For Julie (Jules) Pittman, participation is a cornerstone of vitality. The board-certified psychiatrist has a private practice specializing in addiction recovery, serves on the clinical faculty at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, and is a mom to three. She’s also a group fitness coach who teaches Les Mills BODYPUMP at 24 Hour Fitness Mansfield and 24 Hour Fitness Ft. Worth Horne locations.

How does she do it all? Pittman says, “I know that if I want to feel alive, the key is to join in and say ‘yes’ to things.” We wanted to find out more from such a strong and inspiring woman, and asked her a few more burning questions. 

We all have highs and lows. What’s your favorite way to practice self-care?

Exercise has become my primary coping skill. I had sunk pretty deeply into this form of coping starting in 2018 and 2019 when I started teaching, but the pandemic stress that 2020 wrought in my day job as a physician reinforced my coping skills big time. I starting working out every single day and struggling to have rest days. I find that my mental state is much more peaceful on days that start with belly laughs and sweat dripping off my eyelashes.

Can you name a particular moment in your career that you are most proud of?

I have a few different answers to this question depending on which stage of my life we are talking about and which career, and the answers you might expect might not be the ones I would give. I was shocked to get into an MD-PhD program, much less graduate from one. I was pretty shocked again when Harvard Medical School called me every single week for months, recruiting me for their residency program, and even more shocked when they made me chief resident.

I felt honored and humbled after being invited to meet with the U.S. Surgeon General when he asked if he could hug me after the meeting. That was kind of awesome!

Then, after spending my entire life in academic pursuits,  I just up and decided to become a fitness instructor in my spare time. It sounds pretty random, but doing it was amazing. I think at this point, I’d have to say getting to teach Les Mills BODYPUMP 110 right next to [Les Mills International Ambassador] Ben Main was a definite highlight. #fangirlcity #Idorkedoutbigtime

If you could meet one female trailblazer, who would it be and why?

Kylie Gates from Les Mills International. I have a total fitness crush on her. She is dedicated to excellence and the ongoing development of others, and she clearly leads from the heart. She is a wonderful example for women!!! #squadgoalscentral

Bonus question: What would you do with this person?

A Les Mills BODYPUMP class, 100 percent!

Favorite song?

“Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard,” by Paul Simon. (This was a really hard question.)

Favorite format to teach? Favorite format as a participant?

Les Mills BODYPUMP is 100 percent my favorite format to teach. And while Les Mills BODYPUMP and outdoor boot camps are my jam, I also enjoy Les Mills GRIT, CORE, and RPM. (I tried BODYCOMBAT two times, but it looked like I was losing a slap fight to my big sister. Maybe I’ll try again in a room without any mirrors?!? Yeesh.) 

In honor of Women’s History Month, what advice do you have for other women? 

I have been very fortunate in my life to have been surrounded by strong women. My mother taught me that there is no more powerful force than education. She could not have been more right. Education was the key that unlocked having the greatest job on the face of the Earth. I could not be more grateful to her for that lesson or for the example she set for me.

I think Toni Morrison captured it well. In 2003, she told Oprah magazine, “I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.’”

I take that responsibility pretty seriously.

Photo credit: Julie Pittman