Ellie Kemper on SoulCycle and Ice Cream

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Ellie Kemper loves ice cream and SoulCycle.
Ellie Kemper loves ice cream and SoulCycle.Photo: Todd Williamson

It’s impossible not to like Ellie Kemper. Even SoulCycle likes her — she’s not banned from classes despite the fact that her show, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, featured a parody of the cult workout. Our favorite resilient woman is returning for the second season of Kimmy Schmidt, out April 15 on Netflix, and you can also see her on TV in a new series of Buick ads. She talks to the Cut about napping instead of exercising, her fantasy Kimmy Schmidt ice-cream flavor, and overnight oats. 

How I start my morning: I’m a morning bird. I love getting up before it’s light out, if it’s possible. I wake up, I have a black coffee. I’m an 86-year-old man. I try to work out first thing to get it over with. When I do it, I feel good because I have the endorphins all day.

I usually eat some sort of yogurt and granola or almonds. I love oatmeal. I like a healthy whole grain bowl of gruel. I know people eat egg whites and avocado, but I can’t have that. I need a starchy base. When I make it, I add brown sugar, raisins, and almonds. The night before, I’ll soak oats with almond milk, coconut, and chia seeds. It’s not pretty to look at. It is the definition of gruel. I eat it cold. It’s like, cold mush! But it’s delicious.

I love craft services, and it’s so good but it’s hard. They do an excellent job of providing snacks, but you don’t always need to be eating meatballs at ten a.m.

To me, wellness is: A good balance. If you’re tired, you shouldn’t make yourself exercise. Take a nap instead. It’s about getting an appropriate amount of work and rest. I get very crabby if I’m not well-rested. The more I read about sleep, I realize it’s as important as exercise and nutrition.

How wellness changed for me: As I’ve grown into an older woman, I take the message about balance more seriously. When I was younger, it was more about go, go, go and trying to burn the candle from both ends. Now I’m more okay with not always doing everything at 110 percent. I realized it starting last season. Filming the show was more hours than I’ve worked on other jobs. I need to be sure I don’t get sick. That’s when I realized the importance of sleep. Take your down time really seriously.

How I sweat: From a young age, I liked working out. I look forward to physical activity; it’s a release from stress and a nice distraction. It puts me in a better mood. I never used to take classes before, but then I tore my plantar fascia so I couldn’t run. I started taking SoulCycle classes, which I know are polarizing. People have strong opinions. Even though I can run again, I still go.

I am front row. I worked my way up. Am I bragging if I say so? I love it. It’s like running on the street versus running on the back subdivision. I love Rique’s classes. I took him this morning. If you go in the morning, then the rest of the day, you don’t need therapy! I played team sports in high school and college and I like that this calls on the team aspect of sports. We’re all in there together, motivating each other, and it’s inspiring. Some instructors are too inspiring, but the way Rique does it, he doesn’t hit you over the head with it. It’s mildly competitive in a good way.

For strength, I’ll do a lot of Bar Method classes, but I don’t get as much of an adrenaline rush. I’m not all jazzed up. It’s a totally different kind of exercise, and especially for toning and strengthening. I haven’t done enough yoga.

I actually didn’t know the Spirit Cycle episode was coming. A couple riders mentioned we were doing a SoulCycle-like spin on things. I was so elated that I got to be on a bike the whole episode. Nick Kroll who played [the instructor] Tristafé was brilliant. I really want to revisit it.

How I eat when I’m alone: Full of shame. If I’m alone, I tend to cook for myself. I do a pretty good job of preparing healthful foods. My go-to is everything in a bowl like quinoa, avocado. Later in the day, scrambled eggs. I’m not a gourmet chef. I cook in bulk very well.

Having said that, my weakness is ice cream. I’m a little worried I have diabetes. I love Ben & Jerry’s, like Milk & Cookies and Americone Dream. Normallly, I can eat an entire pint. There’s so much goodness in it.

If Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt had a flavor, I think it would be Kimmy Sch-Mint; it would be peppermint with multicolored M&M’s and a fudge ribbon. We’ve talked about it before in hair and makeup.

My wellness advice is: To listen to your body and keep everything in moderation. I know I’m tired. I know the difference between being tired and being lazy, and having to overcome it. My body will be like, I am legit tired. I have to take a nap right now. It’s a skill you have to hone. It’s hard to listen to it.