A Chat With SOL Yoga Mogul Catherine DeFrancesco About Winning At Life
I’m so not Yoga Girl, but after e-chatting with SOL founder Catherine DeFrancesco, I’m seriously reconsidering that stance. I mean, just take a look at her: cute as the day is long.
And successful, baby.
Today - April 2 - is the grand opening of DeFrancesco’s second SOL Yoga, in Fort Lauderdale. (The stunning original SOL is in Miami.) The 6,000 square-foot, ultra-sleek beauty + wellness mecca features:
Two infrared-heated yoga and workout studios
Full roster of yoga, full-body and hybrid sculpt and HITT-style classes
Bella Luce Atelier, offering LED skin rejuvenation treatments
Luxe amenities, including marbled restrooms, showers and lockers
Curious what it looks like? Here ya go:
Pretty, oui? Doesn’t it just look like a place you want to basically move into?
Because I was so intrigued by the woman behind SOL (which stands for “Secret of Life,” ICYDK), Catherine DeFrancesco, I decided to plague her with a few Qs. This is someone who overcame a cervical cancer diagnosis in college, and turned her life around by embracing wellness and becoming certified in holistic nutrition and yoga.
Not surpisingly, DeFrancesco was super Zen and chill about providing As to my Qs. How utterly shocking that a woman who considers yoga the full-stop Secret of Life would be Zen and chill.
Off we go, friends…
FBP: What - and how deep - is your connection to Florida?
DeFrancesco: I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario. However, after my parents divorced, my father spent much of his time in Fort Lauderdale, often six months of the year. I would come down to see him any chance I got, as I loved it so much. Soon Fort Lauderdale became like a second ‘home’ to me. And that was before the Galleria Mall was built. So I’m an old-timer - and a proud one at that!
FBP: How long would you guesstimate you’ve been practicing yoga?
DeFrancesco: For nine or 10 years, regularly, and I look forward to many more.
FBP: What’s your ‘elevator pitch’ on SOL? In other words, if you met a stranger at a cocktail party, how would you sell him / her on your core idea that yoga is the “secret of life”? Why do you believe that?
DeFrancesco: To be honest, I’m a completely open, authentic and transparent type of person. You know the saying. “You are the sum of your journey”? Well, that’s me and my SOL yoga ‘pitch.’ Yoga came to me when I was ready. Ready for something new and perhaps transforming. Once I started yoga, everything changed for me…for the better! I became more mindful in how and what I ate, how I drove my car - no more honking - and how I raised my children. I listened more and became less reactive. So in-love with yoga that I decided to get my certification in holistic health nutrition. Experiencing yoga’s profound, life-changing benefits, I made it my mission to share my gift of yoga, or what I call ‘The Secret of Life’ with as many people as possible. Hence the name, SOL Yoga. It truly is the secret to life for those curious to open themselves up, move, connect, breathe and be present. in other words, the best version of your true self. And I’m so honored to be able to ignite this spark with more people as we expand SOL Yoga locations.
FBP: Have you incorporated infrared heat from the get-go?
DeFrancesco: Yes, when I started, I did traditional 'hot yoga’ because I wasn’t aware of infrared at that time. But I’m an avid reader, and always traveling, keeping a pulse on what’s out there, especially innovations and products related to health and wellness. Once I got the scoop on infrared heat for its therapeutic benefits, including improving circulation, reducing inflammation and promoting gorgeous skin, I was sold. And it’s truly the real deal, too. People can’t get over how much better they feel and look after just a few classes in our studios.
FBP: What are your fave travel haunts for getting inspo for the merch you sell in the SOL lifestyle boutique?
DeFrancesco: For the last six years, I’ve been very lucky in the travel department. My eldest son is a Formula 3 race car driver based in Europe and my 16 year-old son is based in London. So I’m constantly on a plane to see them! I’m a huge walker and nothing excites me more than to walk a new city and discover new products, try a yoga class or hit a book store. To me, there’s nothing like travel to open our eyes and creativity to the world, to step out of our comfort zones. My two daughters, while younger than my boys, have traveled a ton, too. And they love it. From Japan to Australia, they’ve experienced many far-off places. Every June we embark on our ‘girls trip’ with my mother-in-law, and we always, always have so much fun together, creating memories that will last a lifetime. All of these trips allow me the chance to browse products too. Among my favorite cities, I’d have to say London or anywhere in Italy. I love their style, their attention to detail and innovation. From candles to silk scarves to Japanese UV gloves, I’ve brought home many new discoveries.
FBP: What advice do you have for people who have trouble “getting into” yoga?
DeFrancesco: Five words: IT WILL TRANSFORM YOUR LIFE. Like anything in life, ‘something new’ isn’t always easy. But like I tell my kids - nothing grows in a comfort zone. It’s a practice, it’s a lifestyle and it’s truly about the breath. I bet when you’re blow-drying your hair or driving your car, you’re holding your breath. I’m not kidding! We barely breathe from our bellies, we humans. Seriously, next time you look in your rearview mirror while driving, ask yourself, ‘Am I holding my breath?’ Yoga will make you mindful. Once you start being conscious of your breath, you will see the world differently - I promise you that.
FBP: I noticed a bunch of bad-ass, powerful women books on your desk. What have you read lately that you’ve really loved?
DeFrancesco: I have books everywhere - in my house, in my car and in my bag. Honestly, I have three or four going at a time. I love reading about people’s personal stories - trials, tribulations and of course victories. It inspires and motivates me. Diane Von Furstenberg is a game-changer; talk about fearless strong and motivated. Wow. (NOTE FROM DANA: DVF has penned multiple books. I recommend starting with Diane: A Signature Life, and then moving on to The Woman I Wanted to Be.) Of course Goldie Hawn is a favorite, too - A Lotus Grows In the Mud. We should all be like Goldie, right? Happy go lucky? For health, I adore Dr. Nigma Talib. She’s my new guru for her approach to younger skin starting in the gut and reversing signs of aging. Maria Shriver is also great and always on my nightstand.
FBP: Ooh, so many great author and book ideas! Finally, I need to know your particular Florida Beauty Problems, and what you do to solve them?
DeFrancesco: The SUN. Ugh. We all move here for it because it makes us happy, but the effects on our skin are not our friend! I’ve had many skin cancers burned off or cut out of my skin, from my forehead to part of my ear. Now I wear a hat and SPF gloves, which embarrasses my kids. But that’s what happens when you don’t listen to your mother! To think I used to put baby oil on when I was at the beach. Oh to be young and naive again! But I wouldn’t change a thing, mind you. Everything I’ve learned, I’m better for sharing with others.
FBP: Well thank you for ‘sharing’ with us today! Wishing you massive success on your new Fort Lauderdale SOL, and all the other SOLs to come.