“Fitness is a gift, and your health is a gift — the two go hand in hand,” certified personal trainer Astrid Swan tells Thrive Global. That reframing of working out — thinking of it as a gift, rather than an obligation, has helped her clients, like Julianne Hough, Shay Mitchell, and Alicia Silverstone be their healthiest. 

Swan began her career as a model at the age of 15. Early on, she formed healthy habits, eating well and working out — and even started to train other models. Her love of fitness and movement grew, and so did her personal training business. Now, she is one of the most sought after trainers in Los Angeles.  “We live in a world where time seems to pass us by with family commitments, work deadlines, traffic, and more. We often forget about ourselves,” Swan says. Knowing that many people don’t have time for long exercise routines, she combines various training techniques and workouts to prevent your body from reaching a plateau, allowing for better results in less time.

Swan shares some of her personal tools for improving motivation with Thrive.

Thrive Global: What is your morning routine? How do you set your day up for success?
Astrid Swan: I do not hit snooze! That’s my number one rule! I have three alarms set as a backup, but once the alarm goes off, I get up! I turn on my tea kettle, take my vitamins and probiotics, and start making healthy pancakes with two eggs, one banana, 1/4 cup oats, and cinnamon. Every morning I have two cups of green tea, one while I eat breakfast, and one for the first hour of training my clients.

TG: How do you get re-inspired when you hit a lull?
AS: I do a list of things I am grateful for — it doesn’t need to be grandiose things, but as I make a list I immediately feel a switch of energy.  

TG: What advice do you have for people who want to get back to the gym, but find fitness overwhelming?
AS: Aim for small goals, with big results. Bring a friend, or reach out to an employee at the gym. People want to help. We have all been beginners at one point in our lives!  

TG: Are there ways you would recommend to sneak in movement throughout the day?
AS: Walk! Walk to the coffee shop, walk during your lunch break to pick up your meal, and take the stairs!  

TG: How has your personal fitness routine evolved? 
AS: I used to think I needed to work out seven days a week, and in the beginning, I was afraid to lift heavy weights and thought it was all about cardio.  Now, I work out four to five times a week, lift heavy, and use my time doing more H.I.I.T. workouts or ending with a cardio burnout. No more hours logged on ellipticals! 

TG: When you are traveling, do you have any small tips or tricks to move your body on a plane?

AS: I like to have an aisle seat so I can get up frequently without bothering my neighbor. While in the seat, I will do seated figure four stretches, ankle rolls, and neck stretches. I get up multiple times while in flight and will reach down for my toes, and do side bends, hip circles, and quad stretches. (If you walk to the back of the plane, no one gives you weird looks!) 

TG: Can you share an effective sample workout that people can do at home or when they’re traveling? 

AS: This should take you about 20 minutes. It’s all body weight!

Inch worm to plank (repeat eight times)

Eight pushups 

Eight mountain climbers (Do eight on each side)

Eight lunges (Do eight on each side)

Eight squats

Eight jump squats

Eight jack knife crunches 

Repeat the entire sequence five times

TG: What are your go-to healthy meals?

AS: Breakfast Pancakes and green tea

Lunch: Avocado toast with three poached eggs, or a panini with lots of veggies, turkey, and hummus

Snack: Veggies and hummus 

Dinner: Fish, sweet potato, and asparagus 

TG: What are some easy food swaps?

AS: Try eating kale chips instead of regular chips, eating baked sweet potato fries instead of French fries, and drinking tea instead of soda.

TG: What are some ways to avoid snacking/grazing?
AS: Don’t skip meals!  Make sure you are eating enough calories for the day.

TG: Any solutions for stress eating?
AS: Get active!  Go to the gym, or go for a walk!  You will have more clarity on the situation.  

TG: What are some easy, small things we can do to improve our nutrition?
AS: Eat colors — fill up on veggies! 

TG: What are the benefits of stretching?  Are there a couple stretches that can energize us if we are feeling the morning or mid-day slump?
AS: There are so many benefits to stretching, and no, you don’t have to be “flexible” to stretch. Do it daily and you will get better, and you will feel how the body is put at ease! Some great stretches to try are: cat-cow stretches, downward dog where you pedal out the feet, rag doll forward fold, spinal twist, and slow head circles.  

TG: How do you stay focused?
AS: Discipline and routine! When things get crazy, I write down all the tasks that need to be accomplished and I space them out so as not to get overwhelmed.  

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