Liz and I met Heather several years ago when we were both working at an ad tech company in Boston’s Seaport District. Sharing a love for great group fitness classes, healthy lunches and post-work margaritas, we all became friends quickly and stayed in touch long after everyone had moved onto bigger and better career opportunities. I remember a while back Heather mentioned the idea of wanting to become an indoor cycling instructor. Fast forward a year, a cycling certification and a whole lot of hard work, she is now part of the Recycle Studio family! Heather is the definition of well rounded – she balances a career in advertising with teaching cycling, while fundraising for the annual Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (she walks every year with her mom) and maintaining a fun social life. She constantly has a smile on her face and is a great example of what it means to live a healthy, well-balanced life.
I interviewed Heather on her personal fitness journey, and what inspires her daily to stay healthy and active.
SIDG: I know you began your fitness journey at Crossfit – tell us how you got started and why!
H: So, I initially heard about Crossfit from a couple that started doing it to get in shape for their wedding and they both had total body transformations. I was intimidated to check it out by myself, but when a “box” opened up next to my office my co-worker and I went together for the “first class free” deal. I was immediately hooked on it. It’s not necessarily that the workout itself produces better results than other workouts; it’s that they have a focus on diversity of movement and community. Each day was a completely different workout and the members actually become friends with each other, so you are learning something new each time and are accountable for showing up because you don’t want to let down your workout buddies. It was the first time that I woke up without question every morning, Monday – Friday, at 5:30am to go to the gym, and because of that I myself saw a notable transformation in my body. As with anything though, when you feel that you aren’t learning something new or enjoying something as much, it’s time to find a new challenge! I decided after 2 years of Crossfit to switch my focus towards becoming an Indoor Cycling Instructor. Additionally, my co-worker (and now workout buddy) switched to a boxing gym so I followed her there. My number 1 fitness tip is to find a workout buddy — no matter where you workout, if you “make it a date” with a friend, you are much more likely to keep a consistent schedule (and see results).
SIDG: What inspired you to begin teaching cycling?
H: Like I was saying above, it has always been important for me to not get too comfortable with anything; I hate when I find myself bored and losing dedication. With that, I realized that I had accomplished a lot of my personal fitness goals, like running a half marathon…and climbing a rope, among other things, so I wanted to share my passion and motivation with other people to help them reach their own goals. That’s really my main purpose for teaching — to convince other people that working out is fun, and get them accomplishing big milestones too!
SIDG: What other forms of exercise do you incorporate into your schedule on a weekly basis?
H: As much as I love cycling, I have a need to lift heavy things 🙂 From what I hear from a lot of women, they are afraid to incorporate strength training because of how their body might change — but I’ll tell you when I was doing Crossfit I could lift more than I ever had before and was the leanest I had ever been. So, even thought I don’t do Crossfit anymore, I still incorporate strength training into my routine. I do cycling, boxing, and strength training each 3-4x/week, and some form of sweating every single day. It is usually in the gym/studio but on weekends I like to incorporate outdoor activities like hiking, biking, kayaking, etc.
SIDG: What keeps you motivated every week to teach and take classes?
H: As vain as it may sound, my primary motivation for taking classes is being proud of how I look in the mirror. I know that I “built” the body I have and I’m in charge of keeping it healthy. Being a “tall girl’ (I’m 5’9”), I was even taller than most of the boys growing up, so I struggled with “feeling bigger” than everyone else through my teenage years. I have since realized that everyone, including myself, comes in all shapes and sizes — and I know that no matter what the number on the scale is, I am strong and healthy. And my motivation for teaching classes, is so that other people can feel that same confidence. As crazy as it sounds — I encourage everyone to look in the mirror and actually compliment yourself once in a while!
SIDG: We know you used to follow a 75% Paleo diet rule – do you still follow that? Any go-to healthy meals/snacks/recipes you’d like to share with SIDG readers?
H: So, no matter what % of Paleo/non-Paleo I follow (aka whether I’m behaving or not), I stand by that it is the best nutritional program for me. It is certainly not for everyone, but I personally feel and look the best when I am eating about 75% Paleo. And whatever you want to call it, Paleo or not, it’s essentially just a focus on eating lean meats, veggies, fruits, and nuts and avoiding processed foods.
Some of my quick go-to’s are:
• Green Smoothies (coconut water, sunflower seed butter/cashew butter, spinach, frozen berries, banana)
• Spaghetti Squash with Meat Sauce (Grassfed ground beef, crushed tomatoes, Italian spices)
• Breakfast for Dinner (Baked sweet potato, sunny side up eggs, spinach, Al Fresco/Applegate sausage)
• Pulled Chicken/Pork (put meat in the crockpot with broth and any spices on low for ~8 hours)
Paleo takes a lot of planning, and with my schedule, I often find myself with no time to grocery shop, so I have been doing Blue Apron more often; I find their meals to be very well-balanced alternative!
SIDG: What is your go-to cocktail when you’re out with friends, but know you have to teach the next morning? Do you have any advice for people who want to balance nightlife with morning workouts?
H: I’m definitely a party girl at heart – in fact, I started taking indoor cycling classes more frequently because I didn’t want to go to Crossfit on weekends; I wanted to sweat it out in a dark room with good music and feel like I was by myself. With that said, it’s definitely important for me to get social time in with my friends, even if I have to teach the next morning. I try to stay hydrated and drink as much water as possible — mixed in with any (silver) tequila based cocktail of course. I like the Coco Lime Margarita at Loco (a local South Boston taqueria & oyster bar)and I make my own concoction with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and Don Julio Silver. The best hangover cure for me is to sweat, sweat, sweat!
SIDG: Any favorite go-to workout songs?
H: When I’m cycling, I like meditative/soulful climbs – think Grace Potter “The Lion, The Beast, The Beat” …or sprinting to anything with a good build up – think Ellie Goulding/Calvin Harris “Outside.”
When I’m boxing or lifting, I like rap/hip-hop – think Jay Z “On To The Next One”
SIDG: What do you like most about teaching at Recycle Studio?
H: So many things, honestly!
1) I like that we have a focus on community, as that was something I really liked about Crossfit too. All of the instructors are good friends both inside and outside of the studio and we really get to know our riders too.
3) And finally, I like that we have a meditative vibe at our studio; it’s a very simplistic dark room, we ride by candlelight, and have a true focus on renewing both the mind and body.
Want to try Heather’s cycling class? Use the code GOODVIBES at checkout to receive a free class at Recycle Studio’s Back Bay or South End location…click here to sign up. See ya in the saddle!