Hi, we are Ives and Christy and this is ULA and Us.
ULA and Us which stands for Upper Left America and Us, is a lifestyle brand on a mission to help you prioritize self care or what we call conquering your summit. As new moms, we have learned that modern motherhood is messy, yet beautiful and our goal is to cut through the confusion and provide research-backed knowledge to live a more healthy, fulfilled life.
We believe that it all starts with taking care of yourself, whether that's getting outside, sweating, or eating damn good, nutritious food -- we are here to simplify and share our struggles and successes along the way.
We hope you discover that working out doesn't have to be confined to a gym or membership, and eating well doesn't mean you have to sacrifice taste.
Learn more about ULA and Us!
Before the Burn & Brews and the babies there was the first date. Everyone has a story. Here's ours.
Funny enough our story starts with Christy's husband. When he first moved to Seattle, Rob went on a bar crawl with a new co-worker in Ballard and was introduced to Ives. As they started talking, he realized Ives had so many similarities when it came to health and fitness as his new wifey, Christy. When he got home that evening, he called Christy who was still in Ohio at the time and told her he had met her new best friend in Seattle. He had even asked Ives for her number to share with Christy. It may have taken Christy a few months (because she didn't want to seem like a stalker with zero friends), but Christy eventually reached out to set up a coffee date. They met at Bounty Kitchen in Queen Anne for Avocado Toast and some booch and the rest is history.
Our wellness journeys and backgrounds may be different, but we share Midwest roots which immediately attracted us to one another. The realness we both brought to our conversations and our desire to continuously work on ourselves, is what fast tracked our friendship. Our Midwest roots also transcend into our friendly and neighborly demeanor. When meeting new people, we will always greet them with a smile, which is quite the opposite of what Seattle is known for. Which brings us to our next point and initial vision for ULA and Us. Have you heard of the “the Seattle freeze”? If not, it’s essentially the opposite of the Midwestern- in your face kindness, which can make it hard for transplants to build a community and make friends. From that first date at Bounty Kitchen we knew right away that we wanted to melt the freeze and build a community of women that build each other up and cheered one another on… but we didn’t know where to start.
What we did know is that we had both moved to the Pacific Northwest (Upper Left America aka ULA) and were constantly inspired by the natural beauty. Mountain ranges, desert landscape, bodies of water, rainforests… you name it and the landscape of PNW delivers. Not to mention, the outdoor adventure possibilities are limitless: hiking, biking, trail-running, rowing, swimming, backpacking, trail running, etc. saturate the Seattle area. This connection to the outdoors became a huge part of our physical, mental, and spiritual wellness journeys. We knew that ULA had to incorporate Mama Nature. To this day, we both gain the most clarity from simply getting outside and that is exactly why we made it our first pillar: Get Outside. While the outdoor activity options were thriving, the fitness world often seemed intimidating, just like the big peaks we call summits. Because of this another founding mission was to break the intimidation barrier and make both working out and healthy eating more accessible and attainable. These are our second and third pillars, Sweat and eat Damn Good Food, respectively. On that first date (because we are side-hustle wives now), we said our big dream would be to one day host a retreat to help others achieve their goals and to celebrate their bodies.
Problem --no one knew who we were or what our goals were. Also, hello this was our first date! We needed to go on a few more and make sure starting a blog and working toward a retreat would actually be something we were committed to together. More than anything we knew we needed to simply get out there and start. We spent months in the brainstorm phase, late nights in Ives' kitchen drinking wine and spitballing ideas, our husbands finally said you two have to take action. They encouraged us to put our fear and doubt aside and we launched what we call Burn and Brews in July 2018. We began hosting them monthly around town, all while donating 25% to local charities we are passionate about. Simultaneously we launched a blog and Instagram account to get our mission out there, but our bread and butter were our pop-up workouts, with the goal to host retreats. Our first Burn and Brew still stands as one of our biggest accomplishments. Simply because we did it. We believed in ourselves, we built it, and people showed up! We had a sold out house, rocking our new “Conquer Your Summit” tanks, next to 50 people who simply showed up to workout with us and give back.
In March, 2019 we added a local retreat! Our day one dream came true. We hosted 16 ladies for a Women's only Wellness Weekend in Cle Elum, WA. The focus of this retreat was self care and goal setting. We partnered with Anna Douglas to provide yoga, in addition to the ULA and Us workouts, and were fortunate to have Mia Tarte share her culinary skills for PNW-inspired cuisine. The weekend also offered optional wine-tasting and goal setting work shops. This retreat was the spring board for our future international retreat to Dubrovnik, Croatia. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19 we had to cancel and hope to offer this Summer 2021, pending public health updates.
Although we had a blog from the very beginning, it wasn’t until we were in the middle of the pandemic that we realized our true mission for ULA was starting to evolve. In the midst of all the chaos, Christy and Ives both became mamas, which not only changed the trajectory of their lives, but also the mission behind ULA. They quickly saw that the postpartum mama was severely underserved when it came to fitness and postpartum recovery. Society puts pressure on women to "bounce back", but this should never be the case. Noticing that there was a lack of knowledge for the pregnant and postpartum woman, we both obtained our postpartum corrective exercise certificate to educate and empower women through pregnancy, postpartum, and beyond. As we talk about a lot, modern motherhood is messy, but we believe that struggles are not failures, but rather lessons. This birthed our third pillar: Mom UP.
Ultimately, we believe that we can learn from and inspire one another to accomplish our goals or “summits” and grow through the challenges life presents. We are here to share the struggles and successes. We are here to help one another build confidence through the pillars: Get Outside; Sweat; Eat Wholesome Damn Good Food; Mom UP. We are here to encourage you to CONQUER YOUR SUMMIT.
I found self love through fitness. Exercise did not come naturally and I did not understand how to properly fuel my body. As a teenager and in my early 20s, I viewed food as punishment or reward and exercise was a chore I was not fond of. If you asked me to go on a run for fun in my early 20s, I would have laughed. Moving to Seattle was the best decision I made for my health and I wouldn't come to truly appreciate this until later.
I came to Seattle when I was 23 for a residency in Pharmacy Practice and didn't know a single soul. Navigating a new city, job, and long-distance relationship were stressful. One of my new friends was a fitness instructor and an avid runner. She encouraged me (dragged me) to join in on the workouts to help with the stress. I was HUMBLED by the HIIT style classes, but was equally in awe of the fit community. Instead of turning away from fitness due to self doubt. I worked harder and showed up for myself. I slowly started to set goals. That same friend helped me"learn" how to run and I signed up for my first 5k in 2014. My love affair with running truly began the day I crossed the finish line at the Taco Truck 5K. I gained confidence–both in my physical capabilities and personal relationships. When I met Christy, my soul did a happy dance. She was as excited about fitness and creating an inclusive community as I was. She encouraged me to become a fitness instructor, which actually led me to find a community of amazing runners-CSRD.
I now feel unstoppable. My dreams are bigger than I ever imagined and it does not scare me, it feeds me. All it took was one friend believing in me, pushing me, and training with me for me to start the process of loving and caring about myself. I hope to inspire that same confidence in at least one other person, who can then share that gift with yet another.
My goal is to combine my passion for fitness with my 10+ years of pharmaceutical education and clinical experience to provide an evidence-based approach to answer your wellness questions.
We Believe in Giving Back
And we put that to practice, having donated over $4000 to charity
Although we are not native to Seattle, we truly want to be a part of this living breathing community, and what that means to us is giving back to local, non-profits that are doing some amazing things around town. We will be working with four primary organizations in the Greater Seattle Metro Area and donating 25% of bootcamp proceeds to one of the below non-profits each quarter.
From time to time, we love to raise funds for other organizations in need. For example, we have donated to Global Giving when disaster recovery was needed most during a horrible hurricane season and mostly recently, we donated 100% of our tank sales to The Loveland Foundation in July of 2020. Given that we can't host live bootcamps during COVID times, we continue to look for ways to give back so please don't hesitate to reach out if you are dreaming up a collaboration!
We want you to understand why these organizations mean so much to us, so check them out below.
When Christy ran into a soon to be forever friend, at Golden Gardens Park her second day in Seattle, she learned of First Aid Arts. As she would soon find out that the blonde gregarious woman she ran into was (and still is) the Creative Director of FAA. Christy spent her first year in Seattle volunteering for the non-profit, as it was one that aligned with her internal desire to help women who have been through extreme trauma, specifically human trafficking. Since 2010 FAA has been a leader in bringing effective arts- based resources to trauma survivors and those who care for them. Through worldwide training, they provide individuals and organizations who wants to provide effective arts-based care to survivors of natural disasters, human trafficking, forced migration, domestic violence, homelessness, and other types of trauma. The arts have been proven to be one of the greatest antidotes to the negative effects of trauma on the brain, body, and spirit.
We all know someone, either directly or indirectly, who has been impacted by cancer. CANCER SUCKS. We are fortunate to live in a city with one of the top cancer research institutes. This institution combines scientists and humanitarians on a mission to prevent, diagnose, and treat cancer, HIV/AIDS, and other diseases. They are committed to scientific excellence, respect for patients and researchers, free flow of ideas, and innovation through responsible risk-taking. We also LOVE that they provide resources for healthy living to their patients.
Ives and her family fled their homeland in the early 90s due to the Bosnian War. This war took place between 1992 and 1995 and was part of the break up of former Yugoslavia. Ives' family resided in the capital of Bosnia and Herzegovina--Sarajevo and escaped the ethnic cleansing, mass genocide, and rape that took place. Ives' family spent two years in Istanbul, Turkey where her father and uncle were able to find jobs as electrical engineers prior to being accepted by the U.S. government as legal aliens. Her family's life was uprooted multiple times and she can fully empathize with other immigrants. Assimilating to a new culture, a new language, a new life is not easy for anyone. Ives was four years old when she made the move to America. Her family created a life and opportunities for their children from nothing. She believes strongly in raising awareness for ethnic minorities, particularly women and children, who are often misunderstood when they first arrive in this country.
When we both became mamas, we knew right away we wanted to do more for women and children who are less fortunate. Our goal behind ULA is to empower women in all walks of life and Mary's Place fit this desire for us. They have helped hundreds of women and families move out of homelessness into more stable situations. Each day, Housing Specialists work with families to address barriers and empower parents to build family stability, secure housing, and prepare for employment. To learn more about this organization and all of their efforts, visit their About Us page.