How do elite Spartans optimize their days? When do they wake up and go to sleep, what do they eat, how do they train, how do they stay centered, and how do they balance life and work? We've been asking these questions for years, and now we have the answers. In Spartan Day in the Life, our highest-performing athletes and coaches share the daily routines that make them unbreakable.
In the age of the full-blast “metcon” workout, the renowned strength coach and prolific author Dan John once wrote the following:
“Every workout doesn’t have to be armageddon.”
Spartan Master Coach Monique Berarducci owns and operates Ready Set Mo, a coaching business based in New York City. She’s now a living example of Johns’ line of thinking, both in how she approaches her own health and fitness as well as her clients'.
Beginning a New Journey
“Every day, I spend time thinking about questions like: What do I need? What do my clients need," Berarducci says. "One thing I know is that wellness is NOT about smashing yourself with as much cardio as you can squeeze into a day.”
Berarducci, who was a middle-distance runner as a college track athlete, went through her own personal firestorm before embracing a more wide-angled approach to wellness.
“The pandemic forced a reckoning,” she says.
The FIT app coach recounts how — throughout the previous seven years — she started many days in the pre-dawn, teaching seemingly countless SoulCycle classes. She was left chronically exhausted.
“I was tired all of the time,” she says. “I was getting older. My clients were getting older. I thought to myself, ‘Man. I should really be able to do a plank. Can I even do a squat?'”
“I also went and got a certification in breathwork,” she adds.
The New York City trainer knew there were risks in retargeting her business, like clients that might not want to let go of daily high-octane bike workouts.
“The transition has been wild,” Berarducci says. "I had to do some convincing with my people about why they should come on this journey with me.”
The New Day in the Life of Monique Berarducci
Berarducci, who lives in Brooklyn, would have traditionally started her day at 4:30 in the morning. After making the considerable trip upstate to Westchester, her day would hinge on teaching and riding in a series of indoor cycling workouts. And as an entrepreneur, she was also attending to her own business, and the myriad of stresses compounding over time took a dramatic toll.
Things came to a head when the pandemic hit, gyms started shutting down, and she began teaching bike classes outside. June 2020 brought summer heat, and Berarducci says she wasn’t drinking enough water.
Predisposed to trouble because of a cyst on her kidney, she suffered two kidney infections that year.
“I went to the hospital two times,” she says.
This turning point caused Berarducci to leave Soulcycle and focus on operating Ready Set Mo full time.
Now, each day can be different depending on her class schedule and one-on-one sessions. Here's a breakdown of how the coach tackles her new approach to training on a daily basis — both for herself and her clients.
8 a.m.: Waking up the Body, Breath, and Mind
A typical day might start with Berarducci teaching a class virtually called Manifest and Move. It starts with a full-body workout and finishes with 30 minutes of breathwork.
Inspired by the psychological effects that the pandemic has had on her clients, Berarducci integrates mindset work to help them get (and stay) on a positive path.
“A lot of people aren’t in the best shape of their lives,” she says. “People are having a hard time getting motivated.”
One of her classes, a half-hour session called Morning Mindset, is designed to help clients get the right vibes going first thing in the day.
Midday: Checking in With Clients
Berarducci will usually then spend a portion of her day checking log entries from her clients. Here' she'll look for anything that might be tripping up or slowing down an athlete in their pursuit of a specific goal.
“I have them track things like sleep, hydration, and nutrition,” she says.
It’s not uncommon that a client wanting to lose weight will blame a lack of progress on missing a workout. But the logs will tell the story, Berarducci says.
“I can look and see where the problem is," she explains. "A person who wants to lose weight but is struggling typically gets six hours of sleep one night, then five hours the next ,and so on. Well, It’s not that you didn’t get your workout in today, it’s that you aren’t getting enough sleep, you’re drinking coffee all morning, and you eat like crap.”
This is why the NYC coach finds it so crucial to talk about the big picture with her clients on a daily basis.
“It’s definitely been, for me, a big change," Berarducci says. "I’ve had to completely restructure things so that I can really preach sleep, water, nutrition, mindset — how important it all is.”
That is, of course, not to mention strength training.
No-Fear Strength Training
Within the workouts, Coach Berarducci includes strength training as part of her revitalized approach.
“We come from this methodology where one to two hours of cardio is considered ideal,” she explains.
Berarducci now seeks counterbalances, as she does in a 10 a.m. Total Body workout that she coaches.
“We start with breathing, then do half an hour of core work, before we head out for a 30-minute run,” she says.
The inclusion of strength work was inspired by what her clients were missing and needing, as it can often be challenging to get cardio-based athletes to pick up weights, she says.
“There’s the worry that strength training will cause you to bulk up," Berarducci explains. "It’s not just women who worry about this. It’s also the guys.”
She spends time convincing certain runner-types that the strength training she includes — like five sets of 10 pushups spread through a 50-minute workout — is not a "bulk-building" activity. In fact, for those wanting to lose fat, the lean muscle gains will be a boon.
“More muscle on your body is going to burn more fat," she says. "This is just one thing strength training can do for you.”
While in the past, Berarducci might have ground through three or more indoor bike workouts per day, she now follows a golden rule of her own: Listening to her body.
“I may do two workouts in a day now," she says. "But if there is no energy, I don’t try to create it. I don’t savagely swift-kick myself into action.”
“I keep a certain amount of hours open in the afternoon for creative time," the Master Coach says. "I want to understand what I need and what my people need — what makes sense. I purposely do not fill the time with nonsense.”
It was this kind of thinking that led Berarducci to incorporate more strength work.
Finishing the Day With a Simple Sleep Ritual
In the early evening, Berarducci may spend time communicating with clients, but things come to a hard stop at 9 p.m. and she shifts her focus toward getting a good night of deep sleep.
When asked if she practices sleep hygiene, she says she does a series of simple but potent things.
“I believe firmly in stop times,” she says. “I tell everyone, don’t text or call me after 9 p.m. It’s done, it’s over. I’m done texting and I’m done talking.”
Then it’s a ritual of basics.
“I wash my face, brush my teeth, and reach for a novel,” Berarducci shares.
And by a novel, she means an old-media novel made of paper, as opposed to an e-reader. By turning off the screens and picking up a good read from her stack of books, she avoids the bright, blue light that can disrupt circadian rhythms and spur negative health effects that are associated with poor sleep.
The investment pays off for both Berarducci and those she works with. When the coach starts the next day, she’s got even more to give.