Today we’d like to introduce you to Kristin Louderback.
Kristin, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
When I moved from Indiana to Colorado in 2008, it wasn’t for a specific job or because I’d fallen in love with it during childhood vacations. I only visited once before making the move, but I knew the lifestyle would suit me perfectly and I was happy to plant roots in Denver. I’ve always been an active, athletic person, participating in a wide range of sports growing up and eventually earning degrees in Kinesiology. I’ve been a runner since I was nine years old and my identity through my entire adult life has been wrapped up in endurance training and competition. As a personal trainer, I was able to put my textbook knowledge to use in the real world while learning how to relate to people one-on-one, helping to ignite in them the love of fitness that I’ve always had. As a manager at a specialty running store, I fine-tuned customer service and leadership skills while learning about the latest and greatest in performance shoes and gear.
At some point, I went from being a recreational athlete, doing marathons just happy to finish, to wanting to run them faster, do ultras, and attempt triathlon training. As my personal athletic goals developed, so too did my realization that I’d need to invest in some self-care in order to stay injury-free. A major component of this self-care was massage therapy, and the therapist that I worked with for years saw me through my first Ironman, a 50-mile trail race, and several marathons. Up until that point, I thought massage was a luxury, reserved only for special occasions or to relax, but he opened my eyes to massage as injury prevention and rehab tool. Years later, after moving from Denver to Boulder, I needed a career change and enrolled in massage school. Within six months, I had my license and a great job in Boulder. Shortly thereafter, the massage therapist I’d been seeing in Boulder who mentored me through school moved out of state and I inherited her well-established practice. Starting up my own practice in order to be my own boss was a major driver in choosing to be a massage therapist, so being able to do this almost right away was such a gift!
Not surprisingly, since I’m surrounded by incredible athletes and beautiful training grounds, living in Boulder has elevated my athletic goals. I spent several years focusing on the marathon, but I’m now focusing on triathlon, and it’s a great fit. I feel well-rounded physically because of the balance of the three disciplines, and I’m also able to learn the new skills required to be a good swimmer and confident cyclist. Best of all, I can share this process with my husband, who is truly the triathlete of our relationship. If not for his support and knowledge, I wouldn’t be able to compete at a high level. Likewise, his support as I further establish my massage practice has been invaluable, and I’m grateful to have someone who believes in me athletically and professionally.
I love that I’ve found a career that melds my personal interests with the life experiences that I’ve had thus far. I have drawn so much from my previous positions as a personal trainer and working as a manager in retail, and those skills help me on a daily basis in my massage practice. Massage is currently the majority of my business, but coaching runners is also extremely rewarding and is an aspect that I’d love to grow. Blending coaching with massage has been such a fun way to make a living!
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I am grateful for my journey and all of the ebbs and flows that I’ve had thus far. When I examine the times that I’ve struggled most, it has been predominately related to not being sure if I was putting my energy toward the right things. Working hard when there is no light at the end of the tunnel, or you’re underappreciated, or doing something that doesn’t align at all with your passions is exhausting, and any of my struggles have been related to feeling like I’m spinning my wheels but going nowhere. Deciphering whether something can be your job or if it should just remain a hobby requires a lot of self-awareness, honesty, and maturity. Right out of grad school, I got a 9-5 desk job, and I found the work uninspiring, but I had to learn firsthand that wasn’t the right environment for me. Even if I’m not a massage therapist for the rest of my life, I know that I can’t put my time and energy toward something that doesn’t help people become healthier. I also know I need a job with lots of physical movement, and a schedule that varies day to day.
I have always appreciated being reminded that it’s OK to say no, and it’s also OK to change your mind. It’s crazy how quickly time passes, and it’s amazingly easy to go with the flow, following the path of least resistance at every fork in the road. Seize opportunities as they present themselves, but only if they are right.
Working for myself has been great overall, but it’s certainly not always smooth sailing. Keeping a positive outlook and keeping the big picture in focus helps to keep me from driving myself crazy with self-doubt. There are weeks that I feel perfectly busy and satisfied, then weeks where no one seems to be booking. The slower times are tough and it’s easy to start feeling like a failure, but I try to just focus on doing things that I overlook when I am pressed for time and also take advantage of natural breaks to allow my body to recover from the physical rigors of the job.
What should we know about Train & Maintain? What do you do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
I am a massage therapist who specializes in working with athletes of all ages and abilities. “Athlete” can mean anyone from a professional triathlete, recreational marathoner, dedicated hiker, or group exercise class enthusiast. I help people recover from their training to keep them moving efficiently, and truly believe that massage should be an integral part of everyone’s wellness plan.
While you don’t need to be a serious athlete in order to offer massage to athletes, the fact that I have firsthand experience with tough training in triathlon, road running, and ultra trail running sets me apart from many other massage therapists. My educational background and athletic experience give me a level of credibility that goes a long way. I incorporate a variety of techniques based on a client’s needs, including deep tissue work, trigger point therapy, and kinesiotaping.
In addition to being a massage therapist, I am also a running coach. I specialize in working with beginner to intermediate runners who have aspirations of getting faster in the half or full marathon but have also coached trail runners trying to push the limits of their endurance. I am truly a student of the sport, and enjoy reading and learning about endurance training methodologies so I can continue to evolve as an athlete and a coach.
What do you feel are the biggest barriers today to female leadership, in your industry or generally?
We still have a long way to go to achieve gender equality, and I think one of the biggest hurdles is the fear of challenging social norms. I’m very fortunate to have had the upbringing that I did. A great deal of my childhood was spent playing in the yard with my younger brothers and the boys in the neighborhood. We played baseball and football, so I quite literally always felt like I could “step up to the plate” with the boys. In elementary school, the boys would pick me to be on their team at recess while the other girls played hopscotch. As an adult, I can look back and know that I probably had the added burden of having to be better than some of the boys in order to be accepted as one of them, but when I was a kid I didn’t see that. I just wanted to do the things that I thought looked like the most fun, and being outside playing six hours of baseball on a summer day always seemed like way more fun to me than playing Barbies. (To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with playing with Barbies… it just wasn’t my thing! I’m simply glad I had the chance to do things that felt more “me.”) I hope we can move toward allowing women and men to just be themselves without fear of judgment.
Playing sports growing up helped to bolster my confidence and solidified a belief that I have something valuable to offer whether I’m in the company of men or women. I’m well aware that not all people see women as equal contributors to society, and have seen and felt this many times in my adult life. I’ve been talked down to, had my knowledge and leadership questioned as a manager, and have been made to feel like a piece of meat. I like to think that every time I point out why a fleeting comment or blatant action might be sexist, I’m removing another brick in the barrier to gender equality. It can be scary and tough to speak up, but at this point, I think some of the biggest barriers women face involve settling for less than ideal treatment from others because calling out the bad behavior is so uncomfortable. Deeply ingrained sexism isn’t going to go away by accepting the status quo. People (men and women alike) do and say things to demean or pigeon-hole women all the time that make me cringe, and if I don’t speak up when given the chance, I’m effectively condoning their behavior. Don’t allow someone else to make you feel “less than” just because speaking up would make you both uncomfortable. I believe these little conversations can and will go a long way.
- 60-minute massage: $65
- 75-minute massage: $80
- 90-minute massage: $95
- One-on-one run coaching: $80/month
- Address: 3300 Arapahoe Ave.
Boulder, CO 80303
- Website: www.trainandmaintain.net
- Phone: 720-375-5378
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: @trainandmaintain
- Facebook: @trainandmaintainboulder
Barbara Carson, Wayfare & Frolic Photography