Fuel Your Life with Love

By AFM Staff – February 1, 2018
Crush photography by Johnny P. George

These two entrepreneurial couples use their love for each other and for their passions to thrive in their relationships and businesses.  

Crush 2.0

From crushing on each other, to falling in love, to getting crushed in their relationship and business–Lander and Noah Wright are back at it, crushing their dreams once again! 

The resilience in Lander and Noah Wright is palpable. Just last year, we featured the couple in our Dynamic Duos issue, sharing their story on the launch of local boutique fitness studio, Crush Fitness. In that time, they’ve experienced the growth that comes with the hype of a fresh new studio in this town, as well as the struggle to maintain it. They’ve endured personal setbacks along the way—testing their marriage, ability to communicate, and even their personal health. Throughout this journey in business together, Lander and Noah express love as the driving force that has allowed them to overcome these hardships. 

After the hype of opening a new fitness studio subsided last year, Lander and Noah faced challenges in their business and love lives. Business started to slow down, and they struggled with defining the boundaries between personal and business life. 

“After the hype, it’s hard, because Austin loves new things, but you have to be legit in order to stay going forward,” says Lander. “After the first 18 months, a couple of star instructors had left, and our marriage was kind of wacky because the business had been straining.”

They then had to decide if they wanted to keep running Crush as well how their marriage was going to survive if they were going to continue working together. Noah and Lander had always shared a passion for travel, and it had played an important role throughout their relationship. However, with the new studio and Noah’s two kids, they simply couldn’t find the time to take trips together anymore. To make matters more stressful, Crush had competition popping up, and Noah and Lander were dealing with a lawsuit involving their landlord. 

“From the doors opening, until exactly two years and a month later, we didn’t make a dime,” says Noah. 

They were looking to quick fixes both in their personal and business lives due to exhaustion and suffocation. They tried to sell, but Lander realized that the new owner would not do what she and Noah had started at Crush justice. Lander and Noah began to realize that the love, passion, and energy had to come directly from the source. 

The fervent couple had always maintained that they were stronger together than apart, so instead of calling it quits, Lander and Noah decided to set up some boundaries and role separation. They started to bring in new instructors, including the legendary David Garza, and the energy of the studio improved suddenly. They also remodeled the bathrooms and added a shower. Most importantly, they got back to the core of why they started Crush—their passion to share motivation and effective fitness with the community. 

Noah and Lander took a break from their side business of flipping homes together—and even a temporary break from their marriage. They became more intentional about trusting each other in their separate roles in the Crush business instead of micromanaging. They set boundaries about when they did and did not talk about work. 

They found that therapy was key—both as a couple and individually—to mending their marriage. Lander worked on releasing control of everything and instead focusing on the important things. Noah started to communicate more with Lander. 

Retiring from a career as a professional athlete was particularly difficult for Noah. He attributed daily mindful awareness meditation as a huge factor in his recent personal development, especially after retirement when he was no longer able to process while grinding on the bike for hours every day. He said that cycling and other forms of intense fitness force you into a meditative space because, after a painful sprint or interval, there’s literally nothing you can think about but to breathe. He stressed the importance of finding mindfulness outside of purely physical endeavors, since you will not always be able to push your heart and lungs in the same way to reach that state. 

Lander has used individual therapy and intentional self-care to get to know herself better and work through hardships such as dealing with her mother’s recent illness. 

Meanwhile, they were trying to get pregnant but dealing with fertility issues, some of which stemmed from Noah’s racing.

“It was two-fold. After I got done with racing, I did a testosterone replacement. When I went to the IVF appointment, there was no sperm. None. And I already had two kids, so it was a bit of a shocker,” explains Noah. 

After getting sent to a more specialized doctor, he was told not to take the testosterone replacement anymore, which he had started after retirement. If you take testosterone supplements, the doctor explained, it can basically tell your brain you have enough and therefore not send any down to your testicles. Furthermore, they found a benign tumor that had been caused from an injury on the bike. 

Noah explained this is a common problem in cyclists, that is often not talked about. “There’s a good rule of thumb that most cyclists don’t adhere to: If you lose feeling, then there’s a problem.”

Most cyclists, especially men, start to experience numbness in their sex organs after one or two hours. Even though it’s considered somewhat normal and something you just need to tough through, it should be taken more seriously. You’re not only cutting off blood supply, but also breaking and squeezing all of the reproductive tubes, and sometimes they get crimped or don’t come back. Noah highly encourages cyclists to get custom bike saddles to prevent this issue. 

“At the end of my racing career, I thought it must just get really tough in your 40s, because my energy level was completely scaling down," Noah says.

"That’s one of the reasons I tried testosterone after I retired. But the growth could have been there for years, slowly choking off supply, then the testicles had to make priority of living over making sperm.” 

Within 90 days of getting the tumor removed and stopping the testosterone replacement, Noah was back to normal. 

“We also figured out through this whole screening that I carry something called Fragile X, which can cause early menopause up to mental retardation,” Lander says. “Each generation, it gets stronger and stronger.” 

Through IVF, they formed 64 embryos, only two of which were unaffected. They now have two healthy embryos—one male and one female. More than that, they have a greater understanding and appreciation for their business, marriage, and themselves as individuals. 

As we wrapped up the interview, it was clear that Noah and Lander have come back even stronger. With contagious smiles, they headed off to a photoshoot at Crush and were traveling to Aspen together the following day for a fitness event. Their story, full of true grit and resilience, inspires us to overcome hardships so that we can crush our own dreams.

Travel Adventure to Business Venture

By Dani Parsons

We sat down with the co-founders of the local Austin travel notebook company, Adventure Assist, to learn about their stories, the company, and the life-changing effects of travel. 

As the front door opened, vibrant pops of color greeted my view, and a warm smile welcomed me inside. We made our way to the kitchen table, my eyes taking in the space Jake Pritchard and April Onebane called home. Pieces they collected on their travels or in their pursuit to shop locally added the perfect touches to their minimal yet modern home—a true embodiment of the richness and lasting impact travel has had on their lives.

April and Jake currently call Austin home but have already set foot in more countries than most do in a lifetime. They have accomplished an impressive amount in the past decade, both together and independently of one another and their relationship. From hundreds of collective travel experiences to Jake serving in the Peace Corps to April starting her online clothing company, Piecology Vintage, it’s not hard to see their motivation to make their dreams and aspirations a tangible reality. To add to this list, in July of last year, they teamed up to co-found the travel-based adventure notebook, Adventure Assist—designed to help travelers prepare, document, and better connect to their travel destinations and experiences. 

It was no surprise to discover that this notebook and the principles upon which it was designed truly mirrors the flexibility and passion in which April and Jake approach traveling and the choices they’ve made in their lives that have led them to where they are today. 

“We spent a lot of time working on what we wanted [our notebooks] to look like so it could work for all kinds of different travelers. Whether you've never traveled before or you travel all of the time, it’s very flexible, and that was important for us, because we wanted anyone to be able to use it if they thought it would be useful for them,” April explains.

For many, however, traveling often feels like a distant, unattainable concept. Whether it’s due to financial constraint, inability to take time away from work, or fear of the unfamiliar, more often than not we find ourselves making excuses for why we don’t go do certain things. Pritchard and Onebane would argue that traveling is very achievable, but you have to make it a priority in your life if seeing the world is something you’re passionate about doing.

“I think the first step is just like deciding to go, right?” 

Jake inquires confidently. 

“And once you decide that, then you base everything else upon what's going to work for you and ask yourself ‘how is my trip going to work for me with where I’m at in my life?’” April adds, reflecting on the personal steps she takes when planning a trip. 

She explains, “It’s like a commitment. If you want to do it and you don't feel like you can afford it, you have to be resourceful because there are ways that you can travel on a budget if you want to. I don't think it's as hard as people think.”

They went on to explain that the mental decision to “just do it” is the first step toward achieving a goal, whether it's starting a business, going to the gym, or traveling. Researching deals on flights, learning to travel lightly, minimally, and efficiently when possible, and cutting unnecessary spending to save up for a trip are all things they suggest doing to make travel affordable. More often than not, commitment comes with sacrifice, and traveling is no exception to this.

“There are little things you don't really realize that you are capable of, but you are. You totally are. Traveling lightly has helped me simplify my life.” Jake explains. “When you travel someplace with just a backpack, you realize you don't need a lot of stuff. Or if you're saving to go on a trip, you're cutting back from a lot of miscellaneous spending like snacking or coffee or cable, things that a lot of people love and and aren't willing to go without, but you totally don't need them. And how well you can go without some of those things can really improve your life–even when you're not planning to go travel. So I think just simplifying your life in general and knowing that it’s possible and okay and a good thing. That’s been a big takeaway for me.” 

After making the initial decision to go somewhere, the duo recommends doing research about the place you’re traveling to and learning what the culture is like before hopping on the plane. They personally don’t like to plan out every single moment of a trip if it’s not necessary, enjoying the idea that they can adapt to how they’re feeling in the moment as the trip progresses.

Jake explains, “Spending a couple of hours travel planning or researching your travel destination can really transform the connection you have with the place, and when you're there, you have such a better understanding of where you are and why things work a certain way.”

However, sometimes an experience isn’t as great or enjoyable as you imagined it would be. Traveling can be lonely, shocking, and, at times, scary. Jake and April adamantly express that there’s no shame in just hanging out in your hotel room or hostel if you don’t feel like going out one day or even admitting to yourself that you’re not having a good time somewhere. Too often, we place this pressure on ourselves where we feel we have to enjoy something or feel we should be. Giving yourself permission to feel those negative feelings is an important coping mechanism if you’re not having a good experience in a new place.

“I have friend who traveled somewhere, and she really didn't like it, so she came home after a while,” April says. 

“I think that’s okay, and people should realize that. It's alright to come home if you're feeling uneasy or unsafe or lonely…no one’s judging you for that,”  Jake expresses supportingly.

It’s equally as important to understand that feeling uneasy or out of your comfort zone when traveling to a new place is expected and almost inevitable.

Still, there are steps you can take to help overcome and cope with the doubt, anxiety, and unhappiness you experience on a trip. One way is to put yourself out there and make new friends while abroad. If you’re nervous about going somewhere by yourself, April recommends traveling somewhere where you already know one person or going with a friend. Staying in hostels where community living is normal, as well as using platforms like Airbnb, are great resources for connecting to locals in the city you’re visiting.

"Travel for me has become the feeling of what it's like being comfortable with the slightly uncomfortable,” Jake explains. 

So much so that he would come home from traveling and do things by himself that he normally wouldn't have done alone before. When you push yourself out of your comfort zone, traveling isn’t just something you experience and move on from. It becomes a part of you, and certain trips and memories can have a life-changing impact. 

In many ways, this is undoubtedly apparent in April's and Jake’s lives. April’s first trip abroad was on an antique furniture buying trip to Belgium with her dad and stepmom the summer after she graduated high school. She fell in love with Europe and went back a few times before being inspired to start Pieceology Vintage—an online vintage clothing store she operates out of her home studio.

“It's pretty interesting to think about that because I never really connected the two of them together,” she says. “But they were very similar experiences. As far as my business now, I do basically what they did, but with clothing instead of with furniture.”

Jake, on the other hand, had a much different first travel experience that has woven and connected his life path. He studied Spanish abroad in Costa Rica and later in Guatemala while in college.

“I remember getting out of the airport and into a van and and just looking around out the window and seeing a place completely new and different," Jake says. "It was my first time out of the country but also in a place that was still developing.”

After graduating, he decided to join the Peace Corps where he was placed in Nicaragua and spent two years as a Small Business Development volunteer. 
“I think that was a big inspiration for me to create a business now,” Jake expresses. “In Nicaragua, I had preached that it's okay to be creative, it's okay to be different and take risks—as long as they are educated, smart risks.”

After this experience, Jake moved to Austin knowing he wanted to start a business before the age of thirty. Because traveling was something he and April shared a deep connection with and enjoyed doing together, it seemed only fitting to center their business around something for which they had a great understanding. So, they brainstormed and developed Adventure Assist—a travel notebook created for travelers, by travelers.

Whether you aspire to make traveling a priority in your life or simply have a place in mind you’ve always wanted to visit, Adventure Assist and its founders will be a source of inspiration as this new year with new adventure awaits.



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