A Local Cycling Instructor May Be America’s Most Inspiring Trainer

Katie Dolaher, of B/Spoke, is one of the contest's 12 finalists.

Katie Dolaher

Katie Dolaher/Photo provided

When Katie Dolaher got the email, she thought nothing of it. It was a busy day, and she glossed over what looked like just another message. It wasn’t until her phone rang a few days later that she got the good news.

Dolaher, a personal trainer and cycling instructor at B/Spoke, learned in that call that she’s up for the title of America’s Most Inspiring Trainer, a contest sponsored by Well and Good and Reebok. Twelve finalists were selected from almost 5,000 nominees, and Dolaher, 36, is the only instructor from Massachusetts to make the cut.

“[The representative] said, ‘The reason why you weren’t involved in the initial process is because you’re the only one out of the 5,000 entries that didn’t nominate themselves,'” Dolaher says. “I was pretty shocked.”

Shocked, maybe, but also honored. Dolaher says the outpouring of support from students, friends, and family has been phenomenal, and humbling. “Winning a contest doesn’t define me, that’s for sure,” she says. “It sounds cliché, but I definitely feel like I’ve already won.”

Getting to this point holds special significance, Dolaher says, because she almost gave up fitness after the Boston Marathon bombing.

Dolaher, then working as a special education teacher, was running the race that year, and her entire family was gathered at Forum when the bombs went off. While everybody was fine, the day took its mental and emotional toll. “I was angry, like everybody else, and I definitely could not think of running again, especially on my own. I didn’t get the same feeling,” she remembers. “I couldn’t get into it.”

Shortly after the bombing, however, a friend set to work opening B/Spoke, and asked for Dolaher’s help. Slowly, she began to get more and more involved, both with the studio and with the city’s fitness community as a whole.

“Getting encouragement through the community was what really moved me to start running again,” she says. “It really changed my whole entire outlook of, ‘This is what is motivating me, and I can do this and motivate other people at the same time.'”

She decided not only to return to the Boston Marathon—a race she’s now run seven times in all—but to quit her job and embrace fitness full-time. Since then, she’s never looked back.

“My motto is essentially on inspiring people and creating that positive atmosphere that enables people to really believe in themselves and take that jump of maybe trying something new,” she says. “It’s really about each other and creating that environment and lifting each other up.”

Want to bring the title home to Boston? Vote for Dolaher here until December 23.