The husband and wife team co-host ABC’s Extreme Weight Loss, where they call themselves “transformation specialists,” and they co-authored the bestselling book Choose More Lose More, For Life last year. At home in Arizona, they lift and lunge in their CrossFit box-garage, all while taking care of their four small children.
Even if they’re known for kickstarting clients’ weight loss, the Powells say their focus is really on helping people find active pursuits that they enjoy. “It’s really awesome to know you can do what you love for the rest of your life and consider it fitness,” Heidi says.
We caught up with the incredibly upbeat pair at the new Reebok Fit Hub in Union Square last week, where they told us more about their philosophy, favorite workouts, and smuggling healthy groceries into their hotel room.
1. Do you find that exercise is more effective if it’s something a person really likes? Heidi: Hands down. Like right now we have 19 people in Colorado for season five, and we have to be really careful to do 19 different things, at least, throughout the week, so everybody gets a chance to do something that they love. Our goal is that, at the end of the three months, when they leave Colorado and go home for the next nine months, that they’ve all found one, two, maybe three things that they really love doing. Because there’s nothing worse than being forced into say, CrossFit, if you hate that feeling. Or being forced to do Zumba, if you just hate dancing. If you love dance, you can dance for the rest of your life and be fit. Or you can play tennis and be fit. Even something as simple as playing with your kids on a jungle gym. Isn’t that Parkour?
2. Sure, why not? What are some of the things people on the show have found to work for them? Chris: Last year, Kenny found tennis and yoga, loved them, and he lost 200-plus pounds. Charita found Zumba, lost 200 pounds, and is actually one of the faces of Zumba now. Everyone’s like, ‘What’s the magic workout?” And I’m like, “Well what do you love to do? That’s the magic workout.”
3. So what are your own magic workouts? Chris: CrossFit…I love doing clean and jerks and snatches. Heidi: I go on different kicks. CrossFit, for sure, because I never knew I could feel so powerful. It’s cool to load a bar with a lot of weight and be able to lift it. I love feeling beat at the end of it. But then also I used to do a lot of endurance sports, and I loved running. I love yoga, too.
4. And how do you manage to find time for your own workouts when you’re filming and traveling and taking care of the kids? Heidi: The biggest thing for us is setting the workout ahead of time. First thing in the morning, without a doubt, 100 percent, is our successful formula. It really is. There are days, like yesterday, for example, we say, “We’ll do it right after this thing we have.” But if we say that, it usually gets pushed, because then something else comes in…. If the morning doesn’t happen, it’s about getting something in. Even if it’s a ten-minute AMRAP (CrossFit speak for “as many rounds as possible”) after the kids go to bed and we just hustle out to the garage and do something. We feel better than if we did nothing.
5. Do you also find it hard to eat healthy when you’re on the go or do you have a strategy? Chris: Once we land, we’ll just beeline it straight to the grocery store. Any hotel, you can request a refrigerator and a microwave. Sometimes they might charge you an extra ten bucks, but it’s worth it. Here [in New York City], there’s a Whole Foods right down the street, so we can grab some produce, grab some almonds, grab some meat, grab some whey protein, grab whatever we need, take it back to the hotel, and we’re stocked up. We might drop $50 if we’re staying somewhere for like two or three days. Heidi: Which is one room service bill for one person! Chris: Exactly. And on top of that, since we’re prepping our own foods, we don’t take 30 minutes to get to the restaurant, an hour to eat, 30 minutes to get back…we have really important stuff to do! —Lisa Elaine Held