You cannot give to others, what you do not give yourself. Prioritize self-care and down-time — just as much as you prioritize work. You will be more successful in your career if you make yourself a priority — and you’ll readily show up for the people around you. Once COVID shut down the city, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my previous work/life balance, and how, ironically enough, as I was working to help others with their wellness, I wasn’t taking care of myself.
Asa part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lucy Sexton and Tracy Carlinsky.
Lucy Sexton and Tracy Carlinsky are the creators of Bonded by the Burn, an online, subscription-based workout platform.
Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you share the “backstory” behind what brought you to this particular career path?
Tracy: I was introduced to ballet at age 3 and grew up studying classical ballet. I had the opportunity to study under many great dance companies such as the American Ballet Theatre, so movement has always been a big part of my life.
I’ve always been an inventor and a bit of a boundary breaker- must be the Aries in me. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to work for myself, and I was always flirting with different business ideas. I fell into boutique fitness while living in Los Angeles back in 2011 when I discovered the MegaFormer/ Lagree Fitness Method, and this immediately ignited both the instructor and entrepreneur inside of me. The method was new to the fitness scene and not yet available on the East Coast, so I immediately jumped on the opportunity to introduce this workout to the New York fitness community. In 2013, I launched my first business with the opening of Brooklyn Bodyburn- MegaFormer based studios in Brooklyn.
Lucy: I grew up dreaming and working to play lacrosse in college. I am grateful for this dream because it taught me discipline and always forced me to ask myself, “How can I be better.”
In college I fell in love with art. I loved the way a piece of work could make you feel, uncomfortable and safe all at once. Most of all, I loved creating. After graduating I left art behind for a bit and was drawn to coaching. I started teaching a Lagree Megaformer studio in Charlotte, NC where I met a boy (who I was head over heels for, might I add). We met and the first thing he told me was, “I am moving to NYC in a month.” A couple dates later, the very naive 23-year-old version of me said, “Lucy pack your bags! You’re moving to New York.” Yes, he’s still around — ha!
Fast forward 2 or 3 years, I was teaching all over NYC, at fitness studios like Mile High, Flywheel, and SLT. Right before COVID, SLT launched a new format called SLT TREAD, a dual megaformer / treadmill workout. I was fortunate enough that the founder asked me to work on the method development team, launching a brand new method into unchartered territory. I was ecstatic. It was such a “high” going into creation mode and working with such a successful entrepreneur.
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?
Tracy: There are so many! I would say the most interesting has been the creation and evolution of Bonded by the Burn with Lucy. Lucy and I met in the NYC fitness scene and immediately connected because we both shared the same passion for challenging and tenacious workouts. When studios shut down in March, Lucy and I were chatting on the phone about how we were craving a good workout. Together, we crafted an in-home workout using bands and gliders, which we originally intended to do together for fun. We then decided to post it on Instagram to see if any of our friends and clients wanted to join and we soon had 70+ people signed up. This really ignited our creative juices as we began developing in-home workouts that we loved. What started as a fun project soon transformed into a digital business! I love that our business started as a passion project and organically developed into the business that it is today.
Learning the digital space has been an ongoing lesson for both of us! As a previous brick-and-mortar business owner, marketing to the digital space is very different, so this is something that we are continuing to navigate together. Going online offers endless opportunities in terms of subscriber growth since you have access to over 7.5 billion people- the pool is much bigger. The key is how you use your brand voice to not only target your ideal customer but also interact with them so they feel like they know, like, and trust you.
Lucy: In the beginning of my career, knew if things ever felt easy, I wasn’t working hard enough and I needed to take on more classes, responsibilities, or teach more places. I was exhausted. I remember one day, (I was working at 3 different studios at the time) I looked at my schedule for the month and realized I only had 3 off days. Not only that, I was losing my voice teaching, traveling all over NY, and taking on the early morning and late evening classes. Teaching is such a fun job and it was a dream. But because of my mentality I wasn’t able to maximize my potential.
Main lesson: You cannot give to others, what you do not give yourself. Prioritize self-care and down-time — just as much as you prioritize work. You will be more successful in your career if you make yourself a priority — and you’ll readily show up for the people around you. Once COVID shut down the city, it gave me the opportunity to reflect on my previous work/life balance, and how, ironically enough, as I was working to help others with their wellness, I wasn’t taking care of myself.
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?
Tracy: Oh yes! I was 29 when I launched my first business. In an effort to cut costs and keep the overhead low, I decided that I would essentially do and be in charge of everything. I was teaching 25 classes per week, running the front desk, training and managing instructors that I staffed, forwarding all calls to my cell phone (no matter the time), obsessively checking emails, managing social media, marketing and inventory. I was exhausted, overworked and cranky- haha. I learned that balance is key. When I say balance, I mean balancing out the day to day, the micro stuff. This is still something that I am working on! I am prone to falling into workaholic mode.
The beauty of having a business partner with Bonded by the Burn is that there are two of us, so we can delegate tasks and responsibilities while also considering our strengths and passions.
Lucy: Prior to starting BBTB, I constantly found myself asking, “Now what?” I had a great following and had found my footing in the NY boutique fitness space. But this “now what?” question resurfacing. I knew something was missing, and I would often just take on more and more classes, assuming that would “fix” that feeling. 1st Mistake.
In retrospect, when the “what now?” question came up, I let fear take the wheel. I was afraid to dream bigger and I had convinced myself I already had my dream career. 2nd mistake.
But then COVID happened, and today the “What now?” question energizes and fuels me. With BBTB, I am an artist, creator, co-boss, instructor, all in one. Now that I share a business I realize, why that question was coming up and what it meant. I didn’t need “more classes” or “more work” but an avenue that would really set me on fire and for a dream that was far bigger than the one I was living. Advice: Ask yourself what is fueling you? Fear or a dream?
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?
Lucy: My mom has always been my entrepreneurial hero. Growing up in poverty and without a college education, she founded and built a multi-billion-dollar juice company. She has sold it. Bought it back. She’s lost everything and built it all over again. My mom is a doer and dreamer. She gets it done. 60+ years old she has never lost her zeal or ability to dream. I am forever grateful for how she pushes me to take risks and she also taught me how to walk away when it’s not right. I get my entrepreneurial, creative, impractical spirit from her.
Tracy: I am forever grateful to my dad and the support and guidance he offered me in the past, and continues to offer me to this day. My dad funded the launch of my first business, which was a big risk. I asked him to take the risk on me and I felt really confident that I would be worth the investment. At the same time, I really didn’t want to lose his money! My Dad taught me a lot about learning on the fly, and that sometimes learning is learning what not to do. To this day, he is still my go to guy.
Below Tracy and I answer the question together unless indicated otherwise:
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?
Giving people access to a boutique-style fitness, and the convenience of doing it in their own home. We know how beneficial exercise and movement is for your body, mind, and health. The way you train in a workout directly impact the way you handle stress in life.
Lucy: When I work out, I always think, “I am training for life.” Because I know if I can face stress and challenges in my workout, I am preparing myself for the stresses and challenges in my everyday life.
High intensity workouts, such as Bonded by the Burn, will challenge you physically and mentally — allowing you to learn how to use your breath and your thoughts and thus calm your nervous system and practice perseverance and resilience.
Given today’s environment with the spread of COVID-19, we are offering a boutique-style workout that can be done in-home, therefore eliminating the chances of exposure or spreading the virus.
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.
Strong bedtime routine. Sleep is so crucial to our overall health and wellbeing. Creating a nighttime routine (i.e. digital detox 1.5–2 hours before bed, before bed) so that you train your body and mind to unwind and get ready for sleep.
Each week, plan a fitness routine that excites you and pencil it into your schedule ahead of time so that you have allocated time for this. It is easy to say “Ok, I am going to work out 3 times this week,” but if it isn’t written into your schedule and the time is not blocked off. It is easy to let it fall through the cracks.
Make sure you pick workouts that excite you! There are so many options. It’s easy to say, “Ok, I have to run for cardio,” but if running doesn’t excite you, there are so other forms of cardio that might be a better fit.
At the start of each month, take out your journal and set goals. Remember, goals that are not a to-do list to cross off. For example, doing laundry 1x a week isn’t a goal. That is just a “to-do” or something that you have to block off time to get done. Pick goals for your month that are pulling you into alignment with the person you want to be. Each week, come up with things to do that are aligned with those overarching goals. At the end of each week, look over the prior week to celebrate how you showed up for yourself and the goals you set. Also, it’s important to notice where you are actually making time in your schedule for your goals. If your schedule doesn’t reflect your goals, then you need to make adjustments to make sure they are showing up.
Gratitude journal. At the end of each day, write 3 things you were grateful for that day. Once this becomes a ritual, throughout the day you will be looking for those things and redirect the way you are viewing and experiencing the day. It has been shown that regularly expressing gratitude makes us healthier and happier.
Invest in a life or business coach or therapist who you feel is able to support you and help your personal and professional development. We both have previously worked (individually) with coach, Beth Larsen.
If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?
Workplace sponsored fitness memberships.
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?
Balance is key. When you own your own business, it can feel like your baby. It can be very easy to get into the routine of working all the time. I wish someone had really instilled balance in me. In my mind, I thought I had to be working 24/7 to be successful. You will actually be more successful if you have balance. When you allow yourself to grow outside of work then you don’t feel like your company is so dependent on you in that way.
Be prepared for criticism. Whether from customer, consumer, or friend. It’s easy for that to impact you, the way you run your business, and your decision making. It’s important to be prepared for this so that you can remain anchored in your passion and vision, i.e. what your product or service is and who you are serving. This way when criticism arises you can avoid it throwing you off course because you know what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and who you are doing it for vs making decisions to appease something outside of this.
Recognize that you shouldn’t be doing everything. What are your strengths, what do you do really well? Even though you can probably do “everything,” Ask yourself, ‘how can I share the responsibility and delegate so that you can put the energy towards things I do really well.” It is easy to want to do everything. What are the things you do really well? Come up with a plan in terms of sharing responsibility and giving yourself creative space.
Allowing yourself to be receptive to other people’s ideas, that might spark an idea that you might not have initially thought of on your own.
You just have to start. It doesn’t have to be pretty in the beginning. I think people get caught up in the “How” mode and it paralyzes them from taking action. Just get started.
Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?
Mental Health and wellness can impact how you think, feel and act. Which will directly impact how we handle stress, interact with others and make decisions. We both believe this is a vital part of your overall wellbeing.
Lucy: As I mentioned above, you can’t give others what you do not give yourself. I mentally ran myself into the ground because I thought that is what hard work looks like. Not the case! I couldn’t show up for others or the world to the best of my ability, because I wasn’t showing up for me. If we all mentally take care of ourselves a little better, we can better show up for others and the world around us.
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