I couldn’t wait to talk to fitness guru Traci Copeland, an in-demand yoga and bootcamp instructor here in NYC. The former dancer calls herself a yoga-athlete; her popular yoga classes are set to a hip-hop soundtrack, and she just developed a free, high energy Vinyasa Rush Yoga workout for the Nike+ Training Club App. She also helped whip model Karlie Kloss into shape before her big Nike shoot. Here’s Traci’s take on how yoga can benefit your body, her advice for women who’ve never exercised before, why she wears makeup when she dances.
BB: You are a Nike Master Trainer because you dance, you train, you teach yoga—how did you get into everything?
TC: I started taking dance classes after college. It became a hobby, and whatever you do in your down time often becomes your full time. I decided to drop everything and focus on dance. It led to yoga because, as an athlete, I have had so many injuries and operations, and yoga has actually saved my body. Practicing regularly, every day and sometimes even twice a day, has allowed me to be a lot more sustainable in this industry. But yoga wasn’t enough for me. I played a lot of sports so I needed something that was also kind of high intensity. I needed that competitive edge and yoga doesn’t have that, so I added physical fitness and training. Which led me to partner with Nike.
BN: Some people say all you need is yoga and you will burn all this fat, that’s really not true is it?
TC: You do not do yoga for fat burning. I recommend doing yoga for flexibility, an increased sense of patience, and getting more meditative. If you are someone who likes to challenge yourself and take on different poses, it also gives you an opportunity to work up to harder things like a handstand.
BB: Headstands require a lot of strength! So does yoga help build muscles?
TC: Definitely. I always encourage people to change it up, even change your teacher, because it is so easy to get comfortable in a certain style. You do need to really challenge yourself in new ways. You don’t really know what you are capable of if you do not expand. It is a great form of strength training, using your own body. I have gotten so strong from yoga.
BB: What do you tell women that have never exercised before? Where do you start, how do you do it?
TC: The app is a great place to start; it’s pretty self-explanatory, like being your own personal trainer. It has beginner, intermediate, and advanced settings so you can choose the workout that is right for you based on how you feel that day. It’s good too if you aren’t comfortable working out in a gym or if you are on the road. I also think group fitness is really good way to start working out, because it is something fun that you can do with your girlfriends.
BB: What are your thoughts on food? Are you into gluten-free? Eating in moderation? Or eating whatever you want and then working it off?
TC: I think if you tell people you have to start taking things away it takes the fun out of food. Just think of it as adding good things into your diet. I always say the 80/20 rule: 5 days a week you eat pretty clean, and then you can cheat a little bit and have fun on the weekends. That way you don’t feel so restricted and you are actually enjoying life!
BB: Tell me about your beauty routine? Makeup? Yes or No?
TC: I do wear makeup, but I wish I were better at putting it on. At the very least, I wear concealer or waterproof mascara because I sweat a lot. I might not wear makeup when I am teaching a yoga class. However, I was trained as a dancer and as a dancer you have to look a certain way and feel a certain way, and I don’t feel as sexy without makeup. So for dance, I have to have eyeliner and mascara and mixtures of different eye shadows. I just hope and pray that it stays on so I don’t have raccoon eyes.
BB: Tell me about the work you’ve been doing with model Karlie Kloss and Nike. She’s such a sweet girl; she once told me that when she was growing up she was so tall that she never felt comfortable in her body. I thought it would be really awesome for girls around the world who look at fashion magazines, to be able to realize that here is a girl who was just like everyone else, as a kid. She has certainly gotten comfortable now.
TC: She is rare. I have been in this business and I haven’t really met anyone quite like her. You look at her and she is stunning and flawless. At the same time she is talking to everyone on set, you don’t get that vibe that she has been in the modeling business for so long that she is untouchable. She’s a real person, who happens to be extremely gorgeous.
BB: Exactly. I think that a lot of women look at supermodels and think they don’t have to exercise. She has worked at having great muscle tone though. I think it is important for everyone to exercise, and muscle tone is one of the most important things that a woman could give herself.
T: Yes definitely, Karlie is a mover. She is very interested in all the high intensity stuff that we were doing. She had a million different questions on the proper way to do different moves. She’s also a runner and training for a half-marathon. She is flexible and she has a willingness to try a lot of different things.
BB: So Traci since you are in New York, can people take your classes?
TC: My classes are open to anyone. At the Broadway Dance Center, I teach Power Vinyasa Yoga and TNT Boot Camp classes. I also teach Nike training club classes. When I teach, I play everything from hip-hop to R&B to Michael—not your typical yoga playlist.
BB: Our Yahoo team will be there—probably wearing purple.