Pixie Acia is a staple in L.A.'s fitness scene. In addition to being the resident rockstar instructor of Soul Cycle, she's now taking over online fitness like a champion. Her skill set coupled with undeniable charisma makes it obvious why fitness enthusiasts flock to her.
She lured me into a classic bait-and-switch scenario. I thought I was interviewing my favorite fitness influencer to get tips on staying healthy during the holiday season. Sure, she shared thoughts on exercise and the fitness industry but what she really did was demonstrate the power in authentic living and the potential of an abuse victim who refuses to carry the burden of shame.
Los Angeles has a bad rap for its vapidness, especially when it comes to fitness but Pixie's proof there's tremendous depth under the surface. With pros like her in the saddle it's evident there's still more to discover in fitness. You just have to register for class.
the fed: Being one of Soul Cycle’s most popular instructors you have your finger on the pulse of the fitness world. What’s your favorite and least favorite thing about the industry today?
Pixie: Can I start with my least favorite?
the fed: Absolutely.
Pixie: My least favorite thing is any brand that perpetuates the idea that a fit body has to be sculpted, toned, and thin. Hearing how other instructors that don’t have a shredded body feel like they’re battling this false idea of what a fitness instructor is supposed to look like is frustrating. And watching the brands celebrate people who aren’t even in fitness, they just have the genes… it’s challenging.
But, I don’t spend too much time there because that’s not gonna serve me.
My favorite thing: I believe fitness is healing the world. And now fitness instructors are getting 401(k)s, paid vacations and reasonable salaries. It feels like there's more awareness of what goes into it, so people like me can make a good career.
Everyone benefits from fitness. Anyone moving in this world could use it. They need help processing the stress of daily life and the horrible food they eat. Everyone needs connection. So, that’s my favorite thing. Fitness communities are being looked at as more of a necessity and less of a cult. Ha!
the fed: What was it like being on the ground floor of a movement like Soul Cycle? You were one of the original instructors in Los Angeles, right?
Pixie: Thank God for Julie and Elizabeth, the original owners. There’s people that come into your life and completely redirect you. They are those people for me.
I was head-hunted from the studio I was teaching at in Silver Lake. My friends and I went to the audition together and on my way out, they stopped me and said, “We need you. Please come to New York.”
And it was scary at first. We were teaching to like six people in a room, but we were so supported. It was my first time being in a job where I was really celebrated and listened to and just... it was incredible. It was fucking incredible.
I’ve spent nine years with Soul Cycle. I’m so grateful for the company and I love my job.
the fed: As a trainer, how have you pivoted with social distancing and gym shutdowns?
Pixie: To be honest, I was scared shitless. But within a week of the shut down I started teaching yoga virtually.
It soon became clear I needed to take everything online. My people were reaching out. They missed me and missed the community. So, I decided to just do it. I had two angels show up and help me set up my online platform and payments. They’re incredible; definitely a present from the Universe.
I created a new online program. It’s a whole month of workouts mapped out plus an accountability group and one-on-ones so we can talk about your goals and what you’d like to achieve with me. Clients get an opening and closing ceremony plus all these amazing classes including, “Do It For The Dopamine” which is a new class I created that pretty much incorporates everything I do.
It’s been amazing. This new beautiful community has grown out of it. The first round was such a success that we’re doing it again. I’m excited to see how it grows.
the fed: Do you think we’re looking at the new trend in fitness with online classes?
Pixie: I think both in-person and online classes will remain relevant. I definitely think online fitness is growing more. There’s companies like Peloton that are already killing it and will continue to grow. I can’t say anything for certain, I mean who knows? But I do think indoor gyms and studios are going to shift a bit as a result of all of this.
the fed: How did you get into the fitness game?
Pixie: There’s two versions. In the first version I was an athlete my whole life. My dad had me on the swim team and I did all these sports. That's the watered-down version.
The truth is, when I was young, around five or six, my mom's boyfriend was molesting me. My grandparents noticed a shift in my personality and intuitively felt they had to get me out of the house. They did what they could do and put me in tap, jazz, ballet and acrobatics.
I was always out of the house doing something physical and that's where it all really started. I began identifying as a dancer and someone who was active. My dad saw I loved it, so he put me on the swim team.
I eventually moved in with my dad and brothers, who were wrestlers and I just kinda wanted to be like them, so I joined the wrestling team. I was such a tomboy.
I ran track and cross country, swam and wrestled. I wasn’t working out to be healthy, I just loved being active. I also found a lightness with it. The exercise coupled with therapy helped me combat my depression. So, between medication, therapy and working out I felt happy again.
In my early twenties, I moved to Minnesota for two years and I stopped exercising. I was still on medication and still in therapy but noticed my depression started to come back.
After moving to L.A. I started working out again and the depression went away. I realized the therapy and medication didn’t really work without the exercise. To make a long story short, I got off the medication and started working out a lot. I would always say fitness became my drug of choice.
I just knew I had to keep moving and grooving.
I discovered Andrea Lawent’s spin class at “Made In L.A. Fitness” in Hollywood and loved it. But, when I moved to Silver Lake I wanted to find something closer to me.
My friend suggested a nearby cycling studio and I got really into taking classes. Eventually the studio talked me into teaching and I loved it but I hated the company and hated the pay. You couldn’t make a career out of it.
Again… long story short, I was trying to find a way to make money doing what I loved and that’s when Soul Cycle found me. The rest is kinda history.
the fed: Do you mind if we talk about the abuse? The statistics of sexual abuse victims are overwhelming in the United States alone. It’s unfortunately something so many people, especially women relate to. Would you share a little about your healing journey?
At 39, I'm still healing and at the same time, it feels like a million lifetimes ago.
Pixie: Yeah, so the journey of healing. So many things can get stunted when something like this happens. I never read a full book from start to finish. I had really bad eyesight. I got really shy, dressed like a tomboy and thought I was one of the guys. There was so much anger inside of me.
I was so fortunate to have grandparents that took me in and immediately took action to help me. They got me a tutor. They got me glasses. They got me into therapy. I did all of the therapies: sandbox, hypnotherapy, talk therapy… and I loved it. I'm such an advocate for therapy.
For me, the real healing is found in forgiveness. And the forgiveness is the hardest part. Forgiveness isn’t a feeling. You don't wake up and think, “Oh, it's totally cool that you let that man do that to me,” or “it's totally cool you kicked the shit out of me… it’s fine.” Because, it’s not fine.
Forgiveness will set you free but I don’t think you can really do it without honoring the feelings that come up along the way.
My challenge is not using logical thinking against myself. I’d use logic to put my emotional-self to sleep but inevitably it would come up later.
“Oh well, it's okay… that horrible thing happened so this could happen later in life. Maybe it happened for a reason.” And shit like that.
Healing is constant work and the older I've gotten the more layers I've been able to uncover. And sometimes it gets really hard. Every once in a while a layer of the onion will reveal itself that's just really… stinky.
And sometimes there's a light bulb. One day I realized, “No wonder I got tattoos all over my body.” In my mind I just thought I loved them but actually it was like armor or a warning, “Are you sure you wanna take this on? I’m a lot to handle.”
I can only speak to my experience because all abuse is different. But, I realized in my case, if the perpetrator was molesting me then he wasn't beating up my brothers. I felt like I could control the environment when my mom was gone. As a way to protect my brothers, I would instigate the sexual abuse. I was just a child.
When I watched the Michael Jackson documentary on HBO, one of the men shared that for a long time he believed the abuse was really love. I totally related to that. There's a way your brain gets manipulated and your body responds. Even though what's happening is toxic and disgusting and so bad, your body produces an orgasmic response.
There was so much shame and guilt I had to battle. That was the deepest part of it. Even being able to speak that out loud is huge because I didn't acknowledge it until 2012. I had a friend who had a similar experience say, “Getting over the fact my body betrayed me was the hardest thing for me.”
I asked, “What do you mean? How did your body betray you?”
She said, “My body let me have this pleasurable feeling in a demonic, horrific, evil experience.”
I was blown away. That never dawned on me before, but I totally understood what she was saying.
The healing continually comes from so many messengers. Whether it's the therapist or the grandparents, or my mother who later asked for forgiveness, or my father who was protective, or boyfriends that helped me feel safe enough to be vulnerable and naked and have orgasms with them, or friends that have revealed their trauma that helped me.
At 39, I'm still healing and at the same time, it feels like a million lifetimes ago. Sometimes it feels like a random story that isn't even mine anymore. Stuff still gets triggered and it's constant navigating but with time, it feels like the navigating gets easier.
the fed: Wow. Thank you for sharing your story. Your transparency can help so many people. In the same way representation is important, sharing like you just did helps others with similar experiences know they're not alone and reveals a road to recovery, even if it seems unfathomable in this moment.
the fed: It almost feels crazy to talk about anything else, but we do have a couple other questions. Is it okay to shift gears?
Pixie: Of course.
the fed: Ok, we’re officially in Holiday Season. Do you have any go-to advice you offer clients when it comes to staying healthy and sane this time of year?
Pixie: The holidays are a time of indulgence, I think it goes with the season. From an Ayurvedic standpoint, we should be eating root vegetables and carbohydrates and we should be sleeping more and we should be hibernating and getting a little bit squishier and gushier.
Around the holidays, we go into these crazy “keep it fit - keep it right” modes. How about, just have grace and patience with yourself? Know that food is love, and know that maybe there's an extra five pounds of loving meals that were made by friends and family or a little extra wine or whatever you were doing. Ease up on the demands of restriction and attempting to keep your body looking a certain way.
However, everything in moderation… including moderation. But stick to your workout routine because sticking to whatever you're doing physically and having patience and grace with yourself as you celebrate and indulge; that's what will keep you mentally well.
If you add layers of layers of stress on yourself because you’re afraid of eating carbs with your friends or family, it’s not healthy. It’s definitely not my idea of wellness.
the fed: That’s perfect. Can we do some rapid fire questions?
Pixie: Rapid fire? Oh God. Sure.
the fed: What did you have for breakfast today?
Pixie: I had a matcha with a bunch of super food mushrooms I make every morning with oat milk. I’m an arbonne consultant and am obsessed with their natural caffeine fizzes and prebiotic probiotic powders. So I make those, and then I went to class. I told myself this month I’d have three meals a day because I have really bad eating habits, I eat way too late in the day because of fitness. So, I was going to have a smoothie, but I didn't get to have it until just now.
Oh, wait. I did have a little probiotic vegan coconut yogurt with pecans, chia seeds, hemp seeds, coconut shreds, and… that's it.
the fed: On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you?
Pixie: Oh, I’m an eleven. Then at the same time, I'm totally normal… but I'm actually really strange. I think compared to other people who are WAY more strange, I’m pretty mild. Ha!
the fed: Makes sense. What’s your favorite thing to do?
Pixie: Go surfing.
the fed: What scares you the most?
Pixie: I think what scares me the most is not fully living my life. Like, I just love this experience and I don't wanna leave yet… so I’m gonna live it all.
the fed: Biggest pet peeve?
Pixie: Mouth noises.
the fed: Would you date a client?
Pixie: I have before. Once before. Maybe twice before. It was fine. But, it’s not my schtick.
the fed: Winter or summer?
the fed: Coffee or tea?
the fed: What’s one thing you wish you would have known at 19?
Pixie: How beautiful I was.
the fed: Favorite band of all time?
Pixie: Oh God, that's really fucked up. Um, Pink Floyd.
the fed: What should we ask that we haven’t?
Pixie: I… don’t… know.
the fed: Perfect.
Pixie: Oh! I’m a Cancer with Scorpio rising & a Leo moon.
the fed: We’ll make sure to include that. Also, we'd like to send you a pair of our new fed collective yoga capri leggings - is that cool?
Pixie: Oh my god, that's so sweet. Of course!
Pixie Acia is a Los Angeles based fitness/yoga instructor, Master Instructor at Soul Cycle and life coach.
Registration is now open for her in-person retreat, "Surf Sweat Serve".
Learn more about Pixie, how you can work with her and when you can register for her upcoming retreats on her website: PixieAcia.com
Jesse Brune-Horan is a celebrity chef and happy living expert. His lifestyle expertise has been featured on multiple media platforms including Bravo TV, The Food Network & OWN. In 2020 he founded, thefedcollective.com. Instagram: @jessebrune