Active Recovery: Christine Abramo
Realizing that I control my happiness and success. I think it’s hard not to get discouraged with setbacks in your careers or personal life, but the moment I let myself take back the control was the moment I found clarity in my present and future.
This past year, I ran my first half-marathon, and while incredibly rewarding, it will be a year or two before I even think about running my next one. So when I heard that Christine Abramo had run 56 half-marathons, my jaw dropped to the floor.
"Seeing that number written out makes me feel truly crazy haha," she explained to me. Christine Abramo grew up as an athlete. Her athletic career culminating in four years as a varsity lacrosse player at Williams Smith College.
After graduating from college, Christine quickly transitioned from athlete to corporate savage. She's fluent in Spanish, and she's currently working as the Head of Multicultural Partnerships, National at POPSUGAR. On top of that, she's kept her calendar full of extracurriculars that could all be full-time jobs in their own right. Besides being a spin instructor at Cyc and an influencer with a rapidly expanding following, she was also a brand designer for WOLACO Women during our highly anticipated launch. You can thank her for the cropped length on your Murray crop sweatshirt you love so much.
Getting to know Christine over this interview process, I've been consistently impressed with her friendly demeanor and vulnerability. In this Active Recovery, we broke down how she manages to stay on top of it all and how her recent move to Chicago was the best life change she has ever made (hello friendly Mid-westerners!).
WE START OUR INTERVIEWS LIKE WE DO OUR WORKOUT, WITH A WARM-UP.
My active Way of Life is carpe diem’ing every single day. Living an actively charged lifestyle has always been my way of life for as long as I can remember. Growing up, I played every sport possible (tennis, soccer, lacrosse, swimming, basketball, etc) and continued on to play lacrosse at the collegiate level (Hobart and William Smith Colleges) - playing all 4 years.
What time do you wake up in the morning? 5:40 am on the dot. I am the definition of a morning person. Snoozing my alarm is 100% a non-worry. The minute my alarm goes off, I am up and ready to start the day!
What gets you out of bed in the morning? Motivation to accomplish everything I set out for. My days are filled with activities that I am truly passionate about. Popsugar, fitness, and creating content is truly what gets me ready to jump-start the day.
Do you have any routines? And if so, what is your favorite? I have routines, but recently, I have been trying to break out of them in order to step outside my comfort zone. Without fail, I start every single morning with a large cup of water, a Nespresso with Vital Proteins collagen and one of my favorite protein bars. During this time, I plan for the day, look through my calendar and set mini-goals.
In the morning you can find me going through my morning routine plus an AM workout (spinning, running, yoga sculpt, pilates).
At night you can find me attending an influencer and/or work event, getting in a workout OR cooking a yummy dinner at home.
Best workout you’ve ever had? The NYC Marathon this past year is up there with one of my biggest fitness challenges!
What’s a goal you would set for yourself tomorrow? You can either view 24 hours as not enough hours to get your stuff done or view it as more than enough depending on how you chose to live those 24 hours. The goal would be to say NO more. Prioritize the things, events and people who add value to your life and say no to the things events and people who do not.
What was your last “epiphany” or moment of realizing something impactful to you? Realizing that I control my happiness and success. I think it’s hard not to get discouraged with setbacks in your careers or personal life, but the moment I let myself take back the control was the moment I found clarity in my present and future.
What’s one way you like to care for yourself? I care for myself by truly loving myself. Loving be alone with my thoughts. Loving my body through wellness + fitness. Loving my body through rest and relaxation. Loving my body by listening to it every single day.
NOW FOR THE ENDURANCE ROUND - LET'S GET PERSONAL.
WOLACO Women: I love your outlook on the 24 hours we have in the day. At the same time, between your job at POPSUGAR, being active in the fitness industry and prioritizing your family + friends, I’m sure there are days or weeks that feel overwhelming. How do you take care of yourself and find a balance to make sure you avoid burnout?
Christine Abramo: LISTEN TO YOURSELF: Your mind and your body. Having a hand in so many things can easily cause burnout if you fail to listen to yourself. Regardless of what you intended to accomplish in the day, listen to your mind and body to uncover what can actually be accomplished. If I’m up way past bedtime working, I will set my alarm an hour later in the AM. If I notice I have been glued to technology/devices all day, I will turn off my phone as soon as I get home. If my body is aching and resistant to working out, I will change my HIIT plans into a relaxing yoga flow. It’s the little changes that prevent me from burning out.
WW: You have a really special way of making someone feel like a close friend when you speak with them, even if you’ve only met them once (including myself!). Have you always been an outgoing person?
CA: Aww love this - makes me smile! I would be lying if I said that I haven’t always been outgoing. Growing up, I was active in theater which really negated my shyness at a young age. Also, being an instructor for 10+ years ignited my ability to connect with people immediately at a personal level. Heck, I even met the love of my life while on the podium of my spin class haha.
WW: Playing sports and staying active seems to be in your DNA. Was there ever a time where your drive to stay competitive athletically felt like more of a chore than an instinct?
CA: Yes, I would say prior to moving to Chicago, instructing started to feel like a chore. Multiple days a week waking up pre 5 am was A LOT. I became SO programmed with my routine and spin classes that when it came to working out on my own, it started to feel very forced. I would be so exhausted heading to the gym, trying to stay 100% on track, that the passion and joy wasn’t as present.
WW: I can’t believe you’ve run 56 half marathons… major kudos to you! What is it about running a half-marathon that keeps bringing you back?
CA: Seeing that number written out makes me feel truly crazy haha. For many years, running was a release for me. Running was the one thing I could do alone that really forced me to connect with my internal thoughts. It was the one thing that I could control the outcome, the distance, the passion put into it. Coming off of a team sport in college, I also loved the independence of running; not relying on anyone else, just myself. I still remember my first half marathon. I still remember wondering if I would ever experience “Runners High.” I have a special memory from ALL 56 half marathons. Why so many half marathons? I became obsessed with the distance/feeling I got from completing each one. Fitness is such a huge part of my life that 13.1 allowed me to be challenged but also didn’t hinder my body/workouts for days to follow. I had always said that I would stick to half marathons as they were the perfect distance for me but then I got into the NYC Marathon via Lottery last year (2018) and quickly decided that maybe I should try JUST ONE FULL MARATHON.
WW: Several of our readers/listeners are thinking about running a half or a full marathon. How did running a full marathon last year compare to the half-marathons you’ve run before?
CA: For me, running is a mental race. My body is capable. My body has been trained for years. The marathon for me was a total mental race; every bridge, corner, and pounding on the pavement. As it was my first one, I felt like I was totally in my head...for the entire 26.2. I trained for 3 months leading up to the big day and felt SO strong on my long training runs (used it as a time to catch up with friends/family). However, on the day of the race, my mind took over. I started to question my ability to do what I had been doing every single Sunday for three months. It didn’t matter how much I had trained my body as my mind was what needed the training. All in all, I am SO happy that I took my running to a new level. I am so thankful that the year I got into the lottery was my last year calling NYC home. I will never forget that day.
WW: You recently moved from NYC to Chicago. How has the move been for you?
CA: It’s been ~6 Months since the move to Chicago and I am truly loving it. After 7+ years living in NYC, I had never known another city so it’s definitely been an adjustment. I love NYC for so many reasons (energy, accessibility, competition, etc) but the things I loved started to wear off and became the things that weighed me down. When presented with the opportunity to move to Chicago, I felt an excitement rush through me. It was a chance to learn a new city, find new workout spots, matcha spots, running loops, etc. It was an opportunity to meet new people and step outside my comfort zone. My boyfriend is from outside Chicago but also has never lived in the city. It was an opportunity to learn a new normal, together. It was the best life change I could have ever made. The pace is just a little slower, the people are far nicer (love nyc peeps but mid-westerners are a new level of nice) haha and it has heightened my career trajectory.
It was an opportunity to meet new people and step outside my comfort zone. My boyfriend is from outside Chicago but also has never lived in the city. It was an opportunity to learn a new normal, together.
WW: You’re the first influencer that we’ve interviewed on this series. What do you wish people knew about being an influencer that they would be surprised to learn?
CA: There is A LOT of behind the scenes work that goes into every single partnership. As much as followers prefer real-time posting, it is not as common as one would think. Most brands require 1 to 2 rounds of feedback on both content and captions prior to being able to share with your audience. Therefore, If I were to go on a trip that entailed taking a few paid content posts, I would have to either 1. Pretend like my trip was going on for weeks or 2. Shoot that content before the trip in order to have brand approval by the time the actual trip takes place. For example, I have a large brand partnership being announced in Feb but the content was filmed while I was in Hawaii months ago. It’s just way more behind the scenes work than you would ever think. I personally enjoy sharing experiences in the moment, so this was a hard process to adapt to.
WW: As an influencer + athlete, you've spent your fair share of time in workout gear. What was your favorite part of being a brand designer for the inaugural WOLACO Women’s collection and what elements did you really want to make sure were pulled into the 3 items?
CA: Being a brand designer for the launch of WOLACO’s first Women’s collection was honestly a dream come true. I have ALWAYS wanted to design a fitness line. For years, brands have been sending me countless amounts of leggings, sports bras etc which I am so grateful for, but was truly eye-opening that without fail there was never a perfect piece (not enough support, too much support, baggy ankles, falls down when running, “too booby” etc). As I started to help out with WOLACO events, pop-ups, etc, I thought - this could do SO well for women. Women are the bigger shoppers, most specific, and also so brand loyal. Terry + team had this on the horizon for awhile and together we decided what better time than now! We had access to my fitness background/industry knowledge of landscape to really get this project started! What should this line look like? How can we align it to the current Men’s line/vision? What are the white spaces in the market? After doing a lot of brand research we decided that a white space we could fill was designing a set (legging/bra) that appealed to athletes across all forms of training.
A huge element for me was designing a sports bra that would appeal to all chest sizes/types. Being a spin instructor for years, the selection was limited in what bras I could actually wear during a spin class. That is how the Walker Crop came to life. A high impact top that was not only SO supportive but also had a low back which was a huge differentiator in the high support category. Another cool element was the incorporation of the WOLACO deboss on the back. We knew we wanted to align with the men’s branding but also wanted to differentiate a little but having it engraved as opposed to bold and by placing it on the back. As an instructor, I thought it would be cool for riders to see the branding through the mirror behind the instructor podium as opposed to FULL branding on the front. I also personally feel less branding is best when it comes to sports bras/crops.
We knew we needed to launch a legging in the inaugural collection as that is a staple piece of the Men’s line. Leggings are HARD to get right. We probably went through min 100 rounds of samples before finding success. After trying on a million leggings through the years, I wanted to focus on waist fit, material, pockets, and ankle. The Pier 25 legging has a secure waist, no excess fabric the ankle, a waterproof phone pocket with added in Mesh look for a female touch, and a comfortable/sustainable material.
The Murray crop was the third piece we launched in the inaugural collection. This inspiration stemmed from the “crop” trend however caters to ALL body types. Growing up, I loved rocking baseball shirts to lounge in or wear to bed. With that in mind, the differentiator here is the dip in material in both the front and the back. This baseball tee style gives you a cropped feel on the sides but a covered feel in the front and the back. YES, many women love rocking full on cropped pieces but also MANY women do not. We wanted to ensure that our first sweatshirt appealed to everyone. Another fun touch is the thumb holes on the sleeve. Why? Quite honestly, at the time I had been LIVING in this one long sleeve that had holes in the thumbs so we thought it could be a pretty strong differentiator. The thumb holes allow for layering without slip up and hand worth when used for outdoor activity!
BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S A QUICK COOL DOWN
WW: As the head of MultiCultural partnerships, National at PopSugar/Group Nine Media, what have you observed about different cultures communicating together that has impacted the way you communicate with people? Is there a piece of advice you share with your community that you feel everyone could benefit from knowing when talking to people that are different from each other?
CA: Love this question. I am very fortunate to work in the Multicultural space. My entire career has been in Hispanic + Multicultural advertising and it’s honestly a huge passion of mine. The ability to work with brands across all verticals to expand their brand tactics/audience loyalty is truly groundbreaking. All brands, including WOLACO should exemplify a Multicultural strategy through not only brand imagery but also contextual relevance through the tentpoles covered/supported. A piece of advice I’d like to share is that no matter what the situation, it’s best to take a step back to see the bigger picture. It is so easy to isolate your mindset to the one you know but even harder to recognize that 99% of the world has a different mindset/POV than you. Challenge yourself to see through the lens of that 99 % and for that you will be far more approachable/successful.