5 Fit Women Who Inspire Us to Keep Pushing

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

If you’re familiar with Oxygen, you know that five inspiring women are selected to be featured in the print magazine’s Future of Fitness column. Think you have what it takes? Send us your story.

Kimberly Kenney

Kimberly Kenney

Winston-Salem, North Carolina
44 • 133 lb • 5’5”
Certified personal trainer

Fettuccine Fiasco. Kimberly Kenney had been on high blood pressure medication for 15 years, and by age 40, she tipped the scales at 206 pounds. She was so out of shape that a moderate hike was nearly impossible, and it was clear that she had no idea what healthy food was: Once, Kenney served her family a meal of fettuccine alfredo that was so rich and heavy that they asked her never to serve it again.

Re-freshing Her Nutrition. “I read up on processed foods — I really didn’t know what they were!” Kenney admits. She learned how to cook using fresh ingredients and started hitting the gym. Now, four years later, she is 85 pounds lighter and includes lifting, rock climbing and backpacking trips in her fitness rotation.

Moved to Move. Because her life changed so dramatically as a result of working out, Kenney wanted to share her journey. “I could move my body and do things I was never able or confident enough to try before,” she says. “All I wanted to do was share this hope with others.” And so Kenney left her career in health care to become a certified personal trainer.

Lemons to Lemonade. Like many trainers, Kenney found herself jobless in 2020, but she persevered: She built a home gym in her garage and currently handles a stacked roster of clients every week. “I hope I can help people make more informed decisions about food, nutrition, exercise and general well-being,” she says.

Sara Factor

Thornhill, Ontario, Canada
27 • 155 lb • 5’5”
Owner, Fit Factor Fitness

Fitness Factor. Sara Factor was always into sports, from ice hockey and flag football to basketball and more. She even played varsity ice hockey in college, so becoming a trainer and opening her own studio after college was only natural. According to Factor, fitness is the outlet that gets her through anything and everything, and it’s her goal to share it with everyone, especially women.

Iron Maiden. To get in her daily cardio, Factor enjoys running, rowing and rollerblading, but at heart, she is a weights gal. “I like to test my strength, push my limits and of course [enjoy] the physical aesthetics,” she says.

It’s Not Cheating. When it comes to nutrition, Factor keeps it clean most of the time but releases the reins when she has a craving. “It’s not a weekly thing, but when my body wants bread or anything else we tend to categorize as ‘bad,’ I allow myself to have it,” she says. “It’s all about balance and moderation.”

Judge Ye Not … Factor’s biggest piece of advice for fitness newbies? Ignore the naysayers and know that most people are cheering you on. “No one, and I mean no one, is judging you,” she says. “We have all been there. Just give yourself time and take baby steps.”

Rachel Lackey

Eulenbis, Germany
38 • 155 lb • 5’8”
U.S. Air Force (retired)

Operation: Fitness. Rachel Lackey had always been active, but it was during a 2009 deployment to Afghanistan that she got into a serious gym routine. A co-worker challenged her to run a 5K, and even though she had not run since high school, Lackey placed first in the women’s category. “I feel like I came alive from that experience and became addicted to pushing myself,” she says.

A Tough Diagnosis. In 2015, Lackey discovered she had fibromyalgia. “My doctors said I should completely avoid impact activities, which began a war within my head and heart and led to a major identity crisis,” she says. “My first goal was to separate myself from being a ‘runner’ and make fitness a way of life.” Lackey traded her high-impact cardio for a stationary or outdoor bike, added yoga to her routine, and used battle ropes for strength and cardio.

Smoothie Queen. Smoothies are a staple in Lackey’s diet, thanks to their versatility and portability. “I love fresh fruit, but I also geek out over the idea of packing a ton of nutrients into one situation,” she says. She also admits that she blends things into her smoothies she might not eat otherwise, such as maca, wheatgrass, spirulina, kale, turmeric and chia seeds.

Flexible and Fit. Lackey maintains a consistent regimen but changes things up to avoid boredom. In any given week, she might lift weights, do yoga, throw in some plyometrics and hit at least 10,000 steps of walking, jogging or running each day. “My main goal is to do something intentionally physical every day,” she says. “Never let circumstance cancel your goals.”

Jenn Labonte

Ormond Beach, Florida
46 • 128 lb • 5’4”
Director of marketing & public relations

Fitness Pays It Forward. Jenn Labonte has been passionate about fitness her whole life. She was a dancer and state-level high jumper throughout high school, and her early investment in fitness paid o in an unexpected way: At age 19, Labonte contracted spinal meningitis and was hospitalized for a month. “The only thing that kept me alive was my physical strength and health,” she says.

Change of Pace. In her 20s and 30s, Labonte competed regularly in triathlons, but shortly after turning 40, she felt the impact of those activities. “I was experiencing severe knee pain and was diagnosed with osteoarthritis, a torn rotator cuff, and other nagging aches and pains,” she says. After a downward spiral during which she neglected fitness for a few years, Labonte turned to strength training to help her recuperate. “Getting strong has helped me fight through the injuries that I thought would bring exercise to a halt long term,” she says.

Squatting 2.0. Squats are Labonte’s go-to exercise, but she had to start from scratch after her osteoarthritis diagnosis. She incorporated lighter weights and focused on building strength and stability in her lower body. “Squats are one of those power moves that exhaust and excite you at the same time,” she says. “The feeling of satisfaction when I’ve completed my squat goals is undeniable.”

Dress for Success. Labonte’s secret to getting pumped before a workout is having the right outfit. “I have a huge closet full of athleisure wear, and putting together an outfit that makes me feel good starts me off right!” she says. No arguments there!

Patrice J. White

Oxygen Elite Ambassador

Kingston, Jamaica
41 • 135 lb • 5’5”
Gym owner and trainer

Pregnancy Scare. In 2015, someone asked Patrice J. White when her baby was due — but she wasn’t expecting. White had been insecure about her belly since the birth of her daughter Makayla in 2003, so the question struck a nerve. “It triggered me and became my driving force to transform my life,” she says.

Rapid Reduction. White made fitness and nutrition her priorities, and in just three months, she dropped from 205 to 138 pounds. “I ate five to six meals a day, which were mostly protein and vegetables,” she says. “My training consisted of HIIT and Tabata-style workouts mixed with strength training.”

Marathon (Wo)man. Fast and furious isn’t the only kind of cardio White enjoys. “I’ve been a marathon runner since 2016 — that’s my ‘me time,’” she says. And while she used to travel the world to run races, the pandemic made that virtually impossible. Undaunted, White simply spent more time in the weight room. “Strength training for me is a must,” she says. “I love a sculpted body and being strong.”

Burpees for Days. White regularly includes bodybuilding, Tabatas and CrossFit WODs in her workout week. And though you might not believe it, she is a burpee enthusiast to the core. “I love doing them because they build muscle strength and endurance in your entire body,” White says.


Think you have what it takes? Submit your story HERE.