It may come as no surprise to you that I love Magen Banwart (she's a double favorite). I sat down with the glowing blondie herself to find out more about where she came from, what she's doing, and why she's so sexy. Okay I didn't directly ask her the sexy part, but I hinted at it.
How were you introduced to the field of health & wellness? What was your career path?
My path to health and wellness was circuitous.
I started out in broadcast journalism, hosting a late night art talk show on ABC (in Boston). It was during my first close up that I fully understood how invasive the camera can be – I can’t imagine the impact of HD nowadays – and the importance of glowing skin. I also learned first-hand that the camera really does add 10 pounds!
I was introduced to the “lifestyle” at an early age by my parents. My family was spiritually unique and progressive in their attitude towards mind/body wellness. My parents enlisted me for team sports; at 5 I was already on a swim team. I dreaded those early morning practices but they shaped my attitude when it came to exercise. My love for swimming and the connection I had with teammates nurtured a love of health and wellness.
For parents out there, I think this is the most important thing you can do for your kids. Being part of a team challenges you mentally and physically, and most importantly teaches you how to lose gracefully.
You and your dad seem to have a really special fitness relationship.
My parents really helped me build a life-long passion for wellness at an early age.
- In high school my brother and I had a choice: participate in a sport every season, or get a job. I always chose sports, but winter was tough - I had to talk my dad into accepting cheerleading and debate.
- I started running road races with my father at 12, so cross country became my sport in high school. When I was studying in England, we ran the London marathon together. Dad dressed as Kermit and wanted me to wear my Miss Piggy outfit from our previous Halloween race. Needless to say, I wasn't running 26.2 miles as Miss Piggy.
- I think the single most important thing my father did was take me to the Tony Robbins Firewalk experience when I was 15. My brother and mom thought we were crazy. I came home understanding for the first time the power of the mind, the power of our thoughts and that we can do absolutely anything we set our mind to.
- In terms of preventative medicine and alternative wellness, it was my father who introduced me to practices like meditation (got my mantra from the TM center at age 7), body brushing and neti-potting.
How did you end up in New York? Where have you trained in the city?
My boyfriend of 8 years at that time was living here. I got my MFA at the Columbia Film School, and worked as a personal trainer / group fitness instructor at the Vertical Club on the UES. My specialty was prenatal and post-natal fitness. Go figure – I hadn't had a baby but LOVED working with pregnant women (and these were the fittest pregnant women I'd ever seen!)
I took anatomy, nutrition and yoga certifications one after the other and when the Vertical Club was bought out by the Sports Club LA, I had developed enough of a following to start my own personal training and fitness consulting business.
I went on to teach Core Fusion and Yin at Exhale for four years, followed by another four years at Physique 57, where I started my Mind & Body RE BOOT program.
Tell us about your bread and butter: the Mind & Body RE BOOT Program. What results do you see in your clients? Is this program suitable for everyone?
The RE BOOT program helps people achieve their wellness goals for mind, body and spirit. It focuses on all areas of your life, not just diet and nutrition. The program covers:
- What to eat/when to eat: the basic premise is an anti-inflammatory diet including fresh green juices and raw vegan protein shakes.
- Nutritional supplementation.
- Exercise: the group follows a regimen.
- Tools to improve sleep.
- Introduction to (or advanced techniques in) meditation.
- Daily inspiration and journaling.
The typical client:
- Loses weight, body fat and inches
- Improves eating and exercise habits
- Eliminates toxins
- Improves sleep
- Decreases stress
- Achieves healthy skin glow
- Gains a sense of balance and well-being
The program is appropriate for anyone who wants to change their lifestyle and get really fit.
What’s your fitness mantra?
"Do what you love and the rest will follow."
In other words, eat the healthy foods you love, don't worry about the rest. If you don't like carrots and beets, don't put em' in your juice. I don't. Do the best you can 80 percent of the time, and do whatever you want (within reason) 20 percent of the time. I call it the 80/20 rule, and it applies to career and personal relationships as well.
What’s your regimen? Whenever “Magen Banwart” comes up in conversation, so do the adjectives “gorgeous” and “glowing”. Not to make you blush, but we need to know how you do it. Immediately.
Not blushing, but my ego just got a good stroking :)
Here are some key things I do daily:
- Drink green juice/smoothies. I love to make my own but when I don't, Green Love from Organic Avenue is my favorite. See my personal recipe below.
- I eat a mostly vegan, gluten free diet. I avoid dairy and animal products in general but have been known to have some chips and queso or a couple of bites of steak on occasion. I’m human like everyone else, after all! I think it’s important that we not be so strict all the time. That’s not a sustainable lifestyle or a happy way to live.
- At least 1 hour of Infrared Sauna every day (just installed one in my apartment!).
- 25-60 minutes of rebounding every day.
- Meditation morning and evening. I've gone back to TM, although I like an exercise called Two Bells.
- Practice compassion towards myself so that I can better extend it to others.
*Recipe for MB green juice:
- 5 spinach leaves
- 2 kale leaves
- 2 chard leaves
- ½ cucumber (optional)
- 4 sprigs of dandelion root
- 4 sprigs of parsley
- ½ inch x ½ inch piece of ginger (cut off skin)
- ½ small green apple (with skin)
- ½ peeled lemon
- 1/4 cup of purified water
- ½ cup of ice cubes
With the following you have, studios all over New York City must be dying to rope you in. What do you look for in a “home”?
- Lots of natural light. My new studio is huge and has tons of windows. It's so cheerful and chill.
- Good energy
- Location, location, location...
Could you give some advice to young instructors out there?
- Develop your own personal style as a teacher.
- Remember when you work at a studio you are a part of a team. Cross promote other instructors' classes and programs as often as possible.
- Get busy and market yourself. If you want to fill your classes, you need to work it. You can't expect a studio to promote an individual teacher.
- Most importantly: get to know your clients. Give them a reason to come back. There are so many other studios.. what works for me is that I go out of my way to make sure everyone is comfortable. I encourage my Yin clients to ask questions in the middle of class.
What are some the biggest challenges of the current studio-instructor relationship?
As far as challenges, I think there's often the question of getting appropriate compensation and an appropriate split on programs. I've been lucky to work for some really great studios and very fair people.
What’s in the works for you right now? Where do we find you?
MB Fitness has a new "home" in my old hood @ M Gym, 67th/3rd. Starting February 12th I will be teaching a 4PM RE BOOT CAMP Class and a 5PM Yin. My RE BOOTCAMP is like a "best of" all the classes I've taught over the years. It's a 55 minute fat burning and full body workout. I use Rebounders for the first 25 minutes to break a sweat, tone thighs and core and lift the seat. Then we do 30 minutes of arms plus more seat and abs. We finish with stretches to elongate the muscles. Your first class is free!
I've also just developed a new Mind & Body RE BOOT program around the infrared sauna. I currently have the only sauna with this latest, cutting edge technology available for commercial use in New York City. The best part: while it's ideal to meditate and relax during the sessions, I can watch movies on the sauna's DVD player or work on my iPad or iPhone. So for multi-taskers like me it's a dream. Especially in cold weather. Equally fun, I'm also planning Standup Paddleboard/Yoga retreats.
Right now, which 5 NYC instructors are you obsessed with?
I'm not taking group fitness classes at the moment. I do a version of my RE BOOT CAMP class or jog every day, and practice Yin. But when I did take classes these were my all-time faves...
The recurring question… you’re happy all the time. Could you share your recipe for happy crack?
I believe our life purpose is to be happy. If I can be happy and make a positive difference in someone's life then I have achieved my goal as a person and a teacher. I try to be kind and honest, and to inspire at least one person every day.
I think gratitude of all things is the key to happiness.
So the recipe? Combine:
- 1 part mental health
- 1 part physical health
- 1 heaping spoonful of gratitude
Take as often as you can.
From Magen's website:Based in New York City, Magen Banwart founded the transformative Mind & Body RE BOOT program which she offers both to groups and privately. She also teaches Yin Yoga workshops to New York City's business and fashion elite and leads mind and body wellness workshops and retreats both nationally and abroad.Active in competitive sports since childhood and a distance runner who has completed the Boston, New York City and London marathons, Magen began working as a fitness instructor 16 years ago. She has studied Pilates™, interdisciplinary styles of yoga, and meditation for over 20 years, and received her Yoga Teacher Certification in Interdisciplinary Yoga from the Nosara Institute in Costa Rica. Magen continues to further her education and regularly participates in yoga, movement and athletic teacher trainings. Magen's greatest influences in her Yin Yoga practice and teaching have been Paulie Zink, Paul Grilley and Sarah Powers.Magen is known for her ability to motivate clients with her boundless energy, unwavering and compassionate support and personalized approach. She is dedicated to helping her clients improve the quality of their lives by giving them the tools they need to be their best -- emotionally, mentally and physically. She understands from personal experience how to reduce the effects of stress on the mind and body, optimize energy, and maximize flexibility and strength in her clients' bodies. Magen works with people ranging in age from nine to 90. She specializes in core fitness-increasing strength and flexibility, eliminating chronic back pain, weight loss and stress management.
Find out more about Magen Banwart on her website
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Read more about Magen on Goodlifer on 40:20 Vision and in our class review here
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