In Katie Gould’s fitness studio, women strive to get bigger — not smaller.
For Gould, strength is a life skill that helps people tackle both physical and emotional challenges.
“Be strong. Don’t diminish yourself,” Gould said. “The goal of fitness should not be how small can I get, but rather, how strong and capable can I get, and how lofty can my goals be for my personal strength and potential.”
In April, Gould opened KG Strong, a fitness studio that focuses on strength training, kettlebells and yoga.
In the months since, the number of clients doing small group training has grown from 10 to about 35, and Gould has been named Philadelphia magazine’s 2017 Best Trainer.
Gould has worked as a personal trainer and yoga instructor in Philadelphia for the past nine years.
Because of the number of clients she had taken on over the years, she felt that the time had come to open her own studio.
Her clients vary across different skill levels. Though the majority of them are women, Gould said there are some men who come to her studio as well.
“I like to say that the men who come to my space are feminist men because they are men who don’t mind that there are women who are stronger than they are,” Gould said.
In addition to strength training, Gould teaches yoga and kettlebells, which are cast-iron weights that can be used for a variety of exercises.
When Gould opened the studio, she was the only personal trainer there. Now, the studio has five trainers.
Julie Read, one of the other personal trainers, met Gould over the summer and started teaching strength endurance and strength and conditioning classes at KG Strong.
“I really appreciate the amount of dedication [Gould] has to basically everybody that she meets,” Read said. “I also really enjoy kettlebell training and the strength training component of the fitness industry, and she’s really focused on having everybody work with good form and has a true dedication to the purity of kettlebell training.”
In 2018, Gould will also participate in the Tribe 12 fellowship program. It takes young professionals through an entrepreneurship program as they develop a specific project. Gould’s project is her studio.
The other fellows include Jess Bird, Koty Marine, Jake Markovitz, Dave Martell, Davinica Nemtzow, Alanna Raffel, Serena Shapero, Josh Silverbauer, Michelle Sloan, Rory Michelle Sullivan, Lindsay Tabas and Taryn Wyron.
Gould learned of the program through Rachel Waxman, who works for Tribe 12 and knew that Gould found the administrative side of running a business difficult.
“I thought it was going to be a slower growth, and so I’m pleasantly surprised that things have moved faster, but I’m also playing catch-up myself,” Gould said. “There are so many challenges. Am I a good leader? Am I reaching out to the right people? Am I reaching out enough? Am I charging the right amount?”
Though Gould is not actually Jewish, she is engaged to a Jewish man, and hopes to use the program to explore the role Judaism will have in their life.
Gould said their wedding will incorporate Jewish customs.
“For our sake as a couple, I want to better understand his religion and also his culture — that part of his life,” Gould said. “I want to understand and learn everything I can about what it means to be a Jewish person in Philadelphia, what it means to be a Jewish person in America right now … and maybe one day think about what it means for our kids to be Jewish.”