FITNESS FINDER: Wellness In The City

WHO: Marisa and Nicole of Wellness In The City.
LOCATION: Cape Town, South Africa
SPECIALITIES: Health, fitness, nutrition
Starksy and Hutch, Tango and Cash, Maverick and Iceman, and now Nicole and Marisa. Two talented, sophisticated women with refreshing honesty and a great sense of humour. They’re using themselves as guinea pigs to find the most enjoyable (and effective) methods in fitness and health – in our mind it’s a great cause and is similar to the goals of The Mantra.Wellness In The City is a smart, refined, beautiful blog that relies on their partnership to investigate the latest trends, both in gyms and on plates. They’ve got a mix of marketing, PR and modelling backgrounds, and they’re both dialled in to the health and fitness scene in Cape Town. In terms of adventure, they’re experienced globetrotters who have done everything from wakeboarding in the Côte d’Azur and dogsledding in the Argentine Ushuaia, to exploring cenotes in Mexico and snowboarding in Monte Zoncolan. They’re role models for anyone who wants more from life, and not just in fitness and health. I’ve joined them for a workout already (my Crawl Project review will be posted soon), and will do more in the future – it’s great to get their take (and a woman’s perspective) on the types of training we’ll try out together. I did a quick Q and A with them to reveal more about the women behind the brand:

Q: HOW DID IT ALL START?
“We met through a mutual friend when we were 19 years old, and it was the start of a very entertaining journey. Times have changed from drinking cheap ciders and dancing on tables to drinking wheatgrass shots and still dancing on tables, but now we’re searching for ways to improve our health while still enjoying life to the fullest and seeking adventure in everything we do! We share a love for good, wholesome food and cutting-edge fitness and health trends, which has kept us motivated through every tough exercise class, challenging training regime and early morning (painful) Biskop stair sessions. We saw a gap in the market for a niche South African platform that provides consumers with a health and fitness guide along with honest, unbiased feedback and reviews. We decided to combine our industry experiences and love for living life well by starting a blog that sets out to do more than motivate readers to work out and eat healthy, and instead inspires adventure, balance and living life outside of your comfort zones.”

Q: YOU’RE LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT FITNESS FORMULA – WHAT’S BEEN THE CLOSEST?
“We’re not so sure that even exists – it’s very personal as everyone’s body responds differently. The tricky (and sometimes tedious) part is finding the right plan that works for yourself, especially when you aren’t at your fittest and working out is frustrating and demotivating. We personally enjoy a mixture of cardio and weight training and our favourite classes have incorporated both, like Barre Body, MoJo, Sweat 1000 and Switch – it keeps things interesting and gives you the satisfaction of having a full body workout.”
Marisa: “I’m incredibly passionate about running, it keeps me motivated to stay fit and explore the outdoors as opposed to working out in a confined space. It’s during winter that I force myself to commit to classes indoors (which I need a lot of motivation for). I would choose a 3hr trail run over a 30min gym session any day, but unfortunately time is limited in the corporate world.”
Nicole: “Even though we’ve got lots in common, endurance running is not one of them. I opt for shorter distances along with bursts of high intensity exercises, incorporating weights, plyometric and interval training. I have a dancing background, so anything that incorporates those elements is on the top of my list. Barre Body and Crawl Project have been my favourite classes to date.”

Q: WHAT HAVE BEEN YOUR BIGGEST FITNESS LESSONS (AND MISTAKES)?
“Lesson: Push yourself, but don’t compare yourself to others and rather focus on what works for you and what makes you happy! A little competition is good but getting too obsessed with your fitness and health can actually be detrimental (and lets be honest, no one likes a show-off!).
Mistake: We underestimate how important stretching is, it’s not only essential to warm up your muscles before exercise but warming down after a workout is critical too. We don’t take this seriously enough, as we just expect our bodies to bounce back – unfortunately that’s probably where most of our injuries have stemmed from.”

Q: WHO ARE YOUR ROLE MODELS?
“That’s a tough one, besides the 70-year-old cyclist who pushed Nicole up Suikerbossie during the Argus last year and our friends and families who have embarked on some seriously tough challenges, we’re also constantly meeting and finding new inspiration from people who have incredibly heartfelt and motivating stories and life purpose. Two passionate individuals that come to mind are ‘eco-preneur’ James Kuiper from SexyFood.co.za and Red Sock Friday frontman John McInroy. It’s so inspiring to meet people who are passionate about influencing positive change and who are just genuinely enthusiastic about life!”

Q: WHAT ARE THE NEXT BIG FITNESS TRENDS?
“New fancy gym spaces are popping up everywhere that not only cater for the benchpressing beefcakes, but also include boxing facilities, climbing walls and calisthenics all under one roof. Exercise is becoming less one-dimensional. We may be a bit behind when it comes to what is trending internationally, but South Africa (especially Cape Town) is on the ball in terms of the whole health and fitness movement – we are yet to try out SUP Yoga (Stand Up Paddleboarding) which we recently saw is on offer in Camps Bay. We also read an article about studios in New York offering underwater spinning classes, called Hydro-spinning. With all the local cycling enthusiasts we have, who knows, maybe that will start trending here soon.”

Q: WHAT KIND OF EATING PLANS DO YOU TWO FOLLOW?
“Umm, actually we don’t follow a strict eating plan and we don’t diet either. We both have very different body shapes and our systems react differently to certain foods so we stick to eating what agrees with us individually. We enjoy eating healthily and incorporating wholefoods into our daily meals and snacks instead of stuffing our faces with Flings and fries…but that doesn’t mean we don’t indulge and satisfy our sugar cravings every so often. We try focus on balance and choosing the healthier alternative to naughty nibbles. We really don’t enjoy restricting ourselves too much as it just leads to two very depro and extremely ‘hangry’ Wellness witches (we’ve been there and it isn’t pretty). We don’t recommend trying out every new diet fad that makes the headlines, but instead just incorporate wholefoods and healthy choices whilst discovering what your body processes and what makes your tummy tick!”

Q: BEST AND WORST EXERCISE:
Best: Nicole – Anything that gets the butt burning. Marisa – any cardio.
Worst: Turkish Get Ups (or as Marisa calls them, the Turkey). “It’s a special sight watching us attempt this move.”

Q: WHAT’S YOUR NEXT BIG FITNESS CHALLENGE OR ADVENTURE?
Marisa: “After completing the 90km African X three-day stage race last year, I am incredibly keen to do it again, but I also have a few other races on my list like the Two Oceans Ultra and Ironman 70.3. I try not to commit to too many endurance races a year, because I tend to get too obsessive and it’s important for me to try find a balance between work, social life and exercise.”
Nicole: “We’re hiring a SUV and doing a road trip through the States – I’ve already mapped out the route. Whitewater river rafting through the Grand Canyon here we come! And fitness-wise, I’ve been wanting to get back into track and field training, which is perfect timing as the Green Point Athletics Stadium has finally opened. Marisa and I promise each other every year that we’ll do a triathlon together, so 2015 is looking promising (seeing as we still have 6 months to go).”

Q: YOUR FAVOURITE GEAR?
A Polar M400 watch (Marisa) and Apple iPods for hitting the tough and tedious Biskop stairs.
“Nicole has a slight obsession with Nike running shoes, but other than that we don’t have a lot of fancy gear… every now and then we splurge on some trendy exercise gear at Cotton On Body or purchase one hot item like our Adidas Stella McCartney bright gym tights (we could only afford one pair though – which is totally justifiable as we wear fitness gear everyday).”

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