Wellness is more than a multibillion-dollar industry that by turns beguiles, comforts, heals, and annoys us. It’s also a massive source of employment. The wellness boom supports millions of people in jobs that keep us running, stretching, spinning, eating whole foods, or applying them to our face, buying mesh-detailed tights, or reading about ways to do all of these things to optimal effect.
As it turns out, these people working behind the scenes, contributing to the sun-kissed images of the ultimate clean-living lifestyle, aren’t unlike the audience they cater to—stretched for time, not fully together, and kind of scrambling to keep up. At a recent Well + Good event, Alexia Brue, co-founder of the wellness-themed media company, noted that when she’s busy, exercise is the first thing to fall off her list.
It was a relatable lament. But women like Brue are generally under even more pressure than the rest of us to walk the wellness talk, so they’ve developed some clever tricks to squeeze fitness and other doses of wellness into their day, leveraging what they’ve learned on the job.
These are their tips.
Andréa Mallard, chief marketing officer of the Gap Inc. athletic-clothing brand Athleta, doesn’t sleep in pajamas, but in her workout clothes. She is not, she says, an organized, Type-A personality, so she has to manipulate her environment to make exercising happen at all. It has to be simple and unavoidable, or it’s not getting done. For people like her, it’s “hack, hack, hack,” she said at the Well+ Good event.
Mallard’s Peloton bicycle is stationed beside her bed, and when she wakes up— at a very human 6 am—she jumps on the bike for a short workout.
She also has the 12 vegetables she needs for a stupidly healthy smoothie on an auto-repeat weekly order from a local grocery delivery service, so she doesn’t have to think, ever, about whether she has the ingredients she needs in the house.
“It doesn’t taste good, but that’s not what it’s about,” she told the crowd. With the morning spinning and the smoothie, she can think clearly all day and stay energized, she reports. And as a working parent, she can’t see any other way that she’d exercise during the week.
Because she doesn’t feel she has complete control over her weekday schedule (who does?), Brue “banks” two workouts every weekend, a tip she picked up from interviewing time-management experts, she says. The two guaranteed workouts give her flexibility in scheduling three other workouts on weekdays. One of those might include a circuit she creates and completes with her seven-year-old daughter, allowing an hour of her day to do double-duty.
Her other self-directed nudge takes advantage of both the power of scheduling to follow-through with a plan and a bias we all share: loss aversion. “On Sundays, I book my fitness classes for the full week ahead,” she tells Quartz at Work. “Knowing there’s a cancellation fee if I don’t show is definitely a motivator for me.” It even works for the earliest of morning appointments, when it’d be easier to stay in bed.
Olessa Pindak, chief content officer at the health and wellness media company mindbodygreen, says she and her husband plan out a week’s worth of groceries and meals in a shared Google doc every weekend, because mapping it out is the only way they can pull it off, she says. The doc allows both parents to add to the list or make modifications when they have time, and to refer to it from anywhere, as necessary. “I also stock the freezer with soup because at least once a week cooking just feels too daunting,” she says, “so we defrost.”
Her one simple swap-out trick in the kitchen involves bone broth, which has become a kind of superfood “miracle drink,” as Quartz as reported. “I cram mine with mushrooms and sea vegetables and when I’m really rushed, I make sure I get it into my diet by making oatmeal with bone broth instead of water,” Pindak says. “Since I share breakfast with my kids, they get the nutritional boost, too.”
Finally, Ruth Zukerman, a co-founder of Flywheel Sports and one of the co-founders of SoulCycle, still teaches a Flywheel indoor cycling class, several days a week. As head of the company, she doesn’t have to keep leading classes, but, she says, “I just put it on my schedule. It’s as important as any other meeting.”