YogaFit: Beth Shaw Interview

Tracey Kelley
YogaFit founder Beth Shaw.

YogaFit has released a new yoga DVD, YogaFit Ultra, featuring master trainers Katie Pearson and Kristin Mabry. The format is a dynamic vinyasa flow designed for intermediate practice. It is just another step in instructional media pioneered by YogaFit's founder Beth Shaw.

Shaw started a successful yoga enterprise by integrating yoga into fitness centers around the United States, training yoga instructors, and developing yoga books, videos, and DVDs. YogaFit has trained more than 70,000 fitness experts worldwide and stimulated the profession with mind/body/fitness conferences, known as MBFs.

We asked Shaw about being an entrepreneur, the importance of community service, and developing yoga programs that benefit both fitness professionals and individuals.

YogaFit: Beth Shaw Interview

Please tell us about your personal yoga journey and when you realized it had become an integral part of your life.

When I quit my career as an advertising executive to pursue yoga full time: that was what made me realize how serious I was about pursuing yoga as a career. One day I was riding my bike and the name YogaFit just came to me and the rest is history.

The story is you developed a clothing line that you sold out of the trunk of your car after sessions! Why was it important to you to use your involvement in yoga to create a business?

I was faced with an increasing demand for our services and products, and in order to keep up with that demand, I had to provide more. The business just naturally evolved, and year by year, the company expanded and grew. We had to move to a bigger location, hire more staff, and started producing more clothing, DVDs, yoga products, you name it! I realized that my company was making a difference in the lives of many different people, and to be able to do that and have a business at the same time is an incredible experience.

You've been driving the evolution of yoga for the past ten years with the company, worldwide instructor training, and other innovations. What lessons have you learned as an entrepreneur and as a yoga practitioner?

I've learned that no matter what, your client's needs and expectations come first. YogaFit is committed to providing excellent customer service. One trainee expressed his gratitude when one time he left a message at our corporate offices, and three different individuals returned his phone call within the same day! That's how committed we are to our trainees-answering their questions and processing their requests in an efficient and timely manner.

It's also important to reach out to trainees and know them by name. I have corporate staff leave the office on occasion to meet the trainees at conferences, so that way we all know who we're talking to over the phone and dealing with through e-mail. Even though we've trained over 70,000 fitness instructors, we feel like we know them all and we have a tight-knit relationship with them.

You've recently released a new DVD, YogaFit Ultra.What is the process for designing a new DVD program?

I look back at my other DVDs and see how I can expand on different elements of fitness. I also get suggestions or requests from trainees and YogaFit fans and try my best to incorporate a little bit of everything. It's a never-ending process with many possibilities.

Benefits of Yoga for Yourself and Your Community

What are the benefits to becoming a yoga practitioner?

The benefits are mental, physical, and spiritual. Yoga is a wonderful discipline for the body, allowing the individual to burn fat and strengthens muscles at the same time. It also offers a warm-up and cool-down phase, which is better on the heart, as opposed to just heading out the door for a quick run. Not only is it relaxing and rejuvenating, but it also clears one's head and offers the opportunity to meditate and cleanse the mind of clutter. And many individuals have found that they feel closer to themselves, the earth and others around them by participating in a regular yoga practice.

YogaFit's instructor program includes a community service component necessary for achieving certification. Why did you feel this component was important?

There are too many people out there that hope for a better world but have yet to contribute to it. I felt that incorporating community service as part of the mandatory process in receiving teacher certification was a great way to get people moving.

Our company requires each trainee to teach eight hours of free yoga classes to a population that would not be able to have it otherwise. Our trainees have instructed individuals that are incarcerated, cancer patients, women in shelters, and all other walks of life. Our trainees often write in, thanking us for the mandatory requirement that they do community service. It makes them feel great and, as for us, we've had over 70,000 trainers complete eight hours of community service each. That's a lot of hours!

Instigating Change

What was the inspiration for Visionary Women in Fitness and how does the program work?There are many young and disadvantaged women out there who, because of certain personal handicaps and other issues, are not able to pursue opportunities like the rest of the women their age.

I wanted to offer them another option, so they could pursue careers in fitness and improve their own lives, as well as the lives of those around them. Basically, women that are interested in becoming yoga instructors but can't afford the YogaFit training send us an application and then if approved, we offer them a scholarship. We were featured on the E! Style Network a while back and I awarded a scholarship to a young woman who was coping with a personal addiction. It was truly a life-changing experience for both of us.

If you could wave a magic wand and change one thing, what would it be?

I would rid the world of all animal abuse and neglect. There are far too many unwanted animals in this world, and if we can continue to educate others about the importance of spaying and neutering their pets and treating all living things with love and kindness, the world would be a better place.

Learn More about YogaFit

~Tracey L. Kelley

The author of this article received a promotional disc of "YogaFit Ultra" to complete this interview.

YogaFit: Beth Shaw Interview