with ALEXA DEPASQUALE
Photos by: Annika Briggs
“Being strong physically empowers me to be strong mentally and that mental strength enables me to show up in my career with confidence, resilience, and power that I may not have had without my lifting background.”
was the subject line of the email from Alexa DePasquale waiting in my inbox at 2:52 PM on a Thursday. She had forwarded me a link to an article titled “The 4 phases of your menstrual cycle explained” (which I would highly recommended reading). There was no previous discussion between us about our menstrual cycles or questions regarding our periods, but we had just discussed that annoying female trait of fluctuating between 5-10 pounds for no apparent reason. We had finished the “Endurance Round” of our interview the night before, and I texted her immediately afterwards praising her for putting to words what I had been feeling. She responded immediately with “Awwww. girl I will be your hype bae everyday.”
This type of unexpected, honest and thoughtful gesture is a defining feature of Alexa. I’ve only known Alexa for the past couple of months, but in that short period of time, I don’t think there is anyone she couldn’t be a hype bae for - she just has that amazing New York City energy.
Alexa came into the WOLAfam through a charity run event a couple of years ago. We quickly realized she was a force not to be reckoned with. She’d walk up to a pull up bar without a blink. She’d hold boat pose during hot yoga longer than the rest of us. Oh - and she was recently named one of the 35 rising stars of Madison Avenue by Business Insider. As an SVP of Innovation at Grey Group - a powerhouse in the marketing and advertising industry - she’s managed to impressively balance her commitment to an active lifestyle and her personal career growth.
We wanted to feature Alexa on ACTIVE RECOVERY because she’s experienced an athletic journey that has taken her from professional dancing to setting a New York State Bench Record, with a lot of failures in between. But in true athlete form, she’s managed to use the failures she’s endured in her physical pursuit as a catalyst in her career path - and her emotional well-being.
WE START OUR INTERVIEWS LIKE WE DO OUR WORKOUT, WITH A WARM-UP.
My active Way of Life is evolving - - - I’ve dabbled in everything from dance and team sports to powerlifting, bodybuilding, Crossfit, and more. Trying all types of training keeps things interesting and brings me joy.
What time do you wake up in the morning? 5:15am - 5:30am most often, but there are those 7:30am mornings because after all, I’m human and feeling tired is a real thing.
What gets you out of bed in the morning? A gratitude journal to help craft my day and prime my mind for success. And collagen coffee.
Do you have any routines? And if so, what is your favorite? My workout routines are important and I prioritize hitting a lift or a sweat sesh at least 4-5x a week, but my favorite routine of all is my skincare regimen. I have a protocol for morning and evening, and if I don’t complete it, I feel incomplete as a person.
In the morning you can find me at the gym followed by packing my daily meals while listening to podcasts or playing music.
At night you can find me writing reflections on my day, catching up on TV shows or reading a book.
Best workout you’ve ever had? There are way too many spots to choose from, but the two principles I live by that define my “best” are usually:
1. Strength/resistance training based workouts
2. Workouts that I walk away from saying “I’m glad I did that”
What’s a goal you would set for yourself tomorrow? Be a little better than yesterday. Each evening I write down ways I could have improved upon my day in order to rein myself to take those micro changes and implement them for tomorrow. Over time that creates significant change.
What was your last “epiphany” or moment of realizing something impactful to you? Reading the book Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. It reaffirmed the importance of emotional intelligence, creating relationships, the power of listening and being in connection with others. I have been focused on the higher level aspects of life as of late, and I was reminded WHY the way we show up in the world is so crucial to our happiness and success.
What’s one way you like to care for yourself? Have breakfast for dinner, a glass of wine, put on a face mask and watch a favorite movie (#weddingcrashers)
NOW FOR THE ENDURANCE ROUND - LET’S GET PERSONAL.
WOLACO WOMEN: Journaling is the way you start and end your day. Has writing always been a hobby?
Alexa DePasquale: I started using the Five Minute Journal to get into a habit of writing down 3 things I’m grateful for and mantras for my day. I find that I’m more likely to complete tasks or accomplish goals if I write them down, but writing in general has not been a hobby per say. Writing is a very important skill to have and I worked hard in college and business to hone my skills, but I don’t write as much as I’d like for extracurricular purposes.
“soft abs and thicker thighs does not change my personality or character, so keeping that inner self solid is my bigger focus, and crafting my physique comes along with it.”
WW: I admire that you define your active way of life as “evolving.” Between being a dancer, a bodybuilder and a powerlifter, you’ve run the fitness gamut. I can imagine that your body has had to go through significant changes to accommodate each discipline. How did this experience impact how you feel about body image?
AD: I, like many other female athletes, have their good days and bad days when it comes to body image. I’ve been an athlete my entire life, so I’ve always had broad shoulders, powerful legs, and an overall athletic build. My nickname on the lacrosse field was WHEELS ha! My relationship with my body image ebbs and flows, but what I’ve found most helpful is embracing what I’m capable of doing and being grateful for where I currently am. More importantly, over the years I’ve recognized that an extra 5-10lbs, soft abs and thicker thighs does not change my personality or character, so keeping that inner self solid is my bigger focus, and crafting my physique comes along with it.
WW: It seems like you’re an early riser. Do you feel like waking up early is crucial to leading a successful life? Also, if 7:30 AM is waking up late, what time is bed time?
AD: I think what is most crucial is learning how YOU operate most effectively and leaning into that. Everyone is different and some people work better in the morning versus the evening. I personally perform better in the mornings and very quickly start fading at night, so I know that if I want to set up my day, get a good workout in, and be most productive at work, I’m better off waking up early. I’m also someone who needs at least 7 hours of sleep every night to function properly, so I try to stick to 10pm bedtime.
WW: You’re obviously a badass in your career. Do you think living an active lifestyle has been a catalyst to your career achievements? If so, in what way?
AD: 100% yes! I’m a firm believer that being an athlete outside of the office enables you to be an athlete inside of the office. Being strong physically empowers me to be strong mentally and that mental strength enables me to show up in my career with confidence, resilience, and power that I may not have had without my lifting background. As athletes, we’re also used to being part of a team, which lends itself well to collaboration in the workplace. Also, athletes are more comfortable with failure. We miss squat reps. We miss the goalpost. We finish seconds behind our competitor. We embrace failure more than most and are able to get back up despite setbacks, which is a key component of creating growth in one’s career.
WW: How have you managed to consistently prioritize a healthy lifestyle while also staying extremely committed to your work? Was there ever a time you felt you had to compromise your commitment to your health to stay ahead in your job?
AD: I do my absolute best to stay committed to a healthy lifestyle. To me, a lifestyle is made up of mini moments, consistently performed over time, that compound to make a greater impact. Am I 100% perfect, 365 days a year? No. Do I have off days where I eat more than I should, deviate from a strict diet plan, etc? Yes. There are definitely times I’ve missed workout sessions to prioritize work, or eat outside of plan when I’m with clients, but on average, I’ve made it very clear to my team that health and wellness is a passionate point for me, and everyone is very respectful of that. Staying committed to my health and wellbeing enables me to stay ahead in my job, so it’s definitely a priority.
“Yes. There are definitely times I’ve missed workout sessions to prioritize work, or eat outside of plan when I’m with clients, but on average, I’ve made it very clear to my team that health and wellness is a passionate point for me”
WW: The book Never Split the Difference is about negotiations, but for you, it “reaffirmed the importance of emotional intelligence, creating relationships, the power of listening and being in connection with others.” What advice from this book really stood out to you?
AD: I think I have easily brought this book up in conversation over 55 times in 2019. It’s amazing and well worth the read. A few things that stood out to me:
Being an active listener - negotiations are conversations, and in order to perform successfully you have to gather information, which requires listening attentively.
The power of empathy - demonstrating empathy can create deeper connections with people, but it requires us to read between the lines to get at the emotions behind statements. That’s why honing our EQ skills are so crucial.
“No” is powerful AF - We’re often programmed to look at “No” as a negative and a form of rejection, but really, it’s the start of being able to clarify what you (or another person) does not want, and takes people out of defense mode, which fosters better conversation.
WW: How has life surprised you? Or, conversely, how has it stayed on the path you have planned for yourself?
AD: Over the years I’ve started to realize how small the world really is, and how often serendipity occurs. I look back and so many of the people I’ve met or things I’ve done have charted a path toward where I am today, and I didn’t even realize it. It has made me appreciate everyone I meet and every experience I have because you never know when that connection or experience will intertwine with another aspect in your life. Just an example - - - I’m part of the WOLACO family because I met Nick and Terry at a random charity run event and now we’re here, and I can’t imagine my fitfam without the WOLACO community.
WW: You’ve accomplished several different athletic feats from setting a New York State bench record to completing a decathlon in honor of your friend who passed away from osteosarcoma. Looking back on your athletic resume, what are you most proud of you?
AD: This is a great question because there are so many different things I’m proud of for different reasons, but I think pulling a 297# deadlift at the USAPL American Open in 2014 and placing 4th in my weight class was pretty cool. I had been battling an injury and tweaked my back 2 weeks prior to the meet and that was definitely a moment where I exercised the ‘mind over matter’ principle and turned on the game time mindset to do what needed to be done. I think that was a pivotal moment where I recognized the power of the mind and how I could utilize that super power in work and life.
BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S A QUICK COOL DOWN.
WW: What is one micro-change that you’ve taken on and that you think anyone reading this could benefit from implementing into their life for a better tomorrow?
AD: Gratitude journaling! It really does shift your mindset so that you’re looking at the world through a more positive, thankful lens and that can make all the difference. Sometimes it can feel daunting to get started, and people aren’t sure what to write, but just find mini moments that bring you joy and jot them down. Some days I’ll write bigger things like “I’m grateful for the support of my family and friends or for my health,” and other days it may be smaller like “I’m grateful for perfectly frothed milk in my coffee or finding a missing lip gloss in my pocket.”
Interview by: Linley Shaw