Dr. Laura Miranda has been dominating the women's fitness industry over the last several years with her program and philosophy: PURSUIT. Using NYC as her ultimate fitness playground, she poses the question, "Do you see the potential?"
We love Laura's message and everything she represents. Her story is just as powerful and inspiring as her program.
What were you like as a little girl?
As a little girl I had an endless amount of energy. I never wanted to sit still or play inside. The traditional toys that society has deemed to be “girl’s toys” never appealed to me. I wanted to play in the dirt, smash trucks into each other, and basically was a tomboy through and through. Adults would use that as a derogatory term to describe me because I didn’t fit in to how a girl typically acts, or what she wears. I owned it though. On the field or the court was the only place that being a ‘tomboy’ was acceptable, and actually encouraged.
Who were your idols?
My idols were always athletes. My father would take me to Yankee and Islander games and teach me all about sports. These guys were like Gods to me; It was fascinating to me that they got to “play” all day long. I wanted to do the same. I remember always expressing my discontent with the fact that there were no pro female teams to follow. The idea that women were any different than men never occurred to me until then. I still refused to believe it though.
Why did you want to play sports?
Movement, climbing and jumping were the most natural ways that I could express myself (and still are). So when in first grade I got a chance to do this in an “organized” way, it just felt like home. There were no girls’ teams yet, so I joined the boys baseball team.
I was good at sports. They gave me a sense of joy and a “language” to express myself in a way that I hadn’t experienced in any other aspect of my life.
I grew up in a very violent and chaotic home, so training and playing were my escape. Sports made me feel powerful and strong and in charge. I was loud and physical by nature, so playing sports gave me a chance to develop that part of my personality. I knew I was different than many girls my age, I was always a bit on the outside of the norm. And, I kind of liked it. I have vivid memories of being the only girl at recess in elementary school playing sports with the boys. Playing house or dolls in the corner with the other girls was the last place on Earth I wanted to be.
Were you a natural or did you have to work for it?
Let’s face it, I practically came out of the womb throwing a ball. I was usually one of the best players on each team that I was a member of. It truly wasn’t until later in life after a devastating knee injury that I had to rebuild myself on every level. Up until that point it had all been natural for me, I just always believed my abilities were fixed attributes. I was introduced to strength training through an intense year long stint in physical therapy. It was then that I fell in love with weight lifting and realized how impactful it was in enhancing performance.
Were there any limiting factors that held you back?
I had a pretty chaotic childhood. The factors just weren’t in place for me to succeed. Looking back now, I should have end up like many kids who grow up around violence and addiction – repeating the same pattern. But, there was always something in me that knew that I wanted to be bigger and better than the shit that was going on at home. For me that meant knowing from a very young age that despite all of the insanity, I was going to be the one who had to take care of myself. That meant everything from day-to-day functioning, to keeping myself focused in school, and of course, escaping as often as I could to play on as many teams as I could.
Playing was my therapy, my teammates were my surrogate family, and for those few hours on the field, I was free to just be a kid.
What practices/beliefs had to be put into place to work toward your goals?
Not letting setbacks deter you / use failure as feedback. Because of my less than stable childhood, I was accustomed to things not working out as planned. As a result, I had to become really good at accepting what is, and immediately working on a different solution. There was no time to dwell. I take this into my life as an adult and apply it to almost every situation.
We can get so attached to outcomes that when they don't happen as we "think they should," we lose all will to continue.
It's so important to recognize that it's often the "loss" or the pain that teaches us the most valuable lesson, one that we probably would have never learned had it gone the "right way" initially.
What was it like transitioning from playing sports to working in fitness?
The origin of the actual training methodology that is now PURSUIT comes from my background as a lifelong athlete. I experienced a devastating knee injury in college that forced me to abruptly stop playing team sports for the first time since first grade. I turned what felt like a life-altering negative event into a positive one by channeling all of that frustration and energy into the next best option… the gym.
I had lifted weights before, but the whole concept of being confined to the four walls of the gym was in direct opposition to everything I knew about exercise and my body through team sports. I thought to myself:
“THIS is fitness? Where are my teammates?” It was solitary, it was not collaborative. It. Was. Lonely!
The main sports I played were softball and soccer, so I’ve always been drawn to movement done outdoors, in the open grass under the sun (or occasionally rain/hail/wind). The entire goal of movement was to practice, to gain skills and to become more efficient and become… better. Conditioning was done on the grass, the hills and the bleachers. We moved through space using only our bodies and what was on the ground around us as training tools. Just as God intended it (I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible somewhere).
Going to the gym, then, felt as though it was in direct opposition to what I felt in my athletic mind, body and heart. I knew there had to be a better way. And as time went on and I began developing group fitness programs for adults (mostly ex athletes), my suspicions were confirmed that many people out there felt the exact same way. I knew there had to be a better way.
This is why I created an outdoor fitness program called PURSUIT. It mimics athletic based training because we are challenging the body in a progressive manner, through unpredictable situations, and across multiple planes of motion. We crawl, climb, and traverse obstacles of ever changing heights, depths, shapes and sizes. Compare that kind of movement-demand to what you find in a typical gym setting - linear and predictable movement that occurs with traditional weight lifting and machine-based work. I still love to lift heavy things, don't get me wrong. But being outdoors and training in the grass just feels like home.
What values do you bring from playing sports into your fitness practice?
Looking back now, I realize that sports taught me all of the most valuable skills about life. The coaching and training philosophies of my group fitness business, PURSUIT, are governed by a few core values. They are all values that I have learned through playing sports, failing, winning, and constantly striving to achieve throughout my life. That’s why PURSUIT is a metaphor for you to live your life.
We have to take what we learn “on the field", and apply it to our entire day. These are a few key concepts:
- The mental component of your “game” is equally as important as the physical.
- There will ALWAYS be someone better than you out there. Stay away from comparing yourself to others; keep the focus on yourself., your training, and being the best you can be.
- Hard work - how you do anything is how you do everything. There are no short cuts.
- Coach-ability – being an athlete hones your ability to improve by listening, and learning from others. So many of us get in our own way of success because we either think we know everything already, and/or avoid getting out of our comfort zone.
- Judgment free analysis - you must study your weaknesses and work on them until they become your strengths.
How has your hard work helped you serve others?
I believe so fiercely in people’s potential to overcome what’s holding them back. Whether the issue is a large life circumstance or a daily hiccup; our present moment situation can stop us from achieving our true potential.
I had been at the depths of destruction, emotionally/physically/mentally, when a coach intervened and helped change the direction of my life. She was the first person in my life who told me that she believed in me, and followed up and showed up, until I was able to do that for myself.
From that day, I have been paying her back by paying it forward. I sign my emails “stay determined, focused, and addicted to improving yourself.”
I do not claim to have it all figured out. I am a work in progress as well. I just have the willingness and the desire to wake up and continue to study myself, strive to improve, and do it all with aggressive compassion.
I believe in walking the walk, and leading by example. Because after all, all of this stuff is contagious. The more lives I touch, the more I can help teach them the tools of success that go many levels deeper than “eat this good and lift these weights.”
If you could give your 16 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?
“You’re gay! And it’s all going to be ok, so start loving yourself now!” I could have answered this question in so many ways, but I think this is an important one.
When you hide, avoid, or hate yourself for certain aspects of who you are, you deny your true self.
What comes with that is debilitating self-hate and poor self worth. Coming out doesn’t wipe that all away the instant you say the words “I’m gay” out loud. You are still left with the emotional scars of all of those years of beating yourself up and treating yourself poorly. A helpful message to my younger self would be to learn to love myself for who I am, every step of the way, inside and out. This mindset is similar to what I teach people who are working on losing a ton of weight. You must learn to love yourself, now, no matter what your body looks like. Because if you don’t, you won’t find happiness from that skinny body. It must come from inside.
Where can people find you?
Free unique bodyweight training video series for trainers/coaches drlauramiranda.com/37-BodyWeight-Videos
Free mindset book for everyone drlauramiranda.leadpages.co/43-mindset-motivation-strategies/
@DrLauraMiranda on all platforms:
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