Tribute to Teacher Lesley Fightmaster
There are some people in this world who shine so brightly that when they are gone, the world feels a little dimmer. Lesley Fightmaster was one of those people.
Lesley could light up a room even when she was not physically in it. Life felt sweeter simply by seeing her smile on a computer screen, which is how she taught to most of her students. She was a mother, a wife, a dedicated yogini and yoga teacher, and an incredible friend.
Lesley took her first teacher training at YogaWorks in 2006. She was drawn to teaching because she loved yoga and was seeking community, having just moved to Orange County from San Francisco. It was in that training where she met some of her closest girlfriends – “the posse”, as they call themselves. Kim Haegele, who was one of her first yoga teachers in Orange County and later became a dear friend, says this of “Les” (as her friends call her), “Les had a huge, beautiful heart that held her family, friends and students in its embrace, and we all felt it. Her passion for yoga was evident in her teaching; she shined her bright light and enthusiasm onto her students and was, in turn, beloved by them.”
And beloved she was. Lesley’s rise to success was meteoric, but she remained humble along the journey. Shortly after her teacher training, she was hired by YogaWorks to teach on the schedule and led classes there for a number of years, including teaching their world-renowned teacher trainings. She even held a brief position on the sales and marketing side of teacher trainings, but it was her unexpected success with YouTube that led her to become an online yoga sensation.
Lesley did not set out to become a YouTube star. Her fame happened mostly through happenstance. In 2012, she and her husband, Duke, shot their first yoga video as an experiment. Duke had bought a new camera to film a screenplay and wanted to shoot Lesley teaching a yoga class to practice using his new equipment. As Lesley explained to LA Yoga Magazine in a previous interview, they uploaded it to YouTube “and promptly forgot all about it.” Her words perfectly capturing her humility and humor. Nine months later they were surprised to see that the video had received quite a bit of views and in 2013 they began to upload videos more regularly.
Since that first video posted, Lesley’s YouTube channel, now has over 600k subscribers. Her top video has garnered over 1 million views. Ever modest, Lesley chocked her success up to timing, but anyone that has taken Lesley’s class or knows her personally, knows that she was pre-destined for greatness, whether it would be through yoga, or not. Randy Allard, a member of “the posse” and former teacher manager for YogaWorks, Orange County told LA Yoga, “what I will hold on to is her warmth and smile. My heart is broken; truly broken. Losing my best girl is just unbearable. She was a star. No question.”
At the beginning of 2019, Lesley started her own membership site called MyYogaPal. There she offers a variety of 90-day premium programs from beginner to advanced levels. Lesley was proudest of the community feature, “Gratitude Corner”, where people can practice actively expressing gratitude.
Though she has achieved much in her career, her greatest accomplishment is her children. Her two sons, Stone and Indy (Indiana).
So, while yes, things may feel a little duller right now as the yoga community processes the news of her sudden passing, she is actually not gone at all. Her light shines on through her family and friends and through that beautiful smile that continues to beam for so many people online.
At the end of her introduction video on the Fightmaster Yoga YouTube channel, Lesley tells us that our yoga practice can create, “a loving, positive energy that will spread throughout (our) world” and that the greatest benefit of our practice is the community and friendships we form. She continues, “when you make positive changes, they affect everyone around you, making the world better because of you.”
Les, thank you for sharing your love and positive energy. The world is better because of you.
We would like to share Lesley’s final words from our previous interview, “Duke & I are very grateful for each yogi who practices our Fightmaster Yoga YouTube videos. We’re beyond grateful for every member of MyYogaPal. It is an absolute honor to be a part of each yogi’s journey – especially during this difficult time.”
Sarah Ezrin is a motivator, writer, yoga teacher, and teacher trainer. Her joie de vivre is infectious. For Sarah, yoga is beyond the postures it is a guide for living. Bringing a background of psychology and life coaching, she uses yoga to connect people to their brightest and most authentic Self. Based out of San Francisco where she lives with her husband and their dog, Sarah leads trainings, workshops, and retreats at home and across the globe. Her fun and popular classes are infused with humor and positivity. Sarah is changing the world, teaching self-love one person at a time. For more information on Sarah please visit her website or connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.