In tough times, a ‘sweat therapy’ for the body and mind

Actress Erin Stutland combines her onscreen skills and high-energy personality to find inner peace and exercise

Fitness expert Erin Stutland (Courtesy)
Fitness expert Erin Stutland (Courtesy)

With Erin Stutland’s innate radiance, it’s no shocker this New York actress has appeared on TV, with roles on “Sex and the City,” “Mad Men” and “The Sopranos.” But despite this success, she has begun channeling her onscreen charisma to start a high-energy fitness and coaching business.

Back in 2010, Stutland started teaching small workshops in New York City to augment her acting career. By 2012, she had launched a popular online program that combines positive affirmations with a physical workout. “Movement in your body, creates movement in your life” goes one of her mantras.

Today, her mailing list has swelled to tens of thousands, ages 22 to 80, across 35 countries, including Israel.

Stutland recently talked with The Times of Israel to share her thoughts about mindfulness, exercise and supporting peace of mind — especially in these trying times.

For Erin Stutland, fab abs start with getting your mind in shape. (Courtesy)
For Erin Stutland, fab abs start with getting your mind in shape. (Courtesy)

What would you say is the biggest impact positive affirmations can make in a person’s daily life?

They can literally help change the way you think. Your thinking affects everything. It effects how you feel and how you interact with people in your life. If you have the ability to change your thoughts, your life will change. They help to ground me and remind me of my true nature, which is love.

I think we all struggle with feeling we are not doing enough, we don’t have enough or that there is something wrong, off, or disappointing about ourselves.

“I am enough” is one of my all time favorites. Put your hand on your heart, close your eyes and say that to yourself. Especially after a particularly hard day. It’s important to remember that today was enough, you are enough, you have enough, it is all enough and good.

This affirmation has allowed me to embrace where I am, celebrate it and not feel as though I have to keep pushing. It is in my nature to push myself as it is. I don’t also need my mind doing it constantly by telling me all the ways in which I could be better.

One of your affirmations is “I now recommit. I am willing to dream. I am never giving up. And I let it come to me.” What makes this and your other affirmations so powerful?

‘We bring movement in with the mantras so that the body can receive the message from the mind’

Most of my affirmations come first from my own experience. With the morning pages [writing a stream of consciousness in a journal each morning], I get really clear on what I am afraid of or what illusion I am buying into of something not being possible. Then I flip it on its head. So if you are feeling like a frantic person and running like a chicken with its head cut off, saying, “I am calm and collected” can really have a lovely impact if said with a feeling behind it. That is why I teach it with movement. Because the body will tell the truth.

You may try to think, I am calm and collected, but your body is saying, “No, you are not. You are a hot mess right now. Your heart is beating fast, you have sweat dripping from your armpits. You are NOT calm and collected.” And so we bring movement in with the mantras so that the body can receive the message from the mind. The two can get in tune with one another.

Did affirmations impact finding your bashert (soulmate), and do they impact your marriage?

I think so… they helped me to affirm that I was worthy of love and that I would find it in perfect timing. And I did. As for the marriage, I attracted someone who generally thinks incredibly positively and believes anything is possible. So he is the one reminding me of these things when I forget. It’s lovely.

You grew up attending a Conservative synagogue and Hebrew school outside of Chicago. What speaks to you in Judaism?

‘Every time I hear Hebrew prayers, for whatever reason, I cry’

Every time I hear Hebrew prayers, for whatever reason, I cry. There is something about the language, the tunes, that do something to my soul.

What do you enjoy about this work?

I love that I get to combine all my talents and passion and put it into my business. I have always wanted to be a working artist. In many and almost all ways, I am indeed that. I get paid to create beautiful, life-changing products and programs for people. And of course, knowing that you have an impact on a young child who is struggling and their mom plays them one of my playlists, to getting an email from a 65-year-old woman who started running with your playlists. Well, that kind of thing is priceless.

How did you develop your shrink sessions and soul stroll forms of what you call “sweat therapy”?

I had a passion for movement and spirituality. I started using affirmations as a dancer in college. Several years ago, I found a mentor in New York City who was combing the two in a really neat way. After I studied with her, I took what I learned and combined it with all that I had learned from my life experience.

Erin Stutland during one of her sweat therapies. (Courtesy)
Erin Stutland during one of her sweat therapies. (Courtesy)

What prompted you to transition out of entertainment?

I got really tired of “waiting” to use my talent. That sounds harsh, but in the entertainment industry, when you audition, you are really waiting for someone to say, “Yes.” Like most creative folks who get into the entertainment industry, we have all this energy and creativity that we are just dying to put out into the world. So basically, I didn’t want to wait. I wanted to make something for myself. And that’s why I ended up starting a business.

Do you still audition for parts?

Yes, I recently was cast in a Lifetime show. But I don’t pursue it actively. It usually happens through relationships I established a long time ago.

read more: