When I meet fit actress Alysia Reiner, she’s coming off having just wrapped the filming of Orange is the New Black’s (OITNB) second season and is clad in her yoga pants, sneakers, and a OITNB hoodie, headed to one of her favorite workout classes, 30/60/90 at Equinox.
Reiner, who plays the cold, calculating assistant warden, Natalie “Fig” Figueroa, on OITNB, also has a five-year-old daughter, a slew of films coming out, and a ton of charity projects in the works—like tomorrow’s Bent on Learning gala she’s hosting with Hilaria Baldwin, fundraising for Cycle for Survival, and support for an environmental project that will help clean the Hudson River’s water via a community pool.
Staying healthy, then, is super necessary, and Reiner adopts a whole host of practices to stay that way, like supplements and Vitamix smoothies prescribed by functional medicine guru Frank Lipman, MD.
But her regular workout routine plays the biggest role in keeping her sane and balanced through it all. “My yoga teacher, Gurmukh at Golden Bridge, would always say that women need to sweat every day, because we have so many emotions running around and so many thoughts. We’re such good jugglers, but it helps chill us. She said that, and it struck my heart with such deep truth,” Reiner says. “I’m a better person and mother if I take a little bit of time for myself to sweat.”
We chatted with the native New Yorker, environmental activist, and actress to find out more about her sweat sessions.
Why is working out so important to you? I honestly feel like if I didn’t work out, I’d be on antidepressants. I have a little bit of a predisposition for looking at things in a not bright way, and I feel like fitness helps me to look at things in a bright way. Working out is so important to me because it’s joyful.
What are some of your favorite workouts? I love Patricia Moreno’s class, IntenSati. I actually just brought another one of our cast members there, Adrienne Moore who plays Black Cindy, and she loved it. You cannot leave that class without being happy. I’m a big SoulCycle girl, and I love me a little Flywheel now and then.
When Fig came into my life, I was like “Oh, she’s a kickboxer.” I love to do it at Equinox and there’s a new place I’m in love with, Punch Fitness, on 110th Street. It’s this boxing trainer who’s huge in London and he just opened his place here.
I also love 30/60/90. I give Kristi [Molinari, the founder] 100 percent credit for my body bouncing back after having my daughter Liv, and for the strength in my body. That’s the other thing: I love feeling strong!
I’m glad to hear that about feeling strong. Do you feel a lot of pressure to be skinny, though, as an actress? I’m very lucky no one has never said to me, “You have to lose weight for a role.” In all truth, I think I put the most pressure on myself. That’s based on some deep-seated beliefs from being teased. As a kid I was teased mercilessly; I was the fat kid. If anything, I’m always working on letting go of that self-imposed pressure in healthy ways.
And how does your yoga practice fit into that? Yoga and meditation are really important to me. I started taking Gurmukh’s class at Golden Bridge in my 20s when I was living in Los Angeles, and now we’re very close. She’s the godmother of my daughter. I still go to Golden Bridge—I love Kundalini. And I also take yoga at Equinox. It’s a big part of my life. I have a meditation room at home, and every morning I do a 5–10 minute yoga set and try to really tune in with my heart. It’s really cool because my daughter sees that and really respects it and loves it. She’s taken kids yoga, and she loves to chant! —Lisa Elaine Held
For more information, visit www.alysiareiner.com