How Fun Drives Deja Riley’s Days - and Workouts
Being well takes practice. We caught up with MIRROR Trainer, Dancer, lululemon Ambassador, and total powerhouse Deja Riley to talk at-home fitness, cheese pizza, and the art of feeling your best.
Deja Riley knows what it’s like to chase a feeling with everything you have. It’s what drove her to leave her career as a professional dancer - sharing the stage with artists like Beyonce - to follow her instincts.
“We all go through highs and lows when finding our way to our purpose” says Deja. “It was when I was living out my dream of dancing on major stages with huge celebrities and travelling the world that I felt my smallest and like I wasn’t enough. My heart is still with dance, and it always will be, but now I just do it in a different way that makes me feel good - mind, body, and soul.”
On MIRROR, her class blends her high energy and passion for fun, drawing crowds of digital followers to work out with her every day as home workouts continue to steal the spotlight.
“[For] many of us, it’s extremely hard to stay motivated,” says Deja.
“Since consistency is key in meeting your goals and getting the results you want, I always tell people that finding something you love will keep you going back to it and help you form healthy, sustainable habits. Fitness and being well is not a one-size-fits all experience, so finding what is right for you is so important to keep it fun and fresh.”
For Deja, keeping it fun means cheese pizza - her favourite. It means reading a lot and teaching classes in brightly coloured gear. Recently, it also means taking a break to play soft music and enjoy tea with her husband so they can reset, breathe, and meditate.
“Moving my body has always made me feel like my best self,” says Deja. “If I want to be able to use my body to the best of my ability, I also have to pour back into it other way.” To that end, she encourages people to find spaces where their individuality is celebrated. “You have to give yourself grace… you’re going to have moments of feeling down, but that just helps you appreciate the times you’re feeling up again.”
Home is a great place to start. To get set up, she recommends grabbing a yoga mat, water bottle, and a small square of space. “You have to find things that you love. I’ve got free weights. I think it’s one of the biggest upgrades to do stretch workouts somewhere other than the gym.” Reminder: lean into fun.
“Embrace what you love! You don’t need a bunch of equipment… you’ve got all the tools you need to be great. All you have to do is pull them out and use them, and day by day you’re going to progress and get better and better.”
She also recommends that before, during, and after you have moved your body, you take time to focus on gratitude. This practice of shifting her own mindset draws people to Deja (and her classes) like magnets. “I’m so grateful for the bad days, the good days, and everything in between. On a soul level, have an attitude of gratitude, and don’t worry about the rest. It means everything to me… to touch lives all over the world, virtually. I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.”
Deja’s Favourites for More Fun:
Favourites workouts to teach:
“Beginner dance cardio. I really love teaching people how to dance, especially people who don’t believe that they can. I always say, it’s never about how it looks, but about how it feels - and empowering people to find their own joy through dance is a great feeling.”
Favourite workout playlist:
“I always gravitate towards something that’s going to pump me up and boost my mood when the workout gets challenging, so I always add music by people who inspire me. I love to incorporate super-strong Black females, just like me. We’re getting some Beyonce, Ciara, a little Megan The Stallion. We’re getting some Normani, a touch of Tinashe, the list goes on! It’s definitely going to be all of my favourite divas of today, and then throwbacks like Aretha Franklin, and Supremes, then a little Diana Ross, and some Tina Turner. it’s going to be a good time.”
Favourite place in your home to workout:
“I always say, you only need just a little more than the space of a yoga mat to get a good workout in. I created a little workout nook in my apartment that’s perfect for me with my small collection of weights. It’s right by a window so as I’m working out I can take in the beautiful scenery. Other than that, you can find me dancing around all day long!”
Favourite post-workout ritual:
“Hydration is key. I make sure to drink lots and lots of water. I also love a post-workout smoothie. My favourite ingredients would be some sort of green (usually spinach), and to make it creamy, a little avocado. I love putting berries in, too. Blackberries, raspberries, blueberries for tons of antioxidants, and some sort of protein powder. Then I top it off with a little bit of either oat milk or almond milk.”