today is Jun 30, 2022

As excellent as she might be at creating content, Kirsty Godso is much more than a fitfluencer. She spent 10 years as a Nike master trainer, a role that quickly brought her from her native New Zealand to New York City, where, judging by my Instagram feed, she trained every fashion editor, It girl and model in Manhattan (often alongside "work husband" Joe Holder). 

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to have my own training session with Godso and immediately understood why she'd become the subject of so much social media praise: Besides looking like a model herself, Godso exudes an infectious, positive, motivating energy that made me, someone who does not work out, actually enjoy working out. (That's talent.) Plus, who doesn't love a Kiwi accent?

Godso is also a wealth of knowledge about all aspects of wellness, which she has no interest in gatekeeping. With a social media feed full of tips, tricks and accessible at-home workouts, one needn't retain her (presumably expensive) services to benefit from her expertise.

At the end of 2020, Godso moved to Los Angeles "to have a little bit more nature and balance in my life amongst everything that I do," she tells me. That includes running her protein powder company Made Of, training celebrities like Kaia Gerber, Olivia Rodrigo and Maddie Ziegler ("All my friends are having babies and not me, but I have a lot of 19 and 20 year olds," she jokes.) and consulting and creating content for a variety of companies.

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Photo: Courtesy of Hawaiian Tropic

"I'm still focused on wellness, but not just on fitness, like focusing on all these other aspects that feed into that," Godso adds. "I studied sports nutrition, and I'm always trying to educate people about ingredients, whether that be in skin care, whether that be in food. And I love beauty, I think you know I love skin care. I love the sun, that's why I moved to L.A. But that does mean you have to really care about your skin care."

To that end, she's partnered with Hawaiian Tropic to to espouse the importance of safe sun exposure, which means I got some time with Godso to squeeze out all the tips and product recommendations I could. From her aversion to matching workout sets, to the importance of separating "fashion sneakers" from training sneakers, to her go-to beauty products for a camera-ready workout look, read on for our interview.

How has moving to Los Angeles changed your approach to style and wellness/beauty?

It's definitely changed. In New York, obviously you wear a lot more coats and boots and layers, and I've always had a very sporty style, obviously just by nature of the job and growing up as a tomboy. But in L.A., I'm a lot more casual. The weather is hot, you wear a lot of shorts and baggy T-shirts and different things. But I mean, you also change your style 'cause you have a car, so you're not carrying everything on you all the time.

I try and cook more at home here than I did in New York because you live in a bigger apartment, so it's not like you're making your apartment smell all the time. And I definitely changed my leisurely activities. In New York, I used to walk everywhere, but here I really try and prioritize [going outside]. I go on quite a few hikes a week and really try and get outside a lot and just have much more balance. In terms of lifestyle, in terms of style, less intensity, definitely less partying.

A lot of people in L.A. wear activewear all day; since that's basically your work uniform, do you prioritize dressing differently while you're off-duty?

I definitely do, especially after so many years in this job, it's not pleasurable to me to wear activewear all day. So when I come home, once I finish work, I love to shower. And I love a men's button down with some shorts or I actually often wear basketball shorts — not in like a 'I'm going to the supermarket' kind of way, but with a cool shirt or something. 

I still very much have a bit of a street[wear] style. I love sneakers, but I also love boots. I have these Proenza Schouler boots in four different colors that have just been my staple forever, in New York and here because I don't love heels. I would say I haven't blended into L.A. fashion. It's very different from New York fashion, but I still very much wear my New York style of like, Nanushka pants and boots. I hope to stay like that.

I will say that L.A. helped me better with morning, evening, routines and stuff like that too. In New York, you're kind of out all day and it's such a scramble, so I've been way better about my skin-care regime and stuff living here, especially because it's dry.

My best friend's a makeup artist, Nikki DeRoest, she's amazing. She really taught me about pore cloggers, which was such a game changer for me to eliminate those from my routine. Sunscreen used to be such a hard topic, to find sunscreen that would suit your skin. So I really love one of Hawaiian Tropics', their Everyday Active. The high-performance sunscreen is so good because it's not a pore clogger. That just gives you so much more confidence, especially when you're sweating with sunscreen on.

Understanding that skin care and sunscreen is just the most important thing beyond any makeup was such a game changer for me. My skin thankfully has always been good, but I noticed such a difference with my skin, even with looking more youthful from focusing on that combination and then just using the lightest layer of makeup.

What is your routine for if you're going to work out, but also need to be camera-ready?

I put some of my skin care on first and then I do facial sunscreen and you can actually use the Hawaiian Tropic Mineral Skin Nourishing Milk on your face as well, which is good; it's not just for body. And then I'll put my last drop of oil on top of that, so I get that glow-y look. Then I use the It Cosmetics CC+ Cream. You can use the smallest amount and it gives you that perfect coverage, but really the base of my makeup is all skincare. So then I brush my eyebrows. Sometimes I might use the smallest amount of bronzer on my cheeks, and if I need it, I love the Clé de Peau concealer, but that's it.

You'll never see me, like, lip lined or anything in the gym. I always find that quite intense. It's like, yes, it's my job so I want to look presentable and I want to feel confident, but I want to look real and I don't want my makeup to distract people from the importance of the workout that we're doing and maybe what I'm saying. So, it's just about looking fresh, and most of that comes from skin care.

As someone who's probably been gifted every piece of activewear in existence, what are some of your tried-and-true favorites?

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I think sports bras are impossible to find a good fit. So I have some of the same Nike Swoosh bras that I've worn forever, just the classic shape — that works well for me personally. And the [Nike] Indy bra. But Emily [Oberg] with Sporty Rich did such a good sports bra. She really crushed it. And then beyond that, I love a good biker short and I can only really speak to Nike because that's what I've worn. I always wear The Nike One biker short, but I love wearing a big t-shirt or I love a good quarter-zip windbreaker. That's where I usually blend in those collaborative items. The Nike Matthew Williams collection's always really good. He did this amazing long-sleeve piece in his 2019 collection that I still wear all the time. I love the Nike Stüssy collections.

Sneakers, I'm obsessed with, obviously. When I'm in the gym and I'm training, I have that very signature look with the tube sock. But when I leave the gym, I have a huge sneaker closet and I'm lucky in L.A. I have a spare bedroom, so I have a whole activewear closet. Unfortunately, I still turn up to work all the time basically wearing the same things. For me it's just like uniform.

You'll never actually see me wearing a matching crop top and bottoms. I'm not that girl, there is plenty of that out there, but my signature style is to wear a big T-shirt with the sports bra underneath and some biker shorts, tube socks, and the Nike Free Metcon 4, that's basically it. And the funny thing about that is, that's just personally how I feel confident to exercise, but then I'll notice that some of my clients start kind of dressing like that. They realize, 'wait, it does feel really good to train in clothes like this.'

I was curious if you ever get recommendations for stuff from your clients, or vice versa, if they end up seeing things on you and buying the same thing?

I work out of the Undefeated gym in L.A., so a lot of the time they'll love a sweatshirt that I'm wearing or this vest and then we'll give them some and then they wear it too, which I love, I actually think it's really cute. But we actually talk a lot about skin care. 

Obviously my clients are much more fashionable than me, so I like seeing their sunglasses and different things like that. But then I really advise on sportswear and beauty, and other practices like which infrared light to get. I think it all comes down to having that trust between each other, and essentially having each other as a muse in different regards.

Obviously you're a Nike girl, but are there any smaller or up-and-coming activewear brands you like or have seen take off?

I definitely see a lot of my clients wear Set Active. I think the bras look really cute on people, but I can't speak to any of the product. I do think Salomon shoes look amazing, the sneakers, they've become very cool. 

Even if I'm watching a little more from the sideline, I really like seeing the activewear category continue to expand and especially seeing small brands come out and challenge these big brands because they have adaptability. They can listen to what consumers want and need and what's going to make them feel confident. 

You love sneakers in and outside of the gym, are those completely separate collections?

It's super important to wear training shoes when you're training, running shoes when you're running and then streetwear shoes for streetwear. You can obviously wear your training and running shoes outside, but a lot of people will come into the gym wearing shoes that are completely not designed to be in the gym. So sometimes I'll just be like, 'Hey, it's probably better for you to take your shoes off today.' So much connectivity comes from the big toe, especially, and then how your foot connects with the floor. So training shoes are really designed to optimize that for all the different movement patterns you'll be going through and especially designed for lateral movement. So even wearing a running shoe to the gym can disrupt your training. But I know a lot of girls love to look cute when they go to the gym.

I definitely keep mine very separate. I even have them in separate cupboards. My favorite sneakers, I wouldn't want to wear into the gym anyway, because I want to keep them for outside. Even if some of them are actually very old-school running-design shoes. Like the Nike Zoom Vomero 5, I think is one of the coolest shoes ever and is the most commented on whenever I put it on my story, but it's old. You actually can't even buy it anymore, but it was actually a running shoe. 

Aside from exercise, what are some of your go-to, daily wellness habits and products?

I really swear by drinking water in the morning; this going to sound very obvious. Drinking water and having a little bit of food in your stomach before you inhale coffee or matcha, that is so important, especially for females digestively and just for hormones. And especially if you have compromised thyroid function, things like that are going to be a game changer. I swear by whey protein isolate for people that are very active. Whey doesn't always get the best reputation because vegan protein got [popular], but whey protein isolate, especially, is incredibly important for women due to the leucine content in it, which is really good for our hormones, but great for men and women. Essentially, in the process to become an isolate, all the lactose is removed, so a lot of people who are lactose intolerant can actually have whey protein, if it's an isolate.

A lot of my friends who are moms now, they use my protein just to have a smoothie that fills them up, and they're not particularly active and it's been really beneficial for them, too. Oh, and magnesium at nighttime, I absolutely swear by it. It's so good for just relaxation, muscle recovery, obviously has some digestive benefits, but those are really big things I swear by in regards to nutrition.

What about tools and devices? Are you an Apple Watch person?

I actually use a Garmin, which I love for running because it syncs with my headphones and I have everything turned off on it so I'm not getting calls, text messages, anything. I can listen to my music or a podcast while I run and leave my phone at home. I have Apple Watches too, but I honestly prefer the Garmin. I love the stats that you get on it. I'm not doing exercises to close rings. I want to run to clear my head or I want to run to move my body and sweat or I'm running because I'm meant to be running a half marathon next month. And so I think it's more about purpose-focused rather than stress-focused like, 'I've got to close my ring.' 

I love Normatec boots, I think they're amazing but a high price. I love toe straighteners, which are those funny little Yogi toe things. I think everyone should be wearing those at nighttime. I think they're just really good for your feet — such a small, easy thing to do that can make such a difference. I love everyone to have a little foam roller. I think if everyone had a little foam roller and a Pilates ball at home, you have so much stuff that you can do with those two pieces of equipment.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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