Senada Greca's guide to strength inside and out
We are living the indoor life, so now more than ever we need to stay physically and mentally fit. In light of that, we are excited to share our interview with Senada Greca, celebrity trainer and fitness influencer. “Fitness for me is daily therapy,” Greca says. “It goes beyond short term challenges, New Year’s resolutions and bikini season! It’s an integral part of my life that has truly transformed me from the outside in.”
Health and fitness helped Greca to find her purpose, and now she owns a fitness business. However, she is quick to tell you that there were no shortcuts—that building a business is mostly about dedication and hard work. Whether it’s filming Instagram workouts for her 2.3 million followers, sharing tips to live a healthy lifestyle, or coming up with nutritious meals, this fitness expert always brings her A-game.
How did you get started in the Health and Fitness industry?
After graduating from college, I started working long hours in the finance world in New York City while also completing a master’s degree. After a few years, I started searching for something more fulfilling and shifted to the medical industry. Unfortunately, I still felt trapped in a corporate world where work truly felt like work. What didn’t feel like a chore was movement—of any shape or form.
I had known for a long time that my calling was to help others, to be of service. Knowing what movement had done for me, physically and mentally, I connected the dots. I realized that I could help others on a large scale do the same. While my MBA would eventually help in the business aspect of things, my drive, my passion, and my innate ability to connect with movement and help others do the same, were my springboard. I acquired the necessary accreditation for fitness, movement and yoga, but what was the most helpful and distinguishing factor was my hunger for information and experience, in not just moving properly but also moving mindfully. As stated in yogic teachings, and what is applicable in most scenarios, it is 99% practice and 1% theory. I am constantly learning from gurus, working to put teaching into practice, and listening closely to my body. Equipped with all of this knowledge and experience, I decided to start sharing my full daily workouts on Instagram, in the hope of helping anyone and everyone that would come across my page. This brought about tremendous growth as people saw the value in what I was providing, absolutely free of charge.
While my Instagram workouts provided a good starting point for the experienced user, I realized that I could provide a lot more direction and a more personal experience. This gave life to my online fitness business, which I started while still working full-time. Currently, I am able to focus 100% of my attention on growing Crush It Programs, which not only include customized programs for various levels of fitness all based on my workout philosophy, but also meal plans created in collaboration with certified nutritionists. Anyone who wants access to an enormous library of workouts can just follow me on Instagram.
What inspired your passion for fitness?
Movement has always been my therapy, even as a child growing up in communist Albania. After moving to the US as a teenager, sports was how I found friends. As an adult I have come to understand the powerful connection between fitness and peace of mind. Over the past couple of years, I have been exploring these connections, with trips to India to train with yogis and to Peru to learn from plant medicine under shamans. My personal experience has been so positive that it drives me to want to help others.
Today, I find a lot of inspiration from members of the Crush It Crew. Seeing how people’s whole attitude can change when they commit to living a healthier lifestyle brings tears to my eyes. While the external transformation can be impressive, it is the look in their eyes and the smiles that emanate from their souls that really gets me.
What was your vision when you started, and how has it evolved?
Like many people, I have battled low self-esteem, low self-confidence and other demons. Early on I was lucky enough to have help finding my way. I wanted to return that favor and help others find their path to fitness. Any day that I can inspire and guide others to make healthier choices through nutrition and exercise, and that I can help them tap into their potential and love of life, that’s a good day for me.
That being said, what has been surprising to me is the ways in which fitness can provide social connections, which is particularly important during the COVID-19 crisis. Connecting and sharing with others, even if it’s on Instagram, Facebook, or video conference, has been a lifeline for a lot of people, including me.
Tell us about the fitness regimen and nutrition plan that you are currently using to stay in shape.
For me, daily movement is about connecting with my body, quieting my mind, and being present. I like to wake up at 5:45 a.m., drink a bunch of water, and get right to working out. I focus on strength training because it is where I find I can get the most rewards both physically and mentally. I move every day, with one day a week being a day of active rest like hiking or going for a bike ride. After my workout, I grab some coffee and head outside to walk my dog. I also use this time to focus on gratitude.
For nourishment, I tend to eat pretty clean. Breakfast usually includes eggs or oatmeal with a lot of protein. Lunch is also lean proteins like chicken, turkey or fish, and some veggies. I find if I prepare my lunch ahead of time, I tend to eat better. My partner and I enjoy cooking dinner together.
What is the best way for someone to stay motivated and consistent with a workout schedule?
Start small and build. Focus on one day at a time and don’t worry about yesterday or tomorrow. Make movement a habit. Look at your schedule and carve out time each day to be active, then commit to making it happen. One day becomes two, two becomes three, then a habit is formed, like brushing your teeth.
Novelty is also really important. While there is great value in repetition and mastering specific movements, muscles need guessing games too. Our bodies are amazing and can quickly adapt, but when we adapt, what was once a challenge is now easier. I like to make small changes to basic movements—even a percent change in the angle of a leg lift. This adjustment creates a completely new exercise for the muscles and the mind.
What is your advice for someone who wants to live a healthier lifestyle?
A lot of people start working out for aesthetics—to improve how they look or hit a weight goal. Those can be powerful motivators in the short term; but in the long term, those kinds of goals won’t get you to the gym when you just don’t feel like it. It is too easy to negotiate yourself right out of a workout. What’s the harm in missing one workout, right? That is why I believe in finding your “why.” By getting clear on why you want fitness as part of your life, fitness will become a priority and something you “get to do,” versus “have to do.” I am a happier, more productive, and clearer-thinking person with exercise. That’s my “why.”
Tell us about the fitness programs that you offer and the purpose behind them. What inspired you to create these programs?
I believe novelty is key for so many people when it comes to making fitness sustainable. That is what I set out to achieve when I created the Crush It and CrusHIIT programs. Incorporating dynamic movements along with more traditional movements, and a complete change of exercises at specific points, the programs offer members something different.
The Crush It 12-week programs offer three levels: Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced. They are designed to take a member on a journey from the building stages of the Beginner program, if this is where the member is starting, to ultimately graduating to the Crush It 8-week Expert program, which is the next level beyond Advanced.
If members are going back to the gym, they can utilize the Crush It Gym 12-week program. This takes the same approach while utilizing equipment not typically found in an individual’s home.
Finally, I built the CrusHIIT programs that offer 12 different High Intensity Interval Training sessions, which also have three levels of difficulty. Each session is 38 minutes in duration, including rest time. So, if you’re looking for a quick, no- nonsense sweat session, this is your answer.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned since becoming an entrepreneur?
When someone tells you to find what you are passionate about and pursue that, believe them. Building a business is hard work. The hours can be long. But when you love what you do, it’s a lot easier to put in the time. Having said that, balance is also important. I incorporate mindfulness practices during the week, as well as enjoy time with friends and family. You have to give yourself a grace period.
How has the pandemic changed the Fitness industry? What adjustments have you made to facilitate your clients?
The pandemic has made clear the connection between physical health and mental health. I hear from so many people who tell me that moving their bodies every day is what keeps them sane. But with gyms and fitness classes being so limited, virtual training and workouts have become a lifeline for people.
Without access to the gym, people are also looking to make do with little to no equipment at home. Luckily, I have developed a well-known reputation for creative workouts. You could say they are my signature. So, I saw this as a huge opportunity. It’s amazing the workout you can do with chairs, rocks, scarves or even just your body weight, and these workouts have really caught fire during the pandemic. In January 2020, before the pandemic, I had about 2,000 followers on Instagram. Now I have 2.3 million, and that number has been increasing by 100,000 a month.
What is your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who would like to enter the Health and Fitness industry?
Patience and discipline are everything. Patience is necessary because in most cases, an individual’s level of success is dependent on how quickly her following grows. It can be a big ask to maintain a level head while watching other influencers’ follower counts take off. The data analytics available to social media influencers is robust enough that an individual can track every little detail, often creating angst when someone else’s metrics outpace their own.
Discipline is also critical because consistency, day in and day out, is everything. In order to succeed in a space that is inundated with talented and hardworking people, grinding every day for an extended period of time is a must. YouTube and Instagram are no longer greenfield environments. The formula for success is now understanding ever-evolving algorithms and simply putting in the work. I’m a huge fan of Gary Vaynerchuk. He encourages influencers to document everything, because everyday life is now content. However, this means everyday life is work.
Finally, be a master of your trade. Influencers, whether on social media or in the gym, can literally impact millions on a global scale, so be mindful and provide honest and meaningful information. Almost from the first follower, experts have a fiduciary responsibility to put the people that look up to them first.
How are you using your platform to inspire change?
I am trying to help people move past short-term challenge trends like “Get Abs in 2 Weeks” or “4 Weeks to a Bikini Body.” While these can be a good intro to fitness, they will not result in real change. I have seen time and again why so many well-meaning people struggle to get fit. It’s because they haven’t found their “why”—that compelling reason that drives them to be physically active every day.
When people focus on the “what,” such as dropping x pounds or fitting into certain clothes again, it is just too nebulous, making it easier to negotiate out of working out. But when you have a “why,” it is both personal and specific. Its role is to be an orienteering point, one that is personally meaningful enough to compel you to get out of bed an hour earlier to work out instead of rolling over for more Z’s, and resonant enough to cut through the noise and lift you above the daily and hourly distractions that are so good at sapping your motivation to exercise.
What’s in the works?
It’s a super exciting time right now. One silver lining of the pandemic for me has been a greater openness to partnering with people from around the world. We’re all only a Zoom call away, whether that’s down the street or in Australia or the UK. Through these relationships I have been able to explore a couple of entrepreneurial ventures that I am planning to launch in the first half of 2021.
Visit Senada at www.senadagreca.com