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Megan Roupe: ...to know your worth

Jan: Welcome to Nobody Told Me! I'm Jan Black.

Laura: And I'm Laura Owens. It's a new year. For many people, that means resolving to lose weight or become more fit. Our guest on this episode, Megan Roup, can help you with both of those goals.

Jan: Megan is a former professional dancer who's combined her love of dance with her love of fitness to create The Sculpt Society, an incredibly popular fitness platform and app featuring fun and effective fitness classes you can do at home.

Laura: Megan has become a respected fitness influencer whose clients include A-list celebrities and models, people who have to look good and be fit for their jobs. Megan, thank you so much for joining us. As you know, I am a big, big fan of The Sculpt Society and consider myself proud to have you as my virtual instructor.

Megan: Thank you so much. I'm really excited to be here and to chat with you guys.

Laura: How have you created this super close-knit group of women who encourage each other to work out, even though they don't know each other, during a global pandemic?

Megan: I know. It's been amazing to watch this community come together. I launched The Sculpt Society app in November of 2019. I had a community going before the pandemic hit. But naturally, when it happened, I think everyone was just searching for something they could do at home to feel really good. That's always been my emphasis. It really isn't about weight loss or looking a certain way. For me, it really is about feeling really good. I think that resonated with everyone.

I took, intentionally, time after every LIVE that I was doing to do coffee chats, to connect with the community, and make sure that everyone that was tuning in felt seen, whether they were being seen or not, which they weren't, because it was live. But just making sure that, I think if someone was spending time with me on The Sculpt Society app, that it was the best experience, that they felt welcomed, that they felt the community. I really lean into that, I think it's such an important aspect about fitness. For me, most of my really good friends have come from teaching class. I see how that can resonate and make the fitness part sticky because the community is just so important.

Jan: Why do you think this is all the more important during this time of pandemic? I mean, that not only that we stay fit and that we have that community in a way that we've never really needed before?

Megan: It's so important. I think what this pandemic has shown us is, really, at the core of who we are as humans, how do we feel good? I think people have realized the power of movement. If we can't connect with people in real life, or in our day-to-day, how can we do that virtually? How can we implement small things, like movement, into our day that make us feel our best?

It's coming out of this, I think most of us have found the power in movement, whether you were someone who worked out before or not, and whether that's going for a 30-minute walk outside or doing The Sculpt Society app or a workout online. I think people are just realizing that, not only does physical fitness affect our physical being, but it also affects our mental state.

For me, working out has always been my moving meditation and a way for me, as I like to say, to get out of my body, get out of my mind, really, get into my body and feel really grounded. I think that, again, during a time where a lot of people are stressed out, everyone's anxious, how can we implement small things, like movement, into our day, that's going to have a positive effect in our day-to-day life?

Laura: I've heard from so many instructors over the years, "Congratulations, you've made it here. That's the toughest part of doing your workout." You would think that being able to do our workouts in-home would be a great thing, we're already there all the time. But I've found, and I am a complete fitness junkie, that it's actually been really hard for me to stay motivated to do these classes that have been virtual. Until I found TSS, I hadn't really felt that sense of community and I didn't feel like, I guess because I didn't have to show up in person, that I was being held accountable. What advice would you have for people who are in my shoes and finding it hard to have that same kind of passion for working out because so much of it is about the people that you do it with?

Megan: I can completely relate to that feeling as well. I think that's why, for me, having the LIVE classes and that live element has been so effective for my community. I think the people that resonate with that live aspect, there is a sense of accountability because the LIVEs only stay up until the following LIVE, it's not going to be a permanent, on-demand content. I do release, every week, one to two new videos that are on-demand, but the LIVEs only stay up for a certain amount of time, so there's a sense of accountability.

If you want that new workout, or if you want to participate in the coffee chat after the workout, I think there's something really nice about being live, whether that is virtually or not. But really, because we are all virtual, being live virtual, and then participating in that coffee chat together afterwards, I also think the LIVE really helps with accountability.

I've been really intentional with putting out programs. Putting out programs that come with a calendar that everyone can print out, check off, and just feel a little bit more of a sense of, "Okay, I don't have to think about what workout I'm doing. I'm being told what we're going to do on a Monday, I can check that off on the calendar." There's just a little bit less decision making. I do think sometimes what happens is you want to work out, but then you're like, "Which video to do?" I think when you can do it in a program with a calendar, I'm literally taking all of that questioning away from you, it's really helpful.

Laura: Especially because there's too many options. Even just on YouTube, I found myself taking an hour to try and figure out which one I want to do the night before, "What do I want to do in the morning? What am I going to feel like?" It is really nice to have a calendar of what you need to do.

Megan: There's plenty of online platforms that boast their large library of content, which is great, and some people do really like. However, for me, thousands and thousands of on-demand videos actually sounds really overwhelming to me.

Laura: Right, me too.

Megan: Not necessary. I think if you have really great programming and great video content, and you can program for your community, that's the most helpful.

Jan: What advice would you have for someone who says, “It's a new year, I want to get fit, I want to lose weight,” where should they start?

Megan: That whole ‘new year, new you' thing, it's really tough for me to digest because I have been on that other side of it. I have bought into that feeling that in January, I'm supposed to suddenly get it all together. I think taking some of that stress away from my community has been really important. Really emphasizing that there are small things that we can do when it comes to exercise and to feeling good, that are going to make a big impact.

I would say to those clients, let's take some of that stress you're putting on yourself; that suddenly in January, everything's going to be perfect, because it doesn't need to be. Let's set really small goals. Maybe you haven't started your fitness program and you aren't in a consistent cadence of working out. Let's just start with two to three days a week, and let's start with 20 minutes a day on those two to three days a week, and then let's just stay consistent for four weeks. Once you can hit that consistency for four weeks, let's build upon that.

But it's that same diet culture, like 0 to 100. It's never going to be sustainable if you're going from 0 to 100. How can we make this feel good in your day-to-day, week-to-week, something that you're looking forward to? I think that's by setting small goals that you feel like you can actually achieve.

Laura: You talk about how you don't diet. I thought it was really interesting how what you do is called intuitive eating. Can you tell us a little bit about that and who that might be a good fit for?

Megan: I think intuitive eating is the perfect solution for everyone.

Laura: It's got a great name.

Jan: I like it.

Megan: It goes against everything that we're told about diet culture. I think there's just, unfortunately, so many mixed messages that we get around food in our culture; what to eat and what not to eat. I think if we just really go back to simply eating when we're hungry, stopping when we're full, striving to eat real whole foods that are unprocessed.

Does that mean I'm perfect all the time? Absolutely not. I can tell you, in my 20's, when I was doing every diet under the sun, restricting, yo-yo dieting, and bingeing, that my body was stressed out. When I finally took all of those rules away and just really listened to my body, what I wanted, what I was craving, what made me feel good and energized, that's when things started to click for me. Really, my body responded too.

I wasn't in a stressed-out mode around food. I was really paying attention to how it tasted, if I was full, if I was hungry. By the way, being hungry is not a bad thing, those hunger cues are telling you something. Just simplifying it, everyone breathes in and out, it's like, "Maybe I could do that, it doesn't sound complicated." I think that approach has really helped me get out of that diet mindset.

Jan: What should we be thinking of in terms of setting fitness goals? If you're my age, in your 60's, and you're thinking to yourself, "I haven't been as active as I should have been." What are some of the things that we should think about in terms of setting goals that are manageable, but that will also help us reach a goal?

Megan: My mom's in her 60's. I think the goals are similar whatever age you're in. Goal number one is finding a way of moving for you and your body that you enjoy, that you look forward to, that feels good. Number two is, again, small, attainable goals. I don't expect you to be working out six days a week if you haven't been working out at all. Let's set small goals, like a two to three days a week. I have a really great beginner, gentle Sculpt Section on my app that would be great for someone in their 60's, or someone in their 20's just starting out with exercise or trying to get into a flow. I think it doesn't matter what age you are. I think the most important thing when it comes to fitness is finding a way of moving that feels fun, that feels joyous, and it's something that you look forward to, it's not torture.

Laura: That's so interesting that you say that. I've thought a lot during this pandemic how it's nice to just have a workout be in my home, not be surrounded by other people. I've always been so intimidated by dance classes because I know my rhythm just isn't right. With cardio boxing classes, it always takes me an extra second to learn something. I think that's a real benefit of having these classes where you don't have to worry about how you're going to look to your friends. There's just been something really special about that. I know you really stress that as well in your dance classes, that nobody's watching.

Megan: Thank you.

Laura: Are those the most popular ones you have? Because they're fun.

Megan: They're super fun. That's the whole ethos around The Sculpt Society, is really leaning into fun and that joyous feeling around fitness. I would say I have a huge demographic that are hardcore dance cardio fans. Then I have a huge demographic that really love that sculpting, that low impact sculpting. I think, again, in my dance cardio classes, it is my job to show up and to give everyone permission to take up space, to feel silly, to feel goofy, but to remind them that it doesn't matter, it doesn't need to be perfect. The fact that they showed up and that they're just doing their best to move their body to the beat of the music. The more that they come back, the more they do it, the better it's going to be, the more confident they're going to feel. It just takes some time. But it's important to me that anyone, in any level, when it comes to my movement, feels successful in my classes. It's, again, making sure I'm reiterating that throughout the class.

Jan: How important is music to a workout routine?

Megan: For me, it's everything. I cannot work out without music. The Sculpt Society is developed around the beat of the music. I take a lot of time and I tap out every song to make sure the beat of the music on my right side is even with the left, it's all part of it. For me, if a good song comes on, it is hard for me not to get into it. I'm sure my community can see that when I'm into a song, it lights me up. Of course The Sculpt Society would have music in it. Yeah, it's pretty important.

Laura: I saw one poll that estimated that 59% of people won't return to their gyms once this is all over. Are you concerned that that means that more people have gotten out of the habit of not going to the gym and not working out, they're going to be more sedentary? Or do you think that they've grown to enjoy working out in their homes?

Megan: I think what this pandemic has shown people is that, for the non-believers of at-home fitness, that you can get a kickass workout at home that doesn't require hours of commuting to the gym, and also can be so much more cost effective. I always like to say, if you came and saw me in New York City, it would cost you $35, maybe $40 with tax for one class. My app is $19.99 a month, or if you buy the yearly, it's $119 for the year. I think people are realizing it's cost effective, it's time effective. If you can find the right program, it's just as effective as a boutique fitness class. I don't think gyms are going anywhere. I think people will continue to go to their gyms, but they will also continue to work out at home. I think people will do both, if not more at-home fitness.

Jan: What mistakes do you see people making when it comes to taking on a fitness regimen?

Megan: I think it's that floating feeling. I have a lot of clients who like to pick and choose what workout they're doing every day, that doesn't bother them. But I do think if you are trying to get into a groove and a consistency with fitness, it's not floating around my app, it's picking a program, I have many programs on The Sculpt Society app, and sticking to it. Like I said before, printing out that calendar and just showing up. It doesn't have to be perfect week-to-week, but I think there is something about just the consistency of moving and having that set schedule. I think it's the ones that float around and don't know what to do, they end up getting discouraged. I think if you can pick one of my programs and stick with it, those are the clients that find the most success.

Laura: I thought it was really interesting. I saw in a video that you talked about how wearing fun outfits and some makeup also has helped you with feeling motivated to do work. Is that something that you think would help the average person as well, even if they're not going LIVE?

Megan: It's funny. The days that I go LIVE first thing in the morning, I'll put on a little hair and makeup. It's not a lot, but I like to put on some mascara and put on a cute outfit and then do my workout, are my better days. It's the days that I stay in my pajamas until noon drinking coffee, that aren't bad days, but they certainly aren't as high vibe, endorphin highs than my days that I just start my day. It's that accountability. I do think, whether it's a workout first thing in the morning, or just getting dressed and putting on an outfit that you feel confident in, can really help turn your day around a little bit.

Jan: You've just announced that you're pregnant. I'm wondering how that pregnancy is impacting your workout routine.

Megan: Great question. It hasn't really. I am pre- and postnatal certified, so I know what to do and what not to do. Again, for anyone listening who is pregnant, please consult your doctor before you start any fitness program. The first trimester you really can do most things, modifications aren't really needed. I am now in my second trimester. The biggest thing, of course, most people know that we shouldn't be doing in second and third trimester are abs on back, your basic crunch. That's really been the biggest thing.

I think there's a misconception around cardio and pregnancy. Everyone's pregnancy is different and it's so important that you're listening to your body. You talk to some woman who couldn't stand the thought of doing cardio while they were pregnant. While others, like me, I felt completely fine jumping. Again, I consulted my doctor, I talked to her about that and also am pre- and postnatal certified. I feel confident that doing cardio and doing some dance cardio is perfectly fine, if not really great for the baby. The main thing now that I'm in my second trimester has just been abs on back.

I have been working, let me tell you, my little booty off, behind-the-scenes, to really make sure that I'm prepared. I have enough video content to post from now until three months postpartum, a new video every single week, that is me pre-pregnancy. I have a lot, I've planned a lot. I really want to make sure that my members are getting everything they got from me before, if not more. Of course, I've always had a pre- and postnatal section, but I'll have even more of that.

Laura: You've had such a crazy year and an exciting year with your pregnancy and with the success of The Sculpt Society. What have you found have been the biggest challenges for you as a small business owner who's doing all of this from home? How have you overcome those times when you've probably felt down on yourself and felt just really overwhelmed?

Megan: I'm still working through that, let me be honest. I am a small business owner with a small team. There have been days where I feel like I haven't been doing enough, especially in the early days of the pandemic, I was going LIVE seven days a week. I think I was burning myself out because I was wearing so many hats. Not only was I going LIVE, but I was every role behind-the-scenes in a business. My husband, thankfully, has been such a big help and really encouraged me to hire some part-time people. That's been a saving grace for me, just so that I can concentrate more on what it is that I am good at.

What are my zones of genius? That's really coming up with content, filming content, and being in front of the camera and providing that for my community. There have been so many big learning lessons, I feel like I'm in business school. I think, just as a small business owner, really just knowing when it's time to hire and ask for help. For so long, I felt like I was drowning a little bit.

Jan: What advice would you have for people who are interested in joining The Sculpt Society, but also want to, maybe, work out with a trainer in-person? What should you look for in hiring a trainer?

Megan: That's a great question. I'm not a trainer that's going to tell you, "You can only do my method to get results." If you are someone that enjoys other types of movement, go for it. Again, I'm all about doing things that make you feel good. When it comes to hiring a trainer, I think it's really important to ask for their certifications, ask for their resume, where have they worked before. As far as a modality goes, I think it could be anything. Again, is it a former Pilates instructor, is it a HIIT or a strength train? It could be really anything. But I think just knowing that the person that you are working with is certified, knows what they're doing, and can work with you on programming outside of what The Sculpt Society is offering.

Laura: I'm obviously not talking from the perspective of a trainer, but I know that what has been really important for me, in terms of working with somebody virtually or working with a workout program virtually, has been feeling a sense of connection to the instructor or to the program. It's really interesting because I did a class yesterday, a really high intensity workout class that I always have done, it's around the corner from me so I think of it as home, it's really intense and it's kind of tough love. Then I did a video that you had where it's really encouraging and you feel like, "Man, I can do this, and I look good doing this and everything." My mom, who doesn't really work out, saw me doing both of them and I think, for her, what was the most convincing part of adopting something like this herself, was the fact that you had a good energy. I think, probably for a lot of people, it's finding that match of energy.

Jan: Yeah, yeah.

Megan: It's so important. Some people are going to resonate with a trainer that's yelling at them and bootcamp style. That's just never been my style, that's never motivated me. I think so many women need more encouragement. They need that sense, just like you said, to feel competent in their bodies. That's, for me, always been my mission with The Sculpt Society, is to empower women through movement. How can I make you feel super confident in your own body, your own skin? How can I, also, be your digital friend? You've shown up for 30 minutes, let's be friends, and let's work out together. I want to be relatable and I want people to feel that from me. That's really important as I record these videos.

Laura: I always used to love the tough love approach. But right now, I kind of want a pandemic friend who's going to be encouraging. It maybe changes for people.

Jan: Yeah.

Megan: Yeah, that's normal. We all go through phases and seasons in life. I think that's definitely normal.

Jan: Megan, our show is called Nobody Told Me! We always ask our guests, "What is your nobody told me lesson?" What is it that nobody told you about life or about fitness, working out, pregnancy, whatever it might be, that you had to learn the hard way that you kind of wish somebody had told you about and maybe you'd like to pass on to our audience so that they can be saved that lesson?

Megan: Oh, gosh, I have so much.

Jan: We've got time.

Laura: We've got plenty of time.

Megan: I think in business, it's knowing your worth. I come from the dance world and the arts world. I think, we as dancers, were just grateful to have a job. For so long, I don't think I asked for what I was worth and signed contracts I shouldn't have signed. I think any artists out there, make sure you're reading your contracts, knowing what you're giving up, and know your worth.

Laura: Such good advice for anything, whether you're in the fitness industry, in the arts, whatever. Just great advice.

Jan: Yeah, and life.

Laura: Megan, tell us how people can connect with you and learn more about The Sculpt Society and you, and keep up with you, your pregnancy, and everything else you have going on?

Megan: I would love for everyone to come say, "Hi." I'm on Instagram @meganroup and @thesculptsociety. We have a two-week free trial and then of course our code with you guys that will give new members 25% off their first month, the code will be nobodytoldme. I have over 200 on-demand videos, I go LIVE multiple times a week. We've got yoga, meditation, sculpt, low impact, and dance cardio. There's really something for everyone.

Jan: Thank you so much.

Megan: Of course.

Jan: Again, our thanks to Megan Roup, she is the founder of The Sculpt Society. Her website is meganroup.com. I'm Jan Black.

Laura: And I'm Laura Owens.

Jan: You're listening to Nobody Told Me!

Laura: Thank you so much for joining us.

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