Fitness expert encourages change, one step at a time.
Kathy Leith finds the fun in fitness. Parlaying her passion for health and wellness and her acumen for business into a thriving new enterprise, she motivates and educates her clients to adopt healthy habits and make positive lifestyle changes. And they have a great time doing it.
“My mission is to help those who have health issues live their best and healthiest life, while also working with the healthy to keep them well,” Leith explains. “I believe the human body is amazing and will work to heal itself when the right holistic elements are present.”
Leith’s interest in health and wellness began when she was in high school, watching her parents and grandparents struggle with multiple health issues. Why is it that some people stay healthy while others seem to encounter one problem after another, she wondered? “I knew there had to be a better way to increase the quality of life and potentially reduce the risk of health-related issues,” she recalls. “It became a passion, and I was always on a quest for knowledge about ways to live a life of wellness.”
After earning a business degree in marketing and an MBA in management, Leith joined the ranks of corporate America, honing her expertise in market research and marketing—and learning what makes people tick. Finally deciding to scratch her entrepreneurial itch, she founded Living Well with Kathy L.
“I love helping people reach their health and wellness goals,” Leith says. “Most of my personal clients want to feel better by losing weight, increasing strength and flexibility, and working on their nutrition. Companies often want to offer the same opportunities to their employees as part of their wellness programs or maybe as just a nice benefit that employees can take advantage of during their lunch hour.”
That wellness comes from a holistic state is a key concept Leith is determined to communicate to her clients. “To truly adopt wellness means to attend all areas of your life—from how you think, to what you do, to what you put in and on your body, to where you spend your time,” she asserts. And she knows whereof she speaks. Not only is Leith certified as both a personal trainer and corrective exercise specialist by the National Academy of Sports Medicine, but she also is a certified health and wellness coach with the National Exercise Trainers Association.
Traversing the Rocky Road
The road to health and wellness is strewn with obstacles, Leith cautions, formed mostly from misguided attitudes and false perceptions.
The first step to clearing these hurdles is to understand that working on wellness is a way of life. “It completely permeates how you think, how you talk and what you do,” Leith says. “It’s all connected—and learning, seeing and feeling the connectivity is usually a big ‘aha!’ moment that moves people over the hump to true and lasting change.”
Second step? Be positive, Leith urges. Engage in a little self-talk. What am I gaining? What wonderful, nutritious food do I get to eat today? Wow—it really feels good to get outside and move my body. “The positive outlook and state of mind is critical for success,” Leith says. “Focus on what you can have and do instead of what you cannot—the reframing is extremely powerful.”
Making it Personal
Most of all, Leith prescribes a medicine nobody can resist—the element of enjoyment. “I am a ton of fun!” she says. “Many times, I do workouts with my clients to build a stronger partnership and show them that exercise doesn’t have to hurt to be effective—and you can even laugh and have fun while doing it. They can’t complain about the workout if I’m doing it with them, right?”
Indeed, Leith is all about the personal touch. Her clients run the age gamut, but as the mother of a son in college, she is highly sought by those whose stage of life and life experience parallel her own. They can relate to her. “I understand when they tell me their back hurts in the morning, or they’re having trouble sleeping,” she says. She incorporates functional exercise in all her programs to help her clients build strength, endurance and flexibility for everyday life. And she’s not afraid to hold people accountable for what they say they are going to do. “That’s really what most people need in a fitness or wellness partner,” Leith observes. “My vision is to inspire, motivate and lead, so that everyone will take personal responsibility and accountability for their own health and wellness. The burden on the healthcare system for resources and increasing costs needs to be curtailed—and if everyone took some basic, consistent steps to improve their health, it would be huge.”
Connecting the Dots
Leith hopes to explore what she calls the “gut-brain connection.” “Remember—everything is connected!” she emphasizes. “Your body, your mind and how you think, what you say and your environment—all of it plays a part in overall health and wellness.”
“People just need to start somewhere,” she continues. “Start with one thing, and don’t try to make all the changes at once. Taking consistent baby steps that are additive over time is the key to lasting change. Don’t try to eat the elephant in one bite—stick with it, and you will see good things happen!”