GGS Spotlight: Kirsten Shaw


Name: Kirsten Shaw
Age: 43
Location: Indianapolis, IN

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
Being a Girl Gone Strong is so much more than lifting heavy stuff. GGSs embrace the awareness that we maximize the gifts we give to those we love when we take care of ourselves first. As such, we seek strength, joy, and balance. Ferociously.

How long have you been training?
I've been training for one year.

Favorite Lift:
I love the single-leg Romanian deadlift with weight vest and hand weights.

Most memorable training experience:
The first day I did step ups! I didn’t know it was possible to climb stairs without wincing knee pain. It was such a reality jolt that I did what any self-respecting middle-aged woman would do: I cried.

I am now a self-appointed ambassador of pain-free stair-climbing and regularly share the voodoo magic with complete strangers. And I don’t want to be all bragalicious, but I’ve become such a stair ninja that last year, we bought a two-story home. Boom!

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:

  • Baby Got Back by Sir Mix A Lot
  • Jai Ho by Pussycat Dolls
  • Play that Funky Music by Wild Cherry
  • Eye of the Tiger by Survivor
  • Wiggle by Jason Derulo

Top 3 things you must have with you at the gym/in your gym bag:

  • A balloon for my breathing exercises and resets
  • Chuck Taylor shoes
  • Cherry Kool-Aid drops

Most hilarious line you’ve heard at the gym:
You should take out a second mortgage on the bar because you OWN it.

Favorite post-workout meal:
You can never go wrong with grilled chicken thighs.

Favorite ways to treat yourself:
Painting my nails, Sunday naps, and dates with hubby, daughter, or girlfriends.

Favorite quote:
To give anything less than your best is to sacrifice the gift. ― Steve Prefontaine

Favorite book:
Shrink Yourself, by Dr. Roger Gould.

What inspires and motivates you?
I married my first husband because we had similar backgrounds, values, education, and interests. We were quite compatible, on paper. But there never was a spark ― turns out sparks are a bad thing when all you have is paper. At least I got a great kid out of the deal. Then I upgraded husbands.

Even after 7 years, I still get butterflies when that tall, yummy man walks into a room. Shifting from ho-hum to heck-a-yea has taught me the pain-healing, life-altering power of hope, faith, and positive mojo. I wrote a blog post a while back on why we should totally love our bodies no matter what.

What we swirl around in our mental snow globes is critical. I’m motivated and inspired by the contagious possibilities that positivity creates.

Henry Ford said, “Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” Pretty smart for a dead guy.

What does a typical day look like for you? 
Jim Rohn is quoted as saying that as individuals, we are the average of the five people we spend the most time with. Aside from the occasional joy ride on the diet yo-yo, I’ve been an obese woman most of my adult life. I ate fast food almost every day for lunch and breakfast, and I was completely inactive.

Rather than doing a "You-Suck-Intervention" on my five influencers, I decided it’d probably be easier to just add some new peeps to my world. I had no idea at the time how lucky I was to get hired on as an admin at IFAST (Indianapolis Fitness And Sports Training). It truly was the magical piece that changed my daily life and helped my world fall into balance. You can read about my experience in more detail here.

During the week, Hubby and I like to start our day with me in his arms and him saying a morning prayer. Then I’m up to get ready and spend a few cherished moments with my still-enjoyable-to-be-around 12-year old before dropping her off at school. After that, I head into work where my to-do list is taller than Godzilla playing at the IMAX.

Clients will often tell me how lucky I am to get to work at a gym.

Yes. And no.

You know that feeling of guilt you get when you know you should train but you just can’t find your Give-a-Crap? Imagine having gym equipment come to life, follow you to work, sit down right by your cubicle, and stare at you all day like the dog when you’re making dinner. THAT.

And because my schedule is kind of flexible, I totally suffer from, “I’ll train right after I finish this one last thing” syndrome.

My goal is to train three times a week and do two extended periods of conditioning. But even if I only train twice a week, that’s still two times more than I was doing before. And on the extra crazy weeks when I only train once? I always strive to give myself at least the same amount of grace I’d offer a complete stranger.

After work I head home to make dinner, eat with the fam, watch too much DVR-ed TV, inspire/threaten the offspring to complete homework and/or shower, and then head to bed where I stay up too late looking at my sleep-disruptive phone.

Progression not perfection, eh? I find comfort in the fact that I continue to have plenty of room left on that whole self-growth continuum thing.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from lifting heavy?
I spent four decades honing my skills as a sedentary creature. At 296 pounds, I joked that it wasn’t so much that I was fat (note: I was), I was just incredibly prepared for my Before Picture. To reach my weight loss goals, I knew building muscle and moving more were the key to putting jumper cables on my metabolism. It worked; I’ve just reached my 100-pound weight loss mark.

Next training goal:
I’m competing in my first powerlifting meet this July at IFAST. I loved watching previous meets ; the supportive energy in the gym is electrifying! As an unsanctioned event, I like the idea that I’m really only competing with myself. I can’t get my arse low enough to squat yet, so I’ll just have to polish my roar on the bench and deadlift. Anyone at any fitness level can compete and walk away feeling like a super star. Or in my case, a super hero.

Yeah, so um, I *may* have ordered a custom-made Wonder Woman tutu to wear to my inaugural event.

If you had to choose 3 words to describe yourself, what would they be?
Loving. Loved. Blessed.

What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start lifting heavy?
I recently hung a picture in the women’s bathroom that says, “Not lifting because you are afraid of looking like a bodybuilder is like not driving a car because you fear becoming a Nascar driver.

I train with the ever-amazing Jae Chung.  He’s a strong dude, but probably wouldn’t intimidate anyone in a dark alley. Or on basketball court. One day he was working with a female client who was afraid of looking “manly."

Jae said, “If it was that easy to bulk up, don’t you think I would be?

Bless his heart and the medium-sized shirt that covers it.

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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