The Model Trainer Method’s Tatiana Boncompagni: “I love all heart openers”

An ongoing series of profiles of interesting yogis

My friend Tatiana, a New York fitness journalist and entrepreneur, has always been in shape (give or take a few months after her third baby). But when I met up with her last fall after not having seen her for a while, her newly chiseled figure blew me away. Tatiana has turned herself into a walking endorsement for the Model Trainer Method, a new workout she developed with a fashion-industry fitness guru. (Find out more about the Model Trainer Method on Tatiana’s website, Tone and Style.)

When Tatiana told me the Model Trainer Method includes much more weightlifting than most women’s exercise programs do, I finally started believing that thing fitness experts are always saying—that women should do strength training. Before, whenever I heard or read that I’d think, “Whatever, no thanks, I hate weights” and go back to my beloved elliptical-machine-and-hot-yoga routine. But Tatiana inspired me to pump some iron and eat more protein.

So I did, and now I look just like her! OK, not really. But I am much stronger in yoga. Thank you, Tatiana.

Another thing I hadn’t realized: Tatiana has been practicing yoga for almost two decades. I asked her how yoga rounds out her fitness regimen.

Lauren Lipton: Describe your yoga practice.

Tatiana Boncompagni: I do mostly Ashtanga and Baptiste-style Power Yoga. These two styles are pretty fast and athletic, which is what I love. I used to do two to three classes a week, but I’m more focused on weightlifting now, so the yoga is really just a compliment to my other fitness pursuits.

LL: What inspired you to try yoga?

TB: I was living in Washington D.C. after college, and there was a woman teaching yoga classes at my gym. There was something about her and about how I’d feel afterward that kept me going back for more—even though I wasn’t very flexible then, and yoga wasn’t the big trend it is now. It seemed like this exotic, slightly bohemian and glamorous thing to do. Now, of course, everyone does yoga and it’s not so fringe-y, but 18 years ago it was, and I actually liked that about it.

LL: Do you have a preferred studio in New York?

TB: For Baptiste yoga, Lyon’s Den. For a date-night class, Y7 features yoga to hip hop beats in a dark room (which is sexy!). Sometimes I’ll hit up a Bikram studio, but I don’t have the poses memorized, so it has to be a led class. I also practice with teachers from Bodhi in Hudson, N.Y. With yoga, I find that my practice expands and deepens the more I mix it up with different teachers and studios.

LL: Do you have a favorite pose?

TB: For sure. It’s Wheel, a heart opener that also requires strength and a flexible back. I love all heart openers, but this one is my favorite.

LL: Is there a pose you don’t enjoy?

TB: I suppose I don’t like standing balances, especially Tree. Balances are challenging to me, and some days I can’t hold Tree for more than a couple of seconds. I get frustrated and have to remind myself to let it go; that in the letting-go of the failure, I’m also learning something. It’s a mental exercise: OK, you didn’t do it today; move on. There’s a lot of self-talk that happens around balancing poses. Which is probably why I should do more of them!

LL: How does yoga help you in your personal and professional life?

TB: I think a lot of people walk around not having very strong pathways between their brain and their body. Yoga helped me build those pathways, so I am very in tune with what’s happening inside me all the time. That, in turn, has helped me learn to trust myself and my intuition, which is key to success in life and business. Yoga has been an integral part in me becoming me, owning my power and going after the things in life I want.

LL: Anything else I didn’t ask?

TB: We talk about strength in terms of physical performance, but what’s so cool about yoga is that a strong physical practice leads to tremendous psychological benefits. I’m a pretty driven person, but I’d have to say my best asset is my lovingness, and yoga has strengthened that in me.

 

[Photo credit: Sasha Israel]

 

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