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FITT Q&A: INGRID CLAY - PLANT-BASED CHEF, BARRY’S INSTRUCTOR, AND ENTREPRENEUR

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MEREDITH O'CONNOR

JUL 14, 2020

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IMAGE VIA @INGRIDSCLAY | INSTAGRAM

In a recurring series, we’re talking to inspirational people doing amazing things in the LA fitness scene.

Recently, we caught up with Ingrid Clay, an OG instructor at Barry’s in Los Angeles, to talk about mindfulness, the importance of self-care, and the exciting projects she has in the works.

WHERE DOES YOUR FITNESS JOURNEY BEGIN?

I grew up on a farm in a small town in Louisiana. I got my undergrad degrees in physics and electrical engineering and started my career at Gillette. It was a good job; I got to travel a lot, but I didn't feel like I was changing the world by making razors.

My parents were always into fitness, so that had always been a part of who I was. I was working freelance marketing jobs when I started making my own workout plans for my wedding. I ended up getting really skinny and losing a lot of muscle mass, and I didn’t like the way I looked. I decided I didn’t want to be tiny, I wanted to be fit. So, I did a lot of research on diets and nutrition, wrote my own program, and started working out to put on muscle mass and lean out.

HOW DID YOU END UP IN LA?

Me and my husband at the time initially moved to Fresno, and I got into fitness competitions because I got divorced. My goal was to be in the best shape ever but fitness is also where I channeled my energy and my sadness. Working out was a good distraction and it turned into my meditation — it’s the only time in the day that is totally for me.

BUT YOU’RE WAY MORE THAN JUST FITNESS.

I moved to LA in 2008 and was a bartender/fitness trainer/cook. Eventually, I started a meal plan delivery company, and my only client at the time was Barry Jay, who started Barry’s Bootcamp. He’s a vegan, and cooking for him sparked an interest in learning more about veganism.

Personally, I’ve also been plant-based for about three years. The easiest part is I live in LA, I can eat almost anywhere. The hardest part is I live in LA and everything is vegan, so eating donuts is easy.

And, actually, right now I’m working on a cookbook. It includes all of my childhood favorite recipes but they’re plant-based. It’s been an interesting journey, but very rewarding in a creative sense.

WAS YOUR CONNECTION WITH BARRY HOW YOU ENDED UP WORKING THERE?

Yeah. I started at Barry’s 2015 when we had two LA locations — Sherman Oaks and West Hollywood. There were only two women trainers at the time, so to see the growth of women and minorities in fitness, not just at Barry’s but in general, is absolutely amazing.

As a woman in fitness, you've got to be 10x better, you always have to be on your A-game. It’s been great to see the tide changing as far as appreciation and respect for female trainers and athletes.

@ingridsclay | Instagram

BUT YOU ADD A LOT OF YOUR OWN PERSONAL PHILOSOPHY TO THE CLASSES.

I integrate mindfulness in my approach with clients, like journaling and meditation. I’m not a psychologist but writing and journaling helped me through a lot of things. I've learned that yes, you have to work out and eat right, but what you think about all of that is what promotes the change.

A lot of times, people will try to go from zero to 100 in one day. If you haven’t been working out, it’s really hard to follow through with a goal to work out every day — if you fail, that’s a hard hit. You might not be ready for every day, you might be ready for one day this week and that's an accomplishment.

DO YOU WORK OUT EVERY DAY?

I don’t. I have been lately because I’ve been teaching classes and I do the workout with my class. But recovery is a big part of my daily fitness. I see an acupuncturist, and I'm not gonna lie, I’m old-school, so I still do ice baths.

I’m a big proponent of listening to your body and allowing yourself to rest. If you're working out every day and you're not recovering at the same level, there’s a disconnect and that’s when you have injury.

I’ve also been using a WHOOP band for almost a year and a half. One of the key things it tracks is your rest versus your strain. The days I feel run down, if I look at it and see I'm in the red, I'm not working out that day.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO INDULGE IN SELF-CARE?

It’s important to make time for self-care because if you're not happy, you can't create that space for other people. I meditate every day; it’s my chance to check in with myself and quiet everything. Sometimes, I do nothing. I used to have a problem with that because I felt I should always be doing something. But I’ve learned doing nothing is doing something.

I like to put a mask on and just sit, especially lately. I also like being out in nature, going on a walk or a hike — being outdoors always grounds me.

HOW DO YOU STAY TRUE TO YOURSELF?

When you realize there is no one like you, no one with your experience, no one that teaches the way you do, that sounds the way you do — that’s what should propel you.

People don't go to you because you're teaching a Barry’s class, they go for the experience. I always tell new trainers, clients aren’t going to connect to you because you're super hard, they're going to connect with you because you care super hard. People want to feel that you care about them, and you’re challenging them. That’s how you grow, from sharing who you are and being as authentic as you can.

@ingridsclay | Instagram

TELL US ABOUT YOUR ISC WELLNESS BRAND.

ISC Wellness is an all-encompassing health, mind, body brand. Right now, I’m finishing up the app and hope to launch it by the end of May, which is super exciting. It's coming at a great time with what's all happening and will feature mindful daily reminders, nutrition services, and weekly workouts. With the schedule I was keeping before, it was hard to have time to dedicate to content. In the last two months, that’s all I’ve been doing, so I'm so grateful to have had the time to develop this.

I'm also hosting my own classes online on IG Live and Zoom classes for Barry’s. And I have workouts on the audio platform MoveWith.

IS IT A NON-STOP HUSTLE?

It’s hard when you work in LA to get a break from LA. The only way I get a break is if I leave, so I like to travel.

A simple thing I do is turn off my phone; I’ll turn it off for two hours. You'll be surprised how it makes you feel. I encourage everyone to try it — it's liberating. I’ve also taken my Instagram notifications off and give myself a 15-minute time limit for social media a day. Then my day isn’t all about others in a way. It’s a major self-care thing for me.

WHAT DOES YOUR TOTALLY PERFECT SATURDAY LOOK LIKE?

Waking up late—by late, I mean 8am—go for a walk, and then finish my day by making dinner with friends. I like cooking for my friends, having them over, and sitting out on my patio. I've been setting up a table lately and having a “social distancing dinner”. I’m so grateful for that.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP FIVE FAVORITE SPOTS IN LA?

The Getty.

Little Pine in Silver Lake.

I’m a beach girl. I live in Venice, so I love going on the beach for a run. I’ll usually run from there all the way to the Palisades; that’s always fun.

The Venice Canals. It's so cute. If you haven't been, you should definitely go.

Calamigos Ranch. It’s like you can run away, it's a spa right in Malibu, but feels like you’re in a completely different place. If you get a massage, you should have my girl Erica massage you because she is gangsta.

WHAT DO YOU LIKE THE MOST ABOUT LA?

The weather. The best part about being in California in general is that you can drive anywhere and get any different temperature.

You can drive five hours and go skiing. You can go to the mountains, you can go to the beach — it's just the best place to live. And it's always sunny except for that five times out of the year when it rains.

Follow along with Ingrid on Instagram, check out her workout playlist, and tune in to the Fitt LA ’gram for more local trainer spotlights and the latest fitness news.

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