Fit Brown Girls: Ria Stuart
As a mother, I know it is very easy to put others as priority in front of ourselves. But, if we fail to put ourselves first, ensuring we are healthy, we may not end up being around long enough to take care of the ones we love. This doesn’t mean when we are fifty. I have a very close family member who is fighting for her life because of blood clots. She is only thirty-six years old. She has two babies. The issues she is fighting with could have been prevented by proper nutrition and regular exercise. We have to stop with the excuses about our physical and mental well being and start actively loving ourselves now.
|The before pic was in grad school right before we moved to Atlanta. I realized if I was going to be at the forefront of our fitness business I had better play the part.|
I'm excited to finally get this series poppin! Why not start it now as our year is ending to get us pumped to get the momentum going now to launch us into an epic 2014. It humbles and honors me to have our first Fit Brown Girl featured be the lovely Ria Stuart of Sumkindawondrfl. Many of you know her from Youtube and/or her Instagram. This dynamic woman is a huge inspiration to me, she's an entrepreneur; wife and mother, and I hope after this feature you can glean some inspiration from her too!
1) Please introduce yourself: age if you're comfortable sharing, where you're from/live and what fitness arenas you concentrate in.
My name is Ria Stuart, I’m 30 years old and live in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. I am a personal trainer focusing in strength conditioning and weight loss. I am also a pole fitness student.
2) Share an overview of your fitness journey. Have you always had an active and healthy lifestyle?
I have not always had an active and healthy lifestyle. I grew up with overprotective parents who were afraid I’d get hurt participating in sports or riding my bike around the corner. But I wanted to do more. When I got to college I rode my bike everywhere; to class, to work, even to the bars on the weekend. I thought I was just getting everywhere quicker but I put in serious work getting up the hills of our campus. I’d also do things like hit the racquetball courts or batting cages when I was stressed. Being able to smash those balls was very therapeutic. But it wasn’t until after I married my husband that I got serious about fitness and health. He’s a long jumper for the Bahamas as well as a personal trainer and fitness was his lifestyle long before he met me. It didn’t happen right away but his good habits rubbed off on me eventually.
|This is an inside leg hang. I assisted in our annual Halloween Pole Showcase. My costume was a Wu-Tang Fairy.|
3) How did you get into pole dancing? Describe your experience with it.
Last December I found myself on instagram in the middle of some random night. I saw post by Leah Marie, another youtuber/blogger at CurlyCrazy.com. She had these amazing pics of her posing on a pole. I had already been trying yoga on my own at home, but this looked like yoga on a pole. It was gravity defying and she looked so strong and happy with herself. I hopped on Google right then and there, found a highly reviewed studio in Atlanta and signed up for an intro class. I went alone and had so much fun. We learned a spin the very first day. But what hooked me was the demonstration they gave at the end. These women were seriously strong and the pole work was so beautiful. They shared their stories about how pole training helped them tone and loose weight and about how addictive it is. Despite my initial suspicions, they were NOT strippers. The instructors come form various walks of life and include PhD holders, nurses, teachers, accountants and business owners.
I’ve been “poling” since January 4th, 2013. I take level classes with the same group of women where we progress in the type of difficulty for tricks and poses over time. I also take drop-in classes which are open to all levels. Pole is an amazing work-out because it combines yoga, dancing and gymnastics. It focuses on the entire body but it low impact on the knees because your feet are rarely on the floor. This is important as a thirty year old who began having knee issues a few years back. What’s more is that the women who participate range from 18-50 and sometimes older. They also have various fitness abilities when beginning. You don’t have to be in shape to start pole. But you will get in shape as long as you keep at it. As a person who tends to jump around from hobby to hobby, pole fitness is perfect for me because there is always something new to learn. It’s not just a workout with a goal of getting in shape. There are new moves and tricks to aspire to. Because it involves dance, there’s also performances to participate in and competitions to strive for. Essentially, pole is limitless in terms of personal growth. I could go on and on forever about how amazing it is, but the final thing I’ll say is that it does wonders for self-esteem and confidence. At our studio, we start off dancing with the lights low and in large groups. This lets women get comfortable with one another but more importantly, with their own bodies as a form of fluid expression. As time goes on, the groups thin out and lights go up so we can actually see while learning new and difficult tricks. You find yourself very comfortable having others watch you, because you need them to, to ensure your executing a move correctly. Outside of the studio, you find yourself walking sexy, everywhere: at the grocery store, to the copy machine, in front of your husband… It’s not intentional but second nature. Sensuality becomes a prime mode of operation, which naturally makes life more enjoyable!
|Side Split: Pole requires you to be flexible which I WAS NOT. Though this is only a side split, it is a huge accomplishment from where I began.|
4) You also have your own fitness business. Please tell us about it and how came into it.
My husband has been coaching track and field as well as working as a personal trainer since I was in college. We planned for him to have his own training business after I completed graduate school. Once we moved to Atlanta, he worked for a few gyms but began to seek out private clients on his own. I worked as a private tutor and would refer my kids parents to him often. They formed the base of our initial clientele. We were here only three months when we rented out an old bank building and attempted to open up our own studio. It did not take very long to realize we were in over our heads and we closed it just as quickly. I picked up a full time job while my husband continued with clients in their homes. Eventually we decided it best to rent out space at a private facility to accommodate clients who felt their home was too small to work out in. My husband is also a private track and field coach for high schoolers and professional athletes. It became clear that he was going to need to hire someone on as he began to have too many clients. We decided I would be his first trainer to handle the overflow. Doing so allowed me to walk away from the 9-5 grind and jump into something truly beneficial to people’s lives. And of course, keeping the earnings in house made sense to both of us. Currently, we still rent out space, but are planning on opening our own studio again this Spring.
5) What's one of your favorite pole moves to do?
My favorite move is the butterfly. But that will change as soon as I master whatever’s next!
6) What body part is your favorite to train/workout?
My glutes. I could do squats all day and am obsessed with my legs. Strong legs is extremely important to making sure you don’t fall off the pole!
7) Share your workout schedule, if you have one.
Every Sunday I spend at least 3 hours at my pole studio for my level class and working on my moves on my own. Throughout the week, I train at least twice with a personal training client of mine. I also have my husband guide me in weight training at least once a week.
8) How does your family stay active? What activities do you like to do together?
We work out together, even my eight-year-old. When the high schools kids are training, my son will jump right in and do the same work out they do minus the weights. We also like to walk up a nearby mountain trail, roller skate and hit the batting cages.
9) Outside of fitness, what are some of your other interests?
EVERYTHING! Currently, I am cleaning up a novel I worked on for National Write a Novel Month in November. I also crochet and make jewelry, mostly for people I know, but to sell at festivals from time to time.
|Thought there are not too many days in between the before and after, the drastic difference came from attending pole classes at least four times a week|
10) Anything else you'd like to say?
Yes! When it comes to fitness and health, there are no excuses as to why we can’t. As a mother, I know it is very easy to put others as priority in front of ourselves. But, if we fail to put ourselves first, ensuring we are healthy, we may not end up being around long enough to take care of the ones we love. This doesn’t mean when we are fifty. I have a very close family member who is fighting for her life because of blood clots. She is only thirty-six years old. She has two babies. The issues she is fighting with could have been prevented by proper nutrition and regular exercise. We have to stop with the excuses about our physical and mental well being and start actively loving ourselves now.
- You can find out more about her and her husband's Performance Training business at NylesStuartPT.com or facebook.com/nylesstuartpt
- They currently train at Sports-A-Rama in Marietta, GA. Phone: 770-365-4708
- Ria's personal blog: riasophia.com
Video clip: this demonstrates my first attempts at the butterfly pose.
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