On paper, Angela Parker sounds like your average fitness guru: She’s blonde, beautiful, in fabulous shape, and hosts sweat-inducing boot camps on the beach. But that’s about where the similarities end.
Parker’s one of the most down-to-earth people you’ve ever met. Her fitness approach is more about gaining confidence and self-acceptance than it is losing pounds. She believes that “anyone can be in a truly healthy, vibrant place”—and that extends far past physical strength. She encourages all women to be their best selves, inside and out. And best of all, she believes that exercise shouldn’t be grueling—it should be fun.
It’s this philosophy that viewers will grow to love on Chelsea Settles, a new MTV docu-series that follows a recent college grad as she pursues her dreams of moving to LA, working in fashion, and battling a lifelong food addiction, obesity, and a dehabilitating phobia of being in public. As viewers tune in each week, they will see Parker help the show’s namesake take an incredible journey of gaining self-confidence, working out, and learning how to love herself exactly as she is.
We sat down with Parker to get some inspiring advice for our own lives, on accepting our bodies, getting (and staying!) motivated to stay in shape, and having a great time while we’re at it.
Your empowering messages to Chelsea on self-confidence and self-love are so different than the typical fitness messages that are out there. Where does your philosophy come from?
It wasn’t until my late teens or early 20s that I discovered exercise. I never understood how powerful it was to work out—and how powerful being physically strong made me feel on the inside.
But I wasn’t finding the messages out there that made me feel good about myself. You read a magazine and you feel like you’re not good enough, you’re not thin enough, you’re not fit enough, you’re not pretty enough, your hair’s not straight enough. That feeling is disgusting. The messages that made me feel good weren’t out there, so I decided I’d be the one to create them for other people.
Your motto is “Inspiration, Motivation, Accountability, Results.” Let’s start with the first part: How can we get inspired to get healthy or start a new exercise program?
The key is being happy with where you are now—beating yourself up is not inspiring. If you completely accept yourself right now, just exactly as you are, with no changes, then anything you do becomes kind of a bonus.
Second, visualize what the best version of your body can realistically be. A lot of women know what it looks like to be a senior partner at a law firm, or to own their dream house, or to be a mother. But why don’t we ever take a few seconds and see what the best-looking version of ourselves could (realistically) be? That alone is inspiring, because you’re thinking about the best version of you, not the best version of your neighbor, your sister, or that skinny bitch next to you in spin class.
OK, we’re inspired—but it’s hard to keep that up. What’s the best way to stay motivated to exercise on a day-to-day basis?
It’s all about schedule. We’re busy women, so if being active and having a workout is loose and casual, it’s not going to happen. But if something makes it on our calendar, it usually doesn’t get rearranged.
I spend every Sunday planning my workouts out for the entire week—where I’m going to go, what I’m going to do. Then, I send an email to my friends. I don’t ask them if there’s a better time for them, I tell them, “this is what I’m doing. If you want to join me, show up!” Then, I know I have to stick to it! Finding the motivation in scheduling things and making yourself accountable by telling other people about it is what gets you results.
You’re a big proponent of making workouts fun. When summertime activities like hiking and biking aren’t an option, what are some good cold-weather alternatives?
I love taking dance classes. They’re so much fun that you kind of forget what you’re doing. Another great idea: Grab your friends and go to a roller skating rink! I know—who does that anymore? But imagine how many calories you would burn if, every Saturday night, you went roller skating instead of out drinking.
There are also great new studios that do aerial, circus, or acrobatic workouts, and many of them have newbie deals where you can do unlimited workouts for a couple of weeks for around $20-40. Studio-hopping is kind of like dating someone new—it’s exciting and fun, and you can either decide that you’ve really found something you love, or move on to the next thing.
The holidays are right around the corner. Any advice for the most difficult time of year to stick to a healthy routine?
This is what my friends and I do every year: starting the Monday after Thanksgiving, no drinking until New Years Eve. Alcohol alone is one of the easiest ways to put on the pounds. You eat more, you lose your inhibitions, you don’t show up for your workout the next day. By removing the alcohol, I guarantee that you will not put on weight.
Next, have a plan before you go to holiday parties—like only having a half of a dessert and a half a glass of wine (if you are drinking)—and put it on Facebook! I’m serious—it’s amazing what happens. Inevitably, someone at the party will see it and say, “OK, I’m doing it with you.” Or people at the party won’t join you, but they’ll watch you. Also, I always set up workout dates for the next morning after a party—it’s not going to be worth it to me to drink or overeat if I have to meet a girlfriend at 7 AM.
Really, it’s not about other people, it’s about you. But we’re all a bit stronger when we put ourselves out there and make ourselves accountable for our actions.
What’s the best music to jam to when you’re working out at the gym?
My all-time favorite is my workout boogie on my website. It is the most upbeat, sweaty, ridiculous playlist. You literally can’t stop moving. The music is just so out of control that you will keep going just so you won’t have to think about this music!
Fitness guru Angela Parker is the founder of Body Inspired Fitness, a Santa Monica, Calif.-based company that offers fun, creative personal training, boot camps, and group workouts that help clients of all ages have fun, get fit, and change their lives, and the author of 90 Days to a Stronger Body and Deeper Connection with Your Daughter.
Check out Angela on MTV’s Chelsea Settles, Tuesday nights at 11/10 Central.
Photos courtesy of Angela Parker.
Adrian was The Muse’s very first employee (ask her about the early days!) who built the Muse editorial team from the ground up. Now, she serves as Editor-at-Large, launching new content products and sharing expert career advice with Muse audiences online and off. When she’s not Musing, you’ll find her planning her next dinner party or international vacation. Say hi on Twitter and Instagram.More from this Author