Barry’s Bootcamp recently opened in Palo Alto, CA and my Co-Director of Innovation, Lizzie, invited me to join her for a class. We alternated between running on the treadmill and heavy weights on the floor. During the second set of treadmill sprints it happened: the dreaded treadmill tumble. It happened so fast I didn’t have time to process. I fell off the treadmill. OMG. I fell off the treadmill! Ouch. Right away I could tell my fall was going to leave a mark. I had road rash on my arm and bloody knuckles. Despite my embarrassment I got back on and completed the workout. Surprisingly no one even seemed to notice it happened, which only made it all the more awkward.
After the fall I replayed the scenario in my head. I am a movement specialist who studies and coaches movement for a living. I am a functional fitness expert. Running is a faster version of walking and walking is the beloved 7th functional movement. It’s the one functional movement that we do most in our daily lives. I’ve run 7 marathons and thousands upon thousands of miles in my life. How could I, of all people, fall off a treadmill?🤦🏻♀️
The truth is I lost focus. I got distracted and stopped paying attention. I went into auto-pilot and my movement became mindless. It happens to all of us every day. We are so busy that we occasionally miss a step or mis-judge the distance between our hip and the corner of the counter. Sh*t happens. Unless we wrap ourselves in bubble wrap and never get out of bed, that will never change. We can’t control the universe but we can impact the way we respond to it.
The key is resiliency. Train your body to respond to its surroundings and circumstances with mitigated risk. All the work I’ve done at Alkalign to improve my strength, balance, core stability, mobility and mind body connection made the difference between a serious injury and being relatively unscathed. Alkalign doesn’t guarantee you won’t stumble or even fall, but should you get knocked down, a regular, functional movement practice helps you get up again with the grace of Chumbawamba.
My elbow, knee and ego may have been severely bruised, but I was not, am not, nor will be broken. To me, the investment in myself and my health is worth it.
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.
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:
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!!!
“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.
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.
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 email@example.com.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
It’s not easy being a woman. We are told from an early age we can be anything we want to be, and we must also be everything. We are told to be smart, educated, career-driven, athletic, thin, pretty, outgoing. We have to be an amazing mom/daughter/sister/friend/family CEO and, of course, the perfect spouse. We are also supposed to make it look as easy as pie….as in the one you just whipped up and popped in the oven.
The expectations society places on women are ridiculous. The expectations we place on ourselves are even worse.
I have 4 decades of experience as a woman and a decade of experience owning fitness studios primarily comprised of women. I am also raising two daughters. The struggle is real…the feelings of doubt and inadequacy are raw. And that’s ok, after all, we are human.
I recently participated in a workshop about our inner critic. We were asked when our inner critic first appeared in our lives. For me, it was in second grade! Who knows where she came from, or what experiences up to that point influenced how she presented herself. It was likely a combination of relationships, conversations and observations that began at birth. In general, as we grow up and into who we are, our sphere of influence gets bigger and our inner critic opens the door for more opinions, judgment, insecurity and vulnerability to seep in. Family, friends, media, teachers, coaches, celebrities, infomercials, articles, fake news, false advertising and social media all contribute to our basic understanding of who we are and the expectations of who we should be.
I see the impact these expectations have on my clients, employees, friends and family. I see the light inside being slowly extinguished by the damper of expectations. It’s devastating and destructive. I have spent years working on my own self-care and self-love. I’m not perfect, I gave up on that a long time ago, but I am in a better position to help others navigate these tumultuous waters. I also see it as my life’s mission to help others feel better from the inside out.
When I founded Alkalign, establishing a culture of acceptance and authenticity was my top priority. Even more than offering a safe, sustainable workout, I wanted to offer a safe place where people could feel comfortable spending their time on good days and bad. My goal was to provide something that would leave people feeling better than when they came in. Community is the heart of Alkalign. Human connection is the glue that holds us together. It is important to surround ourselves with people who support us in bad times and champion us in good times. That is the sign of true friendship.
Here are a few tips I regularly incorporate into my life. Try them for yourself! What’s the worst that could happen?
Detoxify Your Life
Out with the old. In with the new. This goes for anything toxic, everything from the food you consume to the relationships that consume you. Get rid of what doesn’t serve you and make room for what does.
Practice Self Care
Invest in you. No one is going to take care of you, self-care is an inside job. Michelle Lam, founder of True & Co. said, “Self care is about carving out space, making sure you realize that you deserve time for yourself.” Nourish yourself with food that provides you with the fuel and energy you need to feel well from within. Make time for exercise that is as good for you now as it is 20 years from now. Prioritize sleep, which is evolutionarily your way of resetting and restoring your mind and body every day. You only get one body, take care of it for the long haul.
Tell the Inner Critic to Take a Hike
First, acknowledge the inner critic, then turn down her volume. You will never have more conversations with anyone in life than you will have with yourself. Ensure the inner dialogue is as constructive, productive, compassionate and loving as the one you would have with your friend or child.
Give Yourself Some Credit
Perfection doesn’t exist and if it did, the world would be a really boring place. As the saying goes, life is tough and so are you. Things won’t always go according to plan. Embrace that life is dynamic. Balance is dynamic. Sometimes you crush it, sometimes you get crushed. On those days, pick yourself up and turn the page. Give yourself some credit for all that you are and all that you do. You are enough.
Note: If you’re interested in this topic, I highly recommend a book called ‘Enough As She Is’ by Rachel Simons. A must read if you are a woman or want to better understand the women in your life.
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!!
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!
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.
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.
In 2012 I ran my 7th marathon: Boston. As I crossed the finish line, feeling grateful and delighted to be done, I had the usual aches associated with pounding the pavement for 26.2 miles, but I had a new sensation that ran from the outside of my left hip to the outside of my knee. As I hobbled back to the hotel, I tried to convince myself that I would be able to shake it off and be back out running in no time. I forced myself to wait a few days before attempting a short jog. I made it only a few feet when the tears began to flow. This was a bigger issue than I thought.
I went straight to the sports medicine doctor who delivered the diagnosis of “acute illiotibial band syndrome.” The IT band is a thick band of fascia, or connective tissue, that runs parallel to the femur from the outside of the hip to knee. The IT band’s role is to stabilize the outside part of the knee. The months of pounding the pavement without stretching (AT ALL!) and without any cross training had taken a toll on my body. The doctor advised that I lay off the running and begin physical therapy.
This was my first experience with an injury and first visit to a PT. During the initial visit, the therapist performed a variety of strength tests and determined that I had an imbalance in muscle groups. I had strong quads, but weak glutes and my adductors were also not firing effectively. Treatment included electrical stimulation (such a freaky feeling but helped a ton!). We also worked with resistance bands to strengthen the adductors and abductors and glute medius. Loads of squats, lunges, stretching and mobility work. Sound familiar? #functionalfitness #alkalign!
In the meantime, I was losing my mind not being able to go out for my morning run! It was at this point that I realized that I needed to find a workout that would allow me to focus on building overall strength, flexibility and mobility. I needed a workout that would help get me back on the trails at Rancho San Antonio, and perhaps able to run at least a half marathon.
A friend invited me to take a class at Alkalign and I am beyond grateful. Alkalign has changed my life in so many ways. From starting as a client to working the front desk to training to become an instructor and now training our newest instructors! Not only did Alkalign help me rehab from that gnarly IT band injury, but it has helped me get stronger both mentally and physically and enabled me to get back out running INJURY FREE! Alkalign is an amazing workout that has its roots in physical therapy exercises and focuses on the 7 functional movements that allow our clients to participate in all the endeavors they enjoy outside of the studio.
As a side note….I just the San Francisco Giants Half Marathon on September 9th. As I crossed that finish line at ATT park, I tipped my running hat to Alkalign with appreciation and gratitude!
People often ask about how I made the transition from my corporate jobs in investment banking and product development to health and wellness.
The truth is, my journey to wellness has been gradual, and it has taken most of my life. As a teenager, I had terrible abdominal pains. From the age of 15, I can remember being doubled over. Often, I had to dig my elbow into my right side to cope. I felt as if I were “bruised on the inside” and also was so bloated that I wished someone could pop me with a pin. It was an awful existence.
It got so bad that I had a battery of tests: Upper GI, Lower GI, parasites, barium enema, you name it. All were inconclusive. Eventually, I ended up in the hospital for exploratory surgery, and doctors removed my appendix, which appeared “shriveled.” They labeled my condition “chronic appendicitis,” but I wasn’t convinced, especially since the pain continued. Through all of that, not one doctor asked me about what I was eating — at lot of dairy and carbs. After all, skim milk and bagels were FAT FREE!
In San Francisco after college, I went to see a kinesiologist I found on the Internet. The first visit was $500 out of pocket, a hefty investment, but I was desperate. I met this woman in a consultation, and she explained to me that flour and water were acting as a glue in my system and causing my ileocecal valve, the joining point between the large and small intestine, to either get stuck in the open or closed position. She manually adjusted me to pop it into place (which felt amazing) and advised me to “stop eating carbs” for 2 weeks before my follow-up appointment.
I tried for a few days but failed because I didn’t know what to eat instead. The lack of education on this was a big issue because at the time I was running marathons and training for triathlons. How would I train without “carbs”?
I fueled myself for a 14-mile run on Saturday with eggs, canned tuna and mixed greens. On Sunday, I rode 40 miles through Woodside and literally collapsed on the side of the road. My friend had to bike to his car and come back to pick me up. We went to Bucks, and I lay in the booth unable to move. Yet I refused to eat anything other than egg whites.
I continued to feel so awful that I eventually went back to eating normally. I couldn’t sacrifice my job or training for this silly health practitioner who clearly didn’t know what she was talking about. I never went back to see her. I never gave it a chance.
Eventually, I did make small changes to my diet, including switching to better carbs, such as sweet potatoes and quinoa, and began to feel better. I realized the kinesiologist was probably right. After giving birth to my first daughter in 2010, I got really serious about my nutrition. I decided to do tests again to see if my gut issues had a diagnosis, given that “celiac” wasn’t a label in my teens. The endoscopy results showed that I don’t have the disease, but the most interesting finding was that 15 years later, no doctor asked about my nutrition…even in California.
I love Western medicine, and I respect doctors. I do, however, feel there is a significant gap between preventing disease and discomfort and treating it. I believe food can be the best form of medicine or the worst form of poison. I also believe that many ailments can be helped by changing what we put in and on our bodies.
I acknowledge that we all go through different journeys and that we are all individuals. In the Nourish program I’ve developed under my Alkalign brand, my goal is to guide you through a journey of self-exploration so you can really understand what does and does not work for you.
Nourish is a 21-day group health coaching program that guides you to take a holistic view of your health. The emphasis is on discovering how what you eat impacts how you feel, but you will also learn how paying attention to your sleep and hydration and incorporating mobility and mindfulness contribute to your well-being. Nourish provides a supportive community setting as well as structure and motivation to help you learn and grow. You get access to a Facebook group with health coaches, daily emails, a Playbook (the how-to), a Recipe Book (the yum) and a Journal to keep track of it all. Most of all, you get control of your energy, your health and your quality of life.
During each Nourish cycle, we start slowly and work on one thing at a time. It is better to make one lasting change than many changes that don’t stick. Sustainable change comes with repeated behavior over a long period of time. We host regular sessions, seasonally, so find out when the next one starts and sign up as soon as you can!
I met Erin Paruszewski at Alkalign a while back and took her up on her offer of a week of classes. I’ve never done a fitness or pilates/barre/yoga class before, but this year has been one of self-improvement, so it came at the right time. I couldn’t have known how important my new-found fitness and body alignment awareness would be over the last few months when I first started. I’ll get to the part later where I’m in yoga pants, facing the waterwall with one arm in a sling, trying to balance in neutral spine and wide turnout and realizing that I’m the only one-armed guy in class. I’ll also get to the part when, later that month, I had emergency abdominal surgery, took 2 (stressful) weeks off of exercise and then had to modify for another 2 weeks after that. But first, how I got to be an Alkalign addict and a true believer that my work at Alkalign is responsible for me enjoying physical and mental health like never before.
Erin and I were connected by a friend with shared work interests. In an effort to understand her business better (and since I was curious about what my first Alkalign experience would be like), I took a class. I started with Align 101 and discovered new muscles (lateral oblique, piriformis, and my whole ass in general) I didn’t know I had. More importantly, I found a workout that was really hard and rewarding. After 25 years of chronic back pain, I’ve never felt better than after I found my new core strength at Alkalign (thank you, Erin). My year of self-improvement has included some pretty intense mental health work…not just eating the Mindful Meatloaf at the hospital cafeteria (and that’s a real thing)…but real work and progress on my mind. I consider my progress at Alkalign a major part of that mental health as well.
Strength and mental health are why I try to go to Alkalign every day. Because of my work schedule, I can’t pick the class format, I can only pick the times, which is why in May of 2018 I was in a huge rush back to work after the 6:00 AM class. I knew I would be late for my 6:30 AM work meeting, but if I did a quick shower/change and biked as fast as I could, I would be only 30 minutes late (yeah, it’s a 2-hour meeting at 6:30 AM…I work with surgeons).
This next part is hard to retell, since I wish I could go back in time in a 1985 DeLorean and change what happened next. I booked out of Alkalign, got on my new bike and steam down the Alameda. I received a text message, read the message and tried to reply. It wouldn’t send correctly because I’m pedaling —fast— so I tried again. I’m frustrated because I’m supposed to be in two places at once and I’m late for work. But, I can do this! I can even do this without a helmet at the time — never again (Apryl)! As I’m typing —BANG!!! —OH F&*K! And then…I’m on top of a car, looking down at my bike, which has the fork completely dislodged — sheared right off. I’m bleeding and then laying prone on the Alameda. It really hurts, a lot. My shoulder hurts to the point that I don’t know if I can even feel everything correctly. I stand up, walk to the curb, curse the fact that my new bike is ruined and now not going to make my meeting. I text my work colleagues that I won’t make it, then call my wife and tell her I need to go to the ER because I have a broken collarbone. I can feel the bone fragments rubbing against each other. Other than that, I can feel what ends up being a thigh contusion and a bruised finger, and eventually a chipped tooth. Thankfully it wasn’t a broken neck, major head injury, broken pelvis, or anything life altering….or life ending. I knew these injuries would be a major setback for my mind and body. I knew I needed help. I knew I needed to slow down. I knew, for real, that I needed to slow the F down.
I did a few weeks in a sling with no physical activity on the arm. No plank, down dog, water-ski, push ups, all 4s, or anything else that would delay the collarbone healing. I thought I was in pretty good shape until about 3 weeks after the bike crash. One afternoon I noticed an unusual and sudden pain in my abdomen. After about an hour of writhing around in bed, my wife finally forced me to go to the ER where I was diagnosed with an acute surgical abdomen. I had 10 inches of my intestines twisted and strangulated that required emergency laparoscopic surgery to release it. Yeah, technically it was a “hernia,” but not the kind that your granddad has that bulges out his groin when he coughs like a party trick. For me this meant another 2 weeks of crawling up the walls (Alkalign-less) while I recovered from surgery.
Through both injuries, Alkalign was a major part of my quick recovery. The physical therapist (for the shoulder) was sure I could have wrecked my rotator cuff if it hadn’t been for my flexibility and strength. He eventually cancelled all my follow up appointments because I was “so strong and flexible beforehand.” The surgeons who did my abdominal surgery discharged me within 12 hours because I was “in really great shape and would recover abdominal strength quickly.” I can’t help but think both events could have been much worse if I hadn’t been working on my strength and flexibility at Alkalign.
I thought at first that I’d probably lose touch with my Alkalign routine and slip back into marginal physical fitness and a mental health struggle that has been a familiar routine, but Erin was there for me. She opened the studio to help us figure out what I could do to modify the classes with a broken wing. Then she showed me how to modify after the major core weakener of surgery. I got back into the studio, started modifying classes and that’s what made me realize why I’m Alkalign-hooked…it’s not just the physical benefits, it’s the mental benefits that also keep me coming back. Don’t get me wrong, I am so appreciative of the physical changes and flexibility that Erin and team have afforded me, but in my year of self-improvement, the mental health I’ve achieved at Alkalign is the real gift.
I’m still working on achieving the physical and mental strength that comes with recovering from my injuries. The biggest thing I learned is that I can’t keep rushing around. If you see me in the studio stretching out my shoulder near the waterwall, you’ll know what I’m focusing on, and you can even remind me to slow the F down.
My husband, Manraj, and I could never find an exercise routine that we could do together. Manraj was a badminton player whereas I was a swimmer. We did a few things together, like hiking, once in a while, but we could not do these as regularly as we would like. We tried going to the gym together but soon lost the motivation.
After I joined Alkalign, I knew this was something different. Every instructor is very knowledgeable, and each of them has different strengths. Every class is unique. Overall, it feels very personal and not commercial. I eventually convinced Manraj to join me for one class. Since then, it has become “our thing.” Manraj was hesitant initially, but all the instructors constantly made sure his posture and technique were correct. We began to encourage each other during and after class. In no time, we both felt stronger and active.
Every time we go to class after work, it is not a drag or chore. Rather, it is something we look forward to after a long day as a boost. I am proud of myself after each class, especially knowing that I am now able to do some of the exercises that I never thought I could do!
We are moving to San Diego soon, and the only thing we are sad about leaving in Irvine is our Alkalign. We hope one day we will join Alkalign in San Diego!