While the sleep coaches at Sleepably are heavily focused on helping adults and children rest easier, we also love to highlight our partners and friends who are making a big difference in people’s health and wellness.
Mahri Relin, founder of Body Conceptions by Mahri, is definitely a difference-maker. She’s a former professional dancer who has turned her passion for fitness into something that brings out the best in women during all stages of their lives. Her dance-inspired fitness program offers expert support and personalized fitness solutions for women going through major transitions such as wedding preparation, fertility, and pregnancy through postnatal recovery.
We spoke with Mahri to learn more about her company and explore how she’s helping her clients thrive one dance step at a time.
Tell us more about your background, and how you came up with Body Conceptions.
I was a dancer for a long time in NYC before I was recruited to work for a celebrity dance-based fitness company. It was a revelation to discover such a fun intersection between dance and fitness, and it was also the first setting in which I was asked to work with pregnant women. I was surprised at the time that so few people in the fitness industry understood pregnancy, so I devoted myself to understanding as much as possible (which became the early inspiration for my business).
Body Conceptions is a method I developed combining dance principles with other approaches like barre, pilates, yoga, and HIIT training using my own unique approach and philosophy. I was very aware of the transitional times in women’s lives during which fitness is crucial but can also be tricky (e.g., during conception, pregnancy, postnatal recovery, perimenopause, etc.).
Before I even started Body Conceptions, I became obsessed with learning as much as possible about how to use fitness to support these transitions and also how to help women feel as strong, capable, happy, and empowered as possible. I’m excited now to have a company that sees many women without interruption from their wedding preparation through several children and beyond. It’s an incredibly rewarding journey.
Can you describe the services that you offer?
Our business is based around the Body Conceptions method, which combines cardio with full-body sculpting that targets each muscle group from arms and abs to thighs and seat. Dance is the foundation from which the method was developed, but you don’t have to be a dancer at all to do it. All sessions are music-driven and completely personalized to you. We work primarily with women as you can imagine, but we also work with men and shape our sessions around the goals of each client.
COVID really had an impact on our work in the first few months of the pandemic since the business was centered so much around in-home training. We moved to a virtual model that felt difficult at first, but then we found that it gave our clients a ton of freedom. They could do the workout anywhere, they didn’t have to leave their home, and they could share sessions with friends in other states if they wanted. We were also pleasantly surprised that they liked the virtual as much if not sometimes more than in-person.
In addition to one-on-one virtual training (or occasionally still in-person sessions if we do it outside or with safety procedures inside), we also have an On-Demand video platform. It includes a range of pre- and postnatal videos as well as a full library of workouts that range in length, difficulty level and focus. You can do full workouts or choose short exercises that focus on one area like thighs, arms, abs, etc.
What sparked your passion for fitness and supporting new moms?
In all honesty, fitness was never on my radar. I was a dancer since I was 5 years old, and moving my body to music was something that felt so incredible to me. Discovering how music, dance and fitness could all connect together was a new and exciting discovery for me after I finished my performing career. I wish I had discovered fitness earlier in that career, because I was amazed at how much stronger I became as a dancer because of fitness. (Before, I thought I would gain more strength simply by taking more dance classes …)
In terms of my connection with new moms, it felt like a natural progression. I have always been sensitive to other women and their struggles because I’m a pretty empathetic person. When I started working with pregnancy in my first fitness job, I immediately became aware of the fear that can surround the pregnancy journey as well as the self-consciousness that can come with a changing pregnant body.
Is there an up and coming wellness trend for women’s health that you are intrigued by?
That’s a really interesting question. I have often become aware of trends emerging in the wellness scene because of my connections with the New York City world. Sadly, I have felt disconnected lately since I haven’t traveled to NYC because of COVID.
However, I sense that our previous obsession with wellness figures who depict a luxurious, aspirational, and “perfect” healthy life seems to be waning. Many of us in the world want to be more real about life and about connecting with each other more authentically rather than worshipping the “perfect” body, the “perfect” lifestyle, or the “perfect” diet.”
I think we need to focus more on supporting each other and protecting each other’s well-being, and I’m already sensing that this is something the wellness community as a whole is emphasizing more and more.
How did you end up in both NYC and Denver?
I moved to NYC after attending three years of graduate school in San Diego to get my Ph.D. in neuropsychology. I knew this was an “impressive” path, but I honestly didn’t feel passion in that career at all. I was truly a dancer at heart (since 5 years old). I left on a year’s leave of absence to see what life in NYC as a dancer would be like, and I never went back!
My decision to move to Denver 17 years later felt a little different. I had loved every career twist and turn in NYC, but I felt so disconnected from nature in the city. Plus, I can put a lot of pressure on myself, and felt like the city had its own pressure and intensity that was hard to take sometimes. I knew several Broadway dancers who had moved to Denver and also immediately found kindred folks in the wellness world when I came to check it out.
I love the nature in Colorado, the helpfulness of the people, the pace of life, and the sunshine. I’m so glad I moved here, and I have met some incredible partners and clients!
What is your favorite part of this job?
I love learning about each of my clients, finding out what they need, and helping them achieve their goals. It’s also wonderful to see them gain confidence and experience happiness in the process.
I also need to add that I love getting to know my instructor team and seeing each of them blossom into such wonderful trainers. They care so much about what they do and love helping their clients, and they really take pride in the mission of the company. These relationships — both within and outside of the company — make me feel so grateful for following this path and having the opportunity to enhance the lives of those I care about.
How has COVID impacted Body Conceptions?
As I mentioned earlier, COVID required us to switch from in-home to virtual training immediately. This was very difficult for some of our mothers who lost their help at home and had to become home school teachers. Finding the time to work out did not feel like a priority for many of them in the beginning.
Thankfully over time, our clients tried and became hooked on our virtual sessions. The virtual format allowed them to have more flexibility in terms of scheduling. It eliminated borders, which gave me an opportunity to work with clients in other states, for example. Some of our clients also invited friends from other locations to train with them, which brought friends together at a time when so many people needed connection.
The adjustment has been significant (and I felt at times like I was starting a completely new business by changing the format), but virtual training ultimately gave us more freedom and room to grow.
How does your coaching differ from something that someone could watch by themselves online?
That’s a great question, and there’s a HUGE difference. We take pride in getting to know our clients on a number of different levels, including understanding their injury history, their fitness goals, their likes and dislikes in terms of music and exercises, and their personalities.
All of our sessions are improvised within the method, so each one is a different experience depending on what our client needs that day. We also work out alongside our clients (or in front of them on Zoom) to help give them energy, show the technique, and feel the experience together with them to make sure the workout is complete and balanced.
Aside from these personalized details, all of our trainers are acutely aware of the delicacy of the life transitions our clients experience. There can be lots of sensitive feelings about their bodies during those times, and we truly value understanding and supporting these feelings. We are also connected as a company with other specialists (like Sleepably!), so we are always looking for ways to direct our clients to find additional help whenever they need it.
This is a long answer to the question! But all of these factors together define how much we care about each client and how important it is to give them unique, personal experiences. We want each person to feel safe, understood, and guided properly, and we want their experience to be as fun and exciting as possible as well!
For an exhausted new mama, do you have 3 tips that would help her to restart a fitness routine and feel more energized?
I have about 50 tips, but here are a few of my favorites:
*With all of these tips, make sure you are cleared by your doctor first. Also see a specialist (or us!) if you have any complicating issues like a diastasis, pelvic floor incontinence or pain, or upper/lower back pain.
- Exercise does not have to happen all at once. It’s extremely hard to find a full hour to yourself as a new mom. Exercise in spurts (like a 10-minute walk around the neighborhood or a few squats while waiting for water to boil). The exercise you can do is additive, and all of it counts by the end of the day.
- Begin with proper breathing. The key to proper postnatal healing and preparation for injury-free fitness is breathing. Make sure you are not breathing shallowly into your upper chest and shoulders, but rather imagine that you are breathing low into your body and out to all sides (belly, sides, and back). Try releasing out on the inhale and engaging your low abs on the exhale. Getting the hang of this will help you relax, believe it or not! It will also do wonders for proper connection between your rib cage, diaphragm, pelvic floor, and deep core.
- Exercise with your baby! It’s amazing how much you can do to strengthen your body while holding a baby. Try putting on a carrier that feels comfortable and carries most of the weight on your hips. Your baby can be facing toward you or away, and consider playing with its feet and hands while exercising, which stimulates the baby while you exercise.
Stand up with your feet hip distance apart and your knees and toes facing forward, and do some squats. Try going all the way up and down, and also do patterns of small pulses in the squat position. Make sure you are engaging your abs with a flat back, and reach your tailbone back with your chest radiating forward and your shoulders relaxed back and down.
Interested in working with Body Conceptions?
Check out the Body Conceptions website to learn about their virtual (and occasionally in-person) training and schedule a consultation!
More about Mahri Relin
As a former professional dancer, Mahri spent 12 years dancing around the world. It was through dancing that Mahri discovered her passion for fitness. Mahri spent her early years in the fitness industry working as a trainer for the Tracy Anderson Studio and went on to become the Creative Director for FlyBarre at Flywheel Sports.
After extensive experience, Mahri realized that there were big gaps in fitness solutions for women going through their most significant life events and changes. She refined her own dance-inspired method through extensive research in and out of the studio and devoted her life to providing women with the most intelligent, personalized, and joyful fitness experience possible.
As a NASM Certified Personal Trainer, Corrective Exercise Specialist, AFPA Pre and Postnatal Exercise Specialist, Certified Wellness and Nutrition Consultant, and fitness enthusiast, Mahri is on a mission to help you tap into your unique strengths and flourish as the best version of YOU!