Work It Out!

Tanika Ray leads a rigorous work life that includes hosting the Lifetime channel’s Head 2 Toe makeover show in Los Angeles and acting as a full-time New York-based special correspondent for the entertainment television program Extra. What keeps this former dancer mentally alert and physically charged is hitting the gym.

“About five years ago, an ex-boyfriend said I was [not a nice person] when I didn’t go to the gym,” Ray chuckles. “That’s when I realized that there was some truth to that; that going to the gym works out stress and releases pressure.”

Before her recent move to New York, Ray belonged to two gyms — Gold’s Gym and Rosalyn’s Dance Home and Swerve. She tries to work out at least five times a week for peak performance. “Whatever career you’re in, you’re going to be thrown curveballs,” says Ray. “However, whatever weapons you can come to the table with gives you an advantage. [Working out] is my secret weapon.”

John Wilkins, a personal trainer and group exercise instructor with more than 10 years of experience, whose costs vary depending on the gym and location, concurs with Ray’s take on the benefits of working out. “When I’m at work, I’m focused,” says Wilkins, 30. “Working out is the key to endurance, stamina, and mental awareness in the workplace.”

If you want to reap the rewards of working out, get pumped up on these tips:

Jump-start the day with exercise. “It gets your system going,” says Ray, who gets to the gym by 8 a.m. Her workouts consist of Pilates, metamorphosis (cross- training), sculpting, and stretching.

Find something you love to do and incorporate it into your workout. “If you’re having fun doing it, you’ll get better results,” says Ray. Since she loves the trapeze, Ray once took a circus class. If you fancy basketball, for example, head to the court to shoot some hoops.

Get a group going. Wilkins suggests starting a walking or aerobics program with friends. “It makes everyone accountable,” he explains. It also makes exercising a lot more fun when you’re sweating it out with people you like and who have the same goal in mind.

Invest in a personal trainer, health club, or gym. If you’re just starting out, seek out a trainer. “When I work with people, I set them up on a routine,” which provides a foundation for their future success, says Wilkins. Also, visit a nutritionist before you start a new routine since healthy eating plus physical activity is sure to help you.