Tracy, we were lucky enough to connect with you recently in a small business forum where you frequently help others in fitness but also more broadly with advice.
I really enjoyed hearing your passion about Yoga Below the Belt come through, so we’re excited to share your story and some tips you might have for other fitness professionals looking to get started or accelerate their growth.
Now let’s get to the good stuff:
I am a professional chemist and mentor people in science, career growth, and their personal health.
When I'm not working, you'll usually find me hiking with my kids or camping. We love to be outside.
I'm also a middle school cross country and track coach, so I am usually pretty active.
Yoga Below the Belt focuses on teaching people with pelvic floor problems how to exercise safely. If you pee a little when you laugh or cough, feel pressure between your legs, or have pelvic pain then you likely have a problem with your pelvic floor.
A lot of exercises and physical activities make symptoms worse. My focus in yoga is to teach people how to breathe properly and how to modify their movements in yoga and in daily life to relax and strengthen this muscle group without worsening their symptoms. The adjustments are all very subtle, but they make a big difference.
You won't see head stands or really intense poses in my classes. My goal is to help people feel better without worrying about how they look while exercising. People call my classes "restorative" because they are beginner friendly and focus so much on the breath, but we have no problem getting sweaty on our more intense days!
I have pelvic organ prolapse. A little TMI here, but my organs dropped down after baby #2 was delivered and I suffered for about 9 years feeling a lot of pressure, pain, and had bladder issues.
I finally started working with a physical therapist, applied what I was learning to yoga, and started doing lots of research to learn more because it made such a big difference to my life and my symptoms.
I started working with friends who had similar issues, got certified to teach, and decided to start Yoga Below the Belt so I could reach more people.
Pelvic floor yoga is not a treatment plan, but my students tell me frequently that it helps. People with a heavy pressure feeling “down there” work with me to adjust their pelvis to better support their organs while building strength.
Those dealing with pain work with me to learn how to stretch and relax the hips, back, and pelvic floor. I also work with people with no symptoms who want a gentle practice to get a good workout.
I want my students to learn how to adjust their bodies to help their pelvic floor situation. The best success stories are from my students who learn techniques in yoga that they apply in their daily lives, eventually moving on to the higher impact activities they like when they are ready.
I gave up running and jumping for too many years, and want to make it so others don't wait as long as I did to reclaim their active lives!
My students tend to join me when they feel desperate and a little bit broken. I know from experience that the frustration is real!
The best tip I can give for teaching is to reassure students that they can exercise safely and start feeling better, and show them that just about every yoga pose can be modified for their body's needs.
The biggest challenge I have faced is that people with pelvic floor concerns are afraid to exercise! Most of my students have tried lots of different fitness options only to find their symptoms have gotten worse.
Many fitness coaches don’t know how to work with pelvic floor concerns beyond dealing with pregnant clients… and there’s a lot to learn and be mindful of with this muscle group.
When it comes to the video and remote challenges of teaching yoga, there is a learning curve when it comes to setting up the equipment. You need to be sure students can see the adjustments you are demonstrating and you need to help people set up their tablets and laptops in a way that enables you to view how they are adjusting their bodies.
There are also students who are uncomfortable being on video, so you have to give lots of good cues and trust that they are listening. It has taken practice and it was challenging in the beginning, but now it’s second nature.
I don't focus on increasing flexibility like most teachers, but work to improve how the pelvic floor feels. Seeing people get stronger and hearing them share their excitement when they can walk in the store without pain is all the incentive I need to keep teaching!
Students join me feeling stressed out and worried, and it’s pretty obvious by their facial expressions when things are going in the right direction for them.
If you have videos for sale (subscriptions or courses), be sure to use a platform that is intuitive and easy to use. I am pretty good with technology, but went through five different platforms before choosing to stay with UScreen to host my videos.
There are a lot of options out there. I prefer a reliable off-the-shelf CRM with built-in tools, but I also know people who have had success paying programmers to help them (I didn’t have the budget for that when I was starting out).
When it comes to remote sessions with clients, it’s worth every penny to invest in a good quality microphone. I strongly believe this is more important than video quality. I use the Rode Go cordless mic. The headsets are too uncomfortable for me, so I just clip the mic onto my bra and the audio quality is perfect.
When filming, I use inexpensive softbox lights and a Sony alpha-3400 camera, which takes amazing videos! I tried several camcorders in the <$1200 category and didn’t like the indoor picture quality of any of them, but my Sony camera has been going strong and I love it.
MevoLife is the missing link for my 1:1 coaching. I’ve tried several calendars for scheduling these sessions, but none of them have been user-friendly for me or for my clients. It’s nice to use a platform that doesn’t require a Zoom link, and scheduling is easy.
Be patient. It has taken me a lot more time than I expected to build my business, but it has been worth it. Know that the people who need your help are out there, and the ones who resonate with your style will stick with you.