We have a new favorite podcast at The ANY Mag, and it's about crystals, green juice, and sometimes, a surfing rabbi. That's so Retrograde, the brainchild of actress/comedian Stephanie Simbari and entrepreneur/stylist Elizabeth Kott, is a podcast devoted to seeking their (and through listening, our) best path, through interviews with gurus of all types. The girls interview experts in Ayurvedic medicine, numerology, extra dimensional wellness, and a host of other niche wellness practices, in their quest to better themselves. Through it all they keep it real, L.A. style, battling hangovers, various boy drama, and colonics.
We got a chance to speak with them about how they started the podcast, where they see That's so Retrograde headed, and their favorite lasagna spot ever.
One of you works in fashion, and the other as an actress; neither of you come from a health & wellness career background. How did you two find yourself involved in this space, and creating a podcast focused on it?
Elizabeth Kott: It’s really a culmination of the things we were googling and the conversations we were having as curious beings and dear friends.
Stephanie Simbari: I have been a student of nutrition and yoga for over 10 years after discovering I had a gene mutation that prevented me from being able to properly methylate B vitamins. As a result I became conscious of the necessity for being active in your own pursuit of wellness - both with food as medicine and spirituality which grounded me in a body in a very scary and unsure time. When Elizabeth and I became friends we realized we were both seeking ways to stay connected and grounded amidst our daily grind and the pod kinda just evolved out of our own shared exploration.
Creatively, how has it all come together? Has it been easy to find a rhythm working together and working with new guests every week?
EK: The first time I met Steph I found out she was a comedian and I had sort of a premonition. The first words out of my mouth were: “I want to write something with you”…cut to about a year later, we did our first project together (fashion comedy shorts for my former consignment brand, Closet Rich). Our creative connection bloomed from there... and podcasting is sort of like writing, lol.
SS: E and I are like two halves of a whole. We have the opposite astrological aspects so we sort of fill in each other’s blanks. We know each other well so when things aren’t working well or flowing properly we have a conversation and figure out where each of us needs to sharpen up, or communicate better, etc.
What kind of people are you finding responding to the podcast? Is it who you expected?
SS: Is it obnoxious to say everyone? We are universal! No, but seriously - I expected it to be mostly chicks in our demographic (mid to late 20’s/ early 30’s who live on the coasts) but we are finding that women who have real lives, full lives - families, hard jobs, etc - are connecting with what we are doing, which is really awesome. Also, dudes like us, which is fun. I think sometimes men are intimidated to dip their toes into the wellness space because it feels feminine to care about this stuff but my dream is to have super bros throwing down for So Retrograde, drinking juices and carrying their crystals loud and proud.
What are you favorite spots to eat, drink, and be merry (whatever that means to you) in L.A?
EK: Hugo’s for breakfast, lunch, or dinner; its yummy, health focused, in our hood, and we know the extensive menu like the back of our hands. Erewhon is the ultimate for wellness supplies and groceries. For merriment, I love dance classes at Sweat Spot in Silverlake and am all about the farmers market on Sundays (Melrose Olace, Hollywood, or Larchmont; all are great).
SS: Yeah, Erewhon’s our favorite spot without a doubt. We also frequent Hugo’s - oh LOL you said that. We also gotta give a shout out to No Name bar on Fairfax who houses our monthly comedy show.
Steph, I know you've lived in New York and you both just visited; what are your fave New York spots for the same?
SS: I haven’t lived in NYC in years but on our last visit I realized that Meatballs have made a serious name for themselves. Meatballs are to NYC what Juices are to LA at this point and what FROYO used to be to the world. So thanks Meatball Shop for fulfilling all my East Coast Italian girl dreams. For a place that’s less meaty and more ‘wellness’ friendly I love HU kitchen which is Union Square adjacent. We also discovered the worlds best lasagna at a spot in the West Village - E, do you remember the name of that place? I thought I was gonna lose her to lasagna forever. [Editor's note: No luck on the lasagna location front.]
For a good hang, I like to go to The Stand which is a dope comedy club that I also love performing at. The Olive Tree is a spot above The Comedy Cellar which I also like to frequent because all my favorite comedians perform there and they have an incredible hummus. There’s also this lobster spot in Greenpoint that is out of this world and a brick oven pizza joint in Bushwick that I die for [Editor's note: We're thinking she's talking about Roberta's pizza, which we agree with wholeheartedly.]
EK: The response we have had thus far has blown my mind; countless listeners contact us telling us how incorporating a practice they picked up from the show has improved their daily experience. As saccharine as this sounds, the current manifestation for the near future is that we expand our audience and so that this positivity continues its ripple effect, but there are so many visions we have for TSR- time will tell.
SS: Absolutely. I really don’t think there’s a ceiling on this kind of thing because people are always going to be seeking ways to live their best life with humor and ease.
Do you think people in our generation- Millennials- have a different take on a healthy lifestyle than other generations?
EK: Yes, our access to information has given us an opportunity to revisit ancient Eastern practices and to question the Western norms and educate ourselves in the process- the conflict here is that the information is so vast it can be overwhelming.
SS: Definitely. We are seeing the old paradigms crumble right before our eyes, and what it’s revealing is that the ways we have been doing things aren’t working. Our culture is definitely sicker than it needs to be and I think Millennials are realizing it’s within our power to take our health and our life into our own hands. My grandmother is fighting a battle with stomach cancer and to try to get her to understand the value of just one green juice a day is near impossible. I don’t think a young person would be even a sliver as resistant to newer modalities of healing. And like E said, the ancient modalities that are making a serious comeback are just as valuable as western modes.
Where do you see fitness and health trends going?
SS: That’s a tough question, but I hope the focus comes off of having a ‘perfectly fit’ body and onto have a perfectly working body. So yes it’s good to be fit and have abs and all of that, but how is your spine doing, are you breathing properly… I guess what I’m saying is a more integrated approach to exercise would be my ideal.
EK: Yes to all of that - as we say on the show, calorie counting is so 90s, loving seeing the uprising of the whole food conversation and how to get these good for your foods to the masses. On the fitness side, I think the SoulCycle concept is going to trickle into other exercise forms in a sort of gimmicky fashion- like reserving your yoga mat and playlist driven classes, not sure if I personally vibe on it that much, but whatever gets people moving is cool with me
You guys have had some pretty amazing guests on the show; a surfing rabbi, the Sakaragirls, etc. How do you find them, or do you find each other?
EK: 50/50 - a lot of our guests are friends or friends of friends - which was a huge catalyst for the concept of the show, just being consistently inspired and in awe of the people in our community... the other 50% we catch wind of through various kismet-based circumstances and they come on and just blow our minds.
How would you describe your wellness philosophy?
SS: Listen to your body.