After I started following Kat Matutina on Instagram, I often wondered when she slept, because she literally does it ALL. Kat is a female entrepreneur, music curator, fitness instructor, wellness coach, podcast host, event coordinator, and quite possibly Superwoman. Here, I spoke with Kat about her story, and how her passion for health and fitness overlaps with her extensive experience in the music industry.
Hey Kat! Tell our readers a little more about your background—how did you get to where you are today?
I was raised by immigrants and moved around a lot as a kid. I was born in Texas, then moved to California for most of my life (aside from the time I spent in New York for school).
I’ve been obsessed with music for most of my life. I was collecting my first vinyl records when I was 10 years old and started booking and promoting shows when I was about 15—something I continued to do long into adulthood. I began DJing around 2004 as an opener for all the parties and shows I threw in San Francisco and New York.
When I moved to LA in 2012 I continued to be involved with music, but also worked in the health and wellness industry with a focus on plant-based nutrition and fitness. As a music curator, DJ, and event producer, it was only natural for me to combine my interests into one project, which is what ASS CAMP is today!
Your class, ASS CAMP, seems like it’s equal parts workout and party. What inspired the genesis of this project?
I believe in a holistic approach to health, wellness, fitness and beauty. My study of holistic nutrition began at a young age: at age 14, I became vegan after learning about the meat and dairy industry’s effects on innocent animals, as well as the environment and our health. When my dad was diagnosed with leukemia, I wanted to make a change with the way my family and I ate to achieve better health. I changed my diet overnight, and later went on to attend an organic culinary school and institute for holistic health. After that I studied herbs, homeopathy and natural skincare. During this time, I was a private chef specializing in a number of unique diets, and additionally focused on a holistic approach to skincare for my clients as well. As part of holistic health and wellness, I went on to study massage and fitness training.
My dedication to fitness has been a part of my life since I was 10 years old, when I would pretend to host a healthy cooking show with my toy kitchen set and then pretend to host and teach a fitness workout class!
Fast forward years later, I created ASS CAMP in an effort to make working out more fun—and with better music, in my opinion! ASS CAMP is a place anyone can feel comfortable coming to at any fitness level or experience (it’s dark with party lights, so don’t worry if you’re shy!), financially accessible with an affordable cover at $15, and nutritious with my organic and plant-based tonics and smoothies, as pre and post-workout recovery is ESSENTIAL in achieving fitness results. I personally make all the fuel tonics and smoothies for each class. They are all vegan, gluten-free, soy-free and low in sugar, and I pack them with plant protein, glutamine, BCAAs, turmeric, tart cherry, and probiotics.
The class is for everyone of all genders who are interested in my approach to a full-body strengthening and toning workout, with an emphasis on snatching the waist and building that ass! I know my abs, butt, and legs are my main focus when I work out, so I’m happy to share all my secrets!
On a silly note, the IG handle @babe_fitness came about literally as a joke initially—B.A.B.E. stands for “Big Asian Butt Exercises,” but now it’s a place to document and share my journey of adding some mass to my ass!
Your work seems to focus on two of the most fundamental parts of the human experience—our physical health, and our mental/emotional health (through the form of music curation and health education). Where do you feel these two worlds intersect the most?
People look to me for tips on ways to get fit and improve their physical fitness, and they also look to me to provide music soundtracks to help them celebrate at special events. Curating music for experiences and coordinating events to celebrate music is a much more straightforward task—when people ask me about ways to improve their health, it’s never that simple. I can’t just suggest some exercises because their diet is 70-80% of their health, wellness, and fitness. I can’t only look at their diet and workout routine because stress and lifestyle also affect your heart, brain, and gut health. Stress drives up cortisol, our stress hormone, which can lead to leaky-gut syndrome and a takeover of our microbiome by bad bacteria. This can then affect our brain chemistry.
You can’t separate your wellness from your emotions. Every feeling you have affects some part of your body, and stress can wreak havoc on your physical health. The classic definition of stress is “any real or imagined threat, and your body’s response to it.” There is environmental, emotional, physical and mental stress. Celebrations and tragedies alike can cause a stress response in your body. All of your feelings, positive or negative, create physiological changes. Your skin, heart rate, digestion, joints, muscle energy levels, the hair on your head, and countless cells and systems you don’t even know about change with every emotion.
When you dwell on negative emotions you internalize the stress, which can prevent you from coming up with constructive ways to address them. Stress can improve once you find more active methods of coping. Stress plays a major role in your immune system, and can impact your blood pressure, cholesterol levels, brain chemistry, blood sugar levels, and hormonal balance. It can even “break” your heart, and is increasingly being viewed as a cardiovascular risk marker. You cannot eliminate stress entirely, but you can work to provide your body with tools to compensate for the bioelectrical short-circuiting that can cause serious disruption in many of your body’s important systems. Exercising regularly and staying active, getting enough sleep, proper nutrition (with a focus on healthy gut bacteria), and meditation are also important “release valves” that can help you manage your stress.
Most importantly, when your body is under the stress response, your cortisol and insulin levels rise. These two hormones tend to track each other, and when your cortisol is consistently elevated under a chronic low-level stress response, you may experience difficulty losing weight or building muscle. Additionally, if your cortisol is chronically elevated, you’ll tend to gain weight around your midsection, visceral fat. The common “beer belly” is actually often a result of stress and cortisol! All of my smoothies and some of my tonics at ASS CAMP contain adaptogens, probiotics, stress-balancing herbs, and superfoods that support healthy stress response as well as optimal recovery after a workout.
Tending to your gut is important to combat mental stress. You could be eating the healthiest food in the world, but if your body cannot fully digest and assimilate that food, then you will not reap the benefits from it, nor will you be able to burn calories effectively.
I talk about this a lot but neurotransmitters like serotonin are found in your gut. In fact, the greatest concentration of serotonin, which is involved in mood control, depression and suppressing aggression, is found within your intestines—NOT your brain! It’s no surprise then that scientific evidence shows that nourishing your gut flora with the friendly bacteria with probiotics is extremely important for proper brain function, including psychological well-being and mood control. For instance, the probiotic known as Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001 has been shown to normalize anxiety-like behavior in mice with infectious colitis.
The probiotic Lactobacillus rhamnosus has shown a marked effect on GABA (an inhibitory neurotransmitter that is significantly involved in regulating many physiological and psychological processes) levels in certain brain regions and lowered the stress-induced hormone corticosterone, resulting in reduced anxiety- and depression-related behavior. This highlights the important role of bacteria in the bidirectional communication of the gut-brain axis and suggests that certain organisms may prove to be useful therapeutic adjuncts in stress-related disorders such as anxiety and depression.
What advice would you give to other female entrepreneurs jumping into the music industry?
Do what you love. Utilize skills you naturally excel at, whether it’s coordinating, managing, creating, marketing, connecting, etc. Don’t be discouraged—we are all figuring shit out as we go our entire lives. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t get your dream job right away. It’s rare anyone ever does! If you are open about your skill sets and what jobs you are interested in, people looking to fill those roles will come to you or be directed to you.
Share your skills and desires if you want to come up when specific opportunities come up. Don’t worry about technical skillsets either because many roles just require the right kind of person—personality, work ethic and style to fulfill responsibilities in a role. Anyone can always learn and train on new skills.
You can manifest anything you want to do if you put your mind to it and share your goals and aspirations with those around you. It’s also important to surround yourself with people that inspire you. Don’t be afraid to find someone in a role you’re interested in and pick their brain about what their daily tasks are, and what they think is helpful to find a similar kind of opportunity.