Welcome Bert to the Team!

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[Mike here - join me in welcoming Bert to our team. You may have seen her around this last week, though I did a poor job of introducing her to everyone. As usual, the smart folks are able to find us even though we don’t do much advertising. She’s a former science teacher, so she’ll fit right in to our nerd gym culture. I’m really happy she found us and is joining our team!]

For as long as I can remember, I’ve been interested in physiology, movement, and scientific thinking. I also grew up loving to help other folks learn, whether it was teaching private music lessons or tutoring. These passions led me to my first career as a secondary science teacher. I loved being in the classroom with students finding new and creative ways to guide kids to an understanding of scientific phenomena, meeting them where they were at and helping elevate each learner to the next level. I filled out the rest of my schedule with coaching sports of all types, running the gamut from ultimate to cyclocross, and led expeditions for middle schoolers in the front and backcountry on skis or in hiking boots.

Eventually, “The System” got to me. In Washington state, where I taught for over five years, the State Supreme Court ruled that public schools are so critically underfunded it’s unconstitutional. The legislature is in a constant gridlock over budgets, daring the courts to fine them and make the crisis worse, taking away even more money from the schools. It’s tangled and frustrating and has these terrible concrete repercussions for individual kids who aren’t getting the resources they deserve and don’t have a say in the matter, as folks who are too young to vote.

Overworked and underpaid, I became a part of the massive statistic of teachers who burn out several years into their career and look for something else to do. I shifted my perspective, looking for something that would fulfill my love of science and provide the joy I get from helping people learn. I invested all this time and effort into developing a robust set of teaching skills through my Masters in Teaching program at the University of Washington and my years of experience in the classroom and out; I figured I should put those skills to use! I’d also spent nearly 15 years throwing myself into the game of ultimate frisbee, not only coaching youth teams wherever I taught, but also playing at the highest levels of the game.

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I reached out to a well-known Strength and Conditioning Coach for ultimate players, Ren Caldwell, and asked her what it would take for me to make that the next phase of my professional life. By the time the school year was over, I was interning with her, learning the ropes of sport-specific strength and conditioning. Since that time, I’ve gotten a long list of letters behind my name that represent an ever deepening understanding of movement patterns. I also helped open an incredible facility with Ren and another woman, Kira Morin. The past two and a half years have taught me more about myself and my resiliency than I ever imagined possible. (Y’all, opening a small business is hard. Really hard.) Oh, and last fall I captained my ultimate team to a National Championship -- ask about my most absurd tattoo sometime!

This summer, my housemates and I were informed that our house would be sacrificed to the condo overlords of Seattle (all hail), and I knew it was time to finally make the move out to Colorado I’d been contemplating for about 10 years. I feel really fortunate that the Google algorithms revealed Barbell Strategy as the first result when I typed in “strength and conditioning Boulder”, because it’s the top of the list in my heart. The simple elegance of barbells and kettlebells, with maybe a couple bands, balls, and boxes, is all you really need for excellent functional training -- especially when your backyard is so full of great opportunities.

I plan to pursue my dedication to sport-specific training here, working with personal training clients and small groups to set up customized training plans that push folks toward their goals. While my true love is ultimate, I’m interested in breaking down the fundamental movement patterns of any sport and finding ways to mobilize, strengthen, and empower those patterns for performance and injury resistance. To me, a great training plan is like a recipe for a great meal. We’ve got all these different elements layering over each other in different amounts, often seasoned to taste for the individual, and after cooking for a while, we get something fantastic!

Bert Abbott