"I Will What I Want" : An Interview with Holly MacKenzie, UnderArmour Ambassador + Fitness Coach

A competitive athlete from the time she began gymnastics at the age of 7, playing a variety of sports in high school, and then leading her college lacrosse team as captain, Holly MacKenzie’s true passion has always been fitness.  And though fitness was always channeled through some form of competition, it was only until after college that Holly found herself without a competition for the first time since she was a kid. 

Armed with an engineering degree and her first professional job, Holly suddenly found herself lost without the structure of competitive sports.  As a result, she quickly fell out of shape.  Shortly thereafter, she found her way back to fitness when in 2007, she discovered Beachbody.  Beachbody is well known for its DVD-based workouts, diet guidelines, and supplements, including the popular Shakeology shakes.  She began working out to the DVDs in her basement, and within a couple years she began teaching lunchtime fitness classes at work. 

"In 2011, when I was laid off from my engineering job, I realized I needed to re-prioritize my schedule to incorporate my growing passion in fitness," Holly says.  As a result, she wound up finding a better fit working in the engineering department at Colby College.  Her new schedule enabled her longer evenings to teach fitness classes, participate in competitions, and to take on a more serious coaching role for Beachbody.  

In May 2012, she won her first Strongman competition in Massachusetts, went on to win Maine’s Strongest in September 2012, and won the Central Maine Strongman competitions in both 2013 and 2014.  Within a year of being a Beachbody coach she had grown her team such that she handily eclipsed her engineering salary.  In February 2013, she went to Las Vegas for the Beachbody Coach Summit

Holly’s goal with her Beachbody team is to “stay accountable to one other regarding our fitness goals.  So many people have that entrepreneurial bug but they work behind a desk,” she says. Holly's team mantra is #WorldDomination, and she asks herself and her team, “What are we doing today to achieve that?”  Whether making new fitness goals or listening to self-development podcasts, Holly is always striving and growing.

In 2013, Holly was a finalist in Under Armour’s What’s Beautiful Competition, the company’s “largest female-focused challenge”, and was sent with two other finalists on a fitness excursion to Costa Rica.  Since winning that competition, she has served as an Under Armour ambassador representing the brand. 

Though she is the first to admit it took her a while to find her stride professionally, it is perhaps because of her entrepreneurial spirit that she struggled to find the right balance for a day job that supported her out-of-work passions.  Holly is the kind of woman we want our daughters to become – strong, beautiful, smart, and confident.  She ice fishes, hunts, practices yoga, and pole dances, and does all phenomenally well.  Drafting engineering designs during the day, coaching her team and teaching fitness classes at night, Holly is complex, whole, and driven to succeed in multiple aspects of her life.

While competition is in Holly’s blood, she has learned over the past year that consistency is more important than going too hard and burning out.  In the past three months she has de-emphasized fitness competitions and has returned to what got her back in shape a few years ago – home workout videos.  Her current go-to workouts are Less Mills: Pump and PiYo“For the past few months, I have worked out every single day.  Every day, I make a commitment, and as a result, I’m leaner and fitter than I’ve ever been,” she says.

As an ENTJ, leadership and goal-setting are inherent to Holly's personality.  Upon reading Darren Hardy’s The Compound Effect, she realized how prone she was to having an all-or-nothing mentality about fitness and life. It was Hardy's philosophy about making small, consistent choices that result in a greater cumulative effect than a single, exhausting effort that inspired her to approach her efforts differently. 

With consistency comes balance, and Holly’s “big, scary goal” as she calls it, is eventually  to “not work behind a desk,” adding that “I’m not looking for the next quick fix, but I’m being patient and am trying to ‘trust the process.’  The key is knowing that every day you’re taking steps toward your ultimate goal in life,” she says.    

In the past, Holly has themed her years, but with last year resulting in some unexpected life transitions, her hope for 2015 is to focus on consistency in her home, career, and finances.  Beyond 2015, her ultimate goal is to continue to connect with and inspire people through her fitness coaching.  “When people are ready for their next chapter, but they may not be sure what it is, they can come to me so I can set them up at home so they can be happier with their life,” Holly says.

Apart from pursuing fitness as an eventual full-time gig, Holly finds her personal bliss by recharging at home or outside.  “I’m a super homebody.  I go, go, go, so my workout is huge, but I recharge from my workout.  I love to just pick up, have a clean space, and then enjoy it," she says with a laugh.  "I love crossing things off my to-do list, getting my chores done, and then enjoying the outdoors.  Other times, I love just chilling out on the couch at night.  Deer hunting season was great because I sat in my tree stand and read personal development books.”

Holly’s inherently positive attitude is a contributor to her success as an exercise instructor and fitness coach: “People are so much stronger than they think they are.  I love showing people that they can accomplish so much more than they think they can.  Whether it’s through deadlifts or business, I love getting people excited about pursuing and achieving their goals.  I can show them that through fitness,” she says.