This series is all about sharing with you some of the cool people I know. The individuals you’ll meet here are truly special. They’ll share what inspires them, what has changed them, what they know about life, and how they got to where they are today.
My name is Robyn Baker. I am born and raised in Southern California, and have yet to leave. I am half German and half Japanese, so I am the original “axis of evil”. I am the founder and sole proprietor of Asteya Fitness. I primarily teach private Pilates sessions and personal training at my small studio and out of client’s homes. I also teach group classes at my friend’s studio. I wanted to create a space to work with clients that focused on their inner transformation, rather than the weight loss and the outward transformation, that is why I started Asteya Fitness.
What circumstances led you to your profession?
If you would have told me in high school that I would be working in the health and fitness industry as a “grown-up”, I probably would have slapped you across the face and called you crazy. I went to Orange County High School of the Arts with a focus in Musical Theater. I had a crazy passion (and still do) for performing. In my senior year, I developed anorexia nervosa; the deadliest of all psychological diseases. The uncertainty of moving on from high school to college, the intense pressure to do everything perfectly in order to succeed, and living in a home where my dad was a functioning alcoholic are the main reasons anorexia took over my life. My health quickly deteriorated, and at 18 years old I checked into the UCLA psychiatric ward for 2 months until my weight stabilized. I was still very under the control of my eating disorder when I discharged from treatment, and in college turned to exercise as a way to control my weight.
The intense pressure to do everything perfectly in order to succeed, and living in a home where my dad was a functioning alcoholic are the main reasons anorexia took over my life.
I was still very much underweight and thought if I regained muscle instead of fat it would make to process less torturous. Exercise quickly became a way to purge calories, I would work out every day. I changed my major from musical theater to kinesiology (the study of human movement), because through my eating disorder, I developed a keen interest in the human body and how it worked to produce movement during exercise. I was at the gym so much that the fitness manger asked if I would be interested in becoming a personal trainer. So I started to work as a personal trainer and spin instructor at 24 Hour Fitness as a way to excuse my excessive amounts of exercise. And that is how I got into the fitness industry. Because of my eating disorder.
I eventually went into treatment again after suffering for 10 years with my eating disorder and am now in REAL recovery. When I first went back to working as a personal trainer post recovery, my doctors freaked. I was basically an alcoholic working at a bar. But I have stayed dedicated to my recovery and have found a way to take what I have learned from my experience to help my clients understand that body size and weight are not indicators of health and wellness.
What inspires you?
My clients. When they take that leap of faith and step out of their comfort zone, I am so proud. It can be a small thing, like wearing in a tank top to a session instead of a long sleeved top when they don’t think their arms are “small enough”. Or it can be big things, like walking down stairs without holding onto the handrails for the first time EVER in their life and being pain free. Each of those moments is incredible to me, and they inspire me to keep doing what I am doing.
What is one valuable thing you’ve learned in life?
To thine own self be true. It is so easily said but not so simple to live. Be true to your beliefs and purpose above all things. Never lose sight of who you are.
Name one experience that has completely changed you.
My eating disorder. It is a LONG experience, but it is one experience. It was a very dark time in my life and to this day it is incredibly hard to not only see pictures of myself from back then, but to also read journal entries from those days. When I turned 30 (3 years after starting recovery), I had a breakdown. I thought I had screwed up my life forever. I thought that my chance to become a Broadway star and truly be happy was lost for good. I blamed myself for screwing up my life. But now I know how wrong that is. I was given a beautiful opportunity by surviving my eating disorder. I was given the opportunity to share what I had learned through my battle and possibly prevent someone from suffering the same fate. My eating disorder forever changed the course of my life, but it is up to me to decide what that course will be. After my breakdown, I made the decision to share my story and live my life helping those struggling to find their true beauty apart from their outer shell.
Stop using the word “should”. At one point or another in our lives we all say that we “should be farther along” than we presently are. That is absolute baloney. The only place you should be at any given moment is exactly where you are.
What is your proudest moment?
Every day since starting recovery from my eating disorder, because I know that I have lived another day outside and above of the madness.
What’s your advice for someone who hasn’t found his or her way in the world yet?
Stop using the word “should”. At one point or another in our lives we all say that we “should be farther along” than we presently are. That is absolute baloney. The only place you should be at any given moment is exactly where you are. I started my business late last year and since then I have had many of these moments. So now, this is what I say to myself: “I may not always be where I want to be, but I am always where I need to be”. You may think that you have not yet found your way, but little do you know you are already living that way right now.
Robyn’s story is so inspiring! I can totally relate to using the word “should” too much, to judging my process and my journey. This is where we are meant to be, right here, right now.
To learn more about Robyn, visit her website or follow her on Twitter and Facebook. If anything in this post resonated with you or moved you, share with us in the comments or reach out to Robyn and let her know.