lucyPRO Tiffany Gustafson, owner of Motivated Fitness in San Bruno, CA, was preparing to become a physical therapist when fate intervened.Read more
lucyPRO Christina Larsen started her path towards fitness as a young girl running around a lake in a small town in Kansas. Fast forward to the present, where she is now the owner of His And Her Fitness, a full-service fitness studio in Kansas City with a staff of personal trainers and a roster of happy clients. Christina is also a fitness model and competitive body builder who serves as an inspiration to her friends and clients to lead healthier (and happier!) lives.
What sparked your interest in fitness?
I was in fifth grade and I just started running every morning. I grew up in a small town – 400 people – and there wasn’t much going on so I’d just get up and run. I think my parents thought there was something wrong with me. I grew up on a lake, and it was pretty and relaxing. My sister would come along and ride her bike. My dad always said, “Do things that take the stress out of your life, and make you feel good.”
You became a physical therapy technician after going through rehab for two torn ACLs. How did you go from there to opening your own studio?
I had gone to nursing school when a friend suggested that I become a personal trainer. Where I’m from, I didn’t know you could do that for a living. I was already training people — helping them — just on my own. My cousin suggested I go to school so I went to Professional Fitness Institute and did my business plan for His And Hers Fitness. My first job was working at Sonic as a roller skating car hop. That was my money maker. The whole time working there, I was saving money to start my business.
Was it scary opening your studio?
When I finally opened my studio, it was just me. Then after six months, I was able to hire more trainers. It wasn’t scary. My approach is to plan for the worst. There were times when things got kind of crazy but it always worked out. I don’t mind working hard. Now, it’s been almost 10 years.
Did you have a lot of support?
My grandpa was the only one who said, “You got this.” My clients were all hoping I would succeed but my grandpa was the only one in my family who would cheer me on.
Are you proud of what you’ve accomplished?
People lately have been saying stuff like that, but I don’t think about things that I’ve accomplished, I’m always moving ahead to my next goals.
How did you get started doing bodybuilding and fitness model competitions?
The first time I ever did a competition, I was kind of talked into it. I didn’t know what it was. I wasn’t the girl that wore makeup. I always dressed like I was a soccer mom. Then when I started competing, I had makeup on and my hair up. I was in heels. A lot of my friends just filtered towards it. They weren’t scared of fitness anymore, because they saw it was a beauty thing, and it was empowering. A lot of them were inspired to be more healthy.
Friends and clients said it was something I could inspire people with. I realized I could shine on stage. Your body is a reflection of your discipline. I do it all natural. I would say it a spiritual thing rather than vanity. I only have one or two months when I’m off and I still stay in decent shape — I eat good, I stay hydrated, I take vitamins but the show is a way to stay more disciplined. If you’re going to be onstage, it shows what you put into it.
Where does your beauty and strength come from?
I do a self evaluation with my grandma and friends, and ask what they see in me because they’re the people who see me at my worst. I’m constantly striving to be the person I want to be. Like I know if I pull into a McDonald’s, and if I see one person I know, I’d feel terrible. I want to be good for other people.
Where does beauty come from?
I think beauty comes from consistency so being genuine and passionate about whatever it is that you do, instead of bouncing around. It’s being consistent and growing to be who you are.
What inspires you?
Once a week, I work with special needs kids. Everytime I work with them, I’m driven to work that much harder because I see how hard they work with their handicap. Or when I’m training someone like my client who has two kids who’s a widow, I feel like I don’t have it so bad. I’m going to help them stay driven.
Because I’m a business owner, it’s just getting people to say a “thank you, please, you’re welcome.” Towards not just me, towards people who walk in the door. When I was younger, no one had to tell me to say “thank you, please, you’re welcome” but a lot of people haven’t been taught that. So that’s my biggest challenge. I can’t stand for people not to be appreciated.
Beauty tips for working out?
A lot of girls, they don’t make sure their face is washed off. I use my face wipes before and after, then put lotion on. I exfoliate with soap and a loofah. Skin is a big thing.
Hydration. And, it’s important to have protein. It keeps your skin nice and tight. Try to stick to meat proteins, the more variety the better. Especially for people losing weight, or who are older — when they figure out the right balance of protein, their skin looks amazing.
What makes you happy?
Times like when a lady came in and said, “I can’t believe this works.” So just simplifying it vs making it difficult. When people realize, omigosh, I can eat, still live my life and do this. It makes me happy to help people be healthy who have been stressed out about being healthy.
Does a cute outfit make a difference?
The first day I start training a client, I’m always like, “I can’t wait to go shopping with you.” When people look at my clients’ before and after photos, they says, “Wow, the people look so sad” — and they were! – “and they look so happy now” — and they are! They are. When you’re wearing clothes that fit you and people are complimenting you, you’re going to carry yourself with confidence.
What is your favorite lucy item?
I have a pair of pants from when lucy first opened in 2005. They’re a capri that fit really well. On Monday I trained 20 people, and I move the weights for them so I’m up and down, and the capris never bag. I wear them once a week. They’re really comfortable and every time I wear them, a client will compliment them.
You’ve come a long way since you started running in 5th grade. What are some of your thoughts about that?
At the time, I was so young — I’ve always had confidence in myself so I didn’t think much of it — but I was alone a lot, going to the gym, doing cardio. Now that I’m 34, a lot of friends that I grew up with, after 16 years of seeing me be healthy, now they’re asking me how to do it. It feels really positive to be different and not hurt anyone along the way. I was just living my life. I didn’t think I was inspiring anyone.