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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Charleston MADness + Juice Blends

It’s official — MADabolic Charleston is finally open!

MADcharleston

After what felt like endless months of build out and training, the doors are now open and the foundation of this new community has already begun to form.  And it’s been nothing short of amazing.

Thank you Charleston for the amazing reception — and our MADabolic family (flowers courtesy of Tracie and MADabolic LKN) for the support as we open #2.

MADcharleston

MADcharleston

Preview classes were awesome, and we got to christen the space with some packed classes, which is always amazing energy.  If you live in Charleston, have friends in Charleston, or just vacation there, come check it out — we’re here.

I can’t really pinpoint what the ‘best’ part of this whole endeavor is, but I’m pretty sure that just shy of the amazing community, it’s going to be having the excuse to be in Charleston ALL the time.  Things could definitely be worse.

On Saturday, after the two morning classes, I hit up Blend Juice Bar (in Mt. Pleasant) with Dar, Heather, and Mike (two of our coaches at MAD) for a little boost in our energy.  This was an absolutely amazing find, and it’s only been open for about a month.

Blend Juice Bar Charleston

Blend Juice Bar

To start we (each) did a grand slam of juice shots:

1. Red Dragon: lemon, ginger, cayenne

2. Green Dragon: wheat grass, kale, lemon, ginger, cayenne

3. Tiger’s Blood: beet, carrot, ginger

4. Nature’s flu shot: garlic, ginger, beet, cayenne, romaine, jalapeño, lemon, oj, apple, kale, spinach, lemon

Blend Juice Bar

These definitely had a kick to them, and my belly was warm for about 10 minutes following, but we definitely felt awesome.  I HIGHLY recommend checking this place out…and not only for the pure juice.  Their smoothie selection is unreal, and the Green Sweetie might be the best green smoothie I’ve ever had or even dreamed of.

There are so many new spots I loved from this week’s trip and I absolutely love Charleston, but I’m still homesick for Charlottesville and the MADville crew.  I’m back in Charlotte this week for my ‘real’ job, so it’s going to be a little longer, but you better believe I will be ever-so present at Friday’s after Five and of course the MADrave on Saturday night.

It’s both amazing and challenging to balance life between three cities, but I don’t think I could have picked three better places to have an anchor. This is going to be an amazing summer of MADness.

 

Eating Local: Charleston Tour

I’m definitely a creature of habit, with all the potential for an addictive personality – energy that thankfully (usually) gets focused around food and fitness.  This past week was exactly that, all set in the ever-loving and beautiful city of Charleston.  From beginning to end the trip was an exploration, and a somehow stressful break from the normal routine (such is opening a new business), but the food scene and amazing weather made it worth it.   Here’s a quick glimpse into the food tour that became my life, and the sweet local spots we experienced.

Verde:

Salads and wraps — with all the fillings — either tossed or chopped.  This concept is so simple, clean, and done exactly right with quick and convenient and the ‘create your own’ combination(s) had every option i could have wanted.  And if you live in Charleston (or vacation there), it’s all within your reach because they have two spots: mount pleasant and charleston.

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped salads

fuel sweat grow: verde chopped saladI think I ate there 5 times in a week (not kidding) and never repeated the same combination. This summer combination blended their mixed greens with kale as the base, and then added cucumbers strawberries, almonds, grapes, hard boiled egg, and avocado.

I always got the salads chopped, and then played between their chipotle lime vinaigrette and just balsamic and olive oil.  On Wednesday as I was heading out of town I stopped for my last and final visit (for the week) and switched things up with a wrap: base of arugula,  with added cucumber, tomatoes, avocado, hard boiled egg.  Cilantro lime vinaigrette, chopped, and wrapped — it was AMAZING.

Between my trips to Verde, and our time at MAD with the trainers, I also squeezed in some amazing meals out in Charelston:

SALT at Station 22:

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

This spot on Sullvan’s Island is awesome – the perfect higher end and foodie friendly beach restaurant with a great seafood selection, and an incredibly diverse (and delicious) menu — because it actually changes daily.

fuel sweat grow: SALT at station 22

The first night we went there for our MAD management dinner (yes, first night, because I had to go back) I had an awesome arugula salad with beets, goat cheese, and homemade croutons.  For dinner I had their tenderloin special with a pretty awesome sweet potato mash.

The second stop at SALT was actually on the last night and I had the absolute best roasted half chicken of my life — the Roasted Tanglewood Chicken.  The chicken itself was unbelievable, and it sitting atop of a mix of crispy sautéd onion and vegetable and jus.  It was unbelievable.  This will, without question, be a favorite for me every time I’m here.

Graze:

This spot is so close to our space in Mt. Pleasant (in the Whole Foods shopping center right by Pure Barre and Charleston Power Yoga) but to be honest, probably wouldn’t have been on my radar if it hadn’t popped up on Open Table.  As I say that, I want to immediately (and vehemently) say that I will absolutely go back – this place is awesome.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Charleston

This tenderloin entree was honestly one of my favorite meals from recent memory and the roasted cauliflower puree it was sitting on is something that I’m going to have to try and recreate, but I’m certain I will not fully be able to match.

fuel sweat grow: Graze Tenderloin

Low Country Bistro:

Another favorite spot in downtown [Charleston], and the perfect Sunday night dinner.

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

fuel sweat grow: Low Country Bistro

Dinner was with two of our coaches from MAD, and in addition to the great food and great company, we had GREAT wine – and lets be honest, that’s really all I’m looking for on a Sunday night.

fuel sweat grow: low country bistro

From what I’m told, the Chicken & Waffles are exceptional – it’s a sweet potato bacon corn bread waffle people –  and there ain’t nothing wrong with that….except that it’s not something that would register on my clean eating plan.   For that reason I didn’t even give it the courtesy of a menu skim when we were there but if you’re wondering how I’m feeling about it now — the answer is: slightly regretful.

Crave Kitchen & Cocktails:

Our second to last night in Chuck Town ended at Crave in the Shoppes at Seaside Farms for dinner, and I got the slight indulgence I had been waiting for.  Chicken Marsala over an amazing risotto, with broccoli and sautéd spinach on the side.  I actually took most of this back to the hotel with me and never managed to finish it, but what I did have was awesome.

fuel sweat grow: crave charleston

This place was a really unexpected treat, and from what we learned, the chef, Landen, happens to have an affinity for paleo-esque clean eating, so they’re definitely on our short list to cater the Grand Opening Party for MAD (save the date: July 19th).

All in all, from a food standpoint, this trip was an absolute success.  From a getting the doors open standpoint — well that hasn’t exactly happened on an even remotely reasonable timeline, so I’m just going to focus on the food — the delicious and saliva inspiring food.  Our last team trip in February was full of equally as impressive spots that I definitely want to go back to (Stars and The Grocery, for instance), so Charleston is quickly climbing the ranks as one of my favorite restaurant cities of all time — and I’m okay with that.

I’ve been back in Charlotte for a few days now and head back down to Charleston this Wednesday to hopefully get the doors open at MAD with our team there, and then will finally make my way back to Charlottesville.

Now, for the most important part of this post — any suggestions for awesome places to eat in Charleston?  I’m assembling my to-do list for the next year, and that food tour is definitely on on it.

 

 

Hello Charleston, Lets Get MAD

Where to begin? I think it was Alice in Wonderland that taught us all that it’s usually best to begin at the beginning, so, I will.

I spent the first half of the week in Charlotte tying up every loose end I could think of, preparing to head down to Charleston by Wednesday.  I had my mobile workstation in tow, and with the help of the coffee/smoothie bar at Whole Foods, I powered through everything on my list (I hope).

fuel sweat grow: working morning

By the time Thursday afternoon rolled around and I was officially on PTO, I was so very ready to shut down my mobile work station and take in our new home of the MADness — and the girl was there, awaiting my arrival.

fuel sweat grow: MADcharleston welcome entrance

We have been pretty delayed in our buildout which has (and always has) led to some anxiety and discontent in the ranks, but we started to get back on track Thursday and can hopefully set our preview week (FREE class) schedule in the next couple of days.  The bright side of the extra time is that we’ve had full availability to spend more time with our trainers to fine tune their coaching, our methods, and the operational procedures that we’ve developed over time in Charlottesville that can luckily kick off day 1 at this location.

fuel sweat grow: trainer training

The past 6 days have been constant work, development, learning, and thankfully, training for this whole group.  We don’t hire ‘trainers,’ or ‘fitness professionals,’ because we’re not just a gym with exercise classes (and because both terms are so generic and overused that they’re virtually meaningless at this point).  We’re a training facility, with a focus on training the everyday athlete.   Our target market ranges from the recreational sweater to the elite level athlete, and everyone in between. And as such, we require coaches – real, knowledgable, credible, fit and inspiring coaches – and that requires not only finding the right people, but providing perpetual training, development, and opportunities for them to better reflect and embody the product and lifestyle that we believe in.

I shot the below photo during one of our board talk/interval training segments, and just can’t get past the symbolic nature of the lighting.  This team, and this facility is still living in the shadows: of the hype, of the branding, and of all the unknown that exists outside of these four walls and these 6 coaches.

fuel sweat grow: trainers

In the next two weeks the doors are going to open, the classes will begin, and all the bodies that walk in the doors will be experiencing the product (obviously) but more importantly they will experience the community, the structure, and overall energy feed that we aim to deliver.

We’ve been so spoiled with our staff in Charlottesville that it’s unreal.  We have the best coaches we could have hoped for, and they make us better every single day.  They are the energy that our clients’ experiences and that our overall success is derived from.  The staff in Charleston is going to be amazing, and they are ready, but still don’t know what they don’t know — and that’s the most exciting part.  The next month is going to be crazy fast, and before we know it we’ll all be standing at the Grand Opening party with our brand new community, and a full month of new learnings, and a wide open road ahead.  I remember the beginning so vividly in Charlottesville that it’s completely insane to me that it’s almost been a year.

Which brings me to the much needed, never-long-enough, and just plain delightful non-work portion of this ‘vacation.’

fuel sweat grow: Charleston pool time

I’ll touch back more fully on this later, but we’re staying at the Wild Dunes Resort (I know, cry for me), just for a few days to break up the trip, and it is exactly what I needed.  Sun, beach, pool, and drinks – it was definitely not a bad way to start the weekend.

This morning was another training morning up at the space with a couple hours of coaching discussion and demoing, followed by the same interval that was being done in the other (open) locations this morning…just so no one felt left out.   While it was definitely more of a day of work than a day of rest, it was awesome to sweat with the group and detox from all of the absolutely killer food (+ wine) i’ve been consuming since I got here.  Restaurant reviews are a must, and will definitely not disappoint, since I’m pretty sure I’ve been eating better than anyone on the planet the last few days.

If we weren’t missing our Charlottesville group so much, we might never leave.  But, we are, and I can’t WAIT for the MADrave coming up on June 7th at our Charlottesville space in the IX building, so if you haven’t signed up already, get on it.  I’ll be there, glowing brighter than the sun.

 

It’s All Business: Lessons from Bug & Tank

If there were a canine version of The Godfather I’m pretty sure Bug and Tank would be the main characters.  Beyond their creepy co-dependence with each other and the fact that Tank’s snaggle tooth and collar bling makes him the best mob-style short Italian dude ever, I’m constantly finding animal heads in their beds and strewn about the house.

Fuel sweat grow: tank the godfather

Last week I had both dogs with me in Charlotte they must have torn through at least two new babies a day.  The mistake was definitely mine because I gave them too many new things up front — by friday the house was full of empty, lifeless carcasses of once fluffy toys.

As tedious as it is to constantly pick loose fluff off the floor (and out of the carpet), I have to respect their spirit.  These dogs have never met a challenge to large, a toy too durable, or anyone impressive enough cause them even the slightest misstep on the way to achieving their goals of destruction.  They’re all business.

Lately I’ve felt like my life is all business as well – transitioning from one job to the other, slowly transforming into that ‘face behind the computer screen.’  All projects and business items are in the ‘build and stand up’ phase, which is actually what I love the most, but with it all converging at the same time work days seem like continuous cycles just broken up into 24 hour phases with short interruptions for food, other obligations, and physical activity when at all possible.  Last week I hit up Flywheel in Charlotte twice to salvage what I could of my cardio endurance, and squeezed some short runs and walks into other available windows.

I could not be more excited for our MAD Charleston location to be open, and for the really fun parts to begin; welcoming new clients, planning the grand opening party, and connecting with the community that has already been creating so much buzz for us.  In Charlottesville we’ve hit a really amazing tipping point with new clients and energy in the space, the MADrave with TruPilates and Opal Yoga coming up in June, and then our 1 year Anniversary party on August 16th.  The things on the horizon are definitely appealing, now is just the business of getting there.

This week Dar is in Charleston to check on the last phases of buildout, work through layout, and stand up some of the major operational pieces, so, in the spirit of keeping all of our bases covered and continuing the momentum across the board, I’m holding it down in Charlottesville working remotely for my (other) job by day and working it ALL out by night.

Last night I got to squeeze in a little more of the fun part — coaching – with packed evening classes (and thank you to Elly for being back up at the Front!).  I’ve only been on the schedule a handful of times in the last couple of months, so it was so fun to return to the floor and experience the energy of the workout on the other end.

fuel sweat grow: MADville MADabolic Cville

Clients that were ‘new’ in the beginning of 2014 are now moving like seasoned veterans of the MADness, and everyone has managed to really engage mentally in the business and intention of the work at hand, without sacrificing the social and charismatic vibe that makes us all want to be there day after day.  In these moments, whether coaching or taking, every hour spent on back office planning and tasks all seem so worthwhile.

Accompanying my return to coaching has been my return to working out, and I’ve managed to squeeze in the Monday and Tuesday intervals.  I’m still in the debating stage of whether today will happen or not, but I’m going to err on the side of it happening since I need something to counterbalance the last three days of absolutely dreary and horrendous rain.  The other way I’ve been fighting the rainy day blues is by getting back into the kitchen.

Happy Spring Salad: romaine, snap peas, heirloom cherry tomatoes, avocado and sunflower seeds.

fuel sweat grow: spring salad

I’ve also been incorporating more grains into my meals, not every day, and on a moderate scale, but it has changed everything about my energy level.  I’m definitely not a carb fiend, but every once in a while I need it for that recovery — just usually in the form of quinoa, or products made with brown rice.   So, last night, to go with my ground beef, zucchini, and Keswick Gourmet Sauce, I threw in some brown rice fettuccine and tossed it all together.

fuel sweat grow: fettuccine w/meat sauce

 

I’m actually in Charlottesville through the middle of next week, so I’m pretty psyched to hit up the city market this weekend and put together some new local meals that hopefully can be paired with actual spring weather.   But for now, it’s all business, and like Bug and Tank, I’ve got my eye on the end goal.