Meet Randi Zinn – A Community Leader and Amazing Woman!

Randi recently came to us to do an event together, and I was overjoyed. “Yes!” couldn’t have come faster from my mouth.

I have known Randi for a while, and she is one of those people I admire so much for her integrity, depth, thoughtfulness, and intelligence – both personally and in business.  As a writer, Randi has so many interesting thoughts about the intersection of career and motherhood for women in the city.  She has created a supportive community of women  through her brainchild, Beyond Mom, and this community has grown exponentially.  Her emphasis on the importance of health and wellness for “Mom-preneurs” is especially exciting to me.  I am always looking for ways to help and support women in all stages of their lives, especially if I can do that with Randi!

Randi and I will be co-hosting a fitness and wellness event at Athleta on Saturday morning, October 25th, from 8-10am.  I will be teaching a Body Conceptions class with a live DJ.  Randi will follow with a talk encouraging women to cultivate a life “Beyond Mom,” finding their individuality while embracing the gift of motherhood.  You can learn more about this event at  And look out for more events we do together down the road!

I had a chance to ask Randi more about herself and her background here, and I hope you enjoy hearing from her as much as I did.  We need more like her who can help inspire us as women and mothers, and lead by example!!




1)   Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your business?  How do you describe your work to people?

In many ways I’m a Renaissance woman- I’ve always been involved in the arts (dance, theater, film, writing) and in the recent decade I’ve assumed the role of businesswoman- at first, by random, un-chosen events in my life, and now, by choice. I was a yoga instructor prior having my son and I wanted to take my desire to help people to a new level- from there, I created Beyond Mom- a community for NYC Moms who seek an elevated community of women also growing who they are as individuals, not just Moms. I definitely attract MomPreneurs but also connect with women who are in transition and figuring out what’s next for themselves professionally and personally. Without a doubt, these women all need community, support, and connections so they can best grow themselves professionally and personally.

2)   What made you decide to start your business?  What kinds of professional and life changes brought you here?

I built this community because I saw a need! Women struggle to hold onto who they were pre-baby and to discover who they’ve become post. They battle to find the time to take care of their body and spiritual selves. I also started meeting so many brilliant driven women in places like the playground and I thought to myself, “these women need to know one another!” So I create events that bring women together in a way that is meaningful and inspiring. It’s definitely my own desires to be a healthy, balanced, accomplished woman who is also a Mother that made me realize how many other women also crave this balance- they just don’t always know how to find it. I realized that I have a set of tools that come rather naturally to me- the ways that I keep myself in one solid piece- to me, these practices come fairly naturally but they don’t to many women- I want to share these techniques and concepts so women have a better chance of being happy and therefore better, moms, partners, friends etc. The simple tools to becoming a Beyond Mom make sense for living a happy, balanced life.


3)   Why do you think it’s important for mom’s to have a community, and why have you focused on “Mommy-preneurs” specifically? Moms share a common understanding- there are certain experiences and dichotomies in the experience that only another Mom can understand- how can you love so intensely and yet so desperately need alone time? How can you be so committed to developing a little child and yet feel totally compelled to build a business? There are certain unspoken understandings that can help a woman not feel crazy as well as feel supported. Women (despite some ancient rumors) are incredibly generous to one another and generally feel very motivated to help one another- if we champion one another, we are a pretty powerful community. Why Mompreneurs? I guess because I am one, so I get it. But also because I think it’s the new feminist movement. We can’t have it all- at least every single day, but I think we can experience it all, maybe different days of the week. Mompreneurs test those boundaries and see how much they can manage. Inherently, we are all a little crazy, a little exhausted, but so very inspiring.

4)  How has your own personal/family life come into all of this?

My personal life is the entire story! My father taught me how to be a visionary, my husband motivated me to own my story and my gifts, and my son reveals our evolving story each day. I think it’s my karma for the men in my life to help me see the woman I am. This makes me very, very blessed.

5)  What is your ultimate professional goal? I imagine the Beyond Mom Movement as a national (and perhaps international) force. Next level events online and offline, product that is reliable and loved, and a mission that supports women to grow, reinvent, and rediscover their own mission. I view myself as the visionary and voice for the movement.

6)   Ok, now let’s talk fitness!  How does fitness fit into your life, both personally and professionally? I have been and always will be a mover! It’s my medicine! Personally, I need my muscles to work and my blood to move to feel grounded and strong, physically and mentally. I’ve really enjoyed developing my repertoire post baby to find activities that feel good, don’t hurt me, and have developed my strength. As I’ve become more toned and strong, my confidence has built. Body Conceptions has been an awesome part of that- Thanks Mahri Relin and Erin West! Professionally, I take it upon myself to not only be a resource for women looking for fitness that works for them, but to encourage Beyond Moms to find movement that they love. I’m convinced that if you don’t move your body, you can’t feel sound in your mind. There’s no rules, only that you find what works for you. I love to inspire women to rediscover their fitness truth post baby- it’s an empowering process.


7)   How do you choose your workouts?  What advice would you give new, busy mothers on fitting fitness into their lives – and making it part of their lifestyle? Choosing my workouts has been a process! I’ve tried things for a week or even a few months at a time to see how they feel to me and I’ve allowed myself to let something go for something that feels better. I’ve discovered that variety is key for me- if I do weight training one day, I love doing yoga the next. If I do cardio dance one day, I like to spin the next. I think variety challenges your body and your mind, and that’s what keeps it fun.

Without a doubt, it can be tough to fit in your workout but I always tell Beyond Moms- make your workout an indispensible part of your day- calendar it in like you would a conference call. Use the time you have a babysitter or your husband on duty. Moms often feel guilty for taking time out for themselves (yes, I still have those emotions from time to time- so I know how real it is), but I also understand that I am better at everything I do, if I take care of me. So make it important and stick to it.


8)   What’s one quality about you that very few people know?  It can be anything! I’m pretty honest so I feel like the people that know me, know me pretty well- but let’s see…I’m pretty silly I think. I have a zany, sometimes perverse, sense of humor, but it runs in my family. My son points at me and says, “Mommy, you funny!” and he usually tells me the truth.

9)   Have I missed anything here? And how can women find and become involved with you??

Women can find me in a handful of ways!

My site is we have daily content to remind you how to continue going beyond in your own journey of motherhood.

Find me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @randizinn



Using Yoga During Pregnancy: Guest Expert, Kendra Fitzgerald

When I met her, Kendra Fitzgerald was one of those people I knew I would like immediately.  Smart, grounded, caring, capable – all the qualities I respect tremendously.  Kendra is the owner of Barefoot Tiger, a wellness concierge company.  She is also a personal trainer and yoga teacher and has recently had a baby boy!

Kendra’s knowledge of anatomy, yoga, and pre- and postnatal fitness is extensive.  I asked her to share her perspective on the connections between yoga and the pregnancy experience, and I’m excited to share her expert piece here with you.  Enjoy!


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5 Ways to Use Yoga to Transform your Pregnancy and Childbirth Experience

Just minutes after giving birth three months ago, my OB asked me “Do you do yoga?” A seemingly random question to ask a woman who just gave birth, I couldn’t have been happier to answer it. I told him yes, I do, to which he said “ah yes, the yoga ladies are very strong.” He couldn’t be more right.

Giving birth was one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. I know, it’s not often you hear the word ‘exhilarating’ and ‘birth’ in the same sentence.  And yes, it was very uncomfortable, but I firmly believe my yoga practice helped me explore and understand what was going on in my body during pregnancy and cope and manage the pain during childbirth. It taught me to focus, breathe, and be fully conscious during every moment of the birth process, and I’m happy to say that I remember the experience in vivid detail, and with much joy.

The funny thing is, I wasn’t doing a full physical practice of yoga every single day. I took a prenatal yoga class once a week at the local yoga studio and would do a few poses after a long walk or a weight workout. Sometimes my asana (posture) practice would just be a restorative relaxation over a bolster. If you’ve never tried this…it’s heavenly.

But there is far more to a yoga practice than just the physical asana. Yoga – or ‘union’ – connects all the important aspects of a woman’s strength to enable her to productively and consciously give birth to a baby – physical asana practice, meditation, breath work and attention to the present moment. We were born to do this work of creating a life, and yoga can effectively help us harness our power.

Knowing what works for one person doesn’t work for everyone, here are a few of the parts of my yoga practice that truly helped me during pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery.

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1)    ‘Corset’ ab work – I often hear women say they can’t do core work while pregnant. This couldn’t be further from the truth! In reality, core work is even more important now, when you are pregnant and a new mom, than ever before. Not only will your back muscles thank you, but you’ll have a much easier time pushing during delivery and recovering post-childbirth as well. However, the type of core work you do is of utmost importance (ie, no more crunches during or after pregnancy!) All you need is this one ab exercise, which I call the ‘corset pull.’ This one exercise is perfect for both pre- and post-natal core health:

  • Lean against a wall with your feet about a foot away from the baseboard. Your upper body and hips should be against the wall.
  • Put your hands on your baby / stomach and take a deep breath, filling your stomach out as you breathe.
  • As you exhale, make a ‘SSSS’ sound through your mouth and draw your navel back toward your spine at the same time. Keep exhaling to the end of your breath until you feel all the muscles of your core pulling in – in the front, on the sides and around the back. **Be careful not to hold your breath during pregnancy as this can negatively affect oxygen levels for you and your baby. Breath-retention work in yoga is not recommended for pregnancy.
  • Repeat 20 times
  • For more of a challenge, do this exercise on all 4’s.
  • I should also mention that this one exercise can help whittle inches off your midsection…anxious to try it now?!

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Hypnosis for Birth with Gabrielle Targett

2)     Guided birth meditations can help you visualize the events of your childbirth experience. Athletes mentally prepare for the game beforehand, and this is exactly what meditation and visualization is meant to do for you during childbirth. I listened to hypnobirthing guided meditations before going to sleep, and it was this meditation that helped me visualize and internalize the birth process I envisioned. In fact, after listening to this meditation one weekend, I was further dilated at my next OB appointment at 38 weeks! (Full disclaimer: this is my sister’s recording, and I’m not being compensated for this mention. I used this meditation a LOT during my pregnancy because it is so good.)

3)    Breath work is key to being able to ‘release’ into contractions and work with the process of delivery, not against it. Think about when you are in pain, what is the first thing you likely do? Suck in air, and hold it.  As challenging as it sounds, being able to let go and breathe through the contractions will help advance your progress greatly, and potentially shorten your labor.

  • Aim for very long, slow, deep breaths. If you are familiar with ujjayi (ocean breath), use that to find your rhythm. If not, count to 4 on your inhale, and 6 on your exhale. A longer exhale accesses the parasympathetic (calming) nervous system.
  • How does this apply in yoga? When faced with a challenging posture, notice your reaction with your breath. Do you hold your breath? Does the breath get shorter? If so, take long, slow and deep inhales and exhales to see if you can work with the discomfort, rather than against it.
  • You can even practice your breath during your day, during a stressful event or while waiting for the subway (which can also be a stressful event.)

4)    Know that the baby feels what you feel, and experiences the same hormone rushes as you. Tuning into your breath and taking longer, deeper breaths can lower your stress level in just a few seconds. The same breathing exercises above apply to lowering your stress level as well! Two for one.

5)    Finding community – as a new mom, know that it takes time to recover and there is no such thing as too much support. In many cultures, new mothers are kept in bed, with their babies, for the first 40 days. The woman’s mother, sisters, and women friends shower her with help, support and love during these 40 days, after which point the new mama emerges into the world with her baby. In our culture, we’re sent home from the hospital after a life-changing event to fend for ourselves. The support and love of a yoga community can be a lifeline during this very sensitive time.  Check out your local yoga studio for prenatal classes, and see what happens!


Kendra Fitzgerald, CPT-ACE, CYT is the Founder & Director of Barefoot Tiger, an in-home personal training, yoga, pilates, and nutrition company in New York City & Los Angeles. A yoga teacher and personal trainer herself, she and her staff of 20 have been teaching around NYC since 2005.

Turn Valentine’s Day Around!!

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Oh, Valentine’s Day… One of those days that’s supposed to make us feel warm and fuzzy – and often leaves us feeling rather prickly instead.  Boo! We can’t help but watch those cheesy Hallmark commercials and yell at the TV, “It NEVER happens like that!”  Well, almost never anyway.  Like most, I hate the movie theater romance pressure.  I mean, I can’t think of many other days of the year I try my best to avoid acknowledging – whether I’m in a relationship or not!

Ok, so I don’t totally hate Valentine’s Day. In fact, I think Valentine’s Day, when stripped of the commercial consumer Hollywood crazy, can be a great day to connect. To celebrate the people in our lives who are really there for us, whether as romantic partners, friends, or co-workers. These are the people who help you feel stronger and happier, who WANT you to succeed, and who really care about both the good and bad things that happen to you. Who love you for every aspect of who you are.

Having said all of this, I will be reflecting upon the connections in my own life and would love for you to do the same.  Grab one or more of those important people and take some time out this week to do some amazing things in the city that truly fulfill you and make you feel good.  Whatever your situation allow yourself to feel great this Valentine’s Day!


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Here are some of my suggestions and personal NYC activity faves:

1) Gotta mention this. We have an awesome promotion with Alex Anthony Salon right now through the end of the month. Grab a friend, come take a Body Conceptions class with us (two for the price of one!) and then head over to Alex Anthony for a chocolate scrub and conditioning treatment. Email me to find out more. (I don’t love using this space to advertise, but this could really constitute a great day that makes you feel good inside and out.)

2) King Spa Sauna. I’ve mentioned this place a few times. Located in Palisade Park, NJ, it’s an oasis of saunas, jacuzzis, beauty and wellness services, and really great food for very low prices. Bring a friend, and pamper yourself without guilt. Don’t have a car? Not a problem! The spa runs regular shuttles from Penn Station.

3) Try Gobo in the West Village. Our favorite destination as a company, Gobo has some of the tastiest vegetarian options I’ve tried. Their breadth of dishes is impressive, and I have yet to meet one of their plates that I didn”t like. My suggestion? Start your meal with their lettuce wraps!

4) B Spa Bar – If you want to give your skin the most amazing treat, you have to try one of Diana Seo’s famous facials. I got one from her last week, and I’m pretty amazed by the results. Her technology is really advanced (something about opening the water channels in skin cells to allow penetration of collagen) but the real test is in the way your skin feels. I’m definitely a convert. This is a great way to revive your skin in this crazy winter weather.

5) Talk. Get together with your great friends and tell them how you feel about them. The winter is hard, and can be really isolating. It makes you – and your friends – feel so good to know how strong your connections really are and that you’ll be there for each other no matter how hard and also how amazing life can become. I am really appreciating this in my own life, and sometimes putting it into words makes all of the difference.

I wish everyone a Happy Valentine’s Day. Enjoy your connections and your pampering this month – and know that spring will be here before you know it. Hang in there!!!


p.s.  I’m teaching class on Valentine’s Day!  Come to class at Stepping Studios, and have a blast with us!!  Sign up here.

I Was Amazed! (but not really…)


Before leaving on her holiday vacation, my client sent me a picture of herself in a bikini with the words, “[My husband] says thank you.” What I saw was a beautiful, sculpted body – only FIVE MONTHS after giving birth to her first child. I had trained her before, during, and after her pregnancy, and I was looking at someone who was incredibly proud of her progress and in enviable shape for ANYONE, formerly pregnant or not!

I debated whether or not to show my client’s “before” and “after” photos. Pregnancy is a hard time for some women, and every woman has their own journey and their own struggles with their body during that process. Gaining weight – and sometimes needing bed rest –  is part of it, and I would never want anyone to feel badly about their progress in comparison with anyone else’s.

HOWEVER, the progress I saw with this client has not been unique! Time and again, I have trained my clients through their pregnancies and have seen some of the most amazing results – both during their pregnancies and afterwards. They stay smaller during their pregnancies, and they tell me that labor for them is much easier than they imagined. They recover their abdominal strength much more quickly postnatally, and many of them don’t look like they ever had a baby a mere 6 months after giving birth. I knew exercise during pregnancy was crucial going into this work, but I never imagined I would see such consistent results like this.


Here are some bits of information and guidance to keep in mind:

1) You can do much more than you think. Ask your doctor first, but know that you can continue many kinds of exercise you were doing before your pregnancy.

2) Your body is the boss. Always listen to it if something doesn’t feel right – but it’s ok to push your body if it feels good to do so.

3) Just because you have a baby in your belly does not mean you can’t work on your abs. The opposite is true!! It’s crucial to strengthen your deep core muscles during pregnancy. You’ll have an easier time supporting  the pregnancy, giving birth, and recovering your strength afterwards.

Are You Pregnant? Give Us a Try!

I have had extensive experience with pregnancy, and my instructors are either certified or in the process of obtaining pre-/postnatal exercise certification. The Body Conceptions method is especially strong at accessing the core and strengthening the muscles that are functionally important during pregnancy. We also guide you through exercises and stretches that help relieve your aches and pains as the pregnancy progresses. And the workout is fun!

So – no matter what you are experiencing, KEEP EXERCISING. Here’s to a strong and healthy pregnancy!

Mom in the City

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This might seem like an unusual blog post for a fitness company, but I felt like my experience this weekend spoke to so many things many of us feel during the holidays.

My mother made the decision to visit me in the city (traveling without my father for the first time in forever!), and I decided to show her my favorite things about the city while also being the best daughter anyone had ever seen, of course. We have lots of similarities in our tastes, so I was sure that this would all happen relatively perfectly. And the weather was ridiculously warm – a huge bonus!

Without getting too detailed, I realized very quickly that my poor mother was not loving the bus ride that took 2 extra hours because of holiday traffic or the long, blister-producing walks I had planned through the crowded holiday streets or even the idea of hanging out for hours in hot rooms at the spa where I planned to drag her. I had made all these plans to impress her without completely taking her into account.

Truthfully, both my mother and I ended up having a great time and some wonderful  chances to connect (and she honestly ended up loving the spa – a wonderful place I recommend in Palisades Park, NJ What I learned, though, was to take a step back. To stop feeling like I had to force things and maybe take my mother – and others in my life – for who they are as separate people from me.  And most importantly, to consider looking at things in my life with a little more humor.

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Finding Perspective

I bring all of this to the page because I can’t help but see these personal discoveries as important elements of my own health and wellness as I head into the New Year. If I’m going to be healthy and fit, I also need to find ways to reframe the things that pull me back in other parts of my life. Maybe reinterpreting others’ actions is the way to go – or also making the time to have important conversations that needed to happen for a while. Or maybe just looking at family holiday adventures with more levity and perspective.

Looking Ahead

I really believe that choosing to go into the next year with fresh perspective is hard but ultimately so important and rewarding. Don’t tackle everything in your life but rather choose one or two things to see in a new way. You will certainly feel healthier and more centered.

We work on strengthening the core a lot in our classes. This is definitely another way to do that.

Plus a few planks whenever you have the chance :)

Tips for Hanging in There


It’s that time of year!

So many of us get caught in the holiday madness – which often means holiday party after holiday party on top of last-minute work deadlines, children with big holiday events, extended family commitments, a winter cold or flu, and seemingly no time for ourselves!

How do we possibly keep up our exercise routine right now?

Here are a few tips designed to make exercise a little easier to add to your life without stress.  In fact, if done right, your exercise routine should be one of your biggest stress reducers and protections against holiday pitfalls.

Tip #1:  Schedule It!

Schedule your fitness sessions at the beginning of the  week.  This way they’re set. You have made a personal promise to yourself to keep your schedule, and you’ll be more apt to schedule everything else in your life around it.  You also won’t be as tempted to skip exercise if you see it as an essential part of your week rather than an “optional” bonus.

Tip #2: Go with Friends

Recruit friends to come to your classes or gym sessions with you – and make those plans in advance. You won’t be as tempted to bow out, you’ll have more fun, and maybe you’ll start a healthy routine you can keep with your group.  You can laugh together about your crazy instructor – or share your soreness woes the next day!

Tip #3:  Choose Fun Over Pain

Many of us love an  intense workout (I do!), but try looking for classes  that are truly fun and enjoyable as well.  You don’t want to start something now that ultimately feels too hard to keep up. Fitness should be part of a lifestyle that makes you happy and that gives you a healthy outlet for letting off steam. Plus, you don’t want to get injuries that prevent you from coming back. Find something you really love so that you’ll truly want to stick with it.

Tip #4:  Get a Great Outfit

Ok, I know – this sounds pretty superficial.  But honestly, you will work out with so much more energy and passion if you feel beautiful in your clothes.  You will see a side of yourself that will motivate you to keep coming and feeling good.  And the exercise in turn will make your clothing look and feel better. Plus new clothing can be a great incentive for rewarding the hard work you have put into your body and your spirit.  This is a gift-giving time, and you need gifts sometimes, too!

Joanie – My Wonderful Instructor and Health Coach


I knew as soon as I heard about Joanie that I wanted to include her in my business. Words like lovely, devoted, holistic, empathetic, hard-working, and knowledgeable were some of the qualities that were used to describe her. And not only did she have extensive experience in fitness, but she had her own health coaching business and a philosophy about wellness that closely matched my own.

I pursued Joanie for a while until I wore her down (ha!) – and I’m thrilled to have her now as the senior member of my team!

It’s so important to me that Body Conceptions represents more than just fitness. We promote health and happiness in all of our clients in all stages of their lives. We also believe that nutrition, exercise, lifestyle and emotional health are all too interconnected to address separately.

Since Joanie’s business, Motivated Nutrition, represents one of the first wellness businesses we have welcomed as a partner, I thought it was important to include her here so that you can get to know her a little better. Plus, she’s just a really cool and fun person (even when she’s inflicting pain on you in your training sessions with her!).



Health coaching is kind of a mysterious term. What does it actually entail? And how did you get into it?

I get this all the time!  “What the heck is a health coach?”

I like to describe myself as a life coach that specializes in fitness and nutrition.  I help my clients set sustainable wellness goals and then we work together to transform those goals into action.  I set them up for lifelong success as they learn to listen to their bodies, become informed consumers when navigating the “health world” and strive to live each day with optimal energy and positivity!

Do you have a general coaching “philosophy?” If so, what is it?

My philosophy is rooted in the concept of “bio-individuality”.   There’s no such thing as a cookie cutter solution to our health.  We all have different background, likes, passions and goals.  There’s no such thing as one diet or lifestyle works for everybody.

Do you work with different people differently?

The bio-individuality approach means that every client is a new challenge.  And I love a challenge!  I try to understand each client as a whole person.  What foods do you love?  How much time do you have?  What workouts excite you?  How well do you manage stress?  There are so many factors that go into figuring out what lifestyle changes are going to help you reach your goals!

What have been some of your biggest challenges as a health coach?

My biggest challenge is teaching clients not to blindly follow whatever the health “trend” of the moment is.  Don’t get me wrong, I love a mean, green juice, but the juicing fad at the moment is driving me bonkers!

You are a knowledgeable and talented trainer for Body Conceptions, and the results you have gotten with our clients have been nothing short of amazing. Without mentioning names, could you talk about some of the accomplishments you’ve seen?

Aside from loosing weight and gaining strength, the biggest accomplishment in my clients has been the transformation in the way they feel in their bodies and view themselves.  There is nothing more beautiful than a woman totally in love with the way she feels in her body.  All my clients are gorgeous that way!

Part of my own philosophy establishing Body Conceptions came out of my interest in helping people lead healthier and happier lives and also connecting them with a bigger wellness community in the city. What are your thoughts about combining health coaching with fitness training?

They are one in the same.  Being physically fit is essential to good health. You want to be able to run with your children, enjoy nature’s beauty on a long hike, and not have to worry about aches and pains when you are doing things you enjoy.   My tag line has become “The healthier we are, the happier we play.”  Health coaching isn’t just about food.  It’s about becoming healthy and happy enough to “play” through life!

Ok – now to the fun stuff. Do you have any vices? What are they?

A glass of red wine and semi-sweet chocolate chips before bed.  It’s my worst, and most cherished, bad habit.  I’ve tried to cut back to just once a week but after a long day of exercise, there’s really nothing better.

You like to work with children, right? What kind of work have you done with them?

Can you remember how boring health class was growing up?  With childhood obesity on the rise, we can’t continue to make children memorize the food pyramid and expect them to eat healthier because of it.  We’ve got to get them moving and make nutrition fun!  I’ve developed a creative movement program that builds confidence in children as movers, gets their heart rates up, enhances creativity and the end of the session they are telling me things like “Sugar is whack!”

I also have a family health-coaching program that helps families incorporate better nutrition, meal planning, exercise and wellness habits into their busy, everyday lives.

And what’s something fun about you that no one would ever guess?

I took 7 ½ months off and backpacked through Southeast Asia with my fiancé a few years ago.  We walked 6 miles of The Great Wall of China, climbed 3 volcano’s in Indonesia and nearly died in a sulfur mine at the bottom of one them (!), learned to drive Elephants in Laos, slept under a million stars in an Indian dessert after riding camels for 8 hrs, and hiked through a blizzard in the Himalayas in Nepal for 8 days…All while wearing the same 2 T-shirts and 3 pairs of underwear.   AND I made some pretty awesome travel videos along the way!

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Starting Body Conceptions

From 32 Cute Little Girl in Pink Dances photos set (uncropped) k

Photo by Michael L. Baird

I’m about to get wordy!  Sorry for the essay here – but I thought I’d share a little bit about my beginnings.  Several people have asked me, so here goes!

Women and Their Bodies – Why Do We Hate Ourselves So Much?

One of my earliest “body-image” memories with my mother revolved around the kids in my school who made fun of me.  They called me “shrimp” ALL THE TIME- and in fact I was a good foot shorter and 15 pounds lighter than many of my peers.  My mother told me, “This may feel bad now, but you’ll be happy you’re small when you get older.  Just you wait.”

Sure enough, my genes for small stature served me well as a dancer and as an adult.  But I couldn’t help but wonder, What if it had gone the other way?  What if I had been born with the propensity to be overweight?  Many of my peers had family members who were larger, and many of them struggled with their weight for many years if not their whole lives.  We were all dealt certain cards in our families, and why was I any better because I was small?

Heading into the world of dance and fitness, I have always had very strong feelings about the way we’re treated as women and about the way we as women feel about ourselves in a world of such extreme body messages.  We’re told that skinny women are more beautiful, that overweight women are slothful or messy, that the skinnier we are, the more lovable we’ll become.  I saw dancers hospitalized for developing bulimia after being told to lose ridiculous amounts of weight by their dance schools, and I knew many fellow dancers who engaged in some of the most extreme and bizarre eating disorders I had ever seen.  All in all, they were trying to fit an external vision of what they people wanted to see, and they gained their sense of selves from their successes or failures at controlling their appearance.  I became angry about these body pressures and sad for them all at the same time.  I wanted to tell them to find things in their lives – especially dance and movement! – that made them feel better about themselves.  And to forgive themselves for eating.  Because after all, we ALL have to eat!


The Fitness Journey Begins

I came to fitness through dance.  A great friend recruited me to work for Tracy Anderson, and the discovery at her studio that dance-inspired movement could also serve as great exercise was one of the biggest revelations I ever had.  I had not completely understood the value of fitness until then (since I had honestly only gotten exercise from dance classes and shows).  I have since developed my own system for strengthening and toning the whole body, but I’m grateful that such a huge, great fitness world opened up to me at that time.

Despite my excitement at discovering dance-fitness, my awareness of body image issues in women became all the more apparent to me – even more than in the dance world!  In many fitness classes I took and taught, I saw some intense peer pressure, self-loathing, and exercise bulimia, and I saw so many women who couldn’t manage to feel good about themselves because they were so critical of their bodies.  And many overweight women I knew never wanted to step into a fitness class at all because of their fear of being judged.  And lots of times, they were right to be worried.

I knew what my own mission needed to be

My decision to start Body Conceptions came out of my observations of different fitness studios and the ways I realized I wanted to run my own business differently.  I worked on different approaches to exercise with my own private clients, and I observed how they got the best results.  Most importantly, I realized that my strong feelings about how to support and encourage all women of different ages and sizes required me to break out on my own to create my own place, my own environment.  I wanted to give the best workout possible, no question.  But I wanted to make every different woman with every different body, life stage, and fitness level feel like they were welcomed, accepted and encouraged.  This mission is an ideal that needs constant work and constant self-examination — but I’m willing to take the challenge.