I met Erin Stutland, coach and founder of The Shrink Session, at a tipi on a beautiful Brooklyn summer night, during an Awakened Feminine meeting (interview with AF coming up!). I had been following Erin’s success for a few months, and it was excited to meet this rockstar in person.
The following week, I took a kickass Srink Session (one of NYC’s hottest workouts that combines yoga, cardio-dance, kickboxing, life coaching, meditation and affirmations) with Erin at The Movement (where I’ve been before for Heidi Kristoffer’s CrossFlowX class). I was happily sore and inspired the next day, and caught Erin to chat about turning your passion into a career, using stream of consciousness writing to stay on track with your goals, following your intuition, and of course, healthy breakfast.
When did you decide to do what you’re passionate about for a living and share it with the world? It wasn’t that all of the sudden. It was an evolution. I was still acting and auditioning, but I wanted to supplement it with something that I really love, so I started teaching fitness. That’s when I realized how much I enjoy teaching, giving and serving, and that evolved into coaching. Then I really began to run a business. That was 5 years ago. I was a dancer and I always loved yoga, but I never imagined that I would teach fitness.
That’s the thing, Shrink Sessions aren’t just fitness, it’s soul work combined with body work. Coming from a dancing perspective, it’s not really fitness. For me, it’s about the movement and the joy of it. What movement and being in your body can do for you. I love the body and understanding the anatomy and how muscles work, but I’m not so much about “sculpting your bicep”, you know what I mean?
Totally! Before you got into doing inner work through outer work, were you into self-improvement books and that whole story? Oh yeah, I read a lot of self-help books in college. First year of college my mom was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and I was going through a really rought time, and I was searching for answers. Wayne Dyer was huge, Julia Cameron with “The Artist’s Way” was a big teacher of mine, and so was Marianne Williamson. I dove into all their books, and psychology as well. That’s something I’ve been passionate about for a long time.
Is there one book that really stands out? Julian Cameron with “The Artist’s Way” was one of the first books I read in that genre and having grown up thinking “I’m weird, there’s something different about me”, when I read that book, all of the sudden I realized, “oh, I’m an artist”. That helped me tap into the creative side of myself in such a beautiful and holistic way. I still use some tools from the book today.
I’ll have to check it out! Speaking of things that stand out… you’re in such an amazing shape – that was one of the first thing I noticed about you. Those gun arms! Do you just do Srink Sessions? Thank you! Mostly. It depends on my schedule. I really like to do other things because it’s really important for me to stay a student and learn and to have other wonderful leaders and teachers. I love supplementing Shrink Sessions with taking yoga and spin classes to get new ideas. I love walking, too.
How do you discipline yourself – leading classes, running a business, and coaching – that’s a lot! I have a home office and you know what, I was thinking about it today, it’s not easy! It’s helpful when I have a project with a deadline, then I take a list of actions I need to take to get there, and I’m much more disciplined. I struggle sometimes to take actions towards things that are a little further away, but you do need to plant seeds now if you want something to blossom months from now. It’s so important!
You seem to be very much in the circle of powerful wellness women, with Kris Carr, Jessica Ortner and Heidi Kristoffer among your friends. How do you get into that circle? The thing is, you have to genuinely like people in your circle, whoever it consists of. It’s about putting your stuff out there and creating good impactful work. Also, people who are doing really big things are not afraid to put themselves out there as a leader. Like attracts like in this way. It’s not so much about “being in the circle”, but about doing something great and stepping up in a big way and finding a way to work together to lift each other.
There are so many Holistic Health Coaches now, it seems to be a trendy profession. What’s your advice to those who are just getting started on this path and need some empowerment to go forward? It definitely can be challenging, and you can find yourself being stuck with your inner crtic. It’s about really doing what you are super passionate about. When you’re doing something that you know to be true, it’s going to be expressed in an entirely different way than health coach A, B and C. At the end of the day, and this is very important – it’s not just the content that you’re sharing, it’s who YOU are. And people will want to follow you because they like you, the way you deliver it, the tone of your voice, the like the way you write, the colors of your website. That’s why it’s so important to tell your story and share your journey. You don’t have to share every single thing about you. But enough for people to be able to identify with you and want to connect.
What a powerful answer. Ok, onto goals. You’re now training more people to lead Shrink Sessions. What’s next? I’ve changed the training program to be more of a one-on-one apprentice program that’s based here in NYC for the time being. I want to create a tribe of really powerful teachers who could possibly go on and teach more people. That’s the big goal for the next 6 months. Another thing that’s coming up is more Soul Stroll packages. It’s a new product that gives you a 30-minute playlist with mantras, video and mantra cards. People are really loving it, so I’m definitely seeing making more of these every quarter.
And also, more partnerships with people and creating more content. I’m also working on a project for Spring with Kris Carr. And I’m getting married in January in Miami! And of course, the biggest thing I’m working on now is writing a book.
That’s awesome! What’s the main idea of the book? It’s this idea of movement in your body and movement in your life. It might have the angle of weight loss / body confidence, but really, all the deeper stuff that I cover in my sessions.
Tell me more about Say It, Sweat It, Get It, challenge. It’s a week long challenge with really fun workouts and exercises, and people support each other in a Facebook group. It’s really really awesome! I don’t believe it takes going to extremes in order to feel good in your body this time of year. You don’t have to say no to family time OR cut yourself off from all the wonderful foods, drinks and experiences that you love this time of year.
Do you have non-negotiable routines when it comes to your physical and mental wellness? Definitely moving. I’m lucky enough to teach, that keeps me moving. But when I’m not teaching, for example when I’m on vacation, I make sure I go for a walk or a run, or get my heart rate up and sweat. That’s a non-negotiable. Another one is something called “the morning pages” from The Artist’s Way.
“Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.”
It’s writing three pages in my journal, especially when I’m going through trying to figure out what’s next. Even when I do know what’s next, it really helps to dump what’s on my mind before I get started with my work. That always works for me and gets me in the zone. I know if I’m feeling funky, I just sit down and write in my journal.
So you don’t think about it, and just write? I just write. I put on some music, and sometimes I’ll write mantras, sometimes I’ll write what’s bothering me, or a prayer, or brainstorm ideas. Whatever it may be, it just gets things flowing.
Is that how you come up with class mantras? Exactly, that’s the only way I can do it. I just start writing and think about what I need this month [Shrink Session mantras and workouts change every few weeks]. Maybe I’ll even start writing down what my fears are, and then look and see how I can turn this around intro mantras.
How do you find the courage to take the leap and start your own business out of your passion? It’s a risk that you have to take. At one point, there were things that were holding me back from blossoming into the teacher, leader and the business woman that I want to be. You’re standing here and you know there’s something out there. But to get from here to there, you literally have to jump off that cliff and you have no idea if you’ll fly. But it always works out, especially if you feel like you’re being pulled or you’re feeling some discomfort.
You’re feeling that discomfort because you’re growing out of it. That’s why you’re questioning it. You wouldn’t be if it was right. When something actually is right, you feel good, alive, on flow and create. But the minute you start questioning something – and it’s the same in relationships, the minute you start thinking, “should I break up with this person?”, it’s like something inside you saying “hey… grow, grow”. And it’s hard because you don’t really know what it is. Should I stay, should I go? When you really go for it, it will also make it very clear on who really stands by you.
This hits the spot. I can’t wait for your book! Time to talk breakfast. What do you usually have as your first meal of the day? Sometimes I’m bad about eating breakfast! But my friend Heather Pierce (who shows me how to make things that are super easy) has taught me about the “superhuman breakfast” that consists of kale, sweet potatoes and soft boiled egg, and then you can add a little sauerkraut to it, some salt and pepper. It’s so good! You just steam it in the morning, it really doesn’t take that long. And then I also love oatmeal with bananas, fruit, raisins and flax seed. I’ll get on a kick where I eat the same thing every day for a month, and then I’ll switch.