“Normally with age and inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle, the world starts shrinking. Things that you could at 40 you can’t do at 50. By the time you’re 60, 70, well … That is a world that is shrinking, and what inspires me to keep fit and to keep moving, in addition to being able to be with people with that activity, is trying to keep my world large.”
Toni Reece: Thank you so much, Kymberly and Alexandra, for joining us today on the Project. Our listeners and readers are in for a treat today. But before we begin, can you guys please introduce yourselves?
Kymberly Williams Evans: Yes, hi. My name is Kymberly; my full name is Kymberly Williams Evans.
Alexandra Williams: I’m Alexandra Williams.
Kymberly: We are twin sisters. We’re identical twins who teach fitness and write about fitness and we are also moms, and many other things.
Toni: Well thank you both for being here today. Now, before we begin, can you guys … we’re going to, for those that are listening and reading, we’re going to be trying … Kymberly will say that she’s speaking, and then Alexandra will say that she’s speaking, so hang on, guys, here we go. So when you think about that word inspiration, who do you believe you inspire and how does that happen?
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. Well, I would like to think that I inspire people who might have a bit of intimidation or concern about exercise and fitness and general well being and good health, and I would like to say that I try to inspire them to find it to be accessible and enjoyable and approachable, and also something that’s achievable for everybody, not somebody who’s already fit.
I once knew somebody who used to carry a card in his pocket to a club, but he didn’t go because he said he was waiting until he got fit. So we want to be the people that help … I like inspiring people, so that it doesn’t matter if you’re doing a little bit or a lot, as long as you’re doing something more.
Toni: Okay. Kymberly, who do you think you inspire and how?
Kymberly: Well concerning fitness and the world at large, I’d like to think … it’s very similar to what Alexandra said. In our classes, we inspire those who are already active because they’re in the club already, they’re taking classes. I also think that I inspire people to be active or to move or to engage in a healthy lifestyle, just because I am a regular person. Not extremely fit, not teeny-tiny. A regular person doing regular activity, but with lots of energy and lots of love for movement.
I’d like to think that I also inspired my daughter to be active throughout her life, so that’s been important is to live in a way that’s a role model so that she is someone who enjoys movement, enjoys being active, enjoys her body for what it does, not just for how it looks.
Toni: Okay. When you guys think about how you work, and you set this example for others and you try to make it approachable for others that need and want to be fit, how do you think that helps people to explore their potential then?
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. What I do to help people explore their potential is, on a serious note, I tell them they can wear whatever they want, as long as it’s comfortable, they won’t be embarrassed, and they can move effectively in it. So I don’t care if they come in the right shoes or the right outfits or full of makeup or that kind of thing. I just tell them “What did you do yesterday?” Like a lot of times people will come to me and they’ll say “Oh, I’m not going to be very good at this because I’m new” and I’ll say “Well, 80% of the population doesn’t even work out and you’re already here, so you’re already in the top 20%.”
I would say that I use … that particular comment would probably come from my counseling experience where you reframe it in looking at the positive instead of the negative. Because over the past 27 years, I’ve had people come to me all the time and tell me what they cannot do, and I like to reframe it for what they can do. And I also like to think that to help them explore their potential besides just fitness is it helps them to maybe reframe things in other areas.
Another thing that I do is like if I make a mistake, I just say “Okay, I made a mistake” and move on. Like if I cue them orally or something like that, or I run out of steam and I can’t do one more pushup or whatever. I’ll say “Well, I did more than I thought I could” or “I did more than if I didn’t do any” so I try to be an example by that and let people know that it doesn’t matter so much what they can’t do as what they can do.
I’ll give an example and then I’ll let Kymberly. This is on the humorous side. For example, people say “I can’t do a pushup.” I’ll say, “Well, just do a pushdown. Just lower yourself to the ground, claw yourself back up, and do another pushdown.” The secret is what I know; they’re training the same muscles. But they get a laugh out of it because I called it a pushdown and I make a humorous comment about it, but it also makes it okay to not do 100%. It makes it okay to work toward it. So I’ll let Kymberly answer now.
Kymberly: Holy smokes, that was long! I’m going to be shorter. Okay, what do I do to help explore potential in others? A couple quick quotes. Number one, I like to remind people that perfection is highly overrated. Forget perfection. It’s overrated. Just go for better than last time, or more than I did before.
Number two is, as Alexandra said, we try to use humor a lot because I think that’s a real bond between people, and it does break down barriers. And so really our teaching style, our writing style, just our own regular personalities is pretty in your face, and usually we will use humor in our teaching style to try to connect people and ourselves to the people that we’re working with.
And then thirdly is when I’m teaching, I make mistakes and I’ll tell them. “Hey, here’s the deal, it’s a coupon special, double offer, two for one – it’s actually ten for one.” If I make one mistake when I’m cuing and I cue them the wrong way when I’m teaching, I say “Okay, you get 10 freebies. No expiration date. You can head over to the right when everybody else is going left. You can trip up over your feet. I don’t care; I just made one, you get 10 freebies.” So I guess that helps them explore their potential.
Alexandra: Also, I’m interjecting … this is Alexandra. First of all, perfection is overrated, but my parents did a really good job with me, especially. The other thing is, what Kymberly didn’t tell you is that she also tells people that if she makes a mistake, again picking on pushups, she tells the people they can have 10 free pushups for themselves, because there’s a money back guarantee. If you don’t like my style, you don’t like my jokes, you can have all your pushups back, so she gives a refund. Kymberly, sorry. You can finish now.
Kymberly: I think I’m done with that question. Unless Toni, you want to ask more on that.
Toni: Well no. What I’m hearing – this is Toni – and what I’m hearing from you guys and I wrote down certain words, which is what I do. When I’m doing these interviews, there’s words that come to my mind, and I’m listening to you both, and I wrote the words “humanized fitness.”
Toni: That’s what I’m hearing from both of you …
Alexandra: Well I have to … sorry, go ahead.
Toni: That is an oxymoron though, isn’t it, because you are dealing with humans, but you really are humanizing the experience for someone.
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. You’re right, but it isn’t an oxymoron because I would say, really it’s as high as 80% of the population thinks that fitness is for somebody else, and punishing, tortuous exercise is what they should have to do in order to achieve this fitness thing. I don’t think it’s an oxymoron.
Kymberly: That’s a great way to put it. I hadn’t thought of it with one word except that two other words we might use are “just fun” – we hope people see movement or activity as fun, even if it’s not formal fitness – and the other is accessible, as Alexandra said earlier. Just accessible. Just walk out your front door and walk a little bit.
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. I tell people that we’re going to bring out their inner hotness.
Toni: Fantastic! So guys, what inspires you?
Kymberly: This is Kymberly, I’ll answer first. What inspires me and what I need to be inspired?
Toni: You bet.
Kymberly: People, number one. Number two, my sister, because for writing, without her I wouldn’t get inspired because she’s so off the wall that that’s what kind of gets me going, and a microphone usually inspires me, and a stage usually inspires me. So those are good elements to get me rolling. Also, on the benefits of fitness side, so that’s what’s inspired me, I should say, to teach fitness and to write about fitness.
As far as what I need to be inspired overall, I love moving, and I think in terms of the concept of keeping your world large, versus the world shrinking. Normally with age and inactivity or a sedentary lifestyle, the world starts shrinking. Things that you could at 40 you can’t do at 50. By the time you’re 60, 70, well, “I can’t do this activity I once loved, and I can’t go to this place that I once was able to get to. I can’t travel there because of these barriers.” That is a world that is shrinking, and what inspires me to keep fit and to keep moving, in addition to being able to be with people with that activity, is trying to keep my world large.
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. You lost me at hello.
Kymberly: I tried, but you’re still here following me!
Alexandra: This is Alexandra again. I guess what I need to be inspired is a good night’s sleep, a good breakfast, and my preferred makeup regimen – sunglasses and lipstick.
Toni: And are they very large sunglasses?
Alexandra: Yes; they cover my entire body.
Kymberly: This is Kymberly. I suggested to Alexandra that she include a low-brimmed wide hat with that fitness, excuse me, with that makeup regimen. I don’t think she was going for that.
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. In addition to that, what I need to be inspired, in all truth, people. Social interaction. If I were alone for a long time, I would start to talk to myself, beep, beep, beep, more than I do …
Kymberly: Quit calling me then!
Alexandra: I might start answering myself. It’s other people. When I see … like I have a lot of Twitter friends, and I see how hard people are working. In a sense I think, well, I have it easy, although I don’t. I worked hard to get where I am. But I’m the same size, clothing wise, that I was in high school, and it inspires me to think you know what, I work hard. And the people that I see around me who are trying to achieve whatever is the right size or weight for them, are working 10 times harder, which gives me a lot of respect for them, because I feel like I work pretty hard, and so to imagine the multiplication – I’m missing the word I mean – but the amount that they must be putting into it always gives me a lot of respect for the people with whom I deal.
I never … I probably prefer the unfit in my class to the super fit. Not that I don’t like the super fit, but I always volunteer to teach the new classes because I like working with newer exercisers, because I feel that they’re going to be more successful and happier, and also they need me more, and I like to be needed. My teenagers don’t need me anymore unless I have a wallet and car keys.
Toni: So to both of you ladies, how are you continuing to explore your own potential so that you can keep this attitude towards fitness and life and helping other people alive? What are you doing to keep stoking that potential in yourselves?
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. I need one of those AAA Triptic maps. Other than that …
Kymberly: Okay, you’re lost with her on the explore site?
Alexandra: My map. My road map to exploring my own potential. I couldn’t find my own potential without a road map. Can you translate my joke for me?
Toni: So when you find your potential, what happens with it? What do you do with it?
Kymberly: We’ll be rich! Wait, this is Kymberly. No, Alexandra, back to you.
Alexandra: Okay. I need … well now, besides the fact that I have hundreds and hundreds of students every quarter at the University who are forced into the position of having to listen to me, and I inform them on the very first day that they’re going to enjoy that experience, so they don’t have to decide later whether that’s true or not; they just know in advance.
The other thing I need to explore my own potential is a forum for expression. So Kymberly came home with this idea to write our fitness blog together. I realized you know what, just that little spark or that little kick in the keister – I’d like to speak metaphorically, but you should see her aim – I need to feed off other people’s good ideas, but also what I need to explore my own potential is to try new things and like I said, to find a way to express myself, particularly like in writing and in humor, because I’ve done a lot of standup type of stuff, but now to be able to write it, and then I see it. I see it written, and it kind of spurs me on even more, and then I’m thinking about the reader, from the reader’s perspective to make sure that they’re not just laughing, but they’re also getting some knowledge.
So that’s what I need is kind of like that interaction. I say this so that people will be encouraged to put lots of comments on our comments page, because we always write back. Kymberly?
Kymberly: Toni, would you mind asking me that question again, but in different words?
Toni: When you are doing what you do, are there ways that you explore other ways of doing it, other ways to learn from things yourself, development for yourself so that you can continue to explore your own potential so that you can keep getting stronger and stronger in what you’re doing?
Kymberly: Okay, okay. Thank you, Toni. This is Kymberly. Then that’s two answers – there’s an internal answer and an external answer. How are we doing on time?
Toni: We’re okay.
Kymberly: Okay. For the external answer, I’m an education junkie, so I just would, in the sense of how you’re asking exploring potential or developing or constantly pushing boundaries, I would say always looking for a high learning curve and just somebody who always looks for something new with a learning curve. So if there’s … once I get something to status quo or once I get bored with it but then I’m ready to either move to something else or to work on that original thing in a different way.
For example, when I was at the University of California, Santa Barbara, as a faculty and fitness advisor in the Department of Exercise and Sports Studies, when I took the program over, it was time to add a new track to the program. We were training fitness instructors, but we weren’t yet training personal trainers. And so the couple years that we put into place to create curriculum and train personal trainers, that was a very exciting time for me because I had to learn a whole new area so that I could turn around and then teach it.
Once that program was up and running comfortably and we had reached all our goals, then it was something that was better done by somebody else. That wasn’t as interesting for me because okay, I’ve done what I need to do, and now it’s just managing it. So when there’s a new learning curve, for example, this fitness blog, Fun and Fit, that Alexandra and I now do, that is kind of pushing a little bit too, saying “All right, well we’ve never written together. We’ve written separately. We’ve never written humorously together. So let’s be ourselves a little bit more in this rather than answering straight. Let’s answer straight plus twisted and quirky.”
Alexandra: This is Alexandra. I wonder by implication if she’s saying she’s going to get bored with this pretty soon.
Kymberly: Well, the questions are new each week. This is Kymberly.
Alexandra: Maybe you’ll have to get a new twin when you get bored.
Kymberly: I already tried cashing you in. This is Kymberly again. On the internal side of that, I guess this comes more with age, because Alexandra and I are now 51.
Alexandra: No – this is Alexandra – Kymberly is 51. When we hit 50, I gave her the rest of my birthdays.
Toni: Okay, okay.
Alexandra: I’m 50 with experience. You check with us in a year, I’ll be 50 with more experience. She’ll unfortunately be a lot older.
Kymberly: Yes, that is true. I’ll just divert for a second – this is Kymberly – because I did come up with the twin birthday plan, and I want to share it with any of your listeners who are twins and want to get in on this plan because it’s really helpful. It’s kind of redundant each year for the twins to both have a birthday and both turn a year older, so we thought we could just alternate. So really, we’re both 25.
Toni: Fantastic idea!
Kymberly: So on her year, she gets to pick the cake and the dinner type, and get the present, and then next year when I turn 26, I’ll be up, and then she’ll turn 26. It’s just a little redundant otherwise.
Alexandra: This is Alexandra, and I forgot to inform Kymberly, but on my year, I stopped picking the cake and now I just pick the age.
Toni: There you go. Well, ladies, unfortunately we are running out of time, but I want to make sure that I capture and put back out there what you guys are doing and how you’ve come at not only who you inspire, but also what you need to be inspired. And who you inspire are the people that you are with every day, and you are in their presence every day with humor and grace and comfort, and that is so important, and that will help a lot of people with their potential if they feel comfortable. And then, what you guys both need to be inspired as far as the strength and to be able to have that learning curve as you spoke of, but also keep finding new things to poke at, you know, for yourselves, but for others. I think that’s what I’ve heard. Am I pretty close?
Kymberly: Yes, and people.
Alexandra: And also further education, like workshops.
Kymberly: But we need people.
Toni: Absolutely. At the core of all of this are the people that you’re working for.
Alexandra: Yes. We eat them for snacks.
Toni: Absolutely … well, ladies, it has been a pleasure and thank you so very much for being part of the Get Inspired! Project, and we will post a link to your blog so that people can comment or ask your questions.
Alexandra: Thank you.
Toni: So for your time today and for being part of this, we cannot thank you enough.
Kymberly: Thank you, Toni.
Toni: Take care.
For more information about Kymberly and Alexandra: www.funandfit.org