Active in sports from an early age, Lefkowith's athletic talent earned her a tennis scholarship to Boston University. Following graduation, she began working at her dream internship in a sports information office, but quickly realised that her true calling was to work directly with athletes to help them achieve their fitness goals. Immersing herself in research on diet and exercise, and combining lessons from her own fitness journey, Lefkowith soon created the Redefining Strength program. As a certified personal trainer, her goal is simple: to help clients at skill levels develop a fitness routine that allows them to "work smarter not harder."
Redefining Strength has made a name for itself by creating exercises and challenges that are accessible to all individuals, whether they are a seasoned athlete seeking muscle definition or a grandmother needing more energy to keep up with her grandkids. The signature programs include Master The Deadlift, The 30 Day Pull-Up Challenge, The Booty Burner Challenge, The 6 Week Macro Shred Diet, 21 Day RStoration, The Arm Burners, and The 30 Day Killer Core. With the hectic lifestyle of many of her clients in mind, Lefkowith also created Workout Card Decks that allow people to keep the exercises from each program at their fingertips while on the go, and The Booty Burner DVD, which highlights quick 5 minute workouts that cater to even the busiest fitness enthusiast. The benefits of Redefining Strength have not gone unnoticed and her fitness tips have been featured on SELF Online, MindBodyGreen, and Thoroughly Thriving to name just a few. The brand has also built a large fanbase with over 404,000 Facebook followers, 36,000 Instagram followers, and over 226,000 subscribers on its popular YouTube channel.
In her quest to expand Redefining Strength, Lefkowith opened a gym of the same name in Costa Mesa, California where clients can feel comfortable and supported as they work through her programs. She also offers different classes each day, along with personal training for those seeking individualised instruction.
Question: What originally inspired your passion for fitness?
Cori Lefkowith: My mum not only inspired my passion for fitness, but continues to inspire me every day. She proves you can be a beastette at any age! She started me on my fitness journey when she took me out on the tennis court at the age of three. She said it was more fun than playing Barbies and I believe her! I also used to watch her do Jane Fonda workouts at home, lifting weights when it wasn't really popular for women to do so. She inspired me to not only want to work out and train hard but enjoy pushing my body to new limits and building strength.
Question: What sort of fitness goals should we be setting for ourselves?
Cori Lefkowith: Most of us start a new diet or exercise program because we want to lose weight or improve our health. And while those goals are great, we want to make sure we are setting measurable goals as well as the habit goals that support those ultimate goals.
Too often we set these vague goals that don't really give us much direction. So the more you can put a number on things and even create performance goals for the gym, the better your odds are of achieving your ultimate goal while creating a sustainable lifestyle.
Also, setting goals that help you create habits, if you want to change your diet, a habit goal could be logging your food each day. If you log your food all week, celebrate that habit change as a victory.
Too often we wait until we've reached our ultimate goal to celebrate, but celebrating the changes we know will add up can help us keep moving forward!
Question: What advice do you have for those of us who want to achieve a specific fitness goal?
Cori Lefkowith: Plan and track!
Too often we randomly string things together. We train really hard, we try to eat well....
But we aren't following consistent and specific guidelines. We also aren't tracking what we are actually doing.
If you create a plan you can track, you can record details about your workouts and diet and really see what is and isn't working. From there you can make changes as you go.
A plan and tracking also provides accountability to keep us moving forward even when life tries to get in the way!
Creating a plan that is even just a 30 day plan and then track daily what you're doing can help you stay committed, even if you want to make long-term changes!
Question: How can we continue to motivate ourselves, to achieving our fitness goals, as the year progresses?
Cori Lefkowith: I think celebrating even those small victories is key because that initial motivation fades quickly.
We need to pause and recognize our successes no matter how small because they show we're making progress. We are often quick to move on to the next goal when we've succeeded but tend to dwell on the failures that then derail our success.
It's why tracking, so you can see the progress as it adds up is key.
Also, find a support group or trainer. On those days you feel down or have a setback, it can be nice to have someone there to remind you that you aren't alone and help you pick yourself back up!
Question: How can we learn to work smarter not harder?
Cori Lefkowith: The first step to training smarter is realising that you don't need an hour in the gym or to go to extremes to get results.
We've gotten this attitude that more is better. Harder is better.
But harder doesn't mean that your workouts and your diet are all perfectly focused on your goals.
Feeling destroyed after your workouts and super sore the next day doesn't guarantee you results unfortunately.
Create a plan and find someone to guide you if you are unsure of where to start.
Remember that everything in that plan should be focused first and foremost, on your goals - not just on making you work hard.
This is also why I've created many of my workout plans, like my Workout Card Decks. I wanted clients to not only have the workouts they need to get results, but also learn the WHY behind creating a proper training routine!
Question: What advice do you give clients who have just started Personal Training sessions?
Cori Lefkowith: Make sure you really communicate with your trainer. Be honest and open about your goals and make sure to tell your trainer how you're feeling.
While we trainers are slightly psychic (just kidding...but seriously), we can't fully read your mind so your open and honest communication helps us help you get the most out of the sessions.
And then trust the process.
You may decide a routine or a gym or a trainer isn't the right fit for you after, but truly give the plan a chance to work. Commit 100% to the implementation if you want to make a change and reach a new goal.
After, you can decide if it was the right fit for you or not, but if you don't commit 100% you won't ever know!
Question: Can you tell us about your new gym?
Cori Lefkowith: I have a 5 year old child now!
Every day is a learning experience with the gym as the industry grows and changes.
However, there is nothing like getting to work with people hands on and even train other trainers to be able to grow their own businesses!
I love the atmosphere of small group training classes in the functional fitness setting. I love helping my clients achieve any goals they set their minds to, from achieving that first pull up to completing their first obstacle course!
Question: What inspires you to train, every day?
Cori Lefkowith: Honestly, that feeling of empowerment you get from doing just a little bit more than you could do the day before. I love the challenge and the learning that comes from training and tracking my workouts.
I love finding new ways I can program for clients to help them reach their goals.
And my clients keep me extra motivated to stick to my plan even on those days I may just not feel like it.
I'm a big believer in practicing what I preach...so if I'm going to ask clients to overcome their excuses, I've got to be able to do the same!
Question: What would we find in your gym bag?
Cori Lefkowith: A lacrosse ball, my booty bands and sliders.
I take these tools with me whenever I travel so I can get in a workout no matter where I go! The lacrosse ball especially is great after a long travel day to loosen up those tight muscles.
Question: What's a typical day like for you?
Cori Lefkowith: I always start my day by walking Kiwi around a park near our house with Ryan.
Then some coffee while checking emails or, as often as I can, I get a sea salt coffee (YUM!) and sit out in the sun with Ryan and talk.
I'll then work out and do some more work before lunch. After lunch we'll play pool, I'll do some more work, creating programs, and then we'll walk Kiwi again before dinner.
After dinner Ryan and I will relax...and all too often, binge watch a show!
I love taking little mini breaks throughout the day to mentally refocus and relax. If I'm in a groove I can keep working for hours, but if I'm not focused, I find getting up and doing something else actually makes me so much more productive in the end!
Interview by Brooke Hunter