Inspiration Spotlight: Kara Miklaus

I have known Kara Miklaus for a few years now. I used to take her classes when she was a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp in Irvine, then, found her teaching classes at my favorite OC spin studio, Full Psycle. Now, she is currently co-owner at WORK in Irvine. I have yet to try her classes there given I’m in Los Angeles now but can’t wait to go back to the OC and get my butt kicked!

I remember in her classes, she’d always make an effort to know the names of everyone in class and would always come around encouraging any progress made. My 7.0 speed sprints would have nothing on the 10.0+ speeds of others but I would always feel leaving like I was the fastest in the room, with her positivity and encouragement.

I wanted to start this blog for several reasons and one was to be able to learn more about those who have been so inspiring to me. There wasn’t a better person I could think of to feature. 🙂  Based on the responses below, you’ll see exactly why Kara’s energy has inspired me!


Has your journey always been health and fitness focused?

Not exactly! I’ve been an athlete my whole life, 5 brothers and I played every sport imaginable. I started out as a Bio/Pre-Med major in college. After graduation I went to work as a Clinical Assistant in one of the world’s most well known oncology hospitals. While there I got to see first hand that doctor life, and decided it wasn’t for me. Every patient I came across was diagnosed with cancer, but in little to no cases did I ever hear nutrition or lifestyle being discussed. Integrative/Holistic medicine was always the “last resort.” However, I did want to affect massive numbers of people and their health, so I chose to pursue my Master’s in Public Health, which the hospital paid for. After graduation, I parted ways amicably with the hospital, and went literally on the other side of the world! I landed a nutrition internship in South Africa, where I worked with local rural people on teaching sustainable agriculture to remote villages, i.e. how to grow vegetables in poor arid soil. After several months the internship ended and I came home to New York, where I had the opportunity to relocate to California (almost 5 years ago now).

When I came out here, I looked for jobs in both the non-profit and hospital sector, thinking I would do more of what I had been. But after several months searching to no avail, Barry’s Bootcamp got in touch with me when they were opening their first franchise in Irvine. Now, I’d already been certified as a personal trainer and it was just something I did on the side a little for fun, but never in my wildest dreams would have imagined it would lead me where I am now. At Barry’s they taught me how to teach group fitness, and ultimately I became the studio manager there and had the experience of what it would be like to own my own business, but with no financial stress!

You’ve mentioned openly about not always having the healthiest mindset when it comes to body image, how did you overcome your personal struggles?

Still overcoming! It’s a daily battle, but sometimes it’ll be a fleeting thought and that’s it, other days it’s on my mind most of the day. But I’ve just come to realize, IT’S NOT WORTH IT!!! There is so so so much more to life. I’ve done a lot of traveling, and I never get tired of seeing/experiencing different cultures. And in each of these cultures, beauty has a different ideal. Not only that, but most people are just fighting to survive, and here I am complaining I don’t have a 6 pack year round!? I am me, and I’ll always be me. I can’t change how tall I am, the texture of my hair, my face shape, or a myriad of my other physical features. But what I can change is how I feel just by making a simple choice to love myself. And if I do everything I can to be the best me, like working out, focusing on diet, etcetera, then how could I ever be mad at myself? 

Kara Miklaus ropes

I met you when you were a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp and now you own your own gym! How did you get to where you are now? And what would you say was the biggest struggle in becoming a business owner?

Well, after Barry’s I took a little detour from fitness for about 2 years. I did some more traveling, and when I came back I started working at a start up in Culver City (and traveling 2 hours each way every day!) doing Corporate Wellness Strategies. So basically consulting with companies on how to get their employees healthier. I met my husband, Dane, at a previous studio we both were trainers at, along with our business partner Scott Perry. The three of us decided just about one year ago to take the best of all training worlds that we knew, and to combine them under one roof. It was about 6 months of planning, finding investors, finding a location, getting the details sorted out, then about 2 months to create the actual brick and mortar of WORK, then we opened our doors on August 22, 2015! I worked full time still until November, when 20 hour days were going to give me a breakdown. So I left the corporate life and started working full time for us. 

The biggest struggle I have is to not feel guilty about not working 24/7. When you have your own business, it’s hard to take time entirely for yourself because you’re just thinking, I should be working right now. So realizing that things won’t fall apart if you’re away for a day, or that it’s OK to delegate responsibilities. 

What motivates you to get up each day and do work? 🙂

OH MAN! I would argue that it’s discipline, not necessarily motivation. We’re motivated to start something, but it’s discipline that keeps us going. There’s a lot of things I do that I’m never going to be motivated to do, like clean the bathrooms! (which we do ourselves because we have yet to hire staff) But, it’s the daily act of creating a schedule and sticking to it, of knowing that I have expectations to live up to, both my own and other’s, to be a role model, that gets me up everyday. That, and my boss is my husband! So it’s hard to say no to work! 


Do you have an inspirational quote or phrase that you live your life by?

“The question isn’t who is going to let me, the question is who is going to stop me.” – Ayn Rand 


I’m all about finding your passions in life. Do you have any advice for girls (or guys) out there that may be struggling to find motivation or feel that they are living an unfulfilled life?

Oh man, story for another day! I think I have a different mindset on this than most people our age do. We all think we should be living our passions and that life shouldn’t feel like work if we love it. But I argue the opposite. If you work at something hard enough, it might become your passion. I never intended to do fitness, I always scoffed at it being “a real job.” Even when I started I didn’t really like it, because I wasn’t good at it. But then I got good by studying, by getting more certifications that other trainers, by working hard. So maybe don’t think about exactly WHAT you do, but WHY you’re doing it.

Believe me, when my family found out I was teaching group fitness and wasn’t in medical school, mouths dropped to the floor. “You’re gonna do WHAT?!” And taken at face value sure, I get people motivated/excited to lift things up and down with a group of other people and get sweaty (putting it basically). That’s the what. But WHY do I do it? I have the opportunity to touch almost 150 lives daily, those that walk through our doors to train with us, and change them for the better by giving them a positive experience. By encouraging them to makes healthier choices, they then take that home to their families. By helping someone feel like they belong, feel wanted, feel like they contribute to something, I will hopefully enrich their life. So as far as advice, I would say stick with something long enough that you know for sure no amount of hard work would make you love it, then move on. You can constantly reinvent yourself. But do promise you’ll give something your very best shot before you call it quits. 

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  • My parents had a pre-planned trip to Atlanta this week and since I’ve been staying with them, they insisted I shouldn’t be alone right now. Maybe they’re right. So, I’m off to Atlanta for a couple days. I know you can’t necessarily escape your problems but maybe being in a new environment will help me breathe a little more, if even for a few minutes throughout the day. 
I went to @sprouts before heading to the airport so that my family and I will have snacks for the flight and for our time there. Grabbed a bunch of fruit because it’s so easy and @hippeas_snacks since they are organic, vegan, and gluten-free. They’re on sale now @sprouts #ImAHippea #HippeasPartner
  • Tiger came into my life one month before I was diagnosed with cancer. I had to rest so much in the early days when I had her. I would get tired and have to sleep or lay down for most of the day leading up to my surgery.

On surgery day, I was terrified. I thought I wouldn’t wake up. So on the surgery room table, before I could feel the anesthesia, I told the surgery team my “final” words, ‘Tell my mom and Tiger Lily I love them’. She was always my priority. Always my family.

When I eventually woke up the first thing I asked my mom is ‘Where is Tiger Lily? How is she?’ I was even trying to get my mom to sneak her into my hospital room but security stopped her. I couldn’t wait to have her in my lap.

I eventually got discharged from the hospital and I had to spend weeks on the sofa downstairs because I couldn’t make it to the bed on the second floor. So on a narrow sofa, Tiger and I slept together, all day. I felt so bad for her since she seemed so bored and she was only sleeping next to me because her mama was recovering.

I made little promises to her though, I would make it to the patio and sit down there for a few minutes so I could throw her toy with her (she would only play fetch with me). Then eventually I was able to take slow walks with her and sit down on a park bench while she played.

She helped me focus my energy on getting better for her. No one else could take care of her, like I could. I got stronger for her. Tiger Lily gave me purpose each day. Baby Tiger helped me heal.

Maybe this is part of why the pain is unbearable. We’ve been through so much, even in our short time together. The pain today feels just as excruciating and suffocating like it did a week ago. Praying tomorrow will be better. 💔
  • The story of how my baby Tiger Lily came into my life

March 2018 my family and I lost our family Pomchi, Puffy. She had been with us for 13 years. She was my parents baby and I was the fun sister that got to come hang with her.

When we lost her I felt an emptiness and wanted some doggy energy around. I thought fostering seemed interesting. It’s temporary. I’ll foster a dog for a couple days and then that’s it.

One day I scrolled and found Dogs Without Borders. I came across a little Tiger Lily. What a funny name, I thought. There was something about her that I was drawn to. I think it was the ears.

I was still nervous about it and didn’t know if I could handle it but one day I went out to dinner with friends and we were talking about it. There just happened to be Tiger hot sauce on the table and it said TRY ME. We laughed, I had never seen that type of sauce before! It was definitely a sign.

So I fostered her and I remember I kept her blocked off in an area of my house. There’s no way I was just letting her run free where ever she wanted to go.

Then I started seeing how scared she was. She would regularly shake; so confused as to where she was. ‘I’m a good girl why is my life like this’ she probably thought.  So I became more lenient so she could feel more at ease. I guess fine she could be on the sofa once in a while when I was around but only on her pillow. I guess fine she could be on my bed but only if she stayed on her side. Boundaries only really lasted a couple days. I’m weak.

Then after just less than a week, her former foster family wanted to adopt her. I had been thinking of adopting her but then thought it was better for her to go with them. They were a couple with other animals in the house so it felt like a fun, full home for Tiger to be in.

After just two days, the couple told me they changed their mind. If I didn’t want her then they’d end up returning her back to DWB. I was livid. Once you commit to adopting a baby, there is a no refund policy. Baby adoptions are not merchandise to exchange for another fit. I missed her and didn’t want Tiger to go through another transfer so I decided to adopt her myself. (contd in comments)
  • Rest in peace my love. My little baby Tiger Lily. I don’t know what happened. It was so sudden. You were fine on Friday! Maybe a little stomach upset on Saturday and then Sunday you could barely wag your tail when you saw me. I wish I noticed more signs so I could know how sick you were. Were you telling me something sooner and I didn’t know? You left me and my heart is not broken in half. My heart is completely shattered. I am so sorry for letting you down. I was trying to save you like you saved me. I tried to be the very best mama to you. I barely left you alone. I never wanted you to feel abandoned and lonely because that’s what you grew up knowing. (Don’t worry I won’t tell anyone I would sneak you into places you weren’t supposed to be in.) I always played with you (Stay. Stay. Find it!) I always bought you the best food - nothing but organic, all natural, and premium quality for my baby! I remember I would be so tired sometimes but I’d go out to Whole Foods to buy you steak just as a treat for being you. I wanted you to know how loved and OBSESSED I was all the time. I know you were obsessed with me too. Your grandparents would always call you “piece of gum on mom’s shoe” because you were just stuck to me like glue! You always had to be touching me, no matter what. If you didn’t see me in eyesight you would panic!

When I first got you I wasn’t sure what to expect. Would you like me? Would you be a lot of work? I could not have asked for a more perfect baby. You always listened to your mama, except for when it was bed time and you insisted on taking my side of the bed. I always pretended to be annoyed but what did I tell you every night? I said ‘Little baby Tiger Lily I love you, you’re the very best girl. I’m going to see you tomorrow and I hope you dream about all the yummy treats we’re going to eat’. Sweet baby, you were so strong. You struggled all day yesterday and when the doctor said there’s not much hope I took you home so you could be comfortable. You were so brave to be strong enough to be in the car in my arms and to make it all the way home. I didn’t let you go and you took your last breath in my arms. Snuggled with all your blankies. (contd)
  • 💔EMERGENCY: Is anyone a vet or a homeopathic animal doctor? Tigers condition has worsened over night. Doctors don’t know what the cause is, they’ve thrown out words like sepsis, hemorrhagic gastroenteritis, anaphylaxis, they just don’t know.

Facts: Swollen gallbladder, low body temp, stomach is fluid filled, slight water in lungs, now in an oxygen cage... - doctor says her stomach and gastrointestinal system is not working. I don’t know what to do. Maybe another opinion or doctor would know. I have a copy of blood results to help.

Please forward to anyone who might have another opinion. My heart hurts I can’t breathe and I need to save her like she saved me. 💔🙏
  • Currently at the emergency animal hospital where I had to admit Tiger Lily for overnight observation and testing. She had been feeling ill since yesterday. Little stomach upsets usually go away quickly but today she started also having slow reactions, not blinking and experiencing heavy breathing. The vet said she is “pretty sick” with low blood pressure. She may have pancreatitis or some type of gastric complication.

Pancreatitis is what my 13 year old family dog, Puffy, passed away from back in 2018. So to hear that Tiger Lily may have this... 💔 Pray for Tiger please. Anyone that knows me even a little knows exactly how much she means to me and I just can’t have her be sick because I need her. ❤️
  • With all the supplements out there sometimes it can be hard to know what actually works. I have been taking probiotics for years and I like to switch them up every once in a while. #Ad I just started @seed’s Daily Synbiotic which I’ve found isn’t just any probiotic. What I appreciate about @seed is that they’re pioneering a “next-generation” probiotic, based on science.

@Seed combines human clinical research, technology, and innovations in biofermentation, formulation, and testing to develop a new standard for bacteria.

Their strains have been clinically studied to support gastrointestinal health, cardiovascular health, and dermatological health. These studies have been published in respected medical journals.

That sounds like a lot of information but the main takeaway is that this is a new line of probiotics that doesn’t just target gut health but overall health. 🙌 Use code DIMPLE15 for 15% off the first month of your Daily Synbiotic subscription at
  • What is your approach to food? I try to eat mostly plant-based but I allow myself the freedom to eat what my body craves that day. All foods fit over here!

Today on the blog I’m breaking down an easy approach to changing mindset around food choices. 🥑 #intuitiveeating #eatingwell #allfoodsfit #healthyliving
  • There is chaos everywhere. The turmoil can be easy to ignore sometimes because it feels so far away and quite honestly, we all just have our own individual lives to live and most of us feel like we are not directly affected by it. But we are.

This isn’t the typical content I generally write about but I think it’s important to make a difference in some way. As much of a health advocate as I am, I’m really an advocate for change; change for the better. We are all capable of so much and collectively the possibilities for positive change in our communities are limitless. But change comes when there is action behind it.

I’ve been politically active for years. I’ve traveled, canvassed, phone banked, fundraised for the candidates/issues I support. It’s tough, invigorating, gratifying, and eye-opening all in one.

Rather than speak about partisan politics (there’s enough of that out there) – I wanted to give a PSA to remember to register to vote! Your voice can make a difference when you show up for yourself and for others. I listed a state by state breakdown with voter registration deadlines up on the blog today. I encourage you to check it out. ❤️#bethechange #advocacy #registertovote #positiveimpact
  • In my reader feedback form (that’s still up in my profile!) the majority of people said they’re interested in skincare and beauty. So I listened and did a round up of my favorite nontoxic, natural cleansers up on the blog. ☺️Do you have any favorites? Some brands listed are @indie_lee @biossance @100percentpure @oseamalibu @cocokind // #naturalskincare #cleanskincare #cleanbeauty #holisticwellness
  • I’m really excited to make this my healthiest year yet! Will you join me?

We all have dreams and goals we want to achieve but it’s just going to be that much more difficult to reach them if you don’t have your health! 🙏 I wrote a blog post on how often you should be seeing your doctor as a general guideline to help you. Remember to feel empowered to ask questions, listen to your intuition and get a second opinion if you need it!

Set aside half an hour today to track down phone numbers, check your calendar, and schedule those appointments.

This year, I want us all to not just survive but to THRIVE. 💕🙌
#selfcare #newyearbetteryou #healthfirst #wellnessjourney
  • I hope everyone had the best January 1! Tradition in my family is to make homemade Korean potstickers/dumplings and put them in a rice cake soup, so I spent all afternoon making these with my mom ☺️ Do you have any traditions? #떡국 #떡만두국 #familytradition #happynewyear

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