Alkalign Thrives in the Midwest

The Alkalign studio in Ada, Michigan, (near Grand Rapids) has been open for nine months. It’s the first studio outside of California, but owner Elise Fiechtner and her team have proven that Alkalign’s brand of high-quality, effective workouts within a welcoming community resonate as much in the The Mitten as in The Golden State. Here’s what three Michigan clients have to say.

 

 

I am definitely in debt to Alkalign for all the amazing results and changes I’ve experienced from being there for 4 months! The staff is great, and the inspiring environment is unreal. I can’t tell you how long I’ve been working on my own at home or at the gym trying to get to the physical shape that I’m in now without injury or having to work through hip and back pain. My hips have ALWAYS been out of line, and for the first time I’m as aligned as ever without going to a chiropractor!

 

Alkalign is exercise with physical therapy aspects, which is the best combination ever! I’m stronger than I’ve EVER been and am finally seeing changes and great results. And bonus: I don’t struggle with any hip pain. Alkalign provides instruction and the mindset to listen to your body and to work carefully through exercise in proper alignment to reduce injury or discomfort. I’m most appreciative of the staff who are so welcoming and also willing to help clients with any injuries. They care enough to see how you’re doing and guide you with stretches and solutions to your problems. You can’t get that kind of care and attention anywhere else. These ladies are the best, and I’m so grateful for all the help, instruction, and motivation that they provide me every time I’m there!
—Julie K.

 

 

I am 18 years old and graduated from high school this past May. I wanted to work out and get in better shape so I decided to join my mom at Alkalign this summer before I left for college. I loved Alkalign! I felt like it trained my body for life outside of class. I felt stronger and better about my body. I loved the instructors; they got to know me personally and cared about me. They were encouraging and pushed me when I wanted to stop. After going to Alkalign, I feel different about working out and about my body. I’d encourage everyone, especially young people, to try it.
—Meredith S.

 

 


I started doing Alkalign this fall. Sixteen years ago while I was pregnant with my third child, I experienced a bulging disc in my lower back in between the lumbar vertebrae L4 and L5. I had a shift in my spine for many months. After the baby was born, I got back to normal through physical therapy and continued to be fairly active. As I got older, I didn’t continue to do as much strength training, and eventually my lower back began to cause me pain again. For the last two years, I have been doing physical therapy a couple times a week and gotten three cortisone injections. The injections did alleviate some of the pain, but I was still limited in what I was able to do and had a lot of pain if I sat for long periods of time.

 

Through a friend’s recommendation, I decided to try Alkalign. I have stuck to a fairly regular routine of taking class three times a week. Every time I leave class, my whole body, but in particular my back, feels strong and supported. I have very little pain, and if I do experience any, I know exactly how to alleviate it. I cancelled my appointment for the last injection and have stopped going to physical therapy. I now consider my three times a week at Alkalign my own physical therapy. It has made a big difference for me, and I hope to continue the practice indefinitely!

—Kacie M.

 

Know a community where there should be an Alkalign studio? We’re seeking franchisees nationwide! Learn more here.

Alkalign Closes Its First Round of Funding

Yes, the goal of our campaign with NextSeed was to raise money, but more than that, we saw it as an opportunity to share the Alkalign story more widely. And the results are amazing! Our campaign raised $100K from 121 investors nationwide, including 21 states and 80 cities, and 85% of investors were new to the brand. They jumped in with both feet despite never experiencing an actual class.

 

We were also touched to see so many of our clients, friends and family members invest as well. Alkalign is invested in our communities for the long haul, and we are humbled to learn that the feeling is mutual.

 

Our NextSeed campaign is an example of our continual quest to think outside the box and offer more to our clients. It both allowed us to reach people who had never heard of Alkalign and to raise funds in a way that also benefited investors. Unlike traditional crowdfunding, which is more of a donation to a business or organization, NextSeed structured the Alkalign opportunity as a debt security with a favorable rate of return on each investment. Thanks to a new government rule that became effective in May 2016, individuals can invest in a small business for as little as $100 and be paid back with interest on a monthly basis. A win-win!

 

We have evolved significantly since our April 2015 inception, and we continue to disrupt the fitness market with high-quality, sustainable and trustworthy offerings that are beneficial for our clients both today and tomorrow. We have many new, innovative ideas in the pipeline, and the money we raised will help make these dreams possible. Stay tuned!

The Life-Changing Magic of Rolling

 

Rolling. Self-massage. Myofascial release. There are various terms for what we do in our Recharge format: use Yoga Tune Up Therapy balls to release tension from muscles, work out knots or sticky spots and help the body move better.

 

Recharge is a huge passion of mine. As a Type A+++ person, the ability to SLOW down and do anything other than run a million miles a minute was not in my DNA. But like I always say in class, the more you avoid something, the more you need it, typically. And that was exactly the realization I had when I discovered rolling.

 

Recharge is beneficial for many reasons, but here are four of my favorites:

 

1. Mobility

Mobility is a huge part of overall health and a big contributor to how you feel. You might have heard about mobility in relation to a loss of mobility, which can happen due to injury or simply as we age. However, research shows that mobility is as fundamental to your fitness as strength, flexibility and balance.

 

If you want to be functional, feel great outside of your 1-hour workout, or just feel better within your body, you need to dedicate time to working on mobility. Got aches and pains? Rolling may be your answer!

 

The balls in combination with the techniques we apply allow you to access and release almost every part of the body. It’s like getting a massage, but you can do it yourself, anytime, anywhere! Improved mobility = reduced pain. Moreover, rolling increases blood flow, improves circulation and joint function and benefits the lymphatic system, which translates into a stronger immune system.

 

2. Mindfulness

I can honestly say I have learned more about the human body (and my body) in my 2 1/2 years of regular rolling than I’ve learned from any other training I’ve participated in. Learning by doing is HUGE. Place the ball. Mobilize the joint. Pay attention to how things are connected. A few real-life a-ha moments include:

 

+ The pain in my big toe during running was actually coming from a tight spot in the arch of my foot. Since I starting rolling that spot, my foot pain is gone.

 

+ I hold a lot of tension in my jaw. But I didn’t realize this until I put a ball there and discovered just how much stress I absorb into my body in this spot.

 

+ Rolling can improve your squats and chaturanga push-ups. How well you do these is highly dependent on mobility — of your shins for squats and your forearms for push-ups. Rolling these areas significantly enhances performance and alignment in these exercises.

 

3. Pain Management and Prevention

Putting a ball somewhere on the body is eye opening because you very often highlight a “blind spot,” or an area that you had no idea was tight or stiff. This is your chance to work on it before it becomes a bigger issue and you can’t stop noticing it.

 

If you can incorporate rolling into your regular practice, you have a great chance of avoiding pain and injuries. If you’re already experiencing pain, rolling is great way to break down the barriers (and fascial knots and adhesions) to improve mobility and reduce pain!

 

4. Meditation

Recharge is a moving mediation. Lying in stillness, bringing my attention to one small part of my body and focusing on not focusing on anything can be a challenge. But with Recharge, I get down-regulation for the brain and body and also work on the kinks, so it truly is a win-win. Moreover, practicing the shift from the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system to the parasympathetic (rest and restore) system in Recharge has supported my ability to make that shift in other areas of life, namely bedtime.

 

Side note: the creator of the “FasciaBlaster” claims that it reduces the appearance of cellulite, Although this is not a statement I’d be comfortable making as it can be a little misleading, it does contain a kernel of truth. Fluid retention, storage of toxins and poor circulation contribute to the appearance of cellulite, which can be reduced by rolling. Granted, some additional lifestyle changes need to take place, but yes, a regular rolling practice can reduce the appearance of cellulite. There, I said it.

 

Whatever your motivation, I encourage you to incorporate rolling into your personal practice. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is worth investing in a few minutes of regular rolling to get a pain-free future. Plus, ball jokes are fun. 😉

The Journey to Alkalign

 

“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.” — Lao Tzu

 

This is my favorite quote and one that aptly sums up my journey as an entrepreneur and small-business owner. Getting married, buying a house, having kids — these were big decisions in my life. But the most significant decision I have ever made was to take a tremendous risk and open a new fitness concept, Alkalign Studios, in 2015.

 

 

I grew up around small business: my dad is an entrepreneur and a generally innovative and crazy guy, and I was running payroll for the family business when I was 12. My dad created several businesses from the ground up in completely different industries, and working hard was never an option in my family: it’s just what we do. When I was a kid, I started babysitting and lawn-care businesses and worked as a waitress and bartender throughout my college years.

 

 

Toward the end of my time at Georgetown, I decided I wanted to work in finance. It was 2000, tech was booming, and I wanted to be in Silicon Valley. It wasn’t easy to get a job in finance without a very specific finance background. It was a frustrating process. I felt like I was smart and capable and could think outside the box. But I had a History degree, and we live in a very “if this, then” world. I applied to dozens of firms and didn’t get a single interview.

 

 

I didn’t realize this at the time, but I think that’s why I’m an entrepreneur: I don’t believe in walking in a linear path. I’m a reflection of all the experiences I’ve had, and I believe that if you’re of a growth mindset, you can do anything you want.

 

 

I eventually got my foot in the door at Piper Jaffray and started my first “real job” there as an
Equity Research Analyst in the Menlo Park office. I met some of my dearest friends at Piper and am
grateful for everything I learned, including that no matter where I work, I will never be a 9-5er. I’m more of a 5-9er.

 

 

I left Piper for another bank then took a finance position at a healthcare company and continued to
work my way up the corporate ladder. I became Six Sigma Black Belt certified and transitioned from finance to product development and marketing positions at Health Net.

 

 

Fitness has always been a part of my life. I was athletic from a very young age; I ran track and cross
country in high school and got into marathon running and then cycling and triathlons when I was in college. But I was always an individual contributor until I joined a gym for the first time in 2003. I really got into the community and camaraderie and started taking group classes.

 

 

Now that I look back, this is when the puzzle pieces started falling into place for me to have my job today, which I think is the best job in the world. But things don’t always make sense at the time, and it’s important to trust the process.

 

 

I became close friends with an instructor at Equinox who thought I might make a good fitness instructor and brought me on to start teaching cycling and other classes there. She was launching a fitness concept of her own, and I helped her develop a business plan. She didn’t know how to open a Word doc, and I traded dozens of hours of business consulting for a BOSU ball, which costs $120. But I felt so excited to be bringing my experience in business and passion for fitness together, even if it was just to help someone else. And by the way, I still have that BOSU ball.

 

 

It was also around this time that I got introduced to barre classes, which I initially thought were total B.S. because I wasn’t sweating and burning a thousand calories per hour. But then I started to change my mindset about movement. I realized that I didn’t need to beat my body into ground.

 

 

On the day Obama was inaugurated in 2009, I left my corporate job. I felt like that was a big day of change. I opened two barre studios and loved everything about it: impacting people’s lives in a positive way, being part of the local community through my business and meeting new people.

 

 

But I wasn’t happy with the underlying business operations of the franchise and hired a business coach to help me do some soul searching. I wanted to take my experiences with barre and other fitness programs and create a better product based on functional fitness, and a close friend who ultimately ended up acting as my branding firm convinced me that I should make the jump. Seven weeks later, we had branded the concept, created a website, done photo shoots and launched Alkalign.

 

 

I have more than found something I’m passionate about; I have created something I’m passionate
about! It’s amazing to have the freedom to live and work in an environment where I can positively
influence peoples’ lives in so many ways. I care about my team and my clients like they are an extension of my family and will do whatever it takes to help them live a more fulfilled life.

 

 

I’ve had plenty of failures along the way, and failure presents the best opportunities to learn and to
grow. I think my biggest failure was moving forward with a franchisee who I didn’t trust. It was our
second opportunity to franchise and something in my gut told me not to do it. While I feel great that we called it off before it got further down the road, I regret that I didn’t listen to my gut sooner. On the flip side, it confirmed that I will never compromise the culture of Alkalign, the integrity of the brand or my core values for money.

 

 

This isn’t for everyone. When you own your own business, there is no such thing as punching the clock and checking out. Alkalign never sleeps, and I think about it all the time. I love it, so the trade-off is worth it. But there’s no doubt that passion is critical to success as an entrepreneur.

 

 

My goal with Alkalign isn’t to be the biggest fitness brand but rather the most trusted and respected when it comes to doing right by our clients in both the short and long terms. I’m all about investing for the long haul, which I think differentiates us from other fitness brands, most of which tend to focus more on the here and now. I believe we are providing something unique to the health and wellness market.

 

 

Not only is there a huge opportunity in teaching functional fitness and offering sustainable workouts that appeal to such a wide range of people (men, women, old, young — everyone can benefit), there is also an opportunity to facilitate connections and community in every Alkalign studio. Human beings need human connection! I hope that Alkalign catches on and that we can replicate what we’ve started in our four current studios across other communities nationally and internationally.

 

 

Erin Paruszewski is the founder & CEO of Alkalign Studios. She wrote this for NextSeed, the company managing Alkalign’s crowdfunding investment opportunity. You can participate for as little as $100 through Nov. 2, 2017, to support the expansion of Alkalign.

 

Testimonial: Apryl Stern — Quality + Community

 

I found Alkalign after taking a Yoga Tune Up teacher training class. I wanted to continue rolling, so I searched online and found that Alkalign offered a Recharge class using the Yoga Tune Up balls and method. I had likely walked by Alkalign many times since I live close by but had not realized what it was. With this new information, I decided to stop by. I bought a 3-pack of classes, went to Recharge, met Erin P., and was hooked!

 

When I took the Recharge class, I’d been teaching indoor cycling for a few years and was finally ready to admit that my body just wasn’t happy. My neck was chronically sore, and my quads and glutes were too tight. I was cardio strong but neglecting core and weight-bearing exercises. I was bored with my workouts and just generally needed a change. At the same time, I was watching my mom deal with the effects of osteoporosis and multiple fractures in her spine. I knew that I needed to do something more than just cycling to keep my bones healthy and strong in the long term.

 

Before coming to Alkalign, I had tried other group exercise classes, but none of them grabbed me. I also tried to do weights and core exercises at home, but it was hard to be disciplined and ignore the laundry and emails that needed doing. Adding to this, as a fitness instructor, I’m picky about how classes are taught (Cathy says I’m “discerning!”) For me to like a class and continue to come back, I have a high bar for the instructor to meet in terms of knowledge and teaching style. I really was at a point of frustration, not knowing how to find the thing that was going to be good for my body, that would be compelling enough that I’d actually want to do it, and would be taught well. No small challenge!

 

After that initial Recharge class, I started coming to the 101 and Align classes (that 3-pack worked; it got me to come back!). What I saw immediately was the quality of instruction. The cues, modifications, knowledge of the instructors, the consistency from one class to another as well as the integrity of the workout: all of these things caught my attention. I was impressed right from the start with how well each instructor was able to teach the entire group, give individual attention to new students like myself, and keep the energy going throughout the tough workouts. This is not an easy thing to do, and I knew from my own experience that it meant the instructors were well trained, prepared, and must have had ongoing learning to keep up their skills and motivation. Not to mention they all seemed so happy, like they truly enjoyed their jobs. What a winning combination! Alkalign passed my discerning test with flying colors!

 

And then there were the exercises. I’d done Pilates and yoga before, as well as other barre classes, so there was a familiarity in what they were doing. But the structure Alkalign uses creates a completely different workout. Focusing on the core, alignment, strength, posture, and balance were all of the things I knew I needed to do for my body, but I’d never heard the term “functional strength” in an exercise class before Alkalign. The classes were tough, but I felt great after each one and very quickly started to notice changes in my body. I recall one day seeing a slight bit of definition in my abs that I know wasn’t there before. I almost didn’t believe it! And my flexibility started improving, my neck hurt less and less, I felt taller, and my legs were no longer as tight. Once I started going to class regularly, I actually felt like I missed being at Alkalign on the days when I couldn’t be there!

 

Then I tried Nourish, and this opened up a whole new aspect to Alkalign. I was someone who was already reading food labels, and I considered myself a very healthy eater. But like my exercise routine, I felt like I needed a boost of new energy to change things up. I ended up doing Nourish 3 times and loved it. I learned a lot, and it changed my eating habits in ways that are easily sustainable, without being restrictive. For example, I now avoid refined sugar as much as possible. Cutting out sugar has many benefits, but the one I like the most is that foods actually taste better. Sweets that I would have enjoyed before are now too sweet, and in their place, I have found new treats that are healthier and more satisfying. Chia seed pudding is now one of my favorite desserts!

 

The combination of new exercises and minor modifications to my diet have had the bonus side effect of my losing weight. This honestly wasn’t my goal. My goal was to build better and more balanced muscle strength, gain flexibility, and then, later, to learn some new recipe ideas. I mentioned this to Erin one day — how much I love coming to Alkalign, love the exercises, love the community, and, oh by the way, my pants are all too big! It really did come as a surprise that I shed some pounds, but I don’t want to give the impression that I haven’t worked hard for it. My friends look at me like I’m a bit odd when I say I go to Alkalign almost every day, but I come because I genuinely love it. I love how strong and tall I feel after a workout, how hard I work at the exercises because of the amazing women (and a few men!) who sweat alongside me, and how the strength I have found in my body just makes me feel great.

 

The Alkalign community is truly a special thing, and I am so grateful for having found it and so excited to be training to become an Alkalign instructor. Everyone here — the instructors, the studio staff and the clients — is supportive, friendly and welcoming. It’s a happy place where I come to workout and feel great. The fact that it’s good for me is like no-sugar icing on the cake!

 

Testimonial: Angelica Leo — Grateful for Irvine

After 3 months of living in Europe, 2 months traveling in Asia, and 4 months studying for the LSAT, you could say I was out of shape. Finally, after I submitted my last law school application in January 2017, I decided it was time to start working out again.

 

The first Alkalign class I took felt like the longest hour of my life. I woke up the next morning feeling so sore that I lay in bed contemplating whether I could walk down my stairs to get to my car. I had signed up for a monthly unlimited Core membership and wanted to get the most out of it, so I went back to the studio and continued to take class almost every day. Slowly but surely, I felt my body getting stronger, I saw my muscles getting leaner, and for the first time in my life, I looked forward to a workout. No other workout has ever kept me coming back, sometimes even for two classes a day! After taking over 100 classes, you could say I was addicted.

 

What I love about Alkalign is that there is truly no plateau. Each class presents an opportunity to improve my form and take the challenges offered (or slow down when I need to). It never gets boring. The strong women who are in each and every class push me to work harder, squat lower, lift higher, and even hold longer when I don’t think I can.

 

On top of all that, Alkalign Irvine is so much more than just a workout. It is such a welcoming, supportive community of wonderful people and exceptional instructors, and these made leaving Irvine this summer for law school even harder. I miss Kate’s drawn-out slow count, Brigetta’s killer cardio classes, Christine’s fun playlists, and Danielle’s technical muscle knowledge. I am so thankful for the amazing people I met as well as the strength and confidence I gained. Thank you, Alkalign Irvine!

Alkalign Everywhere (even at Hamilton!)

Do you know that once you become an Alkalign instructor, Alkalign invades your every thought? Dreams, music, backing up in your car—everything becomes about Alkalign, and Alkalign becomes a bit about everything! As such, many things can influence and inspire what we teach in class. If you happened to take Cardio + Recharge at 9:50 in Los Altos on June 1, you may have learned of one of my most random inspirations to date: Hamilton!

 

My husband and I had had the privilege of seeing the musical in San Francisco the night before I taught class, and the music, story, and acting were incredible! But the dancing really stuck with me. I couldn’t separate it from what we do at Alkalign and was so impressed by how long the performers were able to hold runner’s lunges, wide turned out, and side planks. Thus, I brought those things into class with me the next day! After class, I learned that some of you are a bit obsessed with Hamilton (have seen it three times) or had no clue what I was talking about (that’s OK, too!).

 

As I write this, I’m in Florida on sabbatical with my husband and boys. And even though I haven’t taught class in a couple of weeks, Alkalign is still in my head! A few of the places I’ve thought about Alkalign on this trip include:

 

+ standing in line at Disney World (posture, anyone?)

+ watching baseball (talk about spinal rotation and obliques)

+ swimming in the ocean (spinal position and core control are challenged differently)

+ getting off of the sand (planks! Or C-curves!)

+ climbing stairs (quads and glutes; I favor my right side)

+ dealing with dirty toilets (gotta love a good squat hold)

+ lifting a child out of the pool to shoot a basket (shoulders and core)

+ playing tennis (a little of everything and a net can serve as a high barre)

+ reading (neck alignment)

 

Shall I continue?

 

Where do you see Alkalign in your life? Take a small part of your day and think about it. Try it tomorrow when you’re getting ready for work or getting the kids ready to go. Once you start looking, I bet you’ll see more places, too, if you haven’t already!

 

Already obsessed with Alkalign? Share that passion by becoming an Alkalign instructor! Our next round of instructor training begins in September. Email Cathy for details.

Testimonial: Kirby Knapp — Alkaligned Teen Athlete

I’ve been playing competitive volleyball since I was 11 years old. During my early teen years, my mom suggested I try to build up my core strength in an effort to create a strong foundation for my rapidly growing body and help prevent injuries. I tried a few classes at Alkalign and liked how strong I felt even without having to lift heavy weights. The moves I did in class were straightforward but very targeted, so there wasn’t much risk of straining muscles. Unfortunately, between my school, practice and tournament schedules, I wasn’t able to take classes very regularly, so I stopped altogether.

 

Flash forward to my senior year of high school. After years of competitive, year-round volleyball with tough team practices and not enough conditioning, I injured my arm. It was a wake-up call that showed me that I am not indestructible and need to take care of my body. I knew that I had to get back to the basics and focus on strengthening my core. And, as a soon-to-be college athlete, I needed to make sure my body could handle the increased intensity of practices and workouts at the next level. I remembered how great Alkalign classes are and immediately signed up for a Core membership, ready to commit to a regular schedule. In fact, I was so convinced that Alkalign was exactly what my body needed that I was willing to wake up early and take 6 a.m. classes before school started! Despite having to get up at an ungodly hour, I surprisingly felt more alert throughout the day and very energized. Not once have I ever regretted waking up early to take class. (Full disclosure: Once my schedule allowed me to take Alkalign classes later in the day, I quickly dropped those 6am-ers!)

 

Taking Alkalign classes has definitely helped my arm’s healing process. The exercises and stretches gently force my arm to increase its strength and mobility, and instructors can always offer modifications when I need to back off a bit. And even though one area of my body is “taking it easy,” others are still able to work hard to compensate for and relieve stress on the weakened area.

 

Although I originally joined Alkalign for the exercise, I have now come to appreciate all that the brand has to offer. I appreciate Alkalign’s focus on healthy eating through the Nourish program. I never thought twice about what I ate before but definitely do now, and I will be sure to continue as I head off to college! If nothing else, I am more aware of my food choices and how my choices make my body feel. I also love the fact that Alkalign focuses on building a community. Classes appeal to a wide range of ages, and the instructors are not only knowledgeable teachers, but they are friendly and approachable as well. I really get the sense that Alkalign truly has my well-being in mind, and everything it offers is for my benefit.

 

I will miss Alkalign when I head off to college in the fall but take comfort in knowing that it will still be here when I come home for breaks.

Acu-Recharge: The Intersection of East and West

 

Since inception, Alkalign has always been about more than just the workout. In addition to fostering a supportive community and investing in long-term relationships with clients, we have added nutrition coaching with Nourish and a restorative Recharge offering. In everything we do, we take a holistic approach to health, which means attending to the well-being of the whole person over a whole lifetime. As such, we are always interested in learning about additional practices that complement ours. In the past month, we began exploring the intersection of Alkalign Recharge and acupuncture.

 

Acupuncture is the ancient Chinese medical practice of gently inserting tiny disposable sterile needles into specific points of the body to regulate its vital energies. Acupuncture promotes natural healing and is a safe and effective way to treat a variety of medical problems. According to a study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine, 51% of medical doctors understand the efficacy and value of acupuncture, and medical doctors refer patients to acupuncturists more than any other alternative care provider.

 

Alkalign clients are very smart and open minded, and they appreciate that there are a lot of components to overall health. We talk about how everything is connected; that extends beyond our muscles and bones. Acupuncture in so many ways is aligned with what we do at Alkalign, particularly Recharge. Bringing the two together just seems like a no brainer!

 

Loren Romley is a licensed acupuncturist at White Peony Acupuncture in Los Altos. She’s also the sister of loyal Alkalign client Kendra Muscarella. I met Loren a few years ago when I had an amazing acupuncture session with her. We reconnected recently to develop and deliver a special workshop — Acu-Recharge — that introduced participants to the Chinese medicine concepts that relate to the self-massage practice we do.  

 

Here’s what clients learned in the first edition of Acu-Recharge:

 

Acupuncture is based on the concept of meridians, or 14 pathways in the body through which vital energy (qi) flows. Each meridian connects to specific organs and glands. When there is a blockage in a meridian, problems arise. This idea correlates to the “sticky spots” or adhesions we feel in our fascia when rolling.

 

Says Loren: “The ball rolling is in line with acupressure. You’re working on the meridians manually rather than with needles but to a similar effect. Areas where there is tightness or stuckness get stimulated and moved. There is a saying in Chinese medicine: ‘Bu tong zi tong, tong zi bu tong’ — Where there’s stagnation there is pain. Move the stagnation and the pain goes away.’ In effect, this is what the Recharge class is doing.”

 

Each meridian is related to one of the five elements—wood, fire, earth, metal and water—and each element correlates with a season (spring, summer, fall and winter, respectively). Because the first Acu-Recharge workshop took place in June, we Recharged with summer in mind. Participants rolled triceps and chest to stimulate the element of fire, which is dominant in summer. Deficient or excess energy in the organ systems related to the fire element might cause insomnia, anxiety, sluggish digestion, and sinus congestion, among other symptoms.

 

At the end of the workshop, Loren did ear acupuncture on each participant. Points in the ear can address every part of the body. Loren placed five needles on points related to the fire element to calm the autonomic nervous system.

 

Loren says her job is to guide people toward reaching homeostasis and being their healthiest selves, and that fits with our mission: to educate, empower and inspire you to be the best version of yourself that you want to be. Your health is so much more than burning calories, and that’s why Alkalign is more than a workout.


We’re excited about learning more from Loren and sharing it with our community! Email me if you want to be the first to know about future Acu-Recharge offerings.

 

How Much Does Your Fitness Instructor Know?

 

As someone who holds several nationally recognized group fitness certifications, I can tell you from experience that not all certifications are equal. Although some of the more comprehensive ones require a basic knowledge of anatomy and a rudimentary demonstration of acquired skills, nothing compares to the rigor of Alkalign Instructor Certification, which each instructor at our studios holds. Here are just a few things that make our program unique:

 

 

Your instructors practice — a lot.
In addition to spending 8 weeks attending workshops to learn how to safely and effectively teach you all of the exercises that make up an Alkalign class, our trainees complete nearly 200 hours of on-the-job training such as observing class and completing self-study modules on topics including using props in class and creating an inspiring playlist. Our Cardio and Recharge instructors commit to even more training.  We believe that the best way to learn is to practice, and our instructors dedicate themselves to their practice.

 

The program is focused on you, our clients.
Learning how to cue the full repertoire of Alkalign exercises is actually a very small part of the training. Our real focus is on how to connect with our clients, how to adjust them into their best position, and how to knowledgeably offer modifications so that everyone who walks through our doors feels successful but challenged in class.

 

Your instructors are dedicated to continuing education.
The Alkalign instructor certification is a “living certification.” Our team members deepen their knowledge and hone their skills at our Immersion weekends and during ad hoc workshops and master classes held throughout the year.  

 

The program is based on science.
Our trainees attend a detailed functional anatomy course as part of their training, and they don’t just learn the names of the bones and muscles. They also learn how these components work together to move your body in a safe, functional and sustainable way. In addition, our training program is ever-evolving, so our instructors learn the latest research in sports science, kinesiology and rehabilitative therapy.    

 

Our instructors embody our brand, and, as you can see, we are committed to quality. We hope you feel that in every class you take!

 

Interested in learning more about becoming an Alkalign instructor? A new round of training begins this fall. Email Lizzie for more information.

Testimonial: Vy Tran — Why I Love Cardio Align

 

I have been a cardio junkie my whole adult life and have tried every trendy group exercise class for the last 25+ years: step, jazzercise, aerobics, kickboxing, zumba, spinning, u-jam. But Alkalign’s cardio class is my all-time favorite. I take it just about whenever it’s offered at either the Los Altos or Menlo Park studio. Why do I love it? I love to sweat. And this class gets me perspiring like crazy.

 

I have found cardio to be the “me time” I need. During those 45 very efficient minutes, I can focus on releasing any stress I have and feel amazing afterward. I am a MUCH happier person after cardio. And, unlike any of the other group exercise classes I have taken in the past, there is no chronic pain associated with cardio at Alkalign. I also love that I continue to get adjustments from the instructors and that they motivate me to work harder each time. The instructors also do a great job at always innovating the format so the class never gets monotonous. I am challenged by every class, and it never seems to get easier! What does get better is my form, which I love.

 

I am so grateful to have Alkalign in my life to provide me with a sanctuary I need while trying to balance working full time, taking care of my kids, trying to be a good partner to my husband, and, finally, taking care of me. I love the supportive environment Erin and her team have created at both studios,  where the clients feel welcomed, encouraged, and truly cared for.

 

Thank you, Alkalign!

Testimonial: Julie Takagi How Alkalign Helped Me Beat Diabetes

Last April, I was diagnosed with adult onset diabetes. I started seeing an endocrinologist, testing my blood two hours after eating, and religiously recording food and blood sugar data in a journal.

 

I cut back on carbs and exercised by walking (I was recovering from back surgery to correct a herniated disk and annular tear). Each morning, I would get a drink at Starbucks and walk in downtown Los Altos. My route always took me past Alkalign. After two weeks of this routine, I went inside. I was scared. I had tried a gym before and hated it.

 

Erin was inside and answered all of my questions. She was so easy to talk to. She said something like: “This is a community. Everyone helps and encourages — like a family.” I really wanted to be a part of something.

 

One of the things Erin mentioned was Nourish. Given my struggle with diabetes, I was very interested. No program was starting soon, so Erin offered to meet with me one on one to talk about my nutrition. I left feeling very excited!

 

My teenage daughter also came to my meetings with Erin, and we followed her suggestions together. As in Nourish, we did an elimination challenge and stopped eating corn, gluten, sugar, dairy and soy for three weeks. The elimination diet seemed challenging, but I was already changing the way I ate and taking charge of my health. I wasn’t hesitant at all. I wanted to jump right in and so did my daughter.

 

Erin supported us every step of the way. She emailed recipes, tips, and foods to try. It really helped having her there to talk to or to ask for suggestions.

 

I loved doing it with my daughter and seeing results. During the elimination challenge, we felt better, had more energy, lost weight, and had fewer headaches and less bloating.

 

We reintroduced sugar first because it was Halloween time. I ate a piece of candy and felt OK. I then ate a couple of candy corns and felt sick. I decided I would eliminate sugar as much as possible but not freak out if I slipped up. I would just begin again. That’s what I’ve done, and my daughter has done the same. She’s maybe even stricter with herself. I’m really proud of her!

 

A few more things I learned:

  •      I don’t need those foods in my diet.
  •      Corn makes me bloated and have headaches.
  •      Soy and dairy just make me sick.
  •      I can have cheese on a pizza, but I have gluten-free pizza.
  •      I don’t have to be embarrassed or scared when I go to an exercise class.

 

Here is something about me I’m not proud of: I start things and don’t finish. But that didn’t happen here. I did the elimination challenge, and I’m still taking class at Alkalign. I also feel so good having done something to address my diabetes instead of feeling sorry for myself.

 

The really big news is that I’m no longer diabetic. My doctor said: “I can’t believe it. You don’t have diabetes anymore. You did it! I wish all my patients would do what you did.”

 

I actually feel blessed that I got diabetes. It gave me a reason to work on myself.

 

My health is pretty good now, but I still have things to work on. I know that diabetes won’t be in my future, but I hope that Erin and the Alkalign family will be. With that support, and my daughter’s, I will keep going for it.

 

Cardio + Recharge Power Hour

Alkalign Cardio + Recharge

Did you know that there are 5 components to fitness? According to the National Association of Sports Medicine, these components are: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, muscular endurance, flexibility/mobility, and body composition. I know what you are thinking: “I barely have enough time to target one of those! Now you are telling me that I have to make time for five?” Yes, but it’s a lot easier than you might think. For example, in a Cardio + Recharge class, you target all of the components of fitness in one powerful hour.

 

Cardiovascular Endurance:

Your heart is pumping, and your lungs are working in the 45 minutes of interval-based cardiovascular training that you get in the cardio portion of a Cardio + Recharge class. Over time, your cardiovascular system gets stronger, and you’ll feel the progress as you recover faster during the active recoveries and cool down.

 

Muscular Strength:

If you have ever cursed your teacher’s name the day after a class when you get out of a chair or go up the stairs, you’ve felt delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). All those lunges and squats during class create micro tears in your muscles that result in the soreness you feel the next day. The great news is that as those tears heal, you build stronger muscle which supports your bones and joints, as well as raise your resting metabolic rate.

 

Muscular Endurance:

Hello superset! Not only are you getting an amazing cardiovascular challenge during these 4 minutes of non-stop action, but you are also challenging your muscles by asking them to work continuously without rest. If you‘ve tried this class format, you’ve experienced the endurance challenge as well. Your lean, endurance muscle keeps you going through the superset and all day outside of class.

 

Alkalign Cardio + Recharge

Flexibility/mobility:

Stretching helps restore your muscles to their original length, and it feels great. That’s why we always encourage you to stay for the final stretch. But if you really want to take your functional mobility to the next level, the 15 minutes of self-care that is the Recharge portion of the class is what you really need. Our massage-therapy-ball techniques will help you find all of your tight spots that have lost mobility and function due to injury, tension, or poor body mechanics and alignment. We will help you nestle a ball right into those spots to restore the normal slide and glide of your tissues.

 

Body composition:

Properly addressing the other four fitness components and focusing on proper nutrition, hydration, and sleep (all part of our Nourish program), will help this part of your fitness fall into place.

 

Join us for a Cardio + Recharge class and feel the benefits of this incredibly efficient hour!

 

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

 

We Are All Connected

 

Alkalign Studios Barre Class We Are All Connected

“I think connection is why we’re here. It’s what gives purpose and meaning to our lives, and belonging is in our DNA.”—Brené Brown in ORIGIN Magazine via The Huffington Post.

 

When I reflect on 2016, honestly, it was pretty rough. While it was one of the most fulfilling years of my life with the growth of Alkalign and the completion of my holistic health coaching certification, much of what else went on this year in the world just felt, for lack of a better term, icky. Thinking about the illnesses of friends and family and the nastiness of the election really made me pause and reflect on why we are here and how we all relate to each other. It also resulted in increased gratitude for all the good I have in my life.

 

I’m grateful for my health and my family. I’m also thankful for Alkalign and the opportunity it gives me to connect with real people experiencing real life on a daily basis. Alkalign has brought amazing people into my life, including an awesome team that is an extension of my family and a supportive community of friends and clients who look out for each other in a genuine way. For me, the in-person human connections are so much more meaningful than the virtual connections of social media.

 

It’s the connection that really inspires me to do what I do every day. Living in Silicon Valley, I sometimes take heat from techy types who are my amused by my ambition to open brick-and-mortar locations across the globe. Sure, it’s not as scalable or as fast as selling a million online memberships, but it’s meaningful. As long as we are human beings, we need human connection, and Alkalign is a place to connect, whether it’s through a smile when you walk in the front door, a shout-out from an instructor or a workout shared with a friend.

 

In 2017, we will really focus on connections at Alkalign. We hope you’ll join us as we host events and outings so you can connect with one another and us. We can’t promise a year without challenges, but we can assure you that we’ll get through them together.