Skip to main content


This is about as provocative as I get.
I am a personal trainer and a weightlifting coach. I'm also a mom with three kids. Being a woman in this industry often means that when I tell people what I do, they expect me to bust out the leg warmers and lead a dance class or show them pictures of myself with a fake tan and a six-pack. Lately, with there being more of a focus on strong women in this industry, I'm expected to be post pictures of myself in "sexy beast mode," maybe showing off a picture of my ass while talking about the glories of squatting for the female posterior. In other words, people expect me to be the half-naked, vapid, overly enthusiastic, two-dimensional caricature of a female fitness professional.

I'm not a fitness model, an aerobics instructor, or a gym bunny. I'm a trainer, a coach, and sometimes I'm a competitor. I'm not big and I'm not strong in the Grand spectrum of strength competitors, but I'm smart, I work hard at what I do and I'm always willing to learn more. More importantly, I know how to observe, assess, teach, and program for my athletes in a way that they continually see good results and avoid injury. I'm proud of the work I do.

As a coach, I have a few things working for me that I think have set me apart in this world:

  1. I am analytical to a fault. I am a biochemist and the ability to objectively analyze things was drilled into me for years as I completed my studies and worked as a medical researcher. I accept nothing at face value. I continually question my plans and methods. This means I continually analyze and question pretty much everything I come across. 
  2. I see myself as a teacher. I have always believed in treating my clients and athletes as students. I want them to be aware of what they are doing right and what they are doing wrong and how to keep moving towards "more right". 
  3. I have good observation skills. I trained horses and taught riding lessons for a number of years. I have a good sense of body language and subtle shifts in position, effort, and center of gravity. This takes a lot of time just watching and analyzing movement.
So, in a nutshell, my trainees and I think I'm good at what I do. So do my fellow coaches. However, being a female who does not resemble the stereotypical sexy gym beast, I feel I have to constantly prove myself in this industry. Being largely involved in weightlifting, powerlifting, and highland games, its men I have to prove myself to. I am not given the benefit of the doubt. I'm left having to demonstrate in some way that I know something about training. I'm often given the old, "oh, isn't she cute with her tiny little arms and talk about bench pressing".  

Its about the lifters guys, not us.
At the American Open this year, I had to fight my way through a crowd of goatee-ed alpha males all pushing each other around and clamoring to adjust their lifters' attempts, none of whom had the decency to allow me to approach the judges' table to check on my lifter. Luckily, I'm small and was able to slip between the barrel chests and armpits to adjust my lifter's attempts. In fact, during a few sessions, I had to remind a few male coaches that the answer to "can we share your warm-up platform?" is "YES". Well, except for Zygmunt Smalcerz, he was a true gentleman and not only let me share his lifter's platform, he helped me change the weights on the bar.

As a local USAW judge and referee, I got into a full-blown altercation with a coach who felt that he had the right to let his lifters damage the meet equipment by slamming bars after they made their lifts. After asking him politely not to do it, he tried to intimidate me by addressing the audience and create an uproar. Would he have done that if I was a 300 lb man? I think not. (Slamming bars in a meet is now a red light offense so I won't have to deal with that problem anymore.)

My main point is that the world of strength and conditioning, weightlifting, and powerlifting, this is still very much a man's world. and they don't know what to make of me. I routinely meet male coaches who very obviously do not take me seriously. Then there are those who act like they are taking me seriously but slip in the casual innuendos and their real intentions become apparent. This has happened in this field more times than I care to count. Guys, don't take my politeness for deference. I'm damn good at what I do and if you bother to engage me, you might learn something.

Just do good work.  It shows in a lot of ways.
 Happy clients is one of many.
There are exceptions. At my first national weightlifting meet as a coach, I got quite a few stares. It was clear that the other coaches were wondering what the heck I was doing in the warm-up area. Until my lifter began warming up. And then I got some appreciative looks, some compliments for my lifter, and even a "Nice work Coach!"

This industry is about a lot of things: Egos, sex appeal, money, popularity, celebrity, and all that other nonsense. Here's what I think it should be about: Teaching people to be better physically and mentally. That takes an intelligent, patient, and insightful approach. It doesn't take six-packs, money, sexy clothes, fake tans, silicon, reality tv shows, or podcasts. It takes people who are willing to put their time and thought into the well-being of others. It’s important, especially if you care about the people you train. That's why I'm willing to keep pushing ahead in this industry even when it’s unpleasant. I'd like to think that there are a lot more trainers out there willing to do the same.

Popular posts from this blog

Next Level

So, there are those of us who work out regularly to look and feel better and improve our general health.  There are those of us who just like to lead active lives and enjoy nature and the occasional physical activity.  And then there are those of us who like to challenge themselves to push past our perceived physical limitations and see how far down the rabbit hole we can go.  While this last one is certainly an admirable pursuit, as are the other two, I must say it is the one I most commonly see go sideways.

If you are contemplating taking things to the next level with your training, you must first sit down and realistically assess what you are about to take on.  Next level training is not just about pushing yourself in the gym, but also managing your personal life, your recovery, and your expectations.  It also means knowing when to go low and slow and when to go hard.  The most common mistake a lot of people make is that they think next level means going harder all the time.  But,…

The Highland Games

Last summer, I became intrigued by the idea of learning how to throw heavy things.  As a weightlifting coach with unfortunate limb ratios for competitive weightlifting and a few friends who compete in Highland Games (and blather on incessantly about how awesome it is), I was excited to see if throwing might be a good outlet for my training.  I'm relatively strong, can produce a good amount of power, and have long limbs.  However, I am also relatively small compared to most throwers and therefore do not have a mass advantage.  That leaves me with mostly strength and technique as my assets.  Not yet knowing how to throw and not having a coach other than you-tube was going to make the technique part a bit of a challenge.

I didn't really intend to compete in the Highland Games, just use the throws to keep my training fun and set some backyard PRs, but then a friend of mine in Texas decided to host a Highlander.  A Highlander is a hybrid Highland Games and Strongman competition a…

Training for the Warrior Dash

Over the past couple of years, obstacle course races such as the Warrior Dash have become insanely popular.  Since I first posted about training for the Warrior Dash, I've gotten a lot of inquiries from clients and other trainers about how exactly one should train for the Warrior Dash or similar short distance obstacle course races.  I've heard people tout everything from Crossfit to P90X to not training at all as being the best way to train for one of these races, but I believe there is a middle ground that can serve far more people, especially beginners, without getting too extreme or requiring a lot of equipment.  Obviously, the best training protocol is tailored for the individual, but with a little information, its relatively easy to tweak a program for your own needs and fitness level.

The first time I saw a video of the Warrior Dash on Youtube, I thought to myself, "Those people are crazy."

I also thought, "I want to do that".  
I watched a few mo…