Recovery Day: Karen ‘Kmax’ Maxwell of CycleBar Doesn’t Believe in Tracking Success by Numbers
Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with…
Athletech News welcomes CycleBar Senior Master Instructor & Director of Training Karen Maxwell for our latest Recovery Day feature. The ACE-certified personal trainer shares her many loves (sushi is one of them!) and what she advises the everyday person who loves fitness to be mindful of in this exclusive interview.
According to Karen “Kmax” Maxwell, her workouts at CycleBar tend to lean on the “super sweaty” side. But, it’s all in a day’s work, worth it for both Maxwell and those lucky enough to take her classes. For readers of Athletech News, the luck continues to grow as the talented personal trainer shares a number of her candid thoughts on topics such as fitness trackers, which Maxwell believes can be an “unhealthy tool.” “It can become an obsessive tool for people who may have an unhealthy relationship with working out and food. I don’t think it helps them mentally,” she adds.
When the former D1 athlete isn’t busy developing fitness programs for CycleBar and managing her team of instructors at the celebrated indoor cycling brand, she’s also focused on taking care of her family and herself. One thing Maxwell refuses to do is keep track of numbers, whether they be on a scale or a fitness tracker, and she vows to never allow her daughter to witness her stepping on a scale. Maxwell explains why and much more, including her appreciation of wine and match tea, as well as being a CBD entrepreneur, in this installment of Recovery Day.
Athletech News (ATN): What’s your go-to outfit when not at the gym?
Karen Maxwell: It’s anything that requires no thinking. I like one-pieces — either a jumper or a dress or overalls. if I have to match two pieces together to make an outfit, it will stress me out. I just really need it to be simple and comfortable. I spend so much time in leggings and workout clothes. I want my clothes to be loose fitting and I don’t want them to be tight.
ATN: Favorite restaurants/bars/nightlife etc
Karen Maxwell: I like Japanese food, especially sushi. My favorite restaurant of all time is Nobu. I’m sort of a foodie so I like to seek out really great food; it doesn’t have to be fancy. Just authentic, good food. Chain restaurants are just really not my thing or fast food. I never go out anymore, so I don’t have a nightlife. If I’m out past nine o’clock, I might turn into a pumpkin.
ATN: When you are injured how do you manage your inability to work out?
Karen Maxwell: You have to find a way to move. Maybe it’s just walking or yoga or stretching. If you’re a creature of habit… you’re always running and you injure your ankle, so you can’t run, what else can you do to keep your body healthy? I will go to yoga, even just stretching. Stretching can be so gratifying. It can help your movement, it can help your mind. I’m a really big fan of just [going] on a walk and listen[ing] to a meditation. Something that will mentally make you feel good because the physical aspect of working out is half of it. The other half is just that we feel better, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually when we move our bodies. So, we’re not only lost if we’re injured. We’ve lost the physical side of our bodies feeling that way. We’ve also lost that really important mental component that movement gives us. I really do think that if you’re injured it’s not a time to be sedentary unless it’s a serious injury where you’re having to have surgery.
ATN: Yes/No to fitness trackers? Data friend or the enemy?
Karen Maxwell: I don’t track my fitness. I’m not opposed to it at all. But, I don’t like to focus on numbers. I think that it can get in the way and it can be misleading for those who are not competitive athlete[s] are looking to hit a certain number to reach a certain goal for a competition or a game. I think if you’re a professional athlete there are benefits to that. But I think that the everyday person does not need fitness trackers to monitor their success. I’m a big fan of the mind-body connection and what comes along with that.
ATN: How often do you weigh yourself?
Karen Maxwell: I weigh myself once a year when I go to the doctor and they make me weigh myself. I don’t want a scale in sight. I have a daughter — I don’t want her to ever see me get on a scale to weigh myself. I never want her to see that because it doesn’t matter. How much you weigh doesn’t matter to me. It’s how you feel and if you’re healthy.
Everybody’s body is different and not every female is supposed to weigh 120 pounds. Not every male is supposed to weigh 170 pounds. It’s not the way we’re built. All bodies are different. They are shaped differently, they burn calories differently, they’re entire metabolic system is different from person to person.
ATN: Coffee or Tea? What type of Coffee? How many cups?
Karen Maxwell: I do not drink coffee at all anymore. I quit coffee when I was trying to get pregnant. We were having a hard time getting pregnant and it took us a long time so I went and saw a holistic fertility doctor who does acupuncture. The first thing she asked me was, “Do you drink coffee?” and I [said], “Yeah, one or two cups a day.” She [said], “Let’s cut out coffee.” Then I asked her, “Well is matcha OK?” because I was starting to get into matcha and I enjoyed it. She [said], “Oh yeah! Matcha tea is great.” I switched to matcha and I have never looked back.
ATN: Thoughts on alcohol?
Karen Maxwell: I love a good wine. I love tequila. That’s really all I go to. I’m not somebody who just drinks a ton of it. I think it can be so fun to have a nice glass of wine with friends or my husband with a nice dinner or during the summer. I absolutely love it. I typically don’t drink during the week. I have a rule that I don’t drink Sunday through Thursday unless there’s some sort of special occasion where I’m celebrating someone. I’m a big fan of alcohol in moderation and enjoying it, but also knowing that if you drink alcohol every day it is not good for your body.
ATN: Fan of CBD products?
Karen Maxwell: I’m a big fan of CBD. I take it every single day now. My husband and I started our own line of CBD products. It’s made for people who want to move, essentially. We started this business at the end of 2019. A friend of mine introduced CBD to me for sleep. I was like, “OK, I’ll try it.” I really liked it — it was super mellow. It’s all-natural, plant-based and I [thought] I can get on board with all of this, and then started doing some research and started working with a company here in Denver with CBD. We created a pre-workout CBD product called “Move” and our company is called Kinisi Performance.
ATN: How many hours do you spend on social media?
Karen Maxwell: I love social media. I think it can be a really useful tool. I think it’s a great way to stay connected and plugged in. I love the visual aspect of social media. I love some of the creativity that I see on social media. But I also am very well aware of the pitfalls of what social media offers and how you can get caught in a comparison wormhole. It can be very negative.
For me, being in the fitness industry, it’s part of what I do. You sort of have to use social media to market yourself, to build your following. If you’re an instructor you use it to get people to come to your classes. You do become an influencer, whether it’s on a macro or micro level. I probably spend a good two to three hours a day on social media, which is a lot.
ATN: Do you meditate? Do you use an App?
Karen Maxwell: I meditate. Some weeks I do it every day, and then some weeks I’m so busy and I miss it. In the last year, I’ve really tried to be very mindful about it, to bring it into my life every week whether it’s every morning or a couple [of] times that week. I try to do it first thing in the morning because it’s only [the] real quiet time I get. I make my tea and I usually sit between five to 15 minutes either with a guided meditation (I’ll use apps, but I really am a big fan of Jay Shetty and anything that he does) or I use Spirit Daughter. I have these meditation workbooks that correlate with astrology and what’s going on with the moon, the stars, and the astrological chart.
The nice thing is if you start practicing it (meditation), you can do it on your own. If you do it often enough, you’ll get the tools to help manage those moments that are out of your control.
Candace Cordelia is a Pennsylvania-based journalist and on-camera broadcaster/host, with a reporting background in wrestling, entertainment, and lifestyle. Her reporting work has been featured on websites and in publications such as Bustle, Pro Wrestling Illustrated, New York Daily News, am New York, ABC News, Yahoo!, Good Morning America, Madame Noire, Sister 2 Sister, etonline.com, Diva Dirt and The Everyday Fan. Her favorite workout influencers include Chloe Ting, Cassey Ho, Pamela Reif and Mary Braun. She still can’t stand burpees and Rebbl Dark Chocolate Immunity Elixir is one of her favorite post-workout protein sips. You can follow Candace on Twitter @CandaceCordelia and on Instagram @thatgirlcandace16.