Interview with Life Coach and Fitness Expert, Erin Stutland
My guest today is Erin Stutland, former professional dancer, actor, life/career coach, fitness instructor, personal trainer and creator of Shrink Session Sweat Therapy Workout. Welcome to OpEdNews, Erin.
JB: Let's start with your Shrink Session Workout. That's how you came to my attention. What can you tell us about it?
ES: Thanks for having me! Shrink Session is a combination of cardio-dance, kickboxing and yoga philosophy that is woven throughout the practice. Essentially, this means that we are bringing mindfulness and intention to the workout, much like you would in a yoga class. Unlike most fitness classes, this is not just about building muscle or burning calories, but about developing mental strength and flexibility. Specifically, we do this using mantras, that are said out loud while working out.
JB: What do mantras have to do with exercise? And why did you decide to introduce them to your routine? Isn't that a little "out there"?
ES: Recent scientific studies suggest that our bodies don't necessarily fatigue only when our muscles run out of fuel. The fatigue happens on different levels, one of them being the mind. The same study shows that when you use positive self talk during exercise, you are able to not only increase your good feelings about movement but are also able sustain exercise for a longer duration.
On a really basic level, we all have experienced times when we are exercising and it gets difficult. We find ourselves wanting to give up. We hear a negative voice inside telling us, "This is really hard." Or, "I stink at this." These messages have an impact on how we feel. The same way they do in our everyday life when we are not exercising. And when we feel down, sad or frustrated, all we really want to do is curl up in a ball and call it a day.
Mantras with exercise help to eliminate the negative self talk that can often happen when you are doing something that is challenging.
When I was in college, studying dance, I went through a particularly tough time my freshman year. The negative voices in my head were deafening. It made it challenging to concentrate on anything at all. I found that when I introduced and repeated a simple mantra while doing something as basic as plies at the ballet bar, I would feel more calm and focused. I would use the mantra to the rhythm of the music. It just gave my mind something positive to focus on, versus looking in the mirror and thinking I wasn't good enough.
The truth is that we are using 'mantras' all the time. We use them while we exercise and while we move through life. And by mantra, I don't mean it is always a positive one. We have phrases and things that we repeat to ourselves all the time. It's just that more often than not, they are not the most supportive and loving phrases. So in this case, with my workout, we are CHOOSING them, so that you can develop the most loving, supportive voice possible.
JB: I like that! How long have you been doing this and what's the response been to your mantra-filled workouts? From a pure marketing viewpoint, were you ever concerned that you would be limiting your target population to the smallish number of people who were already familiar with the concept of mantras? Was it a gamble?
ES: I have been using mantras and affirmations in my own life for over 15 years. I started my business about six years ago. Maybe because I live in New York City and started sharing it with a group of artists, there was almost ZERO resistance to the idea. They were mostly performers who were already in touch with these ideas and absolutely love to try anything that gets them out of their head, so to speak. So, perhaps I was delusional in thinking that the rest of the world would be into it. I think I have an advantage of being fairly young and accessible when it comes to marketing. I am told I have a way about me that makes people comfortable and at ease, even through video. I also think I talk about mantras in a really matter of fact way. This is not some hocus pocus, woo-woo stuff. It's really simple. And it can be really fun. The thing is, we are having conversations all day long. We do it via text, email, Facebook, etc. But the most important one conversation we have each day is the one we have with ourselves. I think people get that and know that. And I think they would like to be able to improve that conversation if given the opportunity.
Lastly, I don't think that having a niche market is such a bad thing. I am really clear about who this is for and who it is NOT for. This helps me identify my customer quickly. I believe that can help your marketing tremendously. Having a product that you think is for EVERYONE can be dangerous. That said, there are many more people out there who are craving this kind of work then you could imagine. More and more each day.