W.O.W! Working Out With Abby Elliott

 

PHOTOGRAPHS BY JAIMIE BAIRD

If you are a fan of Bravo’s “Odd Mom Out”, you hate, but kind of love Abby Elliott. The character she plays, Brooke Von Weber, the entitled young wife of your stereotypical NYC hedge fund CEO, is fairly detestable, but Abby does it with such deadpan and oblivious humor, it’s hard not love her for playing it so well.

Abby is third generation comic genius and third generation “Saturday Night Live” alum. She was a cast member from 2008-2012. Her father, Chris Elliott, probably most recognizable for his regular sketches and guest appearances on “Late Night With David Letterman”, was also a cast member from 1994-1995. Her grandfather, Bob Elliott, one half of the famed comedy duo, “Bob and Ray”, made a guest appearance on the show in 1978.

Abby is currently filming the eagerly anticipated third season of “Odd Mom Out”, Bravo’s foray into scripted television. Set in Manhattan, it is a satirical peek at the outrageous lifestyles of the extremely rich wives and mothers who live on the Upper East Side. Abby’s character Brooke is most definitely the odd mom IN. She is the leader of this pack — foe of writer and creator Jill Kargman’s character, Jill, the series “odd mom out”. Both spoof the opposite ends of the spectrum at the other’s expense and the result is pure laughs.
 


 

For this installment of “W.O.W! Working Out With”, I met Abby at The Bar Method in Soho, her go-to workout of choice. While I kept waiting (and kind of hoping) for Brooke to appear, Abby is far from the character she plays. This fresh faced and unaffected cheerful young woman blended in with the crowd of regulars there for the packed morning class. With long hours on set, typical of any filming actor’s life, it’s been hard to workout lately as much as she would like, but with her first day off in while, this was her first stop. I, a HUGE fan of the show, was beyond excited to join her, although slightly dreading the torture I knew was in store.

As I have written about numerous times, there is no place to hide at the barre, where muscles are worked in a constant and quivering state of contraction. The Bar Method incorporates dance conditioning, physical therapy, and deep muscle isometrics in an interval format. The workout alternates between targeted exercise for a specific muscle group followed by a stretch for that muscle – the key to those long lean muscles for which dancers and barre classes are known.

I’m so impressed with people who take barre class regularly because it’s so friggin’ hard! Taught by instructor and studio owner, Amy Duffey, this would be no exception. After class, Abby and I chatted about why The Bar Method and what keeps her coming back for more. I was also curious to find out what Brooke Von Weber, a “Soul Wheelz” devotee, would think about this workout:
 


 

STYLE OF SPORT: Hi Abby! So here we are in your house of pain, your workout of choice. Why The Bar Method?

Abby Elliott: I started 4 years ago in LA. I was trying to get fit and in shape and do something regularly that would help me lose weight. I had never found a workout that suited me that I could do on a regular basis. I’d go to classes that were really difficult and then like be in bed for a week because I was so sore. This was the first thing that I thought, ‘Ok I’m really sore, but I can go back. I know I can do it.’

SOS: I personally find barre class so challenging. I’m so impressed with people that do it regularly because it’s such hard work!

AE: This becomes fun and it’s a community. You see the same people every class.

SOS: Which is what I hear consistently from people who have found a workout they love. When you’re not here what other workouts do you do?

AE: I will run either on treadmill, doing high intensity intervals, or along the West Side Highway with my husband. He ran at Duke. I used to have a hard time running. I’ve had bad knees and I’ve gotten so much stronger since doing this.

SOS: So this has helped with running?

AE: Oh yes. For sure.

SOS: How does working out help with your acting?

AE: It’s a huge part of my job actually and it took me a while to wrap my head around that. It is body maintenance and about feeling confident. It isn’t about being the thinnest. It’s just about being your best self. You go into an audition or go into work feeling like you’ve done everything you can do to be your best.
 


 

SOS: So what about diet?

AE: I usually allow myself to eat whatever I want on the weekend. That’s not like I go crazy and have burgers and pizza. I want to still eat healthy but I’ll allow myself to have bread and wine. During the week I usually eat pretty healthy, high protein and low carbs.

SOS: What do you do about Craft Service? I’ve seen those huge tempting spreads on set. That has to be especially tough with the long hours!

AE : Oh my God! It’s like popcorn, M&Ms… everything sweet, savory, you name it. But for the most part, I’m going off adrenaline. I’m not ravenously hungry when I’m working. (Laughing) I’m getting satiated by my work… ahhh!

SOS: That is sooo beautiful! Speaking of work, lets talk about “Odd Mom Out” which I absolutely love and you in it. Your character, Brooke Von Weber — you hate her, but you kind of love her.

AE: Well, thank you! That’s the ultimate compliment.

SOS: You really don’t want to like her, because she is so awful, but there is something annoyingly endearing about her. How do you get those two things together?

AE: It’s hard because she’s such a terrible person. She’s awful, but deep down awful people are just insecure, so I just try to tap into her insecurities. I mean most of it is in the writing – Jill Kargman is brilliant. She has been surrounded by these people her entire life so she knows them very well. She’s created this character, but Brooke is super fun to play. I try to act as insecure as I can in this overly confident way.
 


 

SOS: I was watching the first episode, which takes place at “Soul Wheelz”, a spoof of SoulCycle, where Brooke is hosting a fundraiser for her charity, “NACHO”.

AE: Yes, New Yorkers Against Childhood Obesity — the Y is silent.

SOS: OMG… so funny! What would Brooke think of The Bar Method?

AE: She would definitely like this.

SOS: What would she like about it?

AE: Brooke would like that she could show off in front of the class. She would like to be front and center, and she would do all the extra challenges. She would really love it if Amy (our instructor) called her out and told her what a good job she was doing.

SOS: I know Jill has written the character, but you must have encountered these types. They are an exaggeration of the young rich wives of the Upper East Side, whose daily lives do consist the activities spoofed on the show.

AE: I was born in New York, and raised here and in Connecticut. We lived in Fairfield County, which is where the wealthy suburbs like Greenwich and Darien and New Canaan are. My dad is an actor too. We’re a family of artists and we kind of felt like the odd people out in this world.

SOS: Funny you would use that term…

AE: Exactly! We were essentially outsiders.
 


 

SOS: Your dad is Chris Elliott, quite a famous actor and comedian. You’ve followed in his footsteps. Did he encourage you to pursue this path?

AE: NO. He was like, ‘Pleeease don’t be an actor’, but I don’t know how to do anything else. I couldn’t do anything else. This is the only thing that make me happy.

SOS: We all want to know what’s in store for season 3! When last we left, your husband Lex had lost all your money in a Bernie Madoff inspired cliffhanger.

AE: Yes, we’ve lost all our money, but keep in mind…

SOS: You have love? You had just renewed your vows after breaking up because Lex was cheating with his secretary…

AE: Yes, we have love, but Brooke has a successful business as a handbag designer.

SOS: Aha, right! Another trademark of this echelon! A clue perhaps?

AE: I can’t really reveal anymore but season 3 is the best yet and I’m so excited for everyone to see it!

SOS: We can’t wait to see it too! Thanks Abby!
 

 
 

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