Time was Krista Stryker wanted to work in journalism.
She actually served as an intern at Oregon Public Broadcasting and Willamette Week and considered a job at a newspaper, and then, once graduated from Lewis & Clark College, moved to Amsterdam but couldn't quite land a job.
"No one would hire me," says Stryker, a native of Camas, Washington. "I didn't speak fluent Dutch. I was right out of school and had to figure something out."
So she made a career change — another twist in her life, which involved not being able to do pushups, literally.
Now a noted personal trainer, nicknamed "The 12 Minute Athlete," and with a new book, Stryker turned away from journalism to become a fitness expert. Living in Amsterdam, she worked out more and more and everything took off. But exercise wasn't always a pleasant experience for her.
Although participating in soccer and basketball in Camas, "I never connected to team sports, never felt like an athlete or that I had much potential," she says. At her first college, a photography school in Southern California, she fell out of shape from eating bad food and not working out, and lost confidence. One day her brother asked her to do some pushups.
"He used to call me Spaghetti Arms," she recalls. "I couldn't do anything. I did three of the worst pushups anyone had ever seen; it triggered something; 'maybe if I worked at something like this I could get better at it.' It made me want to work for it."
This week Stryker returns home to Portland to visit relatives, who live in Clark County (Camas, Vancouver, Ridgefield), fresh off the release of her book "The 12 Minute Athlete: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life in 12 Minutes a Day." It's a how-to book about how individuals can accomplish fitness through 12 dedicated minutes a day, whether it be through body-weight movements, jumping rope, treadmill, weights, burpees (squat thrusts), etc.
Her business is called "The 12 Minute Athlete" and she has a website and app by the same name for her clients.
Yes, Stryker, 32, is happy she went in another direction for a career, and that she is helping people through a passion.
"I connect and understand people who started out later than even I did," says Stryker, a 2007 Lewis & Clark graduate in international relations with a minor in communications. "Maybe they think it's too late, and don't think they can be a fit person. I know they can. They have to start somewhere, even if from the bottom and work their way up.
"I see readers and clients do pullups and pushups that I was never able to do. It's the coolest thing."
Stryker now lives in Venice Beach, California. She started her personal training in New York City, shortly after returning from Amsterdam. She travels quite a bit for her job.
She has been featured by Shape Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Muscle & Fitness HERS, Bodybuilding.com, The Washington Post and KTLA, among others. Stryker also has a big social media following.
Although trained as a writer, Stryker set out to write a book with some trepidation. It's not easy to put your words out there, she says.
But "The 12 Minute Athlete" has been well-received, she says. It's for sale at Amazon.com.
"It's scary, because it's very personal, a lot of my own personal story and putting it out there," she says. "I've had 'The 12 Minute Athlete' (brand) for about five years now, and I'm putting it together in one package.
"I'm sure there'll be people who don't totally connect. The goal is not to connect with everybody, but to inspire as many people as I can. What I hope is that people from all fitness levels and athletic abilities get something out of it, and challenge themselves to try something new, get the story that 'maybe I'm not a fitness person or athlete' out of their head."
So, working out only 12 minutes a day. How does that work?
It's based on the concept of high-intensity interval training (HIIT), and it's an efficient way to work out based on calisthenics, cross-training and functional fitness. Rather than pausing and extended resting (or delaying) through a 30-minute workout, a 12-minute workout involves short rest and work periods.
"But, during work periods, you have to really work hard, basically think of sprinting. That's the way to get the most out of workouts," she says. "And you can do them anywhere, like with body-weight workouts."
This week, for example, while visiting relatives she'll be exercising via jump rope. "It allows you to work out no matter where you are," Stryker adds.
She doesn't want to discourage going for walks or doing 30 minutes of cardio workout. But Stryker believes 12 minutes a day satisfies the need for a day's exercise. The 12 minutes can be used as a primary or a secondary part of working out, she reiterates.
"I have plenty of readers who do them 3-5 times a week and that's their fitness," Stryker says.
"There are more and more studies on HIIT ... that 10-15 minutes of HIIT is equivalent to a 35-40-minute workout. Your heart rate goes up. I do encourage people to make it an active lifestyle in general. Take a walk after dinner or go on a hike with family."
Indeed, monitoring heart rate could be the most important aspect of being a "12 Minute Athlete."
Stryker advises taking it easy early on, and building up to more intense workouts.
"If you are someone who hasn't worked out for a year or more, and not super active, you need to ease into it," she says. "Start with walks, incorporating movement into your day. Then start working your way up, with body-weight squats, pushups and planks.
"The last thing you want is to get burned out or injured. The goal is lifetime fitness, not two weeks of doing it and giving up the rest of year."
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