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… and what it’s like to be on a hit Bravo reality series

Celebrity trainer, Nike Master Trainer, cast member of Bravo’s hit series Work Out New York and veteran of the fitness world, Holly Rilinger is known as one of the most inspiring motivational trainers and workout gurus. With a huge social media following on Facebook and Instagram and countless fans everywhere, we consider ourselves very lucky that we had the opportunity to interview Holly.

What we found blew us away. She is the real deal. Truly authentic, inspiring, motivating, and genuine. She makes others feel that greatness is possible and perfection is unnecessary. But you have to engage in your own life! Be intentional and go for it. Live life and live life well.

We hope you love this interview as much as we do! 

Q: It’s almost summer. Lots of us are in that post-winter, mid-spring retooling. Trying to shed the wintertime blues and get ourselves ready for the lighter, longer, brighter summertime days. Any tips or suggestions for those of us who need a little jump start to get (re)motivated? 

A: I think it’s important to know how to push your own buttons. Figure out what really motivates you. For example, I love music, so when I put together a great playlist I’m more interested in going for a run or to getting myself to the gym. Cutting out a picture of something or someone that inspires you (maybe a picture of yourself at your best or a suit that you want to wear this summer) and putting it on your fridge or bathroom mirror can be helpful. It’s the first thing you see in the morning and can inspire you to make the right choices.

Q: One of the things you’re most known for is your ability to get people moving, how you are able to motivate others to be their best. What do you think the best strategy is to keep up a solid workout regime and stay strong with it?

A: It definitely is one of my strengths. For whatever reason, I was given the gift of self-motivation. As a kid, I knew I wanted to play pro basketball. So on the days I didn't want to practice I imagined how it would feel when someone beat me out for the spot on the team. That thought would drive me to practice. I think it’s really about reminding yourself that what you want OVERALL is more important than what you want right now. When you can break it down, make it simple and put some fire behind it…it works.

Q: You are known for your amazing ability to inspire others to reach their fitness goals. Do you have a mantra that keeps you focused on the now and positive — or a favorite inspirational quote you can share with us?

A: TRADE YOUR COMFORT IN FOR CHANGE. Life is about exchanges. You have to give something to get something. If you are at the gym, give it everything. Give everything you have. Save being comfortable for the beach in a lounge chair. Another one of my faves is YOU DON’T HAVE TO SEE THE WHOLE STAIRCASE, JUST TAKE YOUR FIRST STEP. That whole staircase can be overwhelming and scary. Just do today. And do it well.

Q: You say music helps motivate you. What is on your favorite playlist right now?

A: OMG Music is everything! It can stir up passion and dreams and memories. I dream BIG dreams when I play music that moves me. A few of of my favorite songs right now are:

Adventures of a Lifetime - Coldplay

Where is my Mind -Maxence Cyrin (This is NOT a “PUMP YOU UP” song either…it just MOVES me)

Kiss it Better (Qarcii Remix) - Rihanna 

Style - Taylor Swift

Sorry - Beyonce 

Q: Beyond just being fit and strong, you look like you have a glow, like you radiate good health. What is a “typical” day of eating for you, if there is such thing as “typical?” Do you make allowances for a “cheat” treat now and then?

A: Awwwwwww, thank you! What an amazing compliment!!
Yes. I love routines. So I really don’t mind eating a lot of the same things. It brings me comfort.

Typical day:

  • Wake up: Almond milk cappuccino and organic blackberries.
  • Spin Class
  • Harvey Wallbanger Smoothie (almond milk, coffee, banana, hemp protein, and ice) from Juice Press 
  • Spin Class
  • Grilled organic veggies and either a piece of grilled chicken or salmon
  • Snack: usually more veggies and meat or, if I’m lazy, a kind bar (but, for the most part, I try to stay away from bars)
  • Dinner: I love to go out and eat in NYC. When I do it’s still a combo of meats and veggies and I love my silver tequila. My go-to drink which I named a HOLLYWOOD is Don Julio Silver, Club Soda, Splash of Grapefruit and lime. When I stay home I eat a lot of sashimi and I don’t drink.
  • I love love love dark chocolate. I have been known to eat an entire bar at night. (oops)

Yes. I cheat. I love to eat. I love ice cream. I love good cookies. But I know when I can and can’t do it. And when I lose control I reign it in again. 

Q: That all sounds very reasonable - and healthy and good! Any suggestions for how we can create a plan for healthy and mindful eating that will lead to long-term success?

A: Being Mindful is key. In everything that we do. When we move mindfully, we perform better. When we eat mindfully, we listen to our body. I try to understand where my pitfalls are. When we take a deep breath and stop spinning, we can observe our behavior. We can gain more control. For example: I make myself be at home for at least 10 min before I eat anything. Because I know that’s a moment when I eat mindlessly. The other time is right after I grocery shop because I tend to want to sample everything. ;)

Q: It is true… we must find balance. Stay the course. What tips can you share with us on keeping life in balance? How can we make every day as good as it can be and how to best ride the ups with the downs?

A: “Choose the way you feel!” “Today is my day! Now is my time!” “My yesterday will not determine my today!”  

These are such powerful statements. I say them to myself every day. Moment by moment, we can choose our experience in life. I think it’s ok to sit back somedays and say “I’m feeling really Sh*tty.” We don’t need to feel the pressure of being happy every moment of life. Have a bad day! Wallow in it and then choose something different. Let’s stop trying to be so perfect. Let’s give ourselves a break. Let’s be our biggest cheerleaders and love ourselves when we need love. That’s when we can start to fall in love with life. The highs AND the lows

Q: We read that you have a meditation practice. We are going to be introducing a 14-Day Meditation Challenge to our readers for our next blog post. Can you share something to plant the seed for our readers as to what benefits you’ve noticed from staying in the present, being in the now, and keeping a positive outlook?

A: Meditation has changed my life. It took me years to find a consistent practice, but like anything else, it takes time and commitment to see real change. Meditating gives me space. There are days where your mind is like a crazy little dog on a leash just jerking you in every direction. When you don’t understand what’s happening, you feel a little crazy, worn out, overwhelmed. Meditating allows you to be an observer to your own mind. Suddenly you are in the driver’s seat of your own life.

That same repetitive thought arises, and instead of spiraling with it AGAIN, you look at it and say “oh…there you are again.” Thoughts will continue to come and go. Underneath those thoughts, we are ok. We will always be ok. And there is a peacefulness. There is space. That’s comforting to me. I meditate every morning. If even for 10 minutes.

Q: Redefining bikini babe…. You own it! Your abs are unreal. Tell us: how do you do it? Because all of us at Helen Jon love to make women feel comfortable — and beautiful — in their swim and resort wear.

A: Awwwwwwww You’re making me blush over here! Thank you! If I could live my entire life in a bikini, I would. It’s my happy place. And yes. My abs are a direct reflection of how I live my life. I work out because I LOVE my body. Not because I hate it. I think that’s an important mantra to embrace. We are all different and have something uniquely beautiful about our bodies. I know that sounds cliche, and probably a few readers will think “that’s easy to say when you have your body,” but for years, I HATED my legs. My quads are very strong and big. And now I love them. Embrace what you have, change what you can, but love your body. 

Q: Great advice. What do you look for most when you’re shopping for a new bikini? Fit, color, fabric. What is your favorite way to spend time on the beach? Relaxing, running, meditating, stand-up-paddle boarding?

A: I like a more athletic bikini. I have a booty and can’t really wear those teeny bikinis. I like very classic styles too. Not too many frills or dangling parts. LOL. Historically I’ve been drawn to solid colors…but lately I’m into patterns as well. I’m a big surfer. So I like a bikini that I’m not constantly having to adjust. If I’m not surfing, I’m chillin'!!

Q: Sounds like you might just love Helen Jon!

Tell us, what’s in your bikini bag this summer? We are sending you a few Helen Jon pieces that we think you will just love. Hopefully our Portofino bikini and White Sands board shorts might just become your new favorites and become your “go-to’s” all summer long!

A: Well, it appears I may have a little Helen Jon in my bag this summer which will be amazing!!!! My bag itself is an amazing waterproof bag from The Great Bag Company.  I love La Prairie sun screen and moisturizers, and my BEATS Pill and wireless headphone lay down my summer soundtrack.

Q: You have been very busy with the Bravo’s new docu-drama/reality series, Work Out New York, which we love watchingWhat have you learned about yourself while working on this show? What is the best part of doing a reality show? What about the worst part?

A: Oh man, I learned how to deal with things immediately. You have to be direct and fully accountable for your actions. You can’t not answer the phone and put things on hold until you are ready to talk about them. That scared me. But it made me a better person. Sometimes the hardest thing to say is the right thing to say. And HOW you say it is even more important.

Best Part: It’s exciting. Filming is exciting. People recognizing you is exciting. It’s so fun.
Worst Part: Somedays you really don't want a camera in your face. It’s exhausting. And personalities clash, and you can’t hide. It all makes you stronger in the end though.

Q: If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?

A: I worry. And everything always works out. I think it’s because I take everything so seriously. The good news is that I catch myself more often these days. I’ll get up in the morning and be all worried about my playlist and then I’m like “What the hell, Holly. You can do this in your sleep. Chill out. Your playlist is fine. Just have FUN!!” 

Q: What is one thing about yourself that you are incredibly proud of?

A: I’m really proud of myself for making a difference in people’s lives in a meaningful way. Sometimes when I come back to NYC and I see that skyline, I am blown away by the fact that I’m doing what I’m doing. I’ve made my way to the top of my industry in an authentic way. I’m doing exactly what I was put on this earth to do: Inspire people to fall in love with their lives.

Q: Authentic is right… you really are inspiring. We have read that you love to give back. Tell us about the work you’re doing in Africa, how you’re working to help empower the lives of young women through education with the Georges Maliaka Foundation. It is so powerful to give and to do.

A: Man, that was the best thing I’ve ever done. It happened so randomly. It’s a tribute to the POWER of saying “yes.” I was asked if I wanted to create a Physical Education program for a girl’s school in Africa. My inside voice said, “You don’t know how to do that.” And my outside voice said,“YES!” (LOL)

So, I teamed up with a PE teacher in NYC who helped me create a program for The Georges Malaika Foundation. I insisted on going to The Congo and helping implement the program and raised the money to do just that. For two weeks, I worked with translators to train the teachers and worked with the kids. It melted my heart. These people have nothing and are so full of JOY. It was a life changing experience. These girls will have an opportunity to create a better life for themselves. I’m so thankful to have been able to be a part of that.

From all of us at Helen Jon, thank you, Holly Rilinger, for taking the time to give us these thoughtful and inspiring answers.

Now, it’s up to us to take what we’ve learned to our own, personal “next” level, to be our best, to take chances, be bold, be happy, and to live life well. We’re up for the challenge. Aren’t you? :)

Stay tuned for more great interviews with other inspiring and motivating women in future blogs. And, for now, let’s all try to get moving and add a little “Holly Rilinger” into our lives.

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