Kat’s Story: Strength, Balance, and High Hopes

Kat Reker approaches her sport, the Korean martial art known as taekwondo, with the kind of dedication and focus that parents love to see in their children, that teachers and friends admire, and that opponents respect. 

Kat_Reker_smWith her skill and drive — combined with the guidance she receives at Total Taekwondo and Fitness in Kettering, Ohio, and customized training from the Premier Health Sports and Human Performance Program — Kat stands a very good chance of reaching a lofty goal: representing the United States as a taekwondo competitor at the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.

Kat’s interest in taekwondo was sparked after her parents encouraged her to give it a try when she was only 3 years old! 

Her father, Bill Reker, says, “We started Kat off in taekwondo wanting her to have some physical activity and learn some self-defense. Every dad wants his little girl to be able to defend herself. So that’s how we got started.”

“I tried it,” Kat says, “and I really, really loved it!” By the age of 6, she had begun attending competitions and tournaments. 

Given Kat’s love for taekwondo and her evident talent, her parents eventually sought out training opportunities for Kat beyond those available in her local area (then Cleveland). 

“One of the issues we had,” Bill says, “was that Kat was competing on a national level and didn’t have a coach. Her taekwondo instructors would teach her, but they weren’t going to the big tournaments. [Eventually] I found myself coaching her, which wasn’t a good thing — for our father/daughter relationship or for her win/loss record.”

Then they found Master Christina Bayley, USA National Team Coach and owner of Total Taekwondo and Fitness, who agreed to coach Kat. Every weekend for about a year, the Rekers would make the long drive from Cleveland to Kettering so Kat could have a training session with Master Bayley. Eventually the family moved to the Dayton area.

Christina says Kat’s dedication was clear. The long weekly drive was, in itself, a strong indicator. “To drive three and a half hours here for a two-hour practice, and then three and a half hours back home the same day,” Christina says, “I knew — OK, they’re serious about this!”

Taekwondo athletes are prone to injury. It’s a physically demanding sport that involves an astonishing amount of one-legged hopping, spinning, and kicking, along with a generous dose of hard physical contact and frequent falls. Conditioning to help prevent injuries is a top priority for aspiring competitors, and Christina recommended that Kat work with an outside training program for that aspect of her development.

The Rekers settled on Premier Health Sports and Human Performance after Kat had been treated at Premier Health for a concussion. 

Bill says they chose the program for its overall approach: “We chose their trainers because they have a background in sports, they understand the physiology behind the body, they understand the growing athlete, and they understand the overall concept of having a healthy body, rather than just concentrating on the one or two motions you may need for your sport.”

The professionals at Premier Health assessed Kat’s current condition and abilities — her strengths and weaknesses — in order to develop a program uniquely suited to her needs.

Lucas Polley, MSAT, ATC, CSCS, Premier Health athletic trainer, says that since Kat has had a few injuries over her career, including broken bones and concussion, he includes a rehabilitation component in her workouts. In addition, balance, which is crucial in taekwondo, is also an important focus of Kat’s training. 

“She was very one-leg dominant when I first met her,” Lucas says. “Taekwondo is a sport where you plant on one leg and you have a kicking leg, and that causes a lot of hip problems in taekwondo athletes. We managed that when I first met her, and now she has equal strength bilaterally, and her balance is very, very good. We also work on small-muscle strength that other people don’t really have the experience and knowledge to work on. I’m trying to decrease the likelihood of further injury and improve the injuries she already has, while building strength and improving her athletic performance.” 

Kat’s coach, Christina, says, “Premier Health Sports Performance has done great with her explosiveness, her agility, her speed. I think this is the best condition she’s ever been in.”

“The biggest thing is that Premier Health has become such a part of Kat’s life,” says Bill. “I’d say her ‘training’ but it’s really her life. We thought she was at a peak level when we first went to Premier Health, and when we looked back a year after being with the program, after working with Lucas, we realized that it was just beginning. The progress she’s made has just been incredible.” 

The results speak for themselves. In July 2018, Kat placed third in Nationals, bringing her one important step closer to the 2024 Paris Olympics. Go Kat!

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