On the Road Again – First Stop: Charlotte

The snow is gone, the weather is warmer, and apparently, travel is also back in full swing.  This week I got back in my normal routine and made my way down to Charlotte for a full work circuit.  While the vibe is definitely a change up from my normal Charlottesville pace, it’s also familiar.  I’ve lived in Charlotte enough times now to have an easy routine to fall back into.

I’ve got my favorite coffee spots, my go-to restaurants, my fitness favorites, and of course friends that somehow put up with my constant state of being ever-present and elsewhere all at the same time.  I’ve got a sweet little sometimes life there that I love, and a great city where there is constantly something new to try, to explore, and new centers of community.  This trip had a little bit of everything.

While my first ‘real’ day involved my office and a baby shower for a sweet friend and co-worker, my second day (post-work ritual) involved some full-body core action at Carolina Barre & Core, followed by a little happy hour and catch up with my friend Erin at her brand spanking new jewelry studio that I’m in love with.

fuel sweat grow: erin mcdermott jewelry

If I’m wearing jewelry, you can pretty much just assume that it’s one of Erin’s pieces, and if it has an elephant, you’ll know it’s one of my favorites.

fuel sweat grow: Erin McDermott Jewelry

You’ll be seeing much more of Erin, and some special new pieces at b:core in Charlottesville early this summer.  We’re pretty stoked to have her and her new little girls (or little kids) jewelry line share our community.

Friday brought another early dose of Carolina Barre & Core (Barre Fusion class), and some out-of-town community love.

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre and core

fuel sweat grow: carolina barre

By the end of that second class in just over 12 hours, and the fact that every Amity class I take completely rocks my whole world, I was ready for a little lacrosse ball release as we made our way down to Charleston.  Seriously, with so much travel taking up our lives these days, a few lacrosse balls and some foam toys can make all the difference in helping to counter balance the travel tightness.  You’d think that by now I would have learned to not workout and then sit in a car for hours, but apparently I haven’t, and my schedule never seems to make those allowances.

fuel sweat grow: little spoon CLT

So, after a quick coffee stop at Little Spoon, we were bidding adieu to Charlotte and en route down to Charleston to link up with our MAD coaches down here, check out the Bridge Run, and get the community juices flowing as we head into the spring season. Now, if I can just get my muscles to cooperate and stop whining over how dang hard the barre classes were….

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Thank You Spring, You’re the Best: 7 Ways to Clean out the Stress

Another Monday is here, and another gorgeous weekend in the books. I sometimes think that Spring has an unfair advantage over all the other months for being the one that brings the sweetest relief to the depths of winter (clearly, I don’t love the cold).  I’ve been pretty under the weather the last little while, still mostly trying to chug along, and I’m looking forward to being fully on the mend with some sweet spring air change fully what’s in the air.

Recently, despite even being down of the count, the stress in the air has been palpable all around.   End of the 1st Quarter means anyone on a (fiscal) business cycle is feeling the pressure. The varying schedules for spring break brings travel, uprooting, and re-settling to the surface for folks all around, usually impacting schedules of the whole collective to piece together what would be normal life and timing.  In all things small business (in my life), the coordination of all the little pieces, all the schedules (human and otherwise) and all of the competing timelines that need to somehow magically merge together have brought some anxieties to an all time high.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the stress of not only my own life, but of those around me and the collective whole — and then I think to myself, ‘Frankie say RELAX.’ Because sometimes, you’ve just got to take a pause from all the noise to figure out what’s really a priority — and reset on what sanity means to you.fuel sweat grow: relax

I came across this article about Second Hand Stress and it couldn’t be more spot on.  Stress always has a snowball effect; whether it’s taking on other peoples stress, building more of our own, or just feeling the avalanche of ‘ALL THE THINGS’ at once, sometimes it’s most important to pump the breaks and get back to our own baseline.  I’ve found that the more you do, and the more you have going on, the more frequently you’ll find yourself in a second-hand struggle, and you’ve got to have your own coping/recovery methods for getting through it.  I’ve got some what I’d call, first and second level stress recovery tactics that have gotten me through some of the worst energy vortexes I’ve ever known:

First Level Stress Recovery [immediate options for the small bumps]:

1. Stand up from wherever you’re sitting. Log off of all social media. Turn on music. and dance.  Seriously, just dance.  Increasing the volume will directly increase the effectiveness (of decreasing anxiety).

2. Play with a dog.  If you have a dog, play with it, walk it, do something that brings you freedom (mind and distance) from your stress.  If you don’t have a dog, borrow someones or walk one at the SPCA (there are a lot of them there just wishing someone would show them love too).

3. Workout. Go somewhere and sweat.  If you’re really in a stress bubble, go for a long run, a walk, or do yoga.  Find a place where you can escape into your solitary mind with minimal intensity and lots of movement freedoms (maybe check out Yogavibes.com and get in a little at-home class).  If you’re needing to really sweat it out, maybe do something like MAD, and rather than finding the solitary moment, find some comfort in community and the folks that just won’t let you get out of there without a conversation and some laughter — that works too.

Second Degree Stress Recovery [when it feels less like a weight on your shoulders, and more like a sword through your brain]:

1.  Move furniture.  Literally re-arrange your life via your living space.  It’s cathartic, fun, and will allow for a pretty quick sense of accomplishment. You can ask my college roommates — this was a pretty frequent tactic for dealing with my multi-level life at the time.

2. Take a day off and go off the grid.  Maybe you take a long weekend and go visit your best friend, maybe you need to just go for a ride.  Whatever the distance is that you need, take it, and don’t apologize.  Sometimes physical distance is necessary to create the space to let go.

3.  Cook all the food.  Go to the grocery store to stock up on some healthy staples, and then come home and cook some meals for the week (or a big awesome dinner for friends? your call).  Sometimes the process of chopping and prepping is what I need in order to work through whatever is going on, and sometimes it’s the actual organization of packing up prepped and cooked food into a million different containers that helps me feel like there is some order in the world.  If you’re not looking for a marathon cook-fest, just go to the grocery store because just having food can sometimes be relief in itself.

4.  Stop spinning all your wheels, and get organized.  This is my most frequent struggle when things start moving faster than I feel like I can respond, and that’s a sure sign to me that there is a breakdown somewhere in my organizational systems, or I need to do some high level re-structuring.  I’ve been a long-time user of Evernote, but just converted over to OneNote at work and at home, so I’m heavily reliant on having one place to go where I can keep everything organized and accessible.

Those are some of my key strategies to get myself back on point, and honestly, even if there’s nothing particularly troubling in the air, and no second hand stress to be had, these are all pretty cathartic as every day practices to keep things positive and constantly refreshed.  In fact, turning them into more of a practice may actually be the key to avoiding life’s little potholes or getting caught up in the external noise.  So, if you’re up for it, welcome spring with open arms, a little release and re-org, and just coast straight on into summer.

b:core – THE Announcement

So here it is: the announcement you’ve been waiting for…or really the one we have been itching to get out for a long time.  b: is for barre, but core is for….Lagree.

We’ve been following this method for a while now, both at it’s foundational level through creator Sebastien Lagree, and also through some of the current top-trending brands that deliver the method globally (try: solidcore, core40, SLT, and over 100 others).  If you’re dialed in to the fitness scene even just a little bit, you’ve heard of it — and if you really have your finger on that pulse, you’ve probably gone out of your way to sweat your face off in a class somewhere, just like we did.

Want to learn a little more? Check out some of these articles from well+good that can give you a little bit more info on some of their top Lagree studios and why they love to sweat at them.  Our studio will have our local b:core branding and a strong athletic vibe, so you can expect some intense sweating to perfectly compliment everything else that you do — at least that’s what my plan is.

When I left Charlottesville after college and began my fitness career outside of college athletics (in tandem with my business career) I viewed the combination as part of my ‘real world’ immersion.  It began as a way to create balance in my new grown up life, and quickly started to set the foundation for my lifestyle.  I travelled often, always finding the ‘best’ place to sweat wherever I was, and was lucky to live in both Philadelphia and Charlotte where fitness is both a focus and something that is done exceptionally well.  I learned the importance of investing in my health, and tapped into my passion for not only teaching, but also building community with that same lifestyle focus.  Part of that path was  pushing myself physically to try everything while continuously learning and evolving beyond passion to establish that solid base for what I believed in and why.  That part of course has continued to evolve, and will hopefully only get stronger.

fuel sweat grow: lagree fitness b:core

The other side of that path was the one leading me back to Charlottesville.  I wanted to live here, that was without question, but I wasn’t willing to give up the fitness and health aspect of my lifestyle to make that happen.  So, of course, the only real logical course of action was to build what I wanted in Charlottesville, and that’s the root of this all.  Basically, what we have now is my ideal world, paired with Dar’s own dimensions and passions, and a community that is transforming before our very eyes.  I think I can also speak for Dar here when I say that we could not be more excited to finally have what we believe are the top foundational, innovative, and expertly designed methods out there all perfectly packaged to compliment each other — and we promise, we’ll never be complacent.

We’ve still got a lot more brewing over here, but now that this cat’s out of the bag, it will all make much more sense.  Charlottesville I hope you’re ready, because things are about to get pretty intense….in a good way.

Primal Education: Function to Movement

Secretly, or I guess not to secretly now, I have this dream that I live in a world where there are 26 hours in a day.  I’m not wishing for longer ‘work’ days — truly — I’m talking about two bonus hours that exist separate to any other possible commitments, interruptions, or demands to just simply catch up on the world.  Extra sleep would be great, sure, but there is so much other consumable information out there that is constantly evolving, thought provoking, and currently stockpiling up in my blog feed that I just want it to reasonably fit into my life.  I have these long lists of bookmarked and flagged articles ranging from fitness trends, to clean eating, to lifestyle….you name it… that I literally binge read once or twice a week to the point that my head feels like it might explode.

fuel sweat grow: reading

These days when I don’t get to read anything of particular interest or pleasure to me from 8-5, having these supplements to my development really caps off the day perfectly.  I use a few different readers, following my fair share of the larger industry publishers and (probably too many) individual voices whose views I respect and believe in, and a few that I don’t — which I look at as philosophical diversity.  It’s always a different perspective, a variety of information, and with the ones I really get into, either an integrated take on something so functionally relevant to what we do at MAD (and b:core), or something completely new that challenges my thinking.

Whatever the connection (or dis-connection) point, I love where each piece takes me.  This week I finally rolled across this post on the Whole 9 blog talking primal movements — or I guess I intentionally found that post after stumbling across this follow up on how the 7 primal movements in the first article are put into practice for balanced, total body progressions.  So much of what we do at MAD is based off of our 5 functions, creating a primal focus in every interval….and hopefully, if you’re paying attention, in every movement.  Our b:core training (barre certification from Exhale Spa) is deeply rooted in the same principles, in functional movement patterns, and the ‘why’ behind what we do and do not believe in.  Once again, rooted in kinesiology and movement principles, it’s all about the body, how it is assembled, how it moves, and what patterns are functionally sound to increase ability and reduce injury.  That’s kind of a mouthful, but essentially that’s what the goal is, and that’s what we strive to engrain in our staff, and love to learn more about from them.  We’re so crazy lucky with the teams we have for all businesses, and are constantly blown away not only by their knowledge and ability, but also their thirst for more functional knowledge to make them better at what they do.  That’s the true making of a fitness professional versus an instructor, and it’s such a hard thing to find in a small town like this.

In the last few years Dar and I have geeked out pretty hard on functional movement certifications and trainings not to mention a million hours of reading and practical implementation, so we’re pretty pumped to be bringing the best that we’ve found to Charlottesville.  From FMS to movnat, Strong First to barre by Exhale/Core Fusion, and of course the ___________ method being announced this week….we’ve essentially brought everything we believe in to one consolidated market, and we could not be more excited.  Stay tuned for some updates on each, including our latest adventures with the FMS screen and what it’s going to mean for our clients.

Charlottesville, you’re pretty freaking lucky — and we feel the same.  Now, if I just had those 2 extra hours to read my stories, my life here would be soon be complete.

Do Your Best + Let the Rest Roll Off

There are moments, moments that always feel far too frequent, when something shakes our world a little (or a lot), both devastating our hearts and creating pause.  It’s in those moments of pause when silence can become deafening, and all of the pointless chatter happening around us goes quiet so deeper perspective can take root.

This past week I followed on my Facebook feed as the community I grew up in, and a school so close to the hearts of my family and friends, turned itself inside out searching for one of their own. They came together as a community only to be rocked completely.  A 13 year old boy who was so distraught over overdue class assignments and an overly manufactured sense of failure left his home and took his own life.  And unfortunately, this has become far too common.

There are a million different things to speculate, to wonder, and on some level to even relate to, because we’ve all been in a situation at one point or another where it seems almost impossible to see the light at the end of the tunnel.  What that light looks like and how we get to it is going to be different for all of us, and for some, especially those who have battled or known the despair of a deep depression, the end may be that light.  I know all of this, but I still can’t help but feel the extra weight of this tragedy today.  Today my mind kept coming back to a few thoughts I could not shake; things that I wish everyone not only was reminded of, but also deeply believed in.

1.  Outside of doing your best, nothing you do in school really matters.  Seriously, not really even college.  All of those years are meant to give you time to develop, to create context, and to allow you to grow — not to determine your lifelong potential.  Be open to learning, be open to exploring your interests, and of course working hard, but your whole job is to discover your own passion and hopefully start to live it.  Learning what makes you tick, what keeps you motivated, and what your strengths are will be more important in our life than any class, or test, or assignment in the world.

fuel sweat grow: you were meant for amazing things

2. Be open to failure.  Failure and struggle are the experiences that give our stories content, that teach us our most important lessons, and help us find the grittiness in ourselves that confidence can stand on.  Find any person that you think has succeeded and ask them about where they failed — believe me, they’ll not only have some good stories, they’ll also be able to draw a direct line from what they learned to all of their subsequent successes.

3. You have value.  Truly, you. are. valuable….invaluable really, so don’t you ever let anyone or anything ever tell you differently.  There’s a horrible epidemic of kids who grow up looking for their value in other people, in things, or in money, and as adults we have a responsibility to instill in them the confidence and understanding that value is inherent, and not externally found.

4.   Don’t take life so seriously.   Sure, life is a serious business, but sometimes it’s the ability to shake off all the unnecessary pressure and manufactured stress and enjoy the moment for exactly what it is.  Whether you’re in the build, the struggle, or the victory lap of your life, live through every moment and appreciate what’s available to you in that moment. Truly, if you’re alive and your heart is beating for something, you’re already succeeding, so find joy in the path.

I could go on, and I probably will at another time,  in several different installments, but for today, this is what I’ve got. So, thanks for letting me rant, feel, and write my way through what makes no sense and all the sense in one messy package.  And, most importantly, may that sweet boy’s soul rest in peace.

All Things Local: Fuel, Fitness + March Mindfulness

I LOVE weekends.  Since I don’t have as much flexibility during the weekdays with my regularly scheduled job, the weekends become my everything days, and I love it.  Our businesses are those of passion and people, so when I can look at my planner and see full days of exactly those two things, I’m pretty pumped.

This past week was so draining that Friday night was a mandatory night in –with Bold Rock Cider and Keswick Gourmet bringing some local Cville love into the mix. Dinner also included zoodles, skirt steak, spring salad, and some of my favorite [paleo] avocado deviled eggs.

fuel sweat grow: at home local dinner

There were definitely years in my life where friday nights out were a constant — but I’ve long since run out of steam for anything too involved (or past 9pm) — so something really comforting to me about being home, having a few friends over, and keeping things low key.  It also helps Saturday morning at MAD hurt a little less.

The Saturday 7:30am class at MAD brought a complete and total sweat-down at the first of a fully packed momentum day. Since my standard Milli Joe coffee run came later than usual at at 8:30am, almond milk lattes that gave us the fuel we needed.

fuel sweat grow: love and coffee

The rest of Saturday afternoon consisted of house chores, some business organization, mani/pedis, and a long awaited night out of the house with dinner at The Local.

Sunday was for community — and it hurt so good.  After a full night of rest, and a slow-ish morning that included adjusting to ‘springing forward,’ we went all #marchmindfulness and took up an invitation from Hannah, owner of the the most recently opened barre studio in Cville, barre[d.] for the 10:30am cardio barre class.

fuel sweat grow: barre[d.]

It was great to see so many faces, new and old, rolling in excited for the change-up.  After an hour of sweat and fatiguing with our new friends, we high tailed it over to MAD for a few meetings, Mia’s athletic recovery and release class and practice with our b:core team.

So, is that weird that we went to barre[d.] because we’re opening b:core soon? Not really — at least not to us, or anyone in the industry that understands the differences across the marketplace, or supports the fundamentals of community.  In the last 3 years I’ve taken nearly every barre class offered in most major markets, in studios big and small.  Knowing what all is out there, and understanding the nuances are for the foundations of each technique are just small pieces what feeds my development — and that hasn’t been specific to any one fitness niche, as will soon be very apparent.  This is actually not really that niche of a marketplace with over 20 dominant methods, and a multitude of others, all with different takes on the structure that Lotte Berk set out, and foundations in yoga and pilates.

The more I push forward my own learning and expertise in functional movement patterns, and the more certifications and trainings I get under my belt across all fitness modalities, the more exciting it is to see new methods popping up that respect similar fundamentals or introduce something completely different.  Of course each technique has their own spin, and none are the same, which is why we were SO excited to try out Hannah’s class and what she’s bringing to our community.  We loved experiencing such a different twist on barre, blended with her own approach on ballet cardio TABATA — so thanks for a great class, we’ll all be back to spread a little more local love soon!

Needless to say after cardio barre, yoga/myofascial release, and then more barre practice with the b:core team, my body was ready for some actual rest and recovery.  So what’s on this week’s agenda? We’re continuing our downtown district tour of our favorite women owned local studios in honor of International Women’s Day by hitting up TRU pilates, Hot Yoga Charlottesville, Opal Yoga, Integrity Pilates, and of course MAD.  We’re also kicking off the 5 day plan for lifestyle clean up – and really just a slight wine reduction, so it’s a big week for health and perfectly paired with some much needed spring weather.