Stepping into the LIFTED studio in East Hampton, I anticipated a conventional gym scene—what greeted me was anything but. Imagine a fusion of an amphitheater and a nightclub pulsating with vitality. At the center, Holly Rilinger, a force to be reckoned with, orchestrates the show. Her background is as multifaceted as the workout she leads: a collegiate top recruit, a pro athlete, an author, and a Nike Master Trainer, not to mention her roots as the pioneering instructor at Flywheel, now the home of LIFTED.
This is more than a gym; it’s a wellness destination where high energy meets a surprisingly relaxed atmosphere. Holly radiates energy and instructions—along with a pretty hype playlist that sets the tone. Did I mention that there were some really cute chihuahuas running around?
My workout was challenging and not overwhelming despite my being notably out of shape. Upper body and lower body, and I didn’t have to do any bench pressing or standing around waiting to use a machine. The pacing kept moving between sets, but I never felt like I was way behind everyone else. For beginners, like me, LIFTED is offering a $25.00 introductory class bonus – that is probably the best deal in the Hamptons.
As a leader, Holly has an encouraging tenacity that motivates without theatrics and pressure. During the Sunday morning beginners class anyway, I’m sure she applies different tactics with different classes. I appreciated watching how she modified her instructions per student, offering helpful modifications and body correction.
An inviting and nonjudgmental space (with no bright lighting) is critical to me as a novice to group workouts and strength training in general. Everyone in the class was friendly, and there was an announcement about a Happy Hour event for people to meet outside of the class. Building a fitness community is really important to sustain a commitment to wellness over time.
During our final meditation, Holly brought the group back down, focusing our energy and attention on our bodies and how our minds were “Clearer, Stronger, Happier” than when the workout started.
After attending a Sunday morning workout, I interviewed Holly about her unique approach to strength, fitness, and LIFTED. Check out our interview with Holly Rilinger below:
How did you find your way out East? / What is your view of the fitness community/culture in the Hamptons?
I started coming out east 15 years ago and taught spin at Ride The Zone in East Hampton! That was the first time I had ever taught group fitness. After a few years, I moved over to Flywheel as a founding instructor. We opened a FLYWHEEL studio first in Sag Harbor and then took over the Zone Hampton Studio, which is now MY LIFTED studio!
As a coach, how to bring the workout skills outside of the studio?
As a pro athlete, one of the greatest skills I learned along the way was regulating my central nervous system and the EXECUTE. For example, I breathe my way to a place where I can hit a game-winning free throw. At LIFTED we work on doing that every class. Over the course of a day there are plenty of moments where we have a choice to REACT or pull it together and execute.
What is the origin of “Clearer. Stronger. Happier.”?
As an athlete, the game of basketball and training for basketball was always about pulling the physical and mental together. If you fail to train to be mentally tough, you will lose. If you fail to train, be physically strong and conditioned, you will lose. When you bring the two together, Magic happens. That’s where the “happier” fits in! After every class, we hope that you feel Clearer. Stronger. Happier.
Who have been your inspirations as an instructor, and what sparked your passion for the work?
I grew up an athlete with a very clear vision > GO PRO. At 5’4, I had every odd stacked against me. My inspiration has always been the coaches who made me love the sport more and become a better player. My parents are also my inspiration because of their unwavering support. Having a great coach and a great support system are keys to reaching your biggest goals.
Basketball was my passion for 28 years of my life. I couldn’t imagine finding anything that I would love as much as I loved the sport. Here I am two decades after my playing days ended, and I am MORE passionate about teaching others the things I learned on that court. I love coaching. I love showing people how they can live a long and healthy life full of joy.
Can you talk about the LIFTED Method?
Over the years, I have been frustrated with strength class offerings in boutique fitness. I decided to run classes more like personal training sessions, which means smart programming and form FIRST. We start off each class with a short meditation because that is the way I succeeded as an athlete. We move to mobility and activation and then, depending on the class type – strength exercises for that class type. It was important to me that in each class, there was a moment where you hit your PEAK effort. This is called “10/10,” where you will work harder than you think you can for up to 2 min. Immediately after, we sit down and meditate for the second time. THAT is the key moment in class where you take yourself from chaos to calm.
What kinds of classes do you have this winter?
We offer a variety of classes at LIFTED, which make it possible to train every day if you choose to do so. We have STRENGTH classes that focus on heavy weights and lower reps, HIIT classes that focus on lighter weights and higher reps, and METCON (metabolic conditioning), which is basically cardio weight training. We incorporate dumbbells and kettlebells in all classes and some fun modalities like med balls and battling ropes in METCON.
What’s coming up from LIFTED this year?
We are excited to be open year-round and build a community around locals and those out during the offseason. I want people to feel like they can access world-class coaching year-round at LIFTED. My partner (Jennifer Ford) and I bought a house in Springs, and I consider EH my home. This is my number one focus for 2024.
Online coaching/health technology seems like it could be pretty exciting in terms of expanding your reach. Is online health coaching here to stay after COVID? What do Coaches offer?
I love having a physical studio with the option to stream. There is something special about being in a group class. There is the energy, the camaraderie, and you just tend to work harder. However, the convenience of being “at home” is nice to have when things don’t line up with your schedule, or you are traveling. I think there is room for both in the future of fitness. What we pride ourselves on at LIFTED is the “power of the shout-out.” Everyone loves to hear their name called and be coached on form or encouraged to work harder. Our coaches make sure that you FEEL like you are IN the class even if you are at home.