Current Conversations: Q&A with Kira West

Instagram: @bykwest @madebykwest
Occupation: Digital Creator | Wellness and Travel
Location: New York

Can you talk about your fitness journey?
My fitness journey has always been tied to wellness and my mental health. Challenging my body keeps me present in the moment and really gives me a mental break. I also find working out reminds me to breathe and breathing is so important for anxiety, relaxation and just overall body functions.

What is your approach to wellness ––  food, fitness and travel?
I believe wellness is a right not a privilege. At its core, we should all be able to find new ways of living life in an optimal way. I explore wellness via travel and fitness supported by food. Travel experiences are all about exploring new parts of the world, new cultures, new food and creating amazing memories. Fitness and workout experiences are about finding new ways to challenge my mind and body. There's something so beautiful about getting stronger! Food can be such an incredible experience, either in a new place as a part of traveling, or as a means of fueling life/fitness goals.

How do we reach wellness inclusivity, and can you speak to the importance of creating that space in the industry?
I don't think it's something we'll reach anytime soon, but I do think we can make major progress. Wellness should be about living a more peaceful and optimal life ––that should be an option for anyone. It's important for wellness brands to create impactful campaigns that include people of all backgrounds. You can't be what you can't see. I seek to showcase that we, as black women, belong within this space. Looking at spending power, people of color hold a growing share of buying power in the American Economy. Trillions of dollars!

Does working in tech and travel crossover within wellness?
Working full time and growing an online community, that includes maintaining a presence on social media, makes wellness very important. The only way I can be present in life and for the ByKWest community is if I'm pouring from a cup that isn't empty.

How has exercise and running become a place of calm?
For years, exercise has been a place of calm for me –– it's a moment within my day where I'm present. In quarantine especially, I am suddenly living with my significant other which has been amazing –– but we're together 24/7 so I look forward to my runs as a chance to be present and alone.

What is a sanity mile?
Sanity miles is what I've called my almost daily runs! It started out as a bit of a joke as I was really running to maintain my sanity –– and it stuck. I was super overwhelmed by all of the online options at first and just don't have a ton of space within the apartment for workouts. I love that I'm able to safely get outside to run and explore. Friends of mine started to also use the hashtag and it turned into an online community of sorts.

Can you talk about what led you to the sanity miles project?
It was great to be able to use sanity miles to also give back, while building a powerful virtual community. I partnered with another content creator and we raised $1000+ over 2 weeks, donating $2 for every mile ran to Lenox Hill Neighborhood Association & Sunrise Association. It felt amazing to make a positive impact through our sanity miles.

Can you describe what the sanity miles playlist is –– and the value of music, especially while working out?
I usually mix it up between music, guided runs and podcasts. Having audio is huge for me in terms of the mindful piece of running.


How have you been navigating wellness during quarantine – three tips aside from running?
It's been tough to be honest, I go through ups and downs just like everyone else.

Three tips:

  • Be kind to others.
  • Take time for self care, even if that's just taking a few minutes to close your eyes and breathe, or putting on an outfit that makes you feel good.
  • Find ways to move and do what feels good. For me, that's a quick strength class or a run, but now is also a great time to explore new workouts, methods, studios and practices.

Quick-fire Questions:

Favorite podcast
"How I Built This," and "KweenKast," by AvoKween (Ali Bonar)

What is your favorite time of day to go running?
I used to be a morning runner but now I run around 5 pm to take a break between full-time work and ByKWest before making dinner.

Indoors or outdoors (for running)
I love the treadmill and find it to be more efficient time-wise under normal (busy life) circumstances, but I've grown to love running outside since we started quarantine and I'm in a new city.

Tips for beginning runners

  • Take your time and listen your body. Do what feels good but don't be afraid to be a little uncomfortable as you're pushing yourself. It took me a long time to get to the point where I'm comfortable running long distances –– it started with just one mile.
  • Shoes matter but it may take a few pairs to find the perfect fit so stick with it.
  • Have a good playlist or podcast ready. If you're not sure where to begin, try a guided run.
  • Accountability and community (even virtual) makes running way more fun.
  • Sign up for a race (there are tons of virtual options) to give yourself a goal to work toward. This helped me stay consistent when I first started.

Best vacation ever taken
It's hard to choose, but I've loved exploring new parts of Mexico, and Mexico City will always be one of my favorite cities.

Favorite workout gear
Love a solid cute yet supportive sports bra (harder to find then you'd think). Also, I'm OBSESSED with Sky Dye!

Best read
"Becoming," by Michelle Obama


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