Inpsiring Ladies: Cara Gilman

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Full time yoga and spin instructor at Back Bay Yoga, Sweat and Soul, and Sports Club LA

After beginning her career in Human Resources, Cara has recently transitioned into a full time role teaching yoga and spin in studios across Boston, after recognizing her deep passion for inspiring and motivating others to live healthy, fulfilling lives. She has since received many accolades for her work, particularly as an Ambassador for Lululemon Athletica in Chestnut Hill, MA. Cara radiates energy, joy, and beauty inside and out. Her outlook on internal discovery and fulfillment as critical components of a happy, healthy career and lifestyle will be informative and inspiring to many young women today.

1. Describe Your Current Career

I’m a full time yoga and spin instructor teaching at Back Bay Yoga, Sports Club LA and Sweat and Soul Yoga. My career is a reflection of my personal passion of inspiring and motivating others to lead healthy and fulfilling lives.

2. When you first graduated from college, what were your primary goals (professional or personal)?

I always knew I wanted to help people, but I didn’t know what that looked like. I started doing informational interviews and during one session I was confronted with the difficult question of what that exactly meant, and, honestly, I didn’t know at the time!
I started working in community affairs at a financial services company and did some inspiring work with local non-profits. However, after a couple years I wanted to expand my role and responsibilities and took a job in Human Resources. After a couple of years I once again grew out of the role and moved to the Marketing department. These job transitions made me realize that I was looking for something in these positions that did not exist. They did not align with my personal passions. As a result, I decided to take a yoga teacher training program and see where things would go.
Before I even graduated the program, I was already teaching and came to the point where teaching yoga and spin was what I looked forward to doing everyday. I kept taking on more classes up until the point where I had to make the decision of whether to stay with my employer or teach. I followed my passion and have never looked back.

3. How challenging was it to pursue your goal? How did you balancing pursuing a new career and still remain practical about finances and other personal responsibilities?

I was in the corporate world for six-and-a-half years. It was a very structured way of life: I worked 8am to 6pm, had benefits, a salary, and everything was very set. And then, [when I transitioned to teaching yoga and cycling] I suddenly had all this flexibility. I had to make my own schedule, and basically create my own business from scratch. What was great, for me, was that I had already begun to build my foundation in teaching while I was still working full-time. My classes were getting a positive reaction, and I was able to make it all work.
I think that’s the biggest struggle anytime you make a major shift: understanding if you are truly ready for the change. Sometimes it’s not just putting the numbers together, and there isn’t a perfect picture of where you’re headed. You need to be ready; and this means you have to have confidence, you have to believe in yourself, and you have to have passion or you’ll be your own biggest weakness. If you’re passionate about something, people will respond and gravitate towards you.

4. What are your greatest passions and how do you find ways to incorporate them into your everyday life?

My passions are people. I love to give. When I’m not teaching I love to help and inspire people to challenge themselves to live the life they want to live. I truly believe that once you live your passions it only explodes from there. I left my full time job only six months ago, and it’s incredible to see how things have grown in this short amount of time. I know it wouldn’t have happened without being authentic and following my passion. I can’t wait to see where this path will take me. Everyday, I continually ask myself what else can I do? I’m really excited by the possibilities.

5. What is your proudest accomplishment thus far?

One accomplishment that really set the path for me was when I ran my first marathon in 2005 in Philadelphia.I was an athlete growing up, but I was always a slow runner. I HATED running. After gaining 30 pounds my freshmen year in college, I knew I had to change my lifestyle. Funny enough, I started running. For the first time, I started to run and work-out just for me not because I had to “be in shape” for sports and I feel in love. My love to running made me crazy enough to want to run a marathon and I took that challenge on my senior year in college.
Finishing my first marathon was something that I never thought I could do..It gave me an incredible sense of confidence where I realized I could do anything I put my mind and passion to. It was a huge growing experience and one I am so thankful for.

6. What has been the most challenging time, event, situation, etc. for you thus far? How did you handle that challenge?

It’s hard to pick one incident in my life but something I always have to remind myself is that it’s important to look at the bigger picture. In corporate world, you’re focused on the next promotion or what not, and in teaching your focused on your classes. Delivering on your short-term goals and tasks is incredibly important but you need a vision and keep your long-term goals in the back of your mind. Sometimes we just try to get through the day. But, ask yourself: what do I want in 5 years? Is what I’m doing today going to serve myself in achieving these goals?
Another important lesson I have learned is that even when you love something so much, you can’t do it all the time. Everyone needs time to reflect, to be calm, and to be still. You can’t be constantly excited, and, sometimes, you need time to just be still with yourself. This time is essential for giving you the fuel to take it to the next level.

7. What, for you, has the most fun and exciting aspect or event of your young professional years?

Being a Lululemon ambassador (as of March, 2013) of the Chestnut Hill store has been an incredible experience. Last March, I was asked to teach yoga at their opening event, the Mala Masquarade. The event was with more than 100 people. The yoga session comprised of a slow flow vinyasa practice to quartet playing classical music and then after 30 minutes transitioned into a hip hop class yoga flow with a hip-hop violinist and a D.J It was so much fun and such a great teaching experience to lead a room with all that energy!
Also, right out of college, I created an employee network at my financial company that focused on creating community within a global company. I had a lot of ideas for the network: I wanted to meet other young professionals, I wanted a running club and I wanted to make this big international company feel more like a small community. A year after the employee network launched, it had over 1,000 members. There were executives on board, I was traveling to speak at events, and a year and half later we had several other chapters launched in 3 other countries. The network changed the culture of the company, and changed my everyday life. It was so fun to learn how to manage communications and people, to speak at events and meet people across the company. Looking back at this experience, it makes sense of why I enjoyed leading and creating the network given how it relates to what I’m doing now.

8. What advice would you give other young professionals?

Sometimes we have a vision for ourselves, and that vision is what we think we should be opposed to the person we want to be. We want to be X or Y and to make this amount of money, and live this specific life, and wear a suit to work, and if we do that then we will be happy and everything will be great. But it’s important to work on yourself and really discover what you want and your passion. Analyze your natural talents, your habits, and your routine. What works and what doesn’t? If [your professional life] is out of line with your lifestyle and your natural talents, you won’t be in love with it and you won’t be successful or find meaning in it. That’s why it’s important to make sure your career aligns with who you truly are.

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