Chill Chat

Why Cynthia Erivo Is Really, Really Into Running

The actor shares the rituals that keep her grounded.

Cynthia Erivo wears Gravity Sportswear from Omorpho during her workout routine.
Courtesy Omorpho

In Chill Chat, Bustle sits down with stars to chat about all things wellness, from their workout playlists to their most reliable self-care hacks. Here, Cynthia Erivo talks about the meditative benefits of exercise and her surprisingly involved morning routine.

Cynthia Erivo is not one to rest on her laurels. Since her breakout performance as Celie in The Color Purple won her a Tony in 2016, plus an Emmy and Grammy in 2017, the 34-year-old actor’s résumé has continued to pile high with noteworthy roles, from portraying monumental figures like Harriet Tubman and Aretha Franklin to landing the coveted part of Elphaba in the upcoming film adaptation of Wicked.

For Erivo, maintaining this kind of presence in her work requires sticking to a wellness routine. On top of a very intentional approach to self-care, she exercises nearly every single morning. Workouts are so important to her that she recently became a minority owner in fitness company Omorpho, which just launched its inaugural collection of microweight-loaded Gravity Sportswear (think ankle weights, but for your whole ‘fit).

The actor says the decision to partner came naturally. “There is a direct correlation to looking at yourself and thinking, ‘I look really good,’ and wanting to work out,” she tells Bustle. “Then knowing that the piece of clothing that you are wearing is also aiding the workout that you're getting — I thought that combination was a really special thing.”

True to form, you’ll find that same kind of deliberateness in many other facets of Erivo’s approach to wellness. Here, Erivo shares more about her holistic daily routine and how she avoids burnout.

What does your morning routine typically look like?

I take my dog for a long leisurely walk — half an hour or 45 minutes. When we get back, I give him some food, and he takes a nap immediately, because it's a workout for him. He's tiny.

Depending on the day, I can go for a really long or short run. I always feel strange when I don't do a workout. Even if it's a rest day, I try to find something that gets me moving so I give myself the endorphins I want to start the day. More than anything, it’s meditative. Running gives you a lot of time to listen to yourself, listen to your breathing, listen to your body, work with your body, and with whatever your body has to give.

After stretching, I grab water, which I drink ice cold. I use a BCAA, which is an amino acid powder without sugar, and a product that makes the water more hydrating. I'll put some electrolytes in there as well. Then I shower and get ready for the rest of the day.

Do you have a playlist that you listen to while you work out?

I always listen to a Nike Run Club guided run — sometimes with music in the background and other times without. When I do listen to music, I have a few different playlists that I can go to depending on how I feel. Some days I just want to hear Erykah Badu. Other days I want to hear Robert Glasper.

Do you have any wellness rituals that might surprise people?

People might be surprised how long I take to actually get ready. I give myself a facial most mornings. I take a really long shower because I like the way the water feels. I pick the clothes I want to wear the night before and I lay them out on my bed — I decide everything down to the underwear. That's part of my wellness as well, making the choice about how I feel that day.

Is there a go-to face mask or skincare product for that daily facial?

There's a really wonderful French brand called Tailika. They have an anti-aging face mask — I don't use it because it's anti-aging, I use it because it does everything. It's really hydrating, soothing, and purifying. I've been using Urban Skin RX’s vitamin C serum for years.

A lot of your work requires you to wear your heart on your sleeve. How do you avoid burnout?

I try to make sure that there’s time to take a break. I might not be able to have weeks of holiday off, but I decide how I spend my weekends — whether that’s with a person, or at home, or whether I go out and have something nice to eat, or take a long walk. It just depends. Sometimes we hand our weekends over to other people when we actually want to just be at home.

I'm always aware of what I actually want to do with my time. Whilst I'm working, I'm very present, but when I'm not, I'm really specific about how I use that time and how I relax. I incorporate self-care by allowing myself the choice to be with people and be very active, or not at all.

This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.