She was the eldest of five children and she became their parent at a very young age because she was the only one they could count on. The New Jersey girl who was raised in a gang hood neighborhood knew the only way she could make a life for herself was to be in sports. Sports were her drug for coping with the hardship of being poor and living with alcoholic parents. Kimberly Fowler knew that a sports scholarship would be the only way she could get to college and succeed in life.
“As I was leaving for college, my younger siblings were holding onto my legs and begging me not to go, but I told them that I had to go for a better life for all of us,” said Fowler
As painful as it was for Fowler, she knew what she had to do and with a broken heart, left her family for college to begin a life she was not expecting.
The young athlete went to University of Florida then Harvard University. While attending college full-time she had to work two jobs, but she finally got her degree from Boston University.
Her life turned around severely in 1982, while in her second year of law school, a car hit her during a bike race leaving her cruelly injured. A physical therapist introduced Fowler to Iyengar yoga. She had no idea how great yoga is for the body and mind, but she fell in love with it within a month and went to get her teacher’s credentials to know about yoga completely. The practice of yoga helped her heal and realign her body. With yoga aiding her recovery she began to compete as a triathlete.
But Fowler faced another life threatening challenge a year later, in her last semester of law school. She had a seizure in class and was diagnosed with a rapidly growing tumor the size of a golf ball in her left temporal lobe. The doctor said it was inoperable. “We can try to get it out, but you will lose your sight, speech and left leg,” said her physician. “You probably won’t make it past 30 years old."
This response didn’t sit well the stubborn young student. “No! I’m a major athlete; I’m in my last year of law school—this is not an option for me. I’m not going to let this happen to me!” said Fowler.
Fowler has this self belief in her, deep in her heart she knew it was not her time to go and perhaps there was some divine intervention that was guiding her. Whatever this strong will is that she bestows, she is a living heroine and won’t let anything get in her way of her goals. A few minutes later she called her good friend to do the unexpected.
“I had my friend Chris come and get me out of the hospital. He took the IV out of my arms; picked me up and took me—I don’t care what they say!" said Fowler. “Just go! Nurses and doctors were screaming, but they gave me no chance. If I would have listened to the doctor I would be dead by now.”
Fowler was ready to fight her tumor whole heartedly. Her evolving yoga practice became the center of her recovery and returned to compete as a professional triathlete. “It’s mind over matter,” said Fowler. “Practicing yoga while battling cancer taught me the importance of balancing strength with flexibility. Focusing on my breath helped me stay centered when in physically or mentally challenging situations."
Still her health was not 100 percent, but she finished law school in Houston, passed the bar and was ready to work. The problem was that no one would hire her because of her brain tumor. So Fowler begins her own firm and won her first case then later became an international attorney and was on her way to become a politician because she wanted to help people.
Although she was successful, something was missing in her life and she didn’t know what it was until one day at 28 she ran a marathon that gave meaning to her life.
“This is heaven,” said Fowler. "I started in San Francisco and ended in Lajolla. I felt at home again.”
Fowler’s mind and body told her to move to Lajolla and begins to compete in triathlons. She was more satisfied with her life. Fowler’s goal was to “Conquer my body and try to figure out what am I supposed to do.”
Then marriage came at 30 and then it went. She began a new life in Monaco, but didn’t have a job. Soon enough her “I can do anything” attitude and not taking no for an answer got her a job quickly. After a few years, she returned to the states to work in Las Vegas as the chief operating officer for a vitamin company only to live yet another grave life or death experience.
At 40, the lone wolf, who likes to do sports solo went free climbing (yes--no rope) in Mt. Charleston. She slipped on a piece of ice in June. She lost her footing and fell back 2 stories—30 feet and landed on an old tree stump. She cracked ribs that went through internal organs. Her kidney popped and she damaged a lung. She was in enormous pain, but her adrenalin and self belief kept her going.
“I had a mission and I knew I had to get to the hospital,” said Fowler. “I’ve been through worse – it was mind over matter and I just did it.”
It took Fowler 30 minutes to get to the hospital and when the doctor finally saw her he yelled out MORPHINE—STAT!!! doctors and nurses were running around to save her life. They wanted to take one of her kidneys out because it popped in 6 places and broke open. She argued with the doctor because she didn’t want lose it. Finally, with the help of another doctor and her determination to get better the kidney finally repaired. Again she looked to yoga to strengthen her mind and body. “I don’t believe in doctors – I believe in myself,” said Fowler, “I need to learn something from this.”
Fowler’s recuperation took a year and her numerous years of yoga helped her re-gain her strength, but during that time she had an epiphany—she was finally following the right path to doing that certain something she is supposed to be doing with her life.
This woman, who seems to be super-human, just doesn’t fool around when she sets her “Eye on the Prize.” Fowler is incredibly strong willed. She’s self directing and self believing. When she wants something done, it gets done.
“She’s not a procrastinator,” says her good friend Sherri Rosen. “She’s not lazy--she’s a go getter and doesn’t stop until she marks it off her list of things to do. If she doesn’t mark them off, she gets very upset.”
Her gut finally guided her into doing what she loves most-- practicing yoga and helping people.
The inception of her new life challenge is YAS: YOGA for ATHLETES®. YAS dramatically changes Fowler’s life, but this challenge in her life is the one that she’s meant to live.
Fowler's decades of yoga practice and competitive experience as a triathlete were the foundation of opening her studio in Venice, California. Additionally, Fowler has created a class specifically for athletes that reduces the risk of injury and enhances athletic performance. YOGA for ATHLETES® is a practice combining elements of Iyengar, Ashtanga and Power Yoga. Selected poses are sequenced to benefit the athletic body by focusing on the hips, hamstrings, core abdominals and upper body. "These are the areas that need special attention in athletes. They are used and abused in sports," she said.
After a session in her class, I fell in love with YAS. Her stretches are wonderful for the body and her calming voice and serene guidance through class encourages her student’s to do their best. She watches her students pose to ensure they are stretching correctly.
Former international professional rugby player and world championship bobsledder Mark Thomas agrees with me and YAS has improved his well being as well from the many years of wear and tear of sports injuries.
"I started Kimberley Fowler’s YOGA for ATHLETES® two years ago and quite simply it changed my life. No more lower back pain, hamstring tightness or stiffness, it even helps relieve the stress of work. My flexibility began to improve almost immediately and my body changed," said Thomas. “ YAS has leaned me out, rebuilt my core strength and given me a posture and body any athlete would be proud of, especially one who is no longer competing. I have suffered no muscle injuries from running in years because of my flexibility. I only wish I had discovered yoga sooner when I was playing and would encourage anyone competing seriously in whatever sport to incorporate it into their schedule. The benefits are enormous."
The complete workout at YAS is spinning first then yoga. It has been described as the perfect Yin-Yang workout that mixes a unique combination of high intensity instructor-led cardio-spinning with the flexibility enhancing, relaxation benefits of Yoga.
YAS is not just for athletes, the studio opened in 2001--the year of 911. Fowler admits that things slowed down, but then people started to rush right in because they felt such pressure in their lives. More and more people started to fill her class because they need to let out their frustrations and YAS studio is the perfect place to do just that. “When things get tough for people, like the economy, or work, they gravitate to YAS," said Fowler.
Now, anyone can YAS at home with her DVD: YOGA for ATHLETES® is something you can do at home to take care and strengthen your mind, body and spirit.
Roni Fiolek and her daughter took Fowler's class, but can't do it on a daily basis at her studio because they live in New York so they got the YOGA for ATHLETES® video and workout together at home.
"We just got our mats out and played the DVD," said Fiolek. "It is a wonderful DVD and we are so lucky to have had personal instruction from you. I think you have opened up my daughter's mind that there are other forms of exercise out there and this is also something that she and I can do together."
Additionally, Fowler has her own YAS sport clothing line. Jennifer Anniston saw these low waisted fleece pants imprinted with the letters YAS and bought a pair in each color.
Another video Fowler has is Overcoming Obstacles which reveals 5 keys principles for overcoming obstacles and is a role model to many cancer patients, athletes, and everyday people.
I don’t know where the Venice YAS teacher/owner finds the time; however, she is now an author and has a book coming out at the end of the year called The No Om Zone A Practical Guide for Yoga.
Kimberly Fowler has been featured in television shows, commercials, print and various articles, and featured on CNN and in numerous magazines including In Style, SELF, Shape, Yoga Journal, Her Sports and Health Magazine. Furthermore, from 2004-2008 Fowler was signed by fitness giant Nike as a spokesperson-athlete. She served as the sports giant's "new face of modern yoga."
Yoga is Fowler’s fountain of youth--it’s in her blood. She exudes a wealthy glow of well being, beauty and confidence. I believe yoga saved her through very tough life threatening obstacles. She continues to live the healing benefits of yoga and wants to share her experience with everyone. “Anything is possible if you believe in yourself,” she says with pride. “You really can do anything if you set your mind to it.”
The original YAS is where Fowler teaches and is located in Venice on the corner of Abbot Kinney Blvd. and Westminster Ave. Her studio has raised over 800,000 for charity.
YAS Venice is located at
1101 Abbot Kinney Blvd.
Venice, CA 90291
Toll Free 866.YAS.YOGA