I work with them every day; so I know how awesome Precision Nutrition’s coaches really are.
Today you get to meet one of them, Krista Schaus. This way you can find out too.
Think of a former cop and champion power lifter. What image takes shape in your brain?
Probably not this.
Now, think of a gifted interior designer who also loves to cook with fresh, local ingredients and to photograph the results. What do you picture?
Probably not this.
That’s Krista Schaus. She reverses preconceptions, subverts stereotypes, and stretches our sense of what’s possible — simply by being herself.
No wonder she shines in her role as Lead Coach.
Consider Krista as a sort of “elder” of coaching.
True, in calendar years, she’s still young. But as an award-winning athlete, long-time strength coach, and veteran PN staffer — not to mention a seasoned parent — she brings a depth and breadth of experience and an elder’s vision and wisdom to her role.
That vision and wisdom guide her as she helps to build our growing team and sustain its focus on what she calls “awesomeness-based” coaching.
It’s a style of coaching that looks for the best in clients and seeks to expand on their successes rather than scold them for their “failures.” A style of coaching that does not denigrate, dismiss, demean, demand too much at once, or destroy.
In short, it’s a long way from the “awfulness-based” coaching that still predominates in some factions of the fitness industry.
A long way from Krista’s former approach to coaching. And a very long way from some of the coaching she received and witnessed, as a younger athlete.
Which is precisely the point. Because learning and growth are integral to Krista Schaus. If she weren’t checking blind spots, examining outcomes, shining a light, and revealing unexpected treasures, she wouldn’t be happy.
Worse, she wouldn’t be herself.
Integrating change. Making sense of transformation. Over time, that’s become one of Krista’s “superpowers.”
A couple of years ago, she kept a blog. Its homepage offered a beautiful encapsulation of this theme.
“Who I was: PICP strength coach, college professor, police officer, bodybuilding and powerlifting National Champion.”
“Who I am: Precision Nutrition team member and coach, mom and wife, lifter of heavy things and spirits.”
Notice the differences. The first list outlines her titles. Her visible roles in the community, along with the external proofs of her impressive abilities.
The second list focuses more on relationship. On soul or spirit as much as body. On what she brings to others, rather than on markers of worldly success.
“Krista worked hard for the labels,” she explains. “But I’m just me.”
Once, she was driven by other people’s perceptions. She wanted to be seen as a winner.
Now, health, vitality, and harmony strike her as much more meaningful goals.
“It’s still important to me to be a role model,” she adds. “But a different kind of role model. I’ve achieved a kind of balance.” Then she flashes an impish grin. “I don’t take myself as seriously.”
And yet, she’s still the same person at her core. Let’s not forget the similarities between these lists. The qualities that don’t change, even in the face of change. The constants.
First, there’s work. For, no matter what the job, no matter what the nature of the “game,” Krista has always been a loyal, dedicated, and exceptionally diligent team player.
Not only that, but she’s also maintained a consistent focus on strength.
Strength of body, for sure.
After all, from the moment, in the late 90s, when she first discovered the iron, she’s been a serious and devoted adherent. That devotion paid off, earning her multiple national championships in powerlifting and bodybuilding, as well as a post as strength and conditioning coach at the renowned Poliquin training facility
But physical strength is not the only kind. Krista’s also concerned with strength of spirit. The kind of grit that comes with time and dedication to a goal. The deep understanding and empathy that’s born of long experience.
After years of regular practice, she’s won that strength.
Plus, she possesses a special ability to sense it, see it, and draw it out in others.
To energize it.
Change is the deepest constant. Krista knows this in her bones.
In her short lifetime, she has morphed from hard-working, conscientious kid to rebellious, angry teen; from hard-driving, tough-talking cop to patient listener and intuitive “seer;” from champion power lifter to bodybuilder to powerlifter again; from unmarried teenage mother to wife and mom; from shaken divorcée to mid-life newlywed.
And that’s only a partial catalogue of her transformations.
No wonder she understands what it means to undergo powerful inner shifts. Over time, with practice, she’s learned how to bend and stretch and grow under that pressure instead of breaking.
“Just when I think I’ve arrived and I know who I am, my skills are all solid, and I’m awesome — boom! Something happens that twists my perception of that reality around,” she says. “But it’s always in a great way.”
She models that resilience and flexibility to our coaching team, so that they, in turn, can model it for clients.
This matters because our clients often come to us in the midst of personal upheaval. Divorce, a new baby, a new job, upcoming marriage: These are some of the key catalysts for seeking a coach.
Sure, people think they’ve come simply to lose weight or get into shape.
“Then, as we work with them, they change even more than they expected to,” she says. “Sometimes they feel like they’re falling apart.”
“As coaches, we can help them tolerate the ebbs and flows. We can get them to a place where they can sync up who they were with who they are.”
Krista is an expert at that kind of integration.
Take her recent marriage. To her high school sweetheart, Scott.
At fourteen, “we hurt each other. That’s what young love does,” she says. Over two decades later, they found each other again through a random social media connection, and she ended up coaching him.
Krista knew she was taking a risk. “He’s not an eager-to-be-coached kind of guy,” she laughs. “A guy who runs his own construction business is not the type to seek or take direction easily.”
She also sensed that she might be taking a risk with her heart.
But she’s nothing if not up for a challenge. So she took him on. And as the months went by, somewhere in the midst of nutrition suggestions and workout plans, the two of them found themselves falling in love again.
“It’s almost magical,” she says. “A genuine renewal.”
When your past with someone includes damaged feelings, you really need to be careful – and you need a special level of commitment.
But there’s also an undeniable sense of completion to be found with someone who has known you for so long. Who remembers you, as a teen and young adult. Who can put your many changes into context.
As with love, so with sport.
Not long ago, Krista decided to return to competitive power lifting.
She had taken a break from competition. But after a time, she realized that it had become an important part of her — and she could approach her sport with new maturity and a deeper perspective.
It’s not unlike the attitude she brings to work. “A few people have asked me if I miss coaching,” she observes. “But I haven’t actually left coaching. I’m actually deeper into coaching.”
“I feel a bit like a tree,” she adds. “Older. With broader leaves. And deeper, wider roots.”
Trust Krista to adapt an image from nature.
When she’s not in the gym or the kitchen, you’ll often find her on the trail. A dedicated hiker, she’s continually moved by the beauty of the world around us. And she expresses that beauty in photography, artwork, and especially in her personal environment.
“Physical space is so influential,” she says. That’s why she loves to design and create comfortable, welcoming places. Places that calm or stimulate in just the right measure. Places that bring a sigh of pleasure from those who enter them.
In much the same way, by instituting semi-regular “fireside chats”, she has created a welcoming space for our coaches to share their successes and strategies.
These chats — virtual coffee klatches that increase the level of connectedness and cohesion among our far-flung team members — are only one example of the many innovations that Krista has introduced in her Lead Coach role.
Most, in themselves, represent small improvements. But — as in an intelligently designed dwelling — taken together and over time they result in much larger and deeper changes, strengthening our team members’ relationships with one another and enriching their work with our clients.
Unearthing. It’s one of Krista’s favorite occupations.
Out on her walks, you’ll often find her digging around. Making unexpected discoveries.
“It’s all about finding stuff in the muck,” she jokes. And with her intuition and quick perception, she is, in fact, amazingly gifted at locating “buried treasure.”
She does the same for our clients — and with our coaches.
What strengths can I find within you, she seems to ask. What work do we have to do, to bring them forward? What change is on the horizon — and how can we equip you to meet it best?
“It’s amazing how we can exceed our own expectations,” she says. “Set the bar high. Don’t give in to people’s preconceived ideas and stereotypes. Don’t underestimate what you can do.”
It’s a philosophy that has served her well and brought her joy. One she’s eager to share so that others can experience similar benefits.
“Learn. Lift. Grow.”