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Everyday is a ‘Full Body’ Day

Your body is a system of systems that work together to help you functionally move in everyday life as well as perform better in every activity you engage in. Why would you treat your body as separate parts on your workout days? We’ve all heard the infamous line from friends, family, and coworkers: “It’s leg day.” We’ve listened to it so much we fail to question why people isolate their body parts in their workouts. We assume that’s how strengthening should happen because that’s what we’ve been conditioned to believe.

 

Alkalign believes your workout should work your whole body, every time. Your body is smart and dynamic…isn’t it time you start treating it like it is? Your mind isn’t separate from your body, your legs and arms don’t work in isolation without your core. Mindful movement combined with paying attention in class is not only great for your body, but also for your mind and mental health.

 

For most of us, most of the time, total-body training that incorporates functional training is the best thing for your body. Workouts (like the kind at Alkalign) that rely on combination strength-training moves, stretching and mobility that engages your mind and muscle groups all at once with are the best way to get what you want out of your fitness routine and overall wellness for long-term.

 

Whether you are an endurance athlete looking to up your game, have an injury that has sidelined you from exercise, and you want to get back into it, or a regular Joe/Jane who just wants to feel better in your body, we have a workout that’s perfect for you.

 

Whole body. Whole person. Whole life.

Podcast Alert! Improve Your Functional Movement
Erin Paruszewski interviewed by Drew Taddia on Exploring Mind and Body.

Alkalign Founder Erin Jennings Paruszewski was recently featured on Drew Taddia‘s podcast, Exploring Mind and Body. In the episode, Improve Your Functional Movement, Erin talks about what Alkalign is and why everybody needs mobility and functional strength training.

Drew Taddia travelled the world as a professional baseball athlete for 10 years before following his entrepreneurial spirit started his health and fitness business. Seeking a larger platform to reach more people and help change their lives for the better, he started sharing his information on radio and podcasts. Find Drew Taddia’s show iTunes, on his website or on Facebook.

Why We Ride: Cycle For Survival

Every February we gather and ride to raise money via Cycle for Survival, a a rare cancer research fundraiser that supports Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We ride because we have been touched by cancer, or because someone we love has, or because we see 1.7 million people in the United States diagnosed with cancer and 50% of those people are suffering from a rare type of cancer and feel called to action.

Everyone has a story about how cancer has effected their lives. Here are just a few of ours:

Lizzie:

Just over 3 years ago, I did the hardest thing I had done to date – I wrote a eulogy for my best friend of 30 years.  I started with “what” she was; mother of 3, lawyer-turned-owner of 2 successful businesses, a great dancer. None of that captured who she really was and how her unforgettable charisma left an impression on everyone she met. None of this ever came easy to her and she fought for the things she accomplished with ferocity, dignity and grace. She fought Lymphoma the same way. I continue to fight in her memory through Cycle for Survival.

Lori & Joshua:

My nephew, Josh, who I rode for the last 3 times had testicular cancer that traveled to his lungs. We recently found out that he has throat cancer and had surgery over Christmas. It’s WAY MORE PERSONAL NOW MORE THAN EVER!!!

Lauren:

“I found out about Cycle for Survival from my amazing instructors Lizzie & Pauline at Alkalign three years ago. My mom had just lost her 15 month battle to a very rare liver/bile duct cancer a few months prior so Cycle for Survival hit very close to home. It’s hard to put into words the emotions and feelings I felt after that first ride with Cycle for Survival, but the energy in the room was unbelievable, it was contagious! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never rode a spin bike before, (I certainly hadn’t!),  everyone is there with the same goal, to come together and raise money and awareness for rare cancer research!

What I also love is that not only are you riding alongside with your own teammates, but with a room full of other amazing, inspirational riders, who too have been affected in some way or another and want to make a difference.

I truly can not say enough about this incredible event! This will be my third year riding with Alkalign C4S stars, and I ride in memory of  my mom, and all those who have battled or are currently battling this terrible disease.

You can support this amazing cause by donating online. Help us beat last year’s fundraising total of $27,000! Live Present. Pay It Forward. Team Alkalign.

Testimonial: My Alkalign Muscles

We love hearing about our client’s successes and Liz Rhodes is no exception! Liz has been with Alkalign Menlo Park since March of 2015 and takes about 3 classes a week. Liz’s lifelong dedication to her health is impressive! She’s an early bird and gets most of her workouts in at the 6am Express classes, but also takes the occasional Align or Elevate class.

Health isn’t something you can acquire one day when you decide you want it, need it, or have time to invest in it. Health is something you have to make a priority and commit to throughout your entire life. Liz is a perfect example of this! She is strong, vibrant and committed to ever-evolving her practice. She recently joined us to dig deeper into her nutrition by joining our Nourish group. Here’s what Liz has to say about Alkalign. 

I am a fan of Alkalign for many reasons.  I love the muscles, strength and balance I have acquired.  I appreciate that my core is strong.  Erin and her staff are very proactive in educating us about the parts of our bodies that we are working, I love learning about my body!

Erin also sends out emails with recipe suggestions, and I am participating in her Nourish program. I’m looking forward to learning more about my nutrition.  I will find out in the 3 week elimination program my reaction to corn, dairy, gluten, soy and sugar.  

I work full time as a Realtor, and family is my priority.  We have a blended family with 12 grandkids with number 13 on the way! I am always very busy with sleep overs, visits and of course the kids’ sports activities. Keeping up with all of these activities take energy, and my exercise and diet help to keep me on the right track!

Alkalign provides so much more than any other gym setting.  Erin and her staff are passionate about loving and caring for your body in the most healthy fashion.

Thank you, Liz, for being a part of our wonderful community and inspiring us all in our pursuit of lifelong health. 

Instructor Testimonial: Aligning Priorities

The funny thing about life is that sometimes it gives you what you need before you know you need it. While exercise and sports have always been a part of my life, I never envisioned myself being an instructor of fitness. I spent almost 20 years as a Graphic designer & consultant in the ‘land-of-deadlines-and-adrenaline.’ I was always looking for the new idea and rushing to beat the clock for clients. I was stressed out. There were never enough hours in a day. I always said yes to everyone except myself, and I was exhausted.


Around the same time that Alkalign was looking for instructors in the summer of 2017, changes had been made in my full time job as  Creative Director for the company I was working for. I had been a client since the studio opened earlier that year, so I decided to take the leap back into self-employment as a freelance designer and also took on the adventure of becoming an Alkalign instructor.


Over the course of the training I learned so much about the practice that grew to love it more than when I was a client. I became part of an inspirational group of people who all hold the same values about movement. My brain was working in new ways it needed, and I was moving my body more than I ever was sitting in a chair for 40+ hours a week.


The biggest surprise was that becoming an instructor changed my family’s household dynamic. According to my husband, we all went from stressed and rushed (the state I was always in), to positive and balanced. He has been my biggest supporter because he says Alkalign makes me a happier person, partner and mother. I’m blessed to work with a community who values family time and schedules. Becoming an Alkalign instructor gave me back the most important parts of me that I didn’t know I was missing. I learned that when life throws me big changes, it’s because I need to ALIGN my priorities.

I’m always happy to talk to anyone who is considering becoming an instructor, so please get in touch with me if you’d like my personal experience by responding to this blog post! If you’re ready to take the plunge and have more detailed questions, contact our amazing instructor-trainer, Cathy, at cathy@alkalignstudios.com.

3 Reasons Why You Should Nourish

As the holidays approach, are you starting to think “Wow, I need to dial in my nutrition” as another plate of cookies from your aunt shows up at your door? Are you ever curious why so many people (maybe yourself included) feel so down over and after the holidays? Have you considered that maybe it’s the food you are (or are not) eating? If you’ve found yourself asking these questions, it’s time to stop wondering and start Nourishing!

   

Nourish is our 21-day group health coaching program that helps you take a more holistic view of your health. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should sign up for Nourish in 2019!

   

1 – LOSE THE WEIGHT AND PUFFINESS CAUSED BY INFLAMMATION Do you have extra weight/puffiness you would like to stop carrying around? Weight, inflammation and food sensitivities are all closely related. Spend 21 days discovering if one, or 5, inflammation-causing foods are standing between you and your health goals. 

   

2 – COMMUNITY SUPPORT AND ACCOUNTABILITY We are more likely to reach our goals when we tell others about them. We are also more likely to succeed when we have support, help and encouragement along the way. Nourish will give you all of this and more! Join Nourish and you will join our private Facebook group lead by our Nourish team which includes certified health coaches.

   

3 – REDUCE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION, INCREASE ENERGY Are you feeling less than amazing these days? Are you blaming it on the holidays or shorter winter days? Try something new! Take 21 days to eliminate sugar and explore what it has been doing to your mental health and energy levels. We FEEL how we eat and a healthy diet can help balance your mood and increase your energy.

   

Now that you have our top 3 reasons to join, sign up with us today and start feeling like the best you possible. Make 2019 YOUR BEST YEAR YET….same you…only healthier! 

   

CLICK HERE for a free recipe book and preview of the delicious food ideas you will get by joining Nourish!

   

Core Plus Unlimited Members and returning nourishers, email us for your discount codes at info@alkalignstudios.com.

Testimonial: Virginia Gee – Recovery After Breast Cancer

My journey is an interesting one – I’ve always been a “healthy” person. I started dancing when I was 5 and only stopped when I was in my 30’s when I had my 3 children. I’ve always worked out and maintained a healthy lifestyle.

 

In 2010, when I was 37 and my youngest was only 9 months old, I was diagnosed with HER2+ Breast Cancer. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, multiple reconstruction surgeries and chemotherapy. I was extremely lucky and have been in remission since, but the road to recovery, both physically and emotionally, is very long and my body was an unrecognizable wreck. I had lost so much muscle that my metabolism slowed down and I started gaining weight. It hurt to walk and I could barely get up and off the couch without feeling pain in my lower back from my lack of strength. About two years later I started working out with a trainer and took some classes at the gym, and that did help. I lost the excess weight and started to gain my muscle back. I finally started to feel myself again after a few of years. I found dance classes and started to dance again. Then, in July 2017 I decided to check out Kate Biber’s Alkalign studio in Irvine, CA. I remember after the first class my abs hurt for 2 days straight and I was hooked.

 

In all my years of dancing and working out, nothing has impacted my body like Alkalign has. I had grown used to using heavy weights with my trainer, and was nervous that using only 2 pound weights (or none at all!) would not be as effective. I had no idea! Overall, my body is much leaner, and I am so much stronger than I have ever been. I have muscle definition I’ve never had before in my life (my butt!!) and my core is the strongest it has ever been. I still dance, because that is my love, but Alkalign is my go-to work out. I go as often as I can and have come to love it just as much as dancing.

 

What is so amazing about Alkalign is that I can always do better and work harder. There is no plateau. It’s so challenging, but attainable, and the hour spent in that room is always the most important one of my day. The attention from all the instructors makes such a huge difference. After one little adjustment, I realize I could have been working harder and getting even better results.

 

There is an all-around dedication to being the best you that you can be. During one of my classes, Kate said that doing what we are doing is more challenging mentally than physically. She said we can surprise ourselves with what we are capable of during our workouts and she’s right!  So, when I leave and my legs are still shaking, and the next day and I am on a plane traveling for work and my abs are still sore – it feels amazing and I can’t wait to go back for more. Kate and Team, thank you for creating such a wonderful and special space. I am so happy I found you!!

Growing Business, Growing Family

To say that 2018 has been a big year for franchise owner, Elise Feichtner would be an understatement! Alkalign in Ada (a suburb east of Grand Rapids) celebrated their one year anniversary in February, her daughter turned 3 and her and her husband, Ben, are expecting another daughter in November! Her love of her family and her business shines brightly to everyone who walks through the studio doors. I caught up with Elise to talk family, business and pregnancy.

 

Q: What does an average day in your life look like?

 

Mornings are my favorite and most productive time of the day, so my alarm goes off just before 5am and I’m at my computer shortly after. Once my 3-year old, Reese, is up, it’s her time with me, so that 90-minutes of quiet work time in the mornings are when I’m at my best. I typically take her to daycare every day before heading into the studio to either work with our awesome desk staff or teach classes.  I LOVE my studio mornings because it’s when I get to connect with our community. Once the round of morning classes are done, the rest of the day is up for grabs. Each week fills up with meetings, studio work time, or work from home. I always try to make evenings family time. When Reese was a baby, we used to be able to get her to bed much earlier, so I’d be able to hit my computer and to-do-list again after bedtime. Now that she’s an expert bedtime-staller, I’m usually exhausted by the time she’s settled. Choosing to sleep when she goes to bed has been essential to my health since I’ve been pregnant and am so much more tired!

 

Q: How has this pregnancy differed from your first?

 

Wow!  So many things about this pregnancy are different than with my first, especially as I get later into my pregnancy.  I’d say the number one difference is the fact that we didn’t have kids to manage when I was pregnant with Reese. I totally underestimated the beauty of being able to rest, work, set my schedule or even use the bathroom without the demands of a 3 year old.  Initially with this baby, I was SO much more tired and actually felt more sick than with Reese as well. That was a huge challenge in those early days when I wasn’t really ready to tell people.  Similar to my first pregnancy, the 2nd trimester was great for me. Once I hit the 3rd trimester, my active job as an instructor, owner and mom got more challenging. Not only did it seem like the baby and my body were growing by the day, but my body started to feel some stress and fatigue I didn’t experience with Reese. 

 

At 31 weeks I started experiencing some really intense pain in my left SI joint.  I could tell it wasn’t muscular. After realizing it was getting worse, I finally gave in and consulted my doctor.  Turns out, I developed a really common issue in pregnancy related: SI Joint Dysfunction. My OB recommended I see a Pelvic Floor PT and also gave me the option to try chiropractic adjustments.  

 

To say that this has been eye opening for me is an understatement.  I am learning SO much about my body, the female body in general and how best I can use this experience to inform and enhance what we do for all of our female clients.  

 

After working through the disappointment of this “injury,”  I’ve made peace with it and have had to scale back my teaching and movement schedule.  I realized that the more active I was, the worse this pain got. Fortunately, I saw an amazing functional chiropractor who assessed not only my joints and spine but my ability to BREATHE!  This was a total game changer. His initial work with me on how to breathe to open up my pelvic floor + the continued work with the PT really helped keep my symptoms at bay. Did they totally alleviate the issue? No, but I definitely was able to manage the pain so I could function through the day.  It has been such a humbling and educational experience, and I anticipate continuing to learn even more after labor, delivery and postpartum. Stay tuned Alkalign!

 

Q: In general, describe how taking Alkalign classes has been different in each trimester?

 

Interestingly enough, I could tell I was pregnant before I even officially knew, and I noticed that in class.  I could just tell that my body felt different. I don’t know if it was hormonal or fatigue, but early on, certain exercises in class just felt much more challenging.  I really noticed it in planks right off the bat. Beyond just feeling slightly off in first trimester, I was fighting the nausea and morning sickness in classes. I never actually got sick, but had that constant “ick” feeling.  

 

Second trimester was great!  I felt awesome strengthening my body with modifications.  As 2nd trimester ticked along I’d start to notice certain exercises were a little more challenging.  I specifically remember feeling a totally different challenge in High C Curve. It was so much harder for me to pull my abdominals down and in to create the active flexion we seek in that position.  There’s this growing baby in there that made it  harder for me to control the movement, but it was still manageable.

 

When the 3rd trimester arrived, more movements became challenging. That sensation of having “too much baby” in High C Curve became a full-on barrier to the exercise.  I also started to feel that Seated C Curve and Low C Curve were also really hard to do since there was so much less room in by torso. Even modifying with props proved more and more difficult as my belly grew. Once my SI joint dysfunction officially reared it’s head, I felt that standing glute work or single-sided exercises were too much.  The joint was already under stress so adding all my added body weight onto that single side was not working for me. I decided to scale back from classes until I figured out what was going on with my pelvis, but now that I know I have been able to use modifications and breathing strategies I’ve learned while under chiropractic care and PT to modify when I do take class. 

 

Q: What advice would you give pregnant women who want to stay active and maintain their fitness?

 

Listen to your body!  Chances are, it will tell you important things!  Growing a human is no small task. So much of your “normal” body movement and mechanics will be impacted by your growing baby.  If you start to feel things that are somewhat “off,” ask your healthcare provider. Share information about how you’re feeling. Knowledge is power!  Unfortunately, some feelings in my body I brushed off as normal “second baby things” turned into more. Thankfully, I asked for guidance have been able to manage and treat some symptoms and learn a whole lot along the way!  

 

Q: What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting an Alkalign franchise and  wants to grow their family?

 

You really CAN do it!  The opportunity for me to open a studio came at a time when the Ada/Grand Rapids market needed a niche studio like ours.  If we were going to do it, it had to be now. I am so happy my husband and I made that decision when we did. I knew this is where I wanted my life to go professionally.  I have a supportive husband, loving family and bigger community to help when I need it. I also know that someday I won’t have young babies. What makes this all work is that I have faith in my own abilities as a parent and professional; gratitude and love for the amazing support network we have; and pride for the example I can set for my young daughters as they learn to be strong, independent, kind, and compassionate women.

 

Testimonial: David’s Journey After Injury

I met Erin Paruszewski at Alkalign a while back and took her up on her offer of a week of classes. I’ve never done a fitness or pilates/barre/yoga class before, but this year has been one of self-improvement, so it came at the right time. I couldn’t have known how important my new-found fitness and body alignment awareness would be over the last few months when I first started. I’ll get to the part later where I’m in yoga pants, facing the waterwall with one arm in a sling, trying to balance in neutral spine and wide turnout and realizing that I’m the only one-armed guy in class. I’ll also get to the part when, later that month, I had emergency abdominal surgery, took 2 (stressful) weeks off of exercise and then had to modify for another 2 weeks after that. But first, how I got to be an Alkalign addict and a true believer that my work at Alkalign is responsible for me enjoying physical and mental health like never before.

 

Erin and I were connected by a friend with shared work interests. In an effort to understand her business better (and since I was curious about what my first Alkalign experience would be like), I took a class. I started with Align 101 and discovered new muscles (lateral oblique, piriformis, and my whole ass in general) I didn’t know I had. More importantly, I found a workout that was really hard and rewarding. After 25 years of chronic back pain, I’ve never felt better than after I found my new core strength at Alkalign (thank you, Erin). My year of self-improvement has included some pretty intense mental health work…not just eating the Mindful Meatloaf at the hospital cafeteria (and that’s a real thing)…but real work and progress on my mind. I consider my progress at Alkalign a major part of that mental health as well.

 

Strength and mental health are why I try to go to Alkalign every day. Because of my work schedule, I can’t pick the class format, I can only pick the times, which is why in May of 2018 I was in a huge rush back to work after the 6:00 AM class. I knew I would be late for my 6:30 AM work meeting, but if I did a quick shower/change and biked as fast as I could, I would be only 30 minutes late (yeah, it’s a 2-hour meeting at 6:30 AM…I work with surgeons).

 

This next part is hard to retell, since I wish I could go back in time in a 1985 DeLorean and change what happened next. I booked out of Alkalign, got on my new bike and steam down the Alameda. I received a text message, read the message and tried to reply. It wouldn’t send correctly because I’m pedaling —fast— so I tried again. I’m frustrated because I’m supposed to be in two places at once and I’m late for work. But, I can do this! I can even do this without a helmet at the time — never again (Apryl)! As I’m typing —BANG!!! —OH F&*K! And then…I’m on top of a car, looking down at my bike, which has the fork completely dislodged — sheared right off. I’m bleeding and then laying prone on the Alameda. It really hurts, a lot. My shoulder hurts to the point that I don’t know if I can even feel everything correctly. I stand up, walk to the curb, curse the fact that my new bike is ruined and now not going to make my meeting. I text my work colleagues that I won’t make it, then call my wife and tell her I need to go to the ER because I have a broken collarbone. I can feel the bone fragments rubbing against each other. Other than that, I can feel what ends up being a thigh contusion and a bruised finger, and eventually a chipped tooth. Thankfully it wasn’t a broken neck, major head injury, broken pelvis, or anything life altering….or life ending. I knew these injuries would be a major setback for my mind and body. I knew I needed help. I knew I needed to slow down. I knew, for real, that I needed to slow the F down.

 

I did a few weeks in a sling with no physical activity on the arm. No plank, down dog, water-ski, push ups, all 4s, or anything else that would delay the collarbone healing. I thought I was in pretty good shape until about 3 weeks after the bike crash. One afternoon I noticed an unusual and sudden pain in my abdomen. After about an hour of writhing around in bed, my wife finally forced me to go to the ER where I was diagnosed with an acute surgical abdomen. I had 10 inches of my intestines twisted and strangulated that required emergency laparoscopic surgery to release it. Yeah, technically it was a “hernia,” but not the kind that your granddad has that bulges out his groin when he coughs like a party trick. For me this meant another 2 weeks of crawling up the walls (Alkalign-less) while I recovered from surgery.

 

Through both injuries, Alkalign was a major part of my quick recovery. The physical therapist (for the shoulder) was sure I could have wrecked my rotator cuff if it hadn’t been for my flexibility and strength. He eventually cancelled all my follow up appointments because I was “so strong and flexible beforehand.” The surgeons who did my abdominal surgery discharged me within 12 hours because I was “in really great shape and would recover abdominal strength quickly.” I can’t help but think both events could have been much worse if I hadn’t been working on my strength and flexibility at Alkalign.

 

I thought at first that I’d probably lose touch with my Alkalign routine and slip back into marginal physical fitness and a mental health struggle that has been a familiar routine, but Erin was there for me. She opened the studio to help us figure out what I could do to modify the classes with a broken wing. Then she showed me how to modify after the major core weakener of surgery. I got back into the studio, started modifying classes and that’s what made me realize why I’m Alkalign-hooked…it’s not just the physical benefits, it’s the mental benefits that also keep me coming back. Don’t get me wrong, I am so appreciative of the physical changes and flexibility that Erin and team have afforded me, but in my year of self-improvement, the mental health I’ve achieved at Alkalign is the real gift.

 

I’m still working on achieving the physical and mental strength that comes with recovering from my injuries. The biggest thing I learned is that I can’t keep rushing around. If you see me in the studio stretching out my shoulder near the waterwall, you’ll know what I’m focusing on, and you can even remind me to slow the F down.

 

David M. Axelrod, MD

Stanford University Clinical Associate Professor, Pediatrics – Cardiology