June 08, 2018 9 min read

  I've decided to celebrate wellness this summer.  And you know how they say misery loves company... teehee!  #kiddingnotkidding

  Here we go my Beauties - I’m inspired by something that is not a found object or art, or sparkly!  Surprising I know!  Buckle in Ladies and Gentlemen this New Yorker living in an endless summer town is a believer.  Inhale the good and exhale the bad.  It’s real. Let the journey begin.

 I often refer to my community as my Design Tribe.  What I’ve realized is that community is a tapestry of many tribes - The size of the tribe does not equate it’s importance to one’s life.  I realized this when I noticed the impact on my wellness by a small group of fierce warriors I started to orbit with. This post is one to celebrate all those out there that coach, train, and inspire others.  

Ms. Michelle Lovette challenges me to fly with her.

I started focusing on physical wellness at the beginning of the year. I joined a small boutique gym called “Fortis Fitness and YOGALUX’. I wanted to be stronger physically - Who doesn’t? I  had to decide out loud that I deserved it. That was hard! I needed motivation:   The CF-NO says “If I can lift it, you can buy it” If that’s not motivating, I’m not sure what is.

I never belonged to a gym when I lived in NYC - Not to be silly, but I counted running all over town on appointments with my heavy portfolio as “cardio” and dancing all night long at the club  as “high impact”. Additionally. I did all that in my Manolo’s, which I considered “sculpting”. There is wellness that we steal along the way in a city grind and then there is wellness in SoCal. If you think NYC is more hard core than SoCal when it comes to to that department, gentle reader - buckle in.  Endless Summer wellness is a class of its own. A marathon is not enough on this side of town, it’s a marathon and a half. Maybe it’s the fact we have Free Beer Yoga Fridays….Here’s what I’ve learned so far.


  1. Stilletto nails don’t work in boxing gloves that well.  
  2. Your physical wellness is important
  3. Find something or someone that motivates and inspires you - listen to their words, surrender to the journey, be open to the challenge, and know that some things are hard - that’s the point..   
  4. Give it your all, and just watch what happens. :-)  


I am happy to introduce to you three of the many beautiful spirits I am lucky enough to orbit with at Fortis & YOGALUX.  I hope you are inspired by them as much as I am.

A moment of unexpected flying with trainer Ms. Michelle Lovette - challenge accepted!  #jetsetter

 Ms. Michelle Lovette challenges me to fly with her.

The Yogi Ballerina: Ms. Brittan Mathews

I am not the ballerina type.  But I have come to enjoy Ms. Brittan’s class. I had never taken Barre, Sculpt, or Yoga before..  It was fun to learn the new movements. She’s positive: filled with light and she says really great words that I have  come to look forward to hearing class after class. Here’s how she starts:

Take a deep breath.
Clearing out your mind,  letting go of anything swirling around in your brain 
So you can focus for the next hour.
If you have any thoughts that enter your mind that don't serve you, you can usher them out or replace them with a happy thought.  Or just focus on that beautiful breath of yours.
When you take full deep breaths, it lightens
When you take deep full exhales:  it grounds you down.
Once again, letting go of everything.  Focusing on that breath focus on you you and your mat, your body and your mat.  
This is you and your hour.
Focus on that breath and that heartbeat.

Focus on breath

I ask Ms. Brittan what  the three things of advice for anyone  on their journey.

Brittan replies:

Follow your intuition and listen to your gut.  Your body will tell you how to make those right decisions in life. Give yourself one time to make them. If you need to take a moment,  really think about it. Take some breaths. Your mind, your heart, and soul will guide you. Let your body guide you. Your mind will lead you to your direct path.

Don't be afraid to ask for help.

If you need help,  everyone is here to help you.  If anything, they'll be so happy to lift you up and connect with you.

You need to do what is best for you.

Take care of your mind, your body,  and your soul. Exercise, eat healthy, meditate, take hikes, swim, live free, jump into the salty ocean.



Courtney Ragland

My Trainer:  Courtney Ragland


I realized while on this journey, I like being bossed around by someone that is really good at something. I really look forward to my time with Ms. Courtney - for an hour I can surrender to the moment, be in a different type of survival mode, and just focus on my breath. It’s  a funny blend of chit chat, cursing, and high fives.. The words I most often hear from during the hour are:



I started training with Courtney around the beginning of the year.  She embodies California. Sparkling eyes, blonde hair, and completely fierce in a sunshiney kind of way.  A Cali girl that’s a force to be reckoned with.. It’s been a pleasant torture.. We set goals and she navigates my clumsy non- coordination.  She has adorable quirks - like she is afraid of whales, and doesn’t like share plates.. She has a quiet, relentless drive to push me beyond my perceived limits and ability. Getting to know this delightful being has been part of the journey and it’s completely adorable.    I asked her what advice she has for me - or someone else on their journey of wellness and fitness.

  1. Your thing is boxing.  When you are in a good mood, box.  When you are in a bad mood, box. Find your boxing.  For me it’s snowboarding.
  2. Breathe - you always hold your breath..  Reset and breathe.
  3. Form over weight and know your limits.

    I made a few friends at the gym.. They are more like warrior people - it’s really inspiring, the trainers and the people training..  All of them committed to wellness. It’s a tiny village, a tribe. Just like how we have in our design world. I don’t understand their language quite yet - “V- ups” and “reverse crunch”, and “grand plie”.   We are like kittens and puppies talking to each other - and it’s kind of great to learn a new language.

    My last chat is with Rob Wessels.  He’ll represent as my “Warrior” friend from the gym.  He was kind enough to shoot some of these photos and always has a sparkly smile and fist bump for me when I walk in or out. He’s not bossy, just filled with light and “go get em” eyes.  


    A: What is your name?

    R: Can I get Commander in Chief Robert Wessels?

    Is that possible? Let’s go with Robert Wessels..

    A:How do we know each other?

    We know each other from the gym and now we’re friends.

    A:  Thank you for coming to visit the studio - ( there are arrowheads on the table where we sit) I  like giving arrowheads to people, I like giving people  little things that empower them on their journey. Warrior stuff-  like a tiny secret weapon of strength  to put in their pocket. I like giving others these kinds of symbolic things..

    R: ( The arrowhead) It’s a good picture to paint with regard to fitness too.

    It’s time and distance. You’re starting at A and ending at B. It’s a good analogy…

    A: That’s why I like working out at the gym there with you guys. I feel like I accomplish something sort of hard that I wouldn’t be able to do myself. Without someone saying to me that “ You can actually physically do that.”  I don’t think I would’ve known that I can actually physically do that. You guys inspire us to do things we normally would not think we can do.

    It occurs to me that when you can watch yourself grow stronger a tiny bit every day it fuels the other areas of your life too.  I am strong. I knew I was strong, but I didn’t realize there were barriers to push past.. Or rather how to push past them… 

    R: I’ve been training people full time for 11 years.

    A: That’s a lot of people you helped along the way..

    A: What are the three things that you would want to share with someone on their

    journey which at times can be challenging?

    R: Number One: Big things come in small steps - my sister just asked that question- she wants to lose 60lbs - she just had a baby... I said start with one pound..

    R: Number Two: Be ok giving it everything you got. If you truly give it 100% and you don't get the outcome that you were hoping for, be ok with that because that outcome might not be right for that day. Ultimately at the end of the day you have to answer to yourself and if you've given it 100%.  Honestly, whatever it is, you should be proud. If you reach for something and miss, reach again, and again, and again until you get it. Through that process I think you can develop appreciation for yourself and your ability to overcome..

    R:  Number Three:  It’s so rudimentary and cliché but it needs to be said. Never Give Up.

    A: I think it needs to be said… it’s a good one.  In print its powerful.

    R: I’m big on mental conditioning… I’m a big fan of that. Like stuff you repeat can

    come true.

    ( Rob says this super casual like.. like it’s all easy and everyday – I didn’t realize it til the end how important it was… I think another way to say it is to believe in yourself, and if you believe you can do it, you can?) think on this… its kind of magic… condition your brain to do stuff… physical training/ mental training… there’s a connection! )

    A: Oh! Mind over matter!

    The struggle is real..  Photo credit: Robert Wessels @wolftoothphoto

    The struggle is real..  Photo credit: Robert Wessels @wolftoothphoto


    R: Yes, you have to be cautious of what you say to yourself on a daily basis. And when things get tough you kind of have to just embody that thought. It’s something so simple. But you’ll remember that when things are difficult and it’s a good one to remember. It’s so cliché and may sound dumb, but if you internalize it, it becomes something pretty cool.

    (I think that the important thing here is that our bodies are like a compass… we can set them toward things…and manifest anything we want – and that comes from within)


    It’s silly, but the thing is that when you find you have an ability like that ( when training)- some achievements are pretty gratifying. Unless you have breached that barrier of comfort and you keep going when you wanted to quit you’re never going to experience it..

    A: That’s why I like training with you guys… and being at the gym around the others struggling, and I hear you and Court give people your words of encouragement, and pushing. All the things you say to us as trainers – day after day of being there, it’s almost like “Ok well, I can do this. I didn’t think I could do those things. But I can it’s the conditioning of mind over matter - condition our body and our mind follows..

    A: If I can push that weight ( or hold a pose, or hold plank, etc)  I didn’t think I could, that means I can go out and get that account too, mind over matter - it’s real.

    Thank you to Ms. Brittan, Ms. Courtney and Commander in Chief Robert Wessels.  The hours spent with each of them and all the others on their journey of wellness is a gift.  I went in wanting to be in better shape - what I got was the gift of being surrounded by warriors that inspire me - each in their own way. These include  the mamma’s that train alongside me, the teachers and trainers that push us to persevere, push through, and take it to the next level. The thing is, each has their own light. I’ve noticed more and more that it’s just another reminder that together we are stronger. Together in anything, we shine so bright. Sometimes you have an inner strength that you don’t know about until someone is invited to take a look and pull that out of you.  I am grateful for my Wellness Tribe. 


    If you'd like to begin your wellness journey today, Fortis Fitness and YOGALUX has been kind enough to allow me to gift you two weeks free.  All you have to do is call or visit and mention "Aviva".   There,  now you have no excuses!  


    Xoxo Aviva



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