My name is Spencer Paxson. I grew up in Trout Lake, WA, a small town in the southern Cascades where the cows outnumber people. I attended Middlebury College in Vermont, where I earned a degree in geography, with secondary focuses in biology and Spanish.
Upon graduating from school in 2008, I began a job in Seattle, WA working for a wind and solar energy project developer. That career evolved from working as a GIS analyst in a small start-up, to a management level position once we became a large corporate-level organization. My wife, Sarah, and I moved to Bellingham in 2013.
Parallel to my schooling and energy career, I maintained an elite-level and international cycling agenda (think: an aggressive bachelor lifestyle and burning all my vacation time). In 2015 I left the renewables industry to pursue a stint as a full-time professional cyclist on the World Cup circuit and a shot at the summer Olympics. Outside of riding and racing, my professional attention began to shift towards “human power generation” (as opposed to wind and solar) as I delved into the health and fitness industry. The opportunity to join Prime in 2018 felt like a natural next, step, which is where I am today.
What do you do at Prime?
At Prime I provide a range of athletic performance services ranging from long term coaching programs, short-term training plan design and consultation, bike fits, and specialty exercise classes and workshops. I specialize in cycling disciplines, especially mountain bike, cyclocross and enduro, but have a skillset applicable to many outdoor endurance and skill sports. My clients have ranged from ages 16 to 70, and from recreational to elite-level competitors.
When & How did you get into it?
In many ways I have been into training and athletics since grade school. I have been self-coached for the majority (85%) of my 20-years in competitive cycling, but have also worked with and learned from amazing mentors and coaches along the way. During my energy career I was responsible for managing working relationships, project development timelines, lots of interconnected details, fine print, and data analysis…all things that are applicable to a training plan.
On my first “sabbatical year” in 2015, I guest-taught exercise classes at my wife’s physical therapy clinic and found that I loved working with people in the health and fitness space. Later, as I became more connected with the outdoor/active community locally and abroad, I discovered that coaching was a great opportunity to expand my own athletic identity, and a great mix of science, creativity and community…not to mention a chance to start my own business!
What are your certifications, qualifications? Tell us about your Unique Experience...
I am a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. I am also a licensed coach with USA Cycling, and a certified mountain bike guide and instructor with the Bike Instructor Certification Program (BICP). I am also a current Wilderness First Responder certified by Remote Medical International (RMI). Finally, I (jokingly…but seriously) hold an “unaccredited PhD” in cycling based on my 20-year background in competitive cycling, spanning 6 continents, with highlights including 6-years on the UCI XC World Cup circuit, 6 Elite XC World Championships with the US National Team, competing in the 2015 Pan Am Games, and a member of the US Olympic Long Team in 2012 and 2016.
What’s your approach/philosophy? Why does it work?
I like to say that I help people make better decisions with their training because, after all, I think the training process is largely about managing a series of uncertainties: uncertain responses, outcomes and obstacles. Often the only controllable thing is our reaction and decision-making process, whether that comes down to discreet training methods, or mental foundation. I do not guarantee outcomes with my clients, but I do guarantee an emphasis on learning something positive about process. For my clients and me, it is about learning what works for them. I focus on improvement (not perfection), which feeds forward into a sustainable process, and leads to progress on multiple levels, from physical to mental.
Why do you love doing what you do?/What doyou love seeing in your clients?
I love helping others to learn more about themselves through avenues which lead to better health and personal fulfillment. I love seeing students navigate challenges and come out on the other side feeling more equipped and confident, whether for their sport activity, or life in general. And I love hearing stories and sharing high fives at the bottom of a good trail.
Why do you like being part of Prime? What makes Prime unique/different?
Prime is an amazing opportunity to collaborate with other inspiring and expert practitioners. We are all motivated by one another, and further by the opportunity to provide a tangible and novel resource to our community in Bellingham and beyond. Prime is a unique combination of health, performance, and education, and provides novel access to care and tools, which are appropriate to anyone, but are typically not attainable for the general active community.
What else do you like to do/interests/hobbies/family?
My current favorite challenge and daily activity is being an involved, present and fun dad and husband. Upon joining Prime, my wife, Sarah, and I have a 15-month-old and our favorite new toy is our cargo bike, which we use for grocery shopping and family camping trips!
Do you have any testimonials you can share from your clients?
"Spencer's coaching acknowledges that athletic performance is not simply about fitness. He offers an approach that integrates the subtler pieces of training; motivation, performance psychology, appropriate goal setting, and evidence-based guidance that reaches beyond "the workout" or "the race." Working with Spencer has made me a more balanced and mentally resilient athlete, and helped me cultivate a limitless concept of what is possible with the right preparation."
-Annie, Bellingham, WA
“My primary motivation to get the bike fit was obviously my knee which was starting to limit my riding. Your changes have made my knee feel an order of magnitude better, crazy how a few mm’s can make all the difference! I’m impressed at how much of an improvement I felt in the other areas that you worked on and how much I learned about how to set a bike up myself. Thank you so much!”
-Austin, Bellingham, WA
"Quest Race Team competed in the Adventure Racing World Championships in 2017. 500 miles of mt. biking, trekking, and packrafting across Wyoming. The task was daunting, and we were overwhelmed with how to prepare for it. That's when we called Spencer. He came up with a multi-week training plan that involved biking, running, paddling, strength training, and nutrition. Our four person team finished the race with no injuries and smiles on our faces thanks to Spencer's knowledge and skill in preparing us."
-Brent, Bellingham, WA
"Anyone considering a training arrangement should know that Spencer is fastidious and methodical, all while imbuing his own stoke and capitalizing on yours. My riding and overall athleticism has been shored up with a solid new foundation and I look forward to continuing to benefit from his measured consideration and natural acumen for sport and instruction."
-Isaac, Seattle, WA