Not many people can say that they’re excited about that one thing they want to do when they wake up. Juliet Clark’s guest today is someone who always aims to inspire people to wake up to live fun, healthy, and fulfilling lives. Malin Svensson is the CEO and Founder of Nordic Body, a walking and fitness club that provides 360-degree support to the 50-plus crowd, from online to live programs, including holistic fitness retreats, private sessions, workshops, and community classes. Malin introduces her new book, Wake Up: Your Body+Mind After 50, that talks about aging with confidence and shares why she feels it’s important to write it.
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Waking Up Happy, Healthy And Fulfilled After 50 With Malin Svensson
Our guest is a client of mine, and I’m excited about her. Wait until you learn who is some of the bodies she’s behind sculpting in Hollywood. Our guest Malin Svensson is originally from Sweden and she came to Los Angeles in 1989 with a Master’s in Physical Education. She is a formerly ranked runner with over 30 years of experience in the fitness industry. She’s not a common runner out there. Malin is the CEO and Founder of Nordic Body, a walking and fitness club committed to inspire the 50-plus crowd to live a fun, healthy, and fulfilling life by providing 360-degree support from online to live programs including holistic fitness retreats, private sessions, workshops and community classes.
Malin is also an international fitness coach, author and speaker. Whether she works out fitness guru, Jane Fonda, or people that have never worked out a day in their lives, her mission is the same, to strengthen the body and mind to age with confidence. Malin has been featured as a walking and fitness expert on CBS Los Angeles and the LA Times, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and Fitness Magazine. She brought Nordic walking to North America in 2002 and is one of the leading authorities in Nordic walking worldwide. Her passion for making a difference in people’s lives and wellbeing is further expressed by her organization, Adopt-A-Walk, the first 1-mile walking loop opened in Santa Monica on June 29th, 2019.
Malin, welcome. It’s great to have you here.
Thank you, Juliet. I’m excited to be here.
Tell us about your journey. How did you get here from Sweden? What was all that about?
My adventurous Viking spirit took me here. I have always loved traveling. I have always been into fitness and I was one of Sweden’s top five runners. My coach in Sweden sent me to Southern California when I was sixteen years old. I fell in love with the weather and I ended up here after I finished my Master’s degree in Physical Education in Sweden. At age 28, I came back and since then I’ve never left. I love it here.
She lives down at the beach too. It’s tough to live in Santa Monica. I used to live in Manhattan Beach and it’s a whole little microcosm in and of itself living down at the beach.
What I love about where I live is that when you grew up in Sweden, you bike, you walk to everything. I didn’t even own a car until I moved to LA, but in Sweden, I walked and biked to everything, and where I live in Santa Monica, I can maintain that same lifestyle. I walk and bike to everything. That’s one of the reasons I love living here.
That’s funny because when I was in France, which I ate everything in sight. It was the same thing. You didn’t worry, you were walking it off. It was all good, that’s amazing. You are the trainer to Jane Fonda who I’m sure all of us remember from the ‘80s, total transparency here. I used to sit on the couch, all of us girls did in college, watching Jane Fonda videos and drinking beer. Those were our 12-ounce curls. Seriously, the woman has an amazing body, she’s in her 80s. How long have you been working with her? How did she look amazing?
We’ve worked 3, 4 years together and she is a fitness guru herself. It was such an honor when she walked up to me and said, “Can you work me out?” I said, “Let me check my schedule first.” It’s like as if Dalai Lama is hiring a spiritual leader. It was such an honor to be her trainer and still am. It’s been an ongoing relationship. She is a fitness guru herself and she has been active her whole life. In addition to that, it’s her mind. She’s such an inspiration to be around. Anyone says that whoever meets her, she’s such an inspiration, not because of her age but how she is, how she’s driven throughout life.
She’s going to be 83 and I’m confidential with all my clients but when it’s public knowledge, everyone knows. She’s going to be 83 coming up now in December. It’s been an amazing journey with her. She is driven even more now than a few years ago. That is because of the whole climate action that she’s written a book. Her mind is active and that’s what I always emphasize. The mind and the body, if you keep that strong as you’re aging, you can be like Jane Fonda.
Malin, you came to me because you wrote a book and I have to tell you, I rarely read the books that people bring me because we have many books in production I would be reading all the time. I have read a lot of this book and it’s amazing. It’s for my demographic being 59 years old. Tell us a bit about the book, why you thought it was important to write this book?
I’ve worked with the 50-plus crowd. When I started out as a trainer, it happened to be that the 50-plus was my crowd and it started already back in Sweden. I have always had an interest in working with the elderly and it’s for the wisdom and it’s for many things, but also seeing how sometimes getting older is not as hot as being in your 20s and 30s. I wanted to make that my mission in life to embrace the age wherever you are, that every new decade is a new chapter, a new adventure. I wanted to share my enthusiasm about aging, that you don’t look at it as an arc where you’re at your height when you’re 50 and it’s downhill from there.
I wanted people to feel that it’s an ascending staircase. That has always been in the back of my mind ever since I was a teenager when my dad got this painting, exactly an arc, where you’re at the heights when you’re 50, it was his 50th birthday. I stood and looked at that painting when I was twelve years old. I was like, “I am not going to live my life like that.” It’s been in the back of my mind. When I came here and I started to work out at the 50-plus, it was prioritized to the 50-plus. I’ve learned much through my education. I have Master’s degree in Physical Education, I’ve become certified through other organizations. I’ve learned much from working with my clients and I’ve seen what works and what does not work when you age, if you want to age and be confident in your aging.We look good when we feel good; it has to come from within. Click To Tweet
I wanted to take that knowledge and experience to a bigger mass, to a bigger audience because a lot of people when they came into their 70s or 80s, they would tell me, “Malin, I wish I had started to do this much earlier.” I thought I want to reach out to people in their 40s and up and tell them, “I have all the answers right here in the palm of my hand and I want to share it with you. I want to share it so you can start investing into your health now.” I’m not into the whole weight loss. Yes, we look good if we feel good, but it comes from within. If I feel good, I will look good. I will feel good about myself. It’s coming from that point of view that I encourage and inspire people that are 50-plus to work that it’s getting strong in your body and mind, it’s going to give you that confidence. You’re going to feel independent. You’re going to be able to live a fun, healthy, and fulfilling life.
You and I have had a lot of conversations while the book has been in progress about the special and the flexibility that needs to be nurtured, the alignment. Every single call, I think about your book and that I’m hunching over. Talk a bit about that. What needs to be strengthened and nurtured during this time period that didn’t need to be during your 30s and 40s?
Nowadays, society, what do we do? We sit a lot in front of our computers, in front of our phones and it’s easy to start hunching over and everything is happening here. We forget to be in this position. Posture is definitely something I’d work on. I have a three-letter word that I call CAP, Core Alignment Posture. When I work with clients, I brainwash them with those three letters, but it works because a lot of them say that, “I put on my CAP now and it feels much better.” When you work correctly, you’re aligned and your posture is good, then you prevent potential injuries and there are less aches and pains in your body. I work from the point of view of everyone’s capacity. It doesn’t matter if you’re 20 years old or 70 years old, I’ve worked with people that are in their 20s that are in bad shape and people in the 70s are in great shape. Age is not the limit. It is our mind that is the limit.
In regards to the age, when you say, “We don’t work out the same as in our 20s and 30s,” because it might be, “You want to burn many calories and you want to sweat and work your hardest.” When you get up into the 40s and 50s, you start feeling like, “This starts aching a bit. That starts aching a bit.” Remember, our body is a machine and with a machine, we’ve got to maintain it. We’ve got to bring it into the body shop, the Nordic Body shop. We have to wait, pay attention to what the body is telling you. We can’t ignore the body and we cannot use the excuse, “Because I’m getting older.” We cannot accept that because technology and medicine are advanced nowadays that you’re going to live much longer.
How is that quality of those additional years going to be? That’s up to you. Working out and taking care of your joints, your muscles, your heart is what’s going to give you that quality. That’s what I’m trying to emphasize. Working correctly, lining up everything, rolling out your aches and pains. I’m a big firm believer in foam rolling. You use any tool, tennis ball, a foam roller to roll out your aches and pains. I have a Nordic Body Reboot Program that people even in their 80s have had success with. I had this client Marilyn, she couldn’t walk up the stairs because her left hip kept preventing her from doing it because it was hurting her. Two weeks after doing my program, the Nordic Body Reboot Program, which is a specific program for that. She was able to go up those stairs. I’m not a physical therapist. I work closely with physical therapists. I’m not a doctor, but the system that I have put together for the last 28 years works, and it can keep you healthy well into your 70s, 80s and beyond.
In addition to the book that you have coming out, you have one of the best-branded subscription online programs. There’s a whole package here that you’ve put together. I read that the online fitness business, the industry is going to be a $43 billion industry because of COVID. You have taken your one-on-one and you’ve put it into not only the book, but a subscription program that’s coming on that is priced at a point where the everyday person can partake in this. Can you talk about that bit?
The whole process is back to I want this message to go after a bigger audience. When you work one-on-one, you can reach many people. The thought process has been there for a long time to how can I reach people with speaking, with writing a book and offering something that everyone can do? It started with having the vision and also having the purpose. What do I want to do? I’m lucky. I’ve known for a long time what I want to do and what my purpose in life is. How can I serve and how can I help people get healthier regardless their age? Having that first, a strong belief in what you want to do is crucial because no matter what time of the day, if somebody wakes you up, you need to feel excited about that one thing that you want to do, then you build on that.
I have worked for 28 years with people one-on-one. I had a whole system that I went into. When I train my trainers to become Nordic Body instructors, I had to train them in my system. I have a whole system. I took the system and put it into the book. I worked with a book coach that guided me to make it more fun and inviting for people to read it. COVID hit, sometimes timing is perfect. I feel sorry for people that are struggling during COVID and people working in the restaurant business, our essential workers. I feel proud of everyone doing everything we can to protect ourselves, to stay healthy.
During the process, in the beginning, I felt a bit, “I can’t tell people,” but I was writing the book which started in February 2020. Because of COVID, I had more time to write it. My thought was in 2021 to start with my online membership because I’ve been wanting to get out of the one-on-one to a bigger audience. COVID kicked me into high gear, into fifth gear, to get that going. Not only did I finish the book earlier than expected, but I also started. I had to be adaptable. That’s another thing you have to be in your business. You have to be adaptable. I met many personal trainers that I say, “I saw you online.” “No, I don’t know how to do it. I don’t want to do it. My clients don’t want to do it.”
You have to have an open mind and you have to at least try it. If it doesn’t work out, then at least you can say you’ve done it. There is a good way to do it and a bad way to do it. If you do it in a good way where it does work, then you will have success. What I did, I listened to my clients. What do they want? What do they need? Even though I have worked with the 50-plus crowd for 28 years, I realized I had limitation. When my 80-year-old client, Lily Tomlin asked me, “Malin, can we start working out online?” She didn’t feel comfortable seeing me in person during COVID. I was like, “Wow, somebody in their 80s wants to work out online, on Zoom. If she wants it, probably everyone wants it.”
I tapped into that need, demand, from my client. I started to do online workouts for a bigger group. Once a month, I was like, “People need to see me more than once a month so let’s create a whole membership.” I gave it a low fee. It was $9.95. Everyone during COVID could afford it. They get the 30-day support from me. I check in on a weekly basis and they get the workouts and the camaraderie, the support from other people, we get tips from each other. It started to build to something and that’s what is successful to do. You build on things, you try it out, it works. You then build on it. You listen to people, you listen to your clients. What do they need? What is the demand? You make that happen.
When I did write the book, I started to put things into the book where people can go to my online membership. The book is a vehicle for you to learn, but it’s also a vehicle for me to get an audience onto my online memberships. They start in January 2021 and I have an annual membership. When we come to this time of the year, people’s commitment to health is a bit wavering. We’re getting into the holidays and we have Thanksgiving. We had Christmas and all that good stuff, it probably will be different this time because of COVID, but still we have a tendency to slack off from working out and taking care of our health while we eat. This is a perfect timing also to launch something new when people are in that mood and they want to make a commitment for next year, “I want to do New Year’s resolutions.”
Here I am offering it already in the month of November and December so people can feel good about, “I signed up for this annual,” not monthly. I’m offering an annual membership program at a low budget, feasible price cost to make sure that people get on starting January 1st and have a whole year to take care of their health. A lot of times we start in January and we’re like, “I’m going to work out.” Two weeks later, what happens? We stop. We don’t feel motivated. This one-year program, you will be supported for a whole year with me. You can continue, but the program is an annual program. It’s the whole vision of knowing what it is that you want to do. What do you want to give people? Listening to your clients and their demands and be open, adaptable to how things have to change in your business. Try it out. There will be some trial and error but stay the path and get help from a team. When you and I started to work, that was amazing how you work to be my publisher. The first book that I did was through a big fitness publisher, which was great. I learned the whole process of how it is to write a book, but I didn’t have the freedom to do what I want to do with my book. You have helped me immensely on that path as well.
Thank you. One of the things I want to talk about, you mentioned that you talk to a lot of other fitness trainers and they did this, “I don’t know how to do this.” You did it the right way. You went out and you hired people who did know. You not only have your subscription courses up now, you have webinars plan, club complimentary sessions and also the book. You have spent your time coordinating your effort. I have to tell you, when you start looking at her materials and all of this, she is well-branded, it’s all branded to the books, the programs. I would encourage anybody who wants to take advantage of this online. Do it in a way that is not haphazard. That probably means you’re going to have to bite the bullet and hire some professionals to get this out here. How has it been for you working with these teams? I know you work all day. You’re trying to get this all together at night. Has it been a lot? How have you felt about it?Age is not the limit. It is our mind that is the limit. Click To Tweet
It helps being a Virgo, organized.
She’s super organized. I’m a Pisces. I’m like this wavy gravy. I don’t act much like a Pisces.
It’s been overwhelming at times, but I think what carries me is that initial vision, what it is that I want to do. When you have a big pie to eat from, you have to start with the small pieces. It’s about breaking down your big vision, hire people because you cannot do everything and you should not be doing everything because if you are a control freak and you want to do it this way and no other way, you’re going to fail because you can’t be an expert at everything. You need to hire the people that are an expert at their thing. Referrals, I highly recommend because if somebody has success with somebody, most likely you will as well. My team that I’ve been able to put together didn’t happen overnight.
It’s going to be a trial and error with virtual assistants and marketing people, webinar people, publishers book coaches, but you have to follow your intuition as well. Does this feel right? You’re on the right track. If something doesn’t feel right, then you have to speak up. Even though I’m not a designer, I love being creative and I can still see that, “This is not way along my brand. My brand is this and this and that.” In anything you do with your brand, first of all, you have to decide what is your brand? What does it stand for? Once you made that decision, it’s going to be easy for you to say yes or no when people want to have your approval for this project, for this image, for this, for that. If you’re strong in, “This is what my brand is.” That is super important. Also, being able to communicate to your team what it is that you’re doing and what your brand stands for. They are then going to be able to say, “This is too much clutter. Her brand is simpler. We need to simplify it.” The team needs to be experts, but they also need to see your vision and know your brand.
I’ve worked on teams before where people got egocentric. I remember Patrick coming to me and saying, “Can I change this in the copy?” I was like, “If it makes Malin happy.” I think a lot of times, people on teams when they’re different team members working together, we don’t have that cohesiveness, “No, I’m insulted that you want to change this.” It’s not about the team members. It’s about what they’re doing for you. I loved working with that team too because there were no egos, which is good.
You attract people that aren’t like you and that you want the same thing. That’s with anything in life, you attract people that are like you, it’s up to you to say no or yes if that person is aligned with your purpose. There’s a lot of egos in the fitness industry. I’m lucky that I’m not one of them because my mission is bigger than myself. My purpose is bigger than myself. I’m the vehicle. I’m here to serve and to bring out my message and having people get inspired and live a fun, healthy, fulfilling life.
Your book, the name of it is Wake Up Your Body + Mind After 50. It’s going to be available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble on November 17th. You have a free gift, a complimentary gift you’d like to give everybody on the show. Can you tell us about that?
I’ve been doing these complimentary workouts online and it’s a combination of cardio and strength. I divide them into three levels, level 1, 2, 3, and anyone can participate. Some of the workouts require no equipment. Some of them require little like a resistance band and some weights using your cans or water bottles or encourage you to invest some of that especially during COVID is important to have. Most of the workouts are easy to follow. You can do them indoors. You can do them outdoors, as long as you are able to get on Zoom and have internet access, you are going to be able to participate. I have ages from late 30s to 90s that participate in all fitness levels. Sometimes in my testimonials from my clients, one thing that they say is that I can work with any level. I’m not a person that is hard like a Jillian Michaels who will stand there with a whip.
I am encouraging people to move instead of making them feel bad about not moving. Anything you do, I love seeing you there participating and that you’re trying. That is the main thing. It’s not for me, it’s for you. My goal is to educate you, give you knowledge. You work out and stay injure-free, decrease your aches and pains, and you feel great. That is the purpose. These online monthly workouts are complimentary. I will give you the link. NordicBody.com/complimentary-cardio-strength-online-session/.
Malin, thank you for sharing all this. I’m excited for you. I think this is going to be successful.
Thank you. With your help, it will be successful. It’s been an honor to have you part of my team and I cannot recommend you highly enough the way that you work with every person. I thought in the beginning that this was going to be a meeting once in a while, but to meet with you once a week to stay on top of the whole process has been invaluable. The communication has been good with us every week, reviewing things and going back and forth. It is your success as well. I’m glad that you are in my life as a person and as a publisher to help me through this. I wouldn’t have been able to do this alone. Thank you, Juliet.
About Malin Svensson
Malin Svensson, Masters Degree Physical Education, NASM, NSCA, is a Celebrity Walking and Fitness Expert, International Author, Speaker, and Coach and a former nationally ranked track and field athlete.
She has published several books with Human Kinetics, and has been featured as a walking and fitness expert on CBS Los Angeles and in the LA Times, The NY Times, The Wall Street Journal, Body + Soul, All You, Weight Watchers, Organic Spa Magazine and Fitness magazine.
Malin is one of only three INWA International Coaches in the world.
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