Courtney Hope will tell you that she walks in other people’s shoes for a living. She even pretends to design their clothes too! Courtney portrays charismatic and fierce fashion designer, Sally Spectra, on the daytime soap opera The Young and the Restless You can also catch Courtney racing to repair a fracture in time before time quite literally expires as Beth Wilder in the video game and embedded TV show, Quantum Break. In addition to many other appearances in film, television and commercials, Courtney is also a leader as the Director of the Federal Bureau of Control fighting against the evil HISS as Jesse Faden in the renowned video game, Control, for which she just won Best Performer in a video game by the Game Critics at the New York Game Awards. Courtney Hope has quite an impressive body of work and she certainly also puts her own body to work because, in addition to her acting career, Courtney is also a certified personal trainer and accredited instructor in cardio barre, Pilates and Piloxing. Sitting down to talk with Courtney, it’s immediately clear to see how her passion for fitness has not only been a driving force in her own life, but has helped her connect with her fans, students and social media followers to build a strong community of support.
When did you realize that you had such a strong interest in fitness?
For as long as I can remember, being physically active has been a part of who I am. I began dancing at the age of three and went on to competitive dancing and touring with a dance troupe. In addition to my rigorous dance schedule, when I was seven years old I began tumbling and taking gymnastics. I realized early on in my life that I wanted to pursue a career in acting and held my mother to an earlier promise that she would get me an agent for my 12th birthday! Regardless of what path my career was taking, being physically active has always been a constant in my life. My fit lifestyle eventually triggered an insatiable thirst for knowledge, and I began to learn anything and everything I could about fitness. I am currently getting my nutrition license online from Cornell University and am always digging deeper into my wellness journey every day!
Did you have a fitness mentor or role model?
I would not say I had one person in particular as my role model, but I greatly admire people who are health conscious and who make their health and wellness a priority. I try to surround myself with people who are educated in a variety of health and fitness realms. It’s much like that old expression, “If you are the smartest person in the room, then you are in the wrong room.” I am always interested in learning more, as the human body and all of its potential fascinates me.
What advice would you offer someone just starting out in their fitness journey?
I frequently tell students that take my cardio barre classes that, “It’s easier to make an excuse than to make a plan.” It is easy to get overwhelmed when you don’t know where to start. Get informed help and plan your workouts and your nutrition and continue to take steps in the right direction. Consistency is the key! I also always recommend trying a variety of different workouts to find what you really enjoy. I am constantly trying new and different workout routines to avoid getting bored and to see how my body responds to new challenges.
What are some common fitness mistakes you’d caution people to avoid?
I think many people make the error of not listening to their body. Listening to what your body is telling you can help you avoid injury. Your fitness program, especially when you are just starting out, does not have to be drastic. This applies to your nutrition as well. Fad diets can wreak havoc on your health!
Do you have a workout buddy?
I think my years of dance have encouraged working out with others. I enjoy the social aspect of working out with my friends and often have different friends that I’ll meet up with for different classes (e.g. Pilates, yoga and spin). I also enjoy working out with my boyfriend, Chad Duell (who plays Michael Corinthos on the ABC soap, General Hospital), who is also an avid fitness enthusiast. Chad and I enjoy hiking as well. While I enjoy sharing my love of fitness with others in my life, at the end of the day I’m responsible for my own workouts and will make sure to make the time for them, with or without a workout partner. Over the past several years, I also began working out with a personal trainer two days a week.
How do you fit in your workouts with such a busy work schedule or when traveling?
On days when I’m going to be on set filming long hours or traveling, I pack a bag with a few hand weights and some resistance bands and I’ll take advantage of the Sweat app on my phone, so I can squeeze in some fitness virtually anywhere! On busy days, I’ll also fit in some activity by taking our three dogs: Stevie, Bentley and Bella, out for brisk walk before work.
Where is the strangest place you’ve ever worked out?
The craziest place I’ve ever worked out was at a hospital! I was hospitalized for several weeks when I was twenty-one for asthma and was going stir crazy. At around 3:00 a.m. during the second week, I had enough and got up out of my bed and started doing squats and push-ups on the bed. My heart rate monitor went off and a nurse ran in. I jumped back into bed and pretended I was sleeping. I am certain I didn’t fool the nurse for a minute!
Do you take a rest day?
I never used to, as I genuinely love how working out makes me feel, but a couple of years ago, after years of intense dance training and workouts caused some overuse injuries, I had tears in my labrum, piriformis syndrome, and my pelvis and sacrum were out of alignment. While undergoing physical therapy to address those issues, my activity was severely limited to short walks and a few stabilizing exercises that were recommended by my physical therapist. I was forced to reassess who I was without this integral part of my persona. I came to appreciate that listening to my body and taking a rest day was a vital and a necessary part of my overall wellbeing. They always say to practice what you preach, but after years of teaching and promoting this mantra, I was forced to adopt it for myself—thankfully!
What does your diet look like?
I found what works best for me, and that may not be what works best for everyone else. It’s important to find something that your body responds to and that you can live with for the long term. I am in the process of getting certified myself in nutrition. Because I have food allergies, I avoid dairy, wheat, gluten and eggs. I would describe my diet as mostly vegan and plant based with fish like salmon, bass, tuna and cod, mixed in. On rare occasions, I will also have turkey. I supplement my protein intake with Burton Nutrition Plant Based Vegan Protein for shakes and to mix with oats. Garbanzo beans, hemp, flax and sunflower seeds, as well as pine nuts, are also regular staples on my food shopping list, along with Brussel sprouts, asparagus, carrots, peppers, onions, sweet potatoes, avocados and rice cakes.
What would you consider a splurge or a treat?
One of my favorite splurges is sweet potato French fries! I also have a raging sweet tooth, so treat myself to one (occasionally two!) squares of Enjoy Life Vegan Dark Chocolate Bars.
What advice would you give your 18-year-old self?
I would tell myself to be kind to my body and that it’s okay to want to be healthy when everyone else is being a bit more carefree and enjoying their teen years. I never wanted to “party,” because I loved being fit, but I felt guilty about that because it caused a lot of anxiety for me. I would want 18-year-old Courtney to know that her intuition was right!
When was the last time you had a great laugh and what caused it?
I laugh all the time, so this question is difficult! I believe that laughter truly is the best medicine and being a child at heart is what keeps life fun! I make it a point to surround myself with the friends and family that enjoy life and being silly and light-hearted always seems to lead to many big laughs!
What’s next for you?
Life is constantly expanding for me. I have a peaked interest in a variety of areas surrounding heath, wellness, artistry, creativity and spirituality. I have some cool fitness projects coming up soon that I am excited for and more acting opportunities are always just around the corner! I just enjoy living life every day to the fullest and being open and ready for any and all new adventures!
Courtney’s drive and dedication shows up in both her work and her workouts, and yet she always makes the time to encourage and inspire her students and fans to find their own joy in fitness. Courtney may walk in other people’s shoes as an actress, but she clearly reaches for sneakers when she puts on her own!
You can follow Courtney Hope on Instagram and Twitter @thecourtneyhope and on her website at Courtney-hope.com
About the author: Charlene Bazarian is a fitness and weight loss success story after losing 96 pounds. She mixes her no-nonsense style of fitness advice with humor on her blog at Fbjfit.com and on Facebook at FBJ Fit.