If ever there was a time to incorporate more mindfulness into our days, now would be it. As the founder of NYC-based Alise Collective, a wellness-focused brand building company, and co-founder of The Ness, a bounce and sculpt boutique fitness studio, Dria is leaning into the quietudes of our new normal.
From a distance, we chatted about her love for the trampoline and why she makes it a priority to bounce every day (good news, you can still stream online at www.thenessnyc.com), plus the daily rituals she relies on and her tips for staying focused while working from home
WHAT DOES WELLNESS MEAN TO YOU?
I feel like wellness is such an annoying buzzword, and seeing as I work in the industry I often have to take a step back to think about what it means to me. There's so much goodness behind the word when you strip it to its core and apply that individually rather than blindly following every "wellness" trend. Ultimately, for me, it's about being happy with myself. Anyone of us can obsessively do crazy workouts or take endless supplements but there's no magic pill, you have to be content for any of it to work. This also plays a role in what's going on with COVID and being quarantined. We're all being forced to sit with ourselves and as hard as that is, in some ways, it's also a luxury. Most of us are always on the go and as a result, we avoid facing our shit. I'm doing my best to embrace this quietude, to dig deep and to sit with myself because that's true wellness.
HOW ARE YOU ADJUSTING TO LIFE IN QUARANTINE?
I spent the first few weeks being hard on myself. Now, three weeks in, I’m getting the hang of it and trying to be a little easier on myself. If I sleep an extra 30 minutes or have a quiet mid-afternoon moment, it's not the end of the world. I'm viewing this period as the forced downtime I would never take for myself and trying to see it as an opportunity to momentarily slow down. That said, I’m still adjusting as it's a huge change from the 24/7 lifestyle I was so used to.
WHAT’S BEEN YOUR “NEW NORMAL” DAILY ROUTINE?
Initially, I struggled to find my "new normal," but I think I've finally hit a stride. I bookend my day with a workout and a walk. Starting with a sweat elevates my mood, creates immediate structure, and a sense of accomplishment - all of which is important, otherwise the days can tend to blur together. Then, I dive into work and calls before closing out my day with a long walk along the Hudson river, rain or shine. Getting fresh air and seeing the water creates a separation from my work, plus it brings me clarity and keeps me sane during these uncertain times. I generally end the day with a CBD elixir or a glass of wine to relax, plus a home-cooked healthy dinner. Before bed, I try to read until lights out.
LOVE RITUALS. WHAT ARE SOME MOMENTS YOU ARE INCORPORATING INTO YOUR DAYS?
I’m embracing small rituals that I took for granted in the past or was "too busy" to practice on a regular basis. Little things like going on a walk, lighting a candle, or making matcha are my feel-good go-tos.
I talk about matcha all the time as a little over a year ago, I found out I was allergic to coffee, not caffeine but the actual coffee bean. I was devastated because I LOVE coffee but decided it was a luxury to have this information, so I switched to matcha. After making the swap, I felt amazing and saw it as a testament to what investing in your health can do for you. Before COVID, I would walk to get my matcha every morning, as this was my ritual. Given our newfound circumstance, I've become quite the barista. It took a moment, but once I was able to create that same matcha sensation at home, I've felt much more grounded in my space - first I bounce, then matcha and then work. I love Golde and Chaiat matcha.
Overall, motivation is not the challenge. It’s the structure of the day that's the issue. I've been trying to differentiate the various parts of my day and strategically set up ZOOM calls with my team and clients so I'm forced to look appropriate and it keeps me accountable. Plus, it’s important not to work all night, so I’ve instituted work time to create personal/professional boundaries. I try to stick to fitness hours, working hours, dinner time, and nightly self-care time.
I've been enjoying lighting a candle at night. It's so simple but signals to my brain that it's time to relax after my walk. I like different ones depending on my mood but have recently been obsessed with Sunday Forever Tan Lines...it’s giving me a positive outlook toward summer.
Art of Relaxing:
Pre-quarantine I lived a non-stop, jam-packed life, even on the weekends. Before we went into self isolation, I wanted to slow down, and stop overscheduling myself but didn't know how. Funny enough, as life goes, here we are...with no plans. Post-quarantine, I want to take this learning with me...the art of relaxation, living in the present moment, prioritizing sleep and being kind to myself.
HOW DID YOU LAUNCH YOUR OWN BUSINESS?
I am really proud of what I have built and accomplished. It hasn’t always been easy and it still isn’t, but it feels good to see my efforts unfold in reality. I started Alise Collective about five years ago and since then it has evolved into more of a wellness company, as my interest in the space has expanded. At Alise, we look to build brands from a 360 POV through brand partnerships, influencer activations, PR and business development. A year ago, I co-founded a bounce and sculpt studio in Tribeca too!
SO COOL, WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PARTNER ON LAUNCHING THE NESS?
I've tried every fitness and meditation trend out there, and for years nothing fully resonated until I found the trampoline. Finally, it was something that challenged me both mentally and physically. It's a huge part of my overall self-care routine as it's not only a workout but it's also a meditation that forces me to be in the moment. It brings me mental clarity, plus the physical benefits are major -- from lymphatic drainage to increased metabolism to its lower impact on your body vs running.
My co-founders and I met on the trampoline which led to opening The Ness, an intimate, invite-only trampoline and sculpt studio in Tribeca that's light, bright and feels like a home away from home. We love the invite-only model as it immediately fosters a sense of community.
HOW ARE YOU JUMPING EVERY DAY IN QUARANTINE?
We launched digital with The Ness and are rolling out two new classes a week to our members. I got a trampoline from the studio and rearranged my living room so I could bounce every day.
Thankfully we have the most incredibly dedicated clients that have stuck by us and want to master every class from their living room. Also, our sculpt class is great for those without trampolines as you don't need any equipment. We now have live classes via zoom that have lent a huge sense of community. It also helps me with structure and accountability.
HOW ARE YOU GIVING BACK?
I’m on the board of Commit2Change, a non-profit that provides education to young orphan girls. It began in India but serves all over South Asia now. It was started by one of my dearest friends, a first-generation Indian American. Commit2Change takes a holistic approach to education by giving underprivileged girls (often called "throwaway girls"), a well-rounded education so they have the chance to choose their future. As little as $250 gives one girl an education plus room & board for a year.
Recently we started an awareness campaign around women's month to promote the power of womanhood and share what it means to be female. It was so powerful that we're extending it for another month. Now more than ever, people need positivity on Instagram. Also, it's a good reminder for us all, that as much as we feel "stuck" at home, the truth is we aren’t stuck. We are safe. To put things into perspective for us, these girls are neither home nor safe. Most of them would give the world to be safe at home with food. My goal is simple: to bring awareness to the issue, because even in times of hardship we're still privileged.
ANY ADVICE YOU CAN LEAVE US WITH?
We must take this time to build each other up and act as one another's support system amidst adversity.