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Rockin’ Runner – Every Kid’s Favorite ‘Cool Teacher’ & Rock Star of Bonner | IndieFit Magazine – the Voice of the New Kansas City
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catfish

Rockin’ Runner – Every Kid’s Favorite ‘Cool Teacher’ & Rock Star of Bonner

by IndieFit Staff

Photo: Submitted by Brandon Gerkin

FULL NAME

Brandon Gerken

NICKNAME

Catfish

Born and Bred

Bonner Springs, Kansas.

Current Digs

Bonner. It’s a cool small town close to the city. You can get to anywhere in KC, Overland Park or Lawrence in less than 30 minutes. It’s also a river town, so we know where to send hotheads to cool off.

What’s up with Catfish?

In high school, one of my friends always was saying “Slow down catfish!” to me. He thought my hat was a catfish hat, but it wasn’t. Everybody had nicknames, so when I hear Catfish these days, I look around for somebody from Bonner.

Day Job

Visual Arts Instructor, Valley Park Elementary School, Blue Valley School District.

Side Project

Guitar and vocals for Lost Wax, one of KC’s top party bands (they played at the MLB All-Star Game at the K in 2012). Before that BrownTown, a Kansas City Pitch Music Award nominated band that forged its way through the Indie music jungle of the early 2000s with a blend of FunkRopHipHunk. “Lost Wax is booked every weekend pretty much through November.” Besides parties and corporate events, Lost Wax is a regular at O’Dowds on the Plaza.

Dietary

A vegetarian for 10 years, Brandon gave up meat when he was traveling with Browntown. “We were eating a lot of drivethrough and, even though I’ve always had a runner’s frame, my gut didn’t give a damn. I’d thought vegetarians were really cool and I liked the whole counter-culture vibe. I could respect that. So that became my weight loss strategy” The drive-through cuisine of BrownTown’s haunts wasn’t veggie-friendly, so giving up meat meant learning how to cook and pack his food for the road. It paid dividends at home too. His wife Nicole was changing careers from advertising professional to personal trainer and also trying to eat less meat. Once Brandon made the change, she did too, and now 2/3 of their household is on the veggie bandwagon. Their 4-year old son Gavin is the only carnivore in the house.

Favorite Veggie Dish

Kaw Valley Bonner Burrito. triple-size corn tortilla, pinto beans, avocado, steamed chard, his mother’s secret habanero salsa, and red pickled onions. Hold the catfish, duh.

When life gives you lemons

By age 28, Brandon had serious back problems and underwent two surgeries for a hemorrhaged disc and a static nerve problem.

Make Limoncello

To strengthen his back after surgery Brandon decided to embrace his natural runner’s build and actually run. It wasn’t easy at first; it took weeks to recover from the final surgery and his back hurt when he ran. He stuck with it though and worked on his form with strengthening exercises. Eventually he built up to running half marathons and entered his first Kansas City Marathon in 2012. His wife and mother-in-law are also marathon runners and now the October marathon serves as an annual goal to focus his training. He starts in the spring with shorter distances and works up to more serious mileage and 5 days per week of running.

Training Tip

“If you’re a runner, you know when you feel bouncy on your feet it’s gonna be a good run. I try to listen to that and go farther when I’m feeling it, but back off when I’m not feeling as bouncy.”

Keep it clean

Brandon and Nicole both do periodic cleanses, basically because they just like the way it makes them feel. Twice a year they cut out all wheat, dairy products, and nightshade vegetables (potatoes, tomatoes, and peppers) from their diet and stick to the plan for up to a month. “Even after we’re done it helps us eat clean for weeks after.”

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