ALEXANDRIA - L.A. & NEW YORK
California born Alexandria Alava is a heart-centered young entrepreneur who calls NYC and Los Angeles home - when she’s not traveling around the world with her wellness clients, that is.
After receiving degrees in both Business Management and Communications from Syracuse University, she tried a variety of different roles and positions on for size before landing a dream gig managing Shaman Durek, and subsequently founding her fledgling management agency Esprit Papillon.
In her Community profile, Alex shares details of her upbringing in NYC, the confidence she gained from excelling at gymnastics at a young age, her foray into team sports - which resulted in a strong sense of team spirit that she carries with her today - as well as her favorite charities, routines, places, products and trends.
INSIDE/OUT: Where do you come from, where are you headed, what makes you vibrate?
ALEXANDRIA ALAVA: My name is Alexandria Alava. In regards to my ethnicity I’d like to say I am a super hybrid. But to simplify I am Spanish, Ecuadorian, European, African and Native American.
I have my own management company called Esprit Papillon which means ‘Spirit of the Butterfly’. I fully believe in physical, mental and personal transformations, as I myself am constantly transforming. What makes me vibrate is doing what I love. Sounds simple but it is not. I have had many jobs in the past, from working in advertising agencies, with media companies, television shows, and in retail. These jobs paid the bills but were not deeply satisfying. Quite honestly, it was doing the opposite. When you start going to work everyday and feeling drained, you know something needs to change. This is what I came to realize and decided to take a different path.
When I took my current job managing a shaman, I soon began to realize that helping people and watching their lives change for the better truly satisfies my soul. This work made me feel full; it felt like I had found my purpose.
Tell us about your career path. How did you come to be Shaman Durek’s manager? What does this entail? What’s it like working with a shaman?
I became Shaman Durek’s manager a little over a year ago. I am in charge of all his speaking engagements, negotiations, partnerships, sponsorships, marketing, his image and business decisions. I came to be his manager because he had an open position and my mother, his sister, told me about it. Yep, I am Shaman Durek’s niece as well. Working with him has been amazing and transformational. His message and healing modalities are helping people around the world. It is an honor to see how his messages and events impact people. This work with him, even inspired me to grow my own business and expand.
Within a year of starting to work with him, I was getting messages from more people asking if I would take on more clients. So I started Esprit Papillon. I work only with people whose characters and message I fully believe in. When you believe in something or someone, you want to share the message naturally. Currently, my focus is on individual clients and companies in the wellness space and, as an extension, the greater wellness community.
Where did you grow up? Where are you based now?
I was born in Northern California and moved to the hustling bustling city of New York when I was four years old along with my younger sister, mother and father. My family and I lived in Queens until I was eleven. And then my life turned upside down - or at least it felt like it at the time. First, my father came out as homosexual, resulting in my parents getting a divorce. And then, walking home from school one day I was assaulted by a group of older girls. I was seriously injured and had to be hospitalized.
My sister and mother moved back to California while I decided to stay and live with my father in New York. Shortly after, we moved together to Manhattan and that’s where I stayed until going off to college at Syracuse University where I graduated with two degrees, one in Business Management and another in Communications.
These days, I’m pretty much a nomad as I travel often for work. I’m currently in Los Angeles for a few months. From here I head to NYC, Norway and London. Then we’ll see!
What’s the first sport you ever practiced? And the first one that made you feel confident?
The first sport I ever practiced was gymnastics when I was 7 years old. And it was definitely a confidence booster. I was able to do flips, splits and all kinds of movements that I had no idea I would be able to do. It was both exciting and empowering for me. From there I became a rhythmic gymnast. I always felt amazing after my performances. I had to stop around the time I was 13 years old because it was too far to travel to practice every day from Manhattan.
Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
Physical education was not a central element of my identity at school. I went to a small Catholic high school for girls. All we had was basketball and volleyball. It wasn’t until I went to Syracuse University that I started getting into team sports. Sports were enormous there and the games brought us all together. Basketball games, in particular, provoked feelings of unity and camaraderie in me.
Are you a sports fan?
My favorite sports teams are the Yankees, The Patriots and the LA Lakers.
What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
Michael Jordan, Usain Bolt, Lance Armstrong, Serena Williams, Lisa Leslie and Mia Hamm.
Has your relation to sports/wellness as a child influenced your life now?
No. It’s more like the opposite: as I get older I am discovering and participating more in sports and wellness.
Spirituality is the willingness to evolve.
How would you define the relationship that New Yorkers have with the active lifestyle? Do you feel it always been this way?
From my experience, New Yorkers put work in first place and physical activity second. The main focus in NYC is hustling - getting to work and making money. New York is so expensive to live in; so it’s necessary to have a very strong work ethic there to survive.
However, there is an awakening going on. It is now ‘cool’ to be healthy. Influencers are now posting about new gyms, workout studios and classes. Celebrities are taking pictures and starting their own wellness brands. This has definitely influenced the culture in NY. There are so many studios opening and people are making sure they factor in their fitness routines. When I was in high school, l don’t remember people talking about going to the gym or healthy smoothies. Now, it is on trend to to all of this...and more.
I think that New Yorkers naturally have an active lifestyle. There are so many options for public transportation and mostly everything is in walking distance, so people love to walk around. Whether it is taking a walk downtown, to work, to the movies or a stroll in Central Park, people walk. Of course we have drivers and the rise of Uber, but compared to any other cities New Yorkers walk around the most.
In regards to beauty, New York is huge. With fashion week and the modeling industry alone, New York is a beauty hub. There are many makeup brands and products being released every day.
You travel a lot. How does the NY lifestyle compare with other places you have lived or visited?
In my opinion there is nothing like the NY lifestyle. New Yorkers have a very direct approach: they work hard and play hard. There are restaurants, bars, clubs, gyms and clothing stores on almost every block. Living in NYC provides easy access to pretty much anything you would like to do, buy or see. However, there is also certain ‘hardness’ to NYC compared to other places I know. Visiting places in Europe and in other states I have found that people are often more friendly when it comes to meeting new people and communicating. You can go in the subway every morning in NYC and take the same route with the same people and everyone will have their headphones on and not say ‘hello’ or acknowledge you.
What activities say ‘New York’ the most?
A stroll in Central Park, going to a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden, going to Giants Game at Metlife Stadium, watching the Yankees at the Yankee Stadium, watching an outdoor movie at Bryant Park, watching a broadway show, eating at amazing restaurants, going to happy hours at rooftop bars, taking yoga classes, and relaxing at AIRE Ancient Baths.
What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after training?
Before training, it is essential that I eat something. All of my trainers advise that we eat at least one hour before training. In my case, that consists of two hard boiled eggs and have a glass of orange juice and a glass of water. If I don’t eat, I feel depleted.
My training at the gym consists of weights and full body circuit training. I focus on strength building, fat loss, muscle building, functional movements and toning. After training I hydrate with electrolytes.
Another ritual I appreciate is being in nature. I love to be in and around water, I like to hike and generally spend as much time outdoors as I can. It recharges my body, mind and soul.
What lifestyle trends do see happening?
Currently, the active lifestyle in general is on the rise. This is great - I remember when many people did not consider yoga, meditation, or eating healthy to be that important. Veganism has definitely become more popular. I believe that people are making more conscious choices when it comes to food and what they are putting in their bodies. Now even social gatherings are becoming more healthy. In the past people only wanted to drink and go to happy hour. Now I see more people and my friends as well wanting to go to fitness classes together. Biohacking is also a trend. There are so many places offering cryotherapy, red light therapy and other methods to hack your body and stay healthy.
Are there areas would you like to see change?
I would like to see women’s health care improved. We are still so behind the times on this one. As women and procreators I think we should have the best healthcare in order to keep giving life and growing the planet.
What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
I recently discovered horseback riding. Very fun!
Your favorite health and wellness destinations?
Shape House, Pure Yoga, SoulCycle, Rumble Boxing, DEN Meditation LA, Ceremony Meditation LA, Inscape Meditation NYC, AIRE Ancient Baths and Upgrade Labs.
Are you involved in any charities or non-profit organizations?
I am involved with TreePeople to plant trees and help restore areas in California.
I am also involved with Lunch on Me, an organization founded by LaRayia Gaston and dedicated to ending starvation and providing healthy food and wellness opportunities for homeless people in Los Angeles.
Have you ever traveled for sports or wellness?
I travel around the world for different wellness events. Mostly festivals like RA MA Festival, MindbodyGreen Revitalize, The Movement, BioHacking Conferences and more.
When do you feel that you are part of a sports or wellness community?
I feel that I am part of a community when I start recognizing and sharing many of the same beliefs as people around me. When you realize OMG we literally want the same thing and want to spread the same messages. Which is mainly saving the planet and people in it and educating people about healthy alternatives.
Are exercise and self care the new social/nightlife?
I would say they are now a part of social life and quickly becoming a priority for most people.
Do sports or physical activities impact your eating habits?
Yes, I used to eat terribly. Whenever I wanted, I would order food from restaurants, often fried and salty. As soon as I started eating cleaner and healthier, I started feeling more energized.
How do you strive to find balance between different areas of your life?
I create balance in my life by managing my time. I allocate my day with specific times for fitness (usually early morning), for work and to meditate. After a certain time in the evening, I always unplug and give my body/mind time to rest and recharge.
What does empowerment mean to you? Thoughts on feminism?
I think empowerment is when we are ALL empowered. We should all have the freedom to do what we want to do. I fully believe in feminism. I think women need to support each other to go further together. However, I also believe that we cannot neglect the male aspect. We need to all join forces together in order to make change.
TIPS AND ADDRESSES
1 tip to improve performance: Sleep more! So many of us are not getting enough sleep. You don’t realize how important sleep is for your overall health and even your memory.
1 trainer or practitioner: Dr. Will Cole
1 app: ClassPass (so awesome it has workout classes, meditations, and biohacking centers involved)
1 podcast: Ancient Wisdom Today with Shaman Durek
1 book: The Alchemist: A Fable About Following Your Dream by Paulo Coelho
1 food address: Whole Foods
1 beverage: Kombucha
1 inspiration: Dave Asprey of Bulletproof fame
1 woman we should interview and why: Princess Märtha Louise of Norway is women’s empowerment leader, princess and author. And Morgan Iynzi who has her own podcast called Well Damn and hosts wellness events for the LA community called Wild Night In.