Growing up, I’ve always been an athlete (I actually played soccer in college), but I never expected that I’d revolutionize my life through fitness — starting in my late-20’s, no less.
My life has pivoted in a lot of ways since I made a gigantic career (/lifestyle) switch from my corporate job to the fitness industry — from beauty routines to sleep habits and can’t-live-without laundry detergent. (Yes, really.)
So, today, I’m sharing 14 things I’ve learned and a few of the ways my life has changed since becoming a fitness instructor:
First, though, a quick cliff notes-style back-story in case you’re not familiar:
When I moved to New York a few years ago, Jess encouraged me to try this amazing workout called SoulCycle. A fast-and-sweaty 45 minutes later, I was hooked – and now, more than three years later – here I am, as an Instructor for the company. (The back-story on that/my SoulCycle journey is detailed here.)
Let’s get to it:
- I eat constantly. I don’t eat right before I teach, but if there’s time in the morning, I’ll start the day with something light and carb-y (like eggs with avocado smeared on sprouted grain toast). Post-class, I go for something protein-packed, like a Quest bar or a smoothie. I’ll take the time to make a salad when I can, or top rice cakes with (more) avocado or almond butter and banana. “Toast” toppers are my jam! Dinners are usually zucchini noodles (you need a spiralizer), turkey burgers or grilled chicken with sweet potatoes. And wine, of course — I don’t deprive myself. Remember: What you put in your body matters just as much — if not more — than the exercise you give it!
- My nap game is strong. SO strong. Especially if I’m teaching multiple classes per day, I typically have to nap. And I know it’s nerdy, but I’m strategic about it: The optimal time for a power nap is around 28 minutes, which allows you to rest without entering into deep sleep, which will leave you feeling even more tired when you wake up. Our average sleep cycles are around 90 minutes, so you either want to take a 25-30 minute nap, or — if you can — a 90-minute nap. The latter will allow your body to go into REM sleep, which makes up for lost sleep and will leave you feeling really refreshed.
- I’m always doing laundry. Like, four times a week. Tide Sport is a total game-changer — and literally the only detergent I can use. If you are constantly washing sweaty, smelly workout clothes, too, I’d recommend it. (And no, I wasn’t paid to say this.)
- I buy waterproof everything. Mascara that won’t budge is a girl’s very best friend. Also, an oil-based eye make-up remover is essential.
- I don’t wash my hair everyday. I used to, since I have such baby-fine hair and it always gets greasy. (A hair-related post about my everyday routine/tutorial can be found here.) The best trick I’ve learned, though, is powder dry shampoo. Rub a generous amount between your palms (you can use baby powder, too) and run through your damp hair, then blast your head with a blow dryer and you’re out the door. Works like a charm!
- My shoes are much more functional. I used to be able to run all over town in six-inch stilettos, but now it’s typically Nike’s, New Balances’s or bust. (Well, okay – sometimes… On weekdays. A girl’s got to have a reason to wear her snake-skin lace-up pumps, right?) Per a reader request, I’ll be sharing more about where I actually shop for athletic-inspired gear and workout wear later this week, but here’s a few of my favorite kicks in the interim:
*Click to shop:
- … My bags are more functional, too. Same goes in the handbag department. I much prefer a chic, functional backpack for daytime, since I’m usually walking across the city to-and-from the studio(s). I am still carrying the shit out of my Rebecca Minkoff backpack! (It comes in black and a wine-colored oxblood now, too; I’m in trouble!)
- I am always listening to music. This one isn’t much of a change for me personally, but I am always – and I mean always – researching new music. Making playlists is the best and also most challenging aspect of my job; it’s kinda like blogging in that you’ve got to keep your content (jams) fresh, relevant, unique and interesting. I’m usually plugged into my Beats headphones when I’m walking, traveling or working. And, yes, I’m that girl that’s going to politely interrupt you during your story at the bar so that I can Shazaam whatever is playing in the background. You’ll thank me! (And you can follow my music on Spotify or Soundcloud.)
- I spend more time offline. You know this by now given a few of the consistency changes in content around corals + cognacs, but as my lifestyle has shifted to being more about moving my body and connecting with people, I’ve come to value my offline life more and more every single day. I encourage you to do the same — Instagram and blogging are wonderful communities, but don’t get too caught up playing the comparison game in the digital world. Live your life!
- I need time for mental recovery. Being a group fitness instructor is a very unique, dynamic way to help, train and work with people. It’s unbelievably rewarding, but you really have to multitask — between music, choreography, every single person in the room and so much more. Energy is a key component — and the Instructor is responsible for guiding it. A lot of raw emotion comes out in class– whether you’re teaching or riding — and I mean that in an awesome, therapeutic way. Soul riders, you know!
- I do something active — beyond SoulCycle — every day. Lots of people say things like, “You’re so lucky you can work out for a living.” Sure, I suppose. But that’s actually the least of it — As the Instructor, class isn’t about you; it’s about everyone else in the room. So while getting my sweat on 10-16 times on the bike each week is great, it’s the stuff outside of the studio that really makes a difference. I like yoga at CorePower or HIIT workouts at Shred415 (with my friend & favorite instructor, Kate). Honestly, just aim to do something active every day, no matter what — get a Fitbit and be better about walking. And sit less, if you can. It all adds up.
- Foam rolling is just as important as stretching. Foam rollers kinda look like pool noodles, but they’re shorter and much more dense. Basically, they allow you to use your own bodyweight to stretch sore muscles and apply pressure to trigger points (“knots”), so it’s basically a simple, effective way to self-massage. I use mine every day — and if you don’t have foam roller, I’d encourage you to get one. (Here’s a few tips on how to use one.)
- I know that if I feel “off,” I’m probably dehydrated. Same goes for you, my friend. Drink more water. Just do it. Your pre-workout habits are just as important as your actual workout, too.
- I’ve learned that your age, background or circumstance is just a mindset. I’m 29-years-old and I have only recently started my journey as a SoulCycle Instructor (about a year ago). None of it has been easy and I’ve had to overcome a lot of obstacles along the way — and you can too, whether it’s a career in fitness, your dream job or wherever else your mind wanders to often. Think about it — that’s where your passions lie!
I truly believe that if you stay active, keep learning and have a sense of humor about life, you can stay youthful as you age. Screw genetics, to hell with your busy schedule and get over your supposed lack of rhythm — the only person stopping you from getting into shape (or achieving that goal) is you.
Change your perspective and watch the rest of your life follow suit.