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NAMASWEAT

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NAMASWEAT

It's no secret that I have been focused on the hustle lately. Between teaching a full schedule at SoulCycle, I have continued to develop as a private yoga instructor and personal trainer while brainstorming my next project. Coming up with a new idea can be such an intimidating process. Finding the courage to get started and stay committed is not something I have accomplished alone. In fact, I would not be here without the incredible network of talented, successful, and inspirational people I am so blessed to have in my life. I have been challenged, inspired, and motivated to become more than just an instructor.

This is how a big idea became action... how a vision became a plan... how my coaching style has become my personal brand, and how I hope to impact the fitness industry.

It started with creating a logo. As someone who was never able to color within the lines according to elementary school standards, I knew I needed help. So I reached out to my talented friend Ryan. The only thing I knew I needed to incorporate was antlers.

One of my forever inspirations has always been and will always be my grandfather. Before he passed, he would always tell us to "buck up" when we were sad or upset. He was a man of few words but when he spoke you listened. To "buck up" means to stop playing into negative emotions and get real about the fact that no matter what happens--no matter how hard our challenges may be-- we alway have a choice. We can choose to let the circumstances of our lives knock us down and keep us there, or we can BUCK UP and realize that the Universe saves the hardest challenges for the strongest people. We can choose to use our challenges to become stronger. We can choose to tell ourselves a different version of the story happening in between our ears and choose a more positive dialogue. This isn't easy for everyone, but it's something I will always try to help others accomplish... to buck up is to consciously and actively CHOOSE a positive outlook... to stop complaining and do something about it... to find gratitude within the hardest moments of our lives. I didn't want to hear it when he last said it to me, but it will guide my life forever. 

The next step was turning an idea into something tangible. I have always known that I want to help others FEEL better through physical fitness, motivational coaching, and community outreach... but how? I started to think about what makes most people feel intimidated about doing the things I can help them with, like yoga and personal training. I asked friends and colleagues what they feel like they need to add to their routines and what was keeping them from making that happen...

Then, after a private session with my friend Rebecca, she served the truth right to me. "What are you waiting for? You always tell your classes that it's not about perfection... to embrace the mess... so why are you waiting for your idea to be perfect?" She was right. I had been holding back because I was afraid to fail. I was afraid that my idea wasn't good enough... that other's might not like it... or that I might be criticized for even trying in the first place. That night I created a plan and now NAMASWEAT is my newest endeavor.

NAMASWEAT is a combination of yoga and cross-training offered in a group setting so that we can work together to take down our fears and insecurities and add balance to our lives without feeling intimidated. The premier event is tonight at the marina green in San Francisco and I haven't felt this excited about anything since the day of my SoulCycle audition. 

There is a lot of power in not knowing what is coming next. I could spend all day worrying about letting people down, but instead I am going to buck up and remind myself that this is exactly what I am supposed to be doing right now. It is going to be messy, experimental, and imperfect.. just like life! Without trying to predict and control every aspect of this new venture, I am arriving in this chapter of my life with an open mind and an open heart. I want to continue learning more about the needs of others so that I can better serve the fitness community. Creating NAMASWEAT is a big step out of my comfort zone, but I have faith that the people who need it and the people who will benefit most from it will find it. 

What do you need? What are you looking for? In what areas of your life do you need the most support?

Perhaps I can help.

#NAMASWEAT

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The Traveler & The Athlete

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The Traveler & The Athlete

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A traveler seeks exploration and rich life experiences much like an athlete pursues physical strength and personal growth. Both seek emotional and psychological benefits from traveling and exercising, and both face unexpected challenges along the way. The athlete and the traveler choose to throw themselves into uncomfortable situations (high intensity cardio vascular interval training workouts, or 22 hour flights around the world, for example), and both have a deep and specific understanding of why they choose to do so.

Before our trip to Thailand, my goal was to go on an adventure in a new part of the world that I've always wanted to visit, but I was also hoping for personal enlightenment along the way. "I'm giving myself until the end of Thailand to figure out my next move," I told myself and my friends. I wanted to go to Thailand to explore, to get out of my comfort zone, and to learn. I needed to learn what it is about the world and my existence within it that I want to absorb, share, and give back.

Being a SoulCycle instructor fulfills me in ways that I could never have imagined; I am grateful for where I am and what I have the privilege to do for a living, but I also know there is always more to give. The reason why I travel, why I teach, and why I choose to be an athlete through and through, all comes down to my desire to grow and give more.

Looking out on our balcony in Koh Phangan on our last full day, I searched for that idea... that answer to my desire for more.

One of my mentors, a senior master instructor at SoulCycle in NYC, gave me some teaching advice recently. She said that we often ask our riders to set an intention at the beginning of class, then ask them to focus on that intention throughout class as a means of staying connected throughout the journey. But the truth is, sometimes we need those 45 minutes (or 10 days in Thailand) to gather our thoughts, shift our perspective, and get inspired. So, perhaps the intention doesn't happen for us until we are done—until our experience brings that intention to light and we carry it with us from then on.

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My trip to Thailand feels more like a test than an answer.

After spending a day taking care of elephants at Patara Elephant Farm, I came down with what can only be described as the worst case of food poisoning I could ever imagine. When you've traveled over 22 hours to arrive at a destination where everyone has glowing reviews about the local cuisine, you can imagine how disheartened and empty I was feeling.

We woke up at 6am the next day to catch the Super Bowl at a local pub in Chiang Mai. Still unable to eat, I did my best to make the most out of an uncomfortable situation. I cheered on Lady Gaga, rooted for the Falcons (just because they were the underdog I suppose), and unsuccessfully attempted to hold down some Gatorade while all the people around me slammed mimosas.

After that, we took a Bangkok Airways flight to Koh Samui where a private boat took us to Koh Tao. When I say "private boat" I know how that sounds—and it was exactly that! We spent a stupid amount of money to treat ourselves to an upscale transportation experience and I was so anxious about being able to enjoy this special treat I had planned for us. I hadn't eaten in about 2 days but I was able to hold down a scoop of ramen noodles at the airport, so I was hopeful.

There was champagne offered on our boat and wonderful looking food. I had all these expectations set for how I hoped that boat ride would go. Champagne, snacks, fun... but what if I puked again? What if it was all a big waste of money and my own physical body was going to keep me from enjoying it—or even worse, ruin the experience for Nick as well.

Funnily enough, this reminded me of my first spin class.

I puked after my first spin class about 5 years ago. I was the newest rider in the room; I didn't own spin shoes so I had to use those old school baskets and I'm sure my bike settings were a mess as well. I pushed myself, but I couldn't keep up. I was miserable and all I kept thinking was "how do all these people actually enjoy this shit?" As soon as class was over, I bee-lined for the bathroom and evacuated my stomach.

Yet, somehow, I went back. I puked again after my second class, but I still went back... again and again and again, I went back... now 5 years later, I teach full time in San Francisco and it's truly my dream job.

As we board our cushiony speed boat, I see it: the champagne. "Dear Goddess, please just let me enjoy a glass of champagne on this overpriced boat with my love." He poured, I sipped... the boat was going so fast that Nick and I could barely drink anything without half of it splashing all over us. We sipped and we laughed. We started taking pictures and Snapchats and I started to breathe.

"Breathe like an athlete," I told myself.

I looked out at the ocean—in through the nose, out through the mouth. I breathed like an athlete and I drank like a traveler—messy, slightly uncomfortable, but joyful.

Koh Tao is beautiful. It took another day for my stomach to finally settle but I could feel myself finally healing. We enjoyed the beach, read our books (I highly recommend Born a Crime by Trevor Noah), and as empty as my stomach felt I could feel my spirit come back to life.

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We spent a day scuba diving at "Shark sland" which was an incredibly invigorating and slightly terrifying adventure. Then we took a water taxi across the Gulf of Thailand to Koh Phangan where we would spend our final four nights. My mother would not be happy about that boat ride. It was basically an oversized canoe with a single engine and no life jackets in sight. Luckily, after about three hours, we arrived at Koh Phangan and our hotel, Buri Rasa, was truly a dream come true.

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The beach, food, and gorgeous hotel room made me feel like we had finally made it; we were exactly where we needed to be.

Now that I was feeling much better, I was back to my goal: Why am I here? What can I do next? I felt the self-inflicted pressure, similar to the pressure I feel as an athlete. "You haven't come this far to only come this far." So what is my next move? How do I use this experience, take it home, and use it to do more? My mind told me that I needed to sign up and complete my NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine) certification, and my heart told me to relax and stop being so damn hard on myself...

Then Nick got sick, so I spent our final day playing nurse and taking care of him. Our original plan was to go to the full moon party, but I was surprisingly relieved to have a day of rest and reflection. Maybe traveling isn't necessarily about having the picture perfect moments, but going through the challenges and unexpectedness of it all.

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I found my answer in the waves I saw from our balcony that morning.

Water, waves, oceans and human beings—we are always moving, growing, expanding, swelling, and crashing. Yet the ocean doesn't play mind games with itself to make certain waves, grow to a certain size, or choose whom it invites. Traveling without meeting high expectations is like working out in order to feel well instead of just burn calories and lose weight.

My goal now is to stand grounded where I am and continue to further my education as a fitness professional while working toward offering more of love, acceptance, and guidance to others and myself.

This idea does not come with one straight answer; I will have to pursue more open-mindedness, try new ways of connecting with people, and learn how to become the most compassionate and empathetic human being I can possibly be... one day at a time, every day.

Like the waves rolling from the deepest parts of the ocean to the shore, it's all a process.

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First things first, time to complete my NASM certification and continue pursuing my goals as a SoulCycle instructor and fitness professional.

So I ask you, how do you strike a balance between being where you are and getting where you want to be? How do you develop and pursue your intentions? Can you describe any similarities between being a traveler and an athlete? Let's keep the conversation going! Subscribe to my blog, comment below, and sign up for some of my SoulCycle classes in San Francisco and Marin this week!

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I Said It First

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I Said It First

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You know what time it is. It's everywhere and you have been constantly, if not relentlessly, reminded for months now. It's Valentines Day. Whether we admit it or not, we all feel the pressure; pressure to find a lover to share this special Hallmark holiday with, pressure to make the day perfectly awesome and memorable with our significant other... pressure... to meet some ridiculous expectation that really holds no value or merit to the kind of person we are or the relationship we are in. It only validates or crushes our desire to feel loved and have that love reciprocated.

I remember this time last year, my boyfriend Nick and I had only been dating for a few months so my mind was a flurry of all these ideas of what I wanted our first Valentines Day to be... What's more, Nick and I had yet to say "I love you" and I was definitely feeling the emotional pressure. To be honest, the only reason I hadn't told Nick I loved him yet was because I was waiting for him to say it first.

So I waited...

I bit my lip, held my tongue and kept myself awake at night because of a social standard that taught me that's what I was supposed to do. That was the normal way to do things in a normal heterosexual relationship... Plus, I mean, what would happen if I let it slip? He might not say it back, that would suck. He might say it but I might feel like I forced him to, that would be uncomfortable. Or maybe he feels the same way but hasn't found the right opportunity to release the doves and make my romance novel dreams come true? Possibly. I had to let go of the idea that my relationship was meant to play out like a cheesy movie and get honest about how I was feeling because I was also running out of excuses for why I kept getting all weepy on Sunday nights. I just really care about you a lot and it's making me feel really vulnerable... 

I waited much longer than I should have and it was so silly because what ended up happening was exactly what I was trying to avoid.

It was the wrong place, wrong time, and I was in the wrong disposition when I finally told Nick that I was falling in love with him. We had been at the park with our friends all day before we went to one of our favorite restaurants for dinner (Betelnut on Union St.). Nick has this incredible talent for reading my emotions even when I think I'm holding it together. He could tell something was on my mind and was more persistent than ever trying to figure out what was going on. The truth was, all I could think about was how badly I wanted to tell him that I love him and how ridiculous I felt not having said it yet. I sent a group text to my best girlfriends: "SOS I THINK I'M FINALLY GOING TO SAY IT HELP!" Then I admitted to Nick that I had something I wanted to talk about, but not until we got back to my apartment.

I started to feel shaky and nervous as we walked together. I had committed myself to telling him, but I knew it wasn't going to be the hair-in-the-wind-perfect-lighting-on-my-face-beach-sunset-dreamlike vision I had been trying to manifest for so long.

It was sloppy. I got all choked up, it felt like my heart was falling out of my butt and I'm pretty sure I was sweating but I also couldn't really see or hear anything when I finally stumbled through my words and said, "The thing is, uh, ahh, you know... I just like, uh... *face in palm* ITHINKI'MFALLINGINLOVEWITHYOU!" then I immediately plunged my face into a pillow and started crying.

So dreamy.

Nick couldn't help but laugh at my dramatics as he told me he loves me too and asked why I had waited for so long to say it; "I think its crazy how girls think that guys have to say it first," he said with his confident smile...

Right. He was so right and I felt so ridiculous for allowing so much pressure to build. As I wiped my face and blew my nose I finally realized that I could have saved so much time and anxiety if I had just told him when I wanted to the first time. I ended up saying it first anyway and it was as messy as could be!

A lot of the pressure we put on ourselves really just comes from the fact that we are trying to meet some unrealistic expectation that society has taught us to strive for. But if we allow each moment to be what it is and stop trying to force it to be something else—something more—that is where we can find true happiness.

That is what it means to choose faith over fear; to have faith that the truth of the moment is enough to be excited about and celebrated.

Telling Nick that I was falling in love with him was messy, but now it simply exists as our chaotic, imperfect moment in history together and part of our story forever... Our story. Just because it wasn't the same Kodak-moment fairytale that other couples may have achieved, that doesn't mean I am any less proud of it. Life... love... it's all messy. That doesn't mean its not worth celebrating.

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Happy Valentines Day to you and yours!

How have you told someone that you love them for the very first time? How have you stepped out of the norm in your own romantic and interpersonal relationships? Please share your story, leave a comment and check out my SoulCycle schedule in San Francisco this week!

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