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

Hi Kristen, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Throughout my life I have gone back and forth between playing it safe and taking risks. I’m sure that’s the case for many people. There is something to be said about “no risk, no reward”. If I never took any risks in my life and my career, I most certainly would not have ended up where I am today. I also believe that I’ve missed out on a few opportunities because I was scared not knowing what the outcome would be. When I think about people that I admire or look up to, one theme that threads them all together is their ability to take risks. As I’ve gotten older and become more aware of this, I’d like to think I’ve been open to more risks. I’m always amazed at what age brings. I also don’t want to have a ton of regrets. I’m a very curious person by nature, and love trying new things. I’ve traveled alone in foreign countries, moved across the country alone, studied abroad, went scuba diving at night in Australia with sharks (friendly ones but still!), tried out for a reality show (if you knew me you’d know that’s a big one), went bungee jumping on spring break, and always look for the hardest part of a mountain when skiing. However, when it comes to dating, I’m far from a risk taker. That is something that is a bit more frightening somehow than going as fast as I can down a steep ski run. When it comes to my career, there are of course times I wish I had taken more risks. Money, while obviously important, has never really been my driving factor. What that means to me is finding balance between work and life, and having a career that I’m passionate about. I grew up around people in finance, and there’s a ton of high risk/high reward. There’s also a ton of high risk/no reward, and that part is where I’m a bit hesitant. With that being said, I feel there’s a nice in between for someone like me. I love what I do, and there are ample opportunities to help people. As an entrepreneur, I really end up taking risks all the time. They are just in ways that I’m comfortable with. During times when I’m ready to be a bit riskier, I love collaborating and creating with people. I’m able to take more risks when I feel supported.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Early on in my career I was just getting my footing (as most people are), figuring out who I was in the wellness world, and what I wanted to focus on as a practitioner. I stopped teaching Pilates for a bit as I wasn’t sure it was the right direction for myself. But I quickly realized once I left that I missed what I had been doing. I also recognized it was my personal life that I needed to make some changes in, and that’s what brought me to California 13 years ago. I haven’t stopped teaching since I started again. In fact I’ve dug in even deeper as a teacher trainer for many years. I’ve also dealt with periods of imposter syndrome, doubted my ability and my knowledge. Something so many people I know go through, even the ones who I admire and look up to. I’ve come to realize that it’s just part of the process. So much of what has guided me throughout my career has been my personal journey, which I feel is pretty common. I became certified in Pilates because I recognized the benefits it offered the very first time I ever took a lesson. And while I wasn’t someone who knew what I wanted to do when I graduated from college, I did know that it would have to be something with a purpose. Pilates just made sense to me and I pretty quickly made the decision to become certified. It has continued to be the foundation of my movement practice. My interest in nutrition began the same way my interest in Pilates began. First it was for myself, then I realized I wanted to take what I learned and help others. There was a period of time when I was suffering from intense fatigue, dealing with gut issues, and experiencing mysterious body rashes. It was ongoing for many years, and along the way I was given band-aid fixes and looks that said, “not really sure what to tell you,” rather than definitive answers. To discover the root cause, I had to become my own advocate, do extensive research, and educate myself about the body, disease, and nutrition. What I learned was that I have Hashimoto’s, an autoimmune disease that attacks the thyroid. And what I learned to help heal myself, I’ve been able to pass along to clients. Healing is a journey, one that involves the mind, body, and spirit. I do my best to address all of these aspects when working with clients. And in order to do that, I have to put the work in myself. It can be super challenging at times, this past year being one of those times. This has probably been the most difficult time of my career, because a huge part of my work consists of teaching privately and doing teacher training, all of which is in person. It’s been a rollercoaster of emotions, and some days honestly I just want to stay in bed. There is so much unknown, which is scary. I personally do really well with structure, and that has mostly been taken away from me. I may have days where I want to stay in bed, and on those days (which aren’t often) I get up, and do what I can. But on most days, I’ve been motivated to think outside the box and come up with ways to keep my career moving forward. I’ve taken advantage of the extra time I’ve been given this past year to deepen my knowledge and ability to help clients. I’ve taken courses on working with stool and hormone testing, as well as how to read blood work from a nutrition perspective. All of this helps me take some of the guesswork out of my work with clients. And I’m about to start a mini online Exercise Physiology course with Stanford, which I’m so excited about! My goal is to help people feel more empowered through knowledge and support in their journey, in order to become the strongest versions of themselves. And what that looks like is different with each person I work with. Bio-individuality has become very important to me as has getting to the root cause of my clients health concerns, just as I did with my own. The other thing I have done during the pandemic is create an online 5-week wellness program called The Lifestyle Redesign, which includes nutrition guidance, movement, and stress reduction and sleep hygiene tips. It’s been a few years in the making, and I finally was able to do a Beta launch last fall. I plan on revamping it a little and running it again this spring. Not everyone is able to afford private training and a one on one nutrition coach, so I wanted to be able to offer something more affordable. My goal with this program is to give people guidance, support, and accountability in order to stay consistent. With everything going on in the world, I also feel like it’s nice to feel connected with others, even if it’s virtual.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I love having people visit because it gives me an excuse to visit some of my favorites places in the area that I so often don’t make time for. This is all post the pandemic obviously :). Day 1 – Head to Hollywood, lunch at Chateau Marmot, quick walk on Hollywood Blvd, drive to get a good look at Hollywood sign, then head to The Observatory Day 2 – Go for a bike ride on the bike path by the beach, get lunch along way, happy hour drink at shutters, chill dinner at home Day 3 – Hike in the morning in Palisades, Getty Center in the afternoon, drinks and dinner on west side Day 4 – Morning at beach in Malibu, lunch on Pier, head north on PCH to Santa Barbara for some evening wine tasting, stay night Day 5 – Chill day, drive back from SB in morning, afternoon shopping and dinner on Abbott Kinney Day 6 – Head downtown to go to The Broad, Grand Central Market for food, check out arts district The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
A big part of my story includes my good friend Andrea Speir. Watching Andrea take risks in the Pilates world definitely motivated me to take more myself. And many of them involved collaborations with her. I also have been part of Speir Pilates since it opened, which has enabled me to grow as a teacher. I appreciate the support Andrea has given me as a friend, boss, and colleague over the years.

Website: www.kristenomatthews.com

Instagram: kristen4pilates

Twitter: kristen4pilates

Facebook: kristen4pilates

Youtube: The Pilates Fix

Other: www.thepilatesfix.tv – For downloadable workouts to purchase/rent

Image Credits
Vanessa Tierney Eric Kaufman Valorie Darling

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