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Meet the Trainer: Erin Jacques

Erin shreds your typical yoga sesh to pieces. (Photo courtesy of SLT)

What do you get when you blend Vinyasa with a cardio jam sesh? Erin Jacques’ hardcore workout mash-up: SLT Yoga, featured in our Pumped Up Poses Express Workout. Get ready to chaturanga your way to a stronger, leaner bod by incorporating strength training and ploymetric elements into your typical flow!

Fitness has fueled the modern yogi’s career for over fifteen years. After college, Erin landed a job with HBO/Time Warner, spearheading their corporate fitness program. She then moved on to working with Exhale Spa, leading the Core Fusion teacher training and becoming their National Yoga Director. Now, Erin is the cofounder of Manhattan’s first music-focused yoga studio, SLT Yoga (Strengthen, Lengthen and Tunes,) where she created the kick-ass Shred class. Holy sweat! The passionate self-acclaimed part DJ, part marathoner is known for her expertise and dynamic, athletic twist to a spiritual experience. We asked Erin about the best yoga moves for runners, the number one yogi mistake and her motivation secrets. Here’s what the Scrabble-lover had to say…and more!

How did you fall in love with yoga?
I was a competitive runner in college and soon got addicted to marathons. So initially I really needed something to help me stretch, unwind and not be so competitive. I remember I couldn't even touch my toes.

When did you know that you not only wanted to practice yoga, but teach it as well?
Since I have been in the fitness industry for over 15 years, I always knew yoga would be something I could incorporate into my classes and trainings. So I went ahead and completed the certifications to have that under my belt. As I got deeper into my yoga practice, I wanted to broaden my "knowledge" of the practice. I was living in Birmingham, Michigan and studied under Jonny Kest. I actually resisted teaching "yoga" for a while because I selfishly didn't want it to interfere with my practice.  [NOTE: Jonny is the founder of Michigan-based Center for Yoga known for a compassionate, disciplined teaching style.]

Why should we be combining yoga moves with fast-paced cardio routines or bursts?
I have been teaching classes since when STEP aerobics was HOT. I have always been fascinated by how the body moves and realizing it doesn't take much to get the heart rate up...using ones body as resistance, incorporating an emphasis on breath and creating certain sequences (choreographing) is essentially what yoga is. So why can't we use yoga poses and moves to build up a nice cardio pace using breath to heat up the body and weights as added resistance to boost the intensity of a class? We can!

The number one thing those who have taken your Shred class would agree on?
It is the hardest class they have ever taken...

Fave workout songs?
Toss up...”Scream” by Usher or “Flesh and Bones” by The Killers (Jacques Lu Cont Remix)

Dream (fit) vacation?
La Pax, Mexico, at the Costa Baja Resort and Spa (which is a 1.5 hour drive from Cabo). It has very clean food, an amazing golf and tennis course, beautiful people and amazing diving and sailing activities.

So you’re a yogi, but what’s your workout hell?
Good question...I love working out but one thing I hate is doing cardio inside on stationary equipment. But hate is strong word. I once had to do a 20-mile training run on a treadmill, kookoo!

What are the best three yoga moves that every runner should be doing?
Downdog is one simple move and into a Downdog split is even better to stretch hamstrings, hips and strengthens arms, tones legs and utilizes the core for stability.

  1. Downdog split to plank, bringing the knee to the nose and back to Downdog split...repeating a few times.
  2. Revolving Triangle is another great pose...really emphasizes stretching the hamstrings, outer hips, IT band and rotates the spine creating space through the rib cage and side body.
  3. And it’s a toss-up between Pigeon Stretch for the hips or Camel Pose to open the front hips (soas) and quads, but it also opens the chest to access more oxygen circulating through the body.

When you’re not in the yoga studio, where can we find you?
Running or long power walks in Central Park, or taking a drive upstate to hike. When fitness isn't part of the equation, I usually like to be home. I tend to be homebody. I prefer cooking a meal (well, my boyfriend cooks!) and inviting friends over versus going out to a trendy restaurant. I also love Scrabble!

What’s on your fitness bucket list?
I'm looking to run a half marathon in Miami the end of January...we shall see. I have always wanted to hike Mt. day!

What’s your trick for getting in a workout on the days you don’t have the motivation? The hardest part is to show up! Usually music is my number one motivator so I always try to keep my playlists fresh or make new ones regularly.

Is there a workout trend that you want to try that you haven’t yet?
Barry’s Bootcamp and jumping on mini trampolines!

What’s the fitness trend you’d like to see go away?
Nothing. I think there is something for everyone so there shouldn't be any excuses not to workout.

What’s the number one mistake you see most women making during a yoga class? Collapsing into their wrist and not using enough abdominal awareness in poses, especially planks! And for everyone, not breathing properly.

What’s your pre-workout and post-workout snack?
Coffee is pre-exercise and post is almond butter and a banana.

What are the must-haves in your gym bag?
Sunscreen, Bobbi Brown tinted balm in SPF 25, lip-gloss and a change of tights or sweatpants.

What’s your motivational mantra?
Consistency is the key to change!

Celeb you’d most like to whip into shape:
I would like to work out with Cam [Eric Stonestreet] from Modern Family.

Where do you see yourself in five years (What’s up next for you)?
Married with kids...Oh, in my professional world, continuing teaching and training teachers, perhaps opening up a few more SLT Yoga studios and maybe having a video or two. People are always asking. Or becoming a professional DJ J.