How do trainers work? Meet Kellie Davis

Kellie Davis is a lot of things: a personal trainer, writer, mother, entrepreneur, and overall strong woman. She co-founded the Get Glutes workout program and founded her company, Fit Thrive. Fit Thrive is a fitness hub with workout program options for women, a healthy lifestyle blog, and workout apparel.

Kellie and her Fit Thrive team aren’t just about getting fit and looking good. They’re about encouraging women to embrace physical and emotional strength. They’re about building a community of strong women who encourage each other throughout their individual and collective fitness journeys.

As you can see, Kellie kicks butt. (Or should I say “glutes”?) Whether you’re a woman seeking an impactful lifestyle change or you’re a new personal trainer eager to learn by example, you’ll want to read my interview with her!

Kellie, Let’s Get Started With Your . . .

Location: Sacramento, CA
Years of Experience: 5
One Word to Describe Your Personality: Playful

What’s your fitness background? How did you get into the training world?

I grew up an avid athlete and lived outdoors as a kid. I discovered resistance training when I was in 8th grade and instantly fell in love. I had an all-encompassing weight bench equipped with crumbly concrete weights that my mom found at a yard sale. An Arnold book came with the bench, and I read it like it was a handbook to life.

I stopped going to the gym during my first pregnancy because I had the worst nausea. I didn’t go back after my daughter was born and when pregnant with my son a couple of years later, I gained a tremendous amount of weight. When he was two, I decided to change my lifestyle and began lifting again. I got into figure competitions, which eventually introduced me to the fitness world.

I worked as a copywriter and blogger for nutrition companies and started a blog. Soon after, I was competing frequently and getting into fitness modeling. My trainer at the time, Bret Contreras, asked me to co-author a book with him. To our surprise, it was picked up by a publisher and launched in 2013. Strong Curves really propelled my career.

Since then, I’ve done consulting work for major fitness brands, launched a membership site, penned hundreds of articles, and in 2015, I launched Fit Thrive.

Tell me about your company: What all does Fit Thrive offer?

Fit Thrive empowers women to evoke change in their lives at the very root of their existence: through self-care. It’s very easy to give ourselves away to everything else in life, leaving our own bodies last on the list.

Through fitness and nutrition, women can learn what it means to be strong inside and out, to feel beautiful inside and out, and to really take ownership of their bodies. Giving women the confidence to step into the weight room is incredible. I will never forget the first time I felt truly confident under a barbell. It changed my life. That’s what we do at Fit Thrive.

Everything women learn in the gym carries over into everyday life. They learn to go out into the world with confidence knowing they can tackle any obstacle and achieve whatever they want.

On the site, I offer several different training program options. From basic bodyweight and bands programs to intense resistance training programs. I also offer one-to-one coaching for those who want a more personalized experience.

The best part of Fit Thrive is our community. We have private Facebook groups that are like no other. The support these women give each other and the friendships that are forged are the core of my business. This is why I do what I do. I’ve met many women through my community and built lasting friendships. A lot of our members have, too. It’s such a beautiful thing.

How does your training approach help women get fit and gain confidence?

I take a practical approach to every program I design. Being a busy mom with a full-time career, I know what it’s like to be short on time. I also know what is means to have a changing body as I age. I consider so many different factors that my members and clients may face when it comes to fitness. My programs are fun, intense, and teach women how to move on a fundamental level.

I used to teach middle school, so I dissect the content a little differently than most coaches. I want them to understand exactly what their body should be doing with each movement, but without feeling bogged down with jargon. I don’t have a background in science, so I process movement more in layman’s terms than textbook terms.

I also have a master’s degree in publishing, so user experience and content delivery are hugely important in all of the workout systems I design. I think like the end user rather than the coach when I put programs together. My goal is to make programs as easy as possible to learn and access. I know life is busy enough.

I truly identify with my members and clients on a personal level. Fitness isn’t a bunch of sets and reps. Programming isn’t working purely toward strength or aesthetic goals. Coaching isn’t about getting people to be their leanest and strongest ever.

It’s about understanding the WHY in what we do in the gym. Why do we show up? It’s not because we want to learn to squat or bench. It’s because we have this emotional drive that compels us to do better. To feel better, to be stronger, to grow confident.

Getting fit is such an emotional process. Sure, as trainers we have to draw in clients with the sex appeal. It’s what we do. But it’s really about learning to love what your body is capable of doing. Learning to feel really good in your own skin no matter what. That’s why I love my job. That deep, emotional connection that women tap into when they start to train with me.

The single-leg bridge is an advanced version of this glute builder. Don’t let the lack of weight fool you. When done correctly it’s far more difficult than a weight-loaded bilateral glute bridge. – When performing this exercise the goal is to keep your hips aligned from bottom to full ROM, which many people struggle to do. Often the hip drops on the side where the leg is lifted. It’s also common to feel this exercise in the low back vs to glutes. Core stability is a huge component of this exercise. – If you struggle to maintain alignment or feel the SLGB in your low back, I recommend doing glute marches. – Over time as you get strong work on timed iso-holds, as shown here. A few years back I struggled immensely with core stability and lumbopelvic alignment. Holding proper position with this exercise was not possible. I could deadlift 275 and squat 215. But I couldn’t hold a single leg glutes bridge. I ended up in physical therapy due to chronic low back and hip pain. Sometimes it was so debilitating I couldn’t walk and it hurt to breathe. – Working on alignment, stability, and mobility is a far greater tool than pulling heavy ass weights day in and out. It’s true that you’re only as strong as your weakest link. I had a lot of weak links to correct. I still do. And I’ve really enjoyed scaling back because I’m discovering what it means to be truly strong. – So don’t give up. Don’t feel broken. When something is difficult it only means you’re going to get better by putting in the work and energy. – For glute marches, start with an easy tempo. A few seconds. Pay attention to your hips and make sure they line up. Don’t let one hip drop. Keep your spine rigid and avoid arching. This is what causes low back pain. One you get the hang of it go for longer pauses. – #fitthrive #strongcurves #fitmom #homeworkout #strongwomen #workoutips #workoutvideos #momswholift #fitgirl #fitnessvideo #glutesworkout

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What business skills have you developed since starting Fit Thrive?

Oh, boy. I went into this completely blind. I said, “Hey, why not?” I was a teacher and then a copywriter. I am a good student and developed my business acumen rather quickly but made plenty of mistakes along the way.

The best business skill that I developed is customer service. Above anything else, this is the most important aspect in any business. Period. My customers are an extension of my family. It even feels weird calling them customers.

I hired a team straight from my site members. They believe wholeheartedly in what we do at Fit Thrive. They are an extension of the brand. Every woman who at some point works with me in my programs is an extension of the Fit Thrive brand. We are a giant family, and everyone I interact with feels well cared for.

I’ve become a lifetime business student for sure. I am constantly enrolled in courses on entrepreneurship, e-commerce, marketing, and general business. I go to events and to masterminds for guidance, too. The online business world is ever-changing, so I try to keep up.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I start my mornings off with a social post. I share a ton of exercise tips on Instagram and Facebook. Then I head to my inbox to get that squared away.

I film content once or twice a week for the whole week. I plan out content in advance so I don’t feel stressed about it. I do a lot more video than writing these days, but I still love writing.

I check my Facebook groups once or twice a day. The rest all depends. Right now, I am developing a new program that is a sequel to 60 Days To An Epic Ass (yes, that’s a program. Tongue-in-cheek, I know). I am getting ready to do full launches of two programs offered through my Exercise.com Fit Thrive App.

I also have an apparel line out and am digging heavily into e-commerce. So my days vary a ton. I usually break mid-afternoon to read something not work-related and get some downtime. I start early so I am finished when my kids get out of school. Though when they aren’t here with me during the week, I will work late into the night.

How did you hear about Exercise.com?

I was introduced to Exercise.com back when WeightTraining.com first launched. I’ve always been supportive of the brand and love watching its growth over the years. It’s like we are growing up in business together.

How has our training platform been the most helpful for you and your team?

Exercise.com has brought a whole new element to my programming. It has really expanded my capabilities with products and programs. I now offer several different components with programs, including e-books, full video tutorials, and bonus materials — plus the amazing features that come with the app.

My programs are really comprehensive now, and I am able to design tons of great tools and provide support all through a single app.

Jeff and his team are stellar. I am super jealous of my brand and make quite a few demands, um, suggestions for the app. They are always eager to work with me and go above and beyond to deliver. Truly a gold medal team!

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What’s your favorite workout right now and why?

I’ve been running my Epic Ass programs, and my body has changed like never before. They are more bodybuilding-style workouts with splits plus glutes every single day. I respond well, recover quickly, and have packed on so much muscle in the best possible ways.

What go-to snack helps you refuel?

I always have staples in my house that help me eat on the go. I cook up lean ground turkey with veggies and spices or make omelets all the time. I am not one for smoothies or bars. I also don’t eat a ton of dairy, so yogurt is out. I work at home, so I am lucky to have a kitchen next to my office.

Any particular resources (books, podcasts, etc.) you’d recommend?

I read a ton but not a ton related to fitness lately. Two books that recently changed the way I think were The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck and The Gift of Imperfection.

Any advice for trainers just starting a fitness business?

Be compassionate. That means more to your clients than how much exercise science you can spill out.

Always be a student. Never stop learning, and not just about fitness . . . but about emotional health, financial health, relationship health, and business health. All of these things factor into your profession.

What’s on the horizon for you and Fit Thrive?

We are currently working on a little site redesign and getting ready to fully launch a few products with the Exercise.com app. We have some collaborative projects coming up in 2018 with a few amazing women. Our apparel line is out, and we are starting to sell other fitness products. 2017 was a year of learning and growth. 2018 is going to be awesome!

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity. You can find Kellie on Facebook and Instagram.

Sign up for online training with Kellie today!


Lauren Smith is passionate about nutrition and holistic health (how the body, mind, and emotions intersect). She lives in Baltimore City, where she writes stuff, plays music, embarks on long power walks through the park, takes contemporary dance lessons, and enjoys healthy, flavorful cuisine. Lauren has written for a literary journal called Skelter and for Honestbodyfitness.com.