Sweat Diaries: The Art Director Who Wakes Up at 3:30 A.M. to Coach Workouts at F45
When she's not coaching early morning classes at F45 Training Center City, Taylor Wenner blogs about (and makes!) healthy food.
Where I live: Northern Liberties
What I do: I’m a senior art director at Aloysius Butler and Clark and a group fitness instructor at F45 Training Center City. I’m also one of the co-founders of Philly Fit Foodies — a healthy food and wellness blog — and a volunteer (a.k.a. “Mischief Maker”) for Daybreaker Philadelphia.
What role healthy living plays in my life: Healthy living is at the core of everything I do. Through a lot of trial and error, I’ve come to know what balance and a healthy lifestyle mean to me: consistently getting adequate sleep, drinking plenty of water, moving my body in some way every single day, and eating healthy and satisfying meals prepared in my kitchen. I still make room for treats, cocktails, rest days, etc. whenever I want, without placing any rules, restrictions, or punishments — which is what I mean by balance!
Being on this health and fitness journey has inspired me to help educate others through food and fitness. This first began when my friend Hope and I started our blog as a way to share the healthy recipes we were already making at home with others. We wanted to show people that they can still eat healthy without sacrificing all of their favorite foods and flavors. After starting the blog and getting more involved in the Philly fitness scene from the client perspective, I realized that I also had an interest in being on the trainer side of things. A few certifications later and two months into my “fitpro” career, I’m loving every second of it. I can’t wait to keep growing and expanding my knowledge in both fitness and nutrition.
Health memberships (and what they cost):
- City Fitness — $50 per month
- ClassPass — $9 per month for 4 credits
- F45 Training Center City — Free for being a trainer
5:15 a.m. — Is it sad that I now consider this “sleeping in”? I normally coach at F45 on Monday mornings, but my coworker asked me to switch with her this week. Still, on the mornings I’m not coaching, I try to make it there for the 6:45 a.m. class. I think it’s important to take the classes as often as I can, so I can empathize with our members (and get a killer workout in, obv). I get up, change, and pack the breakfast, lunch, and snacks that I prepped and are waiting for me in the fridge. My boyfriend and I went to Trader Joe’s yesterday, so our fridge is locked and loaded with a week’s worth of food. It’s a beautiful sight.
5:45 a.m. — Out the door. I take the El to Center City, then walk to F45. On my way there, I eat a dried apple and mango fruit bar from TJ’s for a little energy to power me through my workout. Because I usually coach on these days, it’s been a little while since I’ve done an F45 cardio workout. I’m not not nervous…
7:30 a.m. — As always, that workout kicked my butt. I’m so glad I started this gloomy Monday morning with a workout — I need all the endorphins I can get today. I head to the locker room to shower and get ready for work while I drink a chocolate protein shake.
8:30 a.m. — I arrive at my office, put my lunch in the fridge, and heat up my breakfast. I’ve been eating egg white oatmeal topped with mixed berries for breakfast every weekday morning for the last month or so. I’m waiting to get sick of it, but it hasn’t happened yet.
10:30 a.m. — I have a standing desk, but it’s been a little while since I’ve used it. I really hate sitting all day, but I’m rarely sitting down outside of my 9–5 job, so sometimes I embrace it. But right now, I’m feeling a little sleepy, so I decide to spend some time on my feet and crank up some house music in my headphones. This results in it being more of a “dancing desk” than a “standing desk,” which I’m cool with.
11 a.m. — Snack time. I snack on three slices of Applegate herb turkey breast. I tend to get sick of plain turkey pretty quickly, so the addition of herbs makes this a much tastier and more exciting snack.
12 p.m. — Lunch time! Lunch today is one of my favorite go-to recipes from one of my favorite food blogs, The Defined Dish. It’s her “Sloppy Jane,” which is a roasted sweet potato stuffed with Sloppy Joe filling. I subbed ground turkey for ground beef this time, and it’s delicious. I hate to admit this, but I usually eat lunch at my desk while I work, check emails, and/or browse Pinterest for meal inspo for the following week. I don’t support sad desk lunches, and I hereby vow to make a more conscious effort to leave my desk and go for a short walk outside over my lunch break (but not today … it looks gross out there).
2:15 p.m. — My coworker and I head out for a meeting in Old City with the production company we’re working with on a new anti-vaping commercial. The purpose of today’s meeting is to nail down color correction for the spot. My Fitbit buzzes on the walk there, telling me that I hit my daily step goal of 12,000 steps. Thanks, cardio day!
3:35 p.m. — Our meeting is over, and since I’m already halfway home, I decide to head to my apartment and work from there for the rest of the day. I remember that we bought “plumcots” at TJ’s yesterday, and I’m excited to try one once I get home.
5:15 p.m. — Logging off for the day. I’m so grateful to work for a company that values work/life balance. It’s rare for me to be in the office or online past 5:30 p.m., which is a dream. My boyfriend works from home, but he’s at the gym right now, so I take advantage of this alone time to get a few chores done around the apartment.
6:30 p.m. — I dive into cooking mode since I’m super hungry. Tonight, we’re trying a new (to us) recipe: Thai Coconut Yellow Curry Chicken, Veggies and Rice from Ambitious Kitchen (another one of my favorite food blogs). I have 20 minutes while everything in the skillet cooks, so I prep my oatmeal for tomorrow morning and get a head start on dishes. I’m craving some extra greens, so I throw some mixed greens in two small bowls with Trader Joe’s almond butter turmeric dressing.
7 p.m. — Dinner is served and it’s a winner. Then again, any curry recipe is usually a winner in my book.
8 p.m. — I check the weather for tomorrow, lay out my outfit for coaching, pack a bag with work and gym clothes, wash my face, and brush my teeth. I check my Hidrate
Spark app to see my water intake for the day (yes, I’m the sucker who bought a “smart” water bottle… and I love it!). I’m just shy of my one-gallon goal for the day. I’ll take it.
8:30 p.m. — Bedtime. Yes, it’s still light out. My boyfriend and I say our goodnights, and after a few minutes of aimless scrolling on IG, I’m out.
Daily Total: $0
3:30 a.m. — There’s my alarm. I go straight from coaching at F45 to my full-time job, so I have to shower and put on makeup before I leave for the day, hence the early wake-up call. I sometimes hate to admit what a morning person I’ve become, but I am who I am.
4:45 a.m. — I’m out the door, lunchbox in tow. I take the bus to Center City on the mornings I coach, because the El doesn’t run early enough. I walk from City Hall to F45 as I eat a protein bar. I need some fuel to give myself the energy boost I need to coach this early (also, I’m hangry).
5:20 a.m. — I arrive at F45 with 25 minutes until my first class, which I spend changing into my uniform shirt, reviewing today’s workout setup and exercises, and practicing anything I might want to practice before I have to demo the exercises in front of this morning’s classes. Today is a strength/resistance day — my favorite. There are 15 exercises in today’s workout: five focused on lower body, five upper body, and five all core-focused. It looks awesome. Suddenly, I’m envious of everyone I’m about to coach during these next three classes.
8:30 a.m. — Done coaching for the day. Our members crushed it. I’m always impressed by how hard they all work. I hit my daily step goal right at the end of the third class (nice!). I help reorganize the weights from the last class, change, and head to work.
8:50 a.m. — I arrive at my office, put my lunch in the fridge, and heat up my egg white oatmeal. It’s still just as delicious as yesterday. I’m giving my standing desk a go for as long as I can. I sense that it won’t be long.
12 p.m. — I wrap up a call and realize it’s lunchtime (I didn’t have my mid-morning snack!). I heat up my leftover Sloppy Jane and grab the Trader Joe’s cucumber mint sparkling apple cider vinegar drink I have in the fridge. This is one of my favorite new TJ’s items. I eat lunch at my desk (shame), but then run out for a quick errand and some fresh air.
3:30 p.m. — Hunger strikes. I snack on three slices of Applegate herb turkey breast to get me through the rest of the day.
4:45 p.m. — I remember that the recipe I have planned to be our lunches for the rest of the week (The Defined Dish’s Crockpot Chicken Tikka Masala) requires four to eight hours in the crockpot, so I convince my boyfriend to get that started for us.
5:15 p.m. — On my commute to the gym, I eat a dried apple and mango fruit bar from TJ’s and then drink my preworkout. I just recently got a preworkout supplement for the first time after being pretty skeptical, but I have to say, it really helps me with energy and focus at the gym on these longer days. Today, we’re focusing on legs (mostly hamstrings and glutes for me).
6:45 p.m. — Time always flies once I get into a groove at the gym. I would gladly stay here longer, but I got a solid workout in and still have a lot to do tonight. I head to the sauna for a quick 10 minutes before going home for the night. I love sitting in here with my “cool down” Spotify playlist on and eyes closed, allowing my brain to momentarily shut off for the first time all day.
7:15 p.m. — Home, finally! I quickly gulp down a protein shake and jump in the shower.
7:30 p.m. — Once I’m showered and in sweats, I’m ready for dinner. We reheat leftovers from last night’s meal. I’m glad we have dinner already prepped — it’s getting close to my bedtime since I’m coaching again in the morning. The leftovers are just as delicious as last night, and I get a little sad after my last bite knowing that it’s all gone now.
8:30 p.m. — My boyfriend and I tag team the dishes while I multitask and prep the crockpot chicken. I throw some brown rice on the stove, as well as a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. I’ll be combining the two and serving it with the chicken tikka masala that’s currently in our crockpot. Huge shout out to my girl Jenna Stern for introducing me to the brown rice and cauliflower rice combo. I’ve been using this hack for weeks now!
9:20 p.m. — After putting the finishing touches on the crockpot dish, I’m ready for bed. It’s later than I’d like it to be, but I sleep soundly knowing that our fridge is stocked with delicious food.
Daily Total: $0
3:30 a.m. — Wake up! A few of my coworkers are coming to one of my classes today, so I have no problem getting up — the hype is real. I shower, get ready, and grab my breakfast, lunch, coffee, and snacks from the fridge. I’ll eat my protein bar as I head to F45.
5:45 a.m. — I coach the 5:45, 6:45, and 7:45 a.m. classes with Joe, one of our studio owners and resident physical therapists. I love coaching on cardio days — the energy is next-level. Plus, four of my coworkers showed up for the 6:45 class, today’s playlist is fire, and I am officially in my element. I realize that I didn’t even finish my TJ’s cold brew today because I already have so much energy.
8:45 a.m. — I arrive at my office bearing Federal Donuts that I picked up as a treat for my coworkers ($9). Some are still warm and they all smell amazing. I put my lunch in the fridge and heat up my egg white oatmeal (still going strong!). While I wait for my oatmeal to heat up, I try two of the donuts. Yummmmm.
9 a.m. — Work, work, work. I’m already at 15,000 steps for the day, so if you need me, I’ll most definitely be sitting at my desk.
12 p.m. — Lunch time already! I heat up my chicken tikka masala with the brown and cauli rice combo. It’s so good. I briefly consider licking the Tupperware clean before placing it in the dishwasher.
2:30 p.m. — I’m in dire need of fresh air, movement, and some caffeine. Luckily, a few of my coworkers are feeling the same way. We walk over to Elixr Coffee Roasters, where I get an iced oat milk matcha latte ($4.50). Time to crush the rest of this workday.
5:15 p.m. — Out the door and headed to the gym. The El is having technical difficulties, so I wait on the platform for 35 minutes (argh) while I snack on a dried apple and mango fruit bar and drink my preworkout.
6:30 p.m. — Finally made it to the gym and ready to work out, but I’m admittedly a little frustrated from the unfortunate series of events that just occurred. My boyfriend and I were supposed to work out together again, but he’s already been here for about 45 minutes, so I head to the treadmills alone for a quick 10-minute warm-up then join him out on the floor. We focus primarily on back and biceps. As much as I try to let go of my frustrations, my head definitely isn’t 100-percent in this workout, and based on my mood, I can tell I’m pretty exhausted. I cut things a little short and head over to the mats for a long stretch, which feels great.
7:15 p.m. — Quick sauna sesh before heading home for the night. I try to shut off my brain, but honestly, fail.
7:50 p.m. — Home sweet home after a quick stop at Acme for egg whites, almond milk, and a few other random items we need for dinner tomorrow ($12 from mine and my boyfriend’s joint account).
8:15 p.m. — I had planned to cook turkey burgers or chicken tacos tonight, but after realizing how time- and dirty-dish-consuming those options sound, I’ve come up with a new plan. We bought lobster ravioli and vodka sauce at Trader Joe’s on Sunday (more items that weren’t on our list…), and it’s about to come in handy. I add some peas to the sauce, because I realize my vegetable intake today has been pretty weak. My boyfriend and I agree that this dinner is decent for something quick and easy, but we don’t need to buy the lobster rav again (Sorry, TJ’s. I still love you). We note to ourselves to stock up on a few bags of cauliflower gnocchi next time we’re at TJ’s for these late nights when we’re in crunch mode.
8:45 p.m. — We decide to watch an episode of Stranger Things since we’ve been a little behind. All I have to say is WHOA.
10 p.m. — I’m about to sleep like a rock.
Daily Total: $25.50
5:15 a.m. — As much as I loved coaching the last two days, I’m pumped to be back in the studio on the client side of things (and to sleep in!). I get up, change, and pack my breakfast, lunch, and snacks for the day. I fuel with a dried apple and mango fruit bar on my way to F45’s 6:45 class.
7:30 a.m. — Workout = done and dusted. That felt great. I drink my protein shake, hop in the shower, and get ready for work.
8:30 a.m. — I arrive at my office with a large iced coffee with oat milk from Saxby’s in hand ($4). I put my lunch and oatmeal in the fridge, because I’m not feeling hungry just yet. It’ll hit me in about an hour, I’m sure.
12 p.m. — Busy work morning, and suddenly, I’m ravenous. I heat up my chicken tikka masala with the brown and cauliflower rice mixture. I could seriously eat this every day.
12:30 p.m. — Back to work and looks like it’s a nonstop afternoon.
5:15 p.m. — Time to go home! Not gonna lie, this afternoon really dragged. I’m relieved it’s over.
6 p.m. — Reason #317 why I love morning workouts: getting home by 6 p.m. with the whole night ahead of me. I’m so excited to put on music, cook dinner, and catch up with my boyfriend. All of this, plus the fact that tomorrow is Friday, inspires me to pour a (large) glass of wine, which I enjoy while we make dinner. Tonight we’ve got chipotle chicken tacos from The Defined Dish with grilled Mexican street corn salad from Fit Foodie Finds (minus cilantro, because… gross). They both end up being super delicious and easy to make!
7 p.m. — We tag team the dishes and cleanup as quickly as possible so we can move on to more important matters: watching another episode (or two) of Stranger Things.
8:30 p.m. — Dang, that show is so good, but it’s late and I’m feeling it. I check the weather for tomorrow, put away some laundry, prep my oatmeal, lay out my outfit for coaching, pack a bag with work clothes, wash my face, and brush my teeth. No need to pack gym clothes, because tomorrow will be my (active) rest day. At some point during this process, my Fitbit buzzes that I hit my step goal for the day — better late than never!
9 p.m. — Bed time.
Daily Total: $4
3:30 a.m. — TGIF! I shower, get ready, and grab my breakfast, lunch, coffee, and snacks from the fridge. I’m coaching the 5:45, 6:45, and 7:45 a.m. classes this morning, so I eat my protein bar and sip my cold brew to stay energized.
8:30 a.m. — Done coaching. Today’s workout looked brutal. Our members crushed it, as always. The studio has only been open for two months, and it’s been awesome to see the progress our members have already made in such a short time.
9 a.m. — I arrive at work, put lunch in the fridge, and heat up my oatmeal. Okay, I’m not going to lie, I’m a little sick of oatmeal today. I’m looking forward to a break from it tomorrow.
11 a.m. — Today is apparently one of those days where my stomach feels like a bottomless pit. I remember that I have two slices of herb turkey breast in the fridge and quickly scarf them down.
12 p.m. — Lunch time! I heat up the last serving of chicken tikka masala. It’s still amazing.
12:15 p.m. — Joe texts me asking if I want to help coach our Hollywood classes tomorrow. It’s a resounding “heck yes!” from me. Hollywood happens every Saturday at F45. It’s a 1-hour strength/cardio hybrid class with a live deejay. It’s hands down my favorite F45 workout, and I’ve been dying to coach it.
2 p.m. — Hunger strikes again. I’m glad I remembered to bring a plumcot with me today.
3:15 p.m. — I get Summer Fridays at work, meaning I get to leave at 3 p.m. (#blessed). But… I’m covering for my coworker at F45 tonight while she does the whole getting-married thing. I have some time to kill, so I stop at La Colombe for a draft oat black and tan ($5).
4:30 p.m. — Time to co-coach the 4:30 and 5:30 classes.
6:15 p.m. — Classes are done! Whoever coaches the last class of the day is responsible for cleaning up the studio and setting up everything for the next day’s workout. Dan, our other co-owner and resident physical therapist, comes by to help us with this since tomorrow is Hollywood, meaning we have 27 stations to set up, as opposed to the typical six to 18.
8 p.m. — I’m officially hangry and exhausted. I decide to stop by Cava on my way home for a chicken greens and grains bowl ($11). This place has quickly become one of my favorite fast casual spots. I can’t get home fast enough to eat it.
9 p.m. — Home with my Cava bowl, a glass of wine poured, and Netflix turned on. I put on a movie while I eat my dinner on the couch. This part of my week is everything.
11:30 p.m. — I’m really not sure how I’m still awake, but I guess I needed that alone chill time. I get ready for bed, and it’s not long before I’m out cold.
Daily Total: $16
Money spent: $45.50
Workouts completed: 4
Classes coached: 11
Number of meals made at home: 10