Tessa Izdepski helps clients get fit and feel great.
Born in California, personal trainer Tessa Izdepski grew up on the North Shore. “I went to LSU for college,” she says. “I studied kinesiology, with plans to go to physical therapy school.” But, by the time she graduated, physical therapy school no longer felt like a good fit. Izdepski decided to try personal training; she moved to New Orleans in 2007, and never looked back. “It worked out great, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” she says.
In addition to working with clients in their homes and at small outdoor boot camps, Izdepski trains clients by appointment at the New Orleans Athletic Club. “It’s a really beautiful, big gym,” she says. “The clientele there is great.” She favors a combination of cardio and resistance training, and always mixes it up. “People comment, ‘I think I’ve worked out with you for five years and never done the same routine twice,’” she says.
With both of these commitments on her plate, Izdepski estimates that she spends 50-plus hours per week helping her clients get fit — so when this lifelong athlete gets a chance to spend some time in the sun, she takes it. “I love being outside,” she says.
ON STAYING MOTIVATED
Izdepski’s busy schedule means she has to stay flexible. “It’s sometimes hard to find the time to fit in my own workout,” she admits. “So, whenever someone cancels, I’m already ready to work out!” She also knows that her clients look to her for inspiration. “I want to be an example,” she says.
Looking great is less of a priority for Izdepski than making sure she can take on whatever challenge she comes across. “I’m very active with my lifestyle,” she says. “I don’t want my physical condition to ever be a barrier. That’s a huge motivator for me.”
“Sunday through Friday, I’m very strict about my diet,” Izdepski says. “I eat whole foods — I don’t eat anything processed, as much as possible. I find that’s the best way to control what’s going into my body. Anything processed is going to have ingredients that you don’t understand. It’s going to be laced with sugars and fats that make it taste good.”
Fish, kale, boiled eggs and Greek yogurt are a few staples of the trainer’s weekday diet, along with “a ton of avocados,” she says. “Last year I counted, and it was well over 100 — hampered by a trip to Ireland, where they’re hard to find.”
On the weekend, Izdepski lets loose a little. “I do live in New Orleans, and I love food,” she says. She satisfies her love for cheeseburgers at Company Burger and Port of Call, and enjoys a beer here and there. But come Monday, it’s back to discipline. “I just feel better being really healthy during the week,” she says.
"People comment, ‘I think I’ve worked out with you for five years and never done the same routine twice.’”
Izdepski has worked with one of her clients for nearly four years. “He’s about 50 years old,” she says. “When we started, he was about 30 pounds overweight … He’s Belgian, and he wouldn’t let go of drinking beer.”
She started working with him two days per week. Gradually, they increased to four days per week, and then to five. “About two years into our training, he decided to stop drinking beer for two months,” Izdepski says. “He lost even more body fat. He’s now my strongest client. He’s so in shape — he runs triathlons and does tons of trail races. And he hasn’t had a beer in more than two years.”
Creating a routine can be the hardest part of getting in shape, according to Izdepski. “I tell people that even if they don’t know what they’re going to do at the gym, as long as they just go to the gym — whether or not they get a good workout — at least they’re getting the routine down,” she says. Working with her own clients, she takes a gradual approach. “Everything is a slow introduction,” she says. “I talk to them about their diet and their routine, and I suggest small changes. Once that becomes their norm, I step up another level.”