Mental Illness + Recovery: Alkalign Sustains Me

 

You don’t need to know this. I’m not even sure I want to tell you. But I think it’s important.

 

For the past 4 years, I have been on a major self-discovery journey. It sounds nice, but truly it has been the hardest 4 years of my life. I did not purposefully start the journey. The drastic downward spiral of my mental health pushed me to it.

 

I have always experienced some level of depression and anxiety, but my symptoms fully erupted as an adult. I did not reach out for help, and, to be honest, I didn’t think I needed help. I moved through life with a mask on, hiding my troubles with a smile, but about 2 years ago, I lost control. I spiraled down quickly and could no longer cope with how I was feeling. I needed help, and I am lucky that a few people in my life were able to take over and literally save me.

 

I was diagnosed with myriad mental health issues, including bipolar disorder, and I stayed in the hospital for quite a while under constant care so I could learn the tools to take care of myself. After more recovery time at home, I was ready to slowly re-enter the outside world. I was equipped with a diagnosis, medications, awareness techniques and therapy sessions, but I was out of balance. My time away had taken a toll on everything, including my spirit and my body, which was dealing with the effects of new medications and lack of movement.

 

What was missing for me was Alkalign. My body was weak and tired, and I needed exercise. I also needed my Alkalign community.

 

I have been an avid Alkalign fan for years. I share my love by teaching the Alkalign principles multiple times a week, I exercise there daily, and sometimes I stop by just to hang out. Taking class every day was what kept me going through really hard times in my life. It was one hour to nourish my body and my soul. I took class to clear my mind and strengthen my body, and I didn’t realize at the time how much my 1 or 2 hours a day at the studio were keeping me together.

 

When I was finally ready to go back to Alkalign, I hesitated. I needed to come back to my community, but I was also embarrassed and worried. Had people noticed I was away? What did they know? What did they think of me? I didn’t want anyone to know what I had recently gone through or how truly sick I was. Mental illness still has a stigma attached to it even though most of us experience some version of it or know someone who does. It’s seen negatively, as a sign of weakness and failure. Social media doesn’t help, either, with its images of only smiling faces, happy families and exoctic vacations. I’m just as much to blame. I most definitely did not boomerang my medication 6 times a day or post any stories with my hospital location.

 

Luckily, my good friend and Alkalign founder, Erin Paruszewski, was there to help me every step of the way, even persuading me to stay on as an instructor. She knew everything I had gone through yet still wanted me on her team. I wasn’t alone, and I didn’t need to be embarrassed. Hiding who I am and my struggles along the way are not what Alkalign is about. When we say Alkalign embraces what is “real, raw and human,” we truly mean it. It takes real strength and the will to be raw and open with yourself to accept who you are even if it means learning you need help.

 

Together, Erin and I devised a plan to bring me back to life. She knew what I needed and helped me return in a way that was comfortable for both of us. I started out taking class and working at the front desk. Having an appointment to keep and just being in the Alkalign environment were enough to start, and I eventually went back to teaching. Then and now, my day basically revolves around when I will be at Alkalign. In the studio, I feel focused and a sense of normalcy, especially when taking class. You have to listen, do what the instructor says and feel what’s happening in your body. It’s kind of a break from your own brain. I think of Alkalign as my moving meditation.

 

I am proud for surviving everything I have to get to this point. I am not “cured”; there is no cure. I have gotten help, though. I take my medication consistently, and I am aware of the status of my health. I can say that I have a mental illness and that I am also a healthy functioning member of my family and community.

 

When I started writing this, I felt like I was admitting to doing something wrong. My anxiety rose with each draft as I worried about being judged, patronized or, worse, ostracized. I don’t have any expert advice, and I don’t understand the many levels of mental illness. What I do know is how I feel and what I have gone through. And that is why I want to start a conversation about mental health and hopefully lighten the darkness that surrounds it. I am not saying you need to shout your problems from the rooftop, but it is our responsibility to be real! That’s why I am allowing myself to be vulnerable and saying that I struggle every single day.

 

Don’t feel sorry for me. I am a strong woman, and my illness doesn’t define me. I have bipolar disorder, I live my life, and I thrive thanks to Alkalign.

Your Feet Affect How Well You Forward Fold

At Alkalign, we believe that mobility is the missing link for many people when it comes to fitness. Do you know that if you can run a marathon but cannot touch your toes, you are not fit?

 

Everyone has more and less mobile spots in their bodies, and the great news is that you can easily improve your less mobile areas (as well as address and prevent pain) by rolling with yoga therapy balls.

 

Take the forward fold challenge shown in the video below and see how you do before and after rolling your feet. No yoga balls? A tennis ball will work, but we highly recommend investing in balls specifically designed for body work instead of sports.

 

Read more about mobility and rolling here, and if you’re near a studio, check out our Recharge and +Recharge classes!

 

Grateful for 3 Years of Alkalign

I am so proud to celebrate our 3rd Alk-iversary! It has been amazing to watch this company grow the past few years. From an idea in its infancy to four thriving studios, we have created something special at Alkalign. It’s more than a studio. It’s more than a workout. It’s community. It’s connection. It’s authentic.

 

In a world that moves way too fast with too many filters, Alkalign remains real, raw and human. We are a team of individuals, a family of originals. You inspire us to innovate. We inspire each other to evolve.

 

I’ve always said my mission in life is to help people feel better from the inside out. I’m grateful that I get to do this every day with Alkalign. What we offer in terms of exercise, nutrition and community contributes to the physical and emotional wellness of thousands of people — and we are honored you’re our people. Thank you for your loyalty and support. We are committed to serving you for years to come.

 

In gratitude,
Erin

 

 

Overripe Bananas? Make Muffins!

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

 

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

 

—Pauline

 

Testimonial: Alkalign Saved Me

Dear Erin,

 

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.

 

Keep up the amazing work!

 

Much love,
Suzanne

 

Alkalign Classes+Nourish Fuel Endurance Runner

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!

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.

 

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.

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.

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.