Interview with Holea Bruggman – Enjoying The Process

I met Holea at a conference in Chicago last year. I’m an early riser and would go down to the hotel restaurant early to get coffee and every time I ran into Holea already up working and writing on her laptop. A few months later we ran into each other again in San Diego and she was one of the first people I pitched the idea of this website to. She encouraged me to start it up, which I did about 6 months later, and here we are today!

Holea Bruggman – Strength, Nutrition, & Mindset Coach – Arizona

How did you get involved in coaching?

I was bit by the strength bug early on. I spent a lot of time being active and lifting which then turned into a passion for me. First of all I saw what it did to my body, second I experienced what it did for my self confidence and character.

I knew it was something I wanted to share with others. I attended Alexandria Technical and Community College double majoring in Health and Fitness specialists as well as Business Management. I went on to get my 4 year degree in Exercise Science from Moorhead State University.

I have been coaching for 6 years now. The first 4.5 years I worked for a gym in my hometown. I have since moved from Minnesota to Arizona where I am now training people both online and in person through my business, Iron Willed.

I know a lot of trainers who are interested in online training, but debate if they can do it or not. What would you say are the pros and cons of online training?

Online training has it’s pros in the sense that I can take it anywhere with me and I am able to help more people other than just in my local area. Cons of online training are that it’s not for everyone and that is totally OK. Some have a hard time staying motivated without having the actual appointment with a coach. We as coaches can only do so much, the rest is up to the client.

The other con is not having that face to face contact, which I prefer. I can send videos of exercise demos or they can send me videos but it just isn’t quite the same as the in person training that I personally enjoy.

Overall it has been a GREAT way to help more people. It works super amazing for nutrition and mindset coaching. The training aspect has been getting better with some trial and error.

Cool, a lot people get tripped up by how to coach exercises online, but may not have considered using it for nutrition and mindset coaching. Why did you choose a profession where you work with people?

I coach others because it is my passion. It is my passion to help others understand that they are capable of far greater things. So many of us have these self imposed limitations that hold us back from being amazing. I want to demolish those limitations and help people see what they are truly able to do.

Tell me about a client of yours who you helped break through these limitations.

One of my clients said the most beautiful thing to me ever…

“The past week has been stressful at work. Today was extra crappy so I consciously decided to eat my feelings BUT I only had 1 brownie and I ate it slowly so I could enjoy it instead of mindlessly inhaling it. So yes I blew my 3-4 meals goal but I did it consciously and today that’s OK.”

This is HUGE!!!! I strive to create a safe environment for my clients to be able to share things like this. She understood exactly what she was doing and the part that I love about this so much is that she knows it’s OK to do it! She was conscious and didn’t let her emotions control her. This was MEGA!!!!!!

She shared this all on her own…unprovoked. Which means a couple things; she was damn proud of it, it was a huge learning moment, and it is also inspirational for the other clients to see this.

One thing that excites me right now is putting into practice that we can forgive ourselves instead of beating ourselves up. Its OK to have a brownie, it’s not morally bad. What excites you right now?

Right now what excites me the most is when clients begin to grasp the thought process that a little bit better each day adds up to an amazing transformation over time. It’s all about the process!!!


Can you give me some more detail about something that you or you have your clients do that is something small each day but turns out to be a huge transformation?

Gratitude and/or noticing the successes/wins for the day. What was something good that happened today? What are you grateful for today?

Each day focusing on the good and positive things leads to a beautiful transformation down the road.

Why? Because we stop dwelling on all the shitty stuff and build ourselves up on the great stuff. Sometimes a highlight can be a crappy thing that happened that day, but because we practice gratitude, that not so awesome thing could be a highlight due to the way we handled it. It can also be because after a reflection we noticed good things that came from it.

Well said! What was something tough you experienced and how did it play out?

An obstacle I faced was a lot of the things that  I coach with clients now… Self worth, being strong and capable versus just really really ridiculously good looking (jk), being confident in myself and my capabilities. I decided to branch off on my own about a year ago.

It was super crazy to put myself out there but everything that has been coming from it has been so amazing and rewarding. It tested my confidence big time. Knowing that I do have a voice worth listening to…I do have a message worth sharing… and there is enough space out there for it to be heard.

What is something in the fitness industry that you wish everyone knew?

I wish that everyone in the industry knew that it all goes back to the process. Work within the limitations of the client and their limits will begin to expand without ever needing to get in to the “pushing the limits” zone. Sure it may be boring to you to coach the same squat, hinge, push, pull, etc everyday but to that person…it’s new!

It’s something they are looking to understand and get better at. When things get changed around a bunch for the sake of variety on the trainers behalf, the client isn’t being served nor are they going to be able to get the results that they could by working on something longer.

Do your job which is to educate the client on the process of this beautiful thing called TRAINING. Not a workout. Using drills for a specific exercise rather than throwing in some random thing.

Whats one book that changed your practice/mindset, etc… and why? Whats the one thing you took away from it?

The Gifts of Imperfections by Brene Brown…. GAME CHANGER. This book is a timeless one that you can read over and over again learning something new about yourself every time. One thing I took away from this book is the idea of self compassion. Not only for me but also how I can teach others to do the same.

What has been your biggest impact on a client?

I started working with a couple in their late 60s. The wife lost 35lbs and was able to fit in to her wedding dress on their 40th wedding anniversary. The husband also lost roughly 30lbs. I started with them 4 years ago.

They lost that weight in 18 months (do the math that’s only about 2lbs a month) and have kept it off since. Not only were they impacted by coaching with me and sticking to 1) the basics and 2) the process, but their adult kids now have learned from the couple and have also started to make healthy changes. It amazes me how well it can trickle down when taught properly/understood correctly.

Just as much as I have impacted them, they have impacted me. Their words of gratitude warm my heart each time. Seeing the change I can make in someone’s life is literally the best feeling ever… especially when it sticks as it has with them. They are rocking pull-ups….the wife does more weight (correctly) on certain things than other men are doing at the gym… they OWN their stuff and are consistent as heck. I love it. They rock.


If you were to meet someone that you admire: who is it and what are the top 3 questions you would ask them?

This is a super tough question. I can’t think of ONE person but more of a collection of people. As far as questions to ask…this is where I am stumped.

A lot of the people I admire, I have met and spoke with a bit. David Whitley, Georgie Fear, Josh Hillis, Dan John, etc…

One I havne’t met is Amy Pohler. I am undecided on questions for her yet though. She is basically my spirit animal.

Dave, Josh, Georgie, and Dan are all awesome people and resources for fitness professionals. Some of my favorite people in fact. Can you recall a conversation with one of them for us?

I had a conversation with Dave (Iron Tamer Whitley) that changed the course of my life. I was stuck in a comfortable situation and knew I needed to get out of. I just didn’t know how. This was actually the first time I met him (almost a year ago) and he asked me what I wanted to do next… I told him and he said “cool…does it scare you?”

I said no.

He said, “then it’s not big enough.”

HEAVY!!! So I thought a lot and then did something I would normally NEVER do. I got back from meeting him and two days later quit my job as a coach at a thriving gym. I quit to work at a grocery store and nanny. Then I started my own business.

It was the most amazing thing I have ever done and so damn liberating. Dave has forever helped to change the course of my life and for that… I am so grateful. You probably wouldn’t be interviewing me today had it not been for that brief conversation a year ago.

What do you wish people knew about you but probably don’t?

Coffee is my bitch-be-gone.


What’s something that you’re really proud of doing?

My proudest moment was when I decided to take a step out of my comfort zone and start my own business. This was the same time I moved from my hometown in Minnesota, which I had never left, to 1600 miles away in Arizona.

Wow, that could be super scary for a lot of people. What have you learned from starting your own business and what piece of advice would you give to a personal trainer that is thinking the same thing?

I learned that starting your own business has it’s ups and downs. I learned that you need to be prepared to put yourself out there 100%. Not just put content up that is basic and blah… but real, raw content that people will relate to at a very personal level.

At first people won’t be apt to buy in to your message because it’s scary for them to also put themselves out there and liking/sharing your material because it is saying “I agree with this and I can relate to this.” And for some people… they aren’t ready to share with the world that they have insecurities about their bodies and such. Again….totally OK. Just keep plugging away day after day… it pays off.

Be authentic, genuine, and TRANSPARENT. There is no need to be anyone but you… people dig that. Plus it is way less exhausting to be yourself than it is to try be someone you’re not for a few likes on Facebook.

Just keep plugging away day after day… it pays off. Be authentic, genuine, and TRANSPARENT. There is no need to be anyone but you… people dig that.

What’s one thing that you changed in your programming compared to last year?

My programming has become SIMPLE. And I LOVE it. As do my clients. I am educating clients on the process.

Process is where it is at!

If you can get your client to buy in to the idea of being process focused…. you’re golden. There is no need for variety for the sake of variety. There is a higher level of mental investment because people thrive off of improving. When you can see yourself improve by focusing on the process… you’re hooked!

It’s no different than when someone asks me if I ever get bored with my programming which is pretty much a shit ton of squatting and some other stuff. I say no. Because I love to get better each training session and notice my strength increase. This can’t happen when things get changed all the time because some got “bored”.

I stick to the fundamentals. Squat, hinge, push, pull, carry, anti rotation/rotation.

If you could go back in time and give one piece of advice to yourself on day one of coaching, what would it be?

Breathe. Silence is ok. Less words is more.

What book(s) would you recommend to someone who is 1. Starting personal training. 2. A personal trainer looking to up their game.

1. Ignite the Fire by Jonathon Goodman
2. Ignite the Fire by Jonathon Goodman

Brings it back to the WHY.

What in person certification, workshop, conference, etc.. Have you recently enjoyed?

I LOVE STRENGTH MATTERS CONFERENCES. Hands down. Super amazing lineup and I always take an actionable item away to up my game.

This has been great! Any closing thoughts?

Coaching people to become the best version of themselves is what I live for. If it’s 2 or 200….it doesn’t matter as long as I can help people transform to the person they want to be. I’m not in the game of quick fixes or becoming a helicopter trainer. My job is to educate, inspire, and if I’ve done my job well… that person won’t need me anymore.

This was hard for me at first, understanding that if I am doing my job people won’t need me anymore. There are more than enough people to help in this world. Enable your clients. Teach them well, and let them go when they are ready.

Holea answers the question, “What’s new coach?”

You can reach Holea at:
Facebook: Holea B
Iron Willed with Holea B
Instagram: @holeab

Resources mentioned:


The Gifts of Imperfections by Brene Brown
Ignite the Fire by Jonathon Goodman


Josh Hillis
Georgie Fear
Dan John
Iron Tamer Dave Whitley

Conferences to attend:

Strength Matters