Pat Bailey, Founder of Yoga with PB

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Pat Bailey, Founder of Yoga with PB

Name: Pat Bailey

Title: Founder of Yoga with PB

City: San Francisco, CA

Passion: Yoga

Website: www.yogawithpb.com

When I met Pat, she was holding her heart in her hands telling a group of eager others to do the same. To see and embrace their heart language, and see where it led them. For Pat, her heart has led her along her most intentional and true path. A path full of healing, connection, and movement. She truly embodies her practice by applying yoga to every moment of her day. These moments manifest in beautiful and heartfelt contributions - leading a heart forward life, and sharing it with those around her. 

Photos by: Pat Bailey // Instagram


On Passion

How and when did you find your passion?

I feel like I’ve been looking for it my whole life. And I don’t feel like it’s a single thing. I think I spent a lot of years trying to find it, with the stress and the fear, and the anxiety. I came full circle, and I stopped looking for it, and started living it. I’m living a life of passion. For me, it is not about finding it - my passion project is living it.

Tell us more about doing the transition to doing what you love.

Because I have been chasing the “it” for so long, I’ve had a lot of jobs. I have tried to make this jump to doing something passionate, or more heart forward, and it didn’t stick for one reason or another. This time around it’s a much smoother transition. I got certified to teach yoga, and the yoga is the backbone of my passion project. It was much easier to leave my job knowing that I was creating a life of passion. My job ended and I jumped. I’d been manifesting for a couple months, with my heart full forward, I let go of a lot of things, and I walked off the plank. I fluttered my wings a bit, and realized they could carry me. Left the job, subleased the apartment, left everything I knew and loved behind, and jumped into six weeks on the road. I went to eight countries in six weeks, and started this new life of leading yoga trips. It was really about manifesting, and ultimately having the courage to jump. It’s good to remember that you have your wings, and it opens you up to so many things you weren’t expecting. 
 

On Mastery

How did/do you hone your skills?

Sometimes people ask me, “When did you start practicing yoga?” and I say, “I’ve been practicing my whole life.” I remember I had a strong sense of self even at a very young age. I think that deeply effects my yoga. It’s something I listen to and develop more and more deeply as I get older. I’m constantly reading, and going to workshops. I have lots of yoga teachers who I practice with. And I come to the mat as a beginner everytime, and I will always be a student. It’s about not actually ever having it, but practicing what I preach. That’s practicing yoga daily, and teaching people how to live with their heart forward.
 

On Failure

Tell us about a time in your earlier transition to living your passion when you failed. How did you feel? What did you learn?

Failure is something that has changed for me over time. I think back to how I would have answered that question when I was looking for it - looking for passion. I feel like failure might have been closely tied with my ego. When I wasn’t good at something, I didn’t like how that felt, and that was my ego. Right now, I'm practicing living with my heart forward. Failure for me is not following the plan I have for myself. In everyday situations when I make a decision with my heart and override it with my mind, that is not success for me. 

It’s disappointing myself. People that I respect. Not doing my best effort. When I feel like I’ve failed at something, I can see it all on the table. I can say, "This is the part that is connected to my heart and this is the part that is connected to my ego." And I can choose which cards to take with me, learn from, and how I can do a better job next time.
 

On Fear

What has been your biggest fear about living your Passion?

That’s a really tough one, because I’m trying right now not to acknowledge fear. I’ve just jumped into self employment. I’m doing a lot of things that people might call crazy. My fear is my days would be over and that I didn’t practice what I preached. That I gave in, that I gave into fear. 

How do you overcome your fears?

One of the golden rules of my situation right now is to notice fear, but not acknowledge it - not let it lead me. 



On Support

Who inspires you? 

I’m inspired everyday by my teachers who teach from their heart, people who worship in this time. I’m inspired by people who believe in something so much that they will devote their lives to it. I’m inspired by artists, poets, and fashion. I’m inspired by courageous people. I like to surround myself with people who think differently from me. 

Is there a community that supports you? Who are they?

I have a little tribe of people, and most of them are women. I have a best friend who believes in me, and supports me with her whole heart. I have teachers and yogis who mentor me. I think it’s important to surround yourself with people who see you. When you need a different layer, you have them. 

 

On Self-Love

What is self-love to you? And how important is it to your journey?

It’s top priority for me. If I had to a solve all the world's problems - the reason that we are not all one - it’s because we don’t love ourselves. It’s the thing I have been working on my whole life. That’s why I’ve pressed pause on fear. I think self-love get’s a bad name, What is the danger in being too proud, or loving yourself too much? There is a lot fear about what will happen if you love yourself, but it’s the single most beautiful gift I’ve given myself. I kept looking for it outside me, and I stopped and figured out who is in there. You must love yourself in order to love someone else. With your full heart. It’s that simple. 

 

On Advice to the Community

Please share a piece of advice with our community of men and women who are looking to leave their traditional jobs and live their passions.

I think the biggest mistake people make is overriding their heart language with their head. When thinking with your head, it’s lead with the head’s army, which is fear. The heart has an army too, and that’s courage. There is a battle that happens there. Open the lines of communication to your heart, that is your first step. Once you are aware of it, and can hear it, be aware of the messages. What happens? What steps do you take? You have choices. Your heart is the tool that is leading you into your most authentic self, and into your passion. My heart has never led me astray. It’s an absolute. Follow your heart language. 


Interested in pursuing your own passions? Apply to the Winter Passion Program today!


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Angelica Olstad, Pop Up Yoga NYC Founder

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Angelica Olstad, Pop Up Yoga NYC Founder

City: New York City

Passion: Yoga/Connectivity

Website: www.popupyoga-nyc.com

An accomplished professional pianist, Angelica Olstad first turned to yoga after developing crippling performance anxiety while at grad-school.

She “accidentally” discovered that weekly visits to her local studio helped her feel calmer, and her love of meditation and spiritual practice grew from there.

Upon graduation, she decided to move to New York City to get certified and began teaching yoga to kids in prison, but continued working as a musician.

While working with these troubled youths, Angelica realized that many people still assume yoga is an activity exclusively for the privileged and decided she wanted to teach by example by hosting her own free pop up classes in non-traditional urban locations, like parks, for anyone that wanted to join, and her company Pop Up Yoga NYC was born.

ON PASSION

I did a little bit of yoga in college. I was a runner for a long time and I didn’t know a lot about my body so I ended up getting a few injuries and I’m actually not able to run anymore. That was kind of the beginning of my yoga journey but I didn’t really get into it seriously until I was in grad-school for music.
Piano was surprisingly stressful. In addition to practicing five hours a day, I was a teaching aid and I was starting to become obsessed with perfectionism. It was really unhealthy for me emotionally. I was really dealing with performance anxiety, so much so that it was crippling my performances, and I wasn’t able to perform as well as I would have liked.
There was a free yoga class at the school’s art gallery and I would go in there every week. The teacher was great and taught really easy classes with a calming, soothing voice, so it was really healing for me. I started making a lot of connections between my body and music, how I could control my mind better and that’s kind of what inspired me to move to New York and get certified as a teacher.

ON MASTERY

The yoga world is just so saturated in New York. My personal path became about trying to find non-traditional places to practice. I wanted to create an opportunity for anyone to join, so I got the idea to create pop up classes in parks that would be free or donation based.
There was an urban market across the street from the school where I taught and I became friends with the event’s coordinator, so we ended up doing our first event there. It was much bigger than I expected it to be, we had DJs and vendors, and about 70 people came for the class.
After the first few classes, we started getting asked by other companies and venues to do Pop Up Yoga classes and it will be two years old in June.

ON TRANSITION

I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up since I started Pop Up Yoga NYC and I only realized recently that this is a business and it can really grow. It’s been a really interesting journey and one that I’ve loved. I never thought it would be anything like this but I’m very happy.
I come from a very strong music background, so I’ve never had a ‘real’ job; I accompanied, I taught or I played at churches and that’s what paid my bills. Pop Up Yoga for me is a transition because it’s more like a 9-5pm but I feel like I’ve been able to apply the self-discipline that you need to be a professional musician, like unpaid hours.
We wanted to grow organically so we’ve started doing community classes in addition to corporate classes and corporate training.
It was really good for me to take a step away from the classical world. What I didn’t realize at the time was that it wasn’t quite the right path for me.

ON FAILURE

The brand wasn’t very clear for a long time and we had a couple of failed projects in the first year, a couple of no-shows and a couple of canceled events. We haven’t had anything like that since then and I learned two lessons from that; one was that I had to step up as the face of the company and really represent it. I was afraid to put myself out there and thought I didn’t know enough, hadn’t been teaching long enough or wasn’t good enough to be a spokesperson, but that’s what I’m passionate about so I realized I had to step up. I am very hands on and teach as many classes as I can.
The second thing I learnt was not to spread myself too thin. If you’re working nine hours a day on a company then it does have to have some sort of promise of a return. In New York things float or sink really quickly, so I knew the concept was strong but I had to refocus my energy to create profitable projects to support the free classes.

ON FEAR

There are fears but they are on a more day to day basis, like maybe this client won’t get back to me or this deal won’t go through, but when Pop Up Yoga NYC happened I knew this was what I wanted to do; to create community and spread the good word, and I’ve never questioned that decision to go forward with that type of work. If there is any fear, it is just losing that message but I have stayed pretty true to what my mission was in the beginning.
I think introducing Eastern philosophy into your life is very effective, especially with the high stress expectations that Western philosophy places on jobs, how our lives should work and our relationships with people. I just think it’s very applicable for managing the stress and taking yourself away from your triggers. It sounds so simple but a lot of people struggle with it. I did and it’s still a work in progress.

ON MONEY

It’s hard having your own company because you have to be self-disciplined.
In the beginning everything was free but now it’s a combination. We have ticketed events, for example we might do a yoga class followed by a dinner. We’ve done a yoga singles mixer, whiskey tastings and many things that you normally wouldn’t combine yoga with, but it really solidifies the group dynamic and creates a bond. It’s really interesting how much of an icebreaker doing yoga is with someone, instead of getting drunk. We also do private yoga parties for birthdays or bachelorettes.
While I’m not paying my bills completely from Pop Up Yoga NYC, I’m starting to make more money now. I have really been careful about keeping the integrity of the mission of the company. This summer will be a big turning point, I think, because I have a lot of stuff lined up.

ON SELF-LOVE

It was really important for me to be able to separate my own yoga practice from the business. I have to focus on building myself so I’m strong, confident, functioning well and just try to create a positive energy around myself. Even as a teacher I’m always learning. I’ve actually known a lot of teachers who have gotten burnt out on teaching so I try to take care of myself.
Some people don’t realize that yoga is more than a physical practice. The philosophy is very logical; it’s about taking care of yourself, which I really need to do. Yoga teaches us to be really successful at whatever we do, but to accept things with ease and without stress.
It’s been fun and good for me to do music for the love of doing it and not for worrying about competing or getting a gig. Ever since that shift happened in my mind, I’ve performed so much better. Music has always been a big part of my life, but I feel like I’m a better musician now because of my yoga practice.

ON INSPIRATION

A huge inspiration for me is Elena Brower. She is the founder of Virayoga in New York. I was going through a lot of pain and suffering after a bad breakup and I took a workshop with her. I don’t know what it was about her voice but I went into a forward bend and I started crying. I already felt really emotionally moved and then after the class she talked about her experience, growth and marriage issues. This woman is so well-known and so many people look at her as a goddess, but she still talks about real painful issues, including her anger problems. The fact that she owned this very imperfect history and how she was coming to terms with it really resonated with me. I was blown away and ended up talking with her after class and have been in touch with her a few times since then. She’s the most inspirational teacher out there for me; she’s very real, honest and I feel like she’s just walking the walk of a true yoga teacher. That really inspired me and I definitely look up to her.

ON SUPPORT

Running your own business can be kind of lonely. I have some people who work with me on a contract basis when big events are happening, but for the most part it’s me alone working at a coffee shop or from home. So being social has really helped me and I’ve been really thankful to Pop Up Yoga NYC mostly for the community that it has created. It’s brought together a really interesting group of people that are not necessarily yoga-goers like the hard-core yoga studio enthusiasts, who are often young, creative professionals or entrepreneurial types. Pop Up Yoga NYC has introduced me to this wonderful community of people into health and wellness, into wholesome social activities. I don’t have a mentor but I do have a very close-knit group of people that are doing similar things to what I’m doing and we’re all sort of growing together, which is great. It’s been really nice to have that support.

ADVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

A lot of entrepreneurs do online courses, read material on branding and advertising. Do your research and make sure what you’re doing is right for you and then not taking no for an answer and believe in what you’re doing.
It’s a combination of being strategic and having a road map, but also knowing what you want and understanding that the path is going to change. I’ve gone on many paths with Pop Up Yoga NYC and the reason why I feel things are really starting to change, and there are really exciting things coming up, is because I’ve started to learn what it is to run a business. What I’m doing now is designing blueprints basically so I can execute things better because, as someone who doesn’t come from a business background, building your community is really important.
It’s not easy but it’s worth it if you want to spend your life working on it. Success comes from building positive patterns and building positive habits.

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David Park, Boxing Coach and Park Gym Owner

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David Park, Boxing Coach and Park Gym Owner

City: San Francisco, California 

Passion: Boxing, Life

Website: www.theparkgym.com

Shortly after welcoming us into the Park Gym at 1960 Harrison Street it becomes apparent why David has become a close friend and trusted confidant to so many of his clients.

Positive, enlightened and remarkably creative are some of the ways you could describe this unassuming boxing and taekwondo teacher, but David admits he didn’t always have a healthy perspective on life.

After achieving fame and fortune as a women’s wear fashion designer for retailers, including Nordstrom, Henri Bendel and Forever 21’s predecessor, he realized that, despite appearing to have King Midas’ golden touch, he wasn’t happy and had developed a skewed sense of priorities. His decision to get sober was the tipping point and, after impressing the fashion industry with his final signature collection, David turned his back on his high-pressured career. He moved back to his hometown to rekindle his first love of boxing and open his own innovative gym, which recently inspired him to write and produce his own sitcom.    

ON PASSION

I started out with taekwondo as a kid and I loved boxing also. Then life happened and I ended up getting married and starting a clothing company with my then-wife. Within a few months our relationship dissolved, but I ended up continuing with that. I fell into it, but ended up going to OTIS College of Art and Design in LA for more education. I never finished, but tried to make the clothing company successful.
I couldn’t compete in the budget market so after a year and a half, I was just up to my eyeballs in debt, about a $150,000. With the last bit of money that I had, I decided that I really wanted to get into the mainstream contemporary market. Luck would have it that there was this one dress, which I called the Erika, that we had gotten a test order for from Nordstrom Southern California. It was a very small order for just a few stores but it was a hit. With that my fashion career and company grew very quickly and I had a good seven year run at it.
Being in Los Angeles, a lot of celebrities came to my fashion shows, like Owen Wilson. Tara Reid hosted one of my shows and Perry Farrell from Jane’s Addiction was a friend and would DJ my shows. I rode that high for a while.
Fashion is a very tough business. You’re only as good as your last collection. There is a lot of pressure. With clarity and some humility, I realised that this wasn’t the business that I wanted to be in. Then the recession hit and it just became too daunting for me. I decided to move back home, here in San Francisco, where my family is. I wanted to start fresh and decided that boxing and taekwondo was what I wanted to do.

ON MASTERY

Really I came without any money, but I manifested that it was going to happen and just took action on it like I had the money. I was determined and told myself that it was going to happen and, somehow or another, someone put me in touch with someone else and that person decided to invest a small amount of money with me, and I found this space. It’s like the universe thought this was the right thing for me to do.
The false desires of money, fame and that prestige, I realized that’s not what I wanted to be about. I came here and realized I like coaching a lot better. I’m actually more talented at this than that whole thing of fashion, or at least I think so. I feel better. I really get to help people and truly, genuinely interact and be of service to people, whereas in fashion the mind-set was all about me and my image.

ON TRANSITION

Physically it was very difficult. Your mind lies to you because you have the experience of being physically at a certain level but, when in actuality, I was very out of shape and had a lot of injuries. It was a long road to get back into shape. I thought ‘In two months I’m going to be right back where I used to be,’ but it actually took two years. In the beginning I trained people more with my knowledge and then eventually everything balanced out.
Mentally, I was completely ready for it. People ask me all the time if I miss fashion and no, not at all. In the fashion industry, I kind of thought I was King Midas and my attitude was more like Marie Antoinette, but before I left that industry I challenged myself creatively and made peace with myself. I had beautiful collections and I made beautiful things so I left on that note and decided that business was not what I wanted.

ON FAILURE

Early in my career being rejected gave me sense of failure, but it was more of a sense of fear and drive. That first part of fashion, I didn’t really learn much, it just kind of turned me into a monster because success came so fast and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I was just so self-obsessed, but once it hit big and then came down, that’s when I realized that’s not what life’s about. It’s not about money, it’s not about fame.
Today, I throw failure over my shoulder. There is no failure to really deal with. I keep things in perspective. I don’t care what people think as much, as that’s the way the first half of my life was. I just live in the moment and I don’t agonize over things, like ‘Oh my God, this has to be the greatest gym in the world.’ As long as I take care of as much as I can for that day, everything works out.

ON FEAR

No matter how strong you try to be, there is always going to be a voice in the back of your head saying ‘Is it or can it happen?’ But I always revert back to the moment and everything is okay.
It’s trial and error. I opened this gym and kind of thought to myself, again, this is my last opportunity in life to do something that I love. Everything and every person affected me in the first year. I wanted to make sure everything was okay so that was daunting and a little nerve-racking. After about a year and a half, I sat back and looked at all the anxiety and the quirky things that had happened and they all seemed actually kind of funny. So then I thought, you know what, this would make a great sitcom. I had that idea and somehow one thing led to another and put together some friends and I just finished a sitcom pilot. It’s called The Park. It comes from real happenings and experiences.

ON MONEY

Ego will always put you in a ‘poor me’ situation and that’s something I had to adjust to. It took some time because the degree of turnaround was pretty drastic. This might be a cliché, but then I got to enjoy the little things in life. I really was able to be present with people, friends and not worry about what people think of me or if they’re looking at me because I’m driving this great Porsche, or this or that, so I get to be more present in life.

ON SELF-LOVE

Self-love is about having good relations and being present. It’s been very important because by showing respect for people, you respect yourself also.
Pretty much the way I’m living my life right now is about taking care of myself. Sometimes I feel like I need to be working a little bit more. I hope that I have a healthy balance.

ON INSPIRATION

My friends and the people I meet inspire me. My fashion professor at OTIS, Frances Harder, had always told us, ‘Look, there are a million people that can make beautiful things, but it’s the people who have a handle on how the business works that become successful.’ When I heard it back then I didn’t really pay any attention to that, but it always stuck with me, and just to keep things simple and with hard work, things will turn out they way they’re supposed to turn out.
There was another friend of mine, this woman named Gary Hudson. I’ve always been a grandiose, fantasy-thinking type person. I always believed my ideas were going to make things happen, but she told me something very important; ‘You have to have a product for anything to be successful, not just an idea.’ I think that those kinds of things, consciously and subconsciously, stuck with me. So when I opened this gym I wanted to do everything, be good to the members and really give them a good product; good teaching.

ON SUPPORT

I think I’m spiritual. I believe in God. That helps me stay strong mentally and just put one foot in front of the other. There is also community support in the sense that this is a gym and all types of people from the community come through here. I think I’ve always been a people person. I’ve always had a lot of friends.

ADVICE TO THE COMMUNITY

Stick with something you love and believe in. Put one foot in front of the other, stay in the moment and always take the right next action. If you rely on getting someone else to make what’s in your mind happen, it won’t happen. If you continue to even take the smallest action every day in fulfilling your purpose, then those things and people start coming into place.

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Leigh Ferrara, Yoga Instructor

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Leigh Ferrara, Yoga Instructor

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Healing

Website: www.leighferrarayoga.com

Twitter: @leighferrara

Like Leigh, I've always believed that "how are you?" is a more important question than "what do you do?" I can also relate to it being hard to beat the pressure and compulsion to 'achieve' in a fast-paced New England suburb. I met Leigh early one Sunday morning and stood by in stillness and awe while she moved through a few yoga poses for the shoot. Leigh not only moves through her daily practice with fluidity and intention - she shows up to life as her whole person. Injury forced her to pause and look at her life, and choices, in a whole new light. In her transition from journalism to teaching yoga full-time, she's deep in her journey of self-love. She's also out in the community teaching at various locales in the city including Yoga Tree Potrero and Yoga Mayu. Leigh inspires me with her courage, grace and wisdom.

On Passion

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I was a Division One athlete in college, and then one day my legs went numb. Turns out I was dealing with the physical effects of recent and past emotional trauma, combined with the rigorous training program of a college athlete. I had a yoga VHS tape (Wow. I feel so old.) that my mom had given me so I started practicing daily in my apartment. The physical healing came first. Yoga continued to sprinkle its fairy dust on my life for the next eight years until my back went out in 2008. I was working full-time as a journalist, and I wanted out. Long distance running had operated as my escape, but with a bum back, I had to confront the life I didn’t like. Gentle yoga on my living room floor and long walks helped me quit my job, even though the thought of starting over was terrifying to me. It was the middle of the recession, and everyone thought I was crazy to quit.
That year changed everything. I moved back east, bunked in with my childhood best friend, and used the hours and hours of idle time I newly had to vision my future: yoga. My inner judgement was fierce: Who makes a career out of yoga?; My parents are going to freak out; I’ll for sure starve; I’ll never be good enough; People will judge me; Nothing about this will show people that I’m smart; I can’t believe I’m starting over at this age.
But yoga would do more for me than heal me physically or help me transition my career. Over the years, yoga has walloped my ego, helped me heal my deepest wounds, and showed me that I didn’t need to fear pain or joy. I reclaimed a love for my body again after struggling with an eating disorder, and started to understand the trauma I had been carrying around for years.

On Mastery

I like to pluck various techniques and teachings from a huge pool of modalities. Somatic therapy, pilates, and physical therapy have all influenced the way that I teach and the advice that I pass along to my students. And working one-on-one with some of the most brilliant movement teachers in the city helped me hone my craft. (Harvey Deutch, Lauren Slater, Jason Crandell, Kerri Kelly, Carolina Czechowska: I’m talking to you.) I feel like I’m just scratching the surface, though, so mastery seems like a funny word to me.
I read a lot when I’m not teaching, poring over all things health and healing: blogs, books, online videos. And I follow people online who are talking about ayurveda, physical therapy, ballet, health, nutrition, spinal movements, you name it. And then I try not to freak out about all the things that I don’t know.
Lastly, I move on my own. Religiously. We forget how much intelligence there is stored up in this body of ours.

On Transition

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Something made me leap the year I started my first teacher training. I’m still not sure what it was. I think I was desperate to get to know myself.
During my transition, I still had one foot in the media world as a freelancer. People would ask me what I did for a living. I always replied, “I’m a journalist. And...I teach yoga.” Growing up in a household and town that valued intellectual pursuit, I wanted to make clear to folks that I was smart. I was insecure. Ironically, nothing would challenge my brain more than the work I do every day trying to listen to my body.
Today, I really enjoy creating yoga programming for groups of people who haven’t been exposed to yoga or face a barrier to integrating it into their lives, whether that’s an individual block or as a consequence of their environment. In November, together with my cofounder, I launched a men’s yoga program. The feedback has been outstanding. I also teach a weekly trauma-sensitive yoga class to the young boys and girls at the San Francisco residential facility, Edgewood. Each week, I’m driving, biking, and walking all around the city from class to class. I teach at Yoga Mayu, Yoga Tree Potrero, and Mission Cliffs, as well as to a badass crew of private and corporate clients. Sometimes, I can even drag my students away from their iPhones to go on retreat.

On Failure

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As a perfectionist, everything can feel like a failure to me. My practice has always been, and still is today, to cut myself a break over and over again. Remembering that life is a work in progress and that there is no time at which you are supposed to know everything or be able to achieve everything puts things into perspective for me.
We’re just learning as we go, making adjustments, starting over, and misstepping. If we can embrace that -which is really hard, I know - life feels less like a rat race to me. I’m also working on using new language around failure. Thomas Edison is helping me: ‘I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.’

On Fear

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I have all the typical fears around money and failure, but mostly I fear being seen when I’m not up for being seen. When I don’t feel strong, presentable, beautiful, perfectly put together etc. This is still my biggest battle as a teacher, since whether you’re up for it or not, every day you have to show up and be seen.
My students, especially the ones who I work with one-on-one, have been instrumental in teaching me to show up as me. They pushed me to peel back the layers. I also try to remember that one of the most basic human desires is to see that another human is flawed too. We feel connected through that. This concept inspires me to show up even when I feel messy.

On Money

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I’m still in debt, but I’ll be debt free in May of 2014! Yoga doesn’t have a reputation for big paychecks. That’s not news. Nor do we have a reputation as fierce business entrepreneurs. But you can make a living if you work strategically. Transitioning slowly was a big part of my initial success, as was the financial help I received from my boyfriend at the time during my training. I straddled the media and yoga world for the first few years of my teaching career. I researched a book, freelanced and worked a part-time media gig. It was a hustle. And I was tired all the time. But now Leigh Ferrara Yoga sustains me 100%, and I get to dedicate all of my time to what I love. That feels really good.
Did I have to change my lifestyle? Not really. You don’t make squat as a journalist either. I think I probably live a cushier life now.

On Self-Love

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I’m my fiercest critic, so self-love has never come easy to me. Self-love and I are always in relationship. I’m trying to woo her and she’s trying to evade me.
When you start your own business, you have to believe in yourself. Or you have to practice believing in yourself every day. Some days, I struggle with this more than others. For those days, I turn to self-care: massages, baths, 2-hour long talks with a friend, etc.
I’m still learning that self-care does not equal self-love, although they do feed each other. I used to equate the two, but it doesn’t matter how many massages you get or baths you take unless you can work to rewrite your inner dialogue — retrain that little voice that says “I’m not enough” or “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t do this.” And that takes practice. I work daily to accept me as being enough.

On Inspiration

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People who show up as themselves. With all their baggage and dirty laundry and faults and strengths and beauty all smashed together in a messy, wonderful package of a person on display for everyone to see. I think it’s the hardest thing we are tasked to do as humans. I’m inspired by those people.

On Support

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I depend on a team of people who support me physically, emotionally, and spiritually. I have too many mentors to name. They are brilliant minds with enormous hearts. And my friends deserve 500 words on this subject. But, I think my parents wrote the definition for support in Merriam Webster. I’m so grateful for them.
What I’ve found most interesting about this career is that some of my students support me as much as I support them. If you play a part in helping someone transform their physical or emotional life, they will return the love. I like that. It’s not a dynamic I anticipated.
But the most important lesson I’ve learned on this subject is that support is a two way street. If you can’t receive it, it’s like it’s not there. A colleague of mine once called my relationship to my support network a funnel, calling out my inability to receive as a bottleneck to the huge flow that was trying to get in. I’ve been practicing leaning back on people ever since.

Advice to the Community

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Running your own business can be really confronting. You’ll bump into you around every corner. And this is not easy. But it’s worth it. Try to face all the things that you hide or are ashamed of. And then embrace them. I know it sounds cliche. But you need them. They make up your whole person, which is what people respond to. And it’s what will make your business hum and your heart sing.

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Alex Ho, Fitness Trainer and Ultra-Runner

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Alex Ho, Fitness Trainer and Ultra-Runner

City: San Francisco, California

Passion: Fitness, Running

Websitewww.alexho-training.com

Twitter@Sub_6

Basic Training, a type of bootcamp workout, is so good - it’s addictive, I was told. My curiosity overcame my laziness and I finally went to check it out; I found that Basic Training’s instructors are what it’s all about. Alex Ho, one the core teachers, loves what he does and you can tell just by observing him interact with his students: he gives it his all, always with a smile. Four years ago, Alex started training with Basic Training, while working in construction and had just begun working out regularly. Today, Alex is an ultrarunner, trains and teaches outdoor fitness, and most importantly, he is a motivator who loves, runs and writes about his passion. We met with Alex at his favorite spot by the Golden Gate Bridge on a quintessential sunny, windy San Francisco Sunday morning to hear his full story on how he went from rarely training to go on becoming a 100 mile race runner.

 

 

On Passion

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In 2010, I started taking outdoor fitness classes with Basic Training and discovered my inner athlete. I was in the midst of my “yes year” when I needed to get out of my rut and decided to change up my gym routine by exercising outdoors. The classes pushed me harder and further than I could have ever imagined and turned me into a runner - I previously hated running. It was only 6 months later that I wanted to help other people change their lives and find their inner athlete.
I decided to pursue my passion when I noticed that my mood during and after leading classes and training clients was always great. I found myself talking about training and running more and my interest in construction was diminishing. One year after becoming a personal trainer, I decided to quit my job to pursue training full time.

On Mastery

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After I passed my personal trainer exam, I would teach classes in the morning, go to my old job in construction management during the day, then teach classes or train clients after work. For a year, I did both jobs as well as trained myself for running my first races: a 10K, a half marathon, a full marathon, and surprisingly, a 50 mile race.
I started reading as much as I could about training. To stay updated, I still read as many books and articles as possible as well as take classes and workshops. The profession is always growing so staying updated is necessary.

On Transition

 

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My current boss/mentor convinced me that I would be a good trainer and told me to buy my books and set a test date. After I passed my personal trainer exam, I would teach classes in the morning, go to my old job in construction management during the day, and then teach classes or train clients after work. For a year, I did both jobs as well as trained myself for running my first races: a 10K, half marathon, full marathon, and surprisingly, a 50 mile race. I decided to work both jobs for at least a year to be sure that personal training was actually what I wanted to pursue as a career. Once I was confident that personal training was the right choice, I put my notice in to my old company.

On Fear of Failure

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I have been lucky enough to not have experienced any big failures. One of the tough things about training is having clients leave or tell you that they aren’t interested in training with you. As a person who always wants to help someone, rejection also feels like failure. Letting go of my ego and just being supportive of whatever decisions people make is the best thing I have learned.
Today I deal with failure by looking for support in others. One of the hardest things for me to do is ask for help but I am quickly realizing that just as I like to help people, there are others who really want to help me. Becoming more vulnerable is an ongoing process but when I fail, I look at it as an opportunity to grow.
Fear to me is failure and disappointment. My goal in life is to inspire others by what I do and how I live so when I fail at my pursuits, it feels like I am disappointing them. Fear is also a great driver. Without fear pushing us, I don’t think we would be able to accomplish anything. I overcome my fears by telling myself if I am truly passionate about what I am doing, it will all work out in the end. Others recognize passionate people so if you are able to exude your enthusiasm about what you do, great things will happen.

On Money

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I was able to save up some money while working my old job so I would have a cushion for when I quit, and so far things have worked out pretty well - but I have had to change my lifestyle a little bit. Instead of going out to eat, I decide to cook more. As a trainer and a runner, I wake up early so going out to bars and staying up late isn’t really an option anymore. Coping is sometimes hard when friends always want to go out, but if they are good friends then they’ll understand what you’re trying to do. It’s all about surrounding yourself with the right people if you want to succeed.

On Self-Love

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Self-love is realizing that you are good enough to be doing what you want to. It’s about having confidence in yourself and believing that you are or will be successful in your pursuits. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing then other people won’t want to follow you.
I take care of myself by living the life that I promote. As a trainer, I feel it’s necessary to be in good shape and take care of my body. Since I am also a run coach, I keep a schedule of races that I train for to keep me motivated.

On Inspiration

There are a number of people that inspire me. My clients inspire me because of their willingness to change their lives and ask for help in doing so. My mother inspires me because she had a similar transition in her life when she was in her early 40’s. She became a personal trainer, worked 2 jobs, eventually quit her other job and now owns her own business. She trains people out of her garage which she transformed into a gym.
My mentor, and boss, Jenn Pattee inspires me because she is working on transforming the way people and corporations look at fitness. She is the owner of the outdoor fitness company I work for and her passion for the profession and helping others is very motivating and hard not to follow. Other runners that I meet are always inspiring me with the races they’re doing and their stories about how they got into running.

On Support

The running community is full of people who are all setting amazing goals for themselves and helping others reach theirs. My friends and family have given me nothing but support and encouragement. I was chosen to be an ambassador by lululemon and they have challenged me to set and meet some very tough goals. The team at the Union St. Store has been amazing at helping in any way possible.

Advice to the Community

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My advice to anyone looking to leave their job and pursue their passion is to do it. I’m not saying you should immediately quit your job and jump into what you want, but find a community of supportive people and test out your passion. If you still have the fire, don’t hesitate to let it burn. There is a term in running called “tempo runs.” I like to describe it as running at a comfortably hard pace. If you follow your passion with a similar mindset, “pursuing with a comfortable fear/risk,” then you can succeed at anything.

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