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Isaac Nichols

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CHANCES ARE YOU’VE BEEN ON INSTAGRAM AND SEEN WHAT MOST PEOPLE COMMONLY REFER TO AS “BOOB POTS.” THE CERAMIC POTS, WHICH ARE BOTH JARRINGLY CUTE AND SOMEHOW REFRESHINGLY INNOCENT, ARE THE CREATION OF ISAAC NICHOLS.

Nichols first started making the pots years ago, originally as a gift for his girlfriend, before the concept took off and Group Partner became less a side project, and more a legitimate business entity.

These days between throwing pots and firing the kiln, Nichols is working on maintaining his fitness routine. We caught up with him about wanting to run a marathon (as we all do), why he equated yoga with being successful, and how his mom holds him accountable to his exercise routine.

On Routine

I stretch, I roll out of bed, I make my bed, and then I spend an additional five or ten minutes just stretching. Then I get dressed, then I get a coffee. The older I get the more movement becomes central to my life. I like to think, “How much time can I spend moving? How much time can I spend being physically active?” To me, it’s a metric for judging the success of the day or the success of the week.

I typically exercise at night because of my schedule. In my best life, I would be someone who worked out early in the morning. The few times I’ve done that it’s always been so nice but my day starts at 7:15 AM so working out before that, I’d have to be out the door at like 5:30 AM and that just seems a little bit too early for me right now.

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On Silence

I don’t listen to music when I exercise. When I go running, I usually just count things obsessively until I get through that. It’s sort of like you’re sinking through layers of the earth, which is my brain, and it’s like there’s the numbers and math layer and then below that layer is the resentments and the stress and the shit that I have to deal with and then below that layer is this cushy kind of like quiet space where I just feel really present and it’s relaxing and centering. Listening to music kind of distracts me from just being fully present and fully applying myself to that end.

On Movement

Typically, if I haven’t at least walked in a day, I’m aware of it. At work, I can be pretty physical. I do a lot of exercise-y things at work— moving molds, moving clay, moving heavy things, moving light things, building things, walking. I probably walk four miles a day. I also try to make sure I have a dedicated hour each day for a class or walking or running or anything that I can do just to break a sweat. If I don’t, I can’t sleep.

On Yoga

This is ridiculous, but I remember when I started going to yoga, I wanted to be successful in my life. I kept thinking, “What’s going to take me from being a bummed out art student who makes $12,000 a year to being where I want to be?” I remember thinking, “Successful people go to yoga and I can do that. I can go to yoga because that’s what they do and that’s part of the whole thing.” Sure enough, I started going to yoga all the time because I was convinced it was a part of being successful.

When you start going, you really feel like an alien. I would think, “I’m an alien-looking at New Yorkers like, ‘How the fuck do people do this in New York? How do they make this work?’”But I kept going, and going, and going, and it started to inform my life.

At this point, I’ve been doing yoga for ten years.

BUT I KEPT GOING, AND GOING, AND GOING, AND IT STARTED TO INFORM MY LIFE.

On Goals

I want to run a marathon. Everyone says that. I think I probably will run a marathon eventually. I am training for a half-marathon now and that’s great but for me, the real goal is not about checking something off a list. The real goal is asking myself, “Will I be physically active when I’m 80 years old? Will I have a practice of a daily routine that lasts throughout my entire life?”

How many people do you know that ran a marathon once and then that’s it? They’re like, “Oh, I did a marathon once. I guess I’m still in shape.” I know people that have worked and run for an hour a day, for 60 years, and never ran a marathon and they’re still running. For me, it’s not about this ego-centric thing, “Oh, I did this big thing!” It’s more about being patient and taking a humble approach to using your body every day.

There are so many things that are out of your control, and exercising is not one of them. This doesn’t apply to everyone but I do feel like we were all born into this world and the playing field isn’t really equal, but we all have that opportunity to engage with our bodies and to engage with our health. In a way, to an extent, that is an equalizer. We can all engage our bodies.

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On Dancing

I go to a Gaga dance class. I don’t understand it. Some of the things I like the most in my life are things I don’t understand at all. I don’t understand Gaga even a little bit but I love it. It’s so fun. It’s difficult. I’ve done yoga for many years and it’s amazing but with dancing, it’s a way of connecting your body to pleasure in a different way.

It’s like, “How do you kind of bring everything together? How do you bring your yoga practice into your work life? How do you bring your social life into your yoga practice? How do you find this place where everything is sort of synced up and working together?” I feel like with dance you are kind of bringing exercise and muscle activity and stretching into a place that’s dictated by, you know, Drake. It’s such a weird thing to think about and that’s what I like. I can’t really explain it to you and have it make sense.

On Stretching

Stretching is the initial way I start placing myself in my body. They say it all the time and it’s so cliche but it’s a good way of finding yourself in your body. We can be in our heads all day long — on our phones, on Instagram, texting, on email, on conference calls, thinking about money —  all this shit is you thinking about yourself in relationship to other people and other people’s brains and you can get totally deloused from your body. Then you think, “Oh, my back hurts. What’s that all about?” A quick stretch can be a reminder that you have a body. You have to remember that your brain is a reflection of your body.

Stretching is the initial way I start placing myself in my body.

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On Accountability

My mom holds me accountable to exercise. In a way, I feel like I owe it to her to stay physically engaged. Being active has been a huge part of her life. She’s 73 and she walked 3,000 miles this past year. It was her birthday last week and she did 200 full-body push-ups! I can’t even do that and she’s 73. It’s such an integral part of who she is. I have such an admiration for her that I feel guilty if I don’t participate and engage in something that she takes so seriously. I mean, come on. She walked 3,000 miles in a year.

That’s, like, across the country! That’s like eight miles a day or something. She walked a marathon, by herself, on her birthday, and did 200 full-body push-ups. I can’t just ignore that.

Exercise is always part of the conversation. It’s always like, “What are you doing? How are you feeling? How much are you exercising?” The more you think about these things, the more you realize that they’re totally connected. You can’t take one from the other.

Video & Photo by Annie Powers

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