For Kit Rich, who has built a personal fitness brand and counts celebrities like Jennifer Lawrence as clients, healthy living is as simple as common sense.
Amid an ever-rising sea of self-proclaimed fitness experts and wellness "gurus," Kit Rich comes across as refreshingly authentic.
It's probably because the Los Angeles-based fitness expert and personal trainer stumbled into this world accidentally. Over a decade ago, she was a waitress and struggling writer, working late, eating and drinking too much, had gained 30 pounds, and just overall unhappy with the direction she was going. One day, she walked into a Pilates class—and it changed not just her health, but gave her a new career path.
We're living in an age of get-thin-quick pills and workouts called "Insanity," but Rich's approach to health and wellness can perhaps be best described as simply... common sense. She believes 30 minutes of exercise a day is all you need, and that it’s OK to let yourself go at the dinner table every so often.
And, not surprisingly, her unique style has helped her build a growing professional brand that includes fitness writing, speaking, videos, brand partnerships, and celebrity clients like Jennifer Lawrence and Kesha.
Rich is always on the move—by design—but we recently caught up with her to discuss cracking the code on healthy living, how she built a personal brand, and why she never says no to bread and butter.
Today, you travel the globe to help train celebrities. How did a waitress get into this?
I was not a good waitress. [Laughs] I would show up at 3 or 4, work very late, and then I would go out and drink and then wake up at 1 the next day. All I was doing was working for something that had no goal. I was never writing. I was miserable and unhealthy. So I took a Pilates class, to start making healthy choices. I started seeing things clearer and making smarter choices for my life, I was writing more. Fitness brought me back to me. That’s why I’m so passionate about it for my clients. Forget the physical benefits of what exercise does—you’re going to feel who you are and make smarter choices. Taking this simple action, every day, your whole life is going to transform.
What are your keys for healthy living?
You can’t make anything superficial. In general, what people need in this world is getting to the heart of matter, and you need to go with your heart. I mean this not just as a way to lead your life, it also comes to exercising. You need to do it for your heart. Studies have proven that by working out, you not only get stronger, you will have a longer, better life.
I don’t believe in anything extreme. I believe that everything is the middle way. That you shouldn’t work out two hours a day. I think 30 minutes is absolutely enough. As far as eating goes, you can be good 70 percent of the time and the other 30 you can mess around. Have compassion for yourself on the journey, but all in all, just do the best you can. People talk all the time about the combination of mind, body, spirit. And it’s true. To get a healthy mind, you have to take care of your body. It’s a balance, a dance.
What’s your advice to someone out there, like you were, who is trying to jump-start their health and wellness?
Here’s the truth, and I’m sure you will agree with me. I don’t know a single person that does a workout and doesn’t feel better afterwards. So what you’re talking about is being results-driven. For someone not seeing the results, you have to continue to focus on how you feel. Because it’s only through consistency that you’ll see the results. Focusing on the feeling will help you keep consistent. If you’re someone stuck in a rut and don’t know where to begin, start small. The simple act of drinking eight to 12 glasses of water a day is amazing. People say they hate water, but you’re going to be dehydrated the rest of your life. If you’re someone who can’t really get to the gym, start by drinking water. Secondly, I would try doing five minutes of exercise a day. As I said, all you have to do is focus on how you feel after those five minutes. And then lastly, my advice would be to dig deeper. If you’re just doing it for aesthetic reasons, you’re doing it wrong. Ask yourself what kind of life you want to live. What if I said it was as simple as working out 30 minutes a day? You need healthy habits that you do every day. It’s as simple as that.
There are a lot of fitness myths out there. What’s your take?
I don’t believe in anything where anyone promises a quick fix. I think that’s a big problem now. It takes 21 days to create a habit, so they create a 21-day program. If it’s the thing that gets you started, great. But people might get depressed that they don’t see the results that quickly. It’s a lifelong commitment to you. Nothing that matters in life happens fast. And it’s so freaking annoying. But it’s just the truth. People need to stop looking for that quick fix, those extreme things. The middle way is just the way to go. And no diet pills whatsoever.
Once you’re there, what’s the best way to stay on track?
You have to keep yourself interested. So you should try new things. After about two months, if you see yourself losing interest, I would suggest a different way of working out. I would equate it with a longterm relationship—you have to keep things fresh. Do the same thing with your body.
How did you grow this as a business and personal brand?
That was deliberate on my part, in the sense that I personally like to be as creative as I can no matter what industry I’m in. I had to diversify as much as I could. Like real estate or investments. I took that same approach with fitness. Some people are happy to be just trainers at a gym. I wanted to get into different areas, so I had income coming from different areas. I want to be able to control my destiny and travel. I diversified my writing gigs and put myself out there, making connections with different brands. All of this led me to where I am now, working with pretty big brands and traveling with pretty amazing clients. I don’t feel that my income is dependent on any one thing. I think that’s important for any entrepreneur—to never feel your life is at the mercy of one thing.
What’s it like working with celebrity clients?
In my personal experience, the celebrities that I’ve worked with have been absolutely wonderful, giving people. And there’s a reason they’re in the positions they are. They’re smart and brilliant and creative and really passionate about what they do. For me, it’s not only an honor to train them, but I’m inspired by how they live their lives.
There’s so much noise in the fitness world. How do you stand out?
In the same way that people should be informed about politics and read and self-educate, I would do the same with health and exercise. You need to be master of your own body and not just listen to what people say. I know what I’m saying is valid and true, but I would hope that people, when they hear my advice, they do their own research and feel comfortable about the advice that I give. There’s nothing more important than self-education.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
For me, the most gratifying thing is when I help someone get out of physical pain. I work with so many people with back injuries from extreme working out or degeneration over time. It’s amazing to see them get better and their whole spirit shift. When you’re in pain, you think you’re never going to get out of it. When they do, there is nothing more gratifying. I feel I’m contributing to their lives so they can live pain-free. Secondly, I love receiving messages from people who have done my online videos. I get a lot of messages internationally. These people say to me, the way I train, the cues I give, has inspired them to like working out again. That changes everything for me. My day is done, I’ve never been happier. I’m contributing to someone’s life and I don’t even know them. What’s so amazing about the fitness industry is that it’s all about giving and making people’s lives better. By giving, you get so much in return.
Even a trainer to the stars must have a few guilty pleasures.
I love a margarita. I freaking love bread and butter. When you go to a restaurant and they bring out the bread and butter—I’m not going to send that back. I’m also absolutely obsessed with French fries. If I could eat French fries all day, I would feel terrible, but it seems really good in theory.
As someone who spends a lot of time in casualwear, what are your thoughts on American Made Supply Co.?
First of all, I love anything that is all about sweatpants. I love the sweatpants. They’re so comfortable. And the high-waisted ones are super flattering. I’ve worn the sweatpants a lot—working out and sleeping. To say they’re multifunctional is an understatement. They’re sexy too. That’s one thing you guys accomplished. You’re feeling sexy in such casual wear. I love that.
What does it mean to you to be “American Made”?
When you think “American Made,” I hear the word choice—freedom of choice. And especially to be a female in this country, the fact that I can have the kind of job I want and the choices I want, it makes me feel very proud to be American Made. When given freedom of choice, you want to give to those who don’t have it. You live your life the way you want to, then you give to people so they can have the same choices. I’m very community oriented.
By Rod Kurtz
Photos by Manuel Lozano