Valerie is the perfect model of a beautiful, bad ass woman who embodies incredible resilience, positivity, and courage. She has warmed our entire team’s hearts with her radiant smile, sassy sophisticated style, and good-natured humor. She started out shaking like Bambi in xBURN but is now conquering those planks like nobody’s business. THANK YOU, Valerie, for believing in yourself and in X-CORE!



After a breast cancer diagnosis followed by chemo, surgery, radiation and months in bed, I needed a workout that strengthened all my muscles and X-Core fit the bill. It’s helped me regain my strength and makes me feel strong and capable.

How did you stumble upon X-CORE?

Sherri McMullen - of McMullen Boutique is my boss. I’m a stylist at her Grand Avenue flagship store. As a team bonding experience she treated all of her employees to xCLIMB followed by breakfast at Brown Sugar Kitchen. I loved xCLIMB but, since I run, I already had a cardio workout. What I needed, after cancer treatment, was to strengthen my body. My muscles had atrophied from so much time in bed. What I found at X-CORE was a great workout, tons of encouragement, gifted and motivating instructors and Elaine and Cora. They are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met and they and their staff always made me feel welcome and encouraged. Now I look forward to going to class because I can feel and see the difference it’s making in my body and it’s fun.

Where are you from originally?

How long have you lived in Oakland? I’m a third generation Oaklander. I live in Piedmont with my husband and two children now but it’s fair to say I’ve lived in Oakland for 45 years with stints in Berkeley when I was a student at Cal, and Central America when I was a reporter covering Iran Contra for KPFA radio.

What is your favorite restaurant in Oakland?

Dopo. I love their Little Gems salad, Dopo pizza and they make a mean Negroni. (We love them too!)

Do you have a favorite between CLIMB or BURN?

xBURN. It has taught me about muscles I didn’t even know I had.

How do you feel after doing a double?

I feel elated and completely relaxed.

How did you work your way to doing a double?

I probably tried doing a double too soon after finishing chemo. xBURN was fine but 15-20 minutes after the start of xCLIMB class, I wanted nothing more than to get off the machine and slink out the door. I stayed there because the instructor kept exhorting us with “just 2 more minutes,” but after that I went on longer runs, working up to four to five miles, so I knew I had the stamina to finish strong.


Can you tell us a little more about your journey with cancer?

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and lost my wonderful mother within about two months of each other. Losing my mom made breast cancer seem easy as it reminded me there are other things in life that are much harder to deal with than cancer. Not to sound too Pollyannish but I also had to rely on my husband and he more than took care of me, he took care of everything: came to every chemo appointment, made dinner every night and was my cheerleader. The vows we made “in sickness and in health” were just words, but he was really there for me. I would let others who face a similar diagnosis, to remember that they are stronger than they think they are and that which doesn’t kill you makes you stronger. I may not be quite as strong yet as I was when diagnosed, but my mettle and mental fortitude is so much stronger. Also, little things, for example someone pulling out in front of me without signaling, don’t bother me anymore. The whole experience has taught me not to sweat the little things.


Any fun facts about you?

I went from being a brunette to a platinum blond after losing my hair after chemo.

What do you like to do for fun?

I love to run, read, (I’m currently reading Margaret Atwood’s new book, “The Testaments” as well as “She Said” by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey.) I’m a bit of a political junkie and between the Economist, The New Yorker, SF Chronicle and New York Times, I’m always busy reading something.

Favorite quote?

The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even felt - they must be felt by the heart. - Helen Keller.

Who/what inspires you?

Ruth Bader Ginsberg. She has had three bouts with cancer and comes back fighting every time. I also love reading her dissents.

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