In songs like “1, 2 Step” and “Body Party,” fitness is entangled with Ciara’s music. Not only does her music serve as an excellent soundtrack for any workout, her moves are one as well. That’s partly why the pop artist and dancer was a natural choice for Equinox’s latest campaign, which is all about the movement of life—something that Ciara is well versed in, as she balances being a musician and entrepreneur, as well as a mom and wife. “Every aspect of my life is about leveling up and living my best life as an artist, a performer, a mother, or a boss,” she said while talking about the Nick Knight–helmed collaboration. “For me, Equinox means reaching your potential, and that’s always my goal in all that I do.” It wasn’t always that simple, though, as Ciara shares when talking about her journey to being this confident, how she imparts that to her kids, and how having children changed her perception of beauty and fitness. But that’s part of the fun, as she explained: “All of the flaws are what makes us who we are; it’s a part of our character,” she said. “You get so much further in life by embracing who you are.”

Do you have a strict beauty routine? What kinds of things do you do beautywise in the morning and evening?

I’ll be honest. I’m a very simple girl. I do wash my face twice a day. I make sure I put on moisturizing sunscreen every day. I like getting microderms from time to time. It’s good to exfoliate your skin. I’m kind of obsessed with seeing blackheads clear out—I’m weird that way. I’d like to believe that a lot of people are like that. More than anything, I wash my face twice a day and moisturize.

What is the most out-there thing you’ve done in the name of beauty?

The most extreme thing I’ve done for the sake of beauty is having stretch-mark removals. After my babies, my body was beat up a little bit and I was able to find out about this cool stretch-mark-removal process from my dermatologist in Los Angeles, named Dr. Lancer. He’s not paying me to say that, but I will tell you it worked really good. I still have a few stretch marks. You know, I’ll take those scars because my babies give me the sweetest joy and it’s all worth it.

Did it come from a place of wanting to feel more confident in your skin?

It was more so trying to get back to my base weight and who I was before I had babies, and that was a part of that process and taking care of me.

Lou Jasmin

Where does your confidence come from? Have you always been confident in your appearance?

No, I haven’t always been confident. I’ve definitely had to have self talks because before I was grown up, I was one of those girls where my body developed a bit behind. I was really tall, very muscular. I used to walk with my back hunched over a bit because I was so insecure about being tall. My confidence, as far as me accepting myself physically, kind of happened later for me.

Once I got older, I realized it’s actually cool to embrace all of these things that I thought were flaws. When you get more comfortable, you realize that none of that stuff is changing, so the last thing you want to do is walk around being worried about it. Embrace what you have—that is part of loving yourself, and understanding the power of loving yourself is game-changing. Once I did that, my confidence level went up tremendously. It’s the best feeling when you’re not overthinking about yourself, whether it’s the small mark I have on my face—which I think is a birthmark, to tell the truth. But that’s a part of who I am. When I look at a lot of women that I admire, I love how they’re confident. There’s something so sexy about confidence, and I think you kind of grow into that.

Have you already started talking to your kids about confidence?

Yeah I do, in a fun way. Kids have no inhibitions, and they don’t overthink stuff because they’re still learning, so they’re already superconfident. Sienna is fearless. She’s just running around the house like she owns it. With our son, he’s 4, so he has a bit more awareness at this stage. More than anything, I think the confidence that we project on him is as simple as making sure that you shake someone’s hand. Like, look at someone in the eyes when you talk to them. We have these fun things we’ve been trying, to start those good habits early. When it’s time, we’re going to do confidence check-ins because that’s huge. The more you can love a child in the right way, the more you build their confidence because there’s nothing better than knowing that you’re loved. I think love is where confidence-building starts. We’re very expressive in our household when it comes to love and loving our kids. I hope that will pour over into their character for years to come.

Lou Jasmin

What motivates you to hit the gym?

It’s wanting to make sure that I’m staying on top of my health. A few years ago I upped my commitment level to really living a healthy life. I would train for what I needed to do, like going on tour or a video, but I wouldn’t really be consistent every day. Once I made that commitment to live healthier and make better fitness decisions, it was game-changing for me—and I realized that I didn’t have to work as hard. When you’re trying to play catchup and lose 60 pounds in four months, which was a goal I set after my first child (I gave myself more room after Sienna)—it’s overwhelming. Once I got back to my base weight, I wanted to maintain and not have to target one area aggressively. I made an overall promise to live a healthier life, and that’s what drives me. I really do love taking care of me, and there’s no greater feeling than going to the gym when you don’t want to go to the gym and getting that work done. You feel so much more confident afterwards, and you feel like you actually achieved something, and that is rewarding too.

The gym can be a really overwhelming place, especially when you don’t have a trainer to guide you through it. What are your go-to moves or circuits that anyone can do?

I used to run track in high school, so I was always an athlete at my core, but it’s sometimes fun when you get on a treadmill and you just sprint for one minute, then pop off. You push yourself in between breaks to the highest speed you can go to. Spring and hop off, and repeat. You can do it 10 times, and it really gets your cardiovascular going like crazy, and it’s good for conditioning. But don’t overextend yourself. Be realistic about what is good for your body and you’ll find that rhythm.

I think the thing about working out is the fact that you’re already there is dope. You already look fly and look good by being in the gym. When you’re in tune with your body, you’ll be able to feel what truly is best for you.

What does a typical day in your life look like, as far as your fitness and meals go?

I will wake up with a healthy meal, like oatmeal, for fiber, and perhaps a side of fruit, maybe even an egg—but a pretty balanced breakfast. Then I will train for an hour, hour and a half after I eat my food. After my workout, I’ll have a snack. When I was losing my postbaby weight I did a few slices of mango and a small cup of cashews. For lunch they always say to have the biggest meal because your body burns the most calories at that moment. I’ll do a good protein with one good vegetable and a good carb, like a baked sweet potato. Maybe I’ll have another snack after like a protein shake. Then I’ll have my dinner. What I’ve been trying to do lately is cut down my carbs at night. This meal plan and workout plan is the healthier side of me. When I’m super dialed in, I’ll have a fish and two vegetables at night and call it a day.

If I’m not trying to reach a certain physical weight, I may not make it to a gallon of water a day. But I drink a decent amount of water a day. On days that I decide to have fun, I’m always trying to implement my training program, even when I’m not as strict about what I’m eating. I may have a cheeseburger and french fries for lunch, but I try to balance it out at a dinner time.

Do you have any New Year's resolutions?

I change the phrase New Year's resolutions to my level-up. For 2019, I definitely want to take my fitness to another level. I want to push myself even harder this year. I had diastasis recti postpregnancy, when your stomach muscles split and it’s very hard to get them to come back like normal, so this year I want to conquer my diastasis recti fully. I want to keep working on balancing my life schedule from being a mom, wife, entertainer, entrepreneur and making sure that I’m splitting my time properly so I feel balanced and I’m able to enjoy the special moments when they happen.