by Lisa Malin
Martha Kaplan is the Community Marketing Manager at Athleta, and a seasoned SoulCycle instructor. With over 25 years of experience in the fitness industry, Martha is the OG Wellness Warrior, meaning she was all about wellness before wellness was a thing. Oh, and did I mention, Martha is a cool 62 years young.
I had the chance to sit down with Martha recently and talk to her about her personal journey, as well as her thoughts on health, fitness and the wellness craze.
Martha takes the questions...
Q) A full-time job with Athleta, and a side hustle as an instructor at cult fav SoulCycle since 2009! Tell us how you got here, and what inspired you to become involved in the fitness industry in the first place?
I was always an athlete, and while my early years were spent in the ad industry, I always felt like my calling was fitness. When my ad agency merged with another big agency, I saw it as the perfect time to dive into my fitness career. I became a certified instructor and personal trainer, and began teaching part time and taking on personal clients. I loved every minute of it, and never looked back.
Q) What was the industry like when you started out?
We were all pioneers at that time - creating and inventing all types of workouts! It was a very exciting time to be in the fitness industry.
Q)You’ve been an instructor at SoulCycle since 2009. What drew you there, and has being part of the SC family changed the way you think about or approach exercise and fitness?
I was one of the first instructors in NY certified to teach indoor cycling. At the time is was called “spinning” and we were all trained on Schwinn bikes. I had been teaching at Equinox and several other studios for a number of years, when I heard about SoulCycle and decided to check it out.
There was something about the experience, the atmosphere, the ride and the instructors that drew me in right away. It was special and aligned with what I wanted my ride to be. SoulCycle is more than a great workout. It’s about connecting with others and developing relationships.
Q) As a dedicated rider myself, one of the things I love most about SoulCycle is the community of riders and instructors, and the special feeling of connection and shared experience that happens in that space. It can be pretty powerful. Can you talk a little about that?
SoulCycle tapped into a “social wellness” community. SoulCycle found a way to bring people together into a dark room with candles, and surround them with great music and motivating, inspirational instructors. SoulCycle gives you the feeling of belonging and connecting to something bigger.
Q)There are no clocks, no doors opening and closing during the class, no distractions. People are connected through music, mantras and their shared emotion. Who doesn’t want to be a part of a community where you can meet people that share positive vibes and make you feel good about yourself? And, by the way, it’s a fantastic workout!
Much in the same way SoulCycle is more than a spin class, Athleta is so much more than an athleisure brand. Can you expand on this for us?
I feel deeply connected to Athleta’s mission “to ignite a community of active, healthy, confident women and girls who empower each other to reach their limitless potential” It’s a brand that stands for more than just yoga leggings and high performance apparel. Athleta stands for inclusivity and supports women and girls of all ethnicities, body types and sizes. It’s inspiring to be a part of a brand and movement that is redefining perceptions of wellness and strength
Athleta is also a certified B-Corp with a focus on sustainability efforts and Fair Trade, putting the planet and people before profits. Knowing the work I do can positively impact every woman, and have a lasting effect on the world is personally fulfilling. That’s #powerofshe
Q) Wellness is everywhere you turn these days, and with it a slew of content and rapidly changing, often conflicting, information about what it means to be healthy. Throw in social media, and it’s no wonder people feel confused, stressed, and unsure about their own wellness habits. How do you cut through the noise, and find a more grounded approach to a healthy lifestyle?
I ignore a lot of what I see on social media. I read and get as much education as I can from a variety of credible sources. Ultimately, I take a personal approach to wellness and ground myself in all the pillars of wellness in my life - - - physical, emotional, spiritual, nutritional, social, intellectual, financial and environmental.
I think people confuse wellness with just physical exercise and nutrition. When they see photos and quotes on social media there’s such a focus on the physical. Physical wellness is not just about how you look or how you exercise, it’s also your sleep habits, hygiene, mindfulness. This all encompassing view of wellness is my approach to a healthy lifestyle.
Q) You just celebrated your birthday! I love that you’re open and honest about your age; and treat it as something to be celebrated, not swept under the rug….
To quote Betty Friedan, “Aging is not lost youth, but a new stage of opportunity and strength.”
Life is about learning, growing and discovering new opportunities every day.
I learn something every time I take a class from a new instructor or have a conversation with a co-worker at Athleta. I think we have to approach every day with a growth mindset and embrace a willingness to learn and try new things. If you stop learning you kind of stay stuck in the same place.
I try not to think about aging as getting older. Turning 62 for me felt like just another birthday. I don’t feel any differently now than I did last year or the year before. I have more energy and drive then I’ve ever had and that’s definitely something to celebrate!
Q) Lastly do you have a life philosophy. Something that helps you stay on track, see the big picture, and not get mired in negative thinking?
A) My philosophy is to continue to do the things in life that bring me joy and make me happy. To stay grounded in my everyday wellness journey. To surround myself with positive, like minded people. To be kind and supportive to others, loving to family and friends. To cultivate gratitude daily...and to keep pedaling!
Q) Favorite Quote?
A) I start everyday with a quote from Tao-Porchon-Lynch who just turned 100 years old: “This is going to be the best day of my life.”