Breakthrough Spotlight – Stephen McKay

Our Spotlight Member for August is Stephen McKay! Stephen shares about the power of accountability in helping him stay consistent, as well as the amazing things that can happen when you allow yourself to explore different aspects of who you are!

BREAKTHROUGH: Thank you, Stephen, for giving this interview. We always get so much out of the stories that you guys have to share. So, let’s start with before you joined us, what were you up to? What was going on?

STEPHEN: I was working full time as a school administrator. I wasn’t really exercising a whole lot over the past year. I feel like probably when COVID started, when everybody was like – I am going to work out a lot; I worked out a whole lot! And then when COVID didn’t end, you were left with the repercussion of well, this still sucks, but now I am in slightly better shape. Not for long though, because then Zoom happy hours were just a thing… And it turns out that it was just drinking alone in your home. Ha, ha!


STEPHEN: So, I wasn’t in really good shape. I am currently in a private school in the Beverly Hills area, but it is like three or four floors high. I had to travel from the middle school and the upper school. I was getting winded just from walking up the stairs or trying to talk to a kid. When I would find a kid, I would be like- hold on! Give me few minutes and then I am going to yell at you! Ha, ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: Oh my gosh! So, what was the turning point where you felt that you needed to do something else? What made you feel like it was time for a change?

STEPHEN: I just finished a graduate degree, so I have more time at night. And I have the freedom to be able to do it so, it’s not going to be something that I can constantly be telling myself that I can do it at some point. I wanted to make sure that if I can do it now, I should do it now, and make this part of self-care. I think that is an area that I struggle in – work-life balance. Usually if I say I will do this for myself later, then I don’t get to it. But here it is scheduled. Unlike working out at home, like the Peloton, it was kind of just put aside because it was just “there.” But here I work much better because it is a structured schedule.

BREAKTHROUGH: So, having an appointment outside your house and people who are waiting for you to show up for that appointment helps you be consistent?

STEPHEN: Absolutely! 100%! It’s like – I suck at online school because you can just do it anytime. Ha, ha! But in classrooms, someone knows if you don’t show up.

BREAKTHROUGH: I work better when I am connected to someone or something, and I have accountability in some way, so I definitely understand that. So, how are you feeling now? It’s been a little over two months since you joined us…


STEPHEN: Yes, I think so. I think I am almost through my second phase so about ten weeks now. I really enjoy it. I enjoy the progress that I have made. It’s very different from other places where I have gone where there is workout scheduled for you in that day but it’s not far going. It’s not like there is advanced planning where people are thinking about what you will be able to do a few weeks from now. I really enjoy that progress even though it sucks sometimes because it is really hard! Ha, ha!


STEPHEN: But to know that there are actual goals that are not just my larger goals – like I want to be in better shape, or look better, which are harder goals to nail down. There are things happening in training that are very measurable, and I can see growth and feel growth.

BREAKTHROUGH: Awesome! Well, I witnessed some growth the other day… Is there a specific that you can think of?

STEPHEN: I had kettlebells at home for a bit. When I was in my early 20’s, the guy I worked with did kettlebell training too. But the 20kg was too hard- that was too much for anything. I feel like now I am consistently using the 16 kg, like on the Turkish get-up last time, so I know I am getting stronger. And I can feel myself getting stronger.

BREAKTHROUGH: For sure! And you are using bells heavier than 20kg for lots of things…

STEPHEN: Even deadlifting with the barbell – I am like oh this is cool! This is progress!

BREAKTHROUGH: Yeah! And that was just recently you started working with the barbell.

STEPHEN: Yeah, yeah. In the last two or three weeks.

BREAKTHROUGH: And then I know last Thursday night – if you won’t brag about it, I will! We were kind of working on things that were related to pull ups and chin ups for a while. Then I hear Caleb from around the corner saying, well just try and let’s see where you are at. And it just happened! You did a chin up!

STEPHEN: Yeah! I did! And I feel like the idea of a chin up or pull up is this big challenge. It’s like when people run a marathon. And when I did it, it wasn’t as challenging as I thought it would be, or I have made the progress where it wasn’t… but it wouldn’t have happened ten weeks ago.

BREAKTHROUGH: Yes, chin ups are a feat of strength that a lot of people want to do… So, it is really cool to see that you weren’t really necessarily thinking – let’s target a chin up as a specific goal…

STEPHEN: No, not all!

BREAKTHROUGH: But when we watch people, we kind of get insights into what a person will be really good at, and what things will be harder. So, we knew early on – oh I think Stephen is going to be a really good puller.

STEPHEN: I think that is something completely different from any other place I have gone. I feel like there is trajectory that you guys are thinking about that I am not necessarily even aware of yet. And that is really cool! It’s awesome! This is not just one class. And I also know that you guys will get me safely there. I am 35 …

BREAKTHROUGH: Oh my God, so old!

STEPHEN: I know, but at this point, I have only had insurance for few years… Ha, ha! My friends are doing Crossfit and I tell them that I am not doing that – I am going to hurt myself and then I am done. Here, I feel confident that I am going to be safe doing these things and making these advances.

BREAKTHROUGH: Well, we want you guys to be able come back and keep doing things…

STEPHEN: Me, too! ha, ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: And if you get hurt, then you can’t keep coming to your training and that’s not fun for anyone. Safety is definitely not in spite of performance; it’s part of it. There is a way of approaching this stuff without injury.


STEPHEN: Exactly! I like knowing there is a plan that is 6-weeks just for me. That is really cool!

BREAKTHROUGH: That’s awesome! I am so glad you like that!

STEPHEN: I am a very measurable person. I am a special-ed teacher, so everything has to be researched and counted. So, I always appreciate that in other fields too – “This is the research that we are bringing to it, this is how we are counting and measuring…”

BREAKTHROUGH: There is a science to it. We are not just dumb jocks…Ha, ha!

STEPHEN: Ha, ha! And I appreciate that!

BREAKTHROUGH: Good! And I am glad. So, I mentioned to you that one of things we like to hear from people is, what is your why. It’s hard to come home from work and instead of doing the Zoom happy hour, you are hitting your gym appointment. That is not always the easiest choice to make. So, what is your why?

STEPHEN: I work with a lot of kids – teenagers – and I think it is important to show them being well rounded in certain ways. You can have a degree and you can be athletic, and you can be super nerdy… Being able to show them that they can still be who they are, and have a lot of variation to who they are is really important. I don’t know if that is ever something that I saw in adults growing up. Being able to be multi-faceted in that way. I feel like that is really important for me to be able to share with my nieces and nephews. College is for our family. Working out is for our family. Eating healthy is for our family. These things that we didn’t think were for us, actually are for us. And that is something that is really important for me.

BREAKTHROUGH: That is one of the best whys I have ever heard. Just on a personal level I love that so much! I think that it is super important that you are allowing that for yourself and to be an example for other people to see that that’s possible. It is okay to be multi-faceted. It is ok to be intellectual and still enjoy physical training. It’s ok to be artsy, and nerdy and athletic.

STEPHEN: Absolutely! I was never a kid who was athletic. I never identified myself as athletic because I am not a sports person. I didn’t play team sports or anything because that was all that existed then. As an adult I found out that there were other options of athleticism that I didn’t necessarily know about. At one point maybe I can maybe say I am an athlete…

BREAKTHROUGH: Well, you are. We all are. If you have a body, you’re an athlete! That is a very powerful why and I am so glad you shared that.

STEPHEN: Of course! I also want to be really hot! Ha, ha!

BREAKTHROUGH: Ha, ha! Sure! I mean. Who doesn’t?! That’s assumed for everyone’s why – ha,ha! Anything else that you want to share that we didn’t talk about?

STEPHEN: I have been really happy with this place. I am super excited to continue here and to see what I feel like, and what I am doing six months from now.

BREAKTHROUGH: Oh, the sky’s the limit!

STEPHEN: That sounds really exciting! I feel like this is a place where I can definitely see myself for a while.

BREAKTHROUGH: That’s the best news ever! Thank you!

This website or its third-party tools process personal data.
You may opt out by using the link Opt Out