BY SUSAN HOWSON
Amy Brachman’s Superfun Yoga Pants helps legs find the pants that make moving fun. Her fitness philosophy? Find something to do that makes you feel as good as these pants do.
Photo by: Amy Brachman
“Happiness is…superfun yoga pants,” Amy Brachman said to the world via social media one day. And she started to think more about what that meant–what her life was like, what she wanted from it, and what she really wanted to do. Turns out, she really wanted to make people happy in a small but genuine way.
Superfun Yoga Pants acts as sort of an athletic legwear concierge, bringing you brands of yoga pants that do cool things for you, the world, your mood, and maybe even your butt. Just saying.
Amy focuses almost fanatically on helping each individual customer find a perfect fit, and she stresses when she can’t interact with them personally. The whole point, after all, is making you feel good about yourself. And Amy knows the brands, how they fit, and what body types they flatter.
What’s more, she is positive they will help motivate you to get moving.
WHAT DOES “FITNESS” MEAN TO YOU?
For me, fitness means living with balance. Physically, mentally, and spiritually. It’s not about “going hard” and it’s not about rules (deprivation or incorporation). It’s about knowing myself, listening to myself, and thinking of the whole rather than the individual parts.
Physically, it means moving my body as often as possible, in ways that feel good to me and that improve my state of mind. And a byproduct of moving my body in mindful ways is that I have become sensitive enough to my body and its needs (for movement, for food, for sleep, etc). And more often than not, now, I want the things that I need…and I’m pretty good at giving those things to myself.
I usually know when I’m about to (or have already) done something that my body isn’t going to like. And I feel the consequences. And then, enjoy them or not, I have to be okay with the tradeoff that I made for whatever reason I made it!
HOW DID FITNESS FIND YOU?
I used to be VERY insecure about my body. I’m 5’ tall and naturally more muscular/strong than long/lean/flexible. And I was very hard on myself.
I spent a lot of years forcing myself to the gym and restricting my diet. And I went through periods where I didn’t work out or eat well. My mood would suffer, I’d gain a little weight and feel even worse about myself, and eventually something would trigger me to get it back together again–usually by paying trainers to force me to get myself to the gym and then, once there, to push me harder than I would have pushed myself on my own.
I didn’t enjoy “fitness.” I got myself places [to work out] and made food choices (when I did) because I wanted to look good.
Three years ago, when a lot of things around me were in transition, I went to a Surf & Yoga retreat in Bali (followed by three weeks traveling Southeast Asia). I liked the surfing, but it was the yoga that really resonated with me. It was something that I could do, and wanted to do, everywhere I went on the rest of that trip…and when I got back to Richmond.
I began to practice a few days a week and, with the intention of deepening my practice, found myself in the YogaWorks 200-hour teacher training program in 2012-2013. And it is a very rare day that I don’t get on my mat now.
It energizes and calms me (body and mind). It keeps me grounded and also gives me tools to reach for my dreams. And because I feel better on a daily basis, I think I am a better person–doing better in the world and for other people.
Lastly, I’ll be 40 in a little under a month but my body is actually stronger, leaner, more flexible, and healthier overall than I think that it has ever been before. But that has been the byproduct of the dedicated practice, not the daily goal.
WHAT’S YOUR PERSONAL ROADMAP FOR STAYING FIT?
I have a (pretty much) seven-day-a-week yoga practice.
The majority of it is with a few yoga teachers at Yoga Source in Carytown, because I am extremely lucky to have a flexble work schedule and the unlimited monthly plan makes it affordable.
They all teach slightly “different” yoga, but they all come at the practice from a place of mindfulness. And, they all teach with a good amount of alignment instructions. Their classes (I’m to those of Myra Dionisio, Kathleen Brady, Sarah Fischer, and Ellie Burke) are like “home” to me, and I structure my day around them as much as I can.
I am also working on creating a home practice for the days when the class schedule just isn’t going to work with my commitments. The next frontier is getting over the fears and the need for structure and trusting myself and the knowledge that I’ve built in my brain and my body. And as my business gets more time-consuming and begins to require more travel, it will allow me to maintain the practice consistently. And that’s important to me.
But I like being taught, and the quiet place that comes from following sequence that someone else has created for you…so putting myself on a mat at home, alone, is difficult for me.
If it’s nice out, it’s rare that I’ll turn down an opportunity to move outdoors. Yoga, walking, hiking, etc.
When it comes to food, I eat pretty much what I want to eat, when I want to eat. And most of the time, I want things that are fairly healthful. But I love great fried chicken and ice cream (not together) and, in general, I love to go to new restaurants with friends. And I do that!
HOW ARE YOU HELPING TO KEEP RICHMOND FIT?
When you can be both confident and comfortable in your body and your clothes, then you smile at other people on the street and you are kinder in life in general. And when you feel good in your workout clothes, I think you want to move your body more.
So getting people into pants that fit and feel and function amazingly has the power to create a cycle of positivity.
And we work very hard to get people into the right pants FOR THEM! The ones that make them feel like a million dollars when they wear them during their workouts and even in just their regular lives, running around town. It starts with the testing/curating/filtering process and continues all the way to the trying-on interaction with each customer. The majority of our customer interaction is in person right now, but we have ideas for how to translate that experience to the online purchase as well, and are working to put those in place in 2015.
IF YOU COULD ENCOURAGE PEOPLE TO MAKE ONE CHANGE IN THEIR LIVES IN ORDER TO BECOME MORE FIT, WHAT WOULD IT BE?
I would encourage people to do some focused exploration to find out what kind of “movement” they really love. If you find those, like I found yoga, they won’t feel like a chore. And it will be easier to move your body, mindfully, every day (even if only for 15 minutes), which I would say is ultimately my advice.
You will come to feel grateful for it and energized by it. And physical (as well as maybe some other types of “fitness”) will likely be the byproduct.
Keep up with Amy and Superfun Yoga Pants on their site and Facebook. She keeps both updated with their upcoming pop-up times and locations. And stay tuned for more online options, if you must, although, as you know, Amy prefers to come and charm you in person.
How fun is superfun?
We rewarded our long-suffering sales and marketing manager, Lauren, who agreed to go on a very, very cold run with the Health Warrior bros, with a personal fitting with Amy, resulting in three pairs of extremely fun pants.
Lauren runs in an annoying “Oh I just got in a run between work and meeting you for dinner, and now I’m glowing!” way. She also teaches spin classes at Boho (more from them later this week). She ALSO does a little barre, a little pilates, a little this and that whenever her annoying glow needs a little re-up.
Here’s her thoughts on her two months with three pairs of Superfun pants!
— ∮∮∮ —
- Brand: Teeki
- Print: Clouds
- Lauren’s Rating: 5 (out of 5)
“They don’t cut into your stomach like tights, they lie flat. It’s like wearing nothing,” says Lauren, who doesn’t typically like to wear pants when working out. Clarification: she enjoys shorts, not working out in the buff. “Pants typically make me feel like I’m just trapped in sweaty sausage casings, but these wick away water so fast.” Plus, they’re made of recycled water bottles. Neat.
- Brand: Jiva
- Print: Drift
- Lauren’s Rating: 4
Lauren, who is 5’3” (“on a good day”) admitted that Amy warned her the Jivas were built for taller people, which turned out to be true. However, Lauren likes these for colder days, as they’re thicker (“more like bathing suit material”). The pattern had seemed so wild to her before she had a chance to try them on, but that’s something she says that Amy understands well: once you get them on your legs, they don’t seem crazy, they seem fun.
- Brand: Solosol Movement
- Print: Day Dreamer High Waisted Crop
- Lauren’s Rating: 5
“These feel like pajama pants,” exclaimed Lauren, which I took to mean that these were sub-optimal. Not so! “I love wearing them around the house.” Originally, she was worried that the fold-down waistband would fold itself right back up when faced with the mic pack she has to wear during her spinning classes, but that wasn’t so either.
To sum up
Lauren is spoiled forever by these pants. A former proponent of the cheapest workout wear possible, she now can’t face the idea of waking up before dawn to put on…boring, medium-comfortable pants. And, she’ll have you know, she’s worn them hard in the last two months, washed them a bunch, and they haven’t faded or worn in any way shape or form. She also confirmed that they are, indeed, a superfun motivation for moving.
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