Womxn of the PNW: Melissa Sher

Melissa is a midwest transplant now based in Portland, OR. She is a gym owner and former outdoor guide dedicated to sharing her love for the outdoors. At her gym, which she owns with her best friend, their mission is building strength and capability that people can take AWAY from the gym and experience the outdoors and their lives with more capability.

How long have you resided in the PNW? What brought you here?

I moved to PDX in 2008 after graduating college in Kansas. I’m from Missouri and needed OUT of the midwest πŸ™‚ I graduated with an art degree but realized in my senior year while at a conference for design that I wasn’t on the path I wanted to be. So I, semi-randomly, got certified as a Personal Trainer, packed up my Honda Civic with whatever would fit and drove to Portland hoping for the best!


Has the outdoors always played a significant role in your life? How were you introduced? And what are your favorite outdoor activities?

As a kid we went “camping” but not really…:) The men slept in a tent and the women slept in a camper pop top (don’t get me started on that gender divide…) But my favorite outdoor memory was my dad taking me every summer to this place in Missouri that was like a natural series of rock formed water slides.  I would always come home totally bruised up from banging my shins on the rocks and jumping into the pools that were just slightly not deep enough. I would look at my bruised legs like trophies! I thought the whole thing was the coolest ever.  I was officially introduced to life in the outdoors by my friend Emily who was my first housemate in Portland and now best friend (my partner for the Trifecta). She told me the first month I moved to Portland that I would be going through Raft Guide Training the following year. When I argued she simply said that I had “nothing else better going on.” She was right – I went through training – fell in love with the outdoors, quit my job, lived out of my car for a bit, waitressed on the off-season, and fell in love with the outdoors.

Where is your favorite place to adventure in the PNW?

In Portland: Forest Park is the easiest/closest getaway. In PNW: I love Leavenworth, WA and Bend, OR.


What is your favorite outdoor experience/memory of all time?

My friend Emily and I started planning endurance style events for ourselves that we do each summer. Our first, 2 years ago, we named “The Trifecta.” We started at my house in PDX and biked to Mt. Hood, climbed it, biked to Mt. Adams, climbed it, then biked to Mt. St. Helens, climbed it, and biked home in 6 days (might’ve been 7–I can’t remember). Anyway, the cool part for me was standing on top of St. Helens and looking at Hood and Adams and the distance and terrain in-between. It was really special to me from a perspective of realizing how much we can push ourselves to do and how our greatest experiences can come out of the biggest challenges. We had attempted the adventure the year before but had to stop early due to weather on the mountain. I like to talk about how the process of whatever we do can be more important than the end result. Having this event we dreamed up and trained for over the past 2 years come to a successful end was so great because of the journey it took to get there. Also we took the best nap ever on top of St. Helens.

How long did you work as an outdoor guide? How has being a former outdoor guide shaped your current role as a gym owner, coach, and business womxn?

I worked on and off as a guide for probably 5 years or so in different forms. First as a river guide and then as a cycling and hiking guide. When I met Kimberly, my business partner, we both realized that we had the same dream of a gym. We wanted a space that messaged and trained people to use the gyms as a means to feel strong and capable in activities they love outside the gym. I think my experience outside has made the importance of maintaining fitness so you can do the things you love really important.


What inspired you (and your best friend) to start POINT Gym and Kitchen? 

Basically, we were both just disenchanted by the messages surrounding the fitness industry. Fitness has turned into this means to an aesthetic end when movement should be fun, attainable and empowering. We had seen it all working in the industry and wanted to create a welcoming space and community where people would feel like they could come as they are and build the strength they need to feel capable in their lives.

What are some goals you’ve set for yourself this year?

I have a few events lined up, but my main goal is to be more intentional while I am outdoors. I can get caught up in thinking about “after I do this thing” mentality – for example: I think about all the potato chips I want to eat or what I’ll be doing the next day. I tend to try and turn my mind to something else besides the physical effort. Now that I am comfortable in the outdoors, I want to be more intentional about enjoying the moments and surroundings and appreciating how lucky I am to be able to experience what I’m doing more in the moment.


Thank you so much for taking the time to share your story, Melissa! Is there anything else we should know about you? Fun facts, trivia, etc.?

Hmmmm. Favorite color is orange. I am addicted to chocolate. I have 2 dogs and a wife that I’m obsessed with. One of the dogs is my adventure buddy; her name is Elton Joan and she loves listening to Elton John music.

You can learn more about Melissa and follow her adventures on Instagram: @makestufftough @point_gym_kitchen @dirtyhealthco

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