Basically, you get to choose who you serve, and if you choose to serve those who are suffering in some way, treat them with kindness and compassion!
The global health and wellness market is worth more than 1.5 trillion dollars. So many people are looking to improve their physical, mental, and emotional wellness. At the same time, so many people are needed to help provide these services. What does it take to create a highly successful career in the health and wellness industry?
In this interview series called “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry” we are talking to health and wellness professionals who can share insights and stories from their experiences.
In this particular interview, we had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Lynda Lippin.
For over 30 years, Lynda Lippin’s clients (including Donna Karan, Laurie Anderson, and Joe Walsh) have trusted her to help them get stronger and function better, with less pain. Lynda is the Founder & CEO of Lynda Lippin Pilates, LLC, where she helps women over 50 with osteoporosis increase their bone density, and eliminate chronic pain through her online Strong Bones program and online private sessions. She also serves Pilates Teachers through the Pilates Teacher Mastermind®, a one-year business accelerator and continuing education program.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you grew up?
I grew up in Jackson Heights, Queens in a very working class, second-generation Russian-Jewish immigrant family. My mother always struggled with her weight, and used to take me with her to Weight Watchers, where they would “pretend” that I also needed help.
Of course, I didn’t know that this was a game, and so I thought I was overweight when I wasn’t. Ballet classes, which I loved, didn’t help my size obsession, but they helped me appreciate my body and what it could do. Then, as a teen, I was sucked into fashion and beauty media, starting with Seventeen magazine. I used to eat 600 calories a day and obsess over my size.
I managed to get healthier, and when I was diagnosed with endometriosis at 19, I discovered Pilates as a way to feel better, and then found weight training in graduate school. Exercise and better nutrition helped me pull myself together, finish my degrees and certifications, and ultimately prepare myself for a total abdominal hysterectomy at 30.
Was there a particular person or event that inspired you to live a wellness-focused lifestyle? Can you tell us about your main motivation to go all in?
In high school, I used to exercise every morning before school. I would do yoga along with Lilias, and cardio/toning with Jane Fonda and Joanie Greggains.
When I saw how much easier it was for me to navigate the complexities of high school, and then university, and life in general, I was sold! Plus, I could live with serious health issues while staying a strong, functional, and pain-free as possible. I mean, how could I experience that and not be sold?
Most people with a wellbeing centered lifestyle have a “go-to” activity, exercise, beverage, or food that is part of their routine. What is yours and can you tell us how it helps you?
Pilates has been a part of my life since college, and it is the one thing that I’ve always been able to do, even if I have to modify things. Pilates helps me do everything better!
Seriously, whether I’m suddenly running up and down subway stairs while carrying 10 bags of dog food, bending over to clean under the bed, or placing my bag in the overhead compartment on a plane, I’m thankful for Pilates. Whether I just do a little mat, or attend an apparatus class, I always feel better after doing some Pilates. That’s why I choose it as the primary method for my clients.
To live a wellness-focused life is one thing, but how did it become your career? How did it all start?
It all started with me answering a help-wanted ad for “P/T Exercise Instructors — Pilates Background Preferred”. I was the only applicant who knew Pilates and had used the apparatus. I taught part-time through graduate school, and then had a client approach me about opening a studio. That’s when I made the move into health and wellness full time.
Can you share a story about the biggest challenges you faced when you were first starting? How did you resolve that? What are the main lessons or takeaways from that story?
When I opened my first studio on Philadelphia’s Main Line, nobody knew what Pilates was, so the first order of business was to educate. In the midst of that, someone purchased Joseph Pilates’ trademarks, and started to sue people, so we couldn’t even use the word Pilates. We taught “exercise based on the work of Joseph Pilates” for about 10 years.
This taught me to pivot, to be creative, and to serve in spite of outside difficulties.
And then, when I left my first studio to open a new one, my former partners sued me over a non-compete. That ended up being tossed out, but cost me a lot of time, money, and stress. And here is where I learned to have professionals review my contracts, and to let go of the mindset that there isn’t enough business for all of us.
Can you share with us how the work you are doing is helping to make a bigger impact in the world? Can you share a story that illustrates that?
I do so much free content and free education for both consumers and Pilates professionals via private Facebook groups and email. Free workouts for back & neck pain, information on osteoporosis, continuing education for Pilates Teachers. I fully believe that the more folks who understand the basics of feeling & functioning better, the better the world will be.
And it’s working! My clients are able to do great things because they aren’t mired in worry over pain, or how to handle it. They know that they are exercising in ways that will only help them, not injure them. And the Pilates Teachers I coach are able to help their clients more, because of a deeper understanding of Pilates, biomechanics, and service.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now? How do you think that might help people?
I have two exciting things coming up — a monthly online Lynda Lippin Pilates class membership, and a new consumer program, Bye Bye Back Pain, for women entrepreneurs who need help with back pain so they can continue growing their businesses and serving their clients. The classes will open my work to folks too may not be able to afford private sessions or programs, and the new Back Pain program will help solve that issue for many women who need back care that is efficient, science-based, and effective.
You are a successful leader. Which three character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?
- Tenacity — I just stick with things. This can sometimes be bad, as I give things that aren’t working more time than they really need. However, tenacity has taken me far and allowed me to complete degrees and certifications that are really helpful, as well as completing online projects that can take time.
- Bravery — It’s not always easy to speak my truth, which sometimes goes against my and others long-standing beliefs. It’s important to get out there, speak and serve, and let the clients who need what you’re offering find you. I have also had plenty of health challenges, some of which led to weight gain, and believe me, the fitness world is not always kind to size changes. But still, I put myself out there and it always worked out to my benefit.
- Compassion — Since my market is people in pain, it’s important to have compassion. In my health journeys, I sometimes dealt with supposed professionals who charged a lot of money and were horrible humans. Basically, you get to choose who you serve, and if you choose to serve those who are suffering in some way, treat them with kindness and compassion! I once had another Pilates Teacher tell me I was too fat to teach exercise.
OK, thank you for all of that. Let’s now shift to the main focus of our interview. Let’s begin with a basic definition of terms so that all of us are on the same page. Wellness is an incredibly broad topic. How would you define the term “Wellness”? Can you explain what you mean?
Wellness is the state of being, or becoming, well in your body, mind, and spirit. A well body is able to physically perform whatever tasks you need and want to do without undue pain. A well mind is able to think clearly and engage in all kinds of tasks. And a well spirit means you feel good inside yourself and can recognize that good in others.
Joseph Pilates defined physical fitness as “being able to engage in our day to day tasks with spontaneous zest and pleasure,” and I have to say that I agree!
As an expert, this might be intuitive to you, but it will be instructive to expressly articulate this. Can you please share a few reasons with our readers about why focusing on our wellness should be a priority in our lives?
If we aren’t well, or at least striving for wellness, we cannot help others. It’s like the idea that you need to put your own oxygen mask on first, because if you pass out, you can’t help anyone else. When you are feeling and functioning at your best, you can help others in any way you see fit. As Joseph Pilates also said, “Physical fitness is the first prerequisite of happiness.”
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an increasingly growing understanding of the necessity for companies to be mindful of the wellness of their employees. For the sake of inspiring others, can you share steps or initiatives that companies have taken to help improve or optimize their employees’ mental and physical wellness?
Working from home, and even hybrid models with less office time have been fabulous! Many companies have also started wellness programs, including meditation training, fitness, and mindset work. I hope we all keep this up post-pandemic, because we now know that work will get done without people having to be in a structured office setting 12 hours every day.
Ok super. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “5 Things You Need To Create A Highly Successful Career In The Health and Wellness Industry”? If you can, please share a story or an example for each.
1. Knowledge & Training
As a fitness professional, people trust me to help them feel and function better without hurting them. I owe it to my clients to be at the top of my game, keeping my certifications up to date and getting specialized training as needed to keep them safe as they level up. I’ve read interviews with famous fitness pros who say things like, “I don’t have time to get certified, because I’m so busy helping people.” I wouldn’t trust an untrained, uncertified person with my body, and I don’t believe my clients should either.
2. Communication Skills
You can have all the knowledge in the world about how to help people feel and function better, but if you can’t effectively communicate that knowledge, you’re going to have a tough time getting and keeping clients. Meet your clients where they are, and talk to them in language they can understand — it’s easier and more fun for everyone involved!
3. Playing the Long Game
In business and wellness, always play the long game. Teach your clients skills and new habits that serve them for the long haul, and take the same approach to building your business. Slow and steady really does win the race!
4. Niching Down
The more focused you can be on solving specific client issues, the more needed and wanted you will become. That’s why I focus on a very small slice of the overall pie — women over 50 with chronic pain and/or osteoporosis, and Pilates Teachers who need science-based continuing education and business coaching. I have a network of professionals for any other clients who reach out to me, and am always happy to refer out.
We can’t care for our clients, family, and community if we’re not taking care of ourselves. Self-care is non-negotiable! Getting enough sleep, eating well, and staying hydrated are the minimum. We should be doing workouts that nourish our bodies, taking time off to refresh, and coming to our client sessions as our best selves. We need to practice what we preach!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would promote the most wellness to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would start with promoting fact and science-based wellness solutions to every Fitness, Yoga, and Pilates Teacher. Frankly, the best way to get good and useful information to the most number of people is by educating the folks who are training them. I see so much pseudo-science and mis-information in the “Wellness” world, being promoted by people who should know better.
We are blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them.
Even though he’s my neighbor, and I’ve known him for ten years, I rarely get to have a long, extended chat with Questlove (Ahmir Khalib Thompson). First, he has a very balanced approach to his own wellness, which I’ve watched the results of, but would love to know more about. Second, between his encyclopedic knowledge of music and music history, food and food history, as well as his brilliant business brain, I have so many questions for Ahmir that go beyond, “Hi, how are you? Love Summer of Soul!” in the lobby.
How can our readers further follow your work online?
Pilates Profit Lab — free group for Pilates Teachers
Strong Women — free group for women with chronic pain and/or osteoporosis
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this. We wish you continued success and good health!