Maine

Topher Stephenson, Marketer, Musician & Portland Ambassador

Topher has been recently promoted to the VP of Marketing at Atlantic National Trust in addition to being the Volunteer Marketing Director for PROPEL, a non-profit whose mission is "to enrich Maine’s economy by developing an environment and culture where young professionals can thrive in Maine’s growing business community." Through networking, celebrating small businesses, and introducing newcomers to Maine, Topher is committed to Portland and its future.  

When did you first get involved in marketing?

There were a few experiences in college that helped shape my perception of marketing early on. I had my first real experience when my friend and I both quit our summer jobs to start a house painting company. We were both excited to get out of our comfort zones and try something new, but the downside was we hadn't lined up any business before quitting our other jobs. I kind of thought we should build a quick website and make a Facebook page before doing anything else & my partner thought we should just hit the pavement, we ended up doing the latter. We made a flyer and went door to door for 2 weeks straight until we had a summer worth of work lined up - I don't think I became an expert salesman in that 2 week stretch, but it definitely taught me the value of hustle when it comes to bringing money in the door for a small business. 

After that some friends and I started up a blog to cover the Penn State music scene (State In The Real) which introduced me to social media as a marketing tool (and later on how putting too many eggs in the social media basket is a mistake) - It also kind of forced me to learn how to leverage relationships with different businesses and student groups I knew to form partnerships and help promote the website. Working with the blog ultimately landed me an internship with Red Bull where I got a better understanding of how a big brand handles marketing - IE the necessity of having boots on the ground in your target markets to strengthen brand awareness and the importance of working with local thought-leaders to get your message out.

Part of the  State In The Real  Team circa 2012

Part of the State In The Real Team circa 2012

What would you say inspires you? 

I'm inspired by people that strive to be the best at what they do. It's super easy to get bogged down in day-to-day minutia and lose sight of the big picture things like "How can I stay ahead of the curve?" or "How can I focus on the projects that generate results and weed out the ones that don't" - Especially because there is never a definitive answer to those kinds of questions. But when I meet people who are continuously trying to keep themselves on the cutting edge in their field and improving their craft, I find that really inspirational.

Can you give us a brief history of your education and work history? 

I got my Bachelors of Science in Health Policy & Administration from Penn State in 2012. Up until I started my current job my work history is a big mish-mash because I was doing a lot at once to get as much experience as possible. 

My last year at Penn State I worked for Red Bull as a Student Brand Rep and I was running State In the Real (which at the time was comprised of 20+ people/volunteers). When I graduated I kept interning with Red Bull part-time, took on 2 more part-time internships and started up a collegiate marketing company with some friends until Red Bull brought me up to Maine for a full-time internship. Eventually, I started working with Mainely SEO doing Social Media and Search Engine Optimization in Portland while I did some marketing consulting in my spare time. I started consulting with Atlantic about 4 years ago until they brought me on full time to manage their real estate marketing program. As of November 2017, I've taken on more marketing and communications projects in addition to the real estate marketing.

What role does music play in your life?

Not nearly enough of one lately but music is both a creative outlet and a stress reliever. Depending on what the project is, music can actually turn into its very own form of stress but I've been lucky enough to stay away from that for the past few years. I'm not putting nearly as much time into music as I'd like lately, but I was lucky enough to do some vocals on 2 albums that were released in 2017, one from my friend Harry Zobel and one from local rapper Myles Bullen. I'm working on some new tracks with local producer & beatboxer Ben Toppi, but with both of us having busy schedules it will probably have a while until we have a finished product.

The Sublime rendition of Marley Medley as performed by Topher Stephenson.

What do you like to do outside of work and music that directly impacts your career? 

My favorite things to do outside of work are hiking and taking advantage of Portland's awesome food & beer - Unfortunately, neither of those things really impact my career. I'm of the mind that people should do less business networking on the golf course and do more in front of Food Trucks.

Other than eating and hiking, I sit as Marketing Chair on the Board of Directors for PROPEL, an organization dedicated to making Portland a place where Young Professionals can thrive. It doesn't play into my job every day but the connections I've made through PROPEL have come in handy in on many occasions. We have a very talented board and I consider myself lucky to work with them. 

We all have our strengths and weaknesses. What would you say are yours?

Once in an interview, I was asked - "What is your superpower?" I think I was too early in my career to have a good answer at that point, but I know what it is now  - Above all else, I'm resourceful. I think a lot of the value that I've added to my job over the past 4 years comes from digging in and finding marketing opportunities that other people in the industry have no idea even exist, or just haven't thought to use for real estate. 

The less that people are using an effective marketing tool, the more valuable it can be.

I'd say my biggest weakness is that I often try to do everything/ get everything done at once. Sometimes I'll have a Sunday completely free and want to work on a hobby, but instead of working on 1 hobby I'll play guitar for 20 minutes, have a quick workout, take 5 photos and read half a chapter of book - I feel well rounded at the end but it's not really a good practice if you want to excel at anything. I recently listened to a great podcast featuring Derek Sivers where he mentions the concept that we can all do everything we want to do, but only if we can get used to the idea of doing those things over the course of a lifetime and not all at once. I think this is something that Generation Y struggles with as a whole, but considering how time-poor we are it is something we really need to accept and it's something I plan to be mindful of in 2018.

How do you measure the impact of PROPEL'S success and continued growth?  

As the Marketing Chair and coming from a digital marketing background I gravitate towards numbers - It's awesome to see that our email subscribers have gone up 25% in the past year and that we have over 100 people signed up to be Maine Ambassadors, and it's always a great feeling when we sell out a Networking Event. But I think that I get real a feel for PROPEL's impact by the anecdotal things you can't measure, like when someone tells you they made an important connection at an event, or better yet that they made an introduction that helped them land a job interview - Those kinds of stories make me feel like we're living up to our mission. 

"  PROPEL strives to enrich Maine’s economy by developing an environment and culture where young professionals can thrive in Maine’s growing business community."

"PROPEL strives to enrich Maine’s economy by developing an environment and culture where young professionals can thrive in Maine’s growing business community."

Similarly, we're in the process of launching Phase 2 of the Maine Ambassador Program, ultimately the app will allow people who are visiting or just moved to Maine to connect with established Mainers (the Ambassadors) so that they can take them out for a cup of coffee and show them the area. It will be good to see new Mainers begin to use the app, but what I'm really excited for is to hear the feedback from them after they've made a connection and get an idea of how well we're helping them acclimate to the area.

What advice would you give to people deciding whether to live and work in Maine?

If you haven't been to Maine, book your ticket - It is worth a trip whether you decide to live here or not. While you're here, definitely take some time to hit the usual tourist attractions, but consider making use of the Maine Ambassador Program - It's an awesome way to meet someone local from the area who can tell you what it's like to live here, take you to some of the hotspots that your average tourist won't know about, and show you what living here is all about. The project was originally spearheaded by Chris Lee, PROPEL's previous President, and is run by Eric Collins - They've both done an excellent job getting us where we are.

If Topher's photo's alone aren't reason enough to move to Maine, I don't know what is! 

What is something people will be surprised to know about you?

A friend told me the other day that when he thinks of people who are good networkers, I'm one of the first people that come to mind. Fortunately, he's never actually seen me in action - The surprise is that for someone who sits on the board of an organization that regularly throws networking events, I'm shockingly bad at networking by all standards. But I've definitely noticed that the more I do it the better I get - Maybe I'll start using Mindbosa to give myself an incentive to keep it up. 

What is one "can't live without it" app you use? 

I travel a lot to NY and PA to see family and friends so that means lots of 5+ hour drives, I'd be toast without the Podcasts app. On that same note, if Joe Rogan and Tim Ferriss both quit doing their podcasts I think I'd need to start buying more plane tickets because driving would be out. Other than that - Anytime I run out of room on my phone and need to make room to take pictures (happens pretty frequently), the only apps I can never bring myself to delete are Instagram, Spotify, Waze and the Tabs & Chords app from Ultimate Guitar.

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

This changes frequently, but right now it is this video. Sometimes waking up early requires tough love. 

In one word describe yourself: 

En route.

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"New  #drone  new  #selfie ." via Topher's  Instagram

"New #drone new #selfie." via Topher's Instagram

To Connect w/ Topher & PROPEL: 

Email: topher.step@gmail.com

Instagram: @tophernow || @propelportland

 
 

Hollie Corbett, Runner - “The Great White Shark”

Hollie's passion for running gives me runner's high. I asked Hollie what she does if she has to miss a run because, well, life happens. She said: "I never have." Fact, Hollie ran 2,394.4 miles in 2017. 
"I'll run till the day I die."

What does being a runner mean to you and where might you be in life without running?

Aside from my family and close friends, being a runner is everything and all-encompassing in my life.  Running is not an activity or sport for me.  It is the singular embodiment of everything that is good about me – it showcases my determination, organization, heart, focus, feistiness, and perseverance.  It is not what I do, it’s who I am. 

I’ve always been a driven person, but I cannot imagine where I would be without running.  By some extension, running has given me every important person in my life, my support system who constantly sacrifice their time to help me achieve my dreams.  So, I would be a far less happy person and feel caged.  Running makes me feel free and gives me a sense of purpose and belonging. 

Where did your nickname, "The Great White Shark" originate?

I have always been fascinated by Great White sharks.  They are fearless, ferocious, and instinctual.  They are an unignorable entity.  The nickname grew out of my ability to visualize chasing down the person in front of me while using that single-minded ferocity to stay focused on my end game.  The nickname is hilarious if you know me because I am physically tiny.  However, don’t let my size fool you, housed inside of this little body is the heart of a Great White. 

Can you share with us a bit of your running and coaching history? 

I think my unofficial running history began when I was able to stand!  I participated in several sports when I was younger, but I did not become an official runner until I was a freshman in high school when I joined the cross country team in order to build endurance for basketball.  I fell in love with the sport and left all other sports.  My path after that is a bit unconventional in that I went from being a sprinter to a competitive middle distance runner and eventually landed on the marathon in my adult life.  Once I found the marathon, I was smitten.  It’s where my heart is.  I have done 7 marathons so far. 

My coaching history began more as a way to help my friends rather than anything official.  I would make training plans for free for different friends here and there.  I put myself out there a bit more when I began to coach my adult track team a few years ago by leading the distance workouts.  Eventually, I became an official co-captain of the team.  Coaching my teammates has brought me a lot of joy and essentially reignited the fire within me after I had my children.

Who are #HolliesHomies and how has this running group enhanced your running career? 

To understand who we are you have to know our roots.  I call my friends my homies.  The group name, Hollie’s Homies, was coined by my friend Hans after a long cold winter run with some of the homies about a year ago.  We are a group of like-minded friends of all ages who love running, enjoy watching each other compete and achieve goals, and have become sounding boards and rocks to lean on during anything we go through in our lives.  The homies (as I call them) have enhanced my running career in a major way.  I do not mind running solo for most of my runs in a week, but the time I spend running with the homies is special.  We talk the entire time for hours about anything and everything nearly every single weekend year round.  We have crazy amounts of fun which make the miles tick by fast.  Plus, there is so much Maine running history in our group that if you do not learn something from them, you haven’t been listening. 

What is one challenge and lesson learned from your experience in training and coaching? 

The largest challenge I’ve encountered in my training/running gave birth to the largest lesson I’ve learned thus far in my career.  I had a very disappointing 2nd Boston Marathon in 2016.  I ran in the heat that fateful day (rain and 50's is my jam), and my entire race plan went sideways quickly.  I threw up several times and nearly passed out a couple of times as well.  Everyone has a race experience that becomes “the” race, the one that changes you.  This was it for me, the race that brought me to my knees but ended up being the best thing to happen to my running.  At this point in my career, I operated under the assumption that if I worked hard, then I would achieve what I wanted.  I learned the hard way that running does not work like that.  

Running is not a linear process with guaranteed outcomes. It is fluid with heartbreaking descents and breathtaking ascents, and you never know which you will get even with all the planning and training in the world.
— Hollie Corbett

I had to partially let go of my rigid nature and become fluid and therein laid the challenge for me.  I enlisted the help of a coach for the first time via Rob Gomez and tried a new way to train while simultaneously not letting one race define me.  I leaned on my family and close friends to help get my mind right.  All of this made me realize that this one experience was merely a single chapter in my running career, not the entire book.  I grew so much as a runner from that one experience.

Speaking from my own experience, running a marathon is A LOT of hard work. Training is time-consuming, a commitment and it hurts! Why do you think we continue to run despite all the pain? 

Life, in general, has ample pain, but we keep living despite the pain, right?  Running with all the lovely pain we endure really is no different for a marathoner.  We are stubborn, driven people.  Marathon training requires so much of ourselves that it has to become an investment even in the pain.  We all invest a ridiculous amount of hours in the actual training/running and necessary extras (PT, weight training, stretching, foam rolling, nutrition, sleep, hydration, etc.) all for that one glorious day.  I truly believe that marathons are personal for each runner.  We all have a reason and a backstory; we all sacrifice for that one end if you will.  I am always cognizant of this fact every single time I toe the line at a marathon when I look at the other marathoners.  In the end, pain is merely just one aspect of the whole process for us.  For me, the reward of knowing that I accomplished something that I put my heart and soul into far outweighs any pain when it comes to a marathon. 

How important is having a daily routine and setting goals? 

Routines and goals are incredibly important to me.  I am a major creature of habit.  My routines have routines!  I find something beautiful about efficiency, working hard, and staying the course toward something you really want in life.  As my running has progressed, I’ve realized that the only limits I have are the ones I impose on myself.  Routines are one solid path to follow to achieve anything and everything you want in life not just in regards to running. 

What is your next big race on the horizon? 

My next big race is the Boston Marathon on April 16, 2018.  Boston 2018 will be my 3rd Boston Marathon.  The Boston Marathon is the pinnacle race for me, it’s my Olympics.  It is unlike any race, it is the Monday of all Mondays.  I wish every runner could experience it because words do not do it justice.   I am very excited for this particular Boston because it will be the first time one of my best friends and I run it at the same time, 2 of my other closest friends (one of which is my Physical Therapist and has saved me on many occasions) will be there to cheer for the very first time, and I have big plans that hopefully lead to obtaining the one large dream I have with my running.


A Message From Rob Gomez, Hollie's Running Coach

 

“Hollie is one of my most determined clients. The drive she has to get in every training run and hit all the paces she needs to hit during her workouts is second to none. She has a friendly and fiery disposition that can be infectious as is evidenced by the ever-larger group of “Hollie’s Homies” that tags along with her for her longer training runs. I’m pretty sure Hollie is the only person who has asked me to swear at them during a race for added motivation! I’ve found myself using Hollie as an example to find motivation for some of my own training runs. Things may not have come together perfectly for her last marathon effort, but I know Hollie will set herself up well for a great race in Boston this April with a whole lot of hard work and a few curse words along the way!” -Rob Gomez


What is your proudest personal achievement? 

My proudest running achievement is not a personal one per se.  I am proudest of all the achievements my City of South Portland adult track team in the Maine Corporate Track Association/MECTA has achieved.   Our team is comprised of all ages (18-70+) and running backgrounds (including those who have never ran before).  I have seen so many of them step out of their comfort zones to do what is best for the team.  Watching them grow as athletes has been far more rewarding than any of my personal achievements.  The fact that I get the opportunity to coach/co-captain them is a whole other level of pride for me.  I always tell them that I will never ask more of them than what I am willing to give myself.  They just give and give again.  Seeing the smiles on their faces when they do something they never thought they could to when we win state championships is amazing.  It is an incredibly fun and special thing to be a part of. 

8th straight MECTA State Champions.  #mainerunning

8th straight MECTA State Champions. #mainerunning

What is your favorite running app? 

Strava.  My favoritism is three-fold in that I am a stats nerd (I love seeing my own stats and anecdotal information), I really like connecting with other runners from around the world, and I find Strava’s layout visually appealing.

Who is your idol runner and why?

My favorite professional runner is Bernard Lagat.  I love the way he races, smart in the beginning and then he hammers down near the end.  Plus, he appears very gracious and kind.  I would love to meet him someday.

However, my true running idol is one of my best friends, Jess Laurent.  She knew from the jump that she wanted to be a marathoner.  Jess is one of the strongest, most dedicated and passionate people I know which translates directly to her running.  I am in awe of her running ability and conviction, especially since she is super petite like me.  I can remember in my pre-marathon days how I would be in admiration of her because she ran through all weather, woke up early to get her miles in, loved running hills, and had no quit in her body.  When I really started focusing on running again after my children were born, I distinctly remember saying to myself “what would Jess do?”  She’s been an inspiration for me for years.  I idolize every aspect of her not only as a runner but as a person.

Hollie Corbett & Jess Laurent

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

“Impossible IS NOTHING” – Phil Chamberlain

In one word, describe yourself: 

Gritty

To Connect with Hollie:

Email: harnish4@yahoo.com

Instagram: @marathoner52

Carrie McEneaney, A Maine Mom Running

True story, I met Carrie in February 2001. She trained me to be a server at Macaroni Grill! Back then, I'm not sure I understood what running was and why anyone would want to do it! I'd say we've come a long way since. It comes as no surprise Carrie is a passionate and dedicated runner, mom, wife, friend, and worker. Here's a glimpse of Carrie, A Maine Mom Running.

What inspired you to begin running?

I ran cross-country and track in high school and college, but stopped after graduation. Even though I ran every once in a while, it wasn’t until after the birth of our second son that I really had the itch to start running on a regular basis and compete again. Meeting up with an old high school friend and a couple of her friends inspired me to get out there.

How has running impacted your life?

Running has been a huge impact in my life. It has shown me that I can do hard things and push myself both mentally and physically further than I previously thought possible. It has brought me friendships both in person and through social media that will last a lifetime. It gives me solo time and is a release from the day-to-day crazies which in turn helps me be a better person in all aspects of my life.

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your training? 

Training your brain is almost more important than becoming physically strong when it comes to running. When your body is tired and you don’t think you could take another step, it’s a huge challenge to focus and fight the urge to stop. But the more you run, the more you practice mental focus, the more you will improve. With running, what you put in, you will get out. If you don’t invest the time, you won’t be fully satisfied with the results. There are no shortcuts. 

Life gets in the way of training (no regrets), so I have no expectations other than to reach the finish line and have fun along the way. -CM

What are your top two favorite running memories? 

Crossing the finish line at the high school state meet in the 300m hurdles in first place way back in 1994 is one of my favorite memories. Second would be running the Maine Coast Marathon on Mother’s Day in 2015. Even though it was my slowest marathon to date and I had to walk the last half due to a sudden heatwave of over 90 degrees after training all winter, I had the best time just enjoying the journey. Also having my husband and two boys waiting for me at the finish was a wonderful gift. 

 
mainemomrunning
 

If you could run anywhere in the world, where would it be?

It’s pretty cliche, but running the Boston Marathon is where I hope to run one day. A close second would be Antarctica or Alaska. I run hot, so running somewhere cold is my ideal place. 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote? 

"Running is about more than just putting one foot in front of the other; it is about our lifestyle and who we are.” - Joan Benoit Samuelson or more recently, “F*&k yes!” - Shalane Flanagan right before winning the 2017 NYC Marathon (Catch that video HERE!)

In one word, describe yourself:

Positive

 
"Running has been a huge impact in my life. It has shown me that I can do hard things and push myself both mentally and physically further than I previously thought possible." -CM

"Running has been a huge impact in my life. It has shown me that I can do hard things and push myself both mentally and physically further than I previously thought possible." -CM

 

Connect & follow Carrie,

A Maine Mom Running Via: 

Instagram and Twitter @amainemom


Shannon Bryan - Founder of Fit Maine

What is Fit Maine?

Fit Maine is a website dedicated to cool ways to work out and fun, active things to do in Maine. (There's no shortage of either of those things, which means I'm always hearing about and discovering new stuff to check out, write about, and tell others about. And this makes me happy!). There is also a newsletter and an events calendar, plus Fit Maine Facebook and Instagram, all for the purpose of letting other people know about lively weekend activities, running groups, races, moonlight paddles, circus arts classes, easy hikes, etc. That's the whole point - to tell people about this really fun stuff (and encourage them to go check it out for themselves).

What inspired you to create Fit Maine?

I love doing active things in Maine, whether it's taking a kickboxing class, sweating it out at an outdoor boot camp, or finding a stunning new hike or easy-going paddle. I'd go do these things with a few friends and post about them on Facebook (that's what Facebook is for, right? Posting our wonderous adventures?) and I'd get questions from other people wanting to know more: "Where was this class? How much was it? Was it hard? Is it beginner friendly?" I realized there was no resource for this kind of stuff - a single place where you could find about new workouts or running groups or get tips on places to hike or paddle or trail run. So, two years ago, I decided to create it. Add to that the fact that I get a huge kick out of getting other people to go try new things. It makes my heart swell to hear someone say, "I read about that class/hike/group on Fit Maine and went and tried it and had a great time!" That's why I keep writing. These kinds of experiences are life-enhancing. They get people out of their comfort zones. On top of being a ton of fun, this stuff is good for our bods. Sure, some folks prefer to run on a treadmill at the gym, but for folks who'd rather paddleboard or do aerial trapeze, I've got you covered! (I also have a penchant for the kinds-weird stuff, like kitten yoga and goat hikes!)

What are one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as FM founder?

One challenge I face is figuring out how to support the site financially. For the first couple of years, I've funded the site myself (I do make some money by selling "Maine is my gym" tanks and tees). And that worked because I believe so much in what I'm doing that I didn't mind spending money to do it. But it also means that a good chunk of my time is spent doing work elsewhere that does make money (and I've been supremely lucky to have work that I also really love doing). So my ability to focus on Fit Maine is limited, although my dream is to be able to do it full time. And I have little experience with sales and monetizing websites, so it's been a challenge to adopt a new skill set that'll help me talk to businesses about Fit Maine and why it's so fantastic and why supporting it has value for everyone (those who read it and the events/studios/gyms/trainers I write about). But I'm embracing the chance to learn new things! 

One lesson I've learned is to know my audience. Early on, I wrote a piece about beginner yoga classes and workshops (I know a lot of women and men who are curious about yoga but are hesitant to show up to a class), so this story was one I believed would be really useful. But I included a photo of a woman in crow pose, which is a fairly advanced hand balancing pose. And that clouded the message I was trying to convey - that these classes were for beginners. The photo wasn't of a beginner, so it was confusing, and a dumb move on my part. But that's the kind of thing I think about a lot now: Who am I talking to? What am I talking about? Do the words and images align? 

What are your top 2 favorite FM memories?

Just this spring, I went on a hike at Ovens Mouth Preserve in Boothbay and posted a photo on Instagram of a super-cool spot on the trail, where there's a wooden bench overlooking the tidal waters. Someone posted a comment to the photo asking if the trail was kid and dog-friendly, and I said "Yes! Saw kids and dogs on the trail today!" The very next day, that same woman posted a photo on Instagram of the same spot and tagged me in it, saying "thanks for the tip, we had a great time today!" Thinking about that still, makes me grin. I'm overjoyed that I got to help someone find a neat new adventure (it's even better when I get a report back that they liked it!). 

Another favorite memory is from last summer when I attended a Bike & Brews event in Gorham. These events have guided mountain bike rides for all levels and end at a brewery. I'd joined the beginner group for a ride on the Gorham trails, and afterward was talking with fellow riders at Sebago Brewing. One woman, I was chatting with found out I wrote about active things to do in Maine and mentioned a speed skating club she's in. My response? SPEED SKATING?! Tell me more! A couple months later I was on the ice in a pair of loaned skates, learning proper form and having a grand time. I love that Fit Maine is an excuse to go do cool things, but it also allows me to meet new people all the time AND learn about other cool stuff I didn't even know about. It's the circle of Fit Maine life! 

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

"Do epic shit." I saw it on a Facebook meme, with a kid in a superhero cape. And while "epic" might conjure visions of base-jumpers or Everest climbers for some people, I think epic is relative. Taking a surf lesson, trying paddleboard yoga for the first time, mountain biking in the woods all afternoon or hiking in some stunning, new-to-you place can be pretty epic, too. The point is to welcome new adventures, to be open to trying new things and even being kinda bad at them. How expert you are isn't the point. Learning something new is thrilling. Exploring Maine, doing things that make you feel strong, engaging in something that's worth talking about over dinner is what matters. 

In one word, describe yourself:

Loud! 

For more information on Fit Maine please visit: 

www.fitmaine.com

or follow on Facebook

https://www.facebook.com/fitmaine/

and Instagram

http://www.instagram.com/fitmaine

Morgan Surkin, Founder of PortSports & Owner of Blue Star Pilates in Portland, Maine

What are PortSports & Blue Star Pilates? 

PortSports is a charity-based sport and social club for adults based in Portland, Maine.  Blue Star Pilates is my venue for furthering my own Pilates practice as well as teaching others the Pilates method.

What inspired you to become the founder/owner of PortSports & Blue Star Pilates?

When we first moved back to Maine in the summer of 2007 after our son was born, my husband and I were having a hard time meeting people our own age and making friends.  We revisited an idea of his from our time living in NYC, to start a sport and social club, here in Portland, Maine.  We launched PortSports in the Spring of 2008 and have been playing ever since.  My love for Pilates began once I made the commitment to regain my strength and figure post-baby.  Pilates helps me not only stay fit, but it is also a meditative practice for me.  By focusing inward, on how the movement feels within, all external factors disappear and when the session is over, I'm left feeling incredibly rejuvenated.  I want to bring that feeling to others, and learning to teach has been exciting and humbling in itself.

#BlueStarPilates provides mat classes around #Portland, #Maine led by Morgan Surkin

#BlueStarPilates provides mat classes around #Portland, #Maine led by Morgan Surkin

What is one challenge and one lesson you’ve learned from your experience as a founder/ownder?

The challenges and lessons are abundant as a founder (and owner).  With PortSports, one of the biggest challenges has been keeping the vibe of our sports social and inclusive.  Often in sports, people let their competitive nature get the best of them, which can turn people off to playing.  Our goal is to provide a safe space to play hard, but with respect for not just teammates, but opposing teams and staff members as well.  With Pilates, I'm learning to trust the learning process.  Pilates teachers are traditionally taught apprentice-style, so there is quite a large time and financial commitment to becoming a fully comprehensively-trained teacher.  Learning a new skill, and then to be able to teach that skill to others with clarity, has been a huge but fun challenge to undertake.

What are your top two PS & BSP memories?

My top PortSports memory...it's hard to pick...we have 4 PortSporters with our motto or logo tattooed on them, and have had several PortSporter weddings.  Hearing the stories of friendships that began with either a PortSports event or league are my favorite.  My top Pilates memory was launching my first class after my training and feeling the support of my new students.  Watching people move and feel good always makes me feel good too.

meetplaygive.jpg

What is your favorite inspirational/motivational quote?

My favorite inspirational/motivation quote would have to be "stay positive and love your life," by my favorite band, 311.

In one word, describe yourself:

Describe myself in one word, holy moly what a challenge, looking back on my past 10 years, I would say "driven."

 

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