Meet fitness pro, art lover and spit fire Shay Kostabi. She's the creative force behind ReXist 360 and the founder of The Local Skills among many other things.
The Local Skill merges Shay's love of fitness and art to create one of a kind fitness events in Los Angeles and since I've been low key stalking her on IG for a while, when the opportunity to attend The Local Skills inaugural event presented itself, I jumped right on it. The high energy event was this awesome combination of a workout and dance party at an amazing venue...Fun right?!!
This bi-coastal super woman is sharing her BEHIND the BRAND story of how a reply to a test group ad changed her life and how she plans to shake up the fitness industry.
Name & Title
Bi-coastal Fitness Professional and Personality,
ACE certified Movement Specialst,
Master Trainer for ReXist360,
Sponsored New Balance Fitness Ambassador &
Founder of The Local Skill.
What inspired you to become a fitness pro?
I moved from Orange County CA to New York City to study acting at conservatory. I'd always grown up dancing but due to an injury had to retire and turned my focus to acting and choreograpy. I didn't know a lick about nutrition or working out and put on quite a bit of weight so I joined a gym in the city but only went eight times over the course of one year! I never worked out, I either froze up or nearly had a panic attack every time I went. I had no idea what to do, where to start, no money to pay for help and found the whole idea of a gym silly and intimidating.
I found an ad in a trade paper for a 'test group' looking for people who wanted to lose 20 pounds or more. The commitment was 90 days of training - 6 days a week with a gym membership, training with a celebrity trainer and food delivery (5 meals a day, 7 days a week), with an opportunity to be featured in a commercial or video. Hello, I thought 'you're going to make me look hot and then put me on TV?' That's basically every actors dream. Long story short, after 2 weeks of tears and hiding in the back row, I made it through the 90 days, lost 22lbs and 13 inches off my entire body and ended up being cast in a fitness DVD program.
The whole experience not only changed my body, it changed my life, and ultimately my career path. I felt a strong urge to pay it forward and had an inkling I had just stumbled across my life purpose. The rest is history!
How did you become Master Trainer & Creative Director at ReXist 360? What was the process?
ReXist360 is owned by my very first private training client, whom I met literally 4 hours after the end of test group experience. We worked together for a while and then at one point, I thought I wanted to go back to acting. She called me two years later and asked me what I was up to and she had a new product she wanted me to look at and be in the workout video. I took one look at the ReXist360 training system and saw a gold mine of potential. Ended up running my own test group with these revolutionary resistance bands, recording a DVD and then eventually moved into creating more programming to accompany the product. That lead to training other instructors and trainers teaching my method and many more DVDs. We now have a signature HIIT class, Pilates class and are currently working on more modalities as well as a huge education and certification program.
What's the story behind The Local Skill?
The Local Skill started out as an idea for a studio space where local trainers and instructors could come together and collaborate. I've never been a fan of the whole gym system, but was seeing flaws in the boutique fitness market. Because most boutiques only offer one or two methods (think cycling and barre), they're masters at the service they provide, however, I was watching clients get bored, plateau and disappear. They eventually come back because they love the instructors, the community and the experience, but it was a never ending cycle of seeing the same people for three months, leave for three months, then come back and start over again for three months.
I thought, what if there was a place where not only the programming, but the interior aesthetic changed every quarter while the tribe and vibe remained the same? I also wanted to find a way to utilize my artistic talents within the fitness industry. I strongly believe that living a healthy, active lifestyle and surrounding yourself with beauty, art and culture have equal power to improve and elevate your life. Beauty is a tremendous impetus for change and fitness is a tool with which to achieve it. Why not find a way to merge them?
I wanted to create the Andy Warhol Studio of Fitness. I still do. But opening a studio is a crazy huge risk and investment and if you don't know where your tribe is, the whole think can tank fast. So I altered my day dream and thought, I'm really good at curating, connecting, directing and event planning, and people tell me I have good taste. So, I'll throw Local Skill events and bring in the best programming and fitness pros, my favorite brands, music, food and local vendors and basically throw an artistic fitness party at unique spaces in Los Angeles. We're mobile, malleable, ready and open to change.
I'm very particular on who the featured Skill is, while the event is for everyone, not just anyone can perform at an event. I'm looking for locals with unique talent, a knack for creative movement, a passion for art, architecture, photography, food and fashion. We aren't just squats and protein bars and we don't just sweat and go. We create, we collaborate and we commune. I'm so excited about this project and our launch party was very well received so I'm really looking forward to seeing how we grow.
What's been your biggest success thus far?
Probably lauching The Local Skill!! And in less than 60 days. I jumped and my community caught me. We are alive and well.
Conversely, biggest failure(s)?
Oh this is so tough for me to answer, because I fail every single day. Seriously, I f--- up all the time so it feels like it's just a part of life. I'm also not afraid of it. I don't think I have a biggest failure, I have a lot of little failures. Too many to remember. I've made a lot of stupid mistakes, I've missed opportunities because I've let fear take the drivers seat. I've overbooked myself and let people down but I'm still alive and thriving. I still have successes to celebrate and I'm ok!
Top three things you wish you knew when you first started
That just because she's doing it 'that way' doesn't mean that I have to.
The gym is not the only place to get fit.
That health has absolutely nothing to do with looking like a super model.
Top three tools/apps/technology you can't live without
I am currently obsessed with Canva, which is like a graphic design program for dummies.
I couldn't live without Spotify. I love how it curates new music for me and my taste and that all my clients and trainers can easily follow and share playlists.
This may sound silly, but I LOVE Instagram. I think it's the best social app invention ever. I have made friends through IG, secured product sponsorships, made global connections and I think it's the most fun way to share and promote content.
What advice would you give to female fitness blogger/trainers looking to work with big brands?
Keep your digital footprint authentic, consistent and clean. Really put thought into who you are, what your brand message is, who you want your audience to be and curate content accordingly. Make sure you are easy to find!! All your social handles should be the same on every platform. It drives me nuts when I'm looking for someone and they are '@SusieFit' on twitter and '@TheShoeGirl456 on Instagram.' Get a website, even if it's just a photo of you and bio.
Connect and engage with the brands you love in an organic way without being a stalker or a 'fanboy.' Post a picture of yourself doing what you do best wearing or using the brands you love in a way that makes sense. And last, just ask! It's amazing how many people never ask for what they want. It is in fact so rare, that chances are, if you called up your dream athletic wear or supplement company and asked how you could collaborate or work together they won't say no.
Who's' your professional crush & why?
Oh gosh, I don't really have one, but I've recently been following Shay Mitchell and I think she is really cool and not just because we share a name. She's an actress, but she's into fitness and she launched an athletic wear line and seems to be into self-empowerment and some artistic stuff as well. Actually, it must be in the name!
I'm also obsessed with @TheSculptSisters on instagram... told you I love IG... they are so creative and cute.
In 2015, you've launched The Local Skill and continued to grow ReXist360, so what's next for you?
My main focus will actually be to keep growing those two things and make them huge. Some new ventures and partnerships coming up will help us further activate and achieve our goals. The launch of YG Studios, which I've been doing some consulting for, will really change the landscape of the fitness industry and allow me to expand ReXist360's reach as well as my own. I've recently invited nanuismfitness app and Noizy Brand speakers and headphones into the fold and we've got some BIG ideas and collaborations on our calendars.
I've also been working with a company called Qinetic for a few years now. We currently offer free live-streaming workouts and just partnered with Yahoo. The Q team is basically my extended family and something really exciting is coming very soon so check out the platform and get ready!
I have a lot going on and I know it seems like I am everywhere (and I am), but I promise they are all connected. Basically the plan is to use the power of music, movement, fitness and art and just take over the world. >insert mischievous smiley face here<
You can find Shay Kostabi on social media at links below:
Facebook: Shay Kostabi
Gotta love Shay's energy and since she's bi-coastal, NY & LA peeps have you been to any of her workouts?
Share your experiences below!