Kaisa is a Seattle-based personal trainer with a unique approach to fitness. For starters, she makes no promises of changing your body. That’s right, she will not train you to look a certain way. That’s just not what she’s about, and that’s exactly why we love her.
“I just don't believe in working out and dieting to look a certain way, it’s not sustainable nor is it healthy... What’s important to me is that we start switching our mindset around why we move in the first place.
"Will your body start changing if you start moving more regularly and eating healthy? Yes, absolutely! But to me, the change shouldn’t be the focus. When so much emphasis is placed on the change we’re hoping occurs, we forget to pay attention to how incredible it feels to just simply move.”
We are not alone in our admiration of this incredible athlete and her movement-focused approach to health and fitness. Kaisa has been featured in SELF, Vogue, Harpers Bazaar and Runner’s World. Daily workout videos are posted to inspire her 283k Instagram followers, and last but not least, Kaisa was one of the trainers in Michelle Obama’s 2015 “Let’s Move” campaign.
I honestly don't know if it's possible for our society to stop obsessing over what we look like, and I am not counting on mainstream media to stop pushing out images, headlines, and advertisements that feed this obsession. I'm just glad we have women like Kaisa who are out there advocating for a healthier point of view which is why I am very excited to share this interview with you. Enjoy!
Fashletics: So many companies and individuals in the fitness industry bombard us with the promise of body transformation, but not you. As a trainer, what inspired you to commit to the mindset that how our body moves is more important than how it looks?
Kaisa: I don’t think that anything specifically inspired me to adopt this belief, rather it was my background in sports that helped to shape this belief about my body from a young age and I brought that belief into my training when I began seeing clients.
It’s all a mindset, you can get caught up in the small little fact that you don’t look like what the media says is “beautiful” or you can decide that your body is this incredibly insane machine and what is actually beautiful is all of the things it does for you day in and day out!
There are ALWAYS going to be things that we want to change about ourselves, but the truth of the matter is, nitpicking the way your body looks is a downward spiral. You are fighting against genetics, and in the end, unless you decided to go a drastic route those things won’t end up changing anyways.
Make a decision to start focusing on how lucky you are to have a body that takes you through this life.
A body that if you love, respect and take care of will pretty much allow you to do anything your heart desires. It’s absolutely incredible how life changes when you decide to work on the most important relationship you will ever have, yourself.
F: Are you met with any adversity or criticism when you explain that your training program does not focus on changing people’s bodies?
K: Haha! This is a great question! Yes! Absolutely! I don’t know if I would exactly say criticism but definitely a lot of questions and confusion for sure. The thing is, I am completely happy for whatever makes anyone happy in life but for me, being critical of the way my body looks has just never made me happy. Spending hours at the gym or dieting to try and change the way I look would drive me insane so that’s not what I choose to focus on and that carries over into my work.
I recently put out a month long workout series and it was definitely met with some confusion. We are so used to being sold on an (often false!) promise that people seemed to be confused by the fact that my workout series didn’t guarantee anything. No weight loss, no lean muscle gain or Brazilian butt…. just that if you followed it you would probably be physically challenged and would most definitely have moved daily for a month once it was complete.
Some people get it and some people don’t and that’s totally fine. I can’t do anything different in this world but be truly me. Putting out anything other than encouraging people to move daily would have been contrary to the way I live my own life, so you won’t see that from me.
F: What are some tips that you can give women to help shift their focus away from what their body looks like?
K: I don’t really think there’s anything I can say that will help you shift this focus. I think the changes come from putting in the work and I strongly believe that the work begins with movement. Moving allows you to connect with your body and developing that connection is vital to having a positive relationship with your body.
This may sound odd, but on days that I struggle, I try to think of my body as something separate from me. I stand there and say thank you for everything it does for me and that I am incredibly grateful to be housed in something so amazing.
Energy is real and your body will absorb it so negative energy has no place in my space, especially when it’s coming from me to myself. I spent a good portion of my life speaking negatively to myself and it NEVER served me any good, I became a far less productive athlete and a much unhappier person because of it. Although it is a lot of work to change your mindset and your belief about yourself it is worth every ounce of effort. It is a daily process for me but I have never been happier in my own skin and that makes life a much more beautiful journey.
F: You’ve been featured in Vogue, SELF, and several other publications, which seems like a positive indication that more people are ready to adopt your “movement-based fitness” over “looks-based fitness”. What changes do you think mainstream media needs to make in order to continue to support this perspective?
K: I definitely think the media is starting to understand that it's about what we can do with our bodies not what we look like, but the truth of the matter is that sex sells and at the end of the day the media will always lean in that direction. I really just don’t see that changing anytime soon so I think it’s pretty crucial that we don’t allow the media to dictate our relationship with ourselves.
F: Was there a time in your life when you prioritized looks over movement? If so, how did you shift your focus?
K: This is another great question with no clear answer. There were times growing up that I struggled a bit because I looked completely different than my peers. I am genetically muscular so being young and a little insecure, all you really want to do is be the same as everyone around you. Thankfully, I always had sports as a safe place to fall back to. As different as I looked from the other girls, I knew that it was what made me the athlete I was and at the end of the day I was grateful for that. But again, it was a daily process and it always went back to recognizing that the way my body functioned and performed was far more important than the way it looked.
F: Can you tell us a little about your 30-day workout plan that just launched?
K: The workout series I just released is called Mx30. The name essentially means Movement for 30 minutes a day for 30 days. The entire purpose behind the plan was to develop something fun and challenging that people could do anywhere (no tools necessary other than a towel!). It was really just a passion project. I give out movements on my page daily but thought it would be fun (and was receiving a lot of asks for it truthfully) so I decided to develop a 30-day plan that I would want to do. If you know anything about me, you know like bodyweight movements so that is what the entire plan is developed around.
F: For the women out there who are not in a good place with their health or body image… what are some steps they can start taking today to make positive, healthy, lasting change in their lives?
K: This is a very individual and personal journey so the only thing I can really speak on is what has helped me over time. The truth of the matter is that we all struggle, we all have things we want to change about ourselves, we all have bad days but at the end of it all it’s a mindset and all it takes to change this is to start somewhere.
When I am struggling with something I try not to sit in it for too long. I go out and move to try and work through it and if I can’t get myself motivated to move then I at least try to think about the things that I am grateful for to offset the negative.
I also try to be realistic and recognize that life is a constant process. Sometimes you go through bad days, weeks and even months but you have to know that at some point things will shift if you want them to. The want is the key word though and that desire can only come from you.
You have the power to change the direction of your life at any point in time, it’s just about whether you choose to recognize this power or not.
As our Fashlete of the Month, Kaisa is receiving a customized bracelet with the words of her choice. She chose "Just Move"...
K: It’s been my motto for quite some time for obvious reasons, but it also reminds me that life is a process and to keep moving through it physically, mentally and emotionally. It helps me to remember that the focus should always be on enjoying and being present for the journey rather than being fixated on the end result. Life is in the living and doing, not just the achieving :)