Six Weeks To Fitness

Brett Larkin is the founder of Uplifted Yoga, an online yoga and meditation community, empowering students to personalize their practice and ignite their best life on and off the mat. She's instructed at top studios, companies like Google and Pinterest, and leads the world's most interactive online yoga teacher training programs. She teaches to a social media following of over 400,000 people. Her content on YouTube is streamed for three million minutes each month.  Brett, how are you today?

Brett Larkin:

I'm well, thanks so much for having me. Excited to be here.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, thank you for taking time out from your busy schedule to be here today. But before we talk about your company, Uplifted Yoga, tell my listeners more about your personal journey into health and wellness. Where did it all begin for Brett Larkin?

Brett Larkin:

I'm someone who has suffered a lot of anxiety, especially in my late teens and early 20s. I felt panicked all the time for no reason. It's hard for me to even really remember back on that period of my life, because I can't even remember how I was functioning, honestly. And for me, yoga ultimately became this doorway that led to a completely different experience of reality, where I was able to be fully present, let go of a lot of the fears and negative predictions, and kind of figure out how my mind had been patterned since I was really young and kind of rewrite a new narrative for myself. So for me, it's been very much both a physical practice, but also something that really changed the way I see the world. There's so much rich philosophy in this practice as well for those who are interested in that.

Vincent Ferguson:

So what was it about yoga that attracted you to that type of training?

Brett Larkin:

Well, it's interesting because I was a big naysayer of yoga, maybe like some of your listeners.

Vincent Ferguson:

Okay.

Brett Larkin:

As a child, I was a ballet dancer. I was very into kind of hardcore dance and very intense training. So I always thought yoga was sort of for losers who just wanted to stretch and sing, and I kind of naysay the whole thing, but then I had a dance injury and I started exploring Pilates. And I had a boyfriend at the time who said, "Hey, this is interesting. You are really into Pilates." And he and I have been kind of dabbling in a little bit of meditation. "So, Pilates and meditation, why don't we try yoga? That would be really great for you. It makes a lot of sense." But I was like, "Absolutely not. That's for weak people. I'm super strong, I'm a dancer." But he kind of encouraged me to go.

Brett Larkin:

And so, my first yoga experience was with Bikram yoga, which some of your listeners may be familiar with or have done, it's super hot, I think it's 105 degrees or more room to do a set of postures. There's a mirror so you can really analyze your form and it's a very intense experience. And so, that actually was the yoga that resonated with me the most at first, because it was kind of the most familiar to me in that it felt like a really intense dance or training experience type of class with the mirror and everything. So that was sort of my gateway, my first yoga experience.

Brett Larkin:

So it was very much about the physical and the sweat and everyone's different and is going to find a different style of yoga that meets you where you are in this moment. So I always really encourage people, don't write off yoga like I did until you try a lot of different styles because there's so many flavors out there. More than I think people are even aware of. And of course, that first Bikram journey led to then a much deeper exploration where I ended up eventually trying every style and studying with every school and it spurred a whole exploration from there, but that was my initial starting point.

Vincent Ferguson:

Bikram yoga. Wow.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Every time I hear it, I cringe, because I know it's very hot.

Brett Larkin:

It's so hot. It's funny because I mean, I haven't done Bikram yoga now in probably 10 years, but that was my entry point. So that's another thing I encourage people to be open to is the style of yoga you start with, or that you might be attracted to initially might not be the one you end up sticking with long-term. So it's important to have an open mind and kind of be ready to go on the journey.

Vincent Ferguson:

And I was going to ask you what type of yoga would you recommend for a beginner to try? Because I think if someone exposed me to Bikram yoga right away, that would have turned me off completely.

Brett Larkin:

Right. So my recommendation as strange as it sounds, would be to do a lot of experimentation. I think one of the things I see happen a lot is someone will go to the yoga studio closest to their house, or they'll do one YouTube video routine. And if they don't like it, they kind of just write off yoga as a whole, which would kind of be like writing off speaking when you've only sampled one language. Think about how many languages there are in our world and dialects and things. So I really, really encourage people to kind of approach it like you'd approach finding a mate. You're going to date a bunch of different people and sometimes it's going to work out and sometimes it's not and you just want to have fun. So, to kind of sample a lot of different styles... And I actually have a little challenge on my YouTube, where it's called “Find Your Style.”

Brett Larkin:

And I introduce people to five different styles over five days, because that was one of the things that I saw really prevented people from enjoying this practice. They just kind of have one impression of it and then think that was the whole story. When really, there's Restorative, there's Vinyasa, there's Hatha. Even within that Hatha word, there's Ashtanga, there's gentle yoga. There's Viniyoga. I mean, it just goes on and on and on. So I really believe there's something for everyone. And I think you need to really think about who you are, what your background is.

Brett Larkin:

If you're more that intense athlete person like I was, trying to do yin or gentle yoga, it's probably just going to be too far from where you are right now to maybe appreciate it. So you might want to start with a more athletic style, like Bikram or Ashtanga. If you're someone who has no fitness background whatsoever, those styles are going to be insane, right? You might want to start with yin, or even restorative yoga, or something very beginner gentle hatha, just to kind of gently get your body moving. So it's really like a dating game, I guess. Date all the styles of yoga. Try all the teachers in your area.

Vincent Ferguson:

I like that.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah. That's my biggest tip for everyone.

Vincent Ferguson:

Great tip. I like that advice, I truly do. Now, would you say that yoga is a lifestyle or just a way to exercise and meditate?

Brett Larkin:

Oh, that's such a loaded question. It's so interesting because when we look back at a lot of the ancient texts, what we see is that yoga was being written about as a means to achieve enlightenment. Right? Or a means to connect to whatever is beyond this plane of consciousness that we live in. And that the physical postures and the breath are all kind of a tool, a medium for that bigger aim. And then over the years, a lot of the physical piece of yoga got fused with a lot of the aerobics movement that was happening in the 70s and 80s. And there's sort of a modern yoga that's emerged that's in many ways quite different than what we see displayed in the yoga sutras or the hatha yoga pradipika or something like that.

Brett Larkin:

So, it's really what I think, is it's what you want to take out of it. If you just want to use yoga to improve your breathing and just really think of it as a breathing practice or a mindfulness practice that helps with stress reduction, you can view it through that lens by putting on that pair of glasses and looking at the body of work that is yoga through that framework. And there's so many great mindfulness-based programs or anxiety reduction programs, many that have huge scientific studies from major universities behind them now.

Brett Larkin:

For other people, right, you might be actually drawn to yoga because of the spiritual side of it. Right? You're kind of resonating with maybe the chanting or what's called Bhakti yoga, the yoga of devotion. You're looking to connect to something bigger, and that's available too. Then others are more, I just want to use this for cross training. Right? This is something that is going to improve my overall fitness and they're more focused on the postures. So it's kind of this buffet where again, finding the right teacher and the right style is so important because different styles bring in more, like Kundalini yoga, for example, which I do a lot of now is pulling in a ton of the chanting, the spirituality, all those things. So if someone's not interested in that, that's not going to be the right style for them right now. Right?

Brett Larkin:

So it's a buffet. And so I think you can make it a lifestyle, you can make it a religion if you want to, or you can really just see it as something like Pilates or breath work that is helping whether it's cross training or helping with anxiety. Pull out what works for you and try not to label the practice as a whole.

Vincent Ferguson:

So, basically yoga can be mental, spiritual, or physical.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah. And I think in its most beautiful form, it's all three, but that's not always... People aren't always either ready or wanting that. In which case you can completely divide it up. And like I said, it's like a buffet. Just take what works for you and leave the rest.

Vincent Ferguson:

Huh. Again, excellent advice. Now, do you associate yoga with Hinduism?

Brett Larkin:

Well, that goes back to a little bit what we talked about earlier, where, when we look at the origins of yoga, it did develop in India, Southeast Asia and these countries later, much, much later than when the yoga texts were written by the Brahmin sages. Much, much later, these are areas of the world that developed into different religions. Right? We see Buddhism, we see Hinduism, but most of the yoga texts, and I'm not as much an expert on this as some people like some of my teachers, but they predate a lot of what these religions look like now in the modern world. So, I think you can practice yoga without dabbling in Hinduism at all. For those that are interested in those connections, there are certain texts and gods and goddesses and chants where you can forge that connection. So again, it's really up to you.

Brett Larkin:

Again, I think the biggest maybe thing that I hope to share is yoga as a word, what does that even mean anymore? Right? It almost... It's like if we took a word like aerobic exercise, I mean, there's so many different forms of how that looks. A long time ago, we probably didn't even need to do it because we were hunter gatherers and running around all the time and then it emerged and it looked like fencing or something. And then it changed. And then it looked like a gym or kind of some of the stuff we see now. It's the same with yoga. Even the way yoga was practiced in the ancient times was so different depending on what region it was practiced in. For example, up in the Himalayas originally, where people were relatively safe, they were up in the mountains, cave dwelling, they practiced a very meditative type of yoga that was focused more on kind of the spiritual aspects and seated meditation.

Brett Larkin:

If we look at people who were living more at the border where the Mongols were at these times, thousands and thousands of years ago, their yoga was much more like what we see as Ashtanga yoga today. Very athletic because the military was actually doing it. It was training for them because they lived in a place where war was constantly breaking out and they needed to defend themselves. So even when we go way back in time, it's not like there's one style or one definition of what these practices are. It was very much variable based on people's kind of lifestyle and what, again, they needed to take out of the practice or what made sense to take out of the practice. I don't know if that's helpful to think about, but-

Vincent Ferguson:

It is, it is.

Brett Larkin:

It's a broad perspective. Keep a broad perspective is what I say.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing. Yes. So it's not just one piece, it's a broad potpourri or whatever they call it. You know what I'm saying?

Brett Larkin:

Yeah, exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now in yoga, you often do you often hear the word chakra.

Brett Larkin:

Chakra, yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. What are they and how do they affect our daily lives?

Brett Larkin:

So chakra is, I think of them as programs, they're considered energy centers. So, some of your listeners may be familiar with traditional Chinese medicine or acupuncture, which is really mainstream now. I think most insurance even covers acupuncture. So, the Chinese medicine system, they work with these acupuncture... They call it meridians, right? These lines in the body. And the yogic system, instead of calling those channels meridians, they call them nadis. But it's the same thing. It's basically a pathway of energy in the body. So there's the heart meridian, the liver meridian, all these things. So the systems are the same, just using different words.

Brett Larkin:

And then in the yogic system, a chakra is where we see a lot of these meridians or nadis intersecting. So if you imagine a rotary in a busy street or town, right, where all the cars are coming together, all the roads are coming together in this big rotary. Those areas of the body get pulled out in the yogic philosophy as these energetic hubs. And the word chakra literally translates to wheel or disc. And I think of them as like a program, because each of them resides in a different area along your spine and sort of governs a different... Saying it's an area of your life is an oversimplification, but deals with a different realm of how you interact with the world.

Brett Larkin:

So for example, your root chakra at the very base of your spine is very much associated with your sense of safety. Your security. Are your needs being met? Are you getting enough food? Are you getting enough sleep? Things like that. While something like your throat chakra, which is obviously much higher up, is dealing with how well do you communicate? How well do you listen? Do you have trouble speaking up? Or are you kind of the over-boisterous type who doesn't let other people get a word in edgewise? Right? So each of us have these unique energy centers that are manifesting in different ways, that kind of result in how our life unfolds, right?

Brett Larkin:

So you might just be like, "Well, that's my personality. That's the way I am." But what yoga kind of teaches us is if you want to investigate these energy centers or work with them, you can kind of reprogram them. So just like when you sometimes get an update, I have an iPhone, but I think Android is the same. Every six months, there's a new operating system, right? Download the new system. So, we can be unaware of these energy centers and just operate the way we do. Or we can be like, "Hey, I want to rewrite my programming around safety and getting enough sleep. Or I want to rewrite how I act and give and receive love in relationships by working with my heart chakra."

Brett Larkin:

So it's just an opportunity to bring more awareness into your life. And then the beautiful thing about the chakra is you can work with them physically by doing Athena, you can work with them on a meditative level, on a spiritual level. So kind of like we talked about before, there's a lot of different ways you can tap into them. Or you can say, I'm not interested in the subtle body. This is, we're now in the realm of the subtle body of yoga. I just want to stay focused on the athleticism, the yogic postures. For those who don't resonate, they don't even have to go there. Right? It's kind of just this other layer of the practice that you can tap into if you choose to.

Vincent Ferguson:

I like it. I like it a lot. Can practicing a certain type of yoga, bring abundance into your life or the chakra bring abundance into your life?

Brett Larkin:

Oh, I definitely think so. Yes, yes, yes. I love working with this theme of abundance and abundance comes ultimately from gratitude. They're linked. So in order to attract abundance, we need to shift into feeling grateful and a sense of gratitude. So there's lots of wonderful practices that can help with that. There's classes on that specific theme. One of the biggest things that yoga helps with is just helping slow us down. So we can't be grateful if we're rushing or stressed. Or I don't know, maybe someone out there can be, but I know for me, when I'm rushing and stressed, I'm not in a state of gratitude or reverence. I'm usually not being very kind to my family members who are near me. So, counteracting that rushing and counteracting that stress and anxiety I think is so pivotal as a first step, to even allow someone to slow down. Right? Step into those feelings of, what am I grateful for?

Brett Larkin:

And what really separates yoga from all other forms of exercise is the focus on the breathing, the breath. So, no matter what style you use, if people are feeling overwhelmed listening to this, honestly it kind of doesn't matter because all the styles have this common thread of using the breath to calm the nervous system; to shift into what we call the parasympathetic nervous system, which is more of our rest and digest functions, instead of being always on kind of stressed out, orange alert, which is where we live most of our lives by default, just because of the way our society is set up and functions. So much is being asked of us, especially with technology, and we're bombarded with information.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, we are.

Brett Larkin:

So, that's the biggest thing. Just doing any kind of yoga, really doing the breathing. And if you commit to it, you'll see after most yoga classes you feel calmer. Right? You feel more grounded. You're feeling more in your whole body instead of just living up in your head with all your thoughts spinning. And that's usually how people are like, "Oh, I like this feeling," and how they end up coming back to classes.

Vincent Ferguson:

How do you find a good yoga instructor? What should you look for?

Brett Larkin:

It's a great question. I think someone who's talking a lot about the breath would be really important. I think someone who is constantly kind of challenging you to play, instead of saying the posture has to look just one way, kind of giving you a couple different options. That's what I really like and look for in instructors. So instead of it being really dogmatic and rigid, kind of being more about finding your personal edge, because a lot of these athena, these kind of an alphabet of the yoga postures are going to look different on different people. Right? Depending our height and our weight and our background and our prior athletic experience.

Brett Larkin:

So I think someone who's really encouraging you to explore rather than saying you have to get to this exact thing, is something that I would recommend looking for. Someone who's talking a lot about the breath. And then, honestly, just someone who resonates with you. That's the most important thing. We all are going to have different teachers who resonate with us at different points in our journey. So your job is again, to just kind of do that dating work I talked about and find the one who's going to meet you where you are right now.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, yes. That was really good. Now, Brett, you're not just another yoga teacher or instructor. You are what we call the gold or platinum standard, the creme de la creme of teachers. But from where and from whom did you get your training?

Brett Larkin:

So I studied with Alan Finger, who is such an incredible teacher. He was the original co-founder of Yoga Works, which is a huge yoga chain that some people may be familiar with. So he was the person I originally did my training with in New York, and he has just a wonderful background in Viniyoga, it's called. And he has a lot of knowledge about tantra, which isn't anything... You say tantra and people think like tantric sex and weird stuff. No, it's really a deep knowledge of the ancient yoga texts and philosophies. So I absolutely love his work. And Anodea Judith is another huge teacher of mine and inspiration. So she's kind of the world's authority on the chakra system. And she has a PhD. She's done a lot of work integrating the chakras into her work with patients as a psychotherapist.

Brett Larkin:

So, she is an incredible resource and has lots of books on the chakras for people who are interested. I love... Some of my other teachers Guru Singh, Kia Miller, Elena Brower. Different people again, who resonate with you at different moments. So I think it's really important to find that teacher who resonates with you and then learn as much as you can from them. Embody what they have to share, make it your own, and just keep building your own experience. So yeah, those are some of the people who've been highly influential for me.

Vincent Ferguson:

So everyone had someone to help them get to where they are today. Correct?

Brett Larkin:

Absolutely. And in the teacher training programs I run now, that's a lot of what we work on, right, is helping you find your own unique style, your own unique voice. Figuring out what different parts of this lineage and this practice you want to blend together. Do you want to teach something that's very spiritual or do you want to veer away from that? These are all choices that even as instructors, we end up needing to make. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

I see. Now you call your business Uplifted.

Brett Larkin:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

Where did that come from? I don't know. Tell me.

Brett Larkin:

I don't know either. It's when I started my initial... I mean, it just kind of came to me when I was originally starting my own yoga community and kind of my own style. I noticed that one of the things I was really seeing within the community before it had an official name was just people being so encouraging of one another, kind of really lifting each other up. All the programs and everything I do online is extremely interactive. So whether it's through our app or the trainings, you're not practicing alone. It's always very community-based. If you're moving through a program, it's cohort based, meaning you're with the same students going through an experience at the same time, even though we're online. So there's just a huge comradery. And then, obviously Uplifted is how I feel when I do yoga or after I do yoga. So, that's kind of where the name came from. It just kind of came to me one day.

Vincent Ferguson:

You followed your gut, your feelings, and you went with it because now it's extremely successful. And how did you get to this point though, Brett? What inspired you to turn your yoga expertise into a business and make it so successful online?

Brett Larkin:

I think, life is so interesting because I originally started posting videos online because I was too nervous to teach in person. So originally-

Vincent Ferguson:

You, really?

Brett Larkin:

Yes. Yes. So back in 2011, it was almost a cop out because I was still trying to build my confidence to audition for studios and that kind of thing. So I ended up teaching a lot online because for me that felt less scary somehow. I didn't really think anyone would watch any of the videos I put up. Now, the YouTube channel has over 400,000 subscribers.

Vincent Ferguson:

Amazing.

Brett Larkin:

So it grew madly over the course of time. But I think, kind of how I mentioned before, the community and the connection with the students and seeing how the training, whether it's a training plan they're doing in the Uplifted membership, kind of something smaller that we designed for students, or the full certification program. I think for me, what's most rewarding is really seeing how it affects all areas of their life. I mean, most people who come out of our programs or a part of the community say that the way they're speaking to their kids and their partner is different. The interactions, the relationship, it's a complete shift, not just on the yoga mat, but in kind of how they're experiencing reality, the world.

Brett Larkin:

Like the same thing I experienced as a young person, once I started having some of these breathing techniques and tools to help me cope with a lot of the anxiety and stress I was feeling. So, I think that's what really drove me. I never really set out to be, "Let's make this a business." It was always, how can we just help and serve more people and connect with more people and grow the community? And I think that's part of what ultimately has made the business successful because it was never really about building some corporate thing or the money or anything like that. It was always sort of just a passion of mine. Almost like a side project and then it just kept getting bigger. And now obviously, it's my full project, but that was never my intention. So, I'm just so grateful to the community because I think it's not just me. It's like A, the team; my team that now supports everything we do. And then our entire infrastructure of all our graduates, all our alumni, all our students. I mean, they're just the most incredible people.

Vincent Ferguson:

Do your students come from all across the country or any one particular area?

Brett Larkin:

They come from all over the world. It is so incredible.

Vincent Ferguson:

The world.

Brett Larkin:

Yes. I was in the Facebook group for one of our trainings yesterday and it's like, Poland, Russia. We've shipped our training manuals to Zimbabwe. It's crazy. And then, of course, I mean, we have a lot of people in the United States, but I would say 30-35% international and from everywhere. It's amazing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Unbelievable, Brett.

Brett Larkin:

Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. I knew you were a rockstar, but wow. That's amazing.

Brett Larkin:

Well, it's really fun because it makes the training experience so incredible because you're getting these perspectives from people all over the world, which is so different than just doing something that's local. I mean, that has a beauty to it too, but I think that's been something. I mean, every time we run a training, I learn so much from the students. I always tell them that. Right? Because they just have such different backgrounds and so many diverse ideas and it's just, really makes it really rich. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

But is there a problem because of the language barrier?

Brett Larkin:

No. One of the things that a lot of our international students appreciate is everything is recorded. So, when you sign up for a training, you get prerecorded content, whether as a student or a teacher, there's a lot of prerecorded content. So they can re-watch, they can slow down. But even everything that we do live is, they also get recordings to all of that. And then they have the manual to follow along. So for a lot of them, they're more comfortable with written English as opposed to spoken. So obviously, you need to know English. I mean, otherwise it's not going to work. They've said it's actually really nice because if something's confusing, they could just rewind. Right? Or listen to it again, which makes it in some ways better than actually a live training where you don't have that option to press pause.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow. What an amazing model, business model, that you have going and I can speak for hours about it because it's just very, very exciting to me and interesting how you were able to do this. But at this particular time our country and the world is going through the Coronavirus pandemic, and it's been a very challenging time, mentally, spiritually, physically, and financially for some people. But are more people turning to yoga to help them deal with the stress of these times?

Brett Larkin:

I think so. I mean, just looking at pure data, we saw a huge spike in the interest in yoga, the interest in online yoga, the interest in online yoga trainings during this time of the pandemic. A lot of that is because a lot of people who I think didn't consider studying online suddenly were sort of forced to because there was no other option.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes, of course.

Brett Larkin:

But I do think there's a bigger theme of people realizing that we need support structures. We need a home practice more than ever that really supports us during these times of intense stress. And if you look at everything with yoga, from the 1950s until now, it has only grown, it has never dipped. Whether we look at the success of Lulu Lemon or yoga studios or the interest in the keyword online. I mean, it just goes up and up and up because I think it's just becoming more mainstream, and more and more people are figuring out that they can kind of connect with it in whatever way they want. And that it's really the ultimate life hack to deal with uncertainty, anxiety, and coming back to the breathing and all the science that's backing up how important that is. So, I think it's growing because of the pandemic, but it was growing before that, and I think it's just going to keep growing.

Vincent Ferguson:

Well, I think so, too. And as I shared earlier with you, before we started recording the interview, I run a nonprofit organization whose focus is on obesity prevention for families, especially children. Do you recommend yoga for children as well? And if so, what age should parents introduce yoga to their kids?

Brett Larkin:

I definitely recommend yoga for kids. I do yoga with my own. It's wonderful, wonderful and you can just introduce it simply by inviting... I mean, even when you just invite a child or anyone to take a deep breath, that's yoga. Right? That's a core yoga concept. So for kids, I think what works best is, or for little kids, is to do the different poses that relate to the different animals, like lion's pose or butterfly pose. They absolutely love that, because it's just like you're playing around on the floor and kind of introducing them to the idea of moving their body. And then songs and music are a wonderful, wonderful way. There's so many great yoga kids' albums that again, just get kids moving, acting like animals. And then before bed is always a really nice time.

Brett Larkin:

I always invite my son to do deep breathing with me before bed. He doesn't even know we're doing yoga. Right? We do deep breathing. I put my hand on his belly. I encourage him to breathe into his belly. Something we see with people who have different medical conditions or maybe are struggling with obesity is often that they're a reciprocal inhibited breather. So if you're a reciprocal inhibited breather, what that means is your diaphragm isn't operating in a way that's the most anatomically efficient for your body. And it means that you're not getting as much oxygen, as much breath, as you could be. It's like you're getting 20 or 30% instead of say 80 or 90% each time you breathe in. Which leads to short, shallow, rapid breathing over time, that can just end up feeling normal unless we kind of counteract and try to correct that.

Brett Larkin:

So, people can Google or look up diaphragmatic breathing or belly breathing, but that's something that I would work on for yourself, but also really with your kids because it calms them down. And it's kind of insuring that they're going to have a breath pattern that... And what's interesting is breathing in this way has actually been linked to reducing obesity.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really?

Brett Larkin:

Yes, and restorative yoga as well. There's been great studies on this. So, I think a big takeaway for the obesity focus is it doesn't have to be hardcore athletic yoga that helps reduce or aids in weight loss, let's say. Actually these restorative, simply lying down, focusing on your breath-based practices, have a huge effect as well in weight loss. Yeah, it's incredible.

Vincent Ferguson:

This was an awesome interview, Brett. Where can my listeners find out more about Brett Larkin?

Brett Larkin:

So you can simply Google my name, Brett Larkin. You'll find YouTube videos, you'll find our website. Or upliftedyoga.com will get you to kind of our members' area. I have over a thousand free videos on YouTube, so you can practice with me any time. And then if you want to go deeper, we have so many courses and designed experiences with a lot of interaction for both students, the student community, and people who are looking to teach. So, that would be the next step. I'd love to practice with some of your listeners on YouTube. So hopefully they can look me up, Brett Larkin, and find a class that works for them. https://www.brettlarkin.com/300-hour-online-yoga-teacher-training/

 

Vincent Ferguson:

And on social media-

Brett Larkin:

Yeah. Mainly YouTube, Facebook and Instagram. So, yeah. And the same, Brett Larkin yoga will get you there.

Vincent Ferguson:

Perfect. Now Brett Larkin, let me just say on behalf of my organization, Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Brett Larkin:

Thank you so much for having me. It's been a pleasure.

Vincent Ferguson:

You are amazing. To my listeners and readers, I truly hope this program was informative and encouraging and inspiring, and that you will continue tuning in to our Six Weeks of Fitness podcast. And if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions for the show, please leave them on my Six Weeks to Fitness blog at www.sixweekstofitness.com or email me at vince@sixweeks.com.

Direct download: Episode_163_Brett_Larkin.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:08am EST

Mike Telem is the co-founder of Kemtai, a digital home fitness company using AI and computer vision to provide a virtual gym with real-time precise feedback. He is a serial entrepreneur with extensive experience in building and marketing digital products. Mike lives in Israel with his wife and their two teenage sons. He has a Black Belt in martial arts and is a master swimmer. I am pleased to have Mike Telem on my Six Weeks to Fitness Podcast. Mike, how are you?

Mike Telem:

I'm very good. Thanks. Thanks for having me. I appreciate it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, it's my pleasure to have you on the show. Before we talk about Kemtai, Mike, tell my listeners a little more about you. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Mike Telem:

I grew up in Israel. I'm almost 45 years old, and had a pretty regular and good life here in Israel. I actually moved to the United States for a couple of years when I was in eighth and ninth grade. That was a very nice experience. I lived in New York, so I'm still a Giants fan and follow U.S. sports quite closely, whether it's the NFL now and the NBA a little bit earlier. Then I came back, I studied high school in Israel. Served in the army, as most of us do, and studied psychology in the university.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. What part of Israel do you live in?

Mike Telem:

I live in the central part, close to Tel Aviv, for those of you that know it. My town is called Giv'at Shmuel. Very nice place, about 15 to 20 minutes from the beach. Now the pools are actually closed, but we can still swim in the Mediterranean and the weather in Israel is quite comfortable for swimmers because we hardly get any winter here. Maybe just two or three months.

Vincent Ferguson:

Sounds nice. Well, I'm in New York and right now it's kind of cold and rainy, so we can appreciate the sunny weather you guys have in Israel right about now. Were you interested in fitness as a child? If so, were there any role models in your life that inspired you?

Mike Telem:

Yes. I loved fitness and as a child, I would obviously just call it sports. I played a lot of group sports around school and very early on, started doing competitive sports. I think I was five when I started practicing martial arts and judo specifically at that point.

Mike Telem:

That was together with my grandfather, who's probably that ideal person that I was always looking up to. He was also a Black Belt and we even managed towards ... He was getting older obviously, but we were able to practice a few times together as Black Belts at the same time. That was a very exciting and very emotional time. I also played soccer on a team in my town, and I played professional squash. I was actually the Israeli junior champion at squash. You could say that I was very much into sports.

Mike Telem:

There were a few years where I did all three of these things at the same time. I'm not sure how exactly, but I love doing sports since I was young. At a later age, obviously you start looking at it slightly differently from the fitness perspective, from the health perspective. Maybe you don't do the same things because of your body or because you don't want to go crazy, because if I do judo or play soccer, I might do things that I shouldn't do because you get excited. I definitely love sports and fitness very, very much.

Vincent Ferguson:

When did the entrepreneurial bug hit you?

Mike Telem:

That's an interesting question because as I was getting into high tech, which was kind of a fluke or a mistake, I was never interested in high tech. I didn't like computers, especially when I was growing up in the 80s and 90s. I got into it because there were a lot of job openings and I thought, "Well, there's a limit to how many years I should be a waiter." Even though I was a pretty good waiter, but I decided that there are some opportunities there.

Mike Telem:

Even while I was in high tech and the whole startup concept and culture started in Israel following a little bit what happened in Silicon Valley and all the success stories, I always used to say it's better to have a good job, a steady job. I don't necessarily see myself opening up a startup. But after a few years in the market gaining experience, you start to see things that could be better, that could be done differently. I was lucky enough to have my best friends from high school also in high tech.

Mike Telem:

In 2009, without thinking about it too deeply, which is I think something good for an entrepreneur. If you think about it too much, you'll never do it because the chances are against you. The odds are against you. We decided to leave our jobs about five minutes after that 2009 financial crisis where everybody thought that the world was going down.

Mike Telem:

We decided that we're going to go after our idea, which was around personalization of websites. We went ahead and did that and that was the start of my entrepreneurship mentality I would say. Later on, I think I would look back at some of the things that I've done as I was an employee in other organizations and I guess I can see that I was always into trying new things and taking responsibility and being very committed to what I'm doing. I guess it started brewing back then.

Vincent Ferguson:

That sounds really good. Now, what are some of the pros and cons of being an entrepreneur, Mike?

Mike Telem:

Obviously one of the pros, it tends to be very interesting, very challenging in a good way. My father was an entrepreneur in a few companies as well and I saw the times that he succeeded and the times that he failed. You do get a lot of ups and downs and you need to be able to handle them. I don't mean that as it's going down, you don't care or you don't feel anxious or even concerned, but there's something inside you that tells you, "It'll come back up again if I do enough about it." But being able to take those times.

Mike Telem:

When you care about something, you feel very bad when it doesn't work well. In any business of your own, it doesn't matter if it's a restaurant or a high-tech startup, you care a lot. Then you have a lot of good times and a lot of bad times. I like to say that it's very similar to being a professional athlete I think because if you think about most professional athletes, most of the time they lose. They get to the semi-finals, they get to the finals. Maybe sometimes they don't even get there. They lose and they lose and they lose at a certain point, right?

Mike Telem:

Once in a while they win the whole thing. Even you look at the Lakers that have just won the NBA title and specifically LeBron James. Yeah. He has a lot of titles, but he lost a bunch of times. You look at people who have won gold medals in the Olympics. You'll remember that, but they also lost many times. As an entrepreneur, you have to be able to lose or not succeed a lot of times and keep on going. That's possibly one of the hardest things about being an entrepreneur. If you can do that, then you can do the rest.

Vincent Ferguson:

I think a lot of entrepreneurs who listen to this podcast would benefit from that advice. You know what I mean? Excellent.

Mike Telem:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, most of your work has been, as you said, in the high-tech space. Was there an aha moment that motivated you to move into the fitness space and create Kemtai?

Mike Telem:

It was a combination between the fact that both I and my two co-founders, Mor Amitai and Naomi Keren, are very much into fitness and sports. Naomi is a Pilates instructor as a hobby, Mor loves running and working out at home. I had times where I used to work out in front of YouTube videos. The second piece of this equation is that Mor and Naomi have been dealing in computer vision for around 15 years. They actually had a previous startup that dealt with computer vision.

Mike Telem:

Now you have a group of three people that like sports, that like fitness, that know what can be done with computer vision and know what it takes to create a product, to create a company. We very quickly got to the idea of leveraging computer vision to see what you're actually doing and giving you feedback. As an amateur athlete, I've always been very aware of the importance of guidance and feedback. I always ask whatever trainer is around, "Look at what I'm doing. Tell me what I'm doing wrong. Don't tell me that I'm doing great. Just tell me what I'm doing wrong, how I can get better."

Mike Telem:

I like to get that advice, even if it's sometimes hard to follow. We thought, "Well, why can't we use computer vision to give that type of advice?" That is Kemtai.

Vincent Ferguson:

What does Kemtai actually mean? Where did the name come from?

Mike Telem:

The name itself doesn't have a specific meaning, but more of a feel. We hope that a feeling of something dynamic, an action that you can take, but also something that sounds calming and sounds connected to the whole concept of wellness. To some people, it sounds a little bit Eastern or Asian perhaps, but it doesn't have any specific meaning. We just really liked the sound of it. We spent some time looking for various names. It's actually not that easy to find a name that nobody else has used.

Mike Telem:

We were able to do that. We also always reminded ourselves that just like with children, products also make the name.

Vincent Ferguson:

True. The product, the name is very important. Now, explain, what can a user expect to experience from Kemtai and what makes it more effective than other fitness apps on the market today?

Mike Telem:

That's a great question. In terms of what makes Kemtai more effective, Kemtai actually sees you as you work out and can see if you're doing things right or wrong and can also give you a score so you understand your actual performance. As you're doing a specific exercise, let's say you're doing squats, something that everybody can relate to, Kemtai notices that your back is not straight and will tell you with audio and visual cues that you should straighten your back or that you shouldn't go so low.

Mike Telem:

As you follow the instructions, you start feeling the engagement, the connection to the technology that is helping you do the exercise in the best way possible so the workout is more effective and also more fun. The first thing that people typically get excited about is, as you just open up Kemtai and start the first workout, it scans your body and identifies all the data points in your body. Your shoulders, your elbows, your arms, your legs.

Mike Telem:

You feel that connection because as you move, you can see that Kemtai is seeing you, and you can see a visual of your skeleton on the screen. You see that Kemtai is following what you're doing and that is a very magical moment because you understand what the software has done and what it can give you.

Vincent Ferguson:

When I heard about Kemtai, I was so blown away by it. It's definitely a game changer. If I'm looking to build muscle or if I'm looking to increase my cardiovascular conditioning, can Kemtai help me with that?

Mike Telem:

Yes. Kemtai has most of the types of exercises and workouts that you would expect to find in other applications. This goes to your question about the difference as well. You'll find things like running in place and jumping jacks and other things for cardio and small or large weights or pushups or other core exercises to build your muscles. The fact that it gives you feedback, the fact that you can see if you're doing it well and how well you're doing it, means that each and every movement, each and every exercise is so much more effective.

Mike Telem:

If you want to build muscles, as we all know, doing the proper movement sometimes even more slowly and doing it correctly and seeing that you're getting a 90 and not a 70, immediately in real time, means that whether you have 10 minutes for a workout or 50 minutes, that time is so much more effective than what it would be if you were just following a video in YouTube or some other apps, or maybe riding a bike at home, which is very, very limited in terms of what you're doing and has practically zero feedback in terms of, are you doing it well?

Mike Telem:

You can practically sit on that bike and have a cup of coffee. Everything else will still continue the same.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's true. That's true. As a trainer, I'm always correcting the form of clients. As you know, technique, form is everything when it comes to performing the activities.

Mike Telem:

Yes. That is typically the most important thing. It also is very important in terms of avoiding injury, doing things the wrong way, or sometimes fooling yourself, thinking that you have improved while in fact, you're just doing more repetitions, but not in the proper way. Being able to be more effective in the same amount of time is so important. Everybody's very busy. Home fitness is great first and foremost because you don't need to spend too much time around it. You don't need to drive anywhere. Now, you can do so much more and be so much more effective in the same time period. That is very, very helpful for the users that are using Kemtai.

Vincent Ferguson:

Definitely. What do you need in order to use Kemtai? Do you need a laptop, desktop?

Mike Telem:

All you need is a laptop or a desktop, basically a computer with a camera. You don't need any special computer. You don't need to buy any $2,500 device in order to use Kemtai. Just your laptop and your browser and a decent internet connection. Your videos are not recorded, are not even saved anywhere. The system really looks at you like a human being and gives the feedback in real time. No information is being sent to the cloud about your workouts. The only thing you need is laptop and a little bit of room in your house to work out.

Mike Telem:

If you want to take it out and do it on the porch or in the garden, if there's good weather, you can do that too. It's relatively not sensitive to lighting and the space around you. It's very, very convenient and very, very easy to work out with Kemtai and also very affordable because you don't need to buy anything special.

Vincent Ferguson:

Can you also use Kemtai on mobile phones?

Mike Telem:

Not right now. We've decided not to develop Kemtai for mobile phones, because when you think about it, the user experience for something like Kemtai on a mobile phone is quite problematic. The screen is very small. You'd have to put the phone on the floor and it will be very difficult to interact with the system. If you think about it, it's similar to a Zoom session, right? That everybody's doing nowadays.

Mike Telem:

As much as you can control it, you would prefer having the Zoom session on your laptop. Yes, it can work on a phone, but it's not very convenient and you would never pick that in the first choice. Kemtai will run on mobile devices later on, probably next year, but we think that the better experience would always be on something like a laptop and later on, maybe on smart TV or on a device that's connected to a larger screen just because you can see what's going on a lot better and experience this interactive content. See exactly what the trainer is doing and follow their guidance and get the feedback and really make the most out of your workout.

Vincent Ferguson:

Awesome. How long are the exercise programs and how many exercise programs are in the app?

Mike Telem:

There are a few hundred different workouts. Some of them are 5 to 10-minute workouts with maybe just five to 10 exercises. Some of them are as long as an hour. You can do a few workouts one after the other. There are various trainers in Kemtai. These are not just Kemtai trainers, but external personal trainers can also upload their content to Kemtai and then Kemtai runs its processing and learns those movements to enable you as a user to pick a trainer of your choice. We have trainers from Japan, from Singapore, from Brazil, from New York, from Israel. From various places.

Mike Telem:

The idea is also to be a platform that enables trainers to bring forth their style of exercise, their types of workout. Just like in YouTube, you can choose, who you want to watch. In Kemtai, you can choose who would train you and you would get feedback based on their way of doing a squat. Not necessarily Mike's way of doing a squat. You can choose the trainer that you prefer.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now that again, is a game changer when it comes to personal training, because I do know some trainers who would be interested in learning about Kemtai. How do trainers get paid for their experience or their expertise?

Mike Telem:

Right now these are relatively early days with Kemtai but the idea is that trainers would get paid a percentage of the revenue that comes from people working out with their sessions. Similar to what music apps are doing, where if a lot of people subscribe and listen to your music, then you'll get a specific percentage of that. If maybe less people listen to someone else then that singer or songwriter will get a little bit less. The idea is to share a percentage of that revenue with them and also enable them to get to so many more customers.

Mike Telem:

If you're a great personal trainer, why should you be limited to the people that live around you specifically? If you're a great trainer, why not let users from around the world, work out with you? Get your type of feedback. This is really bringing you, the trainer, to life in other people's homes. If you're a very good trainer, not necessarily a celebrity, but a good trainer that provides good workouts and good feedback, a lot of people around the world using Kemtai will enjoy choosing your workouts.

Vincent Ferguson:

I like that concept completely, but you're still in the early stages of this though, as far as building this out, correct?

Mike Telem:

Yes. Because of COVID, we've launched an initial preliminary version quite early, around April. Just wanted people to enjoy it and be able to use what was available then. We're now getting close to a very substantial new version that include these workouts that I mentioned, and also studio workouts, where you can choose, for instance, Pilates for beginners or for advanced or high intensity training or yoga. Also, developing a concept we call the adaptive coach that changes the workout in the middle of the workout based on your actual performance at that moment.

Mike Telem:

If I see that something is too difficult for you, I might lower the level or the intensity in the next exercise. If I see you're doing very well, I might increase the intensity in the next exercise. This is even taking this whole concept of real-time feedback another step forward. Those things are coming out pretty soon. We would probably be announcing it in a couple of weeks. I guess you got a sneak peek here to these concepts.

Mike Telem:

We think that now in terms of having enough content, various types of workouts and exercises, the product has made a lot of progress and we're seeing users enjoy it more and work out with it on a regular basis.

Vincent Ferguson:

Do you think Kemtai will inspire more of us to actually work out at home?

Mike Telem:

I think so. Home fitness was huge before COVID. Home fitness was actually huge 30 or 40 years ago with Jane Fonda and DVDs and people buying bikes for their houses. Home fitness has always been a big market. People have always seen the advantages. What I think COVID has done, apart from a lot of bad things, is give people an opportunity to realize just how much progress was done in home fitness and the fact that in many aspects, you can do things at home today that are as good and in some aspects, even better than what you can find outside or in a gym.

Mike Telem:

For instance, Peloton is a great example. You can get a great experience, some would argue even better than a spinning class, and you can do it at the convenience of your home and even do a class with a thousand people. Kemtai provides you the experience of having a personal trainer at your home, providing real-time feedback, personalized perfectly to you. Most people can't afford that, not even once a week, not to mention a few times a week. Logistically it's typically an issue. COVID pushed people to explore home fitness and to realize what advances were made in the past five/seven years in this market.

Mike Telem:

Now they're enjoying it and I think they will continue to enjoy home fitness even after COVID ends, which I hope happens very soon. People will have a hybrid approach where maybe a couple of times a week I go to the gym, another time maybe I go outside running, a couple more times I work out at home with Kemtai or any other technology that I find interesting and relevant for me. That's what you're going to see I think in the next few years.

Vincent Ferguson:

I agree. I'm totally sold on Kemtai and I'm sure a lot of my listeners will be as well. What is the financial investment? What does it cost?

Mike Telem:

It's actually quite affordable in my opinion. It's $19 a month. You even get a discount if you take an annual subscription, you get all the workouts, all the trainers, all the exercise. You can use it as much as you want. Other people in your household can use it. I guess for a year, you would still pay less than one personal training session and you can use Kemtai as much as you want. One day you can do Pilates, the other you can do high intensity or weights, anything you want.

Vincent Ferguson:

How are you guys getting the word out about Kemtai? I know you're doing podcasts, but what other advertising and marketing are you doing?

Mike Telem:

We have some social media campaigns that you can expect, but to be honest, we really believe in word of mouth. We think that as the product is getting better and better, more people are simply going to talk about it. I can see that more and more people are getting to us via simple search in Google because someone told them about Kemtai. We're now releasing a concept that we call a challenge where I can imagine that the challenge is maybe three simple exercises, two minutes long altogether. I do the challenge and I can see that I got a 75 and I can see my rank in the global leaderboard or how I rank with my country.

Mike Telem:

I can share the challenge with you and say, "Hey, you talk a lot about fitness. Let's see how much you can get. Let's see what you're going to score in the challenge." Those are the types of things that we prefer, where people simply enjoy it and share it with others. Strategically, that is the type of marketing that we want to do. You might call it more product-oriented marketing, where I just want people to get a chance to try Kemtai. Use it and if they're happy, tell their friends about it and that's going to be enough.

Vincent Ferguson:

I agree. I think that will be enough because Kemtai is going to sell itself. I really believe that.

Mike Telem:

Well, I hope you're right. I think you're right. We still have a lot of work to make sure that you're right.

Vincent Ferguson:

Right. Exactly. Now, Mike, I run a nonprofit organization for children, right? A health organization, but can kids use the Kemtai program?

Mike Telem:

Yes. Technically, at least from a certain age Kemtai picks up the body just as well and kids can use it. It hasn't been our focus right now, just because it's important to be a little more sensitive with things that you provide kids, but we love helping these types of causes. We want more kids to be active and keep their health and get good habits from a young age. I was actually not aware that you have something like that so I would love to learn more. We would love to provide access somehow to your audience so they'll be able to work out with Kemtai free of charge, of course, and enjoy home fitness.

Vincent Ferguson:

Great, we're looking to do some stuff for the children, because all the kids are home now and childhood obesity is a major issue. That's what we're trying to combat. I will send you some information through Margie about what we do and this way, perhaps we can work together on helping children to become more healthy.

Mike Telem:

That would be wonderful.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, where do you see Kemtai in the next five years?

Mike Telem:

I think we will make a lot of progress on the technology on additional ways of adapting the workouts to your goals and to your performance, making it more effective, but also working on making it more fun. Adding more ways of really bringing to life the different trainers and the different styles. Supporting more types or categories of workouts, whether it's Pilates and yoga already, but later on, maybe some shadowboxing and some other types. A lot of people have asked us, can we help their golf swing?

Mike Telem:

Again, technologically, it's definitely possible, but every different category takes some attention. We're hoping to cover more and more of the ... Martial arts is something that's close to heart for me obviously. I would love to train karate via the application. Again, I don't see it replacing going to the dojo and working out, but it can definitely help and increase your proficiency in those categories

Vincent Ferguson:

I can see that as well. Kemtai is definitely a game changer. I'll stand by that.

Mike Telem:

I appreciate that.

Vincent Ferguson:

How can my listeners learn more about Kemtai?

Mike Telem:

The best thing would be to go to app.kemtai.com. That's A-P-P.K-E-M-T-A-I. com and try it out. There is a sample workout. Everybody can try, see what it feels like. It's a very easy workout. You can do it in your jeans. The whole idea is to get a feel for Kemtai and then decide whether you want to try it out. There's a money-back guarantee. It's very, very easy. It's a lot of fun. Just go to app.kemtai.com or www.kemtai.com and give it a try.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Excellent. Can we follow you on social media?

Mike Telem:

Yes. You can follow Kemtai virtual fitness on Instagram. We have a Kemtai user group on Facebook. You can join and follow either one of those. Get information from us and updates, and also connect with peers that are following up and working out with Kemtai.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Mike Telem, on behalf of Body Sculpt of New York and Six Weeks to Fitness, I truly want to thank you for coming on my show today.

Mike Telem:

I appreciate. It was a pleasure. I love talking about my job and I love talking about fitness and it's been great talking to you. I appreciate you having me.

Direct download: Episode_162_Mike_Telem.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:39am EST

Kathryn Kelly is the founder and CEO of Taste Buzz Food Tours, a Las Vegas-based food tour company, providing guests with an exclusive local insider's perspective on the absolute best places to eat in the city. Guests can choose between two three-hour walking tour options, the Las Vegas strip option, and an evening option in downtown Las Vegas. Taste Buzz Food Tour guests are treated to five different foodie restaurants, where they can enjoy a mind-blowing sampling of one to four of the venues most popularized must-have dishes. Kathryn Kelly is also a fitness competitor, and she took first place in the Team USA 2020 Junior Masters Fitness competition and is now currently training for Miss Olympia.

Vincent Ferguson:

Before we discuss your amazing company, Taste Buzz Food Tours, let's talk a little about Kathryn Kelly's early years. Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?

Kathryn Kelly:

Las Vegas is my home. I was born here. Born and raised in Las Vegas. I did spend one year of my childhood in the Philippines because my mom is Filipino. So we came back here again. I would have to say that my childhood is probably not like most other children because I grew up in Las Vegas, I did spend a lot of time in the hotels and the casinos running around, playing in the arcades. And then as well, the city isn't like most other cities, it's definitely unique on its own.

Vincent Ferguson:

I've been to Vegas and I can't wait to go back. Now, were you involved with fitness at all when you were a child?

Kathryn Kelly:

I wouldn't say professionally or anything like that. Just like other kids, I enjoyed running around and playing around. This was a little bit different than I guess the way kids grow up now. I think a lot of children play video games and use their cell phones a lot more than I did when I was growing up. I have two brothers and we were very much out for the... We would run around the streets, we would climb walls, we would climb trees. We were always playing catch and shooting hoops. So I was always active and into fitness without actually playing sports or going to the gym or anything like that.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's interesting because even though you were not involved in any structured fitness activity, you still got into the fitness world. So how did you become interested in a fitness competition?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, I was always active as a kid.  It was probably when I was in high school or college when I started actually doing classes. So I started getting really into yoga and I started going to this gym. And when I was about 18 years old, I started working at the juice bar inside the LVAC here, which is our local gym. And part of working for the juice bar, I got to use the facility as often as I wanted. So I got to go to any of the classes. I got to use the workout room. I got to use the steam room and the pool, which was really exciting for me because I had never had access to that before. So I started working out. I didn't really know what I was doing, but I would just be in there and using the machines and figuring things out myself.

Kathryn Kelly:

Ever since then, I just continued going to the gym. So after that, I subscribed to a membership at the gym. Actually, I'm still a member of LVAC today and that's where I train and work out. And I just love it. I love working out. I love bodybuilding and my passion for bodybuilding has grown throughout the years. So in the beginning, I was saying that it was more of just like go to the gym and do whatever I deemed fit for the day. It was in the last few years, I've really taken on this passion to where, or interest in how bodybuilding changes the way your body looks and how you can manipulate the shape of your body, and I find that very interesting.

Vincent Ferguson:

You went ahead and participated in a competition. Did someone encourage you to take part in that show?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. Let's see, it's been about five years now, I went to a different gym, the same gym, but there are five locations here in Las Vegas. So I started going to a different one because I had moved. And one of the trainers was like, "You have a great body to do the bikini competitions." She was telling me about, it took me a little bit to decide whether or not I wanted to do it. And so I said, "You know what? I think I'm going to." One day I was at the gym and I saw this girl and I was never really into really muscular look for a female. I liked more of that soft, feminine look. But once I was at the gym and I saw this girl and she was muscular, but yet she was still feminine and I thought she was gorgeous.

Kathryn Kelly:

So I told the coach, I said, "Yes. Okay, let's do it." So she trained me for a fitness competition and actually, I hated it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Really? You hated it.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah, I did. I hated the entire process. It was interesting, but I didn't like the entire process. I was starving. I don't think I was at the right place mentally. I was at the gym every day and I was still doing it, but I didn't enjoy the process. And I think a big part as well was the food. I didn't really understand the food concept of it, what I was supposed to be doing. And at this time, while I was training, one of the other coaches at the gym, he approached me and he's like, "What are you doing?" And I was explaining to him that I'm entering in this bikini competition and he was interested and he started talking to me and he let me do my own thing.

Kathryn Kelly:

And after the competition which I didn't do very well in, he was like, "Let me start training you." And for years I was like, "No, it's not my thing." I really didn't like it. And we've become really good friends. My coach is Jerry Anderson, so he's actually a 17 time Mister All Natural Universe title winner, and he's been training since 2001, really. So I look up to him and he took me under his wings and in the past year, I told him, "Okay, let's do this again." And he trained me and I have a new mental approach towards the competitions and fitness and bodybuilding in general. And the process is much more pleasant. I actually really enjoyed every step of the way. And a lot of it has to do with the food since that's such a big part of your life. And I took first for the Miss Bikini Diva National Team USA for Junior Championship.

Vincent Ferguson:

So what's the next step, Miss Olympia?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, there's, yes, there's the Olympia, which will be here in Las Vegas as well. This is the natural competition and I will be entering into the amateur division.

Vincent Ferguson:

What's the date on that? Do you know?

Kathryn Kelly:

That is November 12th through the 15th. They haven't set the actual date for my competition, exactly. But it'll be one of those days.

Vincent Ferguson:

Still Miss Olympia. That's a big deal. You know what I mean?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. I'm really excited to do this. Yeah.

Vincent Ferguson:

You learned about the training aspect of it. And you also know now about the nutrition aspect of it, which is also a pretty big deal, right?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. They actually say that the food when you're training is probably like 60 to 70% of your body and the fitness aspect of it.

Vincent Ferguson:

And that's why it's so interesting that you started a food business. So that's what we want to talk about. As you said, nutrition is very important. Do you follow a strict nutrition plan as you prepare for the show?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. I do have a strict nutrition plan for the show. Correct. And I think, one of the reasons why I'm able to follow it so strictly, and I don't have these urges to cheat, is because my diet plan is built around the things that I enjoy to eat. So I know when people are asking me about the competition, they're like, the first thing that they say and this must be widely recognized is that if you're doing a competition, you're just eating chicken breasts and broccoli, because that's what everybody says. "Oh, so you're just eating chicken and broccoli, chicken and broccoli." And I have to tell you, I'm not the biggest fan of steamed broccoli and just plain chicken breasts. I probably wouldn't do very well if that's what I was told to eat. So my trainer gave me a lot of room to be able to manipulate my diet by following certain rules, and I created meal plans for myself where I actually enjoy the food.

Vincent Ferguson:

So that has got to be the key to be able to still enjoy yourself, enjoy the foods you eat as you prepare for the show. Correct?

Kathryn Kelly:

I believe so. Yeah. It's definitely, it's a mental thing and it's about balance. And if you're not enjoying the process, it's going to be very, very hard to be able to succeed.

Vincent Ferguson:

Now, let's talk a little bit about your business, the Taste Buzz Food Tours, which is awesome. I read about it. It’s amazing.

Kathryn Kelly:

Thank you.

Vincent Ferguson:

How long has the company been around and where did the concept come from?

Kathryn Kelly:

So we started doing food tours back in 2016 and the concept started because I really wanted to show off my city, which is Las Vegas, to visitors. So I love to travel and when I travel, I want to see, and I want to do, and I want to go where all the locals go. I don't love “let me just do sightseeing and let me do all these activities.” I love a more local approach. And I know that when people come to Las Vegas, it's a little bit harder to get that because this is a big city and you're overstimulated with lights and shows and nightclubs. And there's just so much activity. And if you don't know somebody that lives here, it's going to be hard to get that "Where can I really go? Am I getting ripped off?" Like, "Everything is so expensive." One of those kinds of vacations.

Kathryn Kelly:

I wanted people to really appreciate Las Vegas and see the charm that I get to see. So since food is my passion, I decided to show it off in a way that I would really enjoy. And luckily it came at a time when the foodie realm was starting to become really popular and people are exploring different food options. And at a time too, when Las Vegas started changing from a really big chain restaurant city to more of these local holes in the wall, chef-driven restaurants.

Vincent Ferguson:

That's interesting because all the time, the many times I've been there; I didn't know anything about that. It was all about going to the big shows, visiting the hotels, all the excitement that comes with it. If I would've known there was something like the Taste Buzz Food Tours, I would have definitely taken advantage of that. But prior to starting your company, did you have any experience working in the restaurant and hospitality industry?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes I did. So I'm going to go way back and I'm going to say that, it's always been a dream of mine to own my own cafe or a little restaurant. I remember when I was really young, before I could even start working as a teenager, I would watch these TV shows and I would see the small-town girl and she was always tomboyish, but cute and she was always a server. It just always looked like a really fun job to me. And so for some reason, I always wanted to be a server in a restaurant. That was my dream when I was a teenager. I was like; I was going to be a server. And I started off as a hostess and then I became a food runner. This was back in the day when you had to have experience working in the food and beverage industry here.

Kathryn Kelly:

So I made my way up and then I became a food server. Then when I became a food server, I was like, "You know what? I want to be a bartender." And then I became a bartender. And then I was like, "You know what? I love bartending, but I think I want to do something different." "I'm going to show people around." And then I became a food tour guide for Taste Buzz Food Tours. I created the concept and it's been great. It really worked out.

Vincent Ferguson:

The response has been great so far then?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. As you were saying earlier, a lot of people come to Las Vegas and they're looking like, "Okay, I'm in Vegas. I have to do this big... I'm going to do the shows. I'm going to do the nightclubs. I'm going to do the pools." And that's all great. I definitely think you should come to Las Vegas, experience that because as a city, I think we're the best place for that. You cannot get this kind of excitement anywhere else in the world. And we have some of the most beautiful hotels and nightclubs that you'll ever see and you have that aspect of the city, but it's also really, really cool to see a different side of the city. In a city that's so big and grand that you can have this small-town feel to it as well, where everybody knows everybody and you walk around and people are like, "Hey, hi Kathy, how you doing?" And, "Hi, welcome to our restaurant." People really enjoy that.

Vincent Ferguson:

It’s a very intimate type of an environment.

Kathryn Kelly:

Exactly.

Vincent Ferguson:

Are there other food tour businesses going on right now in Vegas?

Kathryn Kelly:

With the pandemic, I think a lot of places have had to shut down. So I'm not really sure because everybody's kind of reopening and navigating the reopening on their own accord. But we started up right away, as soon as the city reopened. And we were ready to show off our restaurants and help build up the support again, because they really needed it.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, definitely. But how has this current pandemic affected your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

Well, restaurants were closed, so we completely shut down. And then the city reopened and business is slower than usual, but I think, in a way it's been good because I've had time to do some restructuring and reorganization, but at the same time, people are coming to Las Vegas and they cannot do the shows and a lot of other tour companies, like let's say Grand Canyon or whatever, they're not running as often. People are having to look to do other activities. And I think, just by searching what to do in Las Vegas, we're coming up and people are like, "What is that?" And we're getting a lot of guests who've never done food tours before, and just trying to experience something different. They go on our tour and they're like, "Wow, I'm so glad that we were able to find you and try something different."

Kathryn Kelly:

So it's been good. I think we're going to have a lot more guests and followers for the future years.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. It sounds like it. And also, it's a good time to market and promote your business too.

Kathryn Kelly:

Oh, for sure. For sure. I love the fact that we're working with a lot of the smaller restaurants and that we're able to promote and help them out at a time like this because we have a very strong food and beverage industry here and it's sad to see a lot of places having to close down because of the situation. And so it's nice to be like, "Let me introduce this restaurant to my guests." And my guests, they'll come back; they'll tell their friends about it. So the next time they come back to Las Vegas, they can say, "Try out this restaurant. We had a really good time on Taste Buzz Food Tours." It's promoting and marketing those restaurants as well.

Vincent Ferguson:

Excellent. Now I've been on many tours, but never a food tour. So explain what we can expect to see and do while on a tour.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. Okay. Well, next time you come to Las Vegas, you're going to have to come check us out.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah. I promise.

Kathryn Kelly:

We do a little bit of everything. So I think what makes our food tours very unique is not only do we get to try the local side of Las Vegas, but we get to try the variety of it as well. You'll do something at a hole in the wall. You might do a food truck. We might stop by a coffee shop or a brewery, but you'll also do a nice trendy restaurant all in one tour. And you get to try those signature items. So you really get to see what makes that restaurant special through a local's eyes. You might be able to meet a chef. We're very close with the people that we work with and the restaurants that we work with. So if the chef is on duty, he might come out and say hi, and we could take souvenir photos for you to remember.

Kathryn Kelly:

We do some sightseeing as well. So the routes are walking tours, so you get to see the most out of the city, but we'll walk through some of the top attractions and we'll do some fun facts about the attraction, take more photos and some history.

Vincent Ferguson:

Wow, you said it's a walking tour. So you get some exercise in.

Kathryn Kelly:

You get exercise, you get food, you get sightseeing, and you get a little bit of everything. It's a really great concept.

Vincent Ferguson:

Goodness. That is awesome. Now, how much do the tours cost? Are they expensive?

Kathryn Kelly:

I think they're very reasonably priced. Our downtown food tour is $95 per person. And our Las Vegas strip food tour is $99 per person. So for under a hundred dollars, you get a three hour experience, which includes sightseeing, history and a full meal.

Vincent Ferguson:

How many people can you accommodate on each tour?

Kathryn Kelly:

We do small group tours, so usually there are 12 on a daily basis, but right now with the COVID restrictions it's reduced to 10, just so that people feel a little bit more safe.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh, I see. Yeah. It's very limited right now. Right?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. So there are a lot of restrictions still here in the city. So we're trying to please everybody.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yes. It's been challenging, but I'm sure we're going to get through this, you know?

Kathryn Kelly:

Yeah. We will, we will in time. We just need a little bit more time for people to feel safe. And we got to do the right thing and prevent the spread and, eventually, we'll get through, we'll get through this difficult time.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. We'll be looking back on this and saying, "Remember when?"

Kathryn Kelly:

I know, right? Remember that crazy year?

Vincent Ferguson:

Exactly, exactly. The key is to keep going, stay focused and we'll get through it. We always do. And we always will.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes.

Vincent Ferguson:

How long are the tours? How much time does it take?

Kathryn Kelly:

They are three hours long. So from the time we meet to the time we say goodbye, everything's about three hours long, which is a perfect time for an experience. You get that intimate feeling with your tour guide and you get to eat for three hours long, a little bit of walking here and there. And then, after the tour, you get to go on and explore more things in Las Vegas.

Vincent Ferguson:

I love it. How far in advance do you recommend customers’ book a food tour?

Kathryn Kelly:

I would say as soon as you know you're coming to Las Vegas and you've decided, "I'm going to take the food tour." Because, since our groups are small, especially right now, they're only up to eight people, they book out.  So definitely you want to get your tickets as soon as possible.

Vincent Ferguson:

Yeah, this is great! Sounds like it would be a lot of fun to bring a family; your friends, to go out there and make it happen. That sounds to me like a winner.

Kathryn Kelly:

Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah. It's a really nice experience really, for everybody. And we've made it for all ages. So you could bring your family, you could bring your kids. It's a great date night. It's great for bachelorettes. It's great for wedding parties. It's great for friend’s night out. It really is a fun, wholesome activity.

Vincent Ferguson:

But how do you balance getting ready for a show and running your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

I won't eat on the food tours while I am getting ready for the competitions. And it is a mental thing. So I made my decision. I'm going to do the competition and you just have to stay focused. And it is hard because I have to meet with new restaurants or I'll be out at an event and there's all this amazing food coming out, and people are asking you to "Please eat," and I'm like, "I cannot. Not this time, but I'll be back."

Kathryn Kelly:

It's only, however long you diet for, so the last competition I dieted for 13 weeks, which is a typical amount of time for a diet, but it's stricter and stricter as the competition goes, so you just have to stay focused. And then I know as well, it's only for this amount of time and then afterwards I can go out and I can enjoy all these restaurants and all of this food once again.

Vincent Ferguson:

Oh yeah. After it's over, it's on.

Kathryn Kelly:

Exactly. It's time to celebrate.

Vincent Ferguson:

There you go. Exactly, exactly. But if you can say anything else to my listeners, what would it be about your business?

Kathryn Kelly:

I would say, just do it, it's just so much fun. You get to go out, get to meet great people; you get to experience something that only a small group of people get to experience. And it's fun for everyone. You get to try great food; you get to exercise at the same time. Life's all about balance. So while you're here in Las Vegas, you want to be able to enjoy as much as you can.

Vincent Ferguson:

Most definitely. So how can we find out more about Taste Buzz Food Tours and you?

Kathryn Kelly:

So visit our website, www.tastebuzzvegas.com and you'll have all the information, all the fun photos for our tours. You can also visit on Facebook and Instagram @tastebuzzfoodtours. And if you wanted to look me up a little bit more, I do have a personal Instagram, it's K_to_the_athy.

Direct download: Episode_161_Kathryn_Kelly.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:12am EST

Katherine Amato and Natasa Billeci are the Founders of the Katan Klinic, an integrative skin revision and anti-aging sanctuary, where all treatment programs are uniquely tailored to each patient’s needs. Together, they have over 20 years of combined experience in the field of Aesthetic Medicine. Their experiences led them to recognize that aging well was more about developing completely customized regimens for each client and not relying on beauty trends and cookie-cutter treatments. Katan Klinic’s mission is to rebuild beauty from the inside out using a sustainable long-term regimen that keeps the skin evolving and aging gracefully.

Vincent Ferguson :

Before we discuss the Katan Klinic, let's talk a little about the both of you. Where were you born and raised and where did your interest in health come from?

Katherine Amato:

I'm born and raised in Long Island, New York and I have been here ever since. My interest in skincare really started from a young age, definitely with my mom, just her always being into taking care of herself, skin, going to get facials. It really just stemmed from following her, going with her to her little facial appointments. It really just ended up being something that I really felt deeply about.

Natasa Billeci:

I too am a native New Yorker, born and raised. I'm actually first-generation American born. I am a child of immigrant parents that came here in the early 70s. And very early on in life, I was exposed to the beauty and wellness space through my mom, much like with Katherine, but my mom had her own hair salon. And so I grew up around beauty and wellness. Later on in life, I had some of my own health issues that created a much deeper interest in how do we take a more integrative and whole-person approach without having to dip into pharmaceuticals, but doing things a bit more naturally. So that's really where my passion for health started was really through my personal journey with my own issues.

Vincent Ferguson :

Wow. Very nice. Now, how did the two of you meet?

Katherine Amato:

We both worked for a short time together in a skincare clinic and we forged a relationship and that's really how it happened. And then we went our own ways for a little bit, and we reconnected about a year or two later. And that's how we both were like, let's do this together. Let's open up a place and start something new.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. How long have you guys been around?

Natasa Billeci:

We've been in business together as Katan Klinic for about two and a half years now.

Vincent Ferguson :

Two and a half years. But you have combined again, 20 years of experience though.

Natasa Billeci:

Yes, we do. Both Katherine and I have a very deeply rooted background in aesthetic medicine as well as dermatology. I am a nurse and my specialty is dermatology. Katherine is an aesthetician. We really brought together our skills, talents, and experiences to be able to give our clients and patients a very integrative and whole person approach to reviving their skin.

Vincent Ferguson :

In your bio, I read off how you are an integrative skin revision and anti-aging sanctuary. What does that mean? And what type of treatments do you provide at the Katan Klinic?

Natasa Billeci:

That's a great question Vince. Our approach and our philosophy to skin revision and general skin health are a bit different than what's customary in the industry. You're coming into our clinic and we're not looking at you as someone who just needs to get rid of their acne or someone who has pigmentation issues, but we're looking at you as a whole person. And the reason that we've taken this approach to reviving skin is because skin is influenced by everything else that's going on around us, so whether we're talking about your lifestyle choices, that means your nutrition. It means how much you move on a daily basis, what you eat and whether or not that's appropriate for your individual physiological needs.

Natasa Billeci:

We're looking at the skincare ingredients that you need and the dose of these skincare ingredients. It's a little more than just looking at your skin and saying, "hey, we're going to do a couple of fabulous treatments on you and your skin is going to be glowy and dewy for a couple of days." Our approach is really based on creating an individualized treatment program, as well as one that's going to carry you through your lifetime and allow you to age a lot better.

Vincent Ferguson :

You deal with each individual client separately based on their particular needs.

Natasa Billeci:

That's exactly right. The consultation is a really important portion of our visits. When you enter our clinic, we don't allow people to just book a facial or book a Botox treatment. You come into our practice and we spend about an hour or two, really getting to know who you are. And in that process, you're going to be sharing a lot about your medical history, your family history, your lifestyle, your sleeping patterns, and your eating patterns. And we bring all of this information together so that we can really build that customized plan for you.

Katherine Amato:

I think that what separates us so much from other places is when someone comes in, they sit down with both Natasa and I for the most part most of the time, and they're getting two different backgrounds of knowledge. Natasa is so rooted in the medical field and the health and wellness portion. I'm so much in the skincare with skincare ingredients and treatment that tandemly, when we're working together with a client they're leaving with so much education and knowledge before they even get a treatment. And I feel that that's so priceless and it's so important. And I think that's what really sets us apart from other clinics and kind of run it in mill med spas that just let you book your own treatment, go through a menu card and say, "Oh, I want this vitamin C facial or this filler today." We don't really allow you to tell us what you want, we tell you what you need.

Vincent Ferguson :

Now, who are your ideal clients?

Natasa Billeci:

Our ideal clients are those that understand the importance of really integrating skin health into their lifestyle. If we take a look at, especially, many women that are interested in caring for their skin, if they went into their skincare spend budget and looked at how much money is spent on different creams and serums and different tools and equipment, what they would end up seeing is that they're spending a lot of money on products that end up sort of sitting on their shelf. And they don't really cause an effect, right? We see a lot of skincare products that are promoted by celebrities or influencers, and they claim that it changed their skin forever. But the reality is, is that we're all unique individuals.

Natasa Billeci:

If you're able to honor the fact that you may not respond in the same way to a certain treatment or a skincare product or routine, that is where a clinic like ours will come into the mix. Our client is someone who's looking for a little bit more of a sophisticated and personalized experience. Someone who really understands that it's not just about creams, but it's about lifestyle as well. And they're willing to create a budget on an annual basis just to make sure that they're aging well and that they are achieving these individualized skin health goals.

Vincent Ferguson :

How important is nutrition to slowing down the aging process?

Natasa Billeci:

That's a great question, and it's probably a little bit beyond the scope of our conversation here, but it's sort of tapping into the general concept. When we think about nutrition, nutrition is going to drive our skin health in a lot of different ways. the skin is connected to the gut and that's one of the important connections that we see a lot of research on today. There's also a lot of research with regards to biomarkers, things like blood testing, saliva testing, looking at our cortisol levels, the changes in our hormone levels. And those are two of the really important factors that we know influence our skin health and the aging process. And a lot of those things can be mitigated through really good nutrition and personalized nutrition.

Vincent Ferguson :

And do you discuss nutrition with your clients?

Natasa Billeci:

Yes, we do. Both Katherine and I are certified health coaches as well. When we're going through the entire consultation process, we're talking a lot with the patient about their health habits and their nutrition as well. And we make recommendations that are going to be supporting their skin revision journey.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. But how do you determine what facial procedures are best for someone's skin?

Katherine Amato:

We have to discuss their budget. I think that's something that's really important when we're creating this program for a client, also, what their commitment is going to be. If someone is willing to come in two to three times a month for a micro current treatment or let's say, a cleaning every two to three weeks, that's also plays a big role in what treatment they're going to get. Also, what conditions they have. Also, if they're pregnant or if they're breastfeeding, so many different factors play into what treatment they're going to get. Someone that is not ready to stop being in the sun. Sun is such a big environmental factor for so many things such as sun damage, inflammatory hyperpigmentation. I really have to get a sense of their lifestyle before determining what the best treatment is for their skin.

Vincent Ferguson :

What type of equipment do you use in your practice?

Natasa Billeci:

We have a couple of different types of equipment that we rely on. Firstly, we very rarely rely on just eyeballing someone's skin. The first part of the process is using technology to allow us to really see the structure and function of the skin. We use a skin analysis device where the patient actually puts their head in this little unit and the unit changes different lights and what it does is it allows us to see things like pigmentation that hasn't come up to the surface just yet. It allows us to see areas of the skin that are maybe hyperactive with the sebaceous glands. It allows us to see a lot of the stuff that's going to come to the surface down the line. And so with that in mind, we take that information, all of the information that we gather from the health questionnaire, the skin questionnaire, and we bring that together to help guide that treatment routine and that regime. Again, it's going back to that very personalized approach to the person's program.

Vincent Ferguson :

Because I know, I've mentioned that you don't use just a cookie cutter approach. You're giving individualized support, attention, consultation to your clients. Do you have clients who stick with you for the long haul?

Natasa Billeci:

Yeah. And that's one of the big underlying variables in our practice. We are building a lifetime relationship and program for each of our clients. So we're going to age with you. We're going to take you through all of the processes of your life, whether it's menopause, whether it's a terrible divorce, whether it's the stress that was caused by something like COVID 19, we're always there for you, helping you modify and adjust so that you age in the best way that you possibly can. And when we look at what equipment we're going to use or what interventions we're going to use, they're also going to be based on your preferences. As a nurse and an injector, I have clients that come in that are maybe not interested in doing hyaluronic acids or fillers, so that's a client that I would take down a vampire facial route or someone that I would do something called platelet-rich plasma on. Each of these programs is going to be completely individualized to the client, allowing them to age in the best possible way that they can in a way that's appropriate to them.

Vincent Ferguson :

Well, aging is a very important issue as you know. We all get older, but we don't want to necessarily look old.

Natasa Billeci:

That's right.

Katherine Amato:

And I also think a lot of our equipment that we carry and the treatments we do, we really try to focus on increasing cellular health and just strengthening the structural integrity of the skin. I think that's what it comes down to. I think a lot of people forget about working on their actual skin and they focus so much on like, I hate to go off on a tangent, but like Instagram, like everyone's focusing on getting high cheekbones and bigger lips and the different shape of their face. I think it's really focusing on building, optimizing your skin health. And that's what we try to focus on the most first, at least primarily. And then from there, we kind of tweak whatever they want to enhance or make better.

Natasa Billeci:

And to your point, Vince, none of us like the fact that we're aging, but what we can do is have that target that when we're 40, we should look like we're 30 and when we're 50, we should look like we're 40. And that's a reasonable goal to have in terms of the aging process itself. And that's something that we help our clients achieve every day.

Vincent Ferguson :

Awesome. Because the skin is our largest organ, right? The largest organ in our body.

Katherine Amato:

Yes.

Natasa Billeci:

That's right. And it's very much impacted by all of the other organ systems in the body as well. A lot of times people look at the skin as, it's kind of hanging out on an island by itself, but it's really not. It's deeply influenced by everything that's going on within as well. There's a lot of communication there.

Vincent Ferguson :

Most definitely. And earlier you mentioned COVID-19 and I can't let this conversation go without asking you, has this pandemic affected their skin? The stress, the worry that's going on right now?

Natasa Billeci:

Absolutely. It goes back down to the fact that skin is not an island. And so now that we've officially reopened here in New York, it's been a huge challenge. We have a lot of our clients that due to the stress, their inflammatory factors were elevated so much in their skin that we're seeing them developing other conditions that they didn't have previously. Their skin is a lot more reactive. They're getting acne when they never had it before. There's a lot going on in terms of compromised skin health right now that has been a huge challenge. It's definitely impacted our clients significantly. And it's impacted us as a small business in the middle of one of the most highly populated cities in the world that was hit really hard by this pandemic.

Vincent Ferguson :

And that was my next question about how were you being impacted. And you just answered that. Amazing. I know you're located in New York, but actually where exactly in New York are you located?

Katherine Amato:

We're right in midtown on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street, right in the heart.

Vincent Ferguson :

That's the heart, but the heart has been affected.

Natasa Billeci:

It has indeed.

Katherine Amato:

It has.

Natasa Billeci:

It's been a very, very challenging time period. We've also seen a change in a lot of our clients’ lifestyle. We have a lot of moms that are clients that are now at home and homeschooling their children, which has been impacting their ability to care for their skin. Coming in for regular treatments has become an issue. We have really shifted our approach and we are providing a lot of support to our clients through virtual conversations and consultations, just helping people stay centered and balanced, keeping them on their skincare routines, modifying their skincare routines, giving them a lot of nutritional recommendations as well. We're being a bit more agile and we're kind of shifting and pivoting a little bit as a business and as a brand. And we've definitely been focusing a lot more on the self-care and wellness element of things since COVID-19 started.

Katherine Amato:

Also, with clients during COVID, we've seen some common beauty mistakes that I feel we've seen very, very much has been them trying to overcompensate for not coming in and not coming in for their treatment. And they're kind of tending to their own skin and their own way and being their own aesthetician. And that's been a big issue because, like how Natasa said before, they're coming in and they're extending their issues and creating a cascade of just problems in their skin now. They're coming in now after months and months of missing their treatments.

Katherine Amato:

And some it's like, "Oh, my God, I saw you six months ago and your skin was amazing. We did so much work on it," and six months go by and it's like, we're back to square one. It's hard too. We're trying to just be their support and guide them the right way with everything. And at home, I feel like at-home tools has been a really big upcoming thing now, buying these self-care device and rollers and all these different devices that they can use at home. Trying to just really optimize as much as possible if they can't come in for their treatments.

Natasa Billeci:

And just providing education too to that point, because some of this equipment like, for example, we're big supporters of medical needling or dermal rolling, which helps to increase skin products penetration. And we've been finding that a lot of people because of this need for self-care buying inferior devices, they're not being trained on how to use the device and they're actually creating a lot more harm than good for their skin. We've been finding ourselves really emphasizing the educational element and talking about things that we don't even sell in the practice, but that we know are out there on the market and that people have been purchasing during this time period. Just teaching them actually how to use these devices safely and effectively.

Vincent Ferguson :

Would you say there's a lot of harmful products out there that if you don't know what you're doing, you can harm your skin?

Katherine Amato:

Oh, yeah.

Natasa Billeci:

Absolutely. Oh, Yeah.

Katherine Amato:

Very much so. I have clients all the time telling me, "Oh, I'm..." They go into Sephora, they go into these beauty stores and they kind of self-prescribe themselves and they rely on maybe the retail people to sell them stuff that may not be right for their skin. And it's getting to a point where it's like, I have clients come in, I just had a few clients last week, she's like, "I don't even know what skin type I have. What skin do I have?" And it's so important because educating is so crucial before you go and start prescribing yourself stuff. You have to know what you have, what you're trying to achieve, what you're trying to correct. And I think self-prescribing is a huge downfall when it comes to going out there and just stocking off your own skin pantry and buying all of these different products.

Katherine Amato:

Clients tend to also, they purchase a lot of stuff that just exfoliates their skin. They have a cleanser that has acid in it. They have a night cream that has acid. They have a scrub that has these little mini, micro beads in it. You're just exfoliating, exfoliating and when they come in, we have to work on kind of bringing their moisture and acid mantle back into play and their skin is so compromised over time. It's definitely a big beauty mistake.

Vincent Ferguson :

When you train, when you consult with your clients virtually, is there a difference in costs from them having to see you in the clinic?

Natasa Billeci:

Typically, it really depends on what they're looking to discuss. If we're doing a full consultation, normally it'll be at about a 75% price difference. It'll be 75% of the normal cost of in-office. If we're doing something that's just focused on skin and nutrition. If we're doing a more comprehensive consultation that will require them sending in photos, and they're looking to do more advanced medical treatments, such as injectables or platelet-rich plasma or vampire facials, then that's going to be typically around the same cost as in-person. And if they are coming in for treatments, there will be a subsequent consultation when they come into the office where we take photos and we really do a full on hands-on assessment.

Vincent Ferguson :

Very nice. But what recommendations would you have for anyone who's listening to this podcast and just want to know how to take care of their skin. What recommendations would you give them?

Katherine Amato:

I would definitely say simple, impactful routine. Something that is going to cause some sort of instant, not really an instant gratification, but something that's impactful such as we have our core four products at Katan and it's definitely consists of a vitamin A serum, sunscreen, a skin supplement like a facial oil or an essential fatty acid supplement and then a great cleanser. And I think those four are really going to cause an impactful routine in the skin.

Natasa Billeci:

And also from another nutritional aspect of some of the new research coming out on the hydrolyzed collagen supplements is really positive. For anyone that's really looking to help heal their skin from within, especially now, I think that a really good hydrolyzed collagen supplement would be excellent to add into their routines. And most people are really deficient in B vitamins and vitamin D, so those would be the two supplements that I would definitely bring into the mix. Of course, especially with vitamin B and any fat-soluble vitamins, you do want to make sure that you're working with a health care provider to make sure that you're taking the appropriate dosage, but these are things that you can absolutely do at home. And those two things will allow you to support your skin health from within.

Natasa Billeci:

Additionally, sleep is one of the biggest issues when it comes to skin health in particular, so getting those seven to nine hours of sleep every night, and if you can't do that, make sure to give yourself some a lot of time for catch up sleep, whether that's on the weekends, whether it's sleeping in a little bit during the week. A lot of current research on sleep deprivation shows us that it accelerates the aging process. We want to make sure that we're doing everything we can on our own to help us age very gracefully and helpfully.

Vincent Ferguson :

Hmm. Very good. Excellent advice. Now, how can my listeners find out more about the Katan Klinic?

Natasa Billeci:

They can visit us on our website at www.katanklinic.com or they can email us directly at concierge@katanklinic.com. And Katherine and I are very much engaged in getting clients set up with the consultation process, even if you want to have a quick introductory call, just to get an idea of whether or not we're the right fit for you. We're happy to do an intro call complimentary for 15 to 20 minutes with anyone that calls and references your podcast.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. Can we follow you on social media?

Katherine Amato:

Absolutely. @Katan Klinic.

Vincent Ferguson :

That's on Instagram and Twitter?

Natasa Billeci:

Instagram, and Facebook right now. Twitter will be down the pike and we're working on Pinterest as well. But right now we're on Instagram and Facebook.

Vincent Ferguson :

Nice. Excellent. I really appreciate this interview. Do you have any final words for my listeners. You said a lot.

Katherine Amato:

Always wash your face at night and change your pillow case every week for anyone that's suffering from maybe some acne. Drink lots of water every day. I know it's a very kind of a cliché tip, but hydrate, hydrate, hydrate so important.

Natasa Billeci:

And eat your greens, get your sleep and make sure that you incorporate some form of movement into your everyday routine. Whether that's getting up and taking a walk for 10 minutes, doing jumping jacks in place, whatever your fancy is, just make sure that you move your body.

Direct download: Episode_160_-_The_Katan_Klinic.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 9:31am EST

Ron Laikind is the CEO and inventor of the Extreme Mist Personal Cooling System (PCS) and Extreme Mist Portable Sanitizing System (PSS). He has hiked the globe from the Sahara to the Gobi Desert in Mongolia, Siberia, Turkey, the Himalayas, India, Pakistan, Thailand, Vietnam, South America, Argentina, Chile, Mexico, and more. In other words, he is a world traveler and the author of "Drifting Through the Sands of Time: A Saharan Adventure."

Being the world traveler that you are, Ron, where are you right now during this interview?

I am in Scottsdale, Arizona, and at the Extreme Mist headquarters at the office.

Were you born and raised in Scottsdale?

I wasn't, but I lived here for a better part of my life. As a kid, I was raised in Tucson and then moved away and then came back over 30 years ago to Scottsdale and landed here in Scottsdale with thirty years under my belt.

Where did your desire to travel the world and seek adventure come from?

It started as a little kid in Tucson going out to the old Adobe forts that were melting away out in the desert sun and the little bit of rain over the eons looking for arrowheads and artifacts from that era. Then I got into gold mining as a young guy and started dredging up in Northern California. I've always kind of had that desire, so it was just natural for me always to be outdoors, and it just continued throughout my adult life and turned into Trekking the globe.

What was your greatest takeaway from hiking all over the globe?

Well, for one, it was very difficult to get anyone to go with me on these trips. For most people to be able to take off from their families, their job or school, or whatever it is throughout the decades is difficult. At one point, I was a student too and still was taking off and doing these things on my downtime, but it's difficult to get someone to go with you.

It's nice to go by yourself because you're not encumbered by someone else, but at the same time, if I can talk someone foolish enough to go with me, then I end up seeing more, and it enhances the trip even more. There are pluses and minuses to both of those ways, so to answer your question, it's just something that gets into your blood, and you just really got to get out and do these things. If you're into it, just do it.

How were the people you met on your journey hiking across the globe?

People are people, no matter where you go. People always wonder when I go into areas like Pakistan and some of the Middle East places, how dangerous it is. Of course, if I go to downtown Phoenix at night, it can be dangerous too, so you have to be wise, but most people that you meet don't discuss politics. The government and people are totally different. I've had some of my best experiences in what we call enemy territories where the people could not have been nicer to me and more accommodating, so people are just lovely no matter where you go for the most part.

In addition to being a hiker, you're also into extreme sports. What type of sports are you into?

They come and go all the time, whether it's white water rafting or skydiving. I'm not much of an organized sports guy because I tend to do a lot of things alone. I tend not to join in the marathons and things. I do my own trail running. I think I'm just used to going out on these trips by myself that I just end up doing things on my own.

We know the importance of hydration when working out, but what was your "Aha" moment that inspired you to create the Extreme Mist Personal Cooling System and explain to my listeners how it works?

Sure. When I first did this, I went to the hardware store and bought a bunch of parts, and I got a Camelback, which is a hydration system and I installed a pump system into the back, and I shared the reservoir by wiring it off from the drink hose, so I had the drink hose coming over one shoulder, and over the other shoulder I had a smaller quarter inch hose with a Mist nozzle on the end and it ended at my chest and points out directly in front of me so whenever I walk, run, cycle, I always move into a nice, cold Cloud. So that was my intent and the aha moment to design that was in the Sahara trip I did, and that was on a thousand-mile Journey.

I left out of Mali in Africa, and I took with me a Camelier, who owned the camels, so I rented the camels and him and then I found a kid in Timbuktu in Mali, who spoke a little bit of English and talked him into going. After about a week and a half and maybe a couple of hundred miles into this trip, my Camelier, who spoke no English, every day at around 11 or 12 o'clock, we have to take our saddle blankets and drape them over us like a little tent, a little lean-to and just sit there for 3 to 4 hours and wait for the sun to go by; the most boring miserable thing you could ever do, and part of the way into this, all of our water was boiling hot because it was kept in inner tubes that we get from the wells that we have to go to every 3 or 4 days. If we miss a well, we would die.

So luckily, he knew where the wells were, we only got lost a few times, but we would scoop the water out of these wells with our buckets tied to a camel and haul it up and fill up these inner tubes. They were black and absorbed all of the heat, so not only was it blistering hot, but your water was just short of boiling as well, and he showed me a trick, a thousand-year-old Bedouin trick where you take a bowl of water, indent the sand, put it in the sand, tilt it towards any Breeze and towards the sun outside of my shadow from my little lean-to and within about 15 minutes due to the evaporation process, what was left behind was almost ice-cold water, and that was my aha moment. I will never forget that first sip of cold water going down, which changed the whole journey.

I know about mist systems because in Scottsdale and many other places in the south areas, we have misters all over the place, from commercial shopping centers to our own backyards, and it's nothing new to me, but then I thought about the evaporation, the cold, and I thought how about we put this into a hydration system so you have a two-in-one drinking and misting system and that's how the aha moment came to me.

I understand that there was another Aha moment in your life during this current pandemic, which created the Extreme Mist Portable Sanitizing System (PSS). Explain how that came about?

Well, that's the mother of invention story right there because my gym, as I mentioned earlier in the interview, is in my parking lot about 50 feet away from my office. I went into the gym to work out, and they were having a meeting, and I know all of them because I work in the same Center. So I said what's going on, and they said, "we're going to shut down." This was before the mandatory shutdowns came to the country when COVID had just started up, and I said, really, you're going to shut down now, and they said: "Yeah, people aren't secure in the fact that we are sanitizing and disinfecting the gym properly." They always have the squirt bottles at all the stations as everybody knows with the disinfectant that you're supposed to do it yourself when you leave a station, but they also have to do their job too, and they said people weren't confident, so everyone was dropping out; so I said you know what, before you make that decision give me 10 minutes, I walked back to the office. My system is a delivery system no matter what fluid I put into it, so I took off the drink hose, and I extended the chest-like mist nozzle hose down to arm's length and walked back over. I took the chemicals that they use for disinfecting and put it into a two-liter bag (which is made for runners), gave it to the manager (it's the most comfortable sanitizing backpack in the world because it's a natural runners vest style), and he put that on, walked around the gym started sanitizing on full speed which really itemized the solution which made it last three to four times longer than his squirt bottle. Everyone broke out in applause, and they went ahead and kept the gym open for a couple more weeks until the mandatory shutdown came.

It's not my passion, but we just decided to give some away to some of the COVID centers. We sent some out to Elmhurst Hospital, which was in the news constantly at ground zero in New York and a couple of the other hospitals and some locally, then some of the sanitizing companies saw it and the next thing I knew, 3000 units later within the last five months we've been selling those systems as well, and we've added some accessories.

We are selling the system to everybody. Some people use it for home use, but it's a pretty robust system for that, but people buy them for the house. I have people that buy them when they do have to travel, and they take it with them to the hotels and things to spray them down, so it's an easy, convenient tetherless system. You're not tethered to anything, and you just put in whatever of the two thousand different chemicals that are out there into the system, and you've got an instant COVID killer, hopefully.

Are these products affordable for the average consumer?

Yes, they are. The sanitizing system is under $300.00, and most of the good systems on the market start at $700 to many thousands of dollars for the commercial systems, and our drinking and misting systems are under a couple of hundred dollars.

How can we find out more about the Extreme Mist Portable Sanitizing System and Sanitizing System?

You can find out more information on my website at www.extrememist.com for the misting and drinking systems, which we call the PCS (Personal Cooling System), and for our Portable Sanitizing System (PSS) at www.portablesanitizingsystem.com.

This was a fascinating interview with an extraordinary inventor. Please listen to the podcast to hear the full story.

Direct download: Episode_159_-_Ron_Laikind.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:31am EST

Liz Grantham is the founder of TheOptimal.me, an extensive online collection of proprietary Integrated Movement Routines (IMRs) and wellness content developed specifically for people 50 plus who want to make life easier, feel younger, stay active and live with less pain. The Integrated Movement Routines are based on functional movements and take a whole-body, timeless, and natural approach to improve mobility, stability, flexibility, balance, and strength. Liz has more than 30 years of experience in marketing and advertising, providing innovative, integrated, thoughtful solutions for global clients such as Visa, Shell, and Sony Mobile, working on projects including the Olympics.

Before we discuss your App, TheOptimal.me, let's talk about you, Liz; where were you born, and what was young Liz's childhood like growing up?

I was born in a small town in South Africa called Port Elizabeth. I had a fabulous childhood. It was very long ago. I grew up in the days of analog. A telephone was a luxury almost, so a television only arrived when I was in school. We would watch the television at the neighbors' home; not everybody had them. I grew up and went off to Boarding school and ended up working in marketing and advertising as a young person.

So Your Career Path was in Advertising Prior to Starting TheOptimal.me Fitness Program?

I worked in advertising for over 30 years and had my own Agency for more than 20 and what's been wonderful is that during my career, I've really been able to work on some fantastic, big Sports sponsorship properties and worked on Olympic games. I worked on Rugby World Cups and Football World Cups, so I had a keen interest in sports and sports development. We are currently working on women in sports on a fantastic program for one of our clients that involves women in sports, so sports have always been something that's been a part of my career, but it wasn't always part of my personal reaching and my life.

Was there an Aha moment that inspired you to get into the fitness space?

Absolutely, I'm sure Vincent, that you know many stories like mine; I work in advertising, where it is a high-pressure, high-stress career. I do a lot of running around but really just hard work, the clock is ticking all the time, and one of my health advisors said to me that they were concerned that I was going to suffer from adrenal fatigue and as you might know, if adrenal fatigue goes too far and you have adrenal burnout, it's not really something you can fix, and one of the solutions that were put in front of me was that I needed to include exercise in my daily life and I was like I hate exercise, and I'm really not going to be doing that. So they said, well, you have a choice to make, so I did quite an amount of research. I'm a real follower and believer in functional medicine and thankfully found a real functional medicine practitioner, and they started talking to me about finding a different way of exercising, not just running on a treadmill or doing weight circuits. I can't concentrate long enough; I get quite bored. I think our bodies get so full of stress and tension. I use to live on Ibuprofen every afternoon just to get through the day with the headaches and sore neck. I found a fantastic trainer, and well, I took the plunge. I actually heard about him. I heard that what he did was quite different, and I went into a class one Friday evening with massive trepidation into this class that was full of people who all knew each other and were chatting. It was really quite scary almost, and the people were young and old. Anyway, I did this class, and 15 minutes later, I could not believe how my body felt. In 15 minutes, I felt like a completely different human being, and I then started doing three classes a week, and that literally changed my whole life in terms of how my body felt and how I was able to get through my day. People started asking me, what were you doing, what's going on with you, you're in a much better mood, you're full of chirp, you're not moaning and groaning all the time, and I honestly put it down to movement, so it was a really startling change for me, and I have been kind of a disciple ever since. So much so, I started a whole business around it.

What Can Someone Expect to Experience When Trying TheOptimal.me App?

Our vision was to build out a platform where people of midlife, whether that's 45 or 50, 55, 60 or 65, can find a solution that is tailor-made for our stage in life because I think as you get into midlife, our objectives in terms of our bodies and wellness often change. We're keener on being fit for purpose, in terms of Aging well, really being active in order to do the things we want to do, then looking beautiful. I think for many people, that is really a shift from when you were in your 20s or thirties where how you look is often more important than how you feel. So what they will find are our integrated movement routines, our wonderful trainer, whose name is Jennie. He is a highly qualified physical education teacher. He is an accredited trainer. He is really a master in the body and in movement. He actually turned 60 early this year. He is extraordinary. He's always been a dancer and a gymnast. He never suffered any injuries because he believes we should move our body the way we were designed to move, because while our world might have changed, how we move is still the same whether we were cavemen, hunter-gatherer and unfortunately in our daily lives now, what do we do now, our environment and our world is created for efficiency and our time and convenience, not for us to move like we use to. So, our integrated movement routines are all about moving in movement patterns, some of which are very familiar. There are movement patterns to really optimize our ability to be aligned, to be strong, to have good posture, to be able to twist and turn and not be afraid of injury really because we are strong and stable and able to do that. We have hundreds of workouts on our site, and they are all exclusive, and we approached everything we've done not to be flashy but to really give an experience that somebody in midlife whose eyes maybe were not as good as they were in their 30s.

We've focused on the fact that it's not about being fancy and modern. Even our music, we get all of our music tracks composed and commissioned so that even the music experience is joyful and fun and not necessarily hard on the ears. We worked really hard to provide something that works for our age group. It's not competitive. It's very progressive. You start where you start and move along. What you really want to do is get everyone moving. We also have fantastic nutritional information and health information and all specific to midlife and beyond because our bodies go through all sorts of changes, and we don't produce the same enzymes and amino acids. We need to look at things differently as we age, and we don't need to put all of our ailments down to old age. There are other things that can be quickly resolved.

How long are the exercise routines?

We recommend you do the routines at least 15 minutes per day, but you will find 5-minute routines, 15-minute routines, and 30 minutes and there are a beginner and intermediate classes on the site. I think it's difficult to find an excuse not to do 5 minutes or even 15 minutes of movement in a day.

Why is Functional Fitness Important as we age?

Well, think about it; if you are not able to do the 7 or 8 basic functional movements, you know, you squat, lunge, reach, push, pull, you walk. For instance, when you sit down, you're going into a squat, and when you stand up out of your squat, you need to do that to get out of your chair, and if you can't do that, you're going to need someone to help you do those type of things. If you just think about balance as we get older, what people don't know is that you start losing your balance in your 20s. It's not something that goes pop when you get to midlife. I think 1 in 4 people over the age of 55 ends up in the emergency room from a fall. If you're not working on your balance regularly, chances are you're going to roll your ankle; you're going to tumble at some point and trip on the stairs. If you're taking care of yourself, it doesn't have to be that way.

Where do you see TheOptimal.me in the Next 5 Years?

I have big plans, Vincent. I am excited about talking to our age group because I think that this is a program that's built by mid-lifers for mid-lifers. Simone, our consulting physiotherapist, she's also about to turn 60, Jennie's 60, I'm 53, the guy who composes our music is in his 50s. We are not pretending to know something that we don't. We really understand because we live it. We live this midlife time, and we're all excited about life. We want to be healthy, travel, and able to see the world, and if COVID has taught my friends and me one thing, it's how we took getting on a plane and going off somewhere exciting, inspirational, and beautiful for granted. We didn't think twice that we wouldn't be able to travel a couple of times a year, so I think we all want to be ready for when we can and when it's safe for us to get out there when we can. We will be looking at a regenerated planet because I think this might be one of the upsides of COVID. We've given our planet a bit of a rest.

It's been amazing. In South Africa, we have an amazing wildlife and bush life, and when we were in major lockdown, we couldn't do that anymore and often a lot of it was very expensive so we would have a lot of international travelers who go to our wildlife parks and when they lifted some of our restrictions, and we were allowed to cross state boundaries again, all of those beautiful places kind of needed people to visit so that they could keep going and the animals have come out to play, it was quite a remarkable thing. Everyone who came back from Safari is like; we've never seen so many animals, we've never seen animals like this before. I think maybe that's going to be the whole world for us. The animals and the planet will be excited to see us all again, so we need to be ready.

How can we find out more about Liz Grantham and TheOptimal.me?

Well, they can go along to our website at www.theoptimal.me and they can go and have a look around and get a taste of what we do. We have a 30-day free pass. They can take the time to really make sure they like the program, and if they enjoy it and want to commit, they can access all of our articles and written content, they can access it without having to buy a subscription. So there is a lot for them to see and find at TheOptimal.me. I think there is something there for everybody.

Direct download: Episode_158_-_Liz_Grantham.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:22pm EST

Rachele Jaegers is the Founder and CEO of VFit Studio, a fresh approach to online, group fitness. She is passionate about functional fitness training and teaching people how to use their bodies in the safest way possible. At VFit Studio, Rachele has pioneered and trailblazed a virtual gym format that weaves together effective live workouts, a positive community, and accessibility to help people from all walks of life reach their fullest potential.

A Bay Area Native, Rachele moved with her husband to the Eastern Sierras to enjoy a more active life in the great outdoors. She is the mother of 3 and has received certifications through NAFC in Personal Training, Group Fitness, and Nutrition Coaching, as well as a certification in Level 2 will Power Method. Rachele lives her life by her favorite quote, "Exercise Because You Love Yourself, Not Because You Hate Yourself."

5 years before the pandemic hit, Rachele has been offering workout classes on Zoom. Many now call her the creator of the Quarantine Workout.

Before we discuss VFit Studio, let's discuss your personal journey into health. Where and when did your interest in fitness and health begin?

I would say I'm like many; I grew up very active in playing sports. I like the structure of being part of a team. I was very competitive with tennis and track. I went on to college, where I became a little bit more sedentary, and when you don't have sports in your life, you lose some of that structure and accountability. I was active. I called myself a weekend warrior. I would go on hikes, walk and do a lot of fun stuff around the campus but fast forward into adulthood. When I went on to my career, I found myself starting to sit at a desk 8, 9 hours a day and get out on the weekends or on a lunch break here and there, but I just wasn't feeling healthy, I wasn't feeling the peak of fitness, and when I really got into fitness it was after we moved to the eastern Sierras. As you mentioned earlier, my husband and I were trying to build a family and it wasn't happening, it was really, really a tough time for me emotionally and physically, trying to get pregnant, and I started to actually hate my body and just dislike it, talk very negatively and one day I had a friend from work say to me, you know what, let's go join a gym. It will help us feel healthy and empowered and you know, I never looked back. The first day we walked into the gym together, we just started on the elliptical machine, and we really had no idea what we were doing. I was not an active gym person. I was definitely more a sports or outdoors person. That was day one, and I look back because that truly transformed who I was. I started to learn to love my body and what it could do for me, and when I honored it and worked on it and put the effort and time on where it can take me, my journey went on from there. We got off of the elliptical machines and took some group fitness classes and just got hooked on the group fitness classes and boot camp classes and just got hooked on the group fitness aspect of being around other people and the energy and your coach calling your name and friends that you know were going to be there with you, and that's the end of the story basically. I just went on and got certified myself, which was the scariest thing I ever did. I'm a Business Major with a degree in Accounting.

I think I was close to 30 years old when I got my first certification, which now feels very young, but at the time, it seemed pretty old in the fitness world. I'm so thankful, though, because with age comes wisdom, and now 3 kids later and a business. I'll never forget that very first class I taught. This is where I was meant to be. This is my passion in life, it's a gift, and it truly is an honor to be able to teach fitness and share my love and passion for fitness. It's one of the best gifts in the world.

I began my group fitness journey probably about 9-10 years ago. My oldest daughter is now 7½, so even before I was pregnant with her, I started teaching at the gym. I started VFit Studio 5 years ago. In fact, this month, October is the 5-year anniversary of VFit Studio, which has now grown into this amazing team and community.

My journey into fitness was 9 years ago, but VFit Studio, 5 years, but before that to really date myself, I started doing one on one personal training through Skype with clients, and that's what led me to realize that this virtual platform really does work, and there are some Merits to working out live online with people, so I started Skype training when my daughter was born, that was one of the ways I was trying to kind of get out of my desk job and more into the mom fitness Balancing Act.

What inspired you to focus on virtual home fitness training?

Like I mentioned, once I found that aspect of group fitness and a community, accountability and motivation, it changed who I was. It changed my relationship with myself and, therefore, my relationship with my family and everybody that I came into contact with. After I had my daughter, I went back to my full-time office job to manage teaching at the gym, still something that I loved and fed my soul. Being a mom and working, there just wasn't enough hours in the day to do it all; something had to give. So I said to myself that there has got to be a way to pursue what I love and still be a mom.

I was so grateful to finally have my daughter, who we have been trying for so long to have. Somebody approached me back when a lot of the multi-level marketing started and wanted to know if I would be interested in being an online coach; I didn't realize she wanted me to sell shakes or something for their company, and that got my wheels turning. I'm an entrepreneur at heart, and that's where my business side comes from.

I said, wait, I can coach people online with fitness. So I gave myself a goal, put together a package if I have x amount of clients, I can leave my job. It gave me motivation. I gave myself a timeline, and in about 2 months, I worked it all out. I was waking up 5, 6 in the morning to train clients, then feed the baby and go to work. My husband had started a business and had a good foundation, so that gave me a little bit of wiggle room to take a little leap of faith. When I got to that x amount of clients, it was really from referrals, I started working with one person, and they said it was amazing. They would tell their friends, so it didn't take that long to build to that point, and my husband always said, you love group fitness, you have to figure out a way to do this on a bigger level, but at that time, I didn't know about Zoom. This was Skype. Luckily from day one, 30 minutes was only what I did with my clients. It was the magic number, especially when you're online, it's like it's only 30 minutes, you can't talk yourself out of it and we just really got to work and just started tugging away, and they became your friends fast forward, VFit Studio started when I was with my second of three children, one 7, 5½ and 2. I started VFit Studio when my son was 6 months old, so I had a 2½-year-old and a 6-month-old when I started the group fitness side of VFit Studio. That was crazy, but the more you're challenged, the more you grow.

Has Your business grown during the pandemic?

When COVID first hit in March, that second or third week, my partner and I (Maria) got together and said we're in this position, and we have been training for a year, and we have this opportunity to help and to serve others right now whose world got taken away from them so abruptly, so we literally overnight doubled our schedule and brought on a couple of other trainers whose gyms have been closed down and who have worked with us in the past. We added a bunch of kids programming, cooking, drawing, and we literally went from 65 classes a week to I think at the peak of that month that we opened up to the world, a hundred and thirty classes. It was like starting the business over, but it tested every system we have built from customer service to capacity to, can we still make this a personal experience, because that's what VFit is, a community, we can see you, and you can see us. It passed the test, and from there, we picked up probably about 150 new members that month, which was incredible, but like anything, it ebbs and flows, and then you hit June and Zoom fatigue. No one wanted to look at a Zoom screen. June was something I never seen in the 5 years since starting VFit and was the flip side of people being fatigued by having everything online and not wanting to look at a screen. We had to go back and get creative and discuss what our core values are and how do we keep everyone motivated. This isn't just a meeting you're logging into or something that you need to prepare for, so yeah, it was crazy, it was a big blur, it was a little like starting the business over in a sense, but we're out here now, it's October, I think we've grown in a way that aligns with our values. We're not this huge Peloton, multi-million dollar company. We've built everything from the ground up.

How Important is Functional Fitness in Everyday Life?

Functional fitness should be at the top of everybody's priority list when you are training because whether you're an athlete, and we have athletes, marathon runners or you're on team grandma, we like to call them, or you're just getting off the couch after 20 years, we are all training for life, to enjoy this life that we have to be functionally fit so that if you want to climb that mountain or if you want to paddleboard across the lakes or if you want to kiss your grandkids pick up your groceries, actually get out of a dangerous situation, you want to train your body and your mind to work together, and that's what we call functionally fit. We actually capitalize on the FUN because it also has to be fun.

We built a four-part functional fitness plan that is around 4 key areas, the first being cardio, and HIIT, which is high-intensity interval training, the second quadrant is strength training, the next two I found that most people are missing are balance and mobility, and the fourth, stretching and recovery, so we look at this as a four-part quadrant. This is all live 30-minute classes that you're logging into and taking with the trainer.

Who Are VFit’s Ideal Clients?

Our ideal clients are those who are willing to spend the time and energy, and that doesn't need to be hours a day, but truly believe they are worth taking care of and that they have this one body to live and this one life to live and they want to get the most out of it. We have the most amazing members like I said, every age, every walk of life, every season of life, and you know for any fitness level; you need to want it for yourself. As much as every trainer, I have wants every single person to be healthy and strong and fit, and we hope one day everyone finds that. You have to want it the most for yourself. As long as you can get yourself logged in and dressed, we'll take it from there and motivate you, encourage you and cheer you on, but you have to be at that point where you're willing to say I'm worth it.

Are Your VFit Classes Affordable for the Average Person?

Yes. Most of our clients (90%) are on an unlimited class pass, so each month, they are on an automatic monthly payment. It comes out to less than a couple of dollars per day for unlimited classes. They have the support of our trainers, and we do different add-on programs like those nutritional coaching. So my value is that we have this unlimited membership that most people can buy for an incredible value for unlimited classes, trainer support, a team, and then we offer a handful of add-on programs if you'd like to take your experience further or dive in deeper into different programs like the Reset. We have a fun game going on right now that involves a 21 Day fitness challenge. We just started a mindset coaching group, so we have these options if you would like to take this journey further, but our membership is worth its weight in gold for what we offer. We believe fitness should be for all. With group fitness, we can afford to have the prices a little lower because we can fit more people in my classes as opposed to one-on-one training where you're going to be paying a little bit more, and from that first day, I said try a free week. There are no strings attached to test it out and then decide if this is the right choice, the right fit for them.

You are a wife, a mother to 3 children, and a business owner; how do you manage all three very demanding responsibilities?

All of those are so important to me. You can love everything you do and still get burnt out at times. You don't have to balance everything because then you're just giving a little bit to everything, so I try to swing the pendulum when I'm working, work, be present and do that when I'm with my kids, I'm Mommy. Right now, because of COVID what I need to work the most on is the life category because, with everything that happens sometimes parenting right now, you're trading shifts, trading meetings. My husband has his own business too, so it's kind of like tag you have the kids, I have the kids, so I think it changes season to season. I am so blessed; these are probably the three best dream jobs I could ever have. I love working, I love having a business, that is a part of who I am, and my family knows that about me, and so they have to keep me in check sometimes, but they know that that also fills me to be the best version of myself because I love what I do.

How Can We Learn More About You and VFit Studio?

The free week trial is always available. You can get that on our website at thevfitstudio.com, and you can read a little bit more about our studio, you can see the schedule pop-up subscriptions, read about my trainer team, and learn a little bit more about the program. We throw a lot on social media as well as a lot of fun fitness challenges and little workouts on Instagram and Facebook at thevfitstudio.

This is a condensed transcript of the interview.  You can listen to the interview in its entirety at www.6weekstofitness.com.

Direct download: Episode_157_Rachele_Jaegers.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:27pm EST

Naomi Rotstein is a personal trainer, podcast host, and business coach, as well as the founder of 1FitFuture, her signature 12-week program that helps women ditch the diet culture mindset, food obsession, and calorie counting with individualized coaching and group support. She is also the host of the 1FitFoodie podcast, where she facilitates conversations with other leaders around the struggles and triumphs of the entrepreneurial journey.

Over the past 12 years, Naomi has worked with hundreds of clients to help them heal their relationships with food, feel confident in their bodies, shed fat, and ditch diets for good. A former fitness competitor, who has experienced her own disordered relationship with food and body image, leading to some major health scares, Naomi knows all too well the vicious cycle of bingeing and restricting over-exercising cycle, and how overwhelming and all-consuming that can be.

Naomi holds a BS in Exercise Science with a minor in Nutrition from Ithaca College. She is a Certified Health Coach through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and has a Precision Nutrition Level I Certification.

Naomi, where did you grow up, and what was your childhood like?

I grew up right outside of Boston in a town called Newton, Massachusetts. My childhood, I don't want to say it was pretty normal, but I have two wonderful parents, I also have an older brother who I was very close with, and I'm still very close with. He also lives currently outside of Boston, I see him often with his kids and wife and my parents are also close by.

So, a pretty tight-knit family always encouraged us to work hard, be independent, and no matter what we wanted to do in life, just to go all-in, really. They always stressed the importance of education so going to college was not really an option, not that I didn't want to go. It was kind of like the ultimate goal after graduating from high school.

I had a wonderful upbringing; it was there that I really got my love for living an active lifestyle through my parents.

When did you become interested in fitness?

I've been active as a child. I played soccer and softball in middle school and then in high school. I played field hockey, and while I loved field hockey, I really didn't fall in love with any other Spring sport, and I still wanted to be active, so I actually started going to Gold's gym with my mom, a super hard-bodied gym at the age of 15 and I fell in love with just being in that atmosphere. I loved strength training; I just kind of followed my mom around. I took some classes, I became friends with the trainers, and it was like a really no-frills bare-bones gym, but I just loved hanging out there; it was kind of my calling, and I started to see at a very early age the effects of exercise and how my body transformed and how I gained so much confidence.

I would have to say that my junior and senior years in high school is when my true love for fitness and learning more about it started, like why is it that we can lose body fat by not running all the time and we can lift weights, really diving deeper into exercise science. When I applied to colleges, I looked for colleges that had some sort of exercise science program because I knew I wanted to go into that field.

I see you are a certified health coach through Integrative Nutrition and you have a Precision Nutrition Level 1 Certification. Why is nutrition important?

I think nutrition is the key to healing all sorts of ailments. When you go to the doctor these days, and you say I have a headache and they say here's a prescription for a pill or I have acid reflux, here's a prescription, but really what I learned through the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and I knew this before but it was really ingrained, is that nutrition can truly heal you from the inside out and there is a time and place for medication, of course, but choosing certain foods and nutrients and herbs and spices and teas and tonics and all that …. nutrition is so powerful and there are so many ways to utilize it.

You had a disordered relationship with food and body image, leading to some major health scares. Please explain this disordered relationship with food and how it affected your health?

When I was 25, I got immersed in the world of fitness competition. For those who don't know, for women, you put on a bikini, and you get all tan. It's essentially a fitness beauty pageant. I'm sure most people listening have seen pictures. It was when I was at Gold's Gym that I got exposed to this world because there was a trainer there who would coach women to compete so I always looked in at the studio, and these women had these heels on and bikinis. I said in my head, one day, I want to do that, and that looked amazing, and so when I was 25, I was actually in a really not so great relationship at the time, and that relationship prompted me to do something for myself. So, I signed up for a show, and there was no turning back at that time. I signed up for Cathy Savage Fitness, I thought I was going to do one show, and I continued to do six shows over the course of four years. I even became a coach for the team and so I got really, really immersed in this world. At first, my body completely transformed, but it was really the validation I was getting from the outside world, let's say, that really kept me going. I was getting compliments from men and women. I was pretty much terrified of gaining an ounce of fat. I tried to maintain my on-stage body year-round and which for those who have competed is not ideal and is not sustainable, so I did everything I could to just maintain the way I looked, so as you can imagine I had a disordered relationship with food, I had a lot of food anxiety in situations where I was not in control. It affected my social life, it affected my family life, so that's kind of the disordered part and I knew at the end of the day I was not going to do this forever and at the age of 26, I actually suffered from a perforated peptic ulcer.

Perforated means it burst through my intestine. I had emergency surgery and it was there that it was my kind of Ah-Ha moment, when I realized I needed to get my stuff together and begin this journey of just getting to a better place mentally healing my relationship with food and my body.

What are your views on fad diets and Why Don't they work for most people?

We can do another podcast on this topic, Vincent, but I will keep it short. Essentially fad diets are exactly what they say. They are fads. The diet industry is a billion-dollar or more industry, and these days it's super hard because every influencer is being paid to Market some detox tea or waist trainer or quick fix or what have you, and at the end of the day diets are not sustainable. They force you to follow food rules. Any sort of food protocol where you're following a set of rules is not going to be sustainable for life because if you go outside of those rules, you're going to have anxiety and it's going to force you to go down the slippery slope and by that I mean if you're told you can never eat chocolate chip cookies and then you have two chocolate chip cookies, two things are going to happen, you're going to have a lot of guilt around that and that's not going to be great for your mindset, or you're going to say screw it and eat the entire bag of chocolate chips then you're going to feel guilty, you're going to want to wake up and detox, you're going to want to over exercise and it's a vicious cycle that too many women I have seen get caught up in, myself included.

What is Naomi Rotstein's Exercise Philosophy?

I am a big fan of strength training, especially since most of my clients are women. I do work with some men one on one, but the men never have any problems with strength training, that's why they work with me (laughter). It's more the women who need some tough love and a little convincing. Some of my female clients actually love lifting heavy and love how it feels. My philosophy with my clients is strength training, a minimum of 3 days a week. That is a sweet spot for most people who work full time and have a life and a couple of days of cardiovascular and could be an activity that you enjoy whether that is a spin class or bodyweight HIIT workout or kickboxing or a run and then one day of something a little bit more mindful like yoga or a karate class or a long walk and then absolutely a minimum of one day completely off from exercise to rest and recover and continue to rest because your body cannot work overtime if you're not letting it rest. It will constantly be inflamed in a state of stress.

How do you Motivate Your Clients to Want to Work Out?

That's an interesting question. I am going to say that my ideal client is already motivated. In my Instagram bio it states that I help motivated women and I also do train men, lose body fat. I want to work with a motivated group of people, so my ideal client and because I work on my own, I have firsthand pick on who I do work with, so my roster of clients right now, they don't need a ton of motivation to show up and do the work. They might not like some of the exercises I give them to do, but most of my clients want to work out. They just are craving that structure. They are craving some accountability. I help them create workouts for their goals. I help them with their weekly workout schedule, provide accountability and support. My clients are the best!

Do you train your clients in person at a gym or virtually?

As we are recording this during COVID, I would say that most of my clients are virtual. I pivoted in mid-March when this pandemic hit. I contacted my clients to say that I am going to continue working and what time works for you? We will keep your time, etc., and I just pivoted all of my business virtual. There are a couple of clients I am seeing in person but previous to COVID I worked in boutique studios, I do not work in a big box gym anymore. You do not need a gym membership at the gym that I train, you just come to work out with me, I rent the space, and that's that. I am also training a couple of clients in the gyms of their apartment building.

How has this COVID-19 pandemic affected your business?

I'm going to say that my business has skyrocketed, and I also think that's due to a lot of gyms being closed. I get personal training inquiries almost every week. As we are recording this interview, I am not taking on any new clients. Although this always changes, my personal training schedule/roster is full. I am also pivoting my business a little bit, getting into business coaching for personal trainers. I am currently working with a business coach, so I'm bringing another leg to my business. So, I think that COVID for me at least, has been a really big blessing in disguise to access and to also really tap into some other passions that I have and one of which is helping other trainers with their business digitally and that is the next endeavor that I am working on.

Honestly, it's been great for my business. It's also forced me to slow down a little bit and not run around the city like a chicken with its head cut off. If you're a trainer, you know what that feels like.

You have a 12-week program called 1FITFUTURE, where did the name come from and what does it mean?

I started my blog 1 Fit Foodie in 2009 and started my brand's name and everyone started recognizing me and calling me 1 Fit Foodie. I just picked it one day and fell into it. Different legs of my business are called…I used that 1 Fit so and so. I just created a workout program called 1FitBod. In my ID bio if you click the link "About Me", it says 1FitFoodie, so when I created this program, I was still trying to keep it on-brand. You want it to be catchy, you want it to be memorable, so 1FitFuture, that's where the name came from and I'm really proud of that name.

What can clients expect to receive from joining your program?

1FitFuture is my signature program. It's a 90-day course, and I work with motivated, driven, incredible women, all who have a common goal, they really want to stop wasting their time, energy and money and see results. It's a hybrid coaching program, it's built to teach and guide women through a 4, and I actually added a 5th module call the Quarantine Edition, so it actually has 5 modules. It's 12 weeks; it's a hands-on course with group accountability with individual live support. There are zoom calls every week; I have some amazing guest coaches. There is a 24/7 Facebook group for the women and me to connect and talk all day long, and the course is online. You can go at your own pace. It also includes a three-month strength training program, meal prep guides. There are lessons that range in everything from nutrition to binge and restrict cycles to self-sabotage to more mindset to workout recovery. There is a 25 recipe e-book, so there is a lot of content in this course and the women go through it together. And to your question as to what they can expect, at the end of the day I want the women who enroll in this course, to have a better relationship with food. We do not count calories; we do not use the scale. It's all intuitive eating principles.

I want them to have confidence in their food choices. I want them to never be tempted to do another fad diet again because that has gotten them nowhere and because of that, most of them don't lose body fat. This is not a guaranteed weight loss course, though. I'm not guaranteeing anyone is going to lose 10 pounds. That said, most of the women who show up and do the work 100% do lose weight. They lose weight because they do the work of getting out of the diet mindset.

Do You Have Any Success Stories on your Website?

Of course. There are tons of testimonials. There are testimonial videos. I have hundreds, literally hundreds.

Can Anyone Start Your Program at Any time?

Because I am the coach of the program, I actually run this 3 or 4 times per year.

I coach it 100%. It's not the kind of thing where you buy it, and you go through it with no guidance. You are doing it with the other women. Right now I am in the 4th round of it. There are 16 women enrolled. This course will go until around Thanksgiving, and then I will kick off a new class in January. Women can sign up months in advance because they are not locked in that spot. There is never a time you can't fill out the application, chat, and lock in your spot.

What advice would you give someone who is concerned about their health during the upcoming fall and winter months?

I would say the most important thing to me is sleep. Making sure you get adequate sleep is going to set you up for a solid foundation to keep your cortisol levels in check, keep your adrenals in check, not have anxiety and be productive during the day and it's so critical for your health, so I think sleep is number one. Try not looking at your phone before bedtime, keeping your room cool, and then finding ways to move your body and it doesn't have to be some hour-long crazy Cross Fit hip style workout, it could be a 30-minute walk, it could be a 20-minute yoga flow. Find ways to move your body every day, so you're not sitting at a desk all day and feeling cooped up and be sure to get a wide range of nutrients in your diet, so if you're used to always eating zucchini for your vegetables, put a new food item in your cart, try new foods.

How Can We find out more about Naomi Rotstein and 1FitFuture?

You can visit my website at www.naomirotstein.com, and on Instagram you can always shoot me a DM. I am super approachable and would love to hear from you. It's naomi.rotstein.

Direct download: Episode_156_-_Naomi_Rotstein.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:01pm EST

Tamika Harden is a personal trainer, life coach, owner of Body By Tamika, and a coronavirus survivor.  Growing up in South Jamaica, Queens, Tamika was no stranger to the harsh realities of inner-city violence and drug abuse.  She credits her loving mother for her strength and perseverance to overcome many of the hardships she faced growing up.  Tamika’s humble beginnings motivated her to strive for excellence, even at a young age.  Her own battles with childhood obesity and overcoming it have set the stage for her own platform of inspiring and helping others to transform and uplift their lives, mind, and body.

When did you know you had the virus and what were the symptoms?

“It started in March; it was right before the lockdown had occurred for the pandemic.  I woke up preparing for work, and I just felt lethargic and tiredness that I never felt before.  I’m used to hustling and bustling, servicing clients all day, morning, and night. Still, this tiredness felt different, so I began to cancel all of my morning clients, which is not like me and if I could just lay down and try to sweat this out or whatever I was feeling, so I rested, took off the weekend, tried to recoup using my regular techniques and tactics; exercise, rest, proper nutrition. I got my strength up, and by Monday, I was back to work, and by that Tuesday, I couldn’t get out of bed if I wanted to. I felt as if I got hit by a truck or something that just knocked me down.  I was fighting through that, taking over the counter meds, taking my vitamins, trying to juice on the days that I had enough strength to want to eat something.  I was fighting through it; I didn’t know what I had.  So, as the symptoms worsened and I wasn’t getting better, I said, let me call the CDC hotline because now I’m home in bed and watching the news and just not understanding what is happening.  I called the CDC, and at that time, I didn’t have all the symptoms. I’m telling them, I have a bad cough, it’s not going away. I was told I would get a call back in 48 hours to get tested.  That call came two weeks later.  This was at the height of the pandemic when we lacked preparedness.  There was a lack of medical supplies.  We saw that more in predominantly minority communities, so the help wasn’t there.  I never got the callback, my symptoms worsened, and then it was brought to my knowledge that somebody that I was with a few days prior had to be admitted to the hospital and have tested positive.”

It was then that Tamika decided she had to get tested.  “I went to my local testing site, and I was denied access that day because they told me, I’m sorry, I understand your concerns, but you have to have an appointment.  I tried to call again, and at that time, the wait time was approximately six hours, so I explained to the attendant, and I’m just pleading with them that I need to get tested, and if it weren’t for me pleading and pretty much begging them to help me, that’s when he said, tomorrow morning there will be a trauma unit set up at a certain site and your chances of getting tested on this site is greater.  He couldn’t promise me that I would be tested, so I went back that next morning very early.

I waited in line, and I was able to get tested and swabbed through a crack in my window.  The exposure is very limited and I was told that I would get a call back in a week if I tested positive, so I went on about my day, and that Friday I had gotten a call back stating that I have tested positive.

This was already ten days in, and if my body wasn’t able to fight it, it could have been a lot worse because of the obstacles I had to go through just to get tested.”

It took Tamika 2 weeks to get through the effects of the virus.  She then quarantined herself for about three weeks instead of the customary two weeks.  She focused on eating healthy, juicing, and exercise to help her get through the sickness. 

Not only was Tamika exposed to the virus, but her children and nanny were exposed as well.  This whole ordeal has made Tamika more determined to focus on her health because she believes that it is because of her health that she was able to fight off the virus.  She is also determined to help others within her community.

Being a trainer in top physical condition, Tamika shared that she was a little surprised that as a trainer, she would contract the virus.  She stated that “at the beginning stages of the pandemic we were told that only a certain group of people or ethnicity or health conditions would get the virus, but after I was able to dig a little deeper and understand what we were up against, I realized that this virus doesn’t discriminate and anybody could be infected.

What advice would you give to someone who is worried about contracting the virus?

“The advice I would give is to continue to wear your mask, continue to wash your hands regularly and practice social distancing, and just to be mindful because some of us think that it’s over, but we still have to take precautionary measures.

We don’t want this thing to reach the level of emergency that it was before.  I think people just need to continue taking precautionary measures as we’ve been told, and I think now is the time to focus on immunity, focus on health, making realistic changes.  I’m not saying go all green or do 5 miles a day like you’re going into the army.”

Coronavirus Pandemic and Body By Tamika

The Coronavirus pandemic seriously impacted Tamika’s business, which she started 3 ½ years ago. Even though she feels like she is restarting her business, she is more determined to see it succeed.  Tamika believes that in adversity, there is an opportunity; you have to reposition yourself.  She transitioned her business so that she can serve her community virtually, and she advises other entrepreneurs to “find other ways to reposition your business and your talent because many of us have several talents.”

What services does Body By Tamika provide?

“I provide in-person training, one on one personal training, small group training, virtual classes. I also have a Medspa, where I offer body contouring services.  We consider that non-invasive weight loss services. I do laser lipo, slimming sculpting, and massages.  We also do aesthetic procedures also non-invasive that can help speed up the weight loss process.  I am also Life Coach Certified with an undergrad in Psychology.”

Who Are Your Ideal Clients?“

“My ideal clients are women age group between the mid-20s to about 60, the working-class women juggling a career and children, the everyday women.  I have a lot of empty nesters whose children are off to college, and now they’re making time for themselves.  I service predominantly African American women, and they are all career-minded professional women who can afford services as to what I provide.”

Where do you see Body By Tamika in the next 5 years?

“A few locations. I want to take my business to different states for starters. I see a larger virtual community. I see all these things because they are more achievable for my business, and I’m more than capable of doing it, so now it’s just manpower and time. I see myself as a household name, and I’m just waiting for the day that all of it is showcased.”

Tamika’s motto is: “If they don’t open the door, kick it down, I’m not promoting violence, but if you got to kick it off the hinges, kick it off the hinges, take what is meant to be yours and just stay diligent, stay on course and God will send you the people that you need in your life. They will start showing up. Just stay positive and not stop despite the obstacles ahead because there are going to be several, but each one you knockdown makes you stronger for the next one, so just stay positive."

For more information on Tamika Harden, you can visit her website at www.bodybytamika, also Instagram: BodybyTamika and Facebook: BodybyTamika.

Direct download: Episode_155_Tamika_Harden.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 3:04pm EST

Eric Rice is the founder, CEO, and Chairman of Quanta (QuantaCBD.com). This company is using a new technology involving quantum mechanics that maximizes the bioenergy in natural products to help people. Their first product out is a CBD muscle rub, made 5x more effective by polarizing the CBD. Eric is also looking at other ways that organic matter can be optimized in areas including agriculture, vitamins, supplements, human cognition, anti-aging, food, and pharmaceuticals. Eric Rice is also a former professional baseball player.

Eric Rice, the Early Years

Eric Rice was born in Chicago and grew up in northwest Indiana, about 15 miles outside of Chicago. From the time Eric was five years old, he recalls being forced to play the shortstop position at baseball practice when he didn't even know what shortstop was. After a few minutes of fielding ground balls, Eric was hooked on the game and wanted to play baseball for the rest of his life.

While playing baseball in college, Eric found himself in constant pain due to an injury he sustained during his sophomore year in high school. He injured his shoulder, which affected his ability to throw the ball. He didn't tell anyone about this injury, so for most of his career, he would take from 12 to 15 Ibuprofen so he could perform without feeling so much pain in his shoulder.

The Birth of QUANTA

While running a venture studio, Eric had a ton of people pitching their companies to him, one of which was a small cannabis company.

Around this time, Eric's doctor told him that he could no longer continue taking Ibuprofen and that he needed to find another way to reduce the pain he was feeling in his body. Eric decided to try cannabis, and although the cannabis was helping, it wasn't helping nearly as much as the Ibuprofen.

A friend of Eric's from the Army's Special Forces told him about a brilliant scientist who has done work with cancer, autoimmune disease, and HIV using various technologies. The doctor also was researching cannabinoids. It was then that Eric saw an opportunity to partner with the scientist and build a business, and that's how Quanta was born.

Why is your Muscle Rub more Effective than other products?

What Quanta is doing to Cannabinoids is what they are doing to hundreds of natural, medicinal compounds. Plants are alive just like humans, and we vibrate at 100% and so do plants, but once you remove plants from the earth, its technically dead, losing 50 to 75% of its energy and every moment that passes, that energy depletes down to 3 or 4 percent. What Quanta has been able to do is take that dead or dying plant matter and apply quantum mechanics or quantum physics into the biological entity. When you are alive, you have a nucleus with electrons rotating very fast and far from the nucleus, high energy. As you age and die, those electrons slow down, and they become closer to the nucleus. Quanta is using electromagnetic frequencies to communicate with the molecules and excite those electrons to push them back out from the nucleus and get them spinning faster. This process increases the anti-inflammatory properties by 572%, making the CBD Muscle Rub much more effective than any other competing product on the market.

Why is Inflammation so Important?

Inflammation is the basis for most pain, just like when you break a bone, it swells up, and you suffer from the pain. Inflammation is the stem root of almost every physical problem, including cancer and depression. Inflammation also plays a crucial role in aging. Aging occurs when inflammation is increasing in the body, and cells reproduce themselves at a slower rate.

What other Products Besides the CBD Muscle Rub Are You working on?

In the CBD space, we have a tincture we just put out. We have a vape product that we sell and is doing very well. We also made an anti-aging cream with and without CBD, which is phenomenal for your skin. Our target for the rest of this quarter is to focus in on the launch of our beauty products, so we're polarizing Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, retinol, and all of the common, expensive beauty treatments and creating face masks and Vitamin C serums and all types of beauty products and in the research department, we're putting together a portfolio of 12 natural products that should replace 12 commonly taken harmful medications from the pharmaceutical space launching around late 4th quarter, around Christmas.

What has been the feedback from people who have used your products?

Two or three days out of every work week, I get emotional during the day because we get between 5 and 10 testimonials that are either written, audio or video unsolicited, and about once a week, you will hear one that just opens your eyes to how a tiny little product could help someone's life in every capacity. A neighbor of mine, she has diabetes, and her toes were completely curled up, she couldn't walk or put on shoes. Her daughter came by and asked me for some of the rub and literally watched in a matter of minutes, her curled up toes just relaxed on the ground, and everyone in the room started crying. It was one of the most emotional things I ever experienced.

Everyone calls our muscle rub the Windex because it has all these different usages. The most common is stiffness, joint pain, muscle pain. The most prevalent we see here in Los Angeles is recovery. There are a lot of active people working out really hard. Almost everyone says that their recovery time is quicker. They go to bed and wake up and feel like they never even worked out the day before. Other than that, arthritis is a huge thing for us; neuropathy. Almost all of our retail business is through medical professionals, hospitals and doctors and neuropathy, nerve centers.

That seems to be a pain point for most people. We receive letters or videos from people expressing their joy that they can walk without pain, and these little things improve people's moods. We even had a reflexologist tell us that if you put the rub on your feet and your toes, it acts like a sleeping pill because the vibration in the ointment is actually going into your nervous system up through your feet and legs and relaxes your whole body. So we tried it out because I am a 20 year Ambien user to try to fall asleep. I haven't taken an Ambien since probably February, and I have been sleeping as well as I ever have just by putting muscle rub on my feet.

Even with mosquito bites, you put the muscle rub on it, and the itching will stop in about two minutes, and the next day there are no bumps on the skin, so there are tons of different usages.

Are Your Products Safe for Children To Use?

Absolutely! We have youth hockey teams, my son's baseball team, everyone uses it when their arms get sore. There is no THC in the ingredients. All of the ingredients are 100% natural.

Where do you see your company in the next five years?

In a Utopian world, we will be working with all of the largest nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, and beauty companies in the world to help make better products as well as safer pharmaceuticals with fewer side effects using natural ingredients. That's really our focus and goal.

How has the Current Pandemic affected your business?

We actually just did the breakdown of that, and between the first and second quarters of this year, we only lost 1.8% in a market where the retail was down 85%, so we did really well. We didn't outperform the previous quarter, but we only lost $6,000 during the quarter in revenue, and a lot of that came from our ability to see the pandemic coming and shift from focusing from retail and doctors to online sales and partnerships for digital campaigns. I think this coming year will be great, but the pandemic has absolutely affected us.

What do you say to someone who questions the cost of your muscle rub product compared to other topical muscle rub products like Bengay?

We get that all the time. The weird thing is 40% of our business is repeat customers. We always explain it this way, the potency in our muscle rub, it's a $45.00 muscle rub, and we do have designs to drop that price now that we've grown, it has expensive high-end ingredients in it, but to get the same type of relief just with pain, because Bengay only works on pain, it doesn't do inflammation and is terrible for your skin, to get the same type of pain relief, you will have to buy 4 to 7 tubes of Bengay. According to a study we did, the average person who lives in chronic pain, have about a $500 per month pharmaceutical bill for chronic pain prescriptions and they spend approximately $264.00 per month for other alternatives to help with pain.

We say instead of spending $264 on ten different things that don't work, you spend $45 on one that does, and not only do you have more relief, but you're also saving over $200 per month along with other supplements you're taking that's not working.

What is Quanta's Philosophy?

More than anything, we believe in a simple philosophy of taking quantum physics and all that confusing stuff so that our products will help you reduce pain and increase joy in your life. That's our whole premise to relieve pain, make you look good, feel good, so there is more joy in everyone's life.

To find out more about Quanta or purchase products, visit www.buyquanta.com and use the coupon code "6weeks" and get 20% off all the Quanta products.

Direct download: Episode_154_Eric_Rice_Final.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 6:52pm EST

Shia Joyner is a Registered Yoga Teacher, Licensed Esthetician, Reiki Healer, and Culture Consultant. She is also the founder of Zen & Boujee, a luxury wellness shopping experience featuring brands focused on women and wellness. Shia Joyner's pursuit of empowerment for the "new now woman" has guided her through every incarnation of her career. Shia is an entrepreneur with a passion for coaching "women" to manifest their dreams by sharing simple and gentle ways that inspire them to love, heal, and nurture their bodies by being fully engaged in the power they embody. A fierce advocate of accessible wellness, Shia is also committed to giving back to her community by helping women in underserved areas overcome mental illness and support the needs of domestic violence survivors. Shia's goal is to inspire women to be fully engaged in the power they embody and coach them in manifesting their dreams.

Shia Joyner, the early years

Shia was born in Raleigh, North Carolina but grew up in Atlanta, Georgia.

Shia considers herself a "product of the south." Her role model growing up was and still is her older sister. Shia got the entrepreneur bug from her father, who worked a traditional 9 to 5 and was an entrepreneur at heart. When she was five years old, Shia and her sister started their first business called "Potato Creation," where they would make things out of potatoes and sell them to her father's friends.

Journey to Wellness

Shia was never interested in working out or going to a gym until she moved to Harlem and decided to attend a Yoga class.  While there, she met the most amazing Yoga instructor. That experience inspired her to make changes in her life, which consisted of changing how she eats, drinking more water, and becoming more mindful and meditating. This experience was Shia's introduction to wellness.

Yoga, Fitness, and Being a Domestic Violence Survivor

It wasn't until this year (2020) that Shia Joyner has come to accept that she is a domestic violence survivor. She left that part of her life 13 years ago and wanted to put it behind her, but over time, she realized that part of the healing process is to understand what journey and struggle really are.

Her journey with Yoga was initially for anxiety and depression, but after going through this journey, which included counseling, the underlying factor was that she is a domestic violence survivor. Yoga allowed her to grow and be the fullest version of herself.

Red Flags of Domestic Abuse

Shia believes that women must get to a place where they love themselves enough to leave a domestic violence situation. Shia believes that the following is a list of red flags of domestic abuse:

  • A mate that cannot control their tone (speaking loud and argumentative);
  • Lack of emotional discipline and self-control, which could lead to emotional, verbal, and physical abuse;
  • Economic or financial abuse; withholding financial support so that you are dependent on them.

Domestic Violence during the Pandemic

The number of domestic violence cases has increased significantly during this current pandemic. Shia shared how stress and anger play a significant role in domestic violence, especially if a spouse loses his job and decides to take it out on the person closest to him.

Zen and Boujee

Shia created the name Zen and Boujee while on a Yoga retreat with her mentor in Nicaragua. She recalled just finishing her meditation and looking at a lagoon that was filled with water from a volcano that recently exploded, and the name Zen and Boujee just came to her.

Zen and Boujee Giving Back

Having lived through domestic violence and seeing what women are going through has pushed Shia even more towards her purpose with Zen and Boujee. Although Zen and Boujee make beauty and wellness products, the vehicle that gives her meaning is the social impact company she is developing in her Goddess Box, which focuses on self-love and is a subscription business model. 10% of the proceeds from every box sold are given to nonprofit charities helping victims get away from their abusers.

Zen and Boujee are also partnering with a company called New Safe Start, which has started an amazing campaign that pledged "buy one, get one" where 10% of every box is being donated to New Safe Start to help women to understand how to break free from their abuser and establish themselves to have economic power and freedom. Shia believes that if you love yourself and are economically free, there is nothing you can't do.

Shia received inspiration from actor Chadwick Boseman, who was silently suffering from colon cancer until his death at 43 but continued to walk in his purpose. If he could go through all that he endured and still walk in his purpose, Shia believes she can do it too. Her aim is not just to build a beauty and wellness company, but to help all women find a safe passage to healing from domestic abuse.

All of Zen and Boujee's products are natural and organic. Shia continued to express how she does not want to build a beauty company that sells just cool products. Every product must help or heal someone. The products are plant-based and sourced ethically. Shia believes that plants are all your body needs when it comes to your skin and your gut. The Zen & Boujee products can be found online at www.zenandboujee.com.

Touchless Beauty

To allow the retail experience to come straight to the customers' home, Shia is launching Touchless Beauty. In this program, you take a skincare assessment on their site, and the company will send you the products for you to sample at home, and you can join them online for a Touchless Beauty product party. This pilot program will launch on October 1st, 2020.

Direct download: Episode_153_Shia_Joyner.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 5:14pm EST

Kelly Bryant is the creator and founder of Kelly Bryant Wellness. She is a Yoga instructor, Certified Personal Trainer (NASM-CPT), and a Pilate's instructor. Kelly is passionate about helping women through every stage of life, from prenatal to postmenopausal. Before quitting her job to travel the world in 2016, she worked at health & fitness startup, Noom, where she led content and community marketing efforts and soaked up everything she could learn about psychology and behavior change.

Journey into Health

Kelly grew up in Stuart, Florida. She was not an active child. She considered herself more of a book nerd than athletic. Rather than go outside and play, Kelly would go to the library and read books. She credits her being a nerd as the reason why she has been able to help people understand anatomy and the science of why they feel the way they feel.

Kelly attended college in New York City, and after college, she landed a job in Marketing at Noom, a health and fitness startup company. Working at Noom is fine when you are in your 20s, recalled Kelly, "but it is a recipe for burn-out." The stress from working at Noom and the pain she felt in her back, neck, and shoulder from a previous injury she sustained when she broke her collar bone at 16, led her to try yoga. Yoga not only relieved the pain but gave her balance and calmed the nervous system, and helped her to relax.

Expert in Prenatal and Postpartum Fitness

As with most women who become experts in prenatal and postpartum fitness, Kelly had to figure it out herself. She went online to Google and researched "what are safe prenatal exercises", and to her surprise, the information she received on Google was not acceptable. Kelly then went back to studying and listening to doula podcasts, childbirth educators, and to people who are teaching the physiological aspect of childbirth. She studied information on the nervous system, anatomy, and breath, merging this information for herself first and then for her clients.

Kelly's personal experience with pregnancy changed the way she approaches prenatal and postpartum fitness for her clients. "One of the mistakes pregnant people make is to assume that if they train hard when they're pregnant, that type of training will help them recover faster after pregnancy," stated Kelly. Kelly believes that is the opposite of what happens.

Kelly approaches prenatal fitness with "building a foundation from the ground up so you can look at what you need to do to support the easiest birth possible because the easiest birth possible is what is going to help you recover the fastest."

Kelly Bryant Wellness Classes

Kelly trains some of her clients on a one on one basis, but most of her training is self-guided and guided digital programming for prenatal and postpartum. Kelly's postpartum training is usually done in small groups, which Kelly believes is vital, especially now during the pandemic, to provide support.

COVID-19 and Kelly Bryant Wellness

As of December 2019, most of Kelly's business was online, so when the pandemic hit, it did not affect her business. It has been a problem for people looking to purchase online equipment such as webcams and digital microphones. These items are either sold out or purchased at a much higher price due to price gouging.

Kelly doesn't consider herself to be a "life-long trainer." Some of her prenatal clients will work with her for about 9 months during the pregnancy and then 3 to 9 months postpartum before going back to their usual training routine. She also has clients that will stay longer 3 to 9 months, participating in the online yoga and Pilate's program.

Kelly believes that postpartum fitness is similar to aging, where you reach a certain age and potentially lost a lot of muscle, have aches and pains, and bad postural habits that create a lot of pain.

Kelly's Unique Guarantee

On Kelly Bryant's website (www.kellybryantwellness.com), she has the following guarantee: "You will feel better, stronger, and more pain-free after 2 months with me or your money back". Kelly stands by that guarantee and as of this writing, not one client has asked for their money back. Kelly must be doing something right!

Direct download: Episode_152_Interview_with_Kelly_Bryant.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 4:54pm EST

DeBlair Tate grew up in a small town in Mississippi with a population of 8,000 – 10,000 people. DeBlair's passion for fitness started when she was very young. She loved playing basketball and softball and remembered being very competitive, whether racing or arm wrestling. She was always ready to compete. After high school, DeBlair attended Mississippi State University, an hour from where she grew up.

DeBlair Joins the Military

DeBlair wanted more than just a college degree. She didn't want to attend college and then go home and try to figure out what to do next. She wanted more opportunities and exposure. She wanted to show people that just because you're from a small town, it doesn't mean you have to do what everyone else is doing.

DeBlair had to figure this out on her own. She came from a loving, single-parent home and knew her mom couldn't afford to give her the opportunities and exposure to the world that she desired.

DeBlair decided to use the military as a stepping stone that would allow her to branch out into the world. She is currently serving on active duty in the U.S. Air Force.

Fitness Competition

After moving to Atlanta, DeBlair worked as a Loan Officer when she got word of a gym opening up in the area. While working part-time in the gym, a trainer approached her and asked if she competes? DeBlair, not knowing much about the female fitness competition world, said: "man, I am not going to walk around here looking like some dude". Later that day, the trainer had some girls stop by the gym to show DeBlair what they looked like competing onstage. DeBlair was very impressed with what the girls looked like, and because of her competitive spirit, she decided to give it a shot.

DeBlair became a professional fitness competitor in only two short years. She has competed for a total of six years. The experience as a competitor was challenging and not always fun because of the strict diet and training regimen. It also affected DeBlair's social life because of the time it takes to prepare for competition.

Fitness Coaching

DeBlair credits the military for instilling discipline in her life, which she lacked growing up in Mississippi. She also believes that serving in the military has made her a more effective trainer. She credits the military for being able to provide support regardless of what problems she was having. The military provided mentors to help her succeed, and that's what she can provide her clients, support, and mentorship to help them along their fitness journey.

DeBlair uses her "military training in a very intentional way." Before she agrees to take on a client, they must have a consultation with her to see "where the client's head is at," so a plan can be designed to help the client meet his or her fitness goals. DeBlair stated, "that she doesn't give her clients what she thinks they need, but rather what they came to her for."

COVID-19 and Fitness Coaching

The current pandemic has forced DeBlair to go to a more virtual platform. DeBlair shared during the interview that she is a shy person when it comes to getting in front of the camera and filming videos. She could easily do a photoshoot, but a video is something she is now getting used to.

8 Figured Brand

DeBlair has created her fitness apparel brand called 8 Figured, www.8figured.com. DeBlair shared that "if you turn the eight around, it means infinity. It also stands for self-confidence, self-acceptance, the ability to engineer yourself and the body God gave you." The 8 Figured brand has been featured on Good Morning America (GMA). The clothing line caters to everyone of all shapes and sizes. The clothes are created and designed by DeBlair and her designer.

DeBlair envisions her brand being in every store and every mall. She believes that the 8 Figured brand will be in the same lane as Nike and Lulu Lemon one day.

Balancing Business and Personal Life

Balancing business and personal life had been a hurdle for DeBlair. She would spend more time on her business and less time with friends and family. Focusing on business all the time became a problem when she noticed people were not giving her time. DeBlair realized that she had to restructure her life and get her priorities straight. DeBlair stated that "it's still a work in progress, but it's much better than before."

Trapping on Thursday

At 7:30 EST on Thursday nights, DeBlair conducts a 30-minute workout segment on Facebook and Instagram called Trapping on Thursday. Following the workout, there is a 30-minute question and answer segment where you can ask questions directly of DeBlair.

Direct download: Episode_151_DeBlair_Tate.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:44pm EST

Do you believe that sports can instill confidence, strength, and self-esteem in girls at a young age and that these same attributes can be used on and off the field? Kate T Parker is a mother, wife, professional photographer and New York Times bestselling author of The Heart of a Boy and Strong is the New Pretty; she's an ironman and former collegiate soccer player who has made a living capturing the joy, confidence, focus, and camaraderie that comes from girls playing sports. Her photographs have been praised by Nicole Kidman, Drew Barrymore, David Beckham, and the Spice Girls.

A powerful collection of color and black-and-white photographs, her newest book PLAY LIKE A GIRL captures girls just learning to kick the ball alongside players from the 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team such as Megan Rapinoe, Carly Lloyd, and Jessica McDonald. A celebration of the tenacious spirit of female soccer players of all ages, it reveals how sports, and soccer in particular, challenge girls and women to become their best selves, allowing them to test their limits, find power in friendship, appreciate their body’s strength, and learn how to pick themselves up when they’ve been knocked down. 

Kate T. Parker, the Early Years

Kate has played soccer ever since her early years growing up in New Jersey.  She continued playing soccer on the collegiate level for Wake Forest University in North Carolina.  After leaving college, she worked at CNN and then crossed over into advertising, which Kate believes helped her to "make something compelling on the screen." After getting married and having kids, Kate decided to use this skill to take pictures of her kids. 

The Important Role of Confidence and Empowerment in Young Children

As a mom, Kate believes that children should have confidence and self-esteem.  She wants this for her kids and thinks these are qualities all kids should have. Kate wants kids to know who they are should be celebrated and embraced.  Kate found confidence and empowerment while playing soccer.  She remembers being called "loud," "bossy," and “aggressive," all characteristics that made her a good soccer player.  Her coaches encouraged this behavior, and it is these qualities that enabled Kate to pursue a successful career as a photographer. 

Kate believes it's okay for girls to voice their opinion, get dirty, or even angry at times.  Kate believes that it is "more important what you do and who you are than what you look like."  Kate thinks that social media does not portray “girls actively doing things.”  Her book shows girls and women moving and taking action.

The book captures every expression and emotion the girls go through on and off the field, and they have the chance to tell their own story.  “Sometimes their words are funny, but they can also be silly, thoughtful and smart,” according to Kate.

Soccer and Everyday Life

Kate believes you can learn life’s lessons on the soccer field.  “In soccer, you cannot hang your head; you must keep looking forward regardless of what has happened in the past. You must keep moving.  Kate believes it's the same in real life, “if you mess up in life, don't hang your head, if you do that, you will miss the next play or the next opportunity.”

Kate believes that “all girls should find something that they are passionate about; it doesn't have to be soccer or any particular sport.  It could be music or even art, find something you are passionate about, and then your sense of self-worth will come from that passion instead of from any outside forces that are trying to tear you down.”

The importance of role models

Kate believes that all girls should have role models in their lives.  The 2019 Women’s World Cup championship team with women such as Megan Rapinoe, Carly Lloyd, and Jessica McDonald, are role models to young girls and women.  Young girls need to see women who look like them to achieve success; it improves their self-worth.

Kate T. Parker – Charity Work

Kate believes that anyone with a platform should use it for the benefit of others.  Her charities of choice include the Boys & Girls Club of America, the Bully Project, and the Girls on the Run.

Direct download: Episode_150_Kate_T._Parker.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:01pm EST

Did you know that your skin is the largest organ on your body and what you put on your skin can significantly affect your health? Heather Marianna is the creator of Beauty Kitchen, a plant-based at-home spa and skincare line with clean ingredients free of chemicals, sulfates, and harsh parabens. Beauty Kitchen started in 2012 as a YouTube channel where Heather would demonstrate DIY beauty treatments using simple, all-natural ingredients found in most kitchens to educate the masses about the importance of knowing what you are putting on your skin.  

The Early Years

Heather grew up in beautiful San Diego, California.  Her grandmother raised her until she was old enough to go to college.  She attended the University of Indianapolis in Indiana.  After graduating from college, she worked in a few businesses until she was offered a job as a Vice President of Marketing for a consulting firm in Las Vegas. 

After quitting her corporate job as VP of Marketing, Heather was out of work for six months, not sure what she was going to do next.  She then called some of her friends seeking guidance.  Her friends told her she needs to make that “skincare stuff.”  Heather then shared how while on vacation in Africa, she noticed one of her friends had a serious acne problem.  Heather told her friend that she could “fix it if you let me”.  The friend agreed, so Heather went down to the kitchen, gathered up all the stuff she was interested in for natural and spiritual healing, applied it to her friends face, and her friend’s face cleared up in 2 days.  Her friends then encouraged her to pursue this line of work professionally.  It was after this encouragement that Heather created the Beauty Kitchen YouTube channel.

Beauty Kitchen YouTube Channel

The channel quickly garnered millions of views, and soon after, the actual product line was born. Heather has appeared on over 85+ national TV news segments demonstrating her all-natural and easy-to-do at-home beauty treatments. She was just recently named “the Nevada Female Leader Making Moves in The West” by The Ladders.com, and she was also named an “Inspirational Female Executive to Follow” by The LuxurySpot.com magazine.

Heather believes her products are better than other so-called “natural” products because she owns the manufacturing of the products and oversees the ingredients that are put into it. Heather has been approached by Target, Wholefoods, and other significant retailers but refused to send her products to a warehouse, where in her words, “they would be sitting for months” at a time. The only way her products could stay on the shelves for that amount of time is to have preservatives in it. Heather refuses to compromise her products or her reputation.

Private Labeling

Heather also shared that her company does private labeling.  You can sell hand sanitizer and other products from the Beauty Kitchen, with your brand’s name attached to it.  

Giving Back

Heather Marianna is very involved in giving back to her community and abroad. She distributes hand sanitizers and other products to the kids in the local schools. She has also traveled to Africa on several occasions for a month to volunteer with the local communities in Kenya and Tanzania. Heather plans on spending more time volunteering in Africa and speaks highly of the experience.

COVID-19 

Long before COVID-19 hit, Heather had been selling natural hand sanitizers. She has donated tons of hand sanitizers. She recently donated 250 essential worker boxes worth at least $200 each with a $100.00 gift card.

Fitness

Heather believes that exercise and eating healthy are also good for your skin, and that’s why she exercises at least five days per week.  She recently placed a kettlebell in her room so she can squat while watching television. Heather wants to put on more weight, so her plan is to take in more healthy calories

If you’re looking for truly safe and natural products that are good for your skin and your health, look no further than Heather Marianna’s Beauty Kitchen.

Direct download: Episode_149_Heather_Marianna.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 10:42pm EST

What if you found out that you’ve been exercising and dieting wrong all these years? Phil Catudal, believes that 70% of Americans are exercising and dieting the wrong way.  According to Phil, we should exercise and diet based on the needs of our specific body types.  Phil Catudal is a National Academy of Sports Medicine Certified Personal Trainer.  He is also a Nutrition expert, and celebrity fitness instructor based in Los Angeles, California. He recently celebrated the launch of his first book, JUST YOUR TYPE: The Ultimate Guide to Eating and Training Right for Your Body, a comprehensive and essential plan for matching diet and fitness regimens to different body types to achieve physical wellness. 

Celebrity clients he has worked with include Alan Ruck, Emily Deschanel, Sarah Shahi, Van Jones, and Steve Howey.  In addition, Phil also trains a variety of other professionals, which accounts for about 50% of his business.  Although Phil likes training celebrities, the downside is “once they book a role, you lose them for a few months.” Phil believes that it is always good to have regular clients in addition to the celebrity clientele.

Phil Catudal, the early years

Phil grew up in Montreal, Canada.  As a child, Phil had Leukemia from age three to eight, for a total of 5 years.  He is the youngest of 4 siblings.  Phil’s father was a marathoner and bodybuilder.  He passed away at the age of 45 because of a rare lung cancer.  This tragedy instilled in Phil and his siblings the desire to focus more on their health.  It was fitness that Phil and his family through the pain of dealing with the loss of their father.

During the interview, Phil will discuss the impetus for his book.  He also lists and explains the three body types: ectomorph, mesomorph, and endomorphs. 

Ectomorphs are long and lean, with little body fat, and little muscle. They have a hard time gaining weight. Fashion models and basketball players fit this category. While most of us love to hate these genetically-blessed individuals, some male ectomorphs may not be thrilled with their narrow-chested frames, and some female ectomorphs long for more womanly curves.

Endomorphs, on the other hand, have lots of body fat, lots of muscle, and gain weight easily. Football lineman tends to be endomorphs -- they're heavier and rounder individuals. And they don't have to necessarily be overweight. Both Oprah Winfrey and Marilyn Monroe are classic examples of endomorphs.

Mesomorphs are athletic, solid, and strong. They're not overweight and not underweight, and they can eat what they want without worrying too much about it. They both gain and lose weight without too much effort.

Phil believes that once you begin training and eating according to your body type, you will achieve your fitness goals much faster.  He has real case studies to back up his claims.

I am offering a free copy of Phil’s book to the first 4 people, who after listening to the podcast; share their thoughts about Phil’s message.  Training according to your body type may be just what you need to lose weight, build muscle, and get into the best shape of your life.  You don’t want to miss this interview.

Direct download: Episode_148_Phil_Catudal.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:55pm EST

Have you gained a few extra pounds over the past few months? How would you like to lose those extra pounds quickly in the shortest amount of time?  In this interview, Dr. Len Kravitz will tell you how.  Dr. Kravitz is the author of HIIT YOUR LIMIT: High-Intensity Interval Training for Fat Loss, Cardio, and Full Body Health.  Dr. Len Kravitz has thirty-seven years of experience as a researcher, writer, and speaker on fitness.  He is the Coordinator of Exercise Science at the University of New Mexico. He has published more than 300 articles in dozens of health and fitness publications and regularly travels the country as a speaker on fitness and health.

During the interview, Dr. Kravitz will discuss the reasons why so many Americans are overweight and out of shape.  He will share how and why HIIT is so effective in stimulating fat loss, building muscle, and improving overall health quickly and efficiently.

Why Are Americans Obese and Unhealthy?

Dr. Kravitz believes the reasons why so many Americans are obese, overweight, and out of shape is multi-factorial.  One of the reasons is that technology has taken charge.  Many of the things we use to do physically are being done by technology, even something as simple as washing dishes.  Another reason is highly processed foods with their excessive amounts of sugar and fat.  Dr. Kravitz believes that portion control is one of the best techniques to curb obesity.  Unfortunately, food scientists have made it hard for anyone to stick to small portions.

Dr. Kravitz also believes that inactivity is a major problem today. He would like to see research done on the correlation between inactivity and COVID-19.

Every 30 Get Your 3

Dr. Kravitz believes that every 30 minutes you should try and get 3 minutes of movement.  According to his research, if you have a predisposition to cardiac disease, this will minimize the risk.  It would also minimize the risk to insulin resistance.  Every 30 get your 3.

What is High Intensity Interval Training?

HIIT alternates movements that are challenging followed by movements that are less challenging at different intervals.  Research shows that when you alternate challenging with less challenging movements the change in intensity is beneficial to the heart.  There are also several studies that show this increase in movement affects the hormones that stimulate the breakdown of fat.  In addition, research has also shown that HIIT also improves your cognitive thinking skills.

HIIT can be done at home, in a gym, or even outdoors.  Dr. Kravitz gave an example of a very effective HIIT program.  Walk for 30 seconds briskly and then walk comfortably for 60 seconds.  You can do that 5 to 10 times.  His book has 50 different HIIT workouts.

How to ease back into an Exercise Program

According to Dr. Kravitz's research, if you miss 5 days of cardiovascular training, your cardiovascular system starts to become less efficient.  If you haven’t done any resistance training (weight training) in 3 weeks, you start to get physically weaker.  Unfortunately, most people will think they can perform the activity at the same level, but the research shows that is not the case.  Dr. Kravitz recommends that when going back to the gym or wherever you exercise, to start back at 50% capacity and slowly build back up.

I can personally see how this would be the case.  I recently went out to the park to do some pull-ups.  I thought I could knock out 15 or more like I use to do prior to the pandemic.  To my disappointment, I could only do about 10 and that was laborious. I will definitely take Dr. Kravitz's advice and work at 50% until I feel strong enough to increase the activity.

If you want to quickly lose fat, build muscle and get healthy, HIIT just might be the answer.  The book is available on Amazon and I highly recommend it.

Direct download: Episode_147_-_Dr._Len_Kravitz.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:32pm EST

Could our gut bacteria play a significant role in the prevention and treatment of disease? Dr. Christine Bishara has been studying disease for over 20 years.  She is the founder of “From Within Medical”, a medical wellness practice that emphasizes the mind-body and gut-brain axis to prevent and manage disease.  Dr. Bishara discovered that the connection between these systems plays a significant role in disease prevention and management.

Dr. Bishara recently published an article on the role of gut and probiotics on immunity and COVID-19.  She shared that through research, her team discovered that children have healthier guts than adults. She believes this is due to the level of gut bacteria called Bifidobacterium.  This type of bacteria decreases as we age.  Dr. Bishara believes the reason children were less affected by COVID-19 is because of the levels of Bifidobacterium in their guts.

Although Bifidobacterium levels decline with age, in one particular study she cited, Bifidobacterium levels were higher in Italian and Japanese centenarians than in the younger elderly population.  Upon further research and study of centenarians in other countries, Dr. Bishara discovered that diet and lifestyle played a significant role.  They were mostly vegetarians, and their exercise of choice was walking.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that the importance of our guts to prevent disease is nothing new.  According to the Greek Physician and father of modern medicine, Hippocrates, “all diseases begin in the gut”.  He made this statement over 2400 years ago.  He also said, "let food be your medicine and medicine your food."

Dr. Bishara believes that the Standard American Diet (“SAD”), is what’s destroying our immune system.  In a recently written article on the CNN website titled “Poor diets threaten US national security — and it’s serious”. The article stated that “46% of adults have poor quality diet and 56% of children and these numbers are highest in the minority, rural and low-income communities.” The article went on to say that “diet-related illnesses are harming the readiness of the US military and the budgets of the US Department of Defense and the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Seventy-one percent of people between the ages of 17 and 24 do not qualify for military service  Obesity is the leading medical disqualifier.”

Dr. Bishara doesn’t know why the media or society as a whole isn’t shining a light on our immune system.  She believes that the focus should be on prevention rather than treatment.  She also believes that people want a quick fix and that we should go back to the basics, which is our food.

She also believes that an excellent place to start boosting your immune system is by taking a probiotic. Probiotics are live microorganisms that provide health benefits when consumed, generally by improving or restoring the gut flora.  You can find large amounts of Bifidobacterium in probiotics.

Dr. Bishara went on to say that while she recommends we take a probiotic, there is nothing better than prebiotics, which is when we consume more fruits and vegetables, cut back on the highly processed foods, and eat more organic foods.  If we did all these things, we wouldn’t need a probiotic.

I recently interviewed Dr. Joel Gould on my show.  Dr. Gould suffered from Sleep Apnea and Crohn’s Disease.  Through his research, he discovered patients with Sleep Apnea usually have low levels of Vitamin D, so he increased his Vitamin D intake, and not only did his Sleep Apnea go away but his Crohn’s Disease.  He also stated that 96% of the people who died from COVID-19, had low levels of Vitamin D in their bodies (20% or lower). 

Dr. Bishara agrees with Dr. Joel Gould on the importance of Vitamin D to our immune system and how it plays a significant role in our intestinal health.

Dr. Bishara’s practice is located in the Flatiron District of New York City.  During the early stages of the pandemic, New York City was considered the epicenter.  During that time, Dr. Bishara noticed that the majority of COVID-19 patients had a BMI of over 30%, which is obese.  Dr. Bishara believes that COVID-19 is a disease that attacks our immune system.

There was so much information shared by Dr. Bishara on the importance of our immune system and the relationship of our gut to our body and mind.  Most people are not aware that 90% of the serotonin in our body is produced in our gut and regulates our mood.

Dr. Bishara’s advice to parents is to “invest in your health and invest in prevention versus treatment.”

Direct download: Episode_146_Dr._Christine_Bishara.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 2:52pm EST

Cheryl Millington, also known as “Millie” is a self-employed business owner out of Toronto, Canada.  She lives in Toronto with her husband of 30 years and her 27-year-old son.  Millie’s weight loss journey began on September 14, 2019, when she weighed in at a whopping 328 pounds! 

Millie had high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and thyroid condition.  In addition, she also had three bulging discs on her neck and back.  After being consistently out of breath while climbing one flight of stairs, in her home, Millie had enough!  She realized that she had to do something about her health. 

Millie comes from a family that is predisposed to obesity primarily on her mother’s side of the family.  She shared what her mother went through the last 5 years of her life.  She has other family members heading down that same path.

Millie is determined that this will not happen to her.  She has the support of her husband and son on this journey.  Millie took the initiative and became her own health coach.  She changed her eating habits as well as the eating habits of her family.  She stopped eating out and decided to cook more at home.  She also cut out all fast food and processed foods. Fiber and protein became Millie’s friend.

After losing 50 of the 80 pounds, Millie went back to her doctor for a check-up.  To Millie’s satisfaction, her blood pressure and high cholesterol numbers went down dramatically.  As far as the pain in her neck and back from the bulging discs, Millie stated that she is now pain-free.

Millie calls herself, “healthiermillie” on various social media platforms, such as Pinterest, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.  She is using these platforms to inspire others towards a healthy lifestyle.  Who better to learn from than someone who has lost a lot of weight by eating real food and being more active?

The Six Weeks to Fitness podcast will follow-up with Millie and bring you an updated episode of her journey.  You can visit Millie’s website at healthiermillie.com

Direct download: Episode_145_Cheryl_Millington_Interview_Part_1.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 7:16pm EST

If you suffer from insomnia or keep your partner awake with your sleep apnea, there may be a simple cure.  According to Dr. Joel Gould, author of the upcoming book “The Modern Epidemic” and founder of The Modern American Dentistry, most inflammatory diseases are caused by a lack of Vitamin D in the body.

In 2015, Dr. Gould, an expert in sleep apnea and insomnia, had been practicing dentistry for two decades and treating obstructive sleep apnea in Manhattan Beach, California, for several years when he was diagnosed with sleep apnea. His research into the underlying cause of this disease led him to create the “Sleep Restoration Program” designed to change the public’s perception of the ever-growing epidemic of insomnia and sleep apnea caused by Vitamin D and nutrient deficiencies. 

Dr. Gould calls Vitamin D the “Human Battery” because we are “solar animals.” We receive our energy from the sun.  Similar to how our phones need recharging when the energy levels decrease to 20%, and it starts to die, our bodies react the same way when our Vitamin D levels reach 20% or lower, we begin to die.  Dr. Gould stated that “96% of the people who died from the coronavirus pandemic had Vitamin D levels of 20% or less, while those who contracted the virus and survived had Vitamin D levels of 30% or higher.”

During the interview, Dr. Gould will explain how to determine your Vitamin D levels and how to raise them to levels that will strengthen your immune system. He strongly feels that sleep disorders are both reversible and preventable, which opposes commonly accepted beliefs in medicine. Educating others about the correlation between the body’s level of Vitamin D, insomnia, and disease has become Dr. Gould’s mission.

If this is your first time hearing about Vitamin D’s vital role in your overall health, you’re not alone.

Medical doctors are not taught this in medical school, but the information is out there, and Dr. Gould experienced it first-hand and is sharing it on my show.

You’ll want to listen to this podcast with a pen and paper in hand.  There is so much information backed by science that is sure to make a serious impact on your life and your children’s lives.  If you think you’re getting enough Vitamin D from taking a multi-vitamin, think again.  According to Dr. Gould, and he backs it up with facts, the amount of Vitamin D you’re receiving in a multi-vitamin has no effects on your body.

Direct download: Episode_144_-_Dr._Joel_Gould_-_Vitamin_D.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 8:13pm EST

Meet Chris Ackie, an All-Star, All-Canadian Linebacker for the Montreal Alouettes in the Canadian Football League. This former Wilfrid Laurier University athlete was drafted in the first round of the 2015 CFL draft by the Montreal Alouettes, and fourth overall and inducted into the Wilfrid Laurier Hall of Fame in 2019.  During the interview, Chris will discuss what it takes to make it as a professional football player in the CFL, which as Chris explains it, has some similarities to the NFL.  Chris will also share his training routine during the offseason and how yoga and meditation play a major role in his life and how it prepares him for the game of football. 

Growing up in Toronto and then moving to Cambridge, Chris participated in a variety of sports including basketball, track & field, and rugby.  This was a very inspiring interview with a young man who, at the age of 13, was told by one of his coaches that he would never make it on a high school football team or college football team.  To hear his coach, whom he looked up to and respected say this, was disheartening to this young man, but Chris proved this coach wrong by not only making it on the collegiate level but all the way to the pros as well.  In the words of Chris, “keep striving for your dreams and let no one tell you that you can’t do it.”  Chris is doing it!

Direct download: Episode_143_-_Chris_Ackie.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 11:15pm EST

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