Former DJ believes movement is key to mental health
There’s a new strength and mobility coach in town.
Elizabeth Earl feels she has been motivating people far longer than the seven years she ran her gym in Brooklyn, New York.
“Back in the day” she was DJ Bitsy, playing at Oasis, The Deep and other hotspots until “it got to a point where people were just going out to be seen” rather than dance.
“It wasn’t really fulfilling me any more. It wasn’t fun,” she said.
Instead, she joined the radio station Hott 107.5, where she had a morning show for three years.
“That was very exciting because I could reach a lot of people with a positive message first thing in the morning and still utilise my talents with music,” she said.
The real switch came through repeated injuries she suffered in the nine years she completed the Avon 39, a two-day, 39-mile breast cancer awareness walk in New York.
“I went to physical therapy; it was just increasingly frustrating. And then I got sick – my vision kept going in and out.”
After seeing “a couple of specialists” she decided to focus on learning as much as she could about her body. With a Bermudian father and an American mother, she was able to choose where she wanted to study.
“I wound up getting my personal training certification and diving in headfirst to that. While I was doing that, I realised that if I wanted to continue to build my repertoire of knowledge, my arsenal, it was probably going to be better for me to do that in the United States because it's cheaper.
“The certification alone is normally $1,500 or up and then you add the airfare [of travelling between Bermuda and New York] and everything else on top of it. I was able to just move to Brooklyn without having to go through a lot of hoops.”
For two years she worked at “a big box gym” while she got “acquainted with the lay of the land and taxes and all that good stuff”.
“And then I started my own business called Motivation Fitness. I have a lot of certifications under my belt. I ended up finding a duplex in Brooklyn – which is really hard to find – and creating my own gym downstairs. I built my own gym in my house and I had one-on-one clients coming to my house four days out of the week.”
Her speciality, however, became “orthopaedic exercise science and mobility”. Many of her clients were pre- and postnatal women.
“It was amazing,” she said.
A few months ago, however, she decided it was time for change.
“My family was here and my father passed but even before that I started not enjoying the cold as much and thinking it was about time that I go home,” she said.
Although she does miss the entertainment part of being a DJ, Ms Earl believes that she has found her calling in health.
“With my clients, every time they hit their goal or did something that they said they couldn’t do or maybe a doctor or a physical therapist said that they would never be able to do again, I would just get so excited,” she said.
“That's kind of where the two definitely meet. When I started out DJing, my main goal was to just be able to create a safe space for people to unwind from the week; to let down their hair. I really believe that mental health and physical health are tied together. And so I got that same kind of fulfilment when I was able to train people, to help them reach their goals or even surpass their goals.”
With all her certifications behind her she would like to be able to help clients do the same here.
“I'm wanting to hopefully get back on radio at some point in time to help people lead healthier lives and also just get back into that entertaining side that's naturally a part of my personality. But also I am linking up with Apex Physio and we are collaborating to create some fun programmes and ideas in 2023. So I'll be hopefully working hand in hand with them.”
Apart from that she is growing her own business, Trifecta Fitness BDA, as she winds down her company in New York.
“I’m also looking to really try and bridge the gap. I've noticed that there isn't a lot of access to mental health. And with the pandemic, especially in the States and in New York in particular, which you know was hit really, really hard, mental health has really come to the forefront.
“I've noticed that when people feel strong physically they feel strong mentally. And since I've been back and not having insurance myself, I’ve noticed there isn't a lot of access to help for people that may need that help. I’m hoping to try and link up with people to really put that to the forefront and possibly use my DJing as a way to create a fun, positive environment where we can get the message out that there shouldn't be a stigma around mental health and that it should be part of the healthcare continuum.”
With that in mind she plans to lobby insurance providers so their clients have access to at least one mental health checkup each year.
“I think that's lacking here and everywhere,” Ms Earl said. “So that is a pet project of mine that I'm hoping to really get the ball rolling on in 2023.
“The pandemic really highlighted depression. Social media was the only place to be social – especially in places where they were locked down – and then people were comparing each other on social media. And so there's going to be, and has been, some carry-over from that.”
That people also were not as able to exercise did not help, Ms Earl added.
“It's a form of medicine. When you're moving, it helps your mental wellbeing. As I said, when you feel stronger physically you tend to feel stronger mentally as well. So I’m just pushing that message out there that fitness and strength and mobility is for everyone.”
It is more than “just an aesthetic thing”, Ms Earl said. On a trip to China in 2019 she was surprised to see how many people travelling with her were unable to squat long enough to use the outdoor toilets they found there.
“My partner and I were the only ones that could actually squat and not have our legs burn. Unfortunately more than half the people that were on the trip with us, the next day they were just so sore.
“I want to be able to explore the world and have fun at every age and not be in a predicament where I feel like I can't [do something] because my legs are too sore.”
Reach Elizabeth Earl on www.trifibda.com or email@example.com. Follow her on Instagram: trifitbda