In 1990, Lavinia Errico and her two brothers made an indelible mark on the world of wellness by launching the first Equinox Fitness Club on New York's Upper West Side. Within just a few years, the chain was nationwide. Now living in Malibu, Errico is still on the front lines of healthy living. A sought-after public speaker and consultant, she says her mission today is to help people of all ages become their own life coaches, discover their authentic selves and experience the power of gratitude and the gift of true joy. Read on for how she lives out these principles in her own life.
What’s one practice, goal, or purpose that helps get you out of bed each day?
I’m always digging and excavating for the truth of where I’m at, and I use that to define what my big purpose is. But also I think it's important to let each journey unfold at its own pace, and to not attach too much emotion to where I am with it. One thing that helps me keep perspective is to have a smaller purpose, one I know I’m constantly achieving. Mine is to attract the light. So every day, I wake up with the intention of finding and sharing sunshine wherever I go. It’s something that’s completely in my control, so I know I can’t help but succeed. And that knowledge is a great way to begin any day.
Whose advice have you taken recently? What was it?
This isn’t from a person, but it resonated all the same. I just got back from Miraval Resort, where I did their equine program. You spend three hours working with a horse, using non-verbal cues to achieve certain goals. The lesson is that any tensions or fears or inauthentic emotions will get in the way of these. For the first hour, I couldn’t get the horse to do anything. But slowly, I started to open up and the tide turned. I realized that if you’re an open vessel, purpose will flow through you.
When and where do you feel the most centered?
I’ve recently taken up Kundalini yoga. I discovered it one day doing some research on the Internet—a search brought be to a page full of Kundalini mantras. I started with “Sa Ta Na Ma,” which is one of the practice’s most fundamental mantras. I chanted it for eleven minutes and I felt something shift. It’s become a key practice for me.
Do you have an object that inspires you?
I always joke that I’m a frustrated landscape designer. My house is all windows, and right now I’ve planted my garden with lavenders and purples; and all the orchids in my house are purple. Something about choosing a color to be inspired by makes me feel like I’m distilling my soul.
Founding Equinox in the 1990s, you were truly one of the wellness pioneers. What was that experience like?
My brothers and I had just moved to New York. I had been a dancer, and they were gymnasts in college. There were so few places to work out back then, so I took a job teaching dance just to have access to a gym. We felt like there was a real need for something like Equinox, and sure enough, we were right. But what was truly interesting about that time was how unbalanced our view of health was. I was working out like a dog, and I was definitely in the best shape of my life. But I wasn’t well. One morning, I got out of bed and literally fell to the ground. The doctor told me I was under stress. It was then that I learned that you could be incredibly fit, and also incredibly unhealthy. So I started to look for a more integrated approach to fitness--and that’s how I discovered meditation. We actually brought it to our clubs right away, but people weren’t ready for it. It’s taken a long time for us to get there as a culture, and it’s exciting to now be in a time where we’re balancing our minds along with our bodies.
What advice would you share with young entrepreneurs today?
A few things: First, if you’re a woman, you can be in your feminine and still have your strength. I always tell people, “don’t take my sweetness for weakness.” It's entirely possible to be very sweet and very strong at once. In fact, there's a deep power in speaking our truth, and speaking it kindly. Second, understand the beauty of being in a neutral space. Everything doesn't have to be a high or a low. I watch young people in business put so much meaning on each event that happens to their company. My advice is to let things resonate on more of an even keel. When information comes in, don’t go so quickly to the high or low of it because that puts a lot of stress on your body. In those moments, I’ll often just say “calm, girl” a few times. I find that helps me open up and absorb events rather than immediately reacting to them.
What’s the most valuable thing you’ve learned recently?
I’ve been learning how to be better at just saying “no”—and not defending my “no,” or explaining my “no.” I believe that when we can do that, we’re operating from a place of intention—and that’s a such strong starting point to just about anything.