Krista Stryker Is The Peoples Trainer
Krista Stryker is the people’s fitness trainer. With a heart to make getting into shape easier for anyone who wants to do it, she created the 12 Minute Athlete. This popular website and app helps thousands of people get fit in as little time as possible, with as little equipment as possible. Since the launch of the app Krista’s platform as grown dramatically. She is recognized world wide for effectively bringing health and fitness to people through an online presence. We were able to catch up with Krista and talk about how she started, what fitness looks like today, and where it is going. She also drops some great fitness tips and insight along the way.
MR: You're a personal trainer and inspiration to many around the world, how did you come up with your 12 Minute athlete app?
KS: When I first started 12 Minute Athlete nearly six years ago, I had been working as a personal trainer for a few years at that point while also pursuing my own athletic goals.
I felt like there was an opportunity for an app with quick, time-efficient workouts that you could do whether you only had access to a few pieces of equipment or no equipment at all. The minimal equipment high-intensity interval training (HIIT) workouts are the basis of the 12 Minute Athlete approach. I knew from the very beginning of my business that creating an app would make the workouts even more accessible for people.
MR: The app is such a great tool for people who are time poor or don't have access to a gym. Have you had feedback from travelers or busy people who have had their lives changed from your workouts?
KS: Yes - this is one of my absolute favorite things to hear from people. As a personal trainer, I really had no idea how to work out when I didn’t have access to my regular gym. I thought you needed a variety of different weights, machines, and other equipment in order to get an effective workout in.
Bodyweight training and HIIT workouts completely adjusted my view on fitness, and I’ve had feedback from thousands of app users worldwide that it has had a similar effect on their fitness journeys.
The workouts in the app are perfect for people who travel a lot, don’t want to join a gym, or don’t have time to spend 45 minutes or more on their workouts. I’ve had people tell me how they’re able to still work out even when they’re snowed in their tiny apartment, are traveling the world and fit their workouts in at an outdoor park, or work on a cruise ship and find ways to work out even when they’re at sea for weeks on end. Every story like this makes me so happy.
MR: Fitness has been such a big boom on social media recently, and you've utilized it to its fullest potential, but do you have any advice for people starting out on their fitness goals, and using social media (i.e. unattainable goals, incorrect training techniques, bad diet tips)
KS: There is so much information out there, and it can be easy to get overwhelmed in the beginning. When it comes to social media, my advice is to try and follow people who are positive and encouraging. It’s hard not to compare ourselves to the experts we see on social media, but try to use it as a source of inspiration, not as a place to compare yourself to others who are undoubtedly much more experienced than you are right now. You should never feel bad about yourself or put down by social media experts. Remember, everyone had to start somewhere, and wherever you are right now is okay. If you stick with it and don’t give up, you will achieve your goals.
On that same note, I encourage everyone to create clear, measurable goals at every point in their fitness journey. This helps with motivation and makes it easier to track your progress and feel like you’re actually making some headway towards your goals. This can be done at any point in your fitness journey—if you’re just starting out, it might be something as simple as making a goal to get your heart rate up three times a week, whatever that looks like for you. If you’re more intermediate, this could be something like to get your first pull up, compete in an obstacle race, hold a freestanding handstand for 10 seconds, etc.
Creating goals similar to these will help keep you motivated and also help keep you from getting overwhelmed with all of the information out there.
MR: Do you think a “one size fits all” approach is suitable, or tailored programs are needed for each individual?
KS: There is no “one size fits all” approach that will work for everyone. Every single one of our bodies are different, we have different aches and pains, different strengths and weaknesses, different circumstances, etc.
That being said, I do strongly believe that some variation of this style of training can work for everyone. There are so many reasons that I love bodyweight training, but one of them is because of how easy it is to modify exercises to make them more or less challenging, depending on your fitness level.
For example, a simple push up can be made easier by placing your hands on a higher surface such as a bench or a countertop—the higher the surface, the easier it will be (I much prefer this push up regression to the classic knee push up, because it better mimics a full push up and also makes it easier to track your progress). On the other hand, a push up can be made harder by placing your feet on an elevated surface like a bench, wrapping a band around your back and holding on with your hands to add extra resistance, making it a plyometric push up by adding a clap… the list goes on. And you can pretty much do this with any HIIT and bodyweight exercise to scale them to any fitness level.
MR: Diet is obviously very important with fitness, are there any tips you have for our readers?
KS: One of the things I encourage my clients and readers to think about when it comes to food is to really think of food as fuel for their bodies. If you fuel your body with high nutrient foods like vegetables, whole grains, and protein, you’re going to feel great, both during your workouts and your everyday life.
The more in tune you are with your body, the more you’ll notice when you eat something that doesn’t fit this fueling mindset. This is what will help you start to crave healthy foods—because you start to realize how awesome you feel when you eat healthily. That being said, I’m really not a fan of any diet that’s completely strict and encourage people to follow more of an 80/20 approach. This means you’ll be aiming to eat fairly healthy 80% of the time while giving yourself a little wiggle room for your favorite foods the other 20% of the time. In my experience, this results in a much more sustainable approach to food and makes it fairly easy to stick with healthy eating long-term.
MR: Leading a busy life, sometimes it's hard to find the time for fitness. What are your thoughts on making it a priority?
KS: Everyone is busy—I get it. It’s all about trying to figure out what your long-term goals are. Why do you really want to get fit? Sure, we all want to look good in our clothes and feel confident in our bodies, but long-term, there’s so much more than that. More energy, more mobility, more independence when we’re older, more ability to do fun sports and activities. Ultimately it’s about deciding that you want to make it a priority, and then just sticking with it. That’s one of the reasons I love HIIT training, lack of time is no longer a valid excuse.
MR: How do you keep grounded during busy times in your career? Are there any things you do in particular to relax?
KS: Honestly, these days I find that my workouts keep me the most relaxed and help me avoid getting overly anxious or overwhelmed. But other than working out, I get outside as much as possible. Walking outdoors calms my mind and helps me deal with any overwhelm I’m feeling. I moved to sunny Southern California a couple of years ago—so I can get outside as much as possible.
MR: You're a strong supporter of animal rights. Can you talk a little bit about why you're so passionate about protecting animals?
KS: I have a cat named Fishstick and a dog named Rocket, and they’ve traveled the world with me. I can’t imagine life without having furry friends around. I’ve been an animal lover since I was a little kid. Ever since I can remember I connected with animals more than people. This is what led to me becoming a vegetarian at age seven—once I found out what meat was, I decided to not eat it anymore.
I don’t push vegetarianism or veganism on anyone, because I really don’t believe that everyone is meant to be a vegetarian. However, I do think that a majority plant-based diet is good for the earth, and encourage people to eat more vegetables than they do meat.
MR: Is fitness something that was important to you when you were growing up? Was your family involved in sports when you were a child?
KS: Actually, although I grew up in a fairly athletic family, I really thought the athletic gene “skipped” me. I played soccer and basketball growing up because that’s what everyone did in my small town, but I never felt drawn to either and much preferred to spend my days reading a good book.
When I went off to college I basically stopped any form of movement whatsoever, gained the classic freshman fifteen, and just felt really unconfident about myself in general. My energy levels were low, I suffered from mild anxiety and depression, and I really felt like I was just destined to be this slightly pudgy, weak, out of shape person for life. It was only towards the end of college when my older brother told me I’d never be able to do a push up (my upper body was so weak he referred to me as “spaghetti arms”), that I decided to even try to be fit. That was really the beginning of my personal fitness journey that led me to where I am today.
My family is still fairly active, and my dad is the most active person I know. He just turned 70, yet still kiteboards, skis, mountain bikes, plays pickleball, plays basketball, climbs mountains requiring an ice axe… you get the idea. It’s incredibly inspirational and I’m so grateful to have an example of how fitness and play can be such a joyful part of an active lifestyle.
MR: What’s the most rewarding thing about your job?
KS: Finding fitness absolutely changed every aspect of my life, and I am beyond grateful to have discovered it. I am such a more confident, driven, focused, and strong (inside and out) person now than I was before I started my fitness journey. If I can ignite even a tiny spark in someone who always believed they never could be a fitness person or actually enjoy being active, it brings me joy. I believe that deep down, everyone is an athlete—it just might take a while (and a lot of experimenting) to find that person.
MR: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions, please feel free to add anything else you would like our readers to know.
KS: Back to the goal setting topic from earlier, one of the things I try to get everyone to do, no matter where they’re at in their fitness journey, is to create non-appearance related goals. Most people focus on weight loss, or looking better in a bikini, or getting more “toned.” But these types of goals can be frustrating and not motivating long-term, and don’t always fit well with the “food is fuel” philosophy I mentioned before.
Creating skill, strength, or adventure goals, on the other hand, can keep you motivated and training hard even when you would have otherwise given up already. They also allow you to track your progress easier—if you go from no push-ups, to one push-up, you’ll know you got stronger. Compare that to stepping on the scale every day, while so many different factors may be causing the weight on the scale not to go down (including added muscle). Most of all, I want people to know that no matter where you’re starting from, you can absolutely get fitter, stronger, more explosive, learn something new, or whatever your goals are. It won’t happen overnight, but if you stick with it, you’ll be amazed at how much progress you’ll make.
Written by: Mel Riemer
Photography by: Tamara Muth King