Between grueling production schedules, traveling, and creating content for her lifestyle site Amore & Vita, it’s hard to believe Shay Mitchell has any time for herself, let alone 20 minutes to squeeze in a workout. But despite her often busy and ever-changing schedule, the Pretty Little Liars actress has made health and fitness an integral part of her everyday life. So much so, she even joined the athleisure design game, creating a collection for Kohl's called Fit to Wander. Created with the girl-on-the-go in mind, the 19-piece line features stylish and comfortable silhouettes you can take from your morning gym session to afternoon brunch. So just how does she do it all? We caught with Mitchell (in between workouts) to find out. Keep reading for our exclusive interview.
Byrdie: What influenced you to make fitness such a big part of your life? Shay Mitchell: Well, for me, it’s all about balance. A lot of people that know me know that I absolutely love food, pizza in particular. I work out not only to balance food, but also to keep my mind focused. And for me, that comes in many different forms. It can be taking a walk outside, boxing, or going to dance. Anything physical has such a positive impact on people; the dopamine and serotonin that get released when you work out—afterward, you feel amazing.
B: Was that the catalyst for designing your own athleisure line? SM: I really wanted to do an athleisure line because I feel my best after I’m done working out. And another thing on top of that was I’ve tried on so many different workout brands, but I was finding that there were certain things I was looking for that I could never find. You know, for the sports bra, I always felt like it would cut me off at a certain angle and then for pants, they were always falling down when I was spinning. So I was always taking notes of things I wanted to find, and then I was like, you know, "I could just do it myself." I came up with Fit to Wander, and it was a name I loved because it wasn’t specific to just being worn at the gym or when you are working out; it can be worn from boot camp to brunch. And for me, I never know what’s going to happen in my day, it’s always changing, so I wanted to be able to wear something you can take from morning to night, and that’s how it came about. I wanted to put a special note from me in the collection, so I put positive affirmations in every single piece. I just think it has such a great impact on the rest of the day when you read them.
B: Do you have a favorite piece? SM: I would say the wrap with the hood. It has thumbholes on the inside, an extra-long hood so you can really cover up, and the material is so soft. It’s the perfect-size wrap, and I’ve probably worn that more times than anything.
B: Will we see a second collection? SM: Yes! Clothes for me are so fun, especially with different seasons; you get to play around with different colors. It’s going to be fun, and I’ve already started working on it, and I’m very excited about it.
B: How do you tone up? SM: I have to switch it up because I get bored, so I’ll try different classes. Cardio for me is a spin class. I think it’s great. I get so amped up with other people in the room, and there’s just a really good energy about it. So I’ll usually start with a spin class, then it will be something like weights or working out with my amazing trainer—we do a mix of Pilates and leg toning. And then I’ll go take a Body by Simone class. There are so many amazing classes here in L.A., but my favorite is boxing. I love it because there is the cardio at the beginning, and then we’re sparring afterward and then we do stretching and weights.
B: Have you tried any unusual workouts? SM: I have tried the aerial workout. It was amazing; I’d love to get more into it. Pole dancing was a really good workout. Not going to lie, it was really hard and I felt it the next day. There are so many amazing apps where you can sign up and see what’s going on. For me, it’s about trying everything from rock climbing to dancing to martial arts. It’s finding what you like and mixing it with other things you like.
B: What’s your secret to staying fit when you’re working so much? SM: If you can’t fit a workout in, it does really come down to your eating. Me being on set, I drink a lot of water. I try to opt out of coffee and drink green tea instead. There are always options. But I have my certain favorite things with me all the time when I’m on set. And when I’m craving something sweet, I’ll have my pineapple chips or always make sure to eat a salad before I have something else just so I’ll be a little more full and not want double up on the main course. I think it’s just finding a balance and not cutting anything out. I hate that; I hardly ever diet. I think it is just about making smart choices when you can’t get a workout in.
B: You mentioned pineapple chips; what are some more of your favorite guilt-free snacks? SM: I’m a pro at making kale chips. I know that was all the rage a while ago, but I still think I make the best ones. I do Brussels sprout chips quite a bit, and I make fruit schikabobs, as I call them. They are like fruit skewers, and I will always have them in my fridge because they are easy to grab and go. And then watermelon with cinnamon.
B: How do you navigate the craft-service table? SM: It’s called sharing. So instead of having my own, I’ll share with Ashley Benson. She’s probably my food partner in crime, so if she’s craving something, I’ll be like, “Let’s split it.” That’s how I do the craft table.
B: You’ve only got 20 minutes to work out. What do you do? SM: Sprints. I’ll just go out on my street or find a good staircase and run up and down it. Twenty minutes is definitely enough.
B:Do you have a favorite do-anywhere exercise? SM: Just taking a skipping rope with you wherever you are is such a good idea because it’s such an amazing workout. It’s the easiest, and I can bring it with me anywhere. And you only need a small amount of space.
B:What’s the best tip you’ve received from your trainer Gunnar? SM: He is all about eating well, too. I’ll go to him and get the most insane workout, and then afterward, he’ll be like, “Okay, Shay, you can’t go and have pizza the minute you walk out this door. You have to eat well.” He is all about taking your workout with you on the go. He knows how much I travel, so it was his idea to take the jumping rope and to do squats in the hotel room.
What are your favorite workouts? Sound off in the comments below!
Photographer: Kat Borchart; Hair: Chad Wood; Makeup: Patrick Ta; Styling: Dani + Emma.