I have been active all my life and especially love swimming, running, downhill skiing, hiking and taking group fitness classes. However, years of distance running, skiing wipeouts and a serious bike accident have taken a toll, causing osteoarthritis throughout my entire body and disc issues in my back.
I decided to try Alkalign in April 2017 on the recommendation of friends. Today, I have totally embraced the concept and really enjoy this new fitness community. Alkalign classes allow for a lot more personal attention than other classes. I never knew I needed this kind of attention as much as I really do! The focus on proper body alignment and form has been amazing. The instructors are very knowledgeable in helping me modify exercises to accommodate all of my limitations without losing the burn.
The low-impact nature of the practice has given me a whole new view of challenging my body. I am finding muscles and engagement in totally new ways, even after years of exercise! At Alkalign, there are so many modifications that work for my body so I can actually do the entire workout and really build the kind of strength and stability my body needs.
I also really enjoy the challenge of the mind–body focus. This has been such a nice reset for me because I realized how mindlessly I had moved for so long. Maintaining proper body alignment to find full muscle engagement has really turned into optimal results in my body. I have gained more muscle tone and strength in the last 8 months than I have in the last 25 years of traditional and rigorous strength training!
I feel obliged to share my excellent experience at Alkalign–Irvine. I’ve been coming regularly for over half a year now and am still surprised every time about how good a workout I get, in an hour or less. The owner, Kate, is an absolute gem who makes the effort to remember your name from day one and to talk to you in depth about your health needs and how to make your fitness journey your own. Her upbeat personality always lights up your day and pushes you to work harder.
All the instructors at Alkalign are professional, knowledgeable, and approachable. They also always respect how you feel and where your body wants to be. I grew up a dancer and have done aerial, spinning, boxing, and TRX on a regular basis. I have to say that Alkalign is definitely the best workout I’ve tried so far! Alkalign’s focus on maintaining alignment, learning about your body, and prioritizing yourself is a mindful philosophy that I absolutely live by.
I’m not a fan of big-box gym and corporate yoga places that make you feel small and like just another customer paying for the membership. Alkalign is a place where you get to customize your fitness journey and get a full-body workout that’s never the same every time you come to class, not to mention the intimacy and personal connection that you’ll be sure to experience from day one.
I highly recommend Alkalign to anyone looking for a safe, mindful, and kick-ass workout. I cannot say enough good things about it!
I have just returned home from a routine run through Wunderlich Park in Woodside. As I was running down the mountain, enjoying the spectacular morning and accompanied by an inspirational book on Audible, somehow my footing gave out beneath me. As I realized I was not going to regain my footing or avoid falling, my next thought was how to brace myself so as not to do a complete face plant (a little embarrassing here but a funny visual, I know) or have a serious injury. Somehow, Alkalign popped into my mind as I was losing ground, and in that moment, I was able to keep myself up until I could find a safe place and position to land. This is where my Alkalign training of the past almost 10 years comes in. Without having attended your classes, I would not have had the strength or bandwidth to pull this off. Oh, did I mention that I got up, brushed myself off, scanned my body for injuries and continued my run with only a couple of very minor scrapes?
In the end, I did not come to Alkalign to lose weight (I didn’t need to) or get fit (I was already in shape). I came to strengthen, tone and stretch. Never would I have known all these years later that Alkalign continues to keep me safe, strong and in one piece while living my active lifestyle.
Thanks to your dedication, creativity and guidance, I have received beyond measure what I expected. The community of women are among the loveliest on the mid-Peninsula.
Marlene Thompson completed her Alkalign Instructor Training in November 2017 and began teaching in the Grand Rapids studio. Here are her thoughts on the process.
What training was like
It was intense, overwhelming, fun and so interesting. I felt a bit like a deer in the headlights at first, but I learned very quickly to trust the process and my mentors and not to stress the small things. It will all come together, even though in the beginning it may seem so far out of reach. Also, keep in mind that you get out of it what you put into it. If you put the time in and stay up to date on the lessons, you will always feel prepared for each teach back. You may not LOVE all your teach backs (I recall a couple that I didn’t feel good about), but do the work and you’ll be OK. 🙂
What she learned about herself
I learned that even I can have patience! I never considered myself a patient person, but I learned through the training process that I have to be patient and kind to myself. I have to be patient learning the practice (still learning, always learning) and mastering the details I struggle with in teaching.
I have also learned that getting up at 4:30 a.m. to teach a 6 a.m. class isn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. I actually like it and have just started to attend the 6 a.m. classes that I’m not teaching!
How teaching for Alkalign has changed her life
It has improved my health and overall quality of life. I went from a Creative Director job — sitting in a chair for 40+ hours a week with eyes on a monitor and bad posture, rushing, stressing and never having any time to breath — to Alkalign, where moving, breathing, practicing good posture and releasing stress is all part of the job. Plus, I’ve found a great balance with teaching and starting my new freelance design studio. I’m still repairing the physical damage caused by such a stressful and unhealthy situation, but it gets better every day. My family appreciates it, too.
We all have a story and a life journey we are on. I see so many different kinds of people with different challenges and triumphs. As an instructor, I feel so privileged to be part of those journeys. A workout may not seem like much, but to many who walk in the door, it’s the best part of their day. I feel honored to be part of that.
I first came to Alkalign when my daughter was 3 months old. I had done Pilates and used to be a dancer, and I had heard from a friend that there was childcare. I knew that with a newborn I needed some time for myself — at least an hour a day!
The front desk person showed me the Playroom, told me staff could feed my daughter and that they would call me if she cried. As a first-time mom, I was nervous about leaving her. But I knew I needed that time, and it was the best decision I ever made.
Even though my daughter wasn’t sleeping through the night yet and I was sleep-deprived, I felt like that time for myself gave me tons of energy. If I was stressed or moody, I would feel so much better and more human after taking class. I usually went to class Monday-Friday, and my daughter came with me every day. I became so disciplined because it was so good for me. I didn’t want to miss out on that time for myself. And I’m planning to do the same with this baby.
Everyone at Alkalign is so loving and caring. They knew my daughter right away, and since we’re not from the area and don’t have family around, having a support system at least at Alkalign really helped us. Having friendly faces smile at you and ask how your baby’s doing and knowing that you have time for yourself at least once a day make a great difference.
When I was pregnant with my daughter, I exercised until I was 10 weeks, when I was put on bed rest. It was super hard for me because I’m used to being very active. And exercise is a way of relieving stress, and I feel like it is therapy for me. I sleep better; I’m in a better mood. That’s why I’m so consistent with my exercise. I just feel it is really good for me. So bed rest was hard.
With this baby, I have been able to keep my workout routine basically like I had it up until the last month. I feel like I’ve slept much better with this baby, and my circulation is better because of the stretching. And even if things come up that stress me out, every day stress, I can manage much better because of exercising.
Modifying positions and exercises in class while pregnant has been pretty easy. All the instructors are helpful and check to make sure I am doing OK. Basically, I’ve had to modify the abdominal exercises, which became harder and harder. And some of the seat work when you can’t go on your belly. I don’t feel left out from class at all. The class is very flexible in that you can modify for any kind of condition at any point.
Since I’m having a C-section, my doctor said I could come back in 8 weeks or so. I’m hoping since I’ve stayed active all the way till the end it will help me recover faster from the pregnancy. I also noticed with my daughter that my abdominal muscles got stretched and opened up a little bit, and I feel like all the ab exercises I did at Alkalign helped close them down again. I eventually regained my original body, well, kind of! And I am hoping for that again.
I’m going to miss the studio. But I’ll be back once I’m feeling better — and sleeping better!
P.S. My son was born Dec. 27, and my recovery has been amazing! Compared to my previous C-section, this one has been a breeze. The doctor even told me that they had trouble opening me up because my core was so tight. I guess that’s thanks to all the seated seat. I truly believe taking class all the way to the end has helped a ton. Hopefully this means I will be able to be back in class sooner than I think!
This past fall, my husband and I ran in our 2nd annual Reebok Ragnar Relay, which consists of 12 people, 2 vans and 200-ish miles of running non stop through the day and night (and into the next day). Ragnar Michigan starts in Muskegon, and we run along Lake Michigan up to Traverse City. We run, sleep (if we are lucky), run and repeat for about 30 hours.
I have run half marathons as well as this relay before, but this race was different. I had been taking 3 classes or more a week at Alkalign and participating in Nourish, and I discovered how important nutrition and functional training are in endurance runs.
I was runner No. 11 out of our team of 12, so it felt like I waited forever to run my first leg. I finally got out of the van to stretch my legs and hit my running stride at around 3 p.m. I hadn’t run hard training for this race as I was intending to take it slow and just put one foot in front of the other. I got through my first leg, which was 3.1 miles, at a pace that was about a minute and a half faster than my team (or I) expected. I felt amazing! But I was worried I was going to feel it later.
I thought my second leg was going to be a bit more challenging. Our van was running the graveyard shift, and I didn’t start running again until 2 a.m. The conditions were perfect: The sky was clear, the moon was bright, and I was starting in my hometown, right behind my old high school. It was 6 miles of brisk night air and chasing the moon to my next checkpoint. I flew through those miles. I felt strong and had plenty of energy to see me through to the end. The last 0.8 of a mile was all uphill, and I thought I would struggle more than I did. It was hard, but I engaged my core, climbed that hill and met my teammate at 3 a.m. with a smile on my face!
As I recovered, I ate some of the Nourish-friendly foods I had packed for energy. Instead of sugary fuel packets/drinks, I relied on protein-packed, high-energy foods I had learned about from the Nourish group. I had homemade protein balls (which were very popular with the people in our van!), Elemental Bars and all my favorite fruits and vegetables that I knew would give me the energy I needed. Two key things that I learned from Nourish helped me feel my best during this race: 1) Sugar is a quick fix but not a sustainable fuel and 2) higher quality foods make you feel great inside, which results in a more satisfying performance! I felt nutritionally sound from the inside out.
While waiting for my next run, I became aware that I didn’t have any of the usual aches or pains in my left knee or hips. Due to 3 pregnancies, my hips are always out of place. Due to running, my hip flexors always seem tight and sore. My left knee has a slight injury that always spoke to me after longer runs, but it wasn’t bothering me at all. In fact, I realized that I hadn’t “felt” my knee in months. This was my first a-ha moment. The Alkalign workouts had strengthened my body so effectively that my running aches and pains were gone!
My biggest challenge was ahead with my last run. I had 7.2 miles of hills on little to no sleep after already running 9 miles over the past 24 hours. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do it. I was feeling good, but I was having flashbacks of running this relay last year and barely making it through my last leg. This time I had over 7 miles and elevations that looked like a panicked gazelle’s EKG in a lion’s den. One of my teammates said, “Don’t worry about it. The weather is perfect, and it’s just one more opportunity you get to run. Not everyone can do this, so go have fun.” He was right on. I turned up my music, tapped into my core strength and enjoyed the run.
Running this relay after spending 6 months at Alkalign made me a stronger person and a stronger runner. Running this relay after doing a full 3 weeks of Nourish fueled my body for optimal nutrition. I’m not the fastest runner, but I am stronger than I have been in a long time. Not only am I stronger, I’m physically more comfortable! I love that I can do the activities that I love without feeling any discomfort. During this relay, I realized that running is about more than just pulling my body forward. It’s about having a strong balanced body, both from strength training and nutrition training!
At Alkalign, we spend time strengthening hamstrings and spinal extensor muscles, and we work the back body equal to the front body. This focus on building the back body is one of the big reasons I ran so comfortably for every leg of the relay. I realized I was no longer going into my runs focused only on my quads to get me through. When those big hills got hard, I engaged my core, keyed into my neutral spine and let my back body push me over the hill. We all know pushing is easier than pulling, so it only makes sense that strengthening the back body is key to an overall strong body.
I am not downplaying the importance of strong quads. My quads are also definitely stronger because thigh work at Alkalign is so intense (I’m talking to you, Neutral Spine Chair). The strength in my quads helped my running, but it was most important to squatting for this race. The porta potties are plentiful when spending 30 hours living in a van!
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!
Know a community where there should be an Alkalign studio? We’re seeking franchisees nationwide! Learn more here.
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!
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:
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.
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!
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 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.
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!
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!
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.
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.
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.