You don't have to be a figure model to work at Bodybuilding.com. But if you're not careful, you might just become one. The atmosphere and motivation Katie received from her coworkers helped her to believe she could change—and did she ever!
This 25-year-old site search optimizer is counting the days until her first figure competition and striving to be more than she thought possible a couple years ago. It takes a special employee to not only buy into the company's core values, but to live them this intensely in the hours away from the desk.
Katie will take the stage later this spring, but first she gets to stand in our spotlight at this month's Fit Employee!
Name: Katie Neely
Job Title: Site Search Optimizer
Date of Hire: August 2010
Weight: 150 lbs
BodySpace Account: Kickstart Kate
Athletic Background: I've always played sports and been fairly athletic. I grew up skiing and playing soccer and golf. These are all still big parts of my life.
Super Powers: Super come-at-me-bro man strength
Random Fact: I am one jump away from being certified to skydive solo.
Fitness Declaration: To be the healthiest, best version of myself I can.
I manage the internal search engine for the site. So I have a big part in how and why products show up the way they do in the store. I started in customer service and was there for a couple of weeks before coming up to corporate for my current position, where I've been for two-and-a-half years.
The gym has always been in the background as a maintenance tool, but I've lately been enjoying making it a bigger part of my life. I did most of my exercising outside. I didn't have much knowledge about nutrition and weightlifting other than, "I think I'll do these exercises today."
I play in a lot of golf tournaments during the summer and fall, and since I've worked here, I've been able to participate in indoor soccer, dodgeball, kickball and some other fun races. I'm also eight weeks, four days, and about five hours out from my first Figure competition (not that I'm counting or anything).
I haven't competed yet, but I do feel the training has made me stronger both mentally and physically. It has also made me more confident. I know if I can make it through this training, I have the discipline to do anything I put my mind to. That is an empowering feeling. The habits and lifestyle changes I've made have and will continue to influence other aspects of my life.
The environment at Bodybuilding.com, for me, is infectious. People talk about what they're working on with their nutrition or their training, and I can't help but wonder what that regimen could do for me. It's been a fun two-and-a-half years of trying new things, seeing what works and what doesn't, and then trying something new.
That is a great benefit of working here: being surrounded by so many different types of people and athletes. The motivation, encouragement, and assistance is endless.
I have changed as the company has grown. As we change from year to year, one thing stays constant: the morals and underlying ideals of Bodybuilding.com. We come up with new content and add new products, new trainers, even give the cart a facelift. But why do we do what we do every day? The reason behind all of these changes stays constant. This has made me learn and grow as an employee, person and athlete over the last two-and-a-half years.
The Bodybuilding.com environment influences my health, fitness and appearance goals in a positive way. I would have never thought I could push my body as far as I have before I worked here.
The people alone have changed me for the better, from those who have answered question after question to those who push me to get out the last few reps of a workout, I wouldn't be where I am today without them. This company has given me the resources to reach goals I would have never even made for myself, such as competing.
I have found the company ideals and goals to be right in-line with my own, so a work/life balance has been relatively easy for me. Every once in a while I want to warm up a doughnut in the break room, but then I think "What would [Vice President of Digital Publishing] John Hardesty say about that?" So I choose a Quest Bar instead.
There aren't any 115-pound dumbbells to lift here, and the gym hasn't replaced the one someone broke!
My co-workers are intelligent, unique individuals. Each of them has their own goals and aspirations, and I love working with them, talking with them, and spending 40-plus hours per week with them. They are supportive of my goals, but they will always be there to make sure I'm not so wrapped up in them that I forget what it means to let loose and have fun every once in a while. I have formed some great friendships with these people. Each in their own way, they are my rocks who keep me grounded and sane.
I remember when Kate Kennedy first told me I would do great in figure competition. I thought to myself, "Yeah right! There's no way I'm going to get up on stage in front of hundreds of people and flex for them."
Then, as I finished the Kris Gethin 12-Week Trainer last March, I started considering that she could be right. After I completed Jim Stoppani's Shortcut to Size and Kris Gethin's DTP Trainer, with [Vice President of Sports Nutrition] Martin Rosales pushing and yelling at me through each training session, it was time to cut down and see what all that hard earned Martin-muscle looked like.
I would have to say, I wouldn't be where I am without those two. They have been there for me on good days and bad.
Just this morning a woman came up to me as I was finishing up my workout. She introduced herself to me and asked me if I was training to compete. I nodded and said yes, I've been training for a few months now.
She then told me she's seen me around the gym in the mornings and that I was an inspiration to her. She asked me if she could approach me with any questions she might have while she continues her transformation. I was so taken aback and truly touched that she wanted to reach out to me and tell me that. I have never had anyone come up to me like that.
Outside of fitness, I enjoy most outdoor sports and activities like golf, soccer, camping, rafting, skiing and mountain biking. I have to say, I also enjoy sitting outside in the summer time with a good beer and a slice of pizza or a burger.
My favorite part of the site is the recipes section. I have several dozen recipes bookmarked to try when my competition season is over!
We have such a variety, and they are created such that you can take bits and pieces of a recipe and make it your own. I don't think I'll ever get bored with my food!
Having the support of the company to work out and live a healthy lifestyle has been invaluable. Not many people can say their company pays for them to go to the gym or rewards them for good habits, furthering their knowledge, and even for reading a book. Bodybuilding.com does a great job of promoting a healthy, well-rounded life for each of its employees.
My experience with the 2012 Employee Transformation Challenge is what shaped my year into what it has become. I found a trainer who made me grow and made me want to see how far I could push my body. I saw great results from the Gethin Trainer, and it made me want to try new things to see how my body would respond. If I hadn't seen those results back in March of 2012, I wouldn't have made the decision to compete.
For myself anyway, I have more energy at work, I'm happier at work, and I'm more invested in what I do because I know the benefits I've experienced. Living this lifestyle and seeing the positive changes in myself makes me want to share and give back to our customers however I can in hopes of changing just one of their lives.
My future goals are to just find a healthy balance between the fitness, friends and family, and work. Working for Bodybuilding.com has helped me learn how to be efficient with my training and nutrition. I have learned I can be physically fit and still go out to dinner or lunch and have a beer with friends.