Tracy Arndt escaped the corporate rat race and now shares with others the life lessons she learned from the athletic and meditative disciplines of yoga
Tracy Arndt had the education, drive and savvy to make a successful career for herself as a paralegal at a large corporation.
“I knew all the politics involved in business,” she said. “I knew all the games that were played.”
But she also had the intuition, it seems, to realize that there was something more for her in life than analyzing business contracts.
“When I was in corporate America, I always said to myself, ‘I’d love to go to work everyday in yoga pants,’” Arndt said.
It turned out that Arndt was yearning for more than just a comfortable alternative to her business attire. She reached a point in her career where she realized that the stress of her job and an unforgiving schedule were sapping her mind and body.
So in 2014, at age 41, recently divorced and with two children to help support, Arndt walked away from her lucrative career to dedicate herself to a discipline she said has restored her physical and mental well-being — yoga.
“It was a very risky decision for me, especially given what was going on in my personal life,” she said. “But it was a move I felt I needed to make for my personal well-being.”
Today, Arndt, who lives in Fredonia, is a manager and yoga instructor at ZuZu Pedals in Port Washington, owns her own business, Fit2Ride, and teaches yoga for corporations and motorcyclists.
“Because I came from the corporate world, the main thing I want to do is help people unplug to recharge, to get away from their everyday routine and into a space where they can relax and breathe,” she said. “My mantra is, ‘take care of you’. In today’s society, that’s very hard to do.”
Arndt’s life-change didn’t happen overnight, but it started with a moment of personal reckoning in 2005 as the monotony of her daily routine began to take its toll.
“I started a well-being journey of my personal self,” she said.
First Arndt, a 1991 graduate of Grafton High School who has a degree from Concordia University Wisconsin in Mequon, turned to exercise in the form of spinning.
She discovered yoga almost by mistake.
“I got into yoga as a form of stretching after spinning,” Arndt said. “For me, it started as athletic yoga. I didn’t understand the other concepts at the time. In class, we’d be told to sit quietly for five minutes and I’d being thinking to myself, ‘Come on already, I have to get out of here. I’ve got things to do.’”
But as Arndt learned more about yoga, she realized that the meditative aspect of the discipline was what she needed to recharge her spirit.
“I realized we need to slow down if we’re going to live long lives,” she said.
Arendt introduced a corporate wellness program, which included yoga, at Waste Management, where she worked at the time.
In 2011, she completed 200 hours of training to become a registered yoga teacher through Yoga Alliance. She is currently working on her 500-hour certification.
“I’m not the type of yoga instructor who is going to put you in crazy pretzel positions,” she said. “I’m the type of yoga instructor who is going to bring you into a space and help you breathe and relax.”
Just as Arndt didn’t realize at first that yoga was the calming influence she needed in her life, she didn’t know that teaching was for her either. But Arndt, who played professional basketball in Northampton, England, for a time, knew she liked coaching and discovered teaching wasn’t much different.
In addition to being a yoga instructor, Arndt, an avid motorcycle rider and proud owner of a 1997 Harley-Davidson Electra Glide Classic, is a certified Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program instructor who also teaches yoga to her fellow riders.
Teaching yoga year-round and motorcycle riding in the summer has allowed Arndt to make ends meet without having to opt for the far less desirable Plan B — returning to a corporate job.
“I’m very glad I got out of corporate America when I did,” she said. “I needed to make the move for my well-being. It was scary, but it was definitely the right move for me.”
Teaching others about the restorative powers of yoga has been equally fulfilling, she said.
“It’s very rewarding when people are willing to embrace what yoga has to offer,” Arndt said. “It’s rewarding when you teach people that you don’t need to be flexible to do yoga, you just need to be willing to relax and breathe a little deeper.”
Image Information: YOGA INSTRUCTOR Tracy Arndt (right) led a class at ZuZu Pedals in Port Washington last week. Photo by Sam Arendt