Three Strategies Peloton's Emma Lovewell Swears By to Help Her Navigate Anxiety
Peloton instructor Emma Lovewell recently returned from a whirlwind trip to South America that included three days of kayaking in Patagonia, a humbling bike ride at 14,000 feet, and a desperate desire for a post-vacation vacation to recover from all that adventuring. But the jam-packed getaway gave Lovewell some much-appreciated perspective as she returned to New York in early March — a notoriously tumultuous time in the city, weather-wise, but also a particularly surreal period this year as COVID restrictions began to lift. While the prospect of returning to some semblance of "new normalcy" may be a relief to many, Lovewell acknowledges that re-entry can be a tough process and may even provoke some anxiety after two-plus years in an ongoing global pandemic.
"I think awareness is everything," she says. "Acknowledging how you feel is the first step — and knowing that you're not alone. It's totally normal to have weird feelings. I just came back from this trip and it's like, if you travel to another country, what are the things that you do when you're in a foreign environment to make yourself feel at ease? You could take that same advice into this new normal: prepare, do your research, and take slow steps."
Lovewell says that as she's reacclimating to life in this new normal, she's boiled down her survival strategies to three key takeaways: "It's 1. Being aware of your feelings and knowing that it's okay, and don't have shame around having these feelings, 2. Writing things down — that helps with anxiety a lot of the time, and 3. Using your community," she says. "If you hold your feelings in, you might sometimes feel shame around them, but if you share them with people, then you realize you're not the only one going through this, and your friends are there to help and make you feel better."
Leaning on her own circle has been a critical tool in Lovewell's arsenal, especially as her star continues to rise thanks to Peloton. With all the perks of success come some downsides, and Lovewell says her fellow instructors have been critical supporters. "When I start going on social media first thing in the morning and happen to get a negative DM from somebody or a bad comment, it throws off my whole day," she says. "And I'm so mad about it and then I'm mad at myself for letting it get to me. I text my girlfriends who are Peloton instructors too and they're like, 'don't listen to them Emma! Think about how many people love your classes and love you!' and I'm like 'yes thank you — thank you Ally, thank you Tunde!' Like, 'these are my girls, this is what I needed to hear today.'" (More: 5 Peloton Instructors On How They Look So Damn Good Through Every Class)
Turning to her colleagues is just one way Lovewell shakes off unsolicited negativity. While she doesn't abide by the same strict no-phone-first-thing-in-the-morning policy that fellow instructors Tunde Oyeneyin, Cody Rigsby, and Becs Gentry swear by, she does her best to integrate some tech-free time into her a.m. routine. "I do believe in giving yourself 10 minutes in the morning to not look at your phone and just allowing yourself to wake up," she says. "But I will be honest with you — it takes a lot of work for me to do that. But when I do, it's after I've been burned [by a negative comment] — then I'm like, 'this is why you don't look at your phone! This is why you meditate in the morning, this is why you do your routine because you know that it's good for you.'"
So what is Lovewell's morning routine? While she says her regimen is flexible and she likes to mix things up throughout the seasons, one non-negotiable habit is hydration. "I drink a big glass of water and I'll often put apple cider vinegar in it — sometimes later in the day I'll get acid reflux and some heartburn and it seems to ease that for me." Because of her on-the-go lifestyle, Lovewell says her recent partnership with NOW Foods and her involvement in the company's "Commit to YOU" campaign makes perfect sense since the brand carries products like Apple Cider Vinegar capsules. "Obviously you can't fly with a big bottle of vinegar so I traveled with them and they were so great to have on hand," she says.
Another healthy habit Lovewell adopts according to the season is a morning smoothie. "Now that it's starting to warm up and it's springtime, I'm definitely getting back on the smoothie train," she says. "I use pea protein and spirulina from NOW to get those extra greens, and I get a handful of spinach, frozen blueberries, bananas, and almond milk. If I'm going to teach a class, I try to have something light and quick in the morning, and then after my workouts are done, I'll have a bigger meal."
While Lovewell says protein-rich dishes are usually on the menu after class (eggs and veggies are staples, as well as her quinoa pasta primavera recipe), she is adamant about not doling out blanket wisdom when it comes to nutrition — or anything for that matter. "Whatever works for me may not necessarily work for you," she says. "It's a learning process of what your routine is — maybe it sticks around for six months, and then maybe it doesn't serve you anymore."
That individualized approach is something Lovewell takes seriously, and she's worked hard to tune into her specific needs when it comes to rest and recovery. "I'm not super regimented about my rest because I enjoy it so much, I'm not worried I won't do it," she says with a laugh. "But that's not to say that I don't take it seriously. I will do a full rest day, but it doesn't have to be a full day either — it can be an hour or 10 minutes. I'll dim the lights and use lavender or rose oil and a diffuser, run a bath or take a hot shower, put on soothing music, and just really try to unwind." (More: Why Peloton's Cody Rigsby Always Takes Two Rest Days a Week)
Lovewell also counts on monthly visits to a physical therapist and occasional acupuncture to reset her body and mind. But again, she recognizes that these practices may not be a fit for everyone. "Your wellness and your health are very personal to you and what you're willing to try, what you're interested in, and what you believe," she says. "The thing about Eastern wellness is that it's not a trend — it's been around for literally thousands of years. So while I'm into trying new things, there are years of evidence and research about how great these tools are. I love it. If you tell me that something's been around for thousands of years and it helps people, sign me up."
For those still trying to get their groove back and settle into healthy routines in this ongoing state of pandemic normalcy, Lovewell offers some words of wisdom and encouragement. "We are animals on this planet, and so, with the seasons changing, there's a lot of change that we feel too," she says. "For instance, today was sunny and warm and I went outside and I was like, 'this is affecting me, I can feel it.' We are affected by the moon, we are affected by the seasons — just know that these transitional times are really challenging in and of themselves, and then you add on the layers of society and friends and expectations and plans and jobs and all the things. So just take it in stride and go slow."