On Thursday mornings, I get my butt kicked—like, kicked to the point where it hurts to walk the next day.
But I go back each week for more of the same, and it's all because of Eva Redpath.
The Toronto-based dancer, athlete, personal trainer, Nike master trainer and group fitness trainer is considered one of Canada's leading fitness gurus—and for good reason. This girl can motivate anyone! As a participant in her group classes, I can't help but stare in awe as she powers though high-intensity drills without so much as messing up her bangs. You might remember my goal was to get fit this year, and it's Eva who has helped me set that in motion.
With warmer weather just around the corner, getting in shape is top of mind for all of us. I had a chat with my favourite motivator to get her best workout and healthy lifestyle tips.
Here we go!
What’s your background?
I’ve been a dancer and athlete for my entire life. I’m a certified group fitness expert, the creator of Body Conditioning by Dancers, a business owner and Nike Canada’s first master trainer. Prior to my appointment with Nike, I was selected to join the group fitness team at Equinox as a signature program presenter. I teach a number of high-energy classes here in Toronto, as well as provide personal training to private clients.
Do you have a personal fitness philosophy?
Coming from dancing—an industry where maintaining a certain body image isn’t always achieved in the healthiest ways—it’s been a personal passion and mission of mine to shift those negative habits while creating and building a strong support system for women. As a Nike master trainer, I have the privilege of leading and inspiring more women to embrace exercise as a means to create the best version of themselves. The goal of training isn't to change how the body looks, but to improve how the body moves.
Have you always been active, or was there a time when you struggled with it?
Health and fitness have always been a big part of who I am. That said, I’ve had my days when my body needs rest, I’m not feeling great or an injury is slowing me down.
What does a week in the life of Eva look like?
My daily routine starts early and ends late to accommodate my clients' schedules. My teaching schedule keeps me very busy, with multiple classes per gym each week. In my free time, I’m training private clients, working on choreography for body conditioning classes or planning my next wellness retreat. Magazine shoots, TV segments and educational training trips with Nike at their headquarters in Oregon, or in New York or LA, are also quite regular.
How do you fit in your workouts?
While my days might be jammed with training and other commitments, there’s always room for a workout. I do my best to look ahead at my calendar and schedule them—even when I’m travelling. It’s a priority, so I make it work no matter what. Some days I’ll stay after class and do a quick workout or crank up the tunes and blast out some cardio mixed with core work. Other days I’ll try and block off an hour in my calendar to squeeze in some sweaty social time with friends. I aim to do something active every day for myself and that keeps me feeling 100 percent more motivated and grateful to keep doing what I’m doing. I love the quote, "You’re one workout away from being in a better mood," and I couldn’t agree more. A daily sweat for me is a must for my mood, health and happiness.
Do you prefer to work out alone or in a group?
I will always choose a group workout or a workout buddy over going it alone. I’m a big advocate of finding a community or an accountability partner. It’s so important for staying motivated and having fun in the process. That's one of the things I really love about our Thursday classes. It's great to see you ladies connect on both a physical and personal level.
What kind of workouts do you do most?
I’m a big proponent of high intensity interval training (HIIT), which demands full body movement and explosiveness. It’s really the fastest way to strengthen and tone your legs, arms and core, and arguably the quickest way to get results. That said, I have a background and passion for dance, so I’m naturally drawn to studio-style workouts like yoga and Pilates.
Do you stick to the same routine or switch things up often?
I’ve found the trick to keep your muscles guessing is to switch up your workout routine. Variety in your regimen will help you see different results and also avoid boredom. Personally, I incorporate a variety of activities such as studio workouts, running and HIIT to help balance out my results and to keeps things interesting.
Do you recommend any special equipment or gear?
I think some of the most powerful workouts in shaping your body are ones that rely on your own body weight and require very few pieces of equipment. This is one of the reasons I love the Nike Training Club app [see my review here]. It removes any barriers around needing certain equipment, so you really can do a 15-, 30- or 45-minute workout anytime, anywhere. I regularly use the app in my fitness regimen, as there are hundreds of workouts inspired by athletes and designed by other master trainers, so I can choose workouts that are targeted to my specific needs or the areas of my body I want to focus on.
How do you keep challenging yourself?
Through my career as a trainer, I’ve learned that you have to be willing to try new things in order to exceed your perceived potential and discover that you’re stronger than you think you are. The best advice a mentor has given me is to find a fitness program, coach or community that challenges me beyond my capabilities, as that is the secret to staying committed.
Do you follow a special diet?
I’ve learned that you can undo all the work you do at the gym if you go home and eat poorly, which is why I like to live by the 80/20 rule. I eat healthy about 80 percent of the time, but am not willing to give up all my favourite things. So I allow myself to eat the things I love (but know aren’t the most beneficial to my health and energy levels) 20 percent of the time.
What are some of your go-to foods?
The obvious things—lots of liquids, daily smoothies, tons of veggies, healthy grains and fats and of course, lean proteins like egg whites, organic cheese and meats. I don't follow any strict eating rules, though I do my best to skip all processed foods and sugary stuff to make sure I have the energy I need to go from teaching to my daily cardio burst.
What's your ideal post-workout snack?
A smoothie is almost always a must. I typically carry pre- and post-workout formulas from Genuine Health, including Greens+ Whole Body, Vegan Proteins+ and Activfuel+. I’m also a huge fan of their Proteins+ bars. A good hearty bowl of oatmeal with berries, or a delicious almond milk latte or Americano is always a good thing too!
What do you wear when you work out?
In the gym or studio, I only wear pieces that are breathable and designed to move with my body, because you should be thinking about form and not how your clothes fit while you’re sweating it out. I'm obviously a big Nike fan and a couple of favourite pieces are the Nike Pro Fierce Bra:
And the new Nike Women’s Free 5.0 TR Fit 5 training shoes, which have an ultra-flexible midsole that offers natural flexibility, allowing your foot to move freely:
Outside the gym, my collection of kicks and sportswear is pretty extensive. I always go for the brighter, busier and bolder statement pieces. The worlds of fitness and fashion have been colliding over the last few years, so I can express my personal style through activewear, which has been awesome.
How do you keep your hair looking cute while you sweat?
Braids are making a huge comeback and I love how they can keep you looking polished from the beginning of a workout until the end. High ponytails and braids suit me best because they keep my hair off my neck and prevent frizz. I’ve also been known to throw on a baseball cap to keep my hair pulled back and add a cute accessory to my ensemble.
Do you wear makeup when you work out?
Because sweating opens up the pores, I try to go light on the makeup with a tinted moisturizer and lighter powder, and avoid caking on concealer. I use makeup-removing towelettes immediately after any workout session to clean my pores and tone my skin.
Which skincare products do you use?
Cleansers, day and night creams are crucial for me and I constantly use face serum during the winter to keep moisturized. Right now I'm really loving the Joe Fresh Clean Citrus Cleanser, Joe Fresh Oil-Free Moisturizing Day Cream [see Michelle's review here] and the Joe Fresh Radiant Face Serum.
What’s your favourite part of being active?
The feeling of empowerment you get when you set and achieve your goals. I love that your journey is never really over, and there’s always another challenge to conquer. For me, it means channeling that inner voice and pushing myself past what my mind thinks my body is capable of. Nine times out of 10, you can always go further, so I try to always push myself, whether it's an extra rep, one more burpee or an extra minute in plank. The feeling of satisfaction is unlike any other.
Do you have any tips for someone who is just getting started with fitness?
My advice is to set small goals that are realistic, achievable and clearly defined. Don’t aim for aspirational changes. You need to make consistent small changes to create long-term success. To do this, break your bigger goal down into smaller monthly or quarterly goals that are less intimidating, and celebrate these training accomplishments.
The other piece of advice I love to give is around community. It’s so important for women to empower other women. Find a friend or a group of girlfriends who share similar fitness goals, and come together to encourage and coach one and another.
You’re more likely to keep going if you keep your workout routine fresh. For some, that might mean taking up a new form of cardio such as rowing. For others, it might be incorporating strength training regularly to build lean muscle. The key is to avoid boredom and constantly challenge yourself.
Another option is to do something that half-scares you and half-inspires you, such as running a road race. I couldn’t be more excited for the Nike Women’s 15k Toronto in June. This race is part of the worldwide Nike Women’s Race Series, for women everywhere to experience the power of sport through high-energy running. I also think it marks a new experience for athletes in two ways. It’s a way to put yourself to the test and an opportunity to rediscover the joy of running faster and further. As someone who is just returning to running, I’m really looking forward to training for this race!
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How do you feel about Eva's approach to health and fitness?
Have you tried any of her tips?