summer’s comin’ in hot here pretty soon, which means we tend to start fine-tuning in the tone-up department. in a perfect world, we’d be bathing suit ready 24/7, 365. but at fitlosophy, we prefer being real over (trying to appear) perfect. and the reality is, we do the best we can, but just like anyone, we sometimes hit plateaus, or indulge a little too much, or get too busy to fit in all of our regular workouts. or worse yet, health problems or injuries can literally stop you right in your goal-getting tracks. we love chasing goals that have nothing to do with outward appearances, and praising our bodies for the things they allow us to do, rather than simply how they look. but let’s be honest - the thought of spending a prolonged period of time in skimpy summer clothes or a swimsuit definitely motivates us to turn up the heat on our fitness routines.
we caught up with our chief fitlosopher to see what she swears by to sweat it out for summer. [hint: she takes full advantage of all that her ClassPass has to offer!]
[we know you love ClassPass because it allows you to try so many different classes on one pass. any faves so far?]
yes! how much time do we have? one thing i think is truly valuable is that i can try new classes that i otherwise wouldn’t even know about. plus, i travel a ton so ClassPass allows me to fit my workouts in no matter what city i'm in! i have my go-to classes that i’m addicted to: spin class, sculpt + hot yoga at corepower, pilates + bootcamp. lately, i've tried this new type of barre class with silk hammocks, as well as a mind/body class that is literally 75 minutes of stretching + release work. i've tried everything from boxing to zumba and everything in between! the thing i love most about group classes is that it’s truly how i meet new people! some of my closest friends (andrea! #otf) i met working out, countless boyfriends have been the result of a good sweat sesh (hey, 2nd best place to meet someone other than church, right?), and when i moved to a new city (denver, what up!) this was how i was able to meet new people while also finding workouts i love!
[any classes in particular you'd recommend that'll really get you in shape for summer?]
well, ideally there wouldn’t be a “oh-my-gosh-i-have-to-be-in-a-bikini” meltdown come spring, but let’s be real – not all of us are in bikini mode year-round. one thing i've learned (scratch that, still trying to learn) is that feeling good about yourself is more about the inside than the outside. but i know you don’t want a thought-provoking “love yourself” lecture, so i'll cut to the chase. what can you do to feel your best as bathing suit season looms in the not-so-distant future? here are a few of my recommendations:
spin (indoor cycling): this is my go-to cardio (second only to walking) because it’s low-impact + i love the group setting when it’s dark with loud music. it's my jam. beware of new spin fads that involve push-ups, dancing, boxing, shimmying + shaking on the bike. not only can it be dangerous, but it’s just not necessary. i mean, how much does it really up your workout game by adding booty taps to your spin class? just up the resistance + ride, baby ride. wanna spin at home? peloton is on my bucket list.
yoga sculpt: not a fan of the uber spiritual yoga classes, i've come to love corepower because it’s predictable, consistent + almost always taught well. the sculpt class adds light hand-weights + a bit more cardio to really up the ante on your traditional yoga. when i'm in need of a good traditional class, i prefer their hot yoga, which is done in a heated room. it’s a sweatfest. seriously, the last class i went to, i got a complete core workout from trying to dodge sweat droplets from the dude next to me. only downside? case in point, sometimes classes are a bit crowded which is why i go to late morning or early afternoon classes to avoid the aforementioned sweaty dudes.
bounce: i first tried this class with fellow fitlosophers tianna + lani. um, if it weren’t for the sweat dripping down our faces, i would’ve forgotten we were working out! so. much. fun. imagine just bouncing to the beat on a little rebounder trampoline – seriously makes you feel like you’re 5 again. i've recently started doing this again because it’s great low-impact cardio that doesn’t hurt my lower back. win-win.
barre: i shied away from barre for years, because, frankly, it was boring to me at the time. i didn’t like lifting, toning, and burning for 45 min while i stared at the ceiling. it is challenging, don’t get me wrong – it was just a bit slow-paced for my style (then). lately i've found a few barre classes that integrate a lot of dance position movements (plié, relevé, etc.) coupled with a suspending/swinging bar that adds another level of challenge. i also have a lot more progress to be made in the way of strength-training so i can now appreciate these workouts with tiny movements a lot more than i used to. back when i was slinging barbells + 45lb plates like it was no biggie, i didn’t appreciate or acknowledge just how critical it is to train your core muscle groups in order to protect yourself long-term from injury and pain later in life.
aerial silks: this mind/body class integrates a silk hammock into the workout to do inversions (i mean swinging + going upside down…who wouldn’t wanna do that?), but also adds in elements of muscle release work with a small ball to really work out the kinks. at this new studio (define), the description of the class was “perfect for someone coming back from an injury.” sold. it was challenging mentally in that it’s just not natural to wrap yourself up in silk and, oh i don’t know, flip upside down. but it was extremely therapeutic for my body + relaxing for my mind.
pilates: ideally, classes done on the reformer are my preference, however mat pilates classes are effective as well. this will strengthen + lengthen your muscles, leaving you feeling fab after. one new class i tried is the “lagree method” which is a bit more fast-paced than a traditional pilates class and done on a megaformer - basically a reformer on steroids. wanna workout at home but have no reformer? i swear by these exercises.
bootcamp: trying to get in shape for summer? these are normally my go-to. just be careful and modify if you have any injuries. these types of classes can be tough because they do push you hard – and if you’re like me, you hate looking like an idiot not being able to keep up. admittedly a one-upper at heart, it can be tough for me to step back and modify – but it sure beats not being able to walk for three days. my fave class in denver is pearl street fitness, the 12 in orange county, or orangetheory, which is on basically every corner now!
dancing: they’re hard to find, but when you do find a good dance class, this isn’t even like a workout at all. if you’re in LA, groov3 with ben allen is da bomb. but for reals, i like everything from country (it’s my roots, y’all) + hip hop to salsa + zumba. depending on the instructor and type of music, this is one of the most fun ways to get your sweat on.
[what do you look for in an effective workout class?]
i've had the honor of taking classes from the best of the best in our industry – so i'm a tough crowd. and i think that’s why i appreciate a good class when i find one because a lot more effort goes into creating a good class than just showing up. key things i look for:
modifications: good instructors ask beforehand if anybody has any injuries they should know about – it’s common sense. but it’s rare. i'm much more aware of this now, but it’s always bugged me when i saw a super tough class where someone was say doing alternating backward lunges with 10lb weights when clearly they needed to drop the weights and do single-leg reverse lunges. a good instructor can advance exercises on the fly for those that need a push – and likewise, modify exercises for someone who isn’t quite as conditioned. i truly believe that is why some people don’t workout – they think it hurts. if we can avoid injury in the first place, we can up our attendance!
energy: we know this is your job. and that you woke up early. and that maybe you had a bad day. but those of us who are in the class are paying to go. so try your best to put a smile on and give us super positive energy for the next hour. classes feed off the instructor’s energy + vibe, so if i take a class from someone who’s just a negative nelly – buh-bye. that one hour of the day is my time to disconnect from stress – not soak in yours.
music: this is always a tricky one for instructors because you can’t please everyone. a lot of my instructor friends say this is the toughest part! “i don’t like hip hop…you don’t play enough rock. it's too loud. can you turn it up?” seriously, not a battle i'd wanna embark on. but what i personally like is someone who puts thought into playlists that have a variety of music that fits the workout intensity. and a few curse words every now and then isn’t a deal breaker, but dude – sometimes enough is enough.
motivation: i'm all for tough love and yelling and all that jazz – it drives me. but what drives me might frustrate someone else. there's a fine line between pushing someone and shaming them. i had one class where my leg was hurting badly – and the instructor kept calling me out saying “mader, c’mon – don’t you have anything more in you than that?” i proceeded to give him stink eye until class was over and he kept calling me out over and over. he came over after and asked what was wrong. i said, “well if you would’ve asked, i would’ve told you that my leg is injured and it’s all i can do to just be here right now – but thank you for embarrassing me repeatedly. that was awesome.” i've never been back. another instructor, who i adore, walks by in class and just says “atta girl angela”, and i feel like superwoman. it makes all the difference in the world.
i think being prepared and present are super important. show up and create an experience for those people who are giving you their undivided time for however long you have them. same goes for personal trainers (or shoot, first dates for that matter). get off your phone. focus on the task at hand. people can feel when you’re present. and thank you – to all those instructors who seriously crush it. sometimes you have no idea how your amazingness can change the trajectory of someone’s day.
[how do you adjust your goals to get ready for summer?]
the old (er, younger) me would probably recommend upping the cardio to burn fat…crush it in the gym…go hard or go home!! but i've learned so much more about how important it is to really be in tune with your body. i used to subscribe to the ever-popular notion (in my opinion) that if you don’t seriously kill it in the gym then it’s a waste of time. fast forward to a much more mature me who’s nursing a plethora of injuries, coupled with some absolutely annoying hormone issues – let’s just say i’ve been humbled. now if you’re thinking to yourself, “hmmm, the chief sure does seem to be injured a lot lately” (#perplexedemoji #youknowtheone). yes, yes i have. so for me, “getting in shape for summer” means something very different than it used to. unable to run or even check that “killer” box in fitbook, i'm learning what feels good for my body and leaves me feeling better afterward – not worse.
i'll digress before i go any deeper into a soliloquy that will probably be more like a lecture, but i can’t stress enough that this pressure to torture yourself in order to achieve some ideal look drives me practically insane. but as much as working out is important to look (and feel great), dialing in your nutrition is equally as important. you can’t out-train a bad diet. my recommendation is to adjust not only your fitness goals, but get diligent about tracking your food. seeing what you’re eating makes you more mindful, is proven to aid in weight loss, and allows you to dial in portions (hello, food scale) to see real results.
[any big plans this summer for which you're conditioning accordingly?]
yes! i'm going to europe for 3 weeks, which has me beyond excited. i'll do a week in belgium + croatia with friends, italy to see my family, and then spain + paris solo. here's my workout plan while traveling: walk. and walk more. and i'm sure a bike ride, swim in the ocean + perhaps horseback riding might happen as well. and then walk some more! it's vital that i'm moving a lot to justify the fabulous amounts of gelato, vino, homemade pastas + gluten-filled breads. last time i was in europe, it was nothing to log about 20k-30k steps per day when roaming about exploring!
my training plan? you guessed it: walk. in addition to doing probably 3-4 of the above classes per week, i try to go on at least one walk per day. don't underestimate this do-anywhere activity. set a goal just for one week to fit in 10,000 steps in one day + i promise you’ll realize just how little you’re moving on a daily basis! use a simple little pedometer, a fitness tracker, or heck, even your phone. it's a low-impact, healthy way to get outside + get some vitamin d that can also double as quality time with a good friend. this is a perfect opportunity to create a habit using the habit-stacking technique: for example, i will go on a walk (healthy habit) for at least 20 minutes after dinner (the trigger - something you do daily). or i will go for a 30-minute walk (healthy habit) with the kids every day when they get home from school (trigger). identify something you do every day (i.e. eat dinner, come home) and just make it a habit! for me, i plan my workouts ahead for the week (including my longer 1-hour walks), but i have a rule that when i want to go work at a coffee shop (trigger), i walk there if it’s nice outside!
thank you so much for the fit tips, chief! we can’t wait to bounce + barre our way to bikini-bod bodaciousness. ok fitbookers, which of our chief’s techniques will you employ for your next sweat sesh? what are your hottest tips for a summer-ready physique? share in the comments!