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Laurie McCartney: “New normal”

Align. Youth tells you that you can do anything you want on your own. But the reality is that no one achieves anything worthwhile in a silo. Find people that share your goals, values and passion, and who have strengths that complement your own. Aligning with others towards a common vision and mission not only […]

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Align. Youth tells you that you can do anything you want on your own. But the reality is that no one achieves anything worthwhile in a silo. Find people that share your goals, values and passion, and who have strengths that complement your own. Aligning with others towards a common vision and mission not only helps you accomplish more, it makes the journey so much more rewarding.


As a part of my series about the women in wellness, i had the pleasure of interviewing Laurie Mccartney.

Laurie McCartney is the president of ascend learning’s global fitness and wellness group and oversees the National Academy of Sports Medicine (nasm), the athletics and fitness association of America (afaa), premier global, activeiq, and clubconnect, which provide industry-leading education solutions in fitness, nutrition and wellness. Laurie is a mother of two, an experienced entrepreneur and a seasoned businesswoman. She earned her MBA from the Harvard business school and has led marketing and operational efforts for major brands, including Disney, Teleflora, pom wonderful, stila cosmetics, yogaworks, and forever 21.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I learned from an early age how nutrition and fitness play such important roles in our lives. I was born prematurely, and i struggled with health issues as a child. I was also the youngest of seven kids, so group dynamics were everything. There were times i needed to rally the team together, and others when i needed to stand up for myself. All these lessons have played an integral part in all of the roles i’ve held, whether working on growing businesses of my own or optimizing companies that i’ve had the opportunity to impact.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

Years ago, i was on an airplane, and the couple across the aisle from me was ordering their meals. The woman wanted fish and they were out. Apparently, i had ordered the last one. I quietly asked the flight attendant to give her my order and i would take the other option. The flight attendant let them know, and the gentleman was very taken by it. He started up a conversation with me. It turned out he was very close to some of the senior executives at the company i was working for, and he told them the story. In any case, he would go on to help me in many ways with my career opportunities. The key takeaway for me is that sometimes we all need to slow down and appreciate that an act of kindness can uplift not only others but yourself, too.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

In the early days of building the team for my startup, babystyle, i was hesitant to bring on too many people, and like many young entrepreneurs, i tried to take on too much. Ultimately, this slowed down our launch. I realized that finding a team that complements your skill set and learning how to lead is mission-critical.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My father was my hero. He was a lifelong athlete, and in his youth, he was the weightlifting champion of northern california. A wonderful entrepreneur with a zest for life, he instilled in me a mindset that anything was possible, as long as i worked hard and believed in myself.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

Every day, we seek to inspire people young and old; from 9 to 99. Our goal is to empower more and more people to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

The pandemic has underscored the importance of holistic health and wellness: the connection of mind, body, and fitness. People are actively seeking information on how to better understand how their fitness, nutrition and mental wellness all work together to help us live our best lives. Wellness of both the mind and body isn’t just a nice to have; it’s essential to individuals and the greater community’s overall well-being. In this rapidly-changing and dynamic world, we want to continue to lean in to our core mission and responsibility of providing world-class, evidence-based fitness and wellness resources that equip personal fitness professionals, their clients, and anyone with a passion for fitness to achieve success every step of the way and positively impact their careers and the greater community. To date, we have certified and re-certified more than 190,000 personal trainers across the globe.

The future of fitness and wellness mandates an approach that is more holistic and personalized, and leverages technology to help deliver a seamless training experience at home, or in-studio. As we are known for our best-in-class education, we want to help educate and elevate as many fitness and wellness professionals, their clients, and anyone with a passion for fitness to succeed. One of these examples is most recently, we launched nasm connected, a first-ever, annual exclusive virtual content subscription which provides unlimited access to over 350 continuing education courses from nasm and other industry fitness experts. This is one of our many resources and we look forward to continuing to introduce even more new solutions and offerings that ultimately help people to live healthier and more fulfilling lives.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

1. Develop an eating pattern versus that you can stick to versus a trendy diet. Consistency is the most important factor in creating change with nutrition. Include foods you enjoy eating; remember: it’s okay to occasionally indulge!

2. Focus on your mental wellbeing as much as fitness and nutrition. Take time each day to practice gratitude and utilize positive self-talk.

3. Incorporate some type of daily movement into your routine like walking, bike riding or any other activity you enjoy. This should not feel like work but something you look forward to doing.

4. Take breaks from technology and social media. Being connected all the time can create stress and does not allow for your body to spend enough time in the relaxed state that is critical for the nervous system. We spend too much time in the fight or flight state of mind.

5. Add some resistance training to your routine to help preserve muscle, improve posture, and maintain a good metabolism as you age. If you need help, look for an nasm-certified personal trainer who can create a custom program for you based on a movement assessment and your personal goals.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

Prioritizing self-care. We’ve all been taught the importance of self-sacrifice in service of others. Taking care of others certainly brings more meaning and connection to our lives. However, if you continuously draw from the well without refilling it, your well will run dry. You will not only limit your contributions to others, you will eventually become a burden on those around you. This is why i love being in the wellness industry. All care starts with self-care. When we feel well, move well, and think well, we do well — and our society thrives.

What are your “5 things i wish someone told me before i started” and why?

I have four that have become my mantra, and i live by these. Simplify, focus, align and win.

1. Simplify. There’s no “badge of honor” for the number of hours you work, the number of all-nighters you put in, or the amount of time you spent away from your loved ones to pursue business or career goals. Your productivity and your mental health is negatively affected by working too much or creating too much complexity. Success has to be viewed holistically, and that’s easier to do when you simplify what you’re trying to achieve.

2. Focus. The time I spent dealing with mergers and acquisitions taught me that small deals required the same amount of work as big deals. Once i learned that, i was able to redirect my focus on game-changing deals and initiatives. You can’t really say yes to the most worthwhile option until you say no to everything else. This is true in business, and in our personal lives.

3. Align. Youth tells you that you can do anything you want on your own. But the reality is that no one achieves anything worthwhile in a silo. Find people that share your goals, values and passion, and who have strengths that complement your own. Aligning with others towards a common vision and mission not only helps you accomplish more, it makes the journey so much more rewarding.

4. Win. Winning is not limited to achievement. Winning is an attitude. It is a perspective on life. I’ve learned that by choosing to have a winning attitude myself and by committing to always surround myself with others who have winning attitudes, you will find yourself, more often than not, on the winning team.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Without a question, mental health is the top priority, especially now as this “new normal” impacts every aspect of our lives and daily routines. We have an extraordinary course on mental toughness that we made available to everyone for free when health clubs and wellness studios first shut down due to covid-19. It teaches strategies and techniques we can all use to direct our attentional focus, build our confidence, develop intrinsic motivation and successfully deal with anxiety, pressure and adversity. For a limited time, i would love to offer this course free to you and your readers. You can access the course through our site at nasm.org and enter the promo code authority during checkout.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

We are adding new and relevant content daily to our blog and social media channels. Follow us on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/user/nasmorg, @nasm_fitness on instagram, and our facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/personaltrainers.

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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