A Week in the Life of a Communications Manager Who Teaches Spin and Drinks So Much Water
Kate Isbel teaches spin at two gyms, manages all the digital for Visit Bucks County, and refills her S'well bottle more times than we can count.
Welcome to Sweat Diaries, Be Well Philly’s look at the time, energy, and money people invest in pursuit of a healthy lifestyle in Philly. For each Sweat Diary, we ask one area resident to spend a week tracking everything they eat, all the exercise they get, and the money they spend on both. Want to submit a Sweat Diary? Email email@example.com.
Who I am: Kate Isbel (@kateisb), 29
Where I live: Paoli
What I do: I run the digital communications for Visit Bucks County, the official tourism promotion agency for the area. I also teach indoor cycling at Ellis Athletic Center in Newtown Square, as well as SpinPower at the Upper Main Line YMCA in Berwyn. In addition, I am planning my wedding, which feels like a full-time job!
What role healthy living plays in my life: Healthy living has certainly changed over the past few years for me. There was definitely a time where I associated it with a number on a scale and a pant size. But then I started my Masters while working full-time and quickly learned that in order to stay remotely sane, I needed to let out some excess energy, so I walked into a fitness class on a ClassPass credit, and haven’t looked back. As I continued taking classes and trying out various gyms around the city, I learned that I am at my best for myself and everyone around me when I take care of my body and mind, and make conscientious decisions about my health and wellness. Healthy living is more than just working out and meal prepping. For me, it’s holistic: a mix of balance, moderation, and loud music to drown out whatever negative energy I have that day, plus encouraging myself to take down time if I need it. You’ll see throughout my week that there’s a lot of water intake, but also a lot of wine. There are a ton of salads, but also some French fries (because who can resist fries?). Healthy living for me these days is about how capable I feel.
Health memberships (and what they cost): I receive free membership to both gyms I teach at.
5:13 a.m. — Good morning! These early-morning alarms are rough, especially on a Monday.
5:21 a.m. — Okay, now I’m *actually* awake. On Mondays and Wednesdays, I teach a spin class at Ellis Athletic Center at 6 a.m. I (more or less) jump out of bed, throw on my spin clothes, bundle up because it’s apparently freezing in the mornings now, and down about 16 ounces of water before I grab a Kind dark chocolate granola bar to snack on along the way. I keep a 32-ounce bottle filled next to my bed at all times. I try to go through at least three of these per day, plus all the times I fill my S’well bottle, which I carry around with me all day.
5:29 a.m. — On the road to Ellis. It takes me a little under 10 minutes. I greet Linda, who works the front desk, and then head to the spin room to setup for class. Today, I’m focusing on heavy resistance added in shorter periods of time.
6 a.m. — Let’s go!
6:45 a.m. — Done class, feeling way more awake than I did an hour and a half ago. Anytime anyone asks why I like teaching in the mornings, I always explain that the cyclists are the absolute BEST motivation. The beauty and energy in those dark rooms at the crack of dawn is unexplainable.
7 a.m. — Back home and back into bed! Today is a bit irregular for my schedule. Typically, I’d be jumping in the shower now and getting ready for work before heading out around 7:30 a.m. But today, I’m telecommuting. My company is amazing and lets us work from home one day per week. I normally use Wednesday for this, but I am newly engaged and my fiancé Tom and I are taking our engagement pictures around 5 p.m. today and I didn’t want to deal with any traffic on the way home. Plus, beauty sleep. So back to bed it is!
8 a.m. — I wake up for the second (third?) time today and am ready to continue my day. I set up shop at our dining room table, and begin working through emails that came in during the weekend before I head to check on social. Being in digital communications, the work happens 24/7. I have all the apps on my phone so I can check social on the go, and do so about two to three times per day, including weekends. This helps me to not feel as behind on any morning. I also manage our paid social budget, so lots of reporting out on digital analytics.
9 a.m. — The “morning rush” is under control so I head over to the website, which I manage both the front-end and back-end. The vendor for the website offers an online ticketing portal that doubles as a project management tool. I check on any open tickets, offer further insight to outstanding tickets, and work through a few pop-up questions my team members have brought to me over the past week or so. I like to keep these projects moving; even if it’s a seemingly “small” inconvenience, it always affects one of my teammates or another.
10:30 a.m. — I realize I haven’t yet had coffee, or anything for that matter post-class. Too in the zone! I use my Keurig to pour out Starbucks Pike Place roast, sweetening with one raw sugar pack and a literal splash of nonfat milk. While this is brewing, I make an over-medium egg, topped on a crisped whole wheat bagel with chive cream cheese.
12 p.m. — Whoa where did this day go?! A part of working in the tourism industry that I absolutely LOVE is that the work is actually fun! No seriously. One of my initiatives this year was to digitize our Bucks County Ale Trail. We cross-promote the Ale Trail on Untappd and through “colla-beer-ations,” our nickname for the seasonally new Bucks County Ale Trail brew. This time, the brew is created using apple cider from a local farm, as well as two breweries collaborating on the style and taste, which is perfect for fall sipping! This morning has been a flurry of work to pre-promote the ale, and cross-promote the Ale Trail.
12:45 p.m. — Lunch time! Tom and I had bought several pre-packaged chicken Caesar salads from Acme over the weekend. The three for $10 is hard to beat and seriously cuts down the amount of meal-prep that occurs in our household. I consume that quickly, and realize I need to re-fill up my 32-ounce cup of water. I also use today’s lunch break to complete some paperwork for West Chester University — I was just hired as an adjunct there — and to get a quick blowout from a local hair salon ($49). Gotta get my hair looking good for engagement pics!
2 p.m. — Time for my monthly call with a vendor. Since I’m working from home and have been fairly sedentary, I take this call standing up and walking throughout my apartment. At work, I usually am moving around a bit more throughout the day due to various meetings or just checking in with colleagues around the office, but at home I find I forget to stand up!
3 p.m. – More social promotion and strategy, as well as developing content for our e-newsletter that will be sent out later this week. I HTML-code these emails, so they usually take me a little bit of time to get situated. Plus, these are sent to over 30,000 people, meaning it has to be correct!
5 p.m. — Time for our engagement photo shoot!! We *seriously* lucked out on this day. Golden hour is a real thing. We bring along the extremely necessary prop of champagne ($18.99) and pop it halfway through.
6:30 p.m. — Tom and I head to a nearby restaurant for dinner to celebrate our pictures and the fact we’re way more dressed up on a Monday than we’d normally be. I get the fish and chips because I love anything that comes from under the sea and we split calamari as an appetizer. I also have two pumpkin beers because #fall (Tom pays!).
8 p.m. — Home, and on the couch to watch some Monday Night Football before heading to bed. I check social as the game happens. I usually try to get into bed by 10 p.m., but especially on days I teach, I find that time getting earlier and earlier…
Daily total: $67.99
6:30 a.m. — Awake at my regular time on my non-teaching days. I sip on my 32 ounces of water, refilling the bottle before I head out the door, and also fill up my S’well. I grab a pre-made salad (same as yesterday) from the fridge for lunch, and a Chobani peach yogurt drink. These are so yummy and so easy; they’ve quickly become a new morning staple for me.
7:30 a.m. — Out the door!
8:05 a.m. — Off my exit of the turnpike. My office is up in Bensalem, so the commute is about 35 miles. Thankfully, I go against traffic both ways.
8:07 a.m. — Check my texts at a red light and realize I got a $10 Venmo for being the top-scoring team in one of my fantasy footballs leagues this week! Score. Starbucks it is.
8:11 a.m. — Starbucks drive-thru for a venti pike with two raw sugars and a splash of nonfat milk, plus a butter croissant heated up to have with my Chobani ($5.72).
8:27 a.m. — At work, ready to begin this dreary Tuesday. Run the typical docket: email, social, ticket portal. This afternoon I have a few back-to-back meetings with my advertising agency to review September’s digital performance cross-channel, as well as an internal meeting to discuss AirBnB and a few approvals to get out. We switch over our advertising seasonally, so we are in the finishing stages of approving the winter-themed brand campaign.
11 a.m. — Take a 10-minute mental break by walking around the office and refilling my S’well. I usually start to mildly panic when it’s below halfway full. I work on a dual-monitor computer all day, so I like to add in little breaks to segment out the day. Plus, it helps my eyes and brain relax.
12:15 p.m. — Yay, lunch time! Or as I more commonly refer to it: Time to Do Other Work and Eat Salad. Not a complaint! I love being busy, and pushing myself not only physically but mentally as well. I feel that’s when I perform best in all aspects and feel most at ease. On the side, I freelance for a blog as the digital and social consultant. The past few weeks I’ve been working on archiving blog posts into categories and adding in meta-tags for SEO purposes. Then, I extract a few lines, develop social cross-promotion, and publish out. I do a bit of this while eating the salad I brought with me.
1 p.m. — I’ve got about two and a half hours’ worth of meetings ahead, which means more S’well refilling.
3:35 p.m. — I swear, rain makes days feel longer. Snack break of roasted peanuts and three Hershey kisses. I keep a jar of kisses at my desk, stocked year-round. For anyone who knows me, this is no surprise. I always have chocolate nearby and can smell it from a mile away.
5 p.m. — Out the door, and ready for an extra-long commute due to the rain. Bummer. I stop by Acme on my way home and pick up produce, some eggs, and a bottle of wine ($55). I shopped for protein last week and that has been in the freezer since.
6:30 p.m. — Tom is cooking seasoned steak with a side Caesar salad. We settle in on the couch to watch El Camino. I refill my 32-ounce twice during the movie.
8:30 p.m. — El Camino was incredible. Highly recommend. We watch a few more random shows, then head to bed.
Daily total: $60.72
5:13 a.m. — Good morning! Ready for hump day at Ellis. Sip on my 32-ounce while I get ready.
5:29 a.m. — Out the door, en route with a Kind bar in hand to eat along the way. Today’s class is more speed-focused to a super fun ’90s-inspired playlist. There’s a few new people in class, which is awesome. I love new faces especially that early in the morning!
6:50 a.m. — Sweat. Everywhere. I filled my S’well before class, but love the days I have to refill it after class also. Heading back home and realize halfway there that I forgot to boil my eggs last night! Ahhhh!
7:03 a.m. — Mad dash to get ready for work while getting my coffee from the Kuerig and my eggs hard-boiled. I use two scoops of Starbucks Pike Place to fill my Yeti, pouring in two raw sugar and a splash of nonfat milk, while simultaneously heating up the stove to boil the eggs.
7:37 a.m. — Eggs are done, coffee is in the Yeti, S’well is full. I grab a banana and one of the three for $10 chicken Caesar salads before heading out the door to work.
8:31 a.m. — At work and settled in! Today I’m working on more seasonal copy in preparation for our switch-over next week, and I have a call with a Facebook specialist to go over my current ad campaigns. We manage social in house, but it’s nice that Facebook has this complimentary service, just to get their viewpoint on your ad buys as well. Before I get too busy, I snack on four hard-boiled eggs and a mango Chobani yogurt drink, plus my coffee.
9 a.m. — Email, social, ticket portal. Repeat. I have a few new projects from this week going in the ticket portal now. It helps as the interaction is fairly real-time, and creates dedication to a project.
10:30 a.m. — Quick walk around the office, refill S’well, chat with the team.
10:35 a.m. — I sit back down to work on e-newsletters, social retargeting, and advertising. I’ve also got a few meetings that’ll round out my morning.
12:35 p.m. — I eat my salad at my desk and take a mental break by scrolling through my own social feeds.
1:10 p.m. — The next four-ish hours: Work, S’well, Work, S’well, Work, S’well (plus a few Hershey Kisses).
4:45 p.m. — Offically time to head home!
5:30 p.m. — Home for the evening. I do some laundry and vacuuming before settling in for dinner with Tom. Tonight, he makes chicken, asparagus, ad garlic mashed potatoes. Delicious! We eat it while watching the Sixers.
9:30 p.m. — Bedtime!
Daily total: $0
5:01 a.m. — Awake and ready for this day! I teach at 5:45 a.m. on Thursdays at the YMCA by my house. I enjoy teaching here mainly because I love the style of teaching. At the Y, I teach SpinPower classes, which focuses on wattage output, as opposed to caloric, heart rate, or perceived exertion. While caloric and heart rate can certainly be indicative, understanding the actual amounts of input and output of energy and energy transfers is really a solid key to developing a training plan.
5:22 a.m. — After finishing my 32 ounces, I’m out the door with my Kind bar and S’well in hand. Tom usually comes with me to these classes, as we have a family membership to the Y.
5:45 a.m. — Class time! Today’s ride focuses on maintaining the aerobic work zone while working on stamina, endurance, and resistance. The trick is to not cross from aerobic to anaerobic in this particular structure. It’s so easy to go fast and jack your heart rate up, but by maintaining zones, you are forced to stay on track. In addition, we have great technology which features a leader board projected onto magnum screens at the front of the room, so not only does the bike tell you your numbers, the screen tells you as well. Accountability!
6:55 a.m. — Back home and preparing for the work day. I refill my S’well, pop three hard-boiled eggs into a to-go container, grab a Chobani yogurt drink and one of my three for $10 salads. Are you noticing a theme yet?
8:15 a.m. — Stop at Wawa by my work to fill my Yeti with coffee (medium roast with two raw sugars and a splash of non-dairy hazelnut creamer), fill up my car with gas, and of course, grab a hashbrown because I can’t resist them ($34.28).
8:30 a.m. — At work and I’ve got a looooong morning stretch today! Thursdays are usually pretty busy. We have our internal team catch-up meeting before tackling different projects.
1:45 p.m. — Phew, I survived. I grab my salad and eat it at my desk while multi-tasking.
2 p.m. — More meetings, more S’well refills, and seven Hershey Kisses round out this afternoon.
5:30 p.m. — I meet Tom to go shopping and find a great dress at Goodwill for a party we’re attending over the weekend ($6.50). Score.
7 p.m. — Tom makes me chicken Caesar salad with the other half of the chicken from last evening’s dinner, and we settle in on the couch to watch Thursday Night Football. Tom does most of the cooking, whereas I do most of the grocery shopping. It works for us.
8:45 p.m. — Feeling stiff from my rides this week, and I teach a double Saturday morning. I go into our room and unwind with a 20-minute quick made-up-on-the-spot yoga flow for what feels right for my body at that moment.
9:45 p.m. — I never stay up too late on Thursdays since it’s my earliest day of the week, and this is already about an hour and a half past my Thursday bedtime! Time to hit the hay.
Daily total: $40.78
6:15 a.m. — Usually I sleep in a bit more on Fridays if I’m not going to a BodyPump class at the YMCA, but we are releasing the second Bucks County Ale Trail “collabeeration” today, and I want to head to the brewery to get pictures of the canning and labeling process. I finish my 32-ounce before jumping in the car with my S’well.
7 a.m. — Up in Bucks County, and I swing through a Starbucks drive-thru to get a venti pike place with two raw sugar and splash of non-fat milk, and a bacon gouda sandwich. I am obsessed with gouda cheese. ($7.12)
7:30 a.m. — At the brewery! The canning team is here and they are finishing up a cranberry beer before canning our beer.
12:35 p.m. — Wow, what a morning!!! We successfully canned all of the cranberry beer, plus our Ale Trail collabeer. This time, it’s a graf made with apple cider from a local farm, and tastes like a chocolate-covered candy apple. Delicious!
1 p.m. — Worst part of being at the brewery all morning is my S’well has been very lonely! I sip on the last bit of water I have left before heading out the door to travel to Montgomery County for a meeting.
1:30 p.m. — I catch the last few minutes of the presentation before heading across the parking lot to a bar for the after-party. My industry is a lot of fun!
3 p.m. — One Yuengling, tons of water to make up for this morning, and a side order of fries (comped by my company) plus plenty of networking and I’m ready to head out.
5 p.m. — I spent the last few hours catching up on email and social media coverage of the collabeer before heading to my parents’ house for dinner. A huge motivator for Tom and me to move out of the city was our proximity to both sets of parents. I snack on two bananas while my mom’s homemade chili heats up. I can’t wait to dig in on this chili once it’s done.
8 p.m. — Heading into downtown West Chester because one of Tom’s friends proposed to his girlfriend this morning! I love love. We celebrate with them at a few of our favorite bars. ($33)
10:30 p.m. — Late bedtime, especially with a long day and a double spin tomorrow! Off to bed I go, after downing my 32-ounce and refilling it. Sweet dreams!
Total spent: $40.12
Money spent: $209.61
Workouts completed: Four (because I get a killer workout while I teach!)
Classes taught: Three
S’well refills: Infinity and beyond!