13 Philly Fitness Pros Share How They Stay Fit Outside of Class

From planks and squats to kettlebell swings and deadlifts, here's how some of your favorite Philly fitness instructors build strength and endurance.

Ever wonder how fitness instructors build muscle and stay strong outside of teaching? We asked 13 Philly fit pros for their go-to exercises. / Photograph courtesy of KG Strong.

Whenever I work out at a local boutique fitness studio, I will, at some point, glance at the instructor and wonder, “How DO they do it?!” And by it, I mean, make whatever exercise we’re doing seem effortless. Among other things like motivating, supporting, and pushing us, our favorite fitness instructors radiate strength, both in physical appearance and the way they carry themselves.

But really: How DO they do it? Fitness pros are people, too, meaning their six-packs and stamina require consistent dedication, time, and effort. While they get solid workouts as they teach, instructors often lift weights or frequent each others’ studios in order to build muscle and get stronger. To find out exactly how they crush their personal goals, we asked 13 Philly fitness pros to share the sure-fire exercises they regularly use outside of their own classes.

Ashley Rufo, private yoga, meditation, and Yoga for Athletes instructor: “I am all about planks lately. I had twins last summer, so I’ve been working on a lot of precise core to help with the diastasis recti (abdominal separation). I try to do a 10-minute plank series twice a week, and love the next day burn! I turn my phone on stopwatch and do all different plank intervals. Usually something like a one- or two-minute plank, 15-second rest, and then 45-second side plank, 10-second rest. I just do all different planks until I hit 10 minutes. Sometimes I plank on forearms, sometimes on knees; sometimes I mix it all up!”

When she’s not teaching reformer and rebounder classes at Freehouse Fitness, Dana Auriemma does at-home exercises that target the full body. / Photograph courtesy of Freehouse Fitness.

Dana Auriemma, owner of and instructor at Freehouse Fitness Studio: “Outside of class, my go-to workout includes running a few miles near my home in Collingswood and some at-home exercises that balance out the moves I most commonly have to demonstrate while teaching. In regular rotation for me is an ab and bridge routine using a 6-inch-by-3-foot foam roller. Laying lengthwise on the roller while doing ab curls and knee pulls, or putting your feet on the roller while bridging really challenges your muscles so much more than being on the floor! For upper body, I always grab a set of the reels that we use at the studio for a reverse fly and rotator cuff combo that targets the back of the shoulders, upper back, and triceps. Super effective and packs a punch!”

Jamie Promislo, owner of and instructor at Revel Ride: “I typically go to Leverage Fitness for semi-private training and conditioning classes one to two times per week. I really love lifting heavy weights and challenging myself to do more than I think I can handle. I also enjoy doing push-ups and try to do 50 push-ups per day. In addition to Leverage, I have been going to Solidcore recently. I find the combination of cycling, weights, and Pilates to be the perfect balance for me.”

Jon Lyons, director of We/Fit at City Fitness and founder of Run215: “The item I use the most in my fitness training is my single cast iron kettlebell, as it is extremely versatile. Combined with body weight exercises, it provides a workout on par with the best studios in the industry because it targets conditioning, power, mobility, and strength training. If I could pick two exercises that I feel are absolutely critical, they would be the kettlebell deadlift (and its hinging family: single leg deadlift, Romanian deadlift, kettlebell swing) and the goblet squat. The deadlift is one of the best full-body strength exercises of all time. It works EVERYTHING — your hamstrings, butt, thighs, back, abs. Aside from working your glutes, hips, and quads, the goblet squat, when done correctly, can give you the best ab workout you’ve ever gotten, plus build serious upper body strength.”

In addition to lifting heavy, Juliet Root of Unite Fitness does 50 to 100 pull-ups per week. / Photograph courtesy of Unite Fitness

Juliet Root, owner of and instructor at Unite Fitness, and instructor at Flywheel Sports: “Aside from Unite workouts, I make sure to lift heavy a few days per week for about one hour at a time. I use a barbell for things like squats and deadlifts, which we don’t use in our group classes. I also always do at least 50 to 100 pull-ups per week. I love feeling strong and working toward increasing my weights with these exercises.”

Katie Gould, owner of and instructor at KG Strong: “Believe it or not, my workouts outside of the gym look very much like what we offer at KG Strong! My go-to exercises are single-arm kettlebell swings and Turkish getups. They can be used during the warmup, the meat of the workout, or as a powerful finisher, depending on the weight and volume. These days, I need my workouts to be simple and efficient, and these two moves cover lots of bases. Sometimes I set a timer for 40 minutes, execute superset swings and getups for the full duration, and call it a day.”

Katie Graham, co-owner of and instructor at Ride: “I teach 12 classes per week, so my body is pretty tired outside of teaching; however, one of my favorite combos to do outside of classes is one commando followed by two plank jacks, repeated for increments of 30 seconds with a 10-second rest in between. I do it three to four times through. While my core is one of the strongest parts of my body, this exercise gets me feeling the burn every time! When I have the time, I take a bootcamp style class at Fast Twitch Training, which kicks my butt!”


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Lauren Leavell, personal trainer, and barre instructor at Y2B Fit and Lumos Yoga and Barre: “Currently, I teach six days per week, so I don’t always have a ton of time to do my own workouts. But one move I do every single day is lunges, as they can be great for working on core stability and overall balance. Plus, there are tons of lunge variations. I can turn them into a cardio move by adding a jump or kick, or I can also turn them into a stretch by slowing them down. I can take a high lunge and a twist (like in yoga) or I can lower my back knee and reach my arms overhead for a deeper hip stretch.”

Leroy Mapp, trainer at Rumble Boxing and co-owner of Gorilla Power: “Two exercises in my normal routine are thrusters and flutter kicks. I usually do three sets of thrusters for 10 reps for plyo-style workouts and three rounds of 30-second flutter kicks.”


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Nick Turk, instructor at SoulCycle and coach at Solidcore: “I’ve been hosting bootcamps on most Saturday mornings, and [there] I always do a series of shuffle runs and sprints. The shuffle runs get you to move side to side, as opposed to always in a straight line. I do like a classic sprint drill as well, especially one that incorporates an ab exercise such as kangaroos or crunches at either end of the sprint.”

Shoshana Katz, owner of and instructor at BPM Fitness: “Exercises that I will always shoot for, especially when short on time, are kettlebell swings, some form of crawling (bear crawls are one of my faves!), and planking. They are all incredible full-body exercises that work your glutes, grip, and core. And while I love taking classes here at BPM, I also spend time once a week down at KG Strong. The owner, Katie [Gould], is an incredible coach. She got me ready for my SFG (a very intense and challenging kettlebell certification), and while we wait for dates to come out for SFG Level II, we are working on my barbell skills. It is really nice to have someone there to push me for a change, and I am a super goal-focused person, so having that one-on-one attention is where it’s at.”

Stephanie Luongo, owner of and instructor at Sculpt360: “I love to incorporate plank-based exercises into my daily routine, as they are so good for total body. My favorites are mountain climbers and push-ups. If I want to kick it up a notch (and make it more Sculpt360-like), I add sliders. They are $5 from Five Below! Outside of my Sculpt workouts, I either box at Rumble or Title or spin once per week (I love Bryant [Reams’] classes at SoulCycle!).”


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Teagan Schweitzer, instructor at Maha Yoga and Sanctuary Yoga and Mindfulness: “Outside of practicing yoga, I regularly incorporate squat and plank variations, including one-legged and two-legged squats and side planks. I also frequent other boutique fitness studios around the city like SoulCycle, Unite Fitness, EverybodyFights, and November Project.”