A Trainer for the Heart, Mind, and Booty: Fitness Expert Kim Strother Shares the Workout of her Life
The name Kim Strother may not initially ring a bell, but don’t sweat it—you’ve seen her face and her work all throughout the fitness world. As a cover model, she’s appeared in nearly every major fitness mag you can think of, as a celeb trainer, she’s worked with some of the best and well-known booties in the LA and as one of the top fitness instructors in the country, she has graced the cardio rooms of some of the most prestigious gyms (she’s even an ambassador for Carbon 38!).
But Kim’s climb to fitness fame didn’t start in the traditional way. Her love of fitness was ignited as a way to deal with her own very chaotic upbringing and to fight back from a battle with Lyme disease that went undiagnosed for years. But she’s grateful for the struggles; they helped her redefine her path on her own terms and build the inspiring and constantly evolving life she has today.
We sat down with Kim to talk about what she’s all about and how she tackled the hard decision to surrender to the flow of life. Hint hint: Doing so will get you more than you ever could have asked for.
The Void: What inspired you to pursue a career in fitness?
KS: I was a gymnast from the age of three and an athlete my whole life. It's really funny, I remember being in high school, and I had a phys ed teacher who was wonderful, and I wanted to be a phys ed teacher. My teacher would call me “Kimmer,” which I never liked, but he would say to me “you shouldn’t be a phys ed teacher, you can do better than this.” He thought I should be an actress. But I never understood that, because I loved fitness, and it made me happy. Fitness was also a huge escape for me. My father was an alcoholic, and growing up in that household, I think running was my safe space.
And so I went into college as a phys ed major. I certainly wanted to continue down that path, but then I got sidetracked by modeling. Because of modeling, I ended up dropping out of college and it just felt like a natural progression. So I ended up getting my training certification instead, because to me, fitness was already something I loved and could continue.
I couldn't even believe at 19, like, ‘oh wow, I can already work with other people and share my love of fitness and hopefully make other people feel as good as it has made me feel.’ And so that was truly at 19 when I decided to become a trainer, which is kind of crazy when I think about it now.
The Void: Your fitness journey has led you to so many great places. But you also got here through your struggles with lyme disease and autoimmune disease. What are some of the things you had to overcome? What do you wish more people knew about these diseases and how they affect you not only physically, but emotionally too?
KS: Yeah, it was so interesting with Lyme disease—I went from doing triathlons to not being able to walk down a city block without feeling like I needed to sit down. And over the course of that time, I lost a good 15 pounds of muscle. It was literally a struggle for me to make it to work every day.
The hardest thing I think for both Lyme disease and autoimmune issues was not having the support of friends and family, which was shocking, because I think people don't really understand what it is to be chronically ill.
To be fair, I didn't understand it either, I was going insane for two years trying to figure out what was eventually diagnosed as Lyme disease. And I remember when I finally got the diagnosis, I was so happy because I felt like ‘wow, people won't think I'm crazy anymore.’
I don't think people believed me that I was actually sick. It felt so lonely. People were like, ‘well, you look like you're in shape’ or ‘you look like you feel fine.’ But I honestly felt like I was dying on the inside. I was being pumped with steroids and antibiotics, at least once if not twice a month, which was only weakening my immune system and causing a million other issues. But people were sick of hearing me complain.
I had to do so much self work around that. I was reading Louise Hay’s “You Can Heal Your Life” at the time. And not to sound really dark, but there were nights where I would pray and I'd be like, ‘you know what, save a child dying of cancer because I’m done.’
I went on antidepressants for a while because I had enough doctors tell me that I was crazy and it was in my head. Then I thought, ‘Maybe it is, maybe I created this illness.’ And it was like a whole other layer of shame and asking myself what's wrong with me? It took a lot of self-work, mentally, to forget all the treatments I was doing, and all the money I was spending on doctors and alternative therapies. It was all about changing the mentality of waking up every morning and feeling terrible. And remembering to still pray and being thankful.
To this day, I still do it before I go to sleep at night. When I wake up in the morning, I say a minimum of three things I’m thankful for. I think shifting that thought pattern made a huge difference in my health, for sure.
The Void: You’ve made a lot of difficult and very intentional choices in your career to follow your own path and they sure are paying off. How did life start to evolve for you?
KS: I actually have a timeline in my head when things really shifted for me. Certainly when I moved here to LA—I was going through a breakup and modeling was really starting to end for me, which was a weird transition. Before that, when I was living In New York, I had offers from all different recognizable gyms to teach for them. But at that point in my life, I looked at going back into teaching fitness as me failing; failing as a model and failing as an actor. It was such an ego thing for me. But once I moved to LA, I didn't have a choice but to get a job in fitness, because I had to make money.
But for the first six months I was here, I was still taking acting classes, had all the agents, was going on castings and auditions to try to continue pursuing acting and modeling.
But now that I was 35, it just wasn’t happening. And it was so strange to me. I was like, ‘how is this possible?’
And then a few things happened. I remember driving home from an improv show and literally saying to myself, ‘what am I doing chasing this pipe dream at 35 years old? I can't do this anymore, I can't. I'm not gonna pursue modeling anymore. I'm going to step away from acting.’ And truly, that day, everything shifted.
But the struggle wasn’t over. I had been teaching at Barry’s Bootcamp and Rumble [the hot up-and-coming boxing fitness club] had been pursuing me to leave. Rumble actually strung me along for three months and almost got me fired a couple of times. But I was boxing multiple times a week, spending hours with a coach, all for Rumble, busting my butt for Rumble. I ended up NOT getting into the job. OMG did I cry.
It was one of those moments that I actually came to be so thankful that I didn’t get the job. I ended up training one of my first clients, Heather Mycoskie of TOMs, who is now one of my best friends. Heather called me and was like, ‘Hey, I want to lose my baby weight from the second baby.’ She didn’t want to be away from her kids for too long, so she asked me to move in and do a 30-day boot camp with her over six weeks. I was devastated I didn't make the Rumble job, but if I HAD gotten the Rumble job, I would have never been able to move in with Heather. That changed everything.
I certainly still have moments where I'm like, ‘Oh my God, what's next? I don't have anything lined up!’ I have to remember to take a deep breath and just have faith, everything always works out. And it has worked out better than I could have ever dreamt! I am not a religious person, but I’m definitely spiritual, and every day I give my life over to God, and it surprises me all the time; I am just continually grateful.
The Void: What is one thing that people may not know about you?
KS: Certainly through my Instagram, people think that I'm bouncing off the wall, which I am, that’s accurate. But also, I definitely have bad days. And I definitely have, you know, days where I don't feel well. Or days when I think something's going to happen and it doesn't; I think I'm going to get a client that I don't or a job that I didn't. I definitely have bad days.
But within those bad days really are the most beautiful of learnings. I feel like I have grown so much and it's always those moments that really shift into something really amazing.
So I guess it’s not even that people don't know that I have bad days but that maybe it's like my faith is so strong and it's not something I talk about a lot on Instagram, or anywhere. My closest friends know, but I think that I have such strong faith knowing that when something is going wrong, as much as it hurts, I know something better is coming. Truly, every single time and I can look back and say I am so thankful. I’m so thankful my ex-boyfriend broke my heart. I’m so thankful I didn’t get that job at Rumble. I'm so thankful for all the things that didn't work out, because I wouldn't be where I am today if everything went “right.”
& guess what?! this is only part one of our conversation with Kim. Make sure to stay tuned for part two of our chat with her. In the meantime don't miss a beat on what’s happening with Kim by following her here!