your destination than you have to, take the stairs, ride a bike, go out dancing with friends… all of those things really do make a difference.

When it come to a full exercise I would suggest bringing on a professional for a least one session to ensure that you are not going to injure yourself. Apps and other digital programs becoming readily available is fantastic but the number of people I see doing things that I could really get them hurt concerns me.

Stretchin’ out and kickin’ ass in #ZapBangPow

In terms of movements I’ve say to have locked down? The Squat, the push-up, the plank and the ability to reach your toes. These are all movements can be done with no equipment at all and are more important than we give them credit for.

I know that I want to be able to reach down to the floor to pick things up, tie my own shoes, and get off of the floor if I do happen to fall… for as long as I can.

Then, gameify your workouts! Find a way to make the enjoyable and a part of the life you already have. You can do this by turning a Twitch-watching session into a workout game (think of how you can turn movies and tv shows into drinking games, but add squats).

Are there any upcoming events or projects we should be looking out for?

Things tend to slow down for the Holidays we’ll be having some awesome deals for Small Business Saturday and Cyber Money. Then in February we’re hosting our 4th annual pay-what-you-want 1up Challenge which happens completely online!

To stay up on all of this and more people can sign up for our newsletter here: bit.ly/ggsnewsletter

Any organizations, resources, or other fit nerds you’d like to give a shout-out to?

Definitely! The folks at Yoga Quest have always been really supportive of me and whenever I attend one of their yoga classes at conventions I have a great time!

I was recently on a panel with representatives from US Quidditch, Hogwarts Running Club, and Jedi Saber Guild. They are all out there doing some really awesome physically active and geeky things. I’ve also always really liked a lot of the geeky themed workouts shared over at darebee.com!

“The whole #GeekGirlStrongxNYCC 2018 team.” via Instagram

Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with us and answer our questions, Robyn!

Check out the full Geek Girl Strong photoshoot below:

Bomb Squad Spotlight: Tracey Wong (aka MacTrayy)!

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Instagram, you might remember a cute and colorful little video that we posted last year in anticipation of National Butt Day:

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The talented human shakin’ these pastel #CakeWalk shells is Seattle dance educator and Bomb Squad babe Tracey Wong. Tracey is formally trained in waacking, voguing, hip-hop, and house, and minored in dance at the University of Washington, where she took courses in modern dance, jazz, and ballet. She also currently reps more than one dance crew; Malicious Allure, a waacking and voguing performance group,  kiki house, and crew, and Chinatown After Hours, a collective group of street dance battlers and organizers for the community.

She’s also the event organizer for Funkee Monkee’s monthly open sessions, as well as the organizer for the annual all-womxn dance battle Queen of the Hill @ Folklife Festival – the largest waacking battle in Seattle, Punk & Funk. She also works at a local and POC-owned boutique called Moksha, located in Seattle’s International District. Not just a boutique, Moksha collaborates with and gives artists platforms for their work.

As if all of that isn’t already completely badass, she’s also training in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu and has recently taking up DJing. You can probably understand why we wanted to learn more about her.

Make sure to keep reading after the Q&A for Tracey’s upcoming classes and dance battle events, plus a sweet behind-the-scenes video of Tracey showing off her moves for this photo shoot!


Have you been a dancer your whole life? What got you into it?

A year after my training in the studio, I began learning more of the foundation in hip hop and other street and club-style dances.

 actually started training in dance at almost the age of 21. I had always loved to groove and get down with my friends at functions and dabbled a little in Lindy hop whenever my mentor would take me, but I never had the financial privilege or knowledge about dance classes that I could take. I took my first hip-hop choreography class with my homie, Alexa at Westlake Dance Center. After that, we kept coming back every week to take it because it was so much fun. After class, we would just be so pumped. We did a student performance called Sign of the Times and after that, I kept dancing more consistently.

More and more opportunities kept coming my way to move towards performing, competing, joining crews, and I kept saying yes and worked hard at whatever I committed to. I worked really hard! What kept me STAYING was learning about the rich culture in street dances and knowing that there was way more than what I thought street dance was. There was a community that worked hard to keep the culture going and help elevate folks.

Did you have any heroes in the dance community growing up? 

Dang, a lot of folks inspired me in the community. I looked up to folks for different reasons and could learn a lot just from watching ’em. One person who comes to mind right now is Rina Pellerin from Vancouver, CA. She inspired me to want to learn how to waack and I took my very first waacking class was with her a few years ago.

Two other people that I look up to as mentors are Kumari Suraj and Dani Tirrell. Both Kumari and Dani have taught me about the importance of understanding the history and roots of street and club-style dances. All these street/ club-dance styles came from black/latinx communities and a lot of the times many folks don’t know much about the culture so there is a lacking of the feeling and essence for the dance styles. I am definitely still learning, but I appreciate these two a lot for being able to challenge me to do better, to explore what inspires me, what the dance means for me, and to keep diving deeper in my own individuality.

One more hero…my boyfriend, Lonnie! He has been with me since day 1 of my dancing and before I thought to continue dancing, he saw the fire in me and told me to always go full out 100% in it because he believed in me. If I never had that push, his constant love and support, I would probably not be where I am today.

You instruct classes on waacking – is it your favorite style of dance? 

Waacking, Voguing, and House are my favorite styles of dance. These are all club-style dances and the dance styles I typically do when I am at the club. These are my favorite because these are styles that help heal me. When I do these dances, I feel feminine and empowered. I feel as if I am re-claiming my body, my sexuality, myself. A decade ago, I was struck and dragged by a speeding car as a pedestrian and had major physical injuries to the body and mind. Functioning physically and mentally were difficult. It was a lot of trauma I was trying to heal from and I am still trying to navigate my healing process with this.

These dance styles are more than dances, but a culture – conversations I share in exchanges with my friends in the dance community. It is so releasing to be able to free myself completely through expression via movement and my experiences to drive my movement.

 

You recently posted a video on Instagram of you DJing – how long have you been DJing? Are we about to see the rise of bb DJ HAI CHEW?

I am definitely a bb when it comes to DJ-ing. However, I am feeling really grateful for so many opportunities being given to me so it drives me to work even harder. I started learning from DJ magicsean in the fall and had my debut in February of this year. I have 3 gigs lined up for next week and it’s so much fun being able to create good vibes especially for my dance community to get down to! I am still trying to decide what my DJ name is going to be, but leaning towards DJ Mac Tray!

If you had a chance to collab on a music video with any musical artist, who would be in your top three choices?

(1) Erykah Badu

(2) Sade

(3) Louie Vega

Last but not least… Favorite Bombsheller design?

#Seattle1890 – I have so much love for Seattle as I grew up in Beacon Hill. Of course, so much has changed since then, but I have mad love for my community of folks that still keep it 206.

#killbill – The Bruce Lee leggings because he and martial arts are huge inspirations for waacking. He is also my role model and makes me feel proud to be a Chinese American.

Tracey in #Jungle


Thank you so much, Tracey, for taking the time to let us get to know you better and for a great photo shoot! You can find Tracey on Instagram as @Mactrayy to stay up to date on what she’s up to next, and make sure to check out some of her upcoming events below this adorable behind-the-scenes video!


 Upcoming Events

Tracey recently placed in semi-finals in a solo competition and her group Malicious Allure placed 2nd in the crew competition! Check out these events if you need a little help with your dance moves or just wanna cheer her crew on at their next battle!

FUNKEE MONKEE :: Funk, Soul, and Disco Open Session 

MONTHLY OPEN SESSIONS

Upcoming Dates: Tuesday, 5/1 and Tuesday, 6/12

830-10pm @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

$5 Drop-In

More info

 

PUNK & FUNK (VOL II) :: Waacking and Open-Styles Dance Battle and Party 

A FUNDRAISER FOR QUEEN OF THE HILL

Saturday, May 5th | 4-10pm @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

*4pm-5pm: Waacking Workshop with Sheena

*530pm: Battles Begin

More info

 

QUEEN OF THE HILL :: All-Ladies 7-to-Smoke Openstyles Dance Battle 

DANCE WORKSHOPS/ PRE-PARTY/ QUALIFIER BATTLE

Saturday, May 26th

12pm-3pm Dance Workshops @ Washington Hall (open to all)

430pm-8pm Qualifier Battle & Dance Party @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

MAIN EVENT

Saturday, May 27th 2-330pm @ Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater

“Special shout-out to Trichome Seattle… a local and POC-owned shop in Chinatown/ID that also supports me and will be helping to sponsor Queen of the Hill. Please go support!” – Tracey

More info

Ana Forrest Is The Real Deal

Ana Tiger Forrest has a fierce gaze. She does not skim the surface. She cuts right to the core. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a harder badass in my life.

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She came to Bombsheller for a photo shoot this month with José Calarco, her partner in business and life. Together they created three new designs with artist Pedro Diniz, based on the artwork of the aboriginal tribes José has spent the last 30 years with in Australia. José is the founder of Descendance, a dance company that puts aboriginal culture on the national stage and advocates for their human rights. Since coming into each other’s lives, Ana and José have blended their pursuits, combining aboriginal music and culture with Forrest yoga poses. I went to the series of workshops they taught in Seattle, and I can say with the conviction of first hand experience that they are the real deal.

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What makes Forrest yoga interesting to Bombsheller is the emphasis on thinking for yourself. Rather than passively accepting traditions handed down from a different era, Ana Forrest pushes yoga forward because she believes practices are meant to evolve to serve people’s lives as they are now. Developed in the 1970s, Forrest yoga is unique for addressing the particular neuroses of the 21st century. The poses and cues are made for people with messed up necks and wrists who have learned pay more attention to their computers than their own bodies. Native American ceremonies and aboriginal wisdom are purposely woven through to remind students of their connection to earth and restore harmony to our frazzled, distracted minds. José brings music and rhythm to the practice to both deepen and elevate the experience.

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Her own practice has evolved over time, most significantly to incorporate the aboriginal teachings brought in by José. Together they travel the world, teaching and singing, with the hope of propelling transformation in as many lives as possible. In their own words, the combined world of Descendance and Forrest yoga is a place of adventure, healing, culture, music, and learning to love again. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

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The three designs in their collection are full of color and stories intended to make your heart sing. So what are you waiting for? Grab a pair, ditch your old habits, and start living your fullest life right now.

The Iron Club Goes to Regionals

The elite team out of Northwest Strength and Performance will be competing at the CrossFit West Regional Games this weekend, and they’ll be repping Bombsheller! A few are seasoned competitors, while others will be experiencing their first Regionals team competition. We delivered their custom leggings during a team practice to snap a few shots. They were bursting with energy and confidence. When I asked what their best event is, they replied: “All of them!”

Crush it, Iron Club!

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CrossFit West Regional 2015

I want to tell you all about the CrossFit West Regional. But first, let me take my shirt off.

You better believe I bought that shirt this weekend and wore it to work on Monday! There are a lot of things I ended up liking about CrossFit that I wasn’t expecting. Before I got to know CrossFit through Bombsheller, the few articles I’d read about it led me to imagine that these boxes springing up all over the place were filled with chiseled maniacs killing themselves under the strain of massive weights and never-ending reps. In real life, though, the coaches, gym owners, and athletes I’ve met are like superheroes in disguise. They’re down to earth and they have great posture, but you can’t immediately tell that they’re capable of lifting massive weights… and they won’t tell you about it either!

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There is a humility and a lack of vanity that I’ve never encountered in any other athletic setting. This was most apparent at the CrossFit West Regional Games. Every WOD is a struggle for every competitor. Some athletes get out there knowing that they can’t finish the event, but they do whatever they can. They meet the workout at their level. The athletes who win are mostly unassuming individuals with good stamina and rhythm. Success is celebrated, but it hasn’t gone to anyone’s head. I saw Tia Wright blast the competition in her heat, finishing first way before everyone else, and then run back on the floor to cheer on another woman who was slowing down in her muscle ups. She stayed with her until the clock ran out. That’s heart, and that’s sportsmanship.

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Most of my time this weekend was spent at the Bombsheller booth watching women give our Shells the squat test and enjoying the sound of their jaws dropping on the floor when they couldn’t see their underwear in the mirror. I did sneak away from the dressing room a few times to watch our sponsored athletes compete!

Cascade CrossFit’s women’s team wore their names on their sculpted quads.

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Individual competitor Laura Tobias wore #LotusNamaste for the handstand walks. As you can tell, this is a screen shot. Go watch her handstand “jog” to the finish line on YouTube!

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CrossFit Loft specially designed their leggings so that the men could wear shorts on top with the team name visible on the calf (smart dudes on that team).

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Photo via CrossFit Loft

 

I am seriously inspired by the way these humans live in their bodies, and I CAN’T WAIT to see more of this at the Games in California next month! Stop by our booth to experience leggings in a whole new way, and if you’re up for it, Squat The Boss. I love getting lifted.

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Behind the Scenes: CrossFit Photo Shoot

Our new collection is live today! For the last few months we’ve been hanging with rad athletes and curating designs that will reflect their superhuman capabilities. Our friends in the CrossFit community led us to Sheena Camagong and Kristina Lum, two women who show us the definition of Action Figure, and the incredibly photogenic gym on 5th Ave, CrossFit Felix. Here is a peek into the weekend of photography that led to the beautiful shots we got for our most muscular lookbook to date.

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The team deliberates.

 

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Jazz assumes the sauciest poses to shoot.

 

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The models helped us move equipment around because they’re way stronger than us. #CanYourModelSquatThat?

 

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Dreaming of the next personal record.

 

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Sheena’s so fly, someone else brushes her shoulders off for her.

 

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Action shot. Butterflies in motion.

 

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REACH.

 

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Spotlight on excellence.

 

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Cybele attends to the stars of the show.

 

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Kristina does up, up, up! Jazz gets down, down, down.

 

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Andrew, of Foundation CrossFit, got in on the action. Today we learned you can climb a rope upside down.

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Bottoms up! Hard work is fun!

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That’s a wrap! Team photo/video/lighting still love each other at the end of the day. That’s how you KNOW it was a good shoot.

Bonus reel: between video takes, Evan got in a few workouts himself.