Hidden Figures of Lawrence: Kate Harrell

TRX Instructor Kate Harrell in the Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center with the equipment she uses for her class.
Photo by Larissa Davis


This column is devoted to highlighting staff members that play a huge role in the everyday experiences of the Lawrence community. The goal is to focus on the “Hidden Figures” of Lawrence University and their interests both within, and outside of Lawrence.


In between classes, club activities and homework, some students have a difficult time practicing self-care. Self-care involves a balance of healthy eating and plenty of exercise. Fortunately, the lovely Buchanan-Kiewit Wellness Center is open to students and faculty to promote living healthier lifestyles on campus. One program the Wellness Center offers is TRX, a body weight core stability workout that uses a combination of bodyweight exercises and suspension straps. TRX develops muscular strength and cardiovascular fitness and is held Mondays and Wednesdays from noon to 12:45 p.m. in the Multipurpose Room for beginner and advanced levels.

Working behind the scenes of the TRX program is this week’s hidden figure, Kate Harrell. Even though she is not a Lawrence faculty or staff member, some students may have met her Mondays or Wednesdays during lunch hour. Harrell shared her passion for health and fitness. “I am actually a contractor for the university within the Wellness Department, so not technically faculty or staff,” said Harrell. As a dietician, Harrell instructs the Lawrence TRX class. She also works at the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh where she teaches a Kinesiology class which is focused on nutrition of exercises and a lab on how to teach fitness. Harrell enjoys her job because, “students need a little guidance in making healthier choices,” and she wants to be that inspiration to students’ lifestyles.

Outside of work, Harrell likes to go for runs on nature trails, complete some crossword puzzles and spend time with her rescue hound. From a young age, Harrell knew health and fitness was her calling. As a college student, Harrell was always active and played sports. She dove into nutrition as an undergraduate, but later in her graduate program, she developed an interest in fitness and the science of fitness. Harrell participated in a dietetics internship for her master’s degree at Oregon State. “I enjoy helping people feel better to become emotionally physically stronger,” she commented.

Prior to teaching fitness, Harrell owned a gym in Portland, Oregon in May 2013. Harrell started teaching a seminar and eventually expanded her program. In January 2015, she started teaching a fitness class at Lawrence and found that she enjoyed teaching different exercises. After that, Harrell began the Viking Fitness program for faculty and staff, which is similar to her Buffalo Fitness program in Oshkosh.

Although she does not come to campus often, Harrell still has her thoughts about the ‘Lawrence Difference.’ Harrell appreciates the amazing and diverse food choice in Andrew Commons and she views Lawrence as a different community with a strong purpose. “I love the fact that at Lawrence, students, faculty and staff alike can come to class as one, working hard together and having fun,” she said while commenting on the beauty of the campus and the friendliness of the community. As a person who is passionate about what she does and someone who is determined to make a difference, Harrell is surely a significant hidden figure at Lawrence.


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