I’m so excited to introduce you to my girlfriend and fitness guru Maya Monza!! She is a kick ass SoulCycle instructor, girl boss/entrepreneur and has overcome A LOT mentally + physically to get to where she is now.
In this interview we dive into ALL the details. We discuss diet, pushing through struggle, staying on track, self-care tips and much more!
Maya has the best advice – enjoy! xx
Hi Miss Maya! Please, introduce yourself!
Shylah! Thank you so much for having me, I am so excited and a huge fan of your blog. For those of you who might not know me from San Diego State or SoulCycle, my name is Maya Monza. I am 24 years old, live in Pacific Beach, San Diego, and teach indoor cycling classes at the new SoulCycle in UTC, La Jolla. I graduated from San Diego State University in 2016 and studied Kinesiology.
What made you pursue a career as a spin instructor/entrepreneur rather than a career in the corporate world?
I never wanted to work a 9-5 and I was always into fitness and performing. It started as a love for dancing, gymnastics, cheerleading, and being in front of a camera. I would obsess over workout videos and learn the routines and perform them as a kid. I always loved being in the spotlight and would beg my photographer mom (@renodacampbellphoto) to take photos of me. I would lead my competitive cheerleading team in stretching and conditioning every week, and would take spin classes at the local gym whenever I could.
My first job was working at a gym when I was 14. I remember knowing at the age of 10 however that I wanted to become a personal trainer, own my own gym one day, and somehow incorporate fitness modeling.
What has been your biggest challenge in life and how did you overcome it?
In winter 2018, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. Living in New York City at the time, I was devastated to be so far away from her in San Luis Obispo. Her health has always been my number one concern.
I used to be so fearful about sharing my story and talking about less than perfect things in my life. Learning to embrace your story and show up ready to connect with people made me a much better instructor and helped me cope with my emotions throughout the process. I would show up to my classes in NYC mad at my mom’s doctors for not having answers, sad for the pain she was in, or frustrated that I couldn’t afford the time off. In those times I just had to focus my energy on the things that would help me get through it. SoulCycle, and the daily FaceTime with the fam always helped. It’s the relatable and real stuff that we all go through that connects us all.
I believe we all hit certain rock bottoms in our lives, but how we choose to build ourselves back afterwards is what really helps us get through things. I was being tested everyday. To fight for what I so badly worked hard for. So many people just give up or let the voices in their head take over. If there is one thing my mom taught me, it is how to be resilient and to go after what you want. I see so much of myself in her. Knowing that she was fighting the battle of her life… I knew I couldn’t keep her worrying about me. She is doing much better now! She is such a fighter, graceful and brave.
How do you manage stress and anxiety?
Being a full time fitness instructor is no joke. Taking care of my body and making sure that I can show up to work and give 110% is difficult at times.
Music is my stress relief. One of my favorite parts about the job is getting to create unique playlists for each of the classes. Many riders will double or triple on any given day, so creating new music content always helps me unwind. Listening to music also keeps me feeling grounded and present.
Type A: Maya would also like to say that organization is a huge way I reduce stress. If my room, car, house, kitchen, computer is messy I feel like my entire LIFE is messy. And trust me… I am not the neatest or cleanest person. I just love a good cleansweep of getting my S*!t together. Make a list and get it done- then there is no need to stress.
Biggest self-care tip?
Reward yourself! Self care is supposed to be enjoyable.
I light candles, plug in my essential oil diffuser, and run through my playlist as I go through my am/ pm routine. A few months ago I made a challenge with myself to stretch more. If I hit my stretching goals for 2 weeks straight I treated myself to a massage. I work well with positive reinforcement. I start to realize how enjoyable my routine is and therefore want to continue finding ways to take care of myself from the inside out. Self care is more important to me than most monetary things.
Your body is freaking goals… puh-lease tell us what your workouts looks like in a week!
You are so sweet, thank you. Since I’ve been back, I have mostly been teaching my 10 classes and a little bit of yoga here and there. I try my best to ride with my coworkers and other fitness instructor friends every few weeks.
This time last year I talked about how much I hated yoga. After I began to see a chiropractor weekly, he suggested I incorporate stretching & practicing yoga. I swear I started sipping the yoga Kool- Aid and noticed a HUGE difference. It helped me through a really tough time emotionally with all my moms surgeries.
Cocktail of choice?
I think it’s important to know, that you are a vegetarian. Can you tell us about that lifestyle and why you chose it?
I have been a vegetarian since I was 4 years old. My dad read me Charlotte’s Web and I realized if I loved animals as much as I did, I could never do anything to harm them. Even leather couches would weird me out as a kid.
Kids aren’t as naive as we think they are. Most can understand the concept of meat, but we become so desensitized to the violence. Seeing a hamburger as a product rather than an animal. I am proud to support vegetarianism for the environmental and health benefits… but for me, it’s always been about the animals.
Favorite Trader Joe’s product?
Love their lentil soup and mushroom risotto!
I would love to know what your typical day of eating looks like!
I usually start with chugging a glass of water as soon as I wake up. I am always dehydrated so starting my day with water I keep by my bed just helps me stay on track for the rest of the day. My first meal is usually small & quick before I teach. Oatmeal and almond milk, a piece of avo toast with tomatoes & mozzarella, or a bagel with cream cheese + avocado + lemon pepper are 3 of my go tos. I always start my day with some carbohydrates. It’s what my body runs on for immediate energy and it is what makes me happy to wake up to!
After I teach I try and get some protein. Hard boiled eggs or my favorite protein brand from Iconic Protein. I am obsessed with my new juicer so I bust it out whenever I have time mid day! I have been juicing fruits, veggies, and greens to get some extra nutrients in my body. I love snacking on citrus, berries, cheese sticks, trail mix. I try and get protein in wherever I can throughout the day with snacks.
I love sandwiches and salads for lunch. A midday pick me up usually involves browsing through my Imperfect Produce bowl and looking up a new recipe from pinterest.
Dinner is usually Chipotle or the closest thing I can make to Chipotle. I do a lot of build your own bowls with brown rice, black beans, roasted veggies, and sour cream and lettuce. But honestly, everyone who knows me knows that I eat Chipotle at least 3 days a week #maya4chipotle.
Other than SoulCycle, what is your favorite workout?
I love Pilates Plus La Jolla, Corepower Yoga, and F45 for circuit training. I want to start lifting weights more this year. I look forward to taking more of my friends classes at different studios up the coast as well.
Advice for staying on track?
You have to want it. You need to actually realize that you deserve to be happy and need to put in the work. So much of it comes down to knowing your own worth and realizing how value our health is.
What does your 2019 goals look like?
- Eat more plants
- Do more yoga
- Less worrying
- Create a website
- Start a business
- SPF & chug more water
- Travel (domestic & international!)
- Spend more time with my family!
Where can we find you?
Thank you so much Shylah! If anyone has any questions or is interested in connecting feel free to message me on Instagram and follow along on my spotify! 🙂
Hope to see you all around San Diego or in a SoulCycle class soon!
Check out Maya’s class schedule at SoulCycle here.