Day 10: I am grateful for the Goddess in the Parking Garage
I am not going to bother discussing at length that there is a lapse in writing my Thirty Days of Thankful Challenge. But what I will say is the following: Grades are due at school. I will catch up. And grades are due.
While attempting to leave Equinox this evening, I locked my keys in the trunk of my car. Remarkably, I just said an expected “Shit, are you kidding me?!” But I didn’t fume. Hell, my heart rate didn’t even change. I’m telling you that after teaching children all day, teaching a cycling class, AND then taking yoga that I locked my keys in my car and I wasn’t even mad about it?! YUP.
I suppose one could chalk up my calmer disposition to the post yoga blissful high [ohmygawd, I see the most amazing colors in my savasana, but I digress] or maturity; but whatever it was, I didn’t even react to the situation. Simply, I calmly walked over to the valet and explained the situation. I inquired if I could pay for my parking and get a new ticket so I wouldn’t have to pay for the time I waited for AAA (Triple A) to rescue me. The nice woman working the desk made a note on my parking ticket and said it wouldn’t be an issue. We made small chit chat about silly things we have done and that was that. She allowed me to use their phone since I didn’t have cell service in the parking structure and within 15 minutes AAA arrived.
In 3 deft moves, my car was unlocked and I was headed home when the woman who signed my parking ticket showed up at the exit and said, “I’m just going to let you go this time, have a nice evening.” I was floored by the woman’s kindness. As it was, regardless of my car drama I was over on time and would have needed to pay but that didn’t matter; she met me with kindness anyway. While I didn’t even get the nice woman’s name and I am not even sure that I will ever see her again; I am reminded from our brief interlude that it doesn’t cost anything to be nice to stranger. I am looking forward to being able pay it forward because to be kind to someone else is the greatest gift one could give.
Day 8: I am grateful for Rediscovering Hidden Goodies in my Closet
Everyday I open my closet doors and stare into the abyss remarking to myself that I hate my clothes and have nothing to wear. It’s no secret that my wardrobe is stale and in some serious need of updating but as I have evolved over the years, I find myself spending less and less money on ‘real people’ clothes and more money on leggings, sports bras, and fitness class. My, how I have evolved. So every day when I try to get dressed for work, or when I am faced with the daunting task of going out, the same song and dance ensues:
I stare blankly into the oblivion that is my closet
I touch a few items, pondering if I should donate them and attempt to recall when I last wore said item/s
Uninspired, I close the doors and lay on the bed in my undergarments complaining to my husband that I have no clothes and we don’t have the money so I can shop
[On Sunday] after our soccer game we had a quick turn around before errands and a movie, so there was no time for my usual tantrum. I stepped into my underwear and my favorite grey jeans. Clothed in my black bra and pants, I gazed blankly into my closet and opened and closed the doors a few times before remembering this cute shirt I love but never wear…After shuffling about in some drawers I located the shirt. Awesome, now if I only had footwear…Can’t I just wear flip flops? Ugh, no it’s too cold for that…And that’s when they caught my eye.
My combat boots.
I reached into my closet and grabbed boots. I found my thick socks [since the boots aren’t really my size but they were the last pair and I HAD to have them], maneuvered them under my pants, and slipped into my boots. I stepped back from the mirror and to my utter amazement and complete shock; I actually liked my outfit. I walked out of the bedroom to show my husband and I think I talked a good 15 minutes about my combat boots: That I probably hadn’t worn them in 2 years and I couldn’t even be sure if they were still considered cool. Finally, my husband reassured me that they were indeed still cool, but one could never be sure.
But my renewed faith in my wardrobe and sense of style has little to do with my combat boots, so much as how I feel while wearing them. I’m glad they caught my eye and we’ve rekindled our love affair. There’s no greater feeling than when something old feels brand new and you fall in love with it all over again.
Day 7: I am grateful for being able to lead, guide, teach, and grow others
I’ve been teaching group fitness for 3 ½ years. I have taught countless yoga and cycling classes, trained clients, and attended an innumerable amount of workshops and continuing education. And somehow in all this time not once have I ever been so inclined to actually lead a workshop all my own. People have urged me to lead a workshop, but really I was never inspired to actually lead one myself. I guess I shouldn’t say that I wasn’t inspired, rather so much as I was more insecure in what I could really offer participants looking to learn from me. Nevertheless, this all changed when I led a unique “wall class” when I was subbing at my studio and attendance was lighter.
After class, two of my regular students [I hate calling them students because so many of them become my dear friends and these two souls are my friends] remarked how distinctive the format was and that I should turn it into a workshop. And such, with my confidence and faith in myself revived, Sweat Unleashed was born.
Sweat Unleashed, a 2-hour workout that fused intense handstand work and preparation on the wall to build strength and confidence; along side fun and funky arm balances and transitions. I wanted to share something more with participants that just teaching poses in isolation. One of my goals was to empower people to walk away with the capacity to transition in and out of more advanced asana (poses) during flows in class, I wanted to people to really take what we learning in my workshop back to their mat while practicing.
My message was clear, “Live your truth and live with intention. We are so much more than what the world sees, so do you, be you, and live your truth.”
Simply put, the workshop was amazing. We had almost 20 people show up on a Saturday night to challenge themselves in unimaginable ways. Participants wrote about themselves, reflected on quotes they were given, made new friends, worked with partners, and left with a whole bunch of deliciously challenging new things to incorporate into their practice.
In turn, I left the workshop proud of myself for putting myself out there and grateful I was able to share something I love with so many people. I was humbled and honored to be considered ‘the expert’ as I showed the group my favorite arm balances and strengthening exercises to make them stronger inside and out. Additionally, the love and support of my best friend Rachel, my husband Greg, and all of my regular students really helped foster my confidence to move forward with Sweat Unleashed.
And like I asked of participants in class to Live Their Truth, by leading this workshop and spreading nuggets of my perspective when it comes to yoga, fitness, and confidence; I too am Living My Truth. Just like my students learn from me, each and everyday I too learn from them. It was truly an amazing experience and I cannot wait to plan another workshop! See? You never know who will come into your life and push you towards greatness. With an open heart and an open mind the possibilities ARE endless!
Day 5: I am grateful for the Lessons My Father Bestowed Upon Me
My father and I have a long history of not getting along. My father, a strong, loud and abrasive man is a Scorpio. Me, well I am a strong, loud, abrasive woman and I am a Gemini. Clearly, you can deduce that as a result of our incredibly similar dispositions that my childhood or more specifically, my teenage years were filled with explosive arguments. Often times as a teen my lack of self-control and vicious tongue landed me on some serious punishment to my room for days, maybe even weeks at a time.
Growing up in my house was pretty special. Our parents loved my sister and me dearly and our youth was filled with trips to Mexico and innovative birthday parties. Yet despite this, I detested my father. My father represented order and structure. He was strict with my sister and I; harder on me since I was the oldest. We weren’t allowed to have short hair, dye our hair, wear make up, have boyfriends, or even go on sleep over’s. My youth felt oppressive and during a time when all I wanted to do was desperately fit in, I felt stifled living under my parent’s regime.
My parents are your typical bluecollar folk. My father has an Associate’s Degree and my mother holds a high school diploma. We lived on Long Island in a suburb of Manhattan close to the beach in a modest house. We owned two cars, my sister and I had our own bedrooms, and we never went without food, clothes, or other essentials. My parents worked hard to give us a childhood where we could thrive. My parents let us be kids. I never babysat my younger sister and we always took vacations as a family. Family time was and continues to be paramount. We prepared and ate dinner together every single night. Regardless of being grounded, there was no ‘eating in our bedrooms,’ so I had to face my parents even when I loathed the face time. Dinnertime was family time. Even now, well into my adulthood if I am visiting and I am not going to be home for dinner, I still have to let my parents know.
My father was always self-employed in advertising or other endeavors but he mostly he dabbled computers when I was younger. My father’s was different than my mom’s since she commuted into NYC daily and my dad left for work around 9am after a leisurely breakfast and Howard Stern.
Eventually, my father’s business ventures tanked and his business went bankrupt. My father was out of work for about 2 years. We never knew how bad things really were for my parents with creditors calling the house seeking to collect debts. My parents did an exceptional job shielding us from their financial woes. Everyday, my father got my sister and I ready for school: he cooked us breakfast, diligently did our hair (my mom taught my dad how to make ponytails for us!), and drove us to school. When dropping us off at school, my father always made sure we hugged and kissed him goodbye. As we got older this ritual made us insecure and embarrassed so we tried to evade this by running out of the minivan as fast as possible. My father, never one to go down without a fight would roll down the car window and call to my sister and I, mortifying us in front of our peers. Sometimes, he even would walk us into school, lift us up and kiss our faces making a spectacle of his love for us. At the time, we wanted to die. It was horrific to have your parent, nonetheless your stay-at-home dad humiliate you in school.
Growing up I knew I was different than my friends because we shopped at Payless and Marshall’s and TJ Maxx before it was ‘cool to get a bargain’. My school projects while incredibly unique were comprised of making soap sculptures and other ingenuity that further alienated me from me peers. I still remember one birthday in particular, I don’t know how old I was turning and I don’t even remember who was there. All I remember was what we did to circumvent the fact my parents couldn’t afford to host a party at one of the hip hot spots around town. My father printed and copied outlines off the computer of animals and landscapes. Then we went to supermarket and bought all sorts of dried beans in assorted colors, shapes and sizes. The beans were placed in bowls on the dining room table with bountiful amounts of Elmer’s glue. We glued the beans onto the pictures my father printed but it didn’t stop there. We also each made our own English Muffin pizza bagel! It was creative and obviously tons of fun but again, I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t be like everyone else.
Why couldn’t we have more money? But really, money aside, I just wished my father would be like everyone else’s parents: liberal, lax, and let us listen to Z100 in the car instead of oldies. I acted out. I was ungrateful and angry. I cursed at my parents and I am ashamed to say it, even spit in their faces a handful of times. Filled with rage I went off to college then moved to Los Angeles immediately thereafter. I started my life on my terms, far far far away from that Long Island home as an English teacher for LA Unified. As I started my journey as a teacher, my father’s structure, high standards, passion, confidence, and individuality were wildly apparent. My thick skin to Own My Awesome and be proud of who I am permeated into all facets of my life. Still present today as I mentor youth and inspire people in my fitness classes; the lessons of my father live on.
My father taught me how to be your own person. Abba, which is Hebrew for father, never played by anybody else’s rules. I suppose he didn’t play because he couldn’t. Abba is just too much of a revolutionary and visionary to follow anyone else; he must lead. From my expressive choices in hair color, to my bohemian style of dress, to my quirks as a teacher—my father’s influence on the woman I have become is obvious: I am my father’s daughter.
Strong, loud, and abrasive.
No one defines me or can tell me to play by the rules.
Recently a colleague of mine remarked, “You’re like a walking art project!” My confidence and strong sense of self was cultivated in my youth by my Abba who simply lived his truth. I didn’t know it at the time, but my father established a strong set of morals within me by simply being himself.
I owe all that I am to my father and his ability to stand tall amongst a sea of followers and march to the tune of his own drum. I am thankful that the lessons of my youth shaped me into a fiery force.
I am my father’s daughter.
Happy 62nd Birthday Abba. I love you more than words [I guess pun intended].
Day 3: I am grateful for new adventures in fitness
People always ask me how I “do it all” from running, to indoor cycling, to yoga, to HIIT workouts, to surfing, to soccer, to Spartan Races, to Ragnar, and now a half marathon [that my husband I have not really started training for]. And to the world as a result of social media it sure does seem like I am successfully doing it all but really, what I am doing is a whole lotta everything and not truly delving too deep into anything because I’ve got my hand in too many pots.
For the entire time I have known my husband Greg, he has always tried to steer my energies towards my yoga practice and teaching. Greg subscribes to being a specialist as an instructor, yet the irony is he teaches EVERYTHING and excels. Well, do as I say not as I do, right? Though I definitely agree with Greg’s ideals, just practicing and teaching yoga would be leaving my soul devoid of so much more that I thrive on from when running, lifting, racing, and feeling the pulse pounding music in my veins: Competition.
So recently, when visiting my best friend Mali in San Diego when her boyfriend Kam astutely observed that I need something to light my heart on fire; to train for that was solely for me without the need to be the best per say; I took it as a sign. I decided it was time to pick myself up out of this “I dunno what I want and like to do” funk and seek out my long time friend Courtney who’s a 3rd degree black belt in Tae Kwon Do. I decided I was going to try something so radically new and different and see if TKD could start to replace the missing pieces of my soul.
Last night was my first time ever in any sort of martial arts gym, studio, dojo, facility, whatever, you get the point. Immediately, I liked the pants because they’re baggy and shapeless, just how I like my clothes to mask my body from the world. I reveled in the hierarchy of the whole thing—bowing when entering the floor, when leaving, before a match, and after. TKD had definitely piqued my interest as I watched fighters gracefully engage in what looked like a well-choreographed dance. I was utterly clueless, that’s for sure; but I could not stop watching in awe. It was enigmatic and captivating.
While Courtney insisted it was a beginner’s class all of a sudden, these nationally ranked fighters showed up. My heart started to race. I was petrified of failing, looking like a fool, and doing it wrong. As it turned out, these competitive fighters were getting in some last minute training for a fight that’s coming up this weekend.
The warm up started off easy enough with jogging and some stretches. I got this, I thought to myself. And then Master Villa lined us up to do some stuff. I say stuff because most of the time there’s tons of inaudible shouting and modeling and then you’re off! Do it or we all do squats. Kicks, pivoting, and some more bizarre hopping around then kicking aaaaaaand I am dead last in everything. Hot with embarrassment I wanted to hide. Never in my life have I ever been on such display and felt like I was so out of place. I felt exposed and inadequate and wanted to so desperately plead with the others “But I can be athletic! This just isn’t my sport!” But then Master Villa made the group cheer for me and I built myself back up, “Don’t quit. Be kind to yourself. Everyone starts somewhere. Yes, YOU CAN.”
We sparred and worked on technique. I got to kick paddles and while working with Courtney I asked a million questions and I loved it. I felt the stability of my yoga practice in roundhouse kicks and I was grateful my hips cooperated. I felt strong and though at times I was awkward, not once during the almost 2 hour class [yes, almost 2 hours] did I give up. I worked through my own issues with feeling like I didn’t belong and today: the tops of my feet are raw and tender from the sparring and paddles. I felt empowered that I tried something new. After I got over myself and out of my own way, I loved each and every moment. Now I can’t wait until the next time I can go back and live grossly out of my comfort zone; for if you never try, you’ll never know.
Greatness never comes from comfort zones. Forge a new adventure, for the most meaningful journey you’ll ever lead in this life is the one with yourself.
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Now seems like as good as anytime to start chronicling my gratitude. No, I didn’t pick the month of November because it houses Thanksgiving and our obligatory time to give thanks. I picked November because right now in this moment and really for sometime, I have been feeling depleted, defeated, and frankly depressed [I think]. I am completely restless in all aspects of my life except with my relationship with my husband. We are blissfully in love and happy. As a matter of fact, I often think if we lived alone on an isolated island together all would be right in my world; but alas we don’t.
Recently, my husband transitioned full time into the fitness arena. He is now an Area Group Fitness Manager for 24 Hour Fitness and we are also moving. There’s a lot of change and upheaval in our lives and while I thrive on major changes and love them, something for me is just off. Often I feel myself not looking forward to doing the things I thought for so long I loved and while I am trying to find my place in this world it seems just when I take a step forward, I then take two steps backwards, sideways or hell, in a circle. And though I recognize this dance is life, the woman I want to so desperately be has no friggen clue who she is; nonetheless wants to be. I feel lost, impatient, and above all, I feel bored. Bored. Bored. Bored.
So, to help combat what I can sense could potentially be a hugely dramatic downward spiral I have decided to try to fight my feelings with gratitude. I am committing to daily blogging for the month of November sharing the good in my life, the joy, the light, and all the small smiles.
In the words of my dear friend and fellow yoga instructor Brianna, “gratitude is always a good thing to hang out with.”
Day 1: I am grateful for my students
Recently, I asked my students to complete a reflection for their 1st marking period grades. There was an optional question that was designed to serve as a personal dialogue directly to me discussing, explaining, or conveying something should the students so desire.
Here are just a few of the highlights (click on the picture to enlarge it). I intentionally took pictures of them and said to myself, “Arielle save these. Remember how you feel in this moment for when you feel alone and beaten down, these shall pick you back up.”
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Learning in any capacity is such a gift. So when I have the opportunity and the funds permit it, I soak up as much as I can so that I can continue to grow and evolve. This past weekend at my yoga studio One Down Dog we hosted Gaiam yoga instructor Clara Roberts-Oss. Currently based in Vancouver, British Columbia Clara is a gift to the yoga world; leading retreats, workshops, and teacher trainings all over the world. Her no-nonsense approaches to educating teachers and realism with respects to yoga make Clara special.
Exactly one year ago, I met Clara when she visited LA to lead a weekend-long workshop. It was a transformative 3-days for me. Surrounded by friends and fellow instructors from the studio we soaked up Clara’s knowledge and enthusiastically brought it back to share with the students in our classes. But it’s not just Clara’s knowledge that makes her so special. Often, workshops and trainings for yoga instructors turn into a ‘look at me’ display of complicated asana and inaccessible poses. Not with Clara. While we explored and learned all about how to teach fancy arm balances and challenging poses like scorpion and variations of forearm stand, never did Clara post up for us to gaze upon her practice. As needed, Clara showed us things. But this workshop, as with the one I took one year ago was about our learning, MY learning—how to master these poses for myself and how to incorporate them into my classes.
Clara is a breath of real fresh air in a community that is saturated with yogi’s that were dancers, gymnasts, and contortionists modeling poses that most could only dream about. Her social media outlets are humble and rarely updated. Clara doesn’t play the game so many of us [myself included] get sucked into of posting yoga pictures with the hopes of being Instagram famous. But she’s no shrinking violet either. Real, gritty, and fearless, Clara speaks to each and every participant on their level. Simply, Clara is Clara
For me, someone like Clara is what I need in my life and my practice. I wish more than anything she were based here in LA because right now, I don’t have a teacher and I haven’t had one in YEARS. I feel so lost right now, fumbling through my professional life as teacher and not having a stable yoga home to practice or a teacher to guide me. This instability within my heart at work and on my mat only compounds my listlessness. I am desperately seeking some sort of peace juxtaposed with growth and I don’t know where to find it—at least for a weekend I was able to soak in as much of Clara as I could to recharge for some time. Click here to check out something awesome I learned this weekend, or watch the video below.
Clara isn’t like a stereotypical yoga instructor inviting you to dump your life’s shit on her so she can help you rediscover yourself. She makes you do all the work. Basically, Clara’s approach:
Here’s the work you need to do, do it.
Specifically, while Clara was teaching us how to fall out of forearm stand I raised my hand and told her I can’t kick up on my bad leg since I’m missing my meniscus. Clara looked at me and in front of the group says “I don’t see why you can’t kick up with that leg. You’re just choosing not to.” Touché. So, while my right leg is not my strong side or pretty side, I practiced both sides where normally in my own practice, I don’t. I don’t practice much of my asana on my right side not because I am physically unable, but because it’s not seamless, pretty, or easy. Clara’s directness shoots straight to my heart. She knows that I don’t need soft coddling. I am an athlete. I don’t respond to hugs and gentle nudging. I need to be barked at, pushed, and sometimes shit talked. Don’t coach or stroke my ego—tell me I can do it, and I will; which is exactly what happened shortly thereafter.
Falling is scary. It’s horrible enough when you don’t expect it, but actually trying to fall?! Now, that’s a whole new experience. We learned how to fall out of forearm stand—split the legs, bend the leg that’s over your head, and TA-DA! You’re over! WHOA. NO WAY. I don’t have the shoulder mobility, I have an ugly wheel practice, my body just won’t bend that way.
As a yogi, I am incredibly fear based and petrified of falling. I started rambling audibly about my fears—rattling off every injury I have had from my zillion knee surgeries to the narrowing in my L4 & L5…
Clara overheard me and from across the room matter-of-factly states:
“We get so caught up in our story. Stop thinking. You’re thinking way too much. Combat your fears and just do it. Go. Now. We are all watching.”
I didn’t think. Clara told me to do it, she knew I could do it, and I did. Forearm stand, legs split, and down I went and pretty darn gracefully too. I could have cried right in that very movement for I cannot recall in a long while feeling as victorious as I did in that moment.
While I am certain Clara is unaware of her effect on me; her direct, shut up and do it, approach is precisely the kind of yoga love I need and desperately crave. While we don’t know each other well and I know virtually nothing about Clara personally, I feel very connected to her, safe, and empowered.
I learned so much about myself in the weekend I spent with Clara. But for me the most influential lessons I am taking away with me is to not get too caught up in “Our Story.” As people, we use our stories to define us, victimize ourselves, rationalize behavior, or as excuses. We give ourselves the permission to opt out by using our stories as a hindrance. Unfortunately, we use our stories to imprison ourselves and that needs to stop. As my mother put it when I shared this anecdote with her, “It’s human nature”. And I agree with my mother it’s human nature, but it doesn’t have to be. We have the ability to change our mindset and ultimately change our lives should we want.
It’s time we all start writing a different story, one where you’re the hero of the story and nothing stands in your way. Are you ready to join me? Because I know I want this story to have a very different ending and I have already started rewriting my tale. You hold the pen, together we can tell a different story—now, don’t just start writing, start DOING.
It doesn’t matter how you slice it, dice it, package it, or present it; rejection in any capacity hurts. Unfortunately, a by-product of going after things in life is being told no or that you’re not good enough and in the end one just has to be resilient in coping when things don’t work out as anticipated.
Specifically, I discussed a little while back that I was auditioning for a slot to be invited to coach at the new Orangetheory Fitness opening in West Hollywood. As you all know, OTF is my favorite way to sweat. So when I was invited to audition for the new studio I was giddy and ready to show my stuff. Leading up to the audition, I studied the script for days. I recorded myself reading it and walked around town running errands listening to myself. I played it while in my car driving. I forced my sister Kassi to Facetime with me and listen to me practice. I spent the 2 days before the audition presenting the script aloud to myself while alone in my apartment.
I psyched myself up telling myself I can do this over and over and over again.
I did everything within my power to ensure I set myself up for success so when I walked into that room, they’d have no choice but to offer me a space in the training program.
Turns out when Greg and I arrived for the audition there were over 40 people there. No one told us we’d actually be taking a portion of a class led by one of the trainers and we were freshly showered but oh well—ain’t no thang.
The workout ended and we broke ourselves into groups of 5. The group audition consisted of 3-minutes on the mic walking participants through the beginning of an OTF class. Out of the 5 people in our group, I can say with confidence that Greg and I put on the best show for the team evaluating us. We got through the entire script, infused our own unique energy, and were able to hit all the necessary numbers i.e. 22-26 strokes per minute on the rower to warm up. Personally, I think Greg and I crushed it. By no means did I assume the job was necessarily ours but I walked away from the experience knowing we did a killer job and was proud. Needless to say when the rejection emails came, we were shocked and disappointed.
Greg was informed that he placed in the top 10 of the 40+ people and I was told I placed 8th. We were given some great kudos regarding our audition but no real feedback as to why we didn’t make the final cut. The initial sting of rejection hurt. But as time ebbed on, I started to really think about who I am and what I offer as an instructor. I concluded that I am a badass. Going into this, I vowed I wouldn’t let my self-worth be associated with getting or not getting this job and I am thrilled to report I haven’t let myself get caught up in the negativity of not getting something I wanted. No one can define my self-worth but me, period. So I didn’t get the job and that is a major bummer, as I would have loved more than anything to represent Orangetheory Fitness. However I remembered that I teach yoga and cycling in LA to throngs of people who come to a workout that I design for them with a carefully orchestrated playlist. I stand in the humility of the work I do and the honor to teach for such incredible people. I am truly blessed and thankful for all of the beautiful souls who continue to show up and trust me with their workouts.
Furthermore, I know that I am capable of boundless things because I believe in myself. Even though I may not always come out on top, I won’t stop continually putting myself out there. I do not regret for a second gambling on myself, for if you never try and take a chance, you’ll never know.
Take a risk and take a chance on you.
You are worth it.
Every attempt to be great prepares you for greatness. Dream big and never quit on yourself even when it seems others may not see your power.
Nothing and I mean nothing in my life has ever been easy for me. Everything I have, everything I have achieved, every success I have tasted has been due to gritting my teeth, rolling up my sleeves and digging into do the dirty work. Without hesitation, without thinking something wasn’t possible I know that with hard work anything and everything is possible.
When I decided I wanted to be a fitness instructor I didn’t know anyone in the industry. I knew I wanted to be a fitness instructor and that was enough. I was just going to have to make it happen. I took my first fitness certification course with Mad Dogg in Spinning in July 2012. I was mesmerized by the podium and fantasized about being up there. Shortly after my Spinning training, I had my first cycling audition in West Hollywood at Cycle House. While I know I didn’t tank the audition, I also know I didn’t crush it because I didn’t get the job. But not getting the job didn’t really seem to bother me because the feeling I got while on the instructor bike—the exhilaration, the sweat, the power, the ability to inspire, had me hooked like a drug. I didn’t feel defeated by not getting the Cycle House job but couldn’t wait to get back up on that instructor bike and do it again.
My second audition was for LA Fitness [Hey, we all gotta start somewhere]. I left my middle school teaching job early to drive ALL the way across town to audition for a shot to snag some indoor cycling classes. I showed up and walked into the cycling room to see bikes I have never seen before or ridden on. These were Keiser bikes [barf]. Slight panic set in. Hoping Monica, the woman auditioning me would be compassionate to my cause, I let her know that this was my first time riding a Keiser bike. The audition was quick, not even a full song in total length. Monica gave me some pointers about my RPM’s then glanced down at my resume and paused. She looked up and matter-of-factly stated, “Oh, you teach yoga.”
“Oh no, no. I don’t teach yoga. I take yoga” I divulged.
“Well, could you teach yoga?” Monica inquired.
Without hesitation, I mustered my confidence and said, “I mean, I’m a teacher, I guess I can teach anything…?”
Right then and there without ever having actually taught yoga, Monica had me take her through a flow. Two minutes later I was hired to teach 1 cycling class and 2 yoga classes a week for $15 a class.
I was so ecstatic a gym hired me and that I had THREE CLASSES too! I didn’t stop to think that there was anything wrong with my pay rate—I was now officially a fitness instructor!
My tenure at LA Fitness was transformative. I really honed my craft, found my voice, and met some amazing people that are still dear friends in my life. As my hunger for teaching fitness seemed insatiable, I started auditioning at boutique studios and larger, more reputable gyms. Concurrently, I started teaching at a small studio in Redondo Beach called Studio Pulse and was also on the schedule at Spectrum Athletic Clubs in the South Bay and Redondo Beach. However, as my classes filled at LA Fitness and I eventually earned my 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher certification, I wanted my pay to reflect my certifications and packed classes. Besides, I was making way more than that elsewhere but I was loyal to my membership following and felt indebted to LA Fitness because it was where I started. I held out a while. The timing didn’t feel right. So while living in Hollywood and still teaching middle school English full time, I took every single fitness job I was offered—no matter the distance. At one time I was teaching in Redondo 2x a week, South Bay, Westwood, AND Studio City [and that’s not counting when I subbed classes too!]. Needless to say, I put a ton of miles on my car. However, I knew that in order to get to the top, you’ve got to start at the bottom. Finally, I knew the time came to leave LA Fitness when I met Jessica Rosen, the owner and founder of One Down Dog (affectionately referred to as ODD) in Silverlake. She took my yoga class and hired me on the spot. I was going to be a real yoga instructor in a real studio! I think having someone believe in the work that I was doing gave me the confidence to finally walk away from LA Fitness. Nevertheless LA Fitness refused to give me a pay raise and with One Down Dog, I put in my two weeks notice.
As One Down Dog worked to gain its footing in those early months, it was hard work but never felt like ‘work’. Jessica was starting a new studio. We were building a following, handing out flyers, and hustling to make ODD happen. For whatever reason, it just felt so right. With so many moving parts and the new studio, I still busted my butt to the beach cities multiple times a week to teach indoor cycling. I knew that the more I taught, the more people I was in front of, the better I got. With every class and every playlist I was gearing up to muster the courage to audition for the big guns. The gym of all gyms: Equinox. I knew that when I went to audition for Equinox I wanted to blow it out of the water. I knew I wanted them to want me and that meant I had to be awesome.
Turned out Equinox was getting ready to open Encino and they had a hiring day in Downtown LA. I was invited to attend the audition and told I would hear more about it later in the week. Later in the week came and went and I didn’t hear anything. But my friend who attended the hiring fair did hear back. Fortunately for me since she told me where the audition was being held, I decided to crash it. I thought the worst-case scenario was that I didn’t get to ride and the best case was that I got to audition and show my stuff. I did indeed get to ride and I felt think things went really well. I was confident that I nailed it.
Well I didn’t.
I felt a huge sense of disappointment and wanted to know where I could improve, but that was that. I wasn’t going to be an Equinox instructor.
Then by a stroke of luck about 2 weeks later I landed another Equinox audition via another cycling instructor friend. This time, after the audition I was welcomed to the Equinox Family as a sub.
It has been almost 3 years since I walked out of Equinox South Bay as a sub. I am proud to report I have had various classes at Equinox clubs all over LA and still actively sub all over town when needed. Now I call Equinox Glendale and Downtown my homes with regular classes. The magic of my work and my journey to Equinox are never far from my thoughts. And just because I achieved what I set out to do doesn’t mean I don’t stop striving for excellence. The real work has only just begun because when you’re not working to be the best—someone out there IS working to beat you.
Always, put in hard, hard, hard work and work your butt off!
Fear is a funny thing. It tricks us into living boring lives because we are afraid of failing. We are so paralyzed by the possibility of things not working out the way that we envision that we quit on ourselves before we even start. All too often, we’d rather accept to resolve that ‘this is just the way it is’ and leave it at that. But what kind of lives are we living if we are living to simply wish and hope, and not chase after what we want? No one is going to live your life for you, No one is going to be able to help you figure out what it is you’re supposed to be doing—so maybe it’s time to put some work in and figure out what it is you want out.
Life is way too short to condemn yourself to misery. Today, we are going to F**K our Fears and instead of being terrified of failing, we are going to re-evaluate how we look at failure. Failure doesn’t mean that you weren’t successful.
Failure means you took a risk and you tried. Failure is an opportunity to grow from your mistakes, learn from those around you, and emerge victorious. Failing makes you courageous because you took a chance. To try and fail means you were brave and didn’t sit idly by as a bystander to your own life or circumstance.
No matter how crazy or lofty my ambitions have been and continue to remain, I couldn’t possibly fathom a life where I lust for things and never try to achieve them. The more impossible the ambition, the more terrified that I am, the more I know I need to listen to my intuition and commit to whatever is speaking to my heart.
As promised, I will share what I am working through right now. Last February 2015 I wandered into Orange Theory Fitness Los Angeles in Brentwood. Within what seemed like just minutes, I completely and utterly fell in love. For the first time in years, I rediscovered an aspect of working out I hadn’t been able to find on my own. For what seemed like an eternity, I was generally uninspired by the things I did while sweating which in turn caused me to gain weight and become unhappy. But things were different at Orange Theory Fitness aka affectionately referred to as OTF. The challenging workouts enveloped me. I discovered that after all these years of thinking I hated running that not only did I like it [gasp] but I was good at it. I never ever thought I would say that—I was always dead last on every team run while in college…Now, I was a runner and I wasn’t just keeping up with the group, I was setting the pace and leading the pack. OTF showed me through the challenging workouts how to find my strength and power again. I learned more about myself in a matter of months while consistently working out at OTF than I had in recent years while fumbling from workout to workout. Soon I found that when I couldn’t make my workouts I missed them; I longed for them. I wanted to be there and what’s more, I started to crave running. Crazy, I know. I felt this massive shift inside my body. At first it started slowly then came on suddenly. I started to subscribe to this notion that I could do anything. For me, the strength and power I cultivated at OTF fueled my confidence from within and I started to feel more capable of putting myself out there in a variety of situations, even if that meant I might fail.
Naturally, as my interest in OTF evolved I started thinking about what it would feel like to work there as a coach/trainer. While I didn’t openly discuss my wonderings with anyone, my curiosity was peaked and I wanted to learn more. So when OTF posted on Facebook that they were hiring, I immediately sent in my resume with an email expressing my interest to be considered for coaching opportunities. I remember the excitement I felt just sending my resume over and crafting the email. I know it was just an email but this was the first step and I was eager, proud, and excited all at the same time. While I had no clue what this could or may mean with respects to my teaching job, I sent my info along because if you never try or take a risk, you never know. And you can’t get too caught up in thinking too much about these things either. Sometimes we over-think things and talk ourselves out of doing them. Other times, we spend so much time thinking about what wouldneed to change in our lives should something present itself that we never even bother because the idea a big change seems to be ‘too much’. Well screw it, I say go big or go bigger.
This upcoming Saturday, along with my husband Greg, I will be auditioning for a spot to be admitted to the OTF training program. The process for selection and admittance is competitive and frankly, it intimidates me. I am terrified of not being able to showcase the best me on the mic in my 3-minute audition. As a matter of fact, I have spent the last week going over scenarios in my head. I know my anxiety is driving my husband nuts because he keeps telling me to relax. Yet amidst my anxiety, as always, Greg has been instrumental in holding firm space for me by reminding me of the following:
If I do not get invited to the training program, I am still a talented instructor. While I may not be right for OTF, I am still great at what I do and I cannot let the possibility of not getting this job define my self-worth.
Additionally, my mother reminded me last night that should it not work out, it wasn’t meant to be. Of course both Greg and my mother are right but rejection no matter how you slice it or dice it hurts. Nevertheless I am going into my audition on Saturday with the best version of myself, ready to rock the hell out that room, and spread my awesome. It’s that simple. I believe in myself, I have to. I stand firmly behind the woman I am and the work that I do. I will not let the idea of failure hold me back from putting myself out there and taking a chance on myself. What’s more is I refuse to let my recent doubts and insecurities hold me back. Because I am terrified about what this audition will entail is precisely why I am doing it.
I am not going to let fear define me or dictate the trajectory of my life. I am in control of my successes and I choose to try instead of accept things as they are.
What scares you? What are you scared of doing because you are fearful of failing? Put it out there and embrace the possibility of failure as a learning experience. I know you can do it, now you just need to believe in yourself.