We had the good fortune of connecting with Rachel Browning and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Rachel, how do you think about risk?
I have a strange relationship with risk… I’ve always been a bit addicted to adrenaline. I say yes to any adventure; whether it’s going off-trail to find a secret waterfall, searching for the less-traveled corners of the world, or rappelling down a cliff-side. Yet, it’s as very different feeling-the short term rush of a bungee jump from a bridge-compared to the long-term stresses of running your own business. I took some business risks early in life, and I lost out, big-time. It’s hard to look at what is really “risk” without looking at the situation from all angles…and someone with a large savings account, family money, or some kind of security, isn’t taking quite as big of a risk when they have a safety net. Still, a risk, of course, but one with less consequences. I think of it as rock-climbing with a rope compared to free-soloing. Still, both have their inherit risks, but one has a lot more dire consequences for smaller mistakes. So the first risks I took, they had some dire consequences. But I recovered, slowly and steadily. And those early failures turned into lessons. So when I wanted to go out on my own again, I was a lot more prepared. Also more terrified! It took a lot more for me to make the leap. And I had a lot more anxiety. I still do sometimes! But now I have the tools and the experiences, and I continue to learn and grow in my business. I still make mistakes and have some failures, but now they’re just opportunities to self-correct.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
It took me a long time to present myself as a fitness/wellness professional. I had health challenges in my youth (an undiagnosed auto-immune condition) that led to eating disorders in my late teens/early twenties. This also left me with some injuries. Although I recovered from my ED, and have a good handle on my gut condition, I was also self-conscious that I no longer “looked the part.” I didn’t think anyone would take me seriously as a fitness professional if I didn’t have perfect body composition, or be without injuries. Once I decided to take the leap, I won’t pretend it was suddenly easy. People in gyms and yoga studios aren’t always very kind. (They wrestle with their own body-image issues, which often get projected onto others.) Sometimes I had to face daily comments about my body. Or judgements if I modified exercises. But the more years I spent in the fitness industry, the more I realized that my experiences were my greatest strength. A huge percentage of the population has struggled with an eating disorder. Most people will suffer a major injury. And if I-an able-bodied person who’s a healthy weight-was on the receiving end of comments, what about a larger-bodied person? A disabled person? And it’s more than just a problem with individuals. The fitness industry as a whole perpetuates these issues. So I decided I needed to create workouts that worked for my clients’ bodies, not to try and force their body into a workout. An entire yoga class can be done sitting on a chair, or a workout can be composed of gentle balance work. And I want to my clients to appreciate their bodies, and find the beauty and strength in every form that they come in. Not to tell them that if they work hard enough, they could look like Jennifer Aniston, (an actual sales pitch a gym owner tried to make me give.) So what sets my business apart, is that I look at every individual , and I listen to what it is that THEY want, not what I want for them. And I help reach the goals that they want for themselves, in a judgement-free space.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Like most big cities, the fun parts of L.A. aren’t the most famous. I find that the best part of Southern California are the mixture of nature with pieces of history mixd in. When friends are visiting, I take them on at least one strange hike. There is so many to choose from, a few are: *The Old Zoo (you can walk inside an old lion enclosure, or see the chipped mural of the toucan cages). *The Hollywood Sign Hike (iconic, and actually quite breathtaking up close). *The Sunken City of San Pedro (a part of San Pedro slid into the sea, the foundations of the old homes remain.) The food here is fantastic as well…I love it because there’s such a variety, but usually healthy versions of most dishes. I can get some amazingly authentic food from any country, but with extra vegetables! What food I would choose would depend on what part of town I’m taking someone for a hike in…there’s Burmese, Colombian, Taiwanese, you name it! And with a variety of food, comes different teas, coffees, and drinks. There’s so many hidden beautiful cafés and tea shops…and hidden themed bars with amazing cocktails. There’s speakeasies hidden in barbershops, or inside refrigerators. Or tons of them outside in the sun, with our beautiful year-round weather.
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?
I never would have been successful if it weren’t for the kindness of others. Sometimes it’s been a complete stranger, seeing me in trouble, and offering help. If I were to pick one main “mentor” in my business, it would be my friend Ann Taylor of Beyond Movement. She has always been honest, and pushed me in ways no one else has. One day I was lamenting about how much I hated that I “had” to have a day job, because that’s how responsible adults pay their bills. She said, “And what makes you think you “have” to work at desk? You’re way too good at what you do to keep that gift from the world. Stop wasting away in an office, you’re robbing people of something that they need.” And I wouldn’t be anything if it weren’t for the encouragement of my family. My mom taught me about work-ethic and budgeting money like a champ…a skill that is essential but underappreciated in the wellness space. (We’re taught we can just manifest everything, who needs to budget, right? I’ve had to coach a lot of yoga teachers past this…)