I meet up with Ellie on a Sunday afternoon after she and her partner Josh finished teaching Crank X, one of the more recent additions to the Crank UES line up that piggy backs 30 min of intense spinning with 30 min of HIIT (I burned over 700 calories the last time I took it). She’s wearing a Batman T-shirt that I find out was purchased, to the slight dismay of her daughter Tayden, in the kid’s department. It’s just a Batman T-shirt but to me it represents a lot of the qualities I think of when I think about Ellie: laid back, fun, strong, inspiring and living with purpose.
Ellie has always been active, running track, playing soccer, practicing yoga and working out at gyms, but dance was the first fitness love of her life. She took classes from a young age at Miss Nina’s dance studio, going there for practice everyday after school. It wasn’t just dancing she loved but the music itself. Something you quickly come to know when taking Ellie’s classes is that the music dictates the movement of her routines, not the other way around.
In college, Ellie didn’t major in dance but it was where all her time went. Realizing that health, fitness and working with people were where her passions lied, she eventually left college and earned certifications in massage, personal training and health coaching (not all at once). After a couple years of bartending and waitressing upon returning to NYC, it was the birth of her daughter Tayden that gave Ellie her next big push to go full throttle into personal training, leading bootcamps in her Brooklyn neighborhood while continuing to do some waitressing and bartending on the side. After needing to move to back into Manhattan, she did a stint working in a gym before going back to independent private training. While the gym was not an ideal working situation for her, it turned out to be a critical part of her life journey as it’s where she met her future boyfriend (Josh) and employer (Anthony).
The life of an independent trainer (or any for that matter) can be challenging, often feast or famine depending on the time of year. So when Anthony contacted Ellie and asked her to get her spinning certification and teach classes at his new Long Island City cycling studio, Crank, she was all over it. The excitement waned, however, when she realized how difficult the commute to LIC would be – especially being a single mom. After another year passed and Anthony was opening up the second Crank studio in the Upper East Side, he reached out to Ellie again to ask her to not only instruct there but also help to manage it. For Ellie, this was truly a gift and she took it on without a second thought.
Ellie’s passion for music and dance informs every one of her classes. From the first class I took with her, I was amazed (and in love) with how perfectly matched her routines are with their musical soundtrack – literally to the last note of each song. As a fellow dancer and music lover, I have a hard time taking classes where the music and moves don’t pair up. Part of her musicality comes from spending much of her life in dance studios, part is learned and part is genetic, with a musician for a father. She (sorta kinda) likens how she hears and processes music to how Russell Crowe’s character in “A Beautiful Mind” (John Forbes Nash, Jr.) decrypted codes – she can almost visually see the patterns in songs.
I’ve also had more than one fitness class where the instructor’s energy is either subpar (lame) or way over-the-top (where you almost want to hit them). Ellie’s energy level is just right. She rides and dances right along with everyone else, feeding off and fueling each of the riders. She encourages everyone to have the ride that works for them, following along with the choreography as much as possible but “throwing it out the door” if it doesn’t work for them. Basically everyone ends up following along once they get the knack of it, though, because it’s way too much fun. These aren’t your typical boring rides, but full of Barbie arms, ellipticals, rock outs, V-presses, 360s, swoop swoop double-backs… oh and killer weighted arm intervals. It’s amazing how even 2-lb dumbbells can make your arms turn to jelly.
As a health coach, which she primarily does along with personal training because she is a firm believer in a holistic approach to health, she helps guide clients to figure out what nutritional approach works best for them and their bodies. Ellie herself has been vegan for 8 years and vegetarian for most of her life for health, environmental and ethical reasons, but does not push her personal beliefs on others. Similar to my own approach, she encourages people to be mindful of what they eat, working towards a diet based on unprocessed, real foods.
For now, and the foreseeable future, Crank has Ellie’s heart and soul. She strives to make it everything it wants to be – a community/family without judgement, regardless of age, size or ability, that empowers and encourages its members to push beyond their personal boundaries. She considers Crank a living organism based on the people that run it and come there. She says that she never imagined 10 years ago she would be where she is today with what she considers her perfect job. And it shows. Her passion and light impact everyone who steps in the door and on to a bike.
While she lovingly nicknames all of her riders, I think they would all agree that it is she who is the quintessential sweaty rockstar.
A Few Extra Ellie Goodies
3 foods Ellie can’t live without:
- Peanut Butter
“A week without kale is not a good week. The moment left scraping the peanut butter jar is not a good day.”
3 foods Ellie definitely can live without:
- Eggplant (if not cooked well)
- Mushrooms (ditto)
“Cheat” Foods (though she doesn’t really believe in such a thing):
- Vegan pizza
- Angel hair pasta
- Basically, any starchy carb
Note: Red wine is not a cheat.
Best Cooking Tip (inherited from her partner Josh):
Cut all ingredients to the same size so that they cook more evenly and are easier to digest.
Some Favorite Music:
- Iggy Azalea
- Missy Elliot
- Lindsey Stirling
- Monica Brant, a former Fitness Olympia and World Pro Figure Champion, whose pictures she used to cut out from Oxygen magazine.
- Vegan athletes like Torre Washington (aka Vegan Dread).
A bitty secret…
Ellie did her first Banana Boat bikini competition in 2000 and has a goal to compete in a fitness competition over the next couple of years.
Now that it’s in writing, Ellie, you kind of have to ;)
Her daughter Tayden, who is not only her mini-me but the light of her life.