In each Power Couple Profile you will meet a couple that inspires us to grow stronger together. Our goal is to learn from these incredible people and share their unique stories and experiences with our readers. If you know a power couple we should connect with, don’t hesitate to drop us a line!
I connected with Ed through social media after I made the transition to a vegan lifestyle a few years ago. We are both straightedge, vegan, and into CrossFit, so we had a lot in common. I originally interviewed Ed for my podcast, and since then we’ve had the privilege to hang out a handful of times. I even got to stay at Ed and Holly’s house/gym and train with them while on a work trip. With so much of their life revolving around health, fitness, and veganism, they are one of our favorite vegan power couples!
Names: Ed Bauer and Holly Noll
Ages: 37 and 30
Location: Oakland, California
Occupations: Personal trainers, coaches, gym owners, and entrepreneurs. We co-own NewEthic Strength and Conditioning in Oakland, CA. Holly also owns FitQuick Protein Baking Mixes and co-owns Rise and Resist Training with Lacy Davis (born from the demand created by Rise and Resist Podcast).
Relationship Status: Dating for more than four years, forever no human babies, two fur babies (dogs), living the dream above NewEthic.
How did you meet?
We met when then chef Holly of the YouTube cooking show Vegan Shortcake came to interview then bodybuilder Ed at his new vegan gym in Portland, OR about the protein myth. Check out the episode with our first ever convo!
What makes you a Powr Cupl?
We are building an epic empire of radness to change the world together. #smashpatriarchy #smashspeciesism #rulelife
What is your love language?
“Quality time” ranks second for us both with “acts of service” as the top for Holly and “physical touch” at the top for Ed. We both found that “gift giving” wasn’t of a top priority, and that we maintain intimacy by supporting one another’s goals, working on projects, workouts, and companies together while staying present to the need for space apart and solid “non-work” time together as well as apart.
How do you hope to inspire other couples?
Honestly, to not settle. All around us we see people trying to make things “work” with people that don’t fit them because it feels impossible to find someone who really clicks. We are very specific in our interests and it was totally a fluke feeling when we found one another. That being said, it was more a product of us waiting. We spent time building ourselves into whole people who stand on our own and bring a full person to the relationship built on common interest.
Can you describe a difficult time in your relationship and how you overcame the hardship?
Recently, we pulled ourselves out of a darker time where we grew apart due to personal tragedy—the death of Ed’s father and the death of Holly’s childhood best friend, as well as the everyday grind down that can sometimes occur. This put a dark space between us in the form of not being able to show up emotionally, see one another’s struggle, and creating positive support. We overcame this through identifying the negativity, being open in communication, and prioritizing listening to what one another said rather than taking it at face value through our own biased lens. Other tools we used were: empathy, patience, often checking in, and putting extra value on time shared as well as staying in integrity to one another. Lastly, reading Brene Brown’s Rising Strong and Daring Greatly was an awesome aid in summoning the courage to stay vulnerable even when it hurt and remembering that this doesn’t make you weak, it makes you connected.
What is the best investment you have made in your relationship?
There are so many answers to how we invest. There is the more tangible such as travel cost incurred during the more than a year of dating long distance, and starting NewEthic together. There are also the prolific non-tangible investments such as remembering to stay present when life is stressful, scheduling time together in both work and “down-time,” remembering that the other has a different experience and trying to improve on that daily.
What is the key to a strong and successful relationship?
Never give up. Life will never make things easy for long, so being able to show loving grit to continue to invest even when it’s not all rainbows and unicorns (though we are each others’ unicorns). We recognize also that we need to continue to grow as individuals and as a pair, evolving and never settling in to being “too comfortable” (i.e.: forgetting that you can lose what you have if you neglect it).
Just a Cupl More…
You’ve been together for a long time and aren’t married, and you refer to each other as “my partner”. Curious minds want to know…why?
Referring to one another as partners means many things. It means we are equals, it means we work together on the same level, and it means we don’t acknowledge the current “two gender” system as there are folks who aren’t able to use terms like “girl” or “boy” friend within their relationships due to their identity and it means they are oppressed because of it. Also, often non-straight folks aren’t able to use these terms either, as they are often oppressed by outing themselves. Using these terms is rad because they incur a lack of ownership within relationships, as well as solidarity with others, and support of one another. As for marriage…give it time.
What was the conversation like when you decided to go into business together?
Tumultuous, at first lol! We didn’t immediately see the same vision of the future and it caused a good amount of “processing”. Once we realized we both wanted the same thing, it clicked, and we moved onto finding our dream space, which was arguably the most difficult part.
What roles do both of you play in the business?
We coach separately and run our businesses separately, but parallel, sharing the space and responsibilities within. By organizing things in this way we have taken out many “issues” that often come up when couples run businesses together, primarily the part where we run our money separately. We split our “chores” into what each person more naturally tends towards, or more accurately, what each person has space for. Lives get more or less busy, and by rolling with the ebb and flow of life’s stressors rather than clinging to rigidity that can often become unsustainable.
Your fitness facility, NewEthic promotes a plant-based lifestyle through its name and practice… Do you ever see this as a deterrent for potential clients? What are the upsides and downsides from pigeonholing yourself in such a way?
The name NewEthic is open to interpretation. Yes, it is inspired by the Earth Crisis song New Ethic about saving animals, but many people don’t know this, and for those who do it’s the exact opposite of a deterrent. NewEthic as a name should inspire people to consider what new ethic they will embrace for themselves. That can simply mean taking better care of themselves through exercising and eating in a way that feels great. That can mean getting bodywork done and focusing more on mobility or getting nutritional advice. It can mean learning to de-stress through meditation and yoga, which we also offer, or simply being a nicer person to the world around them. We promote veganism in our nutritional advice, and our full facility, including the fitness and supplement store, is entirely plant-based. We actively try to take a “harm reduction” perspective when talking to clients, being careful not to put them on the defensive and supporting their journey. Yeah, of course it would be awesome if the whole world were vegan and everyone we had training was vegan, but in the world we live in this just isn’t the case. Also, we know that there are a lot of cyclical conversations in our communities where we preach the benefits of veganism to other folks who share our opinions, this isn’t always the best tactic for supporting the transition. Honestly, we think it’s really great when folks transition in their own ways. Every time someone chooses non-animal based gear, food, and supplements, even if it isn’t a full commitment, it is a choice that has a strong positive impact on the world, saving lives. At NewEthic we support everyone moving towards the best in themselves, so we promote a lot of ideas from being plant-based to body positive to just having a fun, supportive, community. Our community [at the gym] is about 50/50 vegan to non-vegan.
What are the pros and cons of having a business that’s literally located underneath your apartment?
Well, one pro is the commute is great! Sometimes the dogs stop on the stairs, but as far as Bay Area traffic, I’d say we’re pretty well off. We have the opportunity to have very flexible schedules, allowing for easier scheduling for our clients. NewEthic is not just a gym, but also a community space. Having a kitchen and more “house” like facilities is wonderful when doing events that have food, which is most of them (#vegan). We have a projector in the main space to show documentaries and movies too, and as these events can often run late, so it feels great to have our bed only a few stairs away. Additionally, we have a semi-private courtyard that the gym opens in to that we can use to keep our personal cars and puppies safe. We have two offices downstairs as well and it’s great to be able to take space from one another, when we want or need, as we have so much space to share. As far as cons… our biggest problem is leaving the space enough to stay happy and clear our heads. To call this a problem is pretty awesome though…we really do have to be vigilant so as to not get stagnant.
With your gym being so close to home and fitness being such a big part of your lives, what do you do to break away from that when you feel the need to separate yourselves from the business and fitness?
Natural spaces are crucial. Hiking with our dogs together, or trail running separately, amount for a lot of what we do outside of the compound. It also serves as a reminder that fitness is not just lifting, but also maintaining movement and health, which quality time in nature is important for. We also spend a lot of time with family that lives a bit over an hour North of Oakland, eat out at the myriad of amazing vegan restaurants in the area, make space for concerts, backpacking, and just reading books in the sun on a nice day.
As vegan athletes like ourselves, we’d like to know what grocery shopping and meal prepping looks like for you two?
We joke that Trader Joe’s should have sponsored us long ago. Here are a few examples of our fridge after meal prep 1 , 2 , 3 as well as some examples of what is made ( 1 , 2 and sometimes we just have to have 3 ) As far as grocery lists go, we typically get food from three places: a local organic CSA that’s delivered Mondays, Trader Joe’s for most produce, bread products, and just about everything not super specialty, and Whole Foods for specialty stuff, and proteins from Sweet Earth Foods, Upton’s, Field Roast, Beyond Meat, and Gardien. Also, the probiotic drink Kevita, Earth Balance products, treats, and when we need “to go” food.
What advice do you have for other couples that want to go into business together?
Transparency is incredibly important. We run things semi-separately to avoid some of the difficulties that comes with dividing finances and money, and we’d strongly recommend this to others if it fits into your business model. In the past, in other businesses I (Holly) found this especially difficult, so I have used the tactic of “paying” each person individually out of the profit, so they can have autonomy in personal spending. Also, allow things to be fluid. Your lives and businesses will (hopefully_ constantly evolve, grow, and change. This rules! That being said, it can be difficult to flow through things smoothly. This is where communication, transparency, integrity, and drive come in hard. Communicate about everything. If you need more time on a task, mention it, because your partner will likely notice and it’s way better to just move through it together. Additionally, if you show yourself being open about your needs and whatever else, that shows your partner that it’s okay for them to be open, creating safer spaces. Don’t let your business take over your life. There was a long time where we had trouble separating the fact that we spend nearly every hour together, but that’s not spending quality time together. Make space for your relationship, not just your business partnership. Don’t let the tiredness that comes from epic drive kill the epic relationship that lead you to the drive in the first place. Also, maintain a certain amount of autonomy. This could mean simply spending more time by yourself, on what feeds you, what makes you feel happy, separately, or it could mean keeping your finances apart to allow for each to have freedom to exist without asking permission.
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