History buff opens gym after graduation

A sign located outside the front door of Versa Indoor Cycling & Fitness is owned by SF State alumna Tia Kilpatrick, in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 22. (Melissa Minton / Xpress)

A sign located outside the front door of Versa Indoor Cycling & Fitness is owned by SF State alumna Tia Kilpatrick, in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 22. (Melissa Minton / Xpress)

With a master’s degree in history and an extensive background in fitness under her belt, SF State alumna Tia Kilpatrick combined her seemingly unrelated set of skills to open her own fitness studio, Versa Indoor Cycling, earlier this month.

Located on the corner of 27th Avenue and Taraval Street, Kilpatrick described her gym as a “smart studio” with classes tailored for fun, focused and sustainable exercise. Her intern, James Gaddi, is a third-year kinesiology major at SF State said Kilpatrick’s classes are unlike anything he’s taken before.

“The ‘smart studio’ aspect of it is the future — it’s where fitness is going to go,” Gaddi said. “(Kilpatrick’s classes) are broken down in a way that simplifies exercise science.”

Kilpatrick said she has benefited from her education in history, even in the field of fitness and exercise. Her formal education has strengthened her writing and teaching skills, according to Kilpatrick, which she uses to organize her classes.

“That’s what I went to school to become — a teacher and a writer — and I’m doing both,” Kilpatrick said.

Kilpatrick earned a bachelor’s degree in history from California State University, Sacramento. She then went on to receive her master’s degree from SF State in 2010.

During her time at Sacramento State, Kilpatrick was captain of the triathlon club and one of the founding members of the Western Collegiate Triathlon Conference. She said her time as a triathlon athlete directly influenced her teaching experience.

Kilpatrick taught multiple fitness courses at Sacramento State University and the YMCA as a student, but found the number of jobs as a history teacher was limited when she graduated from SF State.

Tia Kilpatrick, owner and lead instructor of Versa Indoor Cycling & Fitness, poses for a portrait on an exercise bike in the fitness studio at Versa Indoor Cycling & Fitness in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 22. (Melissa Minton / Xpress)

Tia Kilpatrick, owner and lead instructor of Versa Indoor Cycling & Fitness, poses for a portrait on an exercise bike in the fitness studio at Versa Indoor Cycling & Fitness in San Francisco, Calif. Thursday, Oct. 22. (Melissa Minton / Xpress)

“Irrespective of my formal training in history, I’m able to make my living in fitness,” Kilpatrick said.

Eva Sheppard Wolf, an adviser in SF State’s history department, said the skills taught in the master’s program — writing, critical thinking and research — are applicable to students regardless of what field they enter.

“Having those intellectual skills helps you no matter what,” Wolf said. “I figure, if you can write well, you win.”

The history program at both Sacramento State and SF State did more than equip her with the skills needed to open a business, according to Kilpatrick. She said history “fed her soul” and she felt a compulsion to finish her degree. For that she has no regrets, she said.

Kilpatrick said she was very lucky to have a second set of skills, because it allowed her to have a career in teaching, even if the subject material is different from what she originally envisioned.

“The biggest thing I would tell students is to diversify their skills,” Kilpatrick said. “Be flexible.”

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