Most people extend their arms to the upper bars of the subway to steady themselves as the train starts and stops along its tracks. Andia Winslow, on the other hand, uses the upper bars to do midair sit ups, something we discovered through the fitness video in her email signature, alongside a link to her about.me page.
A graduate of Yale University with a degree in Sociology and Film studies, Andia founded The Fit Cycle, to inspire people to incorporate fitness into their daily lives through training videos she initially filmed in her backyard. Apart from her work there, Andia is a professional golfer and hopes to return to touring and competition this year. A retired Olympic athlete in the sport of Skeleton, she is also a certified fitness professional, fashion model and writer working on her first two books. One of her books centers on The Fit Cycle, its founding and helping readers to make healthy changes in their lives. The other is a memoir about her experience being the live-in caretaker for her terminally ill grandfather.
First off, where did you grow up and how did you get into golf?
I grew up in Seattle, WA at a golf course called Jefferson Park, home of PGA legend and World Golf Hall of Fame member Fred Couples. Every summer “Freddie” would come home and host a special clinic for the community, and every summer he would call me up to hit balls for the crowd. Not a bad start! Golf was my primary sport, though I played several growing up. Something about the game and its inherent quietude, I knew, even at age 10 when just learning, that golf as a game was an eternal challenge that couldn’t be conquered. That intrigued me then, and it still does now.
In addition to awesome coaches and mentors in the game, golf itself was one of my best teachers. There was always something to be learned. Always something with which to experiment. I knew that incremental progress over time would lead to success and fulfillment of sorts. I played at a high level of international junior competition, collegiately at Yale University and then as a touring professional.
In the year 2000 I became the first African American woman to play varsity golf in Ivy League history. In 2006, the fourth African American woman to ever play in an LPGA (Ladies Professional Golf Association) Tour event. My grandfather once explained to me that, “the importance of being the first is to make certain that you’re not the last.” I take this responsibility seriously and work every day to grow the game in diverse communities. Golf has always been with me and it always will be in some capacity.
How and when did you get into skeleton?
After college, and while I was preparing to join the professional golf ranks, I was invited to cross-train with USA Track & Field and Jesse Owens Olympic Hall of Fame Coach Brooks Johnson. Years of sprint training led to my eventual recruitment to join Black Ice Concept and the USA Bobsled & Skeleton Federation as an Olympic Development Athlete in preparation for the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
How and when did you get into modeling?
I was “discovered” by internationally renowned photographer John Glen while in Atlanta playing golf with NBA Hall of Famer Dr. J. I signed with a major agency, started booking gigs and walked my first runway show months later. When I moved to New York City, things really started to pick up. I’ve told folks that walking a runway is akin to walking a fairway — you have to have wear your game face!
Who inspires you in sports or otherwise? Why?
I’m inspired by legacy makers. Folks who use their voices and platforms to affect sustainable change in their communities and the world. In sport, my golf grandfather Charlie Sifford who received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2014 and passed away in February 2015; Jackie Robinson and Billie Jean King are heroes and heroine in my eyes.
How did develop the idea for The Fit Cycle?
When I turned professional [in golf in 2007], I moved to Phoenix, Arizona for coaching and competition. The desert was worlds aways from anything that I had ever experienced and near my home stood the Gila River Indian Community. Through wellness-based volunteer work, I learned that Gila River had the highest rate of Type 2 diabetes in the entire world. That knowledge prompted me to make instructional fitness videos from my backyard with my cell phone camera and post them to YouTube.
The videos gained in popularity online as viewers from around the world found the series to be accessible and relevant by using minimal and odd equipment, creative moves and requiring little time to complete. Upon moving to New York City years later, I observed similar trends of inactivity, obesity and disenfranchisement in my community of East Harlem, New York. I partnered with my best friend from college, filmmaker Monique Walton, to continue the wellness series in a way that reflected the vibrancy, musicality and storied cultural history of the people that we were trying to reach. And now I had a professional camera and crew!
#TheFitCycle was born and is defined by resourcefulness. It works to inspire folks to make the most of what they have –however little, be it time, capital or possessions. It is a cinematic wellness endeavor that is inspired by art, music and a culture of collaboration. When we shoot, people watch, they ignore, they watch again and then they ask questions. Conversations are started — it’s become a MOVEment based movement and we couldn’t be more proud.
Are there any other projects that you’re working on right now?
My favorite project of the past year is called Legacy Workout. It’s special in that it bridges art, education and action. Working now to broaden it’s offerings and develop curriculum and learning tools for students and educators.
Drafting two book projects simultaneously has been a harrowing organizational experience thus far, but I love a good challenge. I continue to teach fitness classes in NYC and around the country and develop wellness programs for corporations and special events. Excited to announce that my first online workshop entitled “Jumpstart Your Fitness Routine” will be launched within the month. Also working to create more #TheFitCycle content. We have so many impactful film projects in store that I almost can’t contain myself!
Tell us about your experience in public speaking. How did you start and what is your favorite thing about public speaking?
Public speaking, in my experience, is a great time to test out ideas, share stories, ask questions and make requests of captive and, hopefully, captivated audiences. The best part is that you’ll get instant feedback. Positive, negative or indifferent — what resonates? What doesn’t? I started speaking in public at a fairly young age and after college to even larger groups, publicly. I’ve been flown to research institutions, lauded at conferences and traveled to resort destinations to discuss sport, film, wellness, fitness, motivation, legacy. I speak to full auditoriums and to the folks across the aisle from me on the subway. It doesn’t matter. The best part of public speaking or speaking publicly is connecting and sharing the moment with other human beings.
How did you hear of about.me and what made you sign up for it?
My good friend Chris Ortiz, hosts a cool book club called Ortizzle. Chris always keeps me in-the-know about what’s new in tech, literature and film. He hipped me to a New Yorker Magazine chat with Malcolm Gladwell (in which I actually got to communicate real time with Malcolm) and then he directed me to about.me in that same conversation. Thanks Ortizzle for always knowing what’s what!
What’s your favorite feature on the platform?
I really love how clean about.me looks as compared to other “connecting” platforms. The single high-resolution image —with minor accompaniments— is what makes it best in class, in my opinion. It says, “Hello! This is who I am. Care to learn more?”
How are you using the platform on other digital mediums?
I mainly use the platform as a WordPress widget now on my website. It’s proven to be a great referral tool — introducing me to audiences with whom I might not otherwise be connected.
Have you used about.me to connect with others on the platform?
I started using about.me when the website first launched years ago. I can remember reserving my name and telling all my friends to do the same when it was still in beta. It’s been a real treat connecting with like-minded folks from around the world. Early on we were treated to free business cards, too. They were a hit. Thanks by the way, those cards started a lot of interesting conversations!
Eliana Arredondo is the Community Manager for about.me. She is a graduate of Stanford University.