Tracy Washburn Bradley in action at Cycle For Survival, at Equinox Sports Club in West LA (Photo: courtesy of Tracy Washburn Bradley)
Imagine you’re a power lawyer or an SVP at an investment firm. Your days are probably chock-full of meetings, wheelings, and dealings. Thinking about it is enough to make the average person exhausted, but for these high-flying professionals, it’s just one part of their extremely busy lives. In addition to thriving in their respective fields, some of these people moonlight as workout instructors for Equinox.
While some of us struggle to drag ourselves to the gym a few times a week, these guys are making it their business to spread the joy of fitness to anyone who signs up for their class. “The most rewarding thing is seeing the passion that people have for wanting to try new things and enhance their life through fitness. It’s hard to describe it when you’re there looking out into that audience and the energy is high and you have people in the class that are expressive, who hoot and holler and really get into the experience,” Jason Vasquez, VP and head of personal lending group corporate communications at Wells Fargo as well as cycling instructor, told Yahoo Style. “It’s phenomenal to see that the effort you’re putting into making this class happen is yielding that kind of reward. It’s very gratifying. For me, just seeing that in other people and sharing that experience or helping to provide that experience is really rewarding.”
Jason Vasquez in the zone. (Photo: courtesy of Jason Vasquez)
Vasquez’s days usually start around 7:30 or 8 a.m., when he arrives at his job at Wells Fargo, but once the clock strikes 6, Vasquez is in spin mode. He chooses and mixes all the music for the class himself, seamlessly combining his love for music and fitness. “This is really a phenomenal way for me to still do something that I have a passion for, but also promote health and fitness and really take myself out of my day-to-day responsibilities and engage with others in a very unique and positive way,” he says.
We talked to a few Equinox trainers with big-time day jobs, and the narrative thread remained the same. Through all of the demands their work required of them, each instructor was enthusiastic about their side gig. Abby Goldenberg is a lawyer by day and a hip-hop dance instructor in the evening at Equinox on Greenwich Avenue in New York City. Goldenberg, who has a dance background, says the opportunity to teach is a way for her to stay connected to her passion. “My job is so serious, this is sort of a creative outlet. Anyone who teaches fitness or dance, they are fundamentally performers, and so if you’re not able to have that outlet for your performance bug, you’re not going to be happy,” she said. “I get to stand in front of 40 people and create something, teach them, and be silly. To me, it’s play-acting. All day long I’m serious, I get to come in at night, and I get to live like a backup dancer for a pop star.”
Stephanie Ho spinning like a pro. (Photo: courtesy of Stephanie Ho)
Every week, Goldenberg dreams up a new dance routine to teach her students, which is quite a departure from her daytime attorney duties. One of the challenges of being a fitness instructor part-time is that in addition to the typical lawyer stuff, Goldenberg has to keep up with the latest trends in music and dance, so that her students get a workout they can enjoy. And many of the people she teaches are in the same boat. “[They spend] all day long in their office jobs. A lot of them are ex-dancers and they’re happy to have a place where they get to explore the more creative piece of them,” she says.
And it is this desire to express their creativity and enthusiasm for fitness that keeps these instructors going — while many of us would simply give up and resign ourselves to a night on the couch, drinking wine and watching Hulu. “My friends call me the Energizer Bunny,” Tracy Washburn Bradley, a senior director of business development at a financial services firm in Los Angeles, told us. “I’ve always been a bit of an overachiever. I’m the first woman to go to college in my whole family. I’m the first person to get a master’s. I’ve always had that drive. I had two jobs in high school. I had five jobs in college. I maximize every minute that I can.” She’s not kidding: Washburn Bradley teaches seven classes a week at several Equinox locations in L.A.
“It keeps me challenged, and I was reading this article this morning that says if you get kind of complacent at your job, having that mental stimulation helps you to be more effective in your day-to-day. I’m constantly thinking of ways to be creative and evolve, and I think that stems from constantly doing new things, different classes and formats, getting people excited,” she says. And besides the mental and physical stimulation these side jobs bring, Washburn Bradley says that her fitness classes have helped make her more effective in her day job. “My public speaking, I have to do a lot of that for work, I’m on panels all the time, and it’s gotten better because of Equinox. When you think about it, you’re teaching, you have to annunciate your words. So I learned public speaking in another realm, other than just being on panels. It keeps my mind really sharp.”
Tracy Washburn Bradley feeling the burn. (Photo: courtesy of Tracy Washburn Bradley)
Teaching these classes also helps broaden the horizons of some of these instructors a professional and a personal level. “It’s a great way for me, as a business person, to have different connections,” Washburn Bradley told us. “I meet all sorts of people I would never meet otherwise, so from a business perspective, it’s a really good thing. It makes my world much larger than it would be if I just hung out with lawyers all damn day. And it’s cool to have two existences, in a way. I walk around in serious lawyer clothes all day long, but when I leave the office at 7:30, I’m putting on high-top sneakers and harem pants. It’s like I’m Day & Night Barbie.”
The dedication they have to their fitness gigs is palpable. Stephanie Ho is a manager of corporate development at MGM Studios who is also getting her masters’ degree at UCLA’s Anderson School of Management. That means she’s juggling a full-time job, a part-time job, and a school workload. “It’s more like a purpose play for me than a paycheck or a career goal,” she explained. “But it’s a very important part of my life. I feel like if I had to quit, I’d really be missing it. Even if I just go to the gym every day, seeing the same people — it just wouldn’t be the same than teaching a class and being a part of that one hour of their lives.”
As a trainer, it’s not like you can skip a class if you want to catch Scandal on time or you just feel like getting drinks with friends instead of working out. It’s a commitment that takes time and preplanning. But despite that, each of our instructors tell us the rewards are so worth it. “It’s kind of the personal aspect of impacting [my students], whether it be small or big. I think I’ve always thought that if you can impact someone in one way or another in a good way, it helps you grow as a person,” Ho says. “As I open up and as I help open random clubs, it’s nice to see new people and see how you can affect them. Say they’re getting ready for their wedding and they need to lose weight, and they say, ‘I’m coming to your class every single week,’ and they make it there. This actually gets me through my day. In the morning, it clears my head. It’s like a form of meditation, and that’s amazing. It’s a two-way street in giving. It lets me know that I’m helping people and they’re getting what they need in turn.”