An amputee quit her boring billing job to open her own yoga studio – to help other people living without limbs.
Kelsey Koch, 25, was born without a left tibia and her parents Barb, 57, and Jeff Koch, 59, made the difficult decision to have her leg amputated below the knee when she was nine months old.
Growing up, she loved golf but her heavy prosthetic leg prevented her from running or taking part in other sports.
When Kelsey began to work with personal trainer Jen Colombo to treat her scoliosis in 2016, the fitness expert encouraged her to research prosthetics to help optimize her exercise.
Kelsey, of Grand Blanc, Michigan, was fitted for a lightweight running blade prosthetic and began to thrive in Jen’s advanced yoga classes at Genesys Athletic Club.
At the time, Kelsey was not content in her job in the billing department of a local company and decided to abandon her career to become a yoga teacher.
Kelsey said: “I’ve had a prosthetic limb ever since I was a baby.
“I learned to walk with one so I have never had the feeling that I ever lost something because I don’t remember.
“I have never known anything different.
“I’ve always been a golfer because my family are really into that but I was never able to run or do anything especially active when I was younger because of my prosthetic.
“About two and a half years ago I first met with a personal trainer named Jen Colombo.
“A lot of amputees develop scoliosis because you’re using your dominant side so much.
“I went to Jen because I really wanted to strengthen my left side.
“When I began to work with her, she encouraged me to look at different types of prosthetic limbs to see if they might help me.
“I got fitted for an active leg which is interchangeable.
“It has a running blade, which I use for running of course, but it allowed me to really put my all into yoga.
“It’s four pounds lighter than my older one.
“From the beginning I was doing Jen’s advanced yoga classes, she threw me right into the deep end.
“It finally allowed me to strengthen the left side of my body. All my life I never trusted that side balance wise.
“But since I started yoga, my balance, strength and posture has completely improved.
“At the time I was working a nine to five job in a billing department and I just wasn’t happy.
“I felt like I wasn’t touching people’s lives in the way that I wanted to.
“I fell so in love with yoga that I decided to start learning to be a teacher.”
University of Michigan graduate Kelsey completed a 200-hour course to become a qualified yoga teacher and began to work in Jen’s studio.
But Kelsey dreamed of helping other amputees discover the power of yoga.
Kelsey saved and launched her own studio, Serenity Yoga, in March 2017 which offers weekly classes to other amputees.
Kelsey said: “I just loved yoga so much but I dreamed of having something I could call my own.
“I started saving and I managed to find a space about two and a half miles away from Jen’s gym.
“I opened my own yoga studio Serenity Yoga on March 1 2017.
“It’s 100 per cent mine and it fits about 18 people comfortably.
“I wanted my studio to be inclusive and help people in the same position as me so every Tuesday I hold a special class for amputees.
“Many of them are recent amputees so I can’t really identify with that sense of loss because I lost my leg so young, but I try to share my experience and support as much as possible.
“I have absolutely no regrets leaving my nine-to-five job because this is so rewarding.”
In December 2017, Kelsey was asked to be a part of Reebok’s 2018 calendar which she said was a hugely exciting moment for her.
Kelsey said: “Going to New York and meeting people from around the country who all work hard to promote self love and inclusion felt like such a turning point in my journey.”
“It was amazing to be a part of that.”