HAYLEY - NEW YORK
Having always been inspired by travel, Hayley Hill used education as a means to experience different cities. She studied dance and writing in San Francisco, literature at the University of Oxford, then earned her B.A. in Journalism from the California State University of Northridge.
Hailing from Los Angeles, she grew up skateboarding, dancing and surfing, three activities that paved her path to empowerment. Something she tries to express in her work today.
Meet this active Brooklyn-based journalist, photographer and Pilates instructor with the elegance of a ballet dancer and the energy of Sporty Spice!
INSIDE/OUT: What’s the first sport you ever practiced?
Hayley Hill: I played a lot of sports as a kid but I started off with soccer, which gave me my first true sense of freedom though activity. I loved running and playing on a team. I was a shy kid, and soccer was a place I could express myself.
I/O: And the first one that made you feel confident?
HH: As much as I enjoyed running and scoring goals in team sports, it was dance that gave me a new kind of confidence. I tagged along with my older brothers growing up, who were always skateboarding, so the dance world was very foreign and intimidating to me. I was immediately drawn to the elegance and command dancers had on stage. Dance is such an individualistic discipline, which led me to find a performative side of myself that changed everything.
I/O: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
HH: Absolutely! I played volleyball, gymnastics, diving and track. I got into golf in college (my dad was really happy about that one!) but gravitated more towards performative activities later on and studied dance in San Francisco, where I fell in love with integrating performing arts into my college education. I then found Pilates while nursing sports injuries, which led me to teaching.
I/O: Are you a sports fan?
HH: Definitely. My brothers skateboard professionally, so I have always loved watching the X Games and the Olympics. Snowboarding is a favorite to watch as well, I am stoked to see the ladies killing it out there. I also love watching basketball. I feel a sense of hometown pride every time I watch the Clippers on TV in NY.
I/O: What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
HH: My first sports hero was pro soccer player, Mia Hamm. Her jersey was on my wall and every year I made sure I was number nine in soccer, to emulate her. She put women’s soccer on the map. Michelle Kwan was another huge influence. She made Olympic ice skating - a sport that requires so much precision and athleticism - look graceful and effortless. After watching her win gold, I spent hours skating around my front yard on my Barbie roller skates, pretending I was an Olympian.
I/O: Do you ever feel intense emotions during your mind/body workouts?
HH: Yes, yoga helped me recognize my emotions and gave me the guidance to listen and accept them.
I/O: Favorite sports moments of the last 20 years?
HH: Well, it has been 22 years since Kerri Strugg won gold after landing her vault routine with her injury and that is my all-time favorite sports moment. Absolutely ICONIC landing on one foot and a true testament to perseverance!
I/O: How would you define the relationship that New Yorkers have with the active lifestyle? Do you feel it always been this way?
HH: New York is no stranger to the active lifestyle, with all the stairs to climb, trains to catch and long city blocks to walk. New York is a survival of the fittest type city, people hustle hard and take that same mindset to their workouts. I love that about New York. The dedication is real.
I/O: Do you think that New York sportswear has had an impact on global style and fashion?
HH: Definitely, New York brings a sleek and modern cool to active wear. Versatility is key - being able to transition from day to night. Sportswear is also coming back in a big way with the return of brands like Adidas, Fila and Puma. I am very into the 90’s 'Sporty Spice' look.
I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
HH: I am a big advocate for comfort when it comes to performance. I love a good one-piece outfit for Pilates. Product wise, I am currently obsessed with foam rollers: such a game changer and totally affects my performance and helps alleviate soreness.
I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after working out?
HH: Before I work out, I put peppermint essential oil on my neck and temples to wake me up and then I put on lavender after to soothe. I keep lots and lots of coconut water on hand at all times. I always add in a stretch class to my weekly workout routine and of course, you can find me grabbing coffee with friends after Pilates.
I/O: What about beauty?
HH: I am a top-knot kinda girl for Pilates and definitely braids for boxing. My trick-of-the-trade is putting coconut oil in my hair when I do hot yoga, it makes my hair so soft afterwards. I love Shea Moisture’s Daily Hydration leave-in treatment for after the shower and then I always rub in serum after my hair dries. I carry Mario Badescu’s Facial Spray with aloe, cucumber & green tea with me to spritz on my face after working. I also love using Lauren’s All Purpose Salve for moisturizing.
I/O: What activities say New York the most?
HH: A day at MoMA, rooftop bars with amazing city views, listening to live music in Washington Square Park, drinking local coffee and eating dollar pizza.
I/O: From street to studio, define your style.
HH: I like a clean, classic look with a vintage twist. Grace Kelly meets Goldie Hawn. Transitioning to the studio, I love a balletic look.
I/O: What lifestyle trends do see happening? Which do you like?
HH: I have noticed that companies are integrating wellness into the work force. Giving employees a more autonomous work style is something that I love seeing more of. I think freedom is an integral part of creativity and long-term productivity.
I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
HH: Boxing and rock climbing. Both physically demanding, strategic and mental.
I/O: In the city that never sleeps where does mind/body training fit into your life?
HH: I make that time a priority in my life. The nature of news and my journalistic work is so fast paced, it’s essential to take time to slow down and debrief. NY takes a lot out of me sometimes and in order to keep up, I have to keep my mind and body in tune with each other. I am much more focused at work when I regularly workout.
I/O: How do you strive to find balance in your life?
HH: I’d like to think that balance is in the infrastructure of my choices. I am a journalist, I can exercise my communication and research skills, and I am also a photographer, I express myself artistically and I teach Pilates where I build community and physicality. I enjoy variety in my work. The balance that I find to be important is doing what makes me happy.
I/O: Are self care and working out the new nightlife in New York these days?
HH: I think people are more conscious and active when it comes to self-care. I have definitely opted for a hot yoga class on a Friday night over drinks.
I/O: How have sports or physical activities impact your eating habits?
HH: Our bodies need the necessary fuel in order to function and perform at the level we are asking it to when working out. I always eat better when I am on a regular workout routine.
I/O: Does challenging yourself physically take you out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life?
HH: Yes! A main part of that is the athletic mindset of pushing and overcoming obstacles. The lesson of teamwork is a rudimentary one, but has been essential in workplaces I have experienced as an adult. However, what I have learned from my practices in yoga and Pilates has been a more individual discovery of who I am and what I can handle. Learning that I can endure and grow from a place of hardship whether it's mental, or physical has helped me become a much stronger person overall.
I/O: Have you ever traveled for sports or wellness?
HH: I recently took a month long trip to Hawaii, where I totally emerced myself into a healthy lifestyle. My best friend and I worked on a farm and slept in an amazing tree house overlooking the North Shore. Naturally, we ate very fresh, hiked and surfed everyday - pretty much lived the opposite life of a New Yorker; it was just what I needed to tune back into nature and slow down.
I/O: When traveling, how do you connect locally?
HH: The first spot I like to go to in a new city is the local coffee shop; a place where community congregates and socializes. I like to seek out hiking spots to get into nature and see the views of the city. I will also check out local thrift shops. I enjoy getting to know the styles of each city - plus that’s where I buy my all my souvenirs.
I/O: Do you feel more connected to communities online or physically?
HH: I think it’s easy to judge a place by an Instagram photo, but it’s safe to say that nothing will ever compare to the physicality of a place, experiencing, meeting the people, eating the food. Travel wise, I feel way more connected physically. I think there is beauty in the organic and unplanned part of meeting people.
I/O: What destinations are on your wish list?
HH: Norway & Iceland are high on the list for the epic landscapes. I am also itching to surf and explore Australia and Nicaragua. I am very drawn to the vibrancy of India as well.
I/O: What role does music play in your practices?
HH: Music plays a huge role when it comes to my work outs. My favorite is to find new music and go on a long run. I get most of my creative ideas doing that! Especially in dance, connecting to words, ideas and sounds takes on a whole new meaning of the movements and emotions.
I/O: What does female empowerment mean to you?
HH: Owning the multifaceted aspects of being a woman; I find strength in my drive and my ambition as well as my delicacies and tenderness. I have found confidence in my imperfections and curves. I feel empowered by knowing I have a choice to do whatever I want.
I/O: Do your wellness practices give you a sense of community?
HH: I met many of my closest friends through teaching Pilates in Brooklyn. I am blown away by my community and how supportive and involved everyone is. I moved to New York not knowing anyone, so the friends I have made through my wellness practices have become like family; which is a huge blessing.
I/O: A mantra?
HH: 'You are much stronger than you think.'