How being told she’d never make it in the fitness industry gave Karen Mullarkey the spark to get everything she ever wanted.
Changing goal posts
My weight went up after I graduated from college and I was no longer playing field hockey. I moved to a small town in Colorado and couldn’t afford to join a gym and remained active with outdoor activities, but I lacked discipline in my diet. I began to put on belly fat and my jeans went up another size. When your clothes get tight, it’s time to buckle down!
The turning point
Everything changed when I moved to Arizona and began weight training again. I decided to train for my very first NPC figure competition, and made my debut in 2004. I earned my IFBB Pro Card in 2007, then obtained my Personal Training Certification from the ISSA. Three years later, I found myself in the middle of a divorce and knew it was time to make this business work or go back to corporate America.
I picked a local competition date and hired a trainer to get me ready for it. Considering my soon-to-be-ex told me over and over that I would never make a living in the fitness industry, I had added motivation to make my personal training business work. There’s nothing like someone telling you that you can’t do something to light a fire under your butt to succeed. Now, 10 years later, I have trained clients all over the world with my online programs and competition prep workouts.
I was given a strict nutrition schedule to follow, along with a weight training and cardio program. This saw me go from eating processed foods to taking the time to prep my meals properly. It was quite the change, but man did I feel better! I was dropping inches and my energy increased significantly.
When I knew that I was going to be standing on stage in a tiny bikini in front of hundreds of folks, that was enough to make me get serious. I am also a very competitive individual and I wanted to place in the top five. The hard work paid off and I placed third in my open class.
I have not only created a brand and a successful business in fitness, but I have also been published nationally and internationally as a contributing writer and fitness model. I recently published four eBooks on weight training, which hit the Best Sellers List on Amazon. I have also landed four covers throughout my career and am now, at the age of 41, training to be the next American Ninja Warrior.
I made walk-ons in LA for season eight, but they ran out of time before I got the opportunity to run the course. I missed tryouts for season nine due to a broken hand, but now I am fully healed and ready to return to training. I am not one to give up and will be trying out for season 10. I not only teach my clients to go after their goals – no matter how crazy they may seem – but I also go for my own! The best way to motivate my clients is to lead by example.
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