Ellie Kemper may be best known for her sunny personality and comedic acting chops. But it turns out the Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt star has a self-described SoulCycle “obsession,” and an athletic drive — and toned body — we wouldn’t want to mess with.
After she began doing SoulCycle, she tells Us how her physique changed. “My arms got more defined. Some people don’t like this, but my legs got bigger. I like that because I feel strong,” she says. “I feel like a beast, and I enjoy that feeling of being a strong beast.”
Kemper is such a fan of the cult cycling workout that she even dedicates a whole section of her new book, My Squirrel Days, to it. “I happen to love it because it makes me feel young again. It makes me feel like I’m at the club again, but also it makes me feel like an athlete. I played field hockey and I ran track, and I really like the idea that someone is coaching me,” she says. “It takes me back to a time in my youth when I was thriving. So that’s why I love it.” She continues, “And I don’t work for SoulCycle.”
The 38-year-old actress is also self-aware when it comes to spreading the word about the exercise class that’s considered a mind-body workout as good for the abs and core as for happiness. “I am careful in my proselytizing because I think it’s not for everyone,” she says of the 45-minute, $34 sessions. And though she says she’s been hitting the bike since 2014 — at times, up to four classes a week — she won’t reveal how much money she’s spent on the trend over the years. “I’m not going to put a number out there,” she tells Us. “It’s so mortifying when you see that number!”
From Beyoncé and Jay-Z to Kelly Ripa to Katie Holmes, scores of celebrities have declared their love for the fitness phenomenon or have been spotted in SoulCycle classes.
As for Kemper, she learned to cut back her enthusiasm in social settings after Kimmy Schmidt creator Tina Fey asked her about SoulCycle — and Kemper didn’t realize until afterward that the legend was just being nice. “I felt like, Well she understands that this is the topic that I will enjoy talking about, and I felt so pathetic afterwards just for myself because I must go around talking about it a lot if I’ve made it that obvious. But excuse me, Tina Fey is an icon who does not need to be wasting time talking to me about SoulCycle.” The conversation was brief, but it seemed longer. “It felt like 20 minutes,” she recalls. “She didn’t talk much.”
Since welcoming her first child with her screenwriter husband, Michael Koman, in August 2016, however, Kemper admits she’s taken a step back from her favorite workout. “There are studios near me but I go to one specific instructor,” she says. “It takes me 40 minutes to get there. I don’t want to blame it on my son, James, because he is the treasure of my life — but having him makes it a little more difficult.” Now, she mixes up her routine with other core strength-building classes and jogging. “When I do have the energy, I do The Bar Method in my bedroom online because it saves a lot of time,” she tells Us. “Or I run.”
She’s also cleaned up her daytime diet, enjoying a bowl of oatmeal for breakfast — “a big flavorless bowl of starch to fill me up,” she says — a salad for lunch and raw almonds or a banana for a snack. All the better to enjoy takeout for dinner, the cooking-challenged star notes: “Or I get one of those frozen pastas from Trader Joe’s that make you feel like you’re cooking because you open the package and put it on the skillet.”
Motherhood, she adds, has made her rethink her entire regimen. “You’re so physically fatigued after taking care of a child, you just don’t have energy. I did not anticipate that,” she says. “I’m sure some people will say, ‘Well, you have to find time!’ Sometimes, that time is better spent taking a nap.”
With reporting by Nicki Gostin
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