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Social Impact Heroes: Krista Stryker has helped tens of thousands of people to unlock their full athletic potential

I want people to stop thinking about working out as a punishment, and start treating movement as something that brings strength and joy to their lives. Many of us are unfortunately taught from a young age that being healthy isn’t fun — whether it’s having to go to the gym a few days a week or making […]


I want people to stop thinking about working out as a punishment, and start treating movement as something that brings strength and joy to their lives. Many of us are unfortunately taught from a young age that being healthy isn’t fun — whether it’s having to go to the gym a few days a week or making sure we’re eating healthy. Making the switch from treating fitness and health as something more like torture to something you actually enjoy really just takes a small mindset shift and some experimentation. For example, if you hate running on a treadmill (so do I!), simply don’t do it. Try different sports, new types of workouts, and new activities that get you moving but feel more like fun than an actual workout. If you don’t like certain vegetables, find ones that you do like. Try different methods of cooking until you find ways to make healthy food that you actually enjoy eating. Small mindset shifts like these would get so many people away from the typical all or nothing type of thinking that many people have when it comes to being healthy.


I had the pleasure to interview Krista Stryker. Krista is an NSCA-CPT and a leading expert on high intensity interval training (HIIT) and bodyweight fitness. She has helped tens of thousands of people to unlock their full athletic potential through her 12 Minute Athlete blog and fitness app. Her first book, 12 Minute Athlete: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life in 12 Minutes a Day is available on Amazon.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

If you would have asked me what I wanted to be when I was younger, a fitness entrepreneur would have been the last thing I would have expected of myself. I bounced around from interest to interest after high school, pursuing everything from photography to journalism to politics until I eventually found — and fell in love with — fitness.

After that, I got certified as a personal trainer and worked for a few years at a popular gym in New York City. On top of working with my clients, I was working out for hours every day, I wasn’t seeing the results i wanted, and I was incredibly exhausted.

After trying all kinds of workouts I discovered high intensity interval training. HIIT changed everything. All of a sudden I was busting out push ups, pull ups and burpees and still had energy left over to enjoy my life. My strength and confidence skyrocketed.

These short, powerful workouts got great results for my clients too. I started 12 Minute Athlete to share my workouts with more people at all stages of their fitness journey, to help them unlock their full athletic potential.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I’ve found a lot of parallels between my own personal fitness journey and my own journey as an entrepreneur. The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that the more difficult the goal, the more important it is to stick with it and not give up.

I decided to learn to do a handstand at about the same time as I started my business. Both handstands and starting a business were really just experiments for me at first.

Before either, I’d never really stuck with anything long enough to see if I could go from absolutely zero to something. In fact, if I wasn’t immediately good at something new I tried, I would quit nearly right away. I was too scared to let myself even tryout of fear of failure.

Five years later, I’ve made significant progress with both my handstands and my business. I’m now a firm believer that if you have a goal that you care about enough and are willing to work hard and not give up, you can do nearly anything you put your mind to.

Can you describe how your organization is making a significant social impact?

My number one goal in life is to help people make fitness a part of their lifestyle and find joy in movement. I know that many people can’t afford a personal trainer or an expensive gym membership, so I’ve worked hard since starting 12 Minute Athlete to make fitness accessible to everyone, no matter what their starting point or income level.

We have thousands of free workouts on 12minuteathlete.com and on our various social media outlets, and I’m always posting ideas on how to modify workouts or exercises for all fitness levels as well as how to work out with no equipment at all.

It makes me so happy when a reader tells me how they didn’t used to work out when they were super busy/traveling/didn’t have a gym but now they do because of the 12 Minute Athlete workouts.

Wow! Can you tell me a story about a particular individual who was impacted this cause?

Stop framing health and fitness as punishment and something that should be an enjoyable part of life. Being active does not just includes spending 45 minutes zoning out on a treadmill at the gym. It includes learning new sports or activities (surfing, skiing, rock climbing, even something like adult gymnastics), going for a hike or a bike ride with your family, or even playing with your kids or dog at the park.

We need to reframe what being active is so that people will be less intimidated by movement and find ways to make it part of their day to day life in a joyful way.

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

Make fitness more fun and accessible to everyone! Outdoor fitness parks are a great start, as are parks and playgrounds in general.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leading, is having a vision that you care about and sharing it with others. Good leaders both inspire and motivate others to action.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Hire early. When I first got started in my business, I had no idea how to set up a website and spent way too long trying to figure out WordPress and everything that goes with it. I wish I would have hired someone to do the coding early on so I could have focused all my attention on the content creation and other things I enjoyed.
  2. Seek out other like-minded entrepreneurs. Being an entrepreneur can be lonely, especially if you work from home. Go to conferences, find meet ups, and make time to connect with other like-minded people.
  3. Schedule offline time or vacations. Working for yourself can be awesome because you set your own schedule, but it can also be incredibly draining and hard to ever stop working. You need some time for rest and reflection to continue to grow in your business, so schedule it in.
  4. There really are no overnight successes. So many people start a business and hope that it will become an overnight success, but this almost never happens. Most successful entrepreneurs or businesses have been around for at least five to ten years.
  5. The most likely road to success is simply not quitting. Just. Keep. Going.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I want people to stop thinking about working out as a punishment, and start treating movement as something that brings strength and joy to their lives. Many of us are unfortunately taught from a young age that being healthy isn’t fun — whether it’s having to go to the gym a few days a week or making sure we’re eating healthy.

Making the switch from treating fitness and health as something more like torture to something you actually enjoy really just takes a small mindset shift and some experimentation.

For example, if you hate running on a treadmill (so do I!), simply don’t do it. Try different sports, new types of workouts, and new activities that get you moving but feel more like fun than an actual workout.

If you don’t like certain vegetables, find ones that you do like. Try different methods of cooking until you find ways to make healthy food that you actually enjoy eating.

Small mindset shifts like these would get so many people away from the typical all or nothing type of thinking that many people have when it comes to being healthy.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

One of my favorite quotes of all time is “You never fail until you stop trying” by Albert Einstein.

With any goal or dream you pursue, whether it’s related to fitness or business or lifestyle or relationships, there are without question going to be days (or weeks, months or years) where you experience small failures and even go backwards at times.

It’s hard to remember in the moment, but what I’ve learned over the years is that when you care about a goal enough, you have to keep going no matter what obstacles you come across. The only way to truly fail is to quit.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I would love to have lunch with author and journalist Steven Kotler. His research and work on flow and human performance has so much potential to positively impact everyone from athletes to entrepreneurs to the average person looking to reach their goals faster.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m mostly on Instagram and Facebook @12minuteathlete. We also have a free Facebook community full of awesome, supportive people — just go to Facebook.com/groups/12minuteathlete and you’ll find us.

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