When it comes to working out, I can tell you that finding that motivation can be hard. Maintaining it is even harder. With the rise of social media, combined with one’s drive to live a healthy lifestyle, people turn to the help of a fitness influencer.
If you look at my Instagram account, you’ll probably notice that I follow a lot of yoga instructors, fitness influencers, and health publications. And I have to say, they do help me a lot in terms of finding that fitness inspiration. And as luck would have it, in my years of yoga practice and training, I have gotten to workout with Nikki Torres of the award-winning blog Pretty Darn Fit.
Turning Passion into Career
Before being known as the fitness influencer that she is, Nikki worked as an account manager in advertising agencies in Manila. As a way to de-stress from the chaotic schedule of advertising, she found herself attending yoga classes after work. And when she had to finish something for a presentation, she would go back to her office and continue working.
After a few years of attending yoga and Zumba classes, she found herself crossing over from being an account manager to a yoga instructor. This was at the same time she started her fitness blog, Pretty Darn Fit.
“Students would come up to me for tips—on yoga, food, fitness,” the 30-year-old influencer shared about the origin of her blog. “The questions were pretty similar and my answers would also be the same.” At that time, 2014, you couldn’t really find fitness blogs that focused on fitness as lifestyle. “I had to find the right voice that I wanted for Pretty Darn Fit. I wanted it to be fun, casual with just a bit of badassery. So I ended up writing content as well myself.”
So how did she come up with the name? Nikki explained in three parts: “”Pretty” gave it a bit of femininity. The word “Darn” was supposed to be “Damn” but I thought I should err on the safe side back then. And “Fit”—well, it sums up what I talk about a lot in it: fitness, wellness, and food!”
"We will all fail in being perfectly healthy plenty of times. We just have to remind ourselves to brush it off and choose to do better at the soonest opportunity."
— Nikki Torres on maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Living in Athleisure
Nikki is the creator of NT Sweat, a toning and dance cardio workout. She described the workout as her baby, just like her blog. When she found her yoga and cardio students hitting a plateau in their workouts, she wanted to do something that didn’t disrespect the practices she has been teaching for years. “So I brought all my movement backgrounds into a 60-minute class, put together a track list of music I loved, and just prayed that my students have a great time sweating their asses off,” she revealed.
Since beginning NT Sweat, the workout evolved into a lifestyle program. “It isn’t a surprise. It was part of the long-term goal,” she explained. “My intention from the get-go was to touch, and change (even by the tiniest bit) as many lives as possible and bring about lasting change to people. All this didn’t happen for me overnight, though. It’s an extremely slow burn and I’m nowhere near where I want my brand to be.”
Being the fitness girl that she is, you can imagine that she works out every single day. When asked how her typical week looks like, she replied, “It depends how busy or light my week is. Even how I’m feeling, in terms of energy.” She added, “On average, I do three to four days resistance and cardio training, one to two days strength, and at least a day of yoga.”
She also revealed that she allots time for meditation almost every day to help keep her calm and focused. “So it kind of feels like doing yoga… Without the asanas.”
But as years pass, there has been a lot of yoga trends that have been popping up, such as beer yoga and rage yoga. When asked how she feels about them, she has nothing but respect for the creativity of the founders of the hybrid yoga trends, explaining, "These trends come out simply because we all have different preferences in movement. So many factors come into play when it comes to taking classes. There’s the ambience, the genre of music you play, the vibe and style of the teacher, the vibe of the whole class, and of course, how this whole setup makes you feel during and after."
In terms of her day-to-day outfits for her workouts, I had to ask—what are her go to active brands? “Ahh, Adidas, for sure! I love that their apparel provides just the right amount of support I need for all my activities—be it yoga, strength training, running, even NT Sweat!” She went on to say, “I couldn’t live without my white sneakers. They go well with anything and everything and I can walk miles in them when I run errands or head out to teach or both. I have a ton of them but there’s always a seasonal fave. You know, that one pair that you end up using all the time even when you have a dozen others? I hope that’s not just me.
Slowing Down Is Ok
Nikki admitted that it’s not always go-go-go for her. “Some weeks, when I’m just too tired, I do more yoga. Some weeks, I skip the heavy lifting and just walk on a treadmill for 45 minutes.” Some days, she would go out with friends and take group classes. What was important for her was to get as much movement as she can every single day.
Are there days when she doesn’t feel like exercising at all? Definitely. “At this point in my journey, I can tell when I’m plain lazy or my body really needs me to rest,” she said. “When I’m lazy, I do movements that don’t require much thinking like a flow on my mat or a light run. That way, it doesn’t feel like such a chore but rather something that actually makes me feel good during and after.”
Of course, that doesn’t mean Nikki doesn’t relax. “When I rest, I allow ideas to flow. I just let myself play either on my mat in the studio, on my bed with a notebook, on a desk with my laptop. Those are the times I deliberately blur the line that divides work and play. Other than that, I’m pretty boring. I read self-help books and go on Netflix for hours.”
For someone who is extremely busy, it’s amazing to see how this woman manages to have time to do everything she needs to do. “It’s really just about keeping priorities in check,” Nikki admitted. “My health is a priority because when I’m unwell, I don’t deserve to guide and coach other people. I won’t have enough energy to share. That’s why movement and food preparation are a given on my day-to-day.”
So does she have time to go out? She revealed, “I don’t go out all the time, but when I do, I make sure it’s with people I love having around.”
Sticking With It
A lot of people struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle. As someone who still falls off the fitness wagon at times, I asked how she manages to stick to it. “[You just have to] accept that there will be a lot of “falling off” and “breakings of streaks” that will happen. What will matter is all those times they choose to get back on track. When you can no longer count how many times you attempted to try again, you’ll know it’s already become a lifestyle for you. I still fall off some days but that’s just how it goes. There’s no good or bad, there’s just the choice to do or eat what’s better.”
She also said that that we should give credit for all the times we’ve tried to maintain the lifestyle. “Just the intention to try again is already a huge step forward,” she said. “We will all fail in being perfectly healthy plenty of times. We just have to remind ourselves to brush it off and choose to do better at the soonest opportunity. Greasy lunch? Make up for that at dinner. No workout today? Make it part of your schedule tomorrow. Again, when you make it a priority, it stops becoming a chore.”
As of this interview, Nikki continues to roll out workouts and discussions around NT Sweat and NT Summer Equinox, a month-long hollistic program which aims to help the community make better health choices featuring premier fitness studios and some of the country's most in-demand fitness and wellness mentors. "Maybe another massive NT Sweat session soon? No date yet but definitely closing the year with a bang!"
As a fitness designer, yoga teacher, and all-around badass woman, Nikki is basically living in her sports bras and leggings. She names a few things she says she can't live without: