GGS Spotlight: Keri Burns

By GGS
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KeriBurns-Portrait-450x450Name: Keri Burns
Age: 38
Location: En Route to Canton, MI

What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
It means finding your balance. It means having the ability to walk up to another woman and compliment her instead of feeling threatened by her.  It means getting rid of the guilt that we as mothers often associate with anything done solely for ourselves that doesn't involve our children.  I’m a mother of two young girls, a wife, and personal trainer, but in the dreamy section of my brain I'm coaching incredible athletes, participating in PTA meetings all while making dinners that everyone in our family loves! Two out of three are possible!

How did you get introduced to strength training, and how long have you been training?
I was a TV anchor who fell out of love with the business. I married a law enforcement officer turned federal agent who I chose to follow around the country—which meant leaving my job in television and figuring out the next steps. I worked for two different radio stations in Boston, but the path still wasn’t clear. keriburns-casual-350x375Then, we had our first child, and one thing became clear: the thing I needed most was simply time. I needed time for myself. Enter, training!

It began with running…then a triathlon…then lifting. My good friend and personal trainer noticed my body was responding much better to the strength training compared to the long runs I was accustomed to doing.

I finally started working in health clubs…then after a move to Nevada I started personal training and learning, learning, learning. I was finding new ways to challenge my body, my mind and overall strength.

In May 2015, I competed in my first powerlifting competition—it was amazing! I won first place, set a state record on bench press in my weight class, and won the award for best lifter!

What does a sample workout look like for you?

I love to lift! I spend most of my workouts working between lifting heavy and deloading to lift heavy again.

I always begin with foam rolling, dynamic movement and stretches, and bar hangs. For upper body days, arm bars are an uncomfortable but pre-work necessity for me. Every week I'm training some variation of deadlifts (sumo, DB RDLs, rack pulls), squats (barbell back or front), or bench (incline, flat or dumbbell) along with accessory work like pull ups, variations of pushing (push ups, sleds, etc.) and Turkish Get-Ups - which I love for their practice in patience, strength & balance! Each step of the Get-Up is a unique piece that requires thoughtful execution. You can also use a variety of implements that make it even more challenging and fun.

I do have a bit of cardio ADD, and I don't particularly enjoy long bouts of the traditional stuff. I prefer metabolically driven work such as 45 seconds on Jacob’s Ladder followed by 15 kettlebell swings or goblet squats, then running up/down stairs for three rounds. Rest for 30 seconds, and repeat the series for 15 minutes of total work.

keriburns-fistbump-450x340One of the most important training days involves no lifting at all. That's something I've had to learn the hard way, through injury. On rest days, I find it helpful to stay off social media. It keeps me from second guessing the rest and staying out of the gym because, inevitably, there are a million videos of people who didn't stay home. It's easier to just shut it down for the day or, at the very least, 'post only' and avoid the scroll!

Favorite Lift:
Bench, I have two state records in two different weight classes (48 kg and 57 kg)

KeriBurns-Deadlift-Powerlifting-450x318Most memorable PR:
I'm in a battle with a client, Colin Grover, to see who can perform the heaviest Turkish Get Up...we both hit 65 pounds successfully.  I made it my mission to hit a new PR before moving to Michigan and leave Colin with his own goal: to beat my personal best!  I went to the gym on a mission and, after four attempts, worked a 70-pound barbell successfully through the TGU!

Top 5 songs on your training playlist:
That’s tough: I can say rap or hard rock are the things I love to hear when I’m pushing hard!

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

  • Music, music, music!
  • Lifting essentials: chalk (gym crack!), squat shoes, and knee sleeves (knees sleeves, for me, double as shin guards on deadlifts).
  • Training Journal – log everything, learn, and grow!

Do you prefer to train alone or with others? Why?
Tricky question! Alone, but I feel the most comfortable when I know I have a trusted spotter at arms length—not to mention I thrive on interaction with others at the gym! Building relationships, making new friends. It’s an incredible part of the culture. I truly believe if you’re in the ‘lift heavier’ game, you can’t progress unless you have someone you know and trust to be your ‘security blanket’ to help you with new loads or forced reps, especially on bench and squat.

keriburns-familycleaning-450x338Best compliment you’ve received lately:

“Mommy, you’re so strong.” — My five-year-old daughter. I strive everyday to be an example to my children. They’re getting it, and I’m thrilled!

Most recent compliment you gave someone else:
"Your arms are everything!" —to an incredibly strong woman in the gym.

Most embarrassing gym moment:
At the gym, I pee’d on the floor trying to pull a deadlift PR! I looked at my best gym buddy and said, “I think I have to pee!” He replied, “You already did!” **pointing at the floor** Being the incredible friend that he is, he cleaned up my pee while I went to the bathroom and relieved myself of the remainder. Since then I’ve learned to pee first, pull later!

KeriBurns-Wine-338x451Favorite meal:
Breakfast and dinner are my favorites!  I love eggs anytime especially with jasmine rice or wrapped up in a flatbread with a little cheese or as an omelet with avocado.

Favorite way to treat yourself:
Red wine and workout gear.

Favorite quote:
“Indecision is a decision.” 

When we were selling our home and the same people came through three times without making an offer...this is all I could think about.  It was an extremely stressful time - getting our hopes up and being let down, cleaning like crazy all the time for showings, open houses, etc.  Once I saw that applied to our home selling experience, I started seeing it in myself when it came to pulling the trigger on certain things, etc.  It's pretty powerful when you really see and understand it in your life.

Favorite book:
The Champion’s Mind by sports psychologist Jim Afremow, PhD. I also loved The Hunger Games series.

What inspires and motivates you?
So many things! I’m inspired to be strong for my children. My clients and their strength motivate me. I’m inspired by my own progress—looking at my exercise diary and lifting log is incredibly eye-opening! It’s a wonderful chance to appreciate the value of consistency and time.

KeriBurns-Snake-338x451What do you do?
I’m a personal trainer, weight loss specialist, and child tamer.

What else do you do?
We're in the process of moving from Nevada to Michigan (anyone out there a Michigander?!?!) which currently means packing up our house and driving cross country to show our kids Mount Rushmore, the Badlands and the incredible sights of our beautiful country.  I'm looking for a fantastic facility to train clients so...if you have any suggestions, I'm open!

What does a typical day look like for you, from waking up to bedtime?
Wake up at 4:20am…coffee…computer…eat…train (myself).

Come home, get kids ready for school, drop them off, drive to the gym, train clients.

Pick up the kids from school, grab an afternoon coffee (3:30p wall!), get dinner ready.

Depending on the night, get one ready for soccer or the other ready for swim or wait for my husband to get home so I can go back to the gym to train clients. In between, we do homework and try to laugh and love each other as much as we can!

Your next training goal:
75-pound Turkish Get-Up and 250-pound squat. (check out her 65-pound TGU with a barbell, below!)

What are you most grateful for?
My health. The ability to move my body to take care of my family and myself.

KeriBurns-Family-338x398What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
My children.

Three words that best describe you:
Charismatic, strong, silly.

What’s the coolest “side effect” you’ve noticed from strength training?
Confidence. The work I do inside the gym translates to my beliefs about what I can accomplish outside of it as well.

How has lifting weights changed your life?
The changes go beyond my life, which is what I think is so profound about finding strength. Not only am I different physically and mentally but my training has given me the passion and ability to inspire that same growth in others. To pay it forward. My lessons are being received by and helping others—that’s got to be the coolest part!

keriburns-liftingcar-350x385What do you want to say to other women who might be nervous to start strength training?
Nerves are a beautiful thing! Without them, you’re comfortable…staying comfortable means you’re operating at the same level all the time. Nothing changes in that place. Not your mind and certainly not your body. Give yourself the gift of strength—the opportunity to experience what it’s like to surprise yourself with your abilities, to see your body respond, to feel strong!! Lifting weights doesn’t mean you have to powerlift, become a bodybuilder, or look like anyone else! Lifting weights means you’re interested in becoming the strongest version of yourself. Lift and let the magic happen!

Learn more about Keri and connect with her on Facebook!

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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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