ClassPass Founder Payal Kadakia on How She Stays Fit and Productive
In the lives of most entrepreneurs, no two days are the same — the non-routine becomes their daily routine. Payal Kadakia, founder of the game-changing boutique fitness class empire ClassPass, is no exception; she’s on the run constantly, spending about a third of every month away from her home base of Los Angeles. “Every day will be different — with different challenges, meeting with new people, and creative things to get done,” Kadakia tells us. “It’s all about making sure you’re accomplishing your priorities and solving the things each day that you set out to do.” Her key to tackling those daily goals is staying prepared and keeping the right snacks with her at all times (along with her laptop and headphones, the two things she confesses she can’t live without). Plus, she sets aside time in her day for a mental check-in in order to stay grounded and ward off stress. It’s a no-brainer that we would take advice from this dancer, artistic director, and fitness mogul, so read on her wisdom on productivity and mental well-being.
Brit + Co: What’s your secret to sneaking in workouts when you’re traveling?
Payal Kadakia: When I started ClassPass, I was actually scared to go to so many workouts, but now I have to work out daily. I also always have a plan B for working out: I’ve gotten good at working out in a hotel gym, running, or doing online classes if I have to. Work and other priorities do come up, but it’s a matter of knowing that exercise is a priority, and I’m going to make sure it fits into my calendar.
Another motivator is that I can explore new cities through going to ClassPass classes, which often take me to new areas within a specific city. That’s what’s been so interesting, to go to a barre class anywhere in the world, and have some part of it that feels very similar and routine.
B+C: What are the essentials that give you peace of mind to have with you on the go?
PK: I love music and always need to have my headphones on me; it’s part of taking care of myself. I always have my computer with me too, not just because I want to work, but because it makes me feel good and productive to have it. I also always carry healthy snacks, whether it’s some bars or bag of almonds. I’m always on the go and don’t have a spare hour to sit and have lunch, so I just have to be really mobile and efficient with eating healthy as well.
B+C: How does diet play a part in your healthy lifestyle?
PK: Having been a dancer my whole life, I understand that your body is your temple. It’s the way you can express everything, and you have to take care of it. I’m small and petite and love working out, so it’s important for me to make sure I have enough protein and a well-balanced diet. I always find ways to snack healthy, even in between meetings and everything else throughout the day.
B+C: How do you focus on staying productive during a whirlwind day or week?
PK: About five years ago, I started a goal-setting process for myself, based on how I envision my life for the next year. I’m very thoughtful about how I spend my time. I end up setting goals in all aspects of my life, personally and for dance, for my family, and for how I want to feel even as a human being. Another habit in my life is waking up and looking for a quote to share on social media. It’s helped me channel all my thoughts into a positive place.
The other most important thing is realizing that you control your own time. I do not waste time. Part of that is setting up your schedule and the teams around you well in a smart way that works best for your life. One of the things I’ve learned at such a young age, and part of that discipline has come from being a dancer, is that if I actually put time toward something I want to do, I can achieve something.
B+C: Can you share some of those personal and fitness goals you’re hoping to hit soon?
PK: When I moved to LA, I wanted to build my dance company out here, and I’m so excited to share that we have a major performance coming up at a prestigious theater called the Wallis Annenberg. And with ClassPass, it’s always about becoming a better leader. There are always things you can do to be a better leader: It’s about being specific about which goals you want to hit and when.
B+C: How do you incorporate mindfulness into your routine?
PK: I don’t believe you can do anything if you don’t take time for yourself and work inside, whether that means working out, taking a moment while sipping your green tea, or going to a dance practice. The only way you can work inside yourself is being present in all that you do — you have to set your schedule up to have moments. Finding a minute to be present shouldn’t be a reactive thing. What makes my work challenging is also what makes it so magical, and I’m working toward something I’m really passionate about. If I wasn’t working toward something I was passionate about, it would probably be causing me all the wrong stress in my life. That’s what I constantly encourage people: Don’t do things out of guilt or obligation, but because you truly love doing them.
(Photos via California Almond Board)