Finding the time to fit in a nutritious dinner in today's frenetic pace isn't easy, let alone scheduling in the recommended 30 minutes of moderate exercise five days a week. That's why we're all about those easy weeknight recipes and at-home workouts. We apply this "more bang for your buck" philosophy to most aspects of our lives, which is why our ears perked up when we heard Nike trainer Kirsty Godso's favorite workout for women: strength training.
Meet the Expert
Kirsty Godso is a fitness athlete, model, and trainer from New Zealand. She has worked as a fitness instructor at several agencies and worked as a Nike Master Trainer.
While everybody responds differently to various training styles, Godso says when used properly, weight training should not "bulk" you. "Unless, of course, that's your goal and your program is set to reflect that," she adds. "For me personally, I've noticed the biggest changes in my body from strength training. It's an amazing form of training for women and something that definitely shouldn't be feared. There are numerous reasons we need to be strong in this life, but it can help you develop lean muscle mass (don't panic at the word mass—the more lean muscle we have, the less fat we have on our body), it will help you move better and with more control and feel incredible. There is no denying the impact that weight training can have on your mental and physical presence."
Okay, we're on board. Ahead, Godso outlines some of her key health and fitness tips, which you can incorporate into your lifestyle to help you keep your health goals on track.
Think of Fitness Like Your Food
While HIIT and strength training is a big part of Godso's workout schedule—"I love how it makes me feel and the challenge of it"—she mixes it up with Pilates, yoga, and other methods too that complement each other. "Pilates helps me get more control and muscle focus; yoga teaches me to be light, breathe, and give back to my body by releasing a lot of tension," she says. But she stresses you do not have to do it all. "Be in a conversation with your body," she says. "We're all different, and the formula cannot be copied and pasted from one person to the next."
The key is to try new things and experiment. "Try and seek balance with your training too," she adds. "Think of it like your food. You don't want to eat the same exact meal over and over again every day, every week. Structured variety in your training will help you find more harmony in your body and your training."
HIIT Gets Results But Only in Moderation
When it comes to workouts that deliver on results, there's nothing quite like the classic HIIT workout. "HIIT is a big favorite that delivers undeniable fat burning and increases in cardiovascular output," says Godso. "However, it needs to be taken in moderation. Overdoing this type of training can give you adverse effects when you don't allow your body enough time to recover."
Godso assures us that the biggest calorie burn from HIIT training occurs in the extended hours after the workout, so it's important to allow your body time to process this and repair so you maximize your results. "If you're adding HIIT to your schedule, make sure you have your intervals of work/recovery set correctly, include functional movement patterns, and only do it two to three times per week," she says. "If used in the right doses, HIIT will help you develop more lean muscle and improve your physical performance."
Strapped for Time? Swap the Gym for a Fitness App
We get it. Sometimes your meeting runs over and you just can't make it to the gym. But Godso assures us that you don't have to be in the physical space of a gym or group class to get in a good sweat. "Bless technology for giving us the access to workouts anytime, anywhere," she says. "I have used the Nike Training Club app for years (even before I started working with Nike). I love its Bodyweight Benchmark workout. That will totally kick your ass in five minutes. Otherwise, I like to do an EMOM (every minute on the minute) workout where I choose three to five exercises and a set number of repetitions for each and roll through a few cycles. EMOM is always a surefire way to light up your lungs and legs in no time."
Take the Time to Unwind, Too
Keeping your body fit and healthy isn't always about a hard-hitting, endurance workout. It's also important to relax and hit the pause button. "I love going to Sky Ting Yoga and doing a 75-minute class followed by an infrared sauna with a podcast plugged in," says Godso. "It never ceases to help me unwind (literally) and release some of the tension in my body and my mind." Godso also spends a lot of time stretching out her forearms, wrists, and feet, which are often overlooked. "We actually created a class based around combining HIIT and yoga in a functional and fun way to help people find a better balance. The class is called Pyro Tings, and it's a 75-minute barefoot workout that involves breath work, bodyweight and cardio intervals, sweat and stretching, and restorative flow. It feels like a totally euphoric experience for your body."
Look at Food as Food
When it comes to food, Godso isn't about restrictions. She emphasizes the joy of eating, putting the focus on good food. "I really dislike the word diet," she says. "I eat, and I'm selective about what I eat. I always encourage people to look at food as food, not carbs, calories, low sugar, and so on. Yes, I absolutely encourage and support knowing what you put in your body, but be human about it. We are here to live a life, remember that."
Godso believes she was "blessed" to be diagnosed as celiac at a very young age. "I have spent the majority of my life not eating a lot of carb-dense food like bread or pasta," she says. "I started eating a higher protein- and fat-based diet at about 22 years old and noticed such a shift in my energy and physical output. I never switched back, because I found such harmony in my body both energetically and aesthetically."
She admits it's not for everyone though. "My biggest piece of advice would be to stop looking for the quick fix, because it doesn't exist, and you shouldn't want it to," she says. "Take the time to figure out what your body likes and doesn't like. You'll learn a lot of crazy things about yourself and you also learn to take control over your energy and have honest conversations with your body. Don't abuse food either. It's a privilege to have access to it. Be kind to your body, and it will be kind to you."
Swap Calorie-Counting for Self-Care
Godso believes the way she eats and how she nourishes her body through food is a big source of energy. And there's one thing she never does. "I don't count calories ever," she says. "I listen to my body and what it needs. Sometimes that includes and an overwhelming urge to have something that is a bit more of a treat." Because that is what life is truly about.
Be a "Diva" About Your Food
If Godso had to choose one meal of the day, it'd be the first one. "I love breakfast," she says. "It's hands down my favorite meal and time of the day. I have a rule that you should never have breakfast with people you don't enjoy. It's a sacred time and meal, so protect that. Mentally and nutritionally, it's how you set yourself up for the rest of the day, so start fresh." Her go-to is three eggs scrambled with avocado, baby spinach or arugula, and heirloom tomatoes, which she complements with an Americano and water.
For snacks, Godso usually has whey isolate protein powder with water or fresh fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, or a pear. "I love the way I eat and don't feel like I deprive my body," she says. "I am very aware of what my body does and doesn't digest and will avoid any problem foods even if they're a vegetable. Don't be afraid to be a bit of a diva about your food. It's your body; you're the driver of it."
For dinner, Godso loves to cook chicken or ground turkey and pair it with a fresh salad and maybe some butternut squash or grilled baby heirloom carrots and broccoli. "Chili on everything," she adds.
Godso's Morning and Evening Routine
"Mornings are fast and precise. I usually wake up before my alarm that is set for 5:15 a.m. I get straight into the shower and get ready for work. I throw some of my favorite ingredients into the Vitamix and sip on a protein smoothie while I quickly get ready. I don't have time for breakfast first thing but always make sure I have some eggs mid-morning in a break from clients and projects.
"I am really low-maintenance with my skincare but not in a sense that I don't care about what I use; I just don't want to own a million products. I prefer the less-but-better approach. I'm obsessed with Panacea, which is a Korean skincare line. I use its cleanser, moisturizer, and SPF. Since I started using it, I definitely noticed a softness and glow come back to the skin that left me for a while after moving to NYC (totally different environment to New Zealand and Australia, which my skin was used to). I don't have problem skin at all, which I'm grateful for, but given the active lifestyle I lead and fleeting time I spend in bed, I need products that are going to give life to my face.
En route to work, I listen to a podcast or audiobook. I love Oprah's SuperSoul Conversations podcast. I love music, but since I listen to it so much for work, I like to take my time in transit and fuel up on some uplifting conversations and learning. Generally, once I'm out the door, I don't get back to my apartment until around 7:30 p.m. My evening routine is dinner, magnesium, a kava tea, and FaceTiming my cat and family back home."
We know that fitness isn't always something we prioritize, but with these simple (and affordable) tips, there's no reason not to incorporate it into your routine in a way that suits your lifestyle.