Health and wellness haven't always come naturally to me and it wasn't until a few serious health diagnoses a few years ago that my lifestyle completely changed. I went from eating bagels and muffins for breakfast, sandwiches for lunch and pizza for dinner to eggs and bacon cooked in coconut oil, salads with shredded chicken and grilled chicken and roasted vegetables for dinner. I was born and raised in a household that focused on family dinner and the importance of connecting at the dinner table so food changes weren’t difficult for me to make and I knew my health depended on them. I adopted a Paleo lifestyle in order to reduce inflammation in my body, increase energy, improve mood and sleep, and to reverse disease. And as my body changed with my food choices, I wanted to start working out to better benefit my own health.
I had never worked out before transitioning to a Paleo lifestyle. And no, I wasn’t the lucky one who could eat whatever they wanted and not gain weight. I am 5 feet and I carry my weight in my stomach, face and legs and any small gain definitely shows. And the freshman 15 applied to me as my weight crept up to the highest it had ever been in my entire life. But once I cut out gluten, dairy, soy and legumes, the weight started to shed and I became more inclined to workout because I had much more energy that could be used for efficient workouts. But since I was raised that cooking was a family affair and I had never worked out before, I needed a family to workout with.
The day after I walked out of the doctor’s office after being diagnosed with my health issues, I joined The Bar Method without even knowing what boutique fitness was, let alone a barre class. But my life was forever changed with this class. It wasn’t just the workout, it was the community that existed in the studio that had me hooked. I bonded with the girls in my early morning class before work and spent more time with them than I did my own family. We celebrated birthdays together and milestones at work, and we supported one another in all aspects of life. It was the community that fueled my passion for working out.
4 years after my diagnosis, my health had seriously improved, but I was still suffering from adrenal fatigue and my body was not benefiting as much from working out as it used to. I put my membership at The Bar Method on hold and focused solely on clean eating. But I missed the locker room bonding with the girls and wanted to find a new workout that would benefit my body, improve my adrenals without wearing me out and also have the ability to form amazing friendships. Enter social media – while scrolling through endless hashtags for NYC fitness, I found a photo of Kayla Kleinman sitting on a lounge chair on a bright sunny day in NYC in workout clothes. But it wasn’t the workout clothes or the caption that caught my eye, it was the lounge chair, which I recognized as being from the many chairs set up in the summer on my parents roof in the East Village.
I immediately clicked on her Instagram profile and checked out her blog, which featured many NYC boutique fitness class reviews. Here was this NYC fitness blogger on my parent’s roof who went to different studios in NYC – it was exactly what I was looking for to get motivated to start working out again. So I reached out to Kayla sending her a photo of me on the roof to prove I wasn’t completely crazy when I asked if she lived in the building and if she would want to meet for a workout together. Luckily she answered that she didn’t live in the building, but her parents did and she would love to meet for a workout.
We first met for a Pop Physique class and had coffee afterwards and it was Kayla that motivated me to start blogging. At this time in March, I had just enrolled at the Institute for Integrative Nutrition and was a bit lost on the direction I wanted my life to take. I was working at a media agency, but wanted to follow my passion for health and wellness after my own health journey proved that I loved to cook, loved to talk about being well and wanted to help others heal. In May, I told Kayla I had started my blog and we met at Physique 57 for another barre workout together. It was around this time that Kayla was starting to train to be a yoga teacher and as we sat in Starbucks she pitched an idea to me to start a business together featuring her yoga teaching skills and my health and wellness and cooking skills. She said I could say no if I thought she was crazy, but as she spoke about her idea, I sat there wide eyed and excited. I immediately said yes and spent the rest of the day texting her like crazy with all these ideas. And from that morning, Holistic Happening was born.
To me, Holistic Happening is about creating a community for people to feel comfortable working out, eating clean and meeting new people. It is the environment that I loved so much about my Bar Method classes and the women I connected with every morning. Holistic Happening is about making health and wellness approachable because many people see it as an overwhelming space. They think you are a meditating, crystal holding, workout guru, or you’re not welcome. But that’s not the case, and Holistic Happening is about showing people how simple working out and eating clean can be. It brings together my beliefs that being working out and eating is a family affair, and Holistic Happening is becoming a family.
Kayla teaches a 45-minute yoga class and I follow up with a simple, yet delicious meal that is gluten free, dairy free, soy free, Paleo and Vegetarian friendly. We provide the recipes to all of our guests after the event so they can then make the recipes at home and feel inspired to be well. Holistic Happening is a safe space to workout, eat, bond, and meet like-minded people.
The future of Holistic Happening is very exciting as well. We have a Fall – Spring residency at Primary where we will feature our Downward Dog & Dine series monthly and we are now expanding to larger events. In December we will have a yoga and vision board creating event right before the New Year. And on February 11th we will be hosting the first annual Day of Wellness featuring yoga, a food demo, life coaching and a sound healing experience. We are so excited for the growth of Holistic Happening and to share it with the community.
If it weren’t for a photo on Instagram, Kayla and I may never have met. So my advice to everyone is to take a risk, take that leap of faith because you never know where it might take you. Holistic Happening is a labor of love for both of us and we are taking risks every day to make it a dream come true.
Join us November 15th or December 14th for Holistic Happening Downward Dog & Dine and stay tuned for all of the Winter and Spring dates as well as more information on the Day of Wellness! Sign up here: