Genny Wilkinson Priest, 49, is a former financial journalist and now director of yoga at triyoga. Originally from New York City, she now lives in North London with her husband, Andrew, and their four sons, Dante, 17, Roman, 15, Casper, 14 and Toby, 11.
I was a gymnast since the age of seven and trained at the USA Gymnastics Olympics camp. But at university I discovered boys and beer and they were way more fun than the training regimen of a gymnast.
When I was in my 20s it was the height of gym culture in Manhattan — I was doing daily long treadmill runs, step classes and playing squash.
In 2001, I was working at Reuters in Times Square when the World Trade Centre came down. I knew a lot of people in those buildings. In hindsight, it was hugely traumatic. But at the time, I was numbed by all that death. Yet I had to keep going. That’s when I discovered Ashtanga yoga. It’s very physical, and at the time, I wanted to push myself physically so I could feel something – I literally couldn’t really feel anything for months after 9/11.
I also do something called Mysore style self-practice, it’s a system of silent practice in a room with other people while a teacher makes physical adjustments – usually very early in the morning. I like the silence and the discipline, which back then gave me time to look inside and see who I really was.
My typical workout week
I wake up at 4.08am (that to me, seems a little less crazy than 4am) every day, make a cup of coffee and then practise yoga for around 90 minutes. Going so early before all my other commitments kick in allows me to cope with the rest of the day – the kids, my job, the stresses of everyday life. I don’t think I would be able to cope without the last 20 years of a daily yoga practice. During lockdown, I practice at home, or at our studio. On my non-yoga (non-lockdown) days I do spin classes at Psycle. Sometimes I run, but not very well (my kids laugh at me).
How I eat
I graduated from Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris wanting to be a chef (before I realised it wasn’t compatible with having a big family). The kids eat an enormous amount, so I am constantly cooking when I’m not at work. I don’t eat breakfast because I don’t have time, so more by accident than design I end up doing Intermittent Fasting. I eat a lot of fish and chicken but not much beef (it’s expensive and my food bills are astronomical) — and lots of vegetables.
What I eat in a typical day
Lunch: Tuna sandwich
Snack: A few squares of chocolate
Dinner: Home cooked and seasonal – for example, roast porchetta with sautéed courgette and smashed potatoes, Dover sole or aubergine parmigiana
Coffee: One when I wake up at 4.08am and one at work at 10am
Sleep: 5-6 hours. If I don’t practise yoga I find it difficult to sleep. I can’t sleep in now, ever. I just ping awake every day.
Alcohol: A glass of red wine a night, sometimes two. I love Chianti.
Energy secret: Handstands. It gets the blood pumping and energises me instantly.