Name: Allison Tenney—CSCS, SFG1
Location: Seattle, WA
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
It’s being part of an amazing community of women who are committed to empowering other women around them. It’s not just about strength in the weight room. It’s about showing how we are capable in so many ways!
How long have you been training?
I have been a competitive soccer player my entire life and played Division I soccer. My earliest memories are on a soccer field and I have always been training to stay fit to play. That changed a lot once I had kids. I couldn’t run as much due to nagging injuries, and I couldn’t play soccer as much. I stepped into a weight room with some guidance from Neghar Fonooni, and my training has continued to evolve as I get older.
How did you get introduced to strength training?
I always lifted as a competitive athlete, but after I graduated and started my soccer-coaching career I found myself in charge of the fitness for my Division I Women’s College Soccer team I. Strength training is a big piece of their physical preparation and I became really interested in how all the puzzle pieces fit together to make my athletes more resilient. I studied and read a lot (got my CPT) to learn everything I could. I did a lot of “experimenting” on myself, trying out training programs and exercises and had amazing results for myself and my athletes. Our injury rates dropped on our team, which helped their performance on the field. This past year we made it the second round of the NCAA tournament.
What does a sample workout look like for you?
I lift about four days a week. I don’t do a ton of running anymore, although I do still like to jump in and play some soccer now and then. Here is a “go-to” workout for me, unless I am working with a coach who is programming for me (even coaches need coaches).
Mobility work & skill work with Kettlebell (I love bent press and windmills right now)
A2— BB Hip Thrusters
B2— Front Squat (or Back Squat)
C1— Inverted rows
C2 — SL squat
Finisher — I usually pick some combination of these for about 10-15min: KB swings, jump rope, sprints, box/squat jumps, sled push, prowler. Pick your poison!
Pull-ups or Chin-ups. I also love all KB work.
Most memorable PR:
The first time I could do a Pull-Up! I also had a great time at the Tactical Strength Challenge this April, and got 225 on my Deadlift.
Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
I usually stream music on iTunes and listen to the Top 50 Pop Hits. But I always get pumped with Beyoncé, Brittney Spears, Iggy Azalea, and Michael Jackson.
Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:
Phone (I keep my workouts and music on it), headphones, water
Do you prefer to train alone or with a training partner? Why?
I like having a partner to train with, although I find with my crazy schedule I am usually by myself. The camaraderie and social aspect of working out with a friend is something that keeps me motivated.
What's the best compliment you’ve received lately?
My client who I have been working with for the past two months sent me a text... "Have met a lot of people in my time, and you are an excellent trainer/coach. Thanks for your efforts!" This made my day since you never really know how you affect people.
Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
I try to compliment people in my life on a daily basis (and really mean it). It's a good practice to have.
Thai Food. I love green curry!
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Starbucks, anything from Lululemon, or going to a movie by myself.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not just in some of us; it is in everyone and as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give others permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
– Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love
The Four Agreements. This was a game-changer for me.
What inspires and motivates you?
I have amazing people in my life that inspire me to be the best version of myself.
My kids so I can be a happy and healthy mom.
My husband who is constantly striving to be better in everything he does.
My college team and coaching staff with their drive, dedication, and constant humor.
The women I am surrounded by on a day-to-day basis and those I choose to follow through social media (my YMCA girls, Jen Sinkler, Neghar, Molly, Jill). They are a constant reminder to continue to improve, work hard, have fun, and lighten up.
What does a typical day look like for you? (From waking up to bedtime)
This is the hardest question for me since no two days look the same. It depends on what time of year it is. Since both my husband and I are soccer coaches, our schedules are always crazy. He travels a lot and we both work weekends and juggle our time with our two kids. Here is what they look like this time of year…
7:45 AM: Wake up – make breakfast and get kids (my 4 yr old) ready for preschool (M/W/F)
9:00 AM: Out the door to preschool
9:45 – 11 AM: Get a workout in at the YMCA. I have my 2 year old with me typically.
12 PM: Pick up from preschool. Lunch at home
1 PM: Head into work with my kids
2:30 – 4 PM: Training with my college team (my kids get to run around on the field)
5 PM: Home and play outside. I clean, do laundry, emails, work, write programs, read throughout the evening. All very sporadically.
6:30 PM: Dinner for kids
8:30 PM: Bedtime for the kids. For me: more emails, reading, catching up on work.
11:00 PM: Bedtime for the adults!
What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
Confidence in my own body and being able to carry all my groceries in one trip.
Next training goal:
I want to get 12 Pull-Ups (or Chin-Ups) and a 275-pound deadlift.
What are you most grateful for in your life?
My health and my family. I'm also grateful every single day that I am afforded the opportunity to do what I love and have my family be a huge part of that.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of thus far?
Finding ways to balance having a family while also pursuing my passion. It's hard, but totally worth it!
If you had to choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Loyal. Competitive. Determined.
How has lifting weights changed your life?
It has widened my training knowledge, making me a better soccer coach. It has given me the tools to make my athletes better as well.
Lifting weights has opened doors professionally with so many amazing and talented people I have met, and I have recently launched my own training business!
Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt, and how it turned out.
I put off taking the CSCS (Certified Strength & Conditioing Specialist) for a loooong time because it seemed daunting and insurmountable. I felt "not smart enough" and was terrified that I wouldn't pass. I finally leveled-up, studyied my butt off, and did pass!
What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
Two things: First, the negative stereotypes around the effects of heavy lifting for women are false. I think it’s important to dispel the misconceptions that lifting heavy will make you “bulky.” Unless you are on performance-enhancing drugs, females just do not have the hormonal or genetic makeup to get super bulky. If that's what's holding you back, let it go, and start lifting! Second, it's a worthwhile endeavor yielding many benefits, beyond the weight room.
What do you have to lose? It's empowering to see what the body and mind are capable of.
You can learn more about Allison Tenney on her website.
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