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Tag: coaching

Angels Rest to Devils Rest – Adventure or Torture?

Angels Rest is perched up high in the Gorge. To get there you have to push yourself up 2 miles of steep, rocky, super challenging terrain. This adventure was a run for us, but many others hike. Angels Rest offers a spectacular view and is a great reward after the climb. Devils Rest is a continued accent from Angels Rest but with no view at the top – it’s hell to get there and has no reward, hence its name. The entire run is an adventure but teeters on torture as well.

The idea of this run began as an adventure, but after a half mile of running it quickly began to feel like torture. My last bit of writing was about the rewards of pushing past our comfort zones, so I tried to keep that in my mind as I scrambled over rocks and one foot after the other tried to push up the mountain. It was a struggle. On the other hand, my husband loves trail running. He describes trail running as an adventure and “feeling free.” He looks like he’s gliding over the rocky uphills and eloquently galloping the downhills. Every quarter mile or so, my husband pauses and waits for me to catch up to him. He stands  there with this giant smile on his face and says, “Isn’t this fun? You’re doing great. We’re almost there.”

I’m a high school running coach, fitness specialist, and I’ve been a runner for more than half of my life; I’ve never needed anyone to really coach me in a workout or race. Yesterday, though, I needed every bit of encouragement from my husband. He’s so happy running trails. The happiest. Meanwhile, I’m cursing under my breathe the entire time.

Having PMA (positive mental attitude) is a way of living that I work on every day. My favorite books are Success Through a Positive Mental Attitude, The Energy Bus, Real Love, and The Power of Positive Leadership, but yesterday I struggled to bring the positivity out of me. I didn’t spread the torture I was feeling, but I also wasn’t shining positivity like my husband. I decided to praise the beauty around us and every time we ran down a part of the trail that felt good I made it a point to tell my husband. That little bit of positivity that I put out in the world took the edge off of the physical torture I was feeling. In the past, when I felt physical pain in a workout or race I’d repeat the words “you can do this” so I decided to give it a try. It worked when I needed it during this torturous adventure.

After six miles of mostly uphills, I ate my date with almond butter. Then we had 2 miles of rolling hills, and ended the run with 2 miles of insane downhill running. I told my husband I’d meet him at the bottom and like a deer he trotted off down the rocky mountain. I tripped without falling a handful of times, but finally made it to THE END. Water, an Orgain and half of a Picky Bar refueled my tired body and sore ego. My husband is really good at trail running. Trail running is really hard for me.


We hugged, kissed, high-five, fist-bumped and hopped in the car to meet our kiddos and my parents at the Vista House. They had a great time exploring Larch Mountain, blueberry picking, and running around the Vista House while we adventured, borderline-torutured ourselves on a glorious trail run. In the end feeling free on the trail felt good and the thought of it puts a smile on my face. So, go #livefree and #befree among nature!


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Connecting With The Unexpected

Connecting to others is really important to me. It’s why I have a degree in Communications and a Master’s in Health Communication. It’s really something special when connecting comes unexpected, though.

If you put your device down and have your head up, you leave yourself open to connecting. You give yourself the opportunity to connect with people who probably wouldn’t be on your radar. The other day, when I picked my children up from school, I hung around for a bit talking to a mom. She’s a parent of a high schooler and 5th grader. I coached her daughter in track and field for two years. In that two years I hadn’t really ever had a solid conversation with her.

Within five minutes of connecting, we seem to have a few things in common. Mom guilt is high on the list – dangling over our heads, pretty much. Balancing the work-mom life is a thread that we both seem to share even though our children are fairly spread apart in age. We share the same views on running in adolescence and the growing pains associated with the sport. The need to be grateful for what we do have and discussing that with our youth. Lastly, our Bucket Lists! What a deep conversation for a 1:30pm, after school, sunny, warm, playground connection.

The mom guilt is real, but is it necessary?

Our mom guilt is about wanting to do more with our brains and interests but also wanting to be there for our kids. The both of us want to take a step back and analyze our energy and efforts. To consider and possibly execute the notion “can we step a bit farther away yet?” is in our head space. This guilt seems to be a popular one among many moms I speak with. Although mom guilt is an obstacle, it’s not anything we can’t hurdle over.

Student-athelets go through a ton of growing pains and we need to support them in figuring out what works for them.

A common ground between many parents and coaches is adolescent bodies in sports, specifically running. As adults, we can forget what it was like to have a growing body. Coaching middle school and high school athletes is a daily reminder of those growing pains. Knee pain and shin pain are the most common, but of course back, hip, and ankle pain pop up as well. Everything is connected, so when we become an athlete our bodies are tested as a unit – the entire body. If one area is weak, it will effect everything.

When athletes reach puberty a number of changes take place. Hormones, in particular. From our mental state to our physical bodies, so many changes occur in the high school years. In boys, they get a surge of testosterone which makes them stronger and faster. They also switch to a higher metabolism and typically have a lower BMI due to an increase in lean muscle. On the other hand, females get a surge of estrogen, higher body fat percent, and a lower rate in metabolism. Often, there will be girls who are faster than boys in 8th grade but in high school the girls plateau or get a bit slower and the boys excel. The whole process of growing can be frustrating and exciting; it can also be a rewarding experience with the proper support.

Having patience, listening to our body, making sure we rest when we are supposed to, and also pushing our limits while also understanding and accepting the body we were given are all necessary. It’s important as parents and coaches to teach this to our kids/student-athletes. This is a conversation that I wish I could have with every parent who has a child entering athletics.

Occasionally, we can get caught up in what we can’t do or don’t have.

Bringing into our awareness to have gratitude for what we do have is so much more productive than to dwell on what we don’t have. Maybe our time isn’t the fastest, but our legs are working. Maybe we don’t have the best training shoes, but we do have a pair. We can often get caught up in the details of life, rather than the big things that make life brilliant.

Drive is a good thing. Having a drive to do and to be is how we end up getting to a place within ourselves that we love!

It’s pretty magical causally talking to someone when a ‘bucket list’ conversation pops up. My bucket list seems to grow every day. Some days I feel like I don’t come close to reaching one bucket, but other days I feel like I can smell the bucket being checked off the list. To have that drive inside, to push us to do something and be someone more than we were when we woke up is a pretty incredible feeling. It may take a month, or a year, or a decade, but we will keep on driving ourselves till we do it!

As I finish writing this post, four days have past. I thought for sure that I’d get it done that night. It’s ok. I did it and I didn’t abandon my initial words. I still feel completely connected tho this conversation that I had no idea would transpire so naturally. If we can just keep our heart, eyes, and minds open then who knows what type of connections we can make.


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The BIG 3 In Fitness Can Bring Transformation To a Group

Fitness isn’t just giving people a kick-ass workout. It’s not about making them puke or sweat so much they need to be peeled off the ground. Of course, that can happen, but it’s really about being completely present for your people for the hour you are with them and about transformation. Over the last two months. I’ve noticed for the first time that my personal training, coaching, and group fitness instructing skills and methods have collided. Instead of keeping them all separate like I usually do, I’ve applied my style, personality, and methods of each to each of them and have found greater success. Coaching, Knowledge & Energy Combo, and Personal Attention are my BIG 3 In Fitness. My athletes want the knowledge and personal attention. Fitness members often need individual attention and like to be coached. Personal training clients want the energy and knowledge I bring to a class and thrive on the coach that comes out of me.

IMG_8521 IMG_8552In the past, my style would change like you’d change a hat. “Ok, it’s time to a be a one-on-one trainer now and stoically pay close attention to each muscle movement and effort.” “Oh! Now it’s time to coach these kids to understand the point of this workout and inspire them to execute it properly.” “Time for a show! Amp up the energy and get these members ready for some fitness fun!” Every group that I work with, needs the BIG 3’s and they all require them in different degrees.

As fitness professionals, I think that if we all take one big step back we can notice that every person in a group or solo needs us to be completely present and needs to be seen, heard, encouraged, enlightened, and energized. When a group is informed rather than just told what to do, their movements take on a whole new effort. When someone is having an off day and is truly seen by us, we’ve just made their day a bit lighter for them. During instruction, if we can step away from barking movements, to succinctly explaining why we do certain movements a certain way, enlightens people. We end up not only promoting health but we are also teaching. When negative self talk has crept into any one of their minds, someone to plug “This pull-up represents you pulling yourself up out of anything!” will literally pull them through their day, or more! Bringing all of this together naturally promotes transformation. When you’ve got someone dedicated to all of those things, just for you in that hour, how can transformation not take place?

The BIG 3 in Fitness – Coaching, Knowledge & Energy Combo, and Personal Attention are essential to fitness success. Whether you are in just one of the roles that I am in, the BIG 3 will transform the people you are working with in a big way.




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The Epic Week of Fitness Has Come

This is an epic week of fitness – bootcamp classes, coaching, and running!

We are all jumping into the busy season of school, sports, and work again. Often, it feels great to be busy but getting going can be like jumping into a fitness routine after having years off – you’re a bit rusty but muscle memory will prevail.

Teaching is both exhilarating and exhausting.

It is a week that I’ve been half dreading and half extremely excited to tackle. Typically, my regular week only includes teaching two Bootcamp classes at Align Fitness and teaching one-on-one fitness sessions. This week, I’m subbing twice. I dread the hours leading up to subbing because I don’t really know the clients attending. I’m a stickler on form, function, and coordination, so the idea of correcting another instructors clients is tricky for me.

This week is different, though. All the classes so far have been the best. The energy, fitness literacy, and pure strength of each client has been off the charts. Every single person has come through the doors ready to work and be pushed!

Picture perfect fitness!

There is rarely time to take pictures of my fitness classes because I am too busy teaching, but I managed to snap one a few weeks ago.Bootcamp Class Align Fitness I clearly remember starting with a particular group of four and where they were in their fitness.

Now, my class has grown to 10-12 in circulation with seven constant every week and with such focus and whole-body fitness. They have worked so hard in the last few months and you can tell in every exercise we perform together.

As an instructor, it’s exciting to bring a group of people to the next level, and the next, and the next, etc… I’m always eager for each week as we reach for new heights, with new exercises and movements.

My Align Fitness Bootcamp routine looks like this!

  • A dynamic warm-up (arm circles, high knees, butt kicks, jumping jacks, plank variation, pilates ball adduction w/ squat series, low-impact a.k.a. slow burpees, and jump rope)
  • TRX Squat w Row alternating between high & mid-rows. Followed by TRX Back Extension. Cardio Burst. 2 sets of 12
  • Push-ups w/ Yoga Block. Squat Jacks or low-impact squats. 2 sets of 10 each.
  • TRX Bicep Curls. TRX Plank Roll-Outs, Weighted Forward and Reverse Lunges. 2 sets of 12 each.
  • TRX Tricep Press. KB or DB Wood Chops w/ Lateral Lunge. 2 sets of 12 each.
  • Plank Series
  • 20 Burpees. TRX Single Leg Squat with Cross-Body Knee to Elbow Oblique Crunch. KB or DB Pullovers w/ (heels together) Crunches
  • Core Work and Stretch

Ending a good workout with some deep breathing.

Lastly, we end with a few deep breaths together and our class mantra, “Breathe in all the strength you put into your workout and let that strength carry you through your week.” For my class, it’s not just fitness and strength of the body that we are working on, it’s also fitness and strength of the mind.

Coaching is back in session.

This week also marked the beginning of my second cross country season as Head Coach of the Portland Waldorf School’s Cross Country team. My team comes from a high school of less than 100 students. Getting kids on a cross country team is pretty hard to accomplish in a large school, never mind a school with less than 100 kids. I’m so lucky to have some interested and skilled kids to kick off this season right.

Today, my plan was to do an easy run to see where the kids were in their fitness. However, a couple of athletes did four miles, one did 3+, and the other did one mile. It was such a great first day of practice. This year, athletes will have an increased exposure to meditation, physical literacy, and sports psychology. As high school coaches, there is more that we can add to our high school teams’ growth as athletes and humans.

Running is a mode of transportation for the body and the mind.

My true love is running. Quieting of the mind is a practice that most of us need reminders to exercise. Running helps with the quiet, and works even better when meditation is happening regularly. I’ve evolved as a runner over the years, as many runners have. As running serves various purposes in my life, I hope that my athletes also find themselves or parts of themselves in their running.

Hitting the trails does the body good.

Trail running is my main focus right now and luckily I have the Oaks Bottom trail in my area. Forest Park is a little too far to travel to when time is limited, but it probably has the best trails in Portland. Presently, we will be staying close to Oaks Bottom. However, in future weeks we may be venturing to Tryon Creek for a change of scenery.

A message I like to practice daily and spread to my clients and athletes – PMA every day. You can turn any day around with a change in the mind. Positivity spreads throughout the body and to others rapidly, so practice PMA daily.

Keep on doing what we do best and do it to our best.


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To Be A Coach in 2016

It’s spring in Portland, OR which means rain with peeks of sunshine. This season has been too wet, yet it hasn’t deterred any athletes – they all come back for more. Aside from personal training, coaching is the one thing that I dedicate so much time and brainpower to. It’s the job that pays the least, but is the most gratifying. There’s something about being around young people who are excited to learn and grow from what you are teaching them, that makes the process both fun and challenging. Each athlete is evolving into greater versions of themselves, but at different rates.

I think of coaching Track & Field as a way to improve and inspire each athlete, individually. With big teams, that’s a difficult task. However, after a couple of weeks, you do get to know each athlete. I can tell very quickly, their temperaments, personalities, strengths, weaknesses, event capabilities, and commitment to their journey. When I first joined my high school track team, I was super shy but attacked the track. It was the one place that I felt alive and myself. I took workouts seriously, but I knew from the beginning that I was one of the few. I didn’t mind that truth. My teammates were awesome and every girl brought life to the team, regardless of their skill and seriousness with the sport.

Sports are so competitive these days and that competitiveness can discourage student-athletes from participating. I want all levels to join my team. I want the kid that’s never run a step, leaped in the air, or thrown a ball to be on my team. Because, the fact is, there are components to track and field that can be a part of us throughout our lives. Our jobs are not just to develop speed, strength, and skill. Our jobs are to also develop confidence, unity, and tenacity in our athletes and team. While, as coaches, we work so hard at those things we inevitably (if we are doing our jobs correctly) develop a level of trust at the same time. If the goal is to bring something great out of an athlete, then the trust does need to live in the athlete-coach relationship.

As coaches, it is our job to step-up and be a guide, be a role model. It comes from within. “What lies before us and what lies behind us are all small matters compared to what lies within us. And when we bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen” – Henry David Thoreau

The other side of coaching often involves parents. I recently read an article by Steve Hanson, titled “What Makes A Nightmare Sports Parent — And What Makes a Great One.” The article was about an informal study over three decades, that was initiated by Bruce E. Brown and Rob Miler of Proactive Coaching. To sum it up, kids don’t want their parents to be their coaches, talk about the game/meet, or offer advice. They want their parents to be their parents. Students were asked: “What is your worst memory from playing youth and high school sports?” The most popular response: “The ride home from the games with my parents.” Athletes were also asked what their parents said that made them feel good? Again, the overwhelming response was: “I love to watch you play.” It is so simple. Athletes don’t want approval, instruction, critiques, or pressure from their parents. They want their parents to just enjoy watching them. They want the coaching to live with the coach and for their parents to just be parents.

Miller says, “Athletics is one of the best ways for young people to take risks and deal with failure because the consequences aren’t fatal, they aren’t permanent. We’re talking about a game. So they usually don’t want or need a parent to rescue them when something goes wrong. Once you as a parent are assured the team environment is a safe environment, release your child to the coach and to the game. That way all successes are theirs, all failures are theirs.”

As I enter another season as coach and my first season as parent with a son in Farm League baseball, I believe these are very wise words that all parents, can understand and appreciate.

Here’s to another season of sports! I hope all of us coaches, parents, and everyone in between can live out our roles to the best of our abilities.


-Coach Keely



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Ellen DeGeneres


I recently described myself as the Ellen Degeneres of personal training and coaching. Why? Well, maybe it’s my stunted social skills from being excruciatingly shy and anxious growing up and maybe it’s just who I am, but I am “not an intimidating drill instructor,” as someone put it last week. I’m goofy and nice, but a perfectionist in my skills and expectations at the same time. I smile, laugh, dance, and do frog jumps or donkey kicks alongside them as they sweat, push, and laugh too. I find a whole lot of joy in my work, like Ellen seems to in hers.

As a kid, my goal was to make people happy. As I grew and found a love for health & wellness, I decided to combine my love of making people happy with my love of health & wellness into a career. I may do several things: write, personal train, teach group exercise, and coach, but they all involve happiness and health.

Last year, I coached high school track and at the end of the season the AD made a comment that I wasn’t tough enough – in a strict, stern way. I took a second and thought, well no one missed a practice unless they were home sick or had a school event and the girls team, which only had five on the team, took 4th in state and everyone had their best season, so….  I think people think coaches and trainers should embody a certain persona in order for clients and athletes to achieve success. Well, I’m a firm believer that no one is going to go on that ride with me if I am not myself. I could pretended to be “hard” with no smile, but what kind of fun would that be?

Being myself, has had a positive effect on the kids I coach and the clients I train. If I can open up and be myself, they will too. They feel as though they are in a safe place and can open up as well and be honest with themselves, their bodies, their training, and me. If I come off too tough with an intense attitude, then a kid may not come to me if they are injured or not feeling well. Kids and clients will quit, not gain confidence, or end up injured. The possibilities are endless when everyone feels comfortable with each other.

In some respect, this idea of putting on a persona can translate to other fields as well. In my early 20’s I tried on that professional persona and it was awful for all parties involved. When I made the decision to let myself come out and play with my career, I was successful and devoured the work that I was getting.

So, I stand by my Ellen DeGeneres-style – it’s who I am. Any way, what’s  better than being able to be myself in the field that I choose to live and grow, in order to inspire those in my reach?



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What Coaching Has Taught Me

Coaching taught me these things:

  1. Be Patient
  2. Be Yourself
  3. Read/Study Everything You Can
  4. Trust Yourself
  5. Inspire
  6. “Listen” with your eyes and ears

If you are a new coach, read on my friends. This past spring, I coached highschool track & field for the Portland Waldorf School. It was a learning experience like no other. So much so that I think everyone should coach at some point in their lives. I’ve coached in the past, as a young 23 year-old in RI and the second time as much more experienced version of my former self, in San Francisco.  Both groups of kids were completely open to me and my approach. I loved every second working with them, but life took me down other paths and now I’m in Portland, OR 13 years after my coaching journey began.

Coaching this season was actually a surprise. I had told the AD earlier in the year that I’d love to help the PE department or running teams in any way, as it’s my love and profession. Little did I know that the head coach would get fired and the assistant would quit, leaving me as the first option for coach. I thought I’d be walking in to the same excited, welcoming environment like my two previous experiences but it was quite the opposite. The kids wanted their old coaches and so did most of the parents. My first several weeks as coach was HARD, to say the least.

Having over 20 years as an athlete, plus the addition of multiple certifications, I knew what to coach, but it was how to coach these sensitive, yet extremely talented young student-athletes that had me stumped. I knew I didn’t have all the answers so I sought out some of my favorite coaches and asked them a bunch of questions over FB, text, email, and phone. I also got one of my new, track geek friend, Sam Smith, to help me coach a couple days a week. My husband’s high school track coach, Dave Counts, gave me lots of great info, but one thing he said that stood out was, “find a way to connect with them aside from giving workouts.” Being a writer and a lover of good lyrics, I choose to share a quote or lyric at the beginning of each practice. It was fun for me and I think the athletes liked it too. My  high school coach, Mr. Croughan, was my main support system. I remember in one phone conversation, after a trying week, that I said “I need to prove to them that I’m a good coach.” Mr. Croughan replied, “Well, if you want to prove it to yourself, that’s fine but you don’t have to prove yourself to anyone else.” Once I let that sink in, everything seemed to “click” with every athlete. I wish that I could’ve recorded the transformation somehow.

Through workouts, visualization, my quirky quotes/lyrics, pasta party, t-shirt making, laughs, sweat, and incredible performances, we ended the season with every athlete PR’ing and four female athletes qualifying for states – individual and 4x100m relay. It was exciting to be their coach because they were just so excited, focused, and determined. I helped get them there, but they made the choices to come to practice, to work hard, to become mentally tough, to give it everything they got and more. Watching them this season, I can see that they will honestly tackle every opportunity that comes their way in life.

The day before our track awards, my family and I were spectators at Pre Classic in Eugene. First, AMAZING! Second, after winning the 200m Justin Gatlin said something like, (loose quote) “I just did what my coach told me to do. Coach is always right. But if something goes wrong, it’s his fault.” The crowd laughed, including myself, but it also made me realize that that’s the way I had approached the season – trust my coaching and if it doesn’t work out, blame me! Luckily, the season felt successful with PR’s and happy faces, so no one needed to blame me for anything!

A week after all the meets, practices, and festivities ended I came across this quote by the legendary Amby Burfoot, “Coaches don’t make athletes. Athletes make coaches.” After all the ups and dowins the season brought, in the end, the athletes made me a better, stronger coach. I’ve had a good share of jobs, from owning my fitness business to being a health educator and honestly, I have never worked so hard in my life. Knowing that this small group of athletes wanted to be the every best, made me work 10x harder than I ever have in any position I’ve ever taken. So yes, the athletes do make coaches.

Cross country is next on the agenda!

Be well.




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