The wheel of life — an exercise designed to help people find true balance among all aspects of their lives — typically has eight areas of focus, from social life to personal growth to career.
Amy Machacek, 46, a high-energy yoga instructor turned entrepreneur, rocked the wheel a bit for her personal and corporate training programs. Her nine categories include “home/environment,” “fun and recreation,” “significant other/romance” and “friends.”
As the owner of two Northfield, Minnesota–based businesses — HeartWork Yoga and LIFE.REVAMP — Machacek has relied equally on her instincts, her network (including her entrepreneurial father) and her passion for keeping up with industry trends. In addition to her E-RYT 200-hour yoga certification, she has trained in nutrition, meditation and life coaching. She’s also studied with Jack Canfield, co-creator of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series and author of The Success Principles.
Machacek’s liberal arts education at the University of St. Thomas taught her to “be curious” — one of her favorite sayings — and to embrace lifelong learning. “It’s why I have one daughter there now and another starting in the fall,” she says.
On February 6, Machacek will headline UST’s prestigious First Friday Speaker Series in downtown Minneapolis, offering attendees a five-step plan for gaining more energy in all areas of their lives.
On stress reduction: “Yoga doesn’t decrease your stress. It doesn’t make your boss nicer or your kids listen to you. But it changes your perception of that stress. I’m helping people process or manage this stuff in a way that is less taxing.”
On the character of an entrepreneur: “I’m not sure whether it takes courage or stupidity! My partner, Dave Shonka, works for a traditional company. He likes the security, but he doesn’t have the freedom. I like the freedom, and I’m OK without having security. Neither is right or wrong, but your choice should match your personality.
“I’m creative, and I really need a creative outlet. Plus, I watched my family do this when I was growing up. It seemed normal to me to put in long hours when you’re building the business and have some flexibility once the business is doing well.”
On growing a business: “If I stay just one step ahead of my growth, I can expand thoughtfully and not have to take on debt. HeartWork initially was yoga classes only, in a small town with 11 other places that offer yoga. We weren’t going to be viable forever if we just did yoga classes.
“Then I created the yoga teacher training school and added personal training to the studio. LIFE.REVAMP was next. I was working on all of my certifications, and I recognized that if I combined nutrition, life coaching and yoga, I could help people gain forward momentum.
“I brought in barre tone classes when I saw them on the coasts. People have short attention spans. If you’re not adding or changing, you’re dying.”
On how fitness fuels success: “Everyone in LIFE.REVAMP is working on their own things, but it all starts with fitness and nutrition. The initial call may come because of career issues, but first people need more energy and clarity about where they are body-wise.
“One of my clients has 750 employees, and his company bought another company this fall. He told me how great he felt standing in front of his expanded team. ‘I knew what I was talking about,’ he told me. ‘I was standing up straight.’ Another middle-aged client who has shed some weight says she’s now ready to focus on being an athlete again.”
On the tyranny of technology: “We have to make some rules for ourselves. At the end of the workday, Ward Cleaver could close his ledger book, turn off the light and go home. And nothing followed him.
“Now, that doesn’t happen — but we don’t have to allow technology into every aspect of our lives. Otherwise, it’s like the spoiled child who demands our attention all the time. We’re losing out on our relationships because of it.”
On positive parenting: “I don’t want to hover over my kids and make every decision for them. I help them slowly make more decisions as they get older, so they’re ready when they go to college. Nowadays, parenting seems to be defined as keeping kids in a sweet, tight grip. My job as a mom is to love my kids and prepare to let them go.”
On beauty and aging: “Marcia Wellstone [Markuson] was a classmate of mine at Northfield High. When she died in October 2002, I was 33 years old. I remember it vividly. We’d had a class reunion that summer, and she was this shiny person. She had gotten remarried, she loved her stepkids. I was standing in my bedroom when I heard the news and thought: ‘Who am I to complain about getting older, about being alive?’ Marcia didn’t get this opportunity, and I did.
“I describe it now as my life before that moment and my life after. Honestly, not for one day since then have I complained about aging. I see aging as a gift, and I believe that to the bottom of who I am.”
On the rewards of growing older: “I love the wisdom and experiences that come with age. All the hard stuff and good stuff we’ve been through makes us who we are today.”
On staying curious: “I tell people in my classes every day: ‘Be curious. Don’t act like you know everything.’ Our lives get smaller as we grow older. We don’t get down on the floor. We don’t reach our arms as high. We don’t move as fast, we don’t try new things — but we need to keep reaching in life.”