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“When you look good, you feel good; when you feel good, you do good.”

My friend and fellow personal trainer in college used to say this all the time. He is also one of the best dressed and impeccably groomed men I have ever known, so I never bothered to correct his grammar: “do well.”

After all, it turns out that the man has a point.

In high school, I was that kid who shopped at thrift stores and then cut, braided, dyed and tweaked my outfits, so that I never looked the same as the girl sitting next to me in class. I became known for my bright yellow carpenter overalls and shredded Grateful Dead T shirts—the height of cool at the time. I wore big plastic pieces of jewelry and an assortment of hats, scarves and multi-colored Keds.

But, in 2000, when I began working in the fitness industry, my personal style took a nose dive: I was required to show up for work in a starched polo shirt and swishy parachute pants. I felt miserable knowing that all my hard work at the gym was covered up by boring, baggy, required duds. I wanted my lean, toned physique to be a walking advertisement for my creative ingenuity and impeccably researched workout techniques. I wanted to show potential clients why I was the fun, fierce female on staff, who could help them achieve a rocked out body, while having an awesome time.

Ultimately, I realized I needed to find a work environment that would support my individuality and lust for life: I took a job with Club Med. Suddenly, I was surrounded by unique young adults from around the globe, all eager to showcase their whacky personalities as entertainers and performers, bartenders and DJs. As the onsite group fitness instructor, I was given free rein to express myself as boldly and loudly as I chose. The experience changed my life and love of the fitness industry forever. I realize that embracing my personal style made me a happier, more productive person at work.

But it wasn’t until I went back to college in 2007 and observed that dapper trainer friend of mine with that “looking good” mantra that I realized that embracing personal style can also beget success.

Observing him, I noticed that he always had an endless wait-list for clients and never seemed to have a bad day. He was a walking, talking, powerful machine, radiating positive vibes. And I wondered if his outward appearance had something to do with it. I decided to test his theory by cultivating my own unique workout style, and the results were nothing short of mind blowing: people really responded. Suddenly, I was attracting more clients and feeling even more creative.

Looking good—and in my own way—did, in fact, make me feel and do well. I’ll never wear those parachute pants again!

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