Lita Lewis is a personal trainer, life coach and retreat leader known globally as Follow the Lita. She grew up in Sydney, Australia, but was filled with wanderlust from a young age. At 23, she settled in Brooklyn, later continuing her westward migration to her current home: Los Angeles.
While in New York, she went through a period of depression that left her physically, mentally and emotionally depleted.
Over time, she intuitively developed a wellness tool box that allowed her to go from faking it to making it. The approach - combining self love, affirmations, visualization and intense physical training - eventually led to her coaching method and an impressive global following.
Read on to learn more about how, from her darkness, she helps other see the (and their) light.
INSIDE/OUT: Introduce yourself.
LITA LEWIS: My name is Lita Lewis, also known online as Follow The Lita. I exist in the health, fitness and wellness space where I encourage and motivate others to pursue becoming the very best versions of themselves using healthy practices. As an affirmational trainer and life coach I’ve built a brand and business around helping people define what healthy looks like for themselves, and rejecting the standards of health and beauty society expects of us.
How would you describe your genesis story?
I grew up in Sydney but knew at a young age that my surroundings were going to limit me. Although I speak highly of my childhood and upbringing and will always call Sydney my home, from the time I was in high school I started saving money and making plans to move abroad. I was determined to move to New York City where I would be more centrally located to travel the globe. At age 23, I packed two suitcases and bought a one-way ticket from Sydney to NYC. The lessons I have learned, the woman I would become and the ups and the downs shaped the woman I am now.
My mother was born to a Samoan father and Tuvaluan mother. My father is African American, born and raised in Kentucky. The two of them raised three girls in Sydney, Australia. I am the eldest of the three. My sister Larryn is 3 years younger and Liana is 12 years my junior. To this day, I consider them both my closest confidants and best friends.
For as long as I can remember my parents instilled in me a sense of responsibility since I was the oldest daughter. How important it was for me to always do the right thing and lead by example. In hindsight, I think that’s where Follow The Lita comes from. I took my role seriously and always moved through life with the intention of paving the way in the best light possible. I know now that my love for leadership stems from my childhood.
In 2017 I planted myself in Brooklyn, New York. I picked up a corporate gig where I flourished and worked directly for the founder and CEO. He was a fierce entrepreneur so I learned a whole lot from him. I also began dating my best friend at the time, a newly drafted professional football player. I dedicated almost 3 years to that relationship, but ended it due to infidelities and lies. I was devastated. Completely heart broken. The breakup came at a time of my also being grossly overworked, always stressed and not in great physical shape. All of these factors combined made for a steep uphill battle.
In a short period of time I lost almost 30 pounds, I didn’t look like myself, didn’t feel like myself and I carried a heavy sense of shame and embarrassment. Each time I walked out my front door, I forced myself to put on a fake smile. My thoughts about life got dark. I realized I was suffering from depression.
Six months later I had an awakening. I realized that I needed to deal with my depression. No more faking; it was time to find my ‘happy’ again and prioritize my health. The journey happened in two phases. The first was my physical health, I became addicted to the gym, spending hours each visit transforming my body. Secondly, I started to do some real work figuring out my mental, emotional and spiritual self.
In regard to physical fitness, the gym was an easy solution and working out provided a high that I craved daily.
Then my eat, pray, love chapter happened. I began to travel solo around the world, reading, practicing meditation and in daily prayer, writing down positive affirmations on post-its and sticking them all over my apartment. I created vision boards and daily mantras that I said as I looked in the mirror. Hiking, beaches and views where the sun would set became environments I needed to see and feel. Self-love and self-care consumed my life and everything else.
This journey of self-betterment felt so good I needed to share it. A friend of mine introduced to me this new app called Instagram. And there begins my story at Follow the Lita.
What do you do, how you do it and why?
I’m a personal trainer, group fitness instructor, health and fitness influencer and business owner. At home in Los Angeles I train my clients out of a boutique gym and during the spring and summer I go on tour, leading my bootcamp workshop in various cities. Once a year I host an international wellness gathering called the My Freedom Retreat. The location changes each year.
My approach is to use the tools I’ve learned in my own journey to help others. Whether it’s using fitness to help people take control of their physical health; or sharing positive affirmations; encouraging folks to read, pray and meditate; to practice self-care, travel and create vision boards – I strive to enable people to define and pursue whatever it is that creates happiness in their daily lives.
What comprises your clientele and why do people come to you?
I work with women who are in need of a personal trainer who is also a caring friend. My role and goal is to provide counsel and lend a shoulder to those who need it. The women who I am blessed to work become my friends, our relationship extends beyond the gym floor. This has always been important to me.
Anything new on the horizon?
I am currently strategizing how to execute my own app and streaming platform. These platforms will be built with the intention of creating a supportive community for people with a common purpose: to become better versions of themselves through healthy practices in the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual realms.
I’m also working on creating a wellness talk show that will air live on a digital platform. I’m excited to play talk show host!
What are your thoughts on feminism? On empowerment?
Everyone ought to be a feminist! I think it is our moral responsibility to always push for what is fair and just as it pertains to women’s issues. Health equality, reproductive rights, domestic violence, equal pay, sexual harassment (to name a few) – these are not just issues that concern women but issues that concern us as a human race. We must strive to protect humanity, and that begins with protecting and making just the issues women face in the fight of equality.
Being aware and intentional about your feminist views and acts is empowerment; and this is both contagious and educational. I consider myself a feminist purely based on the fact that equality, fairness and protecting women should be in society’s top list of priorities.
What does your community consist of? Do you feel you are part of a tribe or a leader or both?
For me community consists of likeminded people who support, challenge and encourage each other’s battles and endeavors, loving each other unconditionally along the way. Therefore, my community is not only my beloved family members and close circle of friends but also my extended online tribe who have supported me in so many ways. I definitely feel like I’m part of a tribe, a tribe that trusts in me to help lead.
What experts do you admire? Who are your teachers?
I’ve always admired the work and story of Oprah Winfrey. I think it would be impossible to not acknowledge all she has done with her platform to bring information, education and wellness to people’s lives on a global scale. Because of my personal goals, I also admire her success on TV and the influence she has had on millions of people over the decades.
I’ve been an avid reader of the late Dr. Wayne Dyer for many years. My mother always admired his teachings and bought me countless books by him for my birthdays and Christmases. I’ve also enjoyed learning from Dr. Brené Brown. Her book Daring Greatly had a significant impact on how I process fear, shame and courage.
Other than my mother, the greatest teacher I’ve known is life. My life, and the lives of others. Learning from mistakes, both mine and others. Readjusting to avoid grave mistakes, or learning how to be fearless, resilient and constantly motivated … We can learn a lot from being a keen observer and listener.
Who takes care of you? Who or what makes you stronger?
I always say: it is nobody else’s responsibility to take care of you but you! And there is definitely truth to that. Additionally, as I have chosen to share my life with a partner, I can also nam the one that I lay my head down with each night, my main squeeze Guy Fernandez. He has my back through it all. He takes care of me when I fail to do it for myself. His love and support with what I do personally and professionally humble me and make me a stronger person, simply because I don’t ever want to fail or disappoint him. I honor his care for me with renewed strength and persistency.
Do you ever ‘fall off the wellness wagon’? If so, what does this mean to you?
Wellness is also about balance. Most of the time when a well-disciplined person ‘falls off the wagon’ it’s because they needed to! Finding balance in the chaos of life is also how we maintain overall happiness. So, do I ever fall off? Absolutely! And when I do, I usually enjoy being off that wagon before it’s time to jump back on!
Any particular challenges or obstacles you are experiencing?
Currently, I face the complexities of blended families. I share life with my partner who comes with four amazing sons. Unexpectedly, we went from a 50/50 custody share with the kids’ mother, to having the boys full time. It has been one of the most rewarding joys to be a part of their lives, to have a hand at helping raise them but also a massive transition and challenging at times. And yet, family is truly everything to me. I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that everything will be just fine. I have been prayerful for patience, guidance and wisdom, and with time those are coming to me abundantly.
Show me why you’re different, so I can tell you why I love you.
Self-Love, Freedom, Community.
What tools or resources would you recommend to our community?
The Alchemist - Paulo Coelho
The Four Agreements - Don Miguel Ruiz
What I Know for Sure - Oprah Winfrey
The Power of Now - Eckhart Tolle
Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life - Dr. Wayne Dyer
The Five Love Language - Gary Chapman
Daring Greatly - Dr. Brené Brown
The Model Health Show - Shawn Steveson
GaryVee Podcast - Gary Vayerchuk
Get Loved Up - Koya Webb
What would you recommend for people without the means or geographical access to prestigious materials, products and practitioners?
The practice of meditation can go a long way. It is the most accessible practice I am aware of, as it requires neither walls nor community. Learning how to meditate is a skill that can be done anywhere, any place and at any time. I think, if access is an issue - be it geographically or economical - meditation is the answer, and something that can be deeply and significantly impactful to one’s overall wellness.
What role does travel play in your life? Where have you been and what’s next?
Travel has been such a valued experience throughout my life. Travel is one of my life’s greatest influencers and teachers. I’ve been to New Zealand, Samoa, Indonesia, Italy, France, the United Kingdom, Spain, Jamaica, Puerto Rico, Mexico, Canada, Costa Rica and cities throughout the United States and Australia. I’d love to explore Greece and Morocco, to trek the Andes Mountains in Peru! South Africa is definitely on my list, as well as the Maldives and Seychelles islands.
What makes you happy?
Happy and healthy family. Travel. Seeing the world off the beaten path and allowing myself to being humbled by experiences. Making other people happy. Having a helping hand in inspiring others to fulfill personal goals and dreams.
What makes you unhappy and what do you do when that happens?
I’ve learned not to take anything personally. I’ve grown pretty good at not allowing other people’s opinions or actions to impact my emotional state. However, things that make me unhappy are racial injustice, gender inequality, people using their power to take advantage of those less advantaged and those who are not considerate about the health of our environment.
What inspires you more than anything else?
The idea of creating a legacy that will live in future generations. Doing good work, from the heart; something that means something to you and humanity as a whole.
That our younger generations realize their true power and potential to use their own confidence and uniqueness to better the world.