3 Reasons Alkalign is Good For Your Mental Health

“In case of emergency, air masks will drop from the ceiling. Please put your own mask on before helping others.” We’ve all heard this on airplanes and perhaps half-heartedly pay attention to those safety instructions before taking off, but there’s validity in that phrase…..both on a plane and in life. The message is clear: take care of yourself first so that you can help others. Unfortunately, we don’t always do that and our own self-care is not prioritized.

 

At Alkalign, we put the mind/body connection at the forefront of our practice. Here are 3 reasons why you should commit to your overall health and join us in our studio on a regular basis.

 

1. Physical Activity Improves Your Mood. If we sound like a broken record telling you what you already know, that’s probably because many people don’t make physical activity a priority in their self-care practice. So here’s your reminder! Exercise helps your body produce endorphins, aka the body’s natural ‘feel good’ hormones. The simple act of devoting an hour a day can de-stress and focus you, improving your overall mental health. Simply put….exercise feels good from the inside out.

 

2. Community & Human Connection Are Essential for Happiness. In our digital world, the need for human connection is more important than ever. Our studio is full of upbeat music, positive energy and Alkalign buddies that help you feel more connected in an increasingly disconnected world. You will also find camaraderie, accountability, support and motivation to move beyond your workout plateaus by positioning yourself next to a friend who pushes you!

 

3. We Invest in the WHOLE You. Alkalign provides the tools to help you change your life. We are built on the belief that balance is the foundation for life. Balance is what keeps us grounded and what challenges us to push our limits. Whether your life has become unbalanced or you just need a little alignment in your life, Alkalign aims to care for the whole you.

 

Ready to commit to your self-care routing? Check out your local Alkalign studio for the schedule!

Self Care is the New Health Care

As I reflect upon the past year, I would never have dreamed that I would do one Alkalign class, yet a year later I’m at almost 200 classes! I never considered myself an “excerisey” person, and definitely not a barre class person. No way. Not me. I tried a barre class years ago and I was so sore for so long that I never wanted to go back.

 

A year ago, struggling with insomnia and joint pain from hypermobility was my normal, and it was exhausting. I knew this was not the life I was meant to live. It was time for me to focus on my health and time for me to find help.

 

On Valentine’s Day in 2018, I tried my first Alkalign class as a ‘love note’ to myself. My very first Alkalign class was a 101 class with Danielle. I was pleasantly surprised that the class practices the exact exercises I was instructed from my physical therapist to do daily but NEVER did them.  Using a block between my feet reminded me to think about my gait. My Alkalign instructor helped me recognize that my shoulders, my neck, my knees, all my body needed to be in alignment. I described the class as “group PT”, and YES I would be back.

 

Eventually, I graduated from 101 to Align and I even was brave enough to try Cardio! I was hooked on feeling healthy, I was falling asleep easier and waking up without SI pain.

 

I am overwhelmed with gratitude and happiness. I have had the longest stretch of pain-free days in many years. The sharp, stabbing, fire pain of my SI (sacroiliac joint) has subsided. Alkalign has taught me life lessons in a supportive community with genuinely caring instructors. The most important thing for me, which I constantly repeat to everyone I meet, is “self-care is the new health care.” How true it is.

 

I’ve learned that taking care of myself helps me live pain-free and my feelings have trickled down to my relationship with my family. Here’s to 300 classes! Thank you Alkalign.

 

Sarah Wong – Alkalign Client

Testimonial: ALKALIGN Stands For…

Every challenge we host in our studios brings out the best in us all! We are happy to end our March Madness Buddy Challenge with this amazing testimonial from one of our Los Altos studio clients, Kristen Stothard. She shared with us what ALKALIGN stands for and we couldn’t say it better than this!

 

A: Awareness. I now pay attention to everyday movements like bending over, turning around, reaching back, picking up, and more. I realize now that doing these things while aligned properly makes a difference in how I feel at the end of the day.

 

L: Love group exercise classes! I was never one to go to the gym to workout. I had a perception in my head on what it looked like and it didn’t appeal to me. Boy, was I wrong! The community aspect at Alkalign is just as important as the exercise itself.

 

K: Keeping it real. The classes at Alkalign work for everyone. It doesn’t matter your age group, your levels of fitness if you are a new mother or a grandmother – the class is designed to fit my needs wherever I am that day.

 

A: Attitude is key! Rather than dreading the time I carve out for myself and my body I’ve discovered how to appreciate it and embrace it. This change in my attitude has made a huge difference in my personal fitness.

 

L: Listen to my body. After hitting 45 I realized my body is telling me a lot! Alkalign is teaching me to listen to those muscles and work to make them leaner and stronger, to stretch and roll consistently, and to pay attention to my balance and alignment.

 

I: Instructors rock! Oh my goodness. If it wasn’t for the amazing instructors at Alkalign I would never make it. Having them there to correct, adjust, and push me is so important. Hanging out with them after class is even better. 🙂

 

G: Get it done! Rather than look for an excuse to get out of class I look for a reason to get there and get it done. I feel better afterward and have never regretted taking the time out of my day for Alkalign.

 

N: New things my body can do. It never fails that during class I realize something my body can do that it couldn’t before. Hold the position longer, squat a little deeper, point a little straighter, etc. etc. It’s because of this that I keep coming back for more.

Looking Back and Growing Forward: Embracing a Growth Mindset

The 10 year Anniversary of the opening of our Menlo Park studio has given me pause to reflect and look back and how my own life has changed since 2009. There are a few more candles on my birthday cake and more “laugh” lines on my face. All a testament to a decade of a life well lived!

 

In 2009, I was a full-time mom raising my 3 daughters. Amy was 17 and a junior in high school and beginning to look ahead to college. Molly was 15 and a freshman at St. Francis. Abby was 12 and attending St. Simon’s school. I was a part-time chauffeur, laundry service, short order cook, counselor, volunteer, etc, etc…And I LOVED every second of those years. (Well, maybe not every second!). While the girls were at school I was running a lot of miles at Rancho San Antonio with my running partner. We logged close to 40 miles per week when we were training for marathons, qualified for and ran the Boston Marathon twice. The endorphin rush of a good long run is something I still enjoy, albeit at a much slower pace. Looking back, I could mourn what is no longer… our home filled with the laughter of my girls and their friends (especially during high school when our home became home base after school). Oh, how I loved spending time preparing snacks at the kitchen island, silently listening to the deep inner workings of the teenage heart and mind. I still manage a run with my running partner on Friday mornings but they are shorter (and slower) and we don’t spend an hour afterward lingering at Starbucks over a non-fat latte. Yes, those years were fantastic but instead of longing to go back, I have learned to look forward. To “grow” forward and embrace a growth mindset.

 

In roughly 2010, our therapist posed the question of “what is next for you, Cathy, once your girls grow up and your nest is empty?” I had to give some serious thought to the fact that I was nearing a “forced retirement” of sorts. What would my next chapter be? I still had a few years to ponder my options. Would I go back and renew my teaching credentials? Go back to work? Devote time into more volunteer endeavors? Be a lady of leisure? 😉

 

Fast forward to 2011, I was taking classes at the Los Altos studio (after an IT band injury after the Boston Marathon). I worked at the front desk and grew to love the community of instructors and the clients. When Erin approached me to ask if I would be interested in training to teach, I thought she had lost her mind. I was 49 years old!!! A fitness instructor??  After consulting with Jeff and the girls, I leaned into my self-doubt and said YES! Was I scared? You bet I was! Would I be able to get up in front of clients/friends who once viewed me as a student, put a mic on and lead the class?? Would I remember what to say to cue them into position? Would clients be put off by my age? My inner critic was large and in charge! Training to teach allowed me the opportunity to confront that inner mean girl, lean into the challenge and flex the muscles of a growth mindset.

 

The decision to teach at Alkalign has changed my life in more ways than I can say. This chapter of my life has been incredibly fulfilling.  I love what I do and look forward to what is ahead at Alkalign and in other areas of my life. My three teenagers from 2009 are now embracing their own growth mindsets. Amy is 27 and getting married in August. She and her fiance, Max, will be heading to Germany in September so that he can pursue a master’s degree.  Molly will be moving from Washington, DC where she has been a pediatric transplant nurse at Georgetown to Seattle for a job at Seattle Children’s Hospital. Abby will graduate in May from Villanova University and is heading to NYC to work as an Economics Consultant. They are fearlessly embracing the unknown of what is to come. I couldn’t be more proud of them and I look forward to watching them continue to blossom.

 

My nest may be empty but my life is full because of my connections and community at Alkalign. As for Jeff and I, we are excited about what life has in store for us. We look back with so much gratitude while setting our sights ahead to a bright future.  

One Decade Down

Ten years ago today, March 28th, I opened my first boutique fitness studio in Menlo Park, CA. I was newly married and new to the area, only knowing a few folks from my banking days on Sand Hill Road.

 

Obama has just initiated his tenure as the 44th President and Slumdog Millionaire won Best Picture. Beyoncé’s Single Ladies and Lady Gaga’s “Just Dance” topped the charts. Uber was conceived and the first iPad was yet to be released. The U.S. was in the midst of a financial crisis. Swine flu was a global pandemic.

 

I was 30 years young and as green in business as my environmentally friendly studio. I was lucky to have an amazing team and a seemingly endless supply of energy that allowed me to teach 22-24 classes per week. I was on the forefront of the barre craze, bringing the first studio of its kind to the peninsula.

 

Ten years later the world is a different place and I am a different person. Obama, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga all still rock and I have evolved. I have matured. I have become more open and more discerning. I am a mother to two beautiful girls who inspire me each and every day. I am the Founder of Alkalign, a holistic health and wellness company deeply committed to its values and mission. I am a leader who is wholly invested her community. Together, we are a team of individuals; a family of originals.

 

I have sifted and sorted through the b.s. of owning a business. I have met many amazing people. I have met my fair share of @$$holes. I have stepped outside of the fitness industry’s flashy, fad-focused comfort zone to a place no one has gone before. Beyond the barre and in a direction that most don’t even realize they need to go. At least not yet. My goal is to innovate ahead so that my clients never fall behind.

 

Who knows what the future holds? I predict that someday people will look back and try to picture life before Alkalign much like we look back and imagine our lives before Snapchat, Instagram, oat milk, emojis and #hashtags. #canyoubelieveit #hashtagswereinventedin2007

 

All I know for sure is that my life is more fulfilled now because of every person I’ve connected with and every obstacle I’ve encountered and ultimately overcome. The physical strength I glean from Alkalign pales in comparison to the mental.

 

I am deeply grateful for the last decade and look forward to a fulfilling adventure ahead as I forge a path forward with friends, family and franchisees by my side. Thank you to everyone who has and will continue to be part of the journey.

 

 

Human Beings Need Human Connection

Those of you who take my class frequently have heard me joke about cuddle parties and eye contact parties (yes, they are a thing).  And while we often laugh off those ideas as yet another “weird Bay Area thing”, it’s actually not niche or fringe.  Activities like these are speaking to our deep-rooted need for human connection.

 

In our world of social media, screens, and virtual assistants, we are more starved of real, authentic human interaction than ever.  The New York Times just published a piece on human interaction being seen as a luxury good. Some of the fastest growing health and fitness brands are entirely virtual and you participate from behind a screen in your own home.  While I’m all for reducing barriers to increasing how much you move, some things can’t be done from behind a screen.

 

Alkalign prides ourselves on bucking the tech trend.  Yes, we put down roots in Silicon Valley – the tech capital of the world – but we are committed to offering a community-based brick and mortar experience. Our physical studios and group class environment offers our clients a more effective workout because you get immediate visual, verbal and hands-on feedback from our highly trained instructors.  We can adjust your alignment, rub your feet, and greet you with a hug.

 

What’s even more powerful than what we do for your workout is the relationships created, fostered and nurtured from within our four walls.  I am constantly humbled by the support and encouragement our clients offer each other through the good days and the bad. All you need to do is check out our client testimonials to read about the power of our community or better yet, come in and take a class to experience it for yourself.

Podcast Alert! Improve Your Functional Movement
Erin Paruszewski interviewed by Drew Taddia on Exploring Mind and Body.

Alkalign Founder Erin Jennings Paruszewski was recently featured on Drew Taddia‘s podcast, Exploring Mind and Body. In the episode, Improve Your Functional Movement, Erin talks about what Alkalign is and why everybody needs mobility and functional strength training.

Drew Taddia travelled the world as a professional baseball athlete for 10 years before following his entrepreneurial spirit started his health and fitness business. Seeking a larger platform to reach more people and help change their lives for the better, he started sharing his information on radio and podcasts. Find Drew Taddia’s show iTunes, on his website or on Facebook.

Why We Ride: Cycle For Survival

Every February we gather and ride to raise money via Cycle for Survival, a a rare cancer research fundraiser that supports Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. We ride because we have been touched by cancer, or because someone we love has, or because we see 1.7 million people in the United States diagnosed with cancer and 50% of those people are suffering from a rare type of cancer and feel called to action.

Everyone has a story about how cancer has effected their lives. Here are just a few of ours:

Lizzie:

Just over 3 years ago, I did the hardest thing I had done to date – I wrote a eulogy for my best friend of 30 years.  I started with “what” she was; mother of 3, lawyer-turned-owner of 2 successful businesses, a great dancer. None of that captured who she really was and how her unforgettable charisma left an impression on everyone she met. None of this ever came easy to her and she fought for the things she accomplished with ferocity, dignity and grace. She fought Lymphoma the same way. I continue to fight in her memory through Cycle for Survival.

Lori & Joshua:

My nephew, Josh, who I rode for the last 3 times had testicular cancer that traveled to his lungs. We recently found out that he has throat cancer and had surgery over Christmas. It’s WAY MORE PERSONAL NOW MORE THAN EVER!!!

Lauren:

“I found out about Cycle for Survival from my amazing instructors Lizzie & Pauline at Alkalign three years ago. My mom had just lost her 15 month battle to a very rare liver/bile duct cancer a few months prior so Cycle for Survival hit very close to home. It’s hard to put into words the emotions and feelings I felt after that first ride with Cycle for Survival, but the energy in the room was unbelievable, it was contagious! It doesn’t matter if you’ve never rode a spin bike before, (I certainly hadn’t!),  everyone is there with the same goal, to come together and raise money and awareness for rare cancer research!

What I also love is that not only are you riding alongside with your own teammates, but with a room full of other amazing, inspirational riders, who too have been affected in some way or another and want to make a difference.

I truly can not say enough about this incredible event! This will be my third year riding with Alkalign C4S stars, and I ride in memory of  my mom, and all those who have battled or are currently battling this terrible disease.

You can support this amazing cause by donating online. Help us beat last year’s fundraising total of $27,000! Live Present. Pay It Forward. Team Alkalign.

Testimonial: My Alkalign Muscles

We love hearing about our client’s successes and Liz Rhodes is no exception! Liz has been with Alkalign Menlo Park since March of 2015 and takes about 3 classes a week. Liz’s lifelong dedication to her health is impressive! She’s an early bird and gets most of her workouts in at the 6am Express classes, but also takes the occasional Align or Elevate class.

Health isn’t something you can acquire one day when you decide you want it, need it, or have time to invest in it. Health is something you have to make a priority and commit to throughout your entire life. Liz is a perfect example of this! She is strong, vibrant and committed to ever-evolving her practice. She recently joined us to dig deeper into her nutrition by joining our Nourish group. Here’s what Liz has to say about Alkalign. 

I am a fan of Alkalign for many reasons.  I love the muscles, strength and balance I have acquired.  I appreciate that my core is strong.  Erin and her staff are very proactive in educating us about the parts of our bodies that we are working, I love learning about my body!

Erin also sends out emails with recipe suggestions, and I am participating in her Nourish program. I’m looking forward to learning more about my nutrition.  I will find out in the 3 week elimination program my reaction to corn, dairy, gluten, soy and sugar.  

I work full time as a Realtor, and family is my priority.  We have a blended family with 12 grandkids with number 13 on the way! I am always very busy with sleep overs, visits and of course the kids’ sports activities. Keeping up with all of these activities take energy, and my exercise and diet help to keep me on the right track!

Alkalign provides so much more than any other gym setting.  Erin and her staff are passionate about loving and caring for your body in the most healthy fashion.

Thank you, Liz, for being a part of our wonderful community and inspiring us all in our pursuit of lifelong health. 

Instructor Testimonial: Aligning Priorities

The funny thing about life is that sometimes it gives you what you need before you know you need it. While exercise and sports have always been a part of my life, I never envisioned myself being an instructor of fitness. I spent almost 20 years as a Graphic designer & consultant in the ‘land-of-deadlines-and-adrenaline.’ I was always looking for the new idea and rushing to beat the clock for clients. I was stressed out. There were never enough hours in a day. I always said yes to everyone except myself, and I was exhausted.


Around the same time that Alkalign was looking for instructors in the summer of 2017, changes had been made in my full time job as  Creative Director for the company I was working for. I had been a client since the studio opened earlier that year, so I decided to take the leap back into self-employment as a freelance designer and also took on the adventure of becoming an Alkalign instructor.


Over the course of the training I learned so much about the practice that grew to love it more than when I was a client. I became part of an inspirational group of people who all hold the same values about movement. My brain was working in new ways it needed, and I was moving my body more than I ever was sitting in a chair for 40+ hours a week.


The biggest surprise was that becoming an instructor changed my family’s household dynamic. According to my husband, we all went from stressed and rushed (the state I was always in), to positive and balanced. He has been my biggest supporter because he says Alkalign makes me a happier person, partner and mother. I’m blessed to work with a community who values family time and schedules. Becoming an Alkalign instructor gave me back the most important parts of me that I didn’t know I was missing. I learned that when life throws me big changes, it’s because I need to ALIGN my priorities.

I’m always happy to talk to anyone who is considering becoming an instructor, so please get in touch with me if you’d like my personal experience by responding to this blog post! If you’re ready to take the plunge and have more detailed questions, contact our amazing instructor-trainer, Cathy, at cathy@alkalignstudios.com.

3 Reasons Why You Should Nourish

As the holidays approach, are you starting to think “Wow, I need to dial in my nutrition” as another plate of cookies from your aunt shows up at your door? Are you ever curious why so many people (maybe yourself included) feel so down over and after the holidays? Have you considered that maybe it’s the food you are (or are not) eating? If you’ve found yourself asking these questions, it’s time to stop wondering and start Nourishing!

   

Nourish is our 21-day group health coaching program that helps you take a more holistic view of your health. Here are the top 3 reasons why you should sign up for Nourish in 2019!

   

1 – LOSE THE WEIGHT AND PUFFINESS CAUSED BY INFLAMMATION Do you have extra weight/puffiness you would like to stop carrying around? Weight, inflammation and food sensitivities are all closely related. Spend 21 days discovering if one, or 5, inflammation-causing foods are standing between you and your health goals. 

   

2 – COMMUNITY SUPPORT AND ACCOUNTABILITY We are more likely to reach our goals when we tell others about them. We are also more likely to succeed when we have support, help and encouragement along the way. Nourish will give you all of this and more! Join Nourish and you will join our private Facebook group lead by our Nourish team which includes certified health coaches.

   

3 – REDUCE ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION, INCREASE ENERGY Are you feeling less than amazing these days? Are you blaming it on the holidays or shorter winter days? Try something new! Take 21 days to eliminate sugar and explore what it has been doing to your mental health and energy levels. We FEEL how we eat and a healthy diet can help balance your mood and increase your energy.

   

Now that you have our top 3 reasons to join, sign up with us today and start feeling like the best you possible. Make 2019 YOUR BEST YEAR YET….same you…only healthier! 

   

CLICK HERE for a free recipe book and preview of the delicious food ideas you will get by joining Nourish!

   

Core Plus Unlimited Members and returning nourishers, email us for your discount codes at info@alkalignstudios.com.

Testimonial: Virginia Gee – Recovery After Breast Cancer

My journey is an interesting one – I’ve always been a “healthy” person. I started dancing when I was 5 and only stopped when I was in my 30’s when I had my 3 children. I’ve always worked out and maintained a healthy lifestyle.

 

In 2010, when I was 37 and my youngest was only 9 months old, I was diagnosed with HER2+ Breast Cancer. I underwent a bilateral mastectomy, multiple reconstruction surgeries and chemotherapy. I was extremely lucky and have been in remission since, but the road to recovery, both physically and emotionally, is very long and my body was an unrecognizable wreck. I had lost so much muscle that my metabolism slowed down and I started gaining weight. It hurt to walk and I could barely get up and off the couch without feeling pain in my lower back from my lack of strength. About two years later I started working out with a trainer and took some classes at the gym, and that did help. I lost the excess weight and started to gain my muscle back. I finally started to feel myself again after a few of years. I found dance classes and started to dance again. Then, in July 2017 I decided to check out Kate Biber’s Alkalign studio in Irvine, CA. I remember after the first class my abs hurt for 2 days straight and I was hooked.

 

In all my years of dancing and working out, nothing has impacted my body like Alkalign has. I had grown used to using heavy weights with my trainer, and was nervous that using only 2 pound weights (or none at all!) would not be as effective. I had no idea! Overall, my body is much leaner, and I am so much stronger than I have ever been. I have muscle definition I’ve never had before in my life (my butt!!) and my core is the strongest it has ever been. I still dance, because that is my love, but Alkalign is my go-to work out. I go as often as I can and have come to love it just as much as dancing.

 

What is so amazing about Alkalign is that I can always do better and work harder. There is no plateau. It’s so challenging, but attainable, and the hour spent in that room is always the most important one of my day. The attention from all the instructors makes such a huge difference. After one little adjustment, I realize I could have been working harder and getting even better results.

 

There is an all-around dedication to being the best you that you can be. During one of my classes, Kate said that doing what we are doing is more challenging mentally than physically. She said we can surprise ourselves with what we are capable of during our workouts and she’s right!  So, when I leave and my legs are still shaking, and the next day and I am on a plane traveling for work and my abs are still sore – it feels amazing and I can’t wait to go back for more. Kate and Team, thank you for creating such a wonderful and special space. I am so happy I found you!!

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

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Erin

Growing Business, Growing Family

To say that 2018 has been a big year for franchise owner, Elise Feichtner would be an understatement! Alkalign in Ada (a suburb east of Grand Rapids) celebrated their one year anniversary in February, her daughter turned 3 and her and her husband, Ben, are expecting another daughter in November! Her love of her family and her business shines brightly to everyone who walks through the studio doors. I caught up with Elise to talk family, business and pregnancy.

 

Q: What does an average day in your life look like?

 

Mornings are my favorite and most productive time of the day, so my alarm goes off just before 5am and I’m at my computer shortly after. Once my 3-year old, Reese, is up, it’s her time with me, so that 90-minutes of quiet work time in the mornings are when I’m at my best. I typically take her to daycare every day before heading into the studio to either work with our awesome desk staff or teach classes.  I LOVE my studio mornings because it’s when I get to connect with our community. Once the round of morning classes are done, the rest of the day is up for grabs. Each week fills up with meetings, studio work time, or work from home. I always try to make evenings family time. When Reese was a baby, we used to be able to get her to bed much earlier, so I’d be able to hit my computer and to-do-list again after bedtime. Now that she’s an expert bedtime-staller, I’m usually exhausted by the time she’s settled. Choosing to sleep when she goes to bed has been essential to my health since I’ve been pregnant and am so much more tired!

 

Q: How has this pregnancy differed from your first?

 

Wow!  So many things about this pregnancy are different than with my first, especially as I get later into my pregnancy.  I’d say the number one difference is the fact that we didn’t have kids to manage when I was pregnant with Reese. I totally underestimated the beauty of being able to rest, work, set my schedule or even use the bathroom without the demands of a 3 year old.  Initially with this baby, I was SO much more tired and actually felt more sick than with Reese as well. That was a huge challenge in those early days when I wasn’t really ready to tell people.  Similar to my first pregnancy, the 2nd trimester was great for me. Once I hit the 3rd trimester, my active job as an instructor, owner and mom got more challenging. Not only did it seem like the baby and my body were growing by the day, but my body started to feel some stress and fatigue I didn’t experience with Reese. 

 

At 31 weeks I started experiencing some really intense pain in my left SI joint.  I could tell it wasn’t muscular. After realizing it was getting worse, I finally gave in and consulted my doctor.  Turns out, I developed a really common issue in pregnancy related: SI Joint Dysfunction. My OB recommended I see a Pelvic Floor PT and also gave me the option to try chiropractic adjustments.  

 

To say that this has been eye opening for me is an understatement.  I am learning SO much about my body, the female body in general and how best I can use this experience to inform and enhance what we do for all of our female clients.  

 

After working through the disappointment of this “injury,”  I’ve made peace with it and have had to scale back my teaching and movement schedule.  I realized that the more active I was, the worse this pain got. Fortunately, I saw an amazing functional chiropractor who assessed not only my joints and spine but my ability to BREATHE!  This was a total game changer. His initial work with me on how to breathe to open up my pelvic floor + the continued work with the PT really helped keep my symptoms at bay. Did they totally alleviate the issue? No, but I definitely was able to manage the pain so I could function through the day.  It has been such a humbling and educational experience, and I anticipate continuing to learn even more after labor, delivery and postpartum. Stay tuned Alkalign!

 

Q: In general, describe how taking Alkalign classes has been different in each trimester?

 

Interestingly enough, I could tell I was pregnant before I even officially knew, and I noticed that in class.  I could just tell that my body felt different. I don’t know if it was hormonal or fatigue, but early on, certain exercises in class just felt much more challenging.  I really noticed it in planks right off the bat. Beyond just feeling slightly off in first trimester, I was fighting the nausea and morning sickness in classes. I never actually got sick, but had that constant “ick” feeling.  

 

Second trimester was great!  I felt awesome strengthening my body with modifications.  As 2nd trimester ticked along I’d start to notice certain exercises were a little more challenging.  I specifically remember feeling a totally different challenge in High C Curve. It was so much harder for me to pull my abdominals down and in to create the active flexion we seek in that position.  There’s this growing baby in there that made it  harder for me to control the movement, but it was still manageable.

 

When the 3rd trimester arrived, more movements became challenging. That sensation of having “too much baby” in High C Curve became a full-on barrier to the exercise.  I also started to feel that Seated C Curve and Low C Curve were also really hard to do since there was so much less room in by torso. Even modifying with props proved more and more difficult as my belly grew. Once my SI joint dysfunction officially reared it’s head, I felt that standing glute work or single-sided exercises were too much.  The joint was already under stress so adding all my added body weight onto that single side was not working for me. I decided to scale back from classes until I figured out what was going on with my pelvis, but now that I know I have been able to use modifications and breathing strategies I’ve learned while under chiropractic care and PT to modify when I do take class. 

 

Q: What advice would you give pregnant women who want to stay active and maintain their fitness?

 

Listen to your body!  Chances are, it will tell you important things!  Growing a human is no small task. So much of your “normal” body movement and mechanics will be impacted by your growing baby.  If you start to feel things that are somewhat “off,” ask your healthcare provider. Share information about how you’re feeling. Knowledge is power!  Unfortunately, some feelings in my body I brushed off as normal “second baby things” turned into more. Thankfully, I asked for guidance have been able to manage and treat some symptoms and learn a whole lot along the way!  

 

Q: What advice would you give someone who is interested in starting an Alkalign franchise and  wants to grow their family?

 

You really CAN do it!  The opportunity for me to open a studio came at a time when the Ada/Grand Rapids market needed a niche studio like ours.  If we were going to do it, it had to be now. I am so happy my husband and I made that decision when we did. I knew this is where I wanted my life to go professionally.  I have a supportive husband, loving family and bigger community to help when I need it. I also know that someday I won’t have young babies. What makes this all work is that I have faith in my own abilities as a parent and professional; gratitude and love for the amazing support network we have; and pride for the example I can set for my young daughters as they learn to be strong, independent, kind, and compassionate women.

 

Lizzie Hammerman: Beyond the Metrics

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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