R&B singer Olivia is passionate about more than making great music—the New York native has taken her health seriously for many years and regularly incorporates fitness into her busy life. When she’s not recording music or on-set for reality TV shows or movies, Olivia is in the gym or finding a way to get a workout in. Read more about what Olivia shared with Black Fitness Today on her fitness regimen, how she’s able to enjoy her favorite foods, some new exciting career moves, and more!
Q. BFT: As a singer and reality star it would seem that you don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands, so how do you find time to maintain your physique while juggling your career and personal life?
Olivia: [I’m willing to] work out anywhere. I have an older brother who does like every type of karate style that you can think of, so I used to work out with him all the time. Right now, if I’m on set somewhere or if I’m in the studio, we’ll do the whole back of the chairs thing, doing dips and we’ll do push-ups. I’m very much of a gym junkie and I’ll make equipment out of anything to work out.
BFT: Awesome! That’s good to know — well whatever it is that you’re doing, it’s working for you.
Olivia: [laughs] Thank you!
Q. BFT: So to follow up with that what is your favorite type of workout?
Olivia: Well it would definitely have to be anything that has to do with abs, because I feel like that’s the hardest for us as women to achieve. I also love to do pull-ups with my brother; he is so amazed because most women don’t have that much upper-body strength so I do those with him a lot just to get better.
BFT: Nice! How many pull-ups can you do?
BFT: That’s impressive!
Olivia: [laughs] I put it up on my Instagram one time but I only could do five then. Duane, my road manager, was with me and we worked out hard, but I was like, we still have to put it up even though I could only do the five! I also do Bikram yoga and it helps shed the pounds and tone the core. I recommend everyone try it once.
Q. BFT: Do you actually have a trainer that you work out with or do you just work out with your brother and/or Duane?
Olivia: Usually my brother or Duane. I had a trainer about seven years ago—but after you figure out what you’re doing, you don’t always need a trainer to push you, especially if you’re focused, like myself.
Q. BFT: It seems like you’re where you want to be physically, so right now it’s all about maintenance, is that correct?
Olivia: Yeah exactly.
Q. BFT: We heard that you love to cook! So when it comes to nutrition, what is a typical day like for you, from when you wake up to when you’re in the studio; how do you get your meals in?
Olivia: Well, the first thing I have to do when I get up is make a smoothie. I love all my frozen stuff from Trader Joe’s because I feel like they have the best frozen fruits and obviously I have to make it with mango because everybody knows I’m a Jamaican [laughs] but they’re so good! I’ll also eat a a muffin or something light. I eat really heavy in the afternoon. I love pasta.
Q. BFT: You know, obviously a lot of people work out to take some of the pressure off; but for you, when you’re not in the studio or filming how do you decompress?
Olivia: For me, to relieve stress, I like to sing. That normally calms me down and soothes my mood. The other thing I like to do is run. I’ll go running around a park or my best friend and I will go running around her area, or we’ll just get on the treadmill or elliptical. That usually relieves a lot of stress.
BFT: Do you find a lot of people trying to stop you when you’re running or can you really get it done in peace?
Olivia: Oh yeah, we’ll usually go about 10 o’clock and nobody would notice. But sometimes, [I’ll go out with no disguise or hiding anything] and I’ll forget that I look like myself and people will stop and honk and be like “is that you?” It’s so funny but it’s the cutest thing because they’re not rude or mean or follow us; they just wave and say hi, so actually it’s really entertaining.
BFT: We’ll it’s good to see people are able to see celebrities working out and take care of themselves so that’s cool.
Olivia: I have to tell you guys the funniest story – so my hairstylist comes to me the other day and was like I want to take you to BJ’s [Wholesale Club] real quick before we do your hair. I normally go food shopping with [my stylist]; that’s like our thing that I have to do with her. So we go to BJ’s and the people at the checkout counter noticed who I was right away but they didn’t say anything. They stared and called their other friends over and then they got on the loudspeaker— oh my God, it was so funny! [laughs]. I was like you guys could’ve just talked to me, but they called all their friends over to figure it out. I would’ve been nice but we were laughing at them because we kept seeing them call their friends over and they kept looking back, oh my God [laughs]. It cracks me up when they do that—it’s like they don’t expect you to be out shopping or something [laughs].
BFT: [laughs] That’s pretty cool.
Q. BFT: It seems like you’ve been on the fitness tip for a long time; when did fitness become a part of your life?
Olivia: Fitness probably became a part of my life when I was 14 in gym class. I used to love going to phys. ed. I know everybody really hated it [laughs] but the only thing I disliked about it was when it came to all the hairstyles I had; I was worried about my hair like most women are, but I always loved to be in gym class—I don’t know why; probably because of my older brother, but it’s been something that was one of my passions. But I really got into it when I was 19 because that’s when I got my first trainer.
Q. BFT: So you mentioned being concerned about your hair, so how do you manage to keep your hair looking good and still get good workouts in?
Olivia: For me, I just put my hair up in a bun or just use a clip. The only time that I am concerned about it is when I have a show or something but fortunately for me, I do have a stylist that can come over and fix it if I mess it up, so that is a perk.
Q. BFT: Have you ever experienced pressure from the industry to look a certain way or certain size and if so, how did you handle that?
Olivia: I haven’t had that problem but I have obviously seen other artists go through that and I think it’s terrible the way that they put that on other people. Your size is your size and sometimes people obviously can’t lose the weight for maybe health reasons. So it’s dumb to tell people they’re either too big or too small; just let them be themselves.
BFT: Right, exactly.
Q. BFT: We heard your new song with Tank called “Love Like This.” Great song! What’s next for Olivia? (Listen Below)
Olivia: Well you’re going to have the first single “Dead Man” I absolutely adore that record. Tank and I love the record and it came out great; you guys can look forward to the single in a few weeks and the album will be coming out next year; we’ll probably be looking to do it around February.
Q. BFT: Can we expect to see you on another season of Love & Hip Hop?
Olivia: There won’t be another season for me because I’m actually doing HBO; I’m super excited! I’m a part of the new cast called Family Business and I’m playing one of the lead roles, so I definitely look forward to that. It’s about a black billionaire family and they kind of compare it to The Wire meets Game of Thrones meets The Sopranos, so you can picture how amaze-balls this is going to be! I am over the moon with this!
BFT: Congratulations! That’s is awesome.
Olivia: Thank you so much!
Q. BFT: While you’re out and about, what are some of your favorite healthy places to eat?
Olivia: I’m a big Jamba Juice fan or any type of smoothie place I can find.
Q. BFT: Do you prefer to work out at home or at the gym?
Olivia: I have a gym in my home so I can work out pretty much whenever I want but if I don’t like working out at home I’ll go running. So there’s a lot of things I can do. Thank God my friends put up with me and are willing to do this with me.
Q. BFT: How can fans stay in contact with you?
Olivia: Well, they can check me out on:
Q. BFT: Anything you want to add?
Olivia: I do want to say that you don’t have to eat steamed broccoli and bland chicken to be healthy, as long as you do some type of workout you can typically have your favorite foods, because I absolutely do and I might fluctuate in weight sometimes but you just get on the treadmill and burn it off. So don’t believe that you have to eat things that taste disgusting [laughs].
BFT: That’s good advice because so many people fall off because they don’t allow themselves to cheat or have their favorite foods.
Olivia: Yeah, people think that you’re at home eating celery, but no I’m eating a cheeseburger just like you guys are! [laughs]
BFT: What is your favorite cheat meal?
Olivia: I love Jamaican food, I try not to eat fried foods but I love escovitch fish and fried shrimp!