We talked to women in our community of all ages about why they train and the strength they’ve found in the gym (spoiler: it’s not about the muscles)

Women in the gym aren’t the novelty they once were (thank goodness). We’re seeing women of all ages participating in every sport you can think of, and the fortune trickle down brings women of all ages and backgrounds into the gym as well. Despite the surge of female representation, many of the misconceptions about female athletes remain prevalent. We wanted to get to the heart of the matter, so we talked to four female athletes in their 20s, 30s, 40s and 50s about how they’re training, eating, and managing balanced lives.



SOPHIE GLADWELL just graduated with Bachelors degrees in both Russian and European studies. She works as a metadata analyst and is preparing for law school. She has been training with Gym Jones for two years. 


Tell us about your athletic background and how you came to find Gym Jones. 

I danced all throughout my childhood, and really seriously in high school. Once I got to college, I took a dance class here and there, but for the most part I stopped dancing. At first, I tried running–I trained for and ran a handful of half marathons–but I never really loved it. Halfway through my college career, I found Gym Jones and started lifting weights, and really came to love it. 

Do you think loving dance primed you to love weightlifting? Are there similarities between dance and weightlifting that drew you in that direction?

I loved dancing because it’s a form of self expression as well as a form of exercise. Even though I don’t get the same artistic self expression from weightlifting that I did from dance, there are definitely similarities. When you dance, there are endless ways to improve every movement you’re doing, and it’s the same with weightlifting. Every inch of each lift needs attention. In any given gym session, you can improve not just by adding weight to a lift, but by correcting form, adjusting your tempo, or whatever it may be. I love that there are so many ways to walk away from the bar feeling like you’ve improved in some way, whether strength or technique or even just your mindset. 

How did dance shape your relationship with your body, and how does weightlifting fulfill that same purpose in your life?

Like I said, dance was so much more than physical for me. It taught me to use my body not just to exercise, but for artistic expression and as an emotional outlet. Weightlifting has really filled that gap in my life as something I can turn to for relief. When I used to dance, I would go to the studio and just let go of everything that was pressuring me, and just dance. It’s the same at the gym; as soon as I’m at that bar, I’m focusing fully on lifting and it allows me to just completely ignore whatever else is on my mind. o in that way I’ve always looked for something that’s a physical and mental relief, something that benefits me mentally as much as it does physically.

What is your biggest goal outside of the gym, and how does the gym help you achieve that? 

I’m at a period in my life where I’m redefining my goals. I just graduated from college, and I’m not exactly sure what I want to do with my career. I’m studying for the LSAT and I think I probably want to go to law school, but even if I go that direction I don’t know what my ultimate goal would be, like what I want to practice. It’s a period of life that is hard for me, but going to the gym and setting really specific goals for myself has been really helpful. It’s given me the structure and progress markers that I need to feel like I’m moving towards accomplishing things that are important to me. Everything else in my life feels really up in the air right now, so it’s nice to feel like, even if I don’t know where I’ll live or what I’ll be doing 6 months from now, I still feel confident and fulfilled knowing that I’m spending time bettering myself, making myself stronger and more capable and more disciplined. 



CATE WILLIAMS is a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor. After a 12 year career in advertising, moved to Utah, where she took over brand and marketing initiatives for Gym Jones and started coaching at our headquarters. She also competes in olympic weightlifting.


How has your relationship with fitness changed over the course of your athletic career? 

Oh wow, where to even begin! I’ve done so many sports. I grew up skiing and biking. In high school I ran cross country and track, and swam as well. Only as an adult did I find weight training and “gym fitness,” as they say. I’ve used exercise for everything you can imagine; to change my body, to escape my mind, to punish myself, to prove something to myself or to someone else. Every phase served a purpose–some less healthy than others–but only recently have I used fitness as a way to celebrate what I am capable of. I used to be terrified to embarrass myself, and I’d only attempt things if I knew I’d be able to do really well. Now, I do things that I know I can  because I’m grateful that my body is healthy and strong, not because I think I can win. Last year I competed in olympic weightlifting for the first time–I was very new to the sport and not all that good. But I set a goal to qualify for a national-level meet. I qualified (barely!) andI went and competed and came in probably very close to last place. But I was more proud of just stepping on that platform and getting a total than I’ve ever been; even more so than anything I’ve ever “won” at.

Tell us a little bit about why you made a career shift to fitness and what you learned in the process.

After a long time in the advertising world, I kind of had that cliche moment where I felt the need to do something so completely different than what I was doing. I wasn’t feeling fulfilled in my career and I wasn’t challenging myself. At the time, I’d recently recovered from a  pretty big health issue that had completely changed my perspective on my body. All of a sudden I didn’t care about being small–I wanted to be strong. Picking up a barbell had completely transformed my life, so I felt like being a coach could be really rewarding in the sense that I could help others have that same type of “ah ha” moment. I could go on and on about what I learned in the process of becoming a coach, but the real moral of the story is that I realized that the reason I wasn’t fulfilled or challenged in my career wasn’t because of the industry I’d chosen, it was because I wasn’t pushing myself. We all know that the lessons we learn in the gym transfer to everything in life, and for me, pushing way beyond what I thought I was capable of in the gym meant also realizing that I was selling myself short in my job, that I was expecting too little of my relationships, and that I could do way more things than I thought I could, and do them well. Now I’ve found a place in my career where I do a little bit of everything that I love, and I find that all of it feeds into the big picture of being a more creative designer, a more thoughtful coach, and a  more present partner and friend.



MIYO STRONG is a current Master Worlds Brown Belt Champion in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. She is also the Program Director for Smart Defense, Elizabeth Smart’s foundation aimed at teaching women and girls self-defense skills, a mother of two, and a Fully Certified Gym Jones Instructor.


You have so many great things going on in your life. What are your goals and how do you prioritize them?

I train and move my body every single day because I’m teaching Smart Defense. I’m very lucky that my job aligns so closely with my athletic career. I want to compete at the highest level in my sport for as long as possible, so longevity is always on my mind. I’m in my 40s, but in my sport, I could compete with anyone from 18 to my age. So high-level performance is important, but ultimately I want to be able to continue doing what I love forever.

As I got older, I realized that if I’m not taking care of myself, it affects my other roles, such as a mother and a partner and at work. All my other responsibilities suffer when I’m not taking care of myself. So training has become more of a priority than it was when I was a younger athlete, even though I have less time and more on my plate.

Has your nutrition undergone a similar transformation? 

For me, nutrition definitely came to the forefront about seven years ago. I was getting really severe migraines because I was training at a high intensity, I was  under a lot of stress personally, and I wasn’t recovering properly. At first I thought my migraines were caused by a brain tumor. They were that bad and that often. I was in the hospital frequently, and I finally found a really good neurologist. Just in passing, he said something about doing a food journal and tracking my macros. So I looked into keto. I did a ton of research and experimentation and talked to other athletes I knew who were strict keto, but the problem was that they were all men, and women’s bodies work so differently. So ultimately it was just a process of trial and error. I was a strict keto athlete for a while. After lots of experimentation and feedback, I decided that I was better off being a fat-adapted athlete because I can use glucose or fat for fuel during training or, especially, competing. So while I’m not a strict keto athlete anymore, my nutrition is still based around high fat, low to moderate carbs, and moderate protein. I’ve tried just about every diet there is, but keto is what has worked for me. 

Would you recommend keto to everyone?

Definitely not! In fact, when I’m not preparing for a competition, I’m not even strict keto, although I still maintain the guidelines of a fat-adaptive nutrition program. But ultimately if someone is interested in keto, I would tell them to ask themselves first: Are you currently drinking soda? Are you currently getting enough sleep? How much water are you drinking? Are you eating processed foods? What’s your fruit, veggie, whole food intake? I believe that the cornerstone of health is eating simply, cleanly and consistently. After that, there are definitely benefits to fat adaptation, but always start by getting your eating and sleeping in order. 

Tell us about the process of coming back to competitive sport in your late 30s. What drove that, and what was it like? 

It’s totally cliche, but I would say it’s never too late! I went back to the sport to test myself, and then I realized how much I loved it, how much joy it brought me. So I just started setting little goals, and I stated publicly what I was doing so that I had no way of backing out. My Instagram account actually started as an accountability journal for myself. So I would say, trust the process, listen to your body, but understand that it’s never too late.



MONIKA MCKAMEY is the fitness manager at EoS. She has a long career in the fitness industry, both as a coach and as an athlete. She has competed in CrossFit, bodybuilding and powerlifting.


Tell us about your career as an athlete.

I started in fitness early in life, as a hobby and side job while I was raising my kids. I just always kept after it, and in turn my passion and even my career moved that direction. I have always focused on strength sports because that’s what I love. Most recently I worked with a coach learning how to deadlift really heavy weight. It was a challenge, and that’s how I’ve always decided what to do next: what’s going to challenge me the most? I’ve done everything from CrossFit to bodybuilding competitions.

Just for something new, I decided to pursue training for an IFBB Pro Bikini competition through the National Professional Bodybuilders Association a few years back. I did that just to see what I could do, what would happen if I did it. I’ve done several National competitions, the last one in 2018. I learned a lot from it. Everything I’ve tried has made me a better trainer.

Talk to me about your diet and how that changes based on what goals you’re pursuing. 

Bodybuilding requires a very, very specific diet. My diet was extremely restrictive. I basically ate chicken, asparagus, eggs, spinach, and I got one Quest bar every day. For four weeks leading up to the show, literally every meal was tilapia and asparagus. The process isn’t necessarily healthy, but I think the end of any race isn’t super healthy. Your body is always pretty taxed. 

That obviously looks very different than when I’m doing a sport like CrossFit, or preparing for this deadlift competition. With bodybuilding I was running on about 1200 calories, with very few carbs. So of course you do not have the glycogen in your muscle to be able to lift any sort of significant weight. With the deadlift competition, you have to eat enough food to make sure that you have the energy in you to be able to pull it off. When you’re concerned about performance, you have to have the fuel. With powerlifting, food is fuel. When you’re on stage for bodybuilding, you don’t have any fuel at all but that’s what it takes to get down below 10 percent body fat and have that look. It’s not sustainable.

What are the biggest benefits you see from consistent training and healthy living, in your own life and with your clients?

I think most of it is mental and emotional. The benefits of being physically stronger are nice, but what training consistently has taught me about how I think has been really transformative. It’s allowed me to shift my perspective because I’ve been uncomfortable physically. I think that carries over to being able to sit with yourself and be still with those issues that everyone has between their ears that they don’t really like to talk about.

You talked earlier about longevity, tell me a little more about that and why it’s an important goal for women to have. 

I think when we’re younger, there’s a lot of societal pressure to look your best. So many young women start working out with the intention of looking their best. But then after a few months, you figure out that you feel better. Maybe you can think a little more clearly, or you’re sleeping better. So then with that comes things like, what happens if I change my nutrition a little bit? What happens if I get a little more sleep? What happens if I drink more water and less soda? And throughout that whole process you start moving a little better, looking a little better. And then you just repeat that cycle. That’s the basis of longevity—making little changes over time that add up to a lifetime of health.