Kristen Hetzel naturally emits light with her soft smile and sparkling eyes. More impressively, she embodies light with her heart and hustle. A professional athlete, physical therapist, actress, model, personal trainer and motivational speaker, Hetzel is a well-rounded woman who plies her passions and positive energy to uplift, empower and inspire. Regarded as one of the top two duathletes in the world in her division, her path was not easy despite her fierce determination and warm, inviting demeanor. Hetzel earned her way onto the national and global stages while fearlessly overcoming setbacks and obstacles, fending off challenges along the way with her tenacious will and fiery spirit. While some may misinterpret her “I am a winner at everything that I do” claim as boastful, Ali-like bravura, she is a remarkably grounded and humble soul possessing self-assured confidence, a vital quality for an elite competitor, emerging entertainment personality and effective brand ambassador.
The Los Angeles-based, West Virginia native is a two-time Silver Medalist and eight-time All-American who races on Team USA. After running track and cross country in high school, Hetzel earned a full scholarship for her undergrad studies at Wheeling Jesuit University, matriculating as a pre-med student. However, she soon realized that her passion was physical therapy, which she felt “paired beautifully with my desire to continue my athletic pursuits.” Hetzel selected Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, one of the top physical therapy doctorate programs in the country.
Soon after receiving her doctorate, Hetzel discovered cycling. She spent three years racing the NRC circuit with an elite women’s team. When Hetzel heard about duathlon, she leapt at the opportunity to compete in the run-bike-run events consisting of her two favorite athletic activities. Her first duathlon was the 2012 Duathlon National Championships followed by the ITU Multisport World Championships a few months later. She was hooked and has represented the stars and stripes contingent at world’s eight consecutive years. 2021 was Hetzel’s best year yet. She earned the Silver Medal at the National Championships, two Silver Medals at the World Championships, the Powerman Duathlon World Championships and the Olympic Distance Duathlon World Championships, received All-American honors, and was inducted into the Athletic Hall of Fame.
Residing near the beach, Hetzel lives a quiet and disciplined lifestyle yet makes time to pursue acting roles in commercials, television and film. A bevy of brands have been enchanted by Hetzel’s wholesome, radiant beauty, casting her in commercials for Oakley, Tempur-Pedic, Under Armour, Nike, Reebok, Apple, Copper Fit, Smirnoff, BMW, Scott’s Liquid Gold, and Canadamark diamonds. In print, she has appeared in ads as a fitness, athletic and bikini model as well as landing glamour and lifestyle modeling assignments.
Hetzel practices physical therapy and is a personal trainer, shepherding private clientele through injury rehab and guiding them on the path to achieving fitness and weight loss goals. She has her Doctorate of Physical Therapy as well as certifications as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist and a Kinesio Tape Practitioner. These “help me be a better physical therapist and personal trainer because I can spot and treat an injury early. Clients are in good hands with me because we fix things as we go, which saves patients from losing time due to injury.”
In addition to pursuing acting, modeling and hosting opportunities, something Hetzel is eager to do more of is motivational speaking. She is especially fond of inspiring youth. “I love inspiring young kids to reach for whatever it is that they want to be and not listen to the naysayers that try to hinder or limit them,” said Hetzel. “The message that I impart whenever I speak publicly is based on what I apply in my own life. I go after what I want, and I keep going until I get it. I keep moving forward despite any challenges in pursuit of the things in life that give me joy.”
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