Susan Rothman Talks Balancing Fitness For The Whole Family
Big thank you to Susan Rothman for speaking to Vitaminis about her daily wellness routine and how balancing health and fitness in not only her life, but her family. As a Pure Barre coach and personal consultant she is keen to helping others excel.
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m a mom of two boys living in Chicago. I’ve spent the last 7 years opening two Pure Barre fitness studios and starting my own consulting company, SR Consulting.
In my consulting work, I have two focuses 1) facilitating strategic planning with executive teams and 2) 1:1 executive coaching, often with an emphasis on balancing busy professional demands with better overall wellness.
Whether at the Pure Barre studios or consulting with clients, I enjoy building connections and helping others tap into their full potential. Some of my most fulfilling moments are helping clients, teams and companies move through difficult challenges and come out on the other side stronger and with more clarity. Last week, when one of my boys asked me what I was doing all day, I said, “Helping people have difficult conversations - sometimes with themselves - sometimes with others.”
Prior to this, I spent the first 15 years in the corporate world - first with a focus on HR consulting and then moving into Software Operations and M&A work. I’m grateful for the range of experiences I’ve had; it allows me to bring different perspectives to everything I do, whether figuring my latest parenting conundrum, running businesses or serving my clients.
Tell us about the Pure Barre workout? What makes it special?
I love movement and connecting with my body. I’ve done almost every workout out there and Pure Barre continues to be my favorite! Between the three different Pure Barre formats we offer, you always get a low-impact, full-body workout that combines strength and mobility training.
Quick back story - In my mid-to late 20’s, I got into triathlons and running, but the impact from running was destroying my joints despite taking lots of precautions. I remember waking up one day and thinking, if my joints hurt this badly now, what’s 40 going to feel like?
A friend of mine dragged me to a Pure Barre class because she knew I was looking for something low-impact. I was so skeptical! Keep in mind this was almost 15 years ago. Boutique fitness wasn’t really a thing, so all I could picture was my mom’s step aerobic class.
Well, I got the surprise of my life. I got a really good workout - lots of strengthening, mobility work, and focus on form - while still being easy on my joints. I was secretly a little pisssed that it was so challenging, and that motivated me to come back for more so I could better understand the technique. Within a few classes I was seeing changes in my arms and abs and realizing I didn’t have to beat up my body and/or joints in order to feel strong and fit.
Now at 43, I’m really glad I listened to my body, ditched the high impact, and found something that not only works within a few classes, but has continued to give me great results for over a decade.
What does your daily wellness routine look like?
I focus on sleep, movement, meditation, breathwork, (and therapy).
Sleep is paramount. It is so important for our immunity, our brain health, our hormones. Everything. I’m not one of those people who thinks running on 5 or fewer hours of sleep all the time is a badge of honor. All you’re doing is forcing yourself to age faster. For all that we pay for beauty gadgets and miracle elixirs - we owe it to ourselves to put just as much focus (or more) on sleep. So, I’m pretty consistent about getting 7-9 hours a night and building habits that protect my sleep.
For example, I try to get natural light first thing in the AM - the mix of yellow and blue light after sunrise/early morning is really important for setting your circadian rhythm and kicking off the right production of chemicals that help time our alertness and drowsiness. The same exposure to the light around dusk/sunset can also help with your rhythms..
I avoid eating after 7:30pm because it really affects my ability to get restful sleep, and I try to wind down my digital life a few hours before bed. I typically don’t have caffeine after 12pm since the half-life is about 5 hours. You need that out of your system if you hope to be winding down by the evening.
I typically workout 3-5 days a week. It can vary based on the week and my schedule, but I sit down most Sunday afternoons and plan my workouts so it’s not left up to chance. I consider those workouts some of the most important appointments on my calendar. I really try to keep those promises to myself because I’m a happier, more balanced human when I’m making time to move.
I actually don’t even like to call it working out. I like to MOVE my body and do things that make me feel strong and release any anxiety I’m holding in my body. That can be a great Pure Barre workout or a walk outside to get fresh air and vitamin D while listening to a podcast or good music. I’m a big believer in finding movement you enjoy as opposed to workouts that feel like a punishment.
Meditation & Breathwork
Unfortunately, I think both meditation and breathwork can sound unapproachable, but they’re truly one of the most simple and affordable practices you can do for your health and wellbeing. They've been key in helping me manage my stress and calm my mind. Specifically, I’ve been using them to help raise my heart rate variability (HRV), a key measure of stress and an important indicator of overall health and longevity. And yes, you want it higher, not lower.
I think meditation can be so many things and I like helping others find a form that works for them. I really like the Insight Timer app for meditation and specifically like yoga nidra for guided meditation at night or to downshift during a stressful day. I like the Breathwrk app for learning and implementing various breathing techniques.
I wish everyone would give therapy a chance. We’re not meant to navigate the stresses of this world alone. And while, yes, there are friends and family to lean on - they don’t always have the tools to 1) receive what you’re carrying and 2) help you work through it. Some things are best left to the professionals.
While this isn’t technically part of my “daily” routine (more like 1-4x/month depending on what’s going on), it’s too important to leave off of my wellness list. Mental health is part of whole body health. We need to start caring for it that way.
What are your favorite pre and post workout products?
- Lots of water before and after.
- I have Four Sigmatic Lion’s Mane coffee almost every morning and add additional adaptogens. Like the Om Mushroom Master Blend.
- Not necessarily pre and post workout - but all day gadgets - I love my apple watch and Oura ring for tracking health metrics, like sleep, steps, heart rate variability (HRV), respiratory rate and workouts.
You’re a mom of two. How can moms make health and fitness a priority but still fun for their families?
- Keep it simple. Get outside. Go to the park. Play in the backyard.
- Kids are wired to move and play - we could learn a lot from them actually. When left to their own, they tend to naturally play. They are still joy seekers because no one’s coached it out of them yet.
- Build a few family rituals like a walk together after dinner. Even 15 minutes can be worth it and often ends up being longer. When coming home from a workout, show them a new or favorite, like a squat or push up, and encourage them to try it.
- I think the biggest challenge is their draw to screen time, which short-term, feels far more engaging to their brains than going for a walk. Trust me, I know it’s hard. We struggle with it in our house too. But my kids are always happier and sleep better when we put limits on screen time and help them move more.
Can you share a favorite healthy snack recipe with us?
- Sprouted grain tortilla with almond butter and drizzle of raw honey, warmed up just slightly in the toaster oven. Fold in half and enjoy!
- Any combo of blueberries or blackberries, raw coconut and cashews (unsalted, unroasted)