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The Women Who Built Power Plant Gym

Everyone loves a good origin story, right? The Godfather Part II, Batman Begins, Casino Royale, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace (okay, maybe not that one)… The point is, we all have an origin story, a tale of how we got where we are.

I’ll spare you the full details of my origin story (you’re welcome). Today I just want to tell you about a specific piece of the story that makes me who I am and shaped Power Plant Gym into the community it is today. 

At the heart of this story are two women who pushed, pulled, encouraged, supported, and – at times – dragged Katie Feeley Training and Power Plant Gym into being. 

The first woman at the heart of this story is my mom, but not in the way you might think. Of course she did all the “mom stuff” like giving me life, feeding me, editing every paper I ever wrote, blah blah blah.

But in 2012 she also became my first personal training client. 

At the time, she’d participated in exactly zero sports (minus one ill-fated 8th grade basketball experience). She came to every sporting event that my brother, my dad, and I did; but she wasn’t an “athlete” herself. I had just started dabbling in the coaching realm and wanted to help her get stronger. I told her to give me 3 weeks. If she hated it, we’d stop.

It’s been 11 years.

When my mom started training, she couldn’t run around her court (about 200m), and she owned zero workout apparel. She’d wear her jeans (true story), alternate jogging and walking around the court, and work through some basic bodyweight movements.

Fast forward to today. We’ve run multiple 5k’s together, she can deadlift over 100lbs, she has no issues moving things around at work or home, she can (mostly) keep up with her grandkids, and she’s pulled my car with her bare hands. She has also been a group leader at every single strongman competition I’ve ever run and knows as much about the logistics of the sport as anyone else I know.

Her trust in me and commitment to the process of training gave me the opportunity to learn and build confidence in my practice. She’s supported me, the gym, and my career in every possible way. And she’ll forever be my first client and my favorite success story.

The second woman at the heart of this story is my friend Shannon. I always credit the founding of Power Plant Gym – which started as Katie Feeley Training – to her. Shann was a member of the gym where I was working at the time. I’d help her with her lifts in the morning and we’d hang out. Because Shannon is who she is, she started insisting that she pay me for my coaching. I was still pretty new to the whole coaching thing and wasn’t confident enough to actually charge for anything.

Fast forward to Shannon pretty much holding my hand (and lovingly threatening me) while I created my first PayPal account so she could give me money for coaching her. Thus – almost exactly 10 years ago to the day – she became my first official paid client, and today is one of my dearest friends.

Shannon really started the ball rolling on this wild chapter of my life, and has continued to support me and all the women who have come after her. She was the first member of a group called “Katie’s Ladies” – an all-female lifting team that grew up organically around me and Shannon. (Let the record reflect that they named themselves.) 

We trained together, competed together, and went through all the ups and downs of our late twenties together. When it came time for me to branch out on my own, this core group became the founding members of Power Plant Gym.

It was all women.

And it’s built on women now. Our social media master and strongman coach, Kelly, was one of the original “Katie’s Ladies.” Shannon and another OG Lady, Shera, are the first people I get on the list to help me run my strongman shows. Kara literally helped build the equipment at PPG. Jen is always ready to step in and help with classes, events, and general emotional support at the gym. And that’s just a partial list.

When people picture “strongman” and “powerlifting” they generally imagine big guys with tattoos and beards. To be fair, PPG is now home to lots of them too. But that’s not how it started.

It started with a group of women who found strength, confidence, growth, and companionship in the gym. Eventually, our little family grew to include people of all genders and sizes.

But my origin story – and the origin story of Power Plant Gym – is rooted in the strength and support of women. And for that I’m forever grateful.

Want to be part of this community and legacy? We’d love to have you. Just hit the “Free Intro” button on this page, or shoot us an email at [email protected].


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