How Does She Do It: Jessie

I love highlighting inspiring women/people because they truly get me jazzed and re-energized about life and doing great things!

My newest addition to the How Does She Do It series is Jessie Benson!

jessie benson floyo | sunshine & the bear

Jessie is a friend here in Baltimore and she’s unbelievably inspirational! (Not to mention she’s a blast to hang out with haha) Jessie and I met through the small town city that is Smalltimore, and since then we’ve been entangled through fitness and friendship.

Jessie is the founder of an awesome fitness company called FloYo. FloYo® fitness classes are full body workouts performed on a standup paddle board – that’s right, a regular workout that you might struggle doing, but with even more of a challenge! Classes combine yoga sequences and interval training methods to create a full body workout.

Check out my Q&A with Jessie below!

rio on instagram | sunshine & the bear How do you start your day?
I typically teach first thing in the morning. So I wake up, take my puppy Rio for a quick walk and head straight to the gym or studio to teach. After teaching I come home to eat my steel cut oats, play with Rio, catch up on emails and check social media! (BONUS: You can also follow Rio on Instagram – cute dog photos are always good, right?!)

What do you never leave home without?
My nalgene water bottle. It is always attached to my hand and I have a backup in the car just incase I forget it. I like to stay very well hydrated! :)

What’s your favorite healthy food?
Salmon! I also love quinoa and faro…I make all kinds of crazy concoctions with those two grains!

You’re the FOUNDER of FloYo – so so cool! It’s such an awesome company and idea – how did that come to be? What inspired you to found it?
jessie benson floyo fit | sunshine & the bear I had been teaching paddleboard fitness classes for about 2 years when I finally decided to create FloYo®. I always knew that I would own my own business someday but I just wasn’t sure what it would be. I absolutely loved teaching SUP yoga classes and introducing new people to the world of standup paddling and saw an opportunity to try to create a new standard in the way SUP yoga classes were developed and taught. I saw a lot of awesome yoga instructors suddenly taking their classes out of the studio and on to paddleboards, but the problem was that they didn’t really know how to properly paddle, nonetheless teach other beginners how to paddle. So, I saw an opportunity and ran with it. My goal with FloYo is to create an awesome fitness experience that takes people out of their comfort zone while teaching them about the sport of SUP and giving them the opportunity to find balance not only on the board but in their lives. Now FloYo’s main focus is on leading teacher training certifications, workshops and retreats all over the world! Someday I want people to automatically think of FloYo when they see a standup paddler go by!

It’s got to be tough running your own thing all the time – What does your hardest day look like? What got you through it? What made it worthwhile?
Well, the most challenging part of my day-to-day life is finding the balance between teaching and running FloYo. I currently teach 22 group fitness classes a week (yikes, hadn’t actually counted the number of classes lately!) so am often running from one studio to another, so simply finding the time to sit down at the computer and do the work that needs to be done for FloYo is a challenge. I also find myself overwhelmed a lot. There are so many possibilities for FloYo, different directions I can take the company, other businesses to partner with, new locations for affiliates, etc. so staying on task and not getting lost in the bigger picture is a constant battle. I try to simply make lists and stick with one task at a time in order to prevent myself from getting too overwhelmed!

jessie benson yoga class at UA | sunshine & the bear

jessie and esther at rev | sunshine & the bear

It’s so cool to see you taking FloYo in new directions and expanding what you’re doing – from FloYo on the Surfset board to FloYo in the pool, it’s a whole new way to look at it! Tell me a little more about those new ventures and any new ones you feel like sharing!
Jessie Benson - FloYo at Beachfit | sunshine & the bear Yes, one of the things that I have learned as a business owner is that you always have to keep your company fresh and find new and different ways to get on peoples minds. Being such a seasonal business, I am always trying to figure out new ways to keep the FloYo energy flowing during our colder months. I am really excited about my partnership with BeachFit Baltimore, where I am now teaching FloYo classes on the SurfSet boards (Check out my post about FloYo at Beachfit!). Both the Surfset classes and the pool classes are a great opportunity to introduce new people to FloYo. Not everyone loves the idea of trying FloYo in the open water for the first time, so if we can get them comfortable on a board either on dry land or on a pool where they can see the bottom it helps them gain confidence and want to take the experience outside! I do have a few new projects in the works, but not quite ready to announce them yet! But I will say that one involves a new board partnership and the other is with a few new resorts in the Caribbean…so get excited!

How has leading a healthy lifestyle changed your life?
Since high school, I have always lead a very healthy lifestyle. I started teaching fitness classes in college and really eating clean right after college. But, I will say that in the past few months I have focused more on my own personal health and fitness goals then ever before. This has made such an impact on every aspect of my life. I realized I was teaching all these fitness classes and helping tons of other people achieve their fitness goals, but I wasn’t really pursuing my own and I wasn’t 100% happy with my own body. So, recently I have been setting aside more time to lift weights, more time to keep track of my food and more time just for ME! This has just given me a more balanced life and a better attitude. I don’t feel as stressed and irritable all the time, I am finally starting to find that work/life balance that is so important!

jessie benson floyo | sunshine & the bear

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
Hummm, this changes daily! But at the moment I have been reading this at the end of my yoga classes and it really resonates with me… “The greatest challenge in life is discovering who you are; the second greatest is being happy with what you find.” It has taken me a little while to figure out what exactly I want to do with my life and my career, but I finally feel like I have figured it out, so now my challenge is staying true to myself, my goals and my dreams. There are so many people out there that consider what I am doing crazy, but I know I am headed down the right path and I just need to hold on to my vision and keep forging my own path!

Be sure to follow Jessie & FloYo on TwitterInstagram & Facebook to keep up with her awesome posts! 

And check out FloYo for yourself if you can – it’s a challenge, but a really fun, unique way to get in a workout AND have a blast! 

How Does She Do It: Georgia

georgietonesitup As you saw recently, I’ve just started a new series on my blog, featuring some of the incredible and inspiring people I’ve met…I started with Kristyn and I’m excited to feature another awesome woman I’ve known for a long time – Georgia!

Georgia (@GeorgieToningUp) and I met through the online Tone It Up community and she’s been a constant inspiration for me! Living in the UK gave Georgia a different outlook on life, and yet it was so similar (isn’t life weird like that…) which I love learning about! She’s always awesome and always REAL. Positive, negative, stressed, confident…she always reminds me that it’s ok to feel all those things. But then to pause, take a breath and get back to the positive! She’s a rockstar.

Speaking of real, she and I have always had a similar insight into the healthy mindset. Much like me, she’s always tried to strike a balance between working hard for the body/life that we want, while being happy/comfortable and loving the one that we have (aren’t we all just doing that?). I remember she wrote one post a while ago that’s always stuck with me. It was when the whole “bikini bridge” phenomenon was hitting the internet and it was making all of us insane. She said “So please please please be healthy. I am all about encouraging health and yes I believe in working for that bikini body. But I do not and I will never believe in working towards an unhealthy, unattainable, unrealistic goal. Aim for curves, aim for beauty, aim to feel confident, sexy and beautiful in that bikini ladies!” That’s the key. That’s what Tone It Up is about. That’s what BMOREtoned is about. That’s what I’m about. Healthy and beautiful. Love Georgia!

Check out this quick Q&A I had with Georgia!

arizona skyline What does your typical morning look like?
I’m at University studying Law with American Studies so my morning tends to vary depending on my class schedule. At the moment, I wake up and have a ton of messages from home to reply to because of the 8 hour time difference. Then I normally check through all of my social media and catch up with my Tone It Up team and then I read the news from home – just to keep up to date! That all takes about ten minutes before I get up and make some breakfast and a coffee before doing reading for class. I’m a night owl when it comes to working out!

You’ve recently started some time abroad in the US – how has your time differed from being at home?
I’m doing a study abroad year as part of my degree at Arizona State University, so apart from the change in weather(!) It’s a much bigger culture change than I was expecting! I would never have guessed it, coming from the UK. I’m amazed at how many people don’t understand my accent – the other day I had to spell out the word ‘hot’ when ordering a coffee! I’m also living away from my family for the first time ever. 5000 miles and an 8 hour time difference doesn’t make for easy calls home when I need to ask my mum what a symbol on a laundry label means ;). The biggest change then is definitely being totally independent for the first time ever. I do everything for myself now: cook all of my own meals, do my own grocery shopping, get myself from A-B and all of those exciting adult things! I was largely independent at home but being here has made it complete. I miss the UK loads but I wouldn’t change this experience for anything.

georgietonesitup We’ve known each other for a long time – starting together with TIU a few years ago! I’m always intrigued to find out how teammates found TIU – How did you find K&K?
We’ve known each other for a LONG time! I’ve followed Tone It Up for four years now! I originally found them on YouTube. I had just joined a gym and was 16 years old so I really had no clue what you do in a gym so I went on Youtube and searched! I found one of Sarah Dussault’s videos and there was a Tone It Up video in the sidebar! I watched it and straight away I was hooked. I knew from then I wanted to be a part of the TIU community and I haven’t looked back since.

What do you never leave the house without?
So predictable but my iPhone!! Especially at the moment because time really is crucial when I’m speaking to people back in the UK and iMessage and FaceTime make it so much easier. It’s also how I connect with the Tone It Up team and has documented my entire trip in the USA so far with the camera! I also rarely leave the house without an SPF chapstick. I’m obsessed, I honestly could sit there for hours and apply chap stick continually, I need to stop…it’s not healthy. Also, since I’ve moved to the desert, I make sure I carry water with me everywhere – even if it is just to a shop that’s a block away. The heat is brutal so I’m even more determined than usual to stay hydrated.

What has been one of your biggest successes and what obstacles did you have to overcome to get there?
This is a tricky one! I guess in a way my biggest success is that I haven’t had a total meltdown over here being on my own! I’ve taken moving out (and moving to a new continent!) in my stride and the results are showing. I feel better, more lean and more toned than I ever have. The obstacle I had to overcome was myself! I needed to get out of my own head and get over my fear of being alone. I had to put myself out there and make friends and get used to this totally new environment I was in. I was in such a routine at home and it was working so I was worried that moving to Arizona would throw a great big spanner in the works. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I keep reminding myself daily that I am doing this. I’m living in America, doing well in school, holding down a long term and long distance relationship, still managing to feel really close to my family and having the experience of a lifetime out here! With all of that in place I’m able to commit to my lifestyle and make choices that are right for me and the results speak for themselves :) I’ve gotten abs in Arizona ;)

elle woods inspirational quote What’s your favorite inspirational quote and why?
My boyfriend is a personal trainer and about a year ago he said to me, “You have to love your life the way you want it to be, not what anyone else expects it to be”. This resonates with me so much because I’m a huge believer of creating your own destiny. I am in charge of my happiness and I make a choice to make the most and be positive in every situation life throws my way. If I do, then nothing can ever bring me down and whenever I’m having a bad day I just remind myself of that and the pain will always go away. Whatever anyone else thinks is irrelevant – you steer your own ship!

Be sure to follow Georgia on Twitter and Instagram to keep up with her awesome posts! 

How Does She Do It: Kristyn

I’m super jazzed to start a new series on my blog, featuring amazing, inspiring people I’ve come across in my life.
We all need a little inspiration and I personally believe in spreading the love…so if I’m inspired, I want to pass it on to others, so they can share and find something/someone that might inspire them!

quote surround yourself

This week, I’m interviewing Kristyn (@KristynJoRuns)! She has been/continues to be an incredible inspiration to me (and I’m sure a ton of others) and I really wanted to help share some positivity from her. She is a consistent voice in the Tone It Up team world, checking in and sharing support and/or recipes with the group. She also has the super cutest pup (Koby) and has made us all jealous by posting photos from the lake! And, in her spare time – she’s a children’s book author! SHE DOES IT ALL – and I have no idea how (hence the blog title haha). She has a lovely blog, Creative with Kristyn, that you should definitely check out! She has tons of great yoga advice and inspiration, recipes and DIY projects, and much more!

kristynjoruns and koby Although I’ve never met Kristyn in real life, I feel kind of like we’re kindred spirits. I sent her some questions to answer – check out her responses below!

How do you start your day? 
I start my day with some hot lemon water and email. If I am feeling a cup of coffee (I’ve been working on dropping back!), I’ll have one after the lemon water. I wake up earlier than I would work out so I can relax for a moment to myself and give myself time to wake up. After email, I do browse social media for a bit, and sometimes get carried away on Pinterest in the early morning. I like to start my day with a workout, and more recently, it has been a yoga flow-either on YouTube, a workout DVD, or my own flow.

What do you never leave home without?
My bottle of water. I go absolutely nowhere without it. It is attached to my hip. I have a KOR water bottle that is made of BPA free plastic and has an organic coconut water filter inside. I am obsessed. It literally goes everywhere with me.

What’s your favorite food?
Toughest question ever. I love food. All of it. I would have to say sushi or when I make gluten-free pizza with all the toppings at home. I also love a good wine and cheese and crackers night. That counts as food, right? It does in my book. I could live on that combo I think. ;)

KristynJoRuns yoga You do a lot of yoga – I just started. It was really intimidating to me but I’m so happy I’ve gotten over the hump and gotten into it. What advice would you give non or new yogis looking to get into it?
Love this question. I started in November and just fell head over heels. I was so intimidated at first too, because there were so many amazing yogis doing insane arm balances and inversions, and there I was a total newbie. But that is the thing about yoga. There is no judgement, no ego; you leave it all at the door. Everyone does. And you do what is best for you and your practice on that given day. My advice for non and new yogis would be to just try. Take it slow. Take it easy. Do not judge yourself based on the performance of those around you. It is not a competition. Yoga is a journey. It is a journey for you and yourself and your body. You will get to wherever you want to get to when the time is right. You will nail that arm balance you have wanted to nail for the new yogis, when the timing is right. You will get that headstand when it is time. Non yogis who want to get into it…go to a studio class. This is just my opinion. Not a class at the gym. Go to a true studio yoga class. You will get the full effect and feel of what yoga is and what it can do for yourself; both body and mind. As we have chatted before, Kate, yoga brought out a side of both of us that we never knew existed, right? And what a wonderful side that is. I have never felt more stronger, both mentally and physically, than I do with my yoga practice. :)

Personally, I found you through our mutual love (obsession? haha) of Tone It Up! How did you first find the Tone It Up family?
Let’s go with obsession, shall we? :) I’ll say obsession…and LOVE…of Tone It Up. I found Tone It Up browsing YouTube videos one day back in like 2010. I was watching a lot of Elle Fowler makeup tutorials and I saw a recommended Tone It Up video. I instantly connected with Karena and Katrina’s fun loving attitude towards life and fitness. I watched their videos and did some here and there. It wasn’t until I got engaged that I really got into the Tone It Up Lifestyle. About 6 months before I got married, I bought the plan and followed it as I moved along through wedding planning. I have met SO MANY amazing women, all of whom I call friends (whether I know them personally, have met them, or not) and the community is so welcoming. So many opportunities have come up for me with all my TIU gals, too. I am forever grateful to Tone It Up for their hard work, dedication, and love they put into their business and the community. They have inspired, and continue to inspire millions of women across the globe and have connected us all in a beautiful, strong community filled with love and inspiration.

kristynjoruns beach How has leading a healthy life changed your life?
It has definitely changed a lot of things in my life! I would definitely say the addition of yoga to my healthy lifestyle really put my life over the edge of awesomeness. It completely changed my mentality to a very positive one. I have always been a pretty positive person, but yoga 360’d that for me and made it even more positive and taught me how to work through those times of personal stress that were always hard for me to work through before. Leading a healthy lifestyle has given me a sense of peace and clarity in this ever changing, busy world.

What is your favorite inspirational quote?
“Travel light. Live light. Spread the light. Be the Light.” ~ Yogi Bhajan

And what a light to be spread indeed…Kristyn is so rad! I hope you are as inspired by her as I am! Check her out on Twitter, Instagram and her blog to find even more daily light! ♥



[Inspiration] For 30 More

This week, I got to join friends for some sunset yoga. Usually, this is just great in itself! But this time was special – it was for a great cause and a wonderful person.

Katharine Scrivener for 30 more I’ve gotten to know Katharine through social media over the past few years I’ve lived in Baltimore and she’s always been a ray of sunshine and positivity! She’s always had a smile on and, from the outside, her life seems normal (whatever that means anymore haha).

What I didn’t know most of our friendship was that at age 16 she was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis. I’ve had friends run fundraising campaigns for CF before, but never really knew anyone who was directly affected…it’s incredible to see how she’s handling it/living her life.

She has inspired so many and lives every day and enjoys every breath as a gift! It’s a lesson we ALL need to learn.

When she was born in 1984, the life expectancy of someone with CF was just 25 – now she’s getting ready to celebrate her 30th birthday! WOO HOO! In honor of her amazing 30th, she’s fundraising for For 30 More – because she’s not finished yet! 30 years isn’t enough.

CF does not have a cure yet and is likely to shorten the life of anyone who has it. There are approximately 30,000 Americans living with CF. They are moms, dads, sisters, brothers, daughters, sons, husbands, wives, friends and co-workers who struggle every day just to breathe – just as Katharine does.

I’m so happy to donate to Katharine’s cause & you can help too! There’s only 10 days left! She’s only $2,660 away from her $15K goal! I hope you’ll take a moment to help Katharine (and everyone else living with CF) by donating to For 30 More!

Learn more about CF and other ways you can help from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation