It seems like every week or so the media introduces us to a new ‘fitness star’ instructor. Even for those inspired to keep up, it’s tough; and it’s even harder sometimes to separate who is truly inspiring from those who are virtually fabulous but a bit less so in real life.  As we are passionate about inspiring positive change and we’re all about authenticity at NoBubblegum, this week we’re excited to feature one of the most motivating game changers in the New York fitness scene today: Holly Rilinger.     

Photo credit: Matt Doyle.

After attending one of her powerful FlyWheel classes several weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting down and speaking with Holly about her journey in the fitness world, what inspires her most and some of her latest and upcoming projects.  As a former professional basketball player, a Nike Master Trainer and a Master Instructor at FlyWheel, Holly’s skills and athleticism are undeniable.  And, as anyone who’s ever taken a fitness class (or practiced a sport) knows, what separates a good coach from a great one is the ability to inspire and authentically connect.  This is something Holly does naturally; it’s immediately clear during her group classes that she genuinely cares about connecting with everyone in the room – which creates an empowering and even team-like atmosphere. 

Interestingly, when I asked Holly about her career, she quickly pointed out that she has difficulty describing what she does exactly because calling herself a “trainer” doesn’t seem to cover it. This sentiment totally resonated with me while listening to her speak, and even more so after attending Lifted, Holly’s newest fitness class, at Studio B last night.  For years as an indoor cycling instructor, Holly imagined applying the togetherness of ‘riding to the beat’ to another workout discipline, and when she began meditating regularly about a year ago, she was inspired to create a class that combines meditation and fitness, and that is all about “connecting with our breath.”

Holly Tire

Photo credit: Abbey Drucker.

Lifted is a 60-minute workout set to music that opens with a 5-minute meditation and is followed by a blend of HIIT cardio and strength-training.  About half way through the class, after a fairly intense section, there is another 5-minute meditation; connecting with your breath when you’re feeling fatigued (or are out of breath) is an interesting concept.  Perhaps it can enable us to find an even deeper sense of self-connection. All in all, Lifted felt refreshing and different; having a class that combines high intensity intervals and meditation is a brilliant concept and Holly delivers it in a way that’s empowering, challenging and fun.

Where It All Began = Dream Boards.  Holly is grateful to have had an intense and vivid imagination as a child.  As a 7-year-old, she covered her bedroom walls with posters of her heroes, including basketball legends Isiah Thomas and Michael Jordan.  “Little did I know, I was making a dream board,” she recalls.  “Somehow I knew at a very young age that one day I would play professional basketball.”  And thanks to her passion, talent and unrelenting persistence, Holly brought her dreams to life.

Photo credit: Matt Doyle.

A Born Self-Motivator + Finding Basketball. “My father always points out that I naturally knew how to inspire and motivate myself as a kid.”   As a seventh grader, Holly’s family moved three times, and she endured a particularly rough time in her childhood.  “I would literally talk myself through difficult periods,” she recalls. “Basketball became my safe place, where I knew I could be somebody. And, of course, when you’re good at something you gravitate toward it.”

Picking Herself Up After Basketball.  Even while knowing her career in basketball wouldn’t last forever, it was impossible for Holly to imagine life without it; so when, at 28, she sustained an injury and was forced to retire, it was absolutely devastating.  Soon after, she moved to Atlanta for a relationship that didn’t work out and fell into a pretty dark place.  “I began training others because it was what I knew, but I wasn’t immediately inspired by it,” she shares.  “I did this for three years and then fell into real estate, where I discovered right away there was no way I could spend my days doing something I don’t enjoy.” Even while sharing some of her heartbreaking experiences, Holly points out the positive.  “The upside during this dark period was that I found myself on the dance floor and this became an amazing outlet.”

Moving to New York + 2 Defining Moments.  Ten years ago, Holly moved to New York and continued to work in real estate for four years.  However, while her income was steadily rising, Holly was becoming increasingly depressed.  She eventually quit her job and found herself in a very dark place.  During our conversation, Holly referenced two awakening moments that inspired her to reconnect with her true self; one of these was during a Tony Robbin’s seminar, Unleash the Power Within, and the other was during a class taught by indoor cycling innovator and founder of The Zone (before SoulCycle and Flywheel existed), Marion Roaman.  These moments inspired Holly to reconnect with her leadership role as point guard.  She soon realized that her ability to self-motivate was a passion she could share with others in a powerful way.  (And she’s been doing it and loving it ever since.)

Holly classAn Exceptional Leader in the Fitness World.  Over the last six years, Holly Rilinger has established herself as a fitness instructor who is truly at the height of her game.  Beyond an impressive resume, Holly’s ability to uplift, connect, challenge and inspire clients is what makes her exceptional.  And, above all, she is no bullsh*t and this resonates in a clear and beautiful way. We look forward to following Holly’s journey and highly recommend checking out her classes, her upcoming book and other news. Stay connected through the links below.

  • Learn about Holly’s e-book The Joy Factor: here.
  • Book a spot at Lifted (in New York): here.
  • Click to connect with Holly on: Instagram + Facebook 

* Song For This Moment: “Let It Go” by James Bay.