Meet Beth Shaw, Founder of Yoga Fit

Beth Shaw is the founder of the largest Yoga School in North America, published author and entrepreneur. Last year her company and she gave over $ 100,000 to charities – in  Animal rescue, advocacy and support.  Here is her story:

Born and raised in New York City, I never planned on becoming a yoga instructor. However, in my last year of study at Long Island University, I had a psychic flash during a yoga pose. The message was that I was destined to be in the health and fitness industry, and that I would be exceedingly successful. “I was doing a standing forward fold in the stretch room of the local health club, and this message came to me in a bright white light… like the sky parted and I received this incredible insight. It was a life-changing moment,” Shaw recalls. 
After graduating with a marketing degree from Long Island University, I headed west and began studying yoga and earning certifications in fitness and yoga therapy. In 1993, I began teaching yoga and quickly discovered that traditional yoga teaching methods didn’t meet the needs of a fitness club clientele. I created what would be the first “yoga center within a health club” in the South Bay, and it was a raging success.

After I decided I wanted to share her passion for yoga with the masses, I  produced my own local cable show “YogaFit” which won the South Bay Producers Guild Award for Programming Excellence in 1995 and went on to air in New York and other key markets. Because I needed close-fitting yoga clothes in vibrant colors for television, I had the YogaFit “proud warrior” logo put on sweatshirts and bodysuits. The clothing line was so popular that Yoga Journal Magazine featured the apparel in 1994, and I began selling  separates by hawking them from my car after teaching nearly 20 classes in Los Angeles—nearly 20 classes per week.

I  was not an instant business success, by any means. “I’ve been fired from every job I’ve ever had where I worked for other people—so I probably don’t do well working for anybody else. Counting jobs in college, I’ve been fired from five large, successful firms.” And I’m not afraid of making mistakes either. “On a consistent basis, I do believe that success is making more good decisions than bad ones at the end of the week. I’m an effective multi-tasker too, and a background in marketing certainly does not hurt!”

The extensive line of YogaFit merchandise now includes yoga apparel, DVDs, CDs, MP3 downloads, books, and accessories. “What started initially as an inspirational thought in my head has steadily grown into a $5 million industry and I think that a lot of that is being at the right place at the right time—but recognizing that it is the right time, and doing something about that.” Soon after, YogaFit incorporated, and Shaw produced her first teacher training in Fargo, North Dakota, with 26 fitness instructors from four different YMCA’s. YogaFit’s super popular Training Program was born—and it’s presently the biggest yoga school in the country. Specifically designed for presentation in health clubs, fitness facilities or other group exercise locations, the company and training programs have expanded over the years, and now feature internationally renowned programs for training fitness professionals in the YogaFit style. YogaFit has Teacher Trainings Level One, Two, Three, Four and Five in addition to class specialties such as YogaFit Seniors and Prenatal Yoga.

Today, YogaFit is designed to improve the health, performance and mental acuity of athletes or individuals interested in improving their fitness. Based on the ancient fitness science of Hatha yoga, it blends balance, strength, flexibility and power in a fitness format. YogaFit overcomes the mystery of yoga by delivering a practical, user-friendly style, which is accessible, understandable, and doable by individuals at all levels of fitness. “Business without a greater purpose—a purpose without profit—has no point,” Shaw says. And she means it.

Taught by YogaFit-trained staff with in-depth experience and skills in both yoga and fitness, the YogaFit method is the only nationally recognized continuing education partner for the American Council of Exercise, and has been a member of the International Health and Racquet Sports Club Association (IHRSA) since 1997. Team YogaFit currently has 50 national trainers. They also produce nine annual Mind-Body Conferences nationwide and rained over 70,000 teachers.
YogaFit’s Eco-friendly “green” corporate headquarters is located in Torrance, CA, and there are fifty YogaFit Studio Partners all across the world. YogaFit has trained instructors in every continent and continues to expand the horizons of fitness professionals and the masses around the globe.

Shaw maintains 15 full-time staffers who are all dedicated to the art of yoga. “We believe that if everyone in the world gave one hour per week of community service work, the world be a better place. That is why we require every YogaFit Level One trainee to perform eight hours of practice teaching in a community service setting before graduation,” says Shaw.  Her trainees have brought the practice and benefits of yoga to seniors in long-term care homes, stressed-out corporate executives, cancer patients and survivors, disabled persons, jailed inmates, and military servants.
Since 1997, YogaFit instructors have given roughly half a million, or 56 years of community service. Additonally, Beth Shaw serves on the board of many animal rescue organizations and on National Leadership Council for the Humane Society of the United States. She donates regularly to Santa Monica-based Karma Animal Rescue, Meals on Wheels and Pugs and Pals.

“We should have manufactured our own line of yoga mats back in the mid-nineties. Today, we’d be the number one manufacturer in the world if we’d gotten it right.”

“I am not intimidated to let other experts take the reins when it’s appropriate. I take a chance on people and on diverse abilities. I’m all about empowering others to step up and do the best they can.”

“I don’t play by the rules. And I’m not at my best playing by other peoples’ rules. I like to make my own rules, and then I like to break them one by one. It keeps life interesting!”

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