Michaela Galya: Inspiring others to keep moving and stay fit

Michaela Galya’s training regimen is impressive for any age. At age 61, she’s over-the-top inspiring. The assistant manager at The Weight Club in Blacksburg has not only maintained her fitness and weight training, she’s actually increased her activity as she’s aged.

Her typical training week:

Monday: One-mile swim

Tuesday: Two-mile run followed by running the stadium steps for about 35 minutes; weight training; teach a 45-minute pilates class

Wednesday: Six(ish)-mile trail run

Thursday: Teach cycle class; weight train; teach pilates class

Friday: 6-7-mile road run; teach 60-minute yoga/pilates class

Saturday: Rest day

Sunday: 10-20-mile long run, usually a hybrid of road and trails

So, what’s her secret to staying active? “I always make sure I do a 15-20 minute warm up/activation/prehab routine before every run,” she said. “I am a little slower but that just lets me enjoy it longer!”

She completed her first 50K at age 52, finishing as the third overall female. At age 54, she qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon. “It was just as exhilarating as everyone described it!” says Michaela, who lives in Christiansburg with her husband, Frank, and her dog, Kevin.

So, what’s next? “I’d like to run a 100K in the next year,” she says. “What else would I do to celebrate 62 years of life!? I’d also like to run the Grand Canyon Rim to Rim!”

Michaela enjoys a moment in her “happy place” at McAfee Knob on the Appalachian Trail.

Michaela Galya | Age 61

Hometown: Shelton, Connecticut; now lives in Riner

What brought you to the NRV? My sister went to Virginia Tech. When my husband and I came to visit, we thought this would be a nice place to live. We originally thought of moving to New Hampshire (we like the landscape and the mountains) but figured the winters would be shorter here. (Although we both prefer the cold to heat!)

Occupation? I am the assistant manager of The Weight Club in Blacksburg, a position that requires me to wear many different hats, including teaching a group fitness class. I’ve been teaching group fitness since 1985 and it is what started my fitness career! I also have a side gig grooming dogs; I went to The New York School of Dog grooming right out of high school and have been doing it ever since.

When/how did you start running? When I was a personal trainer in the early 90’s, I had a client whose goal was to run 4 miles. We started a walk/run together and got up to running her goal. I haven’t stopped since!

What keeps you running now? The pure enjoyment of it! 

Last race? Varmint half marathon in Burkes Garden in June 2021.

Next race? Trail Running Rampage 40 miler in September and then the Richmond Marathon Nov. 21.

Favorite race? I have to say Conquer the Cove (marathon and 25K), I’ve done it almost every year since the Mountain Junkies started it in 2010

Proudest running moments? Finishing my first 50K at 52 and coming in third overall female. Finishing the Odyssey Trail Running Rampage 40 miler in 2019 and feeling like I could go longer.

Favorite workout? Hitting the trails in the early morning darkness, guided by head and waist lights. I also enjoy running in the rain.

Favorite places to run? Any trail at Pandapas but I need to expand my trail options.

Advice for new runners? Find what fits YOU — road, trails, flat, hilly, whatever —  just start out slow/short and gradually build. Keep in mind — the first mile of every run is almost always hard, get past it and you will feel better. Don’t be discouraged on “bad run” days — we all have them — they just make you appreciate the “awesome run days” more!

At age 54, Michaela got the 4-hour marathon monkey off her back and qualified for the Boston Marathon.

Most satisfying running accomplishment? Getting the 4-hour marathon monkey off my back at age 54, which also qualified me for Boston!  

Roads or Trails? That’s a tough one because I enjoy both, but if I had to choose I’d go with singletrack trails.

If you aren’t running you are probably ….working at the gym or enjoying home life with my husband and dog.

Favorite gear (shoes, etc)? Love my HOKAS! Also my Mountain Junkie cap, my Garmin, my Petzel headlamp and my Tracer 360 lighted vest

Favorite pre-run fuel? Peanut butter LARA bar

Favorite post-run recovery/reward meal? I love a grilled cheese sandwich after a race.

Fact most people don’t know about you? I’m a sketch artist (mostly animals).

You might also enjoy these stories:

Running fast and up front at age 57. Meet Trish Richardson

105 racers started the Looking Glass 50 miler. Just 63 finished. Emily Hutchins was 1 of them.

Former top marathoner Michelle Lowry still running strong in Blacksburg

Jordan Chang shares his passion for running and community.

A thank you to James Demarco and Runabout Sports

Lessons learned from leading a college track and cross country program at age 24 

Jenn Fleming’s comeback story continues with win at Holiday Lake 50K

Blacksburg running legend Peter Dorrell helps build community

1 Comment

  1. Great to see a focus story on Mikayla! She’s been an inspiration to me since the first time I stepped into her group fitness class back when the weight club’s precursor was on North Main Street! Not only is she inspirational, she’s an all-around great human being. ❤️


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