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FITT Q&A: ANNA KESTLER, GIRL BOSS, LIFESTYLE COACH

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MEREDITH O'CONNOR

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA @ANNA_SWEATPGH | INSTAGRAM

In a recurring series, we’re talking to inspirational people doing amazing things in Pittsburgh’s fitness scene.

Recently, we caught up with Anna Kestler, co-owner of SWEAT PGH, about her unexpected pivot from real estate to fitness, her love-hate relationship with cryotherapy, and her passion for life coaching.

WHAT’S YOUR BACKSTORY?

I went to school at William & Mary to play college basketball and majored in commercial estate. My father's in commercial real estate, so I always envisioned that’s what I’d do, too.

I knew I wasn’t going to play basketball professionally, but I knew fitness was always going to be a part of my life. Right after college, I became a broker and also started instructing cycling at a small gym.

I had never been into group fitness classes, but I found the community feeling inspiring. It motivated me to enjoy life in a different way, it was also just really, really fun.

WHERE DOES SWEAT PGH FIT IN?

My sister founded it. It was always her vision to open up a studio, and I was there to be an instructor and help her out. Through that process, I found that I enjoyed fitness over commercial real estate, and I knew I could always fall back on that later on in life. So when she asked if I wanted to do it full time and be a partner in the business, I jumped on it.

SO GOING ALL IN ON FITNESS WASN’T PLANNED?

I really didn't think fitness would end up being what I did for a living. I never thought it could be a full-time thing. But now being in it and living it, I see you absolutely can… and it is intense.

@anna_sweatpgh | Instagram

HOW DID YOU BUILD THE CONFIDENCE TO PUT YOURSELF OUT THERE AS AN INSTRUCTOR?

It's definitely something I still struggle with. When you’re an instructor, your body and the way that you carry yourself is really looked at by clients and on social media.

It does cross my mind that I need to make sure I look a certain way and I'm doing certain things. And there was a time when I was posting what I thought I was supposed to on social media or doing it to create a certain image. But I’ve tried to find an overall balance and be a little easier on myself. I’m not going to try and fit into a role that doesn't fit my body. And what I’m posting is a lot more raw.

DO YOU FEEL A PRESSURE TO WORK OUT EVERY DAY?

There was a time when I did, but I'm trying to listen to my body more. Over the last couple years, I’ve started to explore the type of workouts and the type of eating my body needs. I’ve figured out how to not overdo it in one area or the other — if restorative movement works for my body that day, that's what I'm gonna do.

HOW DO YOU INDULGE IN SELF-CARE?

Cryotherapy. It's absolutely freezing but I know once I come out on the other end, I’m going to feel so much better. I definitely believe in active recovery and restoring the body, so I also go to Restore Hyper Wellness down the street from the studio. They have stretching sessions and IV drips; I do those a lot to get micronutrients back into my body.

On the mental side, if I’m not feeling creative, I’ll go for a meditation walk.

@anna_sweatpgh | Instagram

HOW HAS BEING AN INSTRUCTOR AND STUDIO OWNER CHALLENGED YOU?

I do teach a lot — I'm at the studio more than my house. What’s tough about that is making sure I don't get burned out. It’s important that our clients see Sweat PGH as a safe place and a place of comfort, but also that they can count on me to put together new and fresh workouts. So the more that I take care of myself mentally and physically, the more I can give to them.

I’ve had a life coach for some time now to help me balance everything on the partner side, like overseeing the entire cycling program. I've been working with her to dive deeper into how I can best come out to make my team stronger. It's been awesome.

IS HAVING A LIFE COACH YOUR LIFE-CHANGING SECRET?

Definitely. Yes. I don’t actually love the term ‘life coach’ because, to me, it sounds like someone's gonna tell you how to live your life. But deciding to get a life coach was huge for me. It’s given me someone to have as a sounding board and help me understand the reasons I was making certain decisions in life. Now I’m able to say ‘this is where I want to go’ and map it out.

You know, our emotions play a huge role in how we carry ourselves, whether it's wanting to work out or wanting to reach a specific goal, if we can release that, it can change our whole life.

WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN YOU WANT TO HAVE SOME FUN?

That is the struggle with having your own business — you’re the one that has to plan and structure and schedule. So it's been an adjustment from the corporate job I used to have. But I definitely try to find the balance in work and play.

I like to travel and be outside. My family has a farm not too far from the South Hills of Pittsburgh. It's in the country so I love going out there to ride dirt bikes and go horseback riding.

I can be a total country girl, but I also love going downtown with my girlfriends to grab dinner and drinks. I'm carefree and easy-going — I just enjoy being around people.

@anna_sweatpgh | Instagram

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE FAVORITE SPOTS IN PITTSBURGH?

1.) I do love going downtown to täkō, it's one of my favorite restaurants in Pittsburgh.

2.) I really like going to the rooftop of Sienna Mercato.

3.) Poulet Bleu — it is so, so good.

4.) I enjoy going to PNC Park; the cityscape is just gorgeous when the sun goes down. It’s a must-see.

5.) Mount Washington — it’s cool being up there overlooking the city.

GYMS ARE STARTING TO OPEN UP, SWEAT PGH INCLUDED. WHAT HAS THAT PROCESS BEEN LIKE?

It’s definitely been challenging, but our community has been so amazing. During quarantine, we built a virtual platform so our clients could workout at home and it’s been an amazing addition to our studio.

Much of our community feels ready to come back, but for those who aren’t quite comfortable yet, we encourage them to take their time and we will see them on the virtual platform in the meantime!

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Follow along with Anna on Instagram and tune in to the Fitt PGH ’gram for more local trainer spotlights and the latest fitness news.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

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