Sweat Diaries

This City Fitness Exec Starts Every Morning With a Jade Roller Routine

Ali Stauffer, City Fitness's vice president of marketing, lifts four times per week and stays fueled with Honeygrow salads.


Ali Stauffer, City Fitness’s vice president of marketing, is committed to weight training and believes self-care comes in many forms. / Photograph by Ali Stauffer.

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 lbrzyski@phillymag.com.

Who I am: Ali Stauffer (@alieaves), 30

Where I live: Mt. Airy

What I do: I am the vice president of marketing at City Fitness.

What role healthy living plays in my life: Carving out time to take care of myself gives me the sanity and energy I need to take on everything else. I lift four times per week, and it’s often the best part of my day. That said, I have an intentionally relaxed approach to both fitness and nutrition. I eat what I want, and I don’t beat myself up if I miss a workout. I think wellness should help you enjoy life more, not get in the way of the things you enjoy.

Health memberships (and what they cost): City Fitness — complimentary because I work there.

Monday

Every morning, Stauffer begins her day with a self-care routine of foam rolling her muscles and jade rolling her face. / Photograph by Ali Stauffer.

5:30 a.m. — My alarm goes off. I’m trying to wake up earlier to make time for morning workouts and ~self-care~. I prefer to exercise in the afternoon or evenings, but I’ve let work decimate my personal life and health for the past few months, so I need a new strategy. I programmed my coffee maker last night because knowing that coffee is already brewed makes getting up easier. I shower and put my PJs back on, which is always the best part of my morning.

6:25 a.m. — My reward for getting up early: 20 minutes of “me time.” I jade roll my face, which may or may not make me less bleary eyed, and I foam roll. Foam rolling has saved me from debilitating back pain. It’s like a deep tissue massage you can do to yourself every day. My Lululemon foam roller is the best one I’ve ever tried. I also use a lacrosse ball for more intense myofascial release in my upper back.

6:45 a.m. — I have seven minutes to throw on my gym clothes and get out the door.

6:52 a.m. — I make the train and am very impressed with myself.

7:20 a.m. — Our East Market club is right by Jefferson Station on my way to work. I stop in for my morning workout. I’m feeling less impressed with myself as I see all the people leaving the gym as I arrive. This is one of the things I love about the gym, though: Being surrounded by people who are focused and committed is motivating. Assuming I’ll need more caffeine, I grab an energy drink on my way in. It’s called “Bang” and looks like jet fuel so I’ve always been dubious. But I know they’re popular and there’s a rosé flavored one, so I go for it. It’s delicious. ($2.97)

7:30 a.m. — It’s deadlift day, my favorite. I build each of my weekly workouts around one big compound movement. I’m not a certified trainer, but in my past life, I was an editor at Men’s Health, collaborating with the best trainers in the world to write and edit fitness advice. I learned a lot. I get through my warmup of mobility and core activation, then power through deadlifts and single-leg landmine deadlifts. (Shoutout to Ben Bruno for the landmine tip.)

8:30 a.m. — I have three more exercises planned in this workout, but by now it’s time to head to work. I don’t feel guilty about cutting my workout short. Honestly, it’s all about consistency, and making it to the gym before work is a victory for me. Making it to the gym at all is a victory these days. I count the W.

9 a.m. — I had to speedwalk from the El but I make it to my first meeting on time.

11:35 a.m. — I’m out of my second meeting of the day and starving. I order my usual Honeygrow salad online (a make-your-own with lots of vegetables, chicken, nuts, and balsamic) and walk a half block to pick it up ($13). I am a machine when it comes to food during the workday, meaning I eat basically the same thing every day so I don’t have to think about it. Plus, my afternoon is pretty open, so I’m hoping to knock out some heavy-lift to-dos around planning for next year.

1:49 p.m. — I’m still ripped on this energy drink. I’ve crushed my to-do list and inbox! I find myself with a three-hour block during the workday to map out my project timeline for next year. I’m closing my email tab, putting on my headphones, and going into tunnel-vision mode before something catches fire.

3:50 p.m. — Someone brought cookies to the office, so I grab two. Like I said, I have a chill approach to fitness and nutrition (especially nutrition), so I eat what I want, when I want. Often that’s healthy food, but sometimes it’s free office cookies, and that’s healthy, too.

5:55 p.m. — I’m heading home, and I call my husband for our traditional “What should we do for dinner?” chat. We land on takeout from Jyoti Indian Bistro, which is the bomb and is only $26 for what amounts to three solid meals. ($13 for my half)

7:15 p.m. — Time to eat Indian on the sofa and talk about our days.

10:27 p.m. — Finally finished with chores and more work, and I’m not exactly done, but I force myself to close my laptop. Not thrilled that it’s this late. I unwind with an episode of Succession and four Godiva truffles before bed.

Daily total: $28.97

Tuesday

For dinner on Tuesday, Stauffer and her husband order sushi from Hokka Hokka. / Photograph by Ali Stauffer.

5:30 a.m. — Nope. I snooze my alarm.

6:30 a.m. — Okay I’m up. The morning workout is not going to happen today. Lesson learned: I need to put my laptop away earlier if I want to be up at 5:30 a.m. I still have time for my coffee/jade rolling/foam rolling routine, which makes a huge difference in my day. On days when I don’t work out, if I can at least do some foam rolling and mobility work, I can keep my body feeling good. Otherwise, I get stiff and achy, and it’s harder to get back into my workouts.

7:52 a.m. — I’m on the train to work, knocking out emails on my phone.

9 a.m. — Today starts with a work-related fire to put out. Half of my team is out of the office on a photo shoot, so there’s just me and one colleague to put it out. I’m in problem-solving mode for a good chunk of the day.

11:45 a.m. — I order my usual Honeygrow salad ($13). The staff there knows my routine so well they say they can make my salad with their eyes closed. Call me boring if you want. I will defend my autopilot lunch all day long. It saves so much time and mental bandwidth, and it’s perfectly healthy. I have the same autopilot approach to my work uniform: I wear the same black leggings, black socks, black high tops, and a T-shirt every day. My sock and legging drawers are out of a Marie Kondo dream and I never have to think about what to wear or what to eat. I find what works and automate it, to leave more room for everything else in life.

1 p.m. — I spend the afternoon making sure more fires don’t catch, and managing projects.

5:35 p.m. — Starving on my way home, I grab “energy bites” from Freshii in Jefferson Station ($2.15). They’re basically candy masquerading as health food.

6:25 p.m. — It has been a day, and I’m wiped. My husband picks up sushi from Hokka Hokka for dinner ($19 for my two rolls). I actually love to cook, but when I’m going through a busy spell at work, it’s takeout every night and I’m fine with that.

9 p.m. — I knock out some more work from the sofa and then crash.

Daily total: $34.15

Wednesday

Stauffer crushes pull-ups during her upper body workout. / Photograph courtesy of Ali Stauffer.

5:30 a.m. — I drag myself out of bed, remembering how great it was when I got a morning workout in on Monday. I go through my morning self-care routine and get ready to head to City Fitness.

7:20 a.m. — It’s pull-up day, my other favorite. As someone who couldn’t even do a full push-up a couple years ago, getting strong enough to do pull-ups has been the greatest feeling. Another thing I love about lifting: You can prove to yourself that you’re capable of anything. That feeling carries over into every aspect of life. After my warmup — lots of shoulder mobility — I do pull-ups, super-setted with hollow-body presses (learned that one from Tony Gentilcore), then knock out a few other upper-body exercises.

8:30 a.m. — My locker-room turnaround is lightning fast because a) I don’t really break a sweat and b) I have the greatest job in the world and can wear a sports bra and sneakers to work every day. I basically change into clean leggings and a top and I’m good to go.

9 a.m. — Glad I got my workout in, because I need the stamina for a marathon of back-to-back meetings.

12 p.m. — Out of my third meeting and starving. I place my Honeygrow order, obviously, and go pick it up. ($13)

1 p.m. — My fourth meeting of the day is canceled (miracles do happen) and I find myself with a glorious multi-hour block of time. Gmail is getting closed, headphones are going on, and I’m deep into project mode.

3:15 p.m. — I’ve been thinking about this peanut butter brownie I saw at Gryphon for weeks. Today is the day: I must have it. I take a quick walk to buy one ($2.70). It’s everything I dreamed.

6 p.m. — There’s an office party tomorrow, and I need to buy gifts. I wrack my brain for ideas, then head in to Center City to hunt for the items on my list. I have fantastic luck at Boyds.

9 p.m. — I end up Ubering home because it’s late ($13.46). My husband has picked me up chicken and vegetables from the hot bar at Weaver’s Way ($12). I house it before I remember that I’m supposed to be taking pictures for this Sweat Diary LOL!

9:30 p.m. — After the usual evening chores, I need to unwind. I do so with an entire pint of cookie dough Halo Top. I am not one to touch diet foods, but Halo Top is that good. I discovered it when we did a healthy ice cream taste test for Men’s Health. Some flavors — cookie dough, candy bar, and vanilla — are as good as the real thing.

Daily total: $41.16

Thursday

Stauffer eats this salad from Honeygrow pretty much every day. She’s not complaining, why should you? / Photograph by Ali Stauffer.

5:30 a.m. — Same routine. This is getting easier.

7:20 a.m. — I’m at the gym and it’s squat day. This is my least favorite of my workouts — squats were just never as satisfying to me as deadlifts or pull-ups. I try to pump myself up with Beyoncé, which works, a little. My main moves in this workout are front squats, Bulgarian split squats, and trap bar deadlifts. I do core work as fillers between sets. Basically, while I’m resting my quads and glutes between sets of squats, I’ll do sliding planks or bird dogs to get in some core work and make the most of my workout time.

8:30 a.m. — Time to wrap up this workout and get to work work.

9 a.m. — My team kicks off every day with a huddle to update each other on KPIs, project status, and anything new that’s come up. We prioritize the day based on the updates. Right now, the big focus is prepping all of our content to launch for 2020.

12 p.m. — I decide to join the team in ordering lunch, and hilariously, they choose Honeygrow as the caterer of choice. I order my usual.

1 p.m. — Spending the afternoon powering through my projects for the new year.

5:30 p.m. — Time for our office party, which has catered barbecue and it’s amazing. I fill my plate with brisket, wings, sausage, candied bacon, mac and cheese, hush puppies, and cornbread. I also have two glasses of champagne, which I almost never do these days because alcohol screws with my sleep.

8:30 p.m. — I’m home with just enough time to catch up with my husband and do some chores.

10 p.m. — I’m crashing!

Daily total: $0

Friday

To round out the week, Stauffer chows down on pizza from Earth Bread and Brewery. / Photograph by Ali Stauffer.

6:45 a.m. — As predicted, I slept terribly, even though I had only two glasses of champagne. There will be no gym this morning, but it’s fine, because I can do my fourth workout of the week tomorrow. Listen to your body!

9 a.m. — I have my morning huddle with my team, and then I have two meetings on deck.

10 a.m. — Time for meeting number one. I leave my morning huddle and go to the first meeting.

12 p.m. — Cue lunchtime. Honeygrow, per usual ($13).

1 p.m. — Heading to Center City for my second meeting.

4 p.m. — I pop into City Fitness East Market to work since my last meeting was nearby. There’s a coworking space at the club that has both communal space and private offices. It’s a great spot to post up for a few hours. There happens to be a Human Touch massage chair in the coworking space, and no one’s using it, so I end up working from a massage chair for about 20 minutes, which I can’t recommend enough.

5 p.m. — Last conference call of the day!

8:38 p.m. — It’s Friday, which means we’ll usually go out to one of our favorite neighborhood spots for dinner. Tonight we decide on Earth Bread and Brewery, which has an epic Nashville hot chicken pizza. We split a large, and I get a house-made kombucha ($15). We hang out at Earth until movie time. We have tickets to The Rise of Skywalker at the Movie Tavern. I have three Lindor truffles in my coat pocket. A perfect Friday night.

Daily total: $28

Weekly totals

Money spent: $132.28
Workouts complete: Three
Honeygrow lunches ordered: Five