Kaytlin "Katniss" Neil

Ultimate champion in the MMA Circuit, Founder of Bad Athletics & Fitness Coach

It’s not every day you get to talk to a woman that has fought in the ring on some of the worlds largest MMA stages. We had the pleasure to speak with Kaylin “Katniss” Neil, an ultimate champion, an inspiration and super human in the MMA circuit, as well as the American Athletic Industry. Professionally, over the past decade, Kaytlin has become a widely known, well-respected fighter, and has developed her own training programs. She is the founder of Bad Athletics, and is now couching other people online. She is truly on her way to building a fitness empire.

Sprouting from a blue collared Mormon home in Utah, no one expected Kaytlin to achieve a majority of the things she already has in life, especially becoming an MMA fighter. From a young age, she was always involved in athletics, with gymnastics, dancing and cheerleading as her primary focus. During High School, she had an influential coach that instilled discipline and taught students how to have a 'champion behavior'. Little did she know how much this character would carry her in life.

“Gymnastics is a good base for any athlete. Whether it is baseball, football, or MMA. It helps develop coordination, balance and control. Being a dancer and cheerleader, it was easier for me to catch on to the MMA techniques, it helped me to mimic my coaches and what they were doing.”

It wasn’t until she later attended Utah Valley University, (where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Community Health) that she even knew what MMA was. A few friends brought her to a fight, and Neil said that the second she saw one female on the card, she knew she was going to do it professionally.

Neil expected (and assumed) she would be on the College cheerleading team, and then didn’t make the cut. Her whole world turned upside down, as a result. She said..

“I was like, what on earth? I had this culture shock. Well, who am I and what do I do now?”

Her not making the cut was a blessing in disguise. It led her to MMA, which has opened so many doors for her. She said,

“The answers might not be immediate, but in the long run can be for the better.”

So, there she found herself, a naive 19 year old, walking into a MMA gym with no background and no training. Just an ambitious and determined athlete.

Fast forward a decade, Neil is now an established, respected professional MMA fighter and is working towards the highest prestige, the UFC. Currently residing in Las Vegas, Nevada, she trains with Syndicate MMA, which is a mens and women’s team. (We love!) Syndicate has a larger group of women training there than your typical MMA gym. She trains with some of the best coaches and top fighters in the world. MMA has given Neil an image and a platform that she recognized could be used to help others. Now, Neil has decided to utilize this advantage to the fullest.

Two years ago, she created Bad Athletics. MMA remains her main passion, but Bad Athletics is the voice where she can share her story and the reasoning behind why she fights. Neil uses Bad Athletics to help other women and to give back. Essentially, it is a program that teaches women that they can do anything they put their mind to; it teaches them how to live every day to the fullest, and teaches them how to implement this mentality into their lives. The training programs consist of workout regimens, meal plans and supplement guides. Additionally, there is a unique fitness apparel line designed for performance, that we adore.

“Our main goal is to help women identify as being an athlete for the rest of their life. Our mission of ‘Being an athlete’ is that if you have a body and a work ethic then YOU ARE AN ATHLETE. I want women to realize they can set high standards, achieve high goals and live out their dreams. If they work at it, become consistent with it and build up that resilience.”

Today, Neil has a couple partners, and has cultivated an amazing, supportive staff. The programs focus is to shift the toxic messages and practices the fitness industry has traditionally taught women is correct, and to create a healthier message of how and why to work out. It helps to develop and maintain sustainable healthy habits and is designed for women to maintain healthy bodies and mental clarity. It steers women away from being hyper focused on the way they look.

“A lot of people are opening their eyes to some of the toxic behaviors of the past such as strict macro counting and fad diets. People are realizing healthy bodies come in all shapes and sizes.”

The MMA community is incredibly supportive of her endeavors and always has been. Neil is fortunate for the people, both personally and professionally, that have helped her along the way.

Traditionally a male dominated industry, Neil has become an impactful woman fighter, who has broke through social norms from the ground up. She never let anyone stop her.

Currently, she has an incredibly supportive female MMA network. Her team not only trains together, but they also attend activities, social gatherings, and hang out as friends. Neil says since the fighters are from all around the world, and they are there for the same one reason, they have become a family, a unit.

Fighting isn’t for the light-hearted. It can be both mentally and physically taxing. In the past year, Neil has had two separate knee surgeries. Yet, these setbacks have not deterred her from her path towards accomplishing her dreams at all.

“There are always gonna be challenges, setbacks, things that are getting in the way - it's just finding a way to get through those things and fight through those obstacles. When you are trying to achieve anything that's worth accomplishing there are going to be those challenges that you're going to have to work towards. Obviously it won't be worth accomplishing if everybody can do it.”

Neil has gotten knocked out, she has torn ligaments, and she has lost fights. She says these have all just made her stronger and given her more encouragement to push harder. She wants to show people that you can overcome hard obstacles and still accomplish your professional and personal goals. When asked how she keeps motivated, (like everyone, she must surely have ups and downs) and what she does when the going gets tough, she said, with absolutely no hesitation..

“Motivation is crap! You don't need motivation, you need discipline to show up for yourself every day. Do the things you don't want to do but you know you should do, for your health, mind, family and friends. Motivation is gonna come and go but the dedication is what's going to keep you coming back every single day and keep showing up for yourself.”

This is why she is “Katniss”.... A strong willed, determined and powerful woman. She is someone who truly speaks Moxxi. She is aggressive, she has an amazing energy, and she will always continue to strive towards her goals.

Kaytlin “Katniss” Neil does not plan to stop here, or stop any time soon. Of course, a woman who is already doing the unthinkable, has goals to go beyond the imaginable.

Aside from becoming a future UFC fighter, Neil plans to have her company, Bad Athletics, grow to have an even larger impact by starting a non-profit segment. Called Here For Her, this non-profit will support women in athletics and help them develop sustainable habits, and gain nutrition/fitness knowledge. Her attitude towards life, and the determination that she puts into everything she does truly makes this woman UNSTOPPABLE, and a huge inspiration. Every action she takes is strategic for her own personal goals and the communities she is a part of.

Her life mission is very clear. It is to be an ultimate athlete and help others to become the best complete version of themselves. At Moxxi Coffee Company, we can't help but be inspired by her, and we are so honored to share her story.

Q + A with Kaytlin "Katniss" Neil

Q: What is Moxxi to you?

A: "Since I own Bad Athletics, I would say ‘Bad Ass!” Also, her friend Lindsey Mathews owns a supplement brand called Moxie."

Q: How do you take your coffee?

A: : “The more I learn the more I realize it does have health benefits. Coffee is misunderstood. I do love coffee as an experience. I like going to coffee shop’s with friends and the community feel it creates.”

Q: Who or what inspires you?

A: "Lindsey Mathews." Lindsey helped Neil get into the health and fitness industry, and to this day, is super supportive and happy to help. A very positive influence!

Q: Who are some women to look for, in the industry?

A: "Rose Namajunas - @rosenamajunas. A great athlete and fighter; An inspiring human inside & outside. Also Tamara Andrade - @trainer_tamara, a health professional. Lindsey Mathews -@trainerlindsey", Neil’s mentor.

Q: Do you have advice for people that don’t belong to a gym, or for people who want to learn more about fitness?

A: Try her free Hit It Hard 10 Day workout! It has a complete meal guide and features10 days of workouts with no equipment necessary!

Q: How do you wind down?

A: "Hot tubbing and relaxing at night!" Since her profession requires constant movement, she likes to hang out with friends and relax when possible. Her favorite show is The Bachelor. While with friends, she enjoys going to a coffee shop, grabbing a drink, and going shopping or for a hike.

Q: Any last words?

A: "You are so much more than the way you look, or what you look like. You have so much more value to bring the world. Remember that. People aren't gonna remember exactly how you looked when doing it, they are gonna remember how it felt and the company you brought."

Written & Curated By | Krysta Kearney, Moxxi Coffee Co.


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