Moving from one place to another in the name of work may be a strain to some, but Soraya Bakhtiar makes it her athletics field. From paddle boarding in the Caribbean to yoga overlooking Geneva’s lakes, see how she turns the jet-set life into her fitness advantage.
What would you consider to be a ‘healthy lifestyle’?
To me, it’s all about balance. You need to find things that you enjoy because that is the key to maintaining it. It’s also important not to be too hard on yourself. Everyone goes at their own pace, and we all need a break every now and then. Drinking loads of water and getting enough sleep is already living a healthy lifestyle.
Why is it important to you?
As my schedule is pretty chaotic with travelling and I’m constantly on-the-go, it’s crucial for me to have a healthy lifestyle that involves a lot of yoga, personal training sessions, outdoor jogs, and a gluten-free diet (except on weekends). When I’m back home in Geneva, I workout three times a week with a trainer and I take two yoga classes per week. It offers a good balance.
Was this outlook instilled in you from an early age?
I was a restless child so my parents had to find ways to keep me busy and active all the time. I took ballet lessons for several years, as well as horse riding and tennis classes. Even though I hated gym class I still liked to be active and play in the parks, I was a real tomboy at heart – always returning home covered in mud and grass! Being healthy wasn’t so much of a concern as I had such a fast metabolism but I became more aware of what the word ‘healthy’ really entailed when I moved to London, there’s a lot more access to it there.
Which is your favourite terrain to workout in?
Any where in the world as long as it is by the water. When I’m in South of France, I love to go for a walk or run on the Promenade des Anglais in Nice. I do love to run by the lake in Geneva and I only live a few minutes away so I can always enjoy the scenery, no matter the season.
Which studios do you rely on in your most travelled-to cities?
In Geneva, I workout at L’Usine Opéra and I do my yoga at Insens. In London or New York I go to Equinox or I train with a private trainer.
Do you incorporate both cardio and weight training, or one or the other?
Absolutely. Cardio is very important for me, and when I workout indoors, I always start my training session by spending 20minutes on the treadmill doing some intervals to get my heart rate up. It’s the only way to burn the fat rapidly.
What books have you found helpful?
I recently read Cameron Diaz’s book, which highlights some interesting theories about nutrition. ‘Wheat Belly’ was a real eye opener; it really made me realize how quashing wheat-based products can change your body. It slows down your metabolism, it retains water and can also affect your mood. I went wheat and gluten-free last summer and I’m feeling way more focused and my body looks leaner too. I do have cheat meals on weekends though, who doesn’t love a good pizza!
Any post-workout meal recommendations?
Avocado on gluten-free toast, quinoa salads and chia seed porridge in almond milk.
Who is your fitness inspiration?
Without any doubt, Izabel Goulart for fitness and Gisele Bündchen for yoga.
What beauty products do you turn to during a workout?
I use a Neutrogena sunblock and try not to wear any make-up, but if I have to, then I have Becca tinted moisturized with SPF, my usual perfume from Le Labo and Clinique deodorant. I also always carry a yoga mat, Sweaty Betty socks, a bottle of Evian or coconut water, a protein bar and headphones.
Incase you need to go straight to a workout from the office or plane, what do you have ready?
I love Lulu Lemon and Sweaty Betty, these workout clothes feel like a second skin and they transition perfectly from home to the gym.
What benefits do you feel from moving your workouts from indoors to outdoors?
After an outdoor workout I immediately feel energised, almost as if I have pushed a reset button. The air is very pure in Switzerland so I always find it very refreshing to workout outdoors when I’m there. Even if it’s just once a week it helps me clear my head and forces me to breathe deeply and get all the negative thoughts out.
What’s your favourite sport?
The practice of yoga was offered to me at a very important stage of my life, when I was about to take a 360° spin and I’m very grateful. It’s a beautiful practice and has a beautiful philosophy. It’s a great full-body workout and also calms the mind. If you’re the kind of person who lives a lot in your head, then yoga and meditation can help you unplug and go with the flow in life.
How about water sport?
I love waterbikes. They’re great for circulation in order to get rid of cellulite. It’s intense but you still never feel sore. Paddle boarding is also a great workout and it requires a lot of balance which I’ve gained through my yoga practice. I spend all my winters in the Caribbean and my sister and I love to go paddle boarding in the ocean.
Does working out help with your mood?
If I feel like I need to relax I’ll go for sun salutations (hatha yoga), and if I want to get rid of anger or repressed emotions I’ll just go for a run while listening to my playlist and let all the negativity out.
Do you find training your mind an important part of staying fit?
Absolutely, it’s all in the mind. I came to realize this with my yoga practice. It’s quite impressive how the mind controls our body and once you go beyond your limits you realise that you can achieve anything.
What’s your 2015 fitness goal?
The New York Marathon in October, but in the meantime I have a lot of training to do!