6 Questions with Holly Perkins

How did you first get interested in fitness?

When I was a youngster, my very best friend was a little overweight and her mother made her take dance aerobics classes at our local YMCA in Pennsylvania. And she didn’t want to go alone, so I went with her and started taking these very typical ‘80s dance classes, and it was just the best thing ever. It was full-on Lionel Richie in spandex and leg warmers, Jane Fonda-style. As silly as it sounds, it brought me such joy and it stuck with me forever.

How does your education in physiology and nutrition influence your training regimen?

It’s everything. I think I’m probably one of the only people I know who’s out in the world using their college degree. It influences everything I teach, from working the biomechanics and biochemistry of the human body to really achieve whatever it is you want. Whether that’s increased performance, or well-being, or disease prevention, or weight loss. My whole business is getting people the body they want in all of those aspects. It’s physiology and nutrition, that’s all it comes down to.

Why do people come to you to get healthy?

I think because I’m a credible, bonafide expert with 25 years of experience, a bachelor’s of science, and CSBS certification. So, I think it’s my knowledge and my experience. But I think I’m aspirational in that I walk the walk and talk the talk and I’m the example of what a lot of people want to achieve in terms of health and fitness. As compared to some of the unattainable fitness bodies out there. But I think people think they can get to know me, I’m personable, just like them, and I’m relatable.

Why did you decide to start Women’s Strength Nation?

I started Women’s Strength Nation because I saw a glimpse in the fitness industry, that women were not reaching their potential in fitness. Not because of a lack of information, but lack of inspiration. And for women to really become strong, it’s a conversation of physical strength, through the practice of strength training, and inner spiritual, mental, and emotional strength. I do believe there’s a transference where physical strength does inspire mental fortitude. My equation is physical strength first, as compared to mental strength first.

What’s the biggest hurdle most people tend to have to overcome?

I think that the human mind, as well as emotions and subconscious programming, is so powerful. It’s hard to change it. We can, and we need help and guidance. But because it’s hard to accomplish, I like using personal strength training to give you an edge. Men are born naturally physically stronger than we are. Very few women are actually born physically strong—we have to cultivate it. When women experience what that feels like to climb a flight of stairs and feel powerful or pick up something heavy, and know that they can actually do it and don’t need help, it’s huge in terms of inspiration around the subconscious. Therefore, it’s a tool in helping change psychology.

Why did you decide to focus on women in training?

When I graduated college, I got an incredible job in New York City where I was working with the biggest A-listers at the time. And that’s a lot of personality coming in. And I was really good working with men. They were easy. And I remember being really frustrated because women were so challenging to work with—because of the complexity in our psyche and physiology. Because of estrogen, we’re radically different in the gym both physically and psychologically. I remember thinking, ‘It’s just so hard to change a woman’s body.’ And over the next 25 years, as I went through my own personal and physical struggles, it awakened me to the fact that women tend to suffer more than men. It might sound like a very generalized statement, but I decided I really wanted to focus on women because I like a challenge and I felt women are the ones who really need my help.