Updated: Jul 22
Buckle up, squad. This is gonna be a long one! I want to get to know you, so here is a whole lot about me...
I was born on April 28, 1986 on Long Island, New York. I am Puerto Rican on my mother's side, and Italian on my father's. Our family is FULL of love and my parents always encouraged me to go after whatever I wanted to do. They still do! I have one sister 3.5 years younger than me, and I lived up to my "first born" title. Always a rule follower, always a little nervous about what would happen if I went astray. I always considered myself a bit on the quiet side, but I loved to perform. From a young age I loved all things dance, acting, singing - and my main stage was in my bedroom haha.
A lot of how I am today stems from some of the challenges I had growing up. From a very young age I was bullied by a family friend. It started as what I thought were "practical jokes", and later turned into verbal abuse and isolation. She enjoyed telling me I was never enough - pretty enough, cool enough. And because of my naturally-shy demeanor, I allowed that to consume me. I believed her, and took all of those moments where she brought me down and instead of speaking up for myself I just tried harder for her to like me. I took me years to tell my parents what was happening each time our families were together, and it took me even longer to take my guard down after that experience. It caused me to put up walls so I would never open up and get hurt again.
Another piece of the challenging puzzle of growing up was that I was born with a heart condition that appeared when I was just 8 years old. We were on a vacation in St Marteen (with the bully!) and I remember waiting for the rental car when everything went black. I woke up in the rental car office with water in a cup and extremely confused. Those episodes happened at random for almost 20 years. Because of that, I was unable to participate in so many things that made childhood "normal" - high energy sports, the mile in gym class. It made me self conscious and I was always a little uneasy because you never knew when, where, or how quickly it would happen. I vividly remember being tested for seizures when I was a young teenager and had to be kept in the hospital overnight. I was sharing a room with a young boy accompanied by his mother who told the nurses she would sleep in the chair overnight because the last time her son was in the hospital, he pulled his neighbor's IV out of his arm. That was a clear moment in my life where I told myself, "this is NOT my story". I made it my mission to seek health for myself.
When it came to being active, I loved dancing and cheerleading. I still had to be cautious with my heart, but it opened me up to real friendships and people like me. After so many years of lacking trust, my teammates taught me that it was more than OK to be myself. And never ashamed if something happened where I couldn't participate at any point. It was the turning point in my life where I knew having a community and camaraderie is so important for growth and to feel love outside of blood ties.
I also loved going to the gym with my mom during my senior year of high school and into college. My favorite classes were dance cardio, kickboxing, and indoor cycling. There was one cycling instructor in particular that I loved. Her classes were always full, but when I got to ride with her I was just so taken away by how amazing she made the entire room feel. After one class I told my mom, "I want to be like her someday". I wanted to make people feel good.
Leaping forward to graduating high school and heading to college in Massachusetts. I met this boy on the second day of school. Him and his soccer player friends were playing Jenga, and me and my new friends were roaming the halls. We were invited in - of course we went! They were cute 😂. In front of me was this guy in a black and white Sobe hat, and he kept turning around to talk to me. He landed up walking me back to my dorm and asking for my phone number. Well, although that boy took 4 very long days to call me - he eventually invited me over to watch a movie. That 19-year-old boy's name was Mike, and he turned out to be the love of my life. I called my mom after that movie date to tell her I had met "the one" - boy, was she nervous! We have been together ever since - we got married over 10 years ago and have 2 beautiful daughters together. I could not trust, love, respect, or enjoy anyone more. He is my forever and he is the anchor of our family. He always supports what I do and how I feel fulfilled. Which leads me to how I got to YOU!
When Mike and I graduated college, we both graduated with marketing degrees. Mike graduated one year earlier than me and went into tech. At his college graduation party, I met someone in the accounting department at Puma. She asked if I would ever consider an internship in merchandising. I just finished a retail class that included a short-term study abroad program in Milan so of course I said yes, and after a few interviews I got a full-time internship at Puma during my senior year of college. That turned into my first full-time job as a merchandising coordinator for Puma in Boston.
About 1 year after graduating I was getting very home sick - I missed New York. Mike and I were living together at the time - he found a position that transferred him to New York and I found a merchandising job at New York and Company. Fashion in NYC - glamourous, right? That job didn't last 😂. My manager demanded we were in before the sunrise, and I would stay so late that I had to request a car home for safety. I landed up switching less than 6 months in to my dream job at Ralph Lauren. I LOVED that job, the team - everything. After Mike and I got engaged, there were rumblings that he would be transferred to Chicago - I didn't believe it. At our wedding, while we were having the night of our lives... our belongings were in transit from New York to Chicago. Yup, it happened! By the time we returned from our honeymoon, we had to hop in our car and make the 13-hour drive to downtown Chicago. Mike picked the apartment as I had never been to the city before. I also didn't have a job, or any friends. Talk about a rough transition. I was extremely home sick - we landed up getting a cat (Siri! The orange Siberian) to keep me company while Mike worked long hours. I interviewed for many positions at multiple companies - none that made me happy. I finally took a corporate position at a greeting card company - it took 8 weeks for me to admit it was a massive mistake and I landed up quitting that job on a Monday. I gave 2 weeks, and they told me to leave after just 4 days 🤷🏻♀️. They asked what I was going to do after leaving the position and my response was, "I don't know - but it's not this". Truer words couldn't have been spoken; I finally accepted that this was not the story I wanted to tell...
But what was? I sat back and thought about what I loved - fitness. While I was at New York and Company, Mike's travel schedule was 4/5 days per week. When he was gone, I would wake up early and go to the gym. After almost 20 years my heart was significantly stronger than it was as a child, so I tested the waters with some run/walks while watching 6am MTV music videos. Those sessions turned into my first half marathons, and 2 triathlons within the same year. I also thought back to when I would take classes with my mom - how the instructors made everyone feel good. And after being bullied, struggling with my health, and working in an exhausting industry - I wanted to make people feel SO good.
I wrote to 2 local gyms in Chicago asking if they had any availability at their front desk. They both told me they had night or weekend shifts available - I took both. I wanted to learn everything there was about working in a gym - I worked the coat check, check-ins, customer service phone calls... anything that got me in front of members. I also told anyone who would listen that I wanted to be an instructor some day. While I was in the process of studying to get certified for group and personal training, the manager of one of the gyms I worked at frantically ran to the desk. An instructor couldn't make it to their evening class and they didn't have an instructor to teach cycling. He asked if I would be willing to teach if someone provided me with a playlist. Without hesitating, I said yes! I called Mike panicking and asking him to bring workout clothes and sneakers to the gym... I also begged him to stay to take class 😂. I TAUGHT that class. Was it good? Oh... no. Absolutely not. It was actually pretty bad. I remember doing jumps to Mase "Feels So Good" as if I had any idea how to coach jumps! But, I did it. And because I finished the 45-minute session, I landed up on the sub list for that gym. It gave me the courage to audition for another studio - Flywheel. They were known for incredible cycling classes taught to the beat of the music, and my dance/cheer background loved the idea of that.
I got into the training program! I remember finishing my audition with the song, "Just Say Yes" in hopes they would accept me into the program. It was 8-weeks of learning and practicing before I was approved to teach on their podium. Once I was approved I taught a handful of classes per week in the city, including one "prime time" at 5:30pm on Friday's. I sold out my first class in that slot... and was taken off the schedule without notice the next day. WHAT?! I was brought into the studio by one of the master trainers where she told me a few members said I wasn't "enough" for that time slot. She proceeded to show me how she would have coached that class if it were hers. It felt like those family vacations with "the bully" all over again. Needless to say, she taught that time slot the following week and for months to come.
After trying over and over again to prove myself in Chicago, I finally worked my way up to 8 classes per week. Just in time for Mike to tell me we were moving again... this time to California. The town we were moving to didn't have a Flywheel nearby, and I heard Southern California traffic is awful, so I wasn't about to commit to a long drive to find a studio. I found out there was an Equinox down the road from our apartment - the instructor I loved as a teenager was at Equinox too so I took it as a good sign! We were living in a hotel as our belongings moved further west when I sent an email to the group fitness manager of that gym. I told her who I was, where I taught, and what I was looking for. She responded immediately and said "funny, I'm hosting cycling auditions in 48 hours". I can't make this up... I went to a local bike shop and bought cycling cleats for the audition because my shoes were in a box on a truck somewhere in the middle of America! I went to that audition, and got the gig. I got 2 classes at that studio! That manager also gave me the courage to teach other modalities in the main studio (strength and HIIT) and on the treadmill. She helped me get certified, practice and grow. Although I was 3,000 miles away from home, she made me feel like I was family. I landed up teaching 15-20 classes per week across 4 Equinox's along the California coast while we lived there. I also became the group fitness manager of one of the clubs I taught at, and coached across the nation for Cycle for Survival charity events. Professionally I was thriving...
Personally I was crumbling. Mike and I were trying to start a family - I lost 3 pregnancies (one being twins) in less than 365 days. All this happened before we were diagnosed with "unexplained infertility" after 2 years of trying on our own. It was exhausting, frustrating, and depressing. I tried so hard to continue to be the coach I was, but my emotions were starting to come through in every day life. I landed up stepping down as a manager, committing to fertility treatment full time, and eventually moving back to New York to be closer to family. This topic is emotionally/mentally triggering for me so I will pause here - but I will discuss this at another time.
After arriving back in New York, I finally became pregnant with our rainbow baby, Madison Taylor, at the end of 2017. In the beginning of 2019, I found out I was 7.5 weeks pregnant with our MIRACLE, Ava Mackenzie. Yup, you're doing the math right - our daughters are 13 months and 10 days apart! As exciting as it was to be and remain pregnant, oh my GOSH was it an experience raising a newborn and a newly walking 1-year old towards the end of 2019! By December 2019, we were living in the suburbs of New York when I reached out to the local Equinox... the gym that the iconic trainer from my teens used to work at! They gave me a gig teaching cycling classes again. I was extremely rusty - I hadn't taught in years as I was trying to navigate fertility treatments and Ava's pregnancy landed up being high risk - so I rarely left the house. It took me a few months and lots of practice to get my groove back. It was at a Cycle For Survival event in the first week of March 2020 that I was like, "YES! This is me! I'm back!". Well... we all know what happened in March 2020, right? Gyms shut down, group fitness was no longer a thing, and once again I was terrified for any of us to leave our homes in fear of the unknown. SO NOW WHAT?
There was so much going on in the world... and I was selfishly furious. I was just getting back to being me!! All I wanted to do was make people feel good and it felt like the universe just didn't want it. I was so angry... and then I saw people teaching classes on Instagram. Well, I could probably do that, right? The first class I ever taught was about 1.5 months after gyms closed right before my birthday... from the front room of our house that in our daughters' playroom. With a toy food truck and play tent behind me, I taught total body tabata. It got thousands of views! People took class with me! And they felt GOOD. I wrote to many publications telling them how eager I was to teach for them - Women's Health, Pop Sugar Fitness, and Carbon38 were some of the first to reply and took a shot on this new mom of 2. To this day, I still teach for them! As the pandemic continued, I also taught for a few different companies on their virtual platforms/apps... but something never felt right. When I taught for them I never felt like myself - I wasn't teaching the way I did at Equinox where I felt at home, where I knew there was someone coming to take class with me each and every week. So, I took a step back and thought about something my dad did when he was in his 30's. He was working for a company and he said, "I saw a problem - so I fixed it" - he decided to create his own. Enter Kristina Earnest on Demand - a platform that released new classes every single week, like an in-person studio, with the energy I love to bring in person to a screen each and every time. That was what I needed all along! To teach, to be me, and to have a "class room" full of like-minded bosses ready to sweat and smile together.
Why "boss"? My dad used to call his parents boss. They came over on a boat from Calabria, Italy in the 1960's. Neither of my grandparents spoke English, and with 5 children in tow my grandpa opened a barber shop and my grandma worked in a cookie factory. They grew their own fruit, vegetables, herbs and spices - and loved each other until their last days. They were the true definition of a "boss", and I carry that mindset with me in every single class.
Ok so now I bought this website domain, I had a camera... now what? I wouldn't say I had any production or tech experience 😂. I taught myself - how to film, about lighting, how to edit videos and create timers. I also played with a logo for myself until I got it right - the "ke" flowing into one another as my initials, the extended line after the "e" to send out good vibes from within. And the "." at the end because I finally felt like I had something that felt like ME, not what someone else wanted me to be. Less than a year later I was approached by Vimeo about creating an app for Android and iOS. I was hesitant at first, this really made my brand official. But, I also felt ready. I felt good about my editing skills, and I had classes overflowing in the notes section of my phone. I loved creating, coaching, and building something special. So I said yes, as long as I could make it free for everyone for a year. They thought I was nuts! My thought was this - there is a lot going on in the world (this was the end of 2020 now), and my goal was to make just one person feel good. I knew at least one person was taking my class at this point, so now I just wanted to spread those feelings like confetti. There's no limit to my squad love!
We're a little over 2 years into me starting to teach live on social media. I am still in absolute SHOCK how much we've grown. At the same time, I'm not surprised at all. Why? If you found me, you might have felt the same way - thriving off positivity and fueled by feeling good. There might have been a time in your life where you needed those vibes; that time could be now. Everything I do now is inspired by what I've lived and what I'm currently feeling. I want to sweat and smile with you, I love creating classes and knowing they're being completed by you makes everything I do worth it. This is my story - for now. Squad, it's just the beginning of a beautiful journey together. Thank you for reading!