Matt Gagnon, one of my favorite yoga sculpt and fitness teachers, inspires me weekly. He’s a gentle soul, thoughtful, kind, and insightful, and he also creates kick ass workouts that push me and my body, making me feel stronger, leaner, and happier. I’m thrilled Matt is now a regular Happiness Series fitness instructor. And I love that he’s sharing his journey in health and wellness with us so that we can learn from him and with him. As his workouts get stronger and he feels better, fitter, leaner, so will we, because what he learns, we learn, and Matt is always learning and sharing something new. With Matt on our team, we all benefit.
Here’s his Happiness Series Q & A.
Q: Why did you become a yoga sculpt/spin/fitness teacher?
A: Working as a wellness professional gives me the opportunity to be a positive influence in the lives of others every day.
Q: What inspired you to work in fitness?
A: The idea of living a life where my work benefited the lives of others was enough to have me interested in working in fitness. As I started teaching classes, I was reassured this was the path for me as I began to experience firsthand, the power of dedication and consistency.
Q: What was your work before fitness?
A: Before working in wellness I was a bartender, riding the service industry career path. I really enjoyed the service industry, but the lifestyle began to make me feel old, tired, and slow. A few weeks after my first yoga class, I began to plan a new path.
Q: What in your day makes you happiest?
A: I love that I can see mountains every day. I do like to travel and enjoy extended trips in unfamiliar places. But, I love that I have my home and my community Colorado.
Q: What’s your favorite workout?
A: ‘Helen’, 400M run, 21 KB swings, 12 pullups 3 rounds for time. I love to substitute power cleans for the kettle bell swings and push my VO2 max. But with so many great classes in the Denver wellness community, it’s tough to declare ‘favorite.’ I’m a huge supporter of barefoot running, gymnastics and body weight strength training… and for me it always comes back to yoga.
Q: Any tips for people with want to get fitter, stronger, and leaner?
A: “You are what you eat,” is cliché but true. It’s tough to get past the cravings and conveniences of poor eating decisions, but I often see people sabotage their diligence in training with indulgent eating patterns. Workout performance will improve as the body is fueled optimally. When it comes to overall wellness, we get out what we put in, that includes training, nutrition and balance.
Q: What makes you feel good?
A: Running and Yoga, not necessarily in that order, they complement one another – and are one in the same. Running makes me feel free and connects me to the world outside myself. Yoga brings me back home to the world inside myself. I love the feeling of staying present to an entire yoga practice through all of the challenges to divert my focus, and then for an indeterminate series of moments… to just lie motionless and channel my thoughts on one immovable spot. That’s feeling good. Whether it’s a focused yoga practice, running a faster marathon, or anything that forces me to go inside and ask myself how hard I’m willing to work, I live for the satisfaction of knowing that I pushed myself past my projected limitations and that I now have permission to be exhausted and completely relax.
Q: What is your favorite thing about your work?
A: I love the positive energy of my training center and the community that has grown around it. I let even the most routine days serve as a reminder that from consistency stems results. And every once in a while, the benefits of the process become very evident when a student or client tells me about how their life has been transformed. I love that I work in a business that facilitates people’s self transformation.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding health and fitness?
A: You have to work balance and consistency. We are what we consistently do. The key to living your wellness goals is to live them, every day.
Q: Why is fitness important?
A: To me, a certain degree of physical fitness is a requisite for anything above an average standard of life. If conscious eating and exercise became a lifestyle for everybody in our country, I believe that the majority of epidemics in our healthcare industry would be eliminated in a generation. Just the chance that consistent exercise would lengthen and improve your standard of life seems worth the effort.
Q: What’s the best advice you’ve been given regarding Life and Love?
A: At the end of the day, what matters most is that we learn from our experiences so that the next time around, we don’t repeat the same mistakes.
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About the Author: Tania Van Pelt is the creator of Happiness Series. She is a writer and content creator, working in film, tv, and online. She wrote the popular lifestyle book "Ageless Diet," published in late 2015. And she is currently working on her next book. She also developed a sitcom pilot set in the restaurant business called "Employees Only TV" and is developing another web series comedy about Denver.