The Power Within

By: Aubrey Izurieta ‘21, communications

How Strength Training Instills Confidence Both Inside and Outside of the Gym

Whitney Knollenberg is no stranger to fitness. An assistant professor in the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management, Knollenberg played sports in high school and has always led an active lifestyle.

Upon starting her job at NC State in 2016, Knollenberg was quick to take advantage of Wellness and Recreation group fitness class offerings, spending her free time attending classes with colleagues from the office. While Knollenberg benefitted from group fitness classes, she wanted to be challenged in a way that only one-on-one training could provide.

Whitney Knollenberg in Carmichael Gym.

Knollenberg decided to invest in a personal trainer for accountability and to stay on track with her fitness goals. Knollenberg and her trainer, nutrition science major Maya Rabins ‘20, began training together during the summer of 2019. The pair meets three times a week for one-hour training sessions. Her time with Rabins has helped Knollenberg decompress from life outside of the gym. “Training allows me to focus on something for an hour and clears my mind of any stress,” said Knollenberg.

Knollenberg knew when she began working with a personal trainer that she wanted to focus on building strength but was unsure of proper technique. “Working with Maya has helped me be safe in my lifting,” said Knollenberg.

 After seeing Knollenberg’s impressive results, Rabins realized that Knollenberg had the potential to take her skills to the next level. Rabins suggested she participate in the upcoming powerlifting competition hosted by Wellness and Recreation. Hesitant at first, Knollenberg agreed to start training for the competition.

To help her prepare for the April 4 event, Rabins began incorporating powerlifting techniques into their training sessions. During their sessions, the pair practices the three different lifts that competitors will be demonstrating during the competition: bench press, squat and deadlift. Though the lifts require precise movements and immense effort to perfect, Knollenberg knows that her involvement in lifting is a unique opportunity for her to represent women in a male-dominated arena. 

I think it’s important that more women become involved in powerlifting to feel confident and strong.”

Whitney Knollenberg

Knollenberg encourages women to push themselves beyond cardio exercises. Events like the powerlifting competition give women a chance to show off their physical strength, and she hopes that the event will inspire women to practice lifting. 

While Knollenberg’s physical improvements are visible during training sessions, her state of mind since beginning personal training has also transformed. 

Feeling both physically and mentally strong has vastly improved her everyday life. Knollenberg says the confidence she has gained from training has translated to her attitude in the classroom. She feels like she can be the best version of herself to students. 

“Being active translates to everything you do,” she said.

Whitney Knollenberg working with a student personal trainer.

While Rabins pushes Knollenberg to accomplish her goals, the pair agrees that Knollenberg is her own biggest critic. “Her biggest obstacle was convincing herself that she could powerlift,” said Rabins. Now, six months into working with Rabins, Knollenberg is seeing and feeling the results. When asked what she has learned about herself through the personal training process, Knollenberg smiled and answered, “I can lift a lot of weight. Knollenberg asserts that the positive changes to her health and wellness would not have been possible without the assistance of Rabins. Knollenberg encourages others to look into personal training to establish a level of accountability in their fitness routines. “Think honestly about your goals and what you want to accomplish,” she said.

“Invest in yourself with the time and money because you’re worth it.”