Charleston Turned 1 + We’re all MAD

It’s hard to capture all the nuances of the last few weeks in just a few short posts (because lets be honest, time is a bit of a scarcity), but hopefully I can do a little justice to the amazingness that is our Charleston team, and last weeks celebration(s) to wrap up the first year of MADness in the Holy City.

Of course, I worked, and thankfully this time I was able to move my full work station off the counter and on to my brand new favorite desk that I miraculously found here on Overstock and loved it in person way more than I even liked it online, which never happens — believe me.fuel sweat grow: charleston work station and deskWhile it was a little bit of a chaotic week for me (work wise) to be away from my normal routine, I have to say it was definitely nice to have something to look forward to at the end of the day – switching up from my typically preferred morning sweat routine.  It could be the salt air that makes afternoon classes seem more energy-rich, or maybe it’s just the people, but I had the best time sweating next to everyone that rolled in and out of my group, with special props going out to my all-star ‘ride and die’ group for our #MAD100 celebration on Thursday.

If you follow us on Facebook you’ll know that we typically have at least two MADones hit 100 classes each week, a pretty impressive feat for those who have been with us for less than a year.  We view it as an honor — for US — to have such awesome and committed clients rocking it out in our intervals, and wanted to acknowledge that mutual respect, of course, in the form of an invite only private interval for those very MADones who’ve rocked 100 (plus some).

And for the record; this wasn’t just any run of the mill sweat – we made sure of that.  It is anaerobic month after all — and believe me, I haven’t met an easy day in it yet.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston MAD100 private intervalWe’re talking about our group of die hards — and while there are certainly some newer faces chomping at their heels — these are the founding faces of our community and we are so freaking happy to have them walk through the doors every day.  Now, I’m not going to spoil the fun surprise of how (absolutely) awesome the photos from the interval turned out, so you’ll have to stay tuned to our FB page to see them trickle in here and there until they’ve each had their moment in the sun.

Of course, we’ve also got our coaches.  Our awesome coaches, founding and novice, who have all added their own personal touch to how we do things, what we value, and most importantly — what’s coming next.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photo 2015

I think it pretty much goes without saying that our newbies are settling in quite nicely – in part because they’ve been pillars in this community since the beginning, but in part also because I’m pretty sure they were just born awesome, which certainly makes our jobs much easier.  But in case you had any doubts, here are a few of my favorite outtakes, which I’d conversely term as the ‘definite keepers.’

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photos 2015

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston team photos 2015

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston coaches outtakes 2015

So, in a nutshell, last week was awesome, despite the fact that I spent the majority of my week days holed up for work in a pretty dark room.  It’s amazing what a little sunshine, a new (favorite) desk, and a couple parties can do to pull a girl out of a rainy day rut.

Thank you to everyone who has been a part of making the end of this first year so positive and strong, and to all those whose energy and commitment has already made the start of year 2 even better than we could have imagined.

I’ve still got plenty of updates on food in Charleston and some more gratitude for our extended community, but this was plenty for today.  In summary: work is bearable if your desk is cute enough, sunshine and parties cure all ills, and every damn one of the people that make up our community is MAD, and that’s exactly how it all should be.

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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.

MAD minute: the Airport Edition

I knew that if I made my flight this morning it will not be because of luck, or speeding, or the remote proficiencies of the ticket and gate agents at the airport.  I knew that if I made my flight, it will be only because my body is fully  conditioned to break into a forced 1 minute on, 1 minute off, very aggressive sprint (x 4) through the parking garage and terminals of this airport, all while carrying some damn heavy loads.  Suitcase deadlift? Check.  Suicide (or what I would call a long-distance sprint): double check. Both at the same time? Oh yeah, that challenge was accepted.

IMG_9311
Had I known that this morning was going to be such a fools game (of spreading awesome) I would have just gotten up two hours earlier and killed time with a long coffee date with myself in terminal A.  Instead of that, I started my day from a place of complete calm; all my bags were packed and sitting at the door, I had already planned my outfit out, the dogs cooperated with the feeding/medicating timeline I had proposed with slight apprehension.  I had even made time yesterday morning to clean my closet and office into the well organized meccas they had been intended to be.  In short, I was going to not only crush this work trip, but I was also going to crush my anxiety about it by creating complete control in my environment.  Cue the universe’s intervention.
I’m all about the slow build, but apparently that wasn’t an option.  My 90 minute drive to Richmond turned into a 2+ hour ride, chock full of accidents and lane leaders that believe the speed limits themselves are too high (forget pushing it to +5).  When I finally got there I escorted myself to the daily parking garage, only to learn that the 12 remaining parking spaces were also playing a game: hide and seek.  When I finally got into the airport (after sprints #1 and #2), it became especially clear to me that this challenge was not only physical, but also a mental one, questioning compassion and rationale.  I had 5 minutes to get my ticket, make it through security, and get to my gate before the plane would be finished boarding, and the only ticket agent was helping an elderly woman re-book her flight and understand her new travel…and possibly life.  Honestly, universe, an elderly woman? Of course you did.  You can’t get mad at that.
So, I stood in line, as patiently as I can while simultaneously tapping all of my things and twitching. I eventually got my ticket and well wishes from the ticketing staff as sprint #3 commenced to the security gate.  Shoes off, laptop out, take of literally everything that could possibly suggest weapon of drug concealment  and cause a trip back to the end of the line.  Now, I will say that I appreciate the free pass on the personal body search today, but seeing as though I was just about as naked as you can be (thanks to my lululemon uniform of the day) that search would have been extreme to go beyond the 3 second full body scan.
Eventually I made it to the gate as zone 2 was finished boarding. I slowed my pace to cruise right into seat 16A with muffled, yet still heavy, breathing, a fresh coat of morning sweat covering my forehead and little droplets running down my back.  I know that description made you all want to travel with me, and definitely made you want to be squished into a tiny plane with me and limited air supply.   Truly, how could you resist?
west-coast-flight
As luck would have it, we got a little delayed on the runway, and I got to repeat the whole exercise again when I changed planes in Charlotte, just barely making it to the final, and nearly excruciating 5+ hour flight to San Francisco, crammed 3 in against a window.  But, I made it.
I made it and I’m now safely where I should be, getting work organized, and waiting for work to officially release so I can have company for dinner, and the first actually good and restful meal of the day.

Last week — the dreaded first week back to work after a long holiday break — was nothing short of exactly what I had feared.  Now, it could have been that at work there was a quick ramp up to handle all the million loose ends that carried over from the incomplete to-do’s that time didn’t look kindly upon — it could have been that.  It also could have been the fact that I have a million little things going on outside of work that required time and attention; or the ups and downs of 28toLife / The Whole Damn Thing days 4-11.

Truly, there couldn’t have been more variables in the mix to promote stress and anxiety, and somehow I did manage (albeit probably just barely) to get through the most challenging and critical portion of 28toLife.  While it’s not the first time, and this is not so far from my typical eating/cooking style, I have to say, giving up wine and fully embracing the challenge amidst all the moving life pieces would have been next to impossible without the amazing folks in Cville, MAD, and beyond, participating and pushing me.  This ‘group’ has gone from being a small group of devotees, to a huge group of amazing contributors, food innovators, community builders, and inspirations, who collectively and individually committed to forming these new lifestyle habits together.  It’s so amazing.

Today is day 12; the bad habits have been just about lost, and the good habits have begun to strengthen and grow within the framework they had previously existed.  While I’ve been a little tight on time all around, I’ve still managed to have some great meals, including some awesome ones with friends, and absolutely killer sweats in MAD this week.

I’ll start with Friday — it was a pretty long day of work, and a great + grueling durability interval at MAD, only to be capped off by a sweet night with friends.  Kiks is one of our MAD coaches, Todd is one of Dar’s top boyfriends, and they’re both not only great friends, but the parents of two sweet and sassy little munchkins who we love to hang with — so Friday was exactly that, but with the added bonus of an amazing 28toLife compliant chili and paleo corn(less) cornbread.

fuel sweat grow: paleo chili whole foods

Truly, this was amazing.  It was stock based so there was a super warm almost soupy vibe, and it was exactly what this frigidly cold week needed.  I forget sometimes just how much I love this type of dinner, so it was the perfectly timed reminder.

Saturday morning, which came way too soon, kicked off at MAD – sort of a weekend tradition – with packed 7:30, 8:30 & 9:30 classes.  There’s really nothing like Saturday morning in MAD when all of our weekday friends from different time slots all come together to really define and connect the community end to end (pictured here in my pretty choppy panoramic shot).

fuel sweat grow: MADabolic Cville

Saturday night brought a little heartier of a meal to try and help combat the cold, which has been nothing short of bone chilling these last couple of weeks: cole slaw w/green and red cabbage, carrots, and thinly sliced green onion, alongside two big fat NY Strips.

fuel sweat grow: steak / salad

 

When I tell you I needed that, understand that ‘needed’ is an understatement.  I was so desperately craving red meat that I knew my body was in serious need, and after the intervals at MAD on Friday and Saturday, I had no doubt in my mind that it was a legitimate need.

After dinner Saturday turned in to a fun night with some of our favorite friends and MAD ones, their families, and a couple crazy pups.  Does it get much better than that?  Not usually.

I can’t put into words how happy I am that the first climb with 28toLife is over and it’s clear sailing into week three with a much fresher, healthier, and lighter (just in general feeling) whole self than I came into 2015 with.  I mean, that’s really the point right?  While the whole clean eating thing is detoxing your body from all of the garbage that passed through it and was stored, there’s a certain need to also free yourself of the garbage that you carried with you emotionally, and that kind of lightness, well that can be the best feeling of all.

 

Wine, Apples, Brunch + More: #23to30 Days 4 & 5

This weekend brought Day 4&5 of my #23to30 chronicles, and marked a solid October weekend of both amazing friends and the first convincingly crisp fall air.

Day 4 landed on Saturday, and it kicked off with an abrupt wake up call that was the second to last day of cardio week intervals at MAD Cville. Saturdays, when I’m in Charlottesville, typically always involve taking and teaching the interval, and this week was no different.  While there are some moments when I first wake up that I reconsider this scheduling decision, I have to say it’s by far my favorite day of the week with our community, packing classes with clients from all week-day time slots, always adding a fresh dynamic to the morning.

After class, the second week of patronizing Brazo’s Tacos, the new pop-up taco spot in IX (In the Al Dente space) brought both fuel and happiness into my life, perfectly timed right before what turned into a marathon day of errands and chores.

Thankfully the day ended with some much needed wine with a few of my favorite people, a finale that inspired this #23to30 philosophy for the day:

fuel sweat grow: #23to30 Day 4

All of these things are absolutely true, and just further support the notion that wine = happiness, and since happiness is the basic goal, wine is the foundation for life and prosperity.

Today, Sunday, brings day 5 of the chronicles, and if it’s possible, was end to end one of the best Sunday’s in a long while.  Wake up, grind out a durability interval at MAD, finally have coffee, eat an amazing brunch at the Guptas (the patron saints of Cherry Hill) and then go apple picking with some of the MAD folks? Yes please.

[grain free paleo pumpkin waffles, egg + asparagus fritata, bacon, coffee....brunch perfection]
[grain free paleo pumpkin waffles, egg + asparagus fritata, bacon, coffee….brunch perfection]
Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard with the MAD crew
Apple Picking at Carter Mountain Orchard with the MAD crew

I’ll have to circle back on the specifics of the day because there are many moments worth sharing, but the main focus was enjoying moments with friends; the beauty that we’re lucky to have in our backyards, and all of the subtle thrills of Charlottesville life.   I could write about this all day, and as much as I want to, I also want to keep to the point —  and that is that sometimes it’s important to just take a break for the people and things that are right in front of you — the ones that give content to your life, everyday.

fuel sweat grow: get excited

 

There’s so much to be so grateful for, and positively overwhelmed with, so take a time to make room and celebrate all of the little things that make up your big happy life.  They add up, and more importantly, so do the relationships, making the difference between simply having a life to having an amazing quality of life….and that deserves a little enthusiasm.

A Year of MADness: gratitude, awards, community + <3

It would be impossible to put into words just how amazing the experience of opening MADabolic Cville, and mostly growing [with] this community, has been.  We opened with new programming and a logo, and that’s about it.  Over the last year we have built a (small, but mighty) machine that runs partially on our developed structure and mostly on the energy, humor, and incredible support of the clients (now friends) that walked through the doors and brought this concept to life.

The foundation, for me, definitely comes from my business partners.  If there’s one thing that I’ve learned it’s the importance of surrounding yourself with the right people; the educated challengers, the perpetual learners, and the people who push you to be unhappy with the status quo.  They’re the people that share not only your vision and goals, but also the drive, passion, and business acumen that actually makes those goals attainable — and they would be doing it even if you weren’t there.  The truth is, you really are only as strong as your weakest link, and that’s always the biggest risk to any effort, large or small, entrepreneurial or corporate.

I’m so grateful for the strengths of my business partners.  The different perspectives, experiences, and business maturity that I get to learn from and collaborate with every day are unparalleled.  There’s a contagious enthusiasm as we run our businesses and plan for whatever it is we decide to do next — because I know that it will be the enemy of our discontent, and the byproduct of our learned successes and failures.  I’m a complete believer in strengths based architecture and professional development in establishing high performance teams — all of which takes some level of intention and accuracy when constructing, but I’ll be the first to admit that I got really freaking lucky when I stumbled upon these amazing individuals.  This is not normal, and I know it.

But, really, this isn't normal.
No, but, seriously, this isn’t normal.

 That’s what fills me up every day, it drives me, and fuels higher performance levels from me in my ‘real’ job, these businesses, and my own training (well, that, and all of the amazing people that bring our concepts to life).  The fitness piece of what we do is just the hook.   It’s a passion for all of us, sure, and it’s what gets people in the doors, but at the end of the day this is a business, just like any other, and a passion for the product doesn’t make the machine function.  Without the insatiable energy and enthusiasm that our communities fill our spaces with every day, I don’t know if the rest of it would seem as worth it.  While it’s critical to build the right management team, part of surrounding yourself with the right people includes developing strong client relationships, and reciprocating on the value that is provided from both.   The shared experience and the dual benefit — that’s the power of community — and it’s not a one way street.

fuel sweat grow: MAD cville
Last Saturday’s 8:30am class / post lululemon product bomb

That’s what we’ve found to be the beautiful reality in Charlottesville over the last year (and let’s be real, Charleston, you’re right on our heels already).  Once again I feel like we already won life with our community alone, and I so appreciate it.  Each small business venture brings a new perspective (this is my 9th and counting) and I couldn’t be happier with what has been built here.  Charlottesville is my heart, it’s my own personal ‘Best of,’ and it’s every sweet niche pulls on my heartstrings.

fuel sweat grow: MAD cville

fuel sweat grow: MAD cville

fuel sweat grow: MAD Cville

fuel sweat grow: MAD cville

This week Cville Weekly announced the winners of it’s ‘Best of’ awards, an award that simultaneously means nothing and everything in this small town, and we were lucky enough to win Best Niche Gym.  The winners just so happened to be announced and featured the same week we are celebrating one year of business, which just made the celebration all the more meaningful.

fuel sweat grow: MAD Cville Best of

So, to make a long story longer, thank you Charlottesville and all of our MAD clients for giving us all the love you have, and a big thank you  to my business partners for not only buying into the idea of bringing an unknown concept to such a crazy small town, but also for hanging in through chaos, sharing your experiences, and allowing me to leverage all of your strengths to navigate what has certainly been a year of unknowns.