Friday, October 27, 2017

And the Winner Is...

In movies, there's often a theme whereby two characters, dissimilar at the start, undergo a challenge and, at the end, form a bond that we detect in a knowing nod or a wink of the eye that says, "I've got your back." Think: Mean Girls, The Breakfast Club, or even Bad Teacher as prime examples of the above dynamic. And when you spend an hour-and-a-half each day stretching in 105 degree heat, you sometimes pass the same glances with your fellow yogis. Ergo, it's pretty hard to leave your studio, particularly the one in which you began your practice. But, while I have no reason to leave my Virginia studio to begin with (there's a studio in Connecticut which I'd love to part with), they've moved a bit up the road and, paired with a new work schedule, I've had to rely on some local gyms to fill the void on days I can't make the trek across my small county. Luckily for me, my bougie neighborhood continues to have a series of trendy gyms move in, providing me with access to a CorePower, Pure Barre and Orange Theory studio, all within walking distance. Even more fortunate, as I really shouldn't be living/paying rent in a bougie neighborhood to begin with, each studio (with the exception One- think "O") provides a free week in which I can sweat without cost. Ergo, I was able to try each gym for a bit and can offer some pros and cons to those actually able to afford a membership. Enjoy!

How can you not love this ending?

CorePower Yoga

CorePower Yoga was my first stop. In a sense, I was likely trying to remain with the yoga theme when I couldn't attempt my preferred brand of yoga. The studio offers a free week (of unlimited classes) and doesn't take your credit card during this time. While my schedule seemed to allow for me to attend only one "brand" of class (yoga sculpt), the gym seems to offer a variety of classes including yoga derived from both the vinyasa and Bikram models as well as your more traditional classes built on cardio (yoga sculpt).

The facilities at the gym are pimp as shit, some of the more bougie elements include (but are not limited to)...

1. A small boutique of yoga clothing which carries brands such as Alo Yoga, Lululemon and, my favorite, Spiritual Gangster. They even sell Buddhist beads and offer complementary tea which comes in great during teacher training (more on that later).

2. Nice showers. After showering in many Bikram studios over the years (where most money seems to go into heating the hot room) it's nice to finally shower in a facility which treats you like a human. And not just any human... a human that lives in Arlington! When there's a Whole Foods next door, you pretty much have to keep pace with the neighborhood and CorePower definitely delivers with its clean showers offering soap, shampoo and conditioner and sinks with mouthwash and whatever else girls use to its side.

(Pro-tip: Check the signs on the locker rooms so you don't change in the wrong one.)

So, overall, CorePower provides and array of strong yoga classes in a spa-like studio. I give it two snaps and a (spinal) twist.

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Give it a little snnnnnappy.

Orange Theory

Orange Theory was next on the list, offering an array of classes throughout the day because, what's a bougie neighborhood without people working from home? As far as I can tell, Orange Theory does not advertise the type of class they provide in each time slot but the one I attended was great! Having fallen off the runner's wagon but attempting to get back on (being the free alternative that it is) it was great to get a workout which combined elements of running, rowing and lifting into a nice, neat hour. There's a whole theory (surprise) behind Orange Theory but, from what I could tell, they seemed to calibrate the timing of each circuit above so that it's not overly intense while still providing a strong workout (I believe I took the tornado training). A few pros and cons exist below.

1. As stated above, you'll get a good workout, leaving you a bit sore and a lot hungry. The workout sufficiently combined elements of both cardio and weights to really work your entire body.

2. The instructors are as good as the workout. Granted my evaluation encompasses a one off experience but my instructor was informative [and] enthusiastic... a pretty potent combo for helping you keep morale as high as your heart rate (fun fact: you wear a heart rate monitor so don't wear one of those small sports bras where it can slip out - happened to a friend).

3. Unlike CorePower, Orange Theory attracts members of the opposite sex. And I believe mixing genders in a workout can be fun, not so much for the social aspect, but because each group brings their unique energy to a workout. Plus, seeing Johnny with the big weights gives you some inspo. when the workout gets tough.

4. Anyone can correct me if I'm wrong but there didn't seem to be a locker room inside the studio. There were, however, lockers with locks.

(Pro tip: Don't forget your sneakers. It's not yoga.)

How I feel after a workout at Orange Theory

What I actually look like after the workout.

Pure Barre

Rounding out the bougie triumvirate is Pure Barre which, rightfully so, appeals to the small ballerina who remains perpetually young in the Neverland of our bodies. Even as someone reserved about participating in feminine activities, I couldn't resist the notion of barre work (plus they give you a free week). However, just as "feminine" and "pretty" are no longer synonymous, Pure Barre has taken a cue from today's modern woman and pairs the historically feminine with the tough (which pretty much means they offer a course in ballet). And Pure Barre is truly a ballet class which, like our bodies, is no longer built for a small child and offers the basic fundamentals of the sport. This means no leaps through the air or "pretty arms" done against the background of Bette Midler's Wind Beneath My Wings. It is a tough workout.

To some extent, I'd be at a loss to explain how someone who attends more than two classes at Pure Barre would leave with anything less than a twelve-pack. The workout seems to be divided into two parts: ab and seat work... which, may be the same workout which kicks off the day of an average ballerina. As a more foundational workout in the realm of ballet, the intermediate class (as well as the beginner and advanced class, I assume) works those foundational parts of our bodies later needed to perform all those fun stunts we once tried out as a child. This means it will kick your ass and abs but will eventually leave you learning for a more full body workout.

If you sign up for a free week, they will find you... and they will try to sign you up for a membership.

At Pure Barre, the teachers seem to really know what they're talking about but (in my experience) seem to carry the same strictness of a classical ballet teacher, replete with a neatly tied up bun. In this sense, that feel-good participation you might feel in yoga or the endorphin rush of an Orange Theory workout might be replaced by some trepidation as though you were actually a youth in ballet. S'all good though.

One con... they will track you down after class. If you do sign up for a free week, they'll want membership and they'll try to get it through email and they'll try to get it through text. It's a little odd having a fitness instructor text you after class but it does make you feel (however falsely) that you kicked ass an they want you back.

(Pro tip: Wear an old shirt and baggy shorts which elicit odd stares from the Lulu-clad crowd and then confirm nice clothes won't help you do squat(s).)

So, my friends, if I could get a drrrrrrruuuummmmm rrrrrrroooooooooolllllllllll....

The winner is...

Image result for shocked gif

CorePower Yoga: Mostly because I love yoga but more due to their combination of a variety of classes, peeeemp facilities and awesome, little boutique. Plus, I might be teaching there soon!

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Kate Hudson Sucks

It's true. I really can't stand Kate Hudson. If I'm to truly confess to this fact... it's because she used to have big cheeks. I know, it's the weirdest bias ever but I think that, deep down, I despised my big cheeks for so long that I began to project this dislike onto celebrities who possessed them (think Charlize Theron in the 90's). But, in a very real sense I do hold a grudge against the children of celebrities who become celebrities themselves. It's not a jealousy thing... it's just a lack of originality which make my blood boil. And Kate Hudson has served as the quintessential celebrity's child who came to fame through her parents' access... apparently to roles in subpar movies. But Hudson no longer inhabits the silver screen alone. She has now branched out to the fashion industry with her new line of "fabletic" clothing which apparently offers the same amount of quality as her movies.

Of course, like many celebrity lines, Hudson serves as the face of the company rather than it's founder. And while Fabletic's parent company, JustFab, has come under fire for its uncertain subscription practices (apparently its membership is harder to cancel than Comcast's) I take more issue with the company's advertisements which feature Hudson in non-existent yoga poses which demonstrate she is about as good a yogi as she is actress. And, perhaps, at the end of the day, this is what irks me about actors in an otherwise competitive industry who have literally had the red carpet rolled out for them through their parents' connections... everything's easy. And yoga or "union" with ourselves is anything but. So, while I'm sure Hudson has had her struggles, I feel justified in throwing a little shade her way... especially when she's exemplifying bad yoga form. Enjoy!

Upward Dog

According to the publication Yoga Journal, "[upward dog] is one of the most common yoga poses which makes getting it right extra important." In a significant sense, upward dog aims to strengthen one's spine while stretching the chest and lungs (among other things). And while your average yogi might not be hamming for the camera, if applying adequate effort, they'll likely look like this...

Not giving the camera a smoldering eye, à la...


This pose would only be used if you're selling sub-par clothing.

And while Hudson does seem to have some good moves when displaying other poses, there is an array of "Insta-yogis" and bloggers who attempt to achieve depth over form for the sake of their audience. It doesn't bother me so much that such people might seek to impress through their slightly askew poses, it's that the benefits of yoga don't really come through lest one maintain proper form. It might be a pain in the ass but you're in yoga to get your ass in gear, most likely. As such, I feel little remorse pose-shaming some people out there to impress through yoga rather than to instruct.

When I took gymnastics as a youngster, our coach would always instruct us to keep our, "headlights forward" which, looking back was an odd thing to say but what he meant was to keep our hips aligned in the direction we were facing. When coming out of a cartwheel, our hips were not to face to the side but forward as our faces. And, as far as I can tell, the same rule applies in yoga.

The Balanced Blonde

It's likely no surprise that bloggers talk about themselves a lot (yeah, ha ha) but the Balanced Blonde talks ad nauseam about her workouts. I've heard it said that people who talk constantly about their diets are more self-centered than others and perhaps talk of workouts is not far behind. Either way, workouts involving yoga on the beach are pretty difficult what with the sand and the balance and the who knows what else. As such the Balance Blonde's photos involving yoga leave a little to be desired, like...


A Bikram Yoga class is split into two series... the standing series and the floor series. And while triangle pose represents the height or most difficult part of the standing series, camel pose represents the height of the floor. It is a difficult pose and one that I usually skip but, as stated above, one should keep their hips parallel with the wall... making sure they are not leaning back but bending their spine to rotate backwards, allowing them to look something like this...

And not lounging in a dress like...

Bow Pose

Bow pose is kind of a fun one because, when you cheat... you look pretty badass and the more you practice, the more badass you become whether you're doing the pose correctly or not. I tend to cheat on the pose in class and a lot of people cheat on the pose online. So it's of little surprise that we mostly this...

Hips turned out...

Instead of...

Hips square.

So, what have we learned from all this? I, for one, have learned that I'm a pretty big asshole who enjoys nitpicking the poses of unassuming blondes. But, while alignment in postures can be subtle (even seemingly unnoticeable) these small adjustments can create benefits larger than the sum of their (body) parts.

We tend to rely on several parts of our body to get us through the day. I, for one, would cramp my feet a lot, relying more on my foot muscles than others to effectively move myself around. But imagine (if you're a teacher) only calling on the student you know has the answer. Whether or not the other kids would rather be left alone, they're not being worked as well as they could be. We can put our bodies through a similar scenario, relying on only a few muscles we know can get us through our postures or runs or whatever. And while relying on our other muscles through proper form can be painful, you eventually arrive at a place where you can delve deeper into your workout than you ever could by cheating.

And if you'd like to check in with your form as I often do when I see myself cutting some corners, a few ways are showcased below: starting with an easy exercise and moving onto one more difficult.

Balancing Stick

Balancing Stick is one of those poses that's a welcome respite from the more demanding ones surrounding it. That said, it's important to take note of your form in a posture which can sometimes foster laziness through its simplicity. Annnndddd, checking your form in this posture is super easy. To preform the asana, stand with your feet together and your arms by your side. Lift your arms over your head, interlacing your fingers and releasing your pointer fingers a la... 

Kali mudra.

1. Step your right foot forward and lift your left foot behind you.

2. Keep tilting your hands down and leg up until your body forms a "T'.

3. As you remain in this "T" form, make sure that your left hip faces the ground. As we lift the leg, there is a tendency for the hip and foot to turn out to the left. As long as the top of your foot and hip face downward, you're literally in good shape. 

Balancing Stick Pose

Camel (again)

Camel is a pretty important pose in yoga... so much so that I don't want to explain its movements myself. But there is a drill which can place us in a "mild" form of the position while ensuring our alignment is straight.

Camel Pose

1. Place a yoga mat against a wall and stand on your knees so that your thighs, torso and shoulders touch it.

2. Place your hands with your fingertips downwards against your lower back.

3. Push your calves into the floor. Stretch your spine up before bending it back... KEEPING YOUR BELLY BUTTON ON THE WALL THE ENTIRE TIME.

4. Reach back for your heels. Hold for a few seconds and come up. Congratulations, you made it!

Again, do each drill at your own will and make sure not to push yourself too hard. THIS IS A DRILL, PEOPLE. And if you don't want to check in with alignment, you can simply watch the video below in which the featured yogi does everything correctly. See, I'm ending on a positive note!

The girl in this video has some serious moves. (The girl).

Monday, October 9, 2017


When I was in Girl Scouts, a very long time ago, my mother taught our class a song entitled, "Kookaburra Sits in the Old Gum Tree." Not knowing what a kookaburra was but knowing the song was of Australian origin, I simply assumed that a kookaburra was an alternate moniker for a koala... (full disclosure, I really only learned what a kookaburra was through the development of this post). And while I assumed a kookaburra ate gum "sitting in an old gum tree", I wasn't having it when I learned koalas ate eucalyptus leaves. But why shouldn't they? As I age and get out of my own silly head, I've learned that eucalyptus leaves (from the gum tree) are something of a benefit not only to koalas but to us humans as well.

Several weeks ago, I saw a photo of Meghan Markle walking home with an armful of eucalyptus stems. And while I've consistently wanted to get on board with essential oils in my diet, I'm really bad at two-step processes (as you may have noted through the story above). So, seeing a beautiful woman with an armful of beautiful petals in her grasp inspired me to simply go out and get a bunch, knowing that eucalyptus is not the most expensive plant and that its got a few health benefits.

 Eucalyptus: second row from the top.

As the old saying goes, "anything worth doing is worth doing well." And, as such, using eucalyptus which has been dried, pressed and turned into oil carries a myriad of health benefits including, acting as a fever reducer, mitigating coughs and bronchitis and even helping to heal wounds. But simply buying the plant and smelling its scent can carry benefits as well. According to, the simple scent of eucalyptus can, "increase brain wave activity and counters physical and mental fatigue." Ergo, simply placing the plant on your desk can help to stimulate your senses and (potentially) boost your productivity. Plus, eucalyptus costs a lot less than them fancy plants which cost another bundle than the one you'll carry home. So do yourself a favor and place some long stems in your study for both your eyes and mind. Both will thank you. Enjoy!