Karen Lechtenburg

We chose Karen because she always shows up bright and early and is consistent and driven. She and her husband, Nate, encourage their boys to workout and be the healthiest version of themselves. She also has an amazing passion for running and for community-building which we see shown through the events she puts on in Sioux Falls!


Tell us a little about yourself:

I’m a military brat that spent most of my life in St Louis, Missouri (where I graduated HS many moons ago). We have been in South Dakota now for 10 years, prior to this we were in Nebraska (Go Big Red) where I was a K-12 Guidance Counselor. I’m a loud extroverted mother of four very active boys Jackson 17, Keeton 15 and the twins Miles and Owen 13 that you will see at the gym with us in the evening. I’ve been married to Nate (not an extrovert) who comes to the noon class for 18 years and at this point in time he’s just stuck with me and all my weird quirks. We have two dogs Frida (a rescued street dog from Puerto Rico) that runs with me and Sadie, a Shipoo (who loves all the snuggles). I’m an ELD (English Language Development) teacher at Cleveland Elementary where I work with students who are new to the country. Currently,  I work with about 53 students that speak at least 15 different languages (I only speak English and occasionally Spanish, but very poorly). In my downtime time I’m the director of the South Dakota Branch of Anderson Race Management, hosting and timing races in the Midwest. In addition, I’m the Race Director for six of my own road races and one ultra-marathon in the Sioux Falls area. During the year these races raise money for a variety of charities such as, Project SOS, Ashley’s Kicks for Kids and the Humane Society via race registrations and donations. I love working out to loud angry music and force others in the morning class to join in my 365 day handstand challenge #handstandbuddies2021

How & when did you get introduced to Crossfit and what made you want to continue coming?

I had been a fitness instructor prior to moving here until just a few years ago, but had always been interested in doing CrossFit just never had the time to attend classes.  Phos posted a special for teachers and I bit the bullet and finally tried it! I needed to do something besides running and my hope was that I would become a stronger runner and lose some of my baby weight (remember my youngest are 13 now). I knew that I would get hooked, and over the past few years I’ve gotten more confident in lifting heavier weights. Seeing the carryover of strength training in my endurance running has been my biggest success, and also finally seeing some muscles

What are some of the biggest improvements you’ve made since starting? Have you had any frustrations you’ve had to work through in the process?

My biggest improvement is that I’m more confident in lifting weights. Before starting at CrossFit, I had never done Olympic Lifts or really even lifted heavier weights at all so it has been a huge learning curve for me. When I first started, I used to dread the days that had Cleans and Overhead Squats programmed but I started making myself go to try and get better (work in progress). My biggest success is not being afraid to do box jumps anymore! Seems pretty simple but using a soft box has given me the confidence to jump because now WHEN I trip and fall, I won’t bust my legs open. I still always have frustrations. My biggest frustration would be that I feel like I should be able to do the gymnastics movements that I was able to do when I was younger. However, gravity, fear, and age have compromised my ability to be successful like I was in my youth. Again, something I need to practice but not a super high priority.

What fitness goals do you have for yourself this year?

My list of goals is always growing but I have some very specific things to work on in CrossFit. Double Unders and Strict Pull Ups are at the top of the list. The key is that I actually have to work on these things outside of the gym because it won’t magically happen. As for outside of the gym I’m a pretty avid ultra-runner (mid pack runner) that never actually trains, therefore for my upcoming races this year in August (36 hour race running a 1.2 mile loop) and September (last man standing 4 miles every hour until one person is left) I plan to actually train for them! Currently I have the mindset that I know my body can do the miles so training never actually happens, so I’m interested to see how I do with just a little bit of training. (I’m sure now that I’ve admitted my method of training my chiropractor now completely understands why sometimes he has to put me back together after a race).

How do you manage to stay consistent in your gym attendance?

Accountability with the other early morning gym family is definitely what keeps me coming back! I love the energy of the early morning class even if I look like I just rolled out of bed and my hair is a rats nest, my RBF is strong and I’m ready to go! Committing to others that I will be there makes me roll out of bed! Plus, if I miss a class, I will get messages seeing if I’m ok it’s what makes the morning class amazing! In addition, with the twins coming to classes now too it has become a competition between the children and myself. Unfortunately, I think my days are numbered when they will begin blowing me out of the water with each workout.

What’s your favorite “free time” activity (outside of fitness & work)? 

Free Time? I don’t ever feel like I have free time, but Summertime Karen is right around the corner which gives me a glimmer of hope! She does nothing but, run, read, swim and nap (showering optional and pools count). I do predict that in 6 years when the boys are out of the house, we will be able to once again have free time! Basically, now my free time is spent being an unpaid Uber driver to my youngest children getting them to all their activities and workouts. As a family we do a lot of traveling to games, bike races and activities almost every weekend, but when we are free I enjoy being outside, camping, sitting around the fire and drinking good beer with friends.

If you were stranded on an island – what 3 items would you bring?

This would be a nightmare! I need social interaction or I would lose my mind. Therefore, I would bring a hammock, a good book and a boat for my escape when I was tired of the island.

Finally, What do you appreciate most about Phos?

The 5am crew and my coach’s consistent commitment to helping me achieve success! Since joining Pho’s I have made some amazing friends that I would have probably never met otherwise. The encouragement and energy from the coaches is what brings me back! From helping with buying, shoes, home equipment and advice with my nutrition I feel valued at Pho’s! It really has become like family and then having my boys and husband join too kind of makes my circle complete!