Behind The Scenes With Sam & Noel Sweeney
Shooting With The Sweeneys
So, we found a cozy little place in the woods and hung out with some friends. We didn't totally unplug, but it was the closest we've gotten to it in a long time. And that felt really good. Working in social media, you can feel forced, more often than not, to be both less present and more present in the moment. Both of which, in the case of social media, remove the real enjoyment of whatever it is that's happening around you.
Untethered moments are one of the few things I never regret. We need as many of these as possible. Which brings us back to the cozy cabin in the woods, with some kick-ass clothes included. We started the morning as the previous night had ended in the kitchen, all warmed up in the matching ribbed base layers set, sipping freshly ground coffee bean coffee. Sam and Noel reminiscing about growing up in Minnesota. Winters on frozen lakes and crazy family stories we can all relate to. Though I should have guessed it from the well-balanced muscles in her legs, I didn't know Sam was a soccer player all her life and into college. I knew Noel was a wrestler. The first time I shook his hand, it was either that or the military. Turned out it was both!
One cup of coffee turned into 3, and the skies stayed perfectly cloudy, so we decided to throw on the best sweat sets we've ever made and go find a leaf-covered path to walk. Truth be told, after feeling the knit softness of these sweats, I kinda just wanted to sit outside by the fire. But Noel loves the outdoors, and it wasn't too hard for him to convince us all to go outside. I saw Sam grab her book as we headed out, so I held out hope she was looking to find a comfy place to sit and read along the way. We ended up finding the most perfect winding trail to lead us wherever it wanted. I'm telling you, these trees arched over us just enough to let us pass beneath and between. They both separately mentioned how the leaves here had already started turning the beautiful orangish yellow that hadn't happened yet back in Minnesota. It reminded me how much I love the seasons of the Northeast. I'm sure San Diego is amazing this time of year, but with these colors, I wouldn't trade it.
We kept walking because the path kept leading. Sam didn't end up getting to read her book but mentioned they read an hour every morning when they wake up, so I didn't feel too bad. We came across a little clearing, and the sun started to peak out. So the hoodies came off, and the Inspire tees came out. Aspire to Inspire is a message that both the Sweeneys and P'tula live by. We live our lives driven by a passion to make a lasting impact on the people around us. Sam put it even better, "Helping to create that ripple effect on someone's life is what totally inspires me". It's so true. And seeing the two of them walking hand in hand with the bright colors of that graphic popping against the wooded backdrop made it even more real.
We made our way back to the cabin just as the faintest drops of rain started to fall. The girls changed into their leggings for dinner, and the guys did what guys do, walked right past the pile of precut firewood, and grabbed the waiting axe to start cutting our own. You weren't there, so I'll tell you, their strength was impressive. If ever wood could be perfectly cut for a fire, it was the wood these men cut that night.
Dinner was simple, so I won't bore you. But the conversation was engaging. There are so many similarities in experiences that all led us to that cabin together. Habits, goals, work ethic. Even areas where we've faltered and failed resonated. Greek philosophy says, "attack the morning". I don't know if the Greeks knew about 6 a.m. cold plunges, but now I do. Sam and Noel swear by them and let's say I'll take their word for it. At this point, the whiskey and wine came out. The rain had passed, and the fire was crackling. We got layered up again and headed out to enjoy it. It was at this moment that I realized I hadn't spoken to my kids yet today. Almost 24 hours, and I couldn't believe it. I'm guessing they'll get over it. I might even, too. But unplugged was the goal, and it did really feel good. One great conversation to the next. And it also hit me how much I miss this. Learning more about people you already know a lot about. Finding out that the things you thought made you boring are actually the same things they love. Real things. Simple things. And big things. Clearly, fitness is a huge part of all of our lives and another driving passion that helps to balance everything else in our lives. You've got to have structure in your life. Something the Air Force instilled in Noel from day one, and I see in Sam just as strongly.
Just after midnight, we shuffled the cards and filled the glasses. Literally, the poker table had the chips stacked in front of each seat, so why not? Not sure who the bigger winner was; for the sake of this story, we'll call it me. We raised our glasses to celebrate the moments spent. What Sam and Noel said, I could never say better… "Here's to the free spirits, the fighters, the best friends, and the strong hearts." We love this family because it's filled with such good people. And when you're with good people, you're never alone. P'tula has always felt like family to us, and we are so grateful to be a part of it."
That's what this collection is about. Unwinding with good people in a place where you feel totally free. And completely comfortable.
Welcome to the woods.
Get To Know Sam & Noel Sweeney:
Tell us more about each of you:
Sam: I grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, MN. I have always had an intense passion for fitness but didn't really find my way until well after college. I played soccer most of my life up through my freshman year of college when I took up distance running. I have 3 marathons under my belt, which gave me a great appreciation for endurance athletes of any kind. I have an English degree from the University of Minnesota, a cosmetology license, and am a certified personal trainer. I have worn many hats in my life, and all have served me at different points, though it has taken me a while to completely appreciate each part of my journey. I met Noel as I was finishing college, and we have been married for almost 10 years. We have two dogs, Bruce and Vinny, and a sweet cat named Bo. We live out in the country now and enjoy any time we can get outdoors, even in the winter. We love to snowboard, travel, go on walks, read books, and just enjoy time with friends and family (anything that involves coffee is a big plus :) ). We now run a fitness training app together where we serve individuals from all walks of life. We are a team in many aspects of life, and I wouldn't have it any other way.
Noel: I am from the great northern parts of Minnesota, and I grew up on the lakes and wrestled and played football. After high school, I wrestled for Augsburg College (now University) and completed one year of college before leaving to join the United States Air Force for 4 ½ years, where I served as a body bearer in Arlington National Cemetery. I left active duty, as hard as it was, and came back to the Minneapolis area where I was in the Air Force Reserves and continued to finish my education and wrestle once again. Shortly after coming back, I met Sam, and my life course took a different direction, so I decided to stick around the area with her. I finished my degree, and we got married and started to build a new life together.
What are your passions?
Sam: I often think about this question, and I try to weave together the many different careers I've held over the years up until this point and find what has been the common thread in each of them that kept me going back, and I've always landed on people. People are my passion. It might sound cliche, but serving others and helping them see their true potential is why I am where I am at this point. That is what keeps me getting up in the morning. I am passionate about serving others so they can go out and serve others and serve themselves. I've seen the ripple effect that health and fitness can have in an individual's life, physically, mentally, and emotionally, and that's what inspires me.
Noel: I have several passions in life, but to me, the first one is living. My job in the military made me reflect a lot on death and being in the present moment. It may be morbid to some, but to me, it was a reminder to live as much as possible and soak up those moments with people, as you just really don't know when your last moment with them truly is. In looking at life this way, I began to look at fitness the same way. If I can get the most out of my body to help it move and function better as I age, why not give it a shot and try and soak up the moments in doing so.
What is your daily routine?
Sam and Noel: This varies slightly from day to day, but we have found that we both need to have certain aspects of the day planned out, to a point, to be most successful. I (Sam) am truly a creature of habit and work best in a routine.
We typically get up around 530/6am. We both alternate days between reading for an hour in the morning and using the sauna/cold plunge first thing (most times, I'll read in the sauna as well). After that, I/we will usually change into training clothes (always P'tula ;) ) and grab something quick to eat like oats or even toast and a banana. We take pre-workouts, and I will look over the training for the day to make sure things look like they make sense, and then I'll go out to the garage to train. Training usually takes anywhere from 60 mins to 120 mins, depending on whether we are just filming for the app or if there is any other education-related content needed. After training, I try to grab a protein shake or a protein-dominant meal before I sit down at the computer to work.
We both usually spend a couple hours sitting at the computer taking meetings, planning and/or programming, and doing school work (I'm currently taking a nutrition cert course). We'll squeeze some lunch in there, and then I head out to the treadmill desk to do some more computer work, but this time, while walking (best investment if you work from home, by the way). I upload the daily training to our app, check in with our community, and do any other app or social media-related work during this time. Noel spends equally as much time on the computer handling the back end of all business-related tasks, including any new projects, etc. The list is quite literally never-ending lol. He handles any and all scheduling and keeps track of deadlines.
After that, It's typically close to dinner time. We try to shut work down by 6 or 7 if we can so we have the evening to spend with one another. We make dinner together and eat while we talk or watch a show. Sometimes in the evening, we will sip on some whiskey and play a game of cribbage before we settle in for the night. We start our nighttime routine around 9 p.m. and call it a day. This is how about 90% of our days look.
How did you get started on the journey you're on right now (fitness, training)?
Sam: I have always loved fitness. Playing soccer really spurred my love for running, and my love for running turned me on to marathons. After running a couple of marathons, I realized that something was missing from my routine. My body ached, and I just couldn't keep up with the wear and tear of distance running. I should point out, that I was not smart about my recovery during this time and didn't realize its value in achieving my goals. This was around the time I met Noel. Noel had strength trained all of his life, and after watching me in misery after a couple of long runs, he asked me to try lifting with him. Being the stubborn person I am, I told him I'd train with him for 1 month, and if I hated it, I would go back to my own system. Well, I think you can connect the dots; it stuck, and I fell in love. It taught me the balance of intensity and recovery and gave me so much freedom. Part of the reason I love what we do is because we get to help people take this step into strength. It changed my life in so many ways, and It still makes me teary-eyed when I see others experience this same shift. So I owe a big "thank you" to Noel, who really helped expand my world in this way and opened up the gates for what we get to do now on a daily basis. Fast forward to many years later, I took the jump to leave my job and get my training certification so I could be effective in helping other people get 'unstuck' like me. I started out as an independently contracted personal trainer out of a small, hardcore bodybuilding gym in Minneapolis. As my clientele grew, I knew I needed help managing the load, and because Noel has a degree in exercise science and a passion for fitness as well, it just made sense for him to join me. We trained clientele both separately and together as couples for many years until COVID pushed us to open up our own space and make our training more accessible online. This is what led to the creation of the app and where we are today. We are incredibly grateful to be living our dream of helping people realize their strength and potential. It never gets old.
Noel: From the time I was in diapers, I found ways to push limits and was running at 8 months old. I found the human body fascinating. How it was able to move and adapt to things. I found success in athletics early on and correlated that success to the hard work I put in elsewhere. I saw that come to fruition more so when I was in the military and had to meet certain strength requirements to become a body bearer for the Air Force. I was undersized and had to strength train, or I wouldn't be qualified for that job. I saw the results of my efforts and was hooked from there. I knew that through fitness, I could be a catalyst of change for people, and something in my gut gave me a feeling it would. After leaving active duty, I pursued a degree in exercise science, and the rest is history after Sam started the business officially in 2016.
What's one thing you love about one another?
Sam: I have always loved Noel's free-spiritedness. I am a very calculated risk-taker. I have to weigh the pros and cons and look at a situation from all angles before I make a decision. This means I make decisions VERY slowly, if ever at all. Noel is my perfect balance. He pushes me to jump when I know I should. He follows his heart and trusts his gut. He encourages me and is truly authentic to himself. I admire so much about him, both as an individual and as my husband. I am so lucky he is my partner in work and in life.
Noel: I met Sam and knew something was different about her, and it's her giant heart. She had a tender smile that got to me from afar, and I knew there was so much more underneath the surface of the beauty she had on the outside. As I got to know her, her heart and love poured out as I was able to watch her passion for changing people's lives come to life in front of me. I saw it through her hair clients, I saw it with her personal training clients, to her online clients and fans. It is something I love so much about her as a person. Sam is a fighter and a best friend…That can be a dangerous combination, but if you know her, you know the capacity of her love by the amount of effort she puts into giving to people. She has a strong heart.