When you have the opportunity to ask some of the most interesting people in the world about their lives, sometimes the most fascinating answers come from the simplest questions. The Thrive Questionnaire is an ongoing series that gives an intimate look inside the lives of some of the world’s most successful people.
As a little girl, Saskia (Sassy) Gregson-Williams had big dreams to become a professional ballerina. After her career was cut short by an injury, she founded Naturally Sassy, an online fitness studio and app to inspire people to develop healthy habits.
In her Thrive Questionnaire, Gregson-Williams shares a 10-minute workout that you can do anywhere, stress-free meal prep ideas and why she doesn’t look at her phone first thing in the morning.
Thrive Global: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed?
Sassy Gregson-Williams: Coffee! I’ll wake up and walk over to fill the kettle up. As the water boils and coffee brews I’ll sit on the balcony and do a 10 minute body-part meditation or some stretching. I try not to look at my phone for at least 30 minutes when I wake, and instead focus on connecting to my body first thing in the morning.
TG: What gives you energy?
SGW: Movement. My motto is “it takes energy to get energy.” The more I move through the day, the better I feel.
TG: What daily habit or practice helps you thrive?
SGW: My workouts. Ballet Blast, the workout I created and teach started as a selfish venture of finding a way to move every day that makes me feel happy, free and toned. Even 15 minutes makes a difference to the rest of my day and is my non-negotiable.
TG: Name a book that changed your life.
TG: Tell us about your relationship with your phone. Does it sleep with you?
SGW: My phone is there for all the highs and lows of my day, but I do like to give us a little separation at night. It lives in the other room while I sleep—as far away from my head as possible! I use Apple’s sleep features, so after 8/9pm I no longer have access to any social media apps until the morning.
TG: How do you deal with email?
SGW: I set myself 3 hours throughout the day that I’m allowed to actively check my inbox, this leaves room for focused work and creativity with no urgent distractions.
TG: How do you prioritize when you have an overwhelming amount to do?
SGW: I have a big white board in front of my desk, that has all my thoughts and to-dos on it. I have three categories: ASP (At some point), this week and urgent. This system has been very helpful in prioritizing the most pressing things, while still seeing the bigger goals.
TG: When was the last time you felt burned out and why?
SGW: Last week. I had been burning the candle at both ends—personally and professionally. I desperately needed an evening to myself. I spent the 4th of July weekend being very anti-social, and focusing in on a little self care. It was rejuvenating.
TG: When was the last time you felt you failed and how did you overcome it?
SGW: Training as a professional ballerina, competing in elite competitions and auditioning for companies, I constantly felt like a failure. As an entrepreneur and trainer my perspective has changed on what it means to fail. I see failure as the fuel for my drive, and the key to what I can do better. This mindset means I can’t really recall anything that felt like a failure, as I always felt like it was serving a greater purpose and pushing me to grow.
TG: What advice would you give your younger self?
SGW: Don’t be so hard on yourself, even though I know that your self criticism helped push you to achieve the things you have today. I would tell her to stop and appreciate what her body can do, how it can move and what it’s capable of. I’d tell her that no body is more perfect than the one you have in that moment.
TG: What is an easy way to incorporate more movement into our day?
SGW: Don’t set yourself unrealistic targets. 15 minutes every single day is a thousand times better than an hour once or twice a week. Be consistent with it. I created the Naturally Sassy Online Studio so even the busiest among us could have a great workout streamed in just 15 minutes from the comfort of your own home. Schedule the time in your diary like a meeting, you can always spare 15!
TG: Share a quote that you love and that gives you strength or peace.
SGW: “The mind is everything. What you think you become”—Buddha
TG: Can you share with us an effective 10 minute workout you can do anywhere?
SGW: Try this sequence 3-4 times through.
Plie Squats – 12 reps
Plie Squat Pulses – 12 reps
Plie Squat Hold lifting heels up and down – 12 reps
Walkouts to plank (start standing, drop hands to floor, walk to plank and return) – 12 reps
Plank to Downward dog – 12 reps
Arabesque Planks (Plank lifting alternate toes off the floor) – 12 reps
Plank Knee Hold (10 seconds right knee in, 10 seconds left knee)
TG: Top tips to make meal prep easy?
SGW: On a Sunday I pick 4 salad recipes—I’ll do 2 grain based salads, one green salad, and one with root vegetables. I’ll buy avocados and hummus to top. Throughout the week I’ll add a combination of different salads to my Tupperware, switching it up every day, pick and mix style.
TG: Favorite snacks to have at your desk?
SGW: I’m not a huge snacker at the office, but always get the munchies when I go home. I love roasted pistachios, apples with almond butter, or seaweed snacks.
TG: Top tips for a successful social media post.
SGW: Something that adds value to the person viewing the post. Before I post anything I ask myself—how does this post serve my community? It might be a tip, a recipe, a workout or a piece of valuable life advice that I know will resonate. To me the most successful social media posts impact people through both the image and caption.
TG: Can you share a time that you went from surviving to thriving?
SGW: As a ballerina I was terribly injured, which led to years of rehabilitation and sitting on the sidelines while my peers thrived. At the time this felt like the end, but in fact it was the beginning of something very special. It gave me the time I needed to explore other passions such as cookery and teaching, I launched Naturally Sassy, wrote a best-selling cookbook, launched energy bars in Wholefoods and had the idea for the online studio. My greatest struggle led me to my greatest success.
TG: What’s the best advice you’ve received?
SGW: If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.Follow us here and subscribe here for all the latest news on how you can keep Thriving. Stay up to date or catch-up on all our podcasts with Arianna Huffington here.