One google search of Bergen Wheeler and it’s clear to see that movement is integral to her life. So much so, she made it her life’s work to move and inspire others to do so as well. To hear her tell it, she didn’t have much of a choice. Born to a mother who was a dancer, Bergen spent her early life near the stage, naturally making the leap to onstage during her pre-teen years as a professional dancer. Dance would be what led her to New York; movement was what made her stay.
Now, as the National Fitness Director of Talent and Innovation at Exhale, she inspires through movement (and a high-energy playlist) and finally has the dialogue she craved from the stage. In Allswell with…Bergen walks us through music as her love language, how her people-first approach to fitness and movement will (hopefully) change the fitness world one class at a time, and why connecting on a personal level not only invigorates her but is key to helping her find her Allswell.
“I have danced my entire life. Even before I was born, my mother was dancing, jumping off of stages and teaching classes with me in her belly. Movement has never not been a language I speak. In addition to dance, I was a competitive gymnast and a soccer player for ten years. I need movement like I need food. So, like food, there is rarely a day that I go without. I teach 13 classes a week, I exercise, dance in Exhale’s office, in the classes I teach, in the shower, at home alone, even with my dog. If I am not moving, I am sleeping.
I was a professional dancer in the beginning of my journey in New York, but soon felt that there was something missing in what I was doing. I was performing in front of audiences and dancing on stages that I had only dreamt of, but felt empty. It dawned on me that I was feeling empty and unfulfilled because I wanted to participate more in the audience members' lives. I wanted dialogue instead of applause. It was then that I knew I wanted to end up teaching after performing and decided to get into fitness to affect even more change.
I haven't seen movement change a person, I’ve seen movement change many, many people. Cancer survivors, expectant mothers, elderly men and women, young folks with injuries, people struggling with weight all benefiting positively change from movement in one way or the other. Regardless of their motivation, they’ve all seen results. And witnessing that is so powerful.”
What are you working on at present?
“This may sound lofty, but I’m working on taking over the fitness world one exercise class at a time. I have a unique position at Exhale that gives me the freedom to create new classes and develop new talent that will totally rock the fitness world. Right now, I’m in the process of innovating a new recovery component to some of our existing classes while researching a brand new class combination. Because Exhale is a national fitness brand, I have the opportunity to collaborate with teachers from across the country, which is what I’m doing for some of these initiatives.”
People first pays off: You have inspired countless fans and followers. What keeps you going?
“Believe it or not, I receive a ton of energy from my students. They feed me with their efforts, failures and successes...I expect a lot of my students and they know it. And I guess it is the same for me.. I have set this standard of expectation, and I will not disappoint them. It’s a mutual respect. This is what makes my job so fulfilling and so satisfying. This is the dialogue and people-first approach I was so desiring.”
What keeps you up at night?
Hoping that I reached everyone in my day that needed me. Hoping that I was effective enough in all of my many hats that I wear at Exhale.
Do you have any daily rituals you like to hold?
I have so many rituals-- this would take up so much time...But I will say I like to choose my underwear for the work week. I know, it sounds a little crazy. I usually wear mostly black on the outside - but my underwear are always wild and colorful and I love picking which pair to wear on what day.
On finding your Allswell.
“My allswell starts from me feeling good about myself first and foremost before I can go out and attack the world. It starts with me mentally and physically then I can in turn give that to all of the people I like to reach.”
Your NYC Neighborhood:
Your home style in three words:
Natural, Organic, Sanctuary
What’s your bed like?
My bed is amazing. Crisp, white sheets, a luxurious duvet cover, topped with one of my most-treasured belongings, a hand-tied blanket I bought in Tulum.
Name three things on your bedside table:
A clear skull paperweight, a bowl of water for Stella, an ever-running Vitruvi diffuser with either lavender or eucalyptus essential oil.
Favorite sleeping position?
On my back
How many hours a night do you sleep?
I clock in five on average. I need more.
Your favorite rainy-day spot:
I stay in bed.