Category Archives: Philadelphia

Katie Kerl: Fall Fun Guide

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Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Falling for Philly

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The weather in Philly is finally changing! I had to pull out the sweaters, boots, and scarves last weekend. It was sad to see summer go, but I also love everything fall. Not to mention shorts, sweaters, and scarves happen to be my favorite. No pumpkin spice for this girl though; unless it is my own homemade pumpkin pie and cookies. I made them with my mom and grandmother for as long as I can remember. It is one of my fondest memories as a child. I am more of an apple cider girl, and happen to make pretty potent cider sangria. The recipe proven sneaky enough to put down the heaviest of drinker haha!

 

Cider Sangria Recipe:

1.5 L bottle of Pinot Grigio

½ pint fireball

1.5 c regular whiskey

4 chopped apples

½ c orange juice

5 cinnamon sticks

1 pint fresh apple cider

1 Chopped orange

½ c sugar

1 tsp cinnamon

 

Chop orange and apples into tiny pieces add cinnamon sticks. Then rub them with the cinnamon sugar. Pour in the liquids. Mix and refrigerate. Let the sangria sit for at least 6 hours to overnight for best taste. Add more or less of anything to your liking.  (Guaranteed to leave a few corpses behind at your fall parties)

 On the first day of fall, also fell the first dinner service at K’Far Cafe. This happens to be the newest spot opened by the number one restaurateurs’ in the country, Michael Solomonov and Steve Cook. It was the most exceptional meal that I have had here in Philadelphia. I left in the happiest of food coma after ordering almost the whole menu. I highly suggest checking it out before you can not get a reservation. 

 Linvilla Orchards is great for all ages. This is the best place to go pumpkin and apple picking. It is a very large working farm that makes their own amazing baked goods, grows their own Christmas trees, hay rides, corn mazes, face painting, pony rides, play area for the kids, and many farm animals.

 A few of my favorites from there are the homemade apple cider & donuts, Dutch apple pie, apple/pumpkin butter, apple bread mix, house made honey from their own bees, cheddar bacon bread, and the grilled corn. Let’s just say if you were looking to gain a few extra fall pounds for winter like myself; it is a perfect place to pig out. Not to mention getting everything to decorate the house in the craft section, and coming home with piles of pumpkins to roast seeds and carve.

 If you are not up to leaving the city this year Morgan’s Pier stayed open for Fall Fest. Every weekend you can carve pumpkins and take photos around their foliage decorated deck. All while sipping a crisp cider relaxing before the winter air comes rolling in on the water.

If you are more into horror check out Nightmare before Tinsel in the gayborhood in Philadelphia. It is a seasonal bar, which was most recently Blume for the summer months. Owned by Teddy Sourias, his group is killing the bar game in Philadelphia. You are guaranteed a spooky time here.

 People watching by the park is also fun, P.J Clark’s in Washington square offers a 7 day a week happy hour. That is pretty amazing in any season. The interior is old school chocolate and red leather tufted seating, white table cloths, and an array of black and white photography. Making you feel nostalgia just by walking in the door. Sitting in the walnut room you look out onto the kaleidoscope of colors the city has turned itself into.

 Onto a few parties in the city you would not want to miss. Every fall I attend The Taste of Philly. Being a foodie it is not one to miss, it is held at the Crystal Tea Room. Sampling Philly’s top food and drink destinations, followed by a dance party with a DJ at the end.  

 If you are into house music like myself check out Hallowink 5 featuring Louie Vega & Josh Wink at Warehouse on Watts on the 31st. It is a party that has yet to disappoint me.

 Also, at the same venue the next night Nov.1st, is 14th Annual PEX Halloween Ball “Wizard of Woz. If you want to feel like you have been transformed to another place in time this is the party for you. It is not for the basic bitch bar hopper that is for sure. Get your most extreme costume ready, or just paint it onto yourself. PEX the Philadelphia Experiment is a group of burners (meaning they attend Burning Man) that throw the most fantastic BE YOURSELF parties free of judgment.  

 Now if you are not really into that sort of thing; it is not for everyone. I also noticed on Oct. 26th there is a Haunted Halloween boat party on the Moshulu, and a 2 hour open bar with a VIP ticket. On Oct.26th Dj Ghost will be playing at Noto Nightclub, and 3lau will also be at Noto Nightclub on Halloween night.

 There are tons of other great events through the month. You just have to do a little digging to find what fits your vibe.  Cheers to Falling in love with Philly this Season.

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Katie Kerl

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-eroticism-wins/

 

Also posted in Affiliates, Announcements, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, News, Popular Culture, Still Life, Student Life, Travel, Women

Julian Domanico: The Pursuit of Justice

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Text by Julian Domanico, Copyright 2019

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Photography by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Styling: Shirts courtesy of Old School Shirtmakers New York

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Assistant Producer: Anthony Colagreco

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THE PURSUIT OF JUSTICE

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Coming from a small, blue collar town in Michigan, I grew up thinking of myself as a “big fish” in a “small pond.” I was a hard worker in school, a competitive runner, and worked on my grandparent’s small farm. My family was one of the only Caucasian, French-Italian immigrant families in a majority of Middle Eastern families. Yet, although I was biracial and surrounded by races of all hues, my light brown skin afforded me more opportunities than my darker friends from Yemen and Eritrea enjoyed. In the 1990s in Michigan, no one used or appreciated the terminology of ‘birth lottery’ or ‘white privilege.’ Then, I did not understand what made me different, nor that it mattered. In hindsight, although I had similar experiences of poverty and being raised by a single parent as the Middle Eastern kids, we had starkly different outcomes. What I understood at the time was that I was expected to leave my rust belt town for greater challenges while the Middle Eastern kids were expected to stay to work in the steel processing plant across the street from my house.

On a sweltering day in August 2008, I took my first steps into my new life on Penn’s campus as an undergraduate. I reveled in the idea of being surrounded by bright people from across the globe to think and create alongside. I dove in quickly to my Penn experience, but haphazardly. I desperately wanted to throw away my old life in Michigan that seemed out of touch with the sleeker, more academic version I was creating in Philadelphia. I soon learned, however, that — trying to be someone I was not – created an emptiness and did not satisfy my passion to do better.

My realization that I was not finding a meaningful experience caused me to forge my own path and to take a different approach. In the summer of 2010, I worked in the office of the 56th Street Philadelphia Census Bureau. It was my first experience in government and working around highly intelligent people outside of Penn. My census colleagues spoke of activism, advocacy, and systems of oppressions in ways I had never heard. Their integrity and passion for purposeful work that served others made me question my own professional motives. Their mantra, “Why does it have to be like this,” has been forever etched into my memory. When I returned to Penn following that summer, I was thrown a curve ball that altered everything about who I was.

My life abruptly changed when Penn asked me to take a leave of absence because I was failing academically. My heart, my psyche, and my sanity were frayed. I lost my identity and, with it, my drive. In retrospect, this road of uncertainty gave me the opportunity to commit myself to self-care and my research. I studied the experiences of African Americans with obsessive compulsive disorder and also tested atypically developing children with psychosis. This work showed me a lack of access and understanding of the systems by disadvantaged persons that I – as a person of relative privilege – more easily navigated. I came to understand why so many people were disadvantaged by our power structures and how they lived lives of sustained suffering. This revelation forced me to shed my selfish lens of what I thought I lacked, to see how fortunate my life had always been, and to resolve to live authentically. I returned to Penn with a renewed and laser focus as to what mattered to me: the betterment of other people by concerted efforts to lift others up. Armed with a clear direction of how meaningful a Penn education can assist me with my goals, I graduated with the highest GPA of my undergraduate experience and immediately began working at the Public Defender’s office in Philadelphia.

Understanding mission driven was my calling, I successfully channeled my past difficulties that emerged from being different and feeling “othered.” I chose to give back through youth-centered work and become who I needed as a child. In addition to the full acceptance of my sexual orientation, which I wrestled with during my leave from college, I finally felt as though I could fully exhale. My identity as a queer male of color informed my experience in and passion for advocacy moving forward. As my world broadened through my ability to empathize and spread my compassion for others, I hit a stride that remains a vibrant cornerstone of my brand and career to this day.

Nine years of work and collaboration with top leaders in the fields of the judiciary, psychology, nonprofits, government, and politics has allowed me to deeply commit myself to a life of positive social impact. I have seen the interconnectivity and understand the “through line” that runs across people-centered service. Throughout my working life, I saw how my knowledge of juvenile mental health played a role in the juvenile justice defense work that I did across the state. I was able to tie that criminal justice understanding to the desperation one experiences during bouts of homelessness and poverty. While working at the Catholic Archdiocese, I delved into philanthropic and the direct service world which gave me an understanding of how religious communities create short-term stability, especially for black and brown youth who had contact with the criminal justice system. I then pivoted to learn about the benefits of education and afterschool programming at City Year and the Public Health Management Corporation (PHMC) because early educational interventions reduce the potential for poverty, addiction, homelessness and underemployment. All of this work better informed my board work, political volunteerism within Philadelphia, and even my connection with people as a part time barista for the last two years.

This ability to connect has also opened me up to new, creative pursuits. Armed with what I learned as an advocate, by overcoming personal adversities, as well as my self-care routine, I have been able to attract new career opportunities. In June 2019 I was approached by Reinhard Modeling and Talent Agency to begin work as a professional model. Modeling has been a wonderful outlet for my creativity and passions outside of advocacy. However, I want my modeling to be and mean more than the superficiality that plagues the industry. I want my work to be used as a platform for social change and positive acceptance. I’d like to shine a bright light on the power of being genuine in your own skin, believing in what you stand for, and not settling for less than you deserve. Through each of our “birth lotteries” therein lies the ability for a meaningful life that serves others while protecting your individuality. As a kid from the Midwest, modeling was never planned to be the route reveal itself. However, in life I have always been most fortunate on the road less traveled. I hope you will join me in creating your own path.

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Julian Domanico is currently the Public Health Management Corporation’s Director of Community Outreach for the 21st Century Community Learning Center program, Project Leading Youth for Tomorrow (Project L.Y.F.T.). Through his nonprofit career, Julian has advocated for juveniles in placement, marginalized persons (with emphasis on people of color and the LGBTQ+ community), education equity, and on public policy issues impacting millennials.

Julian holds an appointed seat as the Social Justice Chair of the Philadelphia Mayor’s Millennial Advisory Committee, serves as the Board Secretary for the LGBTQ+ fundraising nonprofit, the Delaware Valley Legacy Fund (DVLF) and is also a board member of a youth-led, education nonprofit, UrbEd, Inc. Within Philadelphia’s political ward system, Julian is one of two Democratic Committee Person representatives for Ward 5, Division 11 (within the boundaries of 13th St. to 10th St., Walnut St. to Spruce St.). He also professionally models commercially and in fashion for Reinhard Modeling and Talent Agency. This is Julian’s first contribution to Tony Ward Studio.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Covers, Current Events, Environment, Friends of TWS, lifestyle, Men, Models, News, Politics, Popular Culture, Portraiture, UPenn

Katie Kerl: Eroticism Wins

Photo of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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Eroticism Wins

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This time last year I was debating if I should take photos with Tony Ward or not. I  am so happy I decided to do it! I did not listen to one person that told me it was a bad idea because of social judgment. It was one of the most freeing things I’ve done in my adult life.

 I even ended up in his current photography book on two pages! There are a slew of other famous professional models in the book, as well as other impressive creative’s. That was pretty cool on its own, but getting to blog about my life with no restrictions might have saved me.

I SAVED MYSELF by writing and getting out what I was going through at the time. Being real in the things I was talking about got a lot of attention from people I have not heard from in years. Thanking me for choosing topics no one talks about, but everyone can relate toI have Tony to thank for that. Many people call him a mentor. I absolutely see why including myself now. He lives life exactly the way he wants to despite stigma, encourages people to be free, and find that thing that gives you inner peace. Now I am lucky enough to say that about myself. I always loved to cook and be fit, that brought me confidence in the way I lookbut it did not give me inner peace.  

Everyone sees bloggers on vacations, free products they receive, and eating at the nicest places in the best outfits. I never thought that spilling my roller coaster of life events would touch so many people. In fact I was expecting the opposite response

As time passed I got out a lot of things that bothered me. I cut my drinking in more than half. I was the epitome of a train wreck with everything I had dealt with in the last five years. This new hobby really made me understand once you find your PASSION destructive behavior is no longer appealing.

 It also made me realize decision making sober is emotionally fucking taxing. I still have a few drinks now, but I was polishing off bottles of wine and whiskey like they were waterI was very quick to dismiss people that no longer suited me. I am more tolerant now and have learned patience. Well, more than I had before ha!

After writing about myself for the better part of the year; I turned my focus to friends who went through major life changes following their dreams. Happiness is more important to them than being in a career path they hated. 

That led me to Derek Bailey. We came across each other on Instagram.  When I saw what he was doing I immediately asked to interview him. Derek agreed and welcomed any positive press for his new green car innovation. That interview will be published as soon as his car gets to the U.S. 

Tony will actually be taking the photo for that one. Another pretty dope thing; a famous photographer wanting to take photos for something I have written!

Derek liked my interview so much he proposed it be turned into a video podcast sponsored by his car company

Whether or not that ends up happening the fact he is in a different realm of business, and a leader in green automotive technology was quite the compliment. He is in the business of building businesses and making people money. Maybe I have written enough to not only have this be a rewarding hobby; but possibly one day a new career path. 

A year writing for Tony Ward Studio does a mind, body, and soul good.

I hope you all find the same inner peace. 

Thank you for Kerling up with Kate this year!!

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Portrait of Katie Kerl by Tony Ward, Copyright 2019

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttp://tonyward.com/katie-kerl-dream-catching/

 

Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Blog, commentary, Current Events, Documentary, Erotica, Fashion, Friends of TWS, Glamour, lifestyle, Models, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Travel, Women

Katie Kerl: Dream Changing

Dream Catching

 

Text by Katie Kerl, Copyright 2019

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DREAM CATCHING

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When you mention Robert Li’s name around Philadelphia there are very few people who have not come into contact with him. I’ve known Rob for the better part of a decade. have to say he’s one of the most positive friends I have. 

He’s always into something different and exciting. His calendar of events is a tuff one to keep up with. Rob has appeared on many local news stations showing off his unique hobbies

We met in 2011 through music and a love of costume parties. Anything silly that was an excuse to dress up and dance the night away just being yourself. 

We lost touch here and there through the years. I ran into Rob last fall walking down the street in Old City, Philadelphia. He let me know he was starting his own active wear line. Knowing Rob I was not surprised at all. He is a go getter; cheer coach, acro teacher, #ridetherob challenge, and is always at every major event the city has to offer. 

He had invited me to try acro a few times in the past. I declined many times being I have a full metal forearm. Rob always tried to get me to overcome that, but it was one heavy mental block at the time. 

When his line was sample ready; I stopped by to try some of it on. I have to say I do not spend $100 on leggings to work out at home EVER, but these were worth every penny.  I actually ended up buying two pairs!! You can wear them from fitness class long into the night being so versatile. One pair is a black V waist leather look, with ribbed accents going down the sides. They are perfect for giving you the illusion of a waist line. The second pair is reversible, black with a pretty white tree design, and red solid opposite side. They stayed in place perfectly. Not having to constantly pull them up with no hips was amazing. Also, no horrid camel toe like with cheaply made leggings!

After a try on session with a bit of acro on Rob’s roof top; he finally convinced me to come to an acro class! I was a bit nervous when arriving being it was an intermediate class, but everyone was super nice. I picked it up as well as a first timer could. It brought me back to my own cheerleading/ gymnastics days at 35. Another sentence I never thought I’d be typing this late in life. I will absolutely find the time to fit that into my schedule more now. Overcoming my horrible mental block was the best part of it all, and in my new Active Elixir leggings, thanks to Rob.

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Acro Yoga Class

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After checking this all out, I asked Rob to write his own piece because he seemed so happy with his career change. I want people to know about his line, everything he is into, inspirations, difficulties he has overcome, and where you can check him out through the week!

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Find Rob Dream Catching 

One Active Elixir Flyer at a time! 

Link to Rob Li’s article written exclusively for TWShttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/robert-li-acro-yoga/

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Katie Kerl wearing Robert Li’s acro leggings.

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Katie Kerl was raised in Drexel Hill, Pennsylvania. She is currently living  in Northern Liberties, Philadelphia. Katie has a background in Psychology from Drexel University. She is a manager in the commercial/residential design field . Katie can be reached  on Instagram @kerlupwithkate 

For collaboration e-mail: Kate.kerl32@gmail.com

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To access additional articles by Katie Kerl, click herehttp://tonywardstudio.com/blog/katie-kerl-modern-mom/

 

 

Also posted in Accessories, Affiliates, Blog, Current Events, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, News, Popular Culture, Student Life

Robert Li: Acro Yoga

 

Text by Robert Li, Copyright 2019

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Acro Yoga

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Ikigai. Have you heard the term before? It’s a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being.” Essentially, it’s a reason to get up in the morning. There is a sense of purpose and a reason to enjoy life.  If you take four elements – That which you love, That which you are good at, That which you can be paid for, and That which the world needs – and put them in a Venn diagram, your Ikigai is the intersection of all four. Someone told me that I found my Ikigai in Acro, and I believe she was right.

I came to the US from Taiwan when I was 11 months old and grew up in Huntingdon Valley before attending Drexel University, though I studied abroad in Berlin while working for the German government. I majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in Chinese and German, and minored in Business Administration and History.

After college, I was a professional party promoter and professional cheerleader for the Philadelphia Soul as well as the Philadelphia 76ers while becoming familiar with the point of sale industry. The combination of food and tech seemed like a perfect place.  Food has always been a passion of mine, so it was great to work with staff, managers, and owners all across the country.  Still, I was either working or on call from 10am to 3am every weekday and on call every other weekend.  There were a lot of perks, including working from home and free food when clients insisted I eat, but I felt like a slave to my phone because I had to answer at all hours, no matter what.  When I discovered Acro, something clicked. I wanted to do it all the time.  I realized that the other aspects of Acro align with what I enjoy in life as well: travel, meeting amazing people, and potential for beautiful photography.  At first, Acro was a hobby, but by the time my thoughts, actions, and even dreams involved Acro, I knew a life-changing decision was coming.

With the #ridetherob project, the timing was right. When I started Acro four years ago, I didn’t know what to wear. I figured others must have the same problem. Why not create something that could fill a need? The concept of creating a clothing line became more than a fleeting thought. As my passion for Acro grew into a full blown love affair, I knew I had to take actions instead of just thinking about it. My heart and mind shifted focus from my job to the possibilities of what I could do with Acro. The #ridetherob project was building a lot of momentum, and studios started approaching me to teach. With so many amazing opportunities knocking at my door, I needed to answer the call and see what adventures await. Here was a big step towards the unknown, comforted by the thought that I have a whole community of amazing people supporting me in this adventure.

I wanted to create quality apparel for active lifestyles, and I had no idea where to begin. The first step was to make my intentions known and to make the time for this endeavor. Leaving a stable job with steady income was necessary to see this through. I was a motivated and knowledge-thirsty sponge, soaking in every piece of information and detail. Then I started making moves and developing my brand and products. Active Elixir was born (www.active-elixir.com). It’s the “perfect solution for people of movement.” I would address issues people have with apparel in various movements and provide solutions for them. My focus would be on all the various niche markets, starting with which I was familiar – Acro. Now I am developing Pole Wear, Swimwear, and in the next year, Belly Dance Wear and Social Dance Wear. Items are designed with ideas I’ve had, recommendations from friends, or random inspirations, and once they were realized, I test the prototypes on people who are actively involved in the practice. I listen to what they want, gathered feedback on the piece, made changes, and try again until it’s perfect — functional, comfortable, well-made, and stylish. I offer a direct line to someone who can make the changes you’ve always wanted to see in apparel, especially for your practice. I just hope that when all is said and done, I don’t end up with an absurd amount of women’s clothing in my apartment; I want to give them happy homes. In the near future, I’m looking towards fashion shows and collaborating with yoga studios.

My other pet project is #Ridetherob.  Funny enough, the idea for it came in the shower.  I recently got into Acro, and I wanted to show people how much fun it can be. I didn’t know this little project would evolve into something more and inspire others to create challenges and personal goals beyond expectations. At first, it was to show the world what Acro was, and then it was to make people feel good and happy while creating a deeper connection between human beings. At least, that’s what I observed the first couple of years. Now I realize it shows that people can learn and do things they thought was impossible. I’m also working on adding a philanthropic element to this project as I collaborate with various charities and other events.  My current count is 5,323 people I’ve lifted up on my Journey to 10,000.  The heaviest person I lifted while on the ground was my former rugby teammate who is 360 lbs. The heaviest individual I lifted standing was 250 pounds and almost 7 ft tall. I’ve also lifted a family of 6 at the same time and did a Triple Cupie with 3 flyers standing on my hands.

The Philly Mag article was great.(https://www.phillymag.com/be-well-philly/2018/02/13/rob-li-lift-acro/) It was the first published article about the project. Being on Good Day Philadelphia and lifting the anchors as well as just about everyone in the Fox 29 office was also a lot of fun.  When CBS3 asked me to come in, I lifted anyone that wanted to be part of the project, and it seemed to make everyone’s days seeing how happy they were. (https://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/video/4121404-local-acro-yoga-instructor-on-mission-to-lift-as-many-people-as-possible-to-spread-teaching/?fbclid=IwAR0sqCjL4QA5dneLLk4BaJO3qCCljjCwiYJeDAIBUSQOpWp0yTsD-1W57x4)

Growing up, I was quite chunky. I would eat everything in sight. Then I got into sports one summer. I lost about 20 pounds unintentionally and just have been active ever since. I played football, wrestled, ran track, fenced, did cheer, and played rugby.  I coached Temple Co-Ed Cheer because the head coach wanted to bring back a co-ed stunt team and asked me to help out. It’s amazing seeing the cheerleaders progress in their skills season to season.   

I am so thankful that I did cheer. I did not know that people tossing would be such a valuable life skill to have. Having a strong foundation in the fundamentals of standing Acro has helped me achieve a variety of skills. It also led me to teaching Acro. One of the people I lifted had her own yoga studio, and she insisted I teach an Acro workshop. I told her I wasn’t certified and have just been doing Acro for a couple of years, but she told me that the way I instructed her into her pose was evidence enough that I would be good at teaching. I taught my first class and really enjoyed it. Having about 20 years of cheer experience also helps out. Because of this foundation, I was able to learn skills in 20 minutes that people work on for a year or more.

Even though I have a strong personal practice, teaching people who are trying Acro for the first time has been really rewarding. Sometimes I find myself in random situations– I’ve been invited to a number of Bachelorette parties, and I would come in and lift everyone. One of my personal goals was to hit a Rewind, which is a dynamic cheer stunt in which the flyer essentially does a back tuck while the base tosses her in the air and then catches her feet as she comes out of the tuck. I was so thrilled that I even did a Happy Dance while holding the flyer in the skill. Unlocking new skills is such an amazing feeling, especially when you work for it. Some other stories include me lifting a flight attendant while 34,000 feet in the air. I’ve done Acro on top of bars at clubs and lounges. In the kitchen or counters of restaurants. At a few gentlemen’s clubs. On stage at a gentlemen’s club. On boats and yachts. On paddle boards. At hospitals. In offices. Every day is an adventure, and I’ll do Acro wherever. The pose depends on who is flying and what feels safe and what I call concrete-ready. 

Acro has even led me to perform and compete in one of the country’s largest competitions of this kind. When I went to see Diamond G a few years ago to support my friend, I saw some Acro in one of the performances. My thought process quickly went from I can do that, to I should do that, to I will do that. For a whole year, I was thinking about who should be on the team and what I should do. I recruited very talented acrobats, aerialists, pole dancers, and exotic dancers to compete for the coveted Diamond G-String title and $15,000. Despite being new to this, we came home with the title and prize money, and I met some amazing people in the process and have the utmost respect for anyone that puts on a show of this magnitude. 

It was a challenging and exciting endeavor, much like starting an apparel company, and I’m learning more about the industry each day. Almost every night before bed and every morning when I wake up, I am talking to my contacts in Asia. There has been no shortage of delays or mistakes that needed to be addressed in a timely manner. My search for reliable manufacturers that can take my ideas and create quality products has led me down some interesting roads. For those who might be thinking about embarking on a similar project, do your research. Be prepared for a lot of things to go the way you don’t expect them to go, and learn how to overcome those challenges.  Learn from your mistakes and apply that knowledge to future situations. Take lots of notes. Make sure you have money put aside because you will be spending more than you think. Believe in yourself. Take calculated risks and put yourself out there. Be kind to everyone. You never know who you’re going to meet who can help you in some way.

It also helps to listen, and I mean really listen to what women (and male consumers too!) have to say.  I’ve learned so much about bras and boobs. It’s still very confusing though. There are many body types and preferences to consider. I’ve learned about various tests women try when deciding which pieces of apparel they purchase—squats, jumps, and inversions. Learning from women firsthand means that I can develop clothing that fits their needs directly. I’m also studying shopping habits and learning about marketing through social media. This is a lot for someone who basically posts twice a month on Instagram. Yes, I’m working on that.

The support from my friends and various Acro communities has been tremendous. I am so grateful for the amazing people that have helped me and believed in me in realizing my vision. It’s heart-warming to see how happy people are with my products. They tell me stories about how great they feel and the amount of compliments they’ve received from wearing my clothing line. It’s really rewarding to hear that after putting so much time, energy, and money into such a huge endeavor.  It can definitely be difficult at times, but it’s been incredibly rewarding, and I’m excited to see what comes next.

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About The Author: Robert Li grew up in Huntingdon Valley, PA and resides in Philadelphia. He majored in International Area Studies with concentrations in German and Chinese and Minors in Business Administration and History at Drexel University. He is the Founder of Active Elixir, a clothing brand focused on creating solutions for people of movement through apparel. With his experience as a cheerleader for Drexel University, the Philadelphia Soul, and the Philadelphia 76ers as well as Cheer Coach for Temple University, he is also an AcroYoga instructor teaching at various studios in Philadelphia and Acro festivals across the country.

www.active-elixir.com

If you want to get in touch with Rob, you can find him on Instagram – @themojoshow and @activeelixir or email him: activeelixir@gmail.com.

Also posted in Affiliates, Blog, Documentary, Environment, Friends of TWS, Health Care, lifestyle, Men, News, Photography, Popular Culture, Portraiture, Sports, Video