A-number PROB #1

I can’t complain about my life at all. I’ve been raised by beautiful people that gave me opportunities some can only wish for. Opportunities that brought me across the ocean living life that one would think is not that different from the life at home. But it actually is and the older I get the more I recognize it. 

I’m incredibly fortunate to have a family that I have. The newest part – Kenny’s family has been nothing less than amazing. Made me feel like I was one of them from the very first day I’ve met them. Loving me for who I am and supporting me, Kenny and our sort-of-crazy marriage all the way. Even though giving up my last name (more like what it represents than the actual name) was a hard egg to swallow, I love being one of the Heatons and I would not trade it for the world. 

However my first, my oldest, my true family is…is…is… “there-is-no-words-big-enough-to-describe-it”  (yes, my heart feels heavy, my brain is foggy and I can barley see what I’m typing, because I’m crying like a baby right now).

My mom Jadranka (aka Just J), my dad Vlado (or Fotko known to many) and my sister Anja (no one believes it, but she IS older) are the the most incredible people in this world. I do not say it enough but I LOVE THEM tremendously and don’t know who I could ever live without them. 

Which I actually kind of do. I live 345 days per year (on average) without them. Yes, I hear them often, even see them thanks to FaceTime and other technological advances. And again, I am lucky I get to spend at least few weeks each year with them but it’s just not enough. Every time I hang up the phone or give the “see-you-soon” hug at the airport, leaves a dark hole in my heart, and each time it gets bigger and worse. I thought it will get easier with time, but it’s quite the opposite. The older I get, the longer I’m away from them, the more difficult this amazing opportunity seams. 

Am I happy? YES! I love my life. I wake up each morning thinking how fortunate I am, and fall asleep with ease every night. Could my life be even better? Could I be even happier? YES! Happiness and personal success have no limits – how to expand them is another question. There are many hurdlers and walls that are stopping me from spending more time with my Slovenian family and I’m making it my primary goal to taper those down. 

So, Mami, Oči, Anja & the rest of my deeply loved Gruden/Perkovac family….Not exactly sure how yet, but I will find a way to be there more – A LOT more!


@ Cirque du Soleil Volta
@ Lake Tahoe 

Love Tough Coaching

I’ve been judged and criticized as a coach more than I could ever appreciate. I’ve been questioned, misunderstood and had my work diminished way too many times. It’s been said I’m too strict, have delusional standards, insane expectations, and no compassion. Which might be true? But ask me if I care.

I used to! I used to care about it a lot. I let others mess with my head, creating doubts and lowering my self-esteem. I lost respect of my abilities, my coaching. I lost respect of myself. I was worrying so much about opinions and trying to please others that I let it change my values and beliefs, which changed who I was. I changed so much that I started to hate the only true passion in my life to a point of quitting. I quite cheerleading. I was done!

As you may have noticed, I turned it around 🙂 After taking a short break, I got back into it. And today, my answer to all the haters, doubters and non-believers is “I DON’T CARE”.

I don’t argue with people about my coaching style. I don’t try to explain or justify it. I know who I am and I know how I coach. I also know why. As an athlete I had the pleasure of working with many coaches of different calibers. The ones that I respect the most and owe them lifelong debts of gratitude are the ones that were the toughest on me. I have them to thank for my continuous and never-ending strive for more. Their transformational coaching approaches inspired and shaped the transformational coach I aspire to be.

Joe Ehrmann, the author of InSideOut Coaching distinguishes between two types of coaches. Transactional and Transformational. Transactional coaches see athletes and teams as business transactions. The measure of their own success is the number of transactions they make and their figures. Transformational coaches, on the other hand, view each athlete as a diamond in the rough. An opportunity to transform, add value to athletes’ life and help them become the best version of themselves. Transformational coaches go beyond numbers, physical abilities and skills, they care about people and invest in their personal development, and so do I.

Because I expect more from my athletes, I challenge them to do more. Because I care more about their character, I don’t allow them to settle for less.  Because I push the limits, I expand their capabilities beyond imaginable. I practice love tough, not tough love. Like one of my favorite motivational speakers and authors Jon Gordon, I too believe love has to come first. I don’t care for my athletes while remaining unsympathetic and strict. I am tough and aggro, because I love them and care about their future. 

With that being said, if you are my athlete (or their parent) and I’m not tough on you (your kid), I would be worried 🙂 




Different Life – Different Ways

“Different Life – Different GOALS” was going to be the original title of this post, BUT I don’t feel like I can honestly discuss my goals at the moment. I cannot say that my life has drastically changed in the past 2 months, because its still all about cheerleading. However it has changed tremendously.

Aunty Sara with nieces Maddie & Dani  

I’ve been a competitive gymnast , cheerleader & acrobat for over 20 years now, so my goals were always I would say “gold oriented”. My BIG goals were focused on doing the best at most prestigious competitions (#winning) and choosing/making the right teams that will make this possible for me. SMALLER goals were learning new skills or improving old ones in order to , one make the teams I wanted, and two be a strong asset on those teams, and not the weakest link. Along with that of course came fitness and wellness goals that kept my body and mind in the best possible physical and mental shape.   

I always had other goals not related to sports as well, such as school, then work, relationships, family, just being a normal human being 🙂  but to be completely honest…these always came second to being THE ATHETE. 

I can proudly say that I accomplished most of my goals. Some huge ones, some tiny ones, but each and every one of them give me chills and make me excited every time I think of them. They also remind me that no matter how much I planned and believed in certain ways to reach those goals, things never happened according to my plan. Flexibility, ability to accept, adjust and compromise, staying determined and 100% dedicated, with a true passion for those goals at the end kept me on a not expected track,  but THE TRACK to get them checked off my list. 

Our final decision to move to Reno was the last dot in my cheerleading career as an athlete, or at least that’s how it seems. Yes, it’s a bit bitter-sweet, but it’s mostly sweet with a dash of bitter. By accomplishing so much in my athletic career I now feel ready to explore something new and excel on a different level.   

And here I am, writing this post while living different life. I’m on a quest finding new ways, new challenges as exciting as my athletic ones were, so I can set myself new goals. 

I can’t even imagine where Reno life is going to take me, but ways that excite me right now:

  1. Learning new position at Five Star Athletics & helping to improve their (our!) programs
  2. Developing flying program that could help anyone become an amazing flyer
  3. Working on my cirque skills 🙂 somehow I find pleasure in torturing myself with high intensity stretching, and practicing new passion I developed sort of recently, which is hand balancing.
  4.  Living a family-centered life again.
  5. Learning how to be the best support on Kenny’s new journey as a Realtor.  


Five Star Gang -The Eddy 
New Challenges – Hand Balancing
Working with my Fly-Hunnies

Choke or Triumph?

It happens more often to some than others, however we’ve all faced and will face a high-pressure situation at some point of our lives. Either we create that pressure ourselves in our heads, or others watching, testing, monitoring, maybe judging raise that pressure for us. It might be school, work, sport, even health related.  When such situation presents itself we might choke, blow up our chance of success, or we manage ourselves appropriately and triumph.

It got me wondering why is that, when one of my young athletes was in a pressured situation yesterday. Athletes learning new skills is a big deal in our gym and we like to share it with everyone. When an athlete gets a new skill, they have a privilege to “ring-a-bell”. The whole gym stops what they are doing and we all watch that one athlete perform their new skill. We all cheer them on and celebrate, congratulate them after. The video is taken and posted on our social media for everyone else to see.  Like I said RINGING THE BELL is a HUGE DEAL!

It’s definitely a very exciting moment for athletes. Everyone WANTS to ring that bell. But after the bell is rang, the pressure is on, all eyes are watching, and expectations are high. Instantly an exciting situations turns into a high-pressured one. What happens next its hard to predict. Will the bell-ringer choke and fail under pressure, or show off new skill and triumph?

When, one of my nine-year old athletes rang the bell yesterday and couldn’t perform her new tumbling pass in front of everyone watching, even though she did it in class multiple times, I started to wonder why is that so. Why do we choke? Why only sometimes? And, how do we avoid it?

The answer is US!

Something needs to CHANGE….

… and it’s probably ME!

People are creatures of habits. Good habits, bad habits, significant habits, useless, useful, smart, dumb, enjoyable, annoying,… ALL SORTS OF HABITS. Like it or not even the most spontaneous people in the world have habits – like being spontaneous. We are what we think, feel, say and do.

When we encounter situation that do not make us happy and pleased we naturally look for a change. We don’t like the restaurant that we walk into, we walk out and find a different one. We order a coffee that doesn’t taste the greatest and we ask barista for a different one. We try on a shirt that doesn’t fit right and we pick a different one.

We are surrounded by options. Changing our environment to feel comfortable has become extremely easy and convenient with millions and millions of options available out there. It became our habit to change everything around us to feel better. It became convenient to blame our discomfort on our surrounding. We became stiff and stuck. Our mind got molded into cozy shape and is getting rusty and dusty.

This becomes a big and unavoidable issue when the unpleasant is inside of us. When our body is the environment we would like to escape from. When our thoughts are the bitter tasting coffee and our dreams don’t fit. There is no other way, no other option but to change ourselves.

Yes I know, it’s awful to realize you are the reason things are not what you want them to be. It’s sort of shameful to admit it. It’s scary to step away from the familiar and just wander. It’s uncomfortable, unknown, and inconvenient.

However on the bright side remember that you are the easiest to change. Think about it - you are in complete control of yourself. Unlike your surroundings, your thoughts, your goals, your opinions and your doing is entirely and only up to you.

It is a lot more difficult to convince a stranger than youself to try a plant-based diet or a new type of workout. It only takes a simple decision for you to give it a try, while a stanger needs a persuasive “sale-pitch” to even consider it. You will most likely never be able to change restaurant’s menu, but you’re in complete control of what you order of that menu. You can’t control your competition and their actions, but you can control your own training and performance.

Know that when you feel like something has to change, yourself will be the easiest.
..as well as the most worthwhile and rewarding. Because with change comes movement, with movement comes progress, with progress comes growth and with growth come success and reward. And the best thing about growth is that it’s indefinite. Therefore success and rewards can be indefinite as well.

So, focus on what you can control, which is your SELF and change you habits.  Develop new ones, get rid of unnecessary ones and better the old ones. Strive for SELF-CHANGE and enjoy YOUR SUCCESS.

H2O – Humility, Harmony & Openness

I walked outside nose deep in my phone searching for an inspirational video to watch this morning, when I stepped ankle deep in a puddle of water. “Great!” I thought “my socks wet, my feet are cold, I should go change my shoes” when I unintentionally clicked on Raymond Tang’s TED Talk Be Humble – and other lessons from philosophy of WATER. Coincidence? Maybe yes, maybe no. Either way I found the video to watch on my educational walk.

Tang gave me a great lesson this morning that he learned when reading the ancient Chinese philosophy of the Tao Te Ching, which compares goodness to water. Goodness may seem simple to explain, however difficult to obtain. Goodness is feeling, thinking, being, doing good – simple right? However can you feel, think, be and do good or even better all the time? I know I can’t. I put my best efforts into it, but I fail often. I let the environment around me effect me and my goodness. I wish to be more like water and let me tell you why.

1. Water is HUMBLE. It is the source of all life on Earth, essential and nurturing to every living thing on Earth. It stays low and quiet, and without drawing any attention to itself, it make everything around it grow and blossom. It doesn’t take pride in it, not even the credit. It simply does its job continuously and unbaisedly.

2. Water is HARMONIOUS. In any form or shape water always forms a consistent whole. Even when presented with an obstacle water flows around it calmly and composed, without changing and sacrificing  itself.

3. Water is OPENED. It is opened to any way,  from or shape. It is flexible and adjustable. It changes and adapts quickly according to its environment, yet stays exactly the same in its composition.

So, today I promised myself to become more like water. To help, support and nurture others without any expectations in return, because making others happy will bring me happiness. To be in harmony with myself and act harmoniously in my environetmnt. To stay calm, collective and true to myself when facing challenges. To be open minded and adaptable, because flexibility in life creates balance which enchances personal stability in endless challenges of life. Today I started flowing.


Laws of Success

Nothing in life comes easy! It’s our perception that makes us believe some things are easier to achieve than others. That is because of the knowledge, experiences, and training that we have already gone through, not so much because the skill is easy. Think back to when you took your first gymnastics/tumbling class. You were probably a toddler without any flipping, stretching, squeezing your body experiences or even ideas how to do so. A handstand, forward roll, cartwheel or even a bridge seems like a hard skill. You had to train your body and mind in order to get them.  Some took longer than others, but most skills you didn’t gain over night. As this is true for physical skills and ability, it is also very true for mental ones. In fact, it is much harder to train your mind than your body. Remember that your body does what your brain commands. Working out daily is not hard for your body, but can your brain get you to the gym every day? Not eating fast food is not hard for you body, but can you fight your urge not to drive through that drive-in?

I would like you to adopt and be conscious of this mentality throughout The Pre-Hab program. It will not be easy. Expect that and be ok with failure along the way. Wise man – Winston Churchill once said

Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.

Failure will come in different shapes and forms. Unexpected things will happen and you will not be able to control the situation. That is perfectly OK! It’s how you handle, overcome and what you take from these situations that will either break you or make you. Remember, it is your brain that controls the body and it is you who controls your brain. Training your brain is essential and crucial for success.

I would love for you to be successful, not only in The Pre-Hab program but also in other aspects of your life. To ensure your success and increase the likelihood that you will succeed, here are some basic principles and rules to follow:

1. Consistency

2. Commitment

3. Consciousness

4. Accountability

5. Goals

6. Patience

7. Preparation

8. Individuality

9. Honesty

I will dive into explaining each law more in depth along the way, however, to sum it all up…When you set a goal it takes commitment and preparation in order to become accountable and stay consistent. Being honest to yourself, patient with the process and conscious of all that is happening inside and out, will shape you as an individual and significantly improve growth and development of a better you.