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Meet Michael Holt of Savage and Saint Consultancy in Venice Beach

Today we’d like to introduce you to Michael Holt.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I moved here to Los Angeles from Philadelphia in 2009. I had previously been working as a professional rescuer on a beach patrol on the east coast. In that line of work, I’d fallen deeply in love with the ocean and so I wanted to live somewhere that I could enjoy the medicine of the ocean all year round. The west side of LA seemed like the perfect spot to begin a new chapter of my life.

When I arrived here, I began building my own business in the fitness sector. I’d been a gym rat since freshman football, and I’d worked for years as a private trainer in the fitness industry. I enjoyed making connections and encouraging my clientele to approach fitness as a vehicle for self-development. My approach in my work was less about surface-level physical transformation than the profound inner shifts possible through their consistency, discipline, and effort.

Though the business I’d built in the gym was successful in the sense that I was earning a good living and keeping busy, as time passed, I found myself feeling less and less fulfilled in my work.

My personal exploration of self-development that had once led me to weight room was now taking me deep into the path of meditation. I was studying diligently with great teachers and setting aside weeks at a time to sit on silent retreats. I’d even journeyed to Myanmar to practice for weeks in silence at a monastery. I found big medicine in the silence of a well-concentrated mind. Through the practice, I was beginning to understand myself at a deeper level and witnessing my inner life shift dramatically.

In addition to my exploration of meditation, I’d spent years developing my skill in martial art. I’ve competed as a kickboxer and earned the rank of instructor in multiple disciplines: Muay Thai, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Kali, Silat, and self-defense. Martial art is a beautiful path. Taken with rigor, I’d learned much more than I’d anticipated. The martial path is far deeper than punches and kicks. My martial art journey has taught and continues to teach me diligence, peace, service, and embodied consciousness.

Small talk in the gym, counting calories, losing 10lbs, getting a six-pack – these topics were no longer very exciting to me. I wanted to connect with my clients at a greater depth, facilitate deeper growth, have meaningful conversations about concepts like purpose, freedom, love, and death. It was becoming more and more clear to me that while fitness is an important aspect of a healthy life, it is not the holy grail. As my own exploration deepened, I was feeling called to deepen my professional offering.

My exploration of fitness, health, martial art and meditation coalesced to inform my living philosophy: Savage & Saint. I’d learned the power of contemplative practice to find right relationship with the mind and the power of martial movement to cultivate a body that is healthy and strong. I’d learned that a peaceful mind and a healthy body leave a man in an empowered position to actualize his deep purpose. It occurred to me that a man can simultaneously be the most peaceful person and the most dangerous person in the room and that his striving to be both through practicing daily at the edges of intentional kindness and martial brutality cultivates a presence that is felt as comforting medicine by those who depend on him. This is the Savage & Saint philosophy, this is what I am called to share.

Though my work in the gym was easy and comfortable, I knew it was time to evolve. In a pivotal decision, I dissolved my fitness business and set out for the unknown to form a holistic health practice.

In time, I grew a thriving practice. Currently, I work with men and women, even a few children, from all walks of life. Athletes, entertainers, executives, and outside the box thinkers seek me out to help them along their healing journey, know themselves more deeply, optimize their daily life, and accomplish what they feel is meaningful for them. I find my work very rewarding and often shake my head and how lucky I am to earn a living in a way that I find profoundly fulfilling.

Along with some trusted collaborators, I’ve also built Tribe, an international men’s community. We now have hundreds of men from all over the world who gather online and in person for practices and discussion aimed at deepening our experience of freedom, purpose, and love.

I am the luckiest man alive.

Has it been a smooth road?
Of course, there have been challenges! Obviously, in business, there are the worldly challenges of finances, building a clientele, and refining one’s offering. These have all presented their own external challenges.

But more than that, there have been internal challenges. The foundation of the work that I offer my clientele is my own healing journey. I’d never ask a client to do something I have not done myself.

I’ll often present a caveat to those who are exploring the possibility of working with me: the healing journey is difficult. It is certainly not unicorns and rainbows! Real healing is a direct confrontation with all the parts of ourselves we’ve been successfully avoiding so that we find the empowered perspective necessary to integrate and grow beyond our unique pain. Real healing is the work of the warrior and will require bravery.

In my personal life, I am continually confronted with my own self-doubts and perceived inadequacies. These are universal aspects of the human condition! But the commitment I maintain to my own inner work, to remaining a student while also being a teacher, places me in a position of understanding and compassion which allows me to encourage the people I work with to maintain their path.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
As a holistic health practitioner, I implement natural means to optimize the health and happiness of my clientele. The more I learn about what it takes to be truly healthy and vital, the more simple it all becomes. Primary areas of focus in my work include meditation, functional breathing, sleep hygiene, nutrition/hydration, and movement. I find, both personally and professionally, that when one efforts to prioritize these pillars in their daily life, emotional, physical, and mental disturbances begin to unwind sort themselves out.

Traditional allopathic medicine is far too concerned with prescribing medications to alleviate the symptoms of poor self-management. Western psychology concerns itself too much with the chatter of mind and ignores the language of the body. True healing requires an integral mind-body approach, this is what I offer. Through introspection, dialogue, and immersive experience I help my clients to cultivate a daily practice that optimizes their wellness.

What sets me apart, I suppose, is my expectation of my clientele. Only YOU can heal YOU – and that will require effort on your part. There is no magic pill or teacher that can save you. I am here to provide support and information, but ultimately you must find the inner strength to do the work of growing yourself! I am selective about the individuals I take on and choose to engage only with those people who are really ready for a journey. It can be a bumpy ride! But it’s totally worth doing.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Los Angeles has been very good to me. I am grateful the path led me here. I’ll often bring clients to the beach here in Venice for practice and discussion. I’ve facilitated workshops and retreats in the beautiful nature of Malibu and Topanga. LA is a beautiful place to live and work. And the fact that LA is home to many outside the box thinkers who prioritize their well being is very good for me as some of my methods are… a little different!

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Image Credit:

Sarah Orbanic

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