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Pauline Goloubef: The Journey to Becoming a CET

“Every accomplishment begins with the decision to try.”  – Anonymous,


Have you ever wanted to accomplish something but had no idea how to start? Felt paralyzed by the unknown? Well, that’s exactly what happened to me. In 2015, my friend, Julie Grosvenor, a Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer (CET) by the American College Sports Medicine (ACSM) approached me about her job. Julie worked at the YMCA teaching a fitness program for cancer survivors: The Living Strong, Living Well program. The program is designed, sponsored and managed by Stanford Health Improvement Program. It’s a twelve week fitness program offered to adult cancer survivors through the YMCA at no cost. The goal is to improve muscle strength, build muscle mass, increase flexibility, reduce the side-effects of their treatments and fatigue, increase their overall well-being, and so much more. Julie asked if I’d be interested in becoming a trainer at the YMCA for this program. I said of course I was interested, but at the time I was working at Alkalign teaching classes, taking on the new role of Development Coach, bringing up two active boys in high school and my husband traveled a lot for his job. The timing wasn’t right. However, I decided to write my GOAL down and also shared my goal with my friends of becoming a CET. It worked!


In October of 2017, Julie called again, she offered me the opportunity to teach a weekly class for cancer survivors. I jumped in with both feet. After shadowing a few times, I started teaching the Exercise for Health fitness class sponsored by Stanford Health Care (delivered by Sunflower Wellness) in November. This would be the gateway to my end goal: ACSM Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer.  In January 2018, I decided to set a deadline to take the exam; I scheduled it for the first week in March and then planned out a study schedule. As the exam date approached I realized I was heading to the finish line to attaining my certification. March 9, 2018 I sat down at the desk, started to answer approximately two hundred questions over three and half hours. At the end of the exam, I hit the “complete” button and instantly felt a little nauseous. Did I study enough? Did I learn enough while shadowing cancer exercise consultations? The word PASS popped up on my screen! I felt a wave of satisfaction and accomplishment and then a realization: I’m not at the end of my GOAL but at the beginning of my next GOALS.


The Certification Cancer Exercise Trainer provides me the opportunity to meet with cancer patients and survivors to develop an individualized exercise program for them to ward off side effects, combat fatigue,  improve bone density, increase muscle mass and decrease the possibility of depression and recurrence. I have completed numerous hours of shadowing the exercise counselling consults and now conduct the sessions on a weekly basis.


I love how my work as a Development Coach and fitness instructor at Alkalign Studios aligns with my goal of training and providing exercise counselling to cancer survivors. Alkalign Studios  focuses on the 7 functional movements (squat, lunge, walk/gait, push, pull, hinge, rotate) and educates our clients to make the connections between how they use these movements in their daily lives. I feel there is a common goal of Alkalign Studios, Sunflower Wellness and the Stanford Cancer Supportive Care Program to help clients improve muscle strength, joint flexibility, mobility, range of motion, mood (increase happy endorphins) and cognitive skills, as well as reduce anxiety, fatigue, and depression. I am happy to be a small part in a client’s, and survivor’s, day where I can educate, motivate and support them regardless of where they are in fitness or in their health journey. Thank you to Alkalign for my foundation in fitness and thank you to Sunflower Wellness and Stanford Cancer Supportive Care Program for the opportunity and support you’ve given me during this journey.


Pauline Goloubef 

Development Coach, Alkalign Studios

Certified Cancer Exercise Trainer, ACSM, Sunflower Wellness, Stanford Cancer Supportive Care Program

Overripe Bananas? Make Muffins!

What do you do with overripe bananas? You can freeze them (but peel first; I learned that the hard way) and use them at a later date. Or why not bake today?


Currently, my favorite thing to share is banana muffins from This recipe includes dark chocolate chips and almond butter but no additional sugar. I add a “dollop” of almond butter in the center of each before baking. If you came to my class this past week, you had a “taster.” These muffins are fast and easy to bake and, even better, make a great grab-and-go snack. Enjoy!




Resolve to Find Purpose

Alkalign Studios Los Altos Instructor PaulineAs 2017 begins, it’s good to reflect on the previous year’s accomplishments, failures and what you’ve learned from both along the way. There are moments in everyone’s life when you need to take a step back, revisit your path, maybe change course or find another route. I realized that the route I was following was not serving me or my clients well. I wasn’t considering WHY I teach and WHAT I wanted to offer or deliver to our community and clients. I had lost my purpose.


Shannon Kaiser of the Huffington Post has a great article, 3 Unexpected Ways to Find Your Life Purpose, and suggests the following ways to find your purpose:


+ “Get more action”, which I interpret as get more involved. How do you find your purpose or your passions? You have to put in the effort. You have to throw yourself out there, like testing spaghetti to see if it’s fully cooked (throw it on the wall, see if it sticks).


+ “Drop from your head to your heart”, listen to your heart. Find your passion by being open to trying new things. When you feel happy about what you are doing, it will show through your actions. You will be able to tap into what makes you happy and share it with others.


+ “Break up with one”. You don’t have to stop at having one passion. Find the things that truly make you happy. For me it’s, spending time in in the outdoors; hiking, running, skiing, kayaking, and boating. I also love teaching and taking fitness classes. My passion is being involved in fitness. However, I believe my purpose is to share my love of fitness with others. Passions become purpose.


Finally, Shannon states: Passion + Daily Action = Purposeful Life


“Consider that the real purpose of anyone’s life is to be fully involved in living. Try to be present for the journey and fully embrace it. Soon you will be oozing with passion, and you will feel so purposeful and fulfilled you will wonder how you lived life without it. Enjoy the journey into your own awesome life”.


I became a fitness instructor when I was working as a Buyer for Sony Music Canada. I had the opportunity to enter the Fitness Ontario Leadership Program and became an instructor at the Sony Fitness Studio in 1993. Yes, I am that young. I taught Step, Aerobics and Strengthening classes. The reason I started teaching fitness classes was I wanted to share my passion for health, fitness and overall well being with my co-workers. In 2010, I started as a barre client and soon fell in love with the method, studio and community. I also acquired the benefit of improved posture, increased muscle mass and core strength. A year later, I decided to train to become a barre instructor. As a part of our nature we continue to strive for perfection—in our jobs, family life, exercise/practice, and as an instructor. Seeking to increase and improve both my teaching and instructional skills to take my classes to the next level ,I lost my passion and purpose. Why do people strive to attain perfection when it is so elusive? People should always be willing to continuously improve. There is a saying: ”Perfection is not found in results. Perfection is found in your effort.” Continue to perfect your practice; work to achieve your goals, know what you want to offer your clients each class and do the best you can to deliver.


One of my favorite mottos at the moment is: PRESENT over PERFECT. I was trying to meet expectations that I had imposed on myself that didn’t allow me to be ME. I took some time to reflect on my PURPOSE. Why did I decide to become an instructor, what made teaching fitness enjoyable and fulfilling for me? Then I realized it was making a positive difference in one person’s day. Clients come to work out, walk into the studio with stress of their morning, day or evening with them. It is up to us as instructors to gift them with one hour of fitness and fun in a safe and supportive environment so they can return to their daily routine feeling strong and healthy; physically, mentally and emotionally.


“You don’t need to be great to start, but you do need to start to be great.” states Colin Robertson of WillPowered


Negative Thinking is a Hazard to Our Health

Alkalign Studios Barre

This being my first attempt to write a blog, I realized (with help of course from the blog gurus) that I had written more of a research paper. I had researched a topic that had impacted me over the past few months. RUMINATION. I had no idea what rumination was nor its impacts. As a fitness instructor, I am constantly putting myself out there to receive feedback from clients, peers and bosses. Feedback is delivered in many forms such as; non-verbal, body language, facial expression and verbal. After I delivered a class that I felt was less than stellar, I received feedback loud and clear in all the ways I listed above and it was spot on.


We are also our own worst critics and I was in this case. I wasn’t sure how to implement the feedback I had received nor how to deal with my inner critic that was beating me down. I began to dwell on all the things I could’ve, would’ve and should’ve done, which is when I believe “negative thinking became a hazard to my health”.  


While researching ways to digest and integrate feedback, I found out that I was ruminating. This is when we stew about a negative experience. This tends to send us into a spiral of negativity, and reaffirming thoughts of things we think we could’ve done to change the outcome. I was struggling to find the “notice, learn and move on” skillset that I normally use. The same area of the brain that controls our emotions can’t discern reality versus the hypothetical experiences taking us back to the negative thought over and over again.


The area of your brain (amygdala) that controls your emotions, emotional behavior, and motivation, looks for the negatives, which get stored quickly, versus positives which take up to twelve seconds to make it to your memory. Did you know that your amygdala uses ⅔ of its neurons to look for bad news?! Rick Hanson, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist, founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom, states, “humans are evolutionarily wired with a negativity bias”.


Our brains react to negative stimuli much faster than positive. An example of this is that people can identify an angry face faster than happy one. This is due to the fight or flight response mechanism within each of us. 


There is also a chemical released in the brain that contributed to the negativity I was feeling. While we go through the process of digesting these negative thoughts, our brain releases a stress hormone called cortisol. The more cortisol that is released to deal with our stress and negative thoughts, the harder it is to rebuild new positive memories. After all the research and reading, I realized I didn’t want to live in the past trying to figure out how to undo what happened. Instead, I decided to “notice, learn and move on” or better yet, “live present, be forward”.


The good news is, you can control your tendency to get stuck in the negativity junk or spin your wheels in the mud. I used a number of the following tools to assist with changing my attitude and turning negative thinking to positive.


Ways to Deal with Negative Thinking:

+ Notice if you’re stuck in the mud.

+ Set aside time to ruminate. Don’t allow rumination to take over your time. Allot time to ruminate and decide if the situation deserves any more of your time.

+ Ask yourself is there a problem to solve. If yes, set a goal to fix it, if not, move on, it’s not worth any more of your time.

+ Ensure you set goals you can achieve. If your rumination is built on something that has happened in the past, change your thoughts to something that is positive in the moment. Redirect your attention. Set goals you can achieve.

+ You may not always agree or have to accept the current reality. However, you can accept the experience, learn from it, and move on.

+ Work out on a regular basis to send happy endorphins through your body to counteract negativity.

+ Recharge class or a massage will allow you to control your breath and tap into your parasympathetic nervous system allowing you to reduce stress.

+ Meditation is useful for taking control of your breath, awareness and subsequent redirect.

+ Sleep! Get your 7-8 hours every night.

+ Redirect your attention. Crossword puzzles, sudoku, and adult coloring books can quiet your mind.


Take the time to notice how the experience/issue is affecting you, be aware if you are ruminating, then take steps to ensure you don’t get stuck. If you’d like to know more about rumination and/or it’s relationship to cortisol there are numerous studies to be Googled!  “Don’t bring negative to my door”— Maya Angelou