Nike Master Trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp Instructor Rebecca Kennedy Talks Fitness, Food, and Getting Solid AF
Maybe it’s her long blonde locks or bright infectious smile, but Rebecca Kennedy is that ray of sunshine you just can’t get enough of. This Nike Master Trainer, Barry’s Bootcamp instructor, and founder of A.C.C.E.S.S. never stops. If you’ve taken her classes or follow her on social media, you already know this to be true. She teaches 20+ classes a week!
Kennedy is on a mission to inspire fitness fiends and newbies alike to sweat, stretch it out, and eat healthy, balanced meals. Although she's based in New York City, Kennedy is an avid world traveler who constantly takes advantage of her surroundings to get her workout on. In fact, this lucky BISH just returned from hosting her first-ever RKsolid Retreat in Hawaii and plans on doing another one soon.
In our exclusive MISSBISH Flex Zone interview, Kennedy talks fitness, food, and getting SOLID AF with a healthy dose of humor. Yeah, you'll probably want to hit the gym after reading this. Better yet, if you're in NYC, you should take one of her classes.
You’re a Nike Master Trainer and Barry’s Bootcamp instructor; two huge names within the fitness world. How has this prepared you to launch your own workouts A.C.C.E.S.S. and SOLID?
I feel very grateful to have been associated with such innovative and game-changing companies for five years now. I am constantly inspired by the teams around me that push the envelope and create something from nothing. I find myself attracted to these companies because I, too, am a creator and innovator.
I also care, a lot. I keep an ear open to what people need and want and see the impact one company can have on the industry all the way down to each individual. I am wildly motivated and, luckily, supported by both companies in my endeavor. It feels good to know the companies you believe in also believe in you and what you’re producing. Surround yourself with greatness, and the likelihood of being great just gets higher.
So, what exactly is A.C.C.E.S.S., and who benefits from it?
A.C.C.E.S.S. (Athletes' Connection to Core Endurance, Strength, and Stretch) is NYC’s first active recovery program. It’s a 60-minute barefoot class for all levels that focuses on mobility, core strength, flexibility, and functional movement patterns. If functional training, yoga, pilates, and gymnastics had a baby, we’d name her A.C.C.E.S.S. The class is foundational in what it asks of the body; everyone needs safe posture, mobile joints, stable joints, and strong cores. That’s the way our body was designed to move, but over the years with technology, desk jobs, less movement, more sitting, longer days, and less sleep, we've formed bad habits, tight muscles, and weak and stiff joints. A.C.C.E.S.S. is something we should be doing daily for ourselves, and while an hour might not be necessary every time, there are takeaway elements in every class you can and should do daily!
From a growth perspective, what are you hoping to achieve with A.C.C.E.S.S. in 2017?
2017 is a big year for A.C.C.E.S.S. with the primary goal of co-branding with another studio. You’ll also see A.C.C.E.S.S. on regular RKsolid Retreats, and I’ll be adding more classes and instructors to the team. We also launched a kickass hybrid class called SOLID, where mobility meets High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT). Classes consist of 20-30 minutes of focused barefoot mobility work (upper, lower, or full body) and 30-40 minutes of strength and conditioning training (upper, lower, or full body). This new program takes you into a thoughtful map of movement from beginning to end and leaves you feeling stretched, stacked, sweaty, stronger, and solid — just like its namesake.
“Helping people realize their potential and pushing them past their own limits is the most gratifying moment as a trainer."
You just returned from your first RKsolid Retreat in Hawaii. Can you tell us what went down?
There's so much to tell, where do I begin?! It was an action-packed week. We kicked things off with a sunset welcome dinner, and everyone got to know one another the night before our first workout. We began every morning at 6 a.m. with a sunrise A.C.C.E.S.S. class outdoors on the beach and around the property, which was a refreshing way to start the day.
At 9 a.m., we went on our full-day adventures with the Mahina Hawaii team. We climbed the Koko Crater Stairs (1,048 each way), snorkeled, and hiked a locals-only waterfall in the rain because it only flows when it’s raining. We learned how to surf in the North Shore, where they have some of the most epic waves in the world. I caught all my waves on my first time ever, no wipeouts, so I'm pretty pumped about that!
We hiked every single day and reached summits that had the most incredible views of the island. “Fearless” was a word on the tips of our tongues every day because we challenged ourselves constantly. There were tidepools and rope swings, stand up paddle boarding in open water and lazy rivers, and SUP Yoga! We finished with the legendary Stairway To Heaven (7.5 hours round trip, 12 miles, and 1,548 feet of elevation....in the pouring rain and slippery mud). IT WAS F*CKING EPIC.
After just 24 hours into the trip, the crew wasn't a group of strangers any more. In fact, my group text with this team is still going strong, and local workouts are already kicking off. I couldn’t have imagined a better first retreat or group of individuals to spend my time with!
What was your favorite part of the experience?
The camaraderie built, and seeing my crew overcome fears, gain confidence, and feel proud and accomplished, and most importantly, alive. For me, helping people realize their potential and pushing them past their own limits is the most gratifying moment as a trainer.
Do you have any upcoming retreats?
Yes! There will be another one announced soon. I plan on it being in 2017. Want to be the first to hear? Sign up online here.
Your Instagram features food and fitness. Can you explain why it’s so important to balance exercise with healthy eating?
Well, first off, I’m a huge foodie. But I’m never on a diet; I just eat whole foods and live holistically. That being said, one doesn’t exist without the other if you want to see and feel a change. For example, if you only exercise, you’ll see minimal results, and if you only eat healthy, your muscular definition doesn’t appear. Food and fitness go together like peanut butter and jelly (another useless talent of mine, I can relate anything back to food). If you're training, your body is in a constant deficit of energy. We use energy to spin, squat, run, push-up, dance, golf, whatever it is…and need to replenish the well we took from in order to help our muscles repair and prevent injury and malnourishment.
There's no better side dish to a healthy diet than a manageable and sustainable exercise regime. Some people have worked up to 5-6 days a week, and some of us need to start at 1-2 days — and that’s fine. We all start somewhere, and short windows of movement every day eventually turn into longer or more regular workouts. The more you move, the more your body wants to and CAN move.
The goal? Take your already awesome life and enhance it. Equilibrium is the main goal and it looks different on everyone.
Who or what inspires you every morning to get up and live a healthy lifestyle?
My passion for life! I also am wildly inspired by my friends, my clients, and my affinity for that endorphin high. I try to live by example and don’t take my role as a motivator and coach lightly. I want to demonstrate how to live within healthy means, instead of the extremes. You never know who you’re inspiring, but you do it daily — every time you choose the banana over the bagel, and lace up instead of lying down.
Living a healthy lifestyle also keeps my physical and mental health in good standing, not to mention my desired body composition. To me, feeling good every day is enough to get me out of bed, but getting stronger, improving skills, and learning every day is enough to keep me on my toes!
NYC is like an endless playground. How do you use the city as your gym and where are your favorite spots to exercise outdoors?
I made a promise to myself nine years ago when I moved to NYC that I would live by the water so I could run, bike, and walk everywhere while feeling like I'm outside of the bustling city. I made that happen a few years ago, and hit Charles Street Pier and West Side Highway daily for commutes, workouts, and hangouts.
Alternatively, you can never go wrong with Central Park! It’s a pretty magical place and never gets old. NYC always has a way of making you feel lucky to live here, even while she challenges you. I can’t omit the fact that we are the mecca of boutique fitness studios as well. I hit these up almost daily to take classes (yes, on top of teaching!). Soho Strength Lab is my all-time favorite “playground” in the city.
What’s your advice to someone who doesn’t know where to begin or how to incorporate fitness into their regular routine?
Just start. Honestly, that’s the hardest part. If you can, my number one recommendation is get a personal trainer for 2-3x a week for a few months at least so you have a good foundation, understand your body, and are held accountable for showing up. If you can't stand on one foot, it’s going to be hard to sprint! Instead of feeling unable to keep up in group fitness classes off the bat, private sessions are definitely the way to go. If they’re too costly, small group training is another great option. Once you’re ready, then try a few classes to figure out what you enjoy first. Find a teacher that is knowledgeable, and who plays music you like (a huge factor for me).
I teach 20+ classes a week, but I also do personal training and I love both for different reasons. I take group classes and yup, I have my own trainer, too. It’s important to reach certain goals. They should be able to help you coordinate a realistic schedule, and if you enjoy their company, it’ll even be something you look forward to!
If you weren’t empowering people to live healthier lifestyles, what do you think you’d be doing instead?
That’s a question I’ve asked myself many times, and I honestly can’t imagine not doing this. That being said, I’d probably be in food/hospitality/travel. I enjoy cooking, hosting, and exploring. Maybe you’ll visit my hotel someday?
Who’s your MISSBISH?
Candice Kumai is a definite MISSBISH for me! She’s an innovator, a hustler, smart, fit, beautiful, and super talented. Yea, I’d call that a MISSBISH.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Strong, independent, fearless women. We go after what we want. We are leaders. We empower other women.
And finally, finish the sentence...
I can’t live without... sweat, coffee, and wine.
My favorite post-workout snack is... sweet potatoes, eggs, and greens!
I always keep... extra Nike gear, Nuun electrolyte tablets, OUAI dry shampoo mousse, and Dermalogica moisturizer in my gym bag.
I’ll never forget when... Jake Gyllenhaal asked me out at the end of one of my Barry’s Bootcamp classes. (Just kidding, that didn’t happen…yet. Hey, Jake!) But in all honesty, it was super inspirational when all of my runners hit a 12.5 on the treadmill at the same time. That’s 25 people at once, folks. Hot damn!
I really want to... run a marathon in Big Sur and hike Machu Picchu before I turn 35.