Fitness for Everyday of "Sarah Bainwohl"

Hello, who are you and what sports/fitness routine do you play?

Hi! My name is Sarah Bainwohl and I am a spin Instructor at a studio called Hustl and Flow. I am obsessed with my job there (in a good way!) and it is safe to say that instructing changed my life.

I was not always active. As a kid, I was super shy and reserved. It’s not that I didn’t like sports, I just didn’t like the social aspect of it. My parents made me try every sport out there; soccer, baseball, hockey, tennis, gymnastics…you name it, I tried it. And every single time, I lasted about one week and then would come home crying saying how much I hated it. My dad (the only boy in a family of all girls), wanted me to find “my” sport so badly, but no matter what, nothing stuck. Until I started synchronized Swimming. I had a friend who was in it for a little bit, and her parents insisted I try it. So, my parents registered me for a recreational team. And sure enough, like every other sport, I hated it. But my parents were so set on finding a sport that I would not quit. So, they made me stay in it.  After a month of crying every time before I would have to go to practice, something finally changed. One coach saw potential and moved me to a competitive-level team. From there, I was hooked. I stayed in the sport for 10 years, winning both provincial and national titles. Swimming was my life, I loved every part of it and I also loved everything it taught me both physically and also mentally. 

When I was about 17 years old, I realized I didn’t love it quite as much as I once had. I had the option to drop down to half days at school and train for the other half, to prepare for Team Canada or Olympic trials. But I realized that’s not what I wanted to do anymore. 

So, I quit, graduated high school, went to university, and did everything a typical university student would do. I hired a personal trainer because I realized even though I had been an athlete for all those years, I had no idea how to work out by myself. I started getting more into lifting weights and even ended up teaching Zumba classes for a while. But nothing compared to the feeling I would get after a really intense synchro practice, or after I competed. 

I lost motivation to work out at the gym, and with a whole family of bodybuilders, I think it drove me away from working out even more. I was super inconsistent, and being a student, I was eating pretty much whatever I wanted. 

It wasn’t until 4 years after I quit swimming that I had the opportunity to try out for Hustl and Flow. At first, I had ZERO interest… I hated biking, I had done one spin class before and hated that too. But for some reason, I decided to agree to the 5-month training program. 

The program consisted of 6 am conditioning every day, plus long days focusing on how to put a class together and command a room. During this time, I realized: this is the exact same way I would feel after a tough practice. The training was very intense, there were a lot of tears, but also a lot of breakthrough moments. So, I was completely hooked. 

Once I finally became an instructor, my life changed. I started walking more confidently, talking and thinking more positively, and of course, the way I looked changed. I was teaching 7 classes a week and loved it. People would tell me how good I looked, and I started seeing very noticeable differences in my body. But, as much as I thought I loved it, my body couldn’t keep up. It was impossible for me to consume enough calories in the day, and I started being tired all the time. I also could not build any muscle no matter how hard I tried. 

About 6 months into instructing, I had a really amazing opportunity come my way. A spin studio in Australia reached out to me and wanted to fly me out to live and teach there for one year. Even though I knew I was burning out, I figured I wouldn’t notice since I was in Australia. Plus, the pay was too good to turn down. Even though I thought I knew what I wanted, my body (or the universe) had already decided for me. Exactly one week before I was supposed to leave, I slipped and broke my arm. The Australia offer was instantly taken away, and not only that, but I could not instruct here either. 

While I was heartbroken at first, I am the type of person to make the most of a situation. I realized this is the universe’s way of telling me to take a step back and give my body what it really needs in a healthy way. So, I started researching how to properly care for my body, how to properly weight train, and finally, how to fuel my body properly. Once my arm healed, I went back to teaching, but only twice a week. I fell in love with it again, along with proper weight training and recovery work. 

Teaching spin has taught me discipline and how to properly take care of myself and I could not imagine my life without it!

How do you get ready to train for your sport/how do you train?

Spin is a very different type of workout. By that, I mean that no matter how “fit” you are, taking a class can still be a huge struggle because it incorporates movements that are not normal for the average person. On top of the classes that I actually teach weekly, I try to make it to the studio at least 2 other times per week to do my own spin training. I do resistance training, endurance, and speed training (i.e. climbs, jogs, and sprints on the bike). We typically have group conditioning a couple of times a month to make sure we are all staying on track with our training and that no one is falling behind. Like I said above, I also am religious with my weight training; specifically HEAVY leg days so I can build up the muscle to properly support myself on the bike. I try to go to the gym 4-5x per week. While this is all on the “physical” side of things, I also mentally prepare myself. Before I instruct a class, I will face myself in a mirror and visualize every part of my class for that day. I picture how I want to feel, how I want my riders to feel, and any little message of encouragement I want to add at that point of the class. This is actually probably the biggest pre-class ritual I have- if I don’t do this, my class isn’t as good!

After a workout/game, how do you recover your body? What do you do to get your body in shape? What type of diet do you eat? 

After a workout, I always like to stretch. I have a whole “routine” I go through, it typically takes 30-45 minutes. Because I have some lingering injuries from when I used to swim, stretching is so important for these injuries not to flare up. I also do yoga classes at least once a week. I use bands to aid my stretching, as well as a foam roller and a therapy ball. Incorporating these into my stretching routine makes SUCH a big difference in how my body feels. Finally, I take baths as often as possible (this also helps me clear my mind and relax) and I get massages at least every 2 weeks. 

For my diet, I just try to eat high protein, and as clean as possible. Since I am typically so busy throughout the day, I try to eat anything that will keep me full. I love any version of a salad, and recently I have been trying to stick to a more plant-based diet. I love to cook and am constantly looking for new healthy recipes. I work with a supplement company called Aviiti, and while I am not huge on taking supplements, I love their products. I typically incorporate protein powder into my cooking, and I drink BCAAs during my workouts to help my muscles recover quickly. I also always put collagen into my coffee for my hair, skin, and nails. And of course, I drink a TON of water. The biggest lesson I learned about being active is to EAT. I love food and am always down to eat something. 

How do you prevent injuries when you’re training? What type of stretches do you normally do? What’s your routine looking like?

To prevent injuries while I am training, I have researched what supporting muscles need to be strong. For example, while I am squatting, I know it’s important to have a strong core. So, I make sure I train core weekly. I also listen to my body. This is probably the biggest lesson I have learned. If something does not feel right, DON’T DO IT. This is your body’s way of warning you. I always push myself, but I know the difference between “good” pain and “bad” pain.

For stretching, I constantly do a full-body stretch, similar to a yoga flow. I start with my lower body and work my way up to the upper portion. I also incorporate deep breathing into this. Learning how to properly breathe with movements has changed the way I workout, the way I stretch, and the way I can approach a stressful situation. It allows me to release any tension my body is carrying, making my recovery much quicker. 

If there is someone wanting to get to your level, what type of advice would you give them?

If someone is wanting to get to this level, It’s all about mindset and consistency. I know every fitness person preaches this, but it really is true. We all have days where we don’t want to do something; whether it is working out, eating healthy, going to a job, etc. If you can change your mindset from “I HAVE to do x y and z”, to, “I GET to do x y and z”, you’ll be shocked at how much you can get done. It is a privilege for a lot of us to be able to go to a job that gives us an income or to have a safe space to work out in. Or to have the money to buy fresh food, or to have a house to clean, or to have our physical health. The list goes on. Once we shift our mindset to us “getting” to do these things rather than “having” to do them, it really changes our outlook. Anytime I have an unmotivated day, I tell myself how lucky I am to be in a position to choose to do these things. And it always helps. 

How do you structure your day now? What projects are you busy with?

I start my day with my morning routine (“me” time); brushing my teeth, washing my face, making my bed, etc. I then listen to music and make breakfast (I can’t start my day until I have eaten something). If I am teaching a class that day, I plan my class during this time as well. After this, I typically have meetings for my day job. I work from home in the insurance industry. Once I am done with these meetings, I go to the gym and do any errands/running around I need to do. I am currently taking a course on how to properly invest money, and I also am currently managing a Night Club. So, after I workout, I either get ready for my night at work, or I come home and learn about what to do with my money so I don’t need to continue the work cycle. While my days are usually very full, I am HUGE on personal time. I love all my jobs, but they are all very social. While I am an extrovert, I can be very introverted at times and need time to recharge. I always have at least one day (typically Sunday afternoons & Monday mornings- this is my weekend) to recharge, not be social, and just do whatever I feel I need in that time. I’m obsessed with Netflix so I usually catch up with my shows during this time. I also try to not be on my phone as much these days. Finally, I love different languages, so my goal during the pandemic was to learn a new language. I am (trying) to learn Italian (I am Italian so it makes sense to know my roots!) which has been a slow and steady process. On top of all of this, my friend and I are planning a podcast so stay tuned for that! 

How has your journey on social media been? Future plans?

I have never taken social media too seriously. I do the occasional shoot here and there, but nothing too crazy. I know I need to be more consistent with how I post on social media, but it’s tough- I have so much respect for people who have this as their job! It is a lot of work. I am working on posting more fitness/lifestyle content and I have started working with a few different brands and photographers, so I think I am on the right track. In real life, I am a jokester, and I try to portray that through my Instagram. While I might be the only person who actually thinks I am funny, I am very keen on portraying that I don’t take myself too seriously and it’s important to be able to laugh at yourself every once in a while. I also try to be as open and honest as I can with my followers, and will continue to do so! I am optimistic about the direction my Instagram is going in, and I hope that people can eventually use my page as inspo for life tips, fitness tips, and motivation within their own lives.

Knowing what you know now, what do you wish you could tell yourself 10 years ago?

10 years ago, I wish I could have told myself: NO ONE CARES. And I DON’T mean that in a negative way. No one cares if you wear a red shirt or the green shirt. Or if you say one thing vs another thing. I spent a lot of my life being worried about what people will think of me, just to realize now I’ve ended up in the exact same spot. Just do what makes you happy, not anyone else.


How can our audience find you online? 

The main social media I use is my Instagram! @sbainwohl

Link to Sarah's Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sbainwohl/

Sarah Bainwohl is a spin Instructor at a studio called Hustl and Flow. She is obsessed with her job (in a good way!), and instructing changed her life.