Before I forget, I wanted to share a recent epiphany I had about almonds. I have decided to stop eating them in the name of healthier looking skin. Even though I love them and think they're an amazing source of protein and healthy fats - I've dropped them like a bad habit and I'll tell you why.
I've been fighting a skin rash on my cheeks and forehead for the better part of a year. Sometimes I can cover it with make up and sometimes I can't.
I noticed it getting worse right after I did my second Whole 30 in January 2018. On that 30-day diet you are asked to eliminate a whole lot of food groups to see if they are causing weight gain, bloating, skin issues, sleep issues etc.
I never had acne as a teen or young adult, but when I reintroduced all the old foods into my diet, my skin lit up like a Christmas tree, so I visited an allergist and a dermatologist and both agreed my skin issue was likely rosacea, nothing more. I used medicines both orally and topically and nothing made it clear up. Nothing. Some days it looked even worse.
I avoided the sun, alcohol and spicy or hot foods because that's what a rosacea sufferer is supposed to do, but continued to suffer.
And then, early last month, I ran out of almond milk for my coffee. A few days without it, turned into a week and then a switch to some coconut milk instead. And before I knew it - my face looked better and better. Truthfully, I only stopped drinking it because I was too busy to go buy more but the absence of it became too noticeable to ignore.
When I did the allergy tests at the onset of the rash, I tested positive for a cashew allergy. The other nuts were fine. So, how could this be?
Well - according to the internet - almonds can causes rashes for some who eat too much. I was definitely guilty of this. I drank two almond milk lattes a day, ate protein bars with almonds and snacked on them raw. Sometimes they were toppings in my acai bowl or salad. Bottom line: I think I was poisoning myself.
Deverly, my good friend and fellow instructor, told me she had a similar issue with coconut milk. It was causing a skin rash on her arms. She stopped drinking it and it cleared.
I still have some of the facial rash but I am thinking it's also related to eating some of the foods the allergist asked me to eliminate like corn and flour. Gonna try curbing those to see if I get a better result. I'll keep you posted.
On July 4, it occurred to me that I was really lucky to be standing in my own shoes.
I was creating my Dance Trance playlist and trying to nail down patriotic songs and routines. A few were obvious: Freedom (Nicole C. Mulins), or Freedom (Pharrell), but then I started adding others - Salute (Little Mix), which is a tribute to women and that made me add I'm Dat Chick (Kelly Rowland) a song about being able to make it alone as a woman, and that's when it occurred to me, 'I'm really lucky'.
I'm a lucky Latina girl from Texas who grew up to be a writer/journalist. I am lucky that friends and family believed in me for years and helped me now own my business and run it however I like.
I am lucky that I dance when I feel like it, in the street and on rooftops and I don't get arrested. I am lucky to drive where I wanna drive, vote in elections, have friendships with women and men, own a home, raise three soon-to-be men and on and on and on.
This is my July 4th blessing; Freedoms that are not waisted on me.
Nor, have I lost sight of the fact that right now - three Richmond-area gyms have shuttered their doors; A fourth studio is currently up for sale.
One of those shuttered businesses, Victory Lady, was owned by Wendy Campbell. I met her and worked with her while at WTVR in 2002. She used to be in a spot we produced at the station. I remember thinking it was really cool that she owned her own gyms. She would come in, though, and was all business and she had a reputation for being tough. It's probably how she sustained being open for 29+ years.
The fitness industry isn't easy. Like journalism, it's scary and tough and no one, I repeat, no one does it for the money. What money? You do it because you love it and you love your people, or you fail.
So, you can see - Wendy rocked it! Factor in that she was in a male dominated industry, and owned and operated more than one location for a long time and it all means she kicked major trail-blazing ass!
Taking all that into account, I am truly lucky. Lucky that I have been able to chase my dreams and share them with great friends and clients - some are both. Lucky that I live in a country (though not perfect) and a city that embraces those dreams.
Very lucky indeed.
Last month, I challenged myself to one of the toughest assignments yet; dancing with Richmond Urban Dance in their I AM HIP HOP showcase: Club RVA.
The showcase is like a dance recital but Mandy Helmlinger, the creator of RUD, hates when we call it that. So instead, let's say it's a dance concert or a dance showcase, but really - it's kind of a whole unique thing.
Students who have taken class with RUD are invited to perform their pieces on stage in front of an audience of parents, spouses, friends and just the general public. The music is bumping, there are videos that play in between sets, the dances flow from one to the next and there's no intermission. By the end of the show everyone is on their feet and you feel like you've just witnesses a revival.
When we launched the TURNt with RUD classes at TURN, Mandy had her wheels spinning about including TURN clients in the show. And when some of our routines included tribute pieces to Janet Jackson's choreography with Anthony Thomas - we couldn't exactly say no. So, we rose to the challenge.
We met every Tuesday for weeks, learning more and more of the routines, perfecting them, cleaning them.
I did mention it's Janet Jackson, right?
They are some of the most iconic pieces of choreography and we had 6-weeks to get them ready for a show on June 1.
And it wasn't just the 4:00 Janet stuff, we also did several other pieces we had learned in class like Tip Toe, Finesse, Bartier Cardi and Clinton's choreography to Bad Man.
When the day came, it was exciting, stressful and exhilerating. I was also super proud of us. A lot of us hadn't danced on stage in years. Some of us, me, are 40+ moms who got up there and did the worm and a booty drop with 20-somethings. It was amazing. And after it was all over, I was exhausted for days.
I say all that to say this: You can do anything you want. Repeat that: You can do anything you want. And if it brings you joy - do the shit out of it. Don't worry. It doesn't have to be perfect, just be enthusiastic about it. Just love the shit out of it and let the rest unfold like magic. That's my takeaway from the whole RUD show. Talk about keeping yourself young and fine tuned.
It was a wonderful way to kick off summer.
It was also a wonderful way to become closer to dancers from other groups who performed with us.
Shout outs to IDanzeFitness, The Brand, RVA Tap Troupe and of course, Richmond Urban Dance who are now and forever our dance cousins!
First, let me apologize for going on a bloggers hiatus. That's not really like me to just ghost. Been kinda busy making gains at the studio; Teaching more classes, planning events, updating a bathroom, collaborating and dancing with other studios and oh, yeah - did you hear I was on a podcast? I say all that to say this, I won't leave you hanging again. At least, I will try to avoid going so long in between posts.
Now, to the nitty gritty on these new Nike shoes I've been trying out.
First up - the Nike Free TR8. I gotta tell you. I really like this shoe. I mean - it's light weight, it's solid and packed with cushion in the heel and it's basically a sock on top so it's cool and hugs your foot. The bottom of it is smooth, with just enough grip to allow me to turn without slipping. I really think this is a fabulous shoe for fitness dancing. Kind of impressed.
There are some negatives on this one though. It does have a high fabric on your heel. It can rub and leave you with a blister, so that takes some getting used to. I also think it kinda runs a little small. If I hadn't ordered online, I definitely would have tried on a half size bigger. I wear an 8.5 and sometimes when I'm dancing I can feel my toes going numb. I thought this was because I wear orthotic insoles in my shoes, but it's the same problem when I go without. And finally the biggest drawback on this shoe is the price point. It retails on Nike at $100 right now. Yeah - I know. I did get a discount and that's how I was able to give these sweet babies a try. But I think that's pretty expensive for a dance fitness shoe. Alas, you can wear this in other fitness classes too!
Last but not least, I'm trying out the Nike Air Max 270 and wow! I mean WOW! It is an oh, so comfortable shoe. I'm on my feet almost all day and this past week I was teaching different kinds of classes, dance, Tabata, Ass & Abs, TRX and the shoe was killing it!
First, it fits your foot really well. It has more room in the toe than the TR8. In addition, it also pulls on like a sock but has thicker fabric so it really hugs the top of your foot. It has way more grip and width in the toe box so it keeps you stable when you're balancing on one foot or lunging from side to side. And finally - it has this air-filled cushion heel so when you jump, the shock is absorbed by the shoe and not your soles. I love it. I would buy another pair if it didn't retail for $150. Again, discount helped me afford these shoes. Emily Snow has this shoe too, in the cutest colors and the shoe is made for men too. So, you and your boo can match Em!
Recently, I did grab a pair of the Adidas Edge Lux in gray. I love wearing them as an athleisure shoe. That means, when I'm just hanging out trying to be cute. But, I've accidentally left them on to dance in, and while they are great for turns and pivots, they just don't have as much heel and arch support and the fabric for your upper foot stretches out quickly. Not to mention, the laces are basically ribbon. So, this is probably not the shoe you want to workout in. Just saying'.
Would love to hear what you're wearing and if you think I should try one of your faves.
Ready to get serious about some weight loss?
I'm going to tell you what I tell all my friends (because I had to learn this the hard way) weight loss is seriously 80% what you eat and only 20% about how much you workout. I know. I know. That's damn disappointing! I can dance and lift all week long, sometimes twice a day and it will never change my body like adjusting my meals.
For years, I was the girl that said things like, "I workout so I can eat." And so, there lies the problem. That line of thinking only keeps you maintaining weight. It will never lead to a big shift in how to change your body. Oh sure, you can do something drastic like avoid eating or use some dietary drinks and pills and you WILL lose weight, but it won't be a permanent change and it won't be as significant as you'd like it to be.
So what's a person to do? Especially when you're not 20 anymore, you like to eat out and maybe you have kids or bad influences stocking up your kitchen with a bunch of fake foods in boxes. Ugh - face palm.
Sometimes you need something like a Whole 30. If you visit a dietitian, they likely call it something else, but essentially I'm asking you to cut some major food groups out of your diet. Foods that lead to inflammation. Things like:
-Sugar (yes - diet soda too)
Some of you are already rolling your eyes. I know - it's a tough list. And it's tough to avoid those foods by yourself. I did it with a group of people last January and we had a support group on Facebook. I'm going to do it again this January and lead the page under TURN. I'd like for you to join me.
I can't promise you weight loss. But I can promise a noticeable difference in how you will eat going forward. A lot of us are overeating salt and sugar and it's just not good for our health. I mean - it's terrible for our skin, our sleep, our metabolic system - just bad, bad, bad.
Here's how we're going to make the journey even easier: We are partnering up with EatSmart RVA. Abbie Toner and I have wanted to do this together for a while now. She's going to measure out meals for you - lunch and dinner portions if you want and then you just have to figure out your breakfast and snacks. This should be an easier way to do this.
If you choose not to do the Whole 30 with Eat Smart's help - you can do it by following a few simple rules. Avoiding the foods above and doing it for 30 days. :)
Last note - the TURN client who shows the biggest change, and it could be weight, hair, skin, allergies etc - will win a week of FREE meals from Eat Smart RVA in February and a gift card to TURN for some merch. Yep - I'll be getting new gear soon.
Whatcha think? Let me know if you're on board to participating.
Here are links to Eat Smart's part of our Whole 30 Collaboration.
The TURN Surf Betties: Katie (left) and Beth
TURN is the only fitness studio/gym in Richmond that offers the Surf exercise workout on Surfset boards. And because of that, we thought you should learn a little bit more about it, and why we brought it to our studio. Who better than to tell us all about how great and beneficial this workout is, than our resident “Betties” (that’s surf lingo for girls who ride waves), Beth Roach and Katie Hoak. Beth an avid surfer and surf instructor in the Outer Banks and Katie who is a former ballerina and fitness enthusiast turned instructor.
Tell us about yourselves. What’s your name and where are you from?
Katie Hoak. I’m from Greenville, SC
Beth Roach. From Surry, VA - a rural town on the James River southeast of Richmond
What brought you to Richmond?
Katie: After ten years in NYC, my husband (Jerry) and I decided it was time for a new chapter. He went to grad school here and when he got a job offer at the Martin Agency, we decided to take the plunge.
Beth: My best friends from JMU all moved to Richmond right after we graduated so it was where I wanted to be - with my friends, in a city and close to home.
What brought you to TURN?
Katie: I wanted to get back into exercise and something dance related. I found a Groupon for TURN and decided to give it a try because it had a ton of classes that interested me. Ironically, Surf was the first class I attended and I was hooked.
Beth: Seo (Kelleher) recognized my love for the boards when the program was at Shockoe Slip Yoga. She took me under her wing when she helped launch the program at TURN. We took a chance on the program being more successful at TURN and we were right!
Why did you decide to teach Surf?
Katie: It became a bit of an obsession. I loved the challenge of adapting regular exercises to the board and mastering my balance.
Beth: A big part of my vision early on was to provide opportunities for people to get comfortable with the mechanisms of surfing and then use my connections at the beach to get them actually surfing in the water. I didn’t set out to become an instructor but it became a natural fit. Surf is fun and makes us happy. Happier people make a better world. We’re changing the world here folks!
What is the most challenging/rewarding?
Katie: The most rewarding has been watching my students have fun and get stronger/more confident each week. I’m a big proponent of “work hard, play hard” and I think this class gives you both but is also silly and fun. It is land surfing after all!
Beth: It has allowed me to be creative in unusual ways. 2.5 years ago we used a strict format. Now, the program has transformed into what you can expect from a real surf session. We paddle out. Work on catching waves. Then, finish with epic rides, poses, or dance moves. I spend a lot of time selecting my music too so my inner aspirations of being a deejay have finally come true.
What’s the most common misconception about the Surf program?
Beth: That surf is way too hard! There are modifications and amplifications for all fitness levels.
How comparable is it to real surfing?
Katie: Very comparable. It’s probably the best simulation you can find to help you prepare for any water sports. I went surfing for the first time in June (9 months after I started doing Surf Fit) and was pretty much blown away by how much the skills we were teaching in class helped me do what I needed to do in the water. The same was true with paddle boarding. My core balance is so much better than it used to be.
Beth: The movement of the board definitely mimics how it feels to move in the water. However, the water def throws some serious challenges. I can’t teach you how to read the waves on a Surfset board, but I can help you visualize and practice the steps you need to catch the wave.
How has Surf helped your health and fitness goals?
Beth: The first time I paddled out in spring after using the boards all winter, I felt a lot less rusty. I was sold then.
Katie: I feel like I’m stronger, more toned, excited for class and never bored.
What’s your favorite thing to do at the end of class?
Katie: Surf Drills! Which pulls together all the things we’ve worked on in class. We blast a really great song like Hawaii 5-0 and just go hard for 2-minutes!
Do you think this program has longevity?
Beth: Yup! I don’t think people will get tired of going to the beach ever. I hope that they are inspired to take a lesson some day!
What’s your favorite thing to do after class?
Beth: Enjoy Scott’s Addition watering holes and chill with the squad.
Katie: I love dragging the surf boards over to the TURN sign and taking photos. Especially Boomerangs of everyone together in different poses.
Surf classes with Katie and Beth take place Wednesday 6:30am, Thursday 7:00pm and Saturdays at 11am.
Deep breath. Deep breath.
I write this, nervous about sharing my progress images with you. No one is making me do this. I'm doing it as motivation and self support. While I'll pretty much answer any question you ask with pure honesty, and while I wear my emotions raw on my sleeve, it's not me to share swimsuit pics or many selfies of my bare skin.
So be kind.
I am that girl who always picks themselves apart. I am that girl that doesn't think she's good enough. I am that girl that needs to heal from years of being told she was overweight and the body image issues that followed.
A year ago, I thought I was doing a great job in my health and fitness. I bought that swimsuit and honestly it was supposed to be perfect. It wasn't. I didn't like how it fit or how I fit in it so I took the photo on the left.
That was after I returned from a family trip to Disney and a work trip to Atlanta. I resigned myself into believing I couldn't lose any more weight because I was in my 40's. That this pic on the left was the best I could do. But I wanted to try... a little. So, I jump-started the year with the Whole 30 diet, and I added some strength classes into my dance and yoga routine.
I'd like to tell you a year later I work out all the time and that I live on quinoa, kale and avocados. But I don't. I'd probably look better if I did.
I do eat cinnamon rolls. I do eat French fries and chips on occasion, I drink beer and I do sleep in and skip workouts. But those days are limited. I make better choices and some days I participate in a couple of fitness classes a day. I do what feels good. I try not to feel guilty about it. And if I'm injured - I don't push.
Again, don't get me wrong. When I took the one year progress picture today I picked it apart; I see the wrinkled damaged skin from carrying babies and I still see inches to lose, but I am trying to remind myself that this is a great body for me. At age 44, I'm succeeding on the path to being healthy, and I have to support myself.
Still working on it. Feeling better about it. If you need some support on your journey, let me know - I'm here for you.
Thanks for reading.
In May, my friend Amy Brachman, owner of SuperFun Yoga Pants, asked if I’d participate in a photo shoot, modeling the yoga pants she sells. The pictures would be used on her website: superfunyogapants.com for online shoppers.
Almost immediately I returned an email with a huge YES attached to it.
If you’ve ever purchased from SuperFun, you know – they carry really great brands, in really great prints, that typically fit… really great! They’re adorable for fitness and even more adorable to dress up or down. Plus, the pictures on her website are awesome and look so fun. I know many of the women who've been in the photo shoots before me, so I know how fabulous the pictures of them turn out. How could I not participate?
Amy does an awesome job of asking real women to help her with these photo shoots. She asks women of all sizes, body types, ages and professions to join in. And it always looks like a blast (see pic above).
But when I first arrived at the shoot, I admit, I did that thing. Where I listened to the self-doubt in my head. Ya know - the one that says you’re not pretty enough, fit enough, thin enough or even young enough to do this? It was just about to get the best of me, until we were assembling outfits to model.
I was asked to bring much of my own clothing and accessories: anything I thought would pair well with the SuperFun yoga pants. I loaded up a travel bag with my personal collection of shoes, shirts and accessories and was unpacking it all when the self-doubt broke.
I showed Amy and Walker Willow (who helps style these shoots) my Frye boots, Texas Forever t-shirt from Magnolia Market in Waco, TX and the GAP jean jacket I’ve owned since college.
“I was kinda hoping you had some western inspired pants for this ensemble,” I said.
They handed me a pair of Buffalo Princess leggings from Teeki (see above) and that’s all she wrote folks. Suddenly, I was in the game. I was ready to rock that outfit everywhere in town. As a native Texan, I felt good in the clothes. I also started having fun. SuperFun! And almost immediately - I shifted.
I’m a 40-something wife and a mom of three, 5’4” with a booty, Latina, and not as a fit as a fit-pro should be. I’m far from your typical model but I was feeling it that day. In fact, I was kinda like – ‘want me to model anything else?’
Really. I could have been there all day.
It was a great experience. I recognized that I was bringing something different to the table and that it was okay to just enjoy the moment and more importantly, stop criticizing myself. And because the pants and outfits were so fun and awesome, it worked. I left there feeling proud, happy and energized.
And most importantly, I helped my friend who's also a native-Texan turned Richmond small-business owner, sell her pants. How can I not feel good about that? Thank you, Amy. Everyone should get to be a model for a day!
So, if Amy Brachman ever asks you to be in a SuperFun shoot. Say yes. Hell – yes!
Let’s talk about shoes. And, what woman doesn’t like a good pair of shoes?
I’ll be honest though, – I don’t like to spend a lot on shoes. I’m pretty hard on them and it breaks my heart to see a $100+ pair of shoes destroyed because I accidentally stepped in mud, or went out in the rain or that time my former dog ate them?
Note… I said “former dog”.
So, I usually only buy shoes around $75 and under. I also apply this toward my fitness and dance shoes. When it comes to Dance Trance you can find a good shoe in the $50-range.
Here’s what I look for when I’m buying shoes specifically for DT:
Here’s my general set of rules for when it’s time to change your shoes:
So, what’s my DT shoe?
Lately I’ve been sporting some Adidas footwear. I love the Adidas Element Refine Tricot. Clinton and I have them, along with a few of our students and they’re great because they’re light, yet supportive and have just enough tread to keep you from sliding around but still allow you to spin and turn like a fairy princess. They also come in great colors. If you can find these, because they’re no longer manufactured, they’ll run you anywhere from $35-$80 and it’s usually an Ebay purchase.
I also recently purchased the Adidas Neo with Cloudfoam. I got them for $50 with tax on Amazon. They are more heavy duty than the shoe above. Heavier and wider, but they have tons more cushion and support too. They do run big and if I got them again, I might go down a size. They also aren’t as smooth on the bottom. It’s good if you know how to turn, but if it’s a bit humid in the studio, you’re going to stick to the floor. And last but not least, the tongue and the ankle fabric do have a high rise and rub your skin – so a potential blister maker.
Other options, the Nike Flex Run, especially the 2015 model. They are comfy, they cushion your jump and are easy to turn in. The only issue I have with these shoes is there’s a little more tread than I’d like and the toe box is a bit wide. Otherwise they’re great and I’ve owned three pairs of them.
I think the Nike Free RN would also be a good comparable option to dance in, but it is still sold in most stores for about $99 so I haven’t tried it.
I am also curious about the Adidas Arauana dance shoe created by Stella McCartney. Someone get these so I can see them in person. They are on sale right now at Adidas.com
If you have any questions and want to try on some shoes I own, let me know. I keep most of mine at the studio because I have forgotten them before and barefoot DT is just not a good idea. Ever! Or, if you want to give me your feedback on a shoe I haven't tried, please post below.
Have you been to TURN on our Beats and Brews night, our monthly partnership with both the community and area breweries?
We started it six months ago at Isley Brewing, the first local craft brewer willing to take a chance on this concept, I just kinda pulled out of thin air, and we’ve been rolling full-steam ahead ever since.
In fact, we’ve had a couple of craft breweries reach out to us asking when we’ll be at their facility. A surprising twist and err, TURN?
A lot of our clients are also happy that we do it, many sharing with me that they either love the concept, love that we support other small businesses or love the energy and fun atmosphere created when people try our studio that night.
We offer you free evening classes on a weeknight. Afterwards, you’re invited to join us at a nearby brewery that knows we’re coming and is excited to have us there.
Why we do it is pretty layered.
First, most of our clients gather together after working out, but they continue to frequent the same place time-after-time and even order the same things. Creature of habit mentality in play here, so we thought, ‘Why not expand the crowd and expand your palette?’
Next, most people won’t try something new unless someone else does (FOMO: fear of missing out), so if we go with you or give you reason to go there, it’s less scary. This is particularly true when it comes to women trying craft beers. Take a look for yourself – more men, less women walking in alone.
Last, I get a chance to mingle with everyone. We get to talk about TURN or the food truck or the beer we like best. When we went to Buskey we played games and I had several people come up to me surprised that they liked the cider so much, because it was the first time they tried it. I also love that I’m supporting the small businesses around me. I’ll say that one again, we’re supporting the small businesses around us and really expanding our community.
Beats and Brews is this Thursday, May 31st and then we are heading to Strangeways Brewery.
I hope you’ll consider joining us. Classes are nearly full, Urban Ballet is at 6pm and Dance Trance is at 7pm. So if you’re going to be there, sign up now and if you’ve changed your mind, please early cancel so we can get someone else into class.
So, this month I had the crazy idea to drive to Texas for Spring Break… by myself… with my three sons. We’d go see Gas Monkey Garage where Fast N Loud is filmed and drive to Magnolia where Fixer Upper is filmed, even visit the Ft. Worth Stockyards and Cowboys Stadium. Best Spring Break ever!
‘Couldn’t be so bad’, I thought. 18-hours each way, broken up by two days. Do it one week. Do it again the next.
Let me just say, while I'm glad we went, I’m super glad it’s over and I’m happy to be home and working out again. My body was crying from riding in a car for so long, not to mention I was mentally exhausted. And, there’s always that traffic or pit stop you didn’t account for that adds to your travel time. And did I mention my kids?
Goodness. What was I thinking?
The advantage of going home though, was that I got to reconnect with my family, also part of my renewed health plan. I think fitness, food and family all equates to self-love and care, which is the foundation for my other relationships. (Plus, I love all the F’s in that alliteration.)
On this visit, my aunt gifted me some goodies that included my late uncle’s vintage Coca-Cola metal button sign, my late grandmother’s china and a box of photos from when I was a kid.
And that was a treasure trove.
Most of the pictures were of me back in the days of dance lessons and performances for Ballet Folklorico. That’s how I got my dance training - thank you very much, in this dance form based on the Mexican state dances, (The costumes are hilarious. See below.) the pictures a reminder of so many great memories. And, that brings me to the point of this post.
Recently, I was asked what exactly Boutique Fitness is. At the obvious, it’s comparing a small fitness studio to a small retail store where you buy clothing and/or accessories.
Some of the items are unique, rare, hard to find – perhaps they’re created by artisans or imported from other countries, you may even pay higher prices because they’re a luxurious treat from the every day giant retailers where you get your mainstays from.
So, TURN is a boutique – we offer unique, hard to find, fun, effective cardio classes sure to keep you engaged in your workout all within a tight-knit, friendly community. TA-DA! There’s your answer. But wait – there’s more.
I think Boutique Fitness goes one step further. If you’re like me – you were a pretty active kid. I took lessons in everything and played sports too: dance, band, twirling, skating, gymnastics, soccer and swimming. I was busy all year long without factoring in school.
And it didn’t stop. In college, I was on the drumline, in a sorority, active in the Radio/TV department and still played intramural sports.
Then, I started my career. Moved into my own place. And it’s like, now what? So many empty hours after I got out of work. So much sitting idle. So, I joined a gym, joined a soccer team (or three) and then fell back into dance class – now called, Dance Trance. It’s a lifestyle I’ve grown accustomed to.
So, that’s what Boutique Fitness is to me. My childhood activities re-TURNed (see what I did there). I’m bringing back the classes I enjoyed then and adding in ones I really want to try or want to try to do better. They’re activities for me. Just like my kids have activities for them. And in the process, we all get to have fun and make lasting friendships.
P.S. Skipping a week of Barre and Bootcamp is not recommended. My calves are mad.
I, like most of the country, am completely sucked in to the NBC drama, ‘This is Us’. And I, like most viewers, challenge myself weekly to avoid crying while watching an episode. How can you not? The show confronts big issues without hiding the messy side of life. If I can relate to the moment, I’m in a puddle of tears. But one recent episode really rocked me.
No. Not the one where Kate and Toby try POUND at the weight loss camp (see pic). Though, I like that one for obvious reasons (we offer POUND at TURN). I’m talking about the funeral episode for Randall’s dad, William.
Let me catch you up in case you’re living under a rock. Randall and William only recently became acquainted as father and son because Randall was given up for adoption as a newborn. In his months long time with his terminally ill, biological father he learns one valuable lesson: slow down and enjoy life. Something we can all take stock in.
It wasn’t until watching that episode that I realized the old me, the executive producer me, had forgotten to “take time to talk to my mailman.”
In my 30’s I defined success with dollars. I worked hard. I built a career, a family, a home, even a business – but after a few short years, I no longer built new relationships. You might even say I stopped building a life. I just didn’t have the time or the energy to go to or host events, or meet new people. I was in and out. I remember telling myself, ‘Well, if I just keep two or three really good friends for the rest of my life, that’s okay.’ It wasn’t until watching that episode that I realized the old me, the executive producer me, had forgotten to “take time to talk to my mailman.”
I just stole that quote from Randall.
Shortly after his father died, he quit his job and his stunned boss asked, “What are you going to do now?” Randall replied, “Walk instead of run. Slow down. Take time to talk to my mailman.” He was referring to his dying father who was developing dynamic impactful relationships, even at the end of his life, with people like the mailman (who was choked up when he learned William had died).
It’s been six months since I made the choice to leave TV news and I’ve “talked to the mailman” on several occasions. Figuratively, that is. I’ve developed friendships and had lunches with several small-business owners in the city. I’ve spent hours talking to my friends and family on the phone (Like, ‘til 2:00am on a Thursday). I’ve bonded with TURN students while taking more classes than just Dance Trance, I've lined up events for us to enjoy and I’ve hung out talking in the halls of the studio to maintenance and repairmen who wanted to share their fitness journeys. I've even redecorated rooms in the building and, I guess, in my heart - because similar interactions are taking place at home and with neighbors. Life looks brighter and fun again and I want to share in it with more people. I feel stronger and healthier too.
The nice thing about working at TURN is the studio is filled with so many visitors, clients and instructors from different backgrounds and hometowns that the journalist in me is still thriving. Only now, I am creating friendships instead of newscasts.
If you haven’t talked to your mailman, I’m giving you permission to slow down and say hello. Maybe even talk about how ‘This is Us’ made you cry the ugly cry… yet again.
So, a client, who shall remain nameless, suggested I start a blog. I explained that I had a blog and pointed to this one on our website. She hesitated, smirked and then replied, “A blog with more than two posts.”
[Boom] She went there. To be fair there are four posts on my blog, thank you very much!
Truth be told, I needed a breather from writing and an inspiration to write. Today, as I washed my face, I got that creative bolt of lightning I was looking for in the form of a rash on my chin and cheeks.
In January, I went Whole 30. For those of you that don’t know – it’s a diet that basically eliminates whole food groups for 30 days (no grains, dairy, sugars, alcohol or processed foods) to help you figure out where you’re going wrong in your day-to-day eating. There are all kinds of reasons to do it. For me, it was weight loss. For others, it is about getting more energy from your food, maybe cleansing the body, or figuring out allergies. Regardless, I knew it would be hard to give up so much at once but I had tried protein diets and low-carb diets and none had worked. So this was a last shot.
Having been in a newsroom for ten years, I had some pretty bad eating habits. I drank something sugary everyday like coffee, but it could be sweet tea or soda. I had a donut or a piece of cake, often. I ate out almost daily and snacked on Doritos at 2:00pm, and then after work, I indulged in the fast food my kids were eating for dinner. After bedtime, I ate a bag of popcorn.
Needless to say, the first four days of Whole 30 were the toughest. I felt like I was starving and shoved almonds, sweet potatoes, eggs, veggies and chicken into my mouth around the clock. I had blood sugar crashes almost daily and had to carry bananas and oranges with me everywhere. Sometimes the crash just meant a headache or I was extra irritable and cranky, even sleepy. However, on the nights I taught Dance Trance, it meant I forgot routines, or didn’t have the stamina to make it through more than 45-minutes of class. By day five though, my brain felt clear, I was happy (like blue birds singing happy), my stomach felt full-but not bloated, my skin and hair were amazing, my arthritis in my injured knee was nearly gone, my menstrual cycle was, dare I say, pleasant and I had a lot of energy. But the best part was I lost nine pounds on that diet in 30-days.
Changing my eating habits plus, my already active lifestyle equaled big results. I’m told that doesn’t happen for everyone, but I think eating clean worked for me because I ate so crappy before. (Which I didn't really realize or want to believe.) You should also know, I have hypothyroidism so losing weight does not come easy for me. It's like trying to move a mountain. I’ve been about 15-20 pounds overweight since giving birth to my youngest son and it’s been a struggle to get it off but this diet provided a lot of clarity: I ate way too much sugar before because IT IS IN everything. I also ate way too many processed foods. In addition, I’ve learned that I’m allergic to corn. That’s why I have a rash on my chin now. Which is terrible because I’m Mexican-American and a lot of the foods I love from my culture are corn based but now that I’ve introduced them back into my diet, I get a rash and get flushed and my stomach aches something awful. (Going to see the allergist later this month.)
And yes, the diet has been over for more than a month now, but I really haven’t returned to my old eating habits. Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had bad days and indulged in a potato chip or french fry here and there, but I often feel so bad afterwards that it’s just not worth doing it on repeat. I’ve also been leaning on the dinners from Eat Smart (see card in the studio) to help me avoid trash foods. The home cooked, healthy and well-balanced, prepared meals have helped me keep the weight off and lose another four pounds.
I share this with you to hopefully inspire you to look at your own diet for something that could be an over-indulgence or maybe even something that’s making you sick. For me, it was sugar and corn for you it could be dairy, alcohol or processed foods. Here's a clue, if you’re working out 4-to-5 times a week and not seeing the results you want, you may need to change your diet. Remember this, workouts are only 20% of your weight loss the other 80% comes from what you consume.
If you decide you want to do Whole 30, get the books and follow the Instagram pages on meal ideas and try to get into a support group. That helped me stay the course and ask questions when I had good/bad days or went out to eat at a restaurant and needed some reinforcements.
Are you stuck in a rut? Working out all the time, hoping to lose weight, but nothing is happening? Even modifying your diet isn't changing things much? Maybe it's time to change your workout. At least, that's the conclusion I've recently drawn.
When I was in my 20's I absolutely loved working out in a gym. You'd find me with the guys (fewer women did this), using weight benches and free weights or cable machines, curling and repping whatever weight I could. I'd tackle a few sets in a muscle group and move on. Weight training provided amazing results, but was seriously boring. And sometimes, lonely. If I didn't recognize anyone in the gym who I felt comfortable asking for a "spot" or if I just didn't recognize anyone I could talk to, I didn't workout as hard or for nearly as long.
When I started doing Dance Trance in the late 90's, it was the variety of music and choreography that really drew me in. I did notice weight loss and toning, but at the time, that was secondary to my need to improve my balance and flexibility. So the two workouts complimented each other. Eventually, I just dropped weight training all together. It seemed like Dance Trance was covering all my needs and I didn't really have time for more. Recently, I've realized, how wrong I was.
Don't get me wrong. Dance fitness is fantastic. It's great to be able to get high cardio in for an hour that is so much fun I don't realize I'm working out but, my 43 year old body isn't what she used to be. All the twisting, jumping and pounding has taken a toll on my knees and feet. More so than I expected. A couple of months ago I learned that an assumed interal blister, as I had told myself, was in fact, a tear in a tendon in the ball of my foot. It took a trip to the podiatrist to learn the truth. I was sidelined for the prescribed 6-weeks.
I couldn't dance but I didn't want to just sit around doing nothing. I mean, I own a fitness studio for peet's sake! So, I started taking Sculpt and Pound. Mostly because that's what we offer and because each of the classes has one thing in common: low impact. I told the instructors of those classes what my limitation was and that I would either be doing the exercises in a modified way or do another exercise entirely. No one seemed to mind. And everyone was inviting and encouraging.
After a few weeks something happened: I saw my muscle return, in addition - I saw less cellulite, improved strength and stamina, less pain in my knee and foot... and yes folks, weight loss! And what I realized is I have to change my workout habits if I want to see new results. That's not to say I don't dance anymore. If anything, I am dancing and teaching way more since but I've discovered that my body doesn't respond to just Dance Trance anymore. It needs additional exercise help. It needs the muscle or I won't be losing any weight. And really, the scale isn't even playing a part here. We're talking 2-3 pounds lost but I look and feel so much better and stronger.
That's not the only workout I plan to add. In 2017, I'm going to go back and work on my flexibility again. Likely with yoga. I think you have to have all three components (cardio, weight training and flexibility) to keep your body in a position to function without injury and with best results. I encourage you to try a fitness buffet yourself and let me know if you see the same benefits. If you've been a Surfer, Pounder, Bootcamper or Sculpter, maybe add Urban Ballet, DT or Barre for lengthening and cardio and if anything, keep me company as I try to vary things up from my same old routine.
When I set off on the journey to open Turn, the goal was to really find a home for my program, Dance Trance. However, it was clear from the start that the space we found and transformed in Scott's Addition needed more than just DT. It needed to give a home to other classes just like it. Classes that were unique, challenging and inspiring. That lead me to a woman I had met two years before. Just a chance meeting at an outdoor fitness festival in Richmond.
Seo and I instantly hit it off but she was clear from the start, she didn't want to own, manage or run a fitness studio. She just wanted to bring her fitness programs (Fighting Fit and Pound) along with her personal training to one location. Through some brainstorming we created Bootcamp, and eventually brought along Surf and later, Sculpt. Those programs evolved because of Seo's expertise, drive and natural ability to create fun, new fitness experiences.
Because I was working full-time as a journalist and a mom, Seo often answered the call for whatever TURN needed. She grew our brand, managed the studio, hired and trained several amazing instructors and also welcomed hundreds of faces into TURN day after day.
She was with me in good times like when movie stars and news stations visited TURN and rough times like when leaky roofs, torn up city streets and snow packed sidewalks forced us to temporarily close and she made a connection with clients and the area business owners who were pulling for our success. She often pushed me out of my comfort zone, helping me to take risks I might not have ever taken and she helped me to meet fellow girl bosses who had plenty to add to my world while teaching me plenty about lifting one another up. To say she's been instrumental in helping TURN and even me blossom, is a huge understatement.
Despite our growth and success, earlier this year Seo had an epiphany and realized TURN still wasn't her dream. She had a longing desire to go in a different direction. She wanted to become a life-coach and help with personal development, and teach fewer group classes. We worked together to make that happen. We downsized her schedule. She was gracious enough to extend her exit and stay on while I could find the right time and courage to leave my own journalism career to take care of the fitness studio I birthed but hadn't really been able to watch grow.
And that brings us to now. With the end of the year upon us, and Seo's business quickly expanding and my new found career as a full-time girl boss well underway - we think the time is right for us to begin our separate entrepreneurial journeys.
Seo will teach just four more classes at TURN in December. Her last one on the 27. Please join us in wishing her well in this next chapter of her career and growth. Let's max out attendance in those classes and show her our appreciation for helping create Richmond's friendliest fitness studio and helping cultivate and train many of our current and future fitness instructors along with just being an amazing friend.
It's kind of hard to believe that TURN has been open for a year and a half now. It's more than I ever expected it would be. As new instructors and students walk through the door, I can't help but think about the little that it came from.
When I first visited the space, I thought I was going to have a partner help me do the prep work and open the doors. TURN was almost part pole studio and part Dance Trance. How different that vision was. In the end we went our separate ways. It's a good thing too - because I wouldn't have called Seo if plan A had worked out. And she's been instrumental in getting the word out about TURN.
In October 2014, the studio was a place where they did millwork and was a pile of dust. I mean for real. I walked in and there was a layer of white dust about 2-inches thick everywhere. In every crevice and on every inch of floor. You can see it in some of those photos below. And there were so many rooms in the space that later became the main studio. It was horrendous. But all I could see was a fitness studio.
My aunt visited this week and Deverly (my friend and rad DT instructor) walked her through all that we accomplished. And we revealed how we did the work. How we, the students, and the instructors and the husbands pulled together on a GoFundMe and a beg-and-borrow budget to demo, prep, paint, clean, install, strip, and clean again agenda. And how we learned as we went. Realizing after the initial demo went through that we were going to have to call an electrician, a plumber and how we needed duct work for the AC. Oh yea - and maybe a drywall guy or two.
I remember how I was cleaning the main studio for like the millionth time -- pushing out that dust, and I looked at Sarah (another friend and fab instructor) and said -- this sucks and it's not going to work. She said, "No. It's going to be awesome. It's already awesome. Don't worry." I took her words and turned them into positive ammunition and confidence. Little did I know that when Sarah drove home she called her husband and was like, 'WTH are we doing? This is crazy!' LOL
The point is -- without everyone who came together on this journey and without the faith they had -- we wouldn't be here, in one of the best parts of Richmond offering some of the most unique and dynamic classes. It's what makes TURN more than a fitness studio, but a community. I think it's the thing that sets us apart and why I still feel the butterflies when I walk inside. I hope you feel them too. - Sandi
Left: Main studio, mirrors replaced this burlap and panel wall. Right: Garage and exit doors and the white dust.
About the Author
Sandi Cauley is a small business owner, fitness instructor, dancer and retired broadcast journalist. She operates Turn Cardio Jam Studio in Richmond, VA (founded in 2015) with goals to mesh dance + fitness and connect others with some of their youth. She is also a 3 x boy mom, a Tejana, a wannabe