The Unwind is Yahoo Life’s well-being series in which experts, influencers and celebrities share their approaches to wellness and mental health, from self-care rituals to setting healthy boundaries to the mantras that keep them afloat.
The world of fitness has changed drastically throughout the coronavirus pandemic as gyms and boutique fitness studios across the country closed their doors, forcing trainers to take their business elsewhere. But even as the industry made a somewhat seamless transition to digital with the live-streaming technologies of Instagram and YouTube which allowed trainers to connect with their followers for an at-home sweat session, many were left scrambling to stand out from the pack. Megan Roup of The Sculpt Society, however, was a few steps ahead.
"I feel really lucky that I launched The Sculpt Society app in November 2019. So really, you know, it's still in its infancy, but I had that beautiful library of content ready to go," she tells Yahoo Life. "We had worked out a lot of the kinks in the app when the pandemic hit. So I felt really grateful to be able to make that pivot really quickly."
As the U.S. approaches the anniversary of initial lockdowns and business closures, the evolution of her brand — from in-person classes and personal training sessions to a digital platform all her own — is more apparent than ever. Still, Roup acknowledges that the spirit of her community, which has always been focused on feeling good, remains the same.
How are you making mental health and well-being a priority in your life right now?
There's so much happening and so many changes going on. I'm just kind of embracing them day by day, moment by moment. I've just always been someone that's put my mental well-being really at the forefront and really made sure that I'm doing things throughout my day that are making me feel good. So, first and foremost, as a former professional dancer, movement's just always been in my life. So for me moving is almost like my meditation. Getting to move with my community with The Sculpt Society (TSS) every day is a big part of how I feel mentally — in my body and out of my head, feeling good.
A lot of people are struggling to stay motivated these days. What keeps you going?
Having the support from my TSS family to show up multiple times a week during my [livestream workouts] and getting them to have a coffee chat afterwards and check in with everyone and having that dialogue has been such a saving grace for me throughout the pandemic, so I'm really thankful for that. I also implement some of the TSS short meditations into my week when I want to feel grounded and just take a breath. Just making sure I'm doing little things throughout my day and my week that are good for my mental health as well.
It really is all about the little things. Do you think that's a new concept to some people?
I think we're realizing that your self-care routine can just be simple things. It doesn't need to be this over-the-top wellness routine with lots of fancy gear. I think it's, for me, just prioritizing sleep — that's a form of self-care. Feeding myself and cooking really delicious, dense, nutritious food that is feeding my body and that I look forward to. Going for my daily walks. Just kind of taking all of the noise out of it. As we've been home for so long, I think we get to actually know ourselves and what is it that is making us feel more grounded during this crazy time.
I'm someone that pre-pandemic was rushing from class to walk to my next private [appointment], walking to my next meeting. And I didn't realize how much I was outside during my day just because I didn't have a traditional 9-to-5 at a desk. So I think when the pandemic hit, it was that realization of like, wow, I need to get outside and just get some fresh air and be by the river. And I just noticed such a difference in my overall mood. So I really try and take walks every day. I'm certainly not great every day, but I'll walk. I'll walk with my husband or I'll walk socially to speak with a friend or I'll walk by myself and I'll listen to podcasts, I'll call my friends and my family. It's just like a really nice, slow walk. There's really no intention, it's just really about moving my legs and breathing in fresh air.
You've been going through another life change during the pandemic — you're pregnant! What has that experience been like?
It's been an interesting time. My first trimester has been the hardest. I'm about to enter my third, so I'll get back to you on that. But I was just having so many food and smell aversions that it was way worse than I ever thought it would be. I thought I would just kind of be able to get on with it. That was tough. I will say I had zero motivation to work out. However, at the time my community didn't know I was pregnant. I wasn't ready to share that news. So I was continuing to go live multiple times a week on the TSS app. So I think honestly I was held accountable to do movement.
The days that I moved [during] that first trimester while I was pregnant, I felt so, so much better. So I think just again, re-realizing the power of movement and how important it is even on the days that we're really struggling to get motivated. Then of course as I've entered my second trimester, I'm obviously growing and some movement is a little bit harder. But I will say, I think because I've been so active my whole life and I've been active throughout my pregnancy, I haven't had to change a whole lot.
Why did you decide to create fitness content specifically for moms and mothers-to-be like yourself?
I had pre- and postnatal certifications before, but just going through pregnancy myself, it's such a different experience. And being able to talk to other moms on such a personal level has been really, really helpful for me in guiding them through these videos. So The Sculpt Society Mama is really big library of content that involves first, second, third [trimester] and postpartum content with a calendar. And it's a really robust program that I'm so proud of to be able to offer that, because I feel like that's such a missing category in a lot of fitness content out there. I think women often get pregnant and are like, "OK, well, shoot, what do I do? I have no idea." And there's just not a lot of guidance. So to be able to not only have that program, but to be pregnant and recording these videos for the program has been really exciting for me.
What's the best piece of advice you've received about motherhood so far?
I've talked to so many amazing women that have told me to just take a deep breath and that there are so many different thoughts and methods out there but that actually you as a mother, your intuition is going to kick in. You're going to know your baby like no one else does. And just to know to trust that intuition. And I think that's given me some peace of mind, because it can be overwhelming the amount of information that's out there.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
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