I had the pleasure of meeting Stephani and Eric Earling last year at Tough Mudder. Last week I reconnected with Stephanie and I got to sit down with her for an hour and talk about her fitness journey becoming the fearless women she is today. She is married to Eric Earling Vice President of Corporate Communications at Primera. He is also a yoga instructor and a wellness blogger. They live and breath health and fitness and set a fine example to both 18 year old son and 15 year old daughter. Their son just graduated high school and is off to college this year. He played football and did track and shot disk in high school and is now training for the military. Their daughter is an incredible dancer and lives a healthy life with both parents who 3 years ago decided to become vegan. For Stephani it was more about the ethical side of it and for the animals and for Eric it was more about the health benefits and he has a plant base diet. By leading by example their daughter jumped on the bandwagon and they live a healthy life. However, Stephani's life 4 years ago was not as spectacular as it sounds today. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in human services and social work and got her master's degree in organizational development. Stephani grew up aspiring to help people and she thought that if she got a higher education she could help change the world. Unfortunately, that was not the case for Stephani then.
Q. What did your life look like before?
Stephani was a social worker who worked with low income and homeless families. She managed the program development for non-profits. She was on her way up and worked as a social worker for 5 years. Stephani did not feel like she was helping and she got burnt out and quit her job. She felt unappreciated and was tired of the red tape bureaucracy and funding. All she did was followed directions according to the paperwork and protocol. She worked countless of hours and did not feel like she was getting anywhere. On top of everything the people she was working with did not even want the help from the beginning. They were court ordered and were involved with CPS. The pay was not good, it was more than minimum wage but she felt like it was not enough for all of the hard work she put in. The environment she worked in was toxic and she needed to get out of there. Her job drove her absolutely crazy and she walked away from her career everyone thought she was crazy. Additionally, while Stephani was transitioning from resigning from her job and walking away from her career and leaving everything behind she was also dealing with depression and a great loss. She was taking care of her grandpa who raised her and who was dying. Not only did she have this on her plate but to top it off she was working 60 plus hours a week as a social worker and dealing with other people's problems when she already had enough of her own. Her marriage was failing and she was suffering from severe depression.
Q. When did your fitness journey begin?
For Stephanie her fitness journey began after she quit her job and was trying to find her purpose in life. She had a random epiphany and asked herself, "Why don't I become a personal trainer?" One of her friends told her about the NASM which is a certificate for personal trainers and that it only took 180 days to complete it. Well, after going through all the work to get her master's degree in college studying for 6 months was not hard for Stephani. While studying for the NASM she started learning and becoming interested in the psychology behind working out and what it did to her body and how it made her feel. Essentially, resigning from her job and following her gut she was able to embark on her fitness journey that allowed her to discover what she wanted to do with her life. Sooner than later, Stephani discovered she absolutely loved training and stuck with it. She took the test for the NASM and passed it in 2014 and 2 weeks later she got her job with For U Fitness and started training clients right of the bat in the middle of March. She did not have much experience; she got a client, went to their home and designed a program for them that worked for their fitness goals. As a trainer she feels she is able to use her degree more than ever before. While training her clients she has the opportunity to coach, mentor, change their mentality, body and nutrition. It is very different from her job before where the people she was dealing with were court ordered and where there because they had to be. Whereas now her clients come to her because they are desperate and want a real change in their life.
Q. What is the difference between training at a gym vs. at home?
Stephani has been recruited by all the big box gyms out there including; 24 Hour Fitness, and Vision Quest who was bought out by La Fitness. She prefers to train people at their homes or outdoors because she does not like selling supplements at the gyms. She does not find it ethical to sell products to her clients she works with that she does not take. There is an intimacy being invited into someone's home you don't get in a gym. When you are invited into your client's space there is a lot of trust and you know their cats, dogs and kids and you have seen their house when it is messy and clean and that is okay. She strongly believes that most people will not workout unless you show up to their house. They know they are accountable because you are spending your time and money driving to them instead of them driving to come see you at the gym on their own time. By making an effort to come to them she guarantees they are going to be there and be ready to work out. Stephani spent a lot of money on her degree and is now happy that she is able to execute her skills from school to her advantage and has excellent client retention for 1 year now. She uses a platform called Front Desk where she can schedule her clients online and she can charge them after each session. Now, we all know how frustrating it can be when a client no shows on us but for Stephani it is not acceptable because after having a horrible job to having the job she has today with more freedom her time is more valuable and precious. So for those clients who do make her go out of her way and no show on her she still charges them. Today, Stephanie works 1/4 of the time she used to work before and still makes the same.
Q. What can we do to influence people to live a healthy lifestyle?
Stephani suggests the best way to promote health and wellness is by simply living out loud. Talking about it, using social media and promoting each other. Doing outdoor activities regularly whether it's hiking or biking, and sharing it with your friends and family. When you are constantly talking about it all the time and leading by example and staying consistent people are attracted to you. For example, if you walk into Stephani's home what you see then is what you see when you talk to her in person, when she works with her clients and when she is at the grocery store, and it is always congruent. You will not hear her talk about health and fitness and then walk into her house and find a bag of chips laying around in her kitchen. A lot of fitness influencers online feel the need to over sexualize themselves in order to gain followers. The people she wants to attract she does not need to take her clothes off for because she does not need to prove anything to anyone. She mostly posts on her social media food porn and her food choices living a healthy vegan life and that is how she gains follower and respect. It is crucial for her that in oder to have integrity you have to be congruent in all aspects of your life. What's up here in your head and what's in your heart is what you are projecting to the world, and they all have to match. If she's on Instagram for example, promoting a healthy lifestyle while sitting in her car eating a box of Oreos now that is not congruent, and people can spot that from a mile away. The real question is, what is going on in your real life? How are you living? Are you going home and kicking your dog? How do you treat your kids? That's what people really want to know. I absolutely love what Stephanie said to wrap this question up, "If you want what I have you'll do what I do."
Q. How did yoga save your life when you quit your job?
When Stephani discovered yoga she had just quit her job and was in a transition to discover her dharma, "life's purpose." Her marriage with her husband was on the rocks, her grandpa was dying, her world was crumbling, she didn't want to do anything, and she was working over 60 hours a week as a social worker helping people with their problems. Yoga helped her relieve stress and negative energy so she would run to her yoga mat and start crying because she had too much bottled up and so much on her plate. Yoga saved her life and kept her from being depressed and being on the verge of suicide and she does not know what she would have done if she did not practice yoga back then. Today, two weeks ago Stephani got certified as a yoga instructor and now teaches yoga with her husband.
Q. What is your style of training and why H.I.I.T and Tabata?
Tabata and H.I.I.T is the way to go for Stephani because she wants to give her clients the most bang for their buck in a short amount of time. She does not have time to train four hours at the gym and has a really busy life. H.I.I.T is high intensive interval training and it goes 20 seconds on and 40 seconds off so as soon as the person's heart rate comes down she picks it right up. Tabata, on the other hand is 4 minutes so for most of the time with her clients she will be doing strength training but she will incorporate a 4 minute circuit of high intensity training as well. By the time the 4 minutes are over her clients are on the ground! What's nice about Stephani's training is that she brings the gym to you. A lot of people have their own equipment but for those who don't she brings equipment with her. She is a moving gym and carries the equipment in her car. On the rare occasions she does not show up with equipment her clients are in for it because the workouts are usually harder. All of Stephani's exercises she will not make her clients do if she can't. She does not give advice that she can not follow herself. Nor does she expect anybody to do anything she can't do.
Q. What is it like being a mom and a personal trainer?
Stephani's life has changed drastically over the last 4 years especially the last 2 years. Today, she wakes up and looks forward to going to work everyday and lives a healthy lifestyle. She wakes up in the morning has her cup of coffee and trains her first client bright in early in the morning from 5-6am. Then she goes and releases energy at her yoga class. When she gets home she makes herself a smoothie and then she has another client from 9-10am. From 11-7pm she gets to spend time with her kids and enjoy her life. She keeps food in her car when she is on the go and in between clients. Normally, she will have apples, bananas, vegan protein bars and her smoothie in a cooler. She likes to live life with the motto, "No excuses", and you can find her on Instagram and follow her @stephaniearling and try some of her foods on your own at home and her smoothies. She is a successful trainer because she is completely transparent with what is going on with the rest of her life. People want a healthy, happy life and a better work schedule.
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