Vital Juice co-founder and CEO Amanda Freeman saw the signs: A market research veteran, she noted that women who sought the latest brand name designer accessories and reservations at trendy restaurants were expanding their interests into fitness and wellness. In 2007, based on that knowledge, she launched her e-newsletter publication and quickly became a known expert in that realm.
Having sold her share in Vital Juice—by then boasting 250,000 subscribers—to Tasting Table in 2012, Freeman was ready for her next venture. She got introduced to and immediately hooked on the Lagree Fitness method during a business trip to LA. She just had to bring it home to New York City: And so SLT—a combination of cardio, strength training and Pilates—was born. SLT Yoga followed shortly thereafter, a more music-focused, upbeat take on the ancient practice.
Here, Freeman stresses the importance of scheduling “me” time into even the busiest schedules and explains why, for her, exercise is essential to maintaining a sense of self:
Live The Process: With the launch of Vital Juice, you were ahead of the curve in terms of providing wellness focused information to the public. When did you realize that this was an expanding area and what got you started on your own wellness path?
Amanda Freeman: Prior to founding Vital Juice, I worked in market research and trend forecasting. I had observed an emerging trend that we were calling, “the rise of WellConsciousness.” Women were increasingly focused on taking preventative measures to preserve their health and wellbeing, rather than just treating issues as they arose.
At the time, there wasn't much content out there for women looking for timely tips and information about fitness, nutrition, beauty and wellness. Vital Juice filled that void by delivering daily tidbits with the latest and greatest wellness information.
LTP: How do you implement a wellness consciousness daily in your own routine?
AF: I wish I actually practiced as much as I preach. I very strongly believe in balance. I try to do some form of exercise every day to start the day. That way, I get it done before things get too crazy. The days I skip a workout, I don't feel 100% myself.
I always eat breakfast, usually a healthy one: oatmeal with fruit and peanut butter. That allows me to not feel guilty if my lunch or dinner is indulgent. When I'm en route to meetings via subway or taxi, I take a few minutes to zone out to my iPod. That's the closest I get to meditation.
LTP: As a successful entrepreneur with an rapidly expanding business, what advice do you have for others with busy schedules, looking for a sense of balance in their lives?
AF: I think it's important to sneak in the things you enjoy or that keep you grounded whenever you can in the day. Whether it's first thing in the morning, at lunch time or before bed, giving yourself an hour or so a day will allow you to better focus on the task at hand. I like to start my day with “me” time. That way, whatever happens, I've already had my time.
LTP: Running a fitness business, I’m sure you work out a lot. What does physical exercise do for your sense of personal wellbeing?
AF: People think that when you own a fitness business, you must work out all day. Far from it: when you run the business, there is so much else to do. I don't ever reserve myself spots in our classes, so often I take the chance that I won't get in. That said, I try to do some sort of exercise every day. It is what grounds me, makes me feel in control of my life and sets my day off on the right foot. It is my “me” time, when I listen to the music I love and get my shot of adrenaline. Fitness is the best medicine.
LTP: What does happiness look like to you?
AF: Happiness is living a full, dynamic and rich life. It's being content with my choices and making the best of everything. Having had parents who died at young ages, I am very appreciative of every day and I try to live life to the fullest. I tend to be plagued with regret and guilt, so the less I feel either, the happier I am too.
Years ago, I decided my life philosophy is: “Work hard, play nice.” I try to let that be my guiding principle when making choices.
LTP: What does it mean to you to "Live The Process”?
AF: Achieving wellness and balance is a lifelong quest. By committing to seek out wellness and balance, life becomes a series of mindful choices, geared towards achieving inspiration, awareness and “living large.”