Below is an article written by Ruthie Laroche for my local newspaper. Originally published March 29, 2020.
Kim Conner’s daily gym routine may have changed during the days of Covid-19 and social distancing, but her goals have not.
“Growing up in the 90s and the years of Kate Moss–thin was in,” said Conner. (Disclosure: Kim Conner is the marketing director for ORoute Media Group, owner of the Messenger.) “I started working out at 15.
“In my 20s, I birthed two children, and my body and my schedule changed after that. My time was dedicated to raising my kids. I did my workouts, but it was to stay in shape and be thin. That’s what society was saying was beautiful.”
In her 30’s, Conner met trainer Clarence Long, and her focus on fitness began to take a turn.
“Clarence taught me I wasn’t pushing myself enough. I wasn’t working to failure,” said Conner. “He taught me the mind-body connection and how to lift to optimize my gains. That was so empowering as a woman.”
At that time, Conner still wanted to be thin, but she now wanted to be thin and toned.
“I was weight lifting, but I was watching everything I ate. In 2019, I hit 117 pounds, but it was so hard to maintain. It was 1,000 calories a day, 100 grams of carbs, 30 grams of fat, and 150 grams of protein.
“I achieved the goal of being thin and toned, but what was I doing it for? I started to ask what was next.”
Conner’s partner, Todd Morgan, helped her advance to her next goal.
“Todd has helped me push my limits with this. He and I are both working toward PR’s,” said Conner. “We train every day, and we train hard.”
“Women are starting to bust out of the skinny mentality and realize that they can embrace weight lifting and getting stronger.”
Conner has had women reach out to her about her workouts and goals.
“Some women are worried about bulking up, but in general, that’s not what’s going to happen when women workout,” explained Conner.
“People think they have to do cardio to lose weight, but you can do a moderate walk and lift heavy, and you’ll be burning more calories.”
In the last year, Conner’s weight on the scale has increased, but its been from gains in muscle mass.
“I’m wearing the same clothes I was wearing at 117 pounds; my biceps are bigger, but the rest fit the same,” said Conner. “Muscle is different than fat; it has a different composition.”
Conner had enough people reach out to her that she started a blog to answer questions.
“I figured that if people in my life were asking these questions, then there were probably women who I didn’t know who had more questions.”
One of the young women in her life, her 10-year-old daughter, has benefited from Conner’s fitness track.
“My daughter tells me that her friends know that her mom has muscles. She’s proud of me, and it’s her goal to be able to do 20 pushups,” said Conner with a smile.
“She’s not focused on being skinny, she’s focused on being strong, and I love that.”
The focus on fitness rather than thin-ness has been freeing.
“I’m the first one to admit that I’ve struggled with body image. I starved myself in my teens,” said Conner. “At 37, I now know what my body can do and how I can fuel it.”
Gym time helps Conner mold her body; it also helps her calm her mind.
“The gym is my stress reliever. I can feel the stress in my neck and back release as I start to lift,” said Conner. “I forget everything and just focus on what I’m doing and how I’m working.”
Intimidation, Conner noted, keeps some women out of the gym.
“I tell women that no one is looking at them. They are all looking at themselves. Everyone needs to remember that we all had to start somewhere.
“I love helping people! I don’t want to see people get hurt, so I’m happy to give tips to newcomers,” said Conner. “I’m not a personal trainer, but I’m glad to pass on the knowledge I’ve gained.”
Conner shared a few tips everyone can confidently use.
“I encourage people to go with a friend if they’re nervous and go at a quiet time. Don’t let excuses and fears stop you from doing what you want!
“For both women and men, pick up weights! There is a cardiovascular benefit to weight lifting.
“It’s also important to find the right gym. There is such thing as a fitness family — a place that feels best for you!”
Nutrition is a big part of how people look and feel, and Conner has spent time learning how to properly fuel her workouts.
“I used apps when I first started, and they helped me get on track with my eating. It has to be a lifestyle, and it has to fit into your lifestyle.”
Conner spends time in the gym every day. Her primary focus is weight lifting, but she also does 30 to 40 minutes of cardio.
She and Morgan take a rest day once a week, but that doesn’t mean they’re not moving.
“Every day, we are doing a physical activity–even if it’s walking the dogs, we also do a cardio day and walk on the treadmill.”
Inevitably, injuries will arise.
“I have a knee injury, and I need to be careful.There are always ways to get work around things, even injuries. It’s all about enjoying the journey and working.”
When life gets back to normal and Conner’s back at the gym, she’ll be happy to talk fitness.
“I’m all about empowering other people, and I love talking to people about it. If you see me working with my headphones on though, let me finish my set, and then I’ll answer questions!” said Connor with a chuckle.
“I’m doing this for myself–I love the strength and the power and seeing what I’m capable of.”