5 Fem-Powered Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (…that AREN’T by NPR.)

5 Fem-Powered Podcasts You Should Be Listening To (…that AREN’T by NPR.)

Community Tips + Tools WANT Women Work

Look.

I am NPR’s self-elected fan club president.

In a storm of biases and opinions, I can count on NPR to fill me in on what’s going on in the world, open my eyes to opinions that might not entirely match my own, and challenge me in all the very best ways. When everyone is talking about the new Taylor Swift album or the latest musical trend, NPR (and specifically, their LA-based KCRW) is busy introducing me to new, innovative musicians I might not have heard of otherwise.

Books. Theatre. Culture. Society. NPR and its affiliate stations offer up alternatives to mainstream everything and I am HERE FOR IT.

However…do a quick search of “best podcasts” and you’ll be hard pressed to find a roundup that’s not dominated by NPR-produced shows. I love me some Invisibilia and How I Built This (two of my fave NPR shows – I even mentioned the former on my first must-listen list back in 2015), but NPR-produced podcasts are just one small slice of the pod pie. You wouldn’t just watch TV shows that appear on ONE channel, would you?

This week, I wanted to shine the spotlight on some of the best self-hosted, self-produced, female-driven podcasts you should be listening to right now. Because what most people don’t realize when they listen to the glossy episodes produced by both large organizations and one-woman-shows alike is that there is a LOT of work that goes into podcast production.

From scheduling and recording a thoughtful show, to making your guest(s) feel comfortable enough to open up to you, to the literal hours of editing that are done just to normalize the sound levels and omit any dragging “ummmmmmm”s, each minute is meticulously crafted to create the best possible experience for the podcast’s listening community.

Podcasts take a lot of work to get from the mic to your ears – and when you’re a team of one (maybe two if you’re lucky), you’ve gotta love it enough to make that work worth your while.

Here, five podcasts (by women!) you should be listening to if you’re not already – I can promise you you’ll hear the love coming through loud and clear:

For the mindful foodie (or mindful foodie-wannabe), try…The Actor’s Diet Podcast

What I love about The Actor’s Diet Podcast, an extension of Lynn Chen‘s site by the same name, is that it’s rarely just about the food. Because really, food is rarely just about the food, right? It’s about our heritage, our history, our families and our memories. It’s about how we relate to our bodies and how we interact with the world. Oh, and this isn’t your typical food-centric podcast where it’s all about the chefs and culinary whizzes – expect to hear from actors, musicians, bloggers, and all types of creatives (along with Lynn herself, who is a blast to listen to – you can check her out on the WANTcast here and here for proof!). LISTEN HERE


For when you need some company on your hour-plus commute, listen to…Let It Out by Katie Dalebout

Katie, as a podcast host and as a person, is genuinely one of the most curious, engaged people you will ever meet. Her enthusiasm is contagious, and her episodes are typically over an hour long because she is SUCH a good, present listener that she always finds one more amazing question to ask or interesting place to take the conversation. And she listens to everyone equally – from Danielle LaPorte to the owners of her favorite coffee shop, she treats every single person like her best friend (who she has also interviewed, ps). I adore this woman, and listening to her podcast while I’m stuck in way-too-slow traffic makes me feel like I’m hanging out with her IRL. LISTEN HERE


For a docu-style inside look into the book publishing world (and what the path to achieving a big-ass goal really looks like behind the scenes), try…The Cookbook Deal

OG MVP (most-valuable-podcaster) Jessica Murnane wrote a book last year. It was also the craziest year of her life. And she documented it ALL. You don’t need to be an aspiring author to get totally sucked into this binge-worthy podcast – I may or may not have recently re-listened to all eight 20-ish-minute episodes in succession over the weekend – but if you ARE interested in learning about all the twists and turns that happen behind the scenes when you see someone out there accomplishing amazing, big-ass professional goals, you’ll be hooked after the first few minutes. This podcast is SO important for those of us who are go-getters and goal setters: we aim high and we think things need to be perfect. When things don’t run smoothly, we think we’re probably failing, because no one ever talks about the hard parts. When we scroll through Instagram, it can seem like everyone else’s plans are unfolding without even so much as a hiccup. In true Murnane style, Jessica keeps it real and bashes any sort of notion that the road to success is easy-breezy. Like the saying goes, things rarely go the way you’ve planned. Listening to Jessica navigate these insane twists and turns in real time (and with SO much grace) is a serious lesson in resiliance and persistance. LISTEN HERE

For the bride-to-be who isn’t all about That Wedding Industry Life, you MUST listen to…Bridechilla

Bridechilla has been a godsend ever since I found out about it from WANT Woman Jennifer Dene (thanks, Jen!). I only wish I had started listening before we got engaged! Aleisha McCormack covers everything from out-of-the-box ceremonies and what happens “When Vendors Go Bad” to overcoming wedding stress and creating your very own “Fuckit Bucket” (you’ll have to listen to learn what that is). Aleisha and her fellow Bridechillas have helped me navigate our upcoming wedding with so much mindfulness, ease, and humor – because being a Bridechilla isn’t about not caring or not having an opinion. It’s not about ditching traditions just because they’re “stereotypical.” Being a Bridechilla about recognizing that your wedding day is about YOU and your partner, and celebrating this new chapter in your life together in a way that is the most meaningful to you two. Whether that includes chair covers or not. Aleisha, totally hitting you up to be on the WANTcast in Season Three. Just a heads up. LISTEN HERE



For the activist who also loves pop culture, try…Tamarindo Podcast

When my former neighbor (< full disclosure) Brenda Gonzales first talked to me about wanting to start a podcast focusing on Latinx social, cultural, and political issues, I knew it would be a hit just because of her personality. What I didn’t realize is how much I, someone who is not a member of the Latinx community, would get out of it on a weekly basis. Each week, Brenda and her co-host Luis Octavio discuss politics, food, music, and life, all through a Latinx lens. They’re absolutely hilarious (waiting for them to have their own morning show, Regis-and-Kelly style), whip-smart, and have introduced me to SO many concepts and issues that I never knew about. And this is, I think, my favorite takeaway from Tamarindo. It’s made me realize how much I DON’T know about things that don’t affect me, and helped me combat the effects of that ignorance/white privilege by actively seeking out more information on issues that affect ALL variations of people no matter the race, gender, religion, etc. You might start listening for the music or pop-culture breakdowns…but you’ll stay for the eye-opening conversations about ways our country (and world) can be a better place for EVERYONE. LISTEN HERE

Looking for more? Here are 7 of my favorite podcasts that’ll make any crazy-long commute actually enjoyable.


WANT yourself:
What are some of your favorite female-driven podcasts out there? Why do you love them? And – here’s a bonus – who would YOU like to hear on Season Three (dropping January 2018!) of the WANTcast??

The WANTcast Episode 002: On Honoring Your Personality Type + Following Your Own Path with Astrologer Danielle Beinstein

The WANTcast Episode 002: On Honoring Your Personality Type + Following Your Own Path with Astrologer Danielle Beinstein

Body Community Love the WANTcast Work

I can’t believe we’re already into Episode Two.

Even moreso, I can’t believe how you’ve been responding after just ONE episode.

Thank you so, so much for the outpouring of support and for tuning into that very first episode with Delia Brown. It was so special to me and to her, and it was so incredible to hear how moved you were, too.

I can’t thank you enough for spreading the word about the WANTcast – apparently, there aren’t a lot of wellness-minded podcasts, and even less run by women, which is kind of crazy to me. It’s truly such an honor that you’re choosing to spend an hour of your time with me and the guests on this wild ride.

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This week’s WANTcast guest is Danielle Beinstein, an LA-based Astrologer, meditation coach, spiritual counselor, writer, and co-founder of the New Moon Circle in Venice Beach, CA, which gives women a sacred space to set intentions, form bonds, and heal their lives from the inside out (on the new moon of each month, of course).

When I met Dani a few months back at a cocktail party (celebrating Meredith Baird’s new cookbook!), I could just tell we were supposed to be in each other’s lives.

Maybe it was because she was, like me, an introvert usually confused for an extrovert, was also an HSP, or a highly sensitive person (also like me), and approached a topic I’m fascinated by – astrology – from such an intellectual, personal, and pragmatic way. A way that even the most hippie-dippie-averse people could relate to.

Turns out, she has a crazy academic and business background, so something I really wanted to talk to her about was how this highly off-the-beaten path career took shape, which was nothing like where she thought she wanted to be her entire life.

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In this episode, we talk about how to balance being an introvert with extroverted tendencies, adapting and protecting yourself as an HSP (or highly sensitive person), and Dani’s windy, highly untraditional path from living in Manhattan in a super competitive world to ending up in politics to finding her way into the entertainment industry, to trying out tech, to a degree in Spiritual Psychology (which I didn’t know was a thing until now!) from University Of Santa Monica and “coming out of the astrology closet.”

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She also talks about following your heart, conscious friendships, and – my very favorite – what the planets in your chart say about where you are in your own personal growth cycle, and why it will NOT look like anyone else’s. Pretty cool.

This episode resonated with me on a very deep level, and I hope you love it as much as I do.

GIVEAWAY ALERT!

One lucky WANT reader will win a copy of Dani’s New Moon Circle Journal (pictured above), an astrological guide to monthly intention setting, providing you with an opportunity to reflect on your heartfelt dreams and desires. It also offers information on how you can create a Moon Circle of your own.

To enter, leave a comment telling me one thing about this episode that you loved. For extra entries, follow @katiehorwitch, @danibeinstein, and/or @newmooncircle on Instagram. The winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 29th at 6pm PST. Good luck, WANT women (and men, too)!

WANT DANIELLE:

Play in new window | Download
Listen + subscribe in iTunes

WANT more? Read Danielle’s WANT piece on conscious friendships and what to do when you’re triggered: Squad Goals + Self Worth: 5 Tips For When You’re Triggered

Show notes:
Website
Instagram
Book a coaching session
 (Dani read my chart and it was an eye-opening experience!)
New Moon Circle
New Moon Circle Journal

Paula Mallis
Poppy + Seed
Unplug Meditation

University Of Santa Monica Spiritual Psychology
My sound guru Roger Bellon, who helped make sure this podcast sounded beautiful

danielle-beinstein

Like this episode? Shoot me a comment below, leave a review on iTunes (the more reviews, the more Dani’s message is spread), share it on Facebook, tweet it out on Twitter, or post it on Instagram. Be sure to use the hashtags #WANTcast, #womenagainstnegativetalk, and/or #WANTyourself!

#WANTwisdom: A Pragmatically Positive Guide For Writers + Creatives

#WANTwisdom: A Pragmatically Positive Guide For Writers + Creatives

Tips + Tools Work

Hey WANT peeps!

A weekend post – kind of fun and unexpected, right? I hope you’re sitting back and relaxing today, soaking in the last few hours before Monday rolls around.

I know that for me, Sundays are a time of very focused, grounded reflection and creativity, They’re when I get my best ideas, and when I’m able to look at the week (sometimes month, if I’m being ambitious) ahead with clear eyes and a soft gaze. Sundays are for me to reflect on who I am and who I want to be.

photo: creative start
photo: creative start

This week, I got to jam with Kit Steinkellner – an award-winning playwright and screenwriter who is also currently an editor at Hello Giggles.

Kit has been celebrated for so much in such a relatively short amount of time – a breadth of work some people take a lifetime to accomplish, she’s done before 30. She’s an inspiration to me and to so many other writers, not just because of her external success, but because of her relatable voice and special way of looking at the world. (if you haven’t read her interview yet, check it out here)

Humble, pragmatic, and spot-on, I asked Kit to share her five best pieces of advice for aspiring writers – which, honestly, can apply to anyone. Here’s what she said:


ON ART AND BUSINESS: Work on being the best artist you can be and the best salesman you can be. It’s 2015, you need to be both, but please try not to get the two mixed up.

ON SPEAKING TO YOUR AUDIENCE: Write the book you want to read, the movie you want to see, the story you want to hear.

ON THE STRUGGLE: Every writer you love to pieces had a hard time. It’s okay to struggle. You’re in good company.

ON PREDICTING THE TRENDS: Do not worry about the marketplace. The world doesn’t know what it wants next.

ON WHAT YOU CAN CONTROL: You can’t control whether or not someone will like your work. Here are some things you can control: working hard, showing up on time, being kind, writing thank you notes whenever you get help.


I know, for me, I sometimes forget that “the struggle” is universal – we hear stories about the tough times, long hours, and writers block after the fact instead of when people are still in it. It can be tough to remind yourself that where you are is exactly where so many have been – and frankly, probably still are, just in a different incarnation.

A few things that help me stay productive and focused on a positive, forward moving direction?

A JOURNAL OR NOTEBOOK YOU LOVE. I’ve been through so many notebooks and journals and then given up on them because they’re what works for someone else, not for me. You’ve got to find what works for you. I know that mini-notebooks aren’y my thing, and neither are clean, blank pages. I’ve got a hard-cover, ruled Moleskine I adore, though. Sure it’s a bit more difficult to fit into my purse and a bit heavier than your average paperback version. But I actually love that it’s a bit more substantial, that it’s got lines to help me put structure to my sentences and ideas, and how its neat little elastic band prevents it from flailing open and pages getting smushed (if Moleskines are your thing, you can get your own for a pretty reasonable price here).

Moleskin notes + papers I've stuffed between pages.  Also, good reminder - no need to get too tied to labels when it comes to your work. Life is meant to be full and varied. Be it ALL.
Moleskin notes + papers I’ve stuffed between pages. Also, good reminder – no need to get too tied to labels when it comes to your work. Life is meant to be full and varied. Be it ALL.

STRUCTURE + RHYTHM. No one but you needs to know about this one – but having a sense of structure and rhythm are key to your sanity and follow-through, no matter what creative work you’re doing. When I feel at a loss for good ideas or (on the opposite end of the spectrum) completely scatterbrained, I come back to my core principles of WANT and the way I’ve structures a typical WANT week/month.

If a calendar system helps you, great! (I personally use a combination of 30 Boxes, a big ol’ desk calendar, and my Google Cal – did you know that you can get G-Cal to text you before a big event or to-do?) But even just a general sense of what kinds of things you’re producing and when you let each of them live is a lifesaver in those rough patches.

ENGAGEMENT + INTUITION. If you’re doing something creative and actually putting it out into the world, get a keen sense of how you can be of service. Like Kit said, the world doesn’t know what it wants next, and there’s no use trying to be everything to everyone or predict what’s going to be trending next. However. you can take a look at how people are responding to your work, exactly what they are responding to, and analyze the “why” behind it.

How are you connecting with the core of someone else’s being? What about you is striking a chord in others? There is something unique about you that resonates with others. Even when you think you have an idea of it, keep digging. Keep searching. It’s the quest for connection and purpose – and how you engage in the process – that will keep you authentic no matter what the marketplace says it wants. Because the secret, I think, is that it just wants to connect.


WANT Action Plan:
What helps you stay productive? Any genius finds or strategies I (and we!) need to know about?

The WANT Women: Kit Steinkellner On Great Art, Great Butts, And Saving The Human Race

The WANT Women: Kit Steinkellner On Great Art, Great Butts, And Saving The Human Race

WANT Women

As a writer – and heck, as a member of the female species – strong female characters in all forms of entertainment have always appealed to me.

From the Narrator who ran the entire show in Joseph And The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, to Joan Holloway-Harris and Betty Draper, to the latest happenings in the Kardashian world, there’s something about how women are written (and written about) that can invoke a strong gut reaction from other women.

Writers expose us to these ladies – some of them characters, some real humans – and whether they realize it or not, are able to band us together or tear us further apart. How many times have you cringed at the headline of US Weekly, or high fived yourself when your on-screen girl crush finally expresses herself eloquently and effectively? Whether they’re characters in a play or real-life women on the street, it’s the writers of the world who are able to convey their stories in a way that speaks to the rest of us.

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When Kit Steinkellner gave me her answers to this WANT spotlight, I had to giggle (no pun intended, see two sentences from now). Because reading it, you’d never know the Grand-Canyon-wide breadth of success this woman has had and how much she is leading the way for the next wave of young artists – specifically, writers.

Kit is an award-winning playwright and screenwriter, an editor at Hello Giggles (there it is), a webcomic author, and a writer on pretty much every site you probably already read and love. As a playwright/screenwriter, Kit has been applauded by New York Times, LA Times, LA Weekly, and Backstage for her work both Off-Broadway and here in Los Angeles – and as Hello Giggles’ weekend editor, she’s responsible for (what I believe to be) some of the most thought-provoking, girl-powered pieces on the site (saying a lot, since Hello Giggles is pretty much all women-are-awesome).

After a dozen-hundred times clicking on links that intrigued me and fist-pumping by the last line, I finally stopped being surprised by the fact that all my favorite pieces had Kit’s name in the byline; that it was Kit who giving the strong, positive voice to the issues we want to be talking about, as women and as humans. She’s looking at the world though a rose-colored lens, writing topically but never cynically, championing the women leading the way – and offering empathy towards the women who are just trying to figure it all out.
We're a sisterhood. We have to act like

There are so many gems in this WANT Woman spotlight, but two in particular stood out to me: One, the genius negativity-busting tactic she and her husband use to crack a smile (I know I’ll be trying this one at home). Two, her unique take on judgement. I do think it’s in human nature to judge, even just a little, and we can’t ignore that impulse or berate ourselves for thinking we’re horrible people for doing so. But, as Kit so eloquently and succinctly expresses, we can take a solid look at exactly what we are judging in others and why. (there’s also the part about her booty, which is kind of the best side note ever.)

With every woman she writes or writes about, Kit speaks with a voice of aware compassion. She cheering the successes and pointing out role model material; she’s not ignoring the flaws and shortcomings but not tearing them down, either. Kit is telling the stories we want to hear, need to hear, and ultimately, are a little bit of our own, too.

WANT Kit.
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Name: Kit Steinkellner


How you’d know me: Most people on the internet know me from Hello Giggles, where I am a staff writer and weekend editor.


What I love about myself: I try to be the things I most admire in other people: thoughtful, kind, driven, generous, daring, and resilient. I also think I have a pretty decent sense of humor, at least I make myself laugh. Plus, my butt belongs in a music video.


What is your definition of “positivity?” Believing that it’s possible to change your situation and that you are enough of a warrior princess to make it all happen for yourself. Reading inspirational quotes and going “Totally” instead of “Ugh.”


When did you start to love yourself – did you have a self-love turning point? Oh man, I hate to say “It was a man” because that goes against a lot of what I– whatever, that’s what happened, I met my now-husband and he thought I was so great and I thought he was so smart, and if he was smart and he thought I was great… I just decided to go with the math and start thinking I was great.


How/where negative talk shows up in my life: Basically what’ll happen is I’ll be with someone who’s insecure about their body/career/whatever, and they’ll start giving a voice to those freaked out monsters and rope me in and try to turn it into a self-loathing jamboree, because misery loves company. It’s usually someone looking for validation or a place to vent, which makes sense…but insecurity is so contagious. They really need to invent a flu shot for that.
We're a sisterhood. We have to act like (1)


When I talk negatively about myself it’s usually because… I think that’s what the outside world is thinking about me and I want to say it first so it doesn’t sound like I’m oblivious to my many failings.


It baffles me that women still: Undermine each other and look at one another as competition (if not outright enemies) as opposed to members of the same team. We’re a sisterhood! We have to act like it!


I wish that more women… judged other women harshly for not being kind and generous instead of what we do judge women for: image stuff, relationship stuff, baby stuff. Can you imagine what it would be like if we put the peer pressure on other women to just be better people? We’d save the human race.


My top female role models: My mom and my sister, always and forever. And all the lady writers I’m obsessed with: Cheryl Strayed, Joan Didion, Anne Lamott, Mary Karr in print, Shonda Rhimes, Jenji Kohan, Lena Dunham, Mindy Kaling making it happen on TV.


Favorite negativity-busting activity: Sleep. No joke, EVERYTHING is better after a good night’s sleep or a nap. Also buying myself presents. Also making someone that loves me (usually my husband) say nice things to me; I’ll give him a number like 3 or 5 and he’ll have to say that many nice things about me (I totally do this for him, too). Not only is it really awesome hearing someone say nice things about you, but the whole idea of forcing someone to give you compliments is so ridiculous you just end up laughing about the whole thing for like an hour and then you’re like “Wait, what was I feeling bad about again? F—, I can’t remember. Oh well, what’s on Netflix?”


Favorite self-love ritual: Going to a bookstore/the movies/ the theater, and giving myself the gift of great art.


Favorite movies to watch when I feel down: Anything I liked when I was, like, twelve years old: Never Been Kissed, Titanic, Ever After, 13 Going On 30 (that came out a little later, but whatevs)


Favorite empowering books: Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed taught me everything I know. Also The Velveteen Rabbit.
books


Advice I would give my…
…4 year old self: Someday you will grow up and then you will be able to eat all the cake batter you wish, so be patient, your time will come.
…14 year old self: All your future friends are having a really rough time right now soon, stay strong and wait a decade, your group is waiting for you.
…24 year old self: You don’t need to be a wunderkind. You need to be a good person. Stop stressing about your career and start stressing about being a worthy member of the human race.


5 things on my bucket list:
1.) Have a job where I get to be the boss and I employ all my friends
2.) Have lots of international adventures
3.) Make a big, splashy, worthy contribution to the world of art and storytelling
4.) Be a known art yente who makes lots of awesome creative-world matches (and I would be TOTALLY cool with being responsible for a couple of weddings to boot)
5.) Dye my hair more colors.


Right now I am most excited about: Art and adventures, always art and adventures.


My body is: so awesome, it is keeping me alive right now – thank you!


Three words to describe myself: fragile and unbreakable


Current mantra: “Plan A, Plan B, Plan C, Plan D, Plan E, Plan F, Plan G…”

Find Kit on Twitter at @booksaremybfs


WANT Yourself:
Who are the women, real or fictional, you admire but have only read about?
(or, in the case of characters in TV shows and movies, watched onscreen?)
What about the way they’ve been written, or written about, makes you love them?

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What Teaching Fitness Has Taught Me.

What Teaching Fitness Has Taught Me.

Body Community Motivation + Inspiration

EVERY day, I “brave” the 10 (the freeway or I-10, for those who don’t speak L.A. Transit fluently) heading from the Westside to Downtown Los Angeles. And while I always get met with trembling voices and wide eyes when I casually mention this, I actually love that time in the car. But that’s another post for another day….

I’ve started teaching a new class, one that begins at the bright n’ early hour-ish of 6:30am at Equinox DTLA. Apparently, my first class sold out by noon that previous Thursday. And as I approached the overpass at Crenshaw Blvd the following Friday morning, I let the beachy vibe take a backseat and really sat with this kind of crazy notion from a city girl perspective. I’d never taught there before, nothing more than a one-time sub slot with ten people in the room. I’m going to be transparent here: while I know it’s a popular time slot, I was also receiving comments about how “excited” people were to have me on the schedule there, regardless of time. Which was flattering, but confusing. They don’t even know me, I thought…

The reason I got certified had less to do with a love of RPMs and more to do with a loathing of the classes offered at my then-local 24 Hour Fitness. There’s an audience for everything, sure, but for this here audience – it was horrendous. Like, musical-theatre-dance-remixes horrendous. The sculpt class I attended religiously was no different. Enough house beats to give you a migraine, coupled with coaching that might as well come from the mouth of Small Wonder.

Yet despite uninspired coaching and musical blasphemy, I was there almost every week – along with 50 others. No one particularly loved these classes. But still, they came. And then I’d go to the class of an incredibly talented teacher back at home, or I’d experience a sub who blew me away, and the classes would be empty.

This begs the question: if it’s not the music, not the innovation, not the inspiration, then what is it?

group fitness teaching

 Quick note, I’m not saying those things are not important. Opposite, really. They’re some of the most important factors.

But none of the innovation, inspiration, or ingenuity will even be registered if there is no trust.

I’ve been doing a LOT of creative business research lately, and there is this age-old debate of Content vs. Design as king. The Contenters (as I’ll call them) argue that what hooks an audience is above-average content – what is actually being said or presented. The Designers (as I’ll call them, obviously) argue that what hooks an audience is stellar design – the look of what is being presented. I argue that what hooks an audience – or gets them staying put, actually – is trust. Content and design create value, trust creates dependability.

When you consistently deliver, you create trust.

When your playlist is consistent, you create trust.

When you set the stage and stay true to you, you create trust.

The reason I and so many others kept going to these sub-par classes was not because they were off the charts life-changing, it was that they were reliable. The teachers almost never subbed out. The routines were different enough to keep us from checking out but similar enough to be somewhat familiar. While the music was not preferable, it was predictable. Basically – we knew what we were getting ourselves into. When the act of taking a class is “risky” enough as is (elevated heart rate, getting to a vulnerable emotional state, possibility of a rogue fart), we as teachers must serve as an anchor.

Trust is underrated in business and art. But just like in a relationship – if you don’t have trust, you don’t have anything.

~
I used to teach at a studio with my friend, let’s call her Long Legs McGee. At this studio, we were required to theme every single class. Each would be different. LLMG knew that in order to hook people and allow them to open their eyes to the passion and professionalism with which she taught, this policy was not going to make her anything but expendable.

And so she found a way to beat the system: every Friday, she picked the same theme and delivered week after week. Hip Hop Friday became the most popular class at the studio, and the attendees became like family. She was always a brilliant teacher, but once hip hop friday became official, LLMG’s classes skyrocketed and stayed there. People knew what to expect. All hip hop, all the time. Questionable language. An outgoing personality. The same tone and vibe every time. A dancing toy snowman in Hammerpants.

I am certainly not the most talented, the most knowledgeable, or the most innovative teacher – and frankly, I love that. I love learning and I love that there is someone for everyone. Not every party is mine to throw, and I celebrate that we are all so very different in our styles and our approach. There are people who love my class, and people who have blocked it from their minds. But the classes that have really worked – the ones in which people not only show up in person but more importantly show up mentally – have always been rooted in trust. We all know what we are getting ourselves into. We depend on it.

I know what I like. Or at least what I like to play in class. Lots of people love all Top 40 all the time, but if I started playing hit upon hit I’d bet money that people would stop showing up. It’s not that I play one genre all the time – I mix it up, everything from classic rock remixes to hip-hoppy rap. But my through line is that every song evokes a certain feeling, and the 10-12 song compilation takes you on a very specific, very intentional journey. I throw in some Maroon 5 because I love them and some P!nk cause she’s a badass. But my own personal rule is that if it’s being played at the gas station or in a car commercial, it’s not touching my class with a ten foot pole. Does that mean those kinds of songs are crappy choices? Not at all. Different strokes for different folks. If you’re a pop junkie, let it rip! And that doesn’t mean you can’t throw some hip-hop or alternative into the mix, either. That leads me to my next point…

I acknowledge the curve-balls. Class is not a quiz or a practice in reactivity. It’s not my job to surprise my class members or throw them off, it’s their job to take what I’m giving as a guide and use that to surprise themselves in a way that feels authentic to them. Even if I don’t want to give away all my class secrets from the get-go (leave something to the imagination, heyo), I give them an offhand heads up that there will be a curve-ball thrown in. Whether that’s an out-of-character song or a “surprise” breakaway at the end of the hill, I try to let them mentally prepare for something different. Give them armour, give them the reassurance of knowing that you see it too, let them know that no matter what happens, you’ve got their backs. You’re in a secret-free zone.

The easy thing to say is “I don’t sub” – but that’s only step one, and SO not true. Obviously if you’re never there, you can’t build trust. But when I do sub, I sub only when it’s absolutely necessary, and give them heads up as soon as possible. If I have enough advance notice, I announce in my classes, and let them know who the sub will be. Students don’t usually like to see subs (unless it’s a trusted instructor), so put them at ease that they’ll be taken care of, then let them know when you’ll return. Furthermore…

I celebrate my colleagues. My opinion is that if they see you’re a team, they trust that you’re a team player, not just some chick/dude on the bike on stage. This is exactly why I created my Woman Against Negative Talk series on WANT and my Yoga Matters and Class In Session fitness profile series’ on The Chalkboard Mag: I LOVE celebrating the people in this industry who are doing something unique and authentic. People who are setting a positive example that goes way beyond marketing or class format or how chiseled their abs are. There are so many teachers I admire for so many different reasons – but at the end of the day, it all comes back to camaraderie and authenticity. And I think class members pick up on that. The more you can show you are a team player, the more they feel as if they are on that team.

~

As teachers and as creatives of any kind, we focus so much on the nuance and look. It’s in our blood. We love what makes us feel, we love the intricately woven details. Yet sometimes we get so caught up in them that we forget that any worthwhile relationship is based on trust. It’s based in that inexplicable feeling of safety, the soft-shoe dance between knowing what to expect yet not knowing what that will look or feel like. The unspoken knowing of yes, I am taken care of, yes, I am wanted, yes, this is familiar.

I hope you will trust me.