Balancing the Grind with Julie Stern, Owner of Best Life Fitness

Julie Stern is the owner of Best Life Fitness, a boutique fitness studio located in Bondi, offering personal training and small group classes.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I qualified as a Personal Trainer in 2008, and began my career under the mentorship of a fantastic Personal Trainer who inspired me to focus on the elimination of pain and discomfort from tight muscles and postural misalignments.

The feeling that you can help to relieve peoples discomfort and then build strength was what really got me hooked. After 4 years working under him, I branched out and worked for myself within big gyms.

After a while, I had built up enough of a solid client base to feel confident to open my own small studio in Bondi. I have been operating the Best Life Studio for 5 years now. 

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

I wake up at 5am. First client at 5:45am. I work through til about 11am training a mixture of classes and private clients. I then head home and tag team with my husband who then has to go to work in his restaurant for the afternoon/evening.

Hopefully he has done a morning activity with the kids, either swimming or sky zone so that by the time I get home they are well ready for a midday nap which allows me to get some admin done and personal care like a nap or eating lunch!

Once they wake, I switch from trainer/business owner to mum of 4 year old Mackenzie and 1.5 year old Gabe and #3 on the way due in January. 

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine? 

The business admin side of my role is very flexible and does allow for remote working. I can work from anywhere that I have an internet connection. I do emails while the kids sleep or at night or while I’m out and about on my phone.

Actually it was COVID that helped me to become more flexible with the actual Personal Training side of things. For example, I went on a holiday recently and instead of cancelling my clients I was able to train some of them via zoom. That’s not something I would have thought to do in the past. 

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Work-life balance is one of my highest values and I am so grateful to have achieved a good sense of it in my life.

I love being a mum and I also love the other side of me which is business owner and trainer. It allows me to feel like I am filling a lot of buckets that I need to fill in order to feel happy and productive. 

I don’t believe in working hard towards a desired lifestyle way off in the future but rather finding fun and enjoyment everyday in the present. Cherishing my time with the kids and creating as many beautiful memories as I can.

I am lucky enough to have two wonderful trainers that work for me that enable me to grow the business and take on more clients without having to physically be in the studio. 

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5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life? 

At the start of Covid, my main trainer left to go back to the UK. I ended up taking on all her classes and clients plus I had the kids at home from daycare full time. All this equalled very little time to do my own training. I started doing very short 10 – 15 min workouts.

This is not something I would have thought worth my while in the past. I always set aside at least 45 mins. Anyway, 9 months and I am still loving my quick workouts. I fit them in between clients, or quickly after I finish my morning clients before heading home.

They are just enough to change my mood, boost my energy, keep up my fitness, and not feel guilty that I am not getting my workouts done. I love them! 

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

I am a podcast addict. I love listening to Tim Ferris’ Tribe of Mentors where he does mini interviews with some of the worlds most successful people who share their ideas around habits, learning, money, success, failure and life.

Also on my heavy rotation about business development and growth is NPR’s How I Built This and The Fitness Business Podcast.

I’m also a sucker for personal development books and podcasts like How to Fail with Elizabeth Day and Slo Mo with Mo Gawdat. And really meta-physical ideas from books such as Ask and It is Given by Esther and Jerry Hicks. 

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

My husband and I are very slow to uptake new technologies so we don’t have a Google home or smart anything other than our phones, which I definitely could not live without, sadly. 

I seriously could not live without my Kindle but that’s not very exciting! I guess also Spotify would have to be an app I would find it hard to live without these days. To have so much music right there at my fingertip. Especially for the kids. Mackenzie has her own playlist and she loves it! 

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?   

Probably Richard Branson. He always seems like he’s approached his work and life in a really positive way. He just seems like he’s really lovely, relaxed, grounded and super successful all at the same time!

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

I am a big believer working towards a feeling of well-being. I think in order to achieve this it’s important to focus on many different aspects of life.

Working to feel productive and have a sense contributing to society and of economic well-being are important factors to happiness and I also think that social and emotional well being are also crucial to a sense of happiness. I think most people would need to achieve a balance of these areas to feel fulfilled and happy. 

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.