When The Pandemic Shook Up Her Protein Powder Business, This Entrepreneur Returned To Her Roots As A Doctor Of Natural Medicine


Stacy Berman, 45, became an icon in New York City teaching one of the first bootcamp-style fitness classes in parks around New York City personal trainer at Stacy’s Bootcamp, founded in 1999. As she brought on more trainers, she built the business to $1 million in annual revenue. After running that business successfully for 15 years, she was tired of waking up at 3:50 a.m. every morning to teach her first class and decided to try something new. She started the System by Stacy, a brand that makes a line of organic whey protein powders. Along the way, she got certified as a Reiki master and earned her Ph.D. in natural medicine from Quantum University in 2017, working with private clients.

When Berman’s distributors for the protein powder got shut down during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Berman could have panicked—but she didn’t. She put that business on pause, and directed her attention to her private practice, where demand for her help was high. “There’s been so much in the realm of people suffering from depression and anxiety,” she says. “I’ve refocused my attention. This is the stuff I love doing. I’m passionate about healing work.”

Here is some insight she shared about how she kept her business thriving, despite having to shift her focus almost overnight.

Turn to a new source of insight. Berman has embraced the study of character armor, a method of analyzing people’s posture to determine what underlying experiences influence how they carry themselves. “There are universal body languages,” says Berman. “For instance, if you feel sad you collapse your chest. When we experience chronic and intense-enough experiences during a key developmental time in our lives, these experiences, if unresolved, get locked into the tissue of the body and eventually affect the musculature. They get hard-wired into the system.” By including a character armor analysis in her private sessions, in combination with Dr. Gabor Mate’s method of Compassionate Inquiry to learn more, she is able to gain a better understanding of any psychological issues clients may need to resolve to improve their overall wellbeing.

Berman has found that using somatic, or slow, gentle movement-based therapy, in combination with breathing exercises, can help some clients loosen up tense areas of the body such as their shoulders and release some of the stored trauma. “If you relieve the rigidity of movement in the body, you relieve the rigidity of feeling,” says Berman. Berman is currently writing a book on body mapping and character armor.

Help clients overcome emotional repression. Berman sees many clients who tried traditional Western medicine for problems like autoimmune diseases but have not been able to resolve their symptoms. “If you try to fix it on a surface level, you’re never going to get to the root of it,” says Berman. With one client who has eczema, Berman was able to help her reduce symptoms by exploring why her body might be acting against its own tissues, beyond factors such as genetic susceptibility or environmental causes. “If you think of what an autoimmune disorder is, it is your immune system’s rejection of your body,” says Berman. In discussions with the client, they discovered the client had been repressing her emotions. As the client worked on acknowledging her feelings more, she saw an improvement in her eczema.

“I help to bring each person’s issues to the surface and shine a light on the scary parts that are too hard to face alone,” says Lerman. “With my guidance each person can find the liberation that comes from releasing those inner struggles. The healing work is a guided journey through a process that heals these hidden wounds. It allows people to free themselves from their past and stop repeating the destructive patterns in their lives so that they can participate in life fully.”

Look for new ways to keep your offerings relevant. As an extension of her private work, Berman has been holding facilitated plant medicine sessions and “circles” for clients. The legalization of cannabis for recreational use in more states has increased public curiosity about other medicinal plants. “I take clients out of the environment where they are stressed,” she says. “Then we work with plant medicine to see what is revealed.” Berman has found in this work that sometimes clients have insights that they haven’t reached in 20 years of talk therapy, and, in response to high demand, is currently planning excursions to Upstate New York, Bolivia and Baja Mexico. “Plant medicine has a way of bypassing the thinking mind and going to the subconscious self,” says Berman. “I think of it as therapy on steroids.”

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