Rachael Wang is a creative consultant and stylist. Originally from California, she studied in Boston and London and has called Brooklyn home for the past eleven years. Although, she qualifies as a New Yorker, she considers herself to be a California girl at heart. Rachael works in fashion and loves (good) music, (good) art, (good) food, and (any) travel.
She’s a Cancer, an introvert, a witch and a feminist. She likes avocados, El Caminos, vintage Levi's, and Terence Malick's films. She finds punk rock soothing and humidity overwhelming. She runs, walks, hikes, swims, spins, surfs, does yoga and snowboards. And yet, she refuses to let any such matters define her.
Inside/Out: What’s the first sport you ever practiced?
Rachel Wang: I learned to swim at 1, but I suppose not drowning isn't exactly practicing a sport. I started gymnastics when I was 5. Oh how I loved gymnastics!
I/O: And the first one that made you feel confident?
R: I think I was pretty confident right away with swimming. I was a confident kid. It wasn't until high school that self consciousness started to creep in.
I/O: Was physical education a central element of your identity at school when you were a kid?
R: Definitely. I come from a very active family. My mom was one of those California tomboys bombing hills on a skateboard in the 1970s, so needless to say she paved the way for a very physical childhood. I did gymnastics and played soccer and tennis and would spend summers trying to become a mermaid at the neighborhood swimming pool. On family vacations we would hike, mountain bike or go snowboarding. I always associated being active with playing and having fun outside.
I/O: Are you a sports fan?
R: No, not at all. I was way too into books to keep up with teams and statistics.
I/O: What sports heroes do you remember from childhood?
R: I was young and impressionable during the golden age of women's sports and was inundated with empowering images of Mia Hamm, Lisa Anderson, Venus and Serena, Michelle Kwan, Monica Seles and so on. From a style standpoint, I was infatuated with Flo Jo, Gabby Reece, and the cool girls in the Roxy ads.
I/O: Do you ever feel intense emotions during your mind/body workouts?
R: Totally. Running is where I work through the muck in my mind. I have spent many a 10 miler with tears streaming down my face.
I/O: Favorite sports moments of the last 20 years?
R: That would have to be Brandi Chastain's World Cup winning penalty kick. That sports bra changed the world.
I/O: Do you have a mantra?
R: Do it for the ones who can't.
I/O: How would you define the relationship that New Yorkers have with the active lifestyle? Do you feel it always been this way?
R: I think New Yorkers' relationship with fitness is a troubled one. I was raised to think of sports and fitness as fun extracurriculars, a fun way to pass time in the great outdoors. I find that New Yorkers tend to use sports as a means to an end. They do it to stay fit, to maintain their bodies, and to beat back the persistent creep of age. For the most part it has nothing to do with enjoyment. Of course there are exceptions, like the basketball players who are out there everyday because they love it. But in general, I think of New Yorkers as gym rats, grinding away on cardio machines after work, which to me is sort of joyless.
I/O: Do you think that New York sportswear has had an impact on global style and fashion?
R: Oh absolutely! Run DMC wearing Adidas in the 80s forever changed fashion. Spike Lee's Do The Right Thing brought Air Jordans to the mainstream, Jay-Z made the Yankees hat more famous than a Yankee, and Aaliyah made Nike sexy.
I/O: What is your ideal performance garment or product?
R: Whatever it is, it needs to be technical. Lightweight, sweat-wicking, chafe-free, waterproof for the rain, reflective for night, cool for summer, warm for winter and with pockets for keys and cash.
I/O: Your favorite activewear brands?
R: Mostly Nike but I'm always open to being schooled.
I/O: What lifestyle rituals or routines do you do before or after working out?
R: I hydrate at least an hour before a workout and don't stretch until after my cool down.
I/O: What about beauty: the perfect hairstyle for training? Accessories? Products?
R: I almost always wear a quick-dry hat for outdoor sports to keep sweat and sun out of my eyes and I like the Apple Watch Nike+ to track workouts. I'm also obsessed with my Spibelt for when I need to bring my phone along.
I/O: What activities say New York the most?
R: Effective, efficient, high intensity indoor classes like spin, power yoga, circuit training, etc.
I/O: From street to studio, define your style.
R: To be honest, my street to studio style isn't that fluid. I'm usually wearing a complicated fashion situation on the street and then have to undergo a pretty serious athletic transformation when I get to the studio. There's no in-between for me.
I/O: What lifestyle trends do see happening?
R: I'm into any trend promoting long-term health goals, wellness, mindfulness and body confidence.
I/O: What activities have you recently discovered or want to try?
R: I would love to try martial arts.
I/O: Favorite studio and class?
R: Running solo is my all time fave but I also enjoy yoga at Narayana and Flywheel.
I/O: In the city that never sleeps where does mind/body training fit into your life?
R: It's really hard because to prioritize wellness means sacrificing something else. I usually chose to sacrifice sleep in order to wake up early and get some movement in before the day gets away from me. But it's also about being flexible and willing to compromise. Sometimes all I can fit in is 10 minutes of stretching and sun salutations and that's totally cool, too.
I/O: Have you ever traveled for wellness?
R: I think horseback riding in Mongolia for 3 weeks constitutes as a wellness trip, right? My life felt really out of control and overwhelming at the time so I decided to check out for a bit and nurture my soul. Not to mention riding horses is an insane workout. I've also climbed Machu Picchu and Mt. Olympus and trekked the Himalayas in Nepal.
I/O: If so, is it something you do on your own or with a friend, some friends?
R: Mongolia I needed to do on my own but I usually travel with my partner.
I/O: If you travel alone, are you likely to connect with some sort of community?
R: Yes, for sure. Safety in numbers!
I/O: When do you feel that you are part of a sports or wellness community?
R: Even though I grew up playing tons of team sports, I actually find exercising alone to be more nurturing at this stage though I do love hiking, surfing and snowboarding with friends.
I/O: What destinations are on your wish list (mind/body wellness)?
R: I honestly consider any trip to be a wellness trip because travel to me is the ultimate de-stressor.
I/O: What role does music play in your practice?
R: I have learned to run without music, but music just makes anything more fun. It definitely gives me an adrenaline boost. Linking BPM to running speed is next level.
I/O: Is working out and selfcare the new social/nightlife?
R: Self care lacks the sex appeal of nightlife but it's certainly becoming more mainstream.
I/O: How did sports of physical activities impact your eating habits?
R: I think from years of playing sports, I've always seen food as fuel for my body and I've always seen a connection between eating and performance. Several years ago I decided to commit to fueling my body with a vibrant and nutrient dense whole food plant based diet and have seen such a tremendous change in my energy levels, performance, mindfulness and peace and overall health.
I/O: Does challenging yourself physically take you out of your comfort zone in other areas of your life?
R: Absolutely. I think confidence on the court so-to-speak can translate into confidence in other areas of our lives.
I/O: How do you strive to find balance between different areas of your life?
R: It's a constant battle. I'm not going to lie, balance is the thing I probably struggle with most.
I/O: What does female empowerment mean to you? Do you feel that women go further together?
R: Without a doubt. Women must continue to come together to lift each other up, and to help lift up the voices of those who may not have had the same opportunities, privileges and platforms. It's only together that we'll all rise.
TIPS AND ADRESSES
1 tip to improve performance: Focus on the moment.
1 trainer: Leigh Evans, Narayana Integrative Center
1 power song: "Rise" by Solange Knowles
1 app: Headspace
1 podcast: Everything is Stories
1 blog/site: nutritionfacts.org
1 food: Ataulfo mangoes when they're in season
1 address: Souen on 6th Avenue
1 beverage: freshly cracked open coconut water
1 inspiration: "Sister Outsider" by Audre Lorde
1 woman we should interview: Michelle Cameron and Lisa DeTemple