Today we’d like to introduce you to Emily Collins.
Hi Emily, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I grew up south of Boston in a very small town called Plainville. From there, I decided to attend the University of Massachusetts Amherst to pursue a degree in Communications. I was a track athlete growing up, but a hamstring injury during my senior year of high school kept me from continuing to run competitively in college. I opted to sign up for some group fitness classes, partially to get a workout but mostly just because my friends were doing it. I soon fell in love with the community aspect of group fitness. It felt sort of like being on a team but without all of the pressure. But it wasn’t one of those situations where I fell in love with it and knew I had to make a career out of it. I just enjoyed being a part of it. Shortly after graduating, I moved into Boston with my boyfriend (now husband!) and decided to join a couple of gyms in search of that community feeling. I joined EverybodyFights where I was trained in boxing by George Foreman III, and also joined The Handle Bar – a boutique indoor cycling studio.
The main reason I joined EverybodyFights was because a group fitness instructor whose class I attended at UMass was teaching there. Her name is Eliza Shirazi and she created Kick It By Eliza during her time in college and was now bringing it to the city. When I told her I was thinking about potentially auditioning for indoor cycling, she asked me to be a part of the first ever Kick It By Eliza Instructor Certification. There are now over 400 certified instructors nationwide. Eliza & Kick It really gave me the confidence I needed to start pursuing my passion for fitness. Fast forward to today, I am certified in several different fitness methods including the boxing and indoor cycling that first sparked my interest. Even more than a passion for fitness, I have a passion for moving people through music and really drawing out the mind body connection that has made being active so important to me. I moved to LA in September of 2018 with my husband. He had an opportunity for work, and we’re not really the type to turn down the chance for adventure! The day after we moved here, I walked into Flywheel Sports in Santa Monica having already been accepted into their instructor training program after an audition in Boston. I became fast friends with one of their master instructors, Meghan Cerone, who was instrumental to my success there.
Just a couple of weeks after moving, I was back to the east coast for training in New York City. I learned a great deal during my time at Flywheel, but probably the most important thing I learned is that while I love to participate in competitive fitness, it’s not my favorite style of teaching. I was craving that tune-out-the-world style that I had become so passionate about. I’ve searched high and low for it here in LA, but the closest I’ve found it is about 100 miles south in north county San Diego at VERVE Studios. It is owned and operated by a friend of mine, Lena Rakijian, and I have been guest teaching there for almost two years now. I love it there. This past July, I was teaching for a virtual boxing platform when I suffered a serious injury to my knee. I am on the road to recovery but for now, fitness looks like some seated rides on my Peloton and physical therapy work. I am still teaching virtually for Kick It by Eliza in a mat based conditioning format. I also work full-time as a Project Manager for a successful Boston-based staffing firm! I have always worn many hats, and I like it that way! I also run a lifestyle blog called Do It How You Feel It – it’s all about getting comfortable doing/thinking differently than society tells you you should!
Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Surprisingly, it’s been relatively smooth. I have always been blessed with amazing mentors in every environment I have worked in and enjoyed. Shout out to my husband, Kate Lelievre, Eliza Shirazi, Candice Peak, Jess Fracalosi, Lena Rakijian, Meghan Cerone, & Victor Self! I’d say the biggest struggle has been my health – I was diagnosed with Lyme Disease in 2015 and have had a multitude of issues related to the diagnosis. The most prominent one is chronic pain in my joints. This has certainly made fitness, and life, a little more tricky! The only other struggle I would note is leaving the amazing community in Boston I had built for myself and having to start from scratch here in LA without a studio that really checks all the boxes I’m looking for.
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I have been working at ALKU, a Boston-based consulting services company since three weeks after my graduation from UMass! Over the past 6.5 years there, I’ve held a few different roles on the corporate side of the business. I currently sit on the Business Operations team as the company’s sole Project Manager. The bulk of my role is assisting in strategic expansion. The company is rapidly growing and always in need of more office space. I handle everything from working with brokers to identify space, negotiating leases, interior design of the space, and managing the entire buildout process from start to finish. I also manage a variety of other projects including new technology rollouts and planning the company’s tropical incentive trip each year. This certainly sets me apart from most people in the fitness world! I feel that my professional organization and communication skills have greatly helped me in the fitness world, and it allows me to keep fitness fun for myself and not have to force my body into teaching 15+ classes/week.
Do you have any advice for those just starting out?
When you’re starting your career, people will tell you ‘it’s all about who you know’. There is nothing more true. However, I don’t see it in a sense of knowing people that can open doors for you, but rather that relationships are everything. Identify people within your circles who you can learn from, and learn everything you can. Rather than trying to compete with your peers, how can you help each other?