Yuki Tenoh is creating a life filled with love, connection, and health. Five days a week she joins her “chosen family” at Life Time in Bloomington, Minn., for her favorite studio classes. She and her boyfriend, Scott, cook and camp together and compete together in athletic events. She enjoys her jobs as an accountant and as a part-time horse-and-carriage driver in downtown Minneapolis.
She has worked very hard to get here.
Yuki grew up in an abusive home where her mother berated her constantly: She wasn’t thin enough, wasn’t pretty enough, and would never be “good enough to get married.” Yuki was put on two weight-loss diets a year starting at age 8. She recalls a time in high school when her cheeks and eyes were sunken in because the only foods her mother allowed her were Craisins and baby carrots.
The physical and emotional stress was overwhelming, and Yuki suffered from depression, anxiety, and eating disorders stemming from the abuse. “There were a lot of inward struggles that I kept pushing down because I was too busy trying to make my mom accept me,” she said.
All along, however, Yuki had an instinct for survival. When she was 10, she took up violin, which she practiced diligently; this kept her tethered to herself in the years when she felt no peace at home. She studied hard and went to college.
In her early 20s, she cut ties with her mother and started to create her own life. And she recently began therapy to help with her psychological healing.
Perseverance and Progress
Yuki also started learning to move and nourish her body in ways that support her both physically and emotionally. She joined Life Time several years ago and started seeing physical results relatively quickly.
But she experienced a setback in 2018 when she lost her job. “That was tough on my mental health,” she says. Though she found another job, Yuki soon realized it wasn’t a good fit. She gained 80 pounds and entered a “downward spiral into depression.”
Then in late 2019, she came to a point of reckoning with herself. “I realized I couldn’t live my life like this any longer. I needed to do something.”
Drawing on her own hard-won resilience, she quit her ill-fitting job and found a better one. She slowly started exercising again and found a dietitian who could help her develop a sustainable eating plan — not a diet — that supported her in losing weight gradually and building physical strength.
“I wanted to be healthy and strong and feel beautiful in my own skin for the first time in my life. Not for anybody else, but for me.”
A Community Lifeline
When the pandemic closed down her Life Time club in early 2020, Yuki tried to re-create her favorite classes at home and took lots of walks, but she missed the sense of community she had been cultivating.
Now, she’s at her club several times a week, and the relationships she’s forged there are incredibly meaningful to her. “I’ve found family at Life Time,” she says. “I see the same people every day in my classes. I know the instructors and the instructors know me. I know the receptionists and the cafe staff. I know the managers. I say hello to everybody, and they all say hello to me by name. I feel very valued.”
Yuki’s favorite studio classes include Shred, Barbell Strength, and HIIT, but her favorite is AMP Cycle. “It’s so much fun. It doesn’t feel like a workout — it’s like you’re dancing on a bike,” she says.
Little by little, Yuki lost weight — about 120 pounds — and is enjoying the feeling of strength and well-being that come with her healthy lifestyle. “I learned that my health and wellness should be my very first priority no matter what — whether with a job I hate, or without a job, it doesn’t matter,” she says. “I have to find a way every single time, because I am the strongest and happiest I have ever been. I never want to go back.”
To that end, she’s now working to become a certified fitness instructor through the Life Time Academy.
An Unexpected Love Match
Growing up, Yuki never felt deserving of love and didn’t date in high school. After overcoming obstacle after obstacle, though, she found confidence to “swipe right” on a dating app and make the first move with Scott (pictured above).
She’s even brought him to a few of her studio classes, where her Life Time friends welcome him with light-hearted teasing. “It’s like having big sisters and aunts trying to embarrass you in front of your boyfriend,” she laughs.
Yuki is proud of the healthy relationship she and Scott have built. “He’s the most precious, wonderful man I’ve ever had the pleasure of dating. It’s so nice to spend time with someone and to know he loves me for who I am,” she says. “I think I’m going to marry this one!”