I met Katie seven years ago when I was a student at Stetson University. I was on an elliptical, getting my 30-minutes of cardio in, and she came over and asked if I wanted to participate in a Zumba class she was teaching that night. I went, and our friendship began. I wanted to learn more about exercising and getting active, and she was in the process of working on her personal training certificate. I became her first client! That semester of working with Katie changed my life. I now work out six days a week. I’m so much healthier and stronger than I was all those years ago, and I absolutely LOVE exercising. I’m also working on earning my personal training certificate.
I can’t imagine what my life would be like now had I said no to that offer to join a Zumba class.
During our interview, Katie and I spoke about her life in Colorado, how COVID-19 has impacted her business, the yoga Facebook page she created, and what her goals are for the future. I think Katie’s pandemic story is a great example of finding ways to grow and connect (and be creative) during such an unknown time. Katie is such a sweet soul, and I always enjoy speaking with her.
I hope you also enjoy our conversation, find inspiration in what Katie offers, and/or join her Facebook page and get your yoga on!
Please note: This conversation was originally recorded May 20, 2020. The information has since been updated to reflect today's publication.
So tell me what your day-to-day was like pre-COVID-19?
Pre-COVID, I was going to a gym or a yoga studio; I worked out of a few. I set my own schedule. I was teaching about nine group classes and seeing about 13 one-on-one clients, which would involve going to the gym to meet up with them during the time slot that was convenient for them. I was definitely very strategic as far as how I laid out my schedule, but yeah, I was working out of gyms or out of yoga studios. That was my daily and weekly grind.
That seems like a really busy schedule!
It was, but it’s so fun when you’re passionate about it.
Now I know that you've been doing yoga for a while, but when did you become an official instructor?
It was two years ago, actually—June of 2018—when I did my 200-hour yoga teacher training. It was a 10-week course. At the very end, we went on a yoga retreat up in Boulder, Colorado. But yeah, it was two summers ago that I officially had the certificate and the knowledge behind it to be able to consider myself a certified yoga instructor, so that was a lot of fun.
What led you to pursue that training?
Well I always wanted yoga under my belt because I am, you know, a fitness professional. I was so into high intensity and cycling classes and Zumba and just burning calories and sweating. I knew I'm getting older. I work with a lot of older clientele—like 65-plusers—and I just wanted and needed and craved that low-impact option and something that could be lifelong that I had my own experience with but also the knowledge behind it. So I knew I needed that under my belt. I wasn't ready for it. I mean, yoga is so considered a practice, so there's never an end to the journey. But also, I moved to Colorado a month before I signed up for the teacher training, so I wanted to grow some roots and meet some amazing people and really dive into considering Colorado to be my forever home, possibly, so that helped a lot. Really good sisters, really good friends, beautiful professional connections, personal connections, and then I got the knowledge that I needed for to teach yoga.
What were your thoughts when COVID started becoming more prevalent in the news?
Thoughts were fear and that was strictly professionally. I rely on gyms. I basically borrow or am a best friend with a gym. They have equipment for me. They have the prospects to build my clientele, and I put all my eggs in that basket. I trust gyms. We were not prepared for a global pandemic. “What am I going to do? How can I get through this wave when we have no ending in sight?” So first and foremost, it was just a black hole of fear—not that you want to, but you step into fear because you gotta feel it first, then make a decision on how to move forward. I think if I didn't feel the fear, I wouldn't have done what I did so quickly and that was creating Yoga Live with Katie, a group page on Facebook that evolved within 24 hours. I knew I needed to dive in and create a virtual family that could provide online live yoga classes to cultivate some peace during such a scary time. And boy did it blossom. There was such a need for online support and yoga was the perfect remedy.
I'm curious how you've stayed active?
Thankfully, Colorado Springs did not close down our trails. One reason why I'm really grateful for living in Colorado Springs: I hike at least once a week, and my hikes range from three to six miles. So obviously very good steady-state cardio at 6000 feet; that's definitely a workout—so very thankful for that. I also bike in the springs. We have what's called Pike Ride. You can rent an electric bike, so going up hills, you feel like you get a little push, but definitely still a great workout. They're doing free 30-minute rides. I really love that our city was able to do that. So that's been fun. I've also collected different pieces of equipment, so I have resistance bands, some light dumbbells, and a TRX strap set. Those are wonderful. I've been anchoring it around a tree or a park bench. TRX is basically you using your own bodyweight; you can do push-ups, narrow and wide rows to work your push and pull as far as upper body, and you can do bicep curls with them. There's great YouTube videos or even just quick little photos that you can find on Google to get the five basic movements, but they’re so light so you can travel with them. All you need is an anchor. Obviously, I want to be outside as much as possible, so I’m very lucky to have a few pieces of equipment. I've used water jugs. I've used soup cans for extra resistance, but really all you need is your body to be able to get a good workout in.
Okay, so getting back to the yoga page. Why did you decide to create this community? What was your thought process?
I felt I needed to provide light and love, an escape for my friends, family, and clients to help cope with such a scary time in our world. I am just a helper. I mean, that's part of what I do for a living as a personal trainer: I help provide solutions. I'm here to coach. I’m here to lend a helping hand. It’s in my DNA. I knew that if I was feeling a certain way—feeling scared and nervous—then I knew there were other people out there that needed that same outlet. I knew I didn't want to do pre-recording. You can go on YouTube and find pre-recorded videos. You can type in anything you want, and there's going to be a video that gives you an option. I wanted to livestream for my students, my family, my friends, and then maybe even build the community bigger than just people I’ve actually met in person. Livestream is just so powerful because you know that person is with you. They're right next to you, so to speak, in the comfort of their home, but minute-by-minute, you know that that person is sweating with you. And that's the best that we had to offer during the coronavirus pandemic. I did think about doing pre-recorded videos, but I wanted more than that for my audience. I wanted them to feel like I was right there next to them, so I've stuck with it. I haven't done any pre-recorded videos. And that's something that is very unique that I know my audience appreciates.
I'm curious as of the last time you checked, how many people are in your group?
There are 866 members.
There are 877 members as of the time of this blog post's publication. :)
What’s the feedback been to the classes?
Honestly, Alex, it's just been gratitude. There's been so much love that has come back. Yes, there’s a few comments of suggestions or things they’d like to see, but that's so few and far between. It's just been, “Thank you. Thank you so much.” There's just so much love thrown back my way. It's pretty spectacular. It's hard to talk about it without smiling and just feeling so proud about it. There's so much room for growth with this, but just learning to not dive into the hole of fear. Just yesterday, I taught a small group of students yoga in the park, and we talked about choosing flow over fear, meaning just take it one step at a time. Don't look down. You know, a lot of times, we have coaches that say look up, but no, right now I want you to look down. I want you to take it literally. Place your right foot in front of your left and now your left foot in front of your right. Flow over fear and that's kind of been my motto. Just taking it one step at a time, but yes, so much love. So many thank you’s have been thrown my way.
Oh, that's so wonderful! Do you have plans—whenever life returns to “normal” to continue this Facebook page? Or to continue offering online classes/sessions?
I think it's such a blessing in disguise. Something has to throw you into your uncomfortable zone, so stepping out of my comfort zone is what COVID-19 did for my business and for me professionally. I'll never regret that, and I actually thank COVID-19 for that at this point. I would love to have a hybrid. I think as far as just safety for my business, more opportunity for my business, opportunity for my clients to train some at home and others in a gym. So absolutely, yes, I want to continue doing some sort of virtual option, and now I know I can do it and have the tools for it. I think a lot of students and clients of mine are realizing, “Hey, I can do this at home,” especially when the gym wasn't an option for them, whether it was their work schedule or kiddos. I think it's proven that we can exercise without a gym.
So you’ve started taking on personal training clients virtually. What’s that experience been like?
Yes, I have a few. I work around my clients’ schedule but try to see them twice a week. Some of them it's once a week to kind of give them a little springboard or a jumpstart to their week within their fitness, grind, but I'll use What’s App, Facebook video, or FaceTime. We set up our meeting and log on to the video. They see me; I see them. It’s definitely tough, though. As a trainer, you need to make sure that your cues are on point. A lot of my clients have a nice stand for their phones so I can see a little bit of their format. It's definitely tough, but I'm thankful that I've seen these clients before in person, where I was able to physically touch them as far as tweaking their form and formality, so a good thing I've trained them well, but it’s tricky. I'm definitely working out more because I have to demo more. I'm not right next to them where they can see where my hips are or where my shoulders are placed. It’s definitely more movement, but my demo is with a one-pound weight or no weights, where they have their 10 pounds. That's definitely been a learning curve as well, but I really enjoyed it.
Yeah, a big hurdle for training clients virtually. Not to say it's impossible, but a lot of adjustments have to be made for that type of thing.
I kind of call myself the to-go gym. I have my bands, my bosu ball, my TRX, dumbbells—that’s all in the backseat of my car with my Lysol and wipes. Obviously if they feel comfortable enough to meet at a park, they do, and they love it. But yes, it’s clients in the Springs area that I already had pre-COVID that wanted to continue their journey.
I did yoga in the park last night. I wanted to keep it at six students and keep the six feet distance and make them feel as safe as possible. It was really cool. I had four students that came to this park that I've never met, but they follow me live on Yoga Live with Katie, so that was really cool to meet these virtual folks in person and just very special as well.
Katie has continued to offer these "Yoga in the Park" sessions since we spoke! More information can be found on the Yoga Live with Katie Facebook page.
That's awesome! It expands on that idea of creating a community and getting to know more people in your area. So I know the answer to this question, but I’m going to ask anyway: Why turn to fitness? You were in the early childhood development field and then switched. Why make fitness and yoga your career path?
Yes, and I’ve never looked back. I worked in a daycare for about four years as a lead toddler teacher. Man, that was like eight years ago at this point. I love learning about the development of young minds and kiddos and creating that structure for them, but I just knew my passion wasn't being fulfilled. I'm just a mover, and this is getting more personal, but just dealing with anxiety and having that be a part of my DNA, I knew that I needed a job that allowed me to move out the nerves, and fitness is that. I don't have a desk, and I love to say that. I am a professional and I do not have a desk and I love that. I could never be behind a desk. I know a lot of others feel the same way, but they’re dedicated and deep into their career where they're not going to shift gears. So I love that even if it's just two hours a week, I can bring that movement to them. I love movement, and I hope to move for the rest of my life, and it's cool because it's a science of movement—exercise science. It's funny because you have to adapt to how your body is aging, and I think I felt my body at the age of 30. I feel great, but I know that there's other folks that have some brokenness to their body from broken bones or surgeries. So it's cool to say, “Well, this worked five years ago within my fitness routine. How do I adapt to this new, evolving body of mine?” And exercise science has so many options. It's so fun to be able to create a structured regiment for a 50-year-old, a 60-year-old, an 80-year-old.
Do you have a business vision for yourself over the next couple years? Things you want to accomplish professionally?
Sure. I think it will be a new normal, but I do think that we will see an end to this big storm, but as far as plans, I think knowing that COVID-19 gave me probably the biggest push professionally that I've ever experienced in the eight years of being in fitness. I would love to do a hybrid. It would be great to have my own business, but over the next year knowing that just in case somebody realized that they liked working out but they prefer outdoors or they do prefer virtually because they're intimidated by the gym, I now have that experience and I can better coach them. I do not believe that I will go back to the gym full-time when this storm officially ends. I live in a city that’s very nature-esque. I think pretty much everybody in Colorado is very outdoorsy, but I think this proves that we need more nature. We need to get outdoors more. It’s just good for us emotionally as well as physically. I would love to see where this summer takes me as far as my business. We have wintertime in Colorado, but even then, I think that we can get outdoors rain or shine or snow.