Trailnet Champions – Michelle Thomas and Keaton Hanson
Michelle Thomas and Keaton Hanson never seem to stop moving. They’ve been bicycling for transportation and recreation as long as they can remember. For them, leading active lifestyles isn’t just about staying in shape, but is part of a larger philosophy guiding their daily lives. Better still, they’re both long-time Trailnet supporters.
In December, Michelle did a Trailnet photoshoot to help us better capture and communicate what it looks like to walk and bike in St. Louis. She initially acquainted herself with the organization during a photoshoot five years ago, then again during one of our Breakfast for Bikers events. Keaton has been aware of Trailnet since he was in middle school and they both participate in the occasional Trailnet ride.
Keaton views St. Louis as, “a city woven together with many independently unique neighborhoods.” He added, “One of the things that makes the Hill special is all the residents truly want and are happy to live here. Walkability and community are two highlights of the neighborhood.”
Asked about Trailnet’s vision, Keaton said, “I love the idea of livable healthy communities. I believe it is very important to live close to everything you do, be it work and pleasure. The vision is very inclusive of all types of people from different diversities and abilities. This is so important to build strong communities not just for cyclists but for everyone as a whole. The more we relinquish our motor vehicles the stronger our relationships with each other and nature will become.”
Michelle and Keaton value activity for more than just the physical benefits, both describing bicycling as a reflective, abstract exercise.
“There is just something about cycling that is freeing and meditative,” Michelle said. “It’s like life—you go really hard up a hill then coast down. It’s the never-ending cycle.”
Keaton shares a similar approach to being on a bicycle. “I keep riding because it makes me feel so good,” Keaton said. “I ride to keep my body in shape, and my mind clear. Cycling heightens my awareness, I have seen so many incredible things because I am on my bike.”
Bicycling for this couple goes beyond competition, originating in their youth when getting a bicycle meant complete freedom.
“I’ve been cycling for as long as I can remember,” Michelle said. “I guess I started around eight years old. I grew up on a farm, so the nearest neighbor was a mile away. My bike was my only mode of transportation as a kid. If I wanted to go to the pool in the summer, I’d jump on my bike and ride two miles down the gravel road.”
Their hunger for activity doesn’t stop at the bike, or yoga, or traveling, or any number of recreational activities that keep their minds and bodies healthy. When they’re not engaged in physical activity, they help promote it through professional photography.
“I feel the need to be constantly moving and engaged, so I also do photography under my Instagram @michelle_yogogirls for Lululemon, Trailnet, Yoga Six, SoiLL, and other fitness brands as my alternative creative outlet,” Michelle said. “Keaton and I take every chance we get to travel also. Last year I traveled to Portland, Oregon, Tulum, Mexico, New York, Florida, California, and Iceland. Next year I’m planning on Switzerland and Amsterdam.”
Michelle is a partner, executive creative director, and photographer at Origin Agency (which she started with partners Julie Wood and Lance Thomas). Keaton is an art director at Ansira Marketing. It appears their momentum is on track to keep building—both participating in and promoting active living and pedal-powered transportation.
“I’ve always had an excessive amount of energy,” Michelle said. “In my youth I ran, did tumbling, rode bikes, climbed trees, jumped off roofs. Wait… I still do all that stuff.”