Hailee Steinfeld has all the makings of a total diva: She’s 20 years old, a movie star, and a recording artist with some of the catchiest songs top-40 radio has seen this century. In reality, however, Steinfeld is quite the opposite. I know this because last week I got the chance to chat with her about of her new collaboration with affordable activewear brand Mission, a partnership that in and of itself speaks to Steinfeld’s down-to-earth nature.
I call Steinfeld on the phone, and even though we’ve never met before, we jump right into our conversation like old friends, swapping workout tips and cheat-day confessions. As we discuss her personal fitness and nutrition philosophy, her demeanor is relaxed and personable. I quickly learn that she’s not the type of celebrity to deliver a practiced account of her fancy one-on-one Pilates sessions. Instead, she tells me about working out with her dad, who’s a personal trainer, and how when she’s on the road and only has 15 minutes to work out, she’ll squeeze in a quick boxing session in her hotel room. “For me, it’s really always been a matter of being physically active, not so much working out,” she says. At 20, Steinfeld already has a remarkably balanced attitude toward fitness.
We can all learn a thing or two from Steinfeld’s admirably chill workout philosophy. Keep scrolling to learn her number one fitness tip, favorite cheat-day food, best body-positive advice, and more.
On her #1 fitness tip
BYRDIE: We love hearing about what other people are doing to stay fit and healthy. What does your current workout routine look like?
Hailee Steinfeld: My number one thing, considering my crazy, crazy schedule, is that I try to devote at least 15 minutes a day to getting some sort of physical activity in, whether it’s riding a bike, taking a walk, even just walking around in my backyard for 15 minutes—just something to get some fresh air and the blood pumping.
I also spend a lot of time dancing when I’m on the road touring or if I have a performance coming up and I’m in rehearsals. I have six eight-hour dance rehearsals and that’s where I get my workout in. Dance is definitely my workout of choice because I love the fact that it never really feels like I’m working out. Before I know it, hours have gone by, and I’m sweating and feel great.
On her least favorite type of workout
BYRDIE: Totally. I wish I were a better dancer. Did you always enjoy being so active? Are there any workouts you kind of hate?
HS: It’s funny—my dad is actually a personal fitness trainer, and I’ve definitely tried things with him where I’m like, “Okay, never again.”
BYRDIE: Oh, like what?
HS: There’s one thing we recently tried, where he brought some battle ropes—you know the battle ropes?
BYRDIE: I might have to look those up.
HS: You’ve definitely seen them before. I was like, “Dad, let’s get some of those; they seem awesome. I’m down.” And then I literally did it for maybe three minutes, and I was like, “I never want to see those things again in my life.” Then again, part of me kind of does because I want to totally nail it. We’ll try stuff all the time where I’m like, “I love that,” or, “I don’t love that.” The things I don’t necessarily love, it’s because they’re not easy, but that also makes me want to work harder so that I learn to like it, if that makes sense.
BYRDIE: Yeah, it’s like competition within yourself. That must have been so intense growing up with a personal trainer as a dad. Would he make you work out as a kid?
HS: Ha, no. Well, yes and no. I grew up playing sports and dancing, and for me, it’s really always been a matter of being physically active, not so much working out. Like I said, I prefer dance over running on the treadmill any day, or riding my bike around my neighborhood than being in a gym (even though that’s where I end up a lot of the times when I’m on the road). I’ve really never been about working out every day, especially with my dad, growing up. It’s always just been about being active and making it fun.
It’s a balance of moderation and discipline.
On her favorite cheat food
BYRDIE: What’s your current philosophy when it comes to nutrition?
HS: I’m getting more and more into that. I think as I get older, I can appreciate more of what I put into my body. I’m more aware of it. Especially, again, being on the road is such a hard way of living when it comes to nutrition because it will be super late at night, and you’ll realize hours have gone by and you haven’t eaten, and then there’s a drive-through, so you go through it. It’s hard. When I’m good, I just try to keep my diet very lean and simple.
BYRDIE: What about when you’re not being good?
HS: Oh, god. I have the biggest sweet tooth, which is really unfortunate when it comes to this conversation. But I have a hard time resisting a lot of the time. I don’t even have a specific favorite dessert—I just have a major sweet tooth.
On how to stay body positive
BYRDIE: Yeah, me too. We’ll worry about it later. In the meantime, how do you maintain such a positive attitude toward fitness and your body?
HS: I think for me, in order to stay positive, it’s all about taking it day by day and being kind to yourself. For starters, I get to spend most of my time doing what I love, so that makes me feel good about myself. And because of what I do, I’m moving around a lot; I’m staying active. But it’s also okay to want to change certain things about yourself. Some days I wake up and I’m like, “Okay, it’s literally been a week, and I haven’t worked out or moved or done anything.” But if that’s the case, then I’ll go run a mile or take a dance class or run on the beach or do something! It’s a balance of moderation and discipline. Giving yourself credit has a lot to do with it too—a lot of us have crazy schedules with school or work or whatever we have going on in our lives. It’s hard to give ourselves the credit that we need sometimes.
On her gym bag essentials
BYRDIE: That’s such a healthy outlook! Okay, switching gears. What’s in your gym bag right now?
HS: I have a lot of resistance bands. I have a jump rope. I have some boxing pads and gloves and a foam roller. That is so key. I just got a travel-size one, which comes in handy more than I ever thought it would.
BYRDIE: Are you into boxing?
HS: Yeah! My dad introduced me to it a couple of years ago. It’s something that I definitely enjoy. One thing I love about it is that you don’t necessarily need to be in a ring to do it. You don’t have to be in a gym; you can be anywhere just with gloves and the pads—or not even the pads. You can do it anywhere, and that’s perfect for me.
BYRDIE: Do you have any favorite workout outfits that make you feel extra confident?
HS: Oh yeah, having a fly workout outfit makes the workout so much better. It depends on the day, but I really do love Mission’s stuff. The sports bras are amazing, the sweats are super awesome, and the tank tops all have the cooling mechanism built into them, which makes you feel great, especially when you’re hot and sweaty. There are so many pieces, especially in the new collection, that I’m really in love with.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Shop Hailee’s favorite fitness gear below!
Steinfeld’s MO is to embrace the workout you can do anywhere, and boxing is one of her go-tos. These Everlast gloves are a cult classic.
Another of Steinfeld’s gym bag staples, resistance bands are the perfect versatile workout companion.
What’s better than a foam roller? A cute travel-size one. (Check out our handy guide on how to use one of these things.)
We love that Steinfeld partnered up with such an affordable activewear brand—find a bra that’s as chic, supportive, and budget-friendly as this one.
Steinfeld has been photographed in these sweats on multiple occasions. Pardon us while we order a pair for everyone on team Byrdie.
Want more celebrity exclusives? Check out our interview with Yara Shahidi, where she reveals her Iranian skincare secrets.