Let’s face it. The world we’re living in right now is not the same world we lived in before. This is our “new abnormal” which comes with numerous opportunities for growth in ways we never predicted. At the same time, there has been a lot of suffering – people losing lives, jobs and a degree of freedom to enjoy all the things they used to. However, there is a way to still be at your best in these challenging conditions. Joining Adam Markel to show you how to accomplish this is Alex Katz. Alex is a certified personal trainer and American Ninja Warrior coach. This is a very important episode if you’re facing obstacles in your life right now, so be sure to stay tuned.
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Being Your Best In Challenging Conditions With Alex Katz
I am feeling privileged, honored, blessed and grateful at this moment to be here with all of you. There’s so much going on in the world now that’s both beautiful and challenging. I believe that we are made better and stronger by our challenges. It creates something for the future to learn from. At the same time, when we lose something, it’s also natural, normal and the right thing to mourn and grieve. There’s a certain element that’s happening on the inside for many of us, if not all of us. It’s grieving the loss of what was the world that we lived is not the same world that we’re living in now.
They referred to it as the new abnormal. With that new abnormal comes lots of great opportunities and growth in ways we didn’t predict. Long-term and short-term changes best interests many of them. At the same time, as all that’s happening, there’s suffering. There is a loss of jobs, lives and things that we will mourn. It’s a mixed bag for sure, but I am feeling more than anything, gratitude. Being present to what there is to appreciate is one of the greatest tools I have at my disposal, any day of the week and any day of the year.
I am thrilled that I have a great guest on the show to talk about some of these things. She knows well what it takes to be at your best in challenging conditions, and to overcome a mindset that might get in the way of being at your best and performing at your best. We’re going to talk about resilience, and holistically speaking, mental, emotional, physical, spiritual resilience, and what that looks like for my guest, Alex Katz. She is a certified personal trainer and American Ninja Warrior coach. She is a certified nutrition coach, public speaker, Director of Neighborhood Ninjas, and a mom to her amazing rescue pups, Spartan and Ninja. Welcome to the show, Alex. It’s a pleasure to have you with us.
Thanks for having me. It was a great introduction.
What is not a part of the bio that I read that you would love for people to know about you at the beginning?
I do a lot of coaching around mindset and resilience, which you alluded to. I work full-time with kids in the Connecticut foster care system working with not only high schoolers, but college students who are experiencing homelessness or complete separation from their families but may not have ended up in foster care. That’s my passion in life. There are three things. It’s working with that population, fitness, and my dogs. If you were to boil me down to one sentence, those are the three.
Sometimes, when we can step back, we see the larger landscape of connections between things. This may not seem like such a big connection, but we had a puppy in our home because our daughter Lindsay and her fiancé, Connor, came over with their new puppy and we hadn’t seen him. They got this little fellow when he was only nine weeks old. We are big dog people and lost our two big pups, a black lab and a golden. This little nine weeks old golden looked very much like our golden Duncan. A few days later, I posted on LinkedIn an article about the correlation between how it is that dogs create their resilience, how dogs are these resilient beings and what that looks like. As humans, how do we learn from that? What’s the example of those dogs that we can learn from? That’s an interesting little synergy to start between us here. I didn’t expect to ask you this, but what is it about dogs that you learned from if that’s even a thing for you? Would you say there’s some learning that we can take from the pups?One of the main things we can learn from dogs is gratitude. Click To Tweet
I never put it in those words before, but it’s something that I think about. I posted about my dog and one of the main things that I learned from Ninja is gratitude. When I saw Ninja, I was working a mental health event and we were at this big fair. He was in the adoption area that was next to it. There were all these dogs that were getting adopted. I don’t know what it was, but he didn’t fit the characteristics that people were looking for. He kept getting passed up. I’ve felt bad for this puppy. It’s similar to how I feel with kids in foster care too. Sometimes, the most loving dogs and the most loving kids are the ones that have the most trouble finding a home.
For some reason, he clicked with me right away. He was so shy with all these other people, we clicked right away. I knew I couldn’t leave without him. I didn’t have the money for the adoption fee, but I knew it had to happen. The rescue said, “He’s bonded with you more than anyone. We haven’t seen this happen yet so we’re going to let you foster him for the weekend so you can come up with the money.” That weekend, I got creative because I knew that I could not let this dog out of my sight. He’s different from my other dog. I’ve had to adapt to how my life has been since I rescued him and brought him into my home. I am grateful for him every day.
There are things that people might get annoyed about like dogs waking you up with the giant slurp in the face. I love it because it’s all about how we look at the things that are happening in our lives. One morning, he woke me up by licking me up to my nose and then in my ear. I could have gotten frustrated and annoyed by that but I said like, “He’s showing you love.” That’s the other thing I love about dogs is that unconditional love. No matter what you do, if you’re having a bad day, whatever is happening, they’re there. They always seem to find a way to be happy. Dogs are always looking on the bright side. They’re happy to be outside, happy to see a squirrel, happy to see you and I love that. I try to bring that energy into anything that I do.
I remember I did an episode about it right after we lost Duncan. It was the fact that he was always present and happy in that present moment with us. In fact, we could have forgotten to feed him. The moment we walked into the house, he wouldn’t be upset. He wouldn’t hold a grudge. He wouldn’t bark at us. He would be thrilled that we were there. Of course, we’d take care of him, but there’s something about that unconditional love that you get from animals. I don’t even feel comfortable calling them pets because it’s something about how that feels to me. I don’t put that on anybody else, but they are living beings. They are sentient beings like we are. They have brains, memories and they feel. There is a lot we can learn from them. Thank you for sharing that with us. Here’s this person who is drawn to rescue animals and kids in foster care. I want to understand better what the foster care connection has been for you. Is there something that goes back ways with that?
When I was younger, I grew up in an abusive home. I never ended up in foster care, but I should have been. The Department of Children and Families got involved several times. I was experiencing homelessness on and off from an early age because my parents would kick me out of the house randomly. I could come home and the locks were changed, and I had no idea why. It could have been something where I got a B-plus on a test instead of an A-minus. It could have been anything. Growing up in that environment was where I learned resilience. That was my first exposure to it. By the time I was graduating high school, I was half living out of my high school locker room.
I still have pictures of it. It was funny because I was a varsity track athlete. I was lucky that I got a big varsity locker and I was able to stash everything in there. My teammates thought that I was messy so they were making fun of me a lot. I broke the door of the locker because I stuffed so many things in there. For me, that was also a big lesson that I worked with my kids to let them know that you never know what somebody else is going through. To them, this locker was messy. To me, I’m trying to cram all my possessions in here.
By the time I graduated high school, I had been accepted into the University of Connecticut. I knew that college was going to be my way out. Despite everything happening in high school, I worked hard. I applied to 63 scholarships and I received ten of them. I still give that example to my kids as well because I want them to know that you’re not going to always get the first thing you apply for. You’re going to have to fail many times before you see results. I applied to 63 and I got 10. It was enough to get me into college. When I left, I left for good. That was it. It’s been over a decade of not having contact with my parents. When I went to college, I was surrounded by all these students who still have that contact and still had somewhere to go for spring break, Thanksgiving or winter break.
I was learning how to navigate college without anywhere to go and without that family support. It was difficult. There’s also that feeling of everybody else has something and I don’t. I had to figure that out. During that time, I became passionate about wanting to help other students. It took me a while to figure it out and then I said, “This isn’t just me.” I think one of the biggest issues is when people feel like they are the only ones going through something. We talk about this all the time with mental health. You feel like you’re the only one and you’re alone and that makes it worse. Everyone is afraid to talk about it because they think they’re the only one, but when they do talk about it, amazing things happen.
By the time I was graduating, I reached out on social media and said, “I want to start a club. Does anybody else fit these categories similar to what I was going through?” I learned that I wasn’t the only one. There were other people struggling so I said, “I want to come back and work at this university and create a program for students in my situation.” I went on and got my Master’s. In 2018, I came back to run the program at Yukon working with high schoolers in foster care and created another program for college students who were in a similar situation, navigating homelessness, food, security, etc. That’s where that came from.
I didn’t know you were a Husky. I didn’t see that in your bio. My wife and I, went to UMass Amherst, the New England Sports League. Ninja Warrior, on the one hand, we’re hearing about you and the way you serve and the sensitivity. There’s this other aspect of you that you are indeed a Ninja Warrior. For people that don’t know what that is, I’d love it if you’d explain it. How is it that you got into that?
Ninja Warrior for anyone who doesn’t know, it’s a mix of gymnastics, rock climbing, and obstacle course racing all-in-one. I recommend checking it out on NBC. There’s no way to explain what it is and what it is like to do it. When I first watched it on TV, I remember seeing Kacy Catanzaro, who was the first woman to make leaps and bounds in the sport. I remembered watching her do it and thinking, “If she can do it, I can do it.” I think pretty much everyone has had that thought at some point. I talked to many people that watched the show and think it looks easy. I did too. At the time when I first watched it, I was bodybuilding. I was powerlifting. I was doing Spartan races. I was like, “I can do this. This is fine.” I went to try it and I sucked. I couldn’t do anything. I was scared of heights. I was scared of the water. When you train in a gym, there’s no water but you are very high up and you were above mats.
I remembered thinking, “I’m strong. I can do this,” and then getting in my head and being too afraid of heights or my body didn’t know how to move. I did gymnastics growing up. A lot of these moves, we’re doing what we call a chasse. That’s where you swing from a bar or a small object or anything. It could be anything. We grip in the sport, but you swing and you fly through the air, 5, 8 or 10 feet, and you have to catch something else. It’s upper body intensive and a lot of trusting yourself. One of the big reasons I got into it was because I realized I had this deep fear of heights and water. A lot of it was trauma-related for me on both ends of it. I’m very big on pushing yourself past your fears and being more than whatever it is you’ve gone through. I said, “I have to do this.” I started training and I learned how to reframe all of that in my brain. I was scared for a while for the first couple of months. I then got annoyed with myself and I’m like, “You’re so strong. You can be such a good athlete, but you keep getting in your own way. You keep getting in your own head.”
I was tired of letting my fears define me. I kept having conversations with people saying, “I’m strong. Let’s do this. I can do this, I’m just scared.” I felt the need to qualify everything and make excuses. Your brain doesn’t know what’s real and what’s not. When you tell yourself and when I’m telling other people, “I’m scared,” the more I said that, the more scared I became. The second I flipped that script and I started telling myself every day that I didn’t care, I was not scared, and I was stronger than my fears, things flipped in my brain. I told myself, “I wasn’t going to make excuses anymore. I wasn’t going to even tell anybody that I was afraid anymore. I will just do it.” It takes time. You don’t rewire your brain overnight but over time, that becomes my reality.
Now, I’ve been doing this sport for years. I have competed in the world championships three times now. I’m now a coach. I run a Ninja Warrior nonprofit. It becomes a big part of my life. I’m grateful for this sport because it’s helped me grow mentally in ways that I never even imagined. The community is great. It’s that idea of a chosen family. In any sport that I’ve ever done, I’ve never felt this level of community. We’re all competing against each other. There are rankings. You want to get the fastest time. You want to go the farthest, but at the same time, we all cheer each other on. We all help each other. If I fell on obstacle five on a course, and there’s another girl who’s going to go after me and she’s worried, I’ll say to her, “I fell because I made this mistake. Don’t make this mistake.” She might beat me. She might go farther than I did, but that’s the way that we are in this where that doesn’t matter. We want to help each other, which is cool.You're going to have to fail many times before you see results. Click To Tweet
I remember seeing American Ninja Warrior for the first time a few years back and being blown away. Unlike you, I looked at it and said, “That’s tough. I could handle a couple of those things.” That’s incredible. When you said that you reframe things, where is it that you reframe things on a regular basis? The reason I’m asking is because of the part of our theory about what creates resilience. There are a lot of things that contribute to whether a person is resilient or not. We’ve looked at research data, my own personal experience, and the experience of people on our team. We found out that there were three traits of resilient people and organizations, generally speaking. These three traits starts with the ability to reframe situations. I would love to get your perspective on how you define that.
Reframing looks different depending on what else is happening in your life at the time. For me as a kid, when everything was going on, I wasn’t labeling it as reframing. I had no idea what it was, but I had all these things happening. I felt like my parents didn’t love me. The message I was getting was everything that you do is wrong all this time. For a little bit, I believed that. You see that so much with kids who grow up in the system or grew up with abusive parents. At some point, I said to myself, “That’s not you. There’s a theme here and it’s not you.” That was my first experience with reframing, but I didn’t know what that was.
When I got to college, I was a Psychology major so I was learning about how the brain is working and being intentional with that. I learned about choice theory. For anybody who doesn’t know about choice theory, this changed my entire trajectory because I was struggling with my mental health coming out of all of this and trying to adapt to college as a first-year student, and then choice theory came into my life. The idea is that a lot of times, we have a picture in our heads of how things will go. Let’s take this quarantine, for example, and the loss that we’re feeling. Maybe we had a picture of how our high school graduation was going to go. Maybe there was a trip we were about to go on. Maybe there was something that you were looking forward to or something you were doing. Now that picture has changed. The picture that we have in our heads doesn’t match our reality.
That leads to a lot of cognitive dissonance, a lot of feelings of distress and despair. Sometimes, we can change that picture in reality. Sometimes we can make tweaks. Maybe I’m not going to the gym anymore, but I’m working out at home. Sometimes we can’t and that’s where we have to learn how to change the picture that’s in our head to make them match a little more. If you can’t change either, where’s the middle ground? Learning that changed things for me. I started thinking about choice theory, how can I change my picture? That was my real first experience practicing reframing. Now, I look at things not as, why is this happening to me or that something is happening to me but, what is happening for me? I try to look at the situation if I lost my job or if something negative happened in my life.
As an athlete, I was injured on a course. I tore my lap and couldn’t move my arm for months and missed competitions. I had to step back and say, “What is this trying to teach me? What is happening here?” That’s been pivotal for me. The short answer and the long answer for me is reframing is being able to look at a situation and see how I can look at it differently. What are my feelings around it? How do I shift my perspective in my brain in a way that allows me to keep going and teaches me something, where I can be grateful for whatever is happening now, where I remind myself that I’m strong and resilient, and I will get through whatever the situation is?
From my perspective, the one thing that is included in that is finding a creative opportunity. That’s embedded in it. When you reframe what’s happening to me as what’s happening for me, it implies that there’s something positive in it. There’s something that we can use to grow from. There’s no question. There’s a creative opportunity in everything that’s happening to us always. That’s powerful. Choice theory is something I would recommend that our readers research and look at as well. There is resilience embedded in all of us. We have the DNA of resilient people, resilient beings. That’s why we’re here. That’s the only reason why we exist at all anyway is that the human species has been adaptable and resilient over time. Yet, resilience is something you can still create. It’s something that you can grow just like a muscle. If you work, it grows. If you don’t work, it atrophies. What are some of the things that you do on a regular basis to grow your resilience?
What you said is something I say to all my clients when I do public speaking. I say, “Your brain is a muscle. You have to work it like anything else.” I have a couple of daily rituals that I do. One of them is practicing gratitude. To preface all of this, when I first started looking at how I could rewire my brain, I was coming up with the literature on practicing gratitude or affirmations or all these things that I’ll get a little bit more into. I didn’t think it was going to work. I spent a day or two writing down things I was grateful for. The first day I couldn’t find anything that I was grateful for. The second day, I was like, “Maybe this,” then I gave up.
I was like, “We’re going to try this again.” I see this a lot in clients I work with where it doesn’t happen right away and you give up. The thing with behavior changes is you have to keep going. You have to keep doing it until you believe it. If I say, “I’m grateful for the sun,” and I don’t believe it, or I’m not putting intentions behind it, then nothing is going to happen. Keep going until it clicks. It is the same thing with fitness. You’re not going to work out for one day and see results. I think people miss that sometimes. For me, gratitude 100% every day, multiple times a day, especially if something negative does happen. When we talk about reframing, I stop and think, “What am I grateful for right now?”
Quarantine happened, but what do I have? I might not have my job at the gym, or I might not have this or that, but I’m able to spend time with my partner for the first time in months. I’m able to spend time with my dog. I can continue growing as a trainer by learning how to do things virtually. I can catch up on sleep because I was working four jobs and that wasn’t happening. It’s being grateful for all those little things. For me too, from where I’ve come from, I’m grateful for the smallest things like having a bed and a space that’s my own. That’s been big for me. In addition to gratitude, I would say affirmations, but I call them something different.
What do you call them?
I call them your superhero powers. I do this a lot with my clients and my students. I like to remind people that they are superheroes and that’s exactly how they show up in this world already. When quarantine started, people didn’t know what to do. They didn’t know if they needed to shut down or they needed to be heroic for other people, or what direction do I turn? I put up a post saying, “Your superpower is showing up exactly as you already are.” Don’t feel like you need to be somebody else or you need to be everything to everyone. If you’re not a yoga instructor, don’t start suddenly offering virtual yoga classes. Operate in your zone of power. If you’re a good listener, you’re a good friend, funny, caring and strong, whatever makes you feel like a superhero, that’s your power. Those are your affirmations.
Sometimes we forget that, especially when life gets difficult. I have my clients text me what their superhero thought of the day is every day, and the same thing with my students. I got a text from one of my students. It was emotional because I don’t have to remind her anymore. She just does it. This is somebody who struggled so much with self-esteem and feeling like she doesn’t belong anywhere. She does it daily and she’s starting to believe it. I remember how hard it was for her when we first started this. Superhero powers are huge. I call it superhero powers and supervillain thoughts. The supervillain thoughts are limiting beliefs that are going to come in, and then you send out the superhero thoughts to fight them. You have to repeat them every single day so that when the supervillain thoughts come in, it’s on autopilot. They come in and fight and you don’t have to do anything. That works well.
It’s interesting because many people want to change their behaviors. They want their outcomes to change. They know that to get a different outcome, they’ve got to do something different. That’s the behavior piece of it. When we initially published Pivot, I remember one of the things that we heard from a lot of people from that book was this change in the order of things. We were saying, “You’ve got to change your beliefs before you change behaviors,” because behavioral change doesn’t stick. It is similar to what you said. Unless the underlying beliefs about yourself change, your identity changes. What I love about that among other things is that to be able to frame up, to give ourselves that superhero understanding and power, and to own that is certainly a way to believe something about yourself. Ultimately, that would translate into, if you did believe that about yourself, what would you do? If you did believe that you had superpowers, what would you be capable of? How would you deal with adversity?
From that lens, wearing that superhero cape, you’re so much more empowered to take actions from that standpoint. That’s brilliant. I love the way you put that together for us. Thank you. I always ask our guests this because I’m a big believer in rituals. They can be the things that you do when you begin the day. Years ago, I revealed through a TED Talk that I gave what my waking ritual is because that’s my superhero power is that I know when I wake up, I don’t have to think about how I’m going to feel. That’s become programmed and ingrained. I know that I’m going to start the day in a way that I own something. It’s very powerful and in alignment with my deepest values. That’s my ritual. I’d love to know if you have a ritual either at the beginning of the day or at some other point in the day.All you can do with your life is to be intentional. Click To Tweet
Here’s the thing too about that. I’ve been reading this old book. It was 1971 or 1972 when it came out. Og Mandino wrote a book called The Greatest Salesman in the World. There’s one section where he’s talking about, “I start up the day with love.” He says that you can commit to greeting the day with love in your heart. A big thing for him in this book is how you greet the day. That resonated with me deeply. What I found was that I could greet the day with love and do what Og Mandino was suggesting. At 3:00 in the afternoon, I might deal with somebody who was in a foul mood or sent me a foul email. It would trigger some other part of me that go from greeting the day with love in my heart to 2 to 4 hours later, being a miserable prick. It’s that building and tearing down that get a foot on the gas, foot on the brake experience of life. That can be frustrating to people and to me, and can keep us stuck at times. I became aware of that and started to work on not just greeting the day with love, but meeting the day with love, and how it is that I continue to show up in that way throughout the day. That ritual, even though it starts at the beginning of the day, it extends throughout. I’d love to hear about either one or more of the rituals that are helping you to create resilience and maintain it.
It’s funny because I’m not a morning ritual person. For a while, I tried it because I thought I should, it seemed like everybody else had some morning ritual. I always wake up full of energy and excited to start the day and seeing the infinite possibility in the day. As what you’re saying, things happen, life happens. What I do is I have this journal where I keep my superhero thoughts on top so that if I am struggling, I can look at them and I recite them back to myself. If I’m feeling my limiting beliefs start to creep in, I look at it and I remind myself of what exactly my superhero powers are. That’s reaffirming to myself that I’m doing what I should be doing, or that I’m showing up in the world the way that it’s impacting and helping others. That’s been key.
If I feel like everything is miserable or something big happened, maybe I lost my job, I look at, “What do I still have in my life that I can be grateful for?” I work on the superhero thoughts and gratitude in the middle of the day. I also have quotes that I live by so long with the superhero powers. I remind myself of those. One of them is by Emily Schromm. She has her own podcast, Meathead Hippie. I don’t know if you’re familiar with that, but I love her stuff. Her voice is like meditation for me. Emily says something that’s stuck with me over the past year, which is that everything is aiming and I’ve adopted that.
It’s the idea that all you can do with your life is to be intentional. Let’s say you have a bow and arrow and you’re going to shoot the arrow. Once you release it, that arrow can go anywhere. The wind could take it and it could get eaten by a dragon, who knows what’s going to happen. All you can do is set up your shot and be intentional with that. That’s how I’ve started living my life. What are my intentions? Whether or not the outcome matches what I wanted, I put forth my intention. What you can be intentional with are your time, your energy, who you let into your life, the relationships you want to create. In the middle of the day, I remind myself of that and to focus on my intentions.
The last thing I do is I remind myself to act boldly all the time. I have to give credit because this came from Nick Pags. He’s also a mindset coach. I heard this at a great time in my life. He said, “The difference between you and the person you want to be is that the person you want to be act boldly consistently.” Whenever I feel myself trying to start to get in a funk, I remind myself to act boldly consistently and act with intentions. That’s been working well for me to stay motivated and keep moving. The very last thing I do is remind myself of everything I’ve already overcome. I know people are struggling now. I keep reminding them that if you’re reading this post, you’ve already overcame many obstacles in life, and this is another one of them. Every single obstacle you go through makes you stronger. I’ll usually remind myself that I’m strong. My last ritual of the day, at some point, I’ll do handstands or pull-ups or something because that’s my sense base. That’s my daily ritual.
You’re a Ninja Warrior, that’s your superhero. I enjoyed this conversation, Alex. I know that people have enjoyed it as well. I’m curious, have you ever delivered a TED Talk? Is there a TEDx Talk that you’ve given?
I have not but I would love to. I’ve spoken on many different stages, but I’ve never done a TED Talk. I would love to do that.
That’s way cool. We perhaps can talk about that at some point. We work with people on getting on those wonderful talks. You are one of those people I can see delivering an epic TED Talk because you are so inspirational naturally. I’m sure the comments that we’ll get from the show are that you are naturally an inspiring person. We are in a world where people need very much to be inspired on a daily basis. I hope that this show has done that for all of you out there. All of our shows are aiming to do that. I appreciate how you edified that everything is aiming at the person whose podcast you mentioned. I’m not familiar with her so I’m excited to look at her as well. Who delivers that?
Emily Schromm of Meathead Hippie. It wasn’t her exact words where everything is aiming, but she gave this whole podcast episode where she was talking about it. She read this metaphor from this ancient script about this concept. From all the things she said, what I boil it down to are three words, “everything is aiming,” and it’s made it into everything I’ve done since. That’s life-changing for me.
As we close out this session, I’m going to remind myself and everybody else out there too that the way that you begin the day is powerful. If you begin the day with joy, if you’re more leaning in that direction, right out of the gate, gratitude is the first thoughts you’ve got, you’re in a good place to build that. Whether that’s you or that’s not you, my own dirty little secret is that for a long time, I start the day putting my feet on the floor, feeling gratitude, and saying four simple words out loud, which are, “I love my life.” On some days, those are tough words to live up to. In fact, my wife will sometimes even come up to me if I’ve had a day that’s been challenging and she’ll say, “Do you still love your life no matter what?”
That no matter what piece are the deal and I always chuckle and smile and go, “I do. That’s not negotiable.” However it is that you do start your day, I’d love for you to take a page out of Alex’s playbook here and come up with your superhero thought of the day. My superhero thought of the day is I love my life. What’s your superhero thought of the day? I would love to hear from you and find out exactly what that is. You can go to AdamMarkel.com/podcasts and leave your answer to that question. We would love to engage at that level with you. You can also go on to the Start My PIVOT Facebook page and leave your thought of the day there as well. I’ll say ciao for now. Alex, thank you so much for being a guest.
Thanks so much for having me.
- The Greatest Salesman in the World
- Meathead Hippie
- Start My PIVOT – Facebook page
About Alex Katz
After escaping a severely abusive home at the age of 17, Alex worked 80 hour weeks to put herself through college, while battling homelessness, an eating disorder, spinal fracture, an emotionally abusive romantic relationship and depression. Alex persevered and graduated with two B.A. in Psychology and Spanish, and went on to earn her M.S. in Human Development. Unable to afford therapy, Alex began studying neural rewiring. Learning how to rewire the brain and pivot through difficult situations changed Alex’s life. She now works with kids in foster care, both full time and through her non profit, Neighborhood Ninjas, where she helps kids build connection, community and resilience through movement. Alex is a Ninja Warrior athlete and coach, personal trainer, mindset and resilience coach, and has also been eating disorder and depression free for over 3 years thanks to the mindset shifts she learned to make.