Meet the Sandpoint Strength and Conditioning team

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Kenny and Jenn Markwardt


I found my passion for fitness at 16 years old. I was immediately drawn to the idea that I could strengthen and build my body in a way that made it more functional (and of course looked better too). It also proved to be an outlet for the unpredictable nature of the mood of a teenage boy. Before long, I found myself spending an hour or more every night in the gym. I’d skip the more popular social gatherings in order to not miss a day of training. Over the years, fitness took on many forms for me. I started out with body composition training, spent nearly a decade in combat sports, found the functional fitness craze and eventually made my way to CrossFit.Regardless of the execution, the theme stayed the same. If you put in the work, you could change your body and change your life. In a beautiful twist of fate, I fell in love with a woman who felt the same way, but about nutrition. Jenn and I got married in 2010 in Sandpoint even though we were living in Santa Barbara, California at the time. Upon return from the wedding, we both went back to jobs we didn’t like in a place that never really felt like home. We started daydreaming about quitting our jobs, moving across the country and starting a business where we could use our passions for fitness and nutrition to change the lives of others in a facility of our own. One day while out on a hike to Inspiration Point, our idea started snowballing. As we watched our dog Attie romp around in the woods, we talked through where we could go. In almost no time at all, we knew that Sandpoint was the only choice. Over the following six months, we saved up as much money as we could. We quit our jobs, sold everything we couldn’t fit in our vehicles, and moved across the country, much to the surprise of our friends and co-workers. When we arrived, we took the summer to get settled and fall deeper in love with Sandpoint. In the Fall we started working out in a small “garage gym” with Duffy Mahoney and Britian Whitley, who were just using the space as a hobby for their friends and themselves. Before long, we approached them with the idea to make a run at it as a real business. They accepted and we were off to the races. Over the last 11 years, we’ve seen a lot of changes, including one in ownership (Jenn and Kenny are sole owners now), made a ton of friends, and most importantly changed a ton of lives. We are literally living our dream and our passions still revolve around helping others live theirs!

Amanda Abajian

Head Coach, CrossFit Level 2, Precision Nutrition Coach

I grew up playing a variety of sports from the moment I learned to walk, but after high school I went through long stretches of inactivity due to lack of structure in the traditional gym environment. I received my degree in Natural Resource Sciences from WSU and found that living in a place like North Idaho was only natural. I love spending my summer weekends up at Priest Lake, and taking advantage of all the activities our small town has to offer. I heard about CrossFit, and was incredibly nervous to attend my first class at the gym knowing how out of shape I was at the time. Looking back at my first year living in Sandpoint, going to my first CrossFit class was one of the best risks I have ever taken. I never imagined a time when I would find personal value in strength, and what my body is capable of doing, over the numbers on a scale. Fitness has taught me how to dig deep and overcome difficult challenges inside and outside of the gym. Today there is nothing better than seeing the look on someone’s face when the smallest girl in room is able to carry the heaviest load. I love the relationships this sport builds between people that may have absolutely nothing common, and it also allows us to come together daily and support one another. I am extremely grateful to be a part of this community and look forward to the opportunity to help make a difference in every client I coach, from group classes to personal training and nutrition.

Nick Bandy

CrossFit Level 1, Group classes, Personal Training, Teens

I was born and raised in Sandpoint and have been a member of Sandpoint Strength for 5 years. Before my career in the gym, I was working as an Engineering Project Lead at Polaris Industries but fitness had been growing into a strong passion for me and I wanted to bring my learnings and experience to more people. Doing something you love and working with people you enjoy being around is never the wrong move so I made the permanent switch and I have absolutely loved every second of it. What drew me to fitness were the many opportunities for learning. Every day you learn how to move in a way that supports better health and fitness here. You learn about your body and become more in tune and aware of its needs and abilities. I use all of this outside the gym in my other activities and it helps me enjoy the things I love more than I could have imagined. As a coach, there are so many moments that inspire me. I love watching people from every level of fitness push themselves further than they originally could have imagined. It promotes a great spark of accomplishment and pride from putting it all out there and working hard that is so great to watch people achieve and go through. What inspires me is sharing my knowledge and experience with people and seeing how that helps them build better skills and strength that they can use in their everyday life and physical activities. Knowing that I can help people get stronger and move better, rehab a past injury, or help prevent a future injury is what I love and is what I try to bring to my coaching.

Kylie LaValley


Six years ago I moved from my hometown in Montana and found myself here in Sandpoint. I came for Schweitzer, but stayed for everything else. I love spending time outdoors hiking, swimming, camping and snowboarding; so getting to call Sandpoint home just makes sense. Since moving here I have been a lifty at Schweitzer and have waited tables at multiple local restaurants. Since I was a kid I was drawn to sports, I played basketball, volleyball and I ran in track, but when I graduated high school I did not continue to actively take care of my body. I still did all the outdoor things I love, but every year that went by I noticed my favorite hike would take a little bit longer, I got a little bit more sore after my first day on my snowboard and I was out of breath from going up a flight of stairs. It took some time, but I realized I needed to make a change and I didn’t know where to start. The traditional gym setting made me nervous, and even if I did show up, I had no idea what to do once I got there. That is how I came to Sandpoint Strength and Conditioning. It was October 2020 and I was beyond nervous to step foot into this gym, but I faced my fears and I showed up for myself. I am forever grateful that I did. I attended the gym for a little over a year before I got the opportunity to start coaching in February 2022. My favorite thing about coaching so far is helping people build the confidence to keep showing up and try new things. Knowing how nerve wrecking it is to start anything new, getting to see someone get more and more comfortable in not only the gym, but also in their own skin is a really cool thing to witness and be a part of.

Lisa House

Coach, CrossFit Level, Precision Nutrition Coach

I have spent my entire life playing sports. Usually, I tackle a sport like Karate, Ironman, Ultra Marathons etc but I always got bored once I’ve finished or reached the top rank. When I finally made the commitment to joining the Sandpoint Strength community I was in love and hooked for life. There is never an end and always constant opportunities for learning and growth. Initially I was nervous and avoided my “No Sweat Intro.” After my first step in the door I realized it was just everyday people having fun working out together and definitely nothing to be intimidated by! This is truly the best step I have ever taken physically and mentally to keep my mindset and life in a positive direction. My favorite part about coaching is learning and watching that spark when a move clicks for a member or they reach a goal they have been striving towards. I love sharing my knowledge and life experiences in hopes that it will keep people’s spirits up and motivated to keep working towards their goals both inside and outside of the gym. When I’m not at the gym you can find me on the mountain, water, or just about anywhere that involves being outdoors! I have the best adventure companion in my dog Koda who you will always see by my side I worked in the finance industry for over twenty-five years and now I call Sandpoint Strength home. I feel extremely fortunate to be part of the Sandpoint Strength community; I get to experience amazing members and an uplifting environment everyday!

Kirk Sehlmeyer


I was born and raised in the flat, humid Great Black Swamp bottomlands of Northwest Ohio. My fitness journey started playing football, wrestling, and participating in track and field. I joined the Army after graduation and became a tank crewman. This is about the time in my life I discovered I’m not a fan of very early morning exercise! I got out of the Army and went to Ohio State to pursue a bachelor’s degree in forestry and wildlife management. Like a lot of veterans, the end of service for me also meant the end of obligation to exercise. I put on a lot of weight and by my 30th birthday I was over 300lbs. I moved to Sandpoint for a forester position at USDA and that’s when I found Sandpoint Strength and everything began to change. I found the missing ingredient in my fitness recipe: other people. I needed a community and I found it here. In fact, I loved the place and the people so much that I work here now! When I’m not coaching or training at the gym I’m working at my business, Osprey Resource Management; running around in the mountains, catching a trout, hunting mushrooms, dancing at a bluegrass concert, or traveling in Latin America. It definitely hasn’t been a straight line to get from that out of shape 30 year old to where I am today but, there’s no way I’d be where I’m at today without Sandpoint Strength. I look forward to helping you get wherever you want to go too.

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