ADRIANNE HO is a model, television personality, producer, writer, fashion designer, actress, entrepreneur, and social media star who has amassed over a million followers globally. Instead of dishing online about party scenes or touting the latest couture, she preaches what she practices – a lifestyle of high-intensity workouts, fab but functional clothing, and crazy healthy recipes.
Adrianne, help our readers get to know you – tell us about your background and some of your influences.
My immediate family members were are all born in different countries. My mother is French, born in France, and my father is Chinese, born in Hong Kong. They met and married in the UK, where my older sister was born; then they moved to Toronto, where I was born. Growing up, I was fortunate to spend time in Dijon, France, and Hong Kong, China. That gave me an appreciation for different cultures – and also for rich food! Toronto’s diversity shaped me, too. From a young age, we learned in school to accept and value other cultures. In class, we would have multicultural days where we all brought in food from our various backgrounds. I didn’t realize the significance of that until I travelled and spent time living in other countries. My growing-up experiences allowed me to adapt much faster and easier.
When and how did you begin your health and fitness journey?
I wasn’t conscious of health and fitness until I started modelling. Being a teen, I pretty much ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted, because as I’ve said, French and Chinese cuisines are essential to me, and part of my daily life! But the fashion industry has stringent measurement guidelines for modelling that I had to meet – especially once I graduated from University and decided to take the job more seriously. At first, it was a struggle because I had to change my entire lifestyle and my mindset. Physically I was becoming stronger from exercising every day, developing muscle, and building up my cardiovascular strength. I had cleaned up my diet by cutting out processed and fast food. Aside from those changes, I had to learn to protect myself emotionally and mentally. I saw firsthand how the industry can negatively affect women’s self-esteem and sense of self-worth. Although I wanted to do my best to fit in, I would do it on my terms, in a healthy way, even if that meant not being as thin as they wanted me to be.
Did that create problems? Did it make it harder to find work as a model?
My dedication to being healthy over “model skinny” definitely affected my modelling range, but that ended up being a good thing! Although not accepted for the runway at first, I created a niche for myself in fitness and activewear. My healthy, active lifestyle influenced my style and what I shared on social media and my website SweatTheStyle.com. Focusing on being healthy and fit opened so many doors for me, and like-minded clients and brands would book me for ME, not just hip measurements. Years later, I eventually found myself on the runway, but this time wearing sportswear. Years ago, this was not the norm, but sometimes you need to create and blaze your path.
Your new path moved you toward natural health, and eating organic, real food. Tell us how that affected your physical and emotional health.
I cleaned up my diet, started educating myself on nutrition, and became fascinated by how different foods affect my body. I found that once I cut out processed and fast food, I felt better than ever. My skin cleared up, I lost weight, and I also felt happier and more energetic. Think of it: we spend 24 hours of every day in our bodies. Everything we do and feel is experienced through our bodies. It only makes sense that the better you treat your body, the better you will feel.
You have been an inspiration to many. In Canada, you were voted one of OPtiMYz Top 100 Health and Fitness Influencers. Tell us more? Why do you think your work created such a following?
To answer that question, I have to go back to 2013, when I moved to New York. That’s when I began sharing my knowledge on various social media platforms and then through my new lifestyle site, Sweat the Style. My website was one of the first to feature health, wellness, fitness, and fashion. This unique combination attracted many health, wellness, and fitness advocates who were also fashion conscious.
Adrianne, you were one of the leaders in this category, please share more about your Sweat the Style brand and its products.
It grew out of the platform’s popularity. Sweat the Style opened doors for me beyond fashion modelling. In 2015, I launched the first active streetwear collection, Sweat Crew™, fusing technical performance with a high-fashion sensibility inspired by my lifestyle. It sold out globally in over 600 stores. A year later, in 2016, I made my foray into swimwear as the designer, face, and creative director of La Mer Noire for the Canadian retail chain, La Maison Simons. In 2017, I launched a partnership with Stance® as the face and designer of my own performance socks brand.
Then came media appearances, right?
Yes! In 2017, I hosted and executive produced my first television show and mobile app, Sweat the City with Adrianne Ho™ which premiered in Canada on OneTV.
The 10-episode season highlighted my search in Toronto, Los Angeles, and New York for a cross-blend of innovative workouts, unique foods, and inspiring fashion. In 2018, the show was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Cross-Platform Project, Non-Fiction.
So, what’s happening now, Adrianne? Has the pandemic disrupted your business?
Well, it’s interesting. In the last few years, I’ve been travelling and working considerably in Asia. I was in Seoul, shooting a campaign and making an Adidas appearance when COVID-19 first broke out. At that time, we knew nothing about this virus, but I was impressed by how calm everyone was in South Korea, and how they took precautions immediately. Life has taken a 180-degree turn now, of course. I’ve stopped travelling and been staying home in Los Angeles. Since I started my career, this has been the most prolonged period that I haven’t travelled.
What precautions did you take in 2020 since COVID-19?
I’ve been doing what’s been advised: maintaining social distance, washing my hands, and wearing a mask – which I have an anecdote about! When I was travelling to Asia a lot, about four years ago, I noticed how common it was to see someone wearing a surgical mask. When I asked people about it, they would usually say they felt like they had a cold coming on and wore it as a courtesy not to spread it to others. Or, if their immune system were feeling weak, they would wear a mask to avoid catching germs. Well, back then, I was flying from LA to Shanghai and back twice a month. With 15-hour flights, jet lag, and a busy schedule, I was getting sick almost every time I got home. So, I wore a mask every time I took a flight. When I did, I was able to maintain an intense travel schedule without getting sick. So, I learned, well before the pandemic that masks work!
What keeps you motivated during difficult times?
My daily workouts have kept me feeling productive, healthy, and sane. Even if I don’t feel like it, I do it every day. As I’ve grown into adulthood, I’ve realized that it’s essential to maintain a schedule. That was especially true during 2020 because when we were in quarantine, and you have no obligations that require leaving your house, it’s easy to fall into bad habits. Early on, I made a point of avoiding that.
How have your workouts changed since COVID-19?
In 2020, I did workouts via Zoom with my friends. This helped me maintain my connections. It also gives me the motivation to stick to that daily workout schedule I mentioned! I always advocate for having a workout buddy, pandemic, or not. We are so lucky to live in a time where we can maintain our connections through the internet. With all the health studies on stretching and movement, there is no excuse unless, physically, you’re not able to stick to a workout regimen.
Speaking of health and fitness, any new insights you can share to motivate our readers?
Interesting question! I feel like the way I’ve approached working out has changed since 2020. More than ever, I see it as a way to maintain my mental health. I find I’m not focusing as much on what workouts can do for my appearance – it’s more about maintaining a healthy outlook on life. Since COVID-19, I’ve become grateful to be healthy, to be able to move my body, and to breathe. As for what types of workouts I’m doing, I have a set of Kettlebells that I use almost every day. They provide an excellent full-body training while enhancing coordination and overall body consciousness. Because so many of the moves require balance and stabilization, it forces my mind to stay active and present. That’s a stress reliever. I’ve also turned to banded workouts and skipping rope. Bands are versatile for maintaining strength in various muscle groups, and skipping rope is a fast, easy way to get my cardio.
For a reader right now who is stuck and can’t seem to get in a workout rhythm, can you share where to begin?
Sure, the best thing to do is start in the morning, when it’s too early for you to talk yourself out of it. My workout buddy loves morning workouts, but if you’re unable to find one, look on YouTube or IG TV workout and follow along. I posted my workout with a trainer friend on my Instagram account, but there are many to choose from online. Then do it. You can start with a short amount of time first, like 15–20 minutes, but the key is to be consistent. Eventually, this time for yourself will become a habit, and you will be surprised by what a difference moving your body every day has on your mood, energy, and well-being.
How has staying home more effected your diet?
With more time at home and fewer trips to the grocery store, I’ve gotten back to the basics. I started baking bread from scratch at home and making healthy pizza, and it’s given me a new appreciation for bakers and chefs. I love getting fresh seasonal veggies and supporting small independent farmers and natural health stores that host markets. I find, one of the easiest ways to incorporate veggies into your diet is by roasting them, mostly winter root veggies, which help you stay warm and satisfied during the winter months. It’s easy to add whatever veggies are in season, such as brussels sprouts, carrots, parsnips, and sweet potatoes, then mix in a little garlic, sliced shallots, onion, and an excellent quality olive oil. You can also add herbs, like rosemary or thyme, to change the taste up. It takes a little preparation, but so worth it.
What did you do in 2020 to keep your mind busy and active?
I’ve been using the time to tackle projects I had started, but been too busy or distracted to finish. I always wished I could just hit pause on everything that was going on, and I’ve done my best to take advantage of the time.
Can you share one project you’ve completed?
I just finished a manuscript for a children’s book that I’ve wanted to write for years.
Congratulations! You must let us know about future progress on the book.
Tell us about your mood and morale boosters.
I keep the words “this will pass” close to my heart in the bad times – and the good times. I remind and repeat these words to myself to stay centered. Words are powerful, and this phrase keeps me from getting too upset when things aren’t going my way, but more importantly, it encourages me to never be idle when things are going well.
Do you incorporate dietary supplements in your diet? If so, what and why?
First, I take a multivitamin every day. It’s just one pill, which makes it easy for me to remember. I also love vitamin C. Increasing vitamin C has amazing effects on your skin. I feel like my skin generally looks fresher and younger when I’m consistent with taking vitamin C. Vitamin C is also great for my immune system. I also take digestive enzymes before any meal that may be heavy, oily, or high in dairy or gluten content. It helps my body break down these foods more efficiently.
Thanks, Adrianne! You’ve given us all a lot to think about! We love the example you’re setting with how you live your life, especially in these challenging, disrupted times. Your story also shows us that a wonderful career need not interfere with healthy living, creativity, and joy – in fact, it can be the link that makes all of these things coexist so beautifully. We’ll be watching to see what you do next!