Getting Toasty on Core Branding

There are just some days when it all happens; days when a bunch of things come together to feed the energy back into your work-worn soul.  And that was mostly what today was for me.

fuel sweat grow: b:core methods branding

We’ve definitely not been at a deficit of action over here, but it can be a lot sometimes, and balancing the workload of my full time job with these seemingly full time businesses can sometimes just run my energy a little lean.  It’s a strung out balance at times, but it’s worth it for days like these and the countless days that will benefit from this push in the future.

Last week’s excitement stemmed from the finalization of our basic branding and logo/icon.  It seems so trivial, but for me it’s the most soulful element of our foundation and it was so important to feel connected to it.  Now, here’s where I just goop over our favorite brand designer, Carrie from Pink Toast Ink — she’s seriously awesome.  She was behind the re-branding of MADabolic just prior to our opening in Charlottesville, and just totally captures the essence of what b:core is about.

fuel sweat grow: b:core branding

It’s more than just capturing the colors and a ‘cool’ logo that matches up with the ‘vibe’ we’re going for; it’s about really digging in and communicating out the warmth, the essence, and voice of the brand — and of us.

When Carrie and I first sat down I showed her my pinterest board, and sent her a (rather lengthy) list of descriptors and elements of the brand.  I needed to connect to it personally, to have it extend from my own personal brand in a way that is authentic to me and can translate back into being authentic for the brand and the community we have here.

In my opinion, she nailed it.  I’m so in love with the color scheme, how it ties into our design concepts, and even more so the potential that I see in it for the million things we have planned for the soul of this brand.

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Now that the identity, at the most core level, has been established, it’s finally time to settle in to the fun stuff.  Carrie’s continuing to make things even toastier over there in Pink Toast HQ, and it’s pretty much filling my heart up full.

Since this all happened last week, this week has been about finalizing some of our partnerships, strategic plans, and the final details necessary for the full blown announcement that we’re prepping for.

Mother Nature is Doin’ Her Thang + So are We

The end of this week was a little of everything, but it ended up being pretty productive and it was for that sole reason that I was able to breathe a little easier on Sunday and finally got myself organized right before my pending work travel to Charlotte.  So naturally, my trip was cancelled on account of mother nature deciding to spread the snow love to a full week event…and in a much broader geographic range than she usually prefers.  I get it sister, it’s still winter, so make the most of your wildest season of business – I can respect that, so I’ll just find a way to embrace all my happy things right in stride. fuel sweat grow: ciders and flower Since I didn’t make it to Charlotte for work, it really just meant that instead of being in an in-person meeting for 8 hours, I was on a conference call, straight through for 8 hours.  You know what that means? Yep.  It means my inbox is currently the most organized it has ever been, my OneNote skills took a massive upswing today, and there are about one million old files shredded in my garbage can right now.  And it was worth it. It was worth every last second of that phone call to be able to look into my office and feel a sense of organization, calm, and overall bliss — and it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Since I knew it was my last chance to get out of the house and sweat for a while, I committed to the 5:30pm class — and I’m so happy I did.

I love this place, it’s like a second home, which makes sense since we built it to feel that way.  I’m there enough that it pretty much is my personal rec-room, but it’s the people that make that so worthwhile.  We seriously have the best trainers, and that’s only getting enhanced by all of the fine b:core folks that have come on board [including the non-barre side staff soon to be announced].  I happened to snap a pre-snow photo, and then during one of the breaks in class tonight managed to snap more of a real-time snow moment from the same view.

fuel sweat grow: February Snow Day

fuel sweat grow: february snow day

Both photos provide a little perspective change from the norm of looking in, but both pretty significant to me for how this business is positioned. Yes I mean that literally in the photo, but mostly metaphorically as the foundation for all the rest to come out in the larger world. Outside these doors, but never too far away from the passion, lies the intent and serious commitment to what has been built here and the people who have been so integral in building it.

I’ve been working on a number of exciting future projects lately, and the one thing that keeps coming up and I keep coming back to is just how amazing our MAD-core family is. What makes me/us so proud to not only stand with them in these ventures, but also to grow and evolve with them in staying true to our mission, goals, and full commitment to not only build great community but maintain the integrity of a foundation.  For us that is not only about perpetual learning, but in really embracing the ‘why’ behind all that we do.  We are constantly challenged and pushed by our trainers to know more, be more, solution for more, and I wouldn’t (or couldn’t really) have it any other way and still feel or be remotely legitimate in this business.  This is both an incredibly exhilarating discussion point in the fitness industry right now, and an incredibly scary one, all depending on what surrounds you, so I’m so thankful every day to be surrounded by the passionate few who are not only hungry for it, but seek it out.

So, anyone ready for a little comic relief? I’m pretty much always game for a little laugh, this definitely got my attention today as I found myself pacing my office and standing at my desk to take meeting notes and manage chaos, reluctant to sit down.  Our bodies have an intuition about them, and our hip-flexors have a short fuse (get it?), so I’m a huge proponent for finding that balance….just maybe a little toned down from actually walking right out of my job…but to each his own.

Tomorrow has essentially already been declared a snow day for most of Charlottesville (MAD morning classes included) so despite the fact that I’m going to be on another call for 8 straight hours, I’m fully ready to embrace all the good things that are set up for the evening, and maybe, just maybe I’ll do a little sneak reveal of some of what’s to come.  No promises, but you never know.  Either way, I’ve got a lot of new content coming out with a little more of an informative approach as I merge into a new content venture and fitness editorial approach for some other things I’ve been working on for a while.  So hang in there, we’re about to get a little technical up in here.

We Got Stoned Last Week [a resurrected life recap]

So, I love writing.  Even when I’m not in a place to post I’ll frequently spew out a draft and either save it or delete it – it’s cathartic for me.  And then sometimes, I write full posts and completely forget that it ever happened — like I did with the below post that I apparently wrote last week.  I wrote it last Wednesday right after the ER trauma, and right before our training for b:core, and while part of me thought maybe I should hit delete and leave it in the past….I’m going to honor the dear diary moment that it was since it leads directly into my upcoming recap of training, the methodology, and what I’m now referring to as the wonder team because they’re all so freaking amazing.

So here it is….

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Seriously, but not seriously, we got stoned this week — kidney stoned (or Dar did)– and it was not cool.  It was not cool because it’s never cool to get severe pain in your kidneys, or to throw up your whole life in front of your dog, or to have to take a not-so-joy ride in an ambulance because you can’t walk or move.  Those things are mostly not cool for the person going through the actual ‘pain’ process, but it’s also not cool to be the person calling 911, exhausted enough to start wondering if their questions about ebola might actually be relevant to the situation (has Dar been in close contact with animal blood from West Africa recently? I don’t know! Maybe?); or did it just sound too appealing to have a root cause for why the person keeled over next to you seems to believe there is an alien trying to escape their abdomen.  I mean, I guess there are just some things we will never know?

Regardless, Monday night through most of Tuesday is a complete blur, and all of the front loading of work that I had planned kind of evaporated while coping mechanisms took over.  If there was one serious positive about the whole thing it was definitely the reiteration of something that was already pretty understood – we’ve got the best community ever, and our friends are unbelievably awesome.

From quickly picking up classes at MAD to delivering dinner two nights in a row (ehem, Anita) and to the constant check in’s to make sure everything was going smoothly, there was never a lonely moment, and for that I thank you.  I may currently look like a homeless insomniac, but I am chock full of gratitude for all of the sweet people that we are lucky to know.

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Today was the first full day back in life and I’m pretty sure while my body completed some overtime (I had actually worked from 2pm-11pm yesterday to make up for my life evaporation), my brain was still on break for the first couple hours of the day.  I finally started to feel less foggy by 10am, and that is exactly when the flood gates all opened.  One million emails? check.  Three somewhat illogical fire drills? mmhmm.  And of course, there was the anxious yet exciting status reports on the next business to join the family, so I was back on all-cylindars digging out.

Tomorrow is going to be epic, and the first of several PTO days that could not be more well spent.  It’s foundation building time, and I could not be more excited about completing that stage.  I’ve got so many updates, so much crazy news, and of course some already stored content to publish when I have the green light to share the final pieces of what feels like an incomplete puzzle at the moment.  All in due time I suppose — but patience never was a virtue of mine.

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So, there you have it.  The exhale of some stress, and the inhale of a new experience that has proven to be far better than anything I could have hoped for.  We’re still concealing three big surprises with b:core, but at least the barre piece is out there and our teachers are able to fully realize their own passions, dynamic personal brands, and so much more.

fuel sweat grow: barre training b:core

This is just the beginning, and that’s what makes it so much more fun to get up every day and hop right on the grind.

Catching up on last week: fuel + barre

It’s been a while since I had a spare minute, so updates have been a little sparse, but believe me, good food has not.

Last week kicked off with a trip to the ER when Dar had kidney stones that presented like they might be appendicitis, or what she described as ‘an alien living inside’ of her (good thing that proved to be a misdiagnosis). The week ended (and the new one began) with the most intensive 5 day certification I’ve ever been to with our unbelievable team for the barre portion of our new studio concept in Charlottesville (b:core methods).  We were all trained by Exhale/Core Fusion co-founder Fred DeVito (who basically established Barre in the US with the Lotte Berk Method before creating Core Fusion — you’re welcome America), and it could not have been more exceptional.

fuel sweat grow: b:core core fusion training by exhale

I will be sharing a far more extensive history of the method, updates from the weekend and my recap of the experience in the next week or so, but in short, it was better than I could have hoped for from an truly educational, and functionally sound perspective.  Our teachers were all amazing right from the beginning, not only getting right into teaching like rock stars (seriously, all of them. rock stars) but also in how they embraced and dug into the kinesiology and anatomy sections, which was the most important part to Dar and I. Everyone got two manuals, one for the method and class structure (etc.) and a second THICK manual detailing out the ‘why’ behind each nuance, movement, and modification that has been developed and improved in line with physical therapists, professors, and doctors of varying specialties.  Twenty years of expertise, evolution, and technique all wrapped up into 5 long days of intensives.

It’s now four days later and I’m still applying new tidbits not only to how I think about barre on the whole, but also how I think about coaching and performing at MADabolic — and it’s already made a huge difference.

When I haven’t been at this training, at MAD, or you know, working at my day job, we’ve been (of course) working on another pretty exciting collaboration (or three) with some folks locally, and I can’t wait to announce all of them in the next month or so.  Lots of amazing things are about to unleash themselves in Charlottesville, and a few other choice locations.  I guess when it rains it pours, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

Through all of the scurrying, training, and building, one thing has remained constant: good food.  We’ve been lucky to have the time and ability to stay in Cville rather than having to travel for training, and through that have had some amazing meals both at home and with friends.

Here are a few clean and awesome meals that helped to keep things in a ‘go’ status:

Grilled Flank Steak Fajita Wraps w/ fresh guacamole, that I believe may have been an offspring of this recipe from Paleo Kitchen, and happened to also be paired with the most amazing mexican cauliflower rice thanks to two of our awesome MAD members.

fuel sweat grow: paleo dinner club

This soup was a hybrid product, existing somewhere between the Whole Food’s Turkey Chili made paleo that Todd and Kiks made a few weeks ago, a general vegetable soup, and a basic dump in of everything left in the fridge.

Here’s what we had: sautéd onion with ground turkey, zucchini and yellow squash, kale, chicken stock, and mushrooms added to the boil.  The only spices added were garlic salt (from the grinder) and black pepper — and that’s all that it needed.

fuel sweat grow: chili soup

Monday night, at the end of our final training day, I decompressed with one of my favorite staple meals; flank steak, calciferous kale and green onion slaw (dressed in lime juice, olive oil + sea salt) with a side of avocado.

fuel sweat grow: sunday night dinner

This is definitely one of my favorite meal combo’s and have had it in several different iterations over the last few weeks, including last night again when we had two of our MADmen over for dinner + development.

fuel sweat grow: steak / salad

This weekend I’m looking forward to laying low, and I actually head to Charlotte on Sunday night for most of next week, but as we all know, a week in my office in charlotte = a full weekend day prepping meals and making sure I’m fully stocked for a week of work life imbalance.

Paleo Eats: Game Day Style

So, one of the hardest things about a real food / clean eating challenge can be the social aspect — especially if you’re not surrounded by people who share a similar lifestyle, or that support what you’re doing.  That’s usually the biggest fail point for anyone looking to make a lifestyle change — being surrounded by people and choices that counter the healthy habits they are trying to form.

The first time Dar and I completed 28toLife we were pretty much alone on our own island.  Friends would want to hang out and fear and panic would set in because we didn’t know how we could possibly make it through an outing where everyone else is eating and drinking whatever they wanted.

fuel sweat grow: all i need is food

The second time we went through the 28 days of garbage-free living was a little easier, and we had far greater understanding and appreciation for the lifestyle and how to find that place of complacency even when out of a controlled environment.  This third official time that we’ve completed the full 28 days was the best of all, not only because we had a pretty secure grasp on how to live in normal-ish society, but mostly because the community that surrounds us was a part of what we were doing, all inspired and motivated with the same healthy sense of purpose, and commitment to living a better cleaner life.  And it was awesome.

It’s February now and the ‘challenge’ is over, but the lifestyle remains, and so does the awesome community that came together over the last 28 days, and this weekend we proved it.  While Saturday brought Dar’s 49th (that’s not a typo) Birthday and a little bit of an off-the-wagon wine and beer indulgence (not to mention the most amazing ‘asparagus’ cake from Maliha Creations).

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Sunday re-directed itself back on track thanks to sleep, recovery, and the continued culinary expertise of Anita (the love behind Maliha Creations). So, instead of having a Sunday afternoon full of food that we just spent a month detoxing from, it seemed only fitting to re-create our favorite treats, paleo style.

Homemade salsa, to ensure no sugar; stuffed peppers (amazing); spaghetti [squash] + meatball nests, and a veggie ‘chip’ plate for scooping guacamole, all helped us kick off the game.

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks

fuel sweat grow: paleo super bowl snacks I brought the guacamole deviled eggs (upper left corner above), which are easily my new favorite quick grab snacks to make.

Quick details:

Ingredients:

  • One Dozen Hard Boiled Eggs
  • 1 ripe avocado
  • Sea Salt
  • Chili Powder
  • 1/2 LIme (sqeezed)
  •  Garlic Powder

The quick how-to:

  • Shell the eggs
  • Cut the egg in half with a sharp knife
  • [in a small bowl]: Combine egg yolks, avocado, sea salt, chili powder, garlic powder + lime juice
  • Mash all together (with fork or avocado masher)
  • Spoon filling into egg white
  • garnish with a light sprinkling of chili powder

All in all, while the weekend brought back wine and some dessert cheats, it all came back around in the end, and things went (relatively) back on track.  I’m actually so excited to do food prep tomorrow night for the rest of the week that I almost can’t contain it — and I probably won’t.

Time + Trigger Points

You know that saying, ‘where does the time go’? Like a questioning of how time could possibly be evaporating into the ether; mysterious and elusive.  I don’t know if it’s better or worse, but I know exactly where my time is going because it’s all blocked out on my planner between work, to-do’s, meetings, projects, and the inevitable MADness that consumes my week. And I couldn’t live any other way.

I’m front loading this week with everything – sweats, organization, work.  Everything that legitimately needs to get done  from a real life perspective will be happening between now and Thursday morning.  I was slow on registering for MAD this week, so of course I couldn’t get in to the 6am, but luckily was able to snag one of the last spots in the 7am to fully kick off Momentum Month.

fuel sweat grow: Sweat Schedule

The last few weeks have been a complete blur of travel, organization and system completion for the next big thing we have happening around here, and we’re just about at the point of sharing those details with everyone….ALL the details, which is more than what even our new team is aware of.  We just need a few more days to make sure all the details are fully cooked and ready to go, so that’s exactly what we’re working on.  This has been by far the most fun, exciting, and inspiring of all my ventures, and as promised at our 1 year anniversary of MAD, it is the combined product of all of the successes, failures, and learnings from the last 5 years of business owning, operating, buying and selling.  The commitment was to building each one better and smarter than the one before — in both practice and strategy.  And so far, so good.

Since the build is always the hardest part, things have been a little nuttier than normal, and I’m so thankful for the community and support that everyone provided through The Whole Damn Thing.  Seriously, it helped to stay motivated and on track when organization seemed was most challenging and most necessary.  In tandem with that, we had some amazing community vibes happening around here hitting up class at Opal Yoga, Hot Yoga Charlottesville, truPILATES, and  back in the MAD house for a little Yin Yoga/Myofascial Release with Mia Hamza on Saturday.  And some day soon I’ll fill you in on where I’ve been going when I’m NOT in Charlottesville, because that has been the most fun of all.

fuel sweat grow: Myofascial release Yin Yoga

fuel sweat grow: yin yoga myofascial release

We had an awesome crew join for the 2 hour (2.5 if you were really counting) workshop after 4 crazy packed MAD classes, and we most definitely found some release.  For our athletes at MADabolic, and athletes anywhere, it’s so critical to remember that their health is a full circle lifestyle — we’ve covered a ton of the eating part, and in our intervals we cover the strength, cardio, endurance and stabilized training methods, but we can’t forget the nuances of what we still need and often overlook — it’s the strengthening, challenging, and lengthening the smaller and more attention needy muscles that allow us to play big when we want to.

We started with Yin Yoga to warm up our muscles and get a few of the kinks and cobwebs out, and then went right into the education and practice of myofascial release, and finding the trigger points that our bodies crave to have worked out.

fuel sweat grow: Yin Yoga + Myofascial release with Mia Hamza

The hardest thing to adapt to is the very apparent feeling of nausea that can sometimes come out of releasing a point where stress has been building.  The feeling is different for everyone, and so is the trigger.  I’ve always known through my perpetual massage habit that my traps and neck carry tons of stress for me in my life, but what I sometimes forget is just how much of a load lands and stays in my quads.  That’s my most sensitive and trigger rich area, so it requires the most breathing and conscious relaxation (yep, that’s a thing) to get through….always with the hope of not barfing.

While I was just so thrilled to be offering this to the community (and some other stretch options soon to be hitting the plate of our MAD members), there was still the question of how everyone would respond to it.  We’re of course always trying to figure out what our clients need more of, less of, and what additional resources and education we can provide to make sure they’re LEARNING the WHY and not just going through the motions because we told them to.  After a short recovery coffee and some food to keep the machine functioning, I received a text from our awesome friend and client Abby with the following text: ‘I was just able to bend over with my legs relatively straight and touch the ground.  It has literally been forever since I could do that!!!’ which was an awesome testimonial after just one workshop, and really great to know that it’s not just Dar and I who believe in, and benefit from it.

Of course the hope is to make this a habit to have lasting and not just feigning results….so expect to see some more deep, loving, and in the words of Robin, ‘yummy’ stretch sessions happening around MAD – very soon.

So with that all behind me, including this morning’s 7am MAD class, we’re about a third of the way into the ‘get ‘er done’ section of the week.  Here’s to hoping I made enough of a dent in the to-do’s today to prevent any heavy back loading on Wednesday so I can stay on top of where all my time went, and where it’s going from here.