Bad-Ass Clients: Karen


IronPlate studios would like to celebrate health by showcasing some bad-ass IronPlate Clients that have taken control of their own health and fitness. They are here to share their journey, motivations, struggles, and tips and tricks that have helped them get to the point they are currently at. Perhaps one of their stories will motivate, inspire or help you with your own wellness journey. Regardless, let's stand up and support these guys for their dedication, honesty and bravery for sharing some the intimate details of their journey with all of us!

Next up is Karen, a long-time client of IronPlate Studios, who shook up her normal routine by stepping out of her comfort zone and putting some faith into Kristin!

What motivated you to make a change or get started on your wellness journey?

I was too busy to do anything else. I worked a "normal" week as a corporate project manager, plus half a day seeing hospital patients, and I served on the board of directors for a non-profit. Working day in and day out on other peoples' goals and timelines left me without enough energy to create my own. So when Kristin (who was training my spouse) came out of left field and said she could put together a plan for me to get into a bodybuilding competition, I laughed and said I'd try whatever she told me for 8 weeks. Voila: a goal and a timeline that I didn't have to manage. All I had to do was the work.

What made you choose IP Studios to help you achieve those goals?

My spouse initially chose Iron Plate for the focus on nutrition, and I was just along for the ride. Once Kristin created the project of turning me into a figure competitor, we saw that her knowledge on muscle gains was completely in sync with what we had been learning from her about fat loss.

What are your personal goals? Have you reached any yet? If yes, how do you continue to set new goals for yourself?

I gave Kristin two months to turn me into a figure competitor starting on Labor Day 2015. By Halloween, I was sporting a bright orange spray tan, a bikini with rhinestones, and see-through 6" heels. I got to learn completely ridiculous "skills" like using the bathroom without marring your tan and how to properly glue your suit to your buns. It was a riot. After the first competition, I decided that the world of competitive bodybuilding was so weird and fascinating that I should give it a real try, not just the two months I'd challenged Kristin with preparing me in. Setting new goals means picking a new competition date and creating a vision of what my body should look like in that time.

What was your training/ nutrition regimen prior to starting at IP? How has it evolved from your first week with IP to where you currently are right now?

I had no regimen. I ate whatever I wanted. I never went to the gym. Now, I've risen to the challenge of cooking healthy meals in the fastest, laziest way possible. We've turned our garage into a workout space, and we even look for intense, classic bodybuilding gyms to visit when we're on vacation.

How would you describe your current lifestyle? Work full- or part-time? Kids? Travel often for work or pleasure? Out frequently? Etc.

Each week I work 43 paid hours and 2 volunteer hours. My weekly commute is 9 total hours. I do 1 hour of Pilates, 1 hour at Iron Plate, and 1-2 hours working out at home. I do sleep 8-9 hours a night, so there is no time for going out: weekdays are just wake up, go to work, work out or do chores, go to bed. Despite the sleep, I'm usually exhausted from an energy standpoint once the weekend hits. I try to go day-hiking once or twice a month, but sometimes I just can't muster the wherewithal to plan the hike. We travel for pleasure about once a month, usually by car, so we don't have to coordinate around plane times. No kids--not interested.

What’s your favorite food to make? Would you care to share a recipe?

Anything that can soak in the crockpot while I sleep. A good one is to load up the slow cooker with 2-3 lbs pork tenderloins (or chicken breasts, or chicken thighs, or turkey breasts), 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons mustard, 2 garlic cloves, and 2 tablespoons maple syrup (don't worry--it works out to be 20 calories and 5g sugar when portioned out), and then top it off with 6 small sweet potatoes (or whatever is equivalent to 6 servings of sweet potatoes). Cook for 8 hours on low (6 hours for chicken). Put each sweet potato in a Tupperware, and portion out the 6 servings of meat. Now you have carbs and protein, with a small amount of fat. My spouse is on a lower fat diet than I am, so he would eat it as-is, whereas I would add ground nuts.

What’s your guilty pleasure food? How do you incorporate it into your current lifestyle?

I eat one chocolate covered yellow cake donut from Wawa each week. I have trained myself not to eat more than that by realizing that doing so makes me feel ill. After all, we eat for pleasure, no? Not for feeling sugar-sick.

What struggles have you faced along the way & how have you dealt with them?

When I did my first competition, I knew I would not have time to figure out the controlled macros and calorie counts that are necessary for gradual weight loss while retaining muscle mass. Since my spouse wanted me to do this, I told him I wouldn't be able to unless he did the food. So for eight weeks, he planned all of the meals, shopped, put groceries away, cooked, washed dishes, and boxed everything into Tupperwares. All I had to do was promise not to eat anything that wasn't in the box. If he was doing all that, how could I not do this one thing?

How has training at IronPlate helped you in your journey?

There is no way I would have ever done competitive body building if it hadn't been for Kristin. It is the most ridiculous and intriguing thing I've ever been involved with. There is a fascinating feminist aspect to the question of how to judge muscular women: do you give points for the biggest muscles, or do you take points off for being too manly? Is walking around in a bikini submitting to the male gaze, or is doing a biceps (gun show) pose subverting it? Since wearing heels gives an advantage to showing off leg muscles, should women quietly accept the advantage, or should we protest the unfairness that men pose barefoot? These are things I would have never thought about in a million years.

What are some of your hobbies?

My hobbies are doing needlepoint while watching TV, and posting iPhone photos from my day hikes on Flickr ( My passions are playing harp at the bedside of hospital patients ( and teaching harp ( I am probably the only therapeutic double-strung harp playing figure competitor in the world.

What’s one fascinating thing you have learned from your time with IronPlate. (Either from your trainer or about yourself)

I thought you had to be disgustingly ripped to be a bodybuilder. Not so: there are popular, professional divisions for women--and men!--who are not jacked. And, I thought that lifting weights would automatically give you enormous muscles. Good lord, no: it takes SO MUCH WORK to make muscles, especially for women. We just do not have the testosterone, muscle fibers, and bone structure that men do. I wish that I could say that men and women are equal in all things, but this is biology. They can't have babies, and we can't grow muscles like they can. The good news for female Iron Plate clients is that you can easily be strong without being bulky. Lifting weights will not turn you into a muscle head unless you work really, really, really hard.

If you’re ready to make some changes and become a bad-ass client, send us an email to take a tour of the studio or check out some of our great introductory specials.