Photos by Erica Livoti
Occupation: Personal Trainer, high-intensity training instructor and entrepreneur
Tell us about yourself in under 100 words:
I’m curious by nature, craving opportunities to learn, teach, and connect. Teaching others (especially women) to take control of their physical health is my passion and I get to live it every day as a New York City-based trainer. I believe that good things come to those who sweat and that a strong, nourished body unleashes a mind that can’t be stopped. At heart, I’m a hippie/adventurer from Oregon with a huge obsession over NBA basketball and podcasting.
What is something about you that most people don’t know?
I’m an outgoing person that loves connecting with people, but I deal with social anxiety that can sometimes be crippling. I’ve learned ways to overcome this (like teaching group fitness classes and public speaking), but it takes ongoing self-work, practice and challenging myself to fly in to my fears.
Close your eyes and picture “beautiful”. What comes to mind?
What is the most amazing thing your body has done for you?
I ran my first marathon last November (NYC). I’ve been a middle-distance runner my entire life, but never thought I would try 26.2. Finishing the NYC marathon in freezing temps was a huge athletic moment for me, as I had to jump in to the unknown and do something entirely outside of my comfort zone. Conquering that course taught me that my body is stronger than my mind gives it credit for. I channel that experience often when I find myself setting limitations before trying.
As a personal trainer you mentioned you try to focus on how the client feels after incorporating exercise into their life vs. focusing on how much weight they’ve lost or what size dress they fit in. Why are you shifting the focus?
I’m a trainer working mostly with women (and being a woman myself), I can say whole-heartedly that most of us attach meaning and value to numbers on a scale that are often unrealistic. Since weight is an easy, accessible metric to measure, the number on a scale can easily become an obsession, especially numbers from the past. I encourage my clients to use a scale maximum once per week, if at all. Targeted measurements work to assess changes in the body and I use these with clients focused on specific weight-loss goals.
My passion is to help women become observers of their bodies and make great choices relating to feelings, strength and mental clarity. Does a certain food trigger bloating or a shift in mood? Does drinking coffee hurt the stomach? Is eight hours of sleep too much or enough? When treating the body with respect and appreciating its functions, all aesthetic goals seem to magically fall in to place…
We talked about this concept of celebrity trainers or fitness pros who are creating huge names for themselves by posting pics of their workout results on social media. Often these images are retouched or at the very least contain filters. How does this affect our ability as women to maintain realistic expectations of what a healthy body can and should look like? Are the pictures healthy and motivating or do you think they are harmful?
Like many of us, I’ve certainly travelled through the instagram shame-spiral of workout images, celebrity accounts and group fitness instructors in barely-there clothing showing off their bodies, looking totally effortless, all while judging myself in the worst ways.
While I do think some trainers and fitness professionals do an exceptional job using social media to inspire others, the majority of images I see are about as real as an image in a magazine. I’m personally sick of seeing tanned, toned, torsos in the same Nike sports bra splashed all over with a motivational quote and #fitspo because it’s lazy and not adding value.
As women, we need to remember that social media is a tool and can be abused. It is important to eliminate feeds that create feelings of “I’m not good enough” vs. actual inspiration. Again: check in and assess, is this actually contributing to my well-being or sucking me dry.
Do you have any tips for people who want to start exercising but can’t afford a personal trainer or an expensive gym/spin/yoga pass?
Of course! The most important part of exercising is to MOVE every day. This means doing something active every 90 minutes and walking as much as possible. It could be a ten minute circuit of squats in place, push-ups and jumping jacks on your lunch break, at your desk, or riding a bike/walking to work. Planning ahead is the trick: develop a habit of movement in the morning, afternoon and evening at the very minimum, and set an alarm on your phone to remind you to do so.
There are a ton of free run groups in most communities and unlimited resources online for simple exercises that can be done with one’s own body weight. Do whatever is necessary to move more, eat smart (often less) and drink at minimum two liters of water daily.
If you could give one message to women of the world what would it be?