JENNIFER - AUSTIN
Jennifer Hall Taylor is based in Austin, Texas. An exemplary multi-hyphenate on both personal and professional levels, she cares for others through her work as a holistic health coach, as a personal chef and through teaching yoga and meditation while nuturing herself with running, rock climbing, Pilates, swimming, cycling, hiking and meditation.
She is also the cofounder of The-Shift, a curated tool for mindfulness that invites users to cultivate awareness in daily life through ressources like meditation, ritual, diet, yoga and movement, allowing them to live better and connect whole-heartedly with each other and the world around them. Read on for more about Jennifer's lifestyle, extensive travels, dream destinations and her thoughts on the true meaning of 'self care.'
INSIDE/OUT: What’s the first sport you ever practiced?
JENNIFER HALL TAYLOR: I started ballet and gymnastic really early, around age 3, but I never practiced a team sport outside of gym class until I joined a swim team at 12 years old.
I/O: And the first one that made you feel confident?
JHT: I felt really confident in my physicality from the get-go. Ballet taught me to become aware of an integrated body, how it can create both a shape and a feeling. Gymnastics was more rough and tumble and just so powerful. Both of them asked for discipline and focus but also involved so much play. That duality has persisted as an important combination for me in sports. I always want that lighthearted approach to be a part of what I’m doing with my body.
I/O: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
JHT: I certainly felt like it was part of my identity though I was pinned as more of an 'artsy' kid than an athlete because of dance. But I was also known as someone who was pretty much incapable of sitting still. I used to get home from school and as soon as I was done with my homework I was rollerblading until dark or making up dances or practicing gymnastics on the front lawn.
I/O: Are you a sports fan?
JHT: I am a fickle basketball fan, but when I watch, I have a very controversial love of both the LA Lakers and the Boston Celtics.
I/O:What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
JHT: Gabi Reese, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Wayne Gretzky, Jackie Joyner Kersee.
I/O: How would you define the relationship that Austinites have with the active lifestyle?
JHT: Austin is equal parts party and play. It’s definitely an active city but it feels nicely balanced. It’s not all about elite performance. There’s a really robust and welcoming yoga community here, and studio culture in general is growing downtown. You’ll see people on the hike/bike trails around the city in any weather, year round, even midday during the hottest months, and people really take advantage of all the water around the city.
I/O: Is there a certain active style there? What about beauty?
JHT: Low key beauty, bold lips, lots of tattoos. Active style is equal parts bold hippie prints and minimalist classics. Lightweight and breathable is important because it’s hot and humid here for so much of the year. Lots of crop tops, Birkenstocks, and color block leggings since we’re the home city of Outdoor Voices.
I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
JHT: High-waisted, lightweight tights that don’t bunch at the ankle and work equally well for a run, a climb or a yoga class. I also love a muscle-tee cut tank. Roomy but sexy and lots of airflow.
I/O: Your favorite activewear brands?
JHT: I gravitate towards individual pieces more than single brands and then I wear them until they fall apart! Currently in heavy rotation: GapFit running shorts, Lululemon Align leggings & Alo Yoga leggings, the best bra ever from Girlfriend Collective, and the perfect sleeveless mesh Nike jersey.
I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after training?
JHT: If I’m on my yoga mat I’ll burn a little Palo Santo or light a candle or two before I practice. I keep a collection of spiritual books and yoga posture books in my practice area which I reach for if I need a guiding theme to my practice, and if I have time I might draw a tarot card afterwards. I love a square or two of dark chocolate before a rigorous yoga practice or a climb. I always leave a few extra minutes after a run to walk a bit and treat it as a walking meditation. Paying attention to my breath, my step, the temperature, the smells, what’s in bloom. It softens me after a more intense output like that.
I/O: Favorite beauty brands?
JHT: Arcona for all things skin. Weleda rose chapstick. Glossier Boy Brow. Agent Nateur deodorant. MCMC Fragrances roll on perfumes which are ideal for travel. I’ve been wearing her scent, Noble, since my 20s.
I/O: What activities say 'Austin' the most?
JHT: Two stepping! And taking a dip in Barton Springs.
I/O: What trends do you see happening? Which do you like? Which ones are over (or should be)?
JHT: I see such a hunger for mindfulness right now. I think there is a growing sense of alienation as we become more technologically dependent. Alienation from human connection, community, and a sense of self. I’m encouraged that meditation and mindfulness are becoming more mainstream and that a wider range of tools and experiences are available so people can find the practices that work for them.
I also love seeing more diverse representations of female beauty and power in the wellness world. More body acceptance, more inspiration to consider the body as an instrument of action rather than an object to be assessed and admired. We still have a long way to go, and in the wellness world we have an obligation to provide information and tools and services to populations who really need them, not only the ones who can afford them. We can do better there.
As for ones that can go? Please don’t put activated charcoal in your baked goods. Nobody needs that.
I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
JHT: I just started going to a hip-hop dance class which I haven’t done since my early 20s and it’s SO FUN! I get to tap into an entirely different part of myself and I leave feeling sexy and energized and free.
I/O: Have you ever traveled for sports or wellness?
JHT: Yes! I’ve traveled to run a marathon, for triathlons, for yoga trainings, and to lead retreats and workshops. In my 20s I spent 6 months of each year living on the road, traveling the US, chasing the warm weather to rock climb and I still try to take one road trip a year to camp and hike. I’ve gotten to see so much of the US that way, and parts of it that I’d likely have missed otherwise: red sandstone cliffs an hour outside of Moab National Park; rhododendron forests in the misty gorges of Eastern Kentucky; an imposing maze of granite domes coated in neon lichen in southern Arizona, where an Apache warrior is said to have hidden out for years to avoid the US Army during the wars of the 1800s; turquoise alpine lakes in the San Juan Mountains and the Sierra Nevadas. I never feel so patriotic as I do when I am driving across the US. We have a lot of problems in this country, and we also have a lot of majesty. It’s important to stay open to the wonder of it all.
I/O: Is it something you do on your own or with friends or a partner?
JHT: The rock climbing was so social. It was a mobile, winter community. You would meet people in Kentucky in October and then find them again in Moab or Las Vegas in April. My ideal with any kind of sports-related travel, whether it’s yoga training or outdoor-oriented, is to spend some of it with people and some of it on my own. When I’m alone in those settings I’m really confronting and pushing against the edges of my fears. It’s so empowering to have those moments of realizing I only have myself to ask for advice about whether or not to turn around, which route to take, whether or not to go higher or deeper, and to trust myself because it’s the only option! It’s like filling a reservoir of self-reliance that I can draw from later.
I/O: When do you feel that you are part of a sports or wellness community? Is it physical, digital?
JHT: Definitely physical.
I/O: What destinations are on your wish list?
JHT: Lake Louise, Alaska, Arcosanti, New Zealand, Bali. And I’d like to do another Vipassana meditation this summer, maybe at the center in Quebec.
I/O: What role does music play in your practice(s)?
JHT: I used to do my yoga practice with music but now I would say 50% of the time I do it in the quiet, just accompanied by my breath. Same thing goes for long walks. That said, when I go for a run, I want dirty, poppy hip-hop, the whole time.
I/O: Are exercise and self care the new social/nightlife?
JHT: Am I allowed to vent about the term self care here? I see that concept being diluted right now within my industry, and beyond. All of a sudden it’s a blanket term to equate a bubble bath, a fancy juice, crystals, and a 100% linen bed sheet set.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I like each of those things, and they can absolutely be part of self care, but they don’t epitomize it. Self care doesn’t equate consumerism. It doesn’t even necessarily equate solitude. Sometimes the way to care for yourself is to go drink wine and eat delicious food with your friends.
The term 'self care' has its roots in activism. It’s about keeping yourself physically, mentally, and spiritually fit and strong so that you can engage with the world, fight for what you believe in, show up in your community and your relationships, contribute in a meaningful way. I keep bristling against our current use of the term 'self care' because the question I have is - how can you even care for the self if you don’t know the self? We have to build greater trust in our relationships with ourselves instead of always looking outside of ourselves for the answer. Instagram is not going to tell us how to take care of ourselves. How do you come to know the self? Through contemplation. Through quiet. Through meaningful connection. And in the moments of stillness when you can actually begin to sift through all the information, all the choices, all the input you react to all day long.
I/O: Do sports or physical activities impact your eating habits?
JHT: Absolutely. In my periods of endurance training (triathlons/marathons) I was obsessed with chocolate milk. It was such a good recovery drink after long rides or runs. In general I love that being physically active stokes my appetite because that kind of hunger - that true physiological hunger that comes from using your food for energy- feels so healthy on a primal level.
I/O: How do you strive to find balance between different areas of your life?
JHT: Meditation is key for me in staying connected to what I need. Balance is just another way of saying, everything in the right proportion. And I can feel it almost immediately when I lose sight of that. So even a short meditation helps me connect to what I need more of and what I can step back from on any given day. It’s like taking an internal weather report and dressing accordingly.
I/O: What does empowerment mean to you? Thoughts on feminism? Do you feel that women go further together?
JHT: Empowerment is knowing your own worth, trusting your intuition, shedding perfectionism, and speaking with your real, honest, unashamed voice.
I think humans go further together because we are so much more the same than we are different. When you strip away politics and specific identifiers, I think every human wants the same essential things: To be safe from harm, to have our basic needs for food, water and shelter met, to be loved, and to have a place in a peaceful world. So yes, women go further together, because human beings, all human beings, go further together.
10 TIPS AND ADDRESSES
1 tip to improve performance: Connect to your breath.
1 trainer or practitioner: Jenn Wootten - such an incredible yoga teacher. She’s a healer, really.
1 app: The Shift
1 podcast: Metta Hour with Sharon Salzburg
1 blog/site: moonlists.com
1 food address: Thrive Market
1 beverage: Leaves & Flowers Digestive Seed Tea
1 inspiration: My Nana
1 woman we should interview: Alta Tingle, the founder of The Gardener. Writer/director/actress Frankie Shaw.