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‘Empire’ Star Nicole Ari Parker: What’s in My Gym Bag?

Nicole Ari Parker: What's in My Gym Bag
Nicole Ari Parker Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

“I’m not naturally a gym rat,” Nicole Ari Parker tells Us. But as the 48-year-old Empire star’s slim frame and toned legs show, that doesn’t stop her from having a fitness plan!

Once upon a time, the alum of Showtime’s Soul Food focused on cardio, but at the suggestion of her husband, Station 19 actor Boris Kodjoe, she began doing weight training circuits to help increase fat burn. “My workout circuits are easy, you can do them in hotel rooms in your pajamas,” she says. “Ten lunges, 10 pushups, jumping jacks four times.” When the mom of Sophie, 13, and Nicolas, 12, is in Chicago shooting Empire, she adds lunges and squats with 10-pound weights followed by 10 minutes of cardio on the treadmill to round out a half-hour fitness plan.

Parker opens up her Gucci tote turned gym bag for Us.

Nicole Ari Parker: What's in My Gym Bag
Nicole Ari Parker’s gym bag. Courtesy Nicole Ari Parker

Time — and Back! — Saver
“I discovered the McDavid Waist Trainer Ab Belt through [trainer] Alicia Marie. She told me about this Velcro belt that you wear all the time and it helps you keep your stomach contracted while you’re driving and running errands or working out. So my posture is always great and I’m activating my abs even when I’m just driving my kids around.”

Reading Material
“When it’s cardio time, a book can be great. I’m reading A Little Piece of Light by Donna Hylton right now.  She’s a prison reform activist, and she’s so powerful and incredible. I also have an Afropolitan magazine, it’s multicultural and it highlights African culture and heritage. My husband is half Ghanaian and was asked to be on the cover so I doubled down on the magazine after that and always get it!”

Making Hair-story
I always have two Gymwraps for my own hair, and one new one to give away. I’m the creator! I made it in my kitchen four years ago because I needed this item in my workout toolbox. I spend so much money on my hair as do many women of color. So I created a three-layer band so you don’t have to apply so much heat to it before you go to work. Sometimes after you just get your hair done, you don’t want to go work up a sweat and ruin everything, so this band really helps get my butt to the gym.”

Aural Fixation
“I love the way the House of Marley Uplift 2 headphones work. They have such a great music quality that helps keep me motivated.”

About Face
“The jade face roller is an attempt to keep my skin tight and beautiful without going under the knife. I am trying to find every possible thing to do that. I found this roller on a beauty blog. I like to keep it in the fridge and use it when I watch my favorite show. I make it work all together I’m a mother of two so finding time for beauty can be tough! I also have the SK-II mask — it is great for after working out.“

Power Powder
“Some people say the collagen doesn’t work, some people say it does. I love that the Great Lakes Gelatin collagen powder I have is kosher, and I swear I can feel it in my bones and my hair. I think a lot of reasons people think their collagen powder isn’t working, is you have to take collagen with pure vitamin C. I started taking vitamin C packets gel packets and I mix it in the water with the powder.”

Boosting Her Health
“You always read about how just seven percent of the vitamins are actually absorbed when you take them, so I take the GEM chews. They’re plant-based so the body can absorb them better. And I take a hair skin and nail gummy, I just chew them whenever I need a snack. I’m also the queen of amino acids! I went to an IV infusion place, it’s very California, and they do your blood work. I found out I should not be eating eggs, but now the amino acids help with muscular generation. I also truly believe you have to have constant water intake for your health. I have my water bottle in there and try to do eight 8-ounce water bottles a day.”

With reporting by Travis Cronin

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