Health-minded sisters aim to shift the fitness conversation
For years Kathi and Harmony DeCouto hated being anywhere near each other but in the midst of Covid-19, they started a business.
Called SisStars Fitness, the sisters are using it to change the way people approach health.
“Our intention is to shift the conversation from what is wrong to what are you doing about it,” said Kathi. “We are coaching people in the area of fitness, nutrition, health and well-being and communication.”
A personal trainer, she ran her own fitness company for several years before she left the island to pursue acting in the UK.
Covid-19 shut down those opportunities. She came home just as Harmony returned from Nicaragua, where she had been stranded by the pandemic.
“I literally crossed the border from Costa Rica into Nicaragua a week before they closed the borders – and then I got stuck there for seven-and-a-half months. There were no borders open and no flights going.”
Having completed her training as a yoga instructor there and as a regular visitor to the island of Ometepe, she was familiar with the community but anxious to get moving on a plan to join her sister in London and start a singing career.
“We wanted to spend time together,” Harmony said. “It was so weird. Going from a place of not wanting to be anywhere near her and then feeling it in my heart like there was something missing. It was just this desire for us to be together in the same place, wherever that was.
“Both of us have a huge history of fitness, of working with people, of nutrition. I learnt so much stuff through non-traditional learning and it was just this idea that all the things that I’ve learnt are so different from what Kathi’s learnt and vice versa. How we can bring all our, as I say, superpowers together and inspire Bermuda – our community, our friends, our family.”
A charter flight brought her home. Reunited, the sisters decided to put their business plan to work.
Said Kathi: “We started talking about it, reaching out to people, people reached out to us.”
SisStars Fitness holds online and in-person classes for groups and individuals. They offer the latter in a private gym and in open spaces around the island.
“[With online classes] we are there watching their moves, assisting them with their form, coaching them,” Kathi explained. “Rather than personal trainers I would say we’re more like cheerleaders for personal fitness, or consultants. Harmony went to someone’s house the other day to go through their fridge with them; to figure out what works and what doesn’t work for their diet.
“But it’s all aimed at having fun while boosting your immune system. Harmony’s forte is yoga, mine is weight training, HITT training, cardio, the whole works. But we both can do both. I work on strengthening and toning. She works on stretching and elongation.”
They offer classes for children and adults of all ages. Harmony is especially pleased with an 89-year-old client who asked for help with balance and is “literally just discovering what her body can do”.
“We’re not your typical training programme,” she said. “SisStars Fitness is very unconventional. Very much like us. It’s not just diet, it’s not just fitness, it’s not just yoga, it’s not just communication – it’s everything. One of our main things, my drug of choice, is variety. We are always adding in something new.
“There’s so much significance with looking good, trying to make your body look a certain type. That might be what’s important to you but in the process, have some fun doing it.”
They believe that none of it would have been possible without the seminars they are taking with Landmark Worldwide, a “personal and professional growth, training and development company [that is] committed to the fundamental principle that people have the possibility of success, fulfilment and greatness”.
“Kathi would walk in the room and I would walk out. To me, nothing she had to say was of any importance,” Harmony said. “I was very judgmental. We didn’t get along, we didn’t agree. And what’s so crazy now is we don’t agree on so many things and we love it. It brings a dynamic.”
Added Kathi: “There wasn’t anything bad that happened. There wasn’t any trauma, just little arguments, disagreements, little jealousies; little insecurities. We were like cats on top of each other but over the years those little bags add up and it became a bit of a drama between us and unfortunately it got quite nasty at times.”
They noted the change in family members who had participated in Landmark courses and decided to sign up.
“We made the declaration to have the best friendship ever, whatever that meant to us,” Harmony said. “Absolutely, without a doubt, the thing that set it off was us agreeing to do this seminar and doing the whole thing – to be there from the first day until the last day. That drastically transformed the way that I viewed my life and my family. And it just doesn’t stop. It snowballs from there. I’m working on my friendships; I’m working on my life.
“I was an accountant and now I live in the jungle – or I did – and I teach yoga classes in our garden and at the Botanical Gardens. It’s like my life is completely transformed and absolutely the catalyst initially was this communications seminar.”
They have been able to transfer some of the skills to benefit their clients, Kathi said.
“People often don’t just listen. They listen from judgement or trying to fix it or change it but when a human being’s given an opportunity to just share what they’re dealing with without their coach adding anything to it at all, it disappears it. It’s pretty magical. So communication is a huge part of our business.
“I’m not saying other trainers don’t do that but this is not just about reaching numbers on a scale or digits on a body composition measure. This is really about a lifestyle change for people.”
Contact SisStars Fitness on firstname.lastname@example.org, 516-9241 or +44 7398 131929 on WhatsApp. For more information on Landmark Worldwide visit www.landmarkworldwide.com