Anna Kaiser is the fitness guru behind some of Hollywood’s most enviable silhouettes, a list that includes Sarah Jessica Parker, Kelly Ripa and Shakira. To train with her, you have to either make a pilgrimage to her New York City studio AKTinMotion or sign up for one of her short online workouts. Kaiser is taking the next step, however. She’s just launched a new workout DVD, Happy Hour, which she says offers the “ideal workout”—a combination of dance cardio, interval-based strength training, Pilates and yoga.
Kaiser talks to FLARE about her best long and lean workout tips, how to eat smart, and the fitness gear she loves best.
A lot of high-profile trainers are known for a “look.” What shape is your signature? I want to create a proportionate body, one that is long and lean and doesn’t have any one muscle that’s stronger than another, so that your body is working together to support your spine. It’s proportionate. I don’t really believe in one body type because genetically everyone is going to have a different body and that is science; however, your body should work proportionately so that every muscle works together and that you don’t have overbuilt quads or overbuilt shoulders or a really crazy overbuilt rectus abdominis… You should see your curves, but it should look like you were built that way.
What is the best ratio of cardio to strength training if you want to get a long, lean look? It really is this DVD and it changes throughout the workout, but I would say it’s probably about 6o/40 or 70/30 cardio to strength.
You train some people with different body shapes, from petite SJP to curvy Shakira. How do you adapt the method to give both different types the best results? Everyone has a different goal, and I don’t like to think about a one-size-fits-all answer because everyone’s nutritional needs, family history, genetics and injuries are different, and aesthetically they’re going to want to look different as well. Someone may want more toned abs, someone may want to focus more on their inner thighs and legs, someone may really want to focus on their arms for an event, and you can do that by tweaking the workout slightly.
In terms of consistency, realistically how many days do you need to work out to see results? I usually say four to five days a week; however, if it’s someone who has never worked out before I would say three days a week and skip a day in between to build up to it. An hour a day—if you can do an hour and 20 minutes, which is the whole video, that’s an advanced client—but more than anything it’s about what you’re putting in your mouth. If you’re eating a lot you’re going to have to compensate for that with more time in your workout. If you control yourself and spread your meals out throughout the day and make them smaller then you can work out at an average pace and at an average time each week and really see those results. A workout is not meant to be a cure for eating everything in front of you. It’s meant to keep you healthy, to give you awesome muscle tone and to keep your body proportionate, strong and healthy.
So just how important is diet to achieving results? Diet is about 70 percent of it. It’s really, really important, which is why I have a nutritionist at the studio—it goes hand in hand with the workout. You can’t just work out hundreds of hours a week and get the body you want, because then you’re going to over-exercise, which is not good. It’s all about balance.
Can you share some of your best diet tips?
1. I don’t encourage eating fewer calories. It’s about eating better food. Try to cut out any sort of processed cracker or spread—anything that comes in a box or sits on a shelf.
2. Go to Whole Foods and buy prepared food: brown rice and vegetables, barbecued salmon. Things you look at at the deli counter and say, Oh my god, that looks so good. Get it and have it in your fridge and then whenever you’re hungry you have something available to reach for. It’s in those moments when we’ve waited too long to eat that we reach for whatever is in front of us.
3. Eat every three hours. Have something at the office that you can pick at, because people go all day long and then have this huge dinner before they go to sleep and then their blood sugar levels are all screwed up while they’re asleep, so they wake up during the night. All of those calories turn to sugar and fat in the evening because you’re not using any of it. The best thing you can do is eat a really big meal right when you get up in the morning, preferably after you work out; it’s going to help fuel you for the rest of the day.
What’s the best workout motivator, IYO? Music! Put a playlist together; when you really feel like you don’t want to work out, put your headphones on, and if you’re not motivated after five minutes, then don’t do it. But it’s never failed for me. I put the music on and I say, OK, I’m just going to do it for 15 minutes. Just get to that 15-minute mark, and if you don’t want to keep going then stop, or say, I’m going to do five more minutes, and then OK, I’m going to do another five minutes, and another. And suddenly you’re at 30 minutes and you weren’t going to do anything at all.
Your workout outfits are pretty cool [some are some sold on her site]. What are some of your latest finds? I really like Heroine Sport; it’s kind of a drug. Michi is also very cool and sexy and modern. They’re both fantastic.