We had the good fortune of connecting with Natalie McCright and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Natalie, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I got into fitness in 2016 after I graduated college. I had gone to Cal Poly San Luis Obispo and graduated with an Animal Science degree with a Pre Vet concentration. I thought I was going to become a vet my entire life until I started working in a vet clinic as a tech. The clinic environment was cold, fast paced, stressful and competitive. I felt like I was constantly being judged or judging myself. In college I became depressed, anxious and gained weight from the excessive binge drinking and unhealthy eating. I moved back to San Diego and started to focus on my health and happiness. I knew I needed to change my unhealthy coping mechanisms for my depression and anxiety. I didn’t know what I wanted to do, I just knew it wasn’t this and I wanted to be happy.
I was about three months into my own weight loss journey and there was a sale for a personal trainer certification. I thought to myself why not, if anything I will learn something that will benefit my own training. At the time I was nannying and working a bartending job to make ends meet. My parents didn’t fully support this endeavor. My mom always pushed “go to school, get a good job with good benefits, PTO, 401K and retirement and you will be okay.” It never made sense to me and the thought of working every day to live it up on the weekend or wait till retirement really depressed me. A lot of my friends who graduated were already hating their office jobs, on their second or third job or trying to make it work within their current miserable job. I didn’t want that. I wanted to love my career and not have a different lifestyle on the weekends.
I had my first 2 clients January 2018, they were my best friend’s parents. I remember how NERVOUS I was and I prayed they would not get injured under my watch. It was in that first session that I discovered my passion for coaching. I lost myself in the hour, completely present and nothing else mattered. The same feeling I get when I’m riding horses, my first life passion. I felt connected to something bigger, like I had a place in the world to do something good for others. That was all I needed to know going forward in this career.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
I’d been in the fitness industry working as a personal trainer and group fitness instructor for 3 years before starting my own business. I worked at six different group training studios in two different countries and while I enjoyed the energy and the atmosphere of group fitness, I realized the majority of members weren’t seeing the changes they desired and they weren’t really changing their lifestyles outside of the 1 hour they came to class.
February 2020 I was working at a personal training studio (Enterprise Fitness) in Melbourne Australia. Enterprise specializes in body builders and competitive athletes and I learned a ton about training, programming and nutrition while working there. However I also saw a lot of extremes and obsession with looks and body dysmorphia. I didn’t realize my own body dysmorphia and extreme thinking until I cried because I gained 2% body fat. I thought I had to be super lean in order to be respected in the industry. There is a lot of vanity in the fitness industry and many people never reach out for help because they believe they have to be at a certain level of fitness in order to hire a trainer. In reality these are the people that need the most help with their health. These are the people I wanted to reach.
March 2020 rolled around and gyms shut. I was unemployed in a foreign country and had no idea what to do with my time. I was used to spending 12 hours a day in the gym and now I was allowed to be outside for only 1 hour a day. My unhealthy coping mechanisms creeped back in as my anxiety sky rocketed. I started binge eating again and realized that I hadn’t found a healthy balanced lifestyle. I was obsessed with how I looked in the mirror and was constantly checking to see if I could still see my abs. How was this healthy? I came back to San Diego May 2020 and signed my first “virtual client.” She was a previous personal training client in San Diego and was shocked at how much I could see over Zoom. She felt there was no difference in service and was shocked at the details I could point out over the computer. Double win- neither of us had to travel. She was in her apartment and I was at my house, another barrier to entry overcome by the virtual world.
Over the next six months I struggled to get clients and struggled deeply with mental health. I started ISTDP therapy and things got worse before they got better. Immersing myself through therapy “work” has deeply impacted my view on health and what it means to be healthy. The “work” also allowed me to see my client’s through a different lens. I was able to relate like I never had before and offer empathy and compassion to their struggles with their bodies and health.
I had 2-3 clients but no idea how to get more or what services I needed to create to help people. I felt pressured to create something quickly as everyone was going online in fitness at the time. I felt if I couldn’t do it now I would miss the mark, the industry is too saturated and I would never be successful. I started an online training internship in August and hired my first social media/business coach in November 2020. Hiring a coach helped me see that my struggles were not unique. There is no rush and the industry is saturated with mediocre coaches. I didn’t want to be mediocre, I wanted to change lives. Seeing the bigger picture helped me to slow down, enjoy the process and allow my creative juices to flow. I also was able to find a new balance with my own health and fitness and no longer lived by extremes. I hired my own personal trainer and started training for strength. I cut my training from 6 days a week to 4 days and cut out all HIIT cardio. I started to focus on strength and heavy lifting. I prioritized walks, rest and stress management and my own body started to change. I was stronger, more rested, and my body looked HEALTHY. Less is more I thought, it doesn’t have to be all or nothing. Extremes are easy, balance is hard.
January 2021 I created McCright Fitness LLC (MF) and released my first online group program. I had 13 people sign up and I still run the program 12 months later. It looks NOTHING like I envisioned but I learned to let go of “perfection”. I learned that if I dedicated myself to life of learning and evolving I would be able to help people to do the same.
MF is my brand and my way of life. My logo is a triangle and represents the 3 areas of what I consider health- mind, body and soul. When these 3 are balanced, that is happiness and success. I no longer give clients workouts that just make them sweat. We train for strength, balance and pain free movement. I offer lifestyle/nutrition consults that help clients build a healthy lifestyle one habit at a time. We focus on the basics and utilize habit stacking to ensure these changes last. I am more concerned with how you are living your life AFTER we work together. Most of my clients come to me wanting to lose weight however they rarely think about how they are going to keep it off and maintain a healthy body weight. I want to offer clients a healthy, sustainable way of life that allows them the freedom to do whatever they want to do. Health is wealth and taking care of your mind, body and soul is the ultimate form of self love and respect.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would for sure stay in Ocean Beach, chill vibes, everyone is friendly and you are right on the beach. I really get a “San Diego” vibe down in OB and the OB dog beach is my favorite. Mexican food is a must and knowing which taco shops to go to are key! La Playa and El Ranchito are my favorite! Next stop would be Torrey Pines beach hike followed with a Board and Brew sandwich. I love taking people to Little Italy and stopping at Civico 1845 for an authentic Italian dish. A quick trip out to Borrego Springs to catch an epic desert sunrise and sunset stopping in Julian on the way home for some pie! I also love taking people on the Garnet Peak hike near Julian, it has some of the best views of Laguna and is pretty easy/quick! Other than that just getting outside, enjoying the weather and amazing food!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Mike Manry. He is the husband I nannied for in 2016-2018 while studying for my personal training certification. He had recently retired from his business career and in his retirement he chose to take a life coaching course. We often would share stories and life experiences and he opened up to me about starting meditation and the importance of learning how to be still in our bodies and minds. He shared stories of how moved he was by this work and how it changed his view on success, money and happiness and how if he could go back, he would do it differently. He also believed in me from the start. Before I had trained a single person he was encouraging me to start my own website, clothing line and blog. Little did I know I would do all those things but in 5 years time. Watching a wealthy, successful businessman change his life through being present and prioritizing self care really changed my view on what is important in this life. It allowed me to embrace the entrepreneur path and not compare myself to my peers who were making more money than me but were also just as lost and unhappy.