If you are going to put your trust in someone to whip your body into shape, Anna Kaiser is your gal. After working as a professional dancer, she moved on to study kinesiology, sports medicine and functional anatomy at Mount Sinai Medical Center and learned how the human body functions from the inside out. This passion for movement coupled with wanting to move on from her professional dancing career, Anna took a leap of faith and launched AKT. Now, with studios in New York, Connecticut and Los Angeles, the workout combines circuit training, dance, cardio and yoga that gets results in areas of your body you didn’t even know existed. The workouts have a cult following, and are frequented by some of the best bods in the business (have you ever wondered how Kelly Ripa got so, well, ripped?). This mama is a rockstar in our book. Read on…
Anna, congrats on the success of AKT! What is your background and have you always been interested in fitness?
Thank you! Building the AKT Brand has been rewarding in so many ways and there is much more in the works. I have a background in professional dance and sports medicine. As a dancer, fitness allowed me to keep myself looking and performing at the top of the industry. I was a part of the International tour of Fame!, was a principal dancer in Disney’s Enchanted, featured in the Shakira music video “She Wolf” and in Carnegie Hall’s production of Show Boat and so much more.
We are so intrigued by AKT On Demand! How does it work? Do you have to be a member to have access?
AKT On Demand provides access to more than 1,500 minutes of high-energy workouts spliced into 10 90-minute increments. Everything that you’re getting in our studios you can get right in the comfort of your home, gym, or travel destinations – even our legendary AKT InMotion Transformation Program. You can subscribe for $34.99/month at aktinmotion.com/on-demand. It’s a great way to keep your AKT program and results consistent while you are traveling or away from a studio.
What advice do you give to new moms looking to get back in shape? Any favorite exercises that you see being really impactful for the notoriously tricky tummy area?
It’s tough to find time to workout with a newborn, but fitting short workouts in between feedings once a day (even if it’s only 10-15 minutes) makes a HUGE difference. You’ll feel so much stronger in your skin, and you’ll be carving out time for YOU, which is incredibly important. It will make you a better mom! In terms of exercise, make sure you start with strength work that targets your deep core stabilizers, mainly your TVA and pelvic floor muscles. This will help get you results MUCH faster and safer, so that your body will be prepared for tougher workouts (without getting injured) in a few months.
We are raising my son amidst noise, friends, dinners, outings, and he has learned to find the calm within it all. We are taking life in stride and hopefully, he’ll learn to enjoy it all with us one day!
Was there a pivotal moment in your life that put you on the path you are on now?
I was waiting on set for Shakira’s “She Wolf” video, in hair and makeup, for over 14 hours. Then, at 4am, when we finally started shooting, I said to myself, “This is my last gig. I am ready for the next phase in my life.” That was the moment I decided to officially commit myself to fitness and to create a solution for the comprehensive workout. I was tired of schlepping to 5 different studios to teach cardio, strength, and flexibility. Why wasn’t there one studio that offered it ALL?! So I set out to create the answer, which was the culmination of my last 15 years in the industry.
What was your journey to becoming a mother like, and what has surprised you the most about becoming a mama?
Through AKT, I met a beautiful community of very successful, amazing women who were able to balance career, friends and find time to raise loving families in New York City. I have always loved researching new techniques in pre/postnatal fitness and working with these women to help support them through their incredible journeys with fitness and pregnancy. Their stories inspired me to think, “Hey, maybe it is possible to have a family and find a work/life balance that still allows me to do what I love.” They slowly became my family, and I started to think about having children of my own.
Then, I married my soulmate. We both have incredible families and decided we wanted to raise children together, but our businesses were both new (he is a brilliant surgeon with a private practice), and the idea of adding children to the mix didn’t seem possible just yet. We decided to spend 5 years together enjoying each other: traveling, staying up late, building our businesses, and being spontaneous before thinking seriously about getting pregnant. Listen, everyone always says “there’s never a good time”, but I am still of the mindset that there are better times than others, and figuring out when it feels right is extremely important. Then, this year, it was time. We started trying in the spring and were fortunate to get pregnant in early May!
You’ve been incredible at building your career in health and fitness. How did you first launch your business and stand out from the masses of fitness experts?
I wanted to create a comprehensive program – the kind my private clients get to experience, but in a boutique atmosphere. AKT takes the guesswork out of fitness. You don’t have to go to four places for the workouts that you love and the results you want with educated trainers. We’re not trained to do that for ourselves as human beings in the world; someone needs to create and cultivate that program for you.
What does a typical day look like running your business today as opposed to the early days? Do you still get a chance to teach classes? What part of the day do you love the most?
Every day is different, which is one of the things I love most about my job. I wear a variety of hats (CEO, trainer, mentor, creative, sales, friend, boss, motivator, analyst), and no two days ever have the same schedule. Although some days it can feel a bit chaotic, there is a newness to the rotation that keeps it very refreshing and exciting. There are some days I don’t get to see my baby until the evening, and some days he comes to work with me, but I have to remain flexible, and not put too much pressure on myself.
Leave a water bottle in sight throughout the day, so you don’t forget to drink at least three liters of water. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel!
We all talk about finding balance in our work and home life. Do you have any life hacks (apps, programs, mantras) that help keep things flowing?
Believe it or not, I don’t make a to-do list! I put everything I need to do in my calendar, and if I have to get something done, even if it’s a 10-minute follow-up or quick errand, it goes there. Also, I don’t check my emails more than three times a day because work begets work begets work. If you stop and allow it to just simmer for two hours, usually everything resolves itself.
My last hack is to dedicate one hour at a time to a project. I put everything away and I don’t check emails, or answer phone calls and I focus on whatever that project is – it’s the only way to truly get stuff done. I find if I’m multitasking, which women tend to do, that project will end up taking me three days.
How do you stay focused when juggling motherhood and work, and what advice can you give to other mamas wanting to make good choices?
I had a friend tell me, “Fit the baby into your life. Don’t change your life to accommodate the baby.”, and that has absolutely proven true. We are raising my son amidst noise, friends, dinners, outings, and he has learned to find the calm within it all. We are taking life in stride and hopefully, he’ll learn to enjoy it all with us one day!
Also, I have relieved myself from striving for the perfect balance. I think life is messy and beautiful in its chaos. Instead, I focus on being 150% present in each moment and appreciating all the different colors of my life.
Inspire us! What is your daily fitness regime like?
I workout 1 hour a day, 4-5 days per week. I switch up my workouts AKT style, incorporating a mixture of HIIT, dance, circuits, intervals, heavy and light weights, and make SURE to stretch and recover as well. The secret is better, more efficient workouts. Not longer workouts!
If there was one healthy change we could make in our lives today, what would you want it to be?
Leave a water bottle in sight throughout the day, so you don’t forget to drink at least three liters of water. You’ll be amazed at how much better you feel! You’ll have more energy, decreased inflammation, and all the weight-loss benefits. And, of course, cut out the sugar. It’s been rumored to lead to diseases such as Type 3 Diabetes to Alzheimers! That momentary “high” is just not worth it in the long run.
Do you have any daily rituals that motivate you and help to keep you on track?
Candles. I light one to start the work day (as a symbol of creative productivity), and blow it out when I leave the office to signal the end of a focused day and to honor my transition into family life. It’s been important to be more efficient and compartmentalize my focus so that I don’t bring work home, and vice versa.
Candles. I light one to start the work day (as a symbol of creative productivity), and blow it out when I leave the office to signal the end of a focused day and to honor my transition into family life.
3 Pearls of Wisdom:
- Your intuition as a mother is everything. What you feel is right for your body and your baby is the right answer. If something feels off, or if you feel like you want to add something earlier for your child’s development than is “recommended”, do it! Every woman is different, and so is every child. Read as many books as you can, and decide what resonates most with you. There is nothing more incredible than watching a tiny human experience the world for the first time. And you are the one to shape that experience with them!
- Interval training has been such a saving grace, whether it’s circuit training or dance-based interval training, because you get that great endorphin rush, but it’s in short periods of time, it’s non-repetitive moments so you don’t put too much stress on any one joint or ligament, and you’re engaging all your muscles and getting dynamic flexibility, which helps with backaches.
- Before getting pregnant, I would work out after not eating for an hour or two, but you can’t do that when you’re pregnant. You have to eat because otherwise your body is pulling from its reserves. It should be giving those reserves to your baby, not to the workout.