Six months ago, RSM Australia launched an initiative here in Canberra called ‘Women with SASS’ (Strength, Ambition, Sophistication and Smarts). SASS has been developed from the grassroots level and is aimed at empowering women to move forward with confidence, whether it be in business or government and compliments RSM Australia’s vision: To create an inclusive workforce culture where everyone can achieve success which results in benefits for our staff, our clients and the firm.
“Probably the most universal challenge that women face in their professional life, is confidence – confidence in themselves, their own abilities and competencies. We want our clients, staff and members of Women with SASS to embrace their ambition and success and help others along the way,” Sally Colquhoun, Senior Manager, RSM Australia said.
RSM believes that Kat Barker, a Canberra based CrossFit athlete, is certainly a woman with SASS. Kat has been a successful triathlete at the professional level, winning world titles, has a degree in Exercise Physiology and is currently training to qualify for the CrossFit Games.
“Kat is the perfect example of a woman who has ambition to be the best person she can be both professionally and personally. The CrossFit Games are an international competition that goes by the motto of only being for the fittest on earth. Kat’s commitment and drive to qualify to represent Australia has certainly inspired us as she role models excellence for other Women with SASS!”
Here is Kat’s story, get ready to be inspired!
In her own words:
Katherine (Kat) Baker
I moved around a lot in my childhood. My Dad was an Army Officer in the Special Forces, my Mum a Theatre Nurse. I swam competitively as a kid but didn’t really get anywhere with sport until I finished school at 17 and joined the Army.
In 2005 I signed up to the triathlon club at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra. I qualified for my first World Championship by winning my first triathlon in May that year.
I got a coach and within months of starting I won my first Junior World Championships in Hawaii October 2005. I backed it up in Switzerland in October 2006, and then made the decision to leave a potential career in the Army and became a professional Triathlete.
I raced triathlon all the way up until 2013, switching distances along the way from Olympic distance to more half and full Ironman, which I found I was much more suited to.
I raced well, winning enough money to allow me to live in the USA for their season and back in Australia for ours. Chasing the endless summer was awesome.
I started to experience cramping like sensations in my legs during every race, lasting up to two weeks post-race.
I looked at my nutrition, stretching, tried Pilates, got endless blood tests, scans and even surgery on my hips and a muscle biopsy, to try to find answers, but nobody seemed to know how to fix them or what was causing them.
I became quite depressed. The races I finished I performed quite well, but I was only finishing about a quarter them.
I decided to hang up the joggers and finish my degree in Exercise Physiology as it was approaching the 10-year expiry mark.
I also saw a new physiotherapist who managed to finally diagnose my condition. My cramping was being caused by a slipped disc in my back. It was a simple diagnosis and a simple fix. Doing the exercises and stretches she provided I have never had the same sensation again.
But, I had lost the bug for triathlon and started in a new sport, CrossFit.
It started as a filler for my fitness craving while I finished my degree, but my attitude changed when I discovered just how much I needed to work on to become the ultimate athlete.
I wanted to be the fittest. I improved quickly, winning my second individual competition against some big names in the sport. I decided I wanted to compete in this sport. I made regionals as part of team CrossFit 2600 in 2015 and that was awesome. I made my first individual regionals in 2016 and placed 13th, but I needed top five to go to the CrossFit Games.
I eventually finished my degree and I work casually in rehabilitation, hydrotherapy, data entry and coaching at 2600.
Work, to me, enables me to do everything I can, to be the best athlete that I can be. My goal is to see just how good I can be before my body says, ‘no more!’
I train six days a week and have an active recovery day on Sundays. I do up to three sessions per day. Occasionally those sessions merge into one long session. I follow a program that includes extra stability and mobility to keep my body healthy.
My program is written specifically for me by Josh Birch, out of 2600 and I essentially have three CrossFit coaches (Josh, Kai and Pip). I also lift with Strive Weightlifting, run by Kylie Lindbeck, three times per week. I also get two massages a week and a physiotherapy session.
I follow a very clean diet, I don’t measure my portions but nothing comes out of a package apart from rolled oats and milk. I sleep well getting usually 8-9 hours a night along with a 30minute nap if I get a chance during the day.
My life revolves around my training and preparation to qualify for the CrossFit Games.
I can only work towards achieving this target with the support of great organisations like RSM Australia and their wonderful Women with SASS initiative.
RSM Australia are holding their next Women with SASS event in May. This will be a workshop style luncheon and a discussion on the topic of Leading with Influence.