When it comes to balancing health and happiness, group exercise instructor Mary Catherine King shows us that you can enjoy indulgences guilt-free while still reaching fitness goals, all while fostering community connections along the way. 

Upon moving to Memphis in 2017, Mary Catherine juggled a full-time mental health therapist role, bartending at WISEACRE Brewing, and staying active in health spaces with multiple HIIT or spin classes at the YMCA every week. 

“It helped me connect and find more friends in the area, and it is how I’ve met some of my closest friends. It’s a quick and easy way to meet people.” 

Eventually, the YMCA instructors invited Mary Catherine to join the team, which led her to acquire her Les Mills certifications in BodyPump, a low-weight, high-rep weighted bar class, and BodyCombat, a cardio-kickboxing class. 

“I’m already here doing what I love. Why not get paid for it!” 

She teaches an average of six weekly classes across a rotation of locations, including the Germantown Athletic Club and East Memphis Athletic Club, Memphis Jewish Community Center, Kroc Center, and the Church Health and Nuber YMCAs. 

Bartending at WISEACRE was another social avenue that allowed Mary Catherine to share her enthusiasm for beer. 

“I absolutely love the craft of it, the taste of it, the hard work that goes into making it. It’s very interesting to me,” she divulges. 


When juggling three jobs was too much, Mary Catherine decided to hang up her mental health therapist hat in 2021 and transition to a full-time position at WISEACRE Brewing Co. as Operations Coordinator. 

“I reached a point where I felt that my passion to help others was not as fulfilling as it once was as a therapist.” 

Shifting her focus to devote more time to energizing activities has helped the socialite carve out her path in life while avoiding burnout. 

“Part of that included participation in and enjoyment of other activities and crafts I love for mental wellness.” 

As one of Memphis’ four official beer sommeliers (called a Certified Cicerone), we trust Mary Catherine’s judgment when she says WISEACRE’s Tiny Bomb “is the best pilsner there is and an easy-to-drink beer in its natural form.” 

It might surprise readers that WISEACRE’s variety of other light beers makes “it possible to enjoy craft beer and still maintain fitness.” 

“To me, group fitness creates accountability and a sense of belonging and is a great way to be there for each other to stay healthy.” 

To stay in shape while enjoying the company of others, Mary Catherine takes other fitness classes with friends, and together, they’ll grab lunch or dinner and drinks afterward at one of their favorite spots in town, like Global Café or Crosstown Brewery’s rotating food truck scene. 

She also frequents Mindbodyhaus regularly for their Hot Power Vinyasa yoga and Pilates classes for an added layer of fun and community. 

Rather than counting calories, Mary Catherine’s all-around approach to nutrition focuses on consuming enough fruits, vegetables, and proteins “to support my body as much as I can in addition to exercise,” plus her 100-ounce water daily hydration goal. 

Mary Catherine feels most alive and in her element in the fast-paced, high-energy, fun environments that now comprise her work, wellness, and friendship spaces. 

IG: @m.cat.king 

By Shlomit Ovadia 

Photo by D’Angelo Connel