By Stephanie Dane
From the surface, it’s easy to label Kinsey Baker as a strong female… but she’ll tell you that her strength is rooted much deeper than her fitness background or her beautiful physique. “To me, strength is found in overcoming things that you once thought you couldn’t do. Fitness is such an empowering activity because it encourages us to get past our self doubts, fears, and shame.”
Fitness is a big part of Kinsey’s life for many reasons. Over the years, it’s served different purposes throughout her life.
“There was a time when I was afraid to step foot in a gym. It wasn’t because I was scared of the equipment… I was afraid of looking like an idiot because I had no clue what i was doing.”
Exercise wasn’t foreign to Kinsey, as she played sports in high school, was active through college and had run half marathons. “I had always been an avid runner, putting one foot in front of the other was my mental outlet.” In addition to the mental aspect, this former model also used cardio to maintain a certain size. “I did a lot of cardio and would eat 800-1000 calories a day. I was trying to maintain a certain size, but I was also super weak.”
Years of extensive cardio and lack of nutrition not only left Kinsey super weak, but caused hormonal issues and crashed her metabolism.
“After having my daughter in 2014, I realized how weak my core had become. I knew I needed more than just cardio to strengthen my entire body.” The more Kinsey learned about lifting and weight training, the more she wanted to know. “I quickly realized lifting was something that came naturally to me and it gave me a confidence that I had never had before.” In addition to strength training, Kinsey began to learn more about nutrition to support her fitness goals. “I developed a passion for the nutrition side of things; learning what foods do for your body, how food can balance your hormones and make you happier from the inside. It’s not just about aesthetics.”
In 2015, Kinsey integrated her love of education with her love of fitness and became a certified personal trainer. “When it comes to fitness, I really like to see ladies have a good knowledge not only of what they’re doing… but also to understand WHY they’re doing it. It’s not about just giving them a program, but understanding ins and outs so they can make a true lifestyle out of it.”
In 2016, Kinsey began working toward a longtime goal of competing in a physique competition. Her goal served a few purposes, particularly to face some internal fears. “I wanted to prove I could do it and overcome fear… but I also felt embarrassed at the thought of being on stage.” This reservation lingered in her mind throughout the months of her competition prep. “While I’ve modeled in the past, I am pretty reserved. I had some bad experiences and body images issues as a result of the modeling. I was concerned that the competition experience would bring back negativity from my past.”
Just weeks before Kinsey would step on stage, a friend encouraged her to attend Camp GORGO. “This weekend camp not only helped… but it completely transformed my entire competition experience. One of the workshops encompassed competition posing. Kinsey shared her sense of embarrassment with the workshop trainers…. and received a response that would stick with her long after her competition.
“Cassandra Spencer told me it’s a celebration of the work you have done. Block everyone out, find your inner diva, and strut the work and your strength. It resonated so closely with me, I broke down and started bawling.” And that’s when Kinsey’s perspective changed. “It was about me celebrating that I could become strong for myself, my daughter… be an inspiration for other women. “ Kinsey used this newfound perspective and emotional strength to conquered the stage. Not only did she achieve her goal, she also became a nationally qualified fitness competitor in the bikini division.
However, Kinsey’s feelings of success and pride were short lived. In the Winter of 2016/Spring 2017, fitness took a backseat while Kinsey faced her toughest challenge as she dealt with marital and family struggles. “I was in survival mode and stopped fitness. For a while, all I wanted to do was hide away from the world. That feeling of shame returned… just in a different form this time. There’s a lot of shame that comes with divorce and loss of relationships. I felt that I wasn’t good enough. I lost a lot of my confidence, and honestly, I lost my sense of self.”
The experience resurfaced feelings of depression. “I suffered from postpartum depression and fitness had helped me through that.” Kinsey knew she needed fitness in her life to regain her mental and emotional strength. “At first, I felt guilty for leaving Skylar, felt bad for not knowing what I was doing, and just in general had a feeling of shame. It is crazy how shame is such an isolator. I found that the more ashamed I felt, the more I looked inward, and the more I thought only about myself.
“Well, that was the absolute opposite of my goals for being a good mom! I wanted to give, not be selfish.” Kinsey decided to push through her bubble to conquer her emotions around shame. “On a daily basis, I would tell myself, ‘If am not at my strongest, I cannot be strong for everyone else’.” As Kinsey eased back into fitness through jogs with Skylar in the park and pushups at home, her confidence began to return. “Since having Skylar, my motivations have changed. It wasn’t about being better for Kinsey. It was about being better and stronger for my daughter.”
Kinsey’s experience has shifted her perspective on life and unearthed a deeper purpose for helping other women. As a woman very grounded in her faith, she’s discovered what God wanted her to do and who he wanted her to be. “I’ve realized that I can only help others by first being strong myself. I am grateful for the people God brought into my life to encourage me back to a place of confidence and security. Through being vulnerable and genuine, I have found an even deeper strength now - in God, in my love for my daughter, and in my purpose of encouraging other women. I have received so much satisfaction through encouraging other moms. I love being able to give back. And as I see other moms become more confident, I gain my own confidence.”
As a single mom working two jobs, the balancing act is far from easy for Kinsey. “My weeks are crazy. I have zero free time. But through this experience, I have found my niche: helping other moms who’ve limited time, have felt isolated, or struggle with confidence. As women and mothers, we wear so many hats. Society has structured us to do everything for our kids and be the heart of our homes… And while these roles/hats are all amazing, we can lose our connection to our tribe, whoever that may be. We get lost on our own island, the self doubt starts creeping in and we become our own worst enemy. That’s why I love GORGO so much. Whether it’s through social media, text, or email, it’s a sisterhood of fitness and like-minded women. I would encourage other women to find a community that they feel truly comfortable in. Find group of people to hold you accountable, and help you to pursue your goals. No one can accomplish anything alone. We all need each other!”
Today, Kinsey is a stark contrast to who she was a year ago, as she remains focused on all the positives happening in her life. “I’ve encountered a lot of difficulty, but I’m very strong spiritually. When you go through something extremely painful, you either choose to be defeated… or you choose to overcome. Divorce or loss of a relationship is treated more like a taboo topic. Talking about it will help you learn how to rise up and be strong. It’s not about WHAT happened… it’s HOW you choose to move. Your story and your energy impacts those around you. Use your struggles to help others find their strengths.”
Kinsey shares her journey with the hopes of inspiring other women. “People need authenticity. Your life is your story. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. If it’s relevant, don’t hold back from sharing it… because it could change someone else’s life.”