Pro Spotlight: Strong Coffey on Wedding Wellness, Part 1
I’ve known personal fitness trainer Kelly Coffey since before she was internet famous – in fact, I was one of her first clients! (Gotta stay strong to lug a heavy makeup kit, amirite?) I also do her makeup whenever the opportunity arises, which has been quite often over the last year with the launch of her Pleasure Principles e-program. Read on to find out what this fitness trainer, motivational speaker, and all-around wellness rock star has to say about pre-wedding fitness goals!
1. What do you do for a living?
In the morning I’m a personal fitness trainer, and by the light of the moon I teach women like me – hedonists, pleasure-seekers, gals with a penchant for MORE MORE MORE, and folks with addictive personalities – how to develop healthier habits in ways that feel good and can last a lifetime.
2. Were you always athletic?
Ha. No. I was never an athlete, though I did hold the Camp Integrity Counselor Keg Stand Crown for like five minutes once in 1999.
But seriously, I’ve never been an athlete. Even now, as a professional trainer, I work out everyday, but don’t look at it as a competition and I’m not trying to beat a personal best. I’m in it for the pleasure.
I was morbidly obese most of my life, and after I lost the weight, I slowly came to realize that I’d still feel like hell even if I was thin unless exercise became a major part of my life. Without the resistance I had naturally as a bigger person, I was a weak little unit. So I started exercising for completely selfish, feel-good reasons. For me, that means pushing myself to my limit, wherever that happens to be on any given day, because the edge is the exciting, fun, breathless place. And every time I do that, I get a little stronger, a little more diesel, and I feel a little hotter and more invincible. Good times.
3. What inspired you to start working as a fitness trainer?
I was working out one evening after work, lifting heavy weights and staring at myself in the mirror (making kissy faces and basically flirting with myself), when I saw an obese woman being trained by a petite personal trainer. The client was sweating and clearly very uncomfortable, but she was doing everything that was being asked of her. I was so impressed by her. The trainer was a wee wisp of a thing – I could tell she’d never been appreciably overweight, and I suspected she had no idea how her client was feeling – how hard it was to do what what she was doing. I decided in that moment that that client would do better if she had a trainer who knew exactly how hard she was working, and who could empathize and support her from a place of genuine understanding. At that moment, the ceiling opened up and angels with harps came pouring through, and I realized I’d just had a life-altering epiphany: I should be a personal trainer!
4. What sorts of goals do your clients present when they hire you?
Most of my clients want to lose weight, though that’s often not their top priority. They come to me because they want to get a handle on their relationship to food, and they want to learn how to exercise and challenge themselves in the kind of loving bubble that only a trainer with a history like mine can create. Some just want to be able to pull their own weight (literally). Some want gorgeous arms and shoulders and backs.
5. How about clients who also happen to be planning weddings?
The gals who are gearing up to get married want their back and shoulder muscles to shine on their wedding day, to look strong and healthy and contoured. They want to exude nubile beauty, and they know that getting into a regular exercise routine will help get them there.
6. Are all goals created equal?
Oh hell no. My most important job in any of my professional relationships is help women focus on the goals that they have for themselves TODAY. Long-term goals, especially if they’re fueled by any kind of dislike or shame or self-consciousness, are extremely hard to keep working towards, and they very rarely nourish the soul of the one who’s struggling to meet them. When we keep our goals in today, they’re achievable, we can get immediate and frequent positive feedback from ourselves and the universe, and we can sustain that effort for…well, forever. Which is what wellness is – one health choice at a time, for a lifetime.
7. What has stood out to you when working with brides-to-be?
I feel like a lot of them come to me with an image of what they want to look like or become, and that’s a sucky place to start, because we’re always gonna feel like we’re falling short of that ideal. The ones who kick serious ass before their weddings, who look like diamonds on the day of, and who continue to shine afterward are the ones who focus on pushing themselves to their limit, whatever that looks like, every day. They leave expectations at the door, and are able to become their best, healthiest selves because they’re just doing the best they can, and staying curious about what that will look like and feel like as time passes.
8. As a trainer, how do you feel about the pressure put on brides to look a certain way at their weddings?
It’s passe. There’s so much beauty we’re allowed to celebrate today that we didn’t feel like we could 50 or even just 20 years ago. I blame the fact that there weren’t very many sources for what the image of the ideal bride could be, and so you had hordes of women trying to look like the one or two acceptable images of wedding-day perfection. But funky, colorful, left-of-center style is prized today, way more than that cookie-cutter image of a size 4 in a veil with white teeth and no discernible personality. The brides of today are strong and brilliant. They’re in control of the room, themselves, and, thankfully, their health.
9. Any parting thoughts for brides-to-be?
The stronger you are on your wedding day, the easier it is to have phenomenal sex even after you’ve partied all day and long into the night. Really, ladies, what the hell else is there?
Coffey’s offering a free talk online on April 1st at 8:30PM EST entitled “Of Course You Can: 3 Essential Strategies to End Self-Sabotage.” See you there!