Welcome to Exercise Diaries, where the Cut will catalogue the workout lives of the fit and famous. First up is model-slash-actress-slash-skin-care mogul Christie Brinkley. A veteran of the fitness world for over 15 years, Brinkley is the face of Total Gym, a fitness machine that relies on strategic movements anchored by weights. But that’s hardly her only source of exercise. Read along for her take on the cult of SoulCycle, her workout uniform, and how the Jane Fonda fitness craze taught her daughter Alexa to count.
The most difficult workout I’ve ever tried: I was doing a magazine shoot when Pilates was just coming out, and they wanted me to do all of those poses on the Pilates tower. They wanted me to pose in these weird positions for a while and lift myself up and have my feet hanging — crazy things like that.
I think that one really strong workout that I enjoy right now is SoulCycle, Peloton, and FlyWheel. I get really competitive and I just want to be able to keep up. I’ve done the virtual class on Peloton. You can see the other participants on it and where you are in the pack. I did it a couple of days ago and I was starting to fall back and I was like, No! I need to step it up!
The first time my daughter took me to a SoulCycle class, I was like, I’m the Total Gym lady and I’ve got to represent. But I’d never done it before. They were all like [mimics bouncing on bike] and doing their own thing and they’re all leaping at the same time, and I thought, “How are they even doing that?” I could not get over that workout. When you start to get the rhythm and understand and get the grip of the wheel … it’s actually still hard.
Why the Peloton and Total Gym are my workouts of choice: I keep the Peloton and the Total Gym side-by-side in my house now. The Peloton is so great because you can see the other people on the list and you can design your own course. I think it’s really good, and my philosophy on exercise is variety is the spice of life. You need to set yourself up so you always have a lot of different things to do.
My one constant is the Total Gym. It’s an exocentric and concentric exercise, which has now been proven to be the best for your muscles because it strengthens, lengthens, and helps prevent injuries. I do that every day and then I mix it up. I might run on the beach, I might jump on the Peloton bike. Maybe I only have 15 minutes, but it’ll be an intense 15 minutes. I’m purple, wet, and sweaty when I get off the bike. I can’t even do my makeup for the next hour because it’s pointless with my tomato face.
I also go to a physical therapist because, at my age, suddenly your body remembers that time when they said “Tips up” on the ski lift and you put your tips down and you almost pulled your leg off your hip. Or my body now feels the helicopter crash I was in 20 years ago. So my physical therapist shows me how to strengthen the muscles around the injured area so I’m still able to do what I want to do.
The first exercise I ever tried: It was called the Air Force. It was one of those things where my mom had a system at home, I think it was a book, and it was like, “Put your arms out and then to your waist and twist.” It was the first time I remember people putting together a series of exercises that you follow along. The next big thing after that was Jane Fonda. I had my first baby, so I had all the tapes. I did them so religiously that my daughter, Alexa, when she was a little kid and learning to count, she thought counting went like this: “One, two, three, and four, make it burn. Five, six, seven, and eight, keep going.”
My workout uniform: I usually pull on a pair of leggings and a T-shirt top. I also like a really thin long-sleeved top to layer over, because when I’m in downward dog, I don’t want to look down at my arms. It also keeps the sun off in the summer.
The best piece of workout advice I ever received: My mom and dad always said to stay positive and be grateful for everything that I do have. That will get me through pretty much anything.
This interview has been edited and condensed.