By Nicole Berrie
Photography by Sasha Israel
"I PLAYED SPORTS MY WHOLE LIFE," SAYS HILARY RHODA OVER COBB SALAD AT KAFFE 1668 in Tribeca. "I loved the team camaraderie. I still feel that way now." It's that team spirit that has rallied its way into Rhoda's inspired fitness regime at Tracy Anderson Method where the model has gracefully chasseéd, plieéd and arabesqued her way into stunning Spartan-like shape. (To watch the Rhoda's latest romp down the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show catwalk last November proves one thing--hard work pays off.)
Since moving to Manhattan after high school to pursue a modeling career, Rhoda has sky-rocketed to international sartorial fame, gracing the glossy covers of Vogue, ELLE, W and Harper's Bazaar, as well as amassing national campaigns with Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan and Hugo Boss, to name a few. But the all-American beauty doesn't feign genetics as the secret to her success, nor is she shy about telling you how she got there. "It was hard for me in the beginning," admits the longtime face of Estee Lauder, looking every bit the picture of fit in her post-workout gear of Nike leggings and a slim hoodie. "But once I started seeing results, it's made such a difference. Now it's so much easier to maintain." When not hitting the dance studio? Rhoda has taken on a new passion: cooking. Whether it's whipping up pasta dishes for fiancé Sean Avery or experimenting with new recipes on her Martha Stewart recipe app, Rhoda is keen on expanding her repertoire. "I’m getting good at it now," she muses. "It depends on if my schedule allows but I love cooking. It’s therapeutic." Below, we caught up with the prolific supermodel on her favorite workout, her healthy traveling secrets and what early morning indulgence she can't live without. (Full Disclosure: It's not even close to a smoothie.)
How important is staying active in your life and what kind of workouts do you prefer?
I grew up being really athletic. I played field hockey and lacrosse. It’s challenging workouts that push me, so Tracy is perfect. I do Soul Cycle too because I want my workouts to be loud and motivating and fun. It makes me feel good. People say yoga clears the mind. After a hard workout, I feel really clear and great. They definitely need to kick my ass!
Have you noticed your body change since joining Tracy Anderson?
I started after she opened the Tribeca studio in 2009 and it was a god sent. I tried every kind of workout and nothing was exciting me enough to want to keep going or showing results to keep me motivated. It was at that point where I moved up to New York to start modeling and I hadn’t really been working out. After a couple years, it started to show. My body was changing and I needed to figure something out. No other gym had been doing anything like it. Everything was so new, so it was really cool.
Was it easy for you to learn the dances?
I did ballet for 11 years so I can remember choreography and pick things up quickly. I dread running so it was the perfect alternative. It took almost two years for my body to really see a difference and all of a sudden, it just changed.
It leans you out. The muscular workouts breaks down the muscle and basically rebuilds it so it can completely change your shape. That’s what it did for me, it was incredible. Now I'm longer and leaner. I haven’t lost any weight, but it’s the inches. That’s the most important thing. It doesn’t matter how much you weigh. It’s how you feel or fit in your clothes.
So in your opinion, what are the elements to a good workout?
Sweating is really important. I hate when gyms are cold because it makes your muscles tense. I’ve done bar classes for an hour where I’m not sweating. It just doesn't feel complete. That’s what I like about Tracy. It’s a full body workout. You get it all in and then it’s done.
How often do you workout?
It’s something that’s a permanent part of my everyday schedule. No matter what time I have to get up in the morning, even if I do it after work, it’s just something that I know that I have to do.
You must constantly travel for work. How do you keep active when you're on the go?
That’s when I have to go on the treadmill, which I hate. When I was in London, I worked out with a Tracy trainer. They come to your hotel, so we were doing side shuffles and high kicks on the treadmill. It’s so much better than the same movement over and over. There was this one guy who was like, “What is she doing?” But I fit it in. I try to do a mix of anything. Sometimes an hour treadmill or an hour elliptical. The gym equipment is not the best to choose from but you can always do your leg series.
What do you wear to workout?
I like to wear things that are light and you don’t have to fidget with. I like to be able to see my shape because when you're looking in the mirror, you can see positive changes or what you need to work on. That’s always motivating. Finding things that fit you well and you look good in makes you want to work out harder.
When prepping for an important shoot or show, do you amp up your diet and workout?
I don’t change anything. Exercising everyday is so much better than doing a crash diet to make a deadline. With my job you have to fit into sample size clothes but as long as you’re sweating and working out everyday, you don't have to worry. Working out takes away the stress.
What is your philosophy when it comes to nutrition?
I don’t do juice cleanses or anything crazy like that. When you workout that hard, you need to fuel your body. I do what my body tells me to do. Sometimes I’ll eat more on certain days than others depending on how I feel. I know what’s healthy, I know what’s not. And sometimes I’ll let myself have the unhealthy stuff.
Take us through a day in the life of Hilary?
I like to wake up an hour and a half before I have to leave to go anywhere because I love my mornings to have the time to read the paper. I actually stopped drinking coffee, I just drink tea now. I'll have an English Muffin with some jam and then I go to the gym. I just drink water while I workout. After I get home, I need some time after to decompress.
For lunch, because it’s winter, all I want is warm things. So today I had a tomato and basil with rice soup from Gourmet Garage and a salad. Usually I make it easier so instead of buying the lettuce and all the separate ingredients and having to wash and prepare it, I get one of those huge containers from Gourmet Garage and just do the salad bar. I'll make three different salads and keep them in the fridge to take out whenever I need because if you have to be on the go, it's easy.
What about snacks?
I like to eat smaller amounts throughout the day. If I’m on a shoot, I need little things to keep me going like nuts or apples, anything that’s not terrible for you.
Do you drink pressed juices?
I don’t have them too much but they’re really good. When I thought I was getting sick, I got the Ginger Fireball and the Volcano at Juice Press. I was sweating out of my pores and it was burning but it was so good.
Is there anything you don't eat?
I don’t eat too much red meat. I’ve also cut out drinking soda. I would drink like five Diet Cokes or Diet Dr. Peppers a day. Now I squeeze lemon into my water, which is so good. I used to do it at restaurants and now I buy lemons and put it in my water at home.
What is your biggest indulgence?
I love chocolate. I have a piece of chocolate when I wake up in the morning. My mom does the same thing. It’s weird. I like peanut butter M&Ms in the fridge. Cheap chocolate. I don’t like anything dark. Sometimes I’ll get Dominos, thin crust. With the Dominos app you can give words of encouragement to the team.
Do you mostly eat out or eat at home?
It’s so cold so I’ve been hibernating. I like to cook at home and have friends over.
Do you cook with Sean?
I cook for him. When he played hockey, he would have pasta every single day before a game so his taste is very simple. I found this recipe from Marcella Hazan that’s a homemade tomato sauce with San Marzano tomatoes, five tablespoons of butter, salt and a whole onion, chopped in half and placed in. You let it simmer for 45 minutes, take the onion out and serve it on the pasta. It’s so good. I keep trying to figure out ways to make homemade pasta. I recently made a savory rigatoni Bolognese.
When you’re traveling for work, what are your essentials to keep healthy and balanced?
I drink a lot of water, put lotion on the plane and I sleep. Working out is what really helps me when I’m traveling. It helps the jet lag and that swollen feeling. No matter how tired I am, I just do it because I know I’ll feel better after. That pretty much solves everything.