“Do heavyset women take those classes?”

Considering my teaching schedule this week, I figured it was a good time to address a question I received last week during one of the classes I subbed. When I finished promoting the Seaport Sweat classes for November and December, one female came up to me after class for additional details. After I finished giving her the information, she asked me the following question “Do heavyset women take those classes?”, which, I’ll admit, kind of threw me off guard. And made me feel a little sad.

If she’s asking me a questions like this, it made me wonder how many others might have similar feelings or question, yet are not in a situation where they can ask the question, or worse, are too afraid to ask the question. How many others are avoiding group exercise classes- or even the gym all together- because they’re afraid of what others are going to think about them? Or the looks they may get. Or because they don’t know where anything is. Or because they don’t know what they’re doing or what to expect.

And the thing is, I get it! I get that the gym can be a scary place- whether it’s because you don’t know where things are, don’t know what to expect, or don’t know where to start once you do get there. Even as a fitness instructor, a former avid class goer and someone who goes to the gym all the time, when I’m placed in a new environment I, too, get those feelings. I don’t like not knowing where the equipment is or where the locker room is or what to expect out of the other members. But, sometimes you just have to give it a try because if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that no one else is looking at you as much as you think they might be. They don’t care about your size or how much you can lift or whether or not you know how to work a machine. They’re usually too busy checking themselves out  😉

So, my response to this girl wasn’t “of course they are!”, because that would suggest that I was agreeing with the label she gave herself. Instead, I told her that everyone is welcomed and encouraged to come to the classes and that no matter your shape, size, age, fitness ability, etc., you can make the class work for you and leave the class feeling proud of all you’ve done. No jumping? No worries- we can take the plyometric piece of the exercise out. Lunges hurt your knees? We can do glute bridges or something else that doesn’t hurt you. Afraid of using a step (this used to be me!), ditch it- just do the exercises without it. There are always ways around things that don’t work or feel good for you and as fitness instructors, it’s our job to show you this. To make you feel comfortable, included and proud of yourself for all you accomplish, rather than worried about your size.

I hope next time you find yourself making up excuses for why you “can’t” do something or “can’t” attend a class, I urge you to think about why you’re feeling this way. And once you do that, try and think of a few things you can do to make yourself feel better and like you CAN do something or CAN go to a class. Here are some of my suggestions for this:

  1. Talk to a friend who goes to the gym or classes often and ask them for tips on what to expect, where to find the equipment you’ll need, where the locker room is, etc.
  2. Buy a new workout top or pants- this always helps make me feel better!
  3. Find something that really interests YOU, rather than something that you think you should do. In other words, if you hate spinning, don’t go to a spin class! If you don’t like cardio, maybe pick a weights-focused class instead of a cardio-focused class. If cross-fit intimidates you, choose something else! You get the idea….
  4. Go to the gym and peek in on a class that you’d like to try so you can see what it looks like.
  5. Talk to the instructor, explain that you’re new and let him or her know about your current fitness abilities so they know when to offer variations for you.

If you want to read more tips on how what to expect for your first group exercise class, I suggest checking out this post I wrote a few years ago: 10 tips for your first group exercise class. And more than anything- know that you should never let your shape, size, age, fitness abilities, etc. deter you from trying out something that sounds interesting to you!

Questions for you: Have you ever let something about your physical abilities stop you from trying something new? Have you ever felt nervous going to the gym or to a new class? What do you do to help make yourself try new things?

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Looking Ahead: Workouts for 2016

Good morning! I don’t have a workout for you today, but I still want to talk workouts with you. Sound ok? Good! As we approach and start a new year, it’s natural for us to think ahead to things we want to change and accomplish over that next year, right? I’ve never been one for resolutions- mostly because as soon as I put a rule or label around something, it makes me want it more- and this year I’m not even really focusing on specific goals, but, with that said, I have been thinking about what types of workouts I want to focus on this year and how I want to learn and grow.

Last year was a big growth year for me in terms of exploring new areas of fitness (kettlebells, barbell heavier lifting, more indoor cycling, etc.), learning to take and appreciate the importance of rest days and cutting myself a freaking break when it came to backing off of workouts and taking it easy. Was any of this easy to do? Hell no! But does it get easier as I go? Sure does! I’m getting more comfortable with kettlebells (still have a long way to go here, though) and venturing to the weight lifting section of the gym, I’m loving my rest days and I’m getting better at taking my workouts day by day, listening to my body and knowing that a few extra rest days or lighter workouts are not going to ruin all of the hard work and hours I’ve put in at the gym. It’s a really good feeling and something that’s fun to work towards!

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With that said, even though I don’t have any goal-specific plans with regards to my fitness journey this year, I do have some thoughts on things I would like to do/learn/get better at. Right now, I’m having a blast learning new lifts and just getting more comfortable under the barbell. I still have a long way to go here, but every time I learn something new or get a new PR I feel more and more comfortable, which is exactly the type of motivation I need to keep going! Although I’ll always love cardio, I think it’s time for it to take a bit of a backseat for a good part of the first part of the year. With wedding planning, time will be limited so my workouts will likely have to be shortened, but that’s ok because you can get a great strength/HIIT/metabolic resistance type of workout done in less than 30 minutes and feel totally spent 🙂

Once the wedding is over, I’d like to attend more trainings and certifications and spinning is first on the list! I have gotten so much better at spinning, but I would love to really start mastering it so that I can add it to my teaching repertoire. I’d also love to take a kettlebell training course so that I can learn how to properly execute the basic moves. These are things I really enjoy, so I figure it’s wroth investing the time and money to make sure I know what I’m doing!

As far as physical goals & strength goals with regards to numbers, I don’t really have any. Last year I had a few goals: 10 unassisted pull-ups/chin-ups and 10 chest to floor push-ups. Did I get there? Well, not entirely. Most days I can do 4-5 chin-ups, but I’ve never gotten further than that. Do I think I could? Sure, with more practice, but I just kind of lost interest in that goal after a bit. When it comes to chest to floor push-ups, this is a give or take, depending on the day. Some days I feel strong and can do 10 of these in a row, other days I struggle to get 3-4 good ones, but the thing about fitness is that’s just how it goes. It’s not a linear process; there are days where you max out, PR, etc. but then the next day you may struggle to do half as much as you did the day before. That’s just the way it works, so realizing and accepting that has made life so much easier 🙂

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I’d love to hear from you, though- do you have any fitness related goals this year? New PR for squats, chest press, deadlift, 5K, triathalon, etc.? Did you reach any goals you made last year? What are you most proud of with regards to your health/fitness over the past year?

I hope wherever you are in your health/fitness journey. and wherever you plan on going with it, you do it with love and compassion. You are so much more than the number on a scale, the number on the weight rack or the number on the treadmill! Health and fitness is (or at least should be) a lifelong journey- there will be high points and there will be low points- but at the end of the day, if you are consistent and keep at it, you’ll gain so much more than a new PR or a toned physique. You’ll gain confidence and a sense of empowerment that will carry on with you through all your other life adventures (good and bad) outside of the weight room. Appreciate where you are right now, and keep an open mind to all the places you can go if you put your mind to it!

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Holiday Gift Guide for the Foodie, Wine-o, Fashionista & Fitness Lover in Your Life

Good morning! This is the first time I’ve ever done a “holiday gift guide” type of post, but as I was in the shower the other day (TMI?!), I started thinking of all the various products I love- not just fitness related, either. Things the foodie in me loves, things the wine-o in me loves, things the {wannabe} fashionista in me loves… so I think when you combine all of those things you’re bound to find something in this list for someone in your life, right?! Right.  I’ll preface this post by saying this certainly does not cover ALL of the things I love in these categories, I just picked the top 2-5 things I love and use/buy in each category. If I included all of my favorites this post would be veryyyy long 😉 With that said, let’s get to it!

Foodie

  • Tre Olive I wrote all about our experience with Tre Olive in this post, so check that out for the details! High level? By visiting Treolive.com you can purchase lots of various olive oil based products from olive groves in Italy (soaps, olive oil, gift packages, etc.). If you’re looking for more, you can even adopt an olive tree for a season and get multiple tins of olive oil made from the olives your tree grew. Pretty cool, right? If you are interested, you can use the code B2BHoliday to get $10 off and olive tree adoption!

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  • Vitamix RM got a Vitamix a few years ago and it’s one of the best kitchen appliances we have! That thing can literally puree anything- it’s perfect for smoothies, soups, and any other kind of “sauce” that requires blending things together.
  • Cooking class– I always thing this is such a fun gift to give someone, even though I’ve never done it. I have hear great things from classes at Sur La Table, Boston Center for the Arts, Cambridge School of Culinary Arts, etc.

Wine-O/Beer Lover

  • Club W Wines I posted about this a while back, but basically it’s a monthly wine subscription allowing you to pick 3 wines a month based on your preferences. We usually choose all whites, but you can choose all reds or a mix of the two. What we love about this is how easy it is- who doesn’t like having wine delivered to their door?! And, it’s pretty affordable since the wines are only $13 each and if you get people to sign up with your link, you get a free bottle and they get TWO free bottles. Awesome, right?
  • Boston Wine Expo & Seminars For a few years in a row I would get my family tickets to a wine seminar hosted during the Boston Wine Expo in the Seaport District. What I love about doing a seminar vs. the full tasting is that you have a chance to taste a bunch of wines AND learn about them in a fun way. Plus tickets tend to be much less expensive than the full blown event so it’s a great gift! We would always plan a fun lunch after the tasting, too.
  • Brewing beer at HopstersI’ve been to Hopsters a few times recently, not only because it’s so close, but also because it’s so good! I haven’t done a brew there- yet- but I definitely want to check it out! They have various packages ranging in price and end result so they have something to fit everyone’s want/need, plus you can also get a small group of people together and that brings the cost down even more.
  • Tours/Tastings at Lookout Farm Originally just a farm and a place for you to pick apples, pears, peaches, strawberries, etc., Lookout Farm now has a line of their very own hard ciders. What RM and I love about the ciders is they aren’t overly fruity or sweet. They’re very refreshing and super flavorful. My favorite was the Super Berry. Along with being able to taste various ones by getting a flight, you can also take a tour of the brewery and munch on their delicious flatbreads, pretzels and charcuterie boards. If you go, ask for Mark Magno and tell him Monique from B2B sent you- he’s RM’s cousin and an awesome guy!

Fashionistas

  • StitchFix I’ve posted about Stitch Fix a number of times. What I love about it is that you set up an online profile and then a stylist reviews and picks out 5 items to send to you. You get charged $20 for the “fix”, but if you purchase anything from your fix that $20 gets applied to that which is nice. And, if you purchase your whole “fix”, you get 25% off everything. This is a fun gift because there’s nothing better than getting a package full of fun clothes and accessories to try on! You can read my reviews here, here, here, and here.
  • Birchbox My sister gifted me a Birchbox subscription last year and it was so fun to get a new box every month that was filled with all sorts of beauty products I may not otherwise have tried out. It’s a very affordable gift for those who like to try out new hair, makeup and skin products!

Fitness

    • New Balance – New Balance always has super cute active wear that I drool over during the New Balance Girls Night Out events. Sadly, I don’t own much NB gear, but what I do own I love. They sent me some holiday gift guide ideas and since I loved the Women’s 88v1 Trainer ($85) sneakers and these amazing NBWomen Printed Performance Tight ($85)– I totally need these in my life! I loveeee flashy/funky workout pants and these totally fit the bill!
    • Lulu hoodies– It’s no secret that I love Lululemon. Although I’ve been branching out and trying other brands, I’ve still got a major soft spot for Lulu. Lately I’ve been living in my scuba hoodie ($108). It’s just so comfy and great to throw on for your trips to and from the gym and when you’re lounging around the house. Also, fitness instructors get 15% off.
    • Athleta capris- I recently bought my first pair of Athleta “Chaturanga” Capris ($64) and I totally love them. I have to say, they feel like they’re made better than Lulu capris. They’re tight and thick and soft and they keep everything nice and tight when you’re jumping around- always a good thing as an instructor, especially when they give you 30% off!!
    • Fitbit/REM-fit- I try not to obsess too much over tracking everything, but I do love wearing my Fitbit ($60-$250, depending on version) or my Rem-fit activity tracker ($60-$100, depending on the version) just to see how active or inactive I am on any particular day. I find that on days I don’t workout, it’s very hard to meet the 10K steps unless I go for a walk or am not working and running errands or cleaning or something like that. It’s a great way to encourage me to move more and hit my step goal for the day. They both allow you to track all your daily activity, good intake, sleep, etc.
    • Garmin Running Watch-  I’ve had my Garmin for years and it still works great! I love wearing it for runs because it seems to track more accurately than the apps I use on my phone, not to mention it doesn’t use data 😉 They have so many new models ranging from $79-$450, so you’re sure to find the perfect one for whoever you’re buying it for!
    • Studio gift certificates- There are SO MANY amazing fitness studios these days, and not just in and around the Boston area! It seems as though boutique studios focusing on spinning or barre or yoga or bootcamp are popping up everywhere, so a great idea for the fitness lover in your life would be to get them a couple of gift certificates to various studios around where they live. If you’re in the Boston area, you can find a bunch of various studio reviews here. I’ve got reviews for all sorts of fitness classes so there’s sure to be one that fits the bill for the person you’re buying it for!
    • ClassPass Gift Certificate– Expanding upon the Studio Gift cards, if you’re not sure what someone likes, you could always get them a ClassPass gift card ($119) which would allow them to try out classes as LOADS of different studios near them for an entire month! I’ve been thinking about renewing my membership, but since I’m trying to save for our wedding it probably won’t happen until after that.

And now I want everything on this list, not to mention I’ve thought of a million different categories I could’ve included 😉 I hope you are able to find something useful from this list!

Questions for you- Do you tend to get people gift cards or do you like to do real presents? What are you looking for this year?

Disclaimer: I was not compensated for any links or gift guide ideas located in this post, however I was given a Rem-Fit activity tracker which I will be reviewing in a future post. All thoughts and opinions are my own and I’m only sharing products I use and love. Some links are referral links, but if you sign up you will also get a referral link, so it’s a win-win 😉

Getting out of my comfort zone & getting my butt kicked {Studio Review}

Good morning! As I mentioned on Instagram last week, I had the pleasure of not only being a student in the gym/one-on-one session, but also the pleasure of getting my butt kicked. I was contacted by the Meghan, the owner of Foster Fitness, to see if I wanted to come check out her gym. Little back story- her soon-to-be father in law is a managing director at my office and knows how much I love health and fitness and knew we would get along so he gave her my information. Long story short, he was totally right! Between our love of fitness and both being newly engaged, let’s just say we had lots to talk about 😉 But don’t worry- we didn’t just talk- she lead me through one heck of a workout, too!

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Let’s just say that Meghan does what’s always been my dream: she owns her own gym and runs classes and does some one-on-one training. Due to my crazy schedule, I was having a hard time getting to a class so I asked if there was any way to do a one-on-one training session and lucky for me, she agreed, so I went there on Thursday afternoon feeling so excited to try something knew. My co-worker told me that he told Meghan to challenge me, so at least I was pre-warned. Meghan had also asked me what I was looking to do and I asked her if we could go over some basic heavy lifts and get me more comfortable with barbell lifts and pushing me to get out of my comfort zone with regards to weights.

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We started with a quick, dynamic workout before going through the workout. It looked a little something like this:

  • 3 rounds of back squats with a 1 second pause X 10 reps and walking lunges w/DB shoulder press there & back. Since barbell back squats aren’t something I feel overly comfortable with, we kept it light-ish at 75lbs. It was encouraging because it didn’t feel super challenging!
  • 3 rounds of 10 SLDL right & left and then 10 standard deadlifts with 35lb dumbbells & 10 sumo squats
  • 3 rounds of 10 single leg hip thrusters right & left and then 10 double and then 10 chest press (I used 30lb dumbbells here)
  • 3 rounds of 10 chest fly and then 45* angle chest press & 6 heavy step ups rt & lt
  • We finished with one hell of a killer set of sled pushes and then she had me do push-ups for the amount of time it took me to push the sled down and back. The kicker? I had to do as many rounds as necessary to get to a total of 50 pushups. Luckily I did it in 3 rounds!

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