Cynthia Erivo Exercises Every Day for Her Mental Health and Doesn't Set Goals: 'I Like My Body'
Cynthia Erivo started focusing on fitness at the age of 15, and remaining active has become "a part of who I am."
Her goal? She doesn't have one. Unlike most, setting goals for herself isn't something Erivo sees a need for.
"I like my body as it is and I workout to make sure that it's taken care of both inside and out. Really, there are no particular goals," the actress and singer, 34, tells PEOPLE. "It's just to maintain what I have already and keep bettering it."
Speaking exclusively with PEOPLE, the Harriet star opened up about making fitness a natural part of her daily routine. For Erivo, working out each day is something that she feels is a necessity — starting each day with either a guided run or core workout, referring to it as "the best way" to prepare for the day and be more in tune with herself.
"I find it meditative," she says. "I think it allows me to sort of focus on myself, my breathing, my mind, my body."
Erivo continues, "It also gives me the space to sort of go inward and think about things, work through things, process things, meditate a little bit. And so I think that for me, it is helpful in making sure that my mind is always clear and balanced."
The Tony, Grammy, and daytime Emmy award winner — who was recently tapped to star as Elphaba in the film adaptation of Broadway musical Wicked — says staying healthy and fit has also allowed her to continue to do the work that she loves.
"I think that the fitter I am, the easier it is to do the things I need to do. When you're a singer, you need your lungs, you need your diaphragm, and working out just makes sure that those things are strong and ready to be used," Erivo shares, acknowledging the difficulties that can come with her busy career.
"I try to workout every morning and if I don't get it in the morning, I try to do it at night," she adds. "It's something that I know that I need for myself so I just make the effort. It's not always easy when you're traveling lots, but you just figure it out."
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The "Stand Up" singer typically likes to work out alone but has no problem sharing her simple but effective day-to-day routine.
As a fashion connoisseur, the first thing Erivo does before any workout is choose her outfit, coordinating everything from her hat to her shoes. That's why the two-time Oscar nominee recently partnered with sports and fitness company Omorpho, which launched its new Gravity Sportswear that incorporates weights and resistance within the designs of its apparel.
"They create pieces of clothing that allow you to sort of face weight work head on, but still feel good, still look good," she says. "And as someone who likes fashion, who does pick out the clothes that she wears to work out, I think it's kind of awesome."
Though she's not a big fan of workout rituals, after picking her outfit, Erivo says she can't begin without grabbing her ice cold water and choosing her "easy" playlist — ranging from Erykah Badu and Jill Scott to Yebba and Beyoncé, depending on her mood.
"I never listen to music that has the same beat as my running because I don't want to end up speeding up when I don't need to speed up or slowing down when I don't need to slow down," she says.
Once Erivo sets the tone for her workout, she keeps things simple with one of her favorites, either a long-distance run or putting in time on the spin bike. Regardless of the actual workout for the day, the actress says she's happy with the results.
"The one thing that happens after you work out is that you get sort of a rush of endorphins and those things help to alleviate stress and they make you happier," she says. "So, I think that it's a knock on effect of working out that, essentially, my life is happier because I'm working out."
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Though Erivo's fitness journey has been years in the making and she has a good grasp on being consistent, she tells PEOPLE that it's always been something she's had to work for.
"You have to grow into it. As you keep doing something, you hit plateaus and you have to move forward and try something new to sort of make the body work harder," Erivo explains.
She also urges those who are in the early stages of their journey to focus on not being too hard on themselves, noting that the "little achievements are something to be celebrated."
"If you manage to get through five minutes of a workout or 10 minutes of workout when you haven't been able to get through one minute of a workout before, that's an achievement," she explains. "Celebrate the small achievements, the small goals so that you can move on to the big ones. Find things to be good to yourself about."
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