GYM Laird Powerlifting Team

Back in 2001 when Jim started his training career in Lexington, he had no idea he was going to trick women all over town to fall in-love with powerlifting.

Meet the Team

Betsy Keating

Age: 36

Occupation: Wife, mother, and pharmacist

Prior to powerlifting, my exercise routine consisted of 5 to 7 days a week of intense, hour long workouts. If I dared to skip a workout one day, I was riddled with guilt. I would not allow myself to rest and relax and I was having trouble sleeping through the night. I was becoming neurotic about exercise.

Enter powerlifting.

My training schedule for powerlifting is sustainable. I spend 2 to 3 days a week at the gym. The others days are guilt-free, doing movement that I want to do for fun. Sometimes l hike with my girlfriends, ride bikes with my son, scout rock climbing areas with my husband, or do my favorite “feel-good” cardio exercise video. Bottom-line, exercise is easier to fit into my busy schedule.

Powerlifting makes me strong. Do I really need to explain? I LOVE the sense of accomplishment of hitting a new PR. I love the feel of testing the limits of my strength. The strength I build in the gym translates into strength for my daily activities, which includes moving a solid wood (i.e. HEAVY) chicken coop across a yard, picking up and transporting multiple bushels of winter squash (again, very heavy), and lifting and unloading totes of supplies at my workplace. I have what is needed to take care of most daily demands…sounds like the perfect cross-training program to me!

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. While, I don’t have a perfect body, I am now confident in my body. I am healthy and fit, with feminine curves and cushion. Powerlifting keeps me strong and fit without transforming my body into a masculine and hard, unnatural physique. I am healthy mentally, physically, and spiritually. Powerlifting has helped me to embrace the body God gave me.


Brittany Kuhn

Age: 25

Occupation: Insurance Claims Adjuster

I am not a born athlete. I’ve played volleyball, soccer, and softball for one season each and disliked every minute of it. I’ve always struggled a bit with my weight and took up jogging throughout high school and college. On top of jogging, I would visit the recreation center and use weight machines and the elliptical for AT LEAST an hour. I entered several races and even ran my first half marathon in under two hours. I was down to about 125 lbs and still was not satisfied with the way I looked and felt. Exhausted, skinny, and flabby, aka “skinny fat.” My philosophy was to keep running 25+ miles per week and then SURELY I would see improvement. Many miles later, I found myself in an orthopedic doctor’s office on two separate occasions. Diagnosis? Stress fracture of the foot and femur. I was sidelined for a total of 6 months and boy, was I frustrated. I knew I had to consider a different modality of exercise. My husband and I later moved to Columbus, Ohio for a short stint where I met an athletic trainer who introduced me to periodised strength training. I started noticing changes in my physique immediately. In only a few short months, I learned the basics of powerlifting. We eventually found ourselves in Lexington, KY, where I discovered Jim Laird and Lucy Hendricks. My workout was stripped down to the basics – I’m talking about crawling on the floor, breathing exercises, bodyweight movements. But – but – but – what about those sumo deadlifts and heavy squats I had been doing!? I was instructed that my form had to be corrected before I could load the bar. I was not a happy camper, but I accepted the process and was back to lifting heavy after a few months with

Jim. The cool part? I was lifting pain free! An even better part? My energy levels improved and my body composition was changing. I even gained 20 lbs, but I was in my best shape ever (which is why scales are moot in my house). Jim’s philosophy works and he is truly exceptional in his profession.


Jen Rankin

Age: 42

Occupation: Veterinarian

So, this is kind of a long story. My weight has always been a battle, and I was not into sports when I was younger (I was more the drinking in the bathroom kind of party girl in high school…you know the type). I tend to be drawn towards more aggressive activities. I did a few seasons of roller derby and enjoyed the hell out of some fencing classes, but that’s the extent of my athletic prowess. Anywho, when I decided to get serious about my weight a couple of years ago, I joined weight watchers and started going to my local YMCA. I made some big mistakes that I think a lot of people do when trying to drop pounds- heavy cardio and a calorie restrictive, crappy carb loaded diet. That actually worked for a while and then I stalled, of course. I found Jim Laird and joined his gym in the fall of 2011. Lifting weights was the perfect blend of my new-found love of exercise and my long-standing aggressive streak.

Kim Harris

Age: 40

Occupation:  Director of Development, UK College of Fine Arts

It was a dark and stormy night…….no seriously, I always participated in team sports growing up (primarily basketball, but also soccer and softball) so being a part of a team dynamic is the most natural, intuitive environment for me.  When I had to quit basketball my sophomore year in college due to another knee injury I went through a bit of a grieving process.  Athletics had been such an integral part of my academic life, my stress management, my friend network, etc. and in an instant it was gone.  I became a “recovering athlete” for many years and stayed connected to team sports through coaching for a while, but I had real difficulty connecting with anything sustaining.  I have never been much of a group class, yoga, aerobics, etc. kind of person and then about two years ago I joined Gym Laird and finally found a community of people with similar goals, interesting stories, tremendous coaches, and found a place I could connect.  After about a year of classes I was encouraged to consider joining the powerlifting team and to compete.  I was hesitant at first primarily because it was new and new takes time for me, but the women on the team were encouraging, welcoming, and I had found my “people” again.  I’ve never been a yoga pant/tank top kinda girl, but getting leaner and stronger through this process has given me the confidence to get a little wild and wear smaller clothes and find my inner super hero!  Now I show up ready to go in my superhero shirt of the day and accompanying determination.

Emily Clark

Age: 31

Occupation: Physician Assistant, Radiology

I've always considered myself athletic.  I played fifteen years of soccer, including two years in college.  When I decided to end my soccer career, due to injuries and being mentally burned out, I was a little lost.  I had always trained with a team and trained specifically for soccer.  I tried workout classes, hitting the gym on my own, short and long distance running, cycling, yoga, you name it.  I also own almost every fitness DVD ever made.   But I lacked motivation and just couldn't find something that I loved. During this time, I felt it was difficult to stay in shape and feel good about myself, especially while eating junk, partying with friends and adjusting to the stresses and responsibilities of the “real world” as a working adult.  My new more sedentary lifestyle and limiting schedule made things even more difficult.  I became frustrated due to lack of results and constantly switched my diet and workout plan hoping that I would find something that was right for me.

Then, about three years ago, I found Jim Laird and his gym through recommendations of a friend, (who is in her upper 40s and looks AMAZING) I decided to give lifting weights a try.  She was a former marathoner who “converted” a little over a decade ago and has weight trained ever since.  I was hesitant at first, honestly because I've always been intimidated by heavy weights and of course, I had the irrational fear of becoming “big and bulky”.  But I couldn't argue with her testimonies and obvious results.

Kelli Dabney

Age: 34

Occupation: currently, I’m a stay at home mommy to 3 girls ages 8, 7, and 4, I have a degree in nursing.

Before joining Gym Laird I had never really thought too much about lifting heavy.  I’ve always been involved in something active; basketball, swimming, biking, triathlon, weight classes, etc. All rewarding in their own way.  After joining Gym Laird I discovered this whole new world of lifting and I love it! To see every day women lifting really heavy weight is so encouraging. I love lifting because it makes me feel strong and empowered. As a mom of 3 young girls, this is important.  I want them to know they can do anything they set their minds to and work hard for. Lifting weights makes you strong mentally and physically. This is one way for me to lead them by example.  I’ve struggled with body image issues my entire adult life. I won’t lie and say I don’t today however I’m more confident in my body since lifting heavy. Lifting has given me more confidence than any sport I’ve done in my past.  Life is busy. Training is a small part of my life but so important. It is my therapy and it keeps me strong and encourages me to live a healthier life. I have to mention Lucy in this journey as well. Lucy taught me how to foam roll and breathe properly. Both are part of my daily life now and before coming to this gym I knew nothing about foam rolling and had no idea I was breathing “wrong”. Here’s to many more years of lifting.

Missy Hicks

Age: 35

Occupation:Nurse, Interventional Radiology

I would like to consider myself athletic, but truth be known, I’m very awkward and it takes me several tries to really get the knack for things. As a teenager I did things like gymnastics (definitely not Olympic quality) but it was fun. I always tried to stay as active as possible through various forms of exercise such as running, at home DVD’s, and oh yeah that gym membership that I paid for, for at least a few years but really didn’t attend like I should have. I always had the best intentions, but never had that real motivation that kept me excited to continue with any of these. Following the birth of my son in 2005, my body just didn’t seem to rebound quite the way I had envisioned. Through one of my fellow Miss Fits (Emily) I learned of this great place (GYM Laird Strength and Conditioning) that put a different spin on workouts. I started out small by attending classes that involved using weights, just to make sure I would actually follow through with it. I felt motivated, encouraged and actually excited to go.

Renae Corman

Age: 44

Occupation: Hairdresser

I have always struggled with my weight …still do …but in 2011 I made a conscious decision to get healthy and stay that way. I joined Gym Laird in 2012 and fell in love with lifting!  It is my new addiction!  I've been on the power lifting team for 1 year and have enjoyed every sweaty minute of it!! I love my teammates.  They are positive, empowering women that have become great friends and I am thankful for each of them because they hold me accountable.   Not to mention … I have the best coach in the world … Jim Laird 🙂

Kim Klimek

Age: 31

Occupation: Student Speech Pathologist

I’ve always been pretty active, starting with ballet as a kid and then transitioning to cross-country and track in high school. I also got into horseback riding in high school and continued through college. I was always under the impression that more was better when it came to exercise, and that it was all about cardio, cardio, cardio! When I first started running as a freshman in high school, I really enjoyed it. However, starting my sophomore year, things went downhill with my health and I grew to hate it. However, I continued to run because I thought it was the best way to stay fit. It wasn’t until years later and a few months before I got married that my soon-to-be husband introduced me to the primal way of eating and CrossFit. I realize now that switching my eating helped stabilize my energy level, and I was no longer constantly fatigued. But, again, although I hated CrossFit, I did it because it seemed like the best way to stay in shape. I did see some good results, but it always seemed like way too much exercise, despite the fact that the total workout time wasn’t supposed to be longer than maybe a half hour. It was my husband who suggested that I try Gym Laird Strength and Conditioning, and I haven’t looked back since! I can’t tell you how overjoyed I am that I no longer have to run. I tell everyone who asks about it that I’ve seen better results in a shorter amount of time by doing three days of strength and conditioning at Gym Laird than in years of daily running and other cardio exercises.

Susanne Waldrop

Age:  43

Occupation: Director of International Programs for the College of Business, University of Central Florida; Certified Mediator

I’ve always considered myself athletic. I played multiple sports in high school and even trained with the boys in the weight room. I continued to stay active throughout my twenties and then started running seriously in my early thirties. Since then, I’ve run several half marathons and one full (26.2 miles) marathon. While I love running, it was definitely not giving me the body I wanted (to look good naked). In fact, I was running more and gaining weight.

I started training with Jim Laird at GYM Laird Strength and Conditioning in January 2012, thinking I would continue to run while adding strength training to my weekly routine. I quickly learned that distance running and strength training are counter-productive so after running my last half marathon on March 31, I committed myself fully to Jim’s program. In fact, he pretty much insisted on it or he wouldn’t train me to lift heavy. So, I took the plunge and gave up the running. I’ve never regretted that decision.

Lizz Kunz

Age: 24

Occupation: Global Outreach Leader at Southland Christian Church

Well I lifted in high school when I had college hopes as a pole vaulter, but from injury and over-exertion, kissed that dream good-bye.  I had always been in shape, I was strong and lean from six years of track.  But my body was so broken down, with torn ligaments and stress fractures.  When I hit college, I competed on the University of Kentucky's equestrian team.  I competed at a national level in the sport for two years, and remained in shape from this.  The combination of farm work and random exercise kept me pretty lean the first two years of college.  But when I moved to England for a year, had a diet that consisted of dark beer and bread combined with little exercise and poor decisions, I gained about 20 pounds.  For the first time in my life, I wasn't that “in-shape” girl or star athlete.  It was extremely humbling, I lost what little self-esteem I had.

When I moved back to Kentucky my senior year of college, I found Jim Laird, and started training with him.  I moved terribly, I was over weight and had lost a lot of muscle mass from lack of activity.  The stronger I got, the more I realized that my value and worth weren't found in how I looked.  While I leaned out again, I've never strode to get that athlete mindset again.  I don't want to look like I belong on a fitness magazine, or like the next big supermodel.  I want to look like ME.  That's something I never felt before I started lifting.  I'm not bulky, I'm not skinny, I'm not masculine or whatever else you want to label a power lifter with.  I'm me.  I can't ask for anything better.

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