Sassy Gregson-Williams is anything but sassy! This sweetheart is a ballerina, professional trainer, cookbook author, and founder of Naturally Sassy — an online workout studio, recipe platform and app. We chatted with Sassy about what life has been like since she decided to shift her focus from being a professional dancer to work on Naturally Sassy, what she’s learned in the process, and what foods she can’t live without.
Downtown: How has your life changed since you started Naturally Sassy?
Sassy Gregson-Williams: Before Naturally Sassy I was training as a professional ballerina for eight plus hours every day. I was struggling with a recurring ankle injury and eating very little in order to stay in shape. My heath suffered, and with an injury that was keeping me from improving, I was depressed and very self critical. I may have looked the part but I felt terrible, lethargic and weak.
In the attempt to change my diet and eat nourishing food, I started getting creative in the kitchen, which turned into an undeniable passion for cooking. I loved food, and in turn began to appreciate and love my body in a way I hadn’t ever experienced.
Naturally Sassy launched as a blog and recipe platform, and as I gave up ballet to focus on my business full time I expanded to launch Ballet Blast by Sassy, a culmination of all I had learnt as a dancer and personal trainer.
Since the launch of Naturally Sassy 5 years ago, I look after my mind and body in a very different way. I eat intuitively and intentionally to fuel my performance in the studio and in my day-to-day life. I don’t workout to lose weight or to seek perfection, I work towards goals, skill, and strength.
Downtown: Why is important to you to keep the ballet vocabulary in your workouts?
SGW: The ballet vocabulary is in French and translates to the exact motion you’re performing. For example the term Plié means ‘to bend’ which describes the action we take. I feel it’s important to keep the ballet language present in the method, as many of the moves have stood the test of time with these titles.
Downtown: What’s the ideal length of a workout using the Naturally Sassy app?
In the online studio we have workouts from 10-20 minutes and mixes between 30-60 minutes. The individual shorter workouts are the best possible place to start when you’re trying to create a daily ritual you feel you can maintain. 15 minutes in the morning is nothing, but those 15 minutes over a week, a month, a year have a huge impact on your life. It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. To create maximum impact it’s all about consistency.
If you’ve already created that daily habit, I suggest following our 45 minute monthly mixes. I’ve designed a workout program for every day of the week.
Downtown: What was the most eye opening thing you learned about nutrition?
SGW: The importance of variety. We’re creatures of habit and tend to use the same fruits and vegetables in the meals we make. Just switching out a red pepper for a green pepper in a stir-fry adds different nutrients to your diet. If you already eat a healthy, balanced diet, looking to diversify the ingredients you use is a great way to step up the game.
Downtown: What workout excites you the most?
SGW: The planking prima workout is one of my favorites. It’s challenging to the core, and is a great marker of my improvement as I get stronger. The swan lake leg sculpt is a fun coordination challenge, and our express blast II has an exciting cardio element that I love.
Downtown: What have you learned about yourself in creating Naturally Sassy?
SGW: That seeing other women succeed and find confidence and grace through movement was what I was called to do. It’s one of the most rewarding feelings knowing the trickle effect movement can have on their lives. I learn something about myself with every client I train.
Downtown: What foods could you never live without?
SGW: I love my greens: broccoli, peas, edamame, and kale are my favorites. I love to sauté them with a little tamari and add lemon or a little garlic salt. Blueberries and blackberries are always frozen in my freezer. I love organic eggs and am obsessed with beyond meat burgers and sausages for a plant based protein treat.
Downtown: What are your favorite things to do in NYC?
SGW: New York has some absolutely fantastic restaurants. I love Benny’s Burritos, Caravan of Dreams, Blossom, Spring Natural Kitchen, Peacefood Café…the list goes on! I love going to see my best friend Indiana perform at New York City Ballet. Living in LA, I miss having a theatre close by.