Interviewer: Jordan McKinney
What motivated you to start doing fitness?
Starting in high school I got really into fitness. I had played golf all throughout high school and was involved in a lot of training programs which Starting in high school I got really into fitness. I had played golf all throughout high school and was involved in a lot of training programs which taught me the science behind doing certain workouts that’d better my golf skills. Once I realized I wasn’t going to be playing golf, I still wanted to focus on working out. At one point my habits became obsessive, and it got unhealthy really quick. I started going down a path that wasn’t good to be going down. My senior year of high school I turned around my mindset and began the journey of finding a good relationship with fitness and eating.
How has the quarantine changed how you work out? What challenges have you faced, and what did you do to overcome them?
Learning that the gym was really closed was super stressful because it was really my safe place and where I had my “me” time. I had gone on this journey for so long to mind my relationship with a healthy lifestyle and finally had found peace with being there. So, starting quarantine, with all of that closing, I was super nervous about being home and using the small amount equipment that was available to me at my home. Really, we only have an old treadmill, my mom’s pair of ankle weights, and one set of small dumbbells, and I had just started my fitness Instagram so I was worried I wouldn’t be able to post any workout videos. But when I was on spring break, I thought to myself that I should try and post a video that’s at home with no equipment. So, I fell in love with this idea of making creative and fun workouts to do. And it’s crazy because I thought my relationship with working out and my health had been healed after my first two years of college, I think the past two months have showed me that working out should not be confined to just four walls of a gym.
Do you like working out alone or with others?
Since I started teaching classes, I’ve really enjoyed working out with others, especially now that I’ve begun Instagram live classes during quarantine. It feels more personal and uplifting because people will send messages that are so encouraging. It encourages me when other people are working hard and seeing results they want to see. At the same time, I’m very much so an introvert, so I tend to exert a ton of energy teaching these big groups of people. I need some time to relax when I teach a lot, like going on walks and listening to podcasts. It’s always a balance between the two.
How does staying active impact your own mental health?
I think staying active is important for everyone’s mental health, including my own. Not only is there so much science behind it with releasing endorphins and chemicals in the brain, but what it all boils down to is our bodies were made to move; that’s what they were created to do. Putting all the health benefits aside (yes, cardio helps your cardiovascular system and decreases your chance of getting cancer and other diseases), the feeling you get after even just spending 20 minutes working out, those 20 minutes are for yourself and you know those 20 minutes you’re not doing anything for anyone else. I think it’s such a great way to get away, get stress off your back, and do something good for you. And when you look at it that way, it can turn your day around.
How does having a balanced diet helped with your mental health and your energy throughout the day?
I think a balanced diet is so important. I actually just released a video on my Instagram about how to have a balanced diet. In today’s world there are so many different diets that people follow in a culture that jumps from diet to diet and workout to workout. People then tend to get frustrated after two weeks of doing a certain diet. Consistency (intermittent fasting, keto, paleo, etc.) and they’ll jump to the next one. I always tell people the diet that’s best for you isn’t a number of calories or limiting a certain food group, it’s about finding foods that make you energized and consistently make your body feel good. So, I think it’s important to find out what diet that may be and practice it now when you have access to a kitchen and all of that stuff. Find what fuels your body and workouts, because everyone will be different.
Who has been your biggest support in starting your fitness page/videos? What has that support meant to you?
I had a friend I went to high school with that started teaching barre our senior year. I went and took her classes and that’s when I started barre. I got really into it and then she mentioned that I should try out teaching. So, I eventually tried it out this semester. It became my favorite part of the week, so that’s how I started out. A huge motivator has been my friends at tech. A lot of them will pass me on the street and say, “Sydney I tried your workout and loved it!” so it’s really cool, especially since quarantine, because people will send pictures of their family doing my workouts.
Are you always motivated to get up and get moving every day? What gets you going on days you might not feel like doing a workout?
Absolutely not. I totally have those days where I don’t want to do anything and not even get out of my bed. And those can be days when I’m struggling internally (mental health wise) or physically am too tired. I think it’s important to find the difference between “you’ve been working hard, and your body deserves rest” or “me going down a spiral of insecurity and basically falling into a trap”. So, when I need rest, I will take a rest. I think I’ve learned in the past couple of months and through my recovery how to create this balance. At the same time, getting up and doing small exercises like yoga or walking really can lift my mood.
What does positive body image mean to you?
So, this is something I’m incredibly passionate about. Again, I think it goes back to the world we live in today with social media. I think it’s human nature to want to strive for perfection and try to fit this image of whatever is your ultimate goal. But in reality, if you look back in history, there are so many different ideal body types that have cycled throughout history every decade. So, I think being body positive is accepting the fact that you will never be completely satisfied with something that comes from an outward appearance and the fact that fitness and nutrition are tools that enable a healthy lifestyle. Accepting the body you’re in and doing the workouts that make you feel good all help you find peace with the body you have. I think it’s tough because it’s hard to say something that’ll resonate for everyone because everyone is dealing with something specific to them, but I think it goes back to eating foods that make you feel good and finding workouts that resonate with you and make you want to keep moving.
What tips do you have for people struggling to get started with being active and eating healthy (living a healthy lifestyle)?
Consistency is a huge tip I have. I always tell people it takes 21 days to break a habit and if you start with 10, that’s already 10 days in the book and 11 more after that. That’s why I wrote the 10-day reset for people to use, because I think the 10 days helps them get started. So, I just challenge people to start small, build it into their routine for 10 days and see how it goes and how it feels. Then try it for another 10 days and you’re closer to building a habit and a routine that is sustainable.