Affiliate Highlight: Paladino Strength

Paladino Strength is a small barbell studio located in Shoreline, Washington, just north of Seattle. I mostly train private or semi-private clients, as well as a few small group classes. My coaching is staunchly body-positive and weight-neutral, and focuses on getting folxs of all shapes and sizes strong as hell in their current body

Despite the modest garage-gym ambiance, Paladino Strength contains world-class equipment:

  • A Rogue power cage, bolted into a custom built wooden platform. This cage is rock solid, with plenty of room, and easily customizable to your height.
  • A 20 kg Rogue Ohio Power Bar, 20 kg Rogue B&R Bar, 7.5 kg training barbell, and wooden dowel. This equipment spans the range needed for anybody to start training productively.
  • Calibrated plates (the kind used in competition), with the ability to make increments as small as 0.5 kg. Weights found at most gyms may be off by 3% from the marked weight, which can make the difference between a new personal record (PR) and a “heavy gravity day.”
  • Chalk, which you are free to use to your heart’s content.
  • A cushioned deadlifting platform for noise reduction.
  • Speakers + Spotify, ready for your playlist. (Musical theater day, anyone??)

Most importantly, the gym is 100% free of random gym bros, ever eager to approach you and provide unwanted form “advice,” or else ask when you will be done with the rack.

Strength Origins
I have been coaching barbell-based strength training since 2017, but my own journey with strength training began in 2008 during my senior year of college, when I stumbled my way through several months of novice training, learning as I went by following the methods in Starting Strength, 2nd Edition.

That was, truthfully, my first experience with athletics of any kind — I was a dancer as a child and young teen, but had not pursued any type of physical activity since then. I never participated in sports, and, generally speaking, I was the last person you would ever expect to become passionate about fitness!

After college, I would go to the gym haphazardly, but didn’t start training seriously again until 2014. Something “clicked,” and getting strong became a priority for me. I realized that making my body stronger, not smaller, was the key to improving so many aspects of life, from my practice as a performing artist, to daily tasks, to keeping up with my friends on hikes.

I attended a Starting Strength Seminar in 2015, competed in my first Strengthlifting meet a week later, and the rest, as they say, is history. I’ve competed four other times since then: twice in 2016 (Strengthlifting), and twice in 2019 (Powerlifting).

I am also a theater artist and teacher. I currently teach Drama at Seattle Waldorf High School, and I am the Associate Artistic Director of Akropolis Performance Lab. We produce intimate, avant-garde performance works, with a high degree of physicality and musicality. Strength has been vital to my development as a performer, for both my physical capacity for artistic expression and the mental fortitude required to commit to a rigorous artistic practice. Likewise, teaching and directing have helped me develop my skills as a coach, and vice versa. That interpersonal “it” factor is the same regardless of if I’m trying to help a lifter squat to depth, or if I’m trying to help a 10th grader engage authentically with their scene partner.

I started coaching in 2017, and Paladino Strength officially opened in January 2019. I’m looking forward to growing over the next few years!

A Place For All to Thrive
I hope that my clients can see themselves in me. Thus far, I have been really lucky in the clients that I’ve attracted, and it’s really gratifying to see folks who might otherwise feel out of place or unwelcome in a fitness environment thriving under the barbell.

Prior to barbells, I had no experience with athletics or exercise. I was about as far from a “sporty” or “athletic” person as you could be, and culturally I did not see myself ever fitting in with athletics of any kind. I am a true nerd, in many ways the last person you would expect to be a “personal trainer.” Imagine Daria Morgendorffer as a fitness instructor, and you’ll get the right idea.

I also don’t look like a personal trainer. People are often genuinely shocked to learn that I strength train. I — and many of my clients, I suspect — relish being a “secret badass,” and I feel that it is extremely important to give visibility to “athletic” bodies of all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders.

Strength training has had an enormous impact on my life in general. It has transformed how I view myself — growing up I considered myself weak, often passive, awkward, sensitive, and shy. I’m still awkward and sensitive, but I am now strong, aggressive when needed, and unless I tell them otherwise, colleagues and acquaintances assume that I’m a carefree extravert. 

My priority from the start was to have equipment that would allow anyone to start strength training. The standard 45lb/20kg barbell is often a barrier to even beginning for many people, so having options for all current levels of strength is extremely important to me. I am also dedicated to coaching the lifter in front of me, not some idealized form based on a specific body size and shape. I look at bodies objectively, without judgment, and without any sense of what an athletic body “should” look like.


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