INTERVIEW BY LAUREN ASH. PHOTOGRAPHY COURTESY OF SEOBIA RIVERS.
2017 was a year of trying new things in every area of my life. But especially within my wellness journey. From barre to couples counseling, kundalini to...trap cardio kickboxing? Yep, I did that. Thanks to Seobia Rivers—affectionately known as the fitness and health creative—who just may be the most hype, bubbly, and yet truly caring fitness instructor I've ever met. You can just feel it. Seobia is the girl on your fitness goals moodboard, but the one you long to work out with because you feel seriously inspired in her presence. When I first went to her class at the super-accessible Healthy Hood Chicago in Pilsen, I loved the intentionality of it from beginning to end. At its core, her cardio kickboxing class and her train station class feel more like a yoga class in that Seobia weaves a specific intention throughout them and shares a mini-spiritual sermon on thinking positive, doing your best, or getting in touch with what you really want out of life. But the deep squats with light weights, trap-music heavy playlist, and heavy breathing remind me that this is definitely a cardio class.
Black Girl In Om has always been committed to shining light on women of color who encourage and inspire other women of color to live their best lives. Seobia illuminates just that. I hope you'll be inspired to get up and move your body, as well as to empower yourself and all those around you simply by doing things that make you happy just like Seobia does. Read on and follow along Seobia's journey on Instagram @itsseobia. Hope to catch you at one of her classes over at @HealthyHoodChicago, too!
Lauren Ash: Who are you?
Seobia Rivers: I am a fitness and health creative passionate about helping others live a harmonious healthy lifestyle. I’m a certified Personal Trainer (NASM) & certified Group Fitness Instructor (ACSM) with a Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science. I’m an encourager, a creator, and a hopeful. I’m an entrepreneur who is ambitious, resilient, and optimistic. I am the light of the world.
Lauren Ash: Having known you, mostly through your fitness classes, for about a year now, I can affirm that all of that is absolutely the truth. I remember the day that you announced to me and the others in your cardio kickboxing class that you decided to go full-time with your journey as a fitness entrepreneur. I was so happy for you, because I know the beauty and power of stepping into that decision. You've shone a light for even more women of color, in doing so, that proves that we can be tremendous agents of change in our own lives. What does Black Girl In Om mean to you?
Seobia Rivers: To me, Black Girl In Om means women of color coming together in a safe space to share their stories of struggle, defeat, and victory to heal and empower themselves and the entire black and brown community. Breathing together, learning together, comforting one another, and lifting each other up. It means unity, vulnerability, and acceptance. It means growth, but most importantly, it means love, which we all know is so complex.
Lauren Ash: Absolutely! And I appreciate that you draw our awareness to storytelling. We're so focused on the power of telling the whole truth this month within our theme of revolutionary wellness. You've attended Black Girl In Om Self-Care Sunday so you know this, but we always share with each other. And we go pretty deep. I'm always inspired by the power of holding sacred space for women of color to open up, get vulnerable, and affirm each other. How do you identify with Black Girl In Om’s mission?
Seobia Rivers: In more ways than one. I strongly agree with your mission to encourage self-care, self-love, and self-empowerment because that’s what I preach and practice. Just like BGIO, I’m a lifetime student who is wise enough to know I will never know everything, but I’m willing and eager to share the knowledge I acquire. I believe the more you give, the more you receive, hence why my hashtag & blog #SeobiaShares exists. What’s major is that BGIO encourages CONSISTENT ACTION. How can we be more solution-oriented? What can you do to make your situation better? I always tell my clients & group fitness classes “our actions are a reflection of who we are.” Our actions and thoughts are something we can control. So we must focus on what we can control to get our work done, make our dreams come true, overcome adversity. We are not the victim; we are the creator. Create the life you want to live, own your story.
Lauren Ash: I absolutely agree. So many of us struggle, however, with feeling our personal power in changing our lives and in rising above victimhood. It's sometimes easier to stay stuck in what we've always known even if that is misery. This is where self-are comes in. What are your self-care & self-love practices? I'm sure they will inspire our community!
Seobia Rivers: I practice self-care and self-love by doing the things that make me the happiest. For me, happiness is being alone in a room with mirrors and a speaker. Happiness is going out to eat, journaling, doodling, talking to myself, washing my face/masking, getting facials. Happiness is stretching, buying Groupons for massages, watching Project Runway and Chopped, reading, exploring the city, being in nature, finding cool street art, taking photos. I’m an “I like art” type girl so anything dealing with the arts brings me joy. Of course, to me, happiness is being physically active by biking, hiking, walking, taking group fitness classes, creating my own workouts and that list goes on and on...What most people don’t know about me is that I love ceramics. When I’m creating my ceramics pieces I am at total peace; it’s very therapeutic for me. I’m excited to share and open up more about my love for ceramics in 2018.
Lauren Ash: What?! I had no idea! I can't wait to see them, Seobia. Also, I love that you lead with happiness when it comes to your self-care practices. We can oftentimes overcomplicate wellness. Trying to do research or try something new and expensive, rather than simply looking to what we know naturally provides us with ease, joy, release, and contentment. Our intuition truly is our guide.
What’s one ritual you recommend more women of color adopt to cultivate inner beauty and wellness?
Seobia Rivers: I encourage not only women of color, but everyone, to create or adopt an empowering morning routine that’s consistent and catered to their unique characteristics.
Lauren Ash: Ooh, girl, I'm SO excited you're speaking on this! It's one of my passions, too.
This will look different for many people! Some of us are mothers, students, entrepreneurs, work two jobs, work overnight, currently jobless, travel frequently, etc. So I don’t want to give you “one size fits all” advice. Instead, I’ll drop some things for you to think about.
First things first, get rid of the initial negative self-chatter you may hear when you first wake up in the morning. We can’t control what thoughts pop up in our minds, but we sure as hell can control what stays. We have to be our biggest encourager and we do that by taking control of + strengthening our inner voice. Replace the negative self-talk with mantras, setting intentions, affirmations, prayers, encouraging music, etc. And—yes, trap music can be encouraging! What’s next? Perhaps water/tea, singing/dancing in the shower, maybe stretching, washing your face, brushing your teeth, flossing? MAJOR KEY ALERT: Eat breakfast! There are many arguments on this topic, but I’m a firm believer in breakfast, eating or drinking something, but not anything. Think: “is what I’m consuming for breakfast going to help fight or feed disease? Is it going to give me fuel to power thru the day or cause me to drag or catch the ‘itis’?
Basically, you need and deserve a morning full of as much positivity and love as possible! We have a lot of people telling us what we should be doing and giving suggestions, which is cool and all, but at the end of the day, this is your life to live. Figure out what works best for you and your schedule and needs, experiment with and research new, health-conscious things! Some things and people will stick, and others won’t, but it’s important that you shape your life. Once again, you are the creator. Create your own custom morning, afternoon, and night routine.
Creating a consistent empowering morning routine will not only start your day off on a high note, it will cultivate an inner peace that will radiate from the inside out. For me, my morning routine sets the tone for my day, gives love to my insides, and strengthens my mental muscles.
Lauren Ash: Since December when I went on my Get Loved Up immersive yoga teacher training with fellow BGIO Beauty Koya Webb, I've been re-committed to a holistic morning routine. It involves consciousness around my thoughts, body, and what I put into my spirit first thing in the morning. Everything you share is so useful and so transformational when applied and put into practice consistently. What’s one wellness product you cannot live without?
Seobia Rivers: A blender. I don’t want to live a life where I can no longer make my own smoothies. That kind of life is gonna be a no for me dawg, haha. No, but seriously, for me, a blender is a must have. If you don’t have one, it’s time to change that.
Lauren Ash: Agree! My daily smoothies always force me to get mindful right away with what I'm feeding myself and give me whole foods and energy-boosting nutrients to set the tone for my day. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom and light with us, Seobia!
More about Seobia Rivers: Seobia is a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, an ACSM Certified Group Fitness Instructor, and a self-titled “Fitness and Health Creative” whose mission is to encourage people to move, make, shake, and create the healthy lifestyle they deserve. Earning her Bachelor’s degree in Exercise Science from Illinois State University, Seobia began her health and fitness career in 2011. Seobia is committed to creating exercise experiences that are safe, creative, and effective. She’s passionate about educating others on proper nutrition, movement, and mindset to equip them with the tools they need to live a harmonious, healthy, and happy life.
You can find Seobia (@itsseobia) at Healthy Hood Chicago (@healthyhoodchi), a non-profit wellness space that provides affordable group fitness. Yes, all classes are only $5! She teaches a Cardio Kickboxing and a Circuit Training class by the name of [ TRAIN ] Stations