This is part of a series titled WOW, or Women Owned Wednesdays. Read more about the series and my goal to genuinely support other women in my personal and professional relationships.
Hailee Bland Walsh
The space that Hailee creates in her heart for all humans is reflected in the gym she created: City Gym is a place for all people to belong. She says, “As a trainer, I am one part best friend, one part sensei, one part street fighter, and final part cheerleader.” I believe this is the way she conducts all of her important relationships. She will come alongside you; challenge you, encourage you, then encourage you to challenge yourself; and fight for you, being the loudest one cheering you on.
Hailee was the first person I wanted to have a conversation with in regards to the current state of injustice in our world. She openly invites people to ask questions and is generous and willing to provide answers and point us in the right directions.
First, I want to thank you for being you. I am so fortunate to call you friend--you truly are one of the most supportive people that I know, not to mention, one of the strongest. Your strength, in my opinion, stems from your vulnerability. Have both (strength and vulnerability) always come easy for you?
The short answer is no. Growing up knowing I was a gay kid in a world that told me that I wasn't going to be accepted make me feel like I wasn't lovable. I developed my strength as a way to protect my heart. That foundational experience developed my sense of empathy for others. I can relate to what it feels like to feel unsafe.
You often say “balance is bullshit” and that it’s “about alignment.” You wear many hats (entrepreneur, advocate, business owner, trainer, motivator, executive director, writer, speaker, movement guru, inspirational coach, wife and rescue pet mom), what is alignment for you?
Balance is bullshit, Gina, because the very word balance insinuates perfection. To be in balance all things have to be equal. The reality is that is never possible (nor should it be) and the byproduct is guilt and shame. Instead of balance, I like the word alignment because that reframes the paradigm. Alignment means a life focused on those things that are most important to you. Alignment for me means I'm doing the work I'm meant to be doing and I'm spending time living life to the fullest with those who mean the most to me.
I know you have become more comfortable with saying no when you need to. What has that journey been like?
Real talk? SO FREAKING HARD! The reality is that too often we feel responsible for everything and everyone (or maybe that's just me?!). That feeling leads us to believe that we can't say no because we may disappoint someone or they may think less of us. However, when we use our alignment mindset, saying no becomes clearer. If we are only doing those things that are of the utmost priority, then we simply HAVE to say no. Think of it this way, in pursuit of your biggest yes, you have to say no. You cannot be all things to all people and have the time and energy to give to those things and people that mean the most to you.
You have been a fierce advocate for quite some time. When did this work begin for you?
I started my advocacy work when I was 19. I was in college. I got interested in politics for the way it can grant people rights and ensure people's safety.
The current temperature of the world is one of outrage, horror and sadness. Where is your hope meter at in regards to the future?
LGBTQ Activist Harvey Milk said it best when he said, "You have to give them hope." Hope is what sustains us during the darkness. Even in the face of unspeakable fear, sadness, and outrage, we must have hope. Hope pulls us towards our greatest version of ourselves--as people, as a community, as a country. All the people in the streets are protesting because they believe things can change. Apathy is the result of hopelessness. I will be worried when people stop speaking up, stop marching in the streets, stop demanding change--that means they've given up thinking change is possible. I'm a student of history and one thing I've seen time and time again is that chaos always precedes transformations. For new things to be born, old things must die.
Your recent instagram post about ACTION stopped me in my tracks. “I have to speak to other white people about what work is ours to do”. I reached out to you to begin this conversation, not only selfishly, but on behalf of others that truly want to take your call to action. Thank you for sharing your resources and for giving us all a place to start.
I am a coach, so I will always empower people to take action. Outrage is just the start, but I want to support people to make change. Without resources, we can't grow and learn. As often as I can, I'll find tools to share with others to help them take action.
I know how disciplined you are when it comes to wellness, and typically I would ask what your pillars are. But when the world is the way that it has been in regards to injustice, and a global pandemic—what keeps you well?
During the pandemic my self care routine took a radical turn. Before my schedule had been packed with back-to-back efficiency. Even my workouts were designed to be as efficient as possible. Rush and crush, baby. The pandemic forced me to stop--everything. I had literally zero distractions. No work, no social events, no travel. Nothing. As I slowed down, I began to realize that my schedule, my insane busyness, was a form of emotional/spiritual dissociation. When I was always moving, going, fixing, pushing--I didn't have to feel my feelings. The pandemic provided the perfect incubator for me to really, deeply feel and whoa buddy, did that hurt. I had deep feelings of grief and sadness that bubbled to the surface and for the first time in my life I made space for them. Instead of distracting myself, I just felt them. That meant that I had to do more things that soothed me--long walks, working in my garden, baking bread, talking to my friends, reading, listening to podcasts, getting lots of sleep, and more long walks. The pause made me really evaluate what was most important to me. There were things that I thought were bringing me alignment that simply were not. As we have re-emerged, I'm trying to remember not to do things just to do them--to slow down, to build in down time so I can think and feel.
Join us this Friday on IG as we continue the conversation...