The trainer Anna Kaiser, founder of AKT, knows why we all slog away in the gym, "it’s all about the clothes, let’s be real." And by all, that includes her friend and longtime client, the singer and dancer Shakira. Here, Kaiser, who just had a baby, how she bounced back after childbirth, and Shakira's training routine for the world tour of her newest album El Dorado.
You recently had a baby, congratulations!
I did. I had a baby eight months ago. He’s amazing. Thank you.
Can you walk us through your post-baby workout routine? It's a big change.
It is. The main thing is, obviously, to listen to your body, and to get yourself moving. It is very hard to get yourself moving and active again when you’re breastfeeding, up late, and up and down every three or four hours. You are exhausted and so finding a workout that’s smart, that’s exciting, that gives you options so you can either go into a studio or you can do it on demand is important.
As someone that loves to work out, it was very difficult. I would even stress more now, after going through it, that developing a sound workout routine schedule and habits prior to getting pregnant is so, so, so important, because you won’t start once you get pregnant. You’ll be exhausted. You’ll be run down, and it’s one more thing that your body just can’t introduce.
If you develop the habit prior to getting pregnant, after you have the baby you’ll crave it, because it’s something that you’ve been doing and you’ll want to get back to it. Finding that really fun, supportive smart workout is super important because you don’t want to go from you know, from zero to 150 percent. You want to be able to work yourself up safely and really develop strong core muscles from the inside out before you jump into anything that’s high intensity or more 360, with the cardio, strength, flexibility by really developing strength first, and focusing on your deep core stabilizers. Start slowly with 15 minutes, 20 minutes, 30 minutes of cardio, getting yourself moving, getting your endorphins going.
You’re going to feel so much better. You’re going to have so much more energy. You’ll be surprised how much energy you have. But the main thing is getting there. You really need to motivate yourself to get to the studio because it is hard. There is a lot happening with the baby and the bodies and schedule and so having that really fun, effective workout and team and community to help you get back into, into your AKT sessions is important. It’s really important.
So start early, and start small and build?
Yes. You have to be smart about your workouts after you have the baby... Your body’s been through a very traumatic event and you have to rebuild safely and slowly, from the inside out, with someone that really understands postnatal recovery work. Don’t just go to any workout. You really want to go to a place where they understand how to rebuild those muscles, so that you are able to work up to where you were before.
How would you find a class or a place that is post-baby approved?
Ask. Definitely ask but that’s… I mean, that’s really what I tout with AKT. Everyone here is an expert. The trainers are all certified pre- and postnatal, National Academy of Sports Medicine. They’re very close with the clients, with the community. And then the community is really positive and fun both online and in the studios in supporting one another and coming together and looking for you know the new moms who’ve just given birth. We congratulate them when they come in and pat them on the back and help new moms through it. It’s really important. So I would always recommend going and finding the AKT community online and the AKT community in studio because I can back those 100 percent and know that you’re going to get exactly what you need to work yourself back from having a baby.
That’s so cool. You and Shakira have been working really closely together since the She Wolf days, right?
I actually met her back in 2004. I was working with Jason Maier and Tina Landon and they had choreographed her tour, so I went backstage and met her at that point. Then we started training together through a mutual friend after that, and then I helped her with choreography and helped to get her ready for the She Wolf video, and then from there we just haven’t really parted. We just kept going. She’s an amazing person and I really respect her as an entrepreneur, a businesswoman, a performer, a mom. She's an amazing human being and a philanthropist, too. She does so much for the schools in Colombia.
In terms of training a musician and dancer, what goes into making sure that the body not only looks good but moves well?
Well, she’s very smart and she wants to learn about the body and she wants to know why she’s doing what she’s doing and what her goal is, what she’s trying to accomplish. Most people really need that and love that. And that’s why we’ve had such a long relationship, because she knows what a stickler I am for functional smart training, but I also make it really fun. We have a really good time together and she loves the community and she loves to work out.
And with a tour, when you are on stage two, two and a half hours every night with thousands of people in front of you, you have to be strong enough to both physically endure the show as well as mentally, and then sing on top of all of that, you know, be able to perform and not think about it being hard. Your endurance has to be up. Your stamina has to be up.
Your body needs to be strong as well as aesthetically in shape for the role that you’re about to play and it needs to be so on fleek. Not an inch can be left unthought about because this is your moment. You’re touring the world with the album you have just birthed. This is the moment for you to really do what you do best. I want to make sure that she is armed and excited and ready to go up there and just do what she does best and not think about the physicality and whether she’s ready or not to do it. She is going to be strong enough. Her endurance is going to be prepared and she’ll be ready to go on all fronts.
How you do that? Do you have any go-to moves like burpees?
No, so we have two different workouts. One is a circuit training interval workout and one is a dance-based interval workout. We offer both of those workouts online as well as in studio. The dance-based workout is called Happy Hour. The circuit training workout is called Sweat Dream. We have a lot of fun, and we alternate between cardio and strength intervals. We focus on different parts of the body. We’ll do a cardio circuit and then upper body circuit and then we’ll do a cardio circuit, lower body circuit, cardio circuit, core circuit so that she can really focus in on burning a specific part of the body. She loves to be able to connect and then also think about her postural imbalances. I create a program and a routine that helps strengthen the areas where she’s weak.
And most women, especially moms, have similar weaknesses, so my program changes every two weeks online as well as in studio. I’m constantly giving you different tricks and tools and exercises to strengthen the areas where you need it most as a woman. We’re always working to give her you know a new focus, a new area and exercise that she can bring into her everyday life, and work on so she feels comfortable with it. Shakira does that same exercise set for two to four weeks. We check in online, we check in in person and keep her going.
She sends me her heart rate monitor results every day, still. It’s really important to work with a heart rate monitor, and we work with a heart rate monitor in every single session so that you hold yourself accountable for how hard you’re working and I know how hard you’re working and we have a goal that we set with that heart rate monitor, whether it’s time, calories burned, intensity level so that you really are able to measure the effectiveness of your daily workouts.
It sounds like anyone coming into one of your classes is getting the Shakira workout.
Yes. Every single person is treated like a celebrity. We will sit down with every person that comes in the door and provide a class programming or a class program for them. We have five different class offerings here: tone, circuit training, dance-based interval training, HIT training, and cardio endurance. So I can say, "Okay, you’re going to take two Happy Hours, one Tone, one 4Play, and two Sweat Dreams this week." And then I’m going to measure you in two weeks, and we’ll reevaluate your program to make sure that you’re reaching your individual goals.
In addition to working out together, do you ever have any nutritional tips or is there someone that you send your clients to for the food component?
I will bring food and snacks and items from the States and give her new recipes and ideas. This time was the first time that she has a new chef. I was able to work with him on developing a food and nutrition plan for her over the next three months. We have an in-house nutritionist that works with our clients online as well as in-studio so that they get that same program. They have the option to just do the workout or, they can take it a step further, with the transformation program and do both the workout and the nutrition combined.
For someone who is dancing and performing for extensive periods, what do you recommend in terms of foods?
Protein. They need more protein. They need to make sure that they are able to feed their muscles and refuel their bodies to keep going when they’re so active every day.
Do you have any favorite protein sources?
Well, fish is always one of my favorites because it’s not only rich in protein but omegas and healthy oils and fats. You can find really fresh beautiful fish and it’s so easy to make. If you put fresh fish in tinfoil with a little bit of olive oil and some lemon and sea salt, it’s delicious. Or you can add some rosemary or some dill. You just fold up a tinfoil, put it all together, stick it in the oven at 425 for 20 minutes and you’ll have a beautiful dinner. It’s so easy to do, with just three ingredients. A lot of people are turned off by fish because it seems a little intimidating because we’re a little bit more used to cooking chicken or shrimp, but fish is just as easy and you don’t have to stand over a stove. You just put three ingredients together: it’ll take you five minutes, pop it in, and it’s done 20 minutes later. Then you can add a really nice fresh salad or some spinach or broccoli. It can be very easy, and then you’re really tasting the food and not all of the added preservatives and seasonings and everything that comes from delivery, takeout, or prepackaged food.
That’s a great meal tip. What else?
And you can even put those fresh veggies in the tinfoil with the fish, cook it all together. The other thing that we nutritionally speaking added into her plan was soups for snacks. Soups are super easy. You can take three ingredients, boil them, put all the ingredients and the water into a blender and you have soup. It’s a great snack. It’s filling. It’s hydrating. You feel like you’re having a meal, but it’s a really nice light snack at the same time.
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