Doing the splits is already impressive. But it can be outdone, as fitness trainer Katie Sonier proves by regularly weightlifting up to 65 lbs. while in a full split.
The Miami-based former gymnast says her aerobic moves started during her days as a college lacrosse player.
“I love doing silly, yet impressive, things with my body!” Sonier, 25, tells PEOPLE. “Whenever I fell on the field I would do either some sort of split roll or gymnastic move out of it. My teammates thought it was hilarious.”
What began as a joke turned into a serious pitch for adding flexibility to fitness, something she preaches to her clients, though on a much smaller scale (Don’t try doing weightlifting splits on your own).
“Lifting weights while doing a split is meant to be a silly thing, but it also shows the hard work I put in daily on all elements to fitness — stability, strength, mobility, flexibility. The human body is a machine and it’s pretty cool what it’s capable of with some hard work!” Sonier says.
She adds that many people who feel tired and sore after a workout think they’re overtraining, but in reality they just lack flexibility.
“Flexibility is unfortunately an element to fitness that is often neglected,” Sonier says. “But it’s so important because when you improve flexibility, you improve your range of motion. Which then means you can move more optimally, which then means more opportunity for making progress and building muscle and puts you at a lower risk of injury.”
For people trying to improve their flexibility, Sonier, who also created a six-week flexibility training plan, recommends starting small with forward hangs and side twists, and committing to a few minutes of daily stretching.
“Just like anything else, the more you work on it, the more improvements you will make,” she says.