Liv Young is no stranger to fighting – coming off of a high-powered career in the food and wine space, Young morphed her passion for boxing and yoga into one of the city’s hottest fitness studios, bringing her gospel to the masses. We caught up with her to hear more about building her brand, what pushed her into pursuing her passion, and finding the courage to fight – as well as the time to catch our breath and flow.
How long has fitness been a part of your life?
I started practicing yoga when I was 15, so fifteen years ago, and then I began boxing 10 years ago. It’s sort of what’s shaped every day for me since, and what has gotten me to launch my business, so it definitely played a very large role in my life.
What sparked your passion for fitness?
I think I was looking for something to attach to when I was in highschool, like a hobby – I was a cheerleader, I played tennis, I was involved in musical theater, but there was a part of me that was looking for something else. I started practicing bikram yoga in my studio, and basically became addicted to the sweat. That’s how I got into it. As my yoga practice progressed, I started doing different forms. Fitness kept me focused, and it continues to keep me focused.
How long have you been working in fitness professionally?
Professionally speaking, for five months. While fitness has been a part of my life for half of my life if not longer, I recognized that in terms of my professional life, I wanted to start my own company, and I dug deep to see what I was committed to everyday, and it was boxing and yoga. I completed my yoga training a year ago, really with no intention to teach. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it, but I was looking for the next step in my life, and yoga was a big part of it. I knew I needed this balance of box and flow, fire and water, and decided to bring it to the world in November 2016 – I developed the method and technique, found a team of teachers and a space, and launched.
What inspired you to pursue it as a career?
Boxing and yoga were pulling at my heartstrings. Waking up everyday and boxing has given me my confidence – as a woman, as a New Yorker, as a young professional – and yoga slows me down. I’m type A, super efficient, I wake up at 5AM without an alarm every morning, just up and at ‘em, ready to rock and roll – so yoga forces me to feel, which is something I don’t always make time for or want to do. It was this balance, this feeling of leveled empowerment that I was feeling before going to my day job in a high-powered position at a hospitality company, working with chefs and CEOs – it kept me focused and helped me set my day up, every day. When I finally committed to doing this, the idea behind it was it was about giving other people this feeling that I’ve been so fortunate to feel everyday. Bringing mindfulness to the fight, to why you fight, why you don’t fight – giving you power, but also softness. Having people leave the studio if not necessarily as the best fighters, but as the best versions of themselves. It’s all about inspiration.
What is your specialty or style as a fitness teacher?
High intensity, fast-moving, fast paced – Box + Flow is all about boxing and yoga, the yin and yang of energy, breath, movement and music. So really, it’s less about technicality and more about being in your body and allowing yourself to feel. I always say it’s for women who aren’t afraid to get messy, and men who aren’t ashamed to flow. If you can channel that duality of yourself – that fierceness versus the softness, the specialty is really the boxing versus the opening of yoga: high-intensity, non-stop movement, fighting so that you can’t wait to rip your gloves off and get on the mat for an 18-minute juicy flow to open up everything you’ve just closed off. It’s about your breath, your focus, your energy. Engaging your core, your legs – not just worrying about the punches, because if you’re not integrating your entire body, you’re not boxing, you’re just standing there hitting something. It’s the same with yoga – as much upper-body focus as both technicalities have, it’s centered on your core, which ties back into the idea of finding your fire. That’s where your fire is, and that’s what you need to engage both in boxing and in yoga.
Where do you teach currently?
I’m the founder and owner of Box + Flow, on Bond Street, where our signature class offers shadowboxing with weights, yoga poses and strengthening exercises.
How do you like to recover after a tough workout?
It’s all about yoga for me – all about opening up, lengthening your breath, juxtaposing everything you’ve just done, moving slower, stretching and looking inwards. It’s linking your movement with your breath, and counteracting everything you’ve just impacted.
What has been the most challenging part in launching a fitness business?
The toughest parts in starting out in the fitness space – like in any industry – is that there are so many studios, so many instructors, so many techniques. I think it’s about being really authentic. Are you doing what you love? Are you teaching what you love to do? Do you speak to it authentically? Do you love your students? Do you care? That all shows up in everything you do – if you don’t, and it’s just an hourly job to you, that shows, too. Building a presence is all about connecting. People will come back if you truly connect and they like you. If they like you, they’ll continue coming back again and again. If you do things from the heart, people notice.
What is one tip you’d give someone who’s just starting a career in the fitness industry?
One tip I’d give anyone starting their journey is to be authentic – start in this industry because you want to be in the industry. And if you want to be in it, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Don’t listen, don’t ask questions, do what you want to do – whether it’s fitness or anything else. Then learn, teach and seek out a position doing what you want to do, at a place you appreciate and where you yourself are appreciated. Do it because you love it. It may not make you a billionaire, unless you’re Kayla Itsines or the SoulCycle founders, but when you do things for money alone that shows up, too. Do it because you want to be doing this.
Who are your favorite fitness instructors? Who you look up to or admire?
I look up to the people who believed in me since Day 1, who are on my team and make me so proud by making my dream come true, teaching my technique and making my practice possible by believing my story, and in turn, through their story, inspiring the people who walk into this room everyday. I am beyond fortunate to work with a team of trainers who really care – not just about me, or about Box + Flow, but about every single person in the room.
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