By Lisa Hirsch
It was 3 a.m. on a chilly Venice Beach morning when I had my “something’s gotta give” moment.
My boyfriend was sleeping soundly and I was sitting in my home office—again—wondering how I was going to line up enough A-list celebrities for a big charity event in Hollywood. Years in the entertainment and music industries had led me to start my own business as a talent booker, and while it was an awesome, lucrative, and an exciting gig, I was spending way more time cozied up with my MacBook than with my man, and it was making me miserable.
In that moment, I believe I set into motion a cosmic chain of events that would alter the course of my career—and my life.
My Former Life in the Music Biz
After college, I landed an assistant position in the production department at RCA Records in New York City. There I was as a 20 year-old, going to shows almost every night, meeting artists, and sitting in meetings learning how cassettes were made. (Yes, cassettes! I’m 42 years old and miss those good old cassette days!) It was an incredibly exciting time to be in the music industry.
When I got my next job at Universal Records, I worked in radio and video promotion. It makes me sound so old, but this was a time when MTV actually played videos! At Universal, I really grew in my career and eventually created my own department, Artist Relations. This job put me in touch with so many amazing musicians, had me going to more shows in my bad-ass platform sneakers (I’m short, what can I say?!), and meeting some of the most awe-inspiring talent in the industry. It was incredible.
But as I’m sure you can imagine, it wasn’t exactly healthy. After all, it was my job to go to concerts, take care of artists, and basically party. I had to go backstage at shows, entertain talent, travel a ton, and juggle a full 9-to-9 workload—which seemed like a 24/7 gig most of the time. Work never ended and my exercise and eating habits suffered as a result. When I transitioned into working at a talent booking agency and then running my own, my workload seemed to grow even more. And like anyone who runs her own business, I found it so difficult to turn “off” my work mind and relax. Sure, I worked out. But my philosophy—like so many women—was that if I worked out like a lunatic and didn’t eat all that much (hello, salad, apple, and more salad), I’d stay fit.
It worked … ish. I wasn’t exactly fit, but I wasn’t overweight. But worst (and most notable) of all, I was miserable. Hence my “something’s gotta give” moment at 3 o’clock that morning and my not-so-chance meeting with one of L.A.’s most amazing trainers.
The Workout that Changed My Life
When I walked into a pilates-inspired studio on the trendy Abbot Kinney Boulevard in Venice Beach and introduced myself to Ky Evans, I wasn’t thinking he was going to have a big impact on me. In fact, I walked into that studio that day feeling kind of skeptical. I always loved trying new workouts, but frankly, nothing was really giving me the results I was looking for. So I walked right up to Ky and essentially told him just that: “I’m here, but I work out a lot and frankly, I want to feel challenged.” Looking back, that was kinda ballsy of me! But I’d obviously met my fitness match. Ky essentially told me to shut up and find a machine—and that if I took his class three times a week, he would change my body within three to six months.
That 50-minute workout was the hardest fitness class I’d ever taken. So I did exactly what I was told: I shut up, showed up three times a week, and in about three months, I had more definition in my arms and abs than I’d had in my entire life. What I also had was an idea for a new business—a chain of boutique, pilates-inspired fitness studios where women just like me could come for not only a killer workout, but a respite from their crazed, over-worked days.
Within a year, The Studio (MDR) was born.
Building a Better Body Image, One Plank at a Time
It immediately became clear to me that phasing out of my career as a talent booker and launching a new career as a fitness studio owner was the career-change that would make me incredibly happy. And much of this happiness rested in the fact that I knew I was going to help so many other people transform the way they felt about their bodies.
I noticed such a difference in my own life and body image after trying this pilates-inspired workout, and I realized my old philosophy about working out like crazy and eating less wasn’t getting me anywhere. I slowly but surely learned that a healthy diet combined with plenty of rest days is really where it’s at when it comes to achieving optimal health and wellbeing.
When I embraced this new way of thinking, my body did change. Even better, my attitude toward my body changed. I was feeding my bod healthy foods (and even splurging on occasion!) and not exercising to the point of total exhaustion. Now, I work out three times a week at my studio and throw in a spin class here and there if I can find the time. As a result, the number on the scale went up a little but my jeans size went down. Plus, I was sleeping better than ever, happier than ever, and feeling more gratitude for my body than ever. It was a transformation that I’ll forever feel grateful for and one that I’m now seeing in so many of the people who walk through The Studio’s doors.
How Exercise Can Help You Find Movement Elsewhere
In my case, moving my body in a new way literally opened my mind to opening a chain of Lagree Method fitness studios. But I believe exercise in general can help all of us make the changes we wish to see in our lives a reality. Ky often reminds all of us that fitness is the ultimate expression of who we are and what we want in this life, and I believe feeling strong on the outside can translate to feeling stronger from within.
What I know for sure is that this workout was life-changing for me and can be the same for you. Ditching a job or a relationship or eating habits that are bad for you can be incredibly difficult and shedding those things and making a change can feel a lot easier when you’re in a place of strength and fearlessness.
When people ask me about how I made such a big change and how they can do the same, I often tell people to just go for it. Too many of us stay “stuck” in jobs and relationships and situations that don’t make us happy. And life’s far too short for that. Sure, taking a leap is scary. And there’s a decent chance you’ll fall on your face when you do. But I’m willing to bet that if you do fall, you’ll pick yourself up feeling stronger for making the jump and closer to making your dreams a reality as a result.
Lisa Hirsch is a former music industry executive with 15 years of experience behind her. After being burnt out by the constant travel between New York and Los Angeles, she relocated to Venice Beach in 2007, focused on fitness and wellbeing, and eventually opened her own studio in 2011 called The Studio MDR. Today she has over 4000 clients and is planning to open a second location. Her focus today is on fostering a community of support and help others make their health a number one priority.