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Aviva Schmidt: personal trainer, yoga instructor and wellness coach publishes first book


Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Although the focus here is on Laguna native Aviva Schmidt’s book, You Got This, just published in July, to understand Schmidt – and the path she took – it helps to know her background. It played a significant role in who she is today. “Helping my clients succeed is everything to me,” she said. “Fitness and nutrition have always been my passion, and I have worked as a personal trainer, yoga instructor and fitness coach for over 20 years.”

Although she was born in Laguna and went all through the Laguna Beach Unified School District system, Schmidt left after high school, and her journey back to Laguna involved many stops along the way.

“I’ve moved several times – Laguna Beach to San Francisco, to Israel, then NYC, back to Israel, Australia, back to Israel, Boston, then to Laguna Beach again,” she said. “But during COVID, because I could teach online from anywhere, I moved to Kauai, but returned after eight months. People were ready to get back to in-person training, so I came back to Laguna.”

Aviva Schmidt closeup

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Aviva Schmidt added author to her resume as of July when her first book, “You Got This” was published

It all started in Venice, Calif. Schmidt’s parents, David and Shoshana, were married on Venice Beach in 1970 – hippies, by all standards, Schmidt admits. “He was a struggling artist. After graduating from the UCLA Department of Fine Art, he acquired studio space in Venice.” Soon after, they became transcendental meditation teachers.

However, to support the family, he eventually took a job as a recruiter and started his own business.

“They moved to Laguna and I was born at home on Magnolia Street, then we moved to Aster Street and later lived in Canyon Acres for 10 years, until the house burned down in the 1993 fire,” Schmidt said. “When I was young, my parents had a garage where they would hold transcendental meditation sessions.”

At age 3, Schmidt developed a love for dancing. “A woman on my street organized dance recitals, and I also went to Kyne’s Dance Academy in town. Growing up, I studied dance and fitness.”

Aviva Schmidt yoga pose

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Aviva Schmidt has been a yoga instructor for 24 years

“I fantasized about being a dancer,” Schmidt said. “I went to Orange County School for the Arts when I was a freshman at Laguna Beach High School, but it was then in Los Alamitos, and the commuting time didn’t work out, so I went back to LBHS. After high school graduation, I studied dance in France.”

Family moves to Israel

Prior to that, her parents had left transcendental meditation and became Orthodox Jews. “My father was invited to a service at Chabad Jewish Center of Laguna Beach by the Rabbi and when my father came back, he said, ‘This is what I want in my life.’ My mother attended a service and she agreed.”

To Schmidt’s surprise, the summer after she graduated from high school, her parents told her they were moving to Israel. “At first they lived in the oldest city in Jerusalem but now live in the city. They have five kids and 20 grandkids.” They also have a great-grandchild on the way from Schmidt’s youngest brother.

“My whole family is there – my parents, sister, sisters-in-law, three brothers, brother-in-law and 20 nieces and nephews. My oldest brother is a rabbi. My youngest brother, who was born in Israel, is a personal trainer and MMA fighter and coach, and my sister-in-law is a personal trainer.”

Aviva Schmidt with paintings

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Schmidt sits next to two paintings by her father. The one on the left is of her brother Ari holding her brother Yosef when he was a baby. Her father’s subjects, for the most part, are “Our Boys” the Jewish soldier. Now at 81 years of age, her father creates every day.

“When I came back from France, I moved to San Francisco with my sister,” Schmidt said. “We didn’t know anyone and had no place to live and no plans. I stayed there for six months, then went to Israel for a year.

“After that, while I was in Australia, I took advanced courses in fitness, yoga and nutrition.” During her second visit to Israel, which lasted 13 years, Schmidt taught dancing and aerobics and body sculpting at the local gym. “I got interested in learning anatomy.”

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In 2008, she opened the first Power Yoga studio in Jerusalem and started focusing on personal training. Her mother is a massage therapist.

Inspiration for a wellness book

How better to translate her knowledge and years of experience than her book, You Got It. “It’s an interactive guide, one that is very accessible,” Schmidt said. “It’s not a fad diet, no quick fixes. This is a lifestyle.

“In Australia, I got interested in Microbiotics, so I took different classes in cooking and food preparation and learned what works with your body, which is real food.”

This is a guide that takes the reader through a four-week period that can be repeated as often as the reader likes to help stay on track to reach exercise and fitness goals. There are places for journal entries regarding fitness goals, as well as food logs, how to fuel workouts, meal prep ideas and more.

Aviva Schmidt book

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“You Got It” is an interactive guide for achieving fitness and nutrition goals

In January of this year, Schmidt thought, “I’m meant to write a book.”

“It was just after my birthday, I had a computer but no reason to use it. I didn’t even have Word,” she said. “My motivation for writing You Got It was that I love helping people improve their bodies and lives. I wrote with the idea that I could reach other people in a way that would help them stay motivated. It’s important to write down goals – when and how you’re going to achieve these goals, when are you going to fit exercise into the day, and how are you’re going to fit it in.”

Sometimes seeing as many as eight clients in a day, Schmidt tailors the workouts to her clients and goes to their homes for training. “Some clients train three days a week, some five days a week. I’m proud of them all,” she said.

Using chair yoga or power yoga, walking (and various combinations of exercises), she uses whatever fits the client’s needs.

Although much of her backstory is included here, in response to the question, “What would readers be surprised to know about you,” she responded, “I didn’t have a normal life, I took and still take risks. I’m proud of myself for that.”

You Got This is on sale in town at ROOTS and Laguna Beach Books and online at Amazon.

Join Schmidt for at home or on-the-go workouts at Instagram @avivagrace.

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In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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