Instructor Spotlight: Danielle Egan

Alkalign Instructor Danielle Egan10 things you may not know about Alkalign Instructor Danielle Egan:


+ I was born on Friday, the 13th. Many of my family members either have birthdays or anniversaries that fall on the 13th of a month as well.


+ Part of five generations that have lived within five miles of one another.


+ Started dancing at the age of three. Was competing and dancing professionally by age ten. I performed in various venues around the Bay Area, in San Francisco, and even performed in Disneyland.


+ I taught dance for many years to children and adults.


+ Met my husband a week into freshman year of college and knew I was going to marry him.


+ Graduated from Saint Mary’s College with a degree in Dance.


+ My husband’s sister is also named Danielle Marie. We have the same first, middle, and last name.


+ Lake Tahoe is my happy place (in the summer, on the lake, in a boat).


+ I never turn down a glass of champagne, ever. Go ahead, try me.


+ I could eat Mexican food every day.



Instructor Spotlight: Daisy Holland

Alkalign Studios Instructor Daisy Holland

10 things I have in my purse:


+ Coral Hobo Wallet


+ Alkalign Socks


+ Lightning McQueen & Mater toy cars


+ Purple Tie-Dyed zipper pouch with a watch, microphone screen, & colored pens


+ Minion Bandaids


+ Burt’s Bees Chapstick


+ Huge Sunglasses


+ Phone


+ Box of Raisins


+ Kid’s Squeeze Pouch



Instructor Spotlight: Andrea Fox

Alkalign Studios Instructor Andrea Fox Henry


10 things you may not know about Alkalign Instructor Andrea Fox:


+ I am so nearsighted that I can’t see past my nose. Open to donations for lasik 😉


+ I relax by coloring in my coloring books. All my purple pens are running dry.


+ I could live on burrata cheese, prosciutto and prosecco if that was an option.


+ I don’t drink coffee—it tastes horrible and smells worse!


+ I tried out for a professional cheer team. I made it to the final, final round! I was secretly relieved that I didn’t make the team.


+ When I have some down time, I watch videos on how to apply makeup and contouring.


+ I love all candy, but my favorite is chocolate covered gummy bears. The best of both worlds: chewy and chocolatey.


+ My kids go to the same school I did growing up. I feel so lucky I can send them there.


+ Zoolander is my favorite movie. “You gotta tame the beast before you let it out of its cage”.


+ I want a Fennec Fox as a pet, but Bradley, my chihuahua, gets jealous when I talk about it.


+ I try to take a power nap every day.








Ready to Leap

erin paruszewski + fam + alkalign studios

2015 was a big year. The prior year I had done some major soul searching related to my career. On the surface everything was great. I owned two successful studios where I got to positively impact lives every day. However, deep down I wanted to offer my clients, employees and community something more.


Alkalign was born in April 2015. Our mission is to educate, empower and inspire people to be the best version of themselves that they want to be. “The best” is relative and is different for everyone. It is different depending on the day. The moment. It’s not about walking a tightrope to perfection. It’s about living in those moments. Learning a little bit each day. Stumbling. Getting back up. Acknowledging. Appreciating. Accepting. Life is a journey, not a destination. We want to help make your journey as enjoyable as possible.


This year it’s not about resolutions. Resolutions feel absolute. The only thing in life I know for sure is that nothing is absolute. Set an intention. Set a goal. Start small. Write it down. Share it with someone else who can support you in your goals.


I have a lot of goals this year. To open five studios. To sleep seven hours a night. To complete my health coaching certification. To continue to evolve Alkalign into something that will enhance as many lives as possible. Big stuff. Yet, it’s the leaping that comes easier for me. It’s the ability to live present that is the challenge. To spend quality time with my kids. To put down the phone or shut the laptop so I can chase them around the house or play hide and seek. To skip a morning workout so I can lay in bed and snuggle with my family. To find a moment to tell my husband how much I appreciate him. It’s finding that dynamic balance between today and tomorrow that challenges me. I’m setting the goal to get better at it. To find a balance that works for me and for my family and to forgive myself when one side of the see-saw is a little heavier than the other.


I hope you also find ways to Live Present and Leap Forward this year. We’d love for you to share them with us in the studio or on social media and we will commit to supporting you in your goals. #Alkalign366 #AlkalignLeap


Help us spread our mission and support Alkalign’s movement of progress, not perfection. Know someone who wants to LEAP with us and open a studio? Send them our way.


In health + gratitude,


Live Present. Leap Forward. Alkalign.

photo credit lulujanephotography

Instructor Spotlight: Lizzie Hammerman

C4S teaching photo Lizzie Hammerman10 things you may not know about Alkalign Instructor Lizzie Hammerman


+ Lizzie played horse polo in college. She can wrap a horse’s legs ninja-fast. That is how she met her (now) husband.


+ She is an avid outdoor cyclist. She has completed numerous metric and standard centuries. She is also our team captain for Cycle for Survival!


+ She has an extensive collection of exotic stuffed animals that includes an okapi, a wombat, a ring-tailed lemur, a giant anteater and a tapir.


+ She spent a summer in college as an intern for Gallo winery in their research winemaking group.


+ She also spent a summer in college as a horseback riding instructor. She drove a little yellow bus full of children from San Francisco to Danville every day. She got a commercial driver’s license to do this.


+ She is a San Francisco native. Her parents still live in the same house that she grew up in.


+ She took her first group exercise class (it was step aerobics) at the age of 10. She has been hooked on the power of group exercise ever since. She can still do a mean “Around the World” into a “Combo Repeater”.


+ She has a weak spot for teen dramas. Dawson’s Creek, Buffy, One Tree Hill… you name it. In case you were wondering, she’s on Team Jacob.


+ She has never lived outside of Northern California.


+ She is a self-proclaimed foodie and loves to talk about restaurants.

Instructor Spotlight: Michelle Hug

Alkalign Instructor Spotlight Michelle Hug

10 things you may not know about Alkalign Instructor Michelle Hug:


+ I LOVE to waterski!


+ My mom takes my class all the time.


+ I have lived in both Madrid and Hong Kong.


+ There is a rumor I have run Bay to Breakers wearing body paint! 😉


+ I have a masters degree in child development.


+ I was a swimmer in college.


+ I am a Bay Area native who married a Lake Tahoe native.


+ I am a certified infant massage instructor.


+ I have been teaching barre for over six years!


+ My family has a lot of dance parties!

Instructor Spotlight: Asha Matthews

Alkalign Instructor Spotlight Asha Matthews10 things you may not know about Alkalign Instructor Asha Matthews:


+ I was born and raised in Trinidad & Tobago, to a Jamaican mother and English father.


+ I have traveled to over 40 countries and plan to visit them all (only another 150 or so left to go!)


+ I used to be a competitive swimmer. I swam for Trinidad and Tobago and Sussex (England).


+ I’m a certified diver.


+ I’m scared of heights…but have bungee jumped and sky dived.


+ I met my husband at a bus stop in New Zealand. It’s a long story.


+ I hate running!


+ I never thought I would be a barre instructor. FACT. Some amazing people convinced me I could do it (you know who you are).


+ I love giraffes, but am not so fond of elephants (after being charged by one).


+ I once ate rat poison.



Negative Thinking is a Hazard to Our Health

Alkalign Studios Barre

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


Ways to Deal with Negative Thinking:

+ Notice if you’re stuck in the mud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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


Instructor Spotlight: ERIN PARUSZEWSKI

Instructor Spotlight Erin Paruszewski10 Things you may not know about Alkalign Founder and CEO, Erin Paruszewski:

+ I had a lawn mowing business growing up.


+ I tore my ACL when I was 15.


+ I have run seven marathons.


+ My first car was a 1983 VW Rabbit.


+ My first (and only) pet was also a rabbit named Marshmallow.


+ Seven is my favorite/lucky number.


+ I got married on Friday the 13th and also believe 13 is a lucky number.


+ I played clarinet in the marching band.


+ I cannot resist a soft, chewy, fresh baked cookie (as long as there aren’t walnuts in it…nuts don’t belong in cookies).


+ I’ve never had a banana split.

Reset + Recharge + Breathe

Alkalign Meditation + Breathing + Recharge In last week’s Recharge class, I taught a simple breathing technique and exploration to help prioritize and recognize what’s important in your own life. It came from a discussion that I had with my meditation teacher, Harshada Wagner, a few years ago and feels even more relevant than usual around the holidays.


Basically, you can break down categories of questions and things in your life like this:


Emergent+Urgent—These are tasks with deadlines. These are every day fires and robotic chores. Have the bills been paid? Did we send a Christmas card to that person? Go to the grocery store. Pack the kids lunches for school. Your child just threw up on you (ahem, Erin) and you need to clean everyone up.
Important—Why do you have a job? Do you enjoy spending the money you earn?

Precious—These are things that if you lost, your life would be diminished.

Sacred—What would you care about if you had an hour to live? A year? What matters?


Alkalign Meditation Breathe Recharge

On bad days when we are embedded in emergent and urgent tasks those things that are precious and sacred have to scream for attention. However, you can learn to recognize when you’re stuck in the first two layers and how to break through them. It’s about perspective when things are on fire. Take about 5-15 minutes and do the following:


+Lay on your back in bridge prep pose. (Knees bent, feet flat on the floor.)

+Place one hand on your belly, one hand on your chest.

+Close your eyes. Find stillness.

+Feel your breath move in the body. Just bring the awareness to the feeling of breathing.

+While you remain focused on the breath, notice any thoughts that bubble up (without judgement, without needing to change them, without needing to hide from them). Just acknowledge those things regardless of how significant or insignificant you think they are. Many of these things likely fall into the emergent and urgent categories—those tasks the brain thinks need doing to protect or provide for what is precious and sacred.

+Visualize something sacred. Notice how that makes you feel. Let it fill you up.


As you come out, and bring movement back into the body just notice any shifts in your awareness or approach to those things you face in your every day life. Sometimes just a few minutes of allowing yourself to bare witness to what’s happening and put that into perspective of what’s truly sacred is enough to greatly shift our overall outlook and well-being. And that’s what Recharging is ultimately all about.

Testimonial: Sarah Lammersen | Getting Back on the Wagon…

Alkalign Studios Barre FitnessOr getting on the wagon for the first time, whichever situation you find yourself in, can be challenging. Starting a new exercise program, or re-committing yourself after a break, is something that can feel intimidating. I am going to speak from my own personal experience in this blog and assure you, no one has ever felt more intimidated than me, coming back to Alkalign after a hiatus.


I have always been an avid exerciser, a lover of fitness and especially a lover of butter+sugar+flour (hence the exercise). I found our local barre studio after a tough period in my life, punishing myself on the treadmill every single day, checking off my five miles. Walking into the studio five years ago, my eyes opened up to a bright, friendly studio full of happy people and pop music. And the exercises worked! Within weeks I could see the results of the workouts, everything was tighter and smaller. I quietly tiptoed away from the treadmill dungeon in my garage and never looked back. I was a devoted barre student for two years when I went through the training to be an instructor and taught regularly for about six months. I was just starting to hit my stride and get really comfortable with that silly mic, when one of my kids had a little hiccup and needed some extra attention. I resigned as an instructor and with my tail between my legs, commenced taking classes as a regular student. There were awkward moments, when clients would assume I was still an instructor and ask for help and I couldn’t offer any adjustments. I powered through those first couple of months and found a nice regular stride. About a year later, it seemed like every single instructor was pregnant and I decided to come out of retirement, put my grippy socks on and grab a hold of that mic again. Another six good months as an instructor and another kid with another challenge to manage. I couldn’t figure out a way to stay on the schedule as an instructor and still have the flexibility I needed to manage my family and their never-ending stream of problems. So again, for the 2nd time, I had to quit.  You don’t think that sucks?


I was beside myself.  I felt like I had disappointed people and I couldn’t bring myself to show my face near the studio. I took a year, a whole calendar year, and tried every group exercise on the peninsula, trying to find a replacement for the exercise, the results, but mostly, the community I was missing at Alkalign. And one day I just said to myself, “This is bananas. Get yourself in there and take a class.”  I literally sat in the parking lot, hands shaking for five minutes before I walked in. I have never been so intimidated in my life. Here was my place, my people, but I had failed them and was too embarrassed to try again. But damn it, I did. I tried again. And I am so glad I did.


So if you are on a little exercise break, get back on the wagon. I promise you will be happy you did. If you are curious about Alkalign and have been wanting to try it, get on the wagon for the first time. There are friendly people there who want you to succeed. It’s not some secret society of Lululemon wear-ers. Don’t be scared away by the perception that everyone knows what they are doing but you. It takes time to figure out the positions and refine them and get the most out of your workout. And I have news—no one was born doing Low C curve! We all had to learn too.


I’m going to wrap this up with a quotation that’s been rolling around in my head for a while now. I had to look it up to get it right and found that it was spoken by Robin Williams. My training partner in crime, Cathy Purnell, and I saw Robin Williams in Marin at a coffee shop during a break from an instructor training day. When I realized it was his words that continue to inspire me, it all came full circle. “There’s no shame in failing. The only shame is not giving things your best shot.”


You deserve your best shot.

Nourish Yourself with Gratitude

Erin Alkalign Studios Nourish Yourself Gratitude“Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.” – William Arthur Ward


Gratitude is personal and comes in many forms. In our thoughts, words, hearts and actions. Being grateful is good for us. If you’re a data geek like me, there are an infinite number of studies and articles that spell out the benefits. But the proof is really in the practice.


We invite you to nourish yourself with gratitude. Pick up any notebook or stop by the studio and we will gift you one! (warning, despite our quote above, this gift will be unwrapped.)


Each day write down one thing you are grateful for. Start simple. Just one thing. One word even. Family. Friends. Coffee. Chocolate. Whatever comes to mind first. Notice the connection between the thought or feeling and the expression (pen to paper in this case) and how it impacts you in that moment. What if you return to that word, thought or feeling again throughout the day?


As you get into a rhythm and and make it a regular part of your day (like brushing your teeth or checking email), you can begin to elaborate. Perhaps reflecting a little deeper some days will enhance the benefits of your gratitude practice. Don’t overdo it. A little gratitude goes a long way!


Acknowledge that life is busy and stressful. There are so many challenges and sometimes that distracts us from all that we have to be grateful for. It’s ok. We are all Real, Raw and Human. This is not a chore. This is not an exercise of perfection. It’s an opportunity to reflect upon the good, the bad and the ugly. Without challenges we wouldn’t be able to appreciate triumphs.


The beauty of the Gratitude Journal is that it is for you and for you only. This is your gratitude adventure. You choose how long you want to do it. There are no start or end dates. There are no challenge boards. No stickers. No social media posts or public proclamations. This is between you and your journal. One day at a time. One word at a time. Try it for a week or a month and see how it goes. I hope you find it as nourishing as I do!


Side note: My first gratitude journal was going to be for a month and I wrote in it every single day for two years! Life got busy with a new baby and a new business. I have recently re-started my journal and it has given me a place to reflect on all that I have to be grateful for, including my amazing team at Alkalign and my supportive family of friends who have made this whole adventure possible. You know who you are and more importantly, I know who you are and am forever grateful.  

Client Health Testimonial: Maribeth Pederson

Alkalign Studios Client Health Testimonial

For those of you out there that are talking yourselves out of getting back into a workout regime, Alkalign is the perfect place for you. My name is Maribeth and I am a working mother with four young children between the ages of 3 and 8 years old. Why am I so passionate about Alkalign you ask? The best way to explain is to break it down like this:


Physical Health—Alkalign offers classes that are inviting instead of intimidating. Alkalign not only gets you into incredible shape, but it also gives you the opportunity to stretch and stay nimble. Changes in life such as physical injuries, having babies and getting older can be extremely hard on the body and make you want to throw in the towel. After having my third baby, Erin and the Alkalign team welcomed me in and helped me to ease back into a consistent workout. More importantly, these individuals that make Alkalign so special knew the right time to start encouraging me to challenge myself to get stronger and healthier. And this is what makes the studio so appealing to all ages and levels of athletic capabilities. There have been times when I wake up and feel like I am going to crack in half and can’t even touch my toes.  Alkalign not only helps with core-strengthening, it makes you focus on breathing, posture and being able to age with a strong physical foundation.


Mental Health—Alkalign is a place where I can go and just “be” without judgment. If I am having a good day, am preoccupied, worried, mad, sad, whatever, it’s where I can take one hour to stop thinking about the 100 things racing through my head and just let my mind go. Alkalign is where I go to breathe and try to release everything that is bottled up throughout my body. We are all constantly “busy” running here and there, not being able to keep up with life. Well, Alkalign is a daily one-hour chance to regroup and get focused. It is a place for me that has been critical to my sanity. Yes, that sounds dramatic, but to have one hour to decompress and let go, makes me somewhat sane. 


Community—Alkalign is made up of an incredibly friendly, down-to-earth group of people. Although from the outside it may seem like a group of fit and intimidating people that have it all together, it’s actually a “free to be you and me” kind of safe haven. Whether it’s dealing with my father’s passing, going through an emotional job change or embracing the constant stressful challenges of work/life balance, I know that Alkalign is a place where I can show up and feel safe. I can cry, be quiet, be goofy, push myself to the limit and breathe like a crazy woman—I can do all those things and the Alkalign community accepts me for me. Erin is responsible for creating this amazing sense of community and trust. She is open, honest and caring and she has surrounded herself with a team that is the exact same way. This is why it’s a joy to be a part of the Alkalign family.

The More You Know

Alkalign Studios Beyond the Barre  NBC was onto something when they came up with their educational PSA campaign back in the late 80s/early 90s. Knowledge is power and the more we know about ourselves, our bodies and our environment, the better equipped we are to make educated decisions about how to live our lives.


Education and Evolution are at the forefront of what we stand for at Alkalign. We are committed to always evolving and sharing our learnings with you along the way. Whether it entails researching the benefits of a particular exercise or evaluating a safe and effective skincare line, we want to ensure we are providing the best information possible so that you can Nourish, Recharge and Alkalign your way through life.


I have an authentic passion and dedication to healthful living. I know the world is full of icky stuff. Sickness, disease, violence, pollution. And while there are some things we can’t control, there are others that we can. We plan for the future. We purchase the extended warranty on the new washer/dryer. We save for retirement. Why not plan to be in a healthy body as long as possible?  


Nutrition. Movement. Prevention. Maintenance. Stillness. Sleep.


These are just a few of the topics we will be addressing. Anything you want to learn more about? Let us know!


We look forward to evolving with you.


Walking Tall with Alkalign


Alkalign Studios Barre FitnessStanding in line at Starbucks the other day I noticed the lovely posture of the women in front of me. It reminded me I should stand up straighter! The line was long so I decided instead of looking down at my phone, I would look out. I took a deep breath, lifted my ribs off my hips, and stretched my spine as tall as I could. On my exhale, I allowed my shoulders to just relax back and down my back. Wow, what a good feeling! I felt longer and leaner, I had less pressure on my lower back, and my chest opened up letting my shoulders and neck relax. This got me thinking about posture so I decided to do a little research.


First a definition: Webster’s defines Neutral Posture, or as you hear often at Alkalign, Neutral Spine, as “the stance that is attained when the joints are not bent and the spine is aligned and not twisted.It goes on to address the benefits of Neutral Posture saying, “The benefit of achieving this ideal position would be that the least amount of stress is placed on the body’s tissues. In this position, a person is able to completely and optimally attain balance and proportion of his or her body mass and framework, based on his or her physical limitations. Good posture optimizes breathing and affects the circulation of bodily fluids.”


Now, I needed to know more about how to maintain and strengthen my Neutral Posture. More research on Neutral Spine, led to a great article on understanding Neutral Spine by the Olympic Team USA. It said the areas one would need to strengthen to enhance the position of Neutral Spine are pelvic range of motion, understanding the pelvic tilt, and the core.


If you take a class at Alkalign Studios; Barre, 101, Cardio, or Recharge, you will  learn those exact concepts and more importantly you will learn how it translates to your body through movement and static holds. The majority of class time is spent in Neutral Spine. We also take time during class to understand and practice the pelvic positions of flexion, neutral, and extension.


All the core work done at Alkalign strengthens the muscles involved in balancing the back and the abdominals. Core refers to the muscles that connect your lower body to your upper body. It is made up of four major muscles: Transversus Abdominis (TA), Pelvic Floor, Diaphragm, Multifidus.

core muscles

The Transverse abdominals assist with spinal stability, which is essential for good posture. The pelvic floor stabilizes the hips in association with the core and helps with balance. The Diaphragm is defined as “ a sheet of muscle that works with the muscles of the ribs to expand and contract the ribcage during breathing.” The stronger the diaphragm, the more controlled our breathing will be. Finally the Multifidus, which runs the length of the spine, provides support as well as keeps us upright by providing scaffolding for the vertebral column. “Unlike most muscles, when the multifidus is on stretch, when we bend forward or go into flexion it gets stronger.”  

At your next Alkalign class be conscious of your posture. Stand up straighter and taller as you walk out the door. And when you find yourself in line at Starbucks, exemplify good posture and inspire others to stand taller! Here’s a Spotify playlist to inspire you to keep walking tall!