Amanda Kloots doesn’t shy away from getting vulnerable with strangers. And our interview is no exception. When I speak to the star of CBS’ Fit For Christmas (airing on the network tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET and available for streaming on Paramount+) a few days before Thanksgiving, she gets real right away: Her brother unexpectedly had to cancel their Thanksgiving plans after he started feeling sick. Now she’s deep in that raw sense of loneliness that often creeps up around the holidays. “I cried the whole day yesterday,” she says, frantically texting friends to see if she could tag along to their dinners. “You feel like a problem instead of already being a part of something.”
It feels like a particularly poignant share for someone days away from the premiere of the joy-filled movie (about a Christmas-obsessed fitness instructor on a mission to save her town’s community center) she created and stars in. But Kloots has a particular talent for holding space for a full spectrum of emotions. “The holidays are hard,” she says. “I try really hard to keep positive about it but they’re hard — I don’t know how else to say it.”
Kloots has built a powerful community around her let’s-go-there emotional vulnerability. The former Broadway dancer turned fitness mogul touched a collective nerve when she began chronicling her husband Nick Cordero’s battle with COVID in 2020 in the early days of the pandemic. She’s been radically open about her grief following his death as well as her happiness and positivity in raising their son, Elvis, and building an ever-expanding career in entertainment. What resonates with her millions of followers isn’t just her ability to be joyously resilient, but her willingness to talk about how hard that is.
Luckily for the rest of us, she’s extremely open about how she does it: by prioritizing wellness and routinely checking in with herself mentally and physically. We spoke to Kloots about finding time for herself in the busiest season of the year, her holiday wellness tips, and rediscovering her love for the holidays on the set of Fit for Christmas.
The holidays are such an emotional time of year. There’s joy, but this time of year can also bring up a lot of tough stuff. When you’re having a hard day, how do you balance giving yourself space to feel sad vs. trying to pick yourself up and stay positive?
“Yesterday I was sitting in my chair crying about not having family with me this holiday as I’m getting my hair and makeup done. And in 30 minutes, I had to be on The Talk, on set smiling and waving and clapping doing a show on live television. So talk about a weird juxtaposition of life. I couldn’t walk out crying. So I gave myself the speech: Amanda. It’s one day, you can get through the day. But if you’re sad, it’s okay. This is life. I think anyone that tries to disguise the fact that we are all trying to just get through the day in a happy positive way — especially at the holidays — while we’re doing jobs, while we’re being parents, while we’re doing everything else that we have to be doing, is lying. It’s hard. Every day is tough.”
You’ve built a career in fitness at a time when our definition of wellness is very much evolving. What does “wellness” mean to you?
“Thank God the definition of wellness has expanded. I don’t think there is one definition. For me yesterday it was calling my friends and asking them to come to dinner at my house so that I had company. We did some breathing exercises. Sometimes it’s a glass of wine at night — that really helped my wellness yesterday. What you need on a daily basis, an hourly basis, changes. Wellness is about being hyper aware of that to really be able to tune in and say what’s gonna improve your health, your mind, your body, for that time.”
Between all of the festivities — and, let’s be real, emotional processing — we’re juggling during this time of year, how do you manage to keep prioritizing your mental and physical wellness? Literally, how do you fit it in?
“My number one wellness tip is to move your body every single day. For me, it’s about making it a daily routine. I think about it like we all brush our teeth — you don’t leave the house before you brush your teeth and I don’t go a day without jumping rope. That’s my thing that I’ve made part of my day. It’s great cardio and it’s great for my body, but it’s honestly for my stress and anxiety. It’s time for me to tune out for 10 minutes and put music on. It’s about finding these little things that you can make a routine part of your day so that when you have a crazy week because of the holidays, you’ve already done those little things that help you calm down.”
Speaking of being busy, your first movie came out on December 4. Tell me where this journey started.
“I don’t know if you remember, but back in July of 2020, they were playing Christmas movies on TV to help people feel better during the height of COVID. I had just lost Nick. It was like two weeks after Nick passed and it was the middle of the night and I could not sleep. I woke up, Elvis was with me, and we turned on the television and put on a Christmas movie. I love how they make you feel. You kind of know the ending, but you don’t care. You just wanna sit there with your wine or hot chocolate and just absorb yourself in this perfect little Christmas town. I thought to myself as I was watching it, they’ve never done a Christmas movie about a fitness instructor. One thing leads to another, I’m on a podcast talking about my idea and the host hooked me up with an incredible writer, Anna White. She and I started working together and then we pitched it to CBS and they loved it. So a little idea I had at 3:00 a.m. in July 2020 became a movie.”
Hopefully the movie will inspire people when this holiday season is sometimes overwhelming that it’s really important to also, you know, go on a walk with your family. That can be the workout.
Holiday movies are, as you mentioned, notoriously filled with comfort and joy. What was it like to literally spend time in that world on set?
“It was so wonderful. It made me so excited for Christmas, which was lovely because the last two Christmases have just been hard for me. Being on set every day just got me so inspired and excited to dive back into this holiday. I’m going to this hotel with my family over the holiday to teach fitness classes every morning to holiday music. I’m so excited. I tell you, it really did bring my joy back.”
Wellness is a big theme in the movie. What do you hope audiences take away after watching it?
“An overall theme in my business and in this movie, which is a great thing to remember around Christmas when it might be too cold out or you have people coming over or you just don’t want to put your leggings on, is that fitness is a privilege. We are so lucky to be able to go on a walk or run or jump rope — anything that makes you happy to move your body. Hopefully the movie will inspire people when this holiday season is sometimes overwhelming that it’s really important to also, you know, go on a walk with your family. That can be the workout. You don’t have to sweat for two hours. You can move your body to holiday music — what’s better than that?”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.