Desi Bartlett is an amazing pre and postnatal yoga and fitness expert with over 20 years of teaching experience, 10 DVD's, On Demand Videos with Beachbody, and is currently in the process of writing a book. If you've ever met Desi or taken a class from her, then you know she is one of the sweetest, most down-to-earth people, who really cares about what we go through as women before and after kids. I took a few classes with her when I was in my last trimester, and could barely get up off the floor without help (due to my 75 extra pregnancy pounds, uuugh), but always felt great afterwards. When my daughter was born, we had loads of fun in her mommy and me yoga classes. She's an excellent teacher and is in high demand around town. You can find her in DTLA at Bender Yoga on July 28th and also at the LATINAFest in DTLA on August 25th. You can also see her on HSN at the end of this month. Desi is one busy lady and we so appreciate her taking the time out of her busy schedule to do an interview and be our JULY MOM OF THE MONTH!
- Desi, there are many fitness and yoga instructors, but what makes your business so unique?
I am one of the few instructors that teaches prenatal core strength as a way of supporting your body during pregnancy. There are safe and effective ways of moving that can help to avoid lower back pain and keep your core supported and fit. My background is a unique blend of yoga and fitness and I was laughing in the car the other day when I saw my tools on my passenger seat; I had a stability ball, resistance tubing, mala beads, sage, and a feather. You never know what you might need. To say I am passionate about what I do is an understatement, it is truly a calling. My highest vision for my work is to empower moms throughout pregnancy and beyond through the joy of movement.
- How did you get started?
I have been in fitness since the 1990’s and I have 2 degrees, 10 certifications, and now I certify instructors. With all of that training, it was still important to me to wait until I had experienced pregnancy in my own body, before I began to teach pregnant goddesses. I wanted to feel how it felt from the inside, before I offered advice. In 2008, when I was pregnant with my older son Cruz, I started teaching Prenatal Yoga and did my first Prenatal Yoga DVD. In 2009, I had the idea of playing on the word MILF as an acronym, and filed the trademark, the MILF Workout. The name is said with a wink and a smile, and is all about women’s empowerment; mentally, physically, and emotionally.
- What steps have you taken to get to this point?
I am a slow and steady builder. I took the time to establish my educational background, as well as put in the time in the fitness and yoga industry before I started to build a brand. Skipping steps might be appealing, but that was not my path. In my case, one step led to the next.
- Was FITNESS always a passion of yours?
Yes! Ever since I walked into a step aerobics class in 1993, I have been in gyms and yoga studios. The joy of movement is my passion and I love to share the gift of health, especially with Moms.
Photo by Victoria Dodge
- Have you faced many challenges in fulfilling your dream?
There have been some ideas that did not work at the time, but I have learned that sometimes you can have a great idea and literally have to wait 10 years to build the infrastructure to bring it to the market in a way that the largest group can benefit from it. Slow and steady wins the race.
- Where do see yourself in the future?
My dream is to build a brand that straddles many different platforms: in person classes, on demand classes, DVD’s, magazines, blogs, a book, and television content. I feel like I am 85% there, and I have a feeling that when I get closer to 95% I will set new goals.
- Where are you from originally and how did you end up in Santa Monica?
I am originally from Chicago. After college, I moved to Cabo San Lucas, Mexico and owned a small boutique fitness studio. In 2001, I returned to Chicago for my birthday and on the flight back from Chicago to Cabo, the pilot announced that we would be landing immediately because there was an attack on the United States. That day was 9/11 and I made the decision to move back to my own country. Three months later, I landed in Los Angeles with my car, my clothes, and a roommate I met on Craig’s list. I made a leap of faith and the universe caught me. I met my husband two weeks later and started working in fitness and yoga studios right away.
- How do you balance being a mother and the head of Mothers Into Living Fit?
My kiddos are Cruz, age 9, and Rocket, age 4. They both love baseball, swimming, and hanging out with the family. Since they're both in school, I try to set my work hours accordingly. The bulk of my work gets done between 9am and 3pm and then again at 8:30pm on the computer. My days vary a little bit because I consult for a yoga company, run my own brand, and teach clients, and classes. I juggle a lot, but with the help of my husband, we make it all work and our kiddos are thriving. I also like that they get to see that their mom is a hard worker.
- What do you like most about being a mom?
I love my boys so much. They have two completely different personalities. My older son is my peaceful warrior; he is strong, kind, and an amazing athlete. My younger son reminds me of Bam Bam from the Flintstones and wants to be a WWE wrestler. I never knew that two kids in the same family could be so different. I strive to parent each one in the way that is best suited for their personality. Some days I do better than others. Either way, I continue to try my best each day and to remember that every day is a new opportunity to get it right.
Photo by Victoria Dodge
- Which came first, MOM TITLE or CEO TITLE?
I worked hard before I became a Mom. Some of that is simply because I had not met the right partner until I was in my 30’s. Life unfolded as it was supposed to. I trust the wisdom of the divine plan.
- Is there anything that’s happened to you because of your business that you weren’t expecting?
I was not expecting that there would be so many beautiful moms in my life. I have always had a wide circle of friends, and now it is even wider and full of women from all walks of life. It is a joy to work with famous actors, royalty, professional athletes, authors, neurologists, artists, stay at home moms, and many many more women creating their vision of a healthy family. We are all unique, and I celebrate the many different expressions of love, motherhood, and family life.
Photo by Victoria Dodge
- Anything you were expecting that didn’t happen?
Sure, but I am a glass half full type of person, anything that did not happen is OK, as all of it has led me to a place of joy.
- Where can we find you this summer?
Please look for me on HSN this summer. I work as the head of yoga programming for Manduka and the project manager for an amazing company called Yogaia. The companies have partnered to bring a fantastic offering of classes and products to you and are especially great for beginners.
I also l teach in person classes at Yogaworks in Playa Vista, in addition to a handful of private clients in Santa Monica. My work is going more into the digital space, but I still keep at least one in-person class so that I can share the joy of movement and accompany pregnant goddesses throughout their pregnancies and beyond.
Photo by Katee Grace
- What are your favorite things about your business and your favorite things about being a mom?
Business and creating a brand is a lot of work, and I enjoy the process. Meditation is a daily practice for me and I am very pleased with how it has affected my business life; when I am not sure of what the next step should be, I pause, meditate, breathe, and listen.
My favorite thing about being a mom is seeing how much my boys love each other. My older son turned around the other day and started to tell my younger son a story - my younger son was at school. Cruz, my 9 year old, is so used to having Rocket there, that he is always ready to share his ideas with him. Cruz is of course Rocket’s big brother/hero!
- What advice would you give other working moms or moms who want to start a business?
Make sure that you have a strong infrastructure so that when there is more work than expected (as there will inevitably be), you have a spouse, best friend, or babysitter that can lend a hand. Kids thrive from having healthy relationships with adults, and it is ok to divide and conquer schedules.
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