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!

 

Joining Team Alkalign

Alkalign Studios Beyond the Barre | Joining Team Alkalign

 

Another cycle of instructor training has begun and I couldn’t be more excited about the new women who are joining our team! Over the last few weeks I have been thinking about my own experience as I made the transition from client to instructor. There were moments when I fantasized about what it would be like to be a part of such a cool team. A few times I actually had to restrain myself from adjusting the client next to me who needed help with their form.  But me? An Instructor? Noooo…

 

I remember exactly when Erin asked me to become an instructor and I was totally flattered! I was thrilled, but was secretly thinking “hmmm… thanks but no thanks,” I thought there was absolutely no way I could be an instructor. First, I couldn’t even tell you the names of the exercises… you know the one where you lay on your back with your legs up in the air—what body part does that work again? Second, I had never talked for an hour straight in my life. I mean, do you hear how much our instructors talk during class? I was pretty sure there was no way I could retain that knowledge and be able to string words together into coherent sentences. Third, I am a mom of two young kids, I had a job, and a home to run. I could barely fit in time to take class. So I told Erin I would think about it.

 

In an effort to keep an even longer story short, I won’t bore you with the mundane details of how long and hard I thought about this. The suspense is killing you right?! Obviously I said YES, and then I wanted to pass out or throw up or run away never to be seen again. I said yes. To this day I am so proud of myself for saying yes. I knew it was going to be hard, but I didn’t know it was going to be that hard! I had auditions, workshops, teachbacks, class observations and mock classes. At one point I looked at myself in the mirror and saw my reflection—I looked beyond drained and in all honesty, I was.

 

Training to become an Alkalign Instructor is a lot of work, as it should be. There is so much to learn, and on top of that you have to know how to properly communicate that info to clients. We learn anatomy, adjustments, modifications for pregnant women and people with injuries. All this info is packed into eight weeks of intensive training. After I taught my final mock class, I drove home, sat in the car, and cried. I was excited, overwhelmed and nervous that now I had to teach real paying clients. The Alkalign Certification Program is not only mentally challenging, it is physically and emotionally demanding as well. I cannot forget to mention how amazing and inspiring all the instructors are. There is an immense amount of self-induced pressure for a trainee to live up to those high standards!

 

So, here I am three years later writing this blog as the Director of New Instructor Recruitment and Training. It’s my job to make sure each trainee learns everything they need to know to give our clients a polished, challenging, inspiring class every time. Each trainee or “apprentice” as we call them, chose to take this opportunity for their own individual reasons, but ultimately they are learning Alkalign to better your practice—to help you achieve your goals in a compassionate, supportive way with the expertise to back it up. After the training period, and for the first year, we continue to call our new instructors apprentices. They are learning with every class they teach, collecting experiences and retaining so much knowledge. It takes a year to really find the rhythm.  

 

This training session is even more special to me as I will be training alongside my group. I have once again said yes and accepted the challenge to go beyond my comfort zone and teach something new. I will soon be teaching the Cardio Align class. I am excited and a little nervous. There is so much info that I need to learn, but I am committed and up for the challenge. The training process is a very humbling experience. It has also given me so much confidence in my life outside the studio.

 

Team Alkalign is working hard to give you an hour of strength, flexibility, and inspiration each day you come to class. We always welcome your feedback and love seeing the smiles that show us you liked the class. It truly means so much for all of us to know you enjoy your time at Alkalign.

 

 

 

Gluteus Medius 101

Alkalign Studios Barre Yoga Lungeby Tricia Clark, PT, DPT

Let’s talk about my favorite muscle! It’s one of the gluteal muscles, aka the buttock, the seat muscles, or my nickname for it, the “back pocket”.  My favorite of this muscle group is the gluteus medius, or the side of that back pocket. Often overshadowed by its larger counterpart, the gluteus maximus, the gluteus medius (glut med), in my opinion as well as many other medical professionals, is functionally more important. As a physical therapist, if I could give every patient one exercise to better their overall body it would be to strengthen the gluteus medius. What’s also awesome is that Alkalign hits this muscle with specific exercises in every single class!

 

The gluteus medius sits on the side of your buttock, starting from the pelvic crest and outer side of pelvis, behind the gluteus maximus, and ending on the greater trochanter of the hip as well as the IT band that runs down the outside of the upper leg. To put it simply, it goes from our butt to our hip. The reason it is so important is that it works to help stabilize our pelvis while walking and helps to lift the leg to the side and turn out, called hip abduction and hip external rotation. So why does this matter? Without this muscle, not only would we not have a nice round look to our backside, we would have some serious problems. Research shows that with weakness in the glut med our knees would buckle inward and our pelvis would have excessive motion. Thus, the whole alignment of our lower legs from the hips to the feet would be out of place. Then in turn, we would have knee, hip, and foot pain. So, you have probably deduced that if we are stronger here, as research has shown, then we can negate all these issues. One muscle can make such a difference in the body!

 

My favorite exercise for the glut med is a side-lying leg raise with the leg slightly behind the plane of the body, slowly being lifted up and down a few inches. Look for this in the Barre Align class.  Another good exercise is a standing side step with a back pocket muscle squeeze which can be found in the Cardio Align class.  Also, working on single leg balance, like in the hinge position, engages the standing leg while the lifted leg reaches back and sideways, thus strengthening the glut meds of both legs at the same time!  These can cause that great, but sometimes not well liked, “burn” in the “seat”.

 

But, a word of caution, please know that this muscle is often under-developed and although it needs attention, it needs to be built up slowly. Mix in the exercises with your everyday workouts (as Alkalign does) to get that good burn in the side of the back pocket. A warning; if you overwork it, you might be walking funny for a while. So keep challenging your body and working out in a safe and effective way at Alkalign!

 

Tricia Clark completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and works as a physical therapist at Westcott Physical Therapy in Los Altos. She grew up as a competitive athlete and has a specialty in athletics and orthopedics. Her background helped to develop her passion for mentoring young athletes in both rehabilitation following an injury and in injury prevention. She is thankful to have found Alkalign and hopes her professional expertise will help the team continually evolve their methodology and offerings.  

Testimonial: Physical Therapist Tricia Clark

Westcott Physical Therapist + Alkalign Studios Testimonial

What a PT appreciates about Alkalign, by Tricia Clark, PT, DPT.

 

I am a physical therapist at Westcott Physical Therapy nearby the Los Altos Alkalign location. It’s my privilege to be able to share with you all a bit of why I not only appreciate but also attend classes at Alkalign. My Alkalign journey started as a personal fitness focus but has become so much more. My story is not unique. I had injuries and pain which affected my body and needed to be addressed. That should sound familiar as we all have had those times. This is when you see a physician and a PT (like me and my colleagues at Westcott) to help restore injuries, recover from surgeries, or just simply get out of pain. After those challenges were addressed, I made personal changes and gained knowledge by committing to a fantastic fitness routine. Sound familiar again? Here is where one needs to focus on fitness and I have really come to appreciate Alkalign in this commitment.

 

Despite growing up in Los Altos, I had limited knowledge of the fitness class resources available downtown. It had been almost ten years that I was out of the area pursuing a higher education. When I took the job at Westcott I noticed the options of fitness facilities now present. However, I continued to do my own mundane workouts and tried many different fitness classes. Unfortunately, most of the classes were not aligned with my personal and professional beliefs about movement. Recently, a few friends encouraged me to try Alkalign and I took advantage of the New Client Special to get in shape for summer. Thanks to those friends, I discovered a convenient location, beautiful atmosphere, and supportive community of fitness enthusiasts that fit my beliefs!

 

As a physical therapist, I strongly believe that once someone is well, it is imperative that they continue to move their body in a safe and thoughtful way.  Alkalign’s low-impact approach focusing on core strength, posture, and flexibility is a great combination. Over the course of attendance I have found that each class focuses on the overall body and is diverse in the choice of movement, which is important to help balance and challenge muscles for better fitness. I appreciate their commitment to delivering safe, challenging, and fun classes to the community which is also key to preventing injury and pain and thus gaining sustainable long-term health. I would recommend Alkalign for not only my patients but other members of the community.

Health and fitness go hand in hand as a lifestyle choice and this is what I see Alkalign striving to achieve. I find that even when one has the knowledge of what to do, it is always easier and more enjoyable to accomplish it with others. They are using the knowledge of the community and I am glad to be part of it!  Continue to stay fit and safe with Alkalign! I look forward to being in class as well as on the blog again to share more soon.

 

Tricia Clark completed her undergraduate degree in Kinesiology and has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy and works as a physical therapist at Westcott Physical Therapy in Los Altos. She grew up as a competitive athlete and has a specialty in athletics and orthopedics. Her background helped to develop her passion for mentoring athletes of all ages in both rehabilitation following an injury and in injury prevention. She is thankful to have found Alkalign and hopes her professional expertise will help the team continually evolve their methodology and offerings. 

8 Reasons Why We Love Yoga Blocks

Alkalign Studios Erin + Yoga Blocks

Q: Why did the yoga blocks walk into a barre class?

A: To give Alkalign clients a way to work harder and smarter!

 

At Alkalign we are passionate about awareness, engagement, alignment, balance, focus and education. The yoga block is a tool that encourages growth in all of these areas! Come take a class that incorporates the block and notice these eight reasons (and probably more!) why a workout out with this prop is so good:

 

+ A more powerful plank

+ Immediate improvements in alignment and engagement

+ Increased awareness of engagement of specific muscle groups

+ Increased ability to stretch in a variety of positions

+ A more effective way to find neutral spine and work the musculature that supports that important position

+ Yourself standing taller

+ A way to self adjust your own form as you work in class

+ Increased relaxation at the end of class (hello supported bridge pose!)

Interested in learning more? Ask your Alkalign instructor!

Always Be a Student

It’s back to school for me and many other teachers, students and families. I LOVE this time of year once I get over clinging for dear life to the freedom and fun summer affords me. Getting to know my new students is a special time and I devote energy each year to setting a tone in class that feels authentic to me and that meets students where they are.

 

The goals for my AP English Language class revolve around reading and thinking critically, writing intentionally and speaking honestly. Then there are my “people goals,” a way to be. As I prepped my lessons last night, I kept thinking of how true these are for Alkalign practice as well.

 

Be here. Show up! Schedule time to be in class at the studio. You know other events will creep in. Put it in your calendar and prioritize the time for yourself.

 

Be present. Once you’re here, really be here. Be intentional about your three breaths at the beginning of each class and let go of your to-do list. Be attentive to your alignment, your breath, your engagement; do that and your practice will surface to a whole new level.

 

See (the) good. Use the mirrors as tool, not a source of criticism or comparison. Be a student of your form and make adjustments. Most importantly learn how to see what you are doing well and how you are improving!

 

Be good. In my classroom, this is about academic integrity and being good to yourself and others. At Alkalign, it’s about relying on the community as a source of encouragement, communicating with your instructors if you have an injury, introducing yourself to a new client, and staying for the final stretch to reward your body with stillness.


Get better. Alkalign, like education, is a practice. Each class is a little different.  Each day is a unique opportunity to learn more about how to take care of yourself. The more you learn, the better you get. Try a new class format, a new instructor or a new balance or hand release option. Ask an instructor for suggestions and ALWAYS be a student!

Alkalign Organic Green Smoothie Health Benefits

Alkalign Studios Green Smoothie by Green Glow LoveWritten By Anna Frumkin and Alene Baronian, MS, RDN

 

You’ve just finished your fave Alkalign class and you are rushing out to whatever is next on your packed agenda. In ten minutes, your stomach will start talking to you or maybe your head or whatever body part that tells you that you need to EAT. WHOOPS! You realize you don’t have anything and that you won’t be able to eat for a couple of hours. At that point, you’ll be starving. Or maybe just really hungry. Regardless, what happens when you’re THAT hungry? You eat everything in the house, your desk, and/or the bottom of your purse.

 

This is where an Alkalign Blend organic green smoothie comes into play. The blend created for Alkalign Studios was specially formulated to have the right balance of nutrients; protein, carbohydrates and fat. The protein necessary to build muscle and provide satiety, the carbohydrates needed to get the protein (amino acids) into the muscles and the fat to help keep you full and absorb the fat soluble vitamins in the green vegetables. Oh, not to mention great taste. They are an easy grab and go, great as a recovery beverage, meal replacement (depending on your individual needs) or mid morning or afternoon snack to carry you over and prevent you from cleaning out the refrigerator, pantry or cupboard when you get home. Enjoy and let us know what you think! 

 

ALKALIGN BLEND HEALTH BENEFITS

 

Coconut Water: This beauty elixir is Mother Nature’s sports drink. Coconut water is wonderful at replacing essential electrolytes after an intense workout. This is due to the high content of potassium. Coconut water is also low in sugar, which is important for fitness enthusiasts looking to watch their sugar intake. 


 

Cinnamon: A nutrient powerhouse that is loaded with antioxidants such as polyphenol. It also has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which helps in repairing tissue and fighting infections. Cinnamon may also reduce fasting blood sugar levels, which makes it a wonderful option in regulating an individual’s blood sugar. The antimicrobial and anti antifungal properties found in cinnamon may also help in the prevention infections. 


 

Pineapple: This antioxidant powerhouse is loaded with Vitamin C! Vitamin C is a water-soluble vitamin that helps an individual overcome the common cold as well as flu like symptoms. It also aids in digestion and reducing inflammation due to the enzyme bromelain. 


 

Mint: This soothing herb has been used for thousands of years to aid in stomach indigestion and upset, by helping to relieve cramping and gas. 


 

Spinach: Popeye was right, EAT YOUR SPINACH! Spinach is packed with powerful nutrients such as vitamin A, K, fiber, magnesium, calcium and omega-3! 


 

Sprouted Brown Rice Protein: Sprouted brown rice protein is an excellent source of protein for both vegetarians and carnivores. One serving of protein can contain anywhere from 17-25 grams of protein! Brown rice protein contains vital amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins that are essential for quick muscle recovery.  

 

ALKALIGN BLEND NUTRTIONAL INFORMATION

Calories : 215

Total Fat: 4g

Total Carbohydrates: 24g

Dietary Fiber: 5.8 g

Sugars: 11.4g

Protein: 18.7g

Potassium: 424mg

Sodium:25mg

 

Green Glow Love is an organic smoothie delivery company founded by holistic nutritionist Anna Frumkin. GGL smoothies are made with all raw and organic fruits and vegetables. GGL deliver’s organic green & fruit smoothies as meal replacements, or as energetic fuel to aid in pre/post workout recovery. GGL delivers customized organic smoothies to meet your health needs in sustainable glass mason jars to your home, gym or business establishment throughout San Francisco and the Peninsula.

Hydration + Infused Water

Alkalign Studios Zinger Bottle Infused Water

 

The benefits of drinking water can not be argued but the taste of water can. For some, the flavor of water is often a barrier to getting enough water in your diet and staying hydrated. The addition of fruit, vegetables and herbs to water adds flavor. Lemon, cucumber, mint and citrus fruits are popular choices. It’s simply a matter of taste. Be mindful of the produce choose. Use the Environmental Working Group (EWG) dirty dozen list to help select which produce is the safest and whether or not you should purchase organic.

 

Lemon water in particular is a fantastic way to start your day. It offers a myriad of health benefits, from boosting your immune system to giving an antioxidant boost, aiding digestion and alkalizing the body. It also increases your Vitamin C intake, which is great for your immune system and your skin.

 

Of course you can make infused water in any container or reusable water bottle. We love the Aqua Zinger because it’s dishwasher safe and really does an amazing job of infusing the water with whatever produce you choose to put in it. It’s a great way to combine different flavors and make delicious combos of fruit, veggies and herbs. [Pictured above. See it in action in this Joyus video with style + beauty expert Jenn Falik.]

 

As your water intake increases, you may find that your waist will start to shrink. A study in Obesity, A Research Journal found that overweight women who drank water before meals, lost more weight than those that didn’t.

 

Not only will your waist start to shrink but you’ll find that you’ll have more energy. Dehydration is one of the leading causes of fatigue. All your cells in your body, including your muscle cells, will not function properly. So, the next time you feel like you’re not able to work out to your potential, check to make sure you are hydrated. Instead of running to Starbucks, grab a glass of water and guzzle that down. You get the benefits of energy without the side effects of anxiousness and heart racing that happens with excess caffeine.

 

How do you know if you are hydrated? Well, what goes in must come out. Check your pee! Here is a chart to use to gauge your hydration status. (Note that the color of urine may be altered with supplement or medication use.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mental Health + Exercise

Alkalign Studios Barre Fitness for Mental HealthFeeling down? Stressed out? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Get into class!

 

My husband should probably be the one writing this post. He’s seen first hand the benefit of exercise on mental health. MY mental health. Five and a half years ago, after the birth of our first son, the post-partum depression and anxiety I entered into was unlike anything I’d ever experienced. I wasn’t a stranger to depression and worry but this was different. Treatment took on several forms, including exercise— specifically getting back into the studio for classes!

 

Exercise can benefit mental health in many ways. For me, taking an hour for myself, focusing on something other than my worries, and interacting with people outside of my normal circles was refreshing. Not to mention things like endorphins, improved blood flow, feeling stronger, looking better, and often thinking more clearly!

 

While I was pregnant with my second son and on modified bed rest, I wasn’t allowed to exercise. One day we drove past the studio and I immediately felt more calm—it was startling! Just the thought of exercising made me feel better.

 

If you’re feeling on edge, tapped out, unmotivated, disinterested in things, get into class! Here are a few ideas for making it happen:

 

Schedule it. I know, when you feel mentally drained or pushed to your limits emotionally, creating time for one more thing may seem unthinkable. Put it on your calendar. Sign up online or using the Alkalign app. If it’s on your schedule you’re much more likely to get there. Set an achievable goal and work your way up to making it part of your routine.

 

Find a workout buddy. Of course this isn’t necessary, but it does help. If someone is waiting for you, it’s harder not to show up. Find someone to take class with: a friend, family member, or someone you meet at the studio. Or, let an instructor know you’re coming—we’ll look for you to be there! I’ll take a class with you sometime. Up for checking out a cardio class?  It’s like a reset button for me some days!

 

Embrace the challenge! It’s exercise. Have fun.  Be happy about the things you can do.  Don’t fret over what you wish you were better at doing. Keep coming—focus and you’ll see changes!

 

Can’t make it to class?  Do something. Take 5-10 minutes and get your heart rate up or do a few stretches. Walk around the block. Do a plank. It doesn’t have to be much.  It will most likely make you feel better than five more minutes at your desk, laying on the couch, or staring at your phone!

Confronting (or fighting!) The Inner Critic

Reform Your Inner Critic Mean Girl via Alkalign Studios Today is the day that I FINALLY sit down and begin to write about my experience  with  “the inner critic”.  I have promised myself to begin this process for weeks (ok it’s been months!). What has held me back you ask? That nagging voice in my head that repeats “Who do you think you are?” “What makes you an expert on this topic?”  “Really? Now you are a blogger?”

 

We know that words have power. Power to build us up or to tear us down. Negative words lead us to doubt our value, our ability, our worth. When someone praises us for a job well done, we stand a little taller and feel a little better about ourselves. In contrast, if  someone criticizes us or says something hurtful to us (or about us) it stings. It sticks with us!

 

But what happens when we have negative beliefs or thoughts about ourselves? What happens when the inner critic chimes in and tells us that we are just not enough? We should do better, look better or be better. Science has shown that those thoughts actually create neural pathways in our brain which act like a recording set on repeat. Heard often enough and these thoughts may become our “reality”. These thoughts hold us back. We begin to believe that inner critic.

 

Before sitting down to write this piece, I googled “the inner critic”.  It’s amazing how much information is out there. This is clearly a popular topic. Probably because we can all relate! Most of us hold ourselves to insanely high standards. How many of us can say that we only say nice things to ourselves when we look in the mirror in the morning? How many of us can say that we only affirm our abilities as a mother, wife, friend and employee? If you can and you do, please hunt me down and tell me your secret!

 

Recently, I arrived at the studio to teach the 6:00 am class. As I walked into the room to turn the lights and music on, I caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. “Holy cow!  Look at the bags under your eyes! And why on earth did you pick that tight fitting top today? Look at that belly pooch!”. Oh hello, inner critic! I refer to her as that witch (with a B) in my head!As I listened to those words I had to stop for a moment and ask myself “Would you EVER say something like that to your friend, your spouse or worst of all your child?” Obviously, the answer is no! Honestly, if I heard anyone talk to my child this way, I would take them down. So why do I take it from my inner critic? Well, I’m ready to confront this chick in my head.

 

Authors Amy Ahlers and Christine Arylo describe this voice as “the inner mean girl” in the book titled Reform Your Inner Mean Girl:  7 Steps to Stop Bullying Yourself and Start Loving Yourself. I immediately ordered the book. I’ve started reading the book. Good start right? The authors encourage the reader to start to listen to our “inner wisdom” instead of allowing the inner mean girl to run the show. There is even a quiz to help you identify your type of inner mean girl. Mine is the “good girl”.  Then they offer an Inner Wisdom Kit that is available online to help you reform the inner mean girl.  So far I have found the book to be relatable, useful and best of all funny.

 

So the next time I hear that mean girl’s voice, I will stop her and let her know that she no longer runs the show! Hit the road mean girl!  I will show myself empathy, compassion and love. Let’s DO THIS!

Lightening the Bowling Ball in my Belly: Alkalign + Pregnancy

Alkalign Studios Pregnancy Barre Fitness Workout #FitPregnancyCurious about my recent Alkalign attendance, a few days ago I counted up the classes noted on my calendar, and discovered that I took 32 in June—when I was 7-8 months pregnant. I’ve been a devotee of barre for quite a few years now, but pregnancy has just ratcheted up my game.

 

As other forms of exercise—for me, running, a little cycling, and hiking – have gradually fallen away or become less enjoyable (hiking is still doable, but only if I can be on a trail where I loop back to a bathroom every 20 minutes or so), Alkalign has remained the steadfast, singular form of exercise that I can not only do, but that leaves me feeling 100x better than when I walked in the studio door.

 

Though I have had friends who have suffered from typical pregnancy aches (sore backs, tender hips, swollen feet, throbbing legs), I have yet to experience these symptoms. I probably should chalk up at least some of my good fortune to luck or good genetics, but I’m also convinced that Alkalign has played a significant role here as well. The focus on form has allowed me to maintain good posture even as my belly has grown, and though my abs have certainly receded, I still feel their remnants helping to hold my belly in. According to Sutter Health’s website, “One of the most important contributions to a healthy pregnancy is good posture. Proper alignment can decrease low back and neck pain and fatigue.” The Alkalign exercises, though modified at this point in my pregnancy, leave me feeling strong and light on my feet; when I leave class, I almost forget that I have a bowling ball in my belly.

 

A key reason why I have also continued to do Alkalign as my pregnancy has progressed is the masterful instructors who have taught me how to modify exercises so that I stay injury-free. Alkalign is the only exercise outfit where I have received such individualized attention and been schooled so carefully on form. I recently explained to my husband that the instructors don’t use the time they are teaching to get their own workout in, and he was shocked; in both of our experiences, it is rare that teachers use class time to provide focused feedback, and pregnancy is a period in my life when I have particularly benefitted from the extra help. I have never been made to feel a wuss for having to modify; in fact, I seem to be getting extra encouragement these days. It’s pretty fabulous to get shout-outs in class for doing a plank on my knees or a Cardio Align move at half the pace of the rest of the class. Where else do you get kudos for choosing the least-tough (but healthiest) move?

 

In addition to maintaining my physical well-being, the Alkalign community has sustained me emotionally as well. The instructors and fellow clients have become my friends, cheering me on throughout pregnancy and providing all kinds of knowledge about what is to come. With my due date quickly approaching, I have frequently walked into the studio with anxiety about any number of things—such as finding a daycare for when I return to work and anticipating lonely days at home—only to walk out of the studio feeling restored by the wisdom of the women in the community.

 

With my baby scheduled to arrive in one week, I aim to be at Alkalign every day (sometimes twice a day), and I’m already counting the days until I can return after he is born.

Why we roll (Wanna be a baller)

Alkalign Studios Myfascial Release Recharge
According to the American Council on Exercise, your friend who can run a marathon but can’t touch her toes is not considered fit. There are three components to fitness: cardiovascular endurance, muscular strength, and flexibility.  As our modern, hectic lives require us to spend more time sitting, flexibility work is even more important but often neglected. Sitting for sustained periods creates muscle imbalances in the body. The position shortens your hip flexors and quadriceps, causes your spine to flex and shoulders to roll forward and shortens your pectoral muscles. All of this can result in poor posture, musculoskeletal pain, muscle adhesions, and increased risk of injuries.

 

While our Barre Align classes bring attention to correct posture, strengthen the underused muscles and stretch the overused ones, there are limitations to what stretching can do to improve flexibility.

 

Muscle adhesions or “knots” develop from overuse, tissue trauma, stress, and a variety of other causes. These adhesions reduce the elasticity of muscles, reduce joint range of motion and can cause pain for some people. Think of these adhesions as a knot in a rubber band. When you stretch the rubber band, the knot tightens but does not go away. That is where Myofascial Release (MR) can help.

 

MR uses tools to find your adhesions and eliminate them through rolling, sustained pressure and other release techniques. The result is restored muscle function, improved joint mobility, decreased musculoskeletal pain, reduced muscle imbalances, and less stress.

 

At Alkalign we are currently developing a class format called ‘Recharge’ that incorporates therapeutic stretching and Myofascial Release to complement the strengthening and cardiovascular exercise you are getting and offset the affects of daily wear and tear on our bodies. The full 60-min Recharge class will start in August. In the meantime, we are offering weekly workshops on Myofascial Release with local Myofascial Release Therapist Wendy Figone beginning 7.12.15 at our Menlo Park studio from 2-3:30 pm. Space is limited to sign up here.

 

You can also get a preview of our Recharge class after select Cardio Align and Barre Express classes taught by Master Instructors Michelle, Lizzie, Erin and Vanessa. If you’d like to learn more about Recharge, please email us: info@alkalignstudios.com

 

We look forward to rolling with you!