Interview with an Athleta Cowgirl Yogini

Interviews are back! And first up is a woman who lives and breathes some of my very favorite things: yoga, horses and Athleta. She’s got a dream job, horses, and an active lifestyle. It’s perfect timing to meet Kellie Martin, a Senior Merchandising Product Manager for Athleta – you can check out some of her top picks from the hot-off-the-press winter catalog.

1. Give us Kellie in a nutshell.

I work for the best women’s athletic apparel company in the whole world, Athleta. My job is selecting and merchandising products in the catalog, on the web, and in our stores. Athleta is all about living the brand and work/life balance. I live about 15 minutes from the office, so it’s really easy to make enough time to work hard and for all my outdoor activities, like hiking/trail running, snow skiing, yoga, pole fitness classes, and horseback riding. I take at least two Vinyasa yoga classes per week, one pole fitness class, and ride three times a week. I wear at least one Athleta product a day. Sometimes it’s because I want to test something, and sometimes it’s just because I want to. I live in beautiful wine country in Sonoma, CA with my husband, three horses (2 Icelandics and 1 Fresian), two dogs, three cows and several Jacob sheep. Our cattle and sheep are raised organically for family and friends. I think it’s important to know where your food comes from, so I’m lucky that my neighborhood is all about sharing. We raise the beef and lamb, another neighbor raises the chickens for eggs, and yet another has a dairy. Oh yeah, there’s a winery too. We’re a pretty self-sustaining rural street.
2. You’re a horse lover and rider. How did horses come into your life, and how have they influenced you?

My grandfather raised quarter horses in central California where I grew up. He was one of the founding members of the American Quarter Horse Association (AQHA), and a real life cowboy. One of my first memories is riding on the front of his saddle. I’ve loved horses and riding as long as I can remember. There’s so much freedom and joy when your horse is under you going at a full out gallop, and you’ve got the biggest smile on your face. It makes any day of the week feel like a vacation. [Editor’s note: I second that.]
3. You’re also a cowgirl yogini. What’s your take on the connection between riding and yoga?

The synergy between riding and yoga has been such a sweet discovery for me. I began yoga three years ago, as a way to improve my riding; I thought that being more flexible would help my seat. What I ended up finding out, through all those chaturangas and hip openers, was that yoga wasn’t just about being flexible. That were so many unexpected mental benefits that spilled over into every part of riding, as well as my everyday life. Yoga makes you think about things in a more calm, balanced and focused way. Some of yoga’s mental reminders that I think about when I’m working or riding my horses are: keep in open heart, let go of my ego, and don’t be married to the outcome. I breathe more. My horses are more relaxed. Everybody’s happier!
4. Many blog readers would consider your position at Athleta to be a dream job. Does being an active outdoor girl provide you with lots of professional inspiration?

OMG, yes! I do have my very own dream job. Where else can a girl show up to work straight from yoga class, a sweaty mess, and nobody bats an eye? Thank goodness we have a shower at the office! Actually, everyone who works at Athleta has slightly different athletic interests, so it’s really unique to have so many perspectives about the way we end up wearing our products. Everything is truly versatile, so it’s just a matter of thinking outside the box when you get dressed for your sport. No longer do I have one drawer full of yoga clothes, one full of hiking clothes, one for horseback riding, etc. Now, I tend to mix and match everything and think in terms of layering.
5. I have to ask: what are your top Athleta picks for riding and yoga?

Generally, anything that’s good for sweaty sports will perform perfectly for riding. All the Athleta apparel is so versatile that it can go on a hike in the morning, and then go immediately to the barn and hop on your horse. I like things that are lightweight, wick, and dry super fast. In t-shirts, I love all of our Yellowman tops (long sleeve tattoo top, short sleeve tattoo top). They are great for layering, and really make a cool visual statement that’s not available in typical horse riding apparel. I also ride a lot in our solid Teelicious tees. We always offer a variety of styles – long sleeve, short sleeve, tanks – and the fabric is light, soft and wicking. For a mid layer, our seamless half zips are the bomb! We position them in Ski/Snow, but they make another perfect visual layering piece that’s never boring. My current favorites are the Seamless Moroccan Paisley, and the Geothermal Half Zip.
As far as riding pants go, this fall we introduced our Dry Denim Dipper Jean. It’s made from a super technical fabric that wicks on the inside and repels water water and stains on the outside. It’s got 4-way stretch, so it’s the ultimate riding jean made in our famous Dipper Pant style. [Editor’s note: the Dipper Pant is on our retreat packing list!] The jeans are so popular they are flying out the door, so hurry if you want a pair!
Thanks Kellie! Yeehaw & Namaste.