Karla Merrell is on a mission. The Palm City resident wants to help women tap into their inner strength and do what they may feel is the impossible: run their first 5K.
A professional motivational speaker, Merrell is the founder of Growth Circle, a Treasure Coast running group that provides women who don’t consider themselves to be runners with training and support so they can compete. The group—which focuses on women over 40 but is open to all ages—meets on Monday evenings for an hour at the Palm City Presbyterian Church, with an optional run on Saturday mornings. For eight weeks, the group trains together, allowing 30 minutes each week for supportive conversation and accountability.
“On the application to join the group, I ask what you’re looking to gain, and I always see the same answers about losing weight, eating healthier, and improving stamina,” Merrell says. “On the first day [of training], I write all of their answers on a big board and hope to make everyone understand that the undertone of their goals is actually about discipline and consistency. These women join because they want to believe in themselves.”
Merrell began her own running journey in April 2021 and has since completed multiple 5Ks, 10Ks, and half-marathons. Exactly one year after she began running, she founded Growth Circle and has since inspired dozens of women to develop a “growth” mindset in all areas of their lives.
“When women cross that finish line, they’re also crossing over their own mental barriers,” says Merrell. “After the race, they end up thinking to themselves, ‘What else can I do?’”
Growth Circle’s next eight-week session kicks off September 18, 2023 and will focus on training for a local Turkey Trot. The cost is $80. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis here.