Building Strength and Relationships: Interview with Megan Miller
Health and entrepreneurship have always been a part of Coach Megan Miller's life. Her father qualified for the Olympics as a decathlete, her mother is an independent business woman, and Megan has played softball since age nine. One might say that determination and drive are in her DNA.
When Megan moved to Austin five years ago and began to seek out her career in the Austin fitness industry, her Dad’s advice resounded in her mind, “Lead by example.” And she has done exactly that.
Today Megan is a lead CrossFit Women’s Only Coach, CrossFit Coed Coach, Barbell Specialty Coach, and Personal Trainer at CrossFit Central Downtown. She is known for getting her clients results, but more importantly, showing them that they are capable of more than they think they are. Megan takes care to build confidence in her clients and encourage them to try new things. She is inspired by her client’s progress and finds great joy in connecting with people and building relationships.
Scroll down to read a recent interview with Coach Megan. She shares her story and how she became a coach at CrossFit Central, what she loves about coaching and the biggest lesson she’s learned in the last decade. She also shares how she transformed into the leanest and most fit version of herself to date (spoiler alert: it includes a heavy barbell).
Tell us more about the younger version of you. What were you like as a kid and how did you grow up?
When I was an infant my parents got divorced so I grew up celebrating two birthdays, two Christmases, two of everything. I didn’t know life any other way. There was never any negativity around it and I was able to establish independent relationships with both of my parents from the start. My Mom shows up in my life as the strong, independent, responsible, routine-based business woman. I learned how to change a tire and winterize a house from my Mom. We also traveled the world together. We’ve been to France, Germany, Italy, Honduras, Costa Rica, Bahamas, and hopefully soon we will visit Indonesia and Thailand.
My father shows up in my life as the positive, reassuring, goal setting, competitive, health and fitness role model. He qualified for the Olympics in Track and Field as a decathlete, so we share a very special daddy-daughter bond with a commonality of health and fitness. I played competitive softball since I was nine years old. That’s when my Dad really shined in my life. He taught me repetition, discipline, sportsmanship and the importance of teamwork.
When you were young, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I wanted to be a Veterinarian, I’ve always had a soft spot for animals. I currently walk dogs at a local dog shelter. It helps me feel like I’m doing something for the cause.
Let’s talk about your athletes! You are one of the lead women’s only coaches at CrossFit Central Downtown, a coed coach, personal trainer and hold a regular Barbell Specialty program. What do you love about being a coach? And in particular, what do you love about coaching women?
Going back to a question you asked earlier about what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wanted to be a veterinarian, but there was also a time when I wanted to be a model. I remember looking at magazines and wanting to look like the women I saw on the pages. I thought they were so pretty, so skinny, and just perfect.
The big switch came for me when I started lifting weights. And not just weights — lifting heavy weights! When I went from using 15 lb. dumbbells for my squats and my deadlifts to a loaded barbell — that’s when my body stated to change. I went from focusing on what my body looks like to focusing on how my body could perform better. The second that light switch went off, my body started changing. My body went from where it was, to exactly what I wanted. It can be scary to lift heavy as a woman, but you just have to start. I’m the strongest I’ve ever been and I’m the leanest I’ve ever been and it’s because I lift heavy on a barbell. I encourage my ladies to focus on more strength training and less 30, 45 minute runs. The more muscle we build the more fat we burn.
I also talk about nutrition a lot with my ladies. I would say 9.5 women out of 10 aren’t eating enough food. There is such a big disconnect between what we think makes us skinny, and happy, and pretty and what actually makes us healthy, happy, and pretty.
My job as a coach is to bring women over to the other side with encouragement and building confidence. That’s what I absolutely love. I love showing women that they can do 10 more lbs. on the bar. It is so rewarding to watch a client move from a space of worry and “I can’t” to confidence and strength.
I also love programming! I love putting different elements together for progress and development. And it shows in my clients! All of my personal training clients can do pistols. All of them. That’s an advanced movement, but I want people to learn the skills and then put the volume in.
I love building relationships. I love giving my clients emotional support. I love inspiring others.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned in the last decade?
It may sound cliché but I’ve learned that I cannot control other people and their thoughts or decisions. I also started seeing a life coach at the beginning of the year and it has been wonderful! We discuss communication, set intensions, take action, and focus on what makes Megan happy! I now have an understanding of exactly what I want in a relationship, whether that’s with family, friends, a partner, or coworkers.
What inspires you?
My client’s feedback motivates me! Whether that’s something they like or don’t like, I am always inspired by their development, progress and ultimately their transformation. I love building relationships and being able to encourage people in person and hundreds of miles away. When I get an email from a client, a “brag email” as Carey Kepler calls it, from a client letting me know that I am helping them I light up!
You are also a Barbell Specialty Coach at the downtown gym. What do you love about coaching barbell movements and technique in your specialty program?
In our group classes, we may only touch a barbell for 15-20 minutes. In my opinion it takes 15 minutes for our central nervous system to warm up so I love having more time to really coach technique. I choose progressive techniques with barbell movements. Practice creates progress! A few techniques that we drill in the Barbell Class:
1.) Brace the belly – core to extremities
2.) Tension in the muscles – the more time under tension creates more muscle mass
3.) Different Tempos – teaching athletes how to more fast and slow at different times through the movements/lifts.
4.) Accessory exercises – build strength. Example…Overhead Squat Core - Snatch
Best piece of advice you've received in the last decade?
When I moved to Austin five years ago my Dad told me, “lead by example." I have tried to stay true to this belief and prove my purpose to myself and others around me.
What is one thing you believe people should do daily to directly impact their health and wellness?
Create a positive morning ritual or routine! My routine looks like this:
Morning Mile: 15 minutes – no headphones, just thoughts
RomWod: 15 minutes - stretching and mobility
Breath Work: 12 minutes
This time allows me to wake up in a happier healthier mindset to take on my day!
I would like to encourage everyone to take on one month of the morning mile! This means that before you leave your house in the morning you put in one mile. No headphones, just thoughts. Who’s with me?
Interested in joining the morning mile group? Reach out to Megan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Recent feedback from Megan’s athletes:
“After your Olympic lifting course, I was surprised by what I could do! I feel stronger and more confidant during WODs and lifting things in everyday life.” Michelle
“The olympic weightlifting course has really opened my eyes to my body’s awareness and mobility. Getting one on one training has really boosted my performance. Coach Megan really takes the time to break down the body movements to instill good lifting techniques. I didn’t have any sort of weightlifting training before coming to CrossFit, as most of us don’t. So I really struggled mentally with the movements. But after taking the class my confidence with the barbell has increased exponentially. Learning to be focused from the start; getting tension in the body; a better “scoop”; to full extension; then getting under the bar.” Virgil
“I have become so much more confident with the snatch and the clean and jerk. Six moths ago I was afraid to try and attempt heavy(ish) lifts, now it is something I look forward to! When I started CrossFit a year ago I would have never thought I could do half the movements and skills I can do now, and I am exciting to keep on improving. I especially want to thank Coach Megan for being with me from the beginning and being an awesome support system in my life!” Sam
“Megan was the first coach I got to know at CrossFit central. I started out with the women’s only class twice a week and the small class size and one on one attention I received from Megan was the perfect foundation for my training. Now, I join the bigger classes 4-5 times a week and CrossFit plays a large role in my life. I joined Megs class because I noticed I had been missing Megan’s more individualized coaching and wanted to focus on my form. In the Olympic lifting class I have found that the repetition of each movement has helped me adjust small things to change the overall picture. Focusing on one movement at a time has given me a chance to really narrow in on my weaknesses and celebrate my strengths.” Alaina