Kimberly Fowler: Godmother of Yoga Hybrids
by Christine Lynn Harvey
Kimberly Fowler is considered the Godmother of Yoga Hybrids, combining yoga and something else, like spinning and weight training before anyone else was doing it in 2001. Her mantra ironically became “no chanting, no granola, no Sanskrit,” which made her the black sheep to die-hard yoga practitioners, but in time, the concept would sweep the world. Fowler started YAS (Yoga and Spin) after a severe rock climbing accident where she was in and out of the hospital for 6 months.
As the COO (chief operating officer) of a large corporation and an ex-lawyer, going into the fitness world was a "big change" for her. “Combining Yoga & Spinning effectively is an "art" not the easiest undertaking. The YAS class has been called "Zen on Wheels," she says.
She grew up in South Jersey, "The Jersey Shore" but says, "I'm nothing like Snooky or the Situation. I grew up extremely poor, the oldest of 5 children. I've been working for as long as I can remember. We didn't have food or heat, it was pretty bad. I was always "sporty;" I ran cross country in high school in a hand me down pair of high top Converse. I still wear Converse," she says.
Fowler got into Yoga and Spinning (YAS) in the early 80's. "The combo has always been my workout; I would go to a Spinning class at whatever gym I belonged to and then run across town to find a good Yoga studio. I took my first Yoga teachers training in '83. YAS is all about the combo, cardio with strength & flexibility of Yoga.
Fowler says she loves the students and clients at YAS and has given back by organizing a lot of fundraisers. “I've raised over million dollars for different charities since I opened with our YAS Gives Back YAS-A-THONS. Last year, we raised $176,000 for ThinkCure! (http://www.go2yas.com/yas_givesback.asp).
While blending yoga with mainstream fitness activities like spinning and weight training seemed like a natural fit for Fowler, she says she still meets with resistance from athletes who have yet to embrace the benefits of yoga.
Many men are still recalcitrant to try yoga cause they fear they may look effeminate, but yoga really helps with flexibility and therefore injury prevention. "Well, I work with a lot of Sports organizations. I'm the Yoga expert for the LA Marathon. But yes, I still find it hard to get athletes to do yoga," says Fowler.
In addition to teaching regular classes in California where she is based, Fowler offers teacher certifications in 2-week intensives, which include Yoga for Athletes & in-door cycling training and would love to open a training center in New York.
Her newest DVD, "Yoga + Weights" (30 minutes, $14.95, www.go2yas.com) combines moves from Fowler's signature "Yoga for Athlete's" class with 3-pound handheld weights so students get more than just strong, they get ripped! "Yoga elongates your body, and paired with weights, the result is long, lean muscles," says Fowler. "Yoga + Weights takes the strength training of yoga to the next level.
The 30-minute program takes students through a series of weight-bearing poses - including Chair and Warrior poses paired with a shoulder press and Side-Angle Pose matched with a lateral row - all with Fowler's signature Sanskrit-free, easy-to-follow instructions.
Many doctors recommend weight training as the best way to prevent bone loss. "As women near 40, we start to lose muscle mass, which can cause bone loss," says Fowler. "Yoga + Weights let's you build muscle mass without bulking up, and the more muscle mass you have, the more calories you burn."
In order to stay in shape physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually in her own free time, Fowler "walks her talk" - she does Yoga & Spinning, "it's cheaper than therapy!" she says. She honestly does not stick to any particular routine as she has a new addition to her family - "Honestly, I'm not sure what's typical anymore. I have a new puppy, so right now, I have 3 dogs, "a pack." Her name is Mojo and she is driving me crazy, so my typical routine, just doesn't exist."
As for her new DVD, Fowler says, "I think you need to find the person, philosophy you resonate with. My style of yoga is Yoga for Athletes & my book is The No OM Zone. My no chanting, no granola, no Sanskrit tagline might turn you off or you might love it. My goal is to get people to try Yoga who might be put off by it; it's a tough road but I've been very fortunate to have thousands of people do my DVDs, read my book or practice Yoga at YAS - all of whom would not have done yoga otherwise. That makes me very happy!
As for words of advice for starting a new fitness routine Fowler says: "Find a workout that is "Safe, Fun & Effective." That's our motto at YAS. The Godmother of Yoga Hybrids is launching a new web site in February. We completely revamped the go2yas.com web site. It has all the "bells & whistles. Pretty exciting!"
For more info, visit www.go2yas.com Follow Kimberly @kimberlyYAS and www.facebook.com/KimberlyFowlerYAS