Maven to Know: MARIA ROMAINE BRACE, HEALTH & FITNESS COACH, LIKE THE LETTUCE
Maria Romaine Brace, 34, is a health and fitness coach with Like the Lettuce and the founder of #TeamLettuce. She’s lived in downtown Broad Ripple for 10 years with husband Dwight and their fur baby, Peacy. “We are figuring out where next will be,” she says. “But it’s where we’ve ‘grown up as adults together’ and it holds a very special place in our hearts.”
She chatted with us about her wellness philosophy and how she’s been staying motivated.
Maven superpower: Remaining positive in the face of adversity and making miserable things like working out, fun!
Your career in the health and fitness space is multifaceted, how would you describe what you do to someone you just met?
I help people identify what their true goals are, why that’s important to them, and then help remove the guesswork with the best of the best toolkits available.
Did you always know you wanted to be in this space? What did your career path look like to get you where you are today?
I majored in Kinesiology/Health + Exercise Science because it was something I could understand and got excited about. Science made so much more sense when it was within the realm of exercise and bodily movement versus space or isolated protons and electrons, etc. I have always had to “work at it” to stay fit and healthy, so I knew it would be a priority for the rest of my life. Naturally I wanted to find ways to make that happen. I thought I’d originally try out the medical/pharmaceutical sales game but the two years of sales experience I wanted to get turned into 10 years at Angie’s List.
It helped me in so many ways, but I felt most alive and most in my element when instructing group exercise classes like kickboxing and cycling, so much so that it became a side hustle. I kept finding myself gravitating to that world and it’s now been almost two years since I quit the corporate life. I’m glad I’ve worked where I have and took on the projects I did before I went into fitness full time. It taught me so much and really helped set me up financially so that I could take that risk in the first place. Even amid all the uncertainty now, I feel like I’m doing what I’m meant to, whether coaching in person or online.
What is your philosophy when it comes to health, wellness, and fitness?
That it’s totally different for every person. Most people, including myself, need to switch it up to keep it interesting and fun but that a lot of your results will actually come from the unsexy and the unexciting. It’s important to get fired up for your goals, but in order to see your goals through, one must be ready for the resistance and struggle that hits after the first week or two of excitement, and see themselves differently on the other side.
What are some of the goals you hope to conquer next?
Definitely figuring out the space where our family will be settling next, whether we have 10 more dogs or are fortunate enough to have children, we’re planning for our future.
My personal business goal is to help others find personal fulfillment and financial success in health and fitness as I have. Mentoring other business owners and coaches is my focus—it’s a grind and a lot of people go into other fields or run themselves ragged and don’t know their options. The better I can help others achieve their career aspirations the way I have, while not burning out, and continuing to fuel their fire and make it fun, the better I will have done my job. This is what #TeamLettuce is about.
Fitness looks very different now as people are working out pretty much exclusively at home. What’s this time been like for you? How have you adjusted personally and professionally? And do you think we’ll see some permanent changes in the industry as a result?
So much of my identity is being an instructor and coach and there’s nothing like the energy in person. There’s no secret that it’s a drug, and not getting my daily dose of bossing people around and pushing their limits and telling them to do more and vibing with the music has been hard on me.
But it’s been an absolute blessing for my business. I helped people from home as a side hustle for almost 10 years and now that I am not mentally and physically fatigued from coaching, I’ve been able to help others more from home. It’s not exactly the same, but it’s been a phenomenal place for me to leverage my skill sets in a different way and put more focus into the online/workout from WiFi business.
There’s nothing like the in-person experience and because we’re social creatures I don’t think that is going anywhere. Yes, we will operate differently. Expectations will be so much higher for cleanliness and people will be a lot less likely to come in when sick (definitely a good thing)! All in all I know it will be awkward. I miss high fives and hugs and not caring about anyone’s sweat because that’s what fires me up. However, I have faith this will force us to level up as an industry and as professionals and I’m here to evolve and grow.
What are some of the positive takeaways you’ve seen with yourself, your clients, etc during this time? What have been your biggest challenges?
A willingness to be open-minded and flexible. Because we’re all in this together, I’m finding there is more patience and understanding. I’ve also witnessed a change in people’s commentary for their reasoning behind working out or eating right. This pandemic is one more huge reason to do the things that keep you physically and mentally healthy. Life is hard right now so people need their outlets—that loss is secondary.
The biggest challenge for me is missing those who helped me feel at home. Being in my classes and helping others and firing them up is deep in my bones, so finding fulfillment and without the affirmation I was used to can get to me. Fortunately gratitude and immersing myself in online coaching and leaning into my team and doing what I can do at this time helps me forget about the current pause in everything I’ve come to love and need.
What are you most looking forward to doing when restrictions are relaxed? Any favorite spots in town you can’t wait to visit?
Kilroy’s, Flatwater, and the Piano Bar. I miss being silly with my friends. Also hugging my family—two months of not giving them hugs is wild. It’s one of my love languages. So I probably am looking forward to hugs most.
What’s your advice to someone who’s just starting on a fitness/wellness journey (or picking it back up after a long time) and feeling intimidated by it all?
Create a goal that fires you up! Look at each day as an opportunity to prove to yourself that you’ve got this. Take it a step at a time. You won’t be perfect. Anticipate that you will have slip-ups. But make it one meal instead of all day. Or one day instead of three is the kind of mentality needed to create sustainable results.
Find ways to make it less horrible like by incentivizing yourself or competing with friends and family. Do it outside. Do it to a crazy playlist. Make it a date with friends! It’s important to take all the help you can get and be open with what it might take to “get there” but also be open to what may make you happiest after all. Maybe it’s not the swimsuit you needed to fit into, it’s actually how good you feel each day and how much better of a person you become.
Finally, what’s your favorite at-home exercise?
I’m currently in a boxing and lifting program from Beachbody On Demand. I prefer to have great music and an energetic/educated top trainer tell me what to do. I may know a million ways to work out, but I need help making it as simple as possible so I can maximize my energy and my day. I like switching up my workouts every time I complete a program so as to keep it fresh and keep my body guessing. Right now it feels really good to punch, jab and box, I highly suggest it!
Abby Gardner is Indy Maven’s executive editor and she desperately misses hugs, too.