Check our interview with fitness expert and 12 Minute Athlete creator Krista Stryker.
Stryker recently released her book The 12 Minute Athlete: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life in 12 Minutes a Day. The book follows Strykers personal challenges obtaining her fitness goals and her progress on realizing anyone can be an athlete. It is now available for purchase here.
She is an NSCA certified personal trainer and the founder of 12 Minute Athlete, a popular website and app helping thousands of people get fit in as little time as possible. After struggling as a personal trainer and not being able to accomplish her personal goals, she knew there had to be a better way. Even though she was spending so much time working out, it felt like it was never enough. That’s when she discovered high-intensity interval training (HIIT) and everything she knew about fitness and exercise was turned upside down. HIIT workout regimens consist of incredibly short, effective workouts based on calisthenics, cross-training, and functional fitness. 12 Minute Athlete helps athletes of all skill levels get in the best shape of their lives with minimal equipment and no gym membership. Stryker was eager to share her knowledge with a wider audience and launched her 12 Minute Athlete.
Hi Krista, please tell us a little about you?
I’m the founder of a fitness program called 12 Minute Athlete. It started out as a blog with online resources and programs; we also have a workout app and I’ve just published a book.
Describe yourself in 3 words?
What is your background and how did you get started in the fitness field?
I grew up in an athletic family, and though I always played team sports (basketball and soccer), they were never really my thing I totally believed that the athletic gene had skipped me. As soon as I left for college, I stopped doing any movement at all, ate way too much mac and cheese, and put on the dreaded freshman fifteen (or more). I felt weak, lacked energy, and felt totally unconfident in my body and in my life in general.
A few years into college I got sick of feeling so awful about myself and joined a gym to try and feel better about my appearance. I had no idea what I was doing, and would usually spend a boring 45 minutes on the elliptical machine or treadmill before getting out of there as soon as I possibly could. It wasn’t until my older brother challenged me to do a push up that I had any desire to become strong. I was sick of feeling weak and unconfident, and decided at that moment to actually put in the work to try and change.
I started running and working out more regularly, but I still hated every second of it. Even after I became a personal trainer, I didn’t develop a great relationship with fitness until I discovered high-intensity interval training, which is the basis of the 12 Minute Athlete approach.
HIIT changed everything for me. All of a sudden I was busting out push ups, pull ups and burpees and still had energy left over to enjoy my life. Being strong is everything to me now, and it’s my absolute favorite thing in the world to help others become strong in their own fitness journey.
What is the #1 thing you like about being into fitness?
Without question, the thing I love most about fitness is how it’s taught me to be both mentally and physically strong. I can now do feats of athleticism I would have never in a million years thought possible when I was younger – things like handstands, pull ups, one legged squats, etc.
Proving to myself through fitness that with hard work and consistency I can do nearly anything I put my mind to is an invaluable life lesson I will never, ever forget.
What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
It’s a tie between publishing my first app and my first book.
Please describe a typical day for you. What is your daily routine like?
When I’m not traveling, I have a pretty typical routine that consists of working at coffee shops throughout the day, working out, filming for 12 Minute Athlete, and spending time with my husband, Brian and friends a couple times a week.
What type of food or supplements do you recommend before and after workouts?
You certainly don’t need supplements, but many people will have success supplementing with some sort of caffeine supplement (either a pre-workout or even a cup of coffee) pre-workout, and a whey or vegan protein shake post-workout.
What is the most challenging thing you deal with about consistently staying in top shape?
I think the most challenging thing for most athletes is actually not getting in enough workouts – it’s getting enough rest. When you’re super driven and have goals, it’s often easier to keep working_
What do you eat in a typical day to stay in shape?
I’m pretty active on a daily basis, so I make sure to get in enough food and nutrients to keep my energy levels up.
I usually start the day with a bowl of steel cut oats with flax seeds, cinnamon, and a little peanut butter stirred in and topped with berries.
For a snack, I’ll have a piece of fruit like an apple with some nuts and maybe a protein bar (I look for ones with as few ingredients as possible).
For lunch, I’ll often have rice or quinoa with veggies and protein like tofu or tempeh.
I’ll often work out in the afternoon, so I’ll eat a small snack beforehand then follow it up with a protein shake, usually made with plant based protein powder, frozen banana, and frozen berries.
For dinner, I’ll mix it up—sometimes I’ll have tacos with lots of veggies, or I’ll make pasta with broccoli and asparagus, or have a different variation of lunch with rice and protein and veggies.
I try and include veggies in most of my meals!
I definitely have a sweet tooth so I’ll almost always have dessert, usually some dark chocolate or maybe frozen yogurt with fruit.
What is your favorite healthy food?
I really love vegetables and make a point of including vegetables in at least two meals a day. If I had to pick one type of food, I’d probably say Thai food – mixed vegetable and curry dishes are my favorite because they’re healthy but so full of flavor.
And your favorite cheat food?
I love ice cream and chocolate, and pretty much have to have dessert at night.
What motivates you to keep going and push harder?
I’m a big believer in setting non-appearance-related fitness goals because in my experience these types of goals keep people feeling motivated, longer. Whenever I don’t really feel like working out (it happens!), I just think about my goals and that almost always motivates me to do at least something to work towards them that day.
Favorite form of cardio?
Plyometrics like burpees, squat jumps, jump lunges, high knees, etc. And all forms of jump roping!
What are your best 3 tips for someone looking to reach their goal physique?
Set specific goals you can track, not just vague ones like “I want to lose weight.”
Keep a workout journal and keep track of your workouts, personal records (PRs), and goals so you can look back and see how much progress you actually have made.
Find an accountability buddy of some sort – most people stick with goals longer when they can talk to someone else about their goals.
Now tell us about your book “The 12 Minute Athlete: Get in the Best Shape of Your Life in 12 Minutes a Day?”
The 12 Minute Athlete book is a practical resource for getting into the best shape of your life, with my personal story included.
First I share my own journey and why I believe anybody can be an athlete, and I explain the philosophy behind high intensity interval training and the 12 Minute Athlete approach.
Then the book covers everything you need to know to start your own 12 Minute fitness journey. It’s got a breakdown of basic bodyweight exercises with progressions for all fitness levels. There’s a guide for teaching yourself to do impossible feats like pull ups, pistol squats and handstands. I include some nutrition basics and what I call the ‘non-diet diet’, which is 9 easy rules for eating healthy most of the time.
The final part of the book is a detailed 8-week fitness program with two tracks (regular athlete and super athlete) plus bonus tabata workouts.
Where we can buy it?
The book is available on all Amazon stores.
Now tell us about you successful App?
The app is available in both the App Store and Google Play store, and comes pre-loaded with dozens of minimal or no equipment workouts you can do whether you’re at an outdoor fitness park or a tiny hotel room.
Name one your strengths?
I’m extremely self-motivated. Once I set a goal, I don’t need others to push me to get there.
How do you spend your spare time?
Aside from my various fitness interests I love traveling, exploring the outdoors, music festivals, game nights, reading, and hanging out with my Beagle, Rocket, and cat, Fishstick.
What’s your favorite quote?
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” -George Bernard Shaw
My dad turned 70 this year and is the perfect example of this—he skis, kite boards, plays pickleball, mountain bikes, and is generally the most active person I know.
What are your makeup bag staples when traveling?
I don’t wear a lot of makeup in general, but I always have mascara, a light SPF coverup, lip gloss and chapstick. I also love shimmery powder I can use for both eye shadow and face highlights.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
I would absolutely love to meet Michelle Obama, she’s a hero of mine in so many ways.
What is your own definition of happiness?
To have freedom to choose my day-to-day life, where I live, and what goals and dreams I pursue.
What music do you like?
These days I listen to mostly electronic dance music. I love the upbeat nature of EDM and the positive lyrics in many of the songs.
How do you see yourself in 5 years?
Hopefully with at least one more book out, traveling the world, working on some awesome projects having to do with sports psychology and the mental side of fitness.
Do you support any charity?
I am currently working with an awesome charity called Breaking the Chains. They focus on bringing forth awareness and changing the conversation around eating disorders.
3 things you can’t leave home without?
My refillable water bottle – always stay hydrated!
Snacks – I usually have a protein bar or two plus some nuts and a piece of fruit like an apple or clementine so I’m never caught overly hungry.
My Kindle – I love to read and will sneak in a few pages whenever I can.
Your idea of a perfect Sunday is?
Sunday is almost always my one day off from training each week, but I still like to do something relatively active and outdoors. My ideal day would include some sort of light activity like a hike with my dog, Rocket, stand up paddleboarding with friends, or walking around and exploring new neighborhoods.
What do you think of Social Media?
It has its place, but in general I think most people spend way too much time on it. Use it as a place to share and be inspired, not a place to compare and feel bad about yourself.
Where we can follow you?
Holiday Destination: Thailand
Drink: Red wine
Song: Any Daft Punk song
Sports Team: Warriors
Photo Credit: Tamara Muth King