Traditionally, the New Year is a time reserved for getting back into the flow of fitness and nutrition. And yet, as the calendar flipped to 2022, many Canadians were forced to reconfigure their resolution plans following the announcement that gyms would be temporarily closed to kick off the new year. However, if these past two years have taught us anything, it’s that a healthy lifestyle can be maintained from home if given the right tools and insight. For the second edition of our New Year’s fitness guide, fitness expert Alessia Scauzillo – founder of the at-home workout program “A Sculpt Body” – offers advice on how to avoid the dread that is so often associated with a new workout routine.

So, whether you’re a seasoned gym veteran looking for a suitable alternative or a newcomer looking for the right positive guidance, allow Scauzillo and her program to guide you towards a happier, healthier 2022.

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What do you find are the most common obstacles to an active lifestyle?

Alessia Scauzillo: There’s a common misconception that every workout needs to be super gruelling and intense and that it needs to be at least an hour-long in order to be effective. I don’t agree with this at all – and I think daily hour-long workouts are really intimidating and not realistic for most people who are just starting out and have busy lives with work, kids, social commitments, etc.!Alessia Scauzillo

It’s so much more effective to do a workout you love for just 15 minutes a day because you’ll actually want to do it and that consistency is what’s going to get you results! That’s why I have workouts ranging from 5 minutes to 55 minutes with beginner, intermediate, and advanced classes on my fitness platform, A Sculpt Body,  so that there’s something for everyone, no matter where you’re at on your fitness journey, or how much time you have to move each day.

How has your personal program influenced your fitness journey?

Alessia Scauzillo: I began working out in 2011 after my mom passed away. She had always been super passionate about fitness and exercising really helped me feel connected to her. I was working in corporate finance at the time and was doing tons of different workout classes across the city – which took up way too much of my time (especially with commuting), and I often got injured from high impact exercises I was told to do in those classes.

Since launching my personal program, ASB, in 2020 (just in time prior to the pandemic and explosion of on-demand workouts), I exclusively do my own workouts alongside my community. They are all low-impact and use controlled movements, with no jumping, ever. They truly feel amazing on my body and I’ve never been injured since starting them. These workouts give you a deep burn in your muscles and strengthen your entire body without compromising your form, or putting immense pressure on your joints. They also help increase flexibility and improve your alignment, balance, and posture, all while keeping your stress levels in check. My goal is for myself and every member of my community to finish every class feeling happy, healthy, and inspired, with the energy you need to take on anything life throws your way.

What advice would you give to someone trying to build an exercise routine for the first time?

Alessia Scauzillo: I find people usually try to build a healthy routine by adding an overwhelming number of workouts right off the bat, only to lose them weeks later. I’m not about that at all! I recommend starting slow and gradually building a solid routine that’s realistic and you can actually stick with. Find a fitness trainer or workout style you connect with, start small and manageable with your workouts (20-30 minutes max.), and be consistent (try for 4-5 workouts every week). 

I would also encourage you to start exercising out of love for yourself and your body, not hate or punishment for what you look like, what you ate, or how you feel. Think about it as the most loving and compassionate thing you can do for the one place you’ll always call home. Start working out because it brings you joy and makes you feel good, alive, and energized! That is what will help you keep going and stay motivated on days where you’re not feeling your best.Alessia Scauzillo

How does an active lifestyle impact the rest of your life?

Alessia Scauzillo: To me, working out is not about achieving a certain weight, body shape, or clothing size. It’s about creating space for you to feel good on the inside, relieve stress, and find mental clarity and focus. It’s the ultimate self-care tool – it makes you stronger for your everyday life, boosts your confidence, and gives you the energy you need to take on each day. Taking care of yourself helps you show up better in every area of your life, and for everyone around you.

What is the biggest misconception when it comes to nutrition?

Alessia Scauzillo: That you need to remove certain foods or drinks in order to achieve your goals. I don’t believe in eliminating, depriving, or restricting yourself, because that’s only going to make you want something more. Instead, I recommend taking that energy and focusing on nourishing and caring for yourself. I encourage my community to focus on what you can add into to your life that will help you feel healthier and better, instead of what you might be tempted to remove. Maybe it’s drinking an extra glass of water, having an extra serving of veggies at dinner, committing to taking your supplements daily, getting 15 minutes of movement in. I believe that what we focus on, grows, so the more we focus on what we can add into our lives, the less space there is for the rest.Alessia Scauzillo

How would you recommend those who no longer have access to gyms meet their 2022 exercise goals?

Alessia Scauzillo: To kick off 2022, join me for my free 3-week Back To Basics Program, designed to gradually build a strong foundation for you to carry with you throughout 2022. We will gain strength and energy, establish good workout forms, incorporate healthy supplements, and create a solid morning routine one step at a time.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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