Name: Keri Burns
Location: Sparks, NV
What does being a Girl Gone Strong mean to you?
It means finding your balance. I’m a mother of two young girls, a wife, personal trainer or ‘teacher of strength’ as I like to say…working hard everyday to be what *I* want to be as well as what others need me to be and making it all work… most of the time!
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. Then, 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 load! If I can take a simple exercise and add weight to it (if it makes sense!), I will.
I always begin with foam rolling, dynamic movement, and mobility to prep for the work ahead. Each workout involves strength training and, depending on the day, some variation of deadlifts, squats, or bench along with accessory work to be stronger at each.
Other weekly staples are pull ups, push ups, some kind of rope pulling and front squats.
I have cardio ADD, and I’m not a believer in long, steady-state bouts of the traditional stuff. I prefer Jacob’s Ladder intervals mixed with kettlebell swings, stair running and other things—anything to not be stuck in the same groove (i.e. running on a treadmill) for too long.
I’ve recently had a humbling experience of injuring my right shoulder—my best lift is the bench press, and I’ve had to temper my approach to upper body and find a home in mobility and stretching. I’ve probably learned more through my injury than any other time in my training. It was a necessity to growth. Not easy to accept or train around most of the time, but I appreciate what I’ve learned and how I need to better respect my body through active rest and all out ‘do nothing!’ days.
Bench, I have two state records in two different weight classes (48 kg and 57 kg)
Most memorable PR:
I’d been told to lay off upper body (my natural strength), I was feeling sad, confused about how to work out, and overall restricted from being who I wanted to be in my active life. I went to the gym with no intention of deadlifting very heavy but I started, kept my reps low and just kept adding weight because mentally, I needed it. I wanted to show myself I wasn’t what my mind was telling me…weak, because I couldn’t do a few things I happen to love. I pulled a record 325-pound deadlift that day, laughed at the top of the lift and left knowing that my mind was getting in the way of what I knew my body could really do.
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.
Best 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:
Told my client her butt was looking amazing, and the same day told another trainer’s client that I loved her shoes. They were adorable!
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!
All of them! I love to eat. I especially love eggs, with jasmine rice or wrapped up in a flatbread with a little cheese or as an omelet with avocado. And then there’s chocolate!
Favorite way to treat yourself:
Red wine and workout gear.
“Do or do not. There is no try.” — Yoda
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.
What do you do?
I’m a personal trainer and child tamer.
What else do you do?
It occurred to me recently how much I wanted to be an advocate for young girls and women—to help them find their strength and learn what it means to be comfortable in their own skin.
I connected with an organization called the “Nevada Youth Empowerment Project.” They work with young women facing challenging life circumstances and provide them with shelter and help them find jobs or schooling. I volunteer at their house in downtown Reno doing roundtable discussions about healthy eating, exercise, and putting it all together. Our plan is to segue my work with them into their existing running group and help with that as well—which I said I would as long as we can stop for push ups, etc. every few minutes. Additionally, I’m a lover of good wine and a very serious collector of gym pants!
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:
I need to fully heal my shoulder…then nail a 185-pound bench press, a 325-pound Sumo deadlift and 250-pound squat.
What are you most grateful for?
My health. The ability to move my body to take care of my family and myself.
What life accomplishment are you most proud of?
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!
What 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!