Desirtox New Year Challenge!

Desiree Simmons

Happy New Year!!  Yet again, we find ourselves at the start of a new year which gives hope for many people trying to grasp onto a healthier lifestyle.  While I love the idea of setting goals by stating new year’s resolutions, I’m not so crazy about the resolutions that are focused on weight loss.  I love the prospect of a healthier you, but I’m not so crazy about the whole “new and better” you that we’ve adopted.  Let’s say that you’re perfect as is and we just want to work on making healthier choices to improve our quality of life.  Sound good?  Great!  Since I know y’all love a detox, here’s my five day Desir-tox to get you jump started towards a healthier future.  As long as you have a fully functional liver and kidneys, you’ll be detoxing like a champ without much effort at all!

I have several guidelines for you and I will be posting daily workout challenges on my Instagram account (@fitdesiree) starting on Monday, January 4, 2016 so play along and see what you can do!  I recommend going grocery shopping this weekend to prepare for Monday and for your success.  Take pics/video of your workouts or nutrition choices and add #Desirtox to hold yourself accountable and so your friends can give you virtual support!

• Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. (Ex. if you weigh 150 pounds, you will drink 75 ounces of water per day.)

• Eat breakfast. (Even if it’s just a piece of fruit with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter or a glass of skim milk, something is better than nothing!)

• Eat every three hours. (It doesn’t need to be a giant meal and it doesn’t need to be three almonds.  Caloric intake varies from person to person, but keep in mind that if you are a fully grown, generally healthy adult, a diet of less than 1300 calories should be medically supervised.)

• Eat at least two servings of veggies every day.

• Eat at least two servings of fruit every day.

• Do not add salt to any of your food.

• No sweets or added sugars! (Cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, refined sugar, etc.)

• No soda! (Neither regular nor diet.)

• No alcohol! (All alcohol has 7 kcal per gram and is metabolized to fat in your body.)

• Eat only low fat dairy products. (No full fat dairy products.)

• No white flour foods. (Choose whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, etc for your carbohydrates.)

• No fried foods. (Try steaming, grilling, or baking instead.)

• Do at least three minutes of meditation daily.  (You don’t need to be Gandhi or a Jedi warrior to meditate properly.  Just find a quiet place to sit with your eyes closed or with a soft gaze for at least three minutes.  You will find that just three minutes can help you to destress and refresh!  There are several apps that serve as meditation timers, but you can also set a timer on your phone with a gentle alert.)

• Do the daily workout challenge that I post on my Instagram account.  (This is in addition to any physical activity you already have planned  :-D )

Don’t make yourself crazy with your nutrition.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to healthy eating.  You have to figure out what works for you.  Lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, low fat dairy products, and whole grains are your best choices.  It is not always about making the healthiest choice, it is often just about making the healthier choice.  If you slip and have a piece of cake, don’t stress!  Jump back on the Desirtox plan at your next meal and keep your focus going forward.  Here’s to a happier and healthier new year!  May the force of a healthier lifestyle be with you. (Sorry for the Star Wars references…I just watched Episodes IV, V, and VI this week for the first time in my life and I’m totally geeking out about it.  #latebloomer)

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#unspiration

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Training for battle in the Colosseum?  Photography:Keiko Guest

Have you noticed that fitness seems to have turned into a blood sport?  That the tone has become harsh and almost gladiatorial?  Like everyone should be training for a battle to the death in a raucous Colosseum.  While the hard core approach may work for some intense-exercise individuals, many do not respond well to the drill sergeant approach.  This harsh tone is sometimes set by the overuse of several phrases in the fitness world.  So what are these phrases?  You might be using them yourself without realizing the impact you are having on your friends, family, or even clients if you are a trainer.  If we have more empathy for our friends, we might be surprised at how motivational we can be!  So let’s work on eradicating these condescending and potentially harmful and hurtful phrases and try to do better by those whom we hope to inspire.

Keep reading and see if you’re guilty of spreading these sometimes un-spirational dictates:

“No pain, no gain.”

What the hell does that even mean?!  Pain is pain.  It is your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong, which means

you need to stop whatever you are doing!  Now, if you’re referring to soreness or burning muscles, then say so!  The danger with this phrase is that people will hear it and assume they are supposed to push through or ignore an injury because, well…no pain, no gain, right?  Exercise does not have to be painful.  In fact, it can even be fun!  Yes, you can enjoy it and it will still be effective!  The best exercise is simply the exercise that you like to do…and it shouldn’t require a post-workout visit to the emergency room.  Do not be discouraged if you don’t like to do exercise that hurts.  You’re not the only one.  I sure don’t!  Like others, I enjoy a good burn and a vigorous workout, but pain?  No thank you.  Yes, there is a portion of the population that sees it as a badge of honor to bleed, tear muscles, go into renal failure, or vomit during a workout (I’m looking at you Pukie the Clown), but there’s no telling what toll 10 years of these extremes will take on the body.  Besides, there are plenty of other types of exercise that will benefit your heart, your muscles, your skeleton, your brain, and so much more, without pain.  Find what you like to do and what makes you feel good, and stick with that.  Slight discomfort is fine.  In fact, you want to push towards discomfort to see changes and improve your strength, cardiovascular health, etc, but pain is completely unnecessary, detrimental, and may result in a costly trip to the ER.

“No excuses.”

What a snotty thing to say!  Guess what.  Life happens, it’s not an excuse.  Not everyone works in a gym, not everyone is financially stable, not everyone is an excercise-aholic, so there are plenty of excuses, nay, reasons to not workout.  Here are a few: no childcare, chronic pain, death in the family, deadline at work, car accident, flat tire, hatred of exercise, or just being too damn tired from life’s other requirements.  This is why we should always strive to be encouraging and not condescending.  If someone gets in a workout, they get it in.  If they don’t, they don’t, but let’s not shame them.  Let them be content with their “excuses” for not working out and then help them seize the opportunities when they present themselves, which may just be a couple minutes of exercise.  For those out there who are struggling to get a workout in, just do what you can do, when you can do it, if you can do it, and then celebrate and be content with what you have just done.  Everyone has their own set of circumstances, obstacles, opportunities, problems, and solutions, so do what you can do to live your life well.  During an appearance on a popular daytime talk show last year, Gillian Michaels, the queen of intense fitness herself, admitted she hadn’t worked out in months because she was too busy to do so.  And this is a person who lives in fitness clothes and gets paid to be all things fitness.  What does that tell you?  No excuses, huh?  Guess there are.

““I regret that workout,” said no one ever.”

I beg to differ!  I guarantee there are plenty of people out there who have regretted a workout (go ahead and search “exercise

fails” videos and see if you can still say that with a straight face).  Especially if they broke a bone, tore a ligament, had a heart attack, got paralyzed and the list goes on.  The problem with these generalized statements is that there is an exception to every rule and someone has created these “motivational” quotes to inspire intense people to exercise, forgetting that not everyone responds to these harsh and dogmatic words.  If you do respond to these types of quotes, good for you!  Go get ‘em, tiger!  But if you don’t respond to these quotes and they just piss you off and make you want to sit on your couch and eat pizza, don’t get discouraged.  Just ignore them because they aren’t for you.  Let me tell you a secret.  I make my living training other people, teaching dance and fitness classes, and doing nutrition coaching, yet there are some days where I just do not feel like lifting a weight or doing a plank or dropping it like a squat.  There have been a few times when, unwisely, I’ve worked out or taken a class before I taught for two hours, and I did regret it. I got sick and dizzy, and wasn’t able to teach to my full potential.  So go ahead and change this fitness saying to ““I regret that workout,” said Desiree Nathanson.”  Quote me on it.

So, consider this a challenge to all of us who hope to inspire others.  Let’s try using positive reinforcement and encouragement when trying to motivate our friends, family, acquaintances, etc.  Enough with the egotistical condescensions and angry douche baggery!  Let’s be empathetic and use kind words and pats on the back to inspire others, and leave the anger to Kanye.

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Your Fitness Journey: 5 Simple Truths for Success

Truth 1: You do not have to be perfect 100% of the time.

Being healthy doesn’t require always eating perfectly (whatever that means) or exercising for three hours everyday.  It’s about doing what you can, when you can.  Let me tell you a secret: no one, not even the fitness models you see on Instagram, is perfect.  Everyone has little setbacks, we’re human, it happens.  The difference between people who are successful with their fitness journey and those who are not, is that the successful people focus on what they can do rather than focusing on what they can’t do.  Jobs happen.  Families happen.  Kids happen.  School happens.  Being sick happens.  Flat tires happen.  Being broke happens.  Shit happens.  Know that, accept that, and move on.  Don’t try to be perfect all the time, try to make better choices most of the time.

 

Truth 2: You cannot do it alone.

Even the most positive of people need cheerleaders every now and then.  Surrounding yourself with positive and supportive people is key to being successful on your path to better health.  Be wary of backhanded supporters.  These are people who seem like they are being supportive, but are really trying to sabotage you because they do not want to see you be happy.  Get rid of those people.  True friends will support your decision to be healthier, whether it means joining you at the gym, cooking dinner with you instead of going out to eat, or simply just wishing you well on your journey to better health.  True friends just want to see you happy…and healthy!

 

Truth 3: Your thoughts play a big roll in your successes and failures.

This is so incredibly important.  How can you expect to achieve your goals if you don’t believe that you can?  It is after all The Little Engine That Could, not The Little Engine That Couldn’t.  The Little Engine is such an important story and life lesson, but we laugh at it as we get older.  You should wake up every morning and yell “I think I can” or better yet “I know I can,” and push those negative, debilitating thoughts aside.  It takes practice, but the more you dwell on the positive, the easier it gets!  (P.S. You don’t really have to yell “I think I can/I know I can” every morning; you can just whisper it… or, at least, think it.)

 

Truth 4: You will face challenges.

It will never get easy.  Easier?  Yes.  Easy?  No.  Life itself is filled with challenges, so why expect your journey towards better health and wellness to be challenge-free?  You will face many ups and downs.  It is a roller coaster but you should never get off.  Realizing that you will face challenges and obstacles, and accepting those challenges and obstacles, is what will help you to overcome those challenges and obstacles.

 

Truth 5: The grass will always be greener on the other side.

No matter how fit or strong or healthy you get, there will always be someone whom you perceive to be fitter or stronger or healthier.  You can either let those people discourage you or you can let those people motivate you.  Acknowledge their successes and then put on your blinders so you can focus on achieving your own successes.  Do not allow jealousy and envy to hinder your journey.  Remember, the choice is yours.

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pure barre at pure barre inman park

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The instructor, Bridget, and I tucking after class.

Studio: pure barre inman park

Class: pure barre

Class description from website: We’re thrilled that you’ve decided to try out a class. You won’t regret it! We believe that everyone is capable of rocking our classes- no dance experience required. As long as you can hold a ballet barre, you can do Pure Barre. That’s not to say that it’s easy, your first class will likely feel challenging at times, but we encourage you to stick with it. Try your hardest and let loose and feel free to ask your instructor plenty of questions after class if you weren’t clear on any of the moves. At Pure Barre, we believe that exercise should be fun!

IMG_8436Location: Inman Park location.  240 North Highland Avenue, Building 3, Suite B-1, Atlanta, GA 30307

Phone: (404) 975-3244

Cost: $15 drop in for first time students.  They also offer packages.

 

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What to Bring: Water and socks, preferably with rubber grips on the soles.  If you don’t have a pair, they sell these socks at the pure barre studios.  They do provide cubbies for your personal belongings and shoes.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are fine, but you will be in several compromising poses and positions throughout the class that could lead to an unsolicited peep show for your classmates.  If you wear shorts, make sure they are tight to the leg and covering your nether regions.

Class size: Medium.  There were 9 people including me.

Props used during class.

Props used.

Props used: Barre, ball, resistance band, mat.

Volume and type of music: Music was loud enough to motivate and the teacher had a mic so you could hear her giving instructions.

Impact: No impact.

Modifications: The teacher, Bridget, walked around for the entirety of the class, checking our form and giving instructions.  So if anyone needed a modification it was easy to snag the instructor and ask questions.

Getting my tuck on.

Getting my tuck on.

Format of class: Before the class we were told what props to grab and set up next to our spot by the barre.  We began class with a quick warm up consisting of core exercises such as planks, a modified version of the Pilates 100s, and crunches.  After warming up, we picked up our dumbbells (you have a choice of 2 or 3 pound dumbbells) for some upper body exercises that targeted the chest, back, biceps, triceps, and shoulders.  I chose not to use the weight because (a) it was my first class and (b) I was having some issues with my shoulder.  I was still able to “feel the burn” by engaging my muscles, so do not fret if you are unable to do the arm exercises with the weights!  Following the upper body section we moved on to our legs.  These exercises were done at the barre and were reminiscent of some ballet movements but done with a different alignment than is used in ballet.  Following the legs we moved on to some butt exercises which were also done at the barre but on the floor.  These movements were reminiscent of modern dance and ballet movements, but again, a slightly different alignment.  After working on our buns, we finished on the floor with some ab work and a quick cool down and stretch.

What to expect:

  • Expect to work some muscles you might not be used to working.
  • Expect a to do some exercises that are very different from anything you’ve done before.
  • Expect a lovely studio space that really sticks to it’s theme.  I love a theme🙂
  • Expect to move on to another exercise right when you feel like you can’t go on with the current exercise.
The Inman Park staff.

Inman Park staff.

Who should take this class:

  • People who are scared of the gym and lifting weights.
  • People who want to workout but don’t like to jump.  There was no jumping whatsoever.
  • People who like to workout with props.
  • People who always wanted to do ballet but were too intimidated to do so.  This is NOT a ballet class, but you do get to use a barre and that was always my favorite part of ballet class.

Professional advice:

  • If you are a new student, arrive 30 minutes early because you will need to fill out paperwork.
  • Be aware of your posture and body alignment throughout the class.  pure barre incorporates some unique exercises that do make your muscles burn, and it’s easy to become tired causing you to forget about proper form.  Whenever you ignore your form it can lead to injury. If you feel yourself getting tired and losing form, shake it out and jump back in when you’re ready.
  • Blinders on!  As with any exercise class, you have to work at your own level.  Do no look at the person next to you and get upset because they’re holding an ab exercise longer than you, or they’re deeper in a squat than you.
  • Bring water, and hydrate throughout!  Do not be afraid to stop and take a quick sip of water.  Though you’re not drenched in sweat you are still moving and it’s important to hydrate.
  • If pure barre is something you plan on doing regularly, you need to invest in a pair of socks with the rubber grips on the bottoms.  The studios are carpeted so regular socks can get slippery, especially if you are lacking in core and leg strength.

Thank you to my instructor, Bridget, for an awesome class and for being so welcoming!  Thank you to the manager, Alexis, for being so welcoming!

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They really stick to their theme🙂

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TRX Circuit at Brookhaven Fitness Studio

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Jenn and I “hanging around” after class.

 

Studio: Brookhaven Fitness Studio

Class: TRX Circuit (they offer many other class from Qigong to Kettlebell to Kickboxing)

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Class description from website: Make your body your machine using the TRX suspension trainer and your own body-weight. Build strength, flexibility, muscular endurance and core stability. Developed by Fitness Anywhere, and recently voted the “Best Total Body Tool” by Men’s Health Magazine, the TRX works strength, power, balance, flexibility and can help you stay injury free. Class size is limited.

IMG_8236Location: 2669 Osborne Road, N.E. Suite B, Atlanta, GA 30319

Phone: (404) 7814-9319

Cost: $20 drop in but they also offer memberships.

What to Bring: Water and a towel.  Shoes are not allowed in the exercise area but they provide cubbies for you to store your belongings while in class.  Bring gloves if you have sensitive hands or difficulty with your grip.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are fine, but I always encourage you to wear bike shorts in a fitness class like this because you are on your feet, on your back, in a plank, jumping, running, rowing, and many other things that might lead to an unsolicited peep show.

Class size: Small.  There were 6 people including me.

IMG_8232Props used: TRX Suspension Trainers

Volume and type of music: Music was loud enough to motivate and the teacher had a mic so you could hear her giving instructions.

Impact: Low to medium impact and you have complete control over the intensity.

Modifications: The instructor, Jenn, offered modifications throughout the class.

Format of Class: We began class at 5:15pm on the dot with a 5 minute dynamic warmup.  The rest of the class consisted of several mini circuits made up of 3-4 exercises for a total body workout.  Each exercise was done for 20-30 seconds with a short break (less than 5 seconds between.  Jenn would demonstrate each exercise as we went along and  then she would walk around correcting form or offering modifications.  Some of the exercises we did included squat and rows, seated biceps curls, frog crunches (plank position on hands or forearms, feet in TRX straps, and bring knees to the outside of the elbows.)  We completed the circuits in 35 minutes and ended class with a 5 minute cool down/stretch utilizing the TRX straps.

What to expect:

  • Expect a total body (and when I say total body I mean all of those little muscles you forgot you had) workout.
  • Expect a cardio and strength training workout wrapped into 45 minutes.
  • Expect to keep moving and exercising for every second of this 45 minute period.  Jenn did offer water breaks but we were moving for 99% of the class.
  • Expect to be challenged.  No matter how strong you are, body weight training while hanging on to two straps suspended from the ceiling cranks up the difficulty level on even the simplest of exercises.

Who should take this class:

  • People with a beginner to advanced level of fitness.  However, if you don’t want to waste your time and money you should have a general knowledge of basic exercises (e.g. squats, lunges, planks, etc).
  • People looking to improve balance, strength, and coordination.
  • People looking to strengthen their upper bodies.  I have found that the most effective and efficient way to improve upper body strength is through bodyweight exercises and adding the suspension element just increases that efficiency.
  • People who don’t like lifting weights, because this is an excellent strength training workout using your body weight and some straps.
  • People with a short attention span.  You don’t have time to get sick of an exercise because you’ve moved onto the next one in no time.

Professional advice: If you are a new student, arrive 30 minutes early because you will need to fill out paperwork and  get a rundown of the basic terminology and exercises that will be used with the TRX straps.

Be aware of your posture and body alignment throughout the class.  Because of the instability of the straps it is incredibly important for you to maintain proper alignment of your joints to avoid any unnecessary strain.  This is extremely important for people who have shoulder issues.

As with any fitness class you need to keep your blinders on.  So many factors affect a TRX workout other than your fitness level such as height, weight, how much you sweat (sweat more and the mat gets a bit slippery), grip strength, etc.  Go at your own pace and listen to your body.  For every exercise we did, Jenn offered a modification and I was not afraid to apply those modifications!

Thank you to my instructor, Jenn, for an incredible workout and an excellent first suspension-training class!

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Orange 60 at Orangetheory

The instructor, Sadler, and I after class.

The instructor, Sadler, and I after class.

Studio: Orangetheory Buckhead

Class: Orange 60

Class description from website: Orangetheory Fitness offer 60-minute workout sessions split into intervals of cardiovascular and strength training with heart rate monitors to track intensity and maximize metabolic burn.  Increase energy, get visible results and burn more calories, even after leaving the studio.  That’s the Orange Effect!

Really want to change your body and your fitness level?  Join the best fitness movement in the nation!

The Orangetheory Buckhead staff.

The Orangetheory Buckhead staff.

Location: 3097 Piedmont Rd., Atlanta, GA 30305 (They also have locations in Midtown, Howell Mill, and soon to be Emory Point)

Phone: (404) 719-0170

Cost: Orange Theory is offering a special of 3 classes for free for new students.  Drop in is $15.

What to Bring: Water and, if you sweat a lot, a towel.  They provide cubbies for you to store your belongings while in class.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are fine, but I always encourage you to wear bike shorts in a fitness class like this because you are on your feet, on your back, in a plank, jumping, running, rowing, and many other things that might lead to an unsolicited peep show.  Comfortable athletic shoes (cross trainers, running shoes).

Class size: Large.  There were 23 people including me.

Props used: Treadmills, rowing machines, suspension units (straps), dumb bells, and benches.  They have other equipment as well but this was what we used for this particular class.

Weight room.

Weight room.

Weight room

Weight room

Treadmills & rowing machines.

Treadmills & rowing machines.

Volume and type of music: Loud enough to be heard over all the machines.  Top 40, pop, hip hop.  The teacher turned down the music when she was giving instructions so we could hear her more clearly.

Impact: High impact, however, you control the intensity of your workout.

Modifications: Before class, the instructor, Sadler, asked if anyone had any injuries that hindered their ability to exercise.  She also said to come to her directly if it was something we didn’t want to mention in front of the other students.  She was very clear about giving modifications if necessary and not working through injuries.

Format of class: Upon signing in for class, we were given heart rate monitors to wear for the class because the philosophy of Orangetheory is based on you working in zone 4 or 5, the orange and red zones or >84% of your target heart rate, for 12-20 minutes of the class.  Our individual heart rates were displayed on a TV screen in two corners of the room.  Throughout the class we were told to try to increase or decrease our heart rate (increase or decrease our intensity) to get to a higher or lower zone.

IMG_8114Before the session began, Sadler asked all the new students if anyone had any injuries and then took us into the workout area and gave an orientation of the class, explaining how to use the treadmills and the rowing machines.  Sadler explained that when on the treadmills we had the choice to be power walkers, joggers, or runners.  Based on this choice, we were given our ‘base’ pace, ‘push’ pace, and ‘all out’ pace.  There was a laminated placard on each of the treadmills showing these options as a reminder throughout the workout.

Once our orientation was over we were ushered back out to the reception area to join the veteran students. Once again, Sadler asked if anyone had any injuries and we were guided back into the workout area with a high five.  We were split in half, with one half starting on the treadmills and the other half starting on the rowing machines.  I started on the treadmills.  While the other group went back and forth between the rowing machines and the weight room, Sadler instructed my group through intervals on the treadmill telling us when to switch from ‘base’ pace, to ‘push’ pace, to ‘all out’ pace.  We were on the treadmills for 30 minutes and then switched out with the other group.

For the next 30 minutes my group repeated what the first group had already done, alternating between the rowing machines and the weight room.

We began with a few minutes of intervals on the rowing machine and then went over to the weight room for seven minutes alternating between step ups with an overhead press, one leg jump squats with the suspension trainers, and steps ups with a hammer curl.  After that we went back to the rowing machines for several more minutes of intervals and then back to the weight room for four minutes of burpees alternating with plank and push up variations.  Following that round we went back to the rowing machines for a a few more intervals and then cooled down.  We ended class with a quick stretch and then were able to review our results based on our heart rate.  I managed to get 12 minutes in the orange zone and two minutes in the red zone.

What to expect:

  • Expect an intense total body workout.
  • Expect a cardio and strength training work out wrapped into 60 minutes.
  • Expect to pay attention to the instructor the entire class.  No zoning out in here.
  • Expect plenty of opportunities for a water break.
  • Expect orange lighting…who doesn’t like a theme?

Who should take this class:

  • People who get bored easily.  You are constantly changing your speed on the treadmill and the rowing machine and we did several exercises while in the weight room.
  • People who love to cross train.  You get a little running, walking, rowing, weight lifting, etc.
  • People who like to work hard and push themselves.
  • People who need an outside motivator like the heart monitor.
  • People looking to knock out cardio and resistance training simultaneously.

Professional advice: If you are a new student, arrive 30 minutes early because you will need to fill out paperwork and get acclimated with the machines.

Be aware of your posture and body alignment throughout the class.  It’s easy to slump and round your shoulders forward when on the treadmill and, as you get tired, it’s easy to ignore proper form when in the weight room or while rowing so be aware of proper body alignment throughout!

I thought the display of everyone’s heart rates would create a highly competitive atmosphere, but I was so focused on my own heart rate that I didn’t notice anyone else’s.  That said, you should always keep your blinders on when doing any sort of fitness class to avoid injury or pushing yourself beyond your capabilities.  Go at your own pace!  I was a proud power walker during the class.

Thank you to my instructor, Sadler, for an awesome workout and your enthusiastic and encouraging attitude!

My friends, Josh and Corrie from lululemon athletica Shops Around Lenox joined me for our Orange workout!

My friends, Josh and Corrie from lululemon athletica Shops Around Lenox, joined me for our Orange workout!

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Fit 4 the Fourth Challenge!!

Photo Credit: Gordon Smith

Photo Credit: Gordon Smith

There are four days until the Fourth of July (the ultimate day of pool parties (read: bathing suits), eating, and drinking in the USA) and what better way to spend them than getting fit!  Don’t postpone your fitness makeover until after the holiday weekend, start now!  There are seven days in a week and unless you are training for some sort of competition, it is not necessary to be a strict fitness/nutrition freak all seven days of the week.  That is why I am giving you four days to give fit a go!  I have several guidelines for you and I will be posting daily workout challenges on my Instagram account (@fitdesiree) so play along and see what you can do!  Take pics/video of your workouts or nutrition changes and add #Fit4theFourth to hold yourself accountable.

  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. (Ex. if you weigh 150 pounds, you will drink 75 ounces of water per day.)
  • Eat breakfast. (Even if it’s just a piece of fruit with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter or a glass of skim milk, something is better than nothing!)
  • Eat every three hours. (It doesn’t need to be a giant meal and it doesn’t need to be three almonds.  Caloric intake varies from person to person, but keep in mind that if you are a fully grown, generally healthy adult, a diet of less than 1300 calories should be medically supervised.)
  • Eat at least two servings of veggies every day.
  • Eat at least two servings of fruit every day.
  • Do not add salt to any of your food.
  • No sweets or added sugars! (Cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, refined sugar, etc)
  • No soda! (Neither regular nor diet.)
  • No alcohol! (All alcohol has 7 kcal per gram and is metabolized to fat in your body.)
  • Eat only low fat dairy products. (No full fat dairy products.)
  • No white flour foods. (Choose whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, etc for your carbohydrates.)
  • No fried foods. (Try steaming, grilling, or baking instead.)
  • Take a 20 minute brisk walk everyday.  (This can be broken into two 10 minute walks if necessary.)
  • Do the workout challenge that I post on my Instagram account.  (This is in addition to any physical activity you already have planned  :-D )

Don’t make yourself crazy with your nutrition.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to healthy eating.  You have to figure out what works for you.  Lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, low fat dairy products, and whole grains are your best choices.  It is not always about making the healthiest choice, it is often about making the healthier choice.

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Use the Force at FORM{yoga}

The teacher, Mandy, and I after class.

The teacher, Mandy, and I after class.

Studio: Form{Yoga}

Class: Use the Force

Class description from website: CHALLENGE YOUR PRACTICE AS WE EXPLORE SOME JEDI-MIND TRICKS….JUST KIDDING (KINDA). A more challenging and energizing practice, this strengthening class is for students looking to explore and expand their practice. In this class we will build upon our best alignment to explore some of the more advanced postures of yoga. This class is vinyasa-based and may include short tutorials (aka Jedi mind-trick tutorials) on arm balances, inversions, deep backbends, and other gravity defying postures. The class will also include modifications and a range of options for students to work towards these postures at their current level.  You will burn calories (tons of them). You will sweat. You will work your core. You will challenge yourself.  You will transFORM your practice. Please bring a strong understanding of the fundamentals of the asanas and unpack your humility as you will experience a more intense and challenging practice.  Bring water and a small towel to soak up the sweat. A regular vinyasa yoga practice recommended but not required.

form store front

Location: 2752 E Ponce De Leon Ave, Decatur, GA 30030

IMG_7964Cost: $15 drop in but they have specials for new students.  Get to class 10 minutes early so you can fill out paperwork and pay for class.

What to Bring: Yoga mat, water, and towel.  Cubbies are provided for you belongings

What to wear: Comfortable clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are never the best option for yoga as you never know what poses will give the person behind you or next to you an impromptu peep show.  You are required to remove your shoes in the reception area.

Class size: Small.  There were 11 people including me.

Lower level studio.

Lower level studio.

Props used: Yoga blocks and blankets (all provided by the studio.)

Volume and type of music: Low volume.  Mandy calls her playlists “an eclectic blend of genres” and that is the perfect description.

Impact: Low impact.

Modifications: Any good yoga instructor will always give modifications.  Mandy gave several options for most of the poses and we always had the option to go to child’s pose.

Format of class: This 60 minute class was exactly like the class description on the website.  It was a nonstop class that focused on building strength…although we didn’t get to the Jedi mind tricks this time.

We began class in child’s pose (the calm before the storm) and then jumped right in.  We warmed up with several vinyasas (this word simply refers to sequential movements that interlink different postures to form a continuous flow) and were given the option for additional chaturangas (basically a triceps push up).  The first 30 minutes (give or take…I lost track of time) was mainly standing poses.  We were given several modifications for each pose, from a beginner option to an advanced option.  We visited a few arm balances, again with options for different levels of practice, and eventually took our mats to the wall to practice inversions (upside down poses).  During this period, Mandy spent time with the class newcomers, teaching tripod headstand, while most of her other students worked on handstands.  We finished our practice with the option to do bridge pose or full wheel pose (back bend) and then ended class with a much needed savasana (corpse pose).

Encouraging atmosphere at FORM.

Encouraging atmosphere at FORM.

What to expect:

  • A great strength/resistance training workout.  Yoga incorporates lunges, squats, push ups and so many other bodyweight exercises that are excellent for building strength.
  • A guided practice that you can customize to fit your personal level of yogi-ness.
  • An opportunity to practice arm balances in new ways.
  • A judgement-free atmosphere.
  • Hands on adjustments.  I find this to be a necessary part of any yoga practice so you can get a full understanding of certain postures.  If you don’t like people touching you, I would tell the teacher before class.  This applies to any yoga practice.
  • A laid back teacher who maintains a fun and all-inclusive atmosphere.
  • A lot of poses accompanied by instruction and clarification.  Mandy packed a lot into 60 minutes but I never felt rushed or pressured to keep up with anyone’s elses pace.
  • Some sanksrit when referring to different poses, but also fun names you may not be familiar with.  For instance, we were given the option to do baby crow, teenage crow, or big boy/big girl crow.  Definitely not a stuffy studio.

Who should take this class:

  • People who have a basic understanding of proper form when practicing yoga.
  • People who are looking to build strength.
  • People looking to enhance their inversion practice.
  • This class is not for beginners but there are several beginner classes on the schedule.

I was lucky enough to have my mom in town with me this week so she was able to come to class!  After retiring from her position as a cantor two years ago, she went through yoga teacher training and became an RYT-200.  At the age of 68 she regularly practices yoga and teaches classes so I asked for her take on the class.  I now give you my mom’s two cents about the class:

“Mandy provided a well thought out flow with a lot of poses that had clear and concise instruction.  I didn’t find myself having to look up all the time to see what a pose was, or how to get there.  We were given freedom to modify poses when necessary.  It was a thoroughly enjoyable practice.”

From left to right: Me, Mandy, my mom!

From left to right: Me, Mandy, my mom!

Thank you to my the owner of Form and my instructor, Mandy, for a fun and energizing practice!

Even the bathroom is encouraging at FORM.

Even the bathroom is encouraging at FORM.

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Blast Full Body at Blast 900

Flexing with my instructor, Bri, after class.

Flexing with my instructor, Bri, after class.

Studio: Blast 900 Buckhead

Class: Blast Full Body, Tuesday 4:30pm

Class description from website: BLAST900 is a fat shredding, muscle toning, personalized group exercise class in which people of every fitness level alternate between cardio on a treadmill and strength training on the floor, each working at their own pace to reach THEIR maximum effort. Our specific formula for creating our class structure is what guarantees each client THE ULTIMATE WORKOUT and will forever change how you look, feel and perform.

Blast entranceLocation: 56 E Andrews Dr NW #11, Atlanta, GA 30305 (Second floor)
They also have locations in Midtown and Dunwoody

Phone: 404.841.5430

Cost: First class is complimentary.  Single class is $28.  They offer packages and memberships as well.

Blast cubbies

 

What to Bring: Yourself.  They provide cubbies for you to store your belongings while in class.

What to wear: Comfortable workout clothes.  Yoga pants, leggings, tank top, t-shirt etc.  Shorts are fine, but I always encourage you to wear bike shorts in a fitness class like this because you are on your feet, on your back, in a plank, jumping, running, and many other things that might lead to an unsolicited peep show.  Comfortable athletic shoes (cross trainers, running shoes).

Class size: Small.  There were 12 people including me.  Range of ages.

Props used: Step 360, resistance band, dumbbells, treadmills (gruelingly wonderful treadmills that both incline AND decline).  The props change from class to class.  They have a whole closet full of fun fitness equipment.

Blast-360s

Blast Tread BigBlast props

 

Volume and type of music: Music was loud enough to motivate you, but not loud enough to drown out the instructor.  Top 40, upbeat.

Impact: Low to high impact.  You control the intensity of your workout.

Modifications: We were given modifications throughout the class.  The instructor, Bri, told me ahead of time to pick the intensity that I was most comfortable with.  When we were on the treadmills, she always gave three speed options, one always included a walking speed.

Blast Tread DisplayFormat of class: The class was 60 minutes of circuit training.  Prior to starting the class, Bri showed me how to work the treadmill and how to get on and off the treadmill while it was in motion since they stay on for the entire class.  Since there were more people than treadmills we were split into two groups.  One group started on the treadmills and the other group started on the floor with the props.  Both groups warmed up: treadmill group did some low speed intervals and the floor group did some dynamic movements on the 360.  After a few minutes of warmup, the treadmill group ramped it up to intervals at higher speed and various inclines, while the group on the floor did some chest and ab exercises.  After 5 minutes, the groups switched — one went from treadmills to floor, the other from floor to treadmills.  We rotated for the rest of class in 5 minute bouts so that both groups were on the treadmills four times, and the floor four times.  Each round on the floor focused on a different muscle group, eventually covering all of the major muscle groups (chest, back, arms, legs, abs) and each round on the treadmill was different (sprints, running, jogging, lunges, and walking using incline and decline.)  As I said before, we were always given a walking speed option and there was no pressure to do the suggested speed.  I played with the speeds the entire class.  We ended class with a 5 minute cool down.

What to expect:
Expect a ‘fitness concierge’ to fill up your water bottle, change your towel, and wipe up your sweat.
Expect a class filled with different levels.
Expect to get a complete total body workout including all the major muscle groups and your heart! (Cardio)

Who should take this class:
People who are new to strength training and aren’t sure how to perform exercises using fitness-related props.
People who are training for anything from 5Ks and 10Ks to marathons and triathlons.
Experienced exercisers. Every Blast class is different so you will get a change up in your workout each time.
People who get bored with weight lifting. You won’t have time to get bored because you are constantly changing exercises and moving around. It was a fast 60 minutes.

Professional advice:
Put your blinders on! You will be surrounded by people of all fitness levels, so just remember, it is NOT a competition. As with any workout, you should push yourself reasonably beyond your comfort zone, not someone else’s.
Be aware of your form and posture while on the treadmill. Shoulders back, belly button in, chin up, abs engaged. This is a perfect opportunity to practice posture!
Don’t use dumbbells that are too heavy. You want to use weights that will challenge you, but not weights that will make you sacrifice form. Fortunately the Blast instructors are sticklers about form and will correct you if you are doing something dangerous.
Don’t feel pressure to adjust your treadmill to the speed, or interval, your instructor calls out. Their suggestions are just that, suggestions.  The instructor will not yell at you if you are using a lower speed or interval.

Thank you to my instructor,Bri, for a thorough and motivating butt-whooping!

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5 Day Challenge!! #5DayDesirMay

Photo credit: GW Burns

Photo credit: GW Burns

There are five days left of May and what better way to spend them than getting fit!  There are seven days in a week and unless you are training for some sort of competition, it is not necessary to be a strict fitness/nutrition freak all seven days of the week.  That is why I am giving you five days to give fit a go!  I have several guidelines for you and I will be posting daily workout challenges on my Instagram account (@fitdesiree) so play along and see what you can do!  Take pics/video of your workouts or nutrition changes and add #5DayDesirMay to hold yourself accountable.

  • Drink half your body weight in ounces of water per day. (Ex. if you weigh 150 pounds, you will drink 75 ounces of water per day.)
  • Eat breakfast. (Even if it’s just a piece of fruit with 1 Tbsp of peanut butter or a glass of skim milk, something is better than nothing!)
  • Eat every three hours. (It doesn’t need to be a giant meal and it doesn’t need to be three almonds.  Caloric intake varies from person to person, but keep in mind that if you are a fully grown, generally healthy adult, a diet of less than 1300 calories should be medically supervised.)
  • Eat at least two servings of veggies every day.
  • Eat at least two servings of fruit every day.
  • Do not add salt to any of your food.
  • No sweets or added sugars! (Cookies, cakes, ice cream, candy, refined sugar, etc)
  • No soda! (Neither regular nor diet.)
  • No alcohol! (All alcohol has 7 kcal per gram and is metabolized to fat in your body.)
  • Eat only low fat dairy products. (No full fat dairy products.)
  • No white foods. (Choose whole grain pastas, breads, and cereals, oatmeal, quinoa, brown rice, black rice, etc for your carbohydrates.)
  • No fried foods. (Try steaming, grilling, or baking instead.)
  • Take a 20 minute brisk walk everyday.  (This can be broken into two 10 minute walks if necessary.)
  • Do the workout challenge that I post on my Instagram account.  (This is in addition to any physical activity you already have planned  :-D )

Don’t make yourself crazy with your nutrition.  There is no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to healthy eating.  You have to figure out what works for you.  Lean meats, legumes, nuts, seeds, veggies, fruits, low fat dairy products, and whole grains are your best choices.  It is not always about making the healthiest choice, it is often about making the healthier choice.

Remember, it’s only for five days!  You can do it!

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