Creative Calling: Laura, PDX Strength

I’m super excited about today’s Q&A because Laura is one of the first people I met in Portland. She is a coach at PDXStrength, the most awesome gym in Portland, and the place where I have learned to love working out. I take her 6:30am strength and conditioning classes every morning and she always makes these early workouts worth getting up for!

Laura is a cool person because she has overcome a lot {and isn’t afraid to talk about it!} to get where she is today and has lots of really awesome tattoos. :) She is always so energetic, smiley, not afraid of the F word and enthusiastic about helping you kick some ass and reach your goals. I’ve wanted to feature her pretty much from the day I met her. She really is Super Laura!

So let’s meet this lady and learn a little bit about her life! And if you are in Portland, check her {and all the other amazing coaches} out at PDXStrength. She offers group strength and conditioning classes and personal training throughout the week.


Tell us about you. How did you get into fitness and coaching?

I got into fitness when I was really young. I was a very active kid. In middle school I ran track, played basketball, volleyball, and I was a cheerleader. I grew up in the mountains on a farm and in a ski town so things like Ice skating on the pond, skiing, horseback riding, bike riding, and swimming are things I loved to do. When I hit the middle of high school I found booze, boys and punk rock so I lost interest in anything sports related. I still remained pretty active but I only did things that I thought were cool, like skiing and surfing. When I moved to Portland I realized that I needed to do something to get fit so my husband and I joined the local gym {where I met Jocelyn, the owner of PDXStrength}. I wasn’t very consistent and was drinking a lot…way too much. I was also on a huge cocktail of prescription drugs for bi-polar. So drinking and taking medication kicked my ass and in 2011 I got very sick and on my husband’s birthday I ended up in the Emergency Room. I was diagnosed with Chronic Necrotizing Pancreatitis {CP} with pseudo cysts. Whew that’s a mouthful. I had surgery where they removed part of my pancreas, my gallbladder, and drained most of the cysts. I spent a total of 4 months in the hospital. I didn’t think I was going to live through it. After they put in my feeding tube and I was able to stop losing weight I had hope. After the tube came out my diet and exercise became my number one priority. Being in bed for all this time gave me severe muscle atrophy. I used a walker for a while and when I didn’t need that anymore I tried to take one of Jocelyn’s spin classes. It was way too early for that, so I enrolled in a 12 week yoga class. That was the turning point in my health. I got stronger and it really helped me to feel centered and in control. It also helped with the struggle I was having coming off of the pain pills. Having CP means that to this day I have constant pain and nausea so I had to learn how to live with that and not be on drugs. I found proper nutrition and fitness and this is when I’d say I got into fitness and coaching. I didn’t really have a choice about the nutrition it was either figure shit out or die. The exercise made me feel better, it made me stronger and the endorphin rush really helped with my pain. I wanted to know everything about the body and I really wanted to share my joy of living healthy with people. Then when this opportunity to work with Jocelyn at PDXStrength happened and I jumped at the chance. I got certified and dedicated myself to spreading the “fun” in fitness.


What inspires you?

I am inspired by my desire to live and not just live but to live a good, healthy, happy, strong life. I don’t only want to live longer than I normally would but I want those years to be great where I’m mobile and strong… and let’s admit it, look good too. I’m also motivated by pain. Exercise reduces pain; in fact it helps me so much I wouldn’t function as well as I do without it. A better diet and exercise has been the key to preventing more flare ups than I used to have. That’s what inspires me, but who inspires me? I feel anyone who wants to give up but comes to class anyway is really inspiring.


How would you describe your coaching style?

FUN!!!!! Fun and encouraging. I believe if you like what you’re doing you will continue to do it. If exercise is something you do to be skinny or to be able to eat or as punishment for bad habits it won’t be a lifestyle. So my style is to help you find what you like and how to fit it into your life.


Tell us about a typical day in the life of Super Laura.

Because of the CP, my diet, and exercise I don’t have very much body fat. That translates into being cold a lot so the first thing I do in the morning is take a hot bath and bring up my body temperature. Then I coach a 6:30 am class. I usually have clients and or training until early afternoon. That’s when I come home and eat, and hug my super duper awesome dog Milo. I’m currently in an online school program so I spend a few hours studying and doing homework. Then I take a nap. Then I take Milo to the dog park and then my husband and I take a class at the gym together and then we make dinner together. Then I prepare for the next day’s classes and clients and then tv and off to bed early. It’s funny as I write this I realize I do the same thing pretty reliably every day. What a snoozer. Occasionally I’ll go for a swim or have a meal with a girlfriend or run an errand or get my face waxed or shopping but for the most part I go to the gym and then home to hang with my dog, my studies, and my man. 


How do you stay centered?

I don’t know if I can say I stay centered. Training plays a huge roll in trying to stay centered. I see a therapist once a week as well and she helps me keep it straight. One thing I do that I could equate to meditation is I take a lot of baths sometimes up to 3 times a day… I need to just get a hot tub. For me a bath really helps with pain and helps me relax, de-stress and think things through.


How do you stay motivated to keep training?

Sometimes it’s very hard to train and to not train. As a type A addict I can’t do anything a little bit. So sometimes I can overdue the training and because of that when I’m not feeling like it I just take the time off. If that lasts longer than a day or two I just force it. I find if you can just get into the gym or pool or whatever it is you like to do then your attitude changes. Sometimes it can take up to 10 minutes but after that I’ve usually got my grove back…. You know the saying…. “I regret that workout said no one ever”? It’s so true. If I don’t feel like it I just force it. That unusually only happens when I’m having depression and consequently the training helps with the depression. Win win. Just like with the baths or training it makes me feel so good I can really overdue it. I think that’s just a much of a problem as not training enough. It’s all about finding the balance.


What’s your response to people who say they don’t have time to work out?

This to me is just the same as someone saying they don’t have time to eat healthy. My response is usually do you have time for television? I see a lot that people factor in “down time” into their schedules but they don’t factor in health maintenance time. I think that more times than not it’s not about not having the time it’s about not making the time. They don’t make it a priority. If it is a situation where someone genuinely doesn’t have the time then my response is… “let’s figure out how to work it into your current schedule” such as a walk at lunch or a 30 min class at lunch.


What’s your favorite exercise?

That’s like asking which one is your favorite kid? Haha just kidding, kind of. Mine changes a lot. Usually my current favorite one is one I’m really good at or a skill I’ve just nailed. I LOVE LOVE LOVE the dead lift. I really dig weights a lot but I’m also pretty jazzed on handstand walks. I can only do about five steps at a time but I love them and I’m really hungry for it. So it’s a tie between those two. I’m lucky to really be into a bunch of different stuff. I love body weight, gymnastics, parkour, swimming, skiing, sooooooo much really it just depends on the day.

I wish I could tell my 24-year-old self to:



What’s your advice to women wanting to quit their full-time jobs and follow their dreams?

I can’t imagine not doing what I love. I spent so many years doing things that didn’t make me happy. When you do something you love it just all falls into place. So I would say do it. Make a plan, figure out what you need to make it happen and make it happen. 


Tupac or Big? :)

Dude that is a not even a contest… Tupac for days.

Thanks, Laura for sharing your fitness story with us!

Happy Monday! :)