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Sophie Koella


“Giving yourself pleasure is empowering,” Sophie Koella tells us.

As a globe-trotting model and photographer, treating oneself to everyday pleasures — whether boxing, reading, or self-love, are just some of the many ways she gives her mind and body some relief during long-haul flights and arduous shoots.

We recently caught up with Sophie to learn about how ballet influenced her recreational routine, how she maintains her strength, and why punching shit feels really, really good.

On Routine

I like having a slow morning — waking up early and having time before my day really starts, especially in the winter. I live in the busiest part of New York City so I like waking up when it’s kind of quiet out. I turn on my kitchen radio and tune in to WNYC, make coffee and breakfast, and do the daily mini-crossword puzzle on the NY Times crossword puzzle app.

I usually aim to exercise later in the morning, as it gives me a significant boost of energy for the day ahead, and always puts me in a better mood. I’m always glad when I do. My go-to time is 10-11 AM.

sophie koella in bed
sophie koella getting ready
sophie koella relaxing

On Energy

I can be quite lazy by nature, but a healthy combination of sleep, music, and exercise are what really help give me energy. I try to exercise often because I have so much energy and it makes me feel productive. I also get a lot of energy (more emotionally than physically) when I’m creating stuff and working my brain in an artistic way. I’ll get film back, for example, and stay up late, editing photos for hours.

On Music

I always exercise with music. But I always have music playing in general. I grew up in a musical household so sound and music has always been an important element in my life. For me, exercise has never not incorporated music. I did ballet for 10 years so that was 10 years of non-stop classical. It was through dance that my body learned to move to a rhythm and sweat to sound. Now when I box, I need loud hip-hop or anything with a good, loud bass. It helps me pace myself as well as distract myself from how tired my muscles are. I think music helps take you somewhere mentally, so I think it naturally complements the physicality of exercise. I’m always telling my trainer to turn the volume up.

On Movement

Between ballet and team sports, moving my body has always been a pretty organic part of my life. I’m really sensitive to body movement, which is to say if I don’t get enough exercise, it can become a sort of catalyst for depression. It’s something I always have to remind myself of. If I’m feeling low, I immediately check myself on three things: Am I sleeping enough? Am I eating enough? Am I moving my body enough? It doesn’t have to be some extreme workout either. Sometimes just getting out of the house and going for a walk is enough.

If I don’t get enough exercise, it can become a sort of catalyst for depression.

On Activity

Exercise can sometimes be an escape from my brain, it almost gives me a break from myself, emotionally, if that makes sense. Boxing is my favorite right now, I find it to be really therapeutic and fun. I took it up last year and I’ve honestly never sweat so much. I’ve always felt a bit wimpy/noodle-y but now I feel stronger, like I’ve toughened up a bit. It’s a good feeling, for sure. I didn’t even realize but sometimes I really can have pent-up anger (everyone does I think) and boxing is a great way to channel those frustrations. You punch shit and you think about why you are punching so hard and afterward, you’ve forgotten what you were mad at to begin with.

sophie sparring
sophie boxing
sophie ab workout
sophie resting punching bags
sophie working out resistance bands

On Strength

I like my body best when I feel strong, especially when I look in the mirror and see that strength. I like feeling flexible and agile. I’ve always had unfabulous posture, partially because boobs and because I never had a lot of upper-body strength in general. So right now I’m really focusing on my posture and making sure my abdomen stays tight and toned. It’s one of my goals I set with my trainer the past year and it’s insane how much progress I’ve made.

On Body

Honestly, masturbating really helps me be in touch with my body. It’s been kind of a revelation as a woman. I think giving yourself pleasure is empowering and there’s really a lot of shame surrounding masturbation as a woman. At least it’s not talked about or normalized enough. I think it’s really important to be able to give yourself pleasure. I could also probably benefit from meditation or yoga, something more zen, but it’s not really my thing.

Giving yourself pleasure is empowering.

Video & Photo by Annie Powers