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Cinder Ernst

Cinder Ernst is a life and fitness coach helping plus size women become more active with less pain so they can have more fun. She is pictured with her two dogs, Camelot and Scout, who accompany her and her clients on walks.

J.L. Sousa, Register

To Cinder Ernst, fitness coach and author, fitness is more than just a number on a scale.

“In my world, fitness refers to you having the strength and stamina to live your life and has nothing to do with what you look like or how much you weigh,” she said.

Ernst moved to Napa from San Francisco in 2017.

1. What’s the story behind your first name?

I was christened Cindy. My dad used to call me Cinderella and everyone calls me Cinder.

In the early ‘80s I was in Manhattan and I had a rock and roll band (called Cinder) so I used my nickname as my stage name. And then sex, drugs and rock and roll kicked my ass and I came to San Francisco for a gentler way (of life).

2. What was your first job?

When I was 10, I pumped gas at my father’s Gulf station in Caldwell, NJ. I had my own personalized Gulf shirt. Customers loved me. They called me little Eddie because I looked so much like my dad.

3. How did you get into this business?

When I moved to California from New Jersey in 1987 (with 800 bucks in my pocket!) I was into lifting weights.

I became a certified aerobics instructor so I could volunteer at the local YMCA and have access to the gym. Management at the Golden Gate Y saw something special in me and asked me to come on staff and teach weight training. I said yes.

Not long after I pioneered the first YMCA one-on-one training program. I slowly transitioned to being self- employed as a personal trainer. I started paying taxes on my own business in 1989.

4. What is the biggest challenge your industry has faced?

The fitness industry works well for folks who are already fit. Most trainers and facilities don’t have ways to help reluctant exercisers.

5. Who do you most admire in the business world?

Tony Robbins comes to mind.

Some 20 years ago I ordered his personal power cassette tapes in the middle of the night. The following morning I was a bit surprised at myself. I followed his program and made some changes in how I think that have served me all these years.

One specific principle of Tony Robbins is “ask a better question and you get a better answer.”

6. If you could change one thing about your industry, what would it be?

Take the weight loss out of fitness and make it about building strength and stamina. It would be so much healthier for everyone.

What would you have time and energy for if you stopped hating, disliking or trying to change your body?

How would you feel?

What would you teach your daughters?

7. What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?

I am a woman who likes her body…cellulite, wrinkles and all. You might not know another woman like me.

I haven’t dieted, tried to change the size/shape of my body or hated myself in almost 30 years. I am not thin or wrinkle-free.

I eat and exercise by intuition, inspiration and instinct. By that I mean that I eat what I want, usually when I’m actually hungry. I exercise because it pleases me.

8. If you could give your younger self any advice, what would it be?

Don’t give a rip about what anybody else thinks.

9. What’s on your to-do list?

Travel! I want to see the Northern Lights. Also, I love to ride my motorcycle. Over the last several years, I have been improving my skills with California Superbike School. Last fall I did a dream trip of motorcycling the Alps.

10. What kind of motorcycle do you ride?

I just got a new Yamaha FZ-09. It’s so wonderful. It’s just easy and a joy to ride.

Ernst will be hosting a free class called Easy Fitness for the Reluctant Exerciser workshop at the Napa Library on Sat., March 24 at 2 p.m.

Ernst can be reached at 415-699-5797.


Business Editor

Jennifer Huffman is the business editor and a general assignment reporter for the Napa Valley Register. I cover a wide variety of topics for the newspaper. I've been with the Register since 2005.