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How Stephanie Woods Lost 60lbs with Kettlebells and Right Eating

Stephanie Woods, RKC, Kettlebell Swing
Dragon Door: How did you first find out about kettlebells?

Stephanie Woods: I was overweight and weighed over 210lbs. I wanted to find a way to lose weight because the big box gyms weren't working for me. I found a place that used kettlebells, joined there and I've liked them ever since!

Dragon Door: What other changes did you make along with working with kettlebells?

Stephanie Woods:
At first, I wasn't very serious about it since I was in my early 20s—I thought that I didn't really need to work on my nutrition and I would be fine. But, that wasn't the case. When I had to have surgery for a cyst on my tailbone, I was physically unable to do anything for about three months, needless to say I gained even more weight. When I couldn’t do anything physical, that changed things for me. Sort of like when you can't do something, that makes you want do to it even more! So, when I came back to working out after surgery, I was a completely different person. I changed my nutrition 100%, and I started working out about six times a week for about 45 minutes a day, plus I was also running about a mile a day during my lunch. I lost about 50 pounds in 6 months because I was serious about it!

Dragon Door: What nutritional changes did you make?

Stephanie Woods: I guess it would be known as Paleo. It was pretty much no grains, no dairy, and I tried to be gluten free for the most part.

Dragon Door: What were your 45 minute workouts like?

Stephanie Woods: Two days a week I did kettlebell-only workouts, and the other days were a little bit of everything, but everything was high intensity—a lot of swings and snatches.

Dragon Door: How long did it take you to really get going with the kettlebells. Many people who have a lot of weight to lose can feel fairly intimidated by kettlebells at first.

Stephanie Woods: Actually, I really didn’t kettlebells very much at first—which seems pretty normal, around here at least. But it turned out that I really just didn’t like was working out a 6AM since I wasn’t a morning person at the time. Once I switched to working out in the evening, I fell in love with kettlebells. It took me a few months to really learn all the moves, but when I did, and felt comfortable with them, then that's when I really started falling in love with them.

Dragon Door: What's your favorite kettlebell movement?

Stephanie Woods: The snatch. I have no idea why, but it’s a lot of fun to do. I don't have a big reason other than it hits everything at once—you can work on your strength, your mind, and get your heart beating.

Dragon Door: What’s your advice for someone who might be inspired by your story and who wants to give kettlebells a try?

Stephanie Woods: Don't give up on something that’s meaningful to you, kettlebells might seem hard in the beginning, but when starting a new fitness regimen, everything can be pretty hard. If it were easy everyone would do it!

Dragon Door: What was the most difficult aspect in the beginning?

Stephanie Woods: I guess I had never worked out before, so just learning the technical details of kettlebell training—and realizing that I was going to be working on my body and mind at the same time. And that’s what I love about it now. Since then, I opened my own gym and 90% of the time there's a kettlebell in someone's hand.

Dragon Door: What inspired you to go for your RKC Certification and then open your own gym?

Stephanie Woods: I really loved the way I felt after losing weight—emotionally and also how much more comfortable I was with my body. I wanted to help other people feel the same way, I want them to learn to not worry about what the scale says but instead how they feel in their clothes and how strong they are getting. All together, I lost about 60lb, but I have gotten so much stronger that I stopped paying attention to the actual pounds I lost because I gained so much more strength. I say it like it's nothing now, but it really was a lot of weight. When I tell people that I lost 60lb, I have to actually show them my "before" pictures, because they usually don’t believe me!
Stephanie Woods, RKC Before and After photos
Dragon Door: When was your first RKC Workshop?

Stephanie Woods: It was in 2011, in Minnesota. I had never been one to really go out of my comfort zone or go do things around a large group of people. I used to be pretty shy and quiet. The RKC was really challenging for me. I was scared I wasn't going to pass, but I think we all have that fear the first time we go to an RKC Workshop. I had never played sports when I was younger, and I was never very athletic before, so it was all completely new to me. But I ended up actually really liking it, and I met really great people!

Dragon Door: What encouragement do you have for people who want to make a transformation like yours?

Stephanie Woods: I would say to take one day at a time, don't look at the big picture all at once, and set one small goal to set for yourself (losing 5lb, swinging a heavier kettlebell, or to be able to keep pace with a certain exercise class). But the main idea is to not set too big of a goal in a small time frame. One thing I used to do when I craved pizza or wanted to rest too much during a workout, was to imagine what I wanted to see in the mirror. That pushed me to keep going with my transformation.
Dragon Door: Were there any particularly challenging obstacles for you in your transformation?

Stephanie Woods: I had to move back home and no one in my household ate healthy—I was the only one. The hardest part was not having that support at home. I always had to make sure that good food was in the house so that I could eat it. I had to stay motivated to go home and eat regular chicken or fish while they were eating fried chicken.

Dragon Door: That's tough! It can take so much more motivation to keep going when there’s little or no support at home!

Stephanie Woods: It was—they all thought I was crazy and even said, "You're addicted to working out," and all this other stuff. The biggest thing in my transformation was to stop caring what other people think. They are not me, they're not in my shoes, and they don't know what I do outside of the gym. My advice is to just go in, kick ass, and be done with it!

Stephanie Woods After Warrior Dash

Dragon Door: What demographic trains at your gym?

Stephanie Woods: About 90% women. Most are overweight, unhealthy, and looking to get their health back. They want to be able to be active with their kids, grandkids, or dogs without being out of breath.

Dragon Door: What approach do you take with their workouts?

Stephanie Woods: It varies, if they are in boot camp the workout changes everyday, sometimes the workouts will last about an hour from start to finish, and other times they will last only 30-45 minutes. If the workout is super long on one day, I try to keep it shorter on the next day since many of the people who train at my gym come to workout every day. If they are in a private class, then they have the same workouts for a month designed specifically for them. They will try to improve on something each week. I have some very dedicated people training here!
Stephanie Woods Group Class

Dragon Door: That's a great accomplishment by itself! How do you keep them that interested, engaged, and encouraged?

Stephanie Woods: It helps that I've been in their shoes, especially when they don’t have support at home. At first they’re not sure what to eat, and since I’ve been there I remember what I went through and I can really guide them. I have so many recipes that I've made over the years that I share, and Pinterest has been great for different meal ideas. Also, I am in contact with almost everyone from the gym, everyday. They have to schedule their sessions to come into the gym, so if they don't schedule for two days then they’ll hear from me, in fact I usually get ahold of them that same day!

Dragon Door: What’s your favorite recipe?

Stephanie Woods: I have two favorites, a chicken tortilla soup without the tortillas, and a chicken coconut milk (instead of alfredo sauche) pasta. They're very good!

Dragon Door: For people who are trying to start a healthier lifestyle, but aren't getting any support at home—which unfortunately seems very common—what are some other things they can do to make life at home a little easier?

Stephanie Woods: The biggest thing I tell people is to take time once a week to put some kind of a plan together for what they will be eating. Even if that simply means cutting up all the vegetables ahead of time, cooking the chicken, or doing something so that when they come home at night, everything is ready to eat. Then they don’t have to worry about cooking something for the family, and then not having time to make food for themselves.

Dragon Door: What is your next goal?

Stephanie Woods: I recently attended one of Max Shank’s Ultimate Athleticism workshops, and learned about this one move called "the ice cream maker". I really want to be able to do that. I’ve also started training for triathlons, that’s way out of my normal training regimen, which makes me want to do it more!

And I want to expand my business. My current location isn’t very big, even though I’ve already expanded once, now there’s another opportunity to expand my current location.

Dragon Door: How many members do you have right now?

Stephanie Woods: Right around 40 which is really good considering I have a personal training studio with no machines—it’s just weights and the members!

Dragon Door: So what was your occupation before you became a coach and gym owner?

Stephanie Woods: I was a legal secretary, paralegal at a law firm, and it was horrible! I was definitely miserable, but it was hard to give up that income and run the gym as my only source of income. As of this November, it’s been a year since I have been at my gym full time. Last year I just decided that it was time, and even though I had maybe 15-20 members, and it was the holiday season, I didn't care—it was time!

Dragon Door: Do you have any advice for new RKCs who may be considering opening their own gym or studio?

Stephanie Woods: If you have the passion to help other people, then just go for it. If you think about it too much, you’ll probably start to believe that you can’t do it. Follow your heart instead, in personal training, coaching and working with people who want to better themselves, if you don’t have the passion, then you don't have a business.
Stephanie Woods Explaining Workout
Stephanie’s Chicken Tortilla (without the tortillas) soup recipe:

  • 3 pounds chicken breasts
  • 3 tablespoons of oil of your choice, divided (I use olive oil)
  • 3 teaspoons of taco seasoning (I use cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder salt, pepper and cayenne)
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 6 cloves of garlic, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, diced
  • 2 quarts of chicken stock
  • 1 28 ounce can fire roasted tomatoes
  • 2 juice of limes
  • 1 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 avocado, sliced
Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit (350 for convection). Place the chicken breasts in a large baking pan, and pour one tablespoon of oil over them, coating well. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the chicken, coating well, and place in the oven. Bake for about 30-45 minutes (depending on the size of the chicken pieces) until cooked through and the liquid from chicken runs clear. Using two forks, shred the chicken.

Meanwhile, in a large pot over medium, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, and when hot, add the onion. Cook until the onion is translucent. Add in the garlic and peppers and sauté.

Pour in the chicken stock and fire roasted tomatoes and bring to a boil. Then add the cooked chicken, cilantro and lime juice to the pot.

Serve hot with fresh cilantro and chopped up avocado on top.

Adapted from:

Stephanie Woods Kettlebell Swing thumbnailStephanie Woods, RKC is the owner and trainer at Revolution Fitness. You can contact her via her website, email:, or follow her on Facebook: