Brand trips are one of the coolest parts of blogging… but can also prove to be one of the most stressful. You know you will be photographed the entire time so you want to dress well, represent the brand well, and look polished. You also have a packed itinerary; some activities are fun and some can be anxiety-causing. I have always dreaded when an athletic activity has been on the agenda. More often than not, I am one of the largest and one of the oldest influencers on a trip and it’s pretty awful to be in a gym or yoga studio surrounded by 20-somethings in sports bras sharing their war stories about SoulCycle and CrossFit when you can’t remember the last time you had time to hit the gym or even attend your husband’s yoga class.
Yes, I am married to a yoga instructor yet I've gone weeks and sometimes months without attending because I just couldn’t find the time.
Last week I went to Florida with the clothing brand Chico’s. They were celebrating the 35th anniversary of the opening of their first store on Sanibel Island and invited me and a few other influencers they have partnered with over the years (visit my Instagram and find a highlights reel from the trip). I was so honored to attend; Chico’s is a great company, the group of women chosen to attend was varied but all talented influencers with unique perspectives and good hearts. The brand was sweet enough to provide an agenda with dress code prior to us attending. Beachy chic, check. Daytime chic, check. Cocktail attire with flat or wedge shoes for a boat, check. Athleisure for morning yoga on the beach? Uh oh.
All the old school anxieties reared their heads. This is NOT going to be fun, this is going to suck, and there’s going to be cameras capturing my fat out of shape self sweating my ass off on a beach. But then I stopped myself.
I am not who I used to be, and I have the power to never go back there again. I have accomplished so much in less than a year, and for the first time I feel connected to my body, like we have a relationship, not that I’m squatting deep in here under many layers of padding. Sure, I don’t own trendy yoga gear, but that doesn’t matter. So much of my past I focused more on the attire than the experience; not until I became a fashion blogger did I learn that the clothes do NOT make the woman. The right attire may enhance an experience, but it won’t change your life.
I decided NOT to hide my shape under a loose top. That’s the old Allie. I grabbed my favorite low-impact leggings (classic Adidas), a black sports bra, and a simple black cami from cabi since I realized I didn’t own any black fitted tanks. Instead of trying to make my hair cute at 8am, I just threw it in a ponytail and covered it with a cap. This gave me time to get on the beach to see it before the crowds came, to meditate, to start the day off right.
Chico’s provided yoga mats branded to commemorate their 35th anniversary. A table was set up with icy cucumber water and chilled washcloths. The other influencers showed up in a variety of looks. The yoga instructor created a routine that was flexible for different levels of ability, and I found myself being able to do the harder moves without trouble. I also found myself completely forgetting where I was, that there was a photographer, and just being in the moment connecting with my body and breath.
After the class, the photographer had do a few group shots, and then offered to take individual photos. My look wasn’t awesome, but my spirit was and I smiled for the camera, hands on my hips, feeling strong and alive.
I don’t know if I would be where I am in such a short time from quitting my job if it weren’t for exercising. This is an exhausting profession, physically and emotionally. I work more hours than I did for my day job, I travel more, I’m “on” more often with calls, in-person meetings, speaking engagements, and networking. And there’s far more rejection. Just this morning I had two rejection emails, one from a brand I wear regularly stating my aesthetic wasn’t coordinating with their brand, the other saying I had too small of an Instagram audience to provide value to them. It’s especially hard when you see the influencers who do get the opportunities you want and you know they boosted their Instagram numbers quickly and not necessarily authentically. And it's hard when you've built a strong community outside of Instagram and so few brands even care. There have been days where I was close to throwing in the towel but I'd think how far I’ve come, and how strong I’ve become mentally and physically and it kept me going. And being strong helps me get over the humps faster.
So here I am in my version of beachy athleisure, feeling more powerful than I have in over a decade. Thanks for joining me on this journey.