At 12-years-old, Jason Nemer understood that gymnastics was more fun to do, rather than to watch. He had grown up watching his brother practice the sport, but it wasn’t until Nemer completed his first practice, that he became soulfully addicted.
After about six months of learning the basics, Nemer attended an acrobatic act that came to town–with this life-event ultimately solidifying his interest to turn gymnastics and acrobatics into his new, competitive sport. Throughout his competitive career, Nemer traveled to attend competitions, with highlights including five weeks in Bulgaria at the age of 15, and participating in the junior world championships in China.
Upon entering college, Nemer proclaimed, “I decided playtime was over. I couldn’t continue to fund my competitions so I stopped competing.” Yet, although, Nemer shifted his focus to a major in economics, he could never quite leave the acrobatic world behind. “My goal was to make as much money as possible then do what I wanted with my life,” says Nemer. “But my last semester of college, I took my first yoga class and Asian philosophy class, and realized I could do what I want now, and for the rest of my life.” We sat down with Nemer to learn exactly how he created the life he wanted post-college, kept up with the adventure of starting a business and how he accepted the weighable task of being an influencer in the healing world.
Tell me about your company, AcroYoga, and its beginnings.
I met my co-founder, Jenny, in December 2003 in San Francisco. We had heard about each other for months but hadn’t met. We met at a party, shared our different practices with each other and were super inspired, envisioning the practice that became AcroYoga. We basically conceptualized the product and packaged it in one meeting. She had the skill set for civilian knowledge and I had high level experience, so once they got through the program, I could coach them. It was a combo of both of our skills that put together what the practice is today.
The company was an accident and a byproduct of us booking enough income from our first teacher training. It was a very secondary thought, but going through different hires and let-gos, I realized that it was important to not only give the company attention and structure but to get the right people involved.
How have you since grounded the business to create an international company?
I started bringing the wisdom of the practice to how we did the business–so that the business was a part of my AcroYoga life. Weekly meetings start with someone who does an opening–a meditation or a song–then they ask an opening question. That could be as simple as what’s your favorite ice cream; we never know what the opening questions will bring up, but it gets us out of our own minds. From there, we go to gratitude speed rounds, where you talk for a minute, or less, of what you’re currently grateful for. Then we go to celebrations and clearings–this is an important part of the company culture that comes from the practice–we encourage everybody to talk about one thing they do well and one they can do better.
We do this once a week and when we don’t do it, I miss it–I miss knowing how my friends are who I’m doing business with. We strike the balance between eastern philosophy and western business.
Do you consider yourself an influencer? If so, how are you using this title to “influence” in the health and wellness sphere?
Yes. It’s inescapable at this point–as much as I might try to hide from it.
I have collected so much information from so many different lineages, from Chinese medicine, Airavata, chiropractics…I feel like what I’m now able to present to many healers is this combination of acrobatics yoga and Thai massage.
A Thai fly treatment utilizes gravity that no other practice or practitioner does. As you hang the recipient passively over your feet, gravity realigns their spine. When you do most other practices, you have to use your muscles to achieve these poses, but when someone else is holding you, you get to relax and let gravity reposition all of your imbalances.
In the past two months, I’ve done two trips to New York and worked with about 10 clients per trip. These treatments have been super deep and helped people feel better than they’ve felt in years. Because I travel the world constantly, my demographic is constantly changing but the shift that has happened in the past two to three years is getting a different demographic interested. The past demographic has been yogis, healers, movers, hippies–and since working with the Summit Series crew, there’s a lot more entrepreneurs that have more resources and bigger visions of how they want to affect humanity so we’re starting to realign our resources and our vision.
How did you get involved with Summit Series? And where has it taken you?
I met Jeff Rosenthal at Elena Brower’s house in New York (she’s a yoga teacher)–that was our introduction. When I flew him acrobatically, I remember he wouldn’t take his cowboy boots off–he kept them on the whole time!
I have since done six or seven events with them and I’m about to go do one in August with Jamie Wheal, from the book Healing Fire. The Summit has introduced me to people with similar passions and similar visions of what humanity is capable of, and the way that mindful investment of time, energy, and resources can yield really beautiful things for humanity.
What has the balancing act been like in the entrepreneurial journey in founding AcroYoga?
It’s like I’m a bad scientist. It’s hard to not lose my phone charger with this lifestyle. It’s a daily practice of centering, clarifying and organizing my day. I don’t have any routines that I’m so fixed too–including eating–I just gave up eating for 36 hours to detach that habit. I have a lot of practices and tendencies but nothing I have to do every day–except brushing my teeth!
You let go of eating for 36 hours?
I have been doing new moon intentions for almost a year now. Two new moons ago, it was healthy habits. It took one full moon cycle to witness lots of unhealthy habits to actually understand healthy habits, so now, I have this new moon cycle to actually engage in healthy habits. And one of them was, eat slower, and let go of food–so when I re-engaged with food, I had a different relationship with it; it was less impulsive and more mindful.
It’s really not that hard, I would challenge you to do it–let other things besides your digestion take energy from your body–drink juice and water for 36 hours.
That’s certainly something to think about. While we’re on the mindful, wellness topic–what is one of your number one wellness tips for staying well on the road?
Water and food management and oil. The water means not only drinking a lot of water, it’s also showering, hydration, sauna; getting water to move through your body as much as possible because flight’s dry you out.
For food, soups are really good because they hydrate you and are easy to digest. Drinking lots of alcohol, especially with ice cubes is one of the hardest thing you can do to your body when you land from a flight–so having no drinks is preferred.
Oil–in Airavata, there’s a practice called abhyanga, which is rubbing oil all over you–sesame, coconut, or in a pinch, olive oil–basically, you want to mummify yourself so the moisture doesn’t leave before a flight.
Do you have a daily mantra?
My daily routine is generally starting by taking time to myself and waking up to not start doing things is my preferred method. My mantra is, “enjoy the day.”
What is one thing you wish you knew ten years ago about business, health, or travel?
A selfish one is, follow through with your instincts on investments–I almost dumped $5,000 into Apple’s stock. But as far as entrepreneurship, get the big picture clarified and work on the systems before you launch.