Name: Kendra Kaczmarski
Certifications & Degrees: Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology, Certified Personal Trainer by the National Academy of Sports Science, Precision Nutrition Certified Sports and Exercise Nutrition Coach, 200-hr Registered Yoga Teacher, ACE Prenatal Certified
What inspired you to become a personal trainer?
My fitness journey began when I was three. My mom enrolled me in dance classes at our local recreation center. At the time, I think I was mainly in it for the dress up- I loved all of the pink tutus and tights! Over the years, though, dance became an important outlet for me to express myself and process my emotions.
When I went off to college, I got more into running. Realizing that I had a mild case of exercise-induced asthma, I weaned myself off of inhalers by jogging for short spurts on the treadmill, increasing my time as I got stronger, and learned to breathe. In 2014 I began training for my first half marathon: the Phoenix Half. Overcoming that obstacle was a huge accomplishment for me and helped me to realize that I could push through barriers if I was patient and consistent. Today, running still holds a special place for me, allowing me to clear my mind on difficult days, and serving as a celebratory ritual on the joy-filled sunny ones.
In college, I also started my journey into weightlifting. Initially, my interest was sparked by “influencers” on Instagram. I was inspired because even though many of these women were small and feminine in appearance, they were able to do these incredible moves, like bench pressing or deadlifting. I wanted that strong confidence that they had, so I decided to learn to weightlift too. I read and watched videos online until I had a good grasp on proper form, and one of my best friends took me to his powerlifting gym and taught me how to deadlift. I still remember the day I walked into the weight room alone, something that I had long feared. I put my headphones on, bumped up my music a few extra decibels, and went right to the front; poker face on, I did my workout.
There are a lot of things that inspired me to become a trainer, but I think the way that I felt when I faced my fear of the weight room was one of the biggest influences. I wanted to help other people to face their fears, accomplish their goals, and feel proud of what they had achieved, too.
How do the benefits of physical training in the gym translate into everyday life?
Exercise is a super important outlet for me, as someone who struggles with seasonal depressive disorder. When I lived in Portland, my runs and yoga classes would literally keep me sane. That endorphin release can make a big difference in my day, when the clouds are stubbornly taking up the sky.
It is also an amazing practice in positive self-talk and encouragement. When I feel myself getting tired on a run, I have this little cheerleader in my head who goes “Come on, you can do this. Keep going!” Learning to cheer yourself on and to encourage yourself is invaluable. I often discover that little voice in the back of my head, pushing me forward to do my best in my life’s pursuits.
Another thing that I have learned through fitness, has been how to be better tune into my body. I learned to really listen to how I was feeling during my Yoga Teacher Training in 2016. Personal experience has taught me that more is not always better. Overtraining is not fun and makes you much more susceptible to injury and burnout. Throughout the years, I have learned to find a balance between training, rest, and active recovery. On days when I am especially tired, or have stubborn tightness or pain, I have learned to channel my energy into pursuits that will better serve me at that moment: be it a warm bath, snuggles with my dog, hanging out with my boyfriend, or resting my mind.
What is your favorite part of being a personal trainer?
There are so many things I love about my job! At the top of my list, has to be seeing the faces of my clients light up when they reach their goals. There is no better feeling than helping others to feel proud of themselves, and to realize the expansiveness of their potential.
Another thing I love about training is the work/life balance. Working as a trainer has given me the time and resources to go back to school to complete my Master's in Nutrition.
What is your sport or training modality of choice?
Lately, I’ve been having a lot of fun with functional training. I get a little tired of the same old bodybuilding moves, so it has been exciting to learn new ways to move while improving my strength in my daily life. In addition, I still love running, and being an East Coast newbie, exploring the running paths in the parks and along the rivers has been pretty fun. Nature is a critical element in my training, I love to be outside.
If you could tell someone brand new to fitness ONE thing, what would it be?
There are so many things for you to discover about yourself right now! Being new to fitness is really exciting because you get to find out what you like and what you don’t like, how strong you are, and that you can do things you didn’t know you were even capable of. You’ll surprise yourself.
What makes you unique?
As a trainer at Pongo, I’m unique in that I have a passion for nutrition! I’m fascinated by the way that the body responds to fuel, our psychological links to it, and how simple dietary changes can prevent illness and disease. I am completing my prerequisites for my program now, and will be starting Graduate School in Fall 2020.
A few other fun facts: I was born in Tucson, Arizona; I have a dachshund named Simon; I was in the marching band in high school (color-guard line); I am left handed; and I’m allergic to kiwis, mangos, and cats. 🙂