For 22 years, Queenie Longley has ensured that celebrities and royalty look toned and fit for their red carpet appearances, creating exercise regimens for clients around the county and oftentimes the world. But Longley recently discovered a new calling, one far removed from the glitz and glamour of celebrity fitness: training Santa Ynez Valley High School seniors in the ways of life, love, and, of course, health.
“This is about giving girls the information to navigate through life in a healthier manner,” Longley said of her course, which she dubs Girls Personal Source for Total Health.
Every two months, Longley takes six students under her wing for twice-a-week classes held at her gym in Santa Ynez, choosing females who would likely be unable to afford her usual $75 minimum fee.
Though weight training and cardio workouts are a part of her session, Longley said she takes a holistic approach with these students, including meditation and nutrition education in her curriculum and writing daily blog entries for students to read.
“I give them techniques to help with stress and all that life throws at them,” Longley said. “I teach them about mindfulness, and learning how better to control their thoughts and emotions to benefit them, rather than be a victim of an out of control mind.”
Longley said she makes conversation a cornerstone of all sessions, helping the students cultivate friendships and work together to figure out their issues.
“When we get to her house, we would all talk about anything that upset you,” said Andrea Rosales, a senior at Santa Ynez High who was one of Longley’s students. “We would gradually open up to each other.”
Longley would in turn open up to the students, Rosales said, sharing with them her own life lessons and advice.
“She knows what she has done and [that] she has made mistakes,” Rosales said. “So she shares with us so we don’t make the same mistakes.”
Only female students are selected for the program, Longley said, because empathizing with the students’ needs as teenagers is so important to the program’s success.
“I was a female and I am a female teacher and I know how to deal with them,” Longley said. “I’m not equipped to go into the emotional part with guys.”
Longley said she typically caters to the affluent, including a stint in 2001 with British Royal Family members Prince Andrew and his ex-wife Sarah Ferguson.
Longley began working with teens three years ago, initially at a private schools and in their homes until a series of difficult clients made her start to reconsider her patrons.
“I went down to Montecito to work with these very affluent girls. But I was so disgusted with their attitudes, I realized I didn’t want to put my energy toward that,” Longley said. “Some have chefs already cooking healthy foods for them. I want to hit the general population.”
At a cost of $650 per student, Longley reached out to her existing clients to sponsor the class, gaining sponsorship for six students.
Students pay nothing to attend class and leave with a yoga ball, exercise mat, and heart rate monitor, in addition to all they’ve learned during the class, Longley said.
“When they leave the course they have the basics that they’ll remember for most of their life,” Longley said.
Though Rosales ended her session only two weeks ago, she said she has already noticed a difference in how she views her lifestyle and her friendships.
“The change within myself is really eye-opening,” Rosales said.
Given the program’s success, Longley said she hopes to eventually devote her business completely to high school students.
“I want to find the funding to do summer programs,” Longley said. “This is what I want to do forever. I want to make it bigger.”