We had the good fortune of connecting with Elyse Sparkes and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Elyse, how has your perspective on work-life balance evolved over time?
When I first started working for myself, I considered it a side gig – something that I loved, that also happened to pay the bills – while I became a professional dancer in New York City. I would say my business at that time wasn’t my main focus. However, very soon after working with clients one-on-one on my own terms (rather than at a gym) I started to really appreciate the business side of what I was doing. My focus narrowed to my business and I started to create online coaching and programs. At that point, I became ALL about my business and spent almost all my spare time working on it. I was wearing all the hats! A few years after that the balance tipped and I became burnt out. Around that same time I became pregnant, had a kid, had a sick relative, and moved twice in one year (one of those was a cross country move to the LA area!). I could no longer keep up the pace of only focusing on my business – I needed to find more of the ‘life’ in Work/Life balance. And I went fully in the other direction, ha! I stopped doing social media consistently, I closed some of my evergreen online programs, and made spending quality time with my family to my #1 priority.

Instead of one static point, I view balance as a dynamic equilibrium. It’s not a perfect place -it’s a constant awareness of where I am in space and what’s needed to shift a little closer to my ‘center’. Currently I feel pretty close to that center line. I work with amazing clients, am developing new online programs and workshops, and still have a lot of quality time for myself and my family.

What should our readers know about your business?
My business has gone through many different iterations, but the main themes always remain the same: movement + body kindness.

I started out as a professional dancer and became a personal trainer to support my dance career. When I started working with clients one-on-one, I realized that I loved helping people learn about their bodies and helping them make movement a consistent part of their life again. Through my own body image struggles and being immersed in the dance + fitness industries, I also soon realized I wanted to help people exercise in a way that wasn’t ONLY about losing weight. In fact, I noticed that the pursuit of only exercising for weight loss was causing many people to either push themselves to unrealistic extremes or throw in the towel and berate themselves for ‘failing’. I created my #BeKindBodyMind method to help people be more KIND to themselves as they build strength, flexibility, balance, and confidence. I want the world to know that getting fit doesn’t have to be about pushing harder, measurements, pounds, percentages, or the latest quick fix program.

Now I specialize in core and pelvic floor rehabilitation – basically helping people exercise without peeing their pants! There is so much shame wrapped around bodily functions like incontinence, but the truth is so many people experience this (and not just people who have given birth). I want to normalize talking about this and help people realize that simple movements can help them feel so much better in their bodies.

It was easy to get started in my business because I have always loved movement, people, and taking my own path. Plus I wasn’t really thinking of it as ‘starting a business’ when I first started. I sort of fell into working for myself and it was a good match for me. When I realized I had my own business and wanted to grow it – then I ran into some challenges! I wanted to bring my work online (back in 2013 when it wasn’t as common) and it was a huge learning curve. I was doing everything myself – working with clients, writing copy, creating graphics, designing group programs, filming videos, editing videos, learning about video hosting platforms, building a website, growing an email list, networking… All. The. Things. And it was too much. I took a big leap hiring an assistant and luckily I started dating my now-husband who helped me with the tech side of things. The lesson that I learned is that outsourcing and delegation are key to growth. Looking back, I wish I had built a team sooner. Admittedly this continues to be an area where I struggle! It feels easier to do everything myself, when logically I know that that is not a great recipe for success.

I am most proud of the fact that I’ve been able to help so many people feel more stable, strong, mobile, confident in their bodies and have kinder thoughts about themselves. When someone says that they workout to my videos and it makes them feel great, that we’ve rehabbed an injury, brought back their function, or they have less aches + pains because of the movement we’ve done together, it makes my day! People tell me that sharing the #BeKindBodyMind phrase with their kids when their body image is low has helped them increase their confidence and that makes me feel like this work is having a very very important impact.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I live in Ventura now and have a 3yr old, so many of my places to check out are family focused!

Here’s a list:

– The Moxi, kids science museum in Santa Barbara
– Walking along the Ventura Harbor for shops, restaurants, the Channel Islands National Park Visitor center (cute little museum for the kiddos)
– Libby park playground in Ojai + eat at Harvest Moon Ojai
– Visit the Ventura Botanical Gardens
– Bike the Ventura Bike Beach Trail + eat at Beach House Tacos
– Kidspace Children’s Museum in Pasadena
– Splash pad at the Ventura Aquatic Center
– Hike the Gaviota Wind Caves
– See a show at the Pantages Theatre

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have to shoutout my family! They all support, love, and encourage me endlessly. A few of my closest family member shoutouts are to my sister, mom and dad. My sister, Leah, has done PR for greats from Oprah to Martha Stewart and excels wherever her passions take her. She inspires me with her creativity, resilience, and bold action taking. I believe I got my entrepreneurial spirit from my mom and dad. They owned their own Audiology practice and growing up I got to watch them build a successful business from the ground up. I continue to ask them questions about their process with that because I’m so impressed with what they did. Their mentorship is priceless and they are a constant support system.

Website: www.elysesparkes.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/elysesparkes/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/elysesparkes.ignitehealth

Other: Viewers can receive my Body Kindness Journal download at: https://www.bekindbodymind.com/journal

Image Credits
Stacey Millett-Shay, from Willhouse Creative

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