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.

Your Smart, Dynamic Body

Earlier this month, I had the incredible opportunity to spend the weekend at 1440 Multiversity to take a course on Dynamic Aging co-taught by movement and yoga/mobility pioneers Katy Bowman and Jill Miller. While I am still processing all of the juicy content from the weekend, the one overarching message from the course is that our bodies are smart and they adapt quickly.  As you delve into the details, this can be both good and bad.

 

The benefit of quick adaptation is that we are resilient.  For example, if you’ve ever broken your toe, you know that your body adopts a new walking pattern so that you can still walk while giving the damaged toe time to heal. However, once your toe has healed, you likely still walk like a person with a broken toe because your body has adapted to that new movement pattern. The magnitude of the movement change depends on the severity and duration of the trigger that caused it. This change in movement pattern can cause excessive wear and tear on tissues and joints and be a trigger for chronic movement dysfunction and pain.

 

The good news is that you can break this cycle (and Alkalign can help). First, identify your (bad) adaptations. Do you have imbalances in your strength, coordination or mobility on one side vs. the other? What is your body compensating for and why?  Alkalign’s balanced strength building classes and trained instructors can help you identify this for yourself. Then, restore and maintain mobility by staying for the final stretch and taking Recharge and + Recharge classes.

 

Finally, move mindfully and diversify your movement.  All Alkalign classes help you learn how to do this. However, 1 class is only 4% of your day.  Take your education outside of our studios and into your car, office, and home. Sit in as many different ways as possible; put your pants on with your left leg first; walk to places that are less than 1 mile from your home.  Your body will thank you today and for years to come.

 

Want to learn more? Check out this video on the Alkalign YouTube Channel on how Alkalign can help you rehab your movement.

 


CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE TO ALKALIGN’S YOUTUBE CHANNEL


 

Bruised But Not Broken

Barry’s Bootcamp recently opened in Palo Alto, CA and my Co-Director of Innovation, Lizzie, invited me to join her for a class. We alternated between running on the treadmill and heavy weights on the floor. During the second set of treadmill sprints it happened: the dreaded treadmill tumble. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to process. I fell off the treadmill. OMG. I fell off the treadmill! Ouch. Right away I could tell my fall was going to leave a mark. I had road rash on my arm and bloody knuckles. Despite my embarrassment I got back on and completed the workout. Surprisingly no one even seemed to notice it happened, which only made it all the more awkward.

 

After the fall I replayed the scenario in my head. I am a movement specialist who studies and coaches movement for a living. I am a functional fitness expert. Running is a faster version of walking and walking is the beloved 7th functional movement. It’s the one functional movement that we do most in our daily lives. I’ve run 7 marathons and thousands upon thousands of miles in my life. How could I, of all people, fall off a treadmill?🤦🏻‍♀️

 

The truth is I lost focus. I got distracted and stopped paying attention. I went into auto-pilot and my movement became mindless. It happens to all of us every day. We are so busy that we occasionally miss a step or mis-judge the distance between our hip and the corner of the counter. Sh*t happens. Unless we wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and never get out of bed, that will never change. We can’t control the universe but we can impact the way we respond to it.

 

The key is resiliency. Train your body to respond to its surroundings and circumstances with mitigated risk. All the work I’ve done at Alkalign to improve my strength, balance, core stability, mobility and mind body connection made the difference between a serious injury and being relatively unscathed. Alkalign doesn’t guarantee you won’t stumble or even fall, but should you get knocked down, a regular, functional movement practice helps you get up again with the grace of Chumbawamba.

 

My elbow, knee and ego may have been severely bruised, but I was not, am not, nor will be broken. To me, the investment in myself and my health is worth it.

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.

Be True. Lean into You

Erin

It’s not easy being a woman. We are told from an early age we can be anything we want to be, and we must also be  everything. We are told to be smart, educated, career-driven, athletic, thin, pretty, outgoing.  We have to be an amazing mom/daughter/sister/friend/family CEO and, of course, the perfect spouse. We are also supposed to make it look as easy as pie….as in the one you just whipped up and popped in the oven.

The expectations society places on women are ridiculous. The expectations we place on ourselves are even worse.

I have 4 decades of experience as a woman and a decade of experience owning fitness studios primarily comprised of women. I am also raising two daughters. The struggle is real…the feelings of doubt and inadequacy are raw. And that’s ok, after all, we are human.

I recently participated in a workshop about our inner critic. We were asked when our inner critic first appeared in our lives. For me, it was in second grade! Who knows where she came from, or what experiences up to that point influenced how she presented herself. It was likely a combination of relationships, conversations and observations that began at birth. In general, as we grow up and  into who we are, our sphere of influence gets bigger and our inner critic opens the door for more opinions, judgment, insecurity and vulnerability to seep in. Family, friends, media, teachers, coaches, celebrities, infomercials, articles, fake news, false advertising and social media all contribute to our basic understanding of who we are and the expectations of who we should be.

I see the impact these expectations have on my clients, employees, friends and family. I see the light inside being slowly extinguished by the damper of expectations. It’s devastating and destructive. I have spent years working on my own self-care and self-love. I’m not perfect, I gave up on that a long time ago, but I am in a better position to help others navigate these tumultuous waters. I also see it as my life’s mission to help others feel better from the inside out.

When I founded Alkalign, establishing a culture of acceptance and authenticity was my top priority. Even more than offering a safe, sustainable workout, I wanted to offer a safe place where people could feel comfortable spending their time on good days and bad. My goal was to provide something that would leave people feeling better than when they came in. Community is the heart of Alkalign. Human connection is the glue that holds us together. It is important to surround ourselves with people who support us in bad times and champion us in good times. That is the sign of true friendship.

Here are a few tips I regularly incorporate into my life. Try them for yourself! What’s the worst that could happen?

Detoxify Your Life
Out with the old. In with the new. This goes for anything toxic, everything from the food you consume to the relationships that consume you. Get rid of what doesn’t serve you and make room for what does.

Practice Self Care
Invest in you. No one is going to take care of you, self-care is an inside job. Michelle Lam, founder of True & Co. said, “Self care is about carving out space, making sure you realize that you deserve time for yourself.” Nourish yourself with food that provides you with the fuel and energy you need to feel well from within. Make time for exercise that is as good for you now as it is 20 years from now. Prioritize sleep, which is evolutionarily your way of resetting and restoring your mind and body every day. You only get one body, take care of it for the long haul.

Tell the Inner Critic to Take a Hike
First, acknowledge the inner critic, then turn down her volume. You will never have more conversations with anyone in life than you will have with yourself. Ensure the inner dialogue is as constructive, productive, compassionate and loving as the one you would have with your friend or child.

Give Yourself Some Credit
Perfection doesn’t exist and if it did, the world would be a really boring place. As the saying goes, life is tough and so are you. Things won’t always go according to plan. Embrace that life is dynamic. Balance is dynamic. Sometimes you crush it, sometimes you get crushed. On those days, pick yourself up and turn the page. Give yourself some credit for all that you are and all that you do. You are enough.

Note: If you’re interested in this topic, I highly recommend a book called ‘Enough As She Is’ by Rachel Simons. A must read if you are a woman or want to better understand the women in your life.

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!!

Disrupting Health and Fitness, One Class and One Book at a Time

I am writing a book! Just typing those words is a huge step for me. I’ve secretly thought about writing a book for a long time but honestly had a zillion reasons in my head as to why that was a ridiculous idea. What would I write about? Would anyone want to read it? Where would I come up with the time? With 2 studios, 2 franchises, 2 kids and far too many commitments, writing a book would just be another project I’d start and never finish.

 

However, as the wise Winston Churchill said, “Never give up on something that you can’t go a day without thinking about.” I can’t stop thinking about this book. Since I’m not one to shy away from a challenge, and with the big 4-0 that took place this year, I decided now is the time.

 

 My mission in life extends far beyond the day-to-day of running Alkalign. My mission is to disrupt the way people think about health and fitness in the hopes of inspiring positive change. As a former champion cardio junkie and calorie counter, I know first-hand how deeply rooted beliefs are about “more is more” when it comes to exercise and “less is more” when it comes to food. I also know how destructive those beliefs were to both my physical and psychological health. Almost by accident I stumbled into a different way of doing things which has transformed who I am and how I feel, from the inside out.

 

This book is an opportunity to share my story. It’s a chance to challenge your truth.

 

As part of this project I am conducting a survey and would greatly appreciate your participation. Additionally, please share the survey with friends, family and colleagues. It takes 12-14 minutes and can only be taken once per computer. My goal is to get as many, if not more, responses from non-Alklaign affiliated individuals as Alkalign. Wishful thinking, but a girl can dream.

 

Thank you in advance for your support! I look forward to sharing the published project in 2019!

 

Erin

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

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.

 

Blue is the New Green – Erin and the Environment

At Alkalign Studios, we believe the environment you work out in should be as toxin and waste-free as possible. Being environmentally-friendly is something I hold near and dear to my heart. As a result of my passion for the planet, all Alkalign studios are built and held to standards set by the Environmental Working Group. We aim to keep the studios toxin free for the health of our clients and to reduce waste as much as possible for the health of our planet. This includes providing a filtered water station to eliminate disposable plastic water bottles and energy efficient hand dryers to eliminate use of paper towels in the restrooms. Moreover, all of our cleaning products are toxin free, including the essential oil blend we use to clean the mats. Our products (shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, hand sanitizer, etc) are all organic and many of our building materials are eco-friendly (floors) and/or recycled (reclaimed wood, etc). We care how the both environment inside the studios affects our clients and impacts the environment outside the studios.

 

I’m not exactly sure when I started thinking more about the environment, probably my childhood. I remember as a kid my parents being very resourceful. We composted biodegradable food scraps and lawn clippings to use in our garden. We recycled back in the late 80s….even in Upstate NY!  I remember collecting cans as a kid, although my passion for collecting and redeeming them for $0.05 was probably more financially than environmentally inspired.

 

My parents were extremely “efficient” when it came to waste. We used the backside of paper to run through the photo copier or printer. We shredded newspapers, bills, etc to use as packing materials for my father’s manufacturing business. We never left a room without turning off the lights or the TV. To this day, waste kills me. I try to inspire those around me, at home and in the Alkalign studios, to shut lights off, use less water and be mindful of conserving and reusing whenever possible.

 

I know I cannot single handedly reverse the effects of global warming, but the Alkalign community can do as much as we can to make a difference. As Alkalign grows, our commitment to being green in all the studios we open is even more important to me. One towel, one lightbulb and one client at a time, Alkalign is doing our part so that tomorrow can be as good, if not better, than today.

 

Yours in good health,

Erin

 

We are proud to be a green studio! Alkalign was recently feature in Best Company’s article on green living and sustainability. READ MORE HERE.

Lizzie Hammerman: Beyond the Metrics

If you’ve been to an Alkalign Studio, you might have noticed the airy, open feel of our studio space. There are no machines or closets full of equipment. We enhance our practice with simple props like straps, bands, and balls, but really encourage our clients to spend their time with us focusing on what their body is doing and feeling during class. Our decision to minimize the amount of equipment we use and to leave technology out in the hallways of studios is intentional and is at the foundation of what we do.

 

Alkalign is about mindful, purposeful movement in order to train (and re-train) you to move better in your body.  Screens and dashboards force your attention elsewhere and impair your ability to make brain-body connections. Our # 1 core value is “pay attention”. The use of metrics makes that harder, not easier.

 

Screens, dashboards and spreadsheets impair our ability to connect with the instructor and our fellow classmates.  We come together in the studio to support each and connect as a real community. Make eye contact with someone who might need a little encouragement or someone who you admire. We’re here for each other, it’s not a competition.

 

It is easy to become reliant on the machine (megaformer, bike, treadmill, heart rate monitor) for your workout.  At Alkalign, we teach self-reliance. YOU are the machine and are in full control of it.

 

In this modern world, we spend so much of our time in front of screens and interacting with online “communities”. We are losing personal connection.  We are committed to the brick and mortar studio because we believe that face-to-face interaction and physical touch is both necessary and therapeutic/healing.

 

Have you ever had the number on the scale make or break your day (or week)? That reaction is deeply ingrained in our brain, but is so counter-productive to our wellness. We want our clients to gauge their success by how they feel and in the small victories in class and in their day – not a number on a scale, dashboard, spreadsheet, etc.

 

Metrics are not as objective as you think. Machine calibration may vary and your heart rate can be influenced by your hydration, sleep or how well you have recovered from a previous workout. Pay attention to how you feel and connect that to your behavior outside the studio. What is working? What is not? Maybe you need a rest day or more sleep?  Identify causes vs. react to symptoms.

 

Lizzie Hammerman runs the Program Innovation and Franchise Development at Alkalign. She joined the corporate team at its inception in 2015  and is responsible for evolving Alkalign’s class offerings.