I don’t even remember how old I was the first time I tried a “diet” or believed I needed to lose weight. It would become one of the defining stories of my life. Through the years, always feeling like I was too fat led to many many destructive things including (but not limited to) disordered eating, excessive diet pills, and relationship endings. More than anything, it resulted in the conflicting feelings of being too much and not enough all at the same time.
Some years ago, I discovered that there was a whole new way of thinking around this. Health Coaches across the country were touting the message of “just love your body how it is” as a way to FINALLY lose the weight. And while I admired this line of thinking, it only brought up another great fear for me - if I truly loved my body how it was, why would I ever change it? We don’t change things we love, do we?
So I kept following these people - reading their blogs and books - and held this idea in my head that if I could ever reconcile loving my body while also wanting to look and feel differently, then maybe, just maybe, I could finally have the body I was meant to have.
In 2017, I met Elyse Sparks, and, for the first time, that idea seemed like a realistic possibility. I was fortunate to experience her personal brand of exercise/group fitness in a class and could instantly see the transformative power of the way she approaches exercise, beauty, and general fitness. Elyse also shared a bit of her personal story which resonated with my own on many levels.
We all know this is the week of resolutions and January is the #1 month in sales for anything fitness or diet related. I have no problem with stopping to take stock ,and I do believe that January signals a new chapter, so it’s a good time to do that. But, if drastically changing your body through diet and exercise is one of your goals, I hope that you’ll consider partnering with Elyse (she works virtually!) or someone with a similar mindset to aid your journey. Let 2019 be the end of fad diets, unused gym memberships, unrealistic perceptions, and the guilt that comes from thinking you just need more willpower.
But, so much more than body-love and movement inspiration, Elyse has taught me a lot about what it means to use your values in your business - and shift as those values change. She has run groups and events centered around helping other entrepreneurs do what they love and she is ALWAYS ready to lend a helping hand when she can. In the past year, she had her first child and moved across the country - and while this may have shifted what her business looked like this year, I would wager it didn’t shift how she felt running it (at least not for very long…)!
I hope you’ll enjoy getting to know Elyse in the interview below and share her story with someone you think could use a little dose of her Spark.
My takeaway: Being mindful in your fitness program will help you love who you are as well as who you are becoming. (PS: the same is true for running your business!)
Tell us about your business. What do you do? Who do you serve? How long have you been at it?
I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and online coaching programs. I serve people who are tired of beating themselves up around movement and are done with focusing on restrictions/measurements/percentages, etc. My clients want to drop the guilt/shame game around exercise to get moving in a way that's focused on functional movement goals, body awareness, and increasing self-kindness.
I've been the owner of Sparkes Wellness for over a decade!
Why did you start your business?
I started my business because I'm passionate about helping people feel strong, flexible, and confident in their bodies - in a way that feels realistic to accomplish - because I believe the way you move in your body is the way you show up in your entire life.
I grew up believing HAPPY = SKINNY.
After many unhappy years as a professional dancer stuck in the stressful under-eating --> binging --> over-exercising cycle, I realized this mentality was wreaking havoc on my health.
I became determined to find BALANCE in my approach to how exercise fit into my life in a way that I could maintain and feel GOOD about.
I want to share this lifestyle with as many people as possible, which is why I do the work I do! It's about fusing mindfulness into your fitness life, and:
~ starting right here, right now, exactly where you are in this very moment,
~ heightening your awareness around your daily thought + action patterns so you can make mini adjustments that have large impacts,
~ shifting your perspective of "balance" so you're no longer beating yourself up over perfectionism and actually feeling a sense of peace with your body,
~ getting on the self KINDNESS wagon, so you actually feel like you LIKE yourself and you enjoy being in your body.
What does "social good business" or "values based earning" mean to you?
A "social good business" or "values based earning" means that there are many other factors - beyond profits - involved in the intentions of a business. I see these types of businesses as ones that can:
~ solve a problem for individuals or communities,
~ donate portions of their profits/products/services/time,
~ align their actions with their values,
~ are transparent with their customers about how the business operates
What is your favorite part about running a social good business or your favorite experience since you started?
My absolute favorite part of my business is seeing how my clients transform. In as little as an hour someone can feel better in their body, which creates a butterfly effect for their life and those around them. It's magical to witness!
What is your biggest struggle in running a social good business?
I think my biggest struggle in running my business is trying to wear all the hats and do everything myself.
What would you like most to accomplish in the next year? 5 years?
I just had a baby so in the next year I'd like to experiment with how my role of being a new mom integrates into my role as a business owner. Along the same lines, within the next 5 years I'd like to reach more people with my business while having ample time to be with my family.
Who are your business icons or mentors?
Marie Forleo, Jill Coleman, Erin Stutland, and my family (my mom and dad co-owned Sparkes Hearing Services and my sister owns Sparkes PR and has done Public Relations for Oprah, Martha Stewart, and many others. We're a family of entrepreneurs!).
What's your #1 tip for someone just getting started running a values-based business?
Be bold and begin. So many people get held back from fear of failing or not knowing enough or analysis paralysis! Get clear on what your values are, BELIEVE in your own worth and what you're offering, and then take a step in the direction you want to go.
What are your favorite conferences or retreats to attend?
Recently I've gone to Jill Coleman's business workshops. Otherwise I don't go to too many big events! I prefer small local workshops or creating events for entrepreneurs in my community.
What is the last book you read?
The Red Tent by Anita Diamant