Astute readers know that this time last year, Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival had one of its stops here in NYC along with LA and Chicago. We had a great time working out beside Gunnar Peterson, Harley Pasternak, Akin's Army and more. We talked with them about a number of fitness tips, focuses and more. This month, the event took place in LA with the same energy with a number of new and old friends. We're sharing a few conversations with Gunnar Peterson, Harley Pasternak, Casey Ho, Simone de la Rue and Angela Manuel-Davis.
We kicked off with Gunnar Peterson.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What tips do you have for those just beginning their fitness journey?
GUNNAR PETERSON: Enjoy the process. Obviously short- and long-term goals are great, but if you can find a way to enjoy what you’re doing in the moment, you’re going to be so much better off throughout the whole thing – not to mention, your goals will be there sooner than you know.
AM: What advice would you have for those struggling to find motivation?
GP: The motivation comes from inside. I’m not a big believer that the trainer motivates – I don’t know what I can say to you if you’ve decided you’re not doing something. And I also don’t think that’s incumbent upon the trainer. People decide for themselves. They have their own reasons and get after it because they’ve decided to make that change. It can be family, job, tired of feeling low energy – whatever it is, just draw on that from the inside and don’t deny it.
AM: What is the Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival all about?
GP: To me, the Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival is all about bringing a relatively disjointed fitness community together and on even ground. Even when you’re here, you’ll notice people who are yoga people, weight people, and people who are way more cardio-intensive – and there’s such a great comradery and feeling here. This is what fitness should be. Propel makes this what fitness should be about – community. Here, people are sharing information and also being receptive to other fitness professionals, which is why it’s such a great event.
AM: Tell us about the class you’ll be leading with Luke Milton?
GP: I can’t tell you – it’s totally top secret. Actually, Luke and I have a similar philosophy in terms of peripheral action and planes of motion. The environment created in the workout is all because of how the movements are sequenced. So, when we developed this, it was so fun and totally logical. For us, the goal is up-down-up-down, switching it up the whole time, upper-body, lower-body, core. And moving people in that way, very specifically and thought out, helps them get the most out of the workout.
AM: Why are electrolytes important?
GP: We lose electrolytes when we sweat, and with Propel, you replenish them. You can workout harder and longer. Propel is helping everyone here do more – their bodies are ready to go sooner and to keep pushing – and that’s really what it’s all about.
One of the exciting things about attending a festival of this nature is that you're able to try out a number of methods that allow you to enhance what you already do. You also have the opportunity to hear about the methods and the reason why these celebrity fitness trainers do them. Last year, we enjoyed connecting with Harley Pasternak and once again, he didn't disappoint.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about the class you’ll be leading at the Propel Co:Labs fitness festival.
HARLEY PASTERNAK: We are doing a really exciting class today that will require no equipment whatsoever – just absolutely tons of energy and a high pain threshold. We will be focusing on the lower body, and the class is called ‘Butt my legs hurt’ – get it? All kinds of iso-lateral (one side at a time) lower body movements. Variations of lunges from regular lunges, skater lunges, reverse lunges, lateral lunges and jump lunges. Then during the rest in between, we’ll be doing hip thrusts and pike planks. So a little bit abs, a little bit of glutes as your rest period, which is kind of insane. Let’s just say, I will be everyone’s pain in the butt today.
AM: Are lunges enough for a lower body workout?
HP: If you were to have one lower body workout, lunges would be one of my favorites. But, it does not train your upper body. It will elevate your heart rate, so I like variations, and with the addition of the hip thrust we’re getting the posterior chain.
AM: What would you add to balance out the upper body?
HP: I really focus on the posterior chain, so a back row of some kind with a TRX or dumbbell – something for your rhomboids. I’d put in a triceps movement, maybe a laying dumbbell triceps extension with a hip thrust together – I call those a Harley. It’s butt and back with your arms at the same time. Those moves, combined with the lunge variations, as well as a stiff leg deadlift for your hamstrings and lower back.
AM: With your busy schedule, how do you manage to fit workouts into your schedule?
GP: It's the other way around. I build my schedule around my workouts - they're a priority to me. It’s that old analogy of – if you fill a fish tank full of rocks, and it looks full, there’s still room for small rocks, gravel, sand, and water. But if you do it in any other order, it won't work. So you have to decide in your life, what are those big rocks? What are the small rocks, the gravel, the sand, and what’s the water? And for me, staying in shape and exercising is definitely one of the larger of this, and not something to try and jam in at the end of the day.
AM: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?
HP: Make the process the goal. It’s not about the number on the scale or having a certain aesthetic. You have indirect control over those, but not direct. So focus on the things you have control over. How many steps did you take today? Did you workout today? How did you eat today? Those things you can control. So focusing on the process, not the end goal.
Also, understand that we only have one set of joints. As I get older, focus on what do you need to do, not what you can do. What’s the least you need to do to get the most results.
AM: What’s your favorite workout song at the moment?
HP: There’s something about the cadence of ‘Love Lock Down’ from Kanye’s 808 Heartbeats. Cause that’s how I teach people to do resistance training – that cadence is timeless.
AM: Why is being strong important beyond appearance?
HP: There’s a confidence that spills into every other aspect of your life when you feel strong. That confidence just oozes everywhere. You’re staying functional in everyday tasks and less likely to get hurt.
AM: Tell us what its like training your celebrity clientele?
HP: I’m very lucky, cause having clients who make a living off how they look instills a motivation that is unrivaled by any other population. They’re as motivated as can be. They’re a minute early and putting in everything they can, cause they know their identity and their profession is very much tied to looking great.
AM: What is the biggest health and or wellness myth you’d like to bust?
HP: Celery juice! Go away! It’s not harmful and it won’t hurt you, but it’s totally pointless and does nothing positive for you. Juicing in itself is pretty pointless, but juicing one of the least nutritionally dense vegetables that exists in nature today, and throwing out the fiber to drink it with water and the dye that comes in the vegetable, and people thinking it’s going to fix their autoimmune diseases and cancer and weight management – it’s just really pointless.
As is the case of our previous celebrity fitness trainers, Simone de la Rue is someone that we have enjoyed doing her method. She has also been in Revenge Body with Khloe Kardashian on E! As a new mom, we looked forward to finding out how she prioritizes what's important as well as her fitness.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What are you doing here at Propel Co:Labs today?
SIMONE DE LA RUE: I am here to share my love of fitness and encourage people to hydrate with Propel! Hydration and your water intake is a huge assistance in weight loss, so drink, drink, drink!
I am here at Propel Co:Labs to share my brand which is Body By Simone, which is all about dance-based fitness. I taught class this morning in the festival hanger with my team to an amazing crowd of people that came out to sweat. [Propel Co: Labs] is really building a community in an inclusive ego free environment where we all come together to sweat.
AM: As a new mom how do you find time to keep fitness a priority in your life?
SDLR: It’s all about juggling. The most important thing is that you have to have a schedule, which is difficult with a child. Meal prep is a massive thing. If you prepare all your food and then put it in the freezer, that’s setting you up for the week where you’ll make great decisions and won’t order takeout. Secondly, as a new mum, finding time exercise. You don’t have to do an hour straight—you can choose to do 10 minutes in the morning or half an hour in the morning and possible another 30 minutes at night, but it's just finding that time for you that is so important.
AM: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?
SDLR: Set realistic goals. When you say to yourself I’m going to work out for two hours today and completely change your diet you set yourself up for failure because that's unrealistic. Set achievable goals and on day one just try and stay in the room, or gym, or class. And then the next day improve on that—add another 10 or 20 minutes to your workout or eliminate one item from your diet, whether that be sugar, caffeine alcohol. If you go cold turkey on day one, it’s likely you’re going to binge or give up.
AM: What is the biggest health and or wellness myth you’d like to bust?
SDLR: Just get up and do something. Just get your butt off the couch. There’s not one workout that’s going to give you your dream body so the most important thing is to find something that you connect with and will motivate you. So, the myth is that there is one workout that is the best for you.
AM: What keeps you motivated?
SDLR: My business has always kept me motivated because I have so many staff that I have to take care of. My clients also motivate me! They usually come in with a different goal whether that’s a Grammy appearance or Oscar red-carpet or film—which is exciting. Now, my biggest motivation is my son! I want to get up and be the best version of myself for him, I want to be a great role model for him so that he can see me in the best light.
We have interviewed Casey Ho previously as we love her 30 day challenges, fun fitness YouTube videos and her perky attitude as the founder of Popilates. With her first time joining this fitness festival, we wanted to find out about what her session involved, her favorite movements during her workout and how she stays motivated.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about the class you’ll be leading at the Propel Co:Labs fitness festival.
CASEY HO: It’s called Abs of Envy by PIIT 28. So obviously it’s going to be an abs focused class because I’m a Pilates instructor—it’s going to be core crazy! PIIT stands for Pilates intense interval training, it’s a 30-minute class which has cardio intervals with the toning aspects of Pilates with abs—so basically prepare to die!
AM: Why did you decide to partner with Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival?
CH: I love that Propel is putting on a live fitness event to bring people together and also bringing together the best fitness studios in LA because I’m a big class pass user so I’ve been to a lot of these studios, so it’s really cool see all these amazing trainers get together in this environment. I love that Propel is doing this because yes [teaching classes] online is a big deal, but [teaching] in person is an even bigger deal because real in-person relationships are being built.
AM: With your busy schedule, how do you manage to fit workouts into your schedule?
CH: I always workout in the morning. 7:15 is my time and I don’t miss is unless I’m feeling tired or traveling. I set aside time in my schedule like a set anything, I make it a date in my calendar so I don’t miss it.
AM: What keeps you motivated?
CH: What keeps me motivated is keeping this happiness level inside me—just feeling whole and healthy. There have been points where I have not been happy with myself and it’s taken a lot to get to this stage so that keeps me motivated staying balanced and harmonious. Also, my husband and my dog!
AM: Favorite workout/movement at the moment?
CH: Of the moment, I’m super into deep stretching and I’m not talking about yoga! I mean I’m in a split and someone is pushing on me to the point that you’re almost crying—but after your splits are even lower! I’m taking this new class as SM Stretching in Beverly Hills and its run by a rhyme gymnast and she’s kind of hard on you and I love it!
AM: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?
CH: Find the joy in working out. Don’t keep doing the thing that feels like a chore. For a while I felt like I had to do the hardest thing and feel like I was dying every time I finished a class or I wasn’t pushing myself enough, but that wasn’t true. It’s the [workout] you can stick to that will make you happy.
AM: Why is being strong important beyond appearance?
CH: It’s important to be strong so you don’t break later, so you can live longer, so you’re able to carry 17 grocery bags from your car to the house in one trip! Obviously, strength is what matters, vanity is just a side effect
AM: What is the biggest health and or wellness myth you’d like to bust?
CH: No one diet or workout program is going to work for everyone. Everyone needs to realize that your fitness journey is entirely individual in your self-discovery.
AM: What is your mantra you like to live by?
CH: Give yourself the 100% chance to succeed because you’ll never know if you don’t. Whether you give your 100 and you fail or you give yourself 100 and you don’t fail—you’ve got to go 100 every time or you’ll live a life of regret.
A fitness festival of this nature is all about taking in the positivity, workouts that are offered and sampling what makes the most sense for you. We took a few moments to chat with Angela Manuel-Davis to find out how she was energized by the participation, her approach to working out and more.
ATHLEISURE MAG: So what are you doing a Propel Co:Labs today?
ANGELA MANUEL-DAVIS: So today at Propel Co:Labs I am leading a class on AMDIO method, which is Angela Manuel-Davis changed from the inside out. So, I’m going to be pushing and challenging everyone that shows up to close the gap between where they are and where they dream to be in their life!
AM: What was it like on the Co:labs festival stage?
AMD: It was incredible being on the Co:Labs festival stage! People really came open and ready to receive—the energy was high and I really feel like every single person that walked in walked out different.
AM: How do you fit time in your busy schedule?
AMD: You have to make it a priority. Life can take over and there’s always going to be a number of things that seem more important but if you do not make it a priority to take care of yourself you won't be able to take care of anything else or anyone else. So, it's about making yourself a priority and understanding that the stronger you are, the stronger you are for others.
AM: What keeps you motivated?
AMD: Living a purpose driven life keeps me motivated. Every single day I wake up and I’m really interested in operating in my gifts and talents that’ve been given to me personally and encouraging others to do the same—that’s my purpose in life. So, living a purpose driven life for sure.
AM: What’s the best fitness advice you’ve ever received?
AMD: Best fitness advice I’ve ever received is that the recovery time is just as valuable as the time I put in the workout. Sometimes we get so caught up in the workout and we go super hard and we don’t remember that the recovery is when the benefits of the workout find their rightful places.
AM: What is the biggest health and or wellness myth you’d like to bust?
AMD: Spinning doesn’t give you big legs.
PHOTOS COURTESY | Jessica Nash for Propel Co:Labs Fitness Festival
Growing up, many of us may remember our moms, aunts, babysitters etc having VHS and eventually DVD's of Denise Austin! You may have even started your day working out with her. When it comes to a fitness icon, she is one of them and we loved sitting down with her last week to talk about how she came into the fitness industry, her success with her VHS, DVD and daily TV Show on ESPN - Get Fit with Denise Austin. We talk about her impact in the fitness industry and serving 2 terms of the President's Council of Physical Fitness and Sports and working alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger. We also talk about her fitness focuses as well as her work with her daughter, Katie Austin!
ATHLEISURE MAG: What was the moment that you realized that you wanted to be in the fitness industry?
DENISE AUSTIN: Well, I was a gymnast since I was a little girl and got a full athletic scholarship to college and I went to the University of Arizona and and then I got my degree in exercise physiology and aerobics was just beginning. It was the early 80’s and I moved back to California where I’m from and I met Jack LaLanne, the godfather of fitness and he gave me my first start on television. I loved it so much! I was teaching aerobic classes all over LA at the time and of course at that time, we only had little rooms to teach. There weren’t any big gyms. I taught in racquet ball courts and things like that. We really enjoyed the TV part and I got my own show on KABC LA. I got married and then I moved to Washington DC and started on the Today Show. I then had my own show on ESPN and Lifetime – everything just kept going.
When I was in college, I knew that I could teach some type of fitness with music because that’s gymnastics anyhow. So I just parlayed it into a career!
AM: Wow! Thinking back to a number of us who were growing up when you were starting, we did it with our moms – you had TV shows, VHS and DVDs, you were literally everywhere! Did you consciously think to yourself that you were going to have this brand and it’s going to be something where people are going to say, “oh Denise Austin – that’s a thing?”
DA: Well, not really! I didn’t know the name brand back in the day, 35 years ago! But I loved what I was doing because I was getting letters from people telling me that I was making a difference in what I was doing in their lives. It’s such a fulfilling job and to this day, I do it because I love hearing that it changes them and it changes the way that they feel. They have said that I have saved them, their marriage and I have had people cry and thank me. To know that you are out there helping people just made me want to keep being out there and doing more! I figured out how to keep going and it was kind of a “learn as I go” and I helped create some of this stuff!
I was learning as I was going along and I’d say, “oh yes, I can do a monthly segment on the Today Show – yes I can on fitness!” Then it was like, “yes, I can do VHS.” So it just kept going and I work very hard and persistence did pay off. I’d work on weekends and make appearances. I constantly love what I do so I’m a hard worker so that helped!
AM: Well, that’s an understatement! What was the first time like when you created your first video? You knew you were on a set and its production time. What was that like?
DA: Oh it was a dream come true! I was 27 and it was my first VHS. I was able to film it at the first MTV Studios and they were just kind of starting and I used their sets and I was right here in NYC. I had top makeup people for the very first time and I was like ok – I just did it. I had my routine, but I went for it and I was who I was. It was Rock Hard Abs and Rock Aerobics, I had two VHSs out of it and they were hits at the same time that my friend, Jane Fonda was coming out with her VHS tapes. It was a vary exciting time for the industry because aerobics was just starting in the early 80s.
AM: Did you come up with the outfits yourself? As a young girl doing the workouts, the fun part was seeing the style involved. To this day, there are photoshoots that have appeared in the magazine that have taken concepts off of looks that you wore then and then bringing them into present day shoots!
DA: What I did for Rock Aerobics is that I had a unitard and I said to myself, “this is all about the abs – I’m going to do a cutout.” So I cut out my material around the belly button and I used my pair of scissors to cut out the whole around my stomach so that they could see my abs while I was doing my workout. That’s one of the biggest pictures that I had and I saved all of those items. Now my daughter has fallen into the fitness footsteps now. Thank God I saved so many leggings, high cut up the butt leotards and hot pinks and hot lime green! It’s fun because it’s now all coming back – “let’s get physical.”
AM: How do you keep your energy?
DA: You know what? I’m like this. I wake up like this! Everyone asks my kids, “does your mom wake up like this?” I’m like, “yeah if you spend the night with me, you’ll see! Good morning!”
AM: Your a morning person clearly – what’s your flow like during the day?
DA: Yes! It changes if I’m traveling but mostly I get up, I do like my cup of coffee in the morning. I squeeze in my workout on most days for 30 mintues in the morning. I try to get in my workout. I do lots of online, post, my social media, I answer all my messages, do my email and then I make appearances, give speeches. I eat lunch, I eat dinner – I never skip a meal. I just love food and I eat well. 80% of the time, I eat well and have my treats 20% of the time. Evening time, I'm ready to have my glass of red wine - that is my treat and I enjoy that. I have lots of girlfriends, a great husband, 2 daughters and a huge family. Family means a lot to me and so do my girlfriends. So I do many things with friends!
AM: It’s so important to be balanced!
DA: Yes, I eat most everything just all in small bites as it’s all about moderation.
AM: You served 2 terms on the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports, can you tell us about the council, how you came to joining it and what were your roles and responsibilities by being apart of it?
DA: It was years ago when President Bush appointed me and Arnold Schwarzenegger was the chairman of it. The appointment was made by President Bush 41, God rest his soul as he was the sweetest man in the world and very fit. I was under Arnold as our chairman and we went to schools all over the nation. It was a volunteer job and we were trying to get kids into physical education at the schools which was really hard and we did appearances and Arnold paid out of his own money in every state we went to. I would lead aerobics to young kids and it was the beginnings of this grass roots for the President’s Council. It was a really fun time because we were trying to get fitness out there during the 90’s so it was a very important time you know. We were trying to change people’s eating habits. We were trying to get rid of some of the sugars in people’s cereals. So we lobbied on The Hill in front of Congress and pleaded with them to make changes for the school to get kids moving more and to get physical education back into the schools. We worked hard!
AM: That council was so huge. I graduated in 1997 from High School and starting in my Sophomore year, in addition to the traditional gym classes, you could have aerobics as an entire class. We also had potato and salad bars at our school. Our school system was seen as progressive and a lot of times, we talked about the fact that because of the council, it allowed our school system to understand that this was so important. I appreciate the efforts that you guys did to make this happen!
DA: Your school system was progressive and it was a lot of work, but I’m glad you had that opportunity available to you! We also made recommendations and guidelines with top doctors which was years of work and I learned so much to be around the brilliant minds of medical, health and wellness. I learned a lot which helped me to grow to teach other people especially women and to this day, I still get on the phone and talk to these top doctors all over the country! I use them as great resources to this day. It was a wonderful time and good networking.
AM: Amazing and you also helped launched the Food Pyramid System as well! How was that and what was it like as this is huge!
DA: I sure did! Well, they worked with nutritionists all over the country to come up with this pyramid guide making sure that the sugars were low and that the whole grains and fruits and vegetables that were at the bottom, took up a lot of our plate. They asked me to be the one to kick it off at The Department of Agriculture in Washington DC in this whole glorious building and it was a huge honor!
AM: It’s amazing to hear so many things that you have done and been apart of that you didn’t even think about, but that is the cornerstone of what we know today. How are you so humble about that?
DA: I almost forget that I did it! I’m moving ahead so much that I don’t really think about it!
AM: When you think about how you, Jack LaLanne and Jane Fonda laid the ground work for what fitness videos are, various programs etc. They were the precursor to today’s studio and boutique fitness locations.
DA: Oh I just love what I do! I keep going and I just feel that I do look ahead and my focus now is looking at women that are over 40. I have a Stop the Clock Guide – which is a nutrition and fitness guide for women because this age group has women that aren’t really seen anymore. I truly believe that those in this group - we want to be healthy, we want to be attractive, we want to look good and we want to do everything. That’s why I’m here and I want to tell them, yes we can. I have the best exercises to do away with belly fat after menopause. I know how to firm up your arms so that we look good when we wave goodbye. Muscles work wonders on your metabolism and I know through research that it does work. I believe in it so much because fitness is the best preventative medicine that there is. I preach it and I want my women over 40 to hear me, to learn and to not give up! They need to have a positive attitude about it as many women get clogged down with stress in this age in our life but there is so much to look forward to because we live longer now and we want to feel better.
AM: When you look at ages from 40-50 etc the way you work out when you are in those ages is different then when you’re in your 20’s and 30’s – what are the focuses in these age groups?
DA: Well in your 40’s, I still think that women need a lot of cardio to burn the fat. In the 50’s I focus mainly on target toning exercises because that’s when you start to have your metabolism drop during this age. One of the reasons is because you lack good muscle tone. The more muscle cells in your body, they’re active at rest. So the second you start losing muscle tone, that’s when you gain weight and that’s why the correlation between this in your 50’s is so important. I want to save women right away before it gets away from them. That’s why they need to focus on muscle condition which is what the guide is all about. Then in your 60’s, I hit this age group which is why I do more toning of course, but then I also turned it into stability exercises more core, strength training, stretching and balance.
AM: How important is recover to you in terms of working out?
DA: Very important! I take very good care of myself. I do Epson Salt baths now, I do foam rollers in my workouts, I believe in smoothing out my muscles for less stress. I try to once a month get a full body massage and those are just some of the little things that I do for wellness and recovery. I’m a big believer in eating healthy too! I’ve added in my nutrition guide, new recipes that have a lot to do with Omega-3’s as we need those as we age. Also some great healthy fats to make our skin still look supple and our hair looking fresh. So beauty plays a key role in what you are eating. I add a lot of different elements into the recipes that I make. Everything that I make is quick and easy, because if it isn’t easy in the kitchen, I won’t do it!
AM: What are 3 workouts that you think that everyone should be doing regardless of their age or wherever they are in life that are great for their abs, butts and legs?
DA: Absolutely. Always the simple rule of thumb is something for your upper body – a push up. If you don’t want to do it on the ground, you can do it against your kitchen counter or the office desk. It gets the arms and it gets your chest – so that takes care of your upper body. Mid Section, the old fashioned plank or sit-up it takes care of your belly and that whole core. I like to hold it up to a minute or change it up and do different things like bicycles or anything for your abs. For the lower body, squats and lunges for your hips, thighs and butt. If your knees hurt you, just go half way and do many squats. You can hold onto a chair or a countertop to use it for extra support. So you get something for your upper body, your mid section and your lower body.
AM: How many books have you written?
DA: Oh 12 books and I'm writing a book as we speak!
AM: What is that process like for you?
DA: Oh I’m terrible. It’s the worst job of my life because I talk so much that I would rather talk it, then write it. I feel like I am giving a speech to help women and then, that’s how I write my book – exactly like how I would talk it. Then I have to have an editor for English and then it’s a process.
AM: So what projects are you working on?
DA: Well on my DeniseAustin.com site, I bought back all of my TV shows that everyone used to watch and that they have missed. They now have Denise on Demand for their workouts just like they used to! You can time it so that even at 7am you can go to my website and bam it’s there so that you can stream it. Now I’m working on focusing all of my energies on Stop the Clock because it is so popular. We’re doing challenges on that. Recently, we had a 4 day arm challenge so that you could get sexy arms for the summer. So we’ll be doing some new challenges for the month of July so come back to DeniseAustin.com to see that. All of the challenges are free and I do have an online membership that is under $100 for the entire year. Everything that you want from me from my old workouts, new workouts, old shows, new shows, new challenges and an eating plan. If you need a focus on your meal plans I have this for you and if you need to focus on the way that I eat, vegetarian, gluten-free, heart healthy etc. – we have something for everybody!
AM: Do you and Katie workout together?
DA: Yes! That’s another focus I have! Katie Austin is my little daughter – well she is 25 but we do mother-daughter workouts together. She is doing a tour and I am joining her in some of the cities. I’m very excited about that. This is really fun being able to work with my daughter. She teaches me things about Social Media. She’s the one that got me on Instagram – I had Facebook, but now I have this. And then I try to help her on what I have learned in my industry, focusing on good form and little details. You know, I have 2 daughters. My oldest Kelly, is in the music industry, when I would film my TV Show when they were younger, Katie would stand there by the camera and do it with me. Kelly would be out there looking for shells or who knows what! Katie was always watching and I had no idea after college that that was what she wanted to do. So it was so fun that she loved it, is a natural and she learned from years of being there. Everyday – she was even in a workout video that I did years ago when she was 7 for Fit Kids. She had already filmed videos and been on shows for years.
AM: There is something about when you have parents that are in a business that you can see or be around and how it ends up being a part of your career!
DA: Yes so true! My oldest daughter is a Music Supervisor. She picks songs for movies. My husband is a sports lawyer, but he is a music nut! When she was little, they used to put playlists together so it’s like one focused on what his passion was and one focused on what mine was. It’s kind of fun!
AM: In LA, where can we find you grabbing a bite, shopping and working out?
DA: Yes we had been based in Washington DC for 32 years and now we’re in LA – back home! In LA I like Earth Café for food and coffee, it’s one of my favorite stops in Santa Monica. For dinner, I love Scopa, I just went there in Venice it was delicious and it’s Italian! I do eat pasta, but only from good places – why not? Oh gosh, you’ll see me walking on the beach a lot. You’ll see me doing the Strand Walk which is a 5 mile walk on the strand which is like a boardwalk. You’ll see my husband and I play tennis a lot and we go on bike rides a lot too! We bike ride to Happy Hour as I only have one glass!
I love walking in NY and Chicago. The second that I land, I throw my bags in the hotel and I get out and walk. I don't care what time it is, I get out and walk for 30 minutes. It's a great thing to get out and stretch.
AM: We’re all about #TRIBEGOALS. Who are 3 people that inspire you?
DA: I would say my daughters. They inspire me to work harder to be a good person. They’re watching and as a mom that means the world to me – as my family means everything! I would also say my husband – his loyalty and his integrity to people. I look up to him. In business there are so many, I can’t even just pick one in my industry. There was Jack LaLanne and now I also look up to writers that are really cool like Tim Farris and Dave Asprey.
PHOTO CREDIT | PG 143, 147 + 148 Denise Austin | PG 144 Jaguarps | PG 151 Featureflash |
You can hear Denise Austin's interview later this month on our show, #TRIBEGOALS which is a part of Athleisure Studio, our multi-media podcast network! Make sure to subscribe to find out when the episode drops. You can hear it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and wherever you enjoy listening to your favorite podcast.
This month marked Athleisure Mag's 3rd year of being media sponsors for NYC PRIDE! In addition, this year WorldPride took place throughout the month here in NYC. WorldPride has been in existence for 20 years and has had 6 times that it has been showcased; however, this year was the first time that it has taken place in the US. It came to NYC as a means to honor the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising Commemorating the historic event where the modern movement began in 1969.
This year's theme, "Millions of Moments of Pride" included events ranging from panels, parties, movie nights, brunches and more. Being able to share the events as they took place as well as attending them is part of the fun of celebrating during this time of year while also supporting and being an ally to our LGBTQI+ community. The events culminated in one of our favorites - Pride Island. This event takes place over the last 2 days of pride and includes a number of performances from an array of entertainers. This year included Grace Jones, Teyana Taylor, Kim Petras, Amara La Negra and Madonna! Check out amazing moments from PRIDE ISLAND.
PHOTO CREDITS FOR NYC PRIDE + WORLD PRIDE | THIS PG - 67 Mary Kang | PG 68 -71 Sansho Scott | PG 72 - 79 Benjamin Lozovsky |
This month, our cover is graced by Michelin starred Chef and Restaurateur, George Mendes. We talk about his restaurant Aldea as well as his pop up concept currently at Chefs Club Counter in NYC. In addition, we interview 4 x NBA Champion, John Salley to talk about how he came to basketball, his forray into the wellness and health industry as an investor and gifting for Father's Day. We also interviewed Celebrity Fashion Stylist, Brad Goreski to talk about his style inspirations, summer's perfect accessory, being a Co-Host on E! Live from the Red Carpet and his thoughts on the Met Gala! We also interviewed, fitness icon, Denise Austin about being an innovative in the industry, her success with her shows and what she is currently focused on. In addition, as our third year of being media sponsors for PRIDE, we included imagery from PRIDE ISLAND with performances by Madonna, Amara La Negra, Teyana Taylor, Grace Jones and more. In addition, we have a number of our monthly features showcasing athleisure culture.
Read the June Issue of Athleisure Mag.
With a busy summer ahead, we took some time to talk with country star, John King while he was prepping for CMA Fest. We talk about his newest single “Try Saying Goodbye”, performing at the Grand Ole Opry, the importance of family and where he goes in Nashville.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Your newest single “Try Saying Goodbye” is quite a hit. What inspired you to create this song?
JOHN KING: “Try Saying Goodbye” is one of my favorite songs I’ve ever released. I’ve been blown away by the reaction so far. I feel like what makes it special is everybody can relate. The inspiration for this song came from my relationship with my wife, Hannah. We started dating when we were 15 and grew up together. There were moments in our relationship, where we could have gone different ways but instead we decided to work through the hard times. When we wrote this song, I started thinking about everything I would have missed out on if we had chosen a different path – our love for each other, this wonderful life we’ve built together and our precious baby girl Scarlett.
AM: You’re juggling a lot between your career, family and Scarlett – how do you ensure that you’re present when you are with your family and that they get the time that they need?
JK: There is nothing more important to me than family. Luckily, my wife and baby girl get to join me on the road a lot! When they can’t, we’re always sharing photos, texting and video chatting. My partnership with Straight Talk Wireless makes it really easy to stay connected on the road with their new Ultimate Unlimited 2-line plan.
AM: A fanbase is essential, how do you interact with your fans and make it feel fresh to them?
JK: I’m fortunate enough to have amazing fans who have been following me for years. Recently we had the idea to give my cell phone number out so they could text me directly anytime they want. So far, I’ve literally received thousands of texts – anything from people reaching out about “Try Saying Goodbye” to folks who are in disbelief that it’s actually me texting them back! The support has been overwhelming and exciting!
AM: You’ve partnered with Straight Talk Wireless. Why is this a synergistic partnership and why is it important to find the best ways to communicate in order to stay on track professionally and personally?
JK: One of the most important things to me as an artist is communicating with my fans on a personal level. I’m a Straight Talk Wireless user myself and I can attest to the affordable and reliable service, so this partnership was a no brainer. For more info on Straight Talk, visit www.StraightTalk.com.
AM: When did you know that you wanted to be a musician and specifically wanted to be a country artist?
JK: It’s really been my passion since I was a kid. I grew up singing in church, school talent shows, county fairs, you name it. I’ve always loved getting up on that stage and entertaining a crowd. It’s one of the best feelings in the world!
AM: How do you get inspired when you are creating your songs?
JK: Writing a song is such a fun process for me because there really is no formula for how it’s done. It can happen a million different ways at unexpected times. Sometimes the inspiration can be triggered from a melody, a conversation or something I’ve lived firsthand, so I use my smartphone to easily keep track of all my ideas when I’m on-the-go. It’s different every time and always exciting.
AM: You recently played at CMA Fest, you’re on a national tour and you’re returning to the Grand Ole Opry stage – what excited you about doing this and what are you looking forward to?
JK: Touring is one of my favorite parts of what I do. I love every aspect of being an artist – writing songs, recording and releasing music but there really is something special about performing for a crowd that paid their hard earned money to come see a show. CMA Fest is always such an exciting experience because the whole week is about the fans. This year was especially great because we got to play The CMA Spotlight and Spotify Hot Country stages and the energy was unreal! To top off an amazing month, I’m so honored to be playing the Grand Ole Opry. Just doesn’t get any better than that!
AM: What are your goals this year in terms of awards, those you wish to collaborate or play with etc.?
JK: My goal this year is to continue the success we’re already having with touring, writing and releasing new music. So far it’s been my biggest year to date with the impact of “Try Saying Goodbye.” I’m just excited for as many people to hear this song as possible!
AM: As someone who is on the road quite a bit, what are 3 things that you always have on your carryon that make you feel at home?
JK: I’d say my go tos are 1. My Bible 2. My smartphone, so I can look at family photos at all times 3. My band (don’t wanna forget them haha)
AM: In Nashville, where can we find you grabbing a meal/cocktail, working out and shopping?
JK: Nashville is such a great town with limitless options, but my go to place is Blake Shelton’s bar Ole Red! I do my daily workout routine using my smartphone at the house with Baby Scarlett! She loves to work out with Dad so that’s our time together.
Read the latest issue of Athleisure Mag.
We sat down with Laila Ali, who continued Muhammad Ali, her father’s legacy in the sport, as well as trailblazing outside of it. As a professional boxer who went undefeated in her career, she held the WBC, WIBA, IWBF and IBA female super middleweight titles and the IWBF light heavyweight title. She is a TV personality and host of OWN’s Home Made Simple, participating in Dancing with the Stars, Food Network’s Chopped as well as Celebrity Apprentice. In our interview, we took time to talk with her about the importance of fitness, nutrition and how we can focus on spring cleaning this time of year.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Can you tell us the moment when you realized that you wanted to be a boxer and eventually parlaying that into TV hosting, nutrition and wellness?
LAILA ALI: So I first saw women’s boxing on television when I was about 17 years old and that was when I first had the idea and desire to become a professional boxer myself. So it wasn’t right away that I took the leap because I was at school full time and I had a business at the time and it took me about a year to start training and once I did, that was it – end of story. Of course I ended with 24-0, 21 KOs and 4 world titles.
So boxing was my first love and I focused so much time and energy on it for about 9 years and then I decided I wanted to retire and to start a family, then I started to think about what I wanted to do next. Right around that time, Dancing With the Stars called and I decided to do the show as it was a great platform for me to show other sides of myself. From there, I just went onto TV hosting and different opportunities. During that 5 year period I began to think about what I was passionate about, what I wanted to do next, and that was really when I came to the conclusion that I really wanted to be able to help other people live their best life. I wanted to help them make healthy lifestyle choices and then I started doing shows such as Home Made Simple which I host, now which comes on OWN every Saturday. I’m able to work with families, make their living spaces amazing, also cook healthy recipes with them out of my cookbook Food For Life and now we’re launching our own product line which is simple plantbased cleaning products. They are available at select Walmart stores and Walmart.com.
So, things have really come full circle, but it was all about really encouraging people to make healthy lifestyle choices and live their best life.
AM: Can you tell us a little more about Home Made Simple’s product extension of cleaning products and why you enjoy using them?
LA: So we have hand soap, we have dish soap, we’ve got laundry detergent, fabric softener, multipurpose spray. It comes in lemon, lavender and rosemary. All of these products are not only safe and affordable, but they are effective and that is the most important thing. I’m all about using products that are good for my family, the environment and Home Made Simple’s products are amazing in that they actually work as well.
AM: We know that you have a number of tips about cleaning your home – especially in a way that keeps it simple, can you share 3 with us?
LA: Now is the time that everyone is thinking about spring cleaning right? We are in my household as well! Some of the things that I like to do is to get my kids involved and what I do is give them a series of chores on a chart. When they have done everything that they need to do, then I reward them. Whatever they are asking me for, I tell them that they can get it once they have gotten all of their stars on their chart. One of the other things that works out really well for me is not to wait for things to pile up. I like to take 10-15 minutes out of everyday to put things in their place. Another tip I have is that whenever you have things that you want to give away or get rid of, clothes that don’t fit anymore – put them in a big bin. I leave mine in the garage and remove them quarterly as it keeps clutter down. Every time you buy things – when you bring something into the household, you take something else out. We all have things in our kitchens and other rooms of the house that can be placed in a bin. I think that when you do that, you’re encouraged to donate items and I think that it’s really good to be able to help those in need or to be able to repurpose those items. That’s how it keeps everything nice and organized. Of course, it's all about using products that you love and that work and Home Made Simple really makes that easy to do with their new plant-based cleaning products.
AM: With it being the Spring and people needing ways to spruce up food options when it comes to supporting their workout, what smoothies and power foods should we think about incorporating into our day to day?
LA: I think it’s very important to be consistent first of all and make sure that you are getting enough rest so that you can do your best workout. Staying hydrated is key! A lot of people don’t realize how important it is to drink water as it enhances your performance, effects the way that you think and it’s really important to do. I like to have a protein shake after I workout. I don’t want to eat and put my body through having to digest food which is more work. I like to have a protein shake and just kind of get everything in and then eat a couple of hours after which is what my routine is.
AM: As someone who I’m sure travels a lot, what are 3 skincare products that you swear by that you enjoy using in your routine?
LA: I don’t think that it’s so much products or about a routine. I make sure that I clean my skin really well every night. I wash my face and I use a good moisturizer before I go to bed. In the morning I like to clean my face in the shower after my pores have opened up with the hot steam and then I will clean my face. I like to use my Clarisonic because it really gets into those pores really well. So those are tips that I have. Water and sweating are actually amazing for your skin. Sweating out toxins and that comes from working out and drinking water. Beauty comes from within.
AM: We’re all about #Tribegoals and the power of tribes which are the source of inspiration. Who are 3 people that you are inspired by?
LA: Well I definitely have a tribe of people that are around me. I think that every successful person does. It takes a team and nobody is doing it by themselves. My husband is part of my tribe and is my best friend, my confidant. One of my best girlfriends is like my person my go to who will keep it real with me and be honest. I don’t want to have yes people around me. Of course I would also include my business associates as well.
You can hear Laila Ali's interview now on our show, #TRIBEGOALS which is a part of Athleisure Studio, our multimedia podcast network! Make sure to subscribe to find out when the episode drops. You can hear it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and wherever you enjoy listening to your favorite podcast.
Athleisure Mag’s May issue is covered by CNBC's Co-Anchor, Morgan Brennan of ”Squawk Alley" (M-F 11am - 12pm). In addition to her daily show, she also continues to cover a variety of sectors including manufacturing, defense and space for the network. While her shoot showcases a number of pre-summer styles at 498 West End Ave #PH on the UWS, we sat down with her to find out how she came to working as a financial broadcaster/journalist, the stories that she enjoys covering, being a Co-Anchor on her show, as well as what she does when she is off set.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Tell us about your background. What drew you to being as a financial journalist and broadcaster?
MORGAN BRENNAN: I didn’t go to college promptly after high school since I was pursuing a career in the music industry. In my early 20s, I had a change of heart and decided to go to school and set out to be...an anthropologist. It was in my last year at New York University that I realized how similar journalism is to anthropology: research, interviews and ethnographic studies, identifying your own biases and then moving past them to realize facts and bigger societal truths, and the fact that every major trend, topic or issue has people at the heart of it. Plus, it turns out that most have a money trail as well, so examining the business or financial or economic angle is fascinating. I also think - now more than ever - it’s crucial for people to have an understanding of how money works and how business drives behavior and at times, change. Finances are a key driver of our lives as human beings so I feel very passionately about the role we play at CNBC to make these sometimes jargon-laden, daunting concepts and phrases associated with financial and economic literacy accessible.
AM: Prior to coming to CNBC in 2013, tell us about where you started your career.
MB: I started my journalism career working for magazines. I interned at Newsweek International in the fall of 2008 (as I was finishing school), fact-checking articles and writing some of my own. The world was imploding, and financial news was breaking news. The following Spring I got very lucky and landed my first job two days after graduation as an assistant for the video department at Forbes Media. It was a difficult time in the world of publishing as the internet was disrupting traditional revenue streams and the industry was downsizing drastically. But that bred opportunity as well. I was able to take on extra responsibilities and work my way up the ladder, becoming a reporter and staff writer who wrote regularly for Forbes magazine and had a multimedia presence online. I also appeared on cable news programs as a guest and that experience helped catapult me full-time into the world of TV business news. Writing is actually essential to TV so in hindsight that foundation was crucial.
AM: Tell us about your different roles/positions at CNBC. How did you transition from a general assignment reporter to a reporter focused on sectors (manufacturing, defense, and space), to Co-Anchor of “Squawk Alley”?
MB: Like so many people I speak with, my path has been shaped by a trifecta of hard work, sacrifice, and luck. The transition from print to TV was tricky, since TV requires thinking in minutes and even seconds, versus days or weeks when working on a magazine feature story. Telling a story on paper is very different than telling one in 90 seconds on live television. Once I understood that, I was able to focus my efforts on more companies, more trends, more events, typically targeting sectors and industries that were little loved or perhaps little understood. It evolved from there, with instances over the years of being in the right place at the right time to cover a major breaking news event – a scenario that would then open a door to more sources and more stories. Anchoring came once I had established a strong foundation of comprehension across a number of industries. I love that I get to do both – anchoring and reporting – and I believe they bolster each other.
AM: As the Co-Anchor of “Squawk Alley,” what is your day like in terms of prepping for the day’s general news, going on air and after?
MB: The way I see it is I get paid to learn and then disseminate that knowledge to others. Every day involves hours of reading, as well as lots of writing, networking, sourcing – and TV and video watching. When I first started working full-time in this business the piece of advice offered repeatedly was to grab sleep whenever and wherever I could. Days can start very early, especially when traveling, and can go very long, especially when in the field reporting on a story. It takes an incredible amount of time, effort and resources to make just a few minutes of live television – and no one does it alone. I have an incredible team of producers and co-anchors that I am grateful to get to work with every day.
AM: How do you prepare for your sector coverage?
MB: Again, lots of reading. Also, I try to keep in constant contact with a wide network of sources operating in the sectors I cover, be it aerospace and defense or tech or anything else I may be tasked with covering. I make a lot of phone calls, read a lot of analyst notes and meet with as many folks as the schedule permits. Listening to its earnings calls is a great way to learn - and quickly - about a publicly traded company.
AM: What are some of your favorite CNBC stories or interviews that you have reported on?
MB: I have been blessed to be able to travel all over the U.S. to report on stories. So far I’ve visited 46 states. Among my favorites: being the first person to broadcast live from Lockheed Martin's F-35 fighter jet factory floor as the program was facing scrutiny from President Trump due to costs; live play-by-play coverage of SpaceX's first-ever Falcon Heavy rocket launch, from Kennedy Space Center; and the short documentary I did with the CNBC Investigative unit that focused on illegal home-sharing activity on the Airbnb platform, a project that involved five months of research and reporting and required quite a number of field shoots.
AM: When you wake up, what are 3 sites/apps/platforms that you go to to connect with what is going on financially to jump start your day?
MB: First stop is CNBC.com to see where different markets are trading. Second stop is Twitter to see what’s trending and what the financial and media folks I follow are talking about. After that, I start clicking through articles on the homepages of news sites like The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters and Axios. I also receive hard copies of newspapers every day because I think it’s important to visually see what’s made the front page and where (and I still like to hold paper in my hands and make notes with a pen.)
AM: When you’re not at work and taking downtime for yourself, what would we find you doing?
MB: When I’m not working, I’m focused on my other job: raising my amazing (and saucy) three-year old daughter. It is very much a team effort but I try to unplug from my phones for at least an hour a night on workdays to focus all of my attention exclusively on her and the family. I’m also a big Broadway buff. And recently, I’ve been trying my hand at cooking and baking. I make a mean muffin.
AM: Living in Westchester and working in NYC, where can we find you grabbing a meal, shopping and/or working out?
MB: When my husband and I moved out of New York City a few years ago I was nervous about the change; I had been a city dweller for the better part of 16 years. I’m happy to report what millions already know: there is great food, great culture and a great sense of community in the suburbs too. In Westchester, I’m a big fan of the Cookery in Dobbs Ferry, the Inn at Pound Ridge, and for pizza, Johnny’s in Mount Vernon is a must. I currently belong to Equinox because I like the peer pressure of group classes. When shopping, I am in need of adult supervision when visiting Target, Stew Leonard’s, or HomeGoods. I’m also a big fan of diners and will travel for really good coffee, which I drink black, many times a day.
AM: As someone who is a foodie, what are 3 restaurants on your list that you have yet to try, but are looking forward to?
MB: If only it were just three! Definitely Eleven Madison Park in Manhattan; D.O.M. in Sao Paulo, Brazil – which I’m hoping will happen soon since we have a family member from that city; and Osteria Francescana in Modena, a region of Italy that’s highly underrated for its food and from where some of my husband’s family originates. One of my favorite docuseries right now is “Chef’s Table,” on Netflix, which profiles renowned chefs from across the globe, so I have quite the inspired wish list thanks to that.
AM: During our photoshoot, we listened to a 90’s Hip Hop playlist. What are 3 of your favorite songs in this genre?
MB: 90’s hip hop is the best hip hop! But as someone who came of age during that decade I may be partial. Honestly it’s too hard for me to answer because I love music, from classic rock to 80’s pop to grunge. In terms of 90’s hip hop though, I’d say anything by 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Wu-Tang Clan or A Tribe Called Quest. (I may also know all of the words to “Shoop” by Salt-N-Pepa.)
AM: As someone who is always on the move and travels often for interviews, what are 3 items you take in your carry on?
MB: I never leave home without a wireless charger. I also always pack an extra set of clothes, since there have been instances in which breaking news or a last-minute assignment has meant I was on the road for longer than initially anticipated. The other item that’s especially handy is a blanket scarf because airplanes can be chilly and you can use one as a blanket or pillow in a pinch.
AM: Is there anything else you want to share?
MB: I have been very blessed to receive some great advice from accomplished individuals. But one example in particular I love is: don’t take yourself seriously; do take your job seriously. I believe that’s the secret to success - work hard and be willing, and try to have fun along the way.
Our cover shoot took place at 498 West End Ave #PH on the UWS of NYC. This 2 level home has great views of the city and is near a number of restaurants, shops and more! We chatted with Louise Philipps Forbes of Halstead to find out more information about this listing that is currently on the market.
ATHLEISURE MAG: The views and natural light at West End Ave #PH are amazing, tell us about the features of this unit.
LOUISE PHILLIPS FORBES: Set atop a quintessential Upper West Side landmark constructed in 1910 by Neville & Bagge, this 3,646 sf 5 bed, 4.5 bath newly constructed full-floor duplex is a rare combination of prewar craft and contemporary artistry. Thoughtfully designed by CetraRuddy Architecture to accommodate a 21st century lifestyle, this exceptional home has spectacular finishes and grand proportions. The premium grade details that grace the interiors impart a pervasive sense of quality, where space and light mix with elevated materials to infuse traditional forms with inventiveness.
The keyed elevator service to this topmost unit opens up into a warm and inviting foyer. Upon entering the penthouse, the new oversized windows welcome an abundance of light from all directions, keeping the home bright and airy, as you mentioned. The solid white oak floors in a custom 30-inch square rift-and-quartered parquet inspired pattern, accentuate the dining and living rooms.
Designed to deliver equal portions of elegance and functionality, every facet of the kitchen exceeds the highest standards while also delivering innovative design concepts - from the outstanding millwork in custom chocolate-stained oak with contrasting cream-colored ceruse, to a single-slab marble hearth wall that conceals the range hood. Outfitted for the most seasoned cooks, the kitchen also showcases Calacatta countertops, Miele appliances, a 48-inch Bertazzoni gas range, and a Gaggenau warming drawer and wine refrigerator.
An expansive wrap-around terrace, at its longest spanning close to 90 feet, makes for a covetable outdoor space ideal for lounging as well as hosting cocktails and dinner parties against the backdrop of an exquisite panorama f the Hudson River.
AM: What amenities are offered in this building for residents (common areas, services, etc.)?
LPF: Among the many amenities of 498 WEA is a fitness room with cardio workstations and an exercise area. For the younger set, a delightful activity center with an ingenious wood-peg wall allows kids to express themselves to their heart’s content.
AM: Tell us about the neighborhood that is directly around this building (Wholefoods, workout studios, eateries, etc.) and what neighborhood is this considered?
LPF: Flanked by two beautiful parks, the Upper West Side is one of the greenest neighborhoods in Manhattan. A favorite with families with its great elementary schools, safe streets and plethora of playgrounds, the vibe of the Upper West Side is relaxed, yet lively. There are plenty of bars and restaurants to frequent along Amsterdam Avenue, and Broadway. The wide, tree-lined streets also host many mom-and-pop stores, some of the best Jewish delis in the city, Zabar’s and Levain Bakery. Cultures abound as this coveted neighborhood is the home to the American Museum of Natural History, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan and the West Side Community Garden.
AM: For those interested in this unit, how can they get more information?
LPF: For more information on this home please head over to Halstead.com/19162124
AM: Do you also represent other units in this building as well?
LPF: Yes, as the exclusive broker for new development in this building my team represents new units as they become available. We just launched a fully renovated 2,093sf 3-Bed, 2-Bath residence on the 8th floor with the same designer details and notable features.
AM: Can you tell us about the artwork that is featured in this apartment?
LPF: The artwork throughout the two-story home has been thoughtfully curated by an interior designer to help highlight its architectural features and, of course, the view.
AM: Where can readers find out about properties that you represent?
Athleisure Mag's May cover story was shot by Paul Farkas, using Canon Mark IV; and selected Canon lenses: EF 50 f/1.2 L, EF 24-70 f/2.8 L II, and EF 70-200 f/2.8 L II.
MAKEUP & HAIR CREDITS
MUAH Bamike Ogunrinu utilized a number of products and tools in order to create the makeup and hairstyles that are in this cover editorial with CNBC's Co-Anchor of "Squawk Alley".
PREP | BIODERMA Micellar Water | REBELS AND OUTLAWS Love Potion | DRUNKEN ELEPHANT B-Hydra Intensive Hydrating Serum | TWINMEDIX Pro:Refine Eye Correction | TWINMEDIX Pro:Refine Moisturizer | BITE Agave Lip Mask |
FACE | MAKEUP FOREVER Ultra HD Cream Foundation KEVYN AUCOIN Contour Book Volume 3 | ILIA Essential Face Palette Warm | MAKEUP FOREVER Pro Bronze Fusion Bronzer 20M | BROWS | BENEFIT Foolproof Brow Powder 3 | IT COSMETICS Brow Power Universal Brow Pencil |
OUT AND ABOUT LOOK | EYES // STILA Eyes are the Window Shadow Palette #mind | LIPS // CHAPSTICK Total Hydration Moisture + Tint #Rose Petal |
FITNESS LOOK | EYES // NARS Orgasm Illuminating Loose Powder | LIPS // PAT MCGRATH | MatteTrance Lipstick #Femme Bot |
RESORT GLAM | EYES // COZZETTE Infinite Eyeshadows #Aquamarine | LIPS // MAKEUP FOREVER Artistic Rouge Light Luminous Hydrating Lipstick L304 |
HAIR PRODUCTS | IGK Laidback + Intern |
HAIR TOOLS | Hot tools ¾" – 1¼" + 1" Nano Ceramic® Salon Flat Iron with Extra-Long Plates + Nano Ceramic® Tapered Curling Iron – Large
Athleisure Mag's Celeb Fashion Stylist, Co-Founder/Creative + Style Director Kimmie Smith focused on looks that incorporate a number of pieces that will become go-to's in your closet with the onset of warm weather.
OUT AND ABOUT // PG 25 + 26 | SOCIALITE CLOTHING Playsuit in Tobacco | QUPID Ankle Booties | AMATOSTYLE Domenica Cream Leather Cord with Python Tassel Necklace + Novella Python Earrings | LAGOS 18K Caviar Gold Large Dome Statement Ring + 18K Bar 7 Gold Bracelet |
FITNESS LOOK // PG 16- 22 + BACK COVER | BEYOND YOGA Burgundy Sports Bra | WOLVEN THREADS Moonlight Mandala Leggings | HOKA ONE ONE Women's Bondi B | LAGOS 18K Caviar Gold 35MM Hoop Earrings, 18K Caviar Gold Diamond 7 Rounds Stack Ring, Caviar Gold Ring + 18K Caviar Gold 35MM Hoop Earrings |
RESORT GLAM LOOK // FRONT COVER + 29 - 33 | OLIVIA VON HALLE Delphine Muse Full Length Dress | GOOSEBERRY So Chic Sweet Sunrise | LAGOS 18K Enso 30MM Circle with Linear Drop Pendant Multi Length, 18K Enso 30MM Circle with Linear Drop Earring, Black Caviar Ceramic Diamond Pave 14MM Ring, Black Caviar Black Ceramic Diamond7 Link Statment Ring 9MM Bracelet + Black Caviar Black Ceramic 2 Diamond Link 9MM Bracelet |
Earlier this month, we had the honor of sitting down with one of our culinary faves at NYC's The Kitchen Table in NoLita with Gail Simmons. In addition to her role at Food & Wine Magazine, she is also known as a judge on BRAVO's Top Chef. We talked with Gail about her journey in food journalism, the importance of working throughout the food industry to gain invaluable knowledge of professional kitchens, Top Chef history, food diversity, how she maintains calm when planning for guest arrivals for food celebrations, key ingredients in her kitchen this Spring, where we can find her shopping in Brooklyn and more!
ATHLEISURE MAG: So tell us about your background and how you came to work in food journalism?
GAIL SIMMONS: It’s sort of a long story and I have always started with a love for food. I graduated from college and didn’t know what I wanted to do with my career and everyone else seemed to know what they wanted to do with their degree out of college. All I knew was that I loved to cook and I loved to write. But back then, that wasn’t necessarily a one plus one equals two situation. People were just starting to cover the food world. The term food media back then just meant writing for a handful of magazines or a couple pages of newspapers and there wasn’t the kinds of opportunities that they are now. But I knew that cooking was my passion and so I got a job first as an intern in a magazine and as an Editorial Assistant in a newspaper as sort of a lifestyle food and travel section. I realized that in working everyday around all of these different subjects that food is really what I am more interested in. Then I was given this really great piece of advice that anyone can write as you can practice on your own and that’s what you have editors for, but if you want to differentiate yourself and really make a mark in the food world then you really need to understand the professional kitchen and learn to cook.
So I picked up, packed up and moved to NYC and went to culinary school and from there I worked in a few really tough, but incredible professional kitchens as a line cook and always with an agenda that I wanted to write about it and knowing that I never wanted to be a chef in a kitchen full time. When the time was right and I had a lot of experience and felt that I really understood how to cook well properly with a good foundation, I moved back into writing first with Vogue Magazine as an Assistant to the Food Writer and then for a chef doing events, marketing and PR all sort of learning around the events of the restaurant industry in every different aspect of what it takes to work in the food industry. About 15 years ago, I landed at Food and Wine Magazine and I’ve sort of been there ever since.
AM: That is a journey and what was the moment while you were on this food journalism track that you realized that you wanted to enhance your brand and make that jump into TV as well?
GS: I didn’t actually. I never ever consciously thought, I want to enhance my brand as a personality – the word brand, was never in my language or in my purview. I never thought about going on to television it was always about writing and publishing for me back then – 14 years ago. I did a little bit of food television in my early days on behalf of Food & Wine because often morning shows would need someone to talk about recipes, wine trends from the magazine or what we were doing for our spring issue ,so I was the one that would often go on because I had the cooking and marketing background to go on and be able to do cooking demos and to talk with the anchors and the hosts. So that sort of became what I did for the magazine and about a year into my job at Food & Wine, BRAVO came to Food & Wine with this idea of a reality show about the lives of professional chefs and they wanted to call it Top Chef and they wanted to partner with Food & Wine to teach them about the world of food and cooking and in exchange, they would put one of their editors on the judges panel and so they screen tested me and asked me to do it and I have been doing it ever since. I never meant to do it, I never sought it out, but we also certainly never knew that it was going to be a hit show and that it would last this long. We’re going into our 17th season and it doesn’t seem like it is going to be slowing down.
AM: We love your authenticity and in doing the research to chat with you, it was amazing to see how many areas of this industry that you have touched to immerse yourself in this space. Clearly this is why you can speak about so many aspects of it due to your knowledge.
GS: For me, everything I did up until now, and what I continue to do, feeds into my experience and my knowledge. I don’t think that I could have ever gotten the job on television had I not done all of those things. I think that being able to speak to the real life of professional kitchens, which is what our show is about – we want to speak fairly and honestly in a constructive way and understand the work that chefs do. I think that you need to have a working knowledge of that to come across to your audience not only as authentic, but in a way that the audience of a show can identify with you because the audience can’t taste the food. You really become the taste buds for your viewers and I think that all of the work that I have done and before leading up to Top Chef helped prepare me.
AM: What led to you creating cookbooks and what is that process like for you when you’re making them?
GS: I think that these days, cookbooks for me was a very natural offshoot for everything that I do and finding a place where all of my favorite recipes could live that shaped me and make me who I am and recipes that I have learned and brought home from my travels that have become staples in my household and I wanted to just share those with everybody because I am asked for them so often. It was a great opportunity to put them in one place.
The process was rigorous. It took me 2 years to write my most recent book. 2 years is sort of par for the course and sometimes it can take many, many more. From conception to publication, so it was an all encompassing process. It was so much work in every aspect – testing, developing, testing, rewriting the recipes, editing etc. Writing all the head notes, the introduction, making sure that they are accurate having someone else retest for that accuracy. I really wanted to make sure that every recipe in the book not only sounded delicious, but was absolutely attainable for everyone to make at home.
AM: That’s intense. Going back to Top Chef, we have had the pleasure of interviewing Chef Brooke Williamson and Chef Richard Blais previously in Athleisure Mag as well as on Athleisure Studio’s podcast network show – Athleisure Kitchen. What is it like for you as a judge to be on Top Chef? What is the process like for you and how do you get yourself prepared for those moments that are taking place?
GS: I mean we have been making this show for so long that we have gotten it down to a science. It’s a great process though as we have a great crew that has worked with us for so many years and everyone really understands what every episode takes. So we’re a pretty fine tuned machine. I would say that the most important part of what I do is balancing - being constructive and fair with the challenge that is being presented every episode and making sure that I am speaking to that challenge and what all the different chefs that are doing. The great thing about the show is that we travel to a different city every single season so I always do a little research about the place because the location is going to inform so much about the cooking, the ingredients and the history. You know, the history of Charleston is going to be different then the history of Boston which is going to be very different than the history of Kentucky or California. I think it really plays a role and is what differentiates our show from all others.
AM: It’s also so inclusive to food diversity from a geographical standpoint. This season’s Top Chef was in Kentucky and one of our Co-Founders is from Indiana and many of the recipes that were made this season were also indicative of areas she grew up in and which allows audiences to connect from that standpoint as well.
GS: Exactly there is a lot of food overlap and that is what makes our show so fun. You don’t have to be a great cook to identify with loving food or understanding the history of this country. Food plays such a great role in that and in our families in the way that we eat, the way that we go out, the way that we celebrate and we try to stay true to the locations that we go to.
AM: How would you define, your style of cooking?
GS: I think my cooking is spontaneous and changes with a season. I’m a mom and I think my food has changed a lot since I became a mother. I want flavor and I want it to be healthy and easy to make because I don’t want to give people recipes that will take them 3 days in the kitchen and I certainly don’t have time to dedicate that. So my style really calls from all of my travel experience and my childhood which has a lot of influences. People always ask me, “what’s your favorite thing to cook?” I never have one favorite thing, it always depends on the time of year, where I traveled to last, the ingredients that I am most excited about and then ways that I go about organizing them and being the most efficient in the kitchen to get the most flavor by doing the least to the great quality of food that I have.
AM: Because you have done so much in the food industry, are there other projects that you would love to be a part of that you have yet to tackle – but would want to?
GS: I think there are so many things. There is so much travel that I want to do and I think that giving back to the community that helped me for so long is really important to me and there are so many ways to do that right now. Cooking is such a life skill, so not only does it nourish people, but it teaches people to translate that skill into a job anywhere where they are. Certainly, there are so many things where food applies to our lives, whether it’s politics or math and science. Teaching my child to cook, you become some conscious of that and so just teaching is always in the background for me, whether it’s through books or in television championing my industry, and giving back to my community through all of these different channels is always top of mind and there are always more things to be done.
AM: With Spring being here finally as we see the leaves on the trees – there are so many Spring holidays coming up and reasons to just come together just because. What are some trends taking place in the kitchen that we can incorporate right now into our dishes just to change things up?
GS: I think that Spring is just the most exciting moment in the year because we have all just been in hibernation for so long and I got real cozy with lots of soups and stews over the winter but I am ready for bright new ingredients. I am really excited about bringing all of those fresh herbs, fresh flavors, different fruits and vegetables into my diet that I haven’t been able to get all winter long. But I also want to be efficient with what I am cooking and because there are holidays in the Spring where you are cooking for a crowd often of all ages with family and friends with Easter and Passover – you really want to optimize your time in the kitchen. My entertaining strategies are always about finding recipes that you can be organized with and prepare as much as possible with in advance, so that when guests do arrive you’re just doing the minimal to get food on the table so that you can spend time with them.
AM: People come by unexpectedly sometimes. What do you suggest that we should always have in our fridges so that we can ensure that we are always ready as sometimes you never know when Auntie May comes by!
GS: Yes and there’s nothing to eat – it’s true! I mean I think with a few simple ingredients, whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, there are ways to use them so that you’re picking ingredients that are versatile. A few products that I love are having lots of fresh herbs in my fridge and lots of citrus as they can be added to lots of things from pasta to cottage cheese. They can be turned into so many things in so many different ways. Or even eggs that they can go on top of. I love keeping good quality dairy products as they are always in my fridge. As I said, herbs and citrus, cheese, eggs, and then as much fresh ingredients as possible. So if you have salad greens or you have a few key bowls of berries, you can make 100 different things. Breakfast for example, is a time where I feel that people run out of ideas. There are a ton of things going on in the morning or if you’re entertaining in the morning there is a lot you have to do so quickly. If you have people over for brunch for Easter for example, if you can think a little ahead of time – you can make a really beautiful statement with minimal work. One thing that I always advocate is big batch cooking. I love making granola for example and I make it a week in advance in a big batch that I can eat throughout the week and I can have it as my go-to to put on top of things in the morning. Or just eat it as a handful to grab and go as a snack. When you have granola and some fresh berries, granola in the fridge and cottage cheese, then there you have the perfect protein packed, versatile and easy breakfast parfait that looks great and beautiful for everyone.
AM: When you are planning for 8-10 people that you know are coming for a dinner party, people get overwhelmed with the idea of tackling this – what do you do?
GS: I always make sure that I make my list and be organized. I can never underestimate how important that, is especially when you have guests arriving. Try not to do too many things and remember that you can ask for help. I think that people forget to do that. If I’m having people over, I want to think 2 days out about what I can do and then 1 day out, what I can do. Sometimes that feels daunting – no one has 3 days to make a meal, but I’m not talking about major cooking. Just marinating your meat in the morning so that 8 hours later when you cook it, it has all that flavor that is already done. That’s just 20 minutes in the morning and then you’re ready to cook as soon as guests arrive and it’s the same when you’re making your dressings in advance if you’re making a salad. I love making bowls – grain bowls for example, so doing things like making the dressing in advance, washing the lettuce, if I’m using quinoa or another grain like that – cooking it in advance really takes 15 minutes and then it’s cooled and ready to go and it’s in your fridge and all you’re doing is really assembly.
AM: What are 3 ingredients that you always have in your kitchen that are really good for versatile dishes?
GS: I would say that right now it’s fresh herbs, lemons because I use every part of the lemon from the juice to the zest and Hood Cottage Cheese because I feel it is the most versatile dairy product that I have that everyone loves and you can do so many things with it.
AM: Do you have some recipes for those of us that are busy and running around that are easy to satisfy and easy to make as well?
GS: One recipe that is my go to because it’s great for lunch, it’s great for a snack and it can feed a crowd and it’s easy to batch it up for 10 people or to just have a personal bowl of when I need something that is healthy and really satisfying – I make a really delicious Mango Avocado Salsa. Lots of lemons, lots of lime juice and lime zest and fresh cilantro tossed with fresh mango and avocado and I put it on a base of Hood Cottage Cheese with Black Pepper in a bowl. My little trick is I always make a little well in the center of the cottage cheese using the back of my spoon and I pile all the salsa right in the middle so that when you’re dipping you’re getting a little of both and you’re not searching for one ingredient or the other. I find that it’s a great after school snack for my kids, it’s a great appetizer for a dinner party or the perfect quick lunch for me on the go and it really doesn’t require many ingredients.
I talked with you about the grain bowl which is another one to make in advance and then the granola that I make all the time for breakfast for parfaits. Because if you have some fresh wash berries in the fridge, you can have your granola that you made before and all you have to do is layer it on together.
AM: Are there other ways that cottage cheese can be used beyond what someone would think is their “traditional” use?
GS: I think that cottage cheese is having this renaissance moment because people are rediscovering it from their childhood. First of all, it’s packed with protein which is a bonus, it can be used the same way that you use other dairy products. I love it in smoothies, I can use it in place of ricotta for pasta and lasagna. My kids love it and my little baby loves it for breakfast in the morning. It has texture and a rich creaminess and it's a great item to have around.
AM: You’re based here in NYC, where can we find you working out, grabbing a meal/cocktail and shopping?
GS: In NY the options are endless and I live in Brooklyn – I love my neighborhood. It’s a quiet treelined neighborhood in Brooklyn. There’s a lot of great places to eat nowadays. I’m really obsessed with eating at a lot of places with fresh little small plates and a glass of wine so there’s a great wine bar close to me called June that I love and another wine bar with great food called Frank’s Wine Bar. When I’m in downtown NY, where we are today in NoLita – I love eating at a little Middle Eastern spot that has really fresh fast casual food called In the Dez, it’s delicious and right up the street. That’s where you can see me grabbing food.
Working out - now that the nice weather is out, I can pick up running again. I love running, but I don’t like running indoors so winter is kind of out for me and I take a break from running. But I live near the Brooklyn Promenade so running from my house to the Brooklyn Bridge is sort of my go to run when the weather is nice. If not, then I’m a spinner so you can catch me at SoulCycle.
And shopping – what kind of shopping?
AM: Well whatever, whether it’s for clothes or food – it’s so open!
GS: I mean, that’s a tough one! Shopping – I’m shopping for lots of things all the time! Let’s see, I love Veronica Beard for clothes, she’s a great designer that I wear a lot from these days. For food, what I love about my Brooklyn neighborhood is that it’s so old school in that instead of going to big huge grocery stores, there are small shops so I have my local butcher that I love, there is an amazing Middle Eastern store that I get all of my spices and things like pita and fresh bread and things like that. I’m at the regular grocery store buying all of my pantry items too.
AM: Your makeup is always great and you have great skin. As someone who travels a lot, what are 3 skincare products that you use?
GS: I have really dry skin so traveling definitely takes a toll. But I am also someone that doesn’t use 50 products a day because I’m someone that has to get up and go and I am always in a rush. So 3 products that I love my under eye I believe in helping as much as possible because tired is real. I’m a big fan of Drunk Elephant Vitamin C under eye cream that I use all of the time. There is a really beautiful store here in NYC and there is another in Boston and in a few other locations possible in DC, and It’s called Follain that has the most non toxic products from body to face to make up and hair products that are not only good for the planet, but with ingredients that are pure and all natural – so I use a lot of their products. I love Naturopathica skin care. I use a bunch of their products – I love their Daily Moisturizer and there’s this Body Balm that I absolutely love OSEA. They carry it at Follain so I get it there, but I initially got it as a gift and I’m obsessed with it. I love the smell, it’s rich and luxurious and really a great natural and beautiful skincare product for your whole body.
AM: You’re very busy. How do you take time for yourself to just recharge and disconnect?
GS: It’s a hard thing to do and it requires actual carve out time on the calendar for sure. Working out and clearing my brain is really important. I have to force myself to do it, but for me, it’s not about losing weight as obviously staying healthy is important. It’s about clearing my head and destressing because I know I will feel better at the end of the day if I can. I love that I live in NYC and I don’t have a car and that I can walk everywhere as I find that therapeutic. Cooking is also something that lets me relax at the end of the day. There is nothing that I like more than anything at the end of the day, relaxing with friends where I can sit around the table and I can cook for them and destress and really connect with the people that I love the most and that to me is taking a great time for myself. Once or twice a year, I like a really good massage and date night with my husband is also nice every once in awhile! We forget to do it, but when we do it’s always important.
You can hear this interview with Gail Simmons May 3rd on our show, Athleisure Kitchen, which is a part of Athleisure Studio, our multi-media podcast network! You can hear it on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and wherever you enjoy listening to your favorite podcast shows.
This month's cover story features Jonathan Jones, Brandon King and Obi Melifonwu of the Super Bowl LIII Winning Champions New England Patriots. The road to success is one that is truly a journey that isn't a straight line. In our interview we hear how these teammates fell in love with the game, made their way to the Patriots and how they get ready for their games every week! In addition, we also had the opportunity to talk with their Sports Agent, Sean Stellato of SES Sports, whose own life has been infused with sports as an athlete who then made the Jerry McGuire transition to being on the other side of the ball. The relationship between players and the agent is essential to their success.
Our shoot took place in Tribeca at the Serafina Tribeca, which is one of our favorite places for Italian comfort food. When it comes to hospitality and having the right vibe for a celebration, the General Manager, Christian Ferrara makes everyone feel at home while educating them on his cuisine and culture.
ATHLEISURE MAG: When did you realize that you wanted to play professional football and what was your journey to get to the New England Patriots?
JONATHAN JONES: I grew up loving watching the games as young as when I was 3 or 4 years old. I played high school football in Georgia and high school football in Georgia is just big! I went to Auburn, we won a National Championship. Leaving Auburn, I was a free agent and I chose to come to New England and it was probably the best decision of my life honestly as I have had the chance to go to 3 straight Super Bowls. It’s been a great journey as far as the NFL goes! But for my entire journey to come from where I come from to make it to the Patriots, it’s been a blessing!
AM: Tell us about the position you play and who do you work with closely on that portion of the team?
JJ: I play defensive back cornerback and mostly we work with the safeties and sometimes the linebackers.
AM: During the season what is your week like in terms of practicing to get to Sunday’s game?
JJ: After a game on Sunday, you come in on Monday and first thing you want to handle and collect everything from the previous game. You then want to start working on your body. Tuesday is a day of recovery for your body getting a massage, getting treatments for pains that took place from the last game. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday is all about training and practice. Saturday, it just depends on whether it is a home or an away game. But, it’s a full week and Tuesday isn’t like a day off, but more like a day to get ready.
AM: What are 3 songs that are on your playlist that get you ready for whatever game you’re playing?
JJ: It’s always a classic with me with Young Jeezy – it doesn’t even matter what song it is! Right now I have Little Baby on my playlist and I’m from Georgia so any of the Georgian rappers that are out right now – they’re there too!
AM: What does it feel like to be a 2 X Super Bowl Winning Champ?
JJ: It feels great to win Super Bowl LI and LIII. To get there every time is always the goal. I’ve been there 3 years in a row and to win 2 of them is amazing. A lot of people never even get there so for me to be there 3 times and to have won 2 is great! Every year you get there, you have to refocus and remember what you did last time to get there and how great you were at that time to win.
AM: What is it like in the off season as you prepare for the regular season?
JJ: The first thing is to get your mind and body right. You have to take the time during the off season. You want to make sure that you spend time for yourself, with your friends and family. But then it’s like you’re right back to when it’s time to go back and you also want to make sure that you stay in shape as well. It’s a quick turnaround and you have to be ready.
AM: What are your goals for the upcoming season?
JJ: My goal is to develop my game and become more of a leader within the team and to definitely work on my game with me being a young player. I want to continue to improve.
AM: How do you define your personal style? What do you wear when you’re going out for fun or when it’s a special night out.
JJ: My personal style is always about being casual with nice jewelry. I’m a laid back person. When it’s about going out, you can never go wrong with a nice shirt and jeans with nice shoes. It’s always an easy fix.
AM: Now that you’re able to relax what are 3 shows that you’ll binge on Netflix?
JJ: Oooo 3 Daredevil, The Punisher and Iron Fist.
ATHLEISURE MAG: What was your journey to get to the New England Patriots?
BRANDON KING: I went to Thompson High School in Alabama that was home for me. It was a pretty small town and in my senior year there, we got a movie theater and a Walmart which was pretty big for our town. Now, my high school is the biggest high school in the state which just goes to show how much it has grown! When I was there it was much smaller. During my junior year, coaches started coming in and recruiting and I talked to a lot of teams, but ended up falling short in my senior year by .03 to meet NCAA requirements.
A lot of people in my family were so happy that they thought I would be going to a Division I school on scholarship. So when I didn’t, a lot of people just put me on the back burner and a lot of people stopped talking to me because they felt that I was just going to be back at the house. But I knew what I wanted to do and I played for 2 years at Highland Community College in Kansas. At the time, I thought that I would be there for a year and then transfer to a Division I school, but that’s not how it turned out. I kept my head down to do what I needed to do so that I could continue to play football. I did well there and I got a lot of awards which I’m not big on as I believe the past is the past. You need to continue to work to do the things you need to do to be where you are. By staying there and doing the work, I got a scholarship to go to Auburn and transferred there. I played safety there and shortly after getting there, there was an injury to Justin Garrett the star linebacker which was a hybrid position between linebacker and safety so I changed to that position and I played that for most of my Junior year and then moved to linebacker. My senior year, I ended up breaking my thumb a week or two right before my first game of that year. I did everything that I could do to just stay at full speed. I treated everything with full respect, all of my teachers and anybody that could or would help me. I always had a smile on my face when I walked around as just having the opportunity to be there at Auburn was everything. Even in the worse times, you still have to smile. While at Auburn, I played linebacker, defensive end and safety. I was always ready for any opportunity and for people to see that I could do those positions being 225-226lbs was important and showed that I am versatile.
My senior year at Auburn, I was trying to do an internship while I was a full time student and trying to train for the NFL. I didn’t have an agent or anything like that because I didn’t have any money for that. When I was at Auburn, I played multiple positions, I was still under the radar for the most part. When I first got to Auburn, I just worked out with the strength coaches and I really appreciate them, because they prepared us very well in developing the athletes overall. I ended up just being there and working everyday and working in the schedule to actually be able to workout and I had to be productive and just go about a different way. I just came to work everyday and I don’t think it really matters, I have been in the league for 4 years and I still haven’t gone to a facility or trained with a specific individual. Being at Auburn and being with those coaches, they laid out what you had to and it wasn’t a big deal for me to get it done that way. After Pro Day came, I think I did pretty well and I walked up to the Canadian coaches and whoever was there and I wanted to shake everyone’s hands and to tell them thank you for coming by. We had all 32 NFL coaches there for our Pro Day I believe, to check out the talent. I tried to take the initiative to shake everyone’s hands that I could to show my appreciation. I did the same thing my last day at Auburn. Whether you were a positive influence or a negative influence, that’s what makes a person a person. Sometimes, people don’t realize that there is beauty in the pain and wherever you are in life, you can smile and do what you have got to do in life.
After that, I went back to work and I didn’t get any calls and then I got a call from one team with a contract. I just wanted to put my best foot forward and did everything I could do to play professionally – I didn’t want any regrets. That team called me and woke me up out of my sleep and I knew the dream was still alive and then a few days later, I got another call from another team and then I got a workout schedule from the Patriots and I never visited the Patriots or anything like that. I never went to check out the facility. I just had a workout set up at Samford University in Birmingham, AL and had an individual workout with him and it was the only thing I did. I got an opportunity to go out to other teams for my time to shine as a free agent. I wasn’t worried about the money it was finding the right opportunity – I chose the Patriots and I have been there ever since.
AM: Tell us about the position that you play and what portion of the team you work with closely?
BK: Right now I play linebacker. For the last 4 years, I have been a core special teams player. My position coach is Joe Judge – the special team’s coach. I work closely with Matt Slater, Nate Ebner – I work closely with those guys and just try to get all the ins and outs from those guys the best that I can. Those guys have been a part of a lot of Championship football. They have a lot that I feel that I can learn from. Maybe one day the goals that they have learned, I can reach back and help someone else too. They are great guys to be around, they put their pride to the side and put the team first. They don’t complain and they get it done. I have a lot of respect for them.
AM: During the regular season, what is your week like in terms of practicing and preparing for those Sunday games?
BK: I wake up at about 5:00/5:30/5:45am depending on whether I have an injury to tend to or not and it’s best to get working on that first thing in the morning. During the season I work, 12-13 hour days.
AM: What has playing in the Super Bowl been like for you?
BK: It’s been amazing. My first Super Bowl (LI), my head was kind of spinning with everything going on – I was going at like 100 miles a minute. This one, it was my 3rd one that I was a part of, and everything was a great experience, but I just wanted to get to the game. I knew how it felt to win a Super Bowl game and what it felt like to lose one. I knew what we came there for and it was nice to see my family and everything, as I don’t get to see my family a lot as they still work and I don’t get to see them that much. It was great to catch up with them, but at the end of the day, it’s a very long season and trying as you’re playing 34 games a year, as you have the preseason also and to play at that level. I wanted to do what we came there for and to put those distractions aside. You know what it’s like to watch the game when you’re younger and for me, it feels like the game gets too big and we all have different ways to approach it. Winning felt like weight coming off your shoulders. There are people that you bonded with in the beginning during training camp that don’t make it or you play with them half the season and something happens to them and they may not be on the team anymore. The new guys have to come in and fill in the voids fast, because no one is going to feel sorry for someone that doesn’t know what to do or not knowing the system. Everything counts and everyone needs to be on the same page to be successful. Playing with your team for awhile creates a sense of comfort. Winning and going through all that adversity is a lot – this season wasn’t perfect by any means! We knew that no one was going to be able to fix it but us. Our job is to get it done. It felt good to get it done and to be at 3 Superbowls in a row and to know what it is like to win and lose one and then to look at these guys I play with. I mean I have only been in the league for 4 years and I know my body doesn’t always feel too hot and to play with guys that have played 8/9/10/11/12 years, I have a lot of respect for them. It’s like ok, then let’s go! It’s a respect thing and everyone in that building comes to work every day and it’s hard for you to not do the same thing.
AM: So what do you do during the off season to prepare yourself for the next upcoming season?
BK: I take a week or 2 off as I feel that that is well deserved. The off season is really short. I feel like it’s only a month and a half off. By the time I get home it will be around Feb 28th and we have to report in April. I bought a home in Tennessee last year and I’m trying to get everything there and get the family settled in and then I have to see the family in Alabama.
AM: What are the goals for the next season?
BK: I’m not really big on setting goals because disappointment is one thing and I feel that you can get really deterred if you do set the goal. I take one day at a time. People will say that they want to do this or do that and then people will look at you and say, “hey you said you were going to do this and now look at you.” I’m the kind of person, that I just let things ride and happen the way that they happen. I will figure out the pieces of the puzzle to get to where I want, but hopefully, I will be able to put it together in the right way for the way that I want. I just want to be productive, dependable and that I am doing things in the right way.
AM: Since you are on the road so much, what are 3 items that you like to have with you that make you happy or comfortable?
BK: I try to keep a pair of headphones with me. Sometimes I use them, sometimes I don’t. Sometimes I listen to music in the locker room, sometimes I don’t. When I travel, I like to have headphones because you can block things out. This year I have been bringing my tablet with me more because I can watch my movies on Netflix and take my mind off of things. You’ve been putting in the work during the week to know who you are going against so I want to relax when I travel to the game. When I get to the hotel, then I like to be able to pick that back up again to think about the game.
ATHLEISURE MAG: So when did you realize that you wanted to play football professionally and tell us your journey on how you came to the New England Patriots.
OBI MELIFONWU: At the age of 9. Well it’s a funny story. I came to Massachusetts as the age of 3 and when I was about, I want to say between the age of 6/7, I watched the Patriots win Super Bowl XXXVI. I realized then that I really loved football and then at the age of 8, I brought a Pop Warner sign up sheet to my mom and she ended up throwing it out and saying it was too dangerous. I was crushed that year and I methodically thought about how I could get her to sign the sheet. So the next year, the same thing happened, I brought the sheet and she didn’t sign it and then I brought another sheet for her to sign and she ended up realizing that I was serious about it and she signed it. I’ve been playing football ever since!
My journey to the Patriots was one that I least expected. I went to high school and I got one offer from UCONN. It’s the only offer I got and I went there and had a pretty good year. Then I got drafted by the Raiders in the second round. Then after I got drafted I felt like that I was finally here and I could prove myself and play football. Unfortunately, I had injuries that happened to me that slowed things down. That last year, I ended up getting injured in August and I got cut. I was devastated. But I understood that everything happened for a reason. Nothing good good comes without perseverance and I really believe that God gives the strongest battles to the strongest war riors. I took that perspective and I just worked and got as healthy as I could and I got picked up by the Patriots. It was ironic as that was the team that I grew up watching playing. It was the team that I wanted to be on since I was little.
AM: Tell us about the position that you play and who do you work closely with in that portion of the team.
OM: The position I play is safety and that position is on defense. It is basically the last line of defense – you stop Receivers, running backs, any skilled position from scoring as that last line of defense. If stuff breaks through the line of the linebackers, even sometimes the cornerbacks. The Safety is the one that kind of has to save the day. Getting to the NFL and getting to the Patriots, I started to work really closely with the defensivebacks on the Patriots like Devin McCourty, Patrick Chung, Duron Harmon and Coach Belichik. They really helped me to improve as a player.
AM: During the regular season. What is your week like in terms of practice, working out, watching the game tape – what are the typical things that you tend to do as you prep for that gameday?
OM: A typical week is like a lot of studying and a lot of watching the games on your own. Everyone has their own routine and things that they like to do to help them get ready for the game. I just like to go into work and try to really take notes, implement the gameplan for that practice and do that everyday. As the gameday gets closer, just kind of take a step back from the physical part just really try to focus on what I need to do for that day. I’m visualizing different things like certain calls for certain formations and certain situations. Just mentally preparing to be ready for that game and I feel like that’s a good mindset to have. There are 53 people on a team, but only 47 people get dressed. Some weeks you might be up and some weeks you might not be. Some times you may be activated and other times you may not be activated. It’s almost like you have to take that approach every week because you don’t know when you’re number is going to be called. If you’re not ready for your number to be called, then you’re going to miss out on that opportunity at that time.
AM: You’re in amazing shape – how long are you in the gym and what are some of the key workouts that you do? Do you have 3 that are your go to in particular no matter what?
OM: Yeah, it’s funny that you say that because in college, I really just ate anything I wanted. In terms of healthy, I mean I just did everything and ate anything. But when I got further along in my career, I started really trying to watch what I ate. Even until now, I still do my best to stay healthy because I understand it will help me in the long run with my longevity.
In terms of gym workouts, I do the typical three which I feel is the bread and butter of bench, squats and power cleans. Then there are other things like core and I’m always trying to work on a lot of stability stuff to help maintain the strength of my arms. I’m really trying to get into yoga. I’ve tried it a couple of times and we just don’t have the best relationship right now haha. It’s something that I am going to try to continue to do.
AM: You’ll probably like Hot Yoga or a Cardio based one, it may make you feel more aligned to it more.
AM: So what are your go-to foods in terms of what you do to maintain your body and then what splurge food do you enjoy eating?
OM: My go-to vegetable is broccoli. I love it grilled, cooked, sautéed, whatever! My go-to meal for fuel is pasta and meat sauce. I’m the type of person that when I am performing or doing any type of physical activity, I have to eat before. I feel like that I can feel my body using that to fuel me throughout whatever workout or activity that I’m doing. So that’s my go-to meal.
Splurge I mean – everything under the sun that’s sweet! I try to cut down on dairy – icecream not too much but chocolate, cake, cookies – whatever sweet that you can think of I will most likely eat. That’s really my splurge or any fast food.
AM: On game day, how do you prepare – do you have a routine that you go through or is it more of a mindset?
OM: It depends on how I am feeling for that game. I feel that how I prep is the same, but on that day of the game, some days I will listen to Future or Meek Mill to get hype. Then other times I will listen to Jhene Aiko’s, ‘The Calm Before the Storm’ to get ready. For game day the night before, I try to do a lot of visualization for the game. I try to put myself in the position of the game so if it should happen that way, it’s not the first time that that happened. I try to keep a level head and not think too above or below the game. I try to understand mentally that things will happen throughout the game and that I shouldn’t get too overworked about it especially as a DB because the position I play and that CornerBacks and Safety’s play you might get beat on the play or give up a touch down or you might give up a big chunk and in the position that we play – we have to have short memories. We can’t let that one play affect the rest of the game. So those are just things that I do before and during the game.
AM: What was Super Bowl Sunday like for you and what has it been like since the game? Obviously, we shot your cover days after the big win and we’ve been watching your Instagram.
OM: The experience has been really great. Like being able to be in a Super Bowl and just being able to soak it in – it’s a blessing because so many people go through a whole season, 10 seasons, 16 seasons all the way to get to here and they don’t win a Super Bowl. As a player, you play the Super Bowl for many reasons. I feel like you play to make it to the Super Bowl, win the Super Bowl and then become a Hall of Famer. The fact that I got to experience that in my second year is something that I will not take for granted.
AM: You have great style – how would you define it? What do you wear when you’re just hanging out with friends or for a night out.
OM: With my friends, I just like to be comfortable. I wear a lot of joggers, a lot of sweats, nice comfy sandals, sweatshirts – I love sweatshirts like the one that I wore in the shoot, that’s the kind of things that I’m talking about.
When I go out, I’m a simple person. Obviously I like my figure and I like to take care of my body. I want to wear things that show that off whether I’m wearing slim fit shirts as well as slim fit and tapered jeans to show off my legs. Just something nice on my feet, whether they’re Yeezy’s, Timberland’s – any sneaker that looks neat and fit. My style is simple. I wear a lot of solid classic neutrals with a simple fit – nothing too extravagant.
AM: Now that you’re in the off season what are you thinking about and what goals are you setting to prepare for next year?
OM: My goals in terms of next season is that first, I have to get away from football. You work and you train for 8 months and then you have to go and take time to get away. I have really learned that in my time in the NFL. You have broken your body down to play and now you just need time to step back so that you can ease into it. I want to get my body right so that I can come correct in April. I can compete and everything I need to do but this year I am very focused on my body and mind being right emotionally and spiritually. This way I can perform at the level that I know I can and that I can show everybody else especially the Patriots organization that they didn’t make a mistake in picking me up and in giving me that chance.
AM: You’re based in Foxboro, where can we find you grabbing a meal, working out and shopping?
OM: Working out – I haven’t figured it out. I have a couple of places that I might try as I just got here. You can find me at the Patriots Place at Showcase Cinemas – I love the movies! I watch too many movies or playing video games or find me at the mall. Not even shopping, just walking around seeing things. I’m really observant and I like to see things.
I also wanted to say thank you for the interview and having us. I just want to thank everyone that helped me to get to this point and I don’t want to leave anybody out. To all the friends, coaches, everyone on this journey that has helped me out and you guys putting me in this magazine. I just want to say thank you!
ATHLEISURE MAG: We enjoyed having you a part of our cover shoot and we know that prior to being a sports agent, you also had a career professionally in football. Can you tell us about your athletic career and then what took place that led you to becoming an agent and then eventually launching your firm?
SEAN STELLATO: What a great question. Well I was born and bred in Salem, Massachusetts. I played highschool football there and had a very successful career there. Actually, the spinoff from my book, No Backing Down, came from my Junior football season which had a very diverse underdog team, a legendary coach that I always call a first generation Bill Belichick. As the team was projected to not win a game they found themselves undefeated playing another undefeated team. A major teacher strike shut down the school system – we ended up playing in front of 12,000 people and I had my career game on National Television and that was kind of my coming out party. After graduating Salem, I had the opportunity to go to a Boarding School for a year called the Gunnery Prep School.
I’m fully indebted to them because they taught me the value of education. They gave me the opportunity as it was such a political spinoff with the team after the Junior year, because of the coach being fired, that all of the kids who were going to be seniors were pretty much in harms way. The new person that they hired didn’t care. People were looking out for themselves and not for the kids. So a lot of the minority kids who had single parents, didn’t have a father figure to look out for them and it ultimately killed their careers. I was fortunate and was the Lone Ranger that was able to fly from the nest and get an opportunity – a true blessing was Gunnery Prep School – they gave me a full scholarship which was $33,000 to go there! I mean there were 8 of us together in a 3-bedroom house where I grew up in Witch Craft Heights in Salem. My mom was a stay at home mom and my parents didn’t have a college degree. They gave me that blessing and opportunity and I was on the basketball and football team there. I went onto Marist College – my mother doesn’t fly so I gave the Heisman to them. I did receive denial letters from a couple of schools and I still do read them a couple of times a year because if I let rejection define me, I wouldn’t have been doing what I am doing.
I played Division I basketball and football there which, is 45 mins north of the city on the Hudson. It was a beautiful campus and had a successful career there. My junior and senior years there I was the leading wide receiver for the 2000-2001 season. I finished there 9 straight semesters on the Dean’s List. The beauty of an education and just remembering the first time that I had been on an airplane to play basketball at Pepperdine – an amazing journey through college. But we played down in Florida after 9/11 about 10 days after that and I got scouted by an Arena Football coach and he ended up following up with me after the season and I had the opportunity to play 2 years professionally for the Arena Football League for 2002 and 2003. One of my head coaches for one of my teams is now the head coach at Purdue and he beat Ohio State this year.
You know, I saw the movie Jerry McGuire back in 1996 in high school and I fell in love with the movie. I thought about how cool it would be. I mean, as a football player, you think that you’re immortal and that you can play forever and I had to face that reality. I could have played in 2004 and I said, “I’m going to go hard on this sports agent thing.” I had 2 agents that I had hired and then I fired. I felt that there was this gap between how I wanted to represent players and the lack of transparency that I was fed when I played. I felt that I wanted to reshuffle this industry and threw my hat in the ring and got licensed late 2005. I didn’t know what I was doing and I spent a few years banging around on my own for a few years and then I partnered up with a firm and then I got exploited and in 2013, I was with the firm for a few years. We joined with a client each and then it grew into 10. I was flying our New Year’s Eve, Christmas Day signing guys getting exploited making pennies on the dollar. The night I got inducted into my high school Hall of Fame, I told my wife, “I’m not happy where I am in my career.” I told her that I wanted to have my own firm and she said, ”let’s draft the termination letter today.”
I walked away and I had signed a Non Compete so I had to walk away from all of those guys. I had one loyal client that said, “I signed with you, you’re my guy.” He never played a down in the NFL after that point and he said, “I’m leaving and coming with you.” Like Jerry McGuire walking out with Ron Tisdale, a receiver and goldfish – I walked out with an unproven long snapper and a pet boxer dog named Sly. I remember when I left that firm, they said that I would never make it in the industry. But my whole life people said that I was too small to play football, that I wouldn’t play Division I or play pro. I feed off of and that’s all I needed to hear and my wife was my witness and I put my head down and went to work.
I signed my first player, Bryan Braman, who won the Super Bowl last year, he kept me in business and I made a pact when I got into the business and I said I would never go to the SuperBowl unless I had a client in the Super Bowl, and the last 5 years I have had my guys every single year play in the Super Bowl. My drive to be an agent is to be the best and football lifted my soul when I would step onto the field. It brought me so much structure and joy to my family’s life and my life as well as the ability to have an education and to network with the ability to meet people and to interact. It's a special place in my heart. I have been inducted into 3 Hall of Fames which I am so proud of that as I was statistically not supposed to be here in terms of how I was raised, my size. I never let my greatest asset – my work ethic, down. That is what I stayed true to!
AM: What is your day like during the season vs off-season? For those players that you rep, how much contact to you have with the team and the league?
SS: My day to day – my mornings start off very early. I can only workout very early because my phone is always blowing up with 100s of calls and 100s of emails a day. That’s a big part of my lifestyle that I approach every day as I lift and I run. I get my mind right and I try to read a book every 2-3 weeks. I'm finishing my second book and it all comes down to time of year right? So obviously, if you have clients who won the Super Bowl, you just go balls to the walls to try to monetize and to expose them and align brands with them that are in line with their missions. In terms of post SuperBowl, when you win, you’re talking about shifting gears. So let me rewind.
In the fall, you’re talking about recruiting kids for the 2019 the following draft. You’re going to college games and evaluating films. At the same token, you’re servicing your guys with their needs and what they want. Then you have the guys that are on the street. You have to designate x amount of hours to make sure that they are employed. For the guys that are playing during the season, you have to make sure that you get them appearances for their marketing. Right when the season is over, you go into guys who are unrestricted free agents that are able to test the open market - so gauging what their value is and seeing which teams best suit their needs.
You’re constantly trying to work on your relationships with teams as that’s key. In terms of having that relationship and letting them know you have great guys and you’re not just throwing people at coaches. It’s 24/7 – 365. I don’t really call anytime that I travel a vacation because I am constantly fielding guys and am a hands on kind of guy. It’s how I believe I should run this.
AM: Is it hard for you to represent clients that are on different teams?
SS: I’ve got guys in a lot of different markets. It’s great to be able to interact with so many teams as no one usually stays with the same team – maybe Brady and a handful of others. Shuffling around is just human nature in the NFL especially with salary caps. With free agency, it’s a different landscape than what it was 20 years ago. That being said, it’s important that if you have guys on other teams where if – for contract extensions or just to broker deals – it’s new markets that are important because every market is different. My conversation with the Dallas Cowboys is different than the New England Patriots. Everyone has different core values and beliefs – obviously everyone wants to win in this league and to monetize opportunities as the league has crossed over to $15B in revenue. It’s a fine tuned machine.
AM: I’m sure you have a number of people who request to be represented by you. What process do you have in deciding whether someone will join your roster?
SS: I tell everyone that there is 1,440 minutes in a day and I have two lives, one as a sports agent with SES Sports as my infrastructure and I also have my family which is my wife and 4 kids. I try to keep that balance and sometimes I leave my self a little thin and I try to be better at that.
In terms of managing expectation. My phone is constantly ringing, when I first started I was the one seeking out guys and now I can cherry pick guys that I want to have. Obviously if you get a 1st or 2nd rounder, you don’t want to miss that opportunity. I think managing expectations, having that connection with a player who has the core values and beliefs that alignment is important. Some guys put a higher value on their skill set and it’s like having a house that you try to sell in the open market where you think it’s $2M and everyone else thinks it’s $1M – it’s going to be tougher to sell. You have to compromise, and you can’t sugarcoat it with your clients, you have to keep it real and be transparent with them and do what is in their best interest.
AM: What is a typical Sunday like for you during the season?
SS: A typical Sunday is impossible for me to be in every market. I have yet to be in every market on the same day. Last year in the Superbowl having 8 guys in the game – 5 in the Patriots and 3 on the Eagles – I mastered it that day! In terms of a typical Sunday, I try to at least see every player each year. If not I have the NFL package and thank God for cell phones! My Director of Football operations is phenomenal and he doesn’t take his eye off the ball. He’s always keeping me in the loop on things, from Social Media, research, staying current on guys and watching everybody. I take watching these guys very seriously. When I go to the Superbowl and people go as fans, it’s different, I go in as a business. I don’t change my preparation in terms of game rituals. I stick with them as a player as I do as an agent.
AM: What are those rituals?
SS: I make sure that I have the same things for breakfast every Sunday. I always say a prayer before kickoff. I kiss my crucifix. When I go to church that morning, I pray for each player individually. Sometimes I wear the same socks is he plays from one week to the next. I always have the same snack before kickoff or during the game. During the Super Bowl, I will put my phone in the cup holder and not touch anything until something happens. During the AFC championship, I was very unprepared weather wise, but when I am suited up, I always put my baseball hat on and turn it backwards and pretended I was playing Little League Baseball with a rally cap on. I didn’t move it until they won it in overtime. My wife thinks I’m crazy with my superstitions, but I don’t know. I get superstitious on certain things and whatever works – works for you right?
AM: With this last Super Bowl win, what was that like for you and what is it like that you’re a part of these guys careers?
SS: Just surreal and gratifying. I tell everybody that when you have that baby and hold it in your hands, it’s a life changing moment. When you have these players and you have such a passion for football like I do, I took them as far as I could take them and see them taking it further it just touches my heart like no other. This one was the most special win, because clients like Jonathan Jones – he led the defense in tackles, he had a sack and contributed so much to that win. Ryan Allen could have been the MVP of the game. Brandon King, he’s just an absolute beast and Obi with his story of how he ended up here.
AM: His story is incredible.
SS: With Obi, we had 4 teams to pick through and I don’t ever like to take credit, but I really pushed and stressed the fact that he needed to be a Patriot and not a Saint or a Chief. We picked the winning lottery ticket there.
This one in particular meant more because I felt like my guys contributed more to that particular win. I had bigger roles and obviously in my mind, it has increased more in the last few months. I mean last year, it was special because of Bryan – he pretty much kept me in business and kept the lights on in 2014 when I was a year into it. It’s been remarkable. You want to see all of your clients win a ring. Obi got his this year, Bryan got his last year, Trey Sullivan got one last year. This year I didn’t have any players on the opposing team. Last year I felt bad for my Patriots clients that lost, but on the same token, I felt good for Bryan. For the Falcons/Patriots Super Bowl, I had 1 client on the Falcons whose family was completely devastated and my Patriot clients pulled off the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history. It’s been a blessing to be affiliated with history. The Patriots, whether you love them or hate them, are remarkable in what they do and they have done what no other franchise has been able to do in these times. You can talk about the Cowboys, Steelers and Green Bay Packers, they did not do it in a time period like this. There was no free agency, there was no salary cap. It’s a completely different animal today. What Belichik and Brady are doing – it’s remarkable. I’ve been able to grow up in this area and be able to model and build a sports agency around and learning from them – how they negotiate, how they do things at the organization to how I manage the kids’ careers.
AM: With the draft coming up, what is your role for that and what do you do?
SS: It’s to be a confidant to the players that I represent and to know that they are not going to be a guinea pig. To know that they are with someone who is not going to reinvent the wheel. Being with someone who has the relationships in the league who is going to sell them and brand them organically to make them successful in the NFL. It's a very trying long time, but at the same token it’s a lot of time and emails – the combine is a tremendous amount of leg time getting in front of people. It’s constantly selling, planning, promoting, These calls build for the combine for their pro day so they can be successful and play in this league. It’s a process that I take very seriously – you want to have all the guys that you represent drafted, but at the end of the day – you manage their expectations and you hold their hand and say, “hey, if you’re undrafted. That’s ok. Some of the greatest players that ever played this game went undrafted.” That’s sometimes your destiny and your fate.
AM: When we were on set for the photoshoot, we enjoyed hearing about a number of projects that you are working on outside of your life as a sports agent. Can you share them with our readers here at Athleisure Mag?
SS: My first book, No Backing Down, which is a human triumph story on 3 levels – my personal story, legendary coach and our team, has a forward written by Doug Flutie and it was endorsed by Bill Belichik, Evander Holyfied, Mike Ditka, Washington Post, NY Daily News and it goes on. It’s an incredible book and it’s now in it’s second edition. The screenwriter/producer of Hoosiers and Rudy will finish the script for the movie shortly as we’re in the very early stages of that, but I like my chances with such an established and well known screenwriter. If you go to SeanStellato.com you can order the book and obviously you can get it on Kindle via Amazon. I’m going to have a Draft party on April 25th that is going to be a great night if you’re in the Boston area as it will be at the Ferncroft Country Club as it will be a chance to meet with some of the Super Bowl Champions – Jonathan, Obi, Brandon and some of the college kids. It also includes a Celebrity Golf tournament that will raise money for the Junior Golf Fund. We’ll have one of th e top Sushi Chefs in the world appearing and providing phenomenal sushi and we’ll have good Italian wines. The Draft party will also reveal the title of the children’s book. I love to read and as a kid, I read a lot of books that I couldn’t relate to.
July 19th, will be the release of my children’s book which will also be a magical day! It will be held at the historical Hawthorne Hotel in Salem, MA which opened in 1925. This book is a Friday Night Lights meets Harry Potter and it is a magical football story that is mostly fiction, but there is a non-fiction component to it. It takes place in my home city which I am excited about. One of the main characters is my daughter who is suffering from psoriatic arthritis and I am looking to bring awareness to this condition. It will be an evening with some of my clients and we will celebrate a post Super Bowl party as well as to unveil the book which is going to be a magical night for everyone.
Our football camp takes place July 21st and it’s our 12th year doing this. I try to make it Disney World for a day for a young girl or boy where they can attend this non-contact camp. The day is hosted by my clients and myself and they have an amazing day with goodie bags, they get autographs and they get their jerseys signed. They compete and the winners get awarded cool swag. They leave feeling so inspired and uplifted and that they can do anything and that is the message that we try to convey. No Backing Down isn’t just a book title, it’s our motto. It’s for every man, woman and child regardless of your gender. It’s for someone with a vision, someone that maybe they have been denied and told that they can’t do that they can be relentless in the pursuit of following their dreams. That is what we convey to everyone that comes through these doors. It’s my baby and it’s one day a year which takes 6 months of preparation that we try to go all out for the kids.
AM: How many kids would you say are at this camp?
SS: We get anywhere from 100-200.
The thing about this camp is, we may not have the household marquis huge names coming. But I have blue collar guys that can relate to these kids because there aren’t a lot of kids on the planet that are going to be 6’5” and 275lbs like Gronk. Someone like Jonathan Jones who is 5’9” and 180lbs and flies like the wind or like myself, I was an underdog, but if I can do it – anyone can do it. Sometimes you just need that person to just push you along to give them that advice. They can be advised and pushed in the right direction. That’s a great day obviously!
AM: How do you take time for yourself so you have what you need to fuel others?
SS: It’s a good point. I’m a stickler on my diet and on my preparation. It’s all about those endorphins, whether I’m jogging or in a swimming pool. I get a high when I get to spend time with my kids, see my daughter to play basketball, ballet or gymnastics. Occasionally, in the summer I do try to get some downtime and I love the beach and the ocean to get a little Vitamin D. Every year I spend time to take my family down to Disney World, which is a bit more exhausting than a true vacation ha! A true joy and high for me is giving back and touching lives like going to an orphanage or a Children’s Hospital. When I was trying to make it as an agent when I was nearly out of the business, I used to pray that if I was allowed to do what I do then I would make sure to give Him the glory and honor Him every day and would help kids. I stayed true to that promise when He blessed me and anointed me with this skill set to make a difference in this industry. I go to the chiropractor 2 times a week, Dr Garrity in Naherty, MA is phenomenal and he keeps me so right. My wife is an amazing cook. I'm fortunate when I’m not on the road so much, that I get those homemade meals! I’m young enough – I want to leave a mark on the life and blessings that I have got! I’m so passionate about what I am doing. I know that I always think about my ancestors who came over from a boat from Calabria, Italy with only a couple of meals and a suitcase to come and take that and run with it. I want to preserve their legacy and that is the true joy. I’m passionate about my Italian heritage and what my family went through so that I can do what I do now.
AM: Since you travel so much, what are 3 items that you always have on you/you’re carry on that you have when you’re on the road?
SS: Great point! I have to have Jesus Calling my little meditation and prayer book that has scriptures for every day that my Mother in Law gave me. It really starts my day off right. I carry a journal with me wherever I go. My wife laughs at me, but I don’t consider myself a writer, although I have written 2 books – I never know when that next thought of book might come into my mind. I just shut down and take an hour or two to write. I’d hate to forget something that – I mean Walter Payton who I loved, used to have old school pictures of his family. So I have 16 pictures in an album in my portfolio – my wife, my kids, my dog, my parents – at the end of the day, I reflect on that when I need it. This journey isn’t all vertical and I have people that care about me, love me and support me – it’s not just for the man in the mirror. Those are the 3 and I feel like I missed something but I know it’s only three and I hope that they are ok ha!
AM: It’s what you do and it’s more than ok!
OBI MELIFONWU PG 16, 32, 36 | NATALIE FEDNER David Bowie Tank | G STAR Denim | FERRAGAMO Belt | YEEZY ADIDAS Sneakers | PG 18 - 23, 29, 30 +_ BACK COVER | CLAUDE RUSSELL NYC Zipped Mesh Jacket | G STAR Denim | ETHIKA Underwear | FERRAGAMO Belt | PG 38 | TED BAKER Sweatshirt | G STAR Denim | YEEZY ADIDAS Sneakers | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS Super Bowl Champions Player's Sweatshirt |
JONATHAN JONES COVER, PG 40 - 47 | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL Game Day Player's Jersey | PG 16, 18, 26 - 37 | TED BAKER Blazer | HANRO Tee | ALL SAINTS Jeans | OFF-WHITE Sneakers |
BRANDON KING COVER, PG 40 - 48 | NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS SUPER BOWL GAME DAY Player's Jersey | Adidas | PG 16 -33, 37 | TED BAKER Short Sleeve Woven | KINROSS Cashmere Blazer | EMBELLISHMENT Jeans | PG 34 | KINROSS Cashmere Ombre Sweater |
SERAFINA TRIBECA FOOD CREDITS
Throughout the cover shoot, we shot within Serafina Tribeca's restaurant and in addition to the New England Patriots' Super Bowl Champions and their sports agent, Sean Stellato - we also had Christian Ferrara, the General Manager of the eatery included in our shoot who also shared a few dishes that appeared in the shoot as well as suggestions on what you should try when stopping in for a bite, wine or a few cocktails:
. 18oz Ribeye
Grass fed Ribeye simply marinated in extra virgin olive oil, pepper, touch of garlic and rosemary for three days. After that, naturally grilled without adding any butter.
It comes with crispy and flavorful roasted potatoes and string beans.
. Rigatoni Bolognese
Rigatoni al dente with the finest homemade 100% beef sauce.
. Spaghetti Carbonara
As our tradition says, we only use crispy pancetta, Parmigiano Reggiano 24 months aged and Pecorino, eggs and crushed black pepper.
. Pizza al Tartufo Nero
Our secret recipe made from a bouquet of Italian cheeses, black truffle carpaccio and white truffle oil.
. Short Ribs
Slow cooked (4.5 hours) short ribs in our Chianti Riserva red wine, mixed vegetables and homemade gravy sauce Served with saffron risotto and Tuscan mushroom porcini crostini.
IG Stay in the loop with what the New England Patriots Super Bowl LIII Champions are up to: Jonathan Jones @GetItOnJones31, Brandon King @_King205, Obi Melifonwu @Obi_1nOnly, their sports agent Sean Stellato @SeanStellato and one of our favorite places to dine @SerafinaTribeca.
This month's issue focuses on love in many forms. When we talked with music producer, rapper, composer, philanthropist and businessman Drumma Boy, it was clear that he has a love for music, fashion and the ability to bring people together. We chatted with him about how his life started infusing with diversity in music, the important role that producers play in Artist Development, his upcoming projects with Too $hort, Musiq Soulchild, his musical work with the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies, his business in Atlanta and his must hav3s that you will find in his studio if you're ever working with him.
ATHLEISURE MAG: Clearly music heritage runs in your family. What was it like to be infused with such insights and talents growing up?
DRUMMA BOY: Coming from my mom, she used to always tell me stories about plugging the record album into the speaker and playing Isaac Hayes and all of that. I was young, but from her doing that, I would have these dreams of hearing music and when you would put your hands over your ears it sounds like this beautiful sound. Like you know it’s coming from somewhere, but you don’t know where! So in real life, even right now – there is a beat swimming in my ears. There is music in my ear and I have to transfer that to actuality which is what the recording process, beat making and all of that is. And to me, that’s the writing of music.
That’s the best way that I can understand Beethoven. By losing your hearing, you can still hear. Your brain can hear. Even if I muted my ears or covered them where I couldn’t hear anything – I could still hear the music. That process transfers into writing music.
AM: What was the moment that you realized that producing was going to be the way that you worked musically?
DB: That inspiration came from my brother, Ensayne Wayne who was older than me and was recently shot and killed on Feb 10, 2018. I remember being 12 or 14 and he took me into the studio with him and he was working with Three 6 Mafia and all of these different artists through Memphis. Just going through all of these different studios was amazing. I remember that the first studio I went into, it was like I was in a spaceship. I was like, “man all of these lights!” I knew that if I could transfer the orchestral knowledge and the ability to write, compose and to arrange and to put that with this Hip Hop – I could have my own sound! That’s how I came into the game making beats.
I was motivated by Ensayne Wayne, Jazze Pha, and a lot of the legendary cats that were doing it at that time.
AM: How would you define your style?
DB: I call it a pot of gumbo, there are so many different styles of the music in it. Mama would make the best from the scraps. She had some leftover chicken, black eyed peas and whatever and cooked it down in one pot and stretched the food out. Like gumbo, my style is a little bit of blues, a little bit of country, a little splash of rhythm and blues, and you have a bit of hip hop and a pinch of orchestra. Just all of these genres of music like jazz, bluegrass, funk, oldies but goodies. I loved Isaac Hayes, operas and orchestras as well as plays and then I could run out into the street and hear Three 6 Mafia. Then I could go downtown to hear the blues like BB King. There was so much history musically that it was just destined.
AM: What artists and groups have inspired you beyond a lot of those that you have mentioned? Do you get inspiration from EDM artists?
DB: Yeah I mean, I always respected the DJ. I DJ’d parties when I was coming up and I would do things here and there. As a DJ, it’s about spreading good energy because people just want to have a good time, dance and have fun. As a DJ, when you have that repertoire and that ear for what people really want to hear you can infuse that energy. So for me David Guetta, Tiesto, Flosstradamus.
When I met Flosstradamus in Atlanta, they told me that I needed to get in on EDM and doing my first song Hulk Smash Remix which hit a million streams on Spotify – it’s a blessing to get that genuine love with independents and pushing heavy on that party side. When I first released Hulk Smash Remix, Dan Bilzerian picked up the record and put it behind one of his videos and I was like, “damn this is my first time even playing around with EDM!” It was just mad love!
AM: What’s involved in producing? How do you work with your artists to your vision and the artists’ vision come together in a true collaboration?
DB: Well when I say produce music, I mean it starts with the vibe, the music and the energy of the room. Sometimes the artist may be pacing back and forth even when the music starts playing. Then we might come and bring in more energy like singing a vibe or coming up with concepts with adding in words here or there. Throw a bar or two in there. I mean producing – I look at it like I’m in therapy. The artist may not be in the mood to do the job in a certain way. I’m telling them that we need to go about it in this way or that because that is what the record label is saying. I’m telling them that they need to do something uptempo, but they may have come out of the hood and they’re about Trap. T hey may have negativity going on in their lives, they’re frowning, frustrated, they’re on the phone arguing and I’m like, “hey put the phone down – let’s get some drinks, we might have to go to the strip club, or whatever to get your mind off of that so that we can take the good energy and go back to the studio.
So now it’s been 7 hours, but it comes down to that one moment that you can capture. As a producer, we capture moments and when that artists gets into that rhythm – we capture that. That will be the best presentation that will be the best presentation that you record and then you will study that to see that it’s a hit or a smash and as you perform, it’s a completely different ballgame when game when you do that. As a producer, we’re really about artist development, enhancement, choreography, concept, theme, messages, stories etc and really giving that dedication to a successful artist.
AM: What artists are you working with that are coming out this year that you’re really excited to work with?
DB: Right now, we’re heavily working with my label Drum Squad Records. We just signed an artist Kdogg, 17 out of Memphis. He just comes from the mud, that bottom and you can just hear his struggle in his music. We released his single on Apple Music that you can download now called No Turning Back. We’re also working with Scott King a very cool artist out of Atlanta whose voice is his message. Also go get The Pimp a Too $hort Album that I just did 2 tracks on: Ain’t My Girlfriend and Tables. There are so many different artists it’s hard to say. I just went in with Kevin Gates. We’re working on DJ Drama’s new album – there’s no telling who he will drop on a track. He might pull an artist from Toronto, another from NY and an artist from the West Coast. I just got off the phone with Jeezy, he’s working on some exclusive things so I’m definitely excited about that as well. I’m all over the place!
There are so many great songs I’m working on with songwriters, I’m working on 2-3 albums and I’m about to drop my album, My Brother’s Keeper – another rap project that gives more details into my family and how we plan to continue the legacy of my brother. It will drop on 2-23 which is Insane Wayne Day in the city of Memphis. I’m also executive producing Musiq Soulchild. When I say that it has been some of the most amazing music I have made in my life! I’m very excited about that as well!
AM: Who have you yet to work with that you would like to work with?
DB: I’d say John Legend. I’ve always wanted to work with him and I’m a real jazz and R&B hip cat. I haven’t had the opportunity to really showcase my expertise in that world. Beyonce would be another one as well. Rhianna is also in there too!
AM: We know that you work with the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies. How did this come about and how do you approach the projects that you create with them season to season?
DB: Man with the Memphis Grizzlies they just wanted energy and me and DJ Paul did a rap project collaboration back and forth called Clash of the Titans and we did a song called We Don’t Bluff, which is the message behind Memphis. We don’t take no shit and it was just an amazing run for the city and the people don’t understand how big the Grizzlies are for our youth in our community because there aren’t too many things to do. They took Liberty Land which is an amusement park, we don’t have any water parks, not too many community centers or things of that nature. So there’s not a lot of things to do for the youth and one of those things is to go to a Memphis Grizzlies game. So to be able to create a record like We Don’t Bluff, to sit floorside with them and it’s been a 3-4 year process – it’s been a blessing. To be able to support them and to just believe and to share that message that someone can get it done is great.
AM: We also know that you have worked with Grey Goose – how did that come about?
DB: We have a lot of chemistry and a lot of love. They reached out and wanted to show some love so although it’s not an official deal, they respect what I do and appreciate it. It’s been a relationship that continues to expand and I am open to future opportunities with them as well? It’s a great non exclusive relationship.
AM: What is the House of Fresh, what do you carry there and how did it come about?
DB: The House of Fresh – well one of my first jobs when I was 14/15 was selling shoes and they put me in the Com bat Zone which was where the cheap and ugly shoes were. Nobody wanted to buy those $9.99 shoes and the retailer put you there first because they felt if you could do well there, then you could make it to the Shoe Pit. Everybody wants to buy the Jordans and other hot shoes that are in that area.
In a week, I probably sold the most $9.99 shoes because I was good at selling in the Combat Zone. So they saw that and let me go to the Shoe Pit. Within a month, I was the number 1 sales person. You got a $500 bonus every time you came in as the #1 sales person. That incentive made me push for it. I did it by selling accessories with them. You came in for shoes, but I said let’s dress that up and I let them know about sneaker cleaners, hats, etc. When you come into the store expecting to spend $200, you leave spending $500 or $700.
That energy, I liked it and I liked making people happy. Touching people through music has always been my things, but fashion is also the other. I started selling my own clothes because people wanted what I was wearing. When you look at my pictures on Google, you’ll see me in Drumma Squad gear. My own custom, extra large waist and oversized clothes. We would have it all over and people would buy it. I used to sell it out of my trunk and one day I thought what could I do with the relationships that I had with these clothing labels? So many of the lines would send me free packages. I knew I was bigger than a sales rack and a walking billboard. I looked at how I could expand the relationship and I saw a location and said if I can get it, then that's it. House of Fresh is an actual house that is on a busy street in the middle of Midtown Atlanta with a lot of walking traffic. I called Reebok, this one and that one and they said that they would send their shoe reps in. My music relationships with Ludacris, 2 Chainz played well for love and support as well.
I’m also excited that we’re opening Pre-Game, a Bar, Grill and Lounge. It’s on 899 Martin Luther King Jr Dr SW in Atlanta. It’s right down the street from the Mercedes Benz and we plan on being open right before the Super Bowl.
AM: What are three key things that you truly believe in in terms of the success of your career?
DB: I believe in the importance of watering relationships. You get so many contacts, but it’s important to circle back from time to time to ask them how they are doing. I love to share the message of loving practice. Loving to get up every day and to practice - whatever it is that you want to do and enjoy that process. It’s the ultimate confidence builder. I also believe in having multiple revenue streams of income. I feel that these things have been instrumental in my success.
AM: Your hands are in so many pots, how do you take time for yourself?
DB: Well it’s weird. The music saves me. I’m up every morning 8/8:30am and I start out with breakfast and getting the proper nutrients, fruits and of that nature and I just think/brainstorm on what I want to accomplish for the day. I start getting phone calls and I attack the priorities. I zoom in on the top things that I have to do and I have that schedule. Usually House of Fresh, Pre-Game Lounge and everything that I have to do business wise is orchestrated between 9am - 2:30pm. By 2:30/3pm I’m all studio. I’m not so much on the phone so people can just leave a message and I’m there until 2:30/3am. I come home, I get about 3-4 hours of sleep and then repeat. It’s a dedicated process, but I find it very effective.
AM: What are must hav3s that you always have in the studio when you’re working?
DB: I would say company is one thing
that you have to confirm – ladies in particular – to know when you have a hit. It’s when they move or not period point blank. If someone says, “ooo I like this.” You know we have a hit. When you get a lot of chatter and no one is paying attention, then that just confirms that I need to go to the next beat. Another thing is candles. We’ve been supporting a brand, 1122 Candles for the simple fact that they’re natural and soy – there are no chemicals when they burn. They also have a great scent! My third thing is the fun – I have to have fun. That’s one thing I do. I’ll do something silly or just try something out for no reason and that turns out into something incredible.
AM: In Atlanta, where can we find you grabbing a cocktail/meal, working out and shopping?
DB: I work out at Heat Gym. I work out with my trainer shout out to Mr Shut Up and Train on Instagram. As far as grabbing a meal you may catch me at the STK or at Paschal’s. It’s a really well known Southern wine and dine spot. For shopping, you will find me at Phipps Plaza as I love that it’s exclusive and you can get right to the point and get out without being stopped by too many people. Every now and then I might run into Lenox Square to stop by Zara and see what they’ve got.
PHOTOS COURTESY | Drumma Boy
When it's coming from a place of love and concern, we're all about a straight shooter. We've been team Dr. V since we first saw her years ago on BRAVO's LA Shrinks, where we were introduced to this Clinical Psychiatrist that was never shy to tell you how it is and to call you on your crap! We continued to follow her as she appeared on a number of daytime, primetime and reality TV show spots, including as a host on WE TV's Marriage Bootcamp. We took some time to talk with Dr. V about her job as a Clinical Psychologist, the power and importance of communication, her new book Bad Advice and of course being on Marriage Bootcamp.
ATHLEISURE MAG: We fell in love with you on BRAVO’s LA Shrinks as well as on the The Real Housewives of NJ and on WE TV’s Millionaire Matchmaker and Marriage Bootcamp! Can you tell us how you came to Clinical Psychology as a career and then how you were able to parlay that into you being on Reality, Daytime and PrimeTime TV?
DR. V: You know I knew from a very young age that I was very equipped to solve problems. So I kind of went from the stoop to the screen. As I sit here talking with you, I think about how I used to sit on my neighborhood stoop and solve problems. It was a very working class neighborhood where all the houses were connected – row homes. So it was the kind of place where people would gather out front in front of people’s stoops.
I remember being super young like 4-5-6 and hearing people discuss their lives in very intimate ways! I mean a lot of shit goes down on the stoop for sure! So I would listen and it seemed like people would have this idea that somehow their problems were unsolvable. At a very young age, call it naivete or hopefulness, I never saw it that way. I always thought that the problems could be solved and I would go into my own head and solve the problem.
Like I’d be like, “wait let me tell you how shit goes – this is not a big problem.” I would go inside myself and be like, this is easy guys, it can’t be this hard. By the way, this is very different than giving advice. Because when you’re young, you’re able to use and even when you’re older – you use what’s called Executive Functioning in your brain. It’s when you’re able to re-engineer problems. I think that at the end of the day to get back to your first question, I had a very early development of that in my brain of Executive Functioning and being able to see problems and than rearrange them, which is different then giving advice. I don’t even like to give advice by the way – I stay away from it.
AM: We like that you make that distinction because hearing you say that – definitely is a difference and to do so at such a young age and to understand that is phenomenal.
DR. V: It’s the idea that solutions and advice are different. I think that when you come from it at that perspective, how can we work together to find a solution as opposed to “I’m the expert, I know better than you and you don’t know what you’re talking about.” Fuck that – we can work together and find solutions. I think that at the end of the day, that’s how I got started in Psychology and it was at that young age – I knew I was able to re-engineer my own problems and other people’s problems.
Taking that a step further, I sought after higher education. You had pointed out Clinical Psychology which is different the Counseling Psychology and other forms. Clinical Psychology just means that it’s research based and as a science lover, I love doing research. But at the end of the day, it’s really just that I was dumb enough to take the longer route – that’s really what’s happening! You tack on another couple of years for your dissertation, so a lot of doing the same things, just the degree of Clinical Psychology which is a PHD has more of a research focus where Counseling Psychology has more of a counseling focus – talk therapy. So that’s really the only difference there. I love research, I love doing it, collecting other people’s research. Anyone of those degrees, they can also share that same love of research – it’s just required as a PHD in Clinical Psychology to do the research for the degree.
So how I found myself, I was there on the stoop re-engineering everyone’s problems and I gained enough confidence to tell people what if you did this or what if you did that? And I think that coming from a very working class Italian neighborhood where there was a sense of community, the volume was turned up and we never had enough of anything but love and emotions – I think I developed a way of communicating that I had to be super clear. I had to make my point super clear and it has to land! Because for Uncle Rocky to take in my advice or my solutions – it has to land. Because of that, that was Prime TV talk as it has to land and it has to make an impact. If not, it’s not entertaining or there is no reveal or whatever entertainment words we use.
I think that is how I find myself in front of the screen and I battle on a regular basis – my own shyness. I know it doesn’t come off that way, but I am a very shy person.
AM: We would have never guessed that!
DR. V: Oh yeah! I am incredibly shy and I have had to really talk myself through my own levels of courage. Obviously as I have gotten older, it’s gotten easier as I will be 47 and I am sitting in this bath of “I don’t give a fuck” – but I battle this on a daily basis in front of the camera. I battle this by getting so into the process that I forget that the camera is there. I immerse myself into the person that we are talking to or the project that we are dealing with and I really have to forget that the cameras are there and I am able to cope better with my shyness and I can hone in on the person I am talking to?
AM: How important is communication with the person that you are talking to whether it’s a significant other, a friend etc?
DR V: Well communication defines the relationship. It is the key to every aspect of our lives. Communication, if we were to think of it as our form of expression and creativity, it leaves us room to be able to take in feedback about our communication. Your sense of self expression isn’t my way of self expression. The way that you communicate is not the way that I would creatively do so. The words that you choose, the metaphors that you give and how you choose to communicate with someone else is really quite magical. Communication and how we communicate in the world defines who we are, defines the relationship, defines our friendships and really is the most important ingredient in life!
I don’t like when people say, “that person can’t communicate effectively.” It just means that you can’t hear their message. Communication is co-created. We don’t realize that as humans we help each other feel things. As we sit on the phone with one another, we help each other feel things and this is what sets us a part. We’re almost contagious to each other. Communication seems like it’s such a simple word, but to me it’s more then just that word and it embodies so much more! It embodies the self expression, how you perceive yourself and others – it’s creative. It’s a creative endeavor.
AM: It’s a great point as for years we use to say, “this person isn’t an effective communicator.” One day we thought, we should try to figure out what this person is saying as they are making a point, they seem to believe it, perhaps we’re just not getting it. So we started re-engineering. Hearing that this person said x and then trying to get the meaning behind it really makes us understand what you just shared as they had a different method and that it is a creative process to understand what is being said.
DR. V: Right and then from that place, you’re able to go to where I excel with solutions! You’re able to find the solution. If someone isn’t communicating effectively if we use that word, you’re immediately put on your heels, you’re set off, you’re turned off – when you categorize it in that way. We need to be more curious and ask more questions instead of having this knee jerk judgement. There is nothing more that makes things go wrong then taking a cruise on the SS Judgmental! Once people begin judging each other, things go wrong. When we get curious and ask questions, you’re better able to understand the person you’re talking to. If you’re curious in a genuine and relaxed way – I have been in situations where I was curious but being a bitch and I was asking questions only to hide my annoyance and that wasn’t good! But when you do it genuinely, that person gets curious too and then they relax too!
So when we talk about communication, it’s obviously one of my favorite topics – I see it differently. Usually when people are bringing it up, they mean it in a, “we just don’t communicate well” kind of way. That’s when I say, “we have to ask more questions.” We’re allowed to help each and other. My husband and I have been together for 22 years and I think it was about 5 years in where I would create narratives for him. I would write him in an email, which is a little condescending haha – I’m not going to lie. This would take place during an argument where he would go to his respective work and I would go to my respective work and I would say let me help you. In quotes I would write what I wanted to hear and he would write back, “wow I didn’t know it was that easy as I would have said that to you. I just couldn’t find those words and didn’t know the words you wanted to hear.” This would go on for 3-4 years about what I needed to hear. A lot of people would say, “that’s not genuine – he should know what you need to hear.” But no, not at all. Sometimes it’s ok to help people figure out how to love you. Because that is a creative endeavor. Many people say that men and women have different language styles, but I don’t believe that. I think everyone wants the same thing. Both men and women want to be loved and to love – everyone wants it. How people get there is very different and men aren’t pushed or taught to be emotional leaders, “boys don’t cry” – this sort of toxic masculinity has infiltrated our society to a point where it has stopped men’s growth to express how they’re feeling. Men get this bad wrap for not expressing how they are feeling and women feel like they have to consistently be the emotional leaders or that we’re all emotional brains and we’re crazy – no it’s just that you don’t understand her – she’s not crazy.
AM: We were going to ask about the difference in love languages between men and women. But we like hearing how you were able to articulate what you said and what you wanted to hear reminds us that when we're talking to our significant other, we’ll say that we know you said x, but what I actually here is y. This makes the conversation a lot longer to break down the components of what’s said vs felt vs what we should do.
DR V: Right it becomes a creative endeavor. When you’re saying what you heard and what was felt it actually entails a vulnerability. So not only are you attempting to have better communication, but your partner is learning about you, who you are, what makes you tick and your deepest vulnerabilities which invites them to do the same. When we talk about men and women and their differences, men are not able to show their vulnerabilities as a society. They are uninvited to that party usually. So when they get with someone who is an emotional and has a creative expression of how they use language and are able to communicate what you feel, these men are like, what the fuck?
I have so much empathy for that struggle and form of expression and I don’t believe that we’re talking in different languages. Everyone knows what it’s like to be sad, hurt or to feel vulnerable and both men and women feel that. It’s how we express those emotions that matter.
AM: With us being firmly in the New Year, a lot of people are looking at their resolutions, being their best selves etc. What is the best way for people to optimize their lives without feeling the pressures of changes that may not have taken place or come out the way that they had hoped?
DR. V: Wow well patience is it’s own kind of confidence. It takes patience with other people and ourselves to attain goals. It’s a trust in your self and in the process. If you have fallen off of the wagon or have fucked up, it’s never wrong to start again. It’s always right to start again!
AM: So you released Bad Advice last fall. What led you to writing this and tell us more about this book!
DR. V: Look, I was just tired of hearing things repeated back to me – bad advice. Theories are very important! How we walk through the world and how we define our world is through theories and words. If those theories aren’t correct and are in fact, scientifically wrong – where does that leave us? I was inspired to write this as I’m just irreverent in general and I love to punch holes in things. I just got tired of hearing these one liners that seemed to have blown up even more so on the Internet like: “Just be yourself”, “You can’t love anyone until you love yourself”, “Expectations lead to disappointment” or “Follow your bliss” – it’s like birds flying! Because we’re passing around this bullshit more and more, I got curious about it. Is it really true that you can’t love anyone until you love yourself? Is that true? In the event that you need to hear, just be yourself – does that help? Is it helpful? Do expectations lead to disappointment – is that true – I got really curious! I found these statements and of course, I have my own hypothesis. I collected pieces of Bad Advice that enjoy the shit out of me and I debunked them in the book with heart and humor and it’s a super fun read. It’s one of those books where my hope is you get done reading it and you say, “you’ve never thought of it that way.” Then I have done my job as an author. My favorite books were always those that I would close them and be like, “Oh my God I never thought of it that way – that is so interesting.” You’re able to affect how people view the world.
AM: How long did it take for you to put that together?
DR. V: I would say that while the writing process was 2 years, it’s a lifelong project for me. There were so many pieces of Bad Advice that I didn’t include that I am still collecting them.
AM: Will there be a part two?
DR. V: Yes! I feel that I have been doing this my whole life. I am a very curious person and I always ask myself, how do I know this to be true and forget about bad advice – I’m just curious about the world. What we know – how do we know this to be true and forget about bad advice. Who is the messenger – who is saying it, why are we saying it and who is coming from? I ask myself things like this all the time.
AM: How can someone identify when bad advice is being given to them?
DR V: When it denies your humanity. When it denies what you feel. For example, “Nobody can make you feel bad without your permission” – that’s a chapter in the book. That is like the worse advice that I have ever heard. I get it. My mom used to say it to me when people would make fun of my name. We say it because we want to help people but what it does – I mean when was the last time you gave someone permission to hurt your feelings?
AM: Um never!
DR. V: EXACTLY! Like I will give you permission to hurt me? It doesn’t make sense. So when it denies your humanity and how you’re feeling then you know it’s bad advice!
AM: You’re so right. I mean I can see why we say it because we’ve all heard it from other people who meant it from a good place. But when you think about it, it’s kind of taking a knock at you and you’re internalizing it!
DR. V: You’re right and so for a split second, you’re put in a an area of denial and those emotions come back double fold because you’re trying to hold back from what you really feel. When it comes to relationships, “you can’t really love anyone until you love yourself.” Look, we are meant to love people that is what humans do. So you’re going to love people and your self doesn’t give a fuck about what you think of you. It also creates a “series of events” first I love me, then I love you it implies that love is linear and it’s not – it’s co-created. But we hear love yourself and we’re all the while being conditioned to self hate! Self hate is very real, but the concept of self love – no one tells you how to love yourself. Do you know why? It’s because it’s impossible to love yourself the way that you would love someone else because it’s not supported by brain circuitry. You’re going to love other people and that’s just what will happen – it’s what we do. It denies your humanity – you will love people regardless – you may not love them well, but that’s not what we’re talking about.
AM: How do you prepare for your work on WE TV’s Marriage Bootcamp, especially with all of the different personalities that are involved? How do you ultimately get them to the relationships that they desire?
DR. V: Well bigger personalities require bigger jolts. They require different methods. So, the goal of Marriage Bootcamp is to provide a cellular experience which jolts the system. What I love about the show is that my goal isn’t to keep the couple together. It’s my hope, but it’s about choice. Is this the person that you should be with? It’s about re-engineering that problem – is this the person for you? With all the evidence given to you over the last 10 days, do you want to be with this person? It’s about giving the couples the information they need about themselves and the relationship and asking them to make a choice.
My hope is that they do, but then again staying together is not always the right choice. It may be that they need to live a part. This is what I love about the show – our stakes aren’t in whether the couples stay together, but that the right choice is being made for the person and the couple.
How I prepare for the show, well before those 10 days, I get a lot of sleep. I don’t sleep for 10 days!
AM: We’ve been a fan of the show for years, but we can only imagine how it must be to be there in your position. With such big personalities how do you take the space you need so that you can do the best work for them?
DR. V: Well I’ll tell you. I have been in the field for – I started volunteering at Mt Sinai at 20 – I’ve been doing it a long time, 25 years. You really do learn how to separate yourself and it came naturally over time for me. I know when I need to restore myself and when I begin to become a judgey asshole. I’ll say wow, “I really need to take a break because this person is really getting on my fucking nerves!” Because you can’t help people if you can’t find something to love about them. That is the truth. You have to find something about them that you love and that you like. If you don’t like them – you can’t help them. It’s an incredibly professional and profound thing to admit that this person is tapping into something in me that I don’t like. I need to take a step back and to restore myself and grow from that. That’s what I love about the work because I am consistently growing and being pushed to my own limits season after season after season. I love that – whatever field can I grow and learn in a fun and chaotic way haha!
AM: Everytime we see that you’re back for another season we’re like she’s still hanging in there!
DR. V: Haha Dr. V is still alive! It’s funny because when people are put in a therapeutic environment when they may attack me or say something to me – I feel their pain. They are really talking to pieces of themselves. I feel like I have a deep empathy for that.
As a side note. You know what’s funny about Marriage Bootcamp? That show is so fucking crazy and YET when I watch it on TV – they actually make the drama LESS! They don’t even need to make it more dramatic like a lot of reality shows do. They don’t edit it a certain way to make it more dramatic. I was there – I know that that was way more intense than what they are showing. I think that is what has made the show last for 13 seasons, because the drama is already there. So they don’t have to do much!
You get to see some of your favorite personalities in a different light. Like Brandi Glanville on Marriage Bootcamp was not the same Brandi Glanville on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. People who follow her and love her got to see her in a different way and that’s amazing to me.
AM: You’re based in LA – where do you love grabbing a meal/cocktail, working out and going out for a little shopping?
DR. V: Let me tell you – I love a good diner! I’m from Philly – I did my education in NYC and there is nothing to me that beats a good diner. Kitchen 24 in Hollywood is open 24 hours. I can go there and get egg whites and feta. If I am working late and I need to wind down, I can get a margarita at 3am in the morning – it’s the best place on earth – it’s like my mother’s kitchen! There is nothing like a good diner.
I love to cycle and I feel that at my age it’s so great because you’re not compounding your joints. I’m a big SoulCycler and I do that 2 times a week. For shopping, I love style but I’m not much of a shopper. I’m not one of those women that get up and say, “I’m going to go shopping.” I can’t handle that, but I do love shopping online. I don’t have to shop, they just send shit to me, “we think you’ll like this.”
AM: Are you a beauty girl and do you have 3 must have products that you enjoy using?
DR. V: Ok I want to tell you that I recently decided to go from a rose kind of color to more of a peachier color for my face, lips and eyes. I’m completely obsessed with Stila Cosmetics that has these Liquid Eyeshadows that are glitter! The Bronzed Belle for brown eyes and a little olive skin is so gorgeous! Girl, I got the small one - the travel one and I keep it in my purse – that’s how much I love it! That’s my shadow and I like that it is so glittery and pretty. I’m obsessed with MAC’s Spring Sheen Shimmer Blush and it’s the most beautiful, peachy shiny and luxurious look!
AM: We love a peach moment!
DR. V: I know! Peachiness adds a beautiful alive and awake color. The right peach shades just are natural but then you’re wearing makeup. Then I just recently changed from Chanel’s Foundation to Santees – no. 280 and it’s beautiful! I know you said 3 but the 4th one popped into my brain – so you know it’s the winter months and you want a little color on your face. I am in love with La Luxe The Face and it is an illuminating and self tanning drops. It can be placed in any moisturizer or even an exfoliant that you put on your face at night – you can control the color with the amount of drops you put in. I love that you can just have it in your moisturizer. I use it as night and I get up and I love that I wake up with color on my face! It’s beautiful and one of my favorite products!
AM: We believe that your vibe is your tribe from a #TRIBEGOALS perspective. Who are 3 people that you look to for inspiration?
DR. V: I find that people in my immediate environment are inspiring. When I am feeling unlovable and I can think of nothing good about myself, I turn to my husband. There is so much unconditional love I can turn to him and he is able to help me see me through his eyes. That is a really beautiful thing when you can count on someone to recenter you. Then, the hopefulness of children. I have a 10 and 12 year old boys and a 2.5 year old daughter. The hopefulness of kids is just so inspiring me and when I am feeling a little cynical, I hang out with them! That spark of hopefulness is boom right there! I am also 1 of 5 so I have a few sisters and one brother and there is nothing like the love that a sibling has! No one can get under your skin or build you up like a sibling. I feel that as I have gotten older, I have relied on my immediate relationships to bring a sense of purpose, meaning and fulfillment and I’m really happy about that. I value these relationships with my life!
The month of February has a lot going on in the sports world. While our cover men enjoy their recent Super Bowl win, a number of people are focused on the NBA's All Star Weekend, which takes place this month in Charlotte. Just like fans enjoy attending this game, a number of your favorite NBA athletes enjoy this celebration of basketball. We took a few minutes to chat with Al Horford, the 5X All Star for the Boston Celtics to find out how he fell in love with the game, what All Star Weekend means to the sport and any midseason info he can provide on how his team is doing!
ATHLEISURE MAG: So recently Steve Kerr, the head coach of the Golden State Warriors, called you the perfect modern day center that is the hub of the Celtics. How would you describe your roll on the team?
AL HORFORD: I think my role on my team is to make sure that defensively, I am bringing energy, that I’m a presence on defense and rebounding. On offense, that I do whatever the team needs me to do in terms of scoring, passing, setting screens and things like that. Just making sure that I am playing with high energy and a lot of pace.
AM: Nice so, you’re all about balance and performance in terms of recovery and nutrition, what’s your day like heading into a game and your day of activities. Then what do you do after the games?
AH: Usually before the games, I’m trying to get a lot of fruits, vegetables, proteins and just having a very balanced diet. Then after the games, and this may surprise a lot of people, but my go-to drink is chocolate milk. Chocolate milk has everything that I need to recover. It has the carbs, the proteins, the electrolytes and all the good stuff that I need to feel at my best the next day.
AM: Interesting, as the newest athlete/partner with the Built with Chocolate Milk Campaign, what does this campaign look like?
AH: Obviously, it’s encouraging a healthy lifestyle, that for me really focuses on my recovery as an athlete, a person that just worked out and trained. Chocolate milk is a great source to drink after you finish your workout and the best thing about it is that it is backed by science.
AM: With All Star Weekend taking place this weekend, what is it about this weekend that is exciting as a player, whether you’re participating as a player or just to be there to support the love of your teammates?
AH: It’s just a great celebration to be able to go there in the same building with all of these great players. There are a lot of former players that also join in. A lot of NBA legends and all that and you’re able to see all these people and everyone celebrating basketball. You have the dunk contest, the 3 Point contest, the actual game. It’s just a great time for families and it’s great for the fans to just go out there and enjoy that weekend. There is just so much out there going on. Anytime that I have gone out there and had the chance to do it, I have always felt very lucky and fortunate.
AM: Well obviously you’re on the road quite a bit. So what are your 3 must have items that you like to take with you on the road?
AH: Well that’s a good question. My three must have items is my Bible, my iPad and my headphones. Those three things are definitely always with me.
AM: Well we know that you mom is a sports journalist and is one of your biggest fans, what did she instill in you that helped you to navigate this sport?
AH: My mom is very passionate as a Hispanic/Dominican mother she is always very passionate. She’s always instilled this in me and my dad actually played professional basketball. So my interest came because of that, but if it wasn’t for my mom and her enthusiasm and energy, I don’t think that I would be in this position. She has always been so encouraging and so upbeat to be the very best that I can be.
AM: We’re all about tribes, people that connect to you and also build you up here at #TRIB3GOALS, who are 3 people that you would identify with that are your go to people as inspirations for your career?
AH: That would definitely be my mom who has built me up in that sense, and also I have been fortunate to have great coaches around me growing up. My college coach is actually the head coach of the Oklahoma City Thunder right now is another person, Billy Donovan that has always encouraged me. I’d also say my grandfather, he is one of my biggest supporters and growing up he has always been there to give me confidence.
AM: Are there any midseason predictions that you can share with us about yourself, team, your goals etc?
AH: Yeah I think that in the midseason, a team is starting to really understand how we need to play to be that great team that all our friends want and expect us to. I think that we’re playing much better basketball. The key for us is that we get all players healthy at the same time and that we play consistently at that high level. The playoffs are around the corner and it’s the time that you look forward to to be a part of that!
When it comes to culinary competition shows, BRAVO’s Top Chef is one of our favorites. We enjoy the quick fire challenges, restaurant wars and watching competitors navigate across the show. We also like finding out about their restaurants and often seeing them re-appear on future seasons or other shows. On season 10, we were introduced to Chef Brooke Williamson, who came in second only to come back in season 14 - to win it all! In addition to these accolades, she is the Co-Owner and Co-Chef at The Tripel, Playa Provisions, Hudson House Bar, Da Kikokiko, Small Batch Icecream and Triplikit in Southern California. We find out more about her creativity, how she got into the industry, how she keeps fit and it all together.
Hands down, BRAVO's Top Chef is one of our favorite culinary competition shows. In addition to seeing talented chefs come up with creations on the fly, Restaurant Wars and cities being showcased - it's being introduced to chefs and their restaurants that we are constantly making a note to visit when we are in the midst of our travels. We have quite a list of our favorites that we have enjoyed seeing at Cochon555, culinary events, and of course interviewing as well in Athleisure Mag. This month, we chatted with Chef Brooke Williamson who was second runner up on Season 10 of the show and won it all when she came back for Season 14, we talked with her about her start in the industry, being the youngest chef to cook at the James Beard House, being a Restaurateur of a collection of restaurants and more!
ATHLEISURE MAG: What was the moment that you realized that you wanted to be a chef?
CHEF BROOKE WILLIAMSON: I don’t really remember that moment because I was so young and I was probably 6 or 7 years old when I realized that I wanted to be a chef. Then it became a thing that I just worked towards during my whole childhood so I don’t have one defining moment – it was just something that I knew I always wanted to do.
AM: Where did you train and what were restaurants that you worked at starting prior to the first restaurant that you opened?
CHEF BW: Well, I didn’t go to formal culinary school, I did take some cooking classes in my teens at a little cooking school called Epicurean but otherwise it was all restaurant training. My first kind of formal culinary job was at Phoenix at the Argyle Hotel under Ken Frank on Sunset and then I was there for about a year and a half and moved onto Michael’s in Santa Monica and moved up to Sous Chef like within a year so it all happened very quickly within a year. But I think that personally it’s because I I had been cooking my entire life.
AM: How do you define your style of cooking?
CHEF BW: I don’t really – my husband, Nick Roberts and I have several different restaurants and they are all very different from one another. I would say that the one constant throughout is seasonality and locality. I would say that we try to cook with seasonal, local ingredients as much as possible. I think that with both of us being native Californians we just naturally gravitate towards a lot of produce and just kind of work from there. All of our restaurants are very different just conceptually so I don’t have a definitive answer for that.
AM: It’s amazing that at the age of 22, you were the youngest chef to cook at the James Beard House, what do you remember preparing for that to take on such a big task?
CHEF BW: I think that at that age, I kind of didn’t know the magnitude of what I was doing which may have helped me with my composure. I knew what the James Beard House was and what an honor it was, but I didn’t understand the magnitude of what it was.
AM: When you opened your first restaurant, what is the first takeaway that you took from it that you learned from that and how did it inform how you went about opening and managing your future ones?
CHEF BW: Well my husband and I opened it when we were very young. We were chefs, we were not restaurateurs. We didn’t know what the difference was and we learned very quickly that we went into a space that we didn’t do a ton of research on the lease or the history of the location. I think what we took out of that was probably the most expensive culinary education that I could have had! That’s what I consider it – your first failed restaurant is such a learning experience and I’m so glad that it happened the way it did and I had something to fall back on by the time we closed the doors, but I can’t even count on 2 hands the number of takeaways from that. I just became more business savvy and understood how important the business side of a restaurant was.
AM: Can you tell us about each of your restaurants because they have a different feel to them – so walk us through the worlds of your restaurants!
CHEF BW: So the oldest restaurant which is currently open is Hudson House which has been around for 10 years and has morphed a lot since we have first opened it. It is still this warm gastropub kind of feeling. It’s sort of the first gastropub in the Redondo area of its kind and it’s changed a lot. It’s matured a bit as we just did a facelift on it so it looks more mature and more modern than it ever has. The menu has changed a lot and it still has that neighborhood feel to it. Then, The Tripel opened 2 years after that which is kind of a craft beer bar with upscale bar food. We have a couple of signature burgers which is what we are known for at The Tripel. Then we have Playa Provisions which is just down the street from that which is a 4-in-1-concept, we have a whiskey bar, a sit down seafood restaurant, a café that serves pastries and coffee in the morning through lunch, and then an icecream counter where we make all of our own icecream in nostalgic flavors. Then in Playa Vista, we have Da Kikokiko which is a fast casual Hawaiian concept – we serve mainly poke bowls, musubi and shaved ice and Dole whip as well. We have an icecream shop in Mar Vista which is a bit of an offshoot of Small Batch Ice Cream which is in Playa Provisions. We also have a retail store called Tripli-Kit as well that is specialty kitchen related goods.
AM: Do you think that you will open additional restaurants and concepts in California and also do you think that you will open up in other cities down the road?
CHEF BW: I would say if history tells correctly, we will probably continue in California. We do have this tendency to remain very local because my husband and I are very hands on and I like to be able to visit every place within a day if I need to or to get anywhere where I need to be or if I have to be. I’m kind of a control freak that way – I wouldn’t rule out opening a place out of state, but if we were to do something that wasn’t hyperlocal, then it would be an extension of something that we already have. That way we would feel that we would have control over from afar as well.
AM: Seeing that you and your husband are both chefs and restaurateurs and run your business together – how do you maintain how you work with one another as business partners as well as to maintain your coupleship?
CHEF BW: It’s the only way we have ever known each other. We met each other in the kitchen many years ago so it feels very natural to be in business together which is a struggle for a lot of couples that didn’t start out that way, I think. We know each other in a business sense very well. The hardest thing is juggling the parenting with the business. We want to stay active and engaged as parents as we juggle our busy days with the restaurants and with what we do. It’s really been the hardest part but we have somehow managed to make it work. We’re very fortunate that we have one another that we can kind of play off of and understand each other’s lives and the fact that we don’t want someone else raising our child. That mindset about what we want our lives to be is really helpful.
AM: What are 3 signature dishes that if you had to select them from across your restaurants – what should we try?
CHEF BW: Well, Hudson House we just completely redid our menu and in 10 years we just shifted things to a slightly overall Asian feel. There is a lot of Asian influence but it stil feels like a gastro pub menu. There are a couple of items that we will never be able to get rid of so we put it on a secret menu as we knew a lot of people would be mad with us if we didn’t still offer it. The Hudson Pretzel Burger and we do these Brown Sugar Pork Ribs which people go crazy for.
At Playa Provisions, I would say the Lobster Roll is something that we are pretty known for. The Crab Claw Pots, which is a snow crab claw with a crab cake at the end of it and then the whole thing is fried. That has become a signature staple as well as our specialty pastries. We do a Unicorn Cake it’s a special order. It’s a rainbow sort of pastel layer cake that is decorated like a unicorn and is filled with sprinkles which we sell a couple a week.
At The Tripel, I would definitely say that The Tripel Burger is a go to staple that we are known for on that menu. It’s duck confit, ground pork and beef with truffle cheese and apricot jam on an onion brioche bun.
At Da Kikokiko the spicy tuna bowl and the spam musubi, although we do a really good salmon musubi which sells almost as well, and of course the shaved ice. People come in just for the shaved ice.
I would say that our signature staple flavor that we have over at Small Batch, which is also my son’s favorite, is Mint Oreo or Chocolate Malted Crunch which is kind of a play on the old thrifty Junior flavor.
AM: You were asked to collaborate with a brewery to create Girl Grey. Where did this idea come from by having these interesting flavors of the Belgian style ale, the almonds and earl grey tea to come together?
CHEF BW: I knew I wanted to do a Belgian Tripel style of beer as it is my favorite style of beer and it is also why the restaurant is spelled T-r-i-p-e-l in the style of this Belgian beer. So it felt like it made sense to do a Belgian Tripel beer and then I used my chef brain in the sense that I thought about flavors that naturally went well with a higher alcohol creamy aged ale. There were probably 7 different flavor ideas and combinations that were on the table. That’s the one that really stuck and we made a sample of it, tasted it and that is the one that we went with.
AM: Is it still available?
CHEF BW: It was a one time release so I’m sure that there is some stashed away, but I don’t know if it is still purchasable from the brewery.
AM: We know you also did a sour beer with them, do you see yourself doing collaborations like this?
CHEF BW: I would totally be up for it! I felt like it was a one time collaboration that they were looking to do, but if they came back to me, and were interested in doing another flavor with me – I would totally be down to do it.
AM: So what led to you to the decisions that brought you to Top Chef for Season 10 and after having all of the experience from that season, what made you say that you would come back for Season 14 where you ultimately won that one?
CHEF BW: Well the first time it was a really difficult decision. I had a 4 year old at the time and I had turned it down several years before and then finally said yes after seeing what it had done for the previous chefs, that the platform creates for chefs who do well on it. I felt it was a personal challenge to do something that was out of my comfort zone for myself, but I also felt that now more than ever – the restaurant business is a difficult business and I felt like anything that you can continue to do to stay relevant and to let people know that you are out there and waiting for them to recognize you is worth doing! Of course, you don’t know how you are going to do or come off when you do something like that, but I felt that I was relatively unconcerned with my personality coming off in a terrible way so it was more of a personal challenge to see where we could take this.
AM: For season 14 was it more of a nobrainer?
CHEF BW: No it wasn’t because I felt like, what were the chances that I could do better than second place? On a personal note, it was a much more difficult decision. Professionally it was more of a no brainer. I saw first hand what it did for my business and what it did for me. But personally, the thought of going back and being eliminated first, second, third or anything less than winning would have been a total disappointment to me. So I kind of went into it with that mentality which helps and hurts in several ways.
AM: In terms of your Top Chef squad we see you with Richard Blais on the show and we see you with other chefs from the show for your appearances etc. When you are not in those areas, who from the show do you hang out with?
CHEF BW: I feel like I made a lot of really good friends from the show. They’re people that I would consider closer personal friends that I made and keep contact with on a very regular basis. Kristen Kish is one of my very best friends that I stay in touch with, Casey Thompson is one of my closest friends and I have a plethora of other people – I’m good friends with Shirley Chung, Kelvin Gillepsie - I could go down a list of people that I have kept in touch with on a regular basis and I would say a handful of people I stay in really close contact with and consider them my closest friends.
AM: We know that you have done a lot of TV from Top Chef, MTV’s House of Food, and Esquire Network's Knife Fight – what are upcoming shows that we can expect to see you on?
CHEF BW: I haven’t done a ton of shooting lately. I did an episode of Top Chef recently that just aired that I judged.
AM: We loved seeing you on there with your Christmas Sweater – so cute.
CHEF BW: Haha yeah my Ugly Christmas Sweater.
AM: You have so many accolades under your belt from being a chef, restaurateur, whisky aficionado, beer creator – what else is on your list that you want to add to that you have yet to tackle??
CHEF BW: Not really, there are areas that I feel like I want to do better in. I would say that the way I feel about my life and career is that I have done a lot of things pretty well. I would love to say that I do more things very well. I’m kind of at a point right now where I don’t have to do more stuff to do more stuff. I want to make sure that what I am doing is really quality. I don’t feel like I need to expand my horizons. I want to make the restaurants that I have open are doing the best that they can and that the people that come in are having great experiences as often as possible. I want to be more present in my restaurants, my life and as a parent. I don’t feel like I need to branch – I feel like I need to branch in.
AM: That’s a good one. I feel like a lot of times we do bite off so many things and branching in is a good thing.
CHEF BW: Totally, I mean – when it comes to my health and mental, physical, wellness, my parenting and my friendships and that there have been things that have suffered – not dramatically because I have been stretched too thin and I just want to do everything a little better.
AM: We know that you are an avid SoulCycler and you do fitness and various workouts – why is this so important to you to have this as a part of your lifestyle?
CHEF BW: One because I feel like I physically need to maintain my health in order to live the lifestyle that I live and to do the things that I do. The travel takes a lot out of me when I do the appearances, dinners and stuff like that. I’m not a great traveler so just maintaining that and some sanity is really due to my exercise regimen and I can really feel it when I don’t exercise and I don’t get that energy out in the right way – I feel like my life suffers. Even from an energy standpoint to maintain the energy to do it all. I feel like it’s so important to maintain sanity.
AM: You recently cycled through Italy to tour their countryside as well as to enjoy the foods of the region. Did you have to train yourself to do that kind of cycling as it seemed like you were on your bike quite a bit to get everywhere!
CHEF BW: I think I had to train myself on how to be on a real road bike which is not a no brainer! It’s actually a scary piece of equipment and if you don’t use it properly, it can kill you. I felt that I needed to up my game on how to be on a real bicycle outside and not on a stationary bike like I was used to. It was also about sitting on a saddle for such a long period of time that’s really where I struggled the most sitting on those bike seats. It seems like it would be nothing when you’re talking about biking hundreds of miles – but it’s not nothing!
AM: How many hours were you on this bike without a rest?
CHEF BW: I mean, we would stop for coffee and when we needed to stop. But, we were with a group of people and I wasn’t going to be the reason why we were taking so long. Especially since I was technically helping to lead this trip. We would go for a couple of hours and stop for a cup of coffee and then go another couple of hours and stop for lunch and then it was a quick ride to whatever hotel we were staying at. The difference between a 45 mins or hour SoulCycle class and 5 hours in a bike seat is huge!
AM: Since you do travel so much, what are 3 must haves that you bring with you regardless of where you are traveling to?
CHEF BW: If I am taking a flight, I always have Flopsy my stuffed rabbit that I take with me that I have had since I was 4 in my carry on! If I get on a flight, I’m going to have Flopsy. I’m not religious at all but have a Saint Christopher that I travel with as well. Those are the kind of things that I don’t get on a plane without having those. The other thing is that I travel with snacks always. I’m always the one that travels with a ziplock gallon bag full of snacks because I feel like unnecessary travel hunger just adds to the stress of travel. I also hate having to grab a bag of Doritos because there isn’t a banana. I always have a little pot of lavender scented balm or something that smells good. Usually it’s lavender scented as I am a bit of a high anxiety person and smells really help me. I also love Dr. Pepper Lip Smacker Chapstick.
AM: We love the throw back!
CHEF BW: I actually mentioned that I had them and I couldn’t remember where I said it, but I couldn’t find them anywhere and Target stopped carrying them – specifically the Dr. Pepper flavor and Lip Smacker actually sent me a 6-pack where I am currently on the last stick.
AM: So where can we find you grabbing a meal outside of your restaurants, working out and doing a bit of shopping?
CHEF BW: Oh my gosh those are so different questions! Alright so, I don’t often grab a cocktail outside of my restaurant. I grew up in Los Angeles, I was a total bar hopper at 20/21 I was sitting at the Vermosa Bar sitting by myself just after work drinking a Johnnie Walker Black on the rocks on a school night – loving it. I feel like I got that out of my system and that I don’t need to go to bars just to go to bars anymore. I have a child that I appreciate putting to bed at night and I can have a really good cocktail at my own restaurant. I’m not a bar goer. When it comes to eating meals outside of my restaurant, we generally go ethnic. Generally Asian, we do a lot of sushi and go to Kanpai in Westchester a lot. We go to Aiara for Thai food a lot we go to ASAP Phorage for pho – so we do a lot of Asian food and we like to keep it local.
I definitely am a SoulCycler but every so many months I do this Boot Camp with Lacey Stone and I love her. She does a 2 week boot camp called Reboot which I am actually doing and it’s 2 weeks of no drinking, eating super clean and I prep all my own meals. I still go to my spin classes, but 3 days a week, I go to her Boot Camp in the morning and the next one will be at The Wall - so I’ll be there.
AM: We love The Wall.
CHEF BW: I’ve never been there.
AM: It will definitely be good to check it out.
CHEF BW: I like shopping online – I’m not a huge shopper. I don’t like to try things on. I do like to see things in per son. I don’t like to go on shopping excursions. When I see something that I like in a store, I often buy it on an impulse and hope it will fit as I don’t like returning things. I’m not a huge shopper so I actually prefer that when my conditioner is getting low, I like to go on Amazon and order it and would rather have Amazon deliveries every single day!
AM: It’s like Christmas every single day with a new box – but you know exactly what’s in there!
CHEF BW: It’s amazing. By the time I decide that I need to buy something, it always takes me a couple of days to get to whatever store it is anyway, so I can have it on my doorstep without having to go anywhere!
AM: How do you define your personal style in terms of what you wear when you go to work and what you wear when you’re going out with friends or for a date night?
CHEF BW: They are all very different from one another. I love fashion, I love clothes, I love shoes. I also am not someone who will make themselves look great every time they leave the house. I work out a lot. I wear a lot of workout clothes, but I also try not to make that my daily outfit and try not to fall back on that for my go to. I work out in work out clothes and try to care about what I look like when I am going out someplace else. I love to be comfortable. I love overalls, love jumpers and am a big fan of being comfortable and also having a cute outfit on. I do love getting dressed up and am the first person to say that I am going out to dinner to a nice restaurant and that I am excited to put on a pair of heels and a dress, especially because my everyday life means I’m dressing down in jeans, a button down flannel or long sleeve shirt. So when I get dressed up,
I love getting dressed up.
AM: I can only imagine how busy you are. What’s your morning routine like to get to your restaurant?
CHEF BW: I’m very fortunate that in a sense, my husband is a morning person because I am not! So on a weekday, my alarm goes off at 6:20am or 6:18am don’t ask. I start by complaining that I have to get up and my son will come one eyed down the hallway into our bathroom because he is not a morning person either and he found that his morning routine needs to include a shower. My husband will get up and make coffee and usually that’s how I am able to get out of bed because he makes me coffee. Then I am a workout first kind of person. If it is my turn to take my son to school then I will take him and head straight to a SoulCycle class which depends on whether I am in a bootcamp or not. If my husband takes him, he goes to a trainer on Tuesdays and Thursdays, so he can’t go to school before that so on Tuesday and Thursday, I can kind of take my time a little bit and go to whatever class I want to as opposed to the one that is closest to the school. I’m a take-a-class-kind-of person usually but if I can’t, I have a Peloton bike at home and if I can’t pull it together to take a class then I will take it from home. Or maybe I will go for a run if I am on a running kick which I haven’t been for a while. Then I shower and get as many things as I can get done so that depending on where I have to be and when – before one of us has to be home to pick up our son from school.
AM: How do you take time for yourself with such a schedule that you have?
CHEF BW: I consider that when I workout, that that is time for myself and that I don't know if everyone considers it that. Working out is me taking care of myself and working out to keep myself sane. So me scheduling a workout into my day is really my way of taking care myself.
PHOTOS COURTESY | Chef Brooke Williamson | LEFT IMAGE courtesy of TOP CHEF -- "Naughty and Nice" Episode 1603 -- Pictured: (l-r) Richard Blais, Brooke Williamson, Padma Lakshmi -- (Photo by: Michael Hickey/Bravo)
Make sure to follow our new multimedia podcast network, Athleisure Studio and specifically our show, Athleisure Kitchen. You can get the latest episodes when they drop by following and listening to us on your preferred listening platform (Spotify, Apple Podcast, Google Play, Stitcher, etc). You can hear the full interview with Chef Brooke Williamson on Athleisure Kitchen when it drops in Feb.
Read more from the Jan Issue of Athleisur