Ashley Baldwin @ashley_tqhqigong - Qigong instructor by daphne youree

Meet Ashley Baldwin @ashley_tqhqigong -a qigong instructor and holistic lifestyle educator in Thailand. Here’s her incredible journey:
“My story is pretty simple. Growing up, I was surrounded by strong women, women who fought hard to earn positions of power and leadership. From their experiences, I absorbed the lesson that we live in a "man's world," that women need to go above and beyond, proving their super-intelligence, fierceness, and ultra-competence to get what they want.
I never liked that. I usually stayed quiet, looping my way through the mainstream system in alternative ways, instead of fighting for my place in it. Whether due to my recklessness or some seriously roundabout inner-wisdom, I tumbled through a series of accidents that landed me in Thailand, where I've been studying a form of medical qigong the past three years. And actually, that alternative environment is where I am learning to become a leader -- without fighting.
Teaching men and women requires different skills. Some of what I do looks like martial arts, but its purpose is completely different. The motions are never motivated by anger, fear, or panic. Instead, you learn that your body is strongest, can gain the most momentum and force, when it is relaxed. And to have a relaxed body, you need to have a relaxed mind.
Men usually struggle with this more than women. It's not a judgment. It's just my experience. I enjoy teaching people that it's not muscles and brute force that makes a motion strong, but the precision, timing, and skillful effort that comes with relaxed mental clarity. There's no greater confidence-booster than being able to gain strength from calmness, rather than anger or fear.
When you cultivate habits of healthy motion with a relaxed mind, through punching, defending, whatever, you're set to handle a whole lot of other real life situations. Your body becomes a microcosm of the world. You learn that when you react with anger or complete tightness to stress -- that's when you lose your power. And for women, knowing a little self-defence doesn't hurt, either.”


Alicia Archer @kinkysweat Dance, Movement, & Fitness by daphne youree

Here is the story of @kinkysweat - Alicia Archer. I met her while shooting her for We hit it off right away and I plan on working with her as much as possible. She's a phenomenal woman!!!! Here is her journey:

"MY FLEXIBILITY STORY Where do I begin—I feel like I’ve been stretching my entire life.  When I accomplish one goal, another is ready to take on.  It remains a process, and the flow of work and discipline is never-ending.

The most profound memory from my timeline is when I slid into my first front split…on the right side! It was during a blackout we had one summer.  I was DEAD SET on getting my front and middle splits by the end Alvin AIley’s Summer program—this was around 2003. I’ve been stretching everyday for months, and felt as if I hit a plateau.  I was’t getting more flexible, I suck, why is this so hard…the usual unhealthy dialogue.  Despite having zero electricity, I still made myself stretch.  Then it happened—I did my warmup, attempted a front split, AND MY HIPS TOUCHED THE FLOOR!  It was so surreal, I thought “Is this happening?!?!” Happiness can be recognized, felt, accepted in several ways—getting my hips to touch the floor was one of them.  

After that major accomplishment, I didn’t stop—I was afraid if I did, that I would lose my splits forever! I still didn’t get my middle.  Middle splits have been excruciatingly painful for me.  I am 33 years old—it took me 10 years to ease into a middle split without feeling like my hip sockets were going to burst.  

Come 2007, I started working as a front desk associate at Equinox, and just graduated with a BFA in Dance from Fordham University/The Ailey School.  Before I was introduced to the world of fitness, I only knew Ballet, Horton, and Modern several times a week.  And the only fitness we cross trained with was Pilates, yoga, and floor barre.  I met my weaknesses face to face on the day Kirsten showed me a chaturanga low pushup position.  I could not for the life of me, figure out how someone could push themselves up without dying.  BEYOND ME! I remembered that moment when I took my first group fitness class—If I were to say that my life flashed before my eyes, it would be on the lighter side of exaggeration HA! I didn’t realize how weak I was—how much upper body strength I lacked. From then on for the next 2-3 years, I went group fitness crazy and turned into a two class a day fiend. I dove in when I began to feel stronger and felt accomplished when I pushed out one more rep or stayed in a sprint for the whole 30 seconds.  These changes became addictive, and it was as if I was earning daily medals!

Despite my class obsession, I missed dancing and always wanted to try aerial silks.  I finally signed up for an intro class at Body and Pole, and boy did my life change!  I was met with a whole new agenda of skills I wanted to accomplish!  It was no longer about abs or a lifted booty—it was getting an overspilt and an immaculate backbend!  Funny how I was aesthetic obsessed for a long period of my life.  I didn’t think twice about building a skill, improving my flexibility, and movement mechanics. I didn’t think of those as goals!  Now it’s all I think about and work on a daily basis. I attended as many flexibility classes as I could and moved onto working with contortion coaches.  

I was back in stretch mode at a whole different level.  I am doing things I couldn’t come close to as a 20 year old.  I am 33, and don’t plan on stopping anytime soon! Whatever you want to accomplish, know it should be for yourself and no one else!  If your friends and co-workers think it weird, then oh well.  If you want to perform, or just keep training it’s all a collaborative effort to keep rising. Anything is possible, and if there’s one thing I would never regret is not giving up on myself." - Alicia Archer


Bianca Muniz- Musician @bperformer by daphne youree

Bianca Muniz @bperformer and I met at @4freedomspark on a super cold and beautiful day. What a gorgeous woman inside and out. I was thrilled to get to know her and hear her journey!
. "My name is Bianca Muñiz. I’m a 23 year old singer and songwriter battling cancer for the second time. When I was 11 years I was diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. I had my right ovary removed, multiple scans, surgeries, and had six months of chemo. I was in remission for about ten years until I was diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2016 at the age  of 22. I had a double mastectomy, 16 rounds of chemo, and I finish herceptin and perjeta in April 2018.
I have a rare genetic mutation called TP53 which can cause any type of cancer.
I don’t let cancer scare me or stop me from living my life and pursuing my goals and dreams. Instead, I use it as inspiration and motivation to work harder towards what I want."


Paige More @paige_previvor- Founder & CEO of @the_breasties by daphne youree

I met Paige @paige_previvor via Instagram. Instant LOVE for this woman. She is such a strong, courageous and beautiful woman inside and out. She helps so many others, including myself.  I look forward to many more shoots with Paige!!!! ✨✨✨✨
Here's her powerful journey which she wrote last fall, its not quite up to date. I am a little behind on my blog postings :)-

 "In the months leading up to my preventive double mastectomy, I spent the majority of my free time training. The same way people train for races, I trained for my surgery like it was a marathon. It was the only way I was able to feel like I was in control of my body, because once I tested positive for the BRCA 1 mutation I felt like my body no longer belonged to me. I immediately rejected my breasts because I felt like they were ticking time bombs ready to kill me. For two years I struggled with the decision to have surgery. Was I making the right choice? Was I ready? Nothing in my life has ever really stressed me out, I usually can take things in stride, but for the first time I was riddled with anxiety and fear. Every time I looked in the mirror I thought, 'Is today the day I’m going to get cancer? Is today the day I’m going to find a lump?' I knew I could no longer live like that and I knew I wanted to go from being a worrier to a warrior. Once I set the date for my surgery I asked my doctors if there was anything I could do to prepare and I asked if working out and eating healthy would help in my recovery, but they told me I was fine and that it wouldn’t make a difference. What?! Working out isn’t going to make a difference? I didn’t listen to them. Instead I ramped up my workout routine and tried to eat healthy every day. Incorporating  interval workouts, alternating between cardio intervals and intense workouts for my abs, arms and legs really made a huge difference for me. Each workout, I pushed myself to hold my planks a little longer, run a little farther, and work a little harder. When it was finally time for my surgery, I felt stronger than ever. After my surgery, my doctors were amazed by my results and recovery. They said that I had changed their minds about getting fit before surgery and that they would now encourage their other patients to do the same. I felt so alone when I was making the decision to have a preventative double mastectomy. I didn’t have anyone who understood what I was going through and I didn’t want other women to ever feel as alone as I felt so after my surgery. I made a vow to help as many other women as possible and I created the @paige_previvor account to document my recovery and create a platform for other women to see that they too can make this decision and feel empowered and sexy. Since my surgery I have spent less time working out and so much time talking with other women who are in similar situations. For the past 8 months I have thought to myself, 'Would I rather spend an hour at the gym or spend an hour helping another person go through this?' But now that I have my exchange surgery scheduled, I know I need to get myself as mentally and physically strong as I was before my preventative double mastectomy. It hasn’t been easy getting back into the swing of things and I have found it hard to motivate and push myself. I was at the height of my physical abilities before my surgery, so its been discouraging how weak I feel now that I have lost so much upper body strength. But I know that this is something I need to do, and I am ready to get back to warrior mode."


Nadia Kennison @nadiakennison - Unicyclist by daphne youree

My Niece Nadia is a self taught Unicyclist. Her skills are beyond impressive. If I had more time I would have photographed her Unicycling with her sister on her back!!! Next time. Here is her journey: 

"I’ve been unicycling for a little over a decade, or about half my life. I started when I was around eleven years old. It took me three days to learn how to ride. The first day is just balancing yourself on the damn thing. The second day is falling ten thousand times, and the third day you actually go forward more then a few feet. I didn’t learn alone, I learned at the same time my two sisters and cousin learned. So we all had the ability to ride around but we never went further with the skill. As the years went on, I rode less and less, and once I got a car, my unicycle lived in my trunk, really only riding it to prove to someone that I could, or just as a fun party trick. 

I started working in security, basically sitting in a room for an eight hour shift, staring at five hundred cameras. Every two hours, I would get a fifteen minute break, and for the first year and half, I spent those breaks doing nothing. Sitting in my car, scrolling on my phone, just staring at a small screen as a break from staring at big screens. One day on break, I decided to unicycle around the parking lot, and it was amazing. So, I did it the next break and the next one, and the following days. For awhile that’s all I had, was fifteen minute rides every so often.

I ended up losing my job and all my friends because of bullshit (I’m not even going to go into that for the sake of a (somewhat) short story), and I was in a really bad place. I had nothing to do with my days, and almost no one to lean on, so I started unicycling for hours every day. I unicycled until my legs would scream for me to stop, but I would keep going. I realized why I was unicycling so much, and why I even unicycle to this day. One, unicycling is a very freeing feeling, and people can argue this, but to me, it feels like flying. Two, it silences the hive in my head. It feels like I have ten thousand bees in my head, each bouncing around with a different thought, never stopping. Except when I unicycle. When I’m riding my mind is just blank and I’m free. Even if I decided to stop learning new tricks today, I don’t think I would ever stop riding. It’s just too perfect of a feeling, and honestly, who would ever want to stop flying?"


Alanna @Lanzie @soccergrlProbs ✖️Strength & Conditioning Coach | Trainer 📍Long Island, NY - Nike Ambassador by daphne youree

Alanna is one of the three amazing women of @soccergrlprobs  WWW.SOCCERGRLPROBS.COM

Here is Alanna @lanzie_from @soccergrlprobs incredibly inspiring journey.

"We as human beings can only control so much. But there’s this thing we all posses, called the power of one. And as small as it may be, I’m going to use mine to the most of my ability. I want to constantly make the world a better place if I can, and I truly believe the way I am meant to do that, is through the connection I establish with the kids that I train.
One of the most important lessons of survival that I’ve learned throughout life is: find healthy outlets. Sports and my college soccer team specifically was my outlet for everything in life. It was how I got through the death of my father, and one unfortunate event after another. I think every kid at some point in their life needs a place they can go to where they shut off all the bad things going on and focus on bettering themselves as an athlete and human being.
There's too much negative influence around us, too much societal pressure, too much criticism, too much focus placed on all the wrong things. Amongst all this negativity, what we often forget is that we all have the opportunity to be the best part of someone’s day and we don’t even realize it half of the time. As a Strength and Conditioning Coach, I want to make sure every athlete I interact with can walk out the door feeling better about themselves in some aspect. I could have a kid in class who hasn’t heard a single positive thing said to them the entire day; not from their parents, not from their teachers, not from other kids at school. So I will always make note of something positive, even if it's only something small and meaningless to the outside person. These repeated increments of self-confidence, whether small or big, can accumulate over time and change the way someone carries themselves through this life. You never know what happens outside the walls of the room you are in when you are interacting with someone; you don’t know what they go home to or other problems they are dealing with. But if I can take my power of one and use it make someone feel more comfortable and confident with themselves, then that’s exactly what I’m going to set to do."


Carly Beyar ➵ @carlybeyar CoFounder, SoccerGrlProbs ➷ NIKE Ambassador ➸ Holistic Health & Wellness Coach by daphne youree

I such an inspiring time meeting this amazing woman @carlybeyar  - co founder of @soccergrlprobs - here is her journey:

"My journey began when I started playing at 3 years old. My mom was a single parent, but managed to drive me & my sisters to every single one of our soccer practices, games & tournaments. I spent most of my middle school years traveling two hours to soccer after school & on weekends. After switching teams, my family moved to Long Island where me and my sisters continued playing for our respective high school, ODP and Albertson Fury teams. It was safe to say that we dedicated our lives to the sport that we loved! 

All thanks to my mom, who showed me the full meaning of commitment and hard work; During my Junior year of High School, I committed to Fairfield University where I played on the women’s soccer team 2010-2014. My dream to play D1 soccer came true! But the excitement didn’t end there… 

I met Alanna & Shannon on my team and little did we know that we would soon be business partners and CoFounders of SoccerGrlProbs, all while in college. We are still working together to empower female athletes every single day through hilarious social content, relatable apparel, panels, Q&As, appearances and more. We are so blessed to be able to make such an impact on the soccer community; it’s our way of giving back to the sport that has shaped us to be the people and business partners that we are today. 

More recently, I became a Certified Holistic Health Coach with my sisters and created a side gig called @Balancedbeyars where we empower clients to “love themselves back to health” through REAL FOOD! Overall, I feel that it is my calling to empower others and I am ecstatic and blessed that I can do so with my careers."
#ladyballers #SoccerGrlProbs #nikesoccer


SHANNON FAY ▪️CoFounder of SoccerGrlProbs ▪️Holistic Health Coach ▪️Tier II Equinox Personal Trainer ▪️Nike Ambassador by daphne youree

I had a few amazing shoots with @SoccerGrlProbs!  Shannon @ladyfayy is one of the 3 awesome women. So energetic, fun and beautiful... I'm also obsessed with their t-shirts. Here is her story:


"From grade school all the way to college I had been insecure about how I looked always comparing myself to others and hating my big soccer legs. It wasn't till after college when I moved to NYC that I decided to stop comparing myself to anyone else but me. I embraced my athletic body and soccer legs. My soccer legs bring me every day to work, to practice, around the city. They help me get through my marathons, bike rides to Montauk and soccer games. Our mission at soccergrlprobs has always been to "empower female athletes to be comfortable and confident in their own skin" and it wasn't until I could finally be comfortable and confident in my own self and love myself that I realized the power of our mission and how it really can make a difference in someone's life." .


Bethany C. Meyers @bethanycmeyers - Trainer by daphne youree

I met Bethany @bethanycmeyers during one of her classes. Her style and technique were amazing and so new to me. I honestly was floored by the whole experience. I basically begged her for a photo shoot and was thrilled that she agreed. We had such a fun time running through the the NYC subways..... Here is Bethany's story.  Also, check out this link to sign up for her January  be.come project:

  • "I’ve never considered myself a fitness instructor. Sure, on paper that’s what you would call me — but for me, what I do runs much deeper than just teaching classes. Don’t get me wrong, I love my classes. I love injecting knowledge and energy into people. I love that I can affect their mood, their presence, their stature. I love knowing I have the ability to make a difference. But my heart for this line of work runs much deeper. 
    When a client comes to see me, they think they are visiting my world to flatten their abs and trim their thighs. I often wonder, if someone doesn’t see results in a matter of one session - hell, even five sessions - if they don’t suddenly have a six pack and twig legs, why do they keep coming back? After all they didn’t technically get what they signed up for. 
    What they don’t know is they are actually coming to me to feel. I’m not just talking about feeling muscles, I’m talking about feeling accomplished, strong, confident, capable. That is my job. I create an emotional awakening. So, while they may think they see me weekly to get fit, I know they see me weekly to get their fix. 
    Once I understood this, my entire approach around my brand changed. I knew that what I had to share moved way beyond the body and landed in the soul. It became important to share other aspects of life. I began to talk about my past eating disorders, the importance of feminism, how modifications are not a symbol of weakness, my sexuality and the political landscape that we live in. To me, all of these are just as important as teaching the correct way to do a lunge. 
    My workout - the be.come project - is now moving to an at-home version and I couldn’t be happier knowing that soon I’ll be able to evoke this emotion into people all over the world. What started as routines in a studio will now be accessed by a much broader audience. The backbone of this business has and will always be about the person who wants more out of their movements. The people who want to feel, the people who want to express. The people who will soon see that exercise is so much more than what they ever imagined."

Julia @jujumagic1 - Dancer by daphne youree

Julia was the most incredible Les Mills body-pump instructor - a big reason is her dance knowledge. She taught us to really feel our bodies!!! Her true passion and talents are in her dancing. Beautiful dancer and beautiful woman ⚡️⚡️⚡️⚡️Here is her story: 

 "I think every human was born to dance in the most basic sense if the word; meaning we were born with the capability to process emotions and fire our neurons to manifest these elusive feelings into physical movement. 
Its science, its not a debate. We, as a species, move out of necessity the same way a bird or a whale or a lion does.
But unlike animals, humans have an added layer of emotion. 
We have an innate responsibility to physically manifest those emotions. Expressing our emotions through physical movement is just as necessary as flight is to a bird, leaping is to a whale, and sprinting is to a lion. 
Haven't you noticed some of your best workouts happen when you are especially emotional? Truly, physical fitness and mental health go far more hand-in-hand that I think a lot of people realize. If you are not taking the time to process your emotions, there's usually lack of physical movement as well. 
We see this all the time in gyms as trainers and group fitness instructors; those people who work out because they want to and work out because they have to. Those who work out because they want to are usually, in general, happier and more at peace with themselves. I think that the best Catalyst to achieve your ultimate physical fitness is better mental Fitness."




SoccerGrlProbs @SoccerGrlProbs - Empowering #Ladyballers by daphne youree

I headed to Roosevelt Island to meet up with @soccergrlprobs  Alanna @lanzie_  Shannon @ladyfayy  Carly @carlybeyar to take some 📷 !!!! It felt like 100 degrees! We all had sweat pouring down our faces! Felt like the hottest day of the summer. They were so amazing and got through the shoot with such positive energy! My boys who are huge soccer fans came along. They were so psyched to meet these awesome women. These women have influenced so many young girls around the world, keep up the great work!!!!

"We are three former Division-1 soccer players and teammates who have made it our mission to empower and inspire the idea of a strong, positive, confident female athlete who is comfortable in her own skin. Being female athletes our whole lives, we have felt and experienced the societal pressures placed on females in today's world. Females have been made afraid to be "too strong", or "not pretty enough", or "too rough", or "not skinny enough". It's time for all the stigmas to end. It has taken us each some time, but we've learned what it feels like to be confident and comfortable with ourselves; to have a strong inner foundation that doesn't care to be different and to be proud. This is what we want to share with the world. We want to empower young girls who are growing up playing sports like we once did. We make an honest effort every single day to embrace our problems, laugh at ourselves daily, and be proud of what makes us female athletes. And through doing this, and being as genuine and real as we possibly can be, we hope to lead the way through @SoccerGrlProbs, for others to do the same. Never hide what makes you stand out in the world."


Katie Stosic Machin @dreamsituations- Muay Thai @renzogracieacademy by daphne youree

I had a fantastic shoot with Katie @dreamsituations ! I loved hearing her story and feeling her energy... such an awesome woman - from styling photo shoots to training Muay Thai! I was even inspired to take a Muay Thai class at @renzogracieacademy- so incredible and so hard....Here is her story:

"I have been doing some form of sport my entire life. I grew up playing soccer, I dabbled in track & field, but after college I was sport-less and started the life of being in the gym trying to get my fitness on through weights, cardio machines, and the occasional group class. When I met my husband, he was (and still is) a Jiu Jitsu obsessed, super healthy, and noticeably humble guy. I was going to a “regular” gym everyday and loving how I felt, but he kept trying to convince me that Jiu Jitsu was the way. Even though the benefits he experienced through training were appealing, I was not convinced- But his academy, Renzo Gracie, also offered Muay Thai. That seemed like something I would enjoy, so I tried a class and was instantly hooked. It was my first time trying a martial art, and it was so fulfilling and humbling to have to start from the ground up with something. To be a true new comer, like I was, caused something inside of me to wakeup. I found something that challenged me, that I could grow and get better at, I gained team mates, I didn’t even know I was missing being part of a team until then! I had to truly become a student. And bonus, my level of fitness resulting from training Muay Thai surpassed anything I could do on my own at the gym. Not only that, but my cognitive learning was switched on, I had to pay such close attention in class- It became a form of meditation for me, it was one of the only places I could truly be present at for an entire hour. 
A year into Muay Thai, I finally stepped to the other side of the cage and tried jiu jitsu.I think by my second class, I was just as obsessed as my husband who had been training for years. In jiu jitsu, there are literally endless moves, submissions, attacks, I am using literally in the correct way here. (I think)…. It’s like chess, but with your body, there’s a counter to every move you make. Something else I love about martial arts, besides the challenge, joy, and sometimes insanity (the good kind) it can bring, is that there is no ego on the mat. No one knows what your job is, how much money you make, your relationship status, how “cool” you are. We are all in the same uniform, on a level playing field- except the players that know more, they will kill you. Not literally kill you, but you will be DEMORALIZED, which is important for gaining humility and knowledge.
One of the many developments in my life since starting training martial arts is that I have made a career move from the fashion industry and into the field of fitness. Exercise and sports have always helped me improve myself, and now I get to help others work towards their better selves. Not to make it sound so profound, but challenging ourselves, trying something new, pushing yourself to your physical and mental limits, getting a healthier, more abled body, it really does bring you closer to your higher self. We are capable of so much more than we know. I used to think I couldn’t do ___, because I’m not _____ enough, (fill in the blanks with the fear of the day) but training martial arts has given me a new insight into what my body and mind can do. No fear."

Valentin @valentinadjokicnyc Middle School Teacher & Tennis enthusiast by daphne youree

My cousin Valentina is so amazing - by day she's a public middle school teacher and by night it's all Tennis💪Here is her story :

 " In Serbia, I was one of those girls who would always get in trouble for missing her ‘dusk curfew’ – I was all over town on my bike, on a playground inventing new ‘Olympic’ games, on a basketball court, pleading with older kids to let me play… in school, I was on a (European) handball team, a basketball team, in an afterschool dance program, signed up for ballet, but fell in love with modern dance… in college, I played volleyball, spent hours in a swimming pool, and a nearby gym… until Aikido… until a big move from Belgrade to New York… and Bootcamp – literally and figuratively… I had to be strong, mentally and physically… as for the latter, I had to accept the fact that, although I’d always been ‘athletic’, I’d never really confined myself to any one particular sport or activity and excelled at itL… I tried not to be too hard on myself – I felt strong, I stayed in shape, and that’s ok…… and then, I got my first tennis racquet… one might think, like I did, that hitting a ball with a racquet (as long as it goes over the net, I figured) is a piece of cake… I didn’t care for lobs or volleys or smashes or drop shots… Had I gotten that racquet earlier, maybe… but now – it’s too late… I could have, I should have… but then I tackled it like a pro! I took tennis lessons, I joined the tennis community, found tennis partners online and on the courts… I made friends … tennis became a part of my life, a sport I was getting good at, but had a long way to go, a challenge, an inspiration… tennis has given me more than strength and stamina… when my tennis balls end up on another court, I call my fellow tennis players – by their name – to toss them back to me, and I hear my name called, too… I am a part of the community, I belong… I see red-tailed hawks fly over the courts, and stop the game to admire their beauty, I smell the linden flowers on my way to the courts, and lose myself in NYC blue skies on the way back home… I am not a tennis pro (yet!:-)), but am a 4.0-5.0 on the NTPR player ranking scale, which is irrelevant, as the tennis journey has taught me that it will never end… I can and will get better - and better, every time I hit that tennis ball and it goes over the net… and, yes, it’s (almost) ok when it doesn’t..."

Eva Hex - Gisel @gisel_florez - Roller Derby @gothamgirlsrollerderby_nyc by daphne youree

Eva Hex @gisel_florez is a roller derby player on @gothamgirlsrollerderby_nyc. I was thrilled when she agreed to have me photograph her for my @fem_forward project! The whole experience for me was phenomenal. I had no idea how hardcore the roller derby game is, she is so powerful and fearless! 👊 .

"From an early start athleticism has been a big part of my life. Ballet, gymnastics, equestrian riding, and running have been my major influences. After getting my BFA @ RISD, I fell in love with running. This led to trail running, which led to long distance, which led to Marathons, and at it’s peak, I had accomplished three 32k UltraMarathons. The work it took to get to that point gave a clear vision and understanding of how to accomplish dreams. My family started to grow, and just a few months after my second home birth, I felt the need to dedicate a moment back to the self. I learned how to roll on quad skates and worked up to tryouts for Gotham Girls Roller Derby. Here I was welcomed into a league of strong women and leaders who are always up for challenge. The excitement, speed and physical endurance help me to center and relax the frustrations inherent with being a Mother. The little ones get the Love, and the track gets the Fight. Jamming has kept me feeling my strongest and best. The inspiration and confidence this sport has brought is the biggest gift that I continue to share with all my family.” In the off time, Eva Hex can be found Vannin' with her family in their '74 Ford Econoline named “Van der Food". She lives and works as a still-life photographer in Williamsburg, Brooklyn."

Or @Orartzi - Fitness Trainer @equinox by daphne youree


Or @orartzi is a fantastic trainer @equinox - strong and beautiful inside and out💪🏼💪🏼. I took one of her classes at Equinox and WOW it was hard and amazing. Her energy is big and her heart is even bigger!!!! Here is her journey:

"I am 30 years old, and have been working at Equinox for almost two years. I originally started as a personal trainer at Equinox Brooklyn Heights, did both training and group fitness for a time, and recently switched over to group fitness full-time. The classes I teach include Barre (which I am most known for), Athletic Conditioning, Bootcamp, Cycling and their latest signature format, Firestarter.

Dancing is my first love. I am a professional dancer and like many others, I came to NY to live the American dream. Having put in many years of training in Israel, my journey here started at the Broadway Dance Center. Two years ago, I began to work for Casa Brazilia, one of the biggest samba dance companies in NY. Through them, I performed in the Road to Rio tour with the US Olympic team, Radio City Music Hall (NBC Upfront), The Today Show, and more. However the biggest adventure of all was my role as a "passista" in the celebrated 2017 Rio Carnaval with the Império Serrano samba school.

Fitness is my passion as well. Like all Israelis, I got to serve my country for 4 years in the Israeli Air Force. As an officer, you learn that working out is not just something to do for fun. Being fit can have an impact on your work performance and in some cases, your life can depend on it. I'm excited to see what the future holds for me. I want to be able to reach to more people and help them achieve their fitness goals (or fill up an hour in their day with some positive energy). And that starts with me becoming the best trainer I can possibly be."

Sophie Elgort - @SophieElgort Fashion Photographer by daphne youree

Recently I photographed @sophieelgort for my @fem_forward project. She's a dear friend who I've known for many years!  I've seen her grow from an awesome kid to an amazing woman!!! Her strength and accomplishments are incredible! Below are photos of Sophie, as well as Sophie with Tanja Kok @tanjakok a model from the Netherlands! Tanja is here filming a series for @styletoday_nl and she interviewed both of us for her web series, coming out soon!!!

Here is Sophie's incredible fitness journey: 

"My fitness story started young. I always played sports from as young as I can remember. I swam in the summers, skied in the winters, played soccer at school, went to adventure camp where I rock-climbed and kayaked. By the sixth grade I had joined the Asphalt Green swim team in NYC and had practice for that 5x a week and I was really fit - I could do the mile run at school in just over 6 minutes. In the 8th grade, I moved up to Vermont to pursue ski racing full time after having won Vermont state championships the season before while only training on the weekends. At that point, if you wanted to keep going you needed to train full time in order to compete and you had to train enough on dry land too in the off season to stay safe while at the high speeds going down the courses. At Green Mountain Valley School, the ski racing academy I attended, our schedule in the fall and spring included 2 hours of strength training per day and 2 hours of cardio training which I did playing soccer and road biking. In between, we had classes. In the winter, we trained on the hill in the mornings and had class in the afternoons into the early evenings. Then traveled for races every weekend. In the summers, we traveled to snow to train for at least three weeks and the rest of the summer we had to stick to a strict training schedule on our own. I ski raced through high school and I ended up racing for Brown University. At Brown, even though my training schedule felt light compared to in high school, in the off season we still had lifting at 6am 3x per week and dryland training every day from 4-6pm. During the season, we'd train Tuesdays and Thursdays on the hill from 7am - noon and schedule all our classes for the afternoons and evenings, often showing up still in our ski clothes coming straight from practice. We traveled to races every weekend. 
So when I finished my senior year season and didn't have a coach telling me to show up at training any longer, I definitely did not take it upon myself to work out. I was also used to being able to eat whatever I wanted and not gaining any weight because I was training so hard.  Almost right away I put on fifteen pounds and it wasn't until my second year out of college that I decided I needed to learn how to discipline myself to workout on my own in a way that was manageable, enjoyable and most importantly for me, sustainable. During that couple years off, I missed moving my body and working towards something physical. I also quickly realized that while training on my own made a big difference mentally, I had to change my eating habits too and that it would be a combination of both that would get and keep me in shape.

I think because I always had a coach and a team, I like working out in a group, like I used to with my teammates. I'm not good at going to the gym alone, so I love going to classes and especially making a plan to meet a friend for a class so we can do it together and then tacking something social to the end of it like a coffee or a drink. Then it becomes a social outing for me and not only am I accountable to show up for someone, but it's also enjoyable. I also love trying new things whether it's a new kind of dance class, or gymnastics class at Chelsea Piers. In off season training for skiing, we did obstacle courses, sprints, hiking, biking, soccer, gymnastics.. the list goes on, I guess it was to keep our bodies challenged and new muscles working. 
Now, in the seasons where it's warm enough to tolerate being outside, my husband and I like to take walks in the mornings on the water. We pick up a coffee on the way and start our days walking for about five miles before heading home to shower and go to work. We talked about running, but at the end of the day I realize that for me, if I'm doing something that I enjoy and look forward to, I'm much more likely to wake up early and do it every day than something that I'm dreading that I might do a couple times, but then quickly leave behind."

She's wearing and @outdoorvoices top and @the_upside pants....

Laura Siegle @lauralovessun- CrossFit Trainer @crossfitoutbreak by daphne youree

A few weeks ago I met Laura and her lovely dog Pina at CrossFit Outbreak on Grand Ave in Brooklyn! It was the first time I met her and her warmth and welcoming was amazing. I discovered she was a middle school teacher as well as one of the strongest women I've met!! Here is her journey :

"I grew up a female athlete. I trained to be faster and stronger than my opponents on the soccer and lacrosse fields (and my older brother)--whether it meant extra track workouts over the summer or drilling skills in the back yard. As a team sport athlete, I trained because I saw it as my responsibility to my teammates to be the best that I could be. To be better than our opponents, and better than I was the year before. A feminist from a young age (read: kicked out of playgroup for aggressive behavior), I reached adolescence despising images of stick thin female models because I knew they weren't strong. Aspiring towards a physically weak "ideal" woman was not progress.

After graduating from college, I knew I would be a lifelong athlete, but found myself without a team to play for, train for, compete for. When I started CrossFit during the summer of 2014, I learned a few things: 1) Despite a recent interest in running and the completion of two marathons -- which I saw at the time as the pinnacle of athletic achievement -- I was NOT fit in any comprehensive sense; 2) competing with myself to achieve personal goals I never thought possible, but in a team atmosphere, was addicting. CrossFit also exposed me to a whole community of seriously badass women; an environment in which women aspired to be strong--to lift more, move faster, and take care of their bodies so well that they could become capable of athletic feats they never thought possible. It was a place where women competed alongside men, and were revered for their strength and athleticism. When the owner of my gym approached me in early 2016, asking if I would be interested in training to become a coach, I agreed almost immediately. At the time, there were no female coaches on staff. I felt passionate not only about promoting the notion of strong women and female athletics in general, but about messaging to women that CrossFit was not about beefy men pounding creatine, but about men AND women becoming the strongest, most fit, and healthiest versions of themselves possible. In particular, for women it was a place where strong was sexy, and where we were about using the science of nutrition and muscle performance to push ourselves to achieve goals in strength and endurance--instead of an ideal weight achieved temporarily via a fad diet. 
As a middle school teacher, I had had a great deal of experience coaching kids, through both academics and athletics, but thought it would be a great challenge to try my hand at inspiring adults--often far less impressionable than your average pre-teen. 
CrossFit coaching has proved incredibly rewarding; while I will be the first to admit that I am nowhere near performing at the level of an elite athlete, like some of our other coaches, hearing a gym member tell me that I've inspired them in some way -- to push harder during a workout, to practice a particular skill after class, or make a new goal for themselves -- is inspiring to me. When it's a female member who tells me, I can't help but feel like I've had an even greater impact."

Jennie Nedell- Champion Kickboxer by daphne youree

I had an amazing shoot for my @fem_forwardproject with Jennie @kungfujenda! When she told me her inspiring story and her road to kickboxing we both agreed shooting her on the pitchers mound was perfect! A former junior Olympic pitcher now Pro Kickboxer! She's so inspiring and a beautiful person. Thrilled that I know her!!!!!! Can't wait to see her fight July 14th in #madisonsquaregarden .  Here is her journey:

Growing up I was always the son my father never had. But it also made me the champion I am today.

   I was a pitcher  on the high school team in Junior High and made my first Junior Olympic team at age 15. We traveled all over competing. Looking back, I could have made a run for the Olympics but I was also at the age where I thought I knew it all. Playing with the older girls I also thought I was on the same maturity level however that was not the case. I chose the wrong path and missed out on numerous opportunities and watched my talent waste away.

   I was 16 years old working in a bar until all hours of the night and one night got into a bad car accident.  One hundred and seventy five stiches to my forehead later, I knew it was time to grow up. It’s funny how all those “friends” that were there to party, weren’t there to pick my pieces up but my family was.

   I decided to go back to college, play ball and turn my ways and life around. I also started to kickbox to lose weight.  My dad was all for it and of course started to workout with me too. I was learning the basics when Louis Neglia called the gym I was training at looking for a female fighter to fill a spot on a fight card. I said hey why not. The only problem was that I had to lose 25 lbs and get skills together in a 3 week period before the scheduled fight.  I lost the weight and had my first victory! It was the most horrendous fight to watch but I accomplished it none the less.

   Later that night (gloves still on) I was already propositioned with another fight just a few weeks later. As exhausted as I was, I accepted. My second fight was against the current champion that they couldn’t find an opponent for.  I lost a close decision but my skillset started to develop.  I remember that night, my father came to me and said, if you want to do this, let’s do it the right way. Let’s get you to that softball level status in the kickboxing world. I knew with my dad helping me that I could reach my goals.

That was July 2001 and come September 11th, my life had changed forever. My father had just got a promotion and started to work in the World Trade Center.  When the first plane hit, my dad spoke to my mom. They told him to remain where they were and the tower 2 seemed secure. My dad saw people jumping from his 92nd floor. He old my mom he loved her and the phone hung up. That was the last we heard of my dad.

   Years later we were told he was last seen carrying an elderly employee on his back. Other coworkers saw him on the 77th floor carrying that man. The ones that passed him carrying that man, made it out, my dad did not.

   I took off a few years and wallowed in self-pity. I did stupid things and made poor choices.  I was a daddy’s girl and he was gone. I needed him but I needed to get back to me for him.  I was offered to fight on a paper view event for 9/11 and saw that as my sign to return. I vowed to fight the way my dad fought until his last breathe. I held several amateur champion titles with a record of 26-4-1. I turned pro in 2014 and my current pro record is 9-2 with two professional title belts.

   September 9, 2016, , 2 days before the 15 year anniversary of losing my dad, I fought on the undercard of GLORY 33. GLORY Kickboxing is the highest level a kickboxer can reach in their professional career. I make my return to GLORY Kickboxing July 14th at Madison Square Garden. I had always dreamed of fighting for GLORY. Now to be able to step thru those ropes again at the mecca of fighting in the garden, it is surreal. Just proof that anything is possible if you put your mind and heart to it!

#RoadtoGlory #BattleScarManagement #LouisNeglia #RayLongo#LAWMMA #Glorykickboxing

Elise Young @elisesbodyshop - an NYC fitness professional! by daphne youree


Elise Young  @elisesbodyshop is so incredible and so inspiring. I met her while shooting an adidas FitnessX event in which she lead the group in one of her fantastic training sessions - right away we clicked. I have since photographed her on a number of occasions, including her engagement photos to her amazing fiance Carmen @cperez_1!  I use her daily instructional videos at my gym and people ask what I'm training for, because they are so creative and HARD!  Also, during this shoot we realized we had the same awesome car- SAAB Convertible, mine 99 and hers a 2000- both experience the rain inside our cars :) Check her out at


Here is Elise's totally inspiring story:

I moved to NYC without a job 9 years ago. I quickly started personal training and worked 4 jobs to pay rent. I woke up early/stayed up late, hustled all over NYC. After a couple of years, things started to shift as I continued to follow my path in fitness. My confidence began to build, but I was still unsettled. A few years ago, I couldn't say my job outloud without my head down and mumbling "personal trainer" fearing rejection or that dreaded response, "but what's your real job?" I wasn't proud.I was unsure.I cared too much what others thought of me. I thought with a college degree, social acceptance in NYC meant working in Midtown or Wall Street and what I was doing was just a filler job.I was wrong.I didn't trust my heart or listen when it was screaming this is your passion, this is what you love. I was too focused on going everyone else's way and not my own. Over time, I got to a place where I was proud of my growth yet still lacking confidence.I decided to go to a therapist and when she asked me what I was doing there I said, "I want my mind to match my body. My interior must be as strong.I want my mind to be able to carry the same weight my body does." We worked endlessly.Today, I openly and proudly not only share my career but also who I am as a person.I don't live behind these fears of acceptance, the voices of I can't are minimal.I speak true to who I am and remain rooted to this very ground. I am a firm believer in authenticity. Don't post things I don't believe in myself, I shoot 99% of my own photos and videos by propping up my iPhone, write posts on crowded subway platforms, manage a full roster of high profile clients,teach bootcamp and work to reach as many of you through social media. I share this because I am often asked how I got started in fitness or how I stay fit. The paths are many and not without hardships and hard work. But the constants that resonate over and over again within me are clear; work hard, trust my heart, work on myself mind+body, believe in who I am, recognize the impact I have on those around me, don't take things for granted and wake up grateful. I am a firm believer ALL of this starts within and our work is #neverdone

Cristina - Miragem: Trains & Teaches Capoeira by daphne youree

Cristina to me is one of the strongest women I know- inside and out - she inspires me and my children on a daily basis!!!! She is my rock. We gym together, sweat together and laugh together! I am so proud of her! Here is her story : 

"I was not born to play capoeira.
Capoeira did not come easily for me.
I wake every day for nearly 20 years and chip away at the beast.
I’m a woman
I’m old
I’m getting fat
I’m a mother of 2
I’m busy
I’m not Brazilian
I have my period
It all makes such an incredible case as to why I should not even think I can compete in this game.
Fuck that.
I NEVER do what I’m told.
I will succeed just to spite the haters, the naysayers, and especially the inner voice who has tried to talk me out of so many amazing things.
I AM a capoeirista.
I don’t look like any one you have seen before because I am the first me.
I am the only me.
I Love you for reading this
because you appreciate radical women like I do too."