Spotlight on Kelly Chapman Meyer: Warrior, Surfer, Yogi and Friend
Read our sit-down with Kelly Chapman Meyer, XPT evangelist and co-founder of The American Heart Association Teaching Gardens. For information on how you can contribute to the Teaching Gardens, click here.
Kelly Chapman Meyer starts her day before the sun rises. She hops on her surfboard and paddles out beyond the crashing waves to witness the glow of the sun rising above the horizon. Her love of the ocean and nature’s peace and beauty are a source of motivation, fueling her many endeavors as a champion of the environment, nutrition and other women. We caught up with Kelly to talk about her journey with XPT and her success as co-founder of The American Heart Association Teaching Gardens.
XPT: You are a champion for the ocean and you seem to love to connect with nature by working outdoors. That’s also something that’s a big part of XPT! What does your daily fitness regimen look like and is working out in nature a part of that?
KCM: Surfing is my connection to nature and my connection to the water. I always thought, until recently, I’m surfing to keep up with the gang, like, “hey, hey I’m still here!” But the truth is, I hurt my toe the other day to the extent where I was going to be down for a bit and my first thought was, “oh no, I’m not going to be able to surf!” I realized then just how much I loved it! The minute something was getting in the way aside from bad conditions, I realized surfing is such an important part of my life! I would be so much less fulfilled without being able to surf, stand up paddle or swim in the ocean. It really is my connection to nature which fills me up!
I like gym workouts too though, especially doing it in a group with Gabby and all our friends. I appreciate how much 45 minutes in the gym with a good HIGHX does for me. The HIGHX workout inside allows you to have more fun outside—you can feel the extra “juice” when you are playing in nature. It’s interesting because I’ve increased my fun and intensity in both arenas.
Even if I’m doing something laborious like stairs—which is like a prison sentence—it’s great because you’re outside and you’re still “making a deposit,” like working at the bar before you get to dance the ballet. When you’re outside it goes so much faster! I’ll listen to Gabby’s podcast or music to overcome the monotony of “just do your 10, just do 10.” It’s so much easier and feels so much better outside!
I swim in the ocean with a 92-year-old woman who’s fantastic! That’s really one of my favorite things to do—she’s the perfect example of how beneficial working out in nature can be. I also do yoga at sunrise. Even though I’m indoors, its very nature oriented. During my practice the world goes from dark to light so it feels very connected to the outdoors. I also like to dance, which is a gym thing, but I just mix it up as much as I can!
XPT: How did you first connect with Gabby and Laird?
KCM: Gabby and Laird are legendary in Malibu (and everywhere). Gabby and I had a mutual friend/masseuse that introduced us. I just adore Gabby and appreciate all she does. I am in awe of her. Originally, she introduced me to these sand workouts. We had a lot of talks on the sand hill, a lot of walking up and down. Now we’re doing XPT workouts together!
I met Laird during that time, too. It’s actually a funny story—I think I reached out to him for a gift! I thought Laird should actually teach my “kook” friend how to surf after seeing him on the cover of National Geographic. Because wouldn’t you expect someone to teach your friend to surf after seeing them on the cover of NatGeo?! I think I had less fear back then…
XPT: Talk to us about the Teaching Garden. How did it develop and what is its overall mission?
KCM: As an environmentalist, I used to be able to clear the room talking endlessly about climate change. People would run away from me with ears bleeding! At some point, it hit me to talk to people about the environment through gardens. At the time I was reading these statistics about our children being obese and all the food issues they are facing. So, I went at it from that perspective and I started planting gardens in schools in extremely vulnerable urban and rural areas, where kids—even if they were in a city or in the middle of the country—didn’t have a connection to whole food or understand what that was all about.
That was my mission—to connect kids to whole food and help reduce the obesity epidemic in any way that I could. It was my small way of participating in society, helping to prevent kids having a life sentence of obesity because of bad food and poor nutrition. When you realize what we have done to them, it’s unforgiveable… it’s really, really shameful that we have marketed all this crappy food to our children. So, I put gardens in schools to try and connect kids to whole food and it’s beautiful! People did not run out of rooms anymore, instead they ran into rooms to help me. Gabby and Laird were two of them. They have both been amazing and they’ve helped me from the very beginning. They are a very big part of its success and I’m grateful to them.
They would go to the gardens and talk to the kids about health. We had a cooking, a physical fitness and an environmental education component—all those things centered around the garden. Gabby and Laird would come as celebrity health experts and kids loved it, it was great! They were really helpful. My garden program was adopted by the American Heart Association. The AHA used the Teaching Gardens as a platform to talk about prevention in an authentic way.
The AHA is a scientifically-based organization so I think the gardens have been a great form of communication for them, because they are super touchy-feely. All the experiences and pre and post surveys and anecdotal evidence from the gardens really help them shape, from an authentic place, food policy and lunchroom guidelines. We’re just trying to say, “hey, Cheetos are not really food!” You’ve got to start somewhere. It’s really been wonderful and I’m grateful to everybody. It’s now a huge team of people in 35 states working together to help kids get healthy. Kids love the garden, they totally engage and it’s been a really satisfying, gratifying experience!
XPT: Talk to us about your XPT success story in terms of the actual Experiences. Do you have any advice to others who are considering attending? What has been your favorite part about the Experiences themselves?
KCM: I’m really lucky in that I saw the progression early on, after Gabby and Laird finished their pool where they do the underwater workouts. Since then, they have taken it to a whole other level. It used to be a few “usual suspects”—now you can see 30 people in there swimming, jumping, flipping and turning, and it’s so beautiful to watch underwater. I love it!
Early on, you could see them formulating the XPT pool training. Laird realized from the beginning how great it is for your joints and how you could really work out hard and not put the usual wear and tear on the body. The water gives you support to go hard without getting injured. The pool also provides an amazing place to rehab—after an hamstring injury I was able to continue working out and be healing all at the same time. It was amazing because you are getting blood, oxygen and movement to the injury, totally pain free.
And, of course, it’s just so beautiful and so peaceful! That element of working out in water is other worldly, but it’s also very challenging. During the workout you are getting an entire body massage from moving through the water. This flushes your lymphatic system. These are benefits Laird obviously knew and understood because of his relationship to water and it’s healing properties. Plus, the sauna and the ice—it’s all very life affirming and life changing!
I remember one day, I did a pool workout and then the sauna and ice, and then Laird made me one of his coffees, which I’d never had before. I drank that coffee and I drove home and it felt like I was in a fourth dimension. Everything was so clear and my body, mind and soul were ticking like a Swiss watch! I think the combination of all these things is really powerful. That’s what people are going to get to feel at the XPT Experience. And what’s great is they can bring it back and incorporate it into their lives. They are going to understand just how powerful the combination of all those things are that make up The XPT Experience.
No matter what the skill level, XPT attracts people who are interested in growing on a physical and spiritual plane. That vibration takes them outside with the masters! It’s really extraordinary because you get to see this amazing world that Laird and Gabby have created—up at the pool, down at the beach, on the stand up—they are sharing something they’ve been cultivating and curating for years.
The XPT Experience allows you to download a lifetime of two world class athletes search for information, knowledge and wisdom. This rare experience allows one to hook into the vibration of these transformative people. I think that’s what people sign up for and what XPT reviews speak volumes about – being able to garner the knowledge from people who’ve spent their lives figuring out how to be healthier, increase longevity and improve the quality of life. It’s amazing to see people really light up during the XPT Experience!
XPT: Let’s talk about your many efforts for the environment, large and small. What are some daily changes you’ve made in your life each day to limit your personal environmental impact? What habits might you suggest others adopt to preserve our world?
KCM: I could give you a 100 things that would help you to reduce your carbon foot print, but I think it has become more then that… I think that we have lost touch with the rhythms of the earth and all those things that nature provides us. It informs us about life and death. It creates joy and happiness. I really think now more than ever we need a spiritual awakening to bend the arc towards a healthier planet and healthier people. It’s really important for people to put those devices down and get outside. Time spent in nature—it’s going to tell you what you need to do and it’s going to tell you which way to go.
I had this amazing discussion with this young friend of mine, Jessica, whose point of view about these crazy times really struck a chord with me. We’re all out there marching and trying to figure out what to do, wearing pink hats and all that stuff. She said (and I agree), “ultimately, respect for women is really parallel to respect for Mother Nature.” The two compelling issues of our times can be viewed through a single lens, they are inextricably linked. What is this about really, how do we navigate these waters? Let’s not be angry. Let’s not be militant. Let’s use our power as women to protect Mother Nature and her creations.