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Women Who Inspire: Annbeth Eschbach

Our March guest is Annbeth Eschbach, the fitness expert who launched the game-changing exhale chain of boutique spa and fitness centers. Her passion for her business is palpable and her dedication to her personal well-being — and the well-being of others — is admirable. She is a true inspiration to us. We hope you feel the same.


It’s dizzying when you think about how Annbeth Eschbach pretty much single-handedly changed how women approach their well-being. When the now 58-year-old business pioneer opened the first exhale spa in Manhattan in 2002, there was nothing else like it.

Though she describes herself “just this hardworking chick who goes to work every day,” she’s much more than that: she’s an entrepreneurial dynamo who has forever impacted the way a certain group of women live their lives.

In the early 2000s, “fitness” revolved around big-box gyms. Spas were places for “pampering.” And “wellness” wasn’t even on the radar. Now boutique fitness studios are as ubiquitous as Starbucks, and meditation classes are popping up like skinny decaf lattes. “Today, we are living in a full-on mindfulness revolution,” Eschbach says.

And she started it.

Eschbach built not only her business but also her life around mindfulness and transformation. She believes a long, happy life comes down to choice: choosing to be joyful, choosing to be grateful, and choosing to turn away from negativity.


Everybody tells you how awful it is to get old, but that’s just not been true.


“The people who seem to age badly are the people who are really attracted to stress. They are the people who fall prey to robotic behavior and who are addicted to negative emotion. People who practice gratitude and mindfulness, people who smile, people who lift people up, people who love food, people who love fitness, people who actually tell you that they love to sleep, people who have friends of all types and all ages — those are the people who seem ageless. Those are the people to whom I am magnetized.”

She does not believe in defining anyone, including herself, by a number, preferring “psychographics” over “demographics.”

“I fell in love with this new category, which I read about on The What List, and it’s so perfect: The term ‘perennial’ reflects behavior and values and passions. It’s not about generations and ages. A perennial is someone who is living in the now, who is current, confident, collaborative. I am a really big believer in this cross-generation thing. I cannot be put in a bucket.”

One example of that refusal to be limited by age: Eschbach took up ice hockey in her 40s, after her son outgrew his hockey gear. Though an accident sidelined her aspirations on that front, growing older has been more liberating that limiting, she says. “I am not as competitive now as I was in my earlier years. My clothes from 20 years ago are too big. I eat more now than I did in college, and I weigh a lot less and have more energy. I am so much happier.

“Everybody tells you how awful it is to get old, but that’s just not been true.”

5 Ways Annbeth Eschbach Stays in Shape

Her secrets are really no secret. Eschbach has dedicated her life to self-care — her own and that of others. She practices the basics of health and wellness, with tremendous dedication and the results to prove that there is no mysterious code to looking beautiful and feeling fantastic at 58.

  • A daily class (yoga or barre) at exhale: “There is something there that fuels me and feeds me and takes care of me. I make a point to fit it in before work or midday.”
  • Lots of little protein-based meals.
  • Chamomile tea: “Because I’ve grown tired of water.”
  • Eight hours of sleep per night.
  • Gratitude and mindfulness: “It’s important to me to stop and smile and appreciate someone, or to take a moment to take in the view from my office. It keeps me supple and open and calm. I really work so hard at grabbing these little snippets.”

To learn more about exhale and to find a location near you, go to exhalespa.com.

Photo: Courtesy of Annbeth Eschbach

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