The word “champion” has more than one definition. A meaning usually includes medals, rings and trophies. The other meaning is much less common, but often much more meaningful. When someone champions a cause or a group of people, they are advocating to impact lives far beyond their own.
Kirra Collins understands both definitions. As an athlete, the self-proclaimed girl from a small town in Colorado competes in the NPC in the Bikini division, and she has won three shows so far. Her last win came at the 2022 NPC Salt Lake City Championships. After spending eight years as a stay-at-home mom, she found a new career in coaching after being repeatedly questioned about how she was doing so Good shape.
“Everyone was asking me if I was a coach. So I got certified and tried to see what happens,” she said. “I got certified and I I started working out at a local gym, and it blew up.”
Collins has also enjoyed great success as a model. She was named “Model of the Year” by Hi Life Magazine and Lookbook. Although she is proud of her success in this field, there is one title she still wants to win – IFBB Pro.
Collins also holds a special place for inspiring women. “I was just empowering other women and helping them feel more comfortable in the gym by teaching them the best foods to eat, how to exercise, and changing their bodies all at the same time,” said the competitor NPC Bikini. “The gym can be a scary place for women, and even for some overweight men in some cases, so I created an app for them to know exactly what to do when they walk into a gym.
Outside of being a mother, her biggest accomplishment as a champion hasn’t been on stage. She began working with adapted athletes. If you’re not familiar with the term adaptive, it’s used to describe men and women who face various physical challenges, including the inability to use their arms or legs. For both athlete and coach, this creates the need to adapt.
Collins was already enjoying success with her clients, but business really took off after she started helping adaptive people who want to become fitness enthusiasts. It started when she was helping one of her clients who inquired about her husband.
“He was in a wheelchair and she said there was no one certified to train someone in a wheelchair. (The trainers) are too nervous to work with him.
After researching, Collins found an organization that offered adaptive and inclusive certification. She chose to pass and get certified.
“It was based on CrossFit, and I’m not CrossFit. But there were no other accrediting agencies that went into detail about adaptive training for fitness. They had ways to help people lacking limbs.
Collins completed the certification and took on the potential client. While they were working together, she was still looking to find other ways to help him improve. It was then that she discovered the Wheelchair division within the IFBB Pro League, a division that culminated on the most prestigious stage in sport with the wheelchair olympia.
“I thought these guys had definitely written workout programs or PDFs or whatever that could give me a good idea of how to use strength training,” she said. “Everything written about adaptive fitness is cardio, cardio, cardio. We have to learn how to help these men and women build muscle.
Even though she found some information, she needed more. Adaptive trainees have to learn to use equipment that, frankly, was not made for them.
Collins discovered that there were patents for such things as the no-skip rope and other items. Through research and effort, Collins has managed to create the first-ever online adaptive program that focuses strictly on strength and conditioning. This program teaches customers how to use the equipment, and it goes beyond that.
“Of course the cardio is involved as well as the timing of the nutrition so we can control the bowel movements and the functioning of their body. It’s a really big thing so they don’t have an accident or what to do if some things don’t work as they should.
Collins’ relationships with her clients don’t just start when they walk through the door. She strives to make life easier for them as often as she can, whether it’s being available 24/7 to answer questions or even helping them when they arrive for training.
“I have to help some of them out of their vehicles into their chairs and then into the gym,” she said. It also helps him offer information to his friends who can’t seem to find the motivation to work out.
“They tell me they can’t come to the gym, and I tell them, ‘He even made it. So you can too. These little things can make other people go beyond themselves.
Collins is working with her father on her own patents to provide even more ways to help adaptive people take their training to a new level. She also started another business called “Wheelie Strong” and she connects with clothing companies and other businesses to find ways to serve this community. While involved in this business, she learned that most of the world as a whole cannot adequately serve people in wheelchairs or those who are adapted. She wants to play a role in changing that for the better through education.
“If we can just raise awareness of things that don’t exist, that could make a difference.”
Dan Solomon, President of Mr. Olympia, adds, “Adapted athletes are some of the most inspiring in the world. Their passion and dedication are unmatched. I would like to commend Kirra for the important work she is doing to help these incredible men and women achieve things they never thought possible.
Collins exemplifies what it means to be a champion, by every definition of the word. She’s been doing all of this while raising her kids as a single mom for five years. Whether it’s through her own efforts as an athlete or helping as many people as possible through her work as a coach, she strives to help make the fitness community a better place.
“I want to let women and men know that it’s okay to take the leap. You won’t know if you don’t push yourself, fail, and come back. It’s about creating a community where everyone feels safe and included.
For more information on Wheelie Strong, visit www.wheeliestrong.com
Follow Kirra on Instagram @kirracollins And @aspexfitness. You can also visit his website.