This Dancer and Trainer Starts Her Day With Fresh Air—and Ends It With Cool Sleep

Emily James is a dancer, and that means one thing: strength. One quick glance through her Instagram will remind you of just how much sheer athleticism is required to be a professional dancer, and if photographs of Emily leaping into the air over NYC traffic don’t inspire you to hit the gym, maybe her workout routine will. She’s a founding trainer at Performix House, a cutting-edge gym that offers both training and recovery services in New York’s Union Square. Oh, and she was a contestant on season 11 of So You Think You Can Dance.

Still, despite her intimidating dance moves, her morning and evening routines are refreshingly relatable, as she balances fitness with a full-time job in marketing. She’s no stranger to the snooze button—and she adores coffee. Here’s how she makes it through one of her jam-packed days.

Dancers: they’re just like us

While we all wish we could wake up to the peaceful sound of a waterfall and meditate for the next ten minutes, sometimes that’s just not happening in the AM—and Emily knows all about that. 

“I will admit it,” she says. “I am a big alarm snoozer. It's a habit I am trying to break, but I do hit snooze a couple of times before fully waking up. I'll typically stumble to the bathroom to put my contacts in, since everything is one big blur without my contacts or glasses. The next five to ten minutes or so, I wash my face, brush my teeth, and cover my face with all the hydrating products I can find: cleanser, toner, moisturizer, eye cream, Vitamin C serum, misting spray, etc. I have a bit of an addiction to skincare products.”

After the contacts, it’s time to hydrate

“Once I'm up and at 'em, I'll chug a big glass of water to rehydrate and kick-start things into gear,” says Emily. And then it’s time for caffeine. “Next: an iced coffee. I LOVE coffee. For breakfast, I will usually have a cup of Chobani Plain Greek Yogurt with some granola and fresh fruit or a green smoothie: coconut water, kale, spinach, mango, banana, strawberries.”

Emails in the AM are a necessity

“I'm on my phone pretty soon after I wake up,” says Emily. It’s not that she’s scrolling through Facebook—it’s that she has two jobs. “I work for Johnson & Johnson's Medical Device Companies as a Marketing Manager and as a fitness instructor/trainer at Performix House,” she says. “I rely heavily on my phone calendar to keep my days straight, so I'm double checking my calendar for morning meetings and appointments almost immediately.”

Her first movement of the day involves fresh air

“I typically take a walk to my favorite coffee spot in Brooklyn, Partner's Coffee, to continue waking up with fresh air and to get the legs moving,” Emily says. “A bit later, I will head to the gym. I am a big fan of fitness classes.”

She’s currently into fitness classes that are easy on the joints without sacrificing any intensity. “At Performix House, we are launching a new class called Element, a class that incorporates interval training on a treadmill and full body strength training on a Keiser Functional Trainer,” she says. “It’s a multi-functional machine that allows you to train at any speed while minimizing stress on the joints. It is SUPER FUN and leaves you completely drenched in sweat.”

She’s a recovering night owl

“I used to be a complete night owl,” Emily remembers. “I would fall asleep every night to the soothing sounds of Rachel, Ross, Monica, Chandler, Phoebe, and Joey (all Friends episodes are available on Netflix if anyone wanted to know).” 

It was a soothing routine—with unfortunate consequences. “I would wake up incredibly groggy. My days felt longer and my workouts felt tougher,” she says. “I now make a conscious effort to get six to eight hours of sleep a night (usually around six or seven) in hopes of feeling not only physically but mentally rested and recovered.”

Evenings are for Netflix and more hydration

“My ideal evening is hopping on the couch and watching a good movie or show,” she says. “I am a huge movie buff (Blockbuster was my favorite place growing up). Give me a good movie, a fuzzy blanket, and some popcorn, and I am good to go. If there are no good movies, it's back to my old faithful...Friends.” 

For supper, her recent travels have been inspiring her eating habits. “Lately, I've been really into Greek salads with grilled chicken for dinner. I just got back from Greece and now I'm hooked,” she says. And don’t forget the H2O: “I typically drink another big glass of water before bed.”

To feel truly rested, she opts for cooler sleep 

“I recently started sleeping on the MOLECULE 2 mattress...and oh my gosh, I love it!” Emily says. “I often times struggle finding time for quality sleep and the MOLECULE mattress is a fantastic tool for recovery sleep. I especially like the temperature regulation feature, keeping me nice and cool at night. My bedroom has a huge window and the morning sun floods the room. I use dimming shades too, so the bright light doesn't wake me.”

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