All photographs courtesy of Rachel Sandler’s Instagram.
Welcome to Busy Bodies, where we ask busy Washingtonians how they balance health and fitness while working crazy hours, raising a family, and meeting the demands of the daily hustle. Know someone who’s killing the fitness game while getting it done (maybe it’s you)? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rachel Sandler recently moved from Philadelphia to DC, where she’s a marketing manager and a Solidcore coach—and really busy. Between her full-time job and leading classes, she takes workout classes on her own 10-to-11 times a week, averaging at about 41 hours of working out a month.
That may seem like a lot, but it’s worth it to her. “I see exercise as an investment in my own well-being. They say you make time for what you prioritize, and I prioritize fitness,” says Sandler. “Sometimes I find that, for me, the most calming, focused, and relaxing moments in my day are also in the middle of a max tension hold at Solicore or in a particularly challenging finisher at Cut Seven.”
And all these workouts provide more than just physical benefits, she says. “My workouts have taught me that I’m capable of doing difficult things,” says Sandler. “The more often I prove to myself that I can do difficult things physically and mentally, the more willing and capable I am to handle other challenges.”
Here’s how she gets it done.
“A normal day for me usually begins around 5 AM. I am literally out of bed, dressed, and ready to head to workout or teach a 6 AM within about 15 minutes of waking up. I’ve always been a morning person and one of the best parts of living in DC is my proximity to my favorite workouts. I think that starting every day with a workout sets the tone for the remainder of the day. You can ride that endorphin high into your first few hours at work and it makes me way more agreeable.
“My weakest point is food prep—I’m terrible at it. I’m aces at making healthy choices while buying food, though. This means that on my way to work most mornings, I have some combination of eggs and currently am obsessed with Mush Overnight Oats. The apple crisp flavor is so. freaking. good. Anything that’s nutritious and portable—sign me up.
“I get to the office around 8:30 AM, and will usually succumb to the pattern of eating at my desk for lunch. It varies day-to-day what lunch entails, but I’m a big fan of a salad with a variety of toppings. (Chicken? Salmon? Beans? Peppers? Cucumbers? Berries? Nuts? Select all.) My millennial might be showing, but I also love all the toast options out there (with avocado or nut butters and berries) as snacks, as well as smoothies. I’m consistently snacking at work and upon taking my new job, I’m pretty sure I told colleagues that odds were high they’d walk in and I’d be eating.
“I’ve never subscribed to a diet or adopted a restrictive eating pattern. I eat to fuel the things I enjoy doing and I eat what I enjoy. My one caveat is if I’m going to eat something that maybe doesn’t support an overly health-conscious lifestyle, I really want it to be the best version of that particular thing. That just means my ice cream or pizza selections are usually the best of the absolute best because life is way too short for crappy pizza.
“After work I’m usually heading to another workout, most often a Solidcore class. If I’m teaching, sometimes I’ll take the class before or after. Then it’s home by 7:45 PM if I’m just taking, or admittedly, much later if I’m coaching—around 9 PM when all is said and done. I’ll have a late afternoon snack (e.g., toast) to keep my energy up and will have something when I get home before getting ready for bed and laying out stuff for the next morning.
“My two exercise drugs of choices are Cut Seven and Solidcore. I do Cut Seven six-to-seven times a week, and I try to take a Solidcore class every other day at least. That averages out to about 10-11 classes a week, with some weeks seeing more than others. I’ll also do some yoga at home to try and stay limber using the app Aaptiv and occasionally take a SoulCycle or a Rumble class to mix it up.
“Are my days really long? Yup, that’s a lot of time awake in a day. Do I get tired? Yes, absolutely. If my body is feeling too drained to perform, I’ll try to modify the next day. But truth be told, unless circumstances are extreme, which they sometimes are, I can almost always rally for a workout. That also means as a coach, I’m constantly reminding clients that they can be tired/uncomfortable/insecure/really angry at me and STILL get the job done.
“I keep a pretty tight schedule during the week because certain things are important to me—namely, work, workouts, and sleep. I’m fortunate that so many of my friends also enjoy the same workouts as I do, so I frequently get to combine working out with seeing friends. Every time I’m back in Philadelphia visiting, I end up taking so many classes because I’m notorious for a sweat date. The trade-off is that this does mean it’s extremely unlikely to find me at weeknight happy hours or up past 10 PM on a weeknight.
“As a coach, I think the fitness industry can present a range of insecurities. One of my favorite sayings is that my body is not my business card, and I think that’s an important mantra for coaches in any type of fitness instruction. I like well-informed coaches who are deeply knowledgeable, motivating, and engaging—that’s my priority when looking for instructors and it’s what I strive to emulate as a coach. I want people passionate about fitness, but passion alone is no substitute for knowledge.
“I fell in love with the Solidcore workout and the community, and I like to help people feel their best and challenge them. The company embodies a lot of values that are important to me, like strength over aesthetics and a devotion to community. To that former point, as a workout devoted to nurturing clients’ strength, I appreciate that you won’t hear coaches talking about #summerbodies or calories. I love helping clients find a strength that maybe they didn’t realize they had all along, and I’m happy to cheer for them every time.”
This interview has been edited and condensed.