Fitness guru Katherine Mason is part ‘Southern Belle’, part ‘Tough New Yorker’ – and she’s a serious girl boss. Her new concept SculptHouse features one of the most unique workouts in the world along with an expansive athleisure boutique endowed with top-of-the-line fitness wear. I sat down with the founder & CEO of this Buckhead fitness haven to learn more about the fitness model turned studio owner.
Yes Girl: Tell me about your background and how you got started with SculptHouse.
Katherine Mason: When I moved to New York to pursue a career in fitness, I didn’t know exactly what that was, but I knew New York was the place to go to figure it out. Growing up as an athlete, I knew I wanted to do something in the sports industry, so I started working in sports marketing. But, after spending some time in the PR and marketing world, I knew that I wanted to do something more active, so the fitness industry was the perfect way to do that. I worked in a few different top fitness studio and did fitness modeling. Through my experiences, I realized that I had an idea that was going to change fitness in the South. I saw what New York had to offer and I wondered to myself “why does the South not have anything as cutting-edge as New York does?” That’s how the idea of SculptHouse came together. I wanted to do something that combined my passion for fitness and workout wear that had come about from my time in New York. At a Shape Magazine photoshoot, I realized that the fitness wear space was changing to be a more boutique feel and moving away from the big box names, so I wanted to bring that to Atlanta. In terms of the workout, I absolutely fell in love with the Megaformer because it was so different than anything I’d done before. Back when I was playing sports, it was so fast-paced, but the Megaformer was so challenging in such a great, unusual way and it changed my body to be longer, leaner and stronger. People from lots of different backgrounds can do this workout and feel good. I knew I wanted to combine the Megaformer with some type of cardio because I kept hearing people in New York saying they felt like they needed a cardio aspect. I discovered the Woodway Curve and, through pairing it with the Megaformer, I created a workout that provides extremely low impact and high efficiency. So, in 50 minutes, you get as much work as some people do in an hour and a half to two hours.
YG: Strong is the new skinny, and we all want to build long, lean muscles. How does your workout achieve that?
KM: I definitely think women need to be involved in some kind of resistance training. You get strength and resistance on the Megaformer, because it has the capability to go from about 8 pounds to 180 pounds. It’s all about how many springs you have on or off. One of our members has osteoporosis, and seeing the strength she’s acquired over time just from doing this workout is so inspiring. We need to lift weights to strengthen our bones and muscles surrounding them. The cables and pulleys on the Megaformer make it so that you have tension throughout your whole exercise, verses it releasing, for example, if you’re doing bicep curls with free weights where the tension releases at the bottom of the curl.
On the SculptHouse workout: “We have a combination that’s different than anywhere else in the world.”
YG: As a studio owner, what would you say a typical day looks like for you?
KM: I usually get into the studio no later than 8:30 and stay until about 9pm. A lot of my day-to-day is working in the boutique, since I have a lot of experience in that realm from being in New York. Megan Armstrong [SculptHouse’s Creative Director & Lead Trainer] helps me make sure the studio is in check, because we have a lot going on under one roof! My day can involve anything from re-stocking the shelves to talking with our vendors to helping style our customers. I like to help them find workout clothes that compliment their skin tone or fit their body in a flattering way. Whether they’re actually working out or going to brunch with friends, I want our customers to feel comfortable and prepared. I like to take them out of their comfort zone and challenge them a little bit, too!
YG: Talk to me about the athleisure trend and your personal style.
KM: I like to dress up my workout clothes with fun accessories like cute sneaker wedges or a big, chunky necklace. A lot of times I’ll go to dinner with friends in my workout leggings and throw on a cool sweater for a put-together look. New York is a few years ahead with the athleisure trend so I’m really excited to see it coming here to Atlanta.
YG: What does a normal day of eating look like for you?
KM: I usually start my days with a smoothie. Then, for lunch, it’s almost embarrassing how much I go to Souper Jenny or Juicy Jenny! It’s easy, quick and convenient and I can still keep my day going. New York has a ton of healthy places to eat and everyone there is usually eating out at places like that, so I’m excited to see places like Kale Me Crazy opening up here! I usually cook for dinner if I have time, so I’ll run to Whole Foods and pick up ingredients to cook but it’s always something quick and easy! In New York, I was cooking a ton but I also had a very different schedule. Now, I’ve just kind of accepted that it’s not as easy for me to grocery shop and meal prep, so I make the healthiest choices I can while eating out.
On starting your own business: “It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but if you want it bad enough, you won’t care.”
YG: Since a lot of meals need to be out for you, what are some of your favorite healthy spots in Atlanta?
KM: I love True Food Kitchen, Café Sunflower and The Optimist! Umi and O-Ku are always great for sushi. It’s really just all about making smart choices wherever you go. You can always find something healthy on the menu.
YG: Let’s talk about the balance between staying healthy and letting your self indulge occasionally.
KM: I think I’m pretty balanced because you just have to be in life, otherwise you drive yourself crazy. At Souper Jenny the other day, I was craving a Roast Beef Sandwich for some reason, and I usually never even eat roast beef! For whatever reason, that’s what my body was craving at the time. I definitely let myself indulge and I think the key is not to feel guilty. If you’re gonna do it, then do it and move on! It’s not the end of the world – that’s why you exercise! Your body’s cravings are not accidental, so I think it’s important to pay attention to them.
YG: What’s your favorite indulgent meal?
KM: I would definitely say pizza and Mexican, or a great cheese board. Queso and a skinny margarita are a must at any Mexican joint or I also like making my own pizza at Mellow Mushroom!
“Just like we go shopping to find a dress for a special occasion, that’s becoming the everyday with workout clothes.”
YG: Being so much in the public eye, how do you keep a positive body image?
KM: First off, you just have to be confident in what your body type is. In the modeling world, I was constantly surrounded by beautiful models who were tall and thin, and I just had to accept my athletic body type and do what was best for me specifically. I’ve definitely had moments of insecurity, but the key is to find your inner confidence – because people can read it all over your face if you’re not. You really just have to own who you are and work hard to achieve your best body. Whatever you are good at, play to your strengths and be proud. Find friends that support what you’re good at, and who will laugh with you about what you’re not so good at.
YG: What advice do you have for female entreprenuers?
KM: Don’t be scared – I’ve had people ask me if I’m nervous or scared, but I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘yes’. I believe so much in my product, my services and my team that I just don’t care what other people think. I think you just have to find that confidence in whatever it is you’re doing and own it. Make sure you create a business plan because it will help you strategize. After building a business, you just learn to let everything roll off your back. I’ve definitely developed some toughness from this process! If you believe in what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what other people are saying. You’re going to have people that doubt you, but you have to let that slide. It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but if you want it bad enough, you won’t care.
Want to learn more about SculptHouse? Check them out at www.sculpthouse.com. Your first class is only $15!