What's Her Secret: Katie Warner Johnson

The dancer and celeb trainer turned co-founder of Carbon38 talks staying active in the office, meditation and living with Crohn's.

Art by Tanya Leigh Washington

The dancer and celeb trainer turned co-founder of sportswear e-tailer Carbon38 talks staying active in the office, meditation and living with Crohn's.

What does wellness mean to you? "That [question] is such a pertinent theme of my life these days. I feel like balance has become so important recently because I have my own business, Carbon38, and that has just been a huge upheaval—from being a fitness professional to now having a desk job and running a business. Trying to find that balance when you're so focused on one thing is extremely difficult. And I was recently diagnosed with Crohn's disease, which threw a whole wrench in the thing. So my usual MO is working out really hard, doing SoulCycle, and blasting music and sweating it out—that's how I always taught my classes at Physique57, go as hard as we can go, and as many reps as you could do, and my workouts are now restorative yoga class or Unplug meditation studio."

That's an interesting change, to take life's pace down a few notches. "We don't take enough time to unplug our phones and unplug our computers. Like, last night was the first night I shut down my computer in the last year and a half, and it was a little weird to do that, but I was like, 'I have to. I have to just have silence at home, and take care of my thoughts and my body.' So that's sort of become my 'quote unquote' workout."

Katie Warner Johnson and her Carbon38 co-founder Caroline Gogolak
Katie Warner Johnson and her Carbon38 co-founder Caroline Gogolak
Source: Katie Warner Johnson

How has your diagnosis affected your diet? "My whole diet has changed. I'm a recovering Oreo addict and now I can't eat any grains, not only wheat but also rice and quinoa and all of those wonderful delicious things that were staples in my diet. I can't have potatoes, I can't have sweet potatoes, I can't have dairy…so that has completely changed how I look at nourishing myself—which is probably a much healthier way to look at taking care of yourself. Instead of food as entertainment, food becomes fuel. It's definitely been a big shift in the past six weeks. It's been a complete overhaul of my whole wellness mentality."

Have you noticed any effects so far? "My skin looks great!"

So what do you eat? "Quite honestly, I eat the same thing every day. I have berries and green tea for breakfast, and salad for lunch, and for dinner this week it's pea soup, pureed pea and spinach soup that I make myself, or I usually do sautéed zucchini with crushed tomatoes and ground beef, so I get my protein in, and for dessert—I call it my dog food cake, but it isn't, it's really quite tasty—a cake made with almond flour. So I'm not missing out on sweets altogether, because I also can't have sugar, I can only have honey."

What's Her Secret: Katie Warner Johnson
Source: Katie Warner Johnson

Can you tell us more about finding balance as you transition into office life? "It's really hard, I didn't realize it. I've been a fitness professional, my job was to go to the gym and sweat. Now, I get in my car and I drive, and I sit at my desk and I'm in the same position all day long. I run a company based on health and wellness, so we try to bring that into our office as much as possible. At 3pm every day we take a walk outside, as an office. We all go take a power walk around the block and talk about nothing and blow off steam and sit in the sun and it feels amazing. We also have more yoga mats in this office than you can shake a stick at, so whenever you need to take a brainstorm session and do some Downward Dogs, that's always an option! I love a good hamstring stretch, a good release of the low back."

What's your current fitness regime? "I love hot yoga because it's so nice to sweat it all out. And of course I go to my Physique class because my heart is still with that studio. And every weekend, I make sure I set time to take a hike or do some sort of outdoor activity. And also, I found this pool, a public pool at the Westside Community Center. They have a fabulous pool the nobody really knows about. I go, and it's $2 a swim, and I paddle around with three other ladies in their floral caps, and it's such a great way to stretch out. There's something to be said for having your head in the water because it's so silent in a weird way, so you can really think. I just love the time to have that silence."

What's Her Secret: Katie Warner Johnson
Source: Katie Warner Johnson

Do you feel we're becoming more wellness-aware as a culture? "I do think as a society and as a generation, we're all becoming a lot healthier. Instead of meeting my girlfriends for a drink, I meet them for a yoga class. And a date, I'm dating, and maybe it's an LA thing, but most of my dates I go on hikes… it's a nice change and a way that we're making wellness more of a lifestyle, as a culture I think. I mean, I sell Spandex and we call Spandex the new denim because it is the new off-hour wardrobe. I'm sitting here in head-to-toe Spandex right now, and I'm at the office, so activewear with all of the improvements in the fabric and the new styles and these fabulous designers from around the world are showing you that you can be in activewear all day because life is sport so you might as well dress for it."

I love how you're making wellness a part of your office culture as well. Can you give us another example? "Do you know 100 Happy Days on Instagram? For 100 Days, you post something every day that makes you happy. I actually did it this spring, and it was amazing to have, after those 100 days you look back at the photos and you see the patterns of what makes you happy. On the first of August we're launching 100 Healthy Days. Because health is pretty close to happiness. As an office, and hopefully as a community, we're every day posting something we've done that's healthy for ourselves. I think that's really important. Making time for that is the hardest step because we rush through our days and just want to get home and go to bed, and we're everything to everyone. To have that kind of assignment every day to do something healthy is a great reminder. In preparation for that, I've scheduled all of my workouts on my calendar ahead of time, just like I would a business meeting, so I have that time. Social media is so powerful, you never know what can catch fire."

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