TSC: Who are you? Name? Age? Where do you live? Married/kids? What studios/gyms do you work at?
ECH: Emily Cook Harris. 29yrs old. Pisces. Married to Andy Harris. After 7 years in NYC, we recently moved to Los Angeles! Founder & head trainer of EMPOWERED, where we use fitness as the foundation to help people kick ass at life. We have a team of trainers in NYC, plus I do personal training in LA + coaching with people all across the US.
ECH: Almost 4 years ago I created something called FITWeek where the NYC group fitness community comes together to support local & global education. It’s a grassroots initiative of EMPOWERED, to amplify the philanthropic reach and do more good by bringing together the things we love - fitness, community, and giving back. It started as one group fitness class in Central Park and has grown to include the best studios in NYC, raising over $16,000 to date for our education nonprofits. Having been a part of the NYC fitness community for so many years and getting to know the incredible people in it, I knew that if we worked together we could make a big impact. I feel that education is a direct parallel to fitness. A great workout taps into your power - you gain strength and confidence to do new things and achieve your goals. Education has that same power to equip you with the tools needed to rise above your circumstances and be whomever you dream of being. They are both doorways to a better you and the perfect pair for FITWeek.
We are gearing up for our 4th annual EMPOWERED FITWeek in May 2017 and are looking for studio partners, apparel sponsors, food vendors, ambassadors, and volunteers in NYC, Dallas and LA to join our mission. You can visit the website at www.fit-week.com or email me directly to get involved. When we work together, our efforts become exponential. #FITforGood
TSC: When did fitness first become a part of your life? Have you always been an athlete? Did you start working out as an adult? Did you workout earlier in life and start up again? If so, what and why? We want to know!
ECH: I’ve been a mover as long as I can remember, and dance was my first love. I grew up dancing in a studio, competed with my high school dance team, was in a contemporary company in college and went on to train & perform professionally in NYC. Movement and athleticism have always been a part of my life. My first “aha” moment with fitness was in my college weight lifting class at LSU. I felt the the strength that came from lifting heavy things and how PROUD I was of what my body could do. Fast forward to the end of my tour with The Music Man when I shattered my tailbone… yeah… not so good. And I was out of exercise for a solid 3-6 months and didn’t dance for almost a year. That was a really rough time for so many reasons. But not being able to move how I was accustomed to made me realize how important movement was to me - physically, mentally, and emotionally. And I committed to being even stronger than before as my body healed.
TSC: Tell us about your background, what inspired you to become a trainer?
ECH: I’ve always felt connected to movement and how it has the power to help you be strong, confident, and empowered - not just in the gym but in life. I wanted to help other people experience that as well. I’m also fascinated with the science of it all, how the body adapts to different training and how you can best use the information to help someone achieve their goals so I majored in Kinesiology with a minor in Dance. It’s also in my blood… both my mom and grandfather studied Kinesiology as well. My mom has her masters in Education and currently teaches P.E. to K-8 graders (I remember taking her step class as a kid, wearing my dance leotard and erythang). My grandfather has his PHD and still teaches at a University in Mississippi (he turns 90 next week!).
TSC: What is your favorite part about being a trainer?
ECH: That moment when someone begins to recognize their power. It may be in accomplishing a movement they didn’t think they could do, or achieving a goal that seemed out of reach. Like advancing from the modified push-up to the full push-up, hitting a new speed on the treadmill, or lifting a heavier weight. But you can see it in their eyes - they found their spark. They now know they are capable of more than they originally thought, and that’s bigger than fitness. It’s the foundation to doing new things in all other areas of life. I get to help people discover their power and that is one of my greatest joys.
TSC: What is your current workout routine? How many days a week/hours a day do you workout? What types of workouts do you do? All one type or switch it up?
ECH: I workout about 6 days a week now. HIIT style workouts are my favorite, and I’ll sprinkle in some pilates and yoga as well. I’m a big advocate of listening to your body so some days my workouts are more intense, others less. Regardless, I prioritize moving most days of the week as it’s integral to me feeling like myself. There’s also a dance studio super close to my apartment in LA so I’m excited to get back into some classes as well. Dance will forever bring me joy.
TSC: How do you stay motivated to workout?
ECH: At this point it’s discipline and years of habit. I know myself and how I best operate, and movement is my sanity. But I’m human and on the days when I don’t particularly feel like working out, a shot of espresso and a good playlist are my favorite remedies to kick it into gear :)
TSC: How do you prioritize fitness and wellness in your personal life?
ECH: I prioritize my workouts by doing them first thing in the morning. It’s 100% my time. When I take care of my health first, I take better care of all the other things in my day as well. And I approach them with more energy and clarity.
TSC: Why is working out/fitness important to you and your lifestyle?
ECH: Movement makes me feel like me. It’s the foundation to my world. It’s my chance to connect to my body and what I’m capable of. It’s like striking a match and then using that fire to fuel the day.
TSC: What is your favorite healthy recipe?
ECH: Cooking is not really one of my skills or interests to be honest, but if chopping ingredients for a salad counts as a recipe… then I’m really into this simple spinach salad right now: add avocado, onion, peppers, tomatoes, walnuts, olive oil & balsamic vinegar.
TSC: What is your standard workout uniform?
ECH: Proud to be a PUMA Team Faster trainer! That makes up a lot of my wardrobe these days. My uniform usually looks something like PUMA sneakers, capris, tank, colorful sports bra, and a high pony or black hat. I’m also a fan of K-Deer & Terez pants bc the prints are so fun and fit really great.
TSC: How do you fuel your body when working out? (generally, favorite pre-workout & post-workout snacks, etc.)
ECH: I workout first thing in the morning so generally don’t eat before. I drink a big glass of water + a shot of espresso. Then post workout I do Vega Sport + almond milk in a shaker bottle for convenience.
TSC: What is your favorite cheat meal?
ECH: Chips and guac, + tequila on the rocks with soda & lime. The start to a great night. :) I’m also a sweets fan. Chocolate is everything.
TSC: What other aspects of healthy living do you incorporate in your life? Wellness? Sleep routines? Meal prep?
ECH: To me wellness is the foundational glue to my life - the daily habits that help me by my best so I can focus on all the other aspects I’m passionate about like career, friends, new adventures, giving back. My top priorities are moving daily, eating clean, getting 8 hours of sleep, drinking a lot of water (minimum ½ bodyweight in ounces), and having quiet time for myself either to read, meditate, or journal. When I accomplish those, I’m set up for success.
Tip: I love the bedtime alarm feature on the iphone!
TSC: What is one item you could never live without?
ECH: Awesome question. After moving across the country and getting rid of so much of our stuff, I find myself more minimalistic these days. I have less stuff and really like it that way. Could I live without coffee? I’m sure I could, yes. But I don’t want to. Don’t make me.
TSC: Who is your biggest inspiration or role model?
ECH: It’s interesting as an entrepreneur when you’re trying to create something that wasn’t there before, there’s often not a clear picture or role model to look to. But in terms of characteristics of people - I love Michelle Obama and how she is authentic and stands up for girls education worldwide, represents what it looks like to be a strong, smart woman, and is an advocate for health. I also love Ellen and how she spreads joy daily and is a beacon of such light, generosity, and celebrating all people. And right now J.Lo is my spirit animal. She is fire.
TSC: If you could share one piece of advice with readers of The Sweat Chronicles what would it be?
ECH: Oh man… there is so much health & fitness info out there that I want to say keep it simple. Start from where you are right now and see how you can incorporate 1-2 new health habits into your week. That’s it. Build from there. Because that’s how it will become a lifestyle for you. One that is sustainable and enjoyable. Focus on the actions and forget the outcome. The “result” will happen in due time when you focus on the work of the now. Plus you’ll gain so much more confidence and momentum from the experience by being purposeful with each day rather than giving away your power and happiness to some future date of “i’ll be happy when ...”. NO. Be happy now. Take pride in the work of the journey. That’s where the magic is. And you’ll arrive at your goal so much stronger and happier + you’ll STAY there.