For Nina Agdal, the key to a happy and fulfilled life can be found in a simple, self-imposed rule: Every day, she makes a point to try something new—whether it’s a workout, a restaurant, or just a street she’s never biked down in her current hometown of New York City. Adventure has always been a driving force for Nina, 24, who was born in Denmark and shot to fame with a 2013 Carl’s Jr. Super Bowl commercial (she has also modeled for Victoria’s Secret, Billabong, and Bebe). In 2014, she hit household-name status when she appeared on the 50th-anniversary cover of the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue alongside Lily Aldridge and Chrissy Teigen—and she has been one of the most fun stars to follow on social media ever since. On her Instagram, she posts everything from behind-the-scenes shots in amazing places to photos from nights out with fellow model friends, like Barbara Palvin and Constance Jablonski. We caught up with her in New York City—where she’s often seen with boyfriend Leonardo DiCaprio—to pick her brain about mindful living.
Have you always been really into fitness?
I grew up very active, and my parents made me try every single sport there was. I would pick some of them up, but with others, I’d be like, “I hate it.” So they’d say, “OK, let’s try something else.”
Dancing, basketball, soccer, and tennis. Then, as I grew older, with my [modeling] schedule I couldn’t be part of a team, which was actually really sad because I love team sports and that getting together every week.
What’s your day-to-day workout routine?
I do a bunch of Y7 yoga, which is amazing because it’s dark and nobody’s judging you. I’m not very good at the meditating part of yoga, so I love that the studio has great music. When I really want to push myself, I also do Tone House. It’s athletic conditioning with a lot of body-weight movements and sprints. It’s really hard cardio. I also do boxing, which is great for everything, and I go to Equinox and do the SoulCycle thing. I always switch it up because if not, I don’t see a difference.
Is there any kind of workout you can’t stand doing?
I hate running. I wish I loved to run, because I’d love to run through Central Park or on vacation on the beach, but I absolutely hate it. I do it for five minutes and I’m like, “Ugh, why am I doing this?”
How do you keep it tight when you’re traveling?
I have my trainer send me what I have to do, or I’ll just make up my own routine. I’ll use the timer on my phone and do 20 seconds of jump squats, and then 10 seconds of rest and 20 seconds of normal squats with a weight or something like that. You just pick three or four exercises and do three rounds of them. And you keep yourself accountable because you have the timer.
That takes discipline. How are you so motivated?
I always tell myself, “There are so many things you regret doing or eating, but you never regret a workout.” I always feel better after a workout. I have more energy, and mentally I’m in a better place.
So there’s an emotional component that’s important to you as well?
Yes, 100%. It’s the only time when I can really relax and focus on one thing. Everywhere else in the day, my brain is in a thousand different places, but when I’m working out, I can only focus on the pain. [Laughs]