20 Years of Austin Fit Magazine



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Contributors of Austin Fit Magazine

In the magazine biz, it’s typical to have a rotation of contributors in the editorial arsenal. A few, however, prove to be exceptional and passionate enough to provide recurring content. Thanks to these columnists and longtime partnerships, Austin Fit Magazine readers had a tried-and-true training plan or fitness journey to follow every month.

Coach Carrie Barrett

Carrie Barrett specializes in stories about fitness culture, profiles, and event training.

What’s the story of you getting involved with AFM and becoming a columnist?

In 2006, I started a blog called “Tri To Be Funny.” Former Editor-in-Chief, Leah Fisher Nyfeler, was a reader and we had connected a few times along the way through sporting events, triathlons, bike rides, and trail runs. In 2013, she was looking for a columnist with a human, average, relatable and humorous perspective on the fit journey and my exploits seemed to fit the bill! You see, when you go from being overweight as a young adult to attempting to become a fit athlete-type, a lot of funny things happen along the way. I wasn’t (and still am not) afraid to write about those things. I don’t keep up my blog like I used to, but let’s make it a 2017 resolution to do so! 

What’s been your favorite story you’ve written?

I love writing stories about the triumphs of others. One of my favorite pieces was a “Fit After 40” story on marathon-swimmer extraordinaire, Katy Dooley. She’s been a friend for a while, but she’s so very humble about the fact that she swam 20 miles from Catalina Island to California, braved the rough cold waters of the English Channel from England to France for 21 Miles, and swam 28 miles around Manhattan Island! I just had to promote and highlight these amazing world-renowned accomplishments from a normal Austinite.

How do you stay up-to-date on what’s relevant in Austin’s fitness scene? Who or what inspires your articles?

I’m mostly active in the triathlon and running scene in Austin as those are the events that I participate in as an active coach and athlete. In 2016, I ran a few distance road races, ultra trail races and even my sixth full distance Ironman. It’s easy to keep up-to-date when you’re coaching and training alongside dozens of athletes. I’m inspired by these people daily. Like me, many of them are average joes who, through the course of training for endurance events, find themselves becoming better friends, spouses, and parents along their journey. It’s inspiring and motivating to say the least! Their stories are always packed with nuggets of wisdom and lessons to write about daily.


Monica Brant

Kick Mo’s Butt was a column in which fitness icon Monica Brant took on workout challenges in Austin.

How did you get involved and how long did you write “Kick Mo’s Butt”?

I met Lou Earle through the Mayor’s Fitness Council. I had just moved to Austin from Los Angeles and I was trying to get involved in the fitness community. Once I got to know the magazine and the owners, I pitched this idea to them. They eventually came up with the name “Kick Mo’s Butt” and all the trainers took that seriously for the two years I had the column. It’s hard to learn new things all the time and be involved with the latest, greatest fitness trends, but this was an opportunity for me to acquire different tools for my own training.

Was there a workout that stood out the most?

There are a few that come to mind:

I went out to sCULPture Nutrition & Fitness for an outdoor workout with Yancy Culp, who is still a part of my life today. After the piece came out, he invited me out to do some track workouts (because he knew that was my background) and I ended up going back and doing some training with him, which then turned into me running Master’s track for three years—and even competing at the United States Olympic Trials. Since then, he’s gotten me involved with obstacle course racing and American Ninja Warrior stuff.

There was also a Pilates session I did that was very intense. The workout had been going on for over an hour and 15 minutes, and I was so tired I couldn’t help but ask the trainer, “How long are your sessions!?” She didn’t give me any leeway to be wimpy.

There was another instance when Alex really wanted me to do a swimming workout. I balked at the idea because I didn’t like putting my face in the water. I spent my whole life swimming for fun but always avoided swimming with a purpose. I finally agreed to do it and actually really enjoyed it. I ended up working through some of the mental blocks I had with swimming in that workout.


Diane Vives, MS, CSCS*D, NSCA-CPT, FMS

Diane Vives is a strength and conditioning specialist who trains all levels of athletes and mentors emerging leaders in the fitness and sports performance industry. She serves as the Director of Education for Functional Movement Systems as well as test director for our annual event, AFM FITTEST.

What’s the story of you getting involved with AFM and becoming a regular contributor and test director of the AFM FITTEST?
Melanie Moore was the editor of AFM at the time and she became my training client and good friend. She learned about my involvement in education, writing, and presenting in the fitness industry. We started collaborating on ideas for “elevating the Austin fitness community and helping people move better.” Popular exercise and training helps motivate our fitness community, but we were aiming to also add some education to help them understand how and why they are doing certain exercises. She asked me to contribute a couple articles that then turned into regular monthly contributions to the magazine. Then, we as a team at AFM took on the challenge of creating the AFM FITTEST which has continued to be a fun and challenging project that connects us to the Austin fitness community.  

What's been your favorite piece you’ve written?

Each one of my columns has allowed me to connect with gyms, trainers and fitness models that are part of the Austin fitness community. Creating the circuits for the column and sharing them with each group is what I enjoyed the most.  As fitness professionals, we have to continue to learn and elevate ourselves, and connecting with people consistently each month allowed me to do just that.  

How did you stay up-to-date on what’s relevant in Austin’s fitness scene? Who or what serves as inspiration for your content?

One of the things that my company does is provide strength and conditioning education worldwide. This allows me to be at conferences around the world to see, learn, and experience what other professionals, educators, researchers and true fitness industry influencers are doing to move change in the fitness industry. And that inspires me to bring that home to the Austin fitness community. I believe that Austin has the potential to be the best fitness community of professionals and enthusiasts in the U.S. 


Matt Knifton—Texas Rowing Center

Matt Knifton is the owner and president of Texas Rowing Center. TRC has been an advertiser in Austin Fit Magazine for nearly 14 years.

Have you been with TRC for the full 30 years it's been around? If not, when did you take over?  

I used to work at TRC as an employee back in the 1980s when I was a student at The University of Texas. Then I became a partner in TRC with my former employer, Anne Marie Heilman, in 1999. In 2002, I purchased TRC outright from Anne Marie and became the sole owner, which I have remained to this day. 

Austin Fit has seen many changes since our debut 20 years ago. What kind of changes have you experienced as a local business owner in Austin?  

The biggest single change has been the rise in popularity of the stand-up paddleboards (aka SUPs). In 2010, there were only a handful of SUPs on Lady Bird Lake. Today, TRC alone has over 350 boards and on some summer days do over 1,000 SUP rentals! Austin has been called the SUP Capital of the World for good reason.   

Can you describe an AFM article that stood out to you? Maybe one you wrote, one that Texas Rowing Center was featured in, or perhaps something you read that really resonated with your life?  

Several years ago, AFM ran an article on TRC that focused on our program for people with disabilities. The article highlighted our Wounded Warriors rowing program for returning soldiers with physical disabilities. The article was instrumental in bringing focus to the program and the special people participating in it.  

In what ways has living a fit and active lifestyle helped you maintain success as a business owner?  

As you know, a healthy body supports a healthy mind, and vice versa. I workout ten times weekly—six rows and four weight workouts. My workout routine keeps my body fit, my mind clear, and allows me to deal with the stress that can comes with running a business. In truth, owning TRC is not that stressful. Owning a business that centers around my passion for rowing is a dream come true!


Brian Fitzsimmons

Brian Fitzsimmons is our primary photographer who is responsible for all of Austin Fit Magazine’s cover shoots and many other departmental photography needs. He has worked with us since 2008.

What's the story of you getting involved with AFM and becoming the resident photographer?

I had been an assistant photographer for about six years, and I decided to quit and go out on my own. I did that for about three months and ran out of money, and started making poker tables in my garage—just because I could. Then I’d put them in my truck and start selling them on the side of the road. Monica Brant’s husband, Scott, stopped by, and I gave him my business card and it said photographer on it. He said his wife needed a photographer, and that’s how he linked me up with Monica. She had just moved here from L.A. and didn’t know anybody. We did this little Oxygen Magazine shoot, then we did the Austin Fit cover shoot right after that. It was definitely a lucky chance to link up with her and get involved with Austin Fit.

Has your work with Austin Fit led you to other fitness projects—like doing photography for Nulo and Lululemon?

Definitely, because I wasn’t really doing fitness-type photography. When I met Monica and got into Austin Fit I just kind of gravitated to it. Before that, I was doing weddings on the side and I wasn’t really sure where I was heading as far as what direction I wanted to go in photography. That definitely steered me in the right direction.

What have been some of your favorite photo shoots?

The Ricky Williams shoot was very memorable. He was really cool to begin with, but he was doing yoga on the rooftop of The Austonian, and fell over and hit the railing. That was very memorable because in the moment I was thinking that I didn’t want to be the person who killed Ricky. The Willie Nelson shoot, too, because he was very welcoming. Also, the one at Monahans Sandhills for the most recent Swimsuit Issue. It was a crazy drive all the way up there, but that was the coolest location I’ve shot at, by far. It was worth it. I like shooting the AFM FITTEST winners every year, also.

Keep reading for more AFM history!

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