Austin FIT coaches are ready and here for your training goals! For any program or season, these coaches will help prepare you for your race!
Austin FIT Summer Coaches
- Years Running: 20+
- Years with Austin Fit: 13
- Ultra Marathons: 1
- Number of Marathons: 25
- Half Marathons: 10 plus
- Favorite Race: USA Fit Rockin' Resolution Race
- Goal – Help anyone willing to meet their training goals! She'd also like to run a full or half marathon in all 50 states
Linda is a Certified Personal Trainer (CPT) through NASM who enjoys the art of fitness. Linda coordinates a local boot camp in her community and is always amazed at how people become receptive to exercise by simply being exposed to it.
Linda is a Personal Trainer at UT – Division of Recreational Sports and a Professor at Huston Tillotson University where she enjoys working with students and assisting them in reaching their academic pursuits.
Linda ran track in high school and continued to run in her adult years, but never really considered herself a runner until joining Austin Fit. Prior to joining Austin Fit, she ran her first 13.1 miles in 1997; thereafter, Linda ran mainly 5Ks and 10Ks. She started running marathons in 2005 and has now run about 15 marathons and11 half marathons.
Linda takes much pleasure in coaching runners and helping our members get to the finish line of whatever race they desire. The distance she enjoys running most is a 10K. Her most exciting run is the 3M half marathon. Linda’s most challenging runs are any runs (short or long) in hot weather.
Green Full Marathon Group (8:00 to 9:00)
I started with Round Rock Fit 18 years ago, when it was founded, as a coach for the blue group. Over the years I have completed several events including: Austin Distance Challenge Series, Boston Marathons, Berlin Marathon, Half Ironman events, and others. I’m looking forward to another great season helping the blue/green group and other runners achieve their athletic goals.
Yellow Half Marathon Group (9:00 to 9:29)
Yellow Full Marathon Coach (9:30 to 9:59)
- Years with Austin Fit: 4
- # of half and full marathons: 6 marathons & 4 half-marathons
All of the training and preparation gave me newfound confidence to try and attain new goals - both personal and professional. Most recent goal achieved was making it to the summit of Mt Kilimanjaro. These goals made attainable due to the discipline of running. Looking forward to more running, and new heights.
Orange Full Marathon Group (9:30 to 9:59)
- Years running: 14
- Number of Marathons & Half Marathons: 1 Marathon, 7 Half Marathons, 1 Triathlon, and 1 Duathlon
- Favorite Race: Las Vegas Rock & Roll Marathon #RunTheStripAtNight
- Dream: Run a Marathon in ALL 50 states and on every continent
About me: I have been running since I was 7 years old! My Dad, Jeff Barnett used to bring me to Austin Fit where I would ride my bike along side him and his group, before I started running in 2007. I ran 7 half marathons from the age of 8 years old till 12 years old, once holding the crown as "the youngest ever to run the Austin Half Marathon". I enjoy running with Austin Fit because it brings people together who enjoy pushing themselves to meet their personal life-long goals to run a set pace and/or distance. I have really enjoyed growing up alongside many of the active members in the group and seeing each of them travel the world and run fun races, one thing I hope to continue as I continue to become a stronger runner. I have always enjoy motivating others and helping my friends get through difficult physical and mental hurdles that come up in and outside of training. While coaching and training with Austin Fit last year (for my first marathon), I suffered a stress fracture in my heel during a training run, quickly learning how important taking care of my body really was. I had to allow my body to heel, all while continuing training using different methods of strength training and yoga. I am a frequent visitor over at Black Swan Yoga and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys yoga or is looking for a cheap and fun cross training technique that will help many aspects of your life!
I have been running since I was 7 years old! My Dad, Jeff Barnett used to bring me to Austin Fit where I would ride my bike along side him and his group, before I started running in 2007. I ran 7 half marathons from the age of 8 years old till 12 years old, once holding the crown as "the youngest ever to run the Austin Half Marathon".
I enjoy running with Austin Fit because it brings people together who enjoy pushing themselves to meet their personal life-long goals to run a set pace and/or distance. I have really enjoyed growing up alongside many of the active members in the group and seeing each of them travel the world and run fun races, one thing I hope to continue as I continue to become a stronger runner.
I have always enjoy motivating others and helping my friends get through difficult physical and mental hurdles that come up in and outside of training. While coaching and training with Austin Fit last year (for my first marathon), I suffered a stress fracture in my heel during a training run, quickly learning how important taking care of my body really was. I had to allow my body to heel, all while continuing training using different methods of strength training and yoga. I am a frequent visitor over at Black Swan Yoga and I recommend it for anyone who enjoys yoga or is looking for a cheap and fun cross training technique that will help many aspects of your life!
Coach Jeff B.
Head Coach Red/Orange Groups (11:30 to 11:59 full pace)
- Years running – 35 (first marathon in 2000)
- Number of Marathons - 37 (9 in Austin, and 28 others between San Diego (Rock N Roll), Nashville (Country Music), Phoenix (Ariz. Rock N Roll), Dallas (White Rock), San Antonio (Rock N Roll), Duluth MN (Grandma's), Orlando FL (Disney), Houston (USA Fit), Houston (Chevron), Las Vegas, New Orleans (Rock N Roll), Little Rock, Tulsa (Williams Route 66), Anchorage Alaska (Mayor’s Midnight Sun), New York (TCS), Washington DC (Marine Corps), Joplin MO (Joplin Memorial Marathon), Mobile Alabama (First Light), and Marathon, TX (Marathon2Marathon).
- Number of Ultra Marathons – 1 (Sunmart 50K Ultra Marathon)
- Number of Half Marathons - 16
- Favorite Races - (1) Disney Marathon, (2) Sunmart 50K Ultra Marathon, (3) TCS New York City Marathon, and (4) Mayor’s Midnight Sun Marathon (Anchorage, AK)
- Favorite Distance - 50K (31 miles)
- Goals - (1) to run a marathon in each of the 50 states and all 7 continents, and (2) to break under the 4½ hour mark
Red Half Marathon Group (10:00 to 10:29)
- Years Running: 16
- Number of Marathons- 2 Austin Full Marathon 2014 and Marine Corps Marathon 2015
- Number of Half Marathons: 18
- Favorite Races: 3M Half Marathon, Run For the Water 10 Miler and Marine Corps Marathon
- Favorite Distance: Half Marathon
- My Goal: To share my passion of running with others and help them to achieve their running goals. To run one more marathon by age 60 so I have only four more years to go ha.
I started running while serving in the Marine Corps. After a 20 year break, I took up running again in 2007 and have never looked back. . I was introduced to USA Fit Austin, by one of the coaches, Blanche Zavala Perliski and am thankful for said introduction. I feel that running for a goal should be both challenging as well as fun. It,\'s about getting it done and the camaraderie that comes with it.
Red Half Marathon Group (10:30 to 10:59)
Years with Austin Fit: since 2007
# of half marathons: 18
# of full marathons: 1
Coach Betsy has been running with Austin Fit since 2007, and this is her 4th summer as a half-marathon coach. Betsy has run 18 half-marathons, 1 full marathon, and 3 half-Ironmans. Her favorite things about Austin Fit are all the friends she has made on the countless Saturday mornings out running together, and it’s proximity to Taco Joint. ❤️🏃🏼♀️🌮
Orange Full Marathon Group (11:00 to 11:29)
Years running: 14
Number of Marathons: 2 Marathon and 7 Obstacle Course races
Number of Half Marathons: 10+
Favorite Race: Golden Gate Half
Dream: Run a Half in every state and run a few iconic sceneries globally
Darnell and his wife Abigail aka Pickles loves to stay fit all year round. They both joined the USA FIT program in 2017 to meet their fitness goals and also help motivate others.
Darnell motivates others by reciting affirmations as they hit challenging hills and during long runs. Darnell realize many years ago that our mind is our greatest source of power and once you know how to tap into that power you can achieve the impossible.
So if you ever fill down or need a self-pep talk during long challenging runs, say to yourself “I Am the Power!”😉💥
Orange Half Marathon Group (11:00 to 11:29)
Kj started running in middle school to get in shape for basketball season. She lived in rural Montana at the time so the neighbors frequently stopped to ask her if she needed a ride. As time went on, she continued running and the neighbors are used to seeing her. Now when she visits Montana they wave as they drive by her, shaking their heads wondering why anyone would run when they have a perfectly good horse. She has continued running and made it a lifelong practice because she loves to be outside. She continued increasing her mileage until she had run six marathons, scores of Half Marathons and completed a Half Ironman. Running is her favorite way to explore the trails and the neighborhoods around Austin and around the world.
Orange Half Marathon Group (11:30 to 11:59)
Years with Austin Fit: over 10 years
# of Full Marathons: Numerous
# of Half Marathons: Numerous
Christine has been running since her athletic days in high school and her 20 years in the US Army. When she decided she needed to run to lose weight she got into distance running. She has been with Austin Fit for over 10 years and a coach for at least 8 of those. She has started running ultra trail races recently and changed from Marathon road races to Half marathons. Christine enjoys sharing her love of running with new and experienced runners alike.
Orange Full Marathon Group (12+)
- Years Running – 10
- Years with Austin Fit – 5
- Number of Marathons – 3
- Half Marathons – more than 20
- Favorite Race – Austin 3M Half Marathon
- Goal – Wellness, peacefulness and fitness
Diana began running in her early 40s. At first, she could barely run 2 minutes at a time -- but she stuck with it and eventually ran a 5K, a 10K, a half-marathon and, finally, a full marathon. Running clicked as a way to create a deeper sense of peacefulness and fitness. After completing her first marathon in 2013, Diana has run more than 20 half-marathons and she’s now training for her fourth full marathon. She says, “No matter your pace, the main idea is to enjoy it!” When Diana isn’t running, she works as a healthcare chaplain in Austin, and she spends her leisure time appreciating the beauty of clouds and the wonders of Texas weather. Along with her husband, Dan, she is the proud parent of three young adults.
Coach Jeff P.
Red & Orange Group Floater / Head Coach Bariatric Transition Walk Group
My name is Jeff Preston. I am the coordinator of the Bariatric Transition Walk Group for Austin Fit. In October of 2007 I had Gastric Bypass Surgery. I was born November 7, 1963 which makes me 56 years old at the time of this writing. My top weight was over 400 lbs. Prior to my surgery my weight would yoyo constantly. No matter how much I lost, I never could sustain/maintain that weight.Read More
Many people battle their weight, regardless of the amount of weight one wants to lose. Some have a much tougher challenge than others. One example is my brother. My brother and I are 11 months apart in age. He was always the “skinny one”. I would eat half of what he ate and he would stay skinny. It was quite depressing. The truth is that each body is unique and the way it metabolizes food is different.
We all know about Calories. Early on, it was about cutting the calories. Then it was about cutting the fat. Then along came Dr. Atkins and the protein diet phase. I’m not a nutritionist, or dietician, but I’ve seen each diet scheme have different successes with different people. People really are all different. We all don’t have the same metabolism.
I remember thinking, “Skinny people just must never eat anything. Or they’re binging or purging.”, but some people just don’t gain weight, or even worse… They have to fight to keep it on (Lucky Jerks!). Sadly, people thought just the opposite of me. Back in the day I actually had someone ask me, “Are you one of those people that gets up in the middle of the night and eats an entire container of ice cream, because I don’t see you eat a lot”. The truth is, no. I’ve never gotten up in the middle of the night and done anything like that. I just wasn’t that kind of eater.
Prior to my surgery, my surgeon said something very wise to me. He said, “Jeff, you’re a big guy. You’d going to lose a lot of weight, but be aware that your body is going to want to go back to the weight it was.” That stuck with me and sacred me a little. He was 100% right. The body seems to have its own set point, and it wants to get back to there.
It’s been 12 years since Gastric Bypass. I still fight that battle. Fortunately, the battle is NOT as hard as it used to be.
Let me continue with my story….
So the doctor said I was a big guy, and I am. I stand 6’ 4”. So, believe it or not, I carried 400 lbs. pretty well. Unfortunately, therein lies the problem. Regardless of how well I carried it or looked, I was still in a really unhealthy state. A year before surgery my family doctor put me on high blood pressure medicine, and I suffered from Sleep Apnea. I was depressed to the point of tears. I had two young teenagers at home and I was afraid I might die if I didn’t do something. So, I opted for Gastric Bypass.
There were many pre-surgery steps. I had to get approved by insurance, meet with a dietician, meet with a kinesiologist, meet with a Psychiatrist, attend 2 seminars, and lose weight prior to surgery. All of that happened over a 45-day period.
There is going to be someone reading this that’s not had any type of Bariatric Surgery that might say, “He took the easy way out!”. Let me assure you, that having major surgery where they detach the top of your stomach and reform a tiny pouch and reconnect it to your intestines is NOT EASY! This is very serious surgery and I found NOTHING easy about it.
The purpose of this writing was not to detail my surgery and all that encompassed my journey, but I felt that some of it needed to be shared so that you can get a perspective of where I came from.
While going through the initial process of testing and evaluation I was directed to start walking 5 days a week. This was around 45 days prior to surgery. I was directed to walk at a casual pace. No racing, or powerwalking, just casual walking. So, I started walking 5 days a week, I first walked around the block. Then, I added a block, and by the time surgery day came I was walking 45 minutes a day.
These days most hospitals have you up and out of your hospital bed as soon as possible to get you ambulatory(walking). Everyone on the medical staff warned me, so I knew the deal ahead of time. You can’t get out of the hospital till your walking, and have expelled so much urine. The minute they woke me up, I was ready to walk, and I doubled everything they asked me to do. I just wanted out of there! I spent the night, and the next day I went home. Two days out from surgery I walked a mile. First, I don’t recommend this at all! I had to rest for two days after that. It was stupid, but I wanted to be diligent. Isn’t that how you spell diligent??? S-T-U-P-I-D? As with all things medical, consult your doctor first.
After a week, I went back to my walking, and I walked short distances everyday twice a day, and fortunately I was pain free. I didn’t really experience much pain before I left the hospital. Once I got home, I never needed my pain medication. I attribute this to the fact that I was active up to my surgery date.
I lost 4 to 8lbs a week for many weeks. (Not everyone loses that amount, so please know that everyone has different results. There is no “correct” amount.) The weight came off so fast. It was amazing! They call that the “honeymoon period”. I’ve heard it said that Bariatric patients lose the majority of their weight over the first 9 months and it tapers off after 12 months. My weight loss went on for almost 18 months. One piece of advice a nurse gave me was to lose as much weight as I could the first nine months. It was really good advice for me. Because, you don’t get to choose when the weight loss stops. It just happens.
A few points I want to make here. I lost 35 lbs. prior to surgery from diet and exercise. Weight loss requires both. It’s just that simple. After surgery, I was able to keep the high weight loss rate going longer than a lot of other people for two reasons. First, I was a really big guy and secondly because I continued walking and increasing my distance over time. It’s important to note that regardless of the amount of weight you lose, you ARE going to gain some weight back. I’ve heard numbers like 15-20%. Don’t hold me to those values, but I would say they’re probably accurate.
Those numbers are assuming you are maintaining your diet and are active. Weight loss is like a pendulum swinging, and it is going to find its center point eventually based on your intake and activity level.
There are people out there that have had bariatric surgery that gained much larger percentages back, or even gained all their weight back. I’ve heard people say, “The surgery didn’t work for them” or “yeah, ‘so and so’ failed”. These statements aren’t accurate. The surgery works, and an individual that has the surgery does NOT fail. In order to see and understand the problem, you have to look at the process.
As I mentioned before, after a patient has bariatric surgery, they go through the honeymoon phase. Because most of these surgeries restrict the amount of food a person can eat, they are naturally going to lose weight. This period can last from 9 months to 12 months. It’s during this time, that the weight loss happens quickly and easier for the individual. They don’t have much appetite; they’ve dropped a lot of weight and believe it’s never going to end. But it does end, and when it does it’s the first challenge for them. They often hit what’s referred to as a plateau. This is the first sign of the slowdown to weight loss. Its where you don’t lose any weight one week, but then it turns back on for a few weeks, and eventually you come to a place where you have to work harder to keep the weight loss going. You’re so used to losing so much weight each week that when that plateau hits, you panic and fear creeps in. You aren’t at the weight you want to be, and you’re afraid that the ride is over. Most patients go through a long period of plateaus. Of course, people with less weight to lose will arrive there much faster. Good thing it’s not a race!
Many people say things to me like, “You’re one of the only successful people that I know that has had that surgery blah blah blah”, but what is success??? I did this to be healthier, and I am much healthier. Did I gain more weight back than I wanted? Absolutely, but I also got it under control and slowly took it back off. It’s a never-ending project. I hate calling it a battle, because it’s not a fight. It’s a project I’m working on. Some days the project goes better than others.
Whether you had surgery or not, never let someone tell you that you failed. You didn’t fail. You’re not a failure.
Back to the typical Bariatric Journey...
Usually a patient returns for their one-year checkup at their Surgeons office. The doctor looks at your scars, tells you that you look amazing(and you do!). He tells you to keep up the good work… and more often than not you fade away into oblivion. Up to that point, the surgeon, nurses, and rest of the staff were your cheer leaders, your motivators, and more importantly they were the ones that kept you ACCOUNTABLE. This is not a slam to the Bariatric Medical Community, but instead my intent is to show you that somewhere along the way, you will be on your own.
This is where most bariatric folks start to really stumble. They don’t have a follow-up plan, or have decided “they’re good now” and don’t need any more help. It’s easy to do. You look great, everyone is complimenting you. You’re purchasing close that fit etc. But with no team to support them, and no plan, it’s very difficult for many folks to maintain their weight. You have to be VERY self-motivated to have continued success, or you have to be part of an ongoing “forever” program. This is why I created the Bariatric Transition Walk Group.
I wanted a place where Bariatric people could be part of a fun workout program. I wanted a place where they are encouraged and not judged, and a place where they could be accountable to each other. Finally, I wanted a program where they could reach achievable goals all the while bettering their health.
Though it may sound like this program is only for Bariatric “Surgery” patients, it’s important to note that a Bariatric Patient is NOT just someone who’s had surgery, or going to have surgery. It’s for anyone battling their weight that wants to be around similar people and achieve the same goals.
Back to my personal story and how I got where I am today…
Time passed, but I kept active. I walked a lot and was very cognitive regarding what I ate. In the end Bariatric surgery is a tool. People learn ways to get around the tool, but I really tried to work with it. That part isn’t that difficult, but it requires effort. I slipped a little along the way here and there, but I always worked the weight back off.
I eventually started swimming. I had been swimming for several months, but had no goal. This is where things in my life changed. I had no goal regarding my workouts. You can easily say to yourself, ‘There’s no need to swim, walk, or cycle today.. I’ve got nothing I’m training for...” That mentality leads to a person giving up. If you don’t have something to work for, then you won’t put in the effort. I had been swimming one mile 4 days a week and saw there was a swimming event coming up called the CAP2K. This is an internationally famous swimming event that takes place at Town Lake in Austin, TX. I now had something to work towards. I had no choice but to train because I was going to be in the water with hundreds of others, and I didn’t want to be the person that couldn’t finish.
I finished that race, and it was an amazing achievement for me. I reached my goal. I then decided to join a Master Swim Team. I was the slowest swimmer in the water, and the biggest, but I didn’t care because I was so happy to not be training alone. After learning how to swim and train properly I slowly advanced and wasn’t the slowest person in the water any longer. I continued competing in swimming events. I realized that being part of a team and having goals regarding my training made it easy to workout. No one judged me, or criticized me. We were all in it together. I made many friends, and continued to grow as a person.
One day, a friend of mine says, “You should come riding with us”. So, of course I got a bike. Next thing you know I’m riding 30 miles every weekend, and swimming during the week. I had no idea I was secretly being setup! Then I was asked, “Ever considered doing a triathlon?”. I honestly hadn’t. They kept nudging me, but I didn’t bite. Then one day we decided to go watch my friends compete in one. It was amazing! The atmosphere, the people, the music. It was really incredible, but the thing that caught my eye were the competitors. There were people of all shapes, sizes, young and old, men and women. When I saw several people competing and completing that event that were 150lbs larger than me, I knew I had to give this a try. So, I signed up for my first Triathlon. The swim was going to be easy because I was used to distance swimming. The bike wouldn’t be bad as I was riding a lot as well, but then there was the run. This first triathlon was a sprint. The swim was 500 meters, the bike was 12 miles, and the run was a measly 5k(3.2 mile) run.
How hard could it be?!?! So, I started running a little to train for it. I would run, then walk a while then run. I knew I wouldn’t be able to run the whole thing, but I wasn’t stressed about it.
So, there I was. The horn sounded I was in the water swimming with the rest of the splashing salmon-like swimmers. I made it back to land and ran for my bike. I felt great! I road the 12 miles and then starting seeing OLD people… really old people passing me, and very large people passing me. I thought,
“Man, I must really suck!” By the time I got back to start my run I was exhausted. I remember we had to run through a field and there was a tree line that the runners ran behind. My goal was to make it to that tree line so I could walk and catch my breath, and I did just that! Again, I was passed by so many people that I thought could NEVER finish before me, but lesson learned. Swimming, Biking, Running does NOT respect age, gender or size. An athlete is still an athlete and never judge an athlete by what they “look” like. I completed that triathlon and I was hooked! I participated in many more and have a collection of finishers medals.
It was all great fun, but I was very unhappy with my running. I just wasn’t a fast runner. I wanted to improve it, but wasn’t sure how. I then discovered interval running. I started training for my first half Marathon (13.1 miles)! I had an app on my phone, and it had me training 4 times a week. Just prior to the half marathon I participated in a 10-mile run called the “Run for the water”. I was really pleased with that race, and just afterwards I competed in the 3M Half Marathon in Austin. I finished my first Half Marathon! It was a great triumph! My friends kept telling me, ‘If you did a half marathon than you can definitely do a full marathon”. (I’m sure your thinking, ”Ditch those friends!”) I just wasn’t sure about doing a full marathon. Then I found a run group that was training for half and full marathons. And I trained and completed my first Full Marathon in San Antonio. It wasn’t pretty, but it was completed! Since then, I’ve run half marathons, and various 5ks. And that’s where I’ve been ever since.
So that’s my story. I’ve hit bumps along the road, and obstacles that were unexpected, but I persevered. You can too! I encourage you to get out there and make it happen. It’s your project!
Walk FIT Head Coach (14+)
- Years with Austin Fit: 4
- Number of Half Marathons: 5
- Number of Full Marathons: 1
- Favorite Race: Queenstown New Zealand Half
- Favorite Distance:10K
- Goal: Staying fit while remaining active
Michelle has been a member of Austin Fit four years. During her first year she completed a half marathon and throughout her fitness journey has participated in one full marathon, five half marathons, (10) 5ks and three 10ks. Her favorite race was the Queenstown, New Zealand Half Marathon. What drew Michelle to Austin Fit was the opportunity to jog or walk and see different parts of Austin and meet new friends with shared interest. Michelle appreciates the beauty and detail of the city that are seen while walking versus riding in a car. Michelle has met many new friends and looks forward to finding more friends to enjoy conversations with while walking the city.
Walk FIT Group (14:00 to 16:00)
Although I participated in sports off and on since high school, I didn't begin running until 13 years ago. I have run 24 marathons and half as many half marathons, and now walking, with Austin Fit pretty much ever since. I love the camaraderie and accountability to keep on moving. During the past few years, I've enjoyed running just to stay in shape. I've developed meaningful friendships while participating with Austin Fit, and I look forward to developing more. Now, let's do this!
Walk FIT Group (18+)
My name is Dave and I have been walking with Austin Fit for 3 yrs. As a former NCAA Division I collegiate athlete, I have been involved in many type of exercise and athletic activities throughout by life. Swimming, diving, cycling, weightlifting, volleyball, tennis and walking are just a few.Read More
I was never a good runner, even when I was much younger. I resisted the idea of “walking” because I never had a good experience running. I finally gave it a chance I have fallen in love with it. As I’ve gotten older and some of the activities I used to do have become more challenging, I found walking to be something I can do easily and really embrace. If you had said to me in the beginning that I would do a half marathon, I would have laughed out loud. But, I did that this past year for the first time and it was a huge accomplishment I never expected to achieve. Walking with Austin Fit has allowed me to get out and explore areas of Austin I’ve never seen before. The walk group has an awesome and diverse team of people that make each outing a pleasure. We support each person’s journey and look forward to having you join us.
ZERO to 10K Program
- Years with Austin Fit: 13
- Number of Half Marathons: 15
- Favorite Race: Houston Half
- Favorite Distance:10K
The Houston Half marathon was her favorite race. Her neighbors all showed up at mile 12 to cheer her on. Jennifer likes running race across Texas. She cross trains three days a week along with yoga. Her goals are local 10k races in the Hill Country and running with her friends.