This month's cover story features Jonathan Jones, Brandon King and Obi Melifonwu of the Super Bowl LIII Winning Champions New England Patriots. The road to success is one that is truly a journey that isn't a straight line. In our interview we hear how these teammates fell in love with the game, made their way to the Patriots and how they get ready for their games every week! In addition, we also had the opportunity to talk with their Sports Agent, Sean Stellato of SES Sports, whose own life has been infused with sports as an athlete who then made the Jerry McGuire transition to being on the other side of the ball. The relationship between players and the agent is essential to their success.
Our shoot took place in Tribeca at the Serafina Tribeca, which is one of our favorite places for Italian comfort food. When it comes to hospitality and having the right vibe for a celebration, the General Manager, Christian Ferrara makes everyone feel at home while educating them on his cuisine and culture.
ATHLEISURE MAG: When did you realize that you wanted to play professional football and what was your journey to get to the New England Patriots?
JONATHAN JONES: I grew up loving watching the games as young as when I was 3 or 4 years old. I played high school football in Georgia and high school football in Georgia is just big! I went to Auburn, we won a National Championship. Leaving Auburn, I was a free agent and I chose to come to New England and it was probably the best decision of my life honestly as I have had the chance to go to 3 straight Super Bowls. It’s been a great journey as far as the NFL goes! But for my entire journey to come from where I come from to make it to the Patriots, it’s been a blessing!
AM: Tell us about the position you play and who do you work with closely on that portion of the team?
JJ: I play defensive back cornerback and mostly we work with the safeties and sometimes the linebackers.
AM: During the season what is your week like in terms of practicing to get to Sunday’s game?
JJ: After a game on Sunday, you come in on Monday and first thing you want to handle and collect everything from the previous game. You then want to start working on your body. Tuesday is a day of recovery for your body getting a massage, getting treatments for pains that took place from the last game. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is all about training and practice. Saturday, it just depends on whether it is a home or an away game. But, it’s a full week and Tuesday isn’t like a day off, but more like a day to get ready.
AM: What are 3 songs that are on your playlist that get you ready for whatever game you’re playing?
JJ: It’s always a classic with me with Young Jeezy – it doesn’t even matter what song it is! Right now I have Little Baby on my playlist and I’m from Georgia so any of the Georgian rappers that are out right now – they’re there too!
AM: What does it feel like to be a 2 X Super Bowl Winning Champ?
JJ: It feels great to win Super Bowl LI and LIII. To get there every time is always the goal. I’ve been there 3 years in a row and to win 2 of them is amazing. A lot of people never even get there so for me to be there 3 times and to have won 2 is great! Every year you get there, you have to refocus and remember what you did last time to get there and how great you were at that time to win.
AM: What is it like in the off season as you prepare for the regular season?
JJ: The first thing is to get your mind and body right. You have to take the time during the off season. You want to make sure that you spend time for yourself, with your friends and family. But then it’s like you’re right back to when it’s time to go back and you also want to make sure that you stay in shape as well. It’s a quick turnaround and you have to be ready.
AM: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
JJ: My goal is to develop my game and become more of a leader within the team and to definitely work on my game with me being a young player. I want to continue to improve.
AM: How do you define your personal style? What do you wear when you’re going out for fun or when it’s a special night out.
JJ: My personal style is always about being casual with nice jewelry. I’m a laid back person. When it’s about going out, you can never go wrong with a nice shirt and jeans with nice shoes. It’s always an easy fix.
AM: Now that you’re able to relax what are 3 shows that you’ll binge on Netflix?
JJ: Oooo 3 Daredevil, The Punisher and Iron Fist.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What was your journey to get to the New England Patriots?
BRANDON KING: I went to Thompson High School in Alabama that was home for me. It was a pretty small town and in my senior year there, we got a movie theater and a Walmart which was pretty big for our town. Now, my high school is the biggest high school in the state which just goes to show how much it has grown! When I was there it was much smaller. During my junior year, coaches started coming in and recruiting and I talked to a lot of teams, but ended up falling short in my senior year by .03 to meet NCAA requirements.
A lot of people in my family were so happy that they thought I would be going to a Division I school on scholarship. So when I didn’t, a lot of people just put me on the back burner and a lot of people stopped talking to me because they felt that I was just going to be back at the house. But I knew what I wanted to do and I played for 2 years at Highland Community College in Kansas. At the time, I thought that I would be there for a year and then transfer to a Division I school, but that’s not how it turned out. I kept my head down to do what I needed to do so that I could continue to play football. I did well there and I got a lot of awards which I’m not big on as I believe the past is the past. You need to continue to work to do the things you need to do to be where you are. By staying there and doing the work, I got a scholarship to go to Auburn and transferred there. I played safety there and shortly after getting there, there was an injury to Justin Garrett the star linebacker which was a hybrid position between linebacker and safety so I changed to that position and I played that for most of my Junior year and then moved to linebacker. My senior year, I ended up breaking my thumb a week or two right before my first game of that year. I did everything that I could do to just stay at full speed. I treated everything with full respect, all of my teachers and anybody that could or would help me. I always had a smile on my face when I walked around as just having the opportunity to be there at Auburn was everything. Even in the worse times, you still have to smile. While at Auburn, I played linebacker, defensive end and safety. I was always ready for any opportunity and for people to see that I could do those positions being 225-226lbs was important and showed that I am versatile.
My senior year at Auburn, I was trying to do an internship while I was a full time student and trying to train for the NFL. I didn’t have an agent or anything like that because I didn’t have any money for that. When I was at Auburn, I played multiple positions, I was still under the radar for the most part. When I first got to Auburn, I just worked out with the strength coaches and I really appreciate them, because they prepared us very well in developing the athletes overall. I ended up just being there and working everyday and working in the schedule to actually be able to workout and I had to be productive and just go about a different way. I just came to work everyday and I don’t think it really matters, I have been in the league for 4 years and I still haven’t gone to a facility or trained with a specific individual. Being at Auburn and being with those coaches, they laid out what you had to and it wasn’t a big deal for me to get it done that way. After Pro Day came, I think I did pretty well and I walked up to the Canadian coaches and whoever was there and I wanted to shake everyone’s hands and to tell them thank you for coming by. We had all 32 NFL coaches there for our Pro Day I believe, to check out the talent. I tried to take the initiative to shake everyone’s hands that I could to show my appreciation. I did the same thing my last day at Auburn. Whether you were a positive influence or a negative influence, that’s what makes a person a person. Sometimes, people don’t realize that there is beauty in the pain and wherever you are in life, you can smile and do what you have got to do in life.
After that, I went back to work and I didn’t get any calls and then I got a call from one team with a contract. I just wanted to put my best foot forward and did everything I could do to play professionally – I didn’t want any regrets. That team called me and woke me up out of my sleep and I knew the dream was still alive and then a few days later, I got another call from another team and then I got a workout schedule from the Patriots and I never visited the Patriots or anything like that. I never went to check out the facility. I just had a workout set up at Samford University in Birmingham, AL and had an individual workout with him and it was the only thing I did. I got an opportunity to go out to other teams for my time to shine as a free agent. I wasn’t worried about the money it was finding the right opportunity – I chose the Patriots and I have been there ever since.
AM: Tell us about the position that you play and what portion of the team you work with closely?
BK: Right now I play linebacker. For the last 4 years, I have been a core special teams player. My position coach is Joe Judge – the special team’s coach. I work closely with Matt Slater, Nate Ebner – I work closely with those guys and just try to get all the ins and outs from those guys the best that I can. Those guys have been a part of a lot of Championship football. They have a lot that I feel that I can learn from. Maybe one day the goals that they have learned, I can reach back and help someone else too. They are great guys to be around, they put their pride to the side and put the team first. They don’t complain and they get it done. I have a lot of respect for them.
AM: During the regular season, what is your week like in terms of practicing and preparing for those Sunday games?
BK: I wake up at about 5:00/5:30/5:45am depending on whether I have an injury to tend to or not and it’s best to get working on that first thing in the morning. During the season I work, 12-13 hour days.
AM: What has playing in the Super Bowl been like for you?
BK: It’s been amazing. My first Super Bowl (LI), my head was kind of spinning with everything going on – I was going at like 100 miles a minute. This one, it was my 3rd one that I was a part of, and everything was a great experience, but I just wanted to get to the game. I knew how it felt to win a Super Bowl game and what it felt like to lose one. I knew what we came there for and it was nice to see my family and everything, as I don’t get to see my family a lot as they still work and I don’t get to see them that much. It was great to catch up with them, but at the end of the day, it’s a very long season and trying as you’re playing 34 games a year, as you have the preseason also and to play at that level. I wanted to do what we came there for and to put those distractions aside. You know what it’s like to watch the game when you’re younger and for me, it feels like the game gets too big and we all have different ways to approach it. Winning felt like weight coming off your shoulders. There are people that you bonded with in the beginning during training camp that don’t make it or you play with them half the season and something happens to them and they may not be on the team anymore. The new guys have to come in and fill in the voids fast, because no one is going to feel sorry for someone that doesn’t know what to do or not knowing the system. Everything counts and everyone needs to be on the same page to be successful. Playing with your team for awhile creates a sense of comfort. Winning and going through all that adversity is a lot – this season wasn’t perfect by any means! We knew that no one was going to be able to fix it but us. Our job is to get it done. It felt good to get it done and to be at 3 Superbowls in a row and to know what it is like to win and lose one and then to look at these guys I play with. I mean I have only been in the league for 4 years and I know my body doesn’t always feel too hot and to play with guys that have played 8/9/10/11/12 years, I have a lot of respect for them. It’s like ok, then let’s go! It’s a respect thing and everyone in that building comes to work every day and it’s hard for you to not do the same thing.
AM: So what do you do during the off season to prepare yourself for the next upcoming season?
BK: I take a week or 2 off as I feel that that is well deserved. The off season is really short. I feel like it’s only a month and a half off. By the time I get home it will be around Feb 28th and we have to report in April. I bought a home in Tennessee last year and I’m trying to get everything there and get the family settled in and then I have to see the family in Alabama.
AM: What are the goals for the next season?
BK: I’m not really big on setting goals because disappointment is one thing and I feel that you can get really deterred if you do set the goal. I take one day at a time. People will say that they want to do this or do that and then people will look at you and say, “hey you said you were going to do this and now look at you.” I’m the kind of person, that I just let things ride and happen the way that they happen. I will figure out the pieces of the puzzle to get to where I want, but hopefully, I will be able to put it together in the right way for the way that I want. I just want to be productive, dependable and that I am doing things in the right way.
AM: Since you are on the road so much, what are 3 items that you like to have with you that make you happy or comfortable?
BK: I try to keep a pair of headphones with me. Sometimes I use them, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I listen to music in the locker room, sometimes I don’t. When I travel, I like to have headphones because you can block things out. This year I have been bringing my tablet with me more because I can watch my movies on Netflix and take my mind off of things. You’ve been putting in the work during the week to know who you are going against so I want to relax when I travel to the game. When I get to the hotel, then I like to be able to pick that back up again to think about the game.
ATHLEISURE MAG: So when did you realize that you wanted to play football professionally and tell us your journey on how you came to the New England Patriots.
OBI MELIFONWU: At the age of 9. Well it’s a funny story. I came to Massachusetts as the age of 3 and when I was about, I want to say between the age of 6/7, I watched the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVI. I realized then that I really loved football and then at the age of 8, I brought a Pop Warner sign up sheet to my mom and she ended up throwing it out and saying it was too dangerous. I was crushed that year and I methodically thought about how I could get her to sign the sheet. So the next year, the same thing happened, I brought the sheet and she didn’t sign it and then I brought another sheet for her to sign and she ended up realizing that I was serious about it and she signed it. I’ve been playing football ever since!
My journey to the Patriots was one that I least expected. I went to high school and I got one offer from UCONN. It’s the only offer I got and I went there and had a pretty good year. Then I got drafted by the Raiders in the second round. Then after I got drafted I felt like that I was finally here and I could prove myself and play football. Unfortunately, I had injuries that happened to me that slowed things down. That last year, I ended up getting injured in August and I got cut. I was devastated. But I understood that everything happened for a reason. Nothing good good comes without perseverance and I really believe that God gives the strongest battles to the strongest war riors. I took that perspective and I just worked and got as healthy as I could and I got picked up by the Patriots. It was ironic as that was the team that I grew up watching playing. It was the team that I wanted to be on since I was little.
AM: Tell us about the position that you play and who do you work closely with in that portion of the team.
OM: The position I play is safety and that position is on defense. It is basically the last line of defense – you stop Receivers, running backs, any skilled position from scoring as that last line of defense. If stuff breaks through the line of the linebackers, even sometimes the cornerbacks. The Safety is the one that kind of has to save the day. Getting to the NFL and getting to the Patriots, I started to work really closely with the defensivebacks on the Patriots like Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Coach Belichik. They really helped me to improve as a player.
AM: During the regular season. What is your week like in terms of practice, working out, watching the game tape – what are the typical things that you tend to do as you prep for that gameday?
OM: A typical week is like a lot of studying and a lot of watching the games on your own. Everyone has their own routine and things that they like to do to help them get ready for the game. I just like to go into work and try to really take notes, implement the gameplan for that practice and do that everyday. As the gameday gets closer, just kind of take a step back from the physical part just really try to focus on what I need to do for that day. I’m visualizing different things like certain calls for certain formations and certain situations. Just mentally preparing to be ready for that game and I feel like that’s a good mindset to have. There are 53 people on a team, but only 47 people get dressed. Some weeks you might be up and some weeks you might not be. Some times you may be activated and other times you may not be activated. It’s almost like you have to take that approach every week because you don’t know when you’re number is going to be called. If you’re not ready for your number to be called, then you’re going to miss out on that opportunity at that time.
AM: You’re in amazing shape – how long are you in the gym and what are some of the key workouts that you do? Do you have 3 that are your go to in particular no matter what?
OM: Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because in college, I really just ate anything I wanted. In terms of healthy, I mean I just did everything and ate anything. But when I got further along in my career, I started really trying to watch what I ate. Even until now, I still do my best to stay healthy because I understand it will help me in the long run with my longevity.
In terms of gym workouts, I do the typical three which I feel is the bread and butter of bench, squats and power cleans. Then there are other things like core and I’m always trying to work on a lot of stability stuff to help maintain the strength of my arms. I’m really trying to get into yoga. I’ve tried it a couple of times and we just don’t have the best relationship right now haha. It’s something that I am going to try to continue to do.
AM: You’ll probably like Hot Yoga or a Cardio based one, it may make you feel more aligned to it more.
AM: So what are your go-to foods in terms of what you do to maintain your body and then what splurge food do you enjoy eating?
OM: My go-to vegetable is broccoli. I love it grilled, cooked, sautéed, whatever! My go-to meal for fuel is pasta and meat sauce. I’m the type of person that when I am performing or doing any type of physical activity, I have to eat before. I feel like that I can feel my body using that to fuel me throughout whatever workout or activity that I’m doing. So that’s my go-to meal.
Splurge I mean – everything under the sun that’s sweet! I try to cut down on dairy – icecream not too much but chocolate, cake, cookies – whatever sweet that you can think of I will most likely eat. That’s really my splurge or any fast food.
AM: On game day, how do you prepare – do you have a routine that you go through or is it more of a mindset?
OM: It depends on how I am feeling for that game. I feel that how I prep is the same, but on that day of the game, some days I will listen to Future or Meek Mill to get hype. Then other times I will listen to Jhene Aiko’s, ‘The Calm Before the Storm’ to get ready. For game day the night before, I try to do a lot of visualization for the game. I try to put myself in the position of the game so if it should happen that way, it’s not the first time that that happened. I try to keep a level head and not think too above or below the game. I try to understand mentally that things will happen throughout the game and that I shouldn’t get too overworked about it especially as a DB because the position I play and that CornerBacks and Safety’s play you might get beat on the play or give up a touch down or you might give up a big chunk and in the position that we play – we have to have short memories. We can’t let that one play affect the rest of the game. So those are just things that I do before and during the game.
AM: What was Super Bowl Sunday like for you and what has it been like since the game? Obviously, we shot your cover days after the big win and we’ve been watching your Instagram.
OM: The experience has been really great. Like being able to be in a Super Bowl and just being able to soak it in – it’s a blessing because so many people go through a whole season, 10 seasons, 16 seasons all the way to get to here and they don’t win a Super Bowl. As a player, you play the Super Bowl for many reasons. I feel like you play to make it to the Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl and then become a Hall of Famer. The fact that I got to experience that in my second year is something that I will not take for granted.
AM: You have great style – how would you define it? What do you wear when you’re just hanging out with friends or for a night out.
OM: With my friends, I just like to be comfortable. I wear a lot of joggers, a lot of sweats, nice comfy sandals, sweatshirts – I love sweatshirts like the one that I wore in the shoot, that’s the kind of things that I’m talking about.
When I go out, I’m a simple person. Obviously I like my figure and I like to take care of my body. I want to wear things that show that off whether I’m wearing slim fit shirts as well as slim fit and tapered jeans to show off my legs. Just something nice on my feet, whether they’re Yeezy’s, Timberland’s – any sneaker that looks neat and fit. My style is simple. I wear a lot of solid classic neutrals with a simple fit – nothing too extravagant.
AM: Now that you’re in the off season what are you thinking about and what goals are you setting to prepare for next year?
OM: My goals in terms of next season is that first, I have to get away from football. You work and you train for 8 months and then you have to go and take time to get away. I have really learned that in my time in the NFL. You have broken your body down to play and now you just need time to step back so that you can ease into it. I want to get my body right so that I can come correct in April. I can compete and everything I need to do but this year I am very focused on my body and mind being right emotionally and spiritually. This way I can perform at the level that I know I can and that I can show everybody else especially the Patriots organization that they didn’t make a mistake in picking me up and in giving me that chance.
AM: You’re based in Foxboro, where can we find you grabbing a meal, working out and shopping?
OM: Working out – I haven’t figured it out. I have a couple of places that I might try as I just got here. You can find me at the Patriots Place at Showcase Cinemas – I love the movies! I watch too many movies or playing video games or find me at the mall. Not even shopping, just walking around seeing things. I’m really observant and I like to see things.
I also wanted to say thank you for the interview and having us. I just want to thank everyone that helped me to get to this point and I don’t want to leave anybody out. To all the friends, coaches, everyone on this journey that has helped me out and you guys putting me in this magazine. I just want to say thank you!
ATHLEISURE MAG: We enjoyed having you a part of our cover shoot and we know that prior to being a sports agent, you also had a career professionally in football. Can you tell us about your athletic career and then what took place that led you to becoming an agent and then eventually launching your firm?
SEAN STELLATO: What a great question. Well I was born and bred in Salem, Massachusetts. I played highschool football there and had a very successful career there. Actually, the spinoff from my book, No Backing Down, came from my Junior football season which had a very diverse underdog team, a legendary coach that I always call a first generation Bill Belichick. As the team was projected to not win a game they found themselves undefeated playing another undefeated team. A major teacher strike shut down the school system – we ended up playing in front of 12,000 people and I had my career game on National Television and that was kind of my coming out party. After graduating Salem, I had the opportunity to go to a Boarding School for a year called the Gunnery Prep School.
I’m fully indebted to them because they taught me the value of education. They gave me the opportunity as it was such a political spinoff with the team after the Junior year, because of the coach being fired, that all of the kids who were going to be seniors were pretty much in harms way. The new person that they hired didn’t care. People were looking out for themselves and not for the kids. So a lot of the minority kids who had single parents, didn’t have a father figure to look out for them and it ultimately killed their careers. I was fortunate and was the Lone Ranger that was able to fly from the nest and get an opportunity – a true blessing was Gunnery Prep School – they gave me a full scholarship which was $33,000 to go there! I mean there were 8 of us together in a 3-bedroom house where I grew up in Witch Craft Heights in Salem. My mom was a stay at home mom and my parents didn’t have a college degree. They gave me that blessing and opportunity and I was on the basketball and football team there. I went onto Marist College – my mother doesn’t fly so I gave the Heisman to them. I did receive denial letters from a couple of schools and I still do read them a couple of times a year because if I let rejection define me, I wouldn’t have been doing what I am doing.
I played Division I basketball and football there which, is 45 mins north of the city on the Hudson. It was a beautiful campus and had a successful career there. My junior and senior years there I was the leading wide receiver for the 2000-2001 season. I finished there 9 straight semesters on the Dean’s List. The beauty of an education and just remembering the first time that I had been on an airplane to play basketball at Pepperdine – an amazing journey through college. But we played down in Florida after 9/11 about 10 days after that and I got scouted by an Arena Football coach and he ended up following up with me after the season and I had the opportunity to play 2 years professionally for the Arena Football League for 2002 and 2003. One of my head coaches for one of my teams is now the head coach at Purdue and he beat Ohio State this year.
You know, I saw the movie Jerry McGuire back in 1996 in high school and I fell in love with the movie. I thought about how cool it would be. I mean, as a football player, you think that you’re immortal and that you can play forever and I had to face that reality. I could have played in 2004 and I said, “I’m going to go hard on this sports agent thing.” I had 2 agents that I had hired and then I fired. I felt that there was this gap between how I wanted to represent players and the lack of transparency that I was fed when I played. I felt that I wanted to reshuffle this industry and threw my hat in the ring and got licensed late 2005. I didn’t know what I was doing and I spent a few years banging around on my own for a few years and then I partnered up with a firm and then I got exploited and in 2013, I was with the firm for a few years. We joined with a client each and then it grew into 10. I was flying our New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day signing guys getting exploited making pennies on the dollar. The night I got inducted into my high school Hall of Fame, I told my wife, “I’m not happy where I am in my career.” I told her that I wanted to have my own firm and she said, ”let’s draft the termination letter today.”
I walked away and I had signed a Non Compete so I had to walk away from all of those guys. I had one loyal client that said, “I signed with you, you’re my guy.” He never played a down in the NFL after that point and he said, “I’m leaving and coming with you.” Like Jerry McGuire walking out with Ron Tisdale, a receiver and goldfish – I walked out with an unproven long snapper and a pet boxer dog named Sly. I remember when I left that firm, they said that I would never make it in the industry. But my whole life people said that I was too small to play football, that I wouldn’t play Division I or play pro. I feed off of and that’s all I needed to hear and my wife was my witness and I put my head down and went to work.
I signed my first player, Bryan Braman, who won the Super Bowl last year, he kept me in business and I made a pact when I got into the business and I said I would never go to the SuperBowl unless I had a client in the Super Bowl, and the last 5 years I have had my guys every single year play in the Super Bowl. My drive to be an agent is to be the best and football lifted my soul when I would step onto the field. It brought me so much structure and joy to my family’s life and my life as well as the ability to have an education and to network with the ability to meet people and to interact. It's a special place in my heart. I have been inducted into 3 Hall of Fames which I am so proud of that as I was statistically not supposed to be here in terms of how I was raised, my size. I never let my greatest asset – my work ethic, down. That is what I stayed true to!
AM: What is your day like during the season vs off-season? For those players that you rep, how much contact to you have with the team and the league?
SS: My day to day – my mornings start off very early. I can only workout very early because my phone is always blowing up with 100s of calls and 100s of emails a day. That’s a big part of my lifestyle that I approach every day as I lift and I run. I get my mind right and I try to read a book every 2-3 weeks. I'm finishing my second book and it all comes down to time of year right? So obviously, if you have clients who won the Super Bowl, you just go balls to the walls to try to monetize and to expose them and align brands with them that are in line with their missions. In terms of post SuperBowl, when you win, you’re talking about shifting gears. So let me rewind.
In the fall, you’re talking about recruiting kids for the 2019 the following draft. You’re going to college games and evaluating films. At the same token, you’re servicing your guys with their needs and what they want. Then you have the guys that are on the street. You have to designate x amount of hours to make sure that they are employed. For the guys that are playing during the season, you have to make sure that you get them appearances for their marketing. Right when the season is over, you go into guys who are unrestricted free agents that are able to test the open market - so gauging what their value is and seeing which teams best suit their needs.
You’re constantly trying to work on your relationships with teams as that’s key. In terms of having that relationship and letting them know you have great guys and you’re not just throwing people at coaches. It’s 24/7 – 365. I don’t really call anytime that I travel a vacation because I am constantly fielding guys and am a hands on kind of guy. It’s how I believe I should run this.
AM: Is it hard for you to represent clients that are on different teams?
SS: I’ve got guys in a lot of different markets. It’s great to be able to interact with so many teams as no one usually stays with the same team – maybe Brady and a handful of others. Shuffling around is just human nature in the NFL especially with salary caps. With free agency, it’s a different landscape than what it was 20 years ago. That being said, it’s important that if you have guys on other teams where if – for contract extensions or just to broker deals – it’s new markets that are important because every market is different. My conversation with the Dallas Cowboys is different than the New England Patriots. Everyone has different core values and beliefs – obviously everyone wants to win in this league and to monetize opportunities as the league has crossed over to $15B in revenue. It’s a fine tuned machine.
AM: I’m sure you have a number of people who request to be represented by you. What process do you have in deciding whether someone will join your roster?
SS: I tell everyone that there is 1,440 minutes in a day and I have two lives, one as a sports agent with SES Sports as my infrastructure and I also have my family which is my wife and 4 kids. I try to keep that balance and sometimes I leave my self a little thin and I try to be better at that.
In terms of managing expectation. My phone is constantly ringing, when I first started I was the one seeking out guys and now I can cherry pick guys that I want to have. Obviously if you get a 1st or 2nd rounder, you don’t want to miss that opportunity. I think managing expectations, having that connection with a player who has the core values and beliefs that alignment is important. Some guys put a higher value on their skill set and it’s like having a house that you try to sell in the open market where you think it’s $2M and everyone else thinks it’s $1M – it’s going to be tougher to sell. You have to compromise, and you can’t sugarcoat it with your clients, you have to keep it real and be transparent with them and do what is in their best interest.
AM: What is a typical Sunday like for you during the season?
SS: A typical Sunday is impossible for me to be in every market. I have yet to be in every market on the same day. Last year in the Superbowl having 8 guys in the game – 5 in the Patriots and 3 on the Eagles – I mastered it that day! In terms of a typical Sunday, I try to at least see every player each year. If not I have the NFL package and thank God for cell phones! My Director of Football operations is phenomenal and he doesn’t take his eye off the ball. He’s always keeping me in the loop on things, from Social Media, research, staying current on guys and watching everybody. I take watching these guys very seriously. When I go to the Superbowl and people go as fans, it’s different, I go in as a business. I don’t change my preparation in terms of game rituals. I stick with them as a player as I do as an agent.
AM: What are those rituals?
SS: I make sure that I have the same things for breakfast every Sunday. I always say a prayer before kickoff. I kiss my crucifix. When I go to church that morning, I pray for each player individually. Sometimes I wear the same socks is he plays from one week to the next. I always have the same snack before kickoff or during the game. During the Super Bowl, I will put my phone in the cup holder and not touch anything until something happens. During the AFC championship, I was very unprepared weather wise, but when I am suited up, I always put my baseball hat on and turn it backwards and pretended I was playing Little League Baseball with a rally cap on. I didn’t move it until they won it in overtime. My wife thinks I’m crazy with my superstitions, but I don’t know. I get superstitious on certain things and whatever works – works for you right?
AM: With this last Super Bowl win, what was that like for you and what is it like that you’re a part of these guys careers?
SS: Just surreal and gratifying. I tell everybody that when you have that baby and hold it in your hands, it’s a life changing moment. When you have these players and you have such a passion for football like I do, I took them as far as I could take them and see them taking it further it just touches my heart like no other. This one was the most special win, because clients like Jonathan Jones – he led the defense in tackles, he had a sack and contributed so much to that win. Ryan Allen could have been the MVP of the game. Brandon King, he’s just an absolute beast and Obi with his story of how he ended up here.
AM: His story is incredible.
SS: With Obi, we had 4 teams to pick through and I don’t ever like to take credit, but I really pushed and stressed the fact that he needed to be a Patriot and not a Saint or a Chief. We picked the winning lottery ticket there.
This one in particular meant more because I felt like my guys contributed more to that particular win. I had bigger roles and obviously in my mind, it has increased more in the last few months. I mean last year, it was special because of Bryan – he pretty much kept me in business and kept the lights on in 2014 when I was a year into it. It’s been remarkable. You want to see all of your clients win a ring. Obi got his this year, Bryan got his last year, Trey Sullivan got one last year. This year I didn’t have any players on the opposing team. Last year I felt bad for my Patriots clients that lost, but on the same token, I felt good for Bryan. For the Falcons/Patriots Super Bowl, I had 1 client on the Falcons whose family was completely devastated and my Patriot clients pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. It’s been a blessing to be affiliated with history. The Patriots, whether you love them or hate them, are remarkable in what they do and they have done what no other franchise has been able to do in these times. You can talk about the Cowboys, Steelers and Green Bay Packers, they did not do it in a time period like this. There was no free agency, there was no salary cap. It’s a completely different animal today. What Belichik and Brady are doing – it’s remarkable. I’ve been able to grow up in this area and be able to model and build a sports agency around and learning from them – how they negotiate, how they do things at the organization to how I manage the kids’ careers.
AM: With the draft coming up, what is your role for that and what do you do?
SS: It’s to be a confidant to the players that I represent and to know that they are not going to be a guinea pig. To know that they are with someone who is not going to reinvent the wheel. Being with someone who has the relationships in the league who is going to sell them and brand them organically to make them successful in the NFL. It's a very trying long time, but at the same token it’s a lot of time and emails – the combine is a tremendous amount of leg time getting in front of people. It’s constantly selling, planning, promoting, These calls build for the combine for their pro day so they can be successful and play in this league. It’s a process that I take very seriously – you want to have all the guys that you represent drafted, but at the end of the day – you manage their expectations and you hold their hand and say, “hey, if you’re undrafted. That’s ok. Some of the greatest players that ever played this game went undrafted.” That’s sometimes your destiny and your fate.
AM: When we were on set for the photoshoot, we enjoyed hearing about a number of projects that you are working on outside of your life as a sports agent. Can you share them with our readers here at Athleisure Mag?
SS: My first book, No Backing Down, which is a human triumph story on 3 levels – my personal story, legendary coach and our team, has a forward written by Doug Flutie and it was endorsed by Bill Belichik, Evander Holyfied, Mike Ditka, Washington Post, NY Daily News and it goes on. It’s an incredible book and it’s now in it’s second edition. The screenwriter/producer of Hoosiers and Rudy will finish the script for the movie shortly as we’re in the very early stages of that, but I like my chances with such an established and well known screenwriter. If you go to SeanStellato.com you can order the book and obviously you can get it on Kindle via Amazon. I’m going to have a Draft party on April 25th that is going to be a great night if you’re in the Boston area as it will be at the Ferncroft Country Club as it will be a chance to meet with some of the Super Bowl Champions – Jonathan, Obi, Brandon and some of the college kids. It also includes a Celebrity Golf tournament that will raise money for the Junior Golf Fund. We’ll have one of th e top Sushi Chefs in the world appearing and providing phenomenal sushi and we’ll have good Italian wines. The Draft party will also reveal the title of the children’s book. I love to read and as a kid, I read a lot of books that I couldn’t relate to.
July 19th, will be the release of my children’s book which will also be a magical day! It will be held at the historical Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA which opened in 1925. This book is a Friday Night Lights meets Harry Potter and it is a magical football story that is mostly fiction, but there is a non-fiction component to it. It takes place in my home city which I am excited about. One of the main characters is my daughter who is suffering from psoriatic arthritis and I am looking to bring awareness to this condition. It will be an evening with some of my clients and we will celebrate a post Super Bowl party as well as to unveil the book which is going to be a magical night for everyone.
Our football camp takes place July 21st and it’s our 12th year doing this. I try to make it Disney World for a day for a young girl or boy where they can attend this non-contact camp. The day is hosted by my clients and myself and they have an amazing day with goodie bags, they get autographs and they get their jerseys signed. They compete and the winners get awarded cool swag. They leave feeling so inspired and uplifted and that they can do anything and that is the message that we try to convey. No Backing Down isn’t just a book title, it’s our motto. It’s for every man, woman and child regardless of your gender. It’s for someone with a vision, someone that maybe they have been denied and told that they can’t do that they can be relentless in the pursuit of following their dreams. That is what we convey to everyone that comes through these doors. It’s my baby and it’s one day a year which takes 6 months of preparation that we try to go all out for the kids.
AM: How many kids would you say are at this camp?
SS: We get anywhere from 100-200.
The thing about this camp is, we may not have the household marquis huge names coming. But I have blue collar guys that can relate to these kids because there aren’t a lot of kids on the planet that are going to be 6’5” and 275lbs like Gronk. Someone like Jonathan Jones who is 5’9” and 180lbs and flies like the wind or like myself, I was an underdog, but if I can do it – anyone can do it. Sometimes you just need that person to just push you along to give them that advice. They can be advised and pushed in the right direction. That’s a great day obviously!
AM: How do you take time for yourself so you have what you need to fuel others?
SS: It’s a good point. I’m a stickler on my diet and on my preparation. It’s all about those endorphins, whether I’m jogging or in a swimming pool. I get a high when I get to spend time with my kids, see my daughter to play basketball, ballet or gymnastics. Occasionally, in the summer I do try to get some downtime and I love the beach and the ocean to get a little Vitamin D. Every year I spend time to take my family down to Disney World, which is a bit more exhausting than a true vacation ha! A true joy and high for me is giving back and touching lives like going to an orphanage or a Children’s Hospital. When I was trying to make it as an agent when I was nearly out of the business, I used to pray that if I was allowed to do what I do then I would make sure to give Him the glory and honor Him every day and would help kids. I stayed true to that promise when He blessed me and anointed me with this skill set to make a difference in this industry. I go to the chiropractor 2 times a week, Dr Garrity in Naherty, MA is phenomenal and he keeps me so right. My wife is an amazing cook. I'm fortunate when I’m not on the road so much, that I get those homemade meals! I’m young enough – I want to leave a mark on the life and blessings that I have got! I’m so passionate about what I am doing. I know that I always think about my ancestors who came over from a boat from Calabria, Italy with only a couple of meals and a suitcase to come and take that and run with it. I want to preserve their legacy and that is the true joy. I’m passionate about my Italian heritage and what my family went through so that I can do what I do now.
AM: Since you travel so much, what are 3 items that you always have on you/you’re carry on that you have when you’re on the road?
SS: Great point! I have to have Jesus Calling my little meditation and prayer book that has scriptures for every day that my Mother in Law gave me. It really starts my day off right. I carry a journal with me wherever I go. My wife laughs at me, but I don’t consider myself a writer, although I have written 2 books – I never know when that next thought of book might come into my mind. I just shut down and take an hour or two to write. I’d hate to forget something that – I mean Walter Payton who I loved, used to have old school pictures of his family. So I have 16 pictures in an album in my portfolio – my wife, my kids, my dog, my parents – at the end of the day, I reflect on that when I need it. This journey isn’t all vertical and I have people that care about me, love me and support me – it’s not just for the man in the mirror. Those are the 3 and I feel like I missed something but I know it’s only three and I hope that they are ok ha!
AM: It’s what you do and it’s more than ok!
OBI MELIFONWU PG 16, 32, 36 | NATALIE FEDNER David Bowie Tank | G STAR Denim | FERRAGAMO Belt | YEEZY ADIDAS Sneakers | PG 18 - 23, 29, 30 +_ BACK COVER | CLAUDE RUSSELL NYC Zipped Mesh Jacket | G STAR Denim | ETHIKA Underwear | FERRAGAMO Belt | PG 38 | TED BAKER Sweatshirt | G STAR Denim | YEEZY ADIDAS Sneakers | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Super Bowl Champions Player's Sweatshirt |
JONATHAN JONES COVER, PG 40 - 47 | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL Game Day Player's Jersey | PG 16, 18, 26 - 37 | TED BAKER Blazer | HANRO Tee | ALL SAINTS Jeans | OFF-WHITE Sneakers |
BRANDON KING COVER, PG 40 - 48 | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL GAME DAY Player's Jersey | Adidas | PG 16 -33, 37 | TED BAKER Short Sleeve Woven | KINROSS Cashmere Blazer | EMBELLISHMENT Jeans | PG 34 | KINROSS Cashmere Ombre Sweater |
SERAFINA TRIBECA FOOD CREDITS
Throughout the cover shoot, we shot within Serafina Tribeca's restaurant and in addition to the New England Patriots' Super Bowl Champions and their sports agent, Sean Stellato - we also had Christian Ferrara, the General Manager of the eatery included in our shoot who also shared a few dishes that appeared in the shoot as well as suggestions on what you should try when stopping in for a bite, wine or a few cocktails:
. 18oz Ribeye
Grass fed Ribeye simply marinated in extra virgin olive oil, pepper, touch of garlic and rosemary for three days. After that, naturally grilled without adding any butter.
It comes with crispy and flavorful roasted potatoes and string beans.
. Rigatoni Bolognese
Rigatoni al dente with the finest homemade 100% beef sauce.
. Spaghetti Carbonara
As our tradition says, we only use crispy pancetta, Parmigiano Reggiano 24 months aged and Pecorino, eggs and crushed black pepper.
. Pizza al Tartufo Nero
Our secret recipe made from a bouquet of Italian cheeses, black truffle carpaccio and white truffle oil.
. Short Ribs
Slow cooked (4.5 hours) short ribs in our Chianti Riserva red wine, mixed vegetables and homemade gravy sauce Served with saffron risotto and Tuscan mushroom porcini crostini.
IG Stay in the loop with what the New England Patriots Super Bowl LIII Champions are up to: Jonathan Jones @GetItOnJones31, Brandon King @_King205, Obi Melifonwu @Obi_1nOnly, their sports agent Sean Stellato @SeanStellato and one of our favorite places to dine @SerafinaTribeca.
This month's issue focuses on love in many forms. When we talked with music producer, rapper, composer, philanthropist and businessman Drumma Boy, it was clear that he has a love for music, fashion and the ability to bring people together. We chatted with him about how his life started infusing with diversity in music, the important role that producers play in Artist Development, his upcoming projects with Too $hort, Musiq Soulchild, his musical work with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, his business in Atlanta and his must hav3s that you will find in his studio if you're ever working with him.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Clearly music heritage runs in your family. What was it like to be infused with such insights and talents growing up?
DRUMMA BOY: Coming from my mom, she used to always tell me stories about plugging the record album into the speaker and playing Isaac Hayes and all of that. I was young, but from her doing that, I would have these dreams of hearing music and when you would put your hands over your ears it sounds like this beautiful sound. Like you know it’s coming from somewhere, but you don’t know where! So in real life, even right now – there is a beat swimming in my ears. There is music in my ear and I have to transfer that to actuality which is what the recording process, beat making and all of that is. And to me, that’s the writing of music.
That’s the best way that I can understand Beethoven. By losing your hearing, you can still hear. Your brain can hear. Even if I muted my ears or covered them where I couldn’t hear anything – I could still hear the music. That process transfers into writing music.
AM: What was the moment that you realized that producing was going to be the way that you worked musically?
DB: That inspiration came from my brother, Ensayne Wayne who was older than me and was recently shot and killed on Feb 10, 2018. I remember being 12 or 14 and he took me into the studio with him and he was working with Three 6 Mafia and all of these different artists through Memphis. Just going through all of these different studios was amazing. I remember that the first studio I went into, it was like I was in a spaceship. I was like, “man all of these lights!” I knew that if I could transfer the orchestral knowledge and the ability to write, compose and to arrange and to put that with this Hip Hop – I could have my own sound! That’s how I came into the game making beats.
I was motivated by Ensayne Wayne, Jazze Pha, and a lot of the legendary cats that were doing it at that time.
AM: How would you define your style?
DB: I call it a pot of gumbo, there are so many different styles of the music in it. Mama would make the best from the scraps. She had some leftover chicken, black eyed peas and whatever and cooked it down in one pot and stretched the food out. Like gumbo, my style is a little bit of blues, a little bit of country, a little splash of rhythm and blues, and you have a bit of hip hop and a pinch of orchestra. Just all of these genres of music like jazz, bluegrass, funk, oldies but goodies. I loved Isaac Hayes, operas and orchestras as well as plays and then I could run out into the street and hear Three 6 Mafia. Then I could go downtown to hear the blues like BB King. There was so much history musically that it was just destined.
AM: What artists and groups have inspired you beyond a lot of those that you have mentioned? Do you get inspiration from EDM artists?
DB: Yeah I mean, I always respected the DJ. I DJ’d parties when I was coming up and I would do things here and there. As a DJ, it’s about spreading good energy because people just want to have a good time, dance and have fun. As a DJ, when you have that repertoire and that ear for what people really want to hear you can infuse that energy. So for me David Guetta, Tiesto, Flosstradamus.
When I met Flosstradamus in Atlanta, they told me that I needed to get in on EDM and doing my first song Hulk Smash Remix which hit a million streams on Spotify – it’s a blessing to get that genuine love with independents and pushing heavy on that party side. When I first released Hulk Smash Remix, Dan Bilzerian picked up the record and put it behind one of his videos and I was like, “damn this is my first time even playing around with EDM!” It was just mad love!
AM: What’s involved in producing? How do you work with your artists to your vision and the artists’ vision come together in a true collaboration?
DB: Well when I say produce music, I mean it starts with the vibe, the music and the energy of the room. Sometimes the artist may be pacing back and forth even when the music starts playing. Then we might come and bring in more energy like singing a vibe or coming up with concepts with adding in words here or there. Throw a bar or two in there. I mean producing – I look at it like I’m in therapy. The artist may not be in the mood to do the job in a certain way. I’m telling them that we need to go about it in this way or that because that is what the record label is saying. I’m telling them that they need to do something uptempo, but they may have come out of the hood and they’re about Trap. T hey may have negativity going on in their lives, they’re frowning, frustrated, they’re on the phone arguing and I’m like, “hey put the phone down – let’s get some drinks, we might have to go to the strip club, or whatever to get your mind off of that so that we can take the good energy and go back to the studio.
So now it’s been 7 hours, but it comes down to that one moment that you can capture. As a producer, we capture moments and when that artists gets into that rhythm – we capture that. That will be the best presentation that will be the best presentation that you record and then you will study that to see that it’s a hit or a smash and as you perform, it’s a completely different ballgame when game when you do that. As a producer, we’re really about artist development, enhancement, choreography, concept, theme, messages, stories etc and really giving that dedication to a successful artist.
AM: What artists are you working with that are coming out this year that you’re really excited to work with?
DB: Right now, we’re heavily working with my label Drum Squad Records. We just signed an artist Kdogg, 17 out of Memphis. He just comes from the mud, that bottom and you can just hear his struggle in his music. We released his single on Apple Music that you can download now called No Turning Back. We’re also working with Scott King a very cool artist out of Atlanta whose voice is his message. Also go get The Pimp a Too $hort Album that I just did 2 tracks on: Ain’t My Girlfriend and Tables. There are so many different artists it’s hard to say. I just went in with Kevin Gates. We’re working on DJ Drama’s new album – there’s no telling who he will drop on a track. He might pull an artist from Toronto, another from NY and an artist from the West Coast. I just got off the phone with Jeezy, he’s working on some exclusive things so I’m definitely excited about that as well. I’m all over the place!
There are so many great songs I’m working on with songwriters, I’m working on 2-3 albums and I’m about to drop my album, My Brother’s Keeper – another rap project that gives more details into my family and how we plan to continue the legacy of my brother. It will drop on 2-23 which is Insane Wayne Day in the city of Memphis. I’m also executive producing Musiq Soulchild. When I say that it has been some of the most amazing music I have made in my life! I’m very excited about that as well!
AM: Who have you yet to work with that you would like to work with?
DB: I’d say John Legend. I’ve always wanted to work with him and I’m a real jazz and R&B hip cat. I haven’t had the opportunity to really showcase my expertise in that world. Beyonce would be another one as well. Rhianna is also in there too!
AM: We know that you work with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. How did this come about and how do you approach the projects that you create with them season to season?
DB: Man with the Memphis Grizzlies they just wanted energy and me and DJ Paul did a rap project collaboration back and forth called Clash of the Titans and we did a song called We Don’t Bluff, which is the message behind Memphis. We don’t take no shit and it was just an amazing run for the city and the people don’t understand how big the Grizzlies are for our youth in our community because there aren’t too many things to do. They took Liberty Land which is an amusement park, we don’t have any water parks, not too many community centers or things of that nature. So there’s not a lot of things to do for the youth and one of those things is to go to a Memphis Grizzlies game. So to be able to create a record like We Don’t Bluff, to sit floorside with them and it’s been a 3-4 year process – it’s been a blessing. To be able to support them and to just believe and to share that message that someone can get it done is great.
AM: We also know that you have worked with Grey Goose – how did that come about?
DB: We have a lot of chemistry and a lot of love. They reached out and wanted to show some love so although it’s not an official deal, they respect what I do and appreciate it. It’s been a relationship that continues to expand and I am open to future opportunities with them as well? It’s a great non exclusive relationship.
AM: What is the House of Fresh, what do you carry there and how did it come about?
DB: The House of Fresh – well one of my first jobs when I was 14/15 was selling shoes and they put me in the Com bat Zone which was where the cheap and ugly shoes were. Nobody wanted to buy those $9.99 shoes and the retailer put you there first because they felt if you could do well there, then you could make it to the Shoe Pit. Everybody wants to buy the Jordans and other hot shoes that are in that area.
In a week, I probably sold the most $9.99 shoes because I was good at selling in the Combat Zone. So they saw that and let me go to the Shoe Pit. Within a month, I was the number 1 sales person. You got a $500 bonus every time you came in as the #1 sales person. That incentive made me push for it. I did it by selling accessories with them. You came in for shoes, but I said let’s dress that up and I let them know about sneaker cleaners, hats, etc. When you come into the store expecting to spend $200, you leave spending $500 or $700.
That energy, I liked it and I liked making people happy. Touching people through music has always been my things, but fashion is also the other. I started selling my own clothes because people wanted what I was wearing. When you look at my pictures on Google, you’ll see me in Drumma Squad gear. My own custom, extra large waist and oversized clothes. We would have it all over and people would buy it. I used to sell it out of my trunk and one day I thought what could I do with the relationships that I had with these clothing labels? So many of the lines would send me free packages. I knew I was bigger than a sales rack and a walking billboard. I looked at how I could expand the relationship and I saw a location and said if I can get it, then that's it. House of Fresh is an actual house that is on a busy street in the middle of Midtown Atlanta with a lot of walking traffic. I called Reebok, this one and that one and they said that they would send their shoe reps in. My music relationships with Ludacris, 2 Chainz played well for love and support as well.
I’m also excited that we’re opening Pre-Game, a Bar, Grill and Lounge. It’s on 899 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW in Atlanta. It’s right down the street from the Mercedes Benz and we plan on being open right before the Super Bowl.
AM: What are three key things that you truly believe in in terms of the success of your career?
DB: I believe in the importance of watering relationships. You get so many contacts, but it’s important to circle back from time to time to ask them how they are doing. I love to share the message of loving practice. Loving to get up every day and to practice - whatever it is that you want to do and enjoy that process. It’s the ultimate confidence builder. I also believe in having multiple revenue streams of income. I feel that these things have been instrumental in my success.
AM: Your hands are in so many pots, how do you take time for yourself?
DB: Well it’s weird. The music saves me. I’m up every morning 8/8:30am and I start out with breakfast and getting the proper nutrients, fruits and of that nature and I just think/brainstorm on what I want to accomplish for the day. I start getting phone calls and I attack the priorities. I zoom in on the top things that I have to do and I have that schedule. Usually House of Fresh, Pre-Game Lounge and everything that I have to do business wise is orchestrated between 9am - 2:30pm. By 2:30/3pm I’m all studio. I’m not so much on the phone so people can just leave a message and I’m there until 2:30/3am. I come home, I get about 3-4 hours of sleep and then repeat. It’s a dedicated process, but I find it very effective.
AM: What are must hav3s that you always have in the studio when you’re working?
DB: I would say company is one thing
that you have to confirm – ladies in particular – to know when you have a hit. It’s when they move or not period point blank. If someone says, “ooo I like this.” You know we have a hit. When you get a lot of chatter and no one is paying attention, then that just confirms that I need to go to the next beat. Another thing is candles. We’ve been supporting a brand, 1122 Candles for the simple fact that they’re natural and soy – there are no chemicals when they burn. They also have a great scent! My third thing is the fun – I have to have fun. That’s one thing I do. I’ll do something silly or just try something out for no reason and that turns out into something incredible.
AM: In Atlanta, where can we find you grabbing a cocktail/meal, working out and shopping?
DB: I work out at Heat Gym. I work out with my trainer shout out to Mr Shut Up and Train on Instagram. As far as grabbing a meal you may catch me at the STK or at Paschal’s. It’s a really well known Southern wine and dine spot. For shopping, you will find me at Phipps Plaza as I love that it’s exclusive and you can get right to the point and get out without being stopped by too many people. Every now and then I might run into Lenox Square to stop by Zara and see what they’ve got.
PHOTOS COURTESY | Drumma Boy
If you're out in Venice, California we highly suggest checking out Karen Lord Pilates Movement. Its founder, Karen Lord comes from a fashion and art background and created this studio and method to connect the endless benefits of classical Pilates while delivering it in a contemporary and mindful package that offers a true connection to each person that walks through the door.
After her successes in New York, Karen wanted to expand to Los Angeles. This version of her studio started as a pop-up this past July, and they quickly saw a nice client base expanding quickly. Between people from New York who were excited to come in, or people who heard about Karen and her online videos, it started growing quickly.
When working out at their Abbot Kinney location, you will find a contemporary studio rooted in classical Pilates. In the studio, guests can enjoy 10 reformers in the space. Each trainer has their own style and many of the classes are designed to highlight that trainer's special approach to Pilates, but with the commonality that they are all guided by the unique approach of Karen Lord Pilates Movement. You'll experience the individualized attention from highly knowledgeable and truly loving trainers, but will be kept safe and guided throughout the entire experience. This studio is known for their individualized attention and focus in a well designed, clean and fashionable studio. In addition, this studio trains to the client's body and not the other way around.
In addition to group classes, private ones are also available each day. Clients can be matched with their ideal trainer depending upon their desires and needs.
Guests can enjoy changing rooms and bathrooms; however, showers are not available. Merchandise and apparel are for sale in the Love Shop- a well-curated collection of KLPM's favorite products and accessories.
In addition to this studio, Karen will be the headline Pilates instructor for Wanderlust this year in Squaw Valley as well as Seattle. There are a number of collaborations with local and national brands that will be coming up. Whether you can attend the studio or not, Karen Lord Pilates Movement will be releasing videos online in the next month so anyone worldwide can train with Karen.
THE DROP OUT
When Elizabeth Holmes was charged by the SEC for defrauding investors, blood testing startup, Theranos shut down. These actions took place due to Wall Street Journal's John Carreyrou who began peeling back a number of questions people had about this company. Many questioned how Theranos went about its business, how it marketed itself especially with a method of obtaining blood, that technically would be a game-changer never actually worked or was used by them!
Over the next few weeks and months, you will see various media outlets telling this story, but ABC Radio's podcast which is hosted by chief business, economics and technology correspondent Rebecca Jarvis walks us through a number of people who worked with Elizabeth in this six-part series that took three years of invesigation! You'll hear various depositions that were obtained by the network, interviews from her family and more.
Throughout the podcast, you hear about how she created the company, how she crafted her message, how she was able to raise staggering amounts of money to fund her company from major investors as well as how she garnered accounts for her blood testing machines into Walgreens and ultimately, how everything started to crumble due to a fractured culture and secrecy that plagued the company.
CONVERSATIONS WITH A KILLER: TED BUNDY TAPES
In the True Crime world, many are going back to some of the biggest cases to find out more information on those who created horrific crimes. Currently on Netflix, they are focused on Ted Bundy, who sexually assaulted and murdered at least 39 women in multiple states in the 1970's. It wasn't until days before his execution in 1989 that he actually confessed in detail to his crimes.
In this documentary, never before heard interviews are released as well as archive footage within this four part series.
From the creators of Athleisure Mag, we're pleased to share another show from Athleisure Studio.
We all have our favorite dishes and places to eat. Many of us enjoy cooking and are consistently evolving by learning from cookbooks and our favorite culinary shows. In Athleisure Kitchen, we delve into cooking with your favorite chefs, restaurateurs, General Managers, food personalities, brands, and more to find out their journey to food, their unique approach to creating their culinary world and how they have extended it and themselves as cherished by the world.
You can listen to the launch of our first episode with Season 14 winner of BRAVO's Top Chef, Chef Brooke Williamson who is the owner of Playa Provisions, The Tripel, Triplikit, Small Batch Icr Cream, Hudson House, Da KikoKiko is influenced by her love of seasonality and locality.
WISH I WAS HERE
Many of us have bucketlists, wishlists and places where we allow our visions of wanderlust to roam! There is something about having a destination that we envision ourselves being in that makes the day to day grind much more manageable to go through. This coffee table book was created by Lannoo Publishers and has some of the most covetable places on Earth placed within its pages.
A number of top international photographers showcase the most beautiful hotspots to surf, dive or enjoy life. Over 200 pages with breath-taking beaches and spectacular photos under, on, near or at the water which will only encourage you to get ready for your next vacation.
THE GUEST BOOK
The Guest Book is such an exciting book and won't be out until May of this year, we suggest that you pre-order this book now. In this novel, you learn about the 3 generations of Milton's as they appear in 1936, 1959 and then in the present day.
Who would think that a simple word "no" would not only hurt Kitty Milton in 1936 as well as for the rest of her life, but would also create a rippling effect for future generations? Kitty and her husband Ogden come from families that are considered the backbone of the country. Not meant to be more then just uttering it at one point in their lives, they enjoy their decadent lives living within their comfortable world - change is beginning to take shape in other areas.
As we move onto 1959, we move from Maine to NYC where we see Kitty in the next phase of her life and two strangers emerge within her family. One has garnered the attention of her daughter while another makes them evaluate the state of their family and what it stands for as change continues.
This change is so present that the very finances of the family are at risk now that Kitty has passed on and in finding out how they can keep the island due to not being able to afford, it they must dig into their family history to uncover myths that threaten the image of the family.
THE MAGICAL CITY
Lizzie Mary Gullen
When things get too hectic and you need to take time to just relax, there is nothing better then having a coloring book nearby where you can organize your thoughts by drawing. We're loving this coloring book because it is a merge between applying colors to a city while being transported to inspired locations.
We've been working within 2019 for a few weeks now, and whatever our goals are, it's still early enough to make a few tweaks on a number of our activities. We got the chance to catch up with Terry Cralle, RN, Clinical Sleep Educator to talk about sleep. We all know that this is an important activity, but we really wanted to find out what we could do to get more sleep as well as additional elements of this important health cycle!
She broke down the importance of our initial steps in getting great sleep, how we can optimize our bedroom for better sleep, whether we should go comando or not (and the benefits either way), how we should take eight and the ease of great sleep.
A New Year is upon us and for many of us, when it comes to our New Year’s resolutions, it’s “here we go again.” Will the gym membership go unused by mid-January or will the dieting trail off, as it usually does, as the days tick by? Whether it’s weight loss, new fitness goals, completing that degree, a new job or better financial decisions, there’s a lot that can and should be accomplished in the new year – but the question is: How do you get motivated and see resolutions through to completion? What would help ensure success with these goals – no matter the time of year? Is there a “secret sauce” that can help people achieve their new year goals – not to mention career and life goals?
The First Step is Sleep
The answer is a resounding “yes!” There definitely is something that can help us see our resolutions through, achieve successes and realize our full potential. It’s called sufficient sleep. Yes, it’s often disregarded or overlooked – but it shouldn’t be – as it is an incredible performance enhancer and game changer, especially for those who have not used it to their full advantage.
Sufficient sleep, often overlooked as an indulgence, rather than a biological necessity, can easily become the catalyst for seeing any goals through to success. Adequate sleep can provide what our bodies need, directly affecting our ability to succeed at what we set out to do.
There are many ways to optimize sleep. Here are easy things you can do now that can impact the way you view sleep and the way you get sleep.
Start by Optimizing Your Bedroom for Better Sleep
The bedroom is for sleep. Period. It is no secret that the bedroom environment can have an enormous impact on sleep quality and quantity. Are stacks of bills piling up on the dresser or is there unfolded laundry waiting to be put away? Has your bedroom become a storage room for unused exercise equipment or stacks of magazines? Has your mattress seen better days? How about the clutter spilling out from under your bed?
You may be pleasantly surprised by how a few tweaks will help transform your bedroom into a relaxing, serene, inviting and sleep conducive sleep sanctuary. See for yourself whether transforming your bedroom leads to better sleep quality. Consider the following for better sleep and better wake quality:
Do your bright red or purple bedroom walls make a statement? Bold colors may be affecting your sense of serenity and relaxation at bedtime. Consider borrowing a color palette from nature (think soft sky blues, pale forest greens and even the silver from moonlight) or light neutrals to soften things up a bit.
How does your bedding look and feel? White bedding is often associated with luxury and cleanliness. If the thought of crisp, clean white sheets makes you want to crawl into bed an hour earlier, even better.
A plant or two will not only look pretty, but can help improve bedroom air quality. According to NASA research, some plants act as natural indoor air purifiers, including the snake, English ivy, and spider plants. (Note that some plants can be toxic to children and pets.)
Clutter, junk, and piles of stuff create visual chaos — which is distracting and stressful, not to mention dust-collecting – all of which can negatively impact your ability to relax and fall asleep. Go minimalist by taking out extra stuff – even furniture. An organized, neat and sparse bedroom is more relaxing and conducive to sleep than one that is cluttered, disorganized and overwhelming.
Bright overhead lights should be avoided in the evenings and before bedtime. Have soft lighting options available in your bedroom and consider motion-detecting night lights to help safely navigate 3 a.m. trips to the bathroom.
Let’s face it: getting into a well-made bed feels wonderful at the end of a long day, and for many, an unmade bed is an eyesore. A survey conducted by the National Sleep Foundation (NSF) found that respondents who made their beds daily were 19 percent more likely to report quality sleep. However, there is some controversy about a made bed trapping in moisture and thereby worsening dust mites. If you like the look and feel of a made bed, consider pulling back the bedcovers as soon as you get out of bed in the morning to let your bed air out and then making it up at least an hour later. This may also be a good idea if you have pets who like to sleep on the bed during the day. If you opt not to make the bed, at least straightening the bedding can help give the bedroom a neater appearance.
Give Some Thought to PJs – or Not
While this aspect of sleep is rarely given a second thought, let’s take a moment and consider how we feel during the day when we rock an outfit that looks great, feels comfortable and fits well – it really contributes to us having a good day as opposed to a not so good one. It goes the same with sleep. For optimal sleep performance, real pajamas that you only wear to bed are ideal. Don’t wear the same clothes that you work out in or go shopping in. Avoid tight or constrictive clothing that have uncomfortable straps, tags or anything that will bunch up or twist when changing position during sleep.
Changing into comfortable and designated sleepwear is a critical component of an effective sleep strategy. In fact, the term enclothed cognition is a term used to describe “the system atic influence that clothes have on the wearer's psychological processes.” Changing into designated jammies can give your brain the cue for “it’s time to go to sleep,” rather than “it must be time to hit the gym.”
There are many types of pajama fabrics available — silk, flannel, linen, cotton, even cashmere — so choose what feels best for you and your sleep style. (Do you sleep hot, cold, with lots of covers, without?) Surprisingly, wool can be ideal for a variety of sleepers. Published in 2016, research in the journal Nature and Science of Sleep found that wool did a good job at regulating body temperature — keeping the sleeper in what is known as “the thermal comfort zone.”
Sleeping in your birthday suit is another option. It is said that sleeping naked can help prevent overheating – result ting in deeper sleep. Buff sleeping is also reported to increase the storage of brown fat, the type of fat that burns calories. It is thought that increasing brown fat may help with weight loss, while improving insulin function and glucose levels. An added bonus is the fact that the skin-to-skin contact that naked sleep lends itself to creates a boost in the feel-good hormone oxytocin (often referred to as the love hormone), which contributes to increased feelings of intimacy and bonding. In fact, a British survey of over 1000 couples found those who slept in the buff reported happier relationships than those who slept in PJs. Alternatively, sleeping in as little as possible may be a happy and healthy compromise for those who don’t want to go totally commando.
Statistically speaking, far too many of us fall into the category of not sleeping enough. According to the CDC, one third of the adults in the U.S. report that they usually get less than the recommended amount of sleep (7-9 hours a night). Insufficient sleep is a serious and costly problem associated with many health conditions — including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and depression. Insufficient sleep is also linked to motor vehicle crashes and workplace accidents.
Sleep fuels the body and brain in many ways – helping with learning, memory, problem solving and judgment. Sufficient sleep is particularly helpful for the developing brain. In fact, recently at Baylor University, students were given extra points if they met “The 8-hour Challenge.” The challenge entailed averaging eight hours of sleep for five nights during final exams week. The results from the challenge were published in an article in the journal Teaching of Psychology and demonstrated that the students who got the extra sleep performed better than those who did not participate. Researcher Michael Scullin noted that one of the students who got the extra sleep re marked that it was the “first time my brain worked while taking an exam.” Another student stated that "there’s plenty of time to set aside for sleep and still get everything done and you feel so much better doing it.”
The Baylor challenge reminded me of a group I worked with several years ago. They were Wall Street executives who prided themselves on sleeping as little as possible. (“I’ll sleep when I’m dead” was their favorite saying.) They laughed about all of the 3 a.m. emails they sent to each other and how often their work kept them up late, woke them up in the middle of the night or sometimes kept them up all night. Yet this group was convinced that they could not be successful if they took the time to get adequate sleep. In fact, they were under the erroneous impression that they had successfully acclimated to running on empty, and not only that, they were doing just fine. However, this attitude reflects the lack of insight that typically accompanies sleep deprivation – people think they are performing well, when in reality they are not. They don’t realize, see or feel the degradation in their performance and/or have lost their point of reference to feeling rested and restored upon awakening or even hitting the ground running.
I challenged this group to rethink sleep – to throw out all of their preconceived notions (sleep is a time-waster, sleep is for the lazy, I can’t take time for sleep if I want to climb the corporate ladder, etc.) and view sleep more as a performance enhancer than as a sign of weakness. I urged them to view sleep as a biological requirement – not an indulgence for those without a work ethic. I emphatically stressed to them that sleep and success were not mutually exclusive.
The only way to demonstrate this was to challenge them to extend their sleep time – shooting for eight – for a week at least, but ideally for two weeks - and see if they saw a difference in how they performed and how they felt, both physically and mentally.
I was not surprised to find them more than pleasantly surprised at the improvements in energy, productivity, general well-being, efficiency, accuracy, outlook, and communication when they were well-rested. As I had explained, we perform much like an intoxicated person when we are not getting the recommended amount of sleep on a consistent basis – not to mention, it’s terrible for our physical health. Unhealthy weight and a lack of exercise (no energy, no motivation) go hand in hand with insufficient sleep.
Sleep: Easy as One, Two, Three
Make 2019 a year to remember by ringing in the New Year with resolutions you can keep. Three easy steps are all you need to start the year off on the right foot – and keep it there. Three easy steps will help you see all of your resolutions through while keeping you healthy, energized, motivated, focused and happy. So go clean your bedroom, slip into (or out of) something cozy, and hit the hay at a decent hour for a change to grab eight hours of restorative sleep. That’s it. See for yourself the difference these few changes make. Then go tackle those resolutions. You may have the most productive year ever!
Read more from the Feb Issue of Athleisure Mag and see Something You Should Know | New Year, New Sleep, New You in mag.
When it's coming from a place of love and concern, we're all about a straight shooter. We've been team Dr. V since we first saw her years ago on BRAVO's LA Shrinks, where we were introduced to this Clinical Psychiatrist that was never shy to tell you how it is and to call you on your crap! We continued to follow her as she appeared on a number of daytime, primetime and reality TV show spots, including as a host on WE TV's Marriage Bootcamp. We took some time to talk with Dr. V about her job as a Clinical Psychologist, the power and importance of communication, her new book Bad Advice and of course being on Marriage Bootcamp.
ATHLEISURE MAG: We fell in love with you on BRAVO’s LA Shrinks as well as on the The Real Housewives of NJ and on WE TV’s Millionaire Matchmaker and Marriage Bootcamp! Can you tell us how you came to Clinical Psychology as a career and then how you were able to parlay that into you being on Reality, Daytime and PrimeTime TV?
DR. V: You know I knew from a very young age that I was very equipped to solve problems. So I kind of went from the stoop to the screen. As I sit here talking with you, I think about how I used to sit on my neighborhood stoop and solve problems. It was a very working class neighborhood where all the houses were connected – row homes. So it was the kind of place where people would gather out front in front of people’s stoops.
I remember being super young like 4-5-6 and hearing people discuss their lives in very intimate ways! I mean a lot of shit goes down on the stoop for sure! So I would listen and it seemed like people would have this idea that somehow their problems were unsolvable. At a very young age, call it naivete or hopefulness, I never saw it that way. I always thought that the problems could be solved and I would go into my own head and solve the problem.
Like I’d be like, “wait let me tell you how shit goes – this is not a big problem.” I would go inside myself and be like, this is easy guys, it can’t be this hard. By the way, this is very different than giving advice. Because when you’re young, you’re able to use and even when you’re older – you use what’s called Executive Functioning in your brain. It’s when you’re able to re-engineer problems. I think that at the end of the day to get back to your first question, I had a very early development of that in my brain of Executive Functioning and being able to see problems and than rearrange them, which is different then giving advice. I don’t even like to give advice by the way – I stay away from it.
AM: We like that you make that distinction because hearing you say that – definitely is a difference and to do so at such a young age and to understand that is phenomenal.
DR. V: It’s the idea that solutions and advice are different. I think that when you come from it at that perspective, how can we work together to find a solution as opposed to “I’m the expert, I know better than you and you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Fuck that – we can work together and find solutions. I think that at the end of the day, that’s how I got started in Psychology and it was at that young age – I knew I was able to re-engineer my own problems and other people’s problems.
Taking that a step further, I sought after higher education. You had pointed out Clinical Psychology which is different the Counseling Psychology and other forms. Clinical Psychology just means that it’s research based and as a science lover, I love doing research. But at the end of the day, it’s really just that I was dumb enough to take the longer route – that’s really what’s happening! You tack on another couple of years for your dissertation, so a lot of doing the same things, just the degree of Clinical Psychology which is a PHD has more of a research focus where Counseling Psychology has more of a counseling focus – talk therapy. So that’s really the only difference there. I love research, I love doing it, collecting other people’s research. Anyone of those degrees, they can also share that same love of research – it’s just required as a PHD in Clinical Psychology to do the research for the degree.
So how I found myself, I was there on the stoop re-engineering everyone’s problems and I gained enough confidence to tell people what if you did this or what if you did that? And I think that coming from a very working class Italian neighborhood where there was a sense of community, the volume was turned up and we never had enough of anything but love and emotions – I think I developed a way of communicating that I had to be super clear. I had to make my point super clear and it has to land! Because for Uncle Rocky to take in my advice or my solutions – it has to land. Because of that, that was Prime TV talk as it has to land and it has to make an impact. If not, it’s not entertaining or there is no reveal or whatever entertainment words we use.
I think that is how I find myself in front of the screen and I battle on a regular basis – my own shyness. I know it doesn’t come off that way, but I am a very shy person.
AM: We would have never guessed that!
DR. V: Oh yeah! I am incredibly shy and I have had to really talk myself through my own levels of courage. Obviously as I have gotten older, it’s gotten easier as I will be 47 and I am sitting in this bath of “I don’t give a fuck” – but I battle this on a daily basis in front of the camera. I battle this by getting so into the process that I forget that the camera is there. I immerse myself into the person that we are talking to or the project that we are dealing with and I really have to forget that the cameras are there and I am able to cope better with my shyness and I can hone in on the person I am talking to?
AM: How important is communication with the person that you are talking to whether it’s a significant other, a friend etc?
DR V: Well communication defines the relationship. It is the key to every aspect of our lives. Communication, if we were to think of it as our form of expression and creativity, it leaves us room to be able to take in feedback about our communication. Your sense of self expression isn’t my way of self expression. The way that you communicate is not the way that I would creatively do so. The words that you choose, the metaphors that you give and how you choose to communicate with someone else is really quite magical. Communication and how we communicate in the world defines who we are, defines the relationship, defines our friendships and really is the most important ingredient in life!
I don’t like when people say, “that person can’t communicate effectively.” It just means that you can’t hear their message. Communication is co-created. We don’t realize that as humans we help each other feel things. As we sit on the phone with one another, we help each other feel things and this is what sets us a part. We’re almost contagious to each other. Communication seems like it’s such a simple word, but to me it’s more then just that word and it embodies so much more! It embodies the self expression, how you perceive yourself and others – it’s creative. It’s a creative endeavor.
AM: It’s a great point as for years we use to say, “this person isn’t an effective communicator.” One day we thought, we should try to figure out what this person is saying as they are making a point, they seem to believe it, perhaps we’re just not getting it. So we started re-engineering. Hearing that this person said x and then trying to get the meaning behind it really makes us understand what you just shared as they had a different method and that it is a creative process to understand what is being said.
DR. V: Right and then from that place, you’re able to go to where I excel with solutions! You’re able to find the solution. If someone isn’t communicating effectively if we use that word, you’re immediately put on your heels, you’re set off, you’re turned off – when you categorize it in that way. We need to be more curious and ask more questions instead of having this knee jerk judgement. There is nothing more that makes things go wrong then taking a cruise on the SS Judgmental! Once people begin judging each other, things go wrong. When we get curious and ask questions, you’re better able to understand the person you’re talking to. If you’re curious in a genuine and relaxed way – I have been in situations where I was curious but being a bitch and I was asking questions only to hide my annoyance and that wasn’t good! But when you do it genuinely, that person gets curious too and then they relax too!
So when we talk about communication, it’s obviously one of my favorite topics – I see it differently. Usually when people are bringing it up, they mean it in a, “we just don’t communicate well” kind of way. That’s when I say, “we have to ask more questions.” We’re allowed to help each and other. My husband and I have been together for 22 years and I think it was about 5 years in where I would create narratives for him. I would write him in an email, which is a little condescending haha – I’m not going to lie. This would take place during an argument where he would go to his respective work and I would go to my respective work and I would say let me help you. In quotes I would write what I wanted to hear and he would write back, “wow I didn’t know it was that easy as I would have said that to you. I just couldn’t find those words and didn’t know the words you wanted to hear.” This would go on for 3-4 years about what I needed to hear. A lot of people would say, “that’s not genuine – he should know what you need to hear.” But no, not at all. Sometimes it’s ok to help people figure out how to love you. Because that is a creative endeavor. Many people say that men and women have different language styles, but I don’t believe that. I think everyone wants the same thing. Both men and women want to be loved and to love – everyone wants it. How people get there is very different and men aren’t pushed or taught to be emotional leaders, “boys don’t cry” – this sort of toxic masculinity has infiltrated our society to a point where it has stopped men’s growth to express how they’re feeling. Men get this bad wrap for not expressing how they are feeling and women feel like they have to consistently be the emotional leaders or that we’re all emotional brains and we’re crazy – no it’s just that you don’t understand her – she’s not crazy.
AM: We were going to ask about the difference in love languages between men and women. But we like hearing how you were able to articulate what you said and what you wanted to hear reminds us that when we're talking to our significant other, we’ll say that we know you said x, but what I actually here is y. This makes the conversation a lot longer to break down the components of what’s said vs felt vs what we should do.
DR V: Right it becomes a creative endeavor. When you’re saying what you heard and what was felt it actually entails a vulnerability. So not only are you attempting to have better communication, but your partner is learning about you, who you are, what makes you tick and your deepest vulnerabilities which invites them to do the same. When we talk about men and women and their differences, men are not able to show their vulnerabilities as a society. They are uninvited to that party usually. So when they get with someone who is an emotional and has a creative expression of how they use language and are able to communicate what you feel, these men are like, what the fuck?
I have so much empathy for that struggle and form of expression and I don’t believe that we’re talking in different languages. Everyone knows what it’s like to be sad, hurt or to feel vulnerable and both men and women feel that. It’s how we express those emotions that matter.
AM: With us being firmly in the New Year, a lot of people are looking at their resolutions, being their best selves etc. What is the best way for people to optimize their lives without feeling the pressures of changes that may not have taken place or come out the way that they had hoped?
DR. V: Wow well patience is it’s own kind of confidence. It takes patience with other people and ourselves to attain goals. It’s a trust in your self and in the process. If you have fallen off of the wagon or have fucked up, it’s never wrong to start again. It’s always right to start again!
AM: So you released Bad Advice last fall. What led you to writing this and tell us more about this book!
DR. V: Look, I was just tired of hearing things repeated back to me – bad advice. Theories are very important! How we walk through the world and how we define our world is through theories and words. If those theories aren’t correct and are in fact, scientifically wrong – where does that leave us? I was inspired to write this as I’m just irreverent in general and I love to punch holes in things. I just got tired of hearing these one liners that seemed to have blown up even more so on the Internet like: “Just be yourself”, “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself”, “Expectations lead to disappointment” or “Follow your bliss” – it’s like birds flying! Because we’re passing around this bullshit more and more, I got curious about it. Is it really true that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself? Is that true? In the event that you need to hear, just be yourself – does that help? Is it helpful? Do expectations lead to disappointment – is that true – I got really curious! I found these statements and of course, I have my own hypothesis. I collected pieces of Bad Advice that enjoy the shit out of me and I debunked them in the book with heart and humor and it’s a super fun read. It’s one of those books where my hope is you get done reading it and you say, “you’ve never thought of it that way.” Then I have done my job as an author. My favorite books were always those that I would close them and be like, “Oh my God I never thought of it that way – that is so interesting.” You’re able to affect how people view the world.
AM: How long did it take for you to put that together?
DR. V: I would say that while the writing process was 2 years, it’s a lifelong project for me. There were so many pieces of Bad Advice that I didn’t include that I am still collecting them.
AM: Will there be a part two?
DR. V: Yes! I feel that I have been doing this my whole life. I am a very curious person and I always ask myself, how do I know this to be true and forget about bad advice – I’m just curious about the world. What we know – how do we know this to be true and forget about bad advice. Who is the messenger – who is saying it, why are we saying it and who is coming from? I ask myself things like this all the time.
AM: How can someone identify when bad advice is being given to them?
DR V: When it denies your humanity. When it denies what you feel. For example, “Nobody can make you feel bad without your permission” – that’s a chapter in the book. That is like the worse advice that I have ever heard. I get it. My mom used to say it to me when people would make fun of my name. We say it because we want to help people but what it does – I mean when was the last time you gave someone permission to hurt your feelings?
AM: Um never!
DR. V: EXACTLY! Like I will give you permission to hurt me? It doesn’t make sense. So when it denies your humanity and how you’re feeling then you know it’s bad advice!
AM: You’re so right. I mean I can see why we say it because we’ve all heard it from other people who meant it from a good place. But when you think about it, it’s kind of taking a knock at you and you’re internalizing it!
DR. V: You’re right and so for a split second, you’re put in a an area of denial and those emotions come back double fold because you’re trying to hold back from what you really feel. When it comes to relationships, “you can’t really love anyone until you love yourself.” Look, we are meant to love people that is what humans do. So you’re going to love people and your self doesn’t give a fuck about what you think of you. It also creates a “series of events” first I love me, then I love you it implies that love is linear and it’s not – it’s co-created. But we hear love yourself and we’re all the while being conditioned to self hate! Self hate is very real, but the concept of self love – no one tells you how to love yourself. Do you know why? It’s because it’s impossible to love yourself the way that you would love someone else because it’s not supported by brain circuitry. You’re going to love other people and that’s just what will happen – it’s what we do. It denies your humanity – you will love people regardless – you may not love them well, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
AM: How do you prepare for your work on WE TV’s Marriage Bootcamp, especially with all of the different personalities that are involved? How do you ultimately get them to the relationships that they desire?
DR. V: Well bigger personalities require bigger jolts. They require different methods. So, the goal of Marriage Bootcamp is to provide a cellular experience which jolts the system. What I love about the show is that my goal isn’t to keep the couple together. It’s my hope, but it’s about choice. Is this the person that you should be with? It’s about re-engineering that problem – is this the person for you? With all the evidence given to you over the last 10 days, do you want to be with this person? It’s about giving the couples the information they need about themselves and the relationship and asking them to make a choice.
My hope is that they do, but then again staying together is not always the right choice. It may be that they need to live a part. This is what I love about the show – our stakes aren’t in whether the couples stay together, but that the right choice is being made for the person and the couple.
How I prepare for the show, well before those 10 days, I get a lot of sleep. I don’t sleep for 10 days!
AM: We’ve been a fan of the show for years, but we can only imagine how it must be to be there in your position. With such big personalities how do you take the space you need so that you can do the best work for them?
DR. V: Well I’ll tell you. I have been in the field for – I started volunteering at Mt Sinai at 20 – I’ve been doing it a long time, 25 years. You really do learn how to separate yourself and it came naturally over time for me. I know when I need to restore myself and when I begin to become a judgey asshole. I’ll say wow, “I really need to take a break because this person is really getting on my fucking nerves!” Because you can’t help people if you can’t find something to love about them. That is the truth. You have to find something about them that you love and that you like. If you don’t like them – you can’t help them. It’s an incredibly professional and profound thing to admit that this person is tapping into something in me that I don’t like. I need to take a step back and to restore myself and grow from that. That’s what I love about the work because I am consistently growing and being pushed to my own limits season after season after season. I love that – whatever field can I grow and learn in a fun and chaotic way haha!
AM: Everytime we see that you’re back for another season we’re like she’s still hanging in there!
DR. V: Haha Dr. V is still alive! It’s funny because when people are put in a therapeutic environment when they may attack me or say something to me – I feel their pain. They are really talking to pieces of themselves. I feel like I have a deep empathy for that.
As a side note. You know what’s funny about Marriage Bootcamp? That show is so fucking crazy and YET when I watch it on TV – they actually make the drama LESS! They don’t even need to make it more dramatic like a lot of reality shows do. They don’t edit it a certain way to make it more dramatic. I was there – I know that that was way more intense than what they are showing. I think that is what has made the show last for 13 seasons, because the drama is already there. So they don’t have to do much!
You get to see some of your favorite personalities in a different light. Like Brandi Glanville on Marriage Bootcamp was not the same Brandi Glanville on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. People who follow her and love her got to see her in a different way and that’s amazing to me.
AM: You’re based in LA – where do you love grabbing a meal/cocktail, working out and going out for a little shopping?
DR. V: Let me tell you – I love a good diner! I’m from Philly – I did my education in NYC and there is nothing to me that beats a good diner. Kitchen 24 in Hollywood is open 24 hours. I can go there and get egg whites and feta. If I am working late and I need to wind down, I can get a margarita at 3am in the morning – it’s the best place on earth – it’s like my mother’s kitchen! There is nothing like a good diner.
I love to cycle and I feel that at my age it’s so great because you’re not compounding your joints. I’m a big SoulCycler and I do that 2 times a week. For shopping, I love style but I’m not much of a shopper. I’m not one of those women that get up and say, “I’m going to go shopping.” I can’t handle that, but I do love shopping online. I don’t have to shop, they just send shit to me, “we think you’ll like this.”
AM: Are you a beauty girl and do you have 3 must have products that you enjoy using?
DR. V: Ok I want to tell you that I recently decided to go from a rose kind of color to more of a peachier color for my face, lips and eyes. I’m completely obsessed with Stila Cosmetics that has these Liquid Eyeshadows that are glitter! The Bronzed Belle for brown eyes and a little olive skin is so gorgeous! Girl, I got the small one - the travel one and I keep it in my purse – that’s how much I love it! That’s my shadow and I like that it is so glittery and pretty. I’m obsessed with MAC’s Spring Sheen Shimmer Blush and it’s the most beautiful, peachy shiny and luxurious look!
AM: We love a peach moment!
DR. V: I know! Peachiness adds a beautiful alive and awake color. The right peach shades just are natural but then you’re wearing makeup. Then I just recently changed from Chanel’s Foundation to Santees – no. 280 and it’s beautiful! I know you said 3 but the 4th one popped into my brain – so you know it’s the winter months and you want a little color on your face. I am in love with La Luxe The Face and it is an illuminating and self tanning drops. It can be placed in any moisturizer or even an exfoliant that you put on your face at night – you can control the color with the amount of drops you put in. I love that you can just have it in your moisturizer. I use it as night and I get up and I love that I wake up with color on my face! It’s beautiful and one of my favorite products!
AM: We believe that your vibe is your tribe from a #TRIBEGOALS perspective. Who are 3 people that you look to for inspiration?
DR. V: I find that people in my immediate environment are inspiring. When I am feeling unlovable and I can think of nothing good about myself, I turn to my husband. There is so much unconditional love I can turn to him and he is able to help me see me through his eyes. That is a really beautiful thing when you can count on someone to recenter you. Then, the hopefulness of children. I have a 10 and 12 year old boys and a 2.5 year old daughter. The hopefulness of kids is just so inspiring me and when I am feeling a little cynical, I hang out with them! That spark of hopefulness is boom right there! I am also 1 of 5 so I have a few sisters and one brother and there is nothing like the love that a sibling has! No one can get under your skin or build you up like a sibling. I feel that as I have gotten older, I have relied on my immediate relationships to bring a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment and I’m really happy about that. I value these relationships with my life!
ATHLEISURE MAG: So we’re excited to have you in Athleisure Mag and Athleisure Kitchen, our readers have loved you for a very long time. Chef, with Valentine’s Day being this month and just date night dinners in general, what should we be making so that we can always stun our significant other?
CHEF MARCUS SAMUELSSON: Oh cool. I’m excited that you guys came today. For me, I feel very fortunate that I have been lucky to partner with Pure Leaf. Pure Leaf is always looking for great flavors and unique flavors that are super delicious. I think with this collection, Pure Leaf has found something really cool and interesting. Hibiscus, being African you find this all over the Caribbean and Africa. Sometimes, it’s known as Sorel. A beautiful flower that has that beautiful floral note that has become a really big trend in restaurants. What would be more fun than to be able to bring that trend setting food back home to a cocktail or through a simple appetizer. We’re going to do both.
The collection has all hibiscus and is caffeine free. They’re herbally brewed, also all around hibiscus along with a mango, a peach and a cherry. I put some of the mango flavored hibiscus iced tea with a little gin and you can also do it as a mocktail with no alcohol. I also put in some orange bitters and some citrus juice and just give that a shake and put some ice in at and give it a little light shake. This cocktail is called the Valentine and it has this beautiful rose color. It’s light and bright. Then we will put that little bit of sprig of thyme just to add to the floral note.
Making a light bright dish that is a flavored forward dish can be simple. I am going to start with some greens – a little bit of baby arugula and then frizze. I’m searing my scallops just 3 minutes on each side so that they are golden brown. In the pan, which is a cast iron skillet, there is a little bit of olive oil but I am also adding in parsley and adding in thyme so that those herbal notes can come back out again. I said it before that Pure Leaf has this beautiful collection of hibiscus and this one is Hibiscus Cherry flavor. It has a gorgeous burgundy color and it’s light with all of the flavors that you want. We also took some sundried cherries and just soaked them over night in the iced tea which makes them nice and loose in terms of texture.
Remember those scallops?
AM: They’re beautiful.
CHEF MS: Yes, they’re golden brown. When you get scallops like this, you want them to be dry scallops and you want to ask for sushi quality grade A. When you do that, you’ll have the best seafood! You also want to buy seafood from the same person because then you’re building a relationship with them and you’re ensuring that you’ll always get the good stuff. Then garnish with a bit of parsley and nuts – which you don’t have to if someone has a nut allergy. If they don’t it’s good for crunch. Then we will use the parsley that we seared up and top off the dish with some of those fresh herbs.
AM: It’s an easy dish to make.
CHEF MS: That’s the key right? We wanted to make the dish flavor forward, but also very easy to make. Jump in!
AM: It’s one of my favorite dishes as I love scallops.
CHEF MS: Yes, it’s scallops and just that idea that it’s hibiscus with that cherry profile. It’s light, bright and a beautiful appetizer.
AM: This is so good!
CHEF MS: Today I’m serving you for free. When you come to Red Rooster, I have to charge you, this is so much better!
AM: When did you realize that you wanted to be a chef?
CHEF MS: Well I cooked my whole life! You know I grew up in Sweden with my grandmother and she was a cook and just to be here 30 years later and to do a craft that I was taught in her kitchen is an unbelievable experience and it’s not a job. It’s something that I am passionate about and feel that it’s a privilege to work with my passion. To be to work with communities and to be able to create jobs for our inner city kids, whether it is through Careers Through Culinary Arts Program, our restaurants, through our festival Harlem Eat Up! and with that, you need partners like Pure Leaf that sees those opportunities to help me create that.
AM: How do you decide what and where your next restaurant is going to be?
CHEF MS: You know those are tough questions for me. First the city has to speak to me. I love New York and you know it’s not just about the city, it’s about the part of town. You know we just opened in Newark a beautiful town that has a strong African American narrative in terms of culture, music, jazz and we felt that it was a place that we thought was important for us to contribute to for jobs and to hire locally.
We always look at the city, we opened the Red Rooster in London which has always been – I mean growing up in Europe, London is your New York. To be able to be there has been a privilege as well. But then again it has been a privilege to be able to do what I love in so many different cities and Harlem will always be home. We have our festival coming up soon and it’s something that we look forward to.
AM: As the producer of Harlem Eat Up!, how did it come about and why is its intersectionality so important?
CHEF MS: I was always a guest to all of these great food festivals whether it was Miami, South Beach, Aspen or New York. And then I thought, wait a minute, Harlem is such an incredibly rich community in terms of culture and rich history. The chefs there deserve to also be able to tell their story and the food festival has been able to tell that story!
With that, to do it because half of our Harlem Eat Up! is for free, and we can’t do it without sponsors like Pure Leaf, whether it’s to help set the table for Valentine’s Day or whether it’s to set the table for a food festival.
AM: So I’m a huge fan of Red Rooster, what are 3 signature dishes that we need to eat there and you can only choose 3 now haha!
CHEF MS: When you come to the Red Rooster you have to have as starters the Cornbread and the Deviled Eggs. It’s easy and you can have a drink and you definitely need to start off with a Brown Stoner or a Bourbon forward drink and then I love a Shrimp and Grits, which is super super delicious. It’s comforting and you have to have the Yardbird.
AM: This month is the South Beach Food and Wine Festival. Why do you love participating in that, attending and why is it so important?
CHEF MS: SoBe is one of the festivals that started the great festivals. You have SoBe and Aspen. As a chef, it’s such a privilege and you get to also see your chef friends. I’m going to be able to see and hang out with Bobby, Alex and my friend Scott – people that we work together, but we don’t always have time to hang out. That’s the time that we get to hang out. I also go over to Overtown and I get to do cooking demos. This year, I made sure that my events are always at Overtowns so I can bring that South Beach audience over to another part of town that they may or may not have been to before.
AM: Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us and to make this incredible meal!
CHEF MS: Well you’re good! You’ve got your cocktail – The Valentine and you’ve got your Scallops that are beautiful and I hope that you enjoy it.
CHERRY HIBISCUS SEARED SCALLOPS with Mustard Greens, Tea Infused Cherries, Almonds
For the Cherry-Hibiscus Sauce
1 ounce dried hibiscus petals
1 quart Pure Leaf Cherry Hibiscus Herbal Tea
In a large pot, heat the tea and hibiscus until it’s just barely simmering. Remove from the heat and let sit for 20 minutes. Strain and chill.
For the Tea Infused Cherries
1 cup dried cherries
2 cups Pure Leaf Cherry Hibiscus Herbal Tea
Bring the tea to a boil. Pour over the dried cherries. Let sit at room temperature for two hours to infuse.
For the Roasted Almonds
1 cup whole marcona blanched almonds
1 tbsp olive oil
1/8 tsp salt
Toss the almonds in oil and salt and place in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Roast at 350 degrees until well browned and fragrant, approximately 5 minutes.
4 diver scallops (U10 size)
1 tbsp olive oil
1 ounce frilly mustard greens
1 ounce frisee
1 tbsp infused cherries
1 tbsp cherry-hibiscus sauce
1 tbsp roasted almonds
1 tbsp torn parsley leaves
Heat a sauté pan over medium high heat with half of the olive oil. Season scallops liberally with salt. When the oil is beginning to smoke, sear the scallops for two minutes on each side. Remove from pan.
In a shallow bowl, place the cherry-hibiscus sauce. Dress the mustard greens, frisee, and parsley with the cherries, rest of the olive oil, and a touch of salt. Place on top of the sauce. Arrange the scallops on top and garnish with the roasted almonds.
1 oz Pink Gin
2 oz Pure Leaf Mango Hibiscus Herbal Tea
¼ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Lemon Juice
6 dashes Cranberry Bitters
3 dashes Orange Bitters
¾ oz Cranberry Juice
Shake all ingredients over ice and serve in a coupe. Garnish with Thyme sprig.
3 oz Pure Leaf Mango Hibiscus Herbal Tea
¼ oz Simple Syrup
½ oz Lemon Juice
6 dashes Cranberry Bitters
3 dashes Orange Bitters
¾ oz Cranberry Juice
Shake all ingredients over ice and serve in a coupe. Garnish with Thyme sprig.
PHOTO CREDIT | PG 88 Cedric Angeles
You can catch Athleisure Studio's podcast show You can catch Athleisure Studio’s podcast show, Athleisure Kitchen and hear our conversation with Chef Marcus Samuelsson next month wherever you enjoy listening to podcasts including Spotify, Apple Podcast and Google Podcast.
Read the latest issue of the Feb Issue of Athleisure Mag and see The Art of the Snack | The Date Night Meal with Chef Marcus Samuelsson in mag.
The month of February has a lot going on in the sports world. While our cover men enjoy their recent Super Bowl win, a number of people are focused on the NBA's All Star Weekend, which takes place this month in Charlotte. Just like fans enjoy attending this game, a number of your favorite NBA athletes enjoy this celebration of basketball. We took a few minutes to chat with Al Horford, the 5X All Star for the Boston Celtics to find out how he fell in love with the game, what All Star Weekend means to the sport and any midseason info he can provide on how his team is doing!
ATHLEISURE MAG: So recently Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, called you the perfect modern day center that is the hub of the Celtics. How would you describe your roll on the team?
AL HORFORD: I think my role on my team is to make sure that defensively, I am bringing energy, that I’m a presence on defense and rebounding. On offense, that I do whatever the team needs me to do in terms of scoring, passing, setting screens and things like that. Just making sure that I am playing with high energy and a lot of pace.
AM: Nice so, you’re all about balance and performance in terms of recovery and nutrition, what’s your day like heading into a game and your day of activities. Then what do you do after the games?
AH: Usually before the games, I’m trying to get a lot of fruits, vegetables, proteins and just having a very balanced diet. Then after the games, and this may surprise a lot of people, but my go-to drink is chocolate milk. Chocolate milk has everything that I need to recover. It has the carbs, the proteins, the electrolytes and all the good stuff that I need to feel at my best the next day.
AM: Interesting, as the newest athlete/partner with the Built with Chocolate Milk Campaign, what does this campaign look like?
AH: Obviously, it’s encouraging a healthy lifestyle, that for me really focuses on my recovery as an athlete, a person that just worked out and trained. Chocolate milk is a great source to drink after you finish your workout and the best thing about it is that it is backed by science.
AM: With All Star Weekend taking place this weekend, what is it about this weekend that is exciting as a player, whether you’re participating as a player or just to be there to support the love of your teammates?
AH: It’s just a great celebration to be able to go there in the same building with all of these great players. There are a lot of former players that also join in. A lot of NBA legends and all that and you’re able to see all these people and everyone celebrating basketball. You have the dunk contest, the 3 Point contest, the actual game. It’s just a great time for families and it’s great for the fans to just go out there and enjoy that weekend. There is just so much out there going on. Anytime that I have gone out there and had the chance to do it, I have always felt very lucky and fortunate.
AM: Well obviously you’re on the road quite a bit. So what are your 3 must have items that you like to take with you on the road?
AH: Well that’s a good question. My three must have items is my Bible, my iPad and my headphones. Those three things are definitely always with me.
AM: Well we know that you mom is a sports journalist and is one of your biggest fans, what did she instill in you that helped you to navigate this sport?
AH: My mom is very passionate as a Hispanic/Dominican mother she is always very passionate. She’s always instilled this in me and my dad actually played professional basketball. So my interest came because of that, but if it wasn’t for my mom and her enthusiasm and energy, I don’t think that I would be in this position. She has always been so encouraging and so upbeat to be the very best that I can be.
AM: We’re all about tribes, people that connect to you and also build you up here at #TRIB3GOALS, who are 3 people that you would identify with that are your go to people as inspirations for your career?
AH: That would definitely be my mom who has built me up in that sense, and also I have been fortunate to have great coaches around me growing up. My college coach is actually the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder right now is another person, Billy Donovan that has always encouraged me. I’d also say my grandfather, he is one of my biggest supporters and growing up he has always been there to give me confidence.
AM: Are there any midseason predictions that you can share with us about yourself, team, your goals etc?
AH: Yeah I think that in the midseason, a team is starting to really understand how we need to play to be that great team that all our friends want and expect us to. I think that we’re playing much better basketball. The key for us is that we get all players healthy at the same time and that we play consistently at that high level. The playoffs are around the corner and it’s the time that you look forward to to be a part of that!
When it comes to farm-to-table fast casual dining options, The Little Beet has been one of our favorite places to eat since 2014! Known as a 100% Gluten free restaurant, this growing chain with a number of locations in NYC and continuing to add additional cities to its roster, utilizing seasonal and local ingredients by sourcing them from farmers and purveyors that believe in this way of bringing foods that are good for you - to you. Because of the commitment to this vision, there may be variations in the menu depending on the location that you are visiting.
Navigating the menu at any location allows culinary diversity whether you are dairy-free, soy-free, vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free and nut-free. One can create their own meals or select from a series of bowls that are packed with proteins whether you stopping in for breakfast to enjoy parfaits, breakfast bowls or sandwiches or you're opting to swing by for lunch and dinner to enjoy a number of bowl options. Common ingredients that are found in their dishes include: jackfruit, kefir chicken, mixed greens, avocados, salmon poke, golden beets, black beans, pickled onions, seeds and more.
Dishes are created with inspiration from global dishes and are meant to fuel your body with positive nutrients that leave it feeling great.
In addition, there are a number of beverage brands that are offered to accompany your meal from Wonder Drink Kombucha (our personal favorite is the Asian Pear), Spindrift and Nitro Cold Brew Coffee, as well as baked goods to end your meal on a sweet note.
In additional partnership with The Little Beet is Ugly Produce is Beautiful which works to ensure that they reduce food waste in produce when it comes to not consuming it or simply not buying it because it doesn't have the symmetry or beauty that is expected upon purchase. In their restaurants you will see images by Sarah Phillips of her series, Ugly Produce is Beautiful.
THE LITTLE BEET
With locations in a number of cities, surrounding areas an new locations that pop up, keep checking the website to see where they are in your area.