GGS Spotlight: Claire Thomson


Name: Claire Thomson
Age: 25
Location: Nashville, TN

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong means knowing who you are, what you offer the world and living that out. While the world may be interested in shrinking women physically and emotionally, a Girl Gone Strong knows her worth and value.

How long have you been strength training, and how did you get started?
I have been strength training for three years! After running a half marathon, I wanted to start strength training. I joined a gym and did the few exercises I knew of — bent-over rows, bicep curls, bodyweight squats…. When the gym was really busy, I would walk straight to the cardio deck and go for a run even though I wanted to lift weights.

One Sunday afternoon, I was doing my millionth set of Russian twists, a man approached me and asked if I had ever worked with kettlebells. I hadn’t, and despite sitting in front a rack full of them, I wasn’t even sure what they were. He patiently taught me how to deadlift and my love of kettlebells grew.

What does your typical workout look like?
I do a couple stretches and never miss doing a side plank and plank before lifting. I’ve been training for the StrongFirst Bodyweight certification this year, so recently my training sessions have been utilizing kettlebells, pull-ups and push-ups.

Favorite lift: 
Kettlebell swings

Most memorable PR:
The first time I completed Simple was a huge moment for me. Simple and Sinister is a program which includes one-handed swings and Turkish get-ups. The Simple standards for women are 100 one-handed swings in five minutes using a 24 kg kettlebell, followed by 10 Turkish get-ups in 10 minutes with a 16 kg kettlebell.

I had a couple of my students with me, who wanted to count my reps. They hadn’t seen me push myself physically so it was exciting to be on my way to achieving Sinister and also have my students rooting for me!

I’ve been training for Sinister more seriously recently. Sinister is the same protocol: 100 swings in five minutes and 10 Turkish get-ups in 10 minutes. The Sinister standards are using a 32 kg and 24 kg kettlebell, respectively. It’s definitely going to be a challenge, but I’ve been loving how strong I’ve felt.

Top 5 songs on your training playlist: 
I’m one of the few people who actually trains without music! I find that when I’m really focusing on my form, the movements and repeating mantras to myself, I see progress!

When it’s time to test maxes, I’ll rock out to some ACDC, but training time is in silence.

Top 3 things you must have at the gym or in your gym bag:
Chalk, phone tripod, phone.

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
I train alone! I’m an introvert and training is my favorite time to recharge. I also am hyper-aware of my form and find that when I am around people, I get distracted too easily. I really love lifting with others, but more as an activity, not as a part of my normal training routine.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
I was training heavy kettlebell snatches and one rep flew right out of my hands and made a really loud Bang! on the wood floor. No kettlebells, floors or feet were injured, but my ego was certainly bruised.

Most memorable compliment you’ve received lately:
I met a powerlifting bro at a New Year’s party and he asked some of my powerlifting numbers after being surprised that I’ve competed. He seemed genuinely impressed and told me I was strong. (Thanks man, I know.)

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
In social situations, I try to introduce myself by complimenting women. Usually it’s a superficial thing, such as their hair or their outfit, but it creates an atmosphere of less hostility, and I can get to know their interests and hobbies more than just their “cute dress!”

Favorite meal:
Eggs and chicken sausage! I could eat breakfast food every single meal!

Favorite way to treat yourself: 
I absolutely love going out to a nice restaurant or fun bar with my boyfriend. I enjoy dressing up a little, spending time in new places and laughing with him.

Favorite quote:
You should always be stronger than you look!

Favorite book:
Anything by Dan John.

What inspires and motivates you? 
I often think about when I didn’t lift, but had a few very strong role models. They put in a lot of work to achieve the strength they had, and it makes me want to do the same for someone. I also would love to be a mother one day, and dream of having a daughter who wants to “be strong like mom.”

What do you do?
I’m a strength coach. I teach small group classes at a gym in Nashville, TN and coach women remotely.

What else do you do?
I lift. I’m a craft beer connoisseur. I dabble with playing guitar.

Describe a typical day in your life:
I get up fairly early in the morning and do a quick yoga stretch session before pouring coffee and heading to work in our office. I am typically writing programs, making informational content for social media and recording podcasts in the morning. I go into the gym late morning then head to work in the afternoons for training sessions.

Your next training goal:
I recently achieved my biggest training goal and am now a StrongFirst Bodyweight certified instructor! I’m looking forward to competing in the fall; possibly another powerlifting meet and will continue my training for Sinister. I’m also looking forward to the muscles that come from heavy, heavy training!

For what are you most grateful?
I’m grateful for movement and health. I’m grateful for working limbs and muscles to allow my body to run and jump and grow.

Of what life accomplishment do you feel most proud?
I’m most proud of being a StrongFirst kettlebell instructor. The training is difficult, the certification weekend is rigorous but it’s still my favorite weekend I’ve ever had. I paid such attention to how my body was moving and reacting to new strength. My health became a huge priority and I’m very proud to be a part of an organization with such high standards.

Which three words best describe you?
Disciplined. Determined. Sassy.

Tell us about a time when you overcame fear or self-doubt.
I have recently left my nine-to-five job to become a full time coach. I remember the time that I got into fitness; I woke up one day and decided that I was a healthy person, and the actions followed. In a similar vein, I decided one day, “I’m a positive person and I work to get positive results.” Since then, I’ve been working hard to provide results to my current strength students as well as gather more.

How has lifting weights changed your life?

I’ve noticed that I am much more confident in the workplace as well as in my personal relationships.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve experienced from strength training?
Recovering from a small-minded mindset.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous or hesitant about strength training?
Give your younger self a role model. I dare you.

You can learn more about Claire on her website, and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.

Do you struggle with body image? Have you ever…

  • Felt anxious about clothes shopping or wearing certain clothes?
  • Dreaded going to an event (like a reunion or a wedding) — or even skipped the event altogether — because you felt too self-conscious about how you looked?
  • Found yourself not wanting to be in pictures or videos, or hiding behind other people in the picture to shield your body?
  • Scrolled through social media and felt worse and worse as you went?

If these sound familiar to you, you are not alone.

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About the author:  GGS

GGS is an organization dedicated to empowering women. We do this by creating world-leading resources, and educational materials that help women, and health & fitness professionals who work with women, take their skills and knowledge to the next level.

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