Singular Athletes on Top of Their Game
With the Summer Olympics underway in England, we were reminded of the 2008 premiere issue of Singular magazine that included a photo essay with six single Los Angeles athletes — peak performers on top of their game — seen through the urban eye of photographer Scott Morgan. We caught up with them and found, to no surprise, that staying fit and having fun doing it, is still one of their top priorities. We’re bringing them back to you on the digital pages of this 2012 online edition, to enjoy once more.
Dr. Peter Fields, Triathlete
Known to his friends and patients as “the athletic doc,” Peter Fields, a medical doctor and chiropractor, gets up at 5:30 in the morning so he can work out for a couple of hours before beginning a busy day at his clinic in Santa Monica. He saves the “long stuff” for the weekends — like a four-hour 80-mile bike ride on Saturday and another four hours of swimming and running on Sunday.
He says he does it for the joy of life. “It’s a free feeling,” he says, “to be out there doing your own thing, not confined to a room — you feel it down to your soul.”
Peter grew up playing sports, and when he was in college he would run to his classes or ride his bike back and forth from campus. During his residency, after working 24 to 40 hours straight, he would get some sleep and then go out for a long run. He heard about a 10K race and entered.
Shortly after that, a friend suggested he try a triathlon. Peter figured with swimming, biking and running, it would be three times the fun. He did his first one on his 30th birthday and was hooked. “Training is fun, but the races are the icing on the cake.”
Peter enjoys the challenge of keeping in shape, the feeling of being physically fit — and doing it outdoors, not in a gym. “I think it’s keeping me younger,” Peter says. “I look better. I feel better. And it’s not just for me, it inspires my patients. It’s best to lead by example.”
Johanne Cote – Freedom of Volleyball
Johanne Cote says her four brothers got her into sports. Growing up in Montreal as the middle child, she was included in her brothers’ games of hockey, soccer and football. She confesses to being the best dodge ball player at her school — the bane of most people’s grade-school experience. She wanted to be a professional tennis player, but her mother didn’t see it. “She put me in ballet class and I hated it,” Johanne says. “My parents thought sports were for boys.”
On her own since the age of 18, Johanne put sports on the back burner and concentrated on becoming a registered nurse. Today, she works as a pediatric nurse at Santa Monica UCLA Medical Center. Her interest in sports was rekindled when she made a decision to stop drinking and smoking. “I was feeling better and needed an outlet to replace my not-so-healthy habits — so I started working out at the gym and playing tennis.”
Four years ago she started playing beach volleyball, and it became her obsession. “I work hard at it,” she says. “I’m the oldest girl playing — but I’m in the best shape.” To stay that way she lifts weights, goes to boot camp at Gold’s Gym in Venice, trains with a volleyball coach and plays several times a week, preferring to play with guys because of the higher net.
Johanne says she’s been warned about getting so much sun, but says the less clothes she wears, the better she plays. “I love being out in nature with the wind and the sun. I love the feeling of being free. I’m my best self when I’m playing volleyball.”
Lee Behzadi – Hot for Hockey
Whether it’s on ice or concrete, hockey is Lee Behzadi’s passion. The Culver City resident says he likes the game because it’s aggressive, fast and spontaneous. “There’s no plotting or planning in hockey,” Lee says. “You’re reacting to the moment.”
Like most hockey players, Lee has taken his licks. His front teeth have been replaced thanks to a cosmetic dentist, and he recently spent time in the emergency room getting hockey-stick splinters extracted from his face. But for Lee it’s all part of the sport. “You haven’t played the game unless there’s blood on the ice,” he says. “You take your lumps and you keep on playing — even if your finger just got broken. It’s mind over matter.”
Lee never works out at the gym. For cardio he rollerblades and plays sports, sometimes more than one a day. He says a really great day is when he’s able to work in a game of tennis, some roller hockey, and a round of golf. He says the adrenaline he gets from playing sports is something he needs to be complete, that it’s a natural part of who he is.
For Lee, being an athlete is different from someone who just works out at the gym, because athletes are connected to their bodies in a motion of accomplishment that requires a higher level of awareness and connectivity to the world.
“A good athlete goes over the top,” he says, “even to the point where it seems unreasonable. That’s what it takes to make them great.”
Loren Uscilowski – Marathon Swimmer
After competing in swim events since childhood and winning a swim scholarship in college, Loren was burned out. “It took so much time, was so repetitive that after 15 years of doing it, I needed a break,” she says.
Years later, after moving to L.A. from her hometown of Columbus, Ohio, she was running with a friend who suggested she try competing in triathlons. “He knew of my swimming background and told me I probably wouldn’t even have to train to be the first girl out of the water.”
She gave it a shot, doing a half-mile swim, an 18-mile bike ride and a 5K run, and found she really enjoyed it. Now, besides triathlons, Loren competes in ocean races that are two to three miles long – including one race that consisted of laps around the Long Beach Marina – an experience she describes as disgusting because the dirty water left a layer of motor oil on her face. “With every breath, I could smell the fumes,” she says.
Other swims have been more pleasant, including the annual two-mile race in the South Bay between Hermosa and Manhattan Beach piers, where last year she came in seventh woman in a race with 1,000 swimmers.
“Being an athlete has made me more disciplined in everything I do,” Loren says. “Nothing feels better than knowing with each workout, you’ll be stronger.”
Dan Miner – Kiteboarder
Dan Miner took his first kite-boarding lesson from a buddy and understood immediately why his friend called it a 3-D experience. Not only was he sailing along the surface of the sparkling waves, but wind gusts against the kite lifted him out of the water, a thrilling experience he describes as part sailing, part flying. After his first try, he was off to Maui to test the 40-mile-per-hour winds.
“I got my ass kicked,” Dan says. “I was flying like a rag doll and got slammed. After that, I said, ‘I’m done.’” Although his Maui adventure left him bruised and sore for weeks, he didn’t really give up and says kite boarding is now his passion. He loves the power of the wind and the adrenaline rush, but says it took a long time for the scary feeling to go away and for the fun to start.
Dan says it takes every muscle in his body — cardiovascular too. But it’s not just about strength, he says. “In other sports, you can rely on your strength to carry you until your skill level catches up. You can’t do that with kite boarding.”
Since taking up his sport of choice, Dan has done his combo surf-and-sail ride over the aquamarine-colored waters in the Caribbean and off the coast of Mexico, with dolphins swimming just feet away, and tested the cold water and wind off Seal Beach and Sunset Beach. “It’s really about self-satisfaction,” he says. “It’s fun to feel like you’ve harnessed the wind.”
Teri Tom – Martial Arts Master
Teri Tom says it’s “Jun Fan Jeet Kun Do “— that’s Chinese for “Bruce Lee’s way of the intercepting fist” — an art, a style, a fighting system where East meets West in a hybrid form of martial arts. But unlike the traditional form, it has to be practiced in a very controlled environment or, Teri says, “We’d kill each other.”
Jun Fan Jeet Kun Do has been a big part of Teri’s life since she discovered it years ago. At the time, she was playing lead guitar in rockabilly bands and enjoying the good health she regained after learning the importance of good nutrition. A drummer told her about his love of martial arts and recommended she buy a series of Bruce Lee books. That led to connecting with her mentor/teacher, Ted Wong, who learned the art from Lee himself.
Teri, who lives in Westwood, says there are no belt levels in what she does because Lee didn’t believe in them. “We just get in the ring and mix it up,” she says. “It’s more like boxing. What is important is your lineage — who your instructor is and what their relationship was to Lee.”
She says the reward for all her hard work is an incredible level of body awareness, a feeling of being fine-tuned, and the thrilling mental stimulation of sparring when “your world blows open into a game of human chess.”
Teri works out almost every day — either swimming, tennis, running or training. “I don’t feel well if I haven’t moved that day,” she says. “It’s my treat. It’s like being a kid and getting to play.”
Singular magazine received a Maggie Award for Best Series of Editorial Photographs with this feature that appeared in the first edition, published in September 2008.
Words copyright © Kim Calvert/2012 Singular Communications, LLC.
Photos copyright © Scott Morgan.
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