The PN coaches are awesome. Every 6 months they take a bunch of out-of-shape clients and whip them into the best shape of their lives.
But they’re not just physique magicians, internet sadists, and keyboard jockeys. They’re also real people with real lives, real experiences, and real world challenges of their own.
They’ve done what you’ve done. They’ve been where you are. That’s what makes them so darn good.
In this series of PN Coach profiles, you’ll get to know a little about them. Today, a profile of Kate Kline.
“I hope I won’t get emotional,” says PN Coach Kate Kline, when I ask her to talk about her experiences. “I hate drama. I don’t want people to think I’m some kind of crazy, intense person.”
“And,” she laughs, “I hate talking about myself.” Then she spills her guts, dumping the words fast and furiously in a torrent of visceral confession.
Compulsion – for those of you readers lucky enough to have escaped its clutches – is like sleepwalking towards pain. Or, in Kate’s case, slamming pavement with a frantic, rhythmic fury that left her feet bloodied and her body destroyed.
As a young adolescent, she was a coach’s dream: Deeply focused. Rigidly structured. Eager to please. Lean, lanky, and light on her feet. A jackrabbity tomboy who wasn’t distracted with teenage feminine frivolity, and whose energy and drive seemed to know no limits.
By middle school, recalls Kate, her schedule was more packed than a CEO’s. She played nearly every team sport available. Juggled academics. Every moment of every day was accounted for.
“I’d wake up, go for a run before school, work hard in school, do homework during my lunch break. After school, two or three sport practices, from school soccer to competitive club soccer. Get home at 8 or 9. Hit the sack. Then do it all again. To some people, this might sound awful, but I loved it.”
Freshman year of high school started out “fantastic”, remembers Kate. She made varsity soccer. Cross country and track team. “This is when things turned good… but bad,” she sighs.
She blasted out of the blocks and smashed the state running title as a ninth grader. Her peers and coaches were impressed as heck. Scholarship offers started to appear. Everyone wanted a piece of the little jackrabbit. And Kate wanted desperately to deliver.
Youth is malleable, like clay. Kate found her mould, and poured herself eagerly into it. “Hard working” Kate turned into “obsessed” Kate. Seeking the warmth of praise and accolades, she began to cook herself under the white heat of others’ expectations and the Arizona summer. Pounded the pavement under the sizzling Southwestern sun. Each mile scorched away another shred of weakness.
But when fired too long, too hot, or too early, clay becomes brittle. Deformed. Tiny imperfections may explode when they claw their way to the surface.
Cracks appeared. Kate ran in frenzied agony. The cadence of her steps intoned further. Further. Further. She ran a hundred miles a week. Twice a day.
Family and friends begged her to stop. She was terrified of their disapproval but terrified of quitting. She withdrew from them, hiding herself in a haze of overheated footfalls. Her parents took away her shoes. Blocked the door so she couldn’t get out. She pushed past them. Ran barefoot till her feet bled. When she wasn’t running, she thought about running. How to get the next hit.
“Running was my drug. It was like I was outside myself. I didn’t know who I was. I was psycho. Mentally unstable. I had become a zombie.”
And, like a zombie, her flesh melted away. The heat-hardened skeleton ignored it. Weakness and softness were to be purged. Good riddance to those who failed the trial by fire.
Then, one day, stripped of all nourishment, the skeleton collapsed. Someone gathered her frail, fragile frame gently off the steaming pavement. Transferred to the cool, dim respite of the hospital, she was barely alive.
She weighed 74 pounds at 5’7”. At one point, her pulse rate dropped to 13 beats a minute. Her heart was broken, and so was her parents’.
“My parents are the most amazing people ever,” she says sadly. “They pleaded and cried to me to stop. They did everything they could. But I was strong, and I was defiant. I was little, and weak, and withered away, but I was strong. I’m a strong woman. You don’t tell me no. I wasn’t just psycho, I was passionate about my psychosis. And it defined my identity. I was Kate the runner.
“I still feel pain today to think about what I put them through. If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be alive.”
Trapped immobile in a hospital bed, “I felt so empty. I felt I was in a hole and I could never get out. I could never imagine doing anything I ever wanted to do again. I lost everything I was holding on to so deeply. It’s the most painful feeling ever to feel that hopeless, like you have nothing to live for. At times, I wanted to die.”
In the absence of bodily strength, her iron will sustained her. She cracked the books, striving to achieve, even in the ICU. “I maintained straight As, all through high school and college. I’ve never gotten a B in my life,” she reports proudly.
But it’s ironic, she acknowledges, that despite her “book smarts” (including a 100% grade in college calculus), “I have very little common sense. I have trouble with little everyday things that people do. Reading directions. Judgement. Opening doors, even.”
I ask whether she’s ever considered the possibility of having a learning disability. She mulls this over. She does have trouble writing. Expressing herself, sometimes. Some considered her borderline ADD.
“PN Coaching challenged me so much,” she says. “I can talk, and I am good at describing my thoughts verbally. But writing is challenging for me.” Of course, she loves a challenge. She threw herself into the project of learning to write expressively enough to empathize and connect with clients online, supplementing that with plenty of verbal connection.
Meanwhile, teenage Kate attacked the challenge of getting well. She recovered enough to start her sophomore year. Started eating more. Got stronger. Was allowed to start lifting weights. Ate more. Lifted more. Slowly, lifting began to fill the hole. Flesh returned, in the form of muscle. Her 90-year-old-woman bones began to strengthen.
“It felt so good to get stronger. I didn’t feel like I needed running any more. I am an athlete at heart and I always will be. I love intensity and I love pushing my body to the limits. But this time, I wasn’t doing it for anybody but myself. It was me pushing myself for me, because I truly loved it.”
After exercise nearly killed her, it saved her life. Her spirit rallied. She made it to college. Kept racking up straight As. Kept adding muscle, one hard-won fibre at a time. Kept living, as she says, like a “popular outcast”: sociable, friendly, but isolated. No partying, just utter devotion to studying and “taking my nutrition and weight training to the next level.”
“There’s a part of me that’s very different than other people,” she says, with faint poignance. Did she miss the partying? “No, I loved studying and nutrition. These things are my passion.”
She was briefly tempted to return to running. “I’m built to run. I have the lungs.” Her legs are still long and despite the extra muscle, she’s still relatively light. The jackrabbit is still speedy. She could have qualified for the Olympics on the marathon, and did a qualifying time on a training run.
Luckily, she caught herself before diving down that rabbit hole again. “It wasn’t worth it. You get to a point where all the training isn’t healthy any more. It becomes too hard on the body. I decided I have other passions. This isn’t who I am any more.” She pauses. “And I couldn’t put my parents through that again.”
And also luckily, she found Precision Nutrition and PN Coach Krista Schaus. Coach Krista became the master to Kate’s eager apprentice.
“We have so many strengths, and we can focus on those and try to develop them. Krista played a big role in taking my knowledge of strength and belief in myself to the next level. I’m so grateful for her in my life. Our paths connected for a reason. Nothing in life is accidental. I don’t believe in irony. If it weren’t for Krista I wouldn’t be a PN coach today.”
A chance encounter with a photographer led Kate towards fitness modeling. This, too, was a stretch for the tomboy who hated having her picture taken.
“My first shoot was absolutely awful,” she confesses. “When I got the pictures back, I was in agony. But it drove me to do it even more. It was hard but I wanted to get better. I started to realize something cool about this – I didn’t get into this for fame or money or recognition, I did it because it was new and different… and it was fun.”
For many PN Coaching clients, the final professional photo shoot can be nerve-wracking, but also playful and memorable. They discover, as Kate did, that “pictures are inspiring. Pictures tell a story. Pictures will speak differently to one person than another.
“Pictures are a way to reach out. We are motivated by images. I started asking what I can convey in a picture and if that can help someone to inspire and set their own goals, provoke an emotion in them that helps drive them to success.
“Pictures are really cool.”
Now, of course, in her role as PN Coach, she guides clients towards their own goals – towards creating their own new self-images. She also strives to help clients save their own lives through healthy eating and exercise.
Initially, clients might wonder how a woman who once couldn’t put on weight while consuming 3200 calories a day can understand their struggles for fat loss.
“People want to know how they can relate to me, because I’m skinny. That’s an example of the self-limiting perceptions we put on ourselves. We all have these dreams, these passions we think we can’t achieve.
“What I’ve done to achieve my goals are things I never thought I could do. You believe, you focus, you achieve. You have to believe in yourself, that you can do it. You have to have a plan put together. And my project involves eating nutritiously, lifting heavy weights, and surrounding myself with people who support me.
“When I was skinny, people would comment on my body. They’d look at me and say ‘Euw, you’re so skinny.’ We all feel weird and different. I have so much empathy for my clients. I feel what they’re feeling – when you’re having those days, thinking ‘God, I screwed up,’ or ‘I want to be over there, but I’m stuck here,’ or having habits that I rely on but have to break. It’s hard, and you struggle. You have days you don’t do so well. I totally understand.
“PN Coaching is the exact same thing – the same journey. Just different goals. It’s the human challenges you have to overcome. That’s what resonates in us all.”
At times, the “popular outcast” struggles to navigate her individuality and yearning for connection. On the one hand, she says, “I follow my own stride. I’m content with being different. I’m just keeping it real. I am who I am; I look how I look, and I embrace that.”
On the other: “I do feel a little alone, being so focused. It is hard to relate to other people, sometimes, because I am so passionate about this stuff.”
It’s an itchy, persistent contradiction. She schedules another phone call with me, just to tell me that she’s actually fun. Even her silliness is sort of driven.
“I’m really happy with who I am, and what I’m doing with my life, and with PN Coaching,” she says. “I’m following my passion. I’m still learning. It’s hard being so different, but I’m very grateful for everything I’ve got.
“I’m regimented and content with that. I’m very, very focused. If you were to use one word to describe me, it’d be driven. Driven to pursue my passions, just driven in life, A lot of that is fitness. I’m always setting new fitness goals, pushing my limits. It’s that inner athlete that thrives on intensity.
“I’m also driven for growth. I’m driven to be the best I can be. I’m driven to not limit myself. To not limit myself to a perception, or any of my goals or expectations for myself.”
Ten years and forty pounds ago, she never could have imagined herself as a role model. “I never thought I could do anything like this. I never thought I’d walk again. Or make it to college. Or live a normal life. Or be happy. I thought I was done.”
Buoyed by the support of family, friends, and the PN team, she wants to give back as much of the good karma as possible to her coaching clients. She channels her energy into being the best coach she can possibly be.
“I want to help other people, to inspire them to be whatever they want to be, to light a spark in them. To kill the negative thinking and help people focus on what they can achieve.
“I see so much doubt in clients. I felt the same thing in that hospital bed. I never would have imagined I could have gained strength and do what I’m doing now, preaching health and fitness. With my clients, I get them to experience things they never thought they could.
“You have to give back,” she urges, with characteristic insistence. “It’s everyone’s obligation to put back into the world the equivalent of what they take out of it. That’s what I try to do every day. Get people to believe, focus, and achieve.”
Once, every footfall was painful for Kate. Now, each of life’s steps is a treasure. She’s driven, but not in a hurry. She’s a guide, not a pace bunny.
“I love walking the path with clients now. It’s a gift to watch and share clients’ journeys with them.”
As you can see, the PN coaches pour their hearts and their souls into the PN Coaching program.
This isn’t just a fat-loss coaching job for them. No, they’re doing this to give something meaningful and important to their clients. Heck, they’re doing this to change the world.
Now who wouldn’t want a coach like that?
For more info about the PN coaching program, click here.