Valerie Merchant (She/Her)

Hi there! I’m Valerie. You may have seen me around – I consider myself the unofficial welcome committee, and have been a member at PDX Strength since 2014! It’s a bit of my passion to seek out and reassure new faces because I was there once, too, so transitioning to the coaching role feels like a fitting next step. I look forward to guiding you in class, and being a part of your health and fitness journey.

Though I tried a variety of sports as a youngster, my fitness history has primarily been playing soccer (sweeper and goalie). In college at Iowa State, I got my BFA and MA in graphic design. During and following college, I lifted and used cardio equipment on my own, at a 24-hour gym. I didn’t think I needed, nor wanted, a group fitness experience. After moving to Portland in 2014, however, my husband and I joined the gym as a way to get out of the house, meet people, and stay healthy and active. As a true beginner – who was nervous, timid, overwhelmed, and didn’t know any of the movements – I kept at it, and have worked my way towards bettering my mental and physical health ever since.

When I first came to the gym, I couldn’t squat. I have what’s called Patella alta, and my high seated knee caps have been giving me trouble for a long time. Through years of rehab and help from previous coaches, PTs and a dedication to overcoming my limitations, I’ve been able to progress in many areas. Because of this condition, and other minor skeletal hangups, I have ample experience altering workouts to accommodate someone’s needs. I also have knowledge and experience with disordered eating. I hope you’ll come check us out. Any workout can be modified for anything that bothers, limits or ails you, or whatever your body may need instead that day. Please join me – all classes are all levels.

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