Ashleigh De Lello | Against the Odds

Ashleigh De Lello | Against the Odds

SWEAT by SlimClip Case yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 Ashleigh De Lello | Against the Odds yoga women nutrition health fitness exercise

You probably can tell from afar that Ashleigh is a fitness aficionado. Her sporty, fit, and flexible frame tells it all, almost. Her unassuming and bright character very well conceals her exceptional accomplishments as a dancer, her life-impacting achievements at www.thenewthin.com, and the academic gig at Utah Valley University.

Between torn ligaments, tendons, muscles, severed knees and ankles, and hip surgeries; she’s stood high above life-threatening and career-marring strains as she educates women on how to win in fitness, diet, and life. In a bit, you’ll learn how Ashleigh’s gripping survivor story is propelling her to change other people’s lives for good.

Dancer, strength training expert, university teacher, writer, and founder of The New Thin, Ashleigh De Lello’s schedule is pretty fixed. When she’s not training clients, she’s in the classroom teaching Dance majors or outdoor hiking with her family and dog.

Usually, Ashleigh runs and engages The New Thin users online, takes sessions of fitness classes with her members and take Dance Conditioning classes for Dance major students of Utah Valley University as she shares from her wealth of experience and knowledge of strength training.

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From the beginning

That began back when I was 13 years old. I started dancing 5 hours a day when I was 7 years old and when I was 13, I woke up overnight and everything changed. I had pain in every joint and muscle. You could hardly touch me without me wanting to scream in pain. I had like a 104-105 degree temperature with sweating profusely but freezing. This was the first day of 4 and a half years that I’ll fight for my life.

And I was patient for 2 and half years I traveled all around the country to every top specialist in every field and no one could figure me out. If you’ve ever watched the TV show ‘House’, that was on Fox a few years ago, I was one of those types of patients where I was clearly dying but nobody could figure me out. All my tests came out perfect, all my blood tests scan …everything. I was essentially sent home to die, told I was a mystery, told I had some unknown virus nobody could figure it out.

Over the course of those years, I became so sick that I was practically bedridden, I’d lost most of my hair, gotten down to 90 pounds, didn’t have the strength to lift up my finger someday. My whole body was ravaged with pain.

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I finally got a diagnosis. 2 and half years of a very rare parasitic infection that actually…the parasite goes in and takes over the function of your organs. So literally I was starving and was dying and that combination with an unknown virus was what was so deadly for me.

So after that diagnosis, it took another 2 years to be able to function in my life again. And it was such a slow process of literally being able to move from my bedroom to the bathroom, to walking down a few houses from mine, to walking around the block and eventually being able to go school.

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And when I tried to go back to dancing I was so weak from everything I’ve gone through for those 4 and half years that I didn’t have the strength to dance, I didn’t have the energy and I didn’t have the actual strength which is what introduced me to Strength training. And I remember the first time of going in and barely able to lift a 1 pound weight. I understand the process of literally starting from ground zero. And that is when my love and passion for strength training began because it forced my pathway back to doing what I love most which was dancing but I saw how the body truly has no limit. Obviously, I had survived a life-threatening illness but also I saw the evolution of what my body could do strength-wise through consistency in the gym. Of doing this strength training exercises and slowly but surely, seeing my body gain strength and that was ultimately what allowed me to get back to dance again.

So that’s really when my fitness training began. It began about Age 18 when I survived my illness and had to strength-train to dance again. So 18 years old is when my fitness training started.

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On overcoming obstacles

Obviously surviving that illness was my biggest obstacle. And how did I do it?  Perseverance.  Being a fighter and not giving up. I was told at 13 years old that I’ll never dance again, that I’ll never have children that I’ll never live a normal active life and I was told that I should accept this.

And I told them that **giggles** shove that diagnosis because I wasn’t going accept that that would be my life and so I never gave up. I fought every day even when I felt like I was dying, I’d look myself in the mirror and say I’m getting better every day and I accepted that no expert was going to set the limit on my life. And we fought and we fought, we researched and we researched until they found answers and through all of it, I just envisioned myself dancing again, I envisioned myself being healthy even when the very thing I’ve just had energy was something I had completely forgotten.

So overcoming, it helped struggle that severe is just as much as mental and emotional as it is physical because your body literally…it’s easier to give up. Because I was so sick, every day was so hard. The mountain ahead of me getting well just felt insurmountable. It was everyday small efforts and I did everything I could.

I went on an extremely healthy diet just to not take anything away from my immune system. Every food that I gave my body I wanted it adding to my immune system, adding to my chances of survival. That was what food became for me, it was life and death. I will literally look at food and ask “does this add to my immune system or take away?”. And I wanted to get better more than anything else. So here I was, a teenager going off sugar for four years because I wanted my immune system to have every fighting chance. So I did it through healthy nutrition, I did it through a positive mindset that would not accept any limit. I was determined to conquer and I did.

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Fitness Philosophy and research

A lot of it came through personal experience obviously through research and studying as well but it came through my experience because I went through a lot of injuries after I had gone through that illness I just had a lot of scars just because my body had endured so much.  So when I got back to dancing I suffered through a lot of injuries through my professional career.  I’ve pretty much have injured every part in my body- torn ligaments, tendons, muscles, my knees, both ankles, I’ve had two hip surgeries, I’ve gone through that process of literally learning how to walk again, tears in my shoulders.. you name it, spinal injuries

Not something that I’m proud of or grateful for but it did give me an incredible understanding and knowledge of the human body because, through all that, I had to rehabilitate all these injuries, and I really intricately, personally, learn the mechanics of the body and what everything does and how important every part is, and that, of course, was the best knowledge you could get. I t’s that firsthand experience and working with a lot of experts all across the country and learning their expertise as I was blessed to rehabilitate with them. As I was in different places in my dancing career.

And so research and science behind it come through working with these people, through working with my body, through understanding what was super effective at building progress strength but in a way that didn’t tear down my body.

So many workouts nowadays are hardcore- it’s about burnout, it’s about total exhaustion. I have a professional dancing career so I don’t want to be doing tons of tuck jumps and box jumps and all these really aggressive things that were also hard on my joints, tendons, and ligaments, and muscles because I wanted to be strong for dance and not tear myself down in training. So it was researching study of how to effectively build progressive strength in a way that wasn’t also destructive and that was such an amazing learning experience.

I had to learn that way because I did have all these injuries that I was always rehabilitating. So the incredible thing that came out through years of research with all these amazing people that I got to learn under, but also application to my own body and seeing specific exercises that targeted all those areas that women really struggle with and was able to in a way, build the body that I want in a super efficient way without increasing my risks of injury by doing really explosive movements and repeated plyometric but being smart about it.

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Why the philosophy is unique

Working-out smarter and not harder.  That’s really where my philosophy became and what makes it so unique because also I always wanted to maintain the aesthetics of a dancer and a lot of people want that quote “dancer body” without dancing, right?

So I was able to develop workouts that specifically added and supported my body as a dancer and didn’t take away from it. The workouts also made me progressively strong and functionally fit because that was so important to me. I value health more than anything else because of my experiences and that has always been my driving force.

What also makes this different because I saw a missing gap in the fitness industry.  No one was really addressing women’s relationship with their body and with food and with exercise. Because you can you can tell someone do this workout or eat this way but that doesn’t last. It’s not long enough and that’s we have some women looking for new exercise program because they haven’t addressed the internal relationship with themselves.

And the internal relationship is what drives the decision-making process.

So you have to address that first. I knew when I wanted to develop my program the New Thin I wanted it to be a total transformation program- mind, body, spirit. So I have an entire mind section in the app from the videos addressing the relationship with their body, how to heal their relationship with their body, how to heal their relationship with food so they get off their diet cycle forever. It’s not just about eating healthy following this plan but actually heal our relationship with food so that we stop dieting- we no longer have the destructive relationship with food that so many women suffer with.

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The whole idea was to start approaching fitness from a place of self-love. Especially growing up in a daunting world where we live our lives in front of mirrors. There’s a lot of destructive patterns with people’s body, with dancers, with eating, or with their self-image. And that just comes because of what we do. Our bodies are a tool and we spend every day in front of a mirror. So many women are driven to exercise or eat healthy because they are unhappy with their body and of course, I think we should always try to improve ourselves in every way.

My whole goal was to really teach women how to approach fitness from a place of self-love, not self hate because of what I’ve gone through I truly understand that the greatest gift we have in life is our bodies because they make everything in our lives possible. Because I’ve been so sick, I’ve been on my deathbed, because I’ve gone through so many severe injuries.   I want to teach women, it’s not a matter of “ah, I have to work out because I hate how I look, I hate my legs”. Rather, “I have a healthy body that allows me. It’s a gift to move my body and to get fitter and stronger. This is a gift, this is something I get to do not a punishment for how I look and eating healthy is the same way I wanted to truly teach women that food is the fuel for the life, that food is not something negative, it’s a gift.

Every time we get to eat, it’s what allows our body to function and to live”.  That has been the biggest difference that I’ve really seen with the women that I’ve worked with is that mindset shift that really leads to life-long changes, that gets them out of that diet mindset, it gets them out of that diet cycle.  It heals the relationship with food, it heals the relationship with themselves so they actually can look in the mirror and feel self love.  They start exercising from a positive place, a place of gratitude.

The reason I called my program the new thin is because for so long women were pushed to be thin through excessive exercising and deprivation diet and I called it the new thing because it’s redefining what it means to be strong, fit, and healthy which is, of course, is my passion with everything I’ve been through. And the New Thin is about approaching fitness from the place of self-love.

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Major responders

Every woman responds to my method because I really spend so many hundreds of hours of research really figuring out what was most effective in the least amount of time to target women-trouble areas. Not all workout programs are created equal. These are specific to target women’s body in a way that she wants it targeted. And it takes specific exercises to do that. So I’ve men do my program and they love it but I strategically designed it for a woman’s body and mind. 

Fulfillment

What’s been rewarding is seeing women change from the inside out and getting lasting physical changes because of that internal transformation and seeing the self-love that enthuses their life and how it affects their everyday gratitude, their everyday happiness, the relationships with their spouse, boyfriend or girlfriend, children. Their lives truly change because it’s an internal transformation that leads to an external one. So being able to use all my experiences and all the hardships that I’ve had with my body have really been rewarding and I’ve been able to help all the women in the program.

Advice to fitness and health enthusiasts

I’d say it starts with gratitude of understanding what it is to have legs that walk, to have eyes that see, to have arms that work to be able to move your body. And when you start appreciating that, you understand that you want to move it. If you can approach it from the place of gratitude, then you’ll be more active. It’ll last.

Working smarter

You find something that you enjoy that is strategically designed to give you the result.  Don’t just exercise because it gives you the result.  Follow a science-based system.  My workouts are only 25 minutes long and honestly, I got in better shape following my workouts in these 25 minutes workouts than I was dancing 5+ hours a day.  Because they are designed to be strong and effective.  We all have super busy lives and more of that tends to be one of people’s greatest excuse not to workout.

Everybody has 25 minutes, right?

Easily even just putting social media away for 25 minutes.   So you need to find a system that is scientifically designed to give your most bang for the buck. And to be careful that it’s a system that it’s going to give you the result you want for your body without tearing your body down. It’s really important to me because I’ve seen so many people that start really intense programs and they get injured and that’s not the point of working out, to destroy your body. Yes, it is to push it to its limits and to get stronger and fitter and have great endurance and be healthier. It’s not to be incredibly hard just for the sake of being hard that you get injured.

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Body empowerment = life empowerment

When you do that you’re going to make healthier choices and you’ll be more active because of your mindset towards it. A lot of people don’t succeed in fitness because they have a negative mindset towards it. It’s a negative thing because they don’t like how they look or they have to eat healthy because they hate how they look instead of all of it been approached from a positive thing in their lives. One of the things I actually believe is that body empowerment will lead to life empowerment. We all feel better when we take care of ourselves. When we exercise that discipline it pours over to other places of our lives. So if we can approach it from the right mindset that is the most important thing you can do to make it- something that actually lasts because it’s a positive thing in our life.

The body as the greatest gift

It’s everything. If you’re going to approach fitness from a negative place and negative place for your body it’ll work out to be super effective if the whole time you’re focusing on what you hate instead of what you’re grateful for- an opportunity to work out. I say that a lot but I mean it, I’ve lived it and your body is truly your greatest gift and you need to take care of it. It’s a blessing in this life that a lot of people take for granted and like I said your body makes your whole life possible.

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On workout programs for dancers

Yes, I’m a dancer.  And No, dancers do not need a workout program aside from their dancing program. mI was a professional dancer to teach dancers.  I’m a professional ballroom dancer which is called dance ball, we compete.  We call ourselves athletes because we are and any athlete, to be super successful, they outside of their sport in the gym to be better for their sport to prevent injury to be stronger, faster, have greater balance and agility.  Dancers need the same thing but it’s really lacking in the dancing world.

I actually teach a course at the local university, Utah Valley University that is called Dance Conditioning. It’s required by Dance majors and it’s a whole class that we go over the importance. We go through muscular, physiology, anatomy and we go through the whole body about correcting misalignments, and strengthen, and how we need to strengthen better so we can dance.

That was pivotal in my dance career not only for injury prevention but to be able to move faster, have greater agility, balance, speed- all of that didn’t just come from dancing but came in my time from the gym.          

It’s a goal of mine to educate more dancers and I’d love to have taught this course at the university for several years and it’s just been incredible to see that mindsets shift dancers. It’s absolutely necessary, especially for dancers to be serious about it and want to make it a professional career. Dancing is a strength to the body but also tears it down. It’s very hard on the body and so we need that foundational training to help support dancing. A lot of dancers still don’t know that. It’s definitely a goal of mine to help spread that message to educate and I’ve been blessed to do that through the university.

“So absolutely dancers need training outside of the gym.”

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Overrated and underrated exercises

Ok, wait. I have two folds about the most overrated exercises.   A lot of movements done with machines is overrated because, for the most part, is push and pull and you’re not building functional strength and total body strength. That’s why one of my favorite equipment in the gym is the cable machine because it allows you to move through four ranges of motion and it just makes so much sense in your functional life.

This is especially if you need that type of power and explosion in your sport or what you do in your life.  But they are not necessarily for getting a desirable shape and I think that mindset has been put out there by a lot of fitness people because that is what they do and that’s what is in a lot of programs.  And people have been bitten by the intensity-bug but I’ve seen so many people get hurt.  So many people mess up their back, their knees, have hip issues, and it’s totally unnecessary. In those type of explosive movements, you need to have perfect form and lots of people just starting out are not going to have that. And so you’re not even working the muscles you think you are.  You’re just putting a lot wear and tear on your joints and tendons and ligaments.  And I’ve just seen way too many people destroy their body trying to get into shape and it just not the point and not necessarily.

Underrated exercises are some of your simple exercises that target specific muscles that look simple in their form but are the most effective. So sometimes simplicity gets overlook because it is simple and people want to do more exciting things. But you know, some things never change, that foundational stuff is always, always importance especially functional type movement that requires your entire body to work together. 

So sometimes we can get into too much isolated, or we go too extreme and do explosive movements. Anything that challenges your body and your balance and requires your whole body to work together and your muscle recruitment to be maximized, throughout your body, that’s going to give you total strength and body functionality and allow you to function better in your life or sport or dancing or recreation. 

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Diet philosophy

I hate the word ‘diet’. I know it’s easier to say when we’re referring to how we eat, I just hate the diet mindset.  Because it just doesn’t last for people.  90 million women are looking for a new diet every 3 months and the reason why is because most diets we enter into this restrictive mentality and most people can’t maintain that. That’s why most people fall on and off the diet and that diet cycle goes round and round and round. That’s why I don’t prescribe to one particular diet paleo or the fully ketogenic or the fully intermittent fasting or whatever it may be because it has an end date.  Because it feels too restrictive for them.

My whole philosophy is to eat real food. Real food fuel your body, achieve a lifestyle of eating that’s sustainable. I can be super strict for 30 days and totally fall off the wagon. I’ve seen too many people do that with the paleo with the ketogenic, and the more they do more metabolic damage they gain, more weight back because they’ve been on this restrictive cycle. So my philosophy is to eat real food I also approach from a place of balancing your hormones and not just calories and calories like that is an old mentality. 

Yes, you’ll lose weight over time if you eat fewer calories than you’re exerting but it’s not going to achieve with lean muscle gains and burning fats. That’s about stabilizing your blood sugar so that’s why I was encouraging women- ‘if you can do one thing…’ I’ve 3 different [principles in my nutrition plan that’s so easy to follow.

They are long-term sustainable and that’s why they work and that’s why it’s easy to get off the diet cycle because it’s not this restrictive mentality that most diets have but one thing that I’ve really pushed and tell people to do here is-  if you can do anything, stabilize your blood sugar when you eat. And that means you eat very simply a combination as I talked about on my snacks, about protein, fats, and Carbohydrates- PFC.

So when you put food in your mouth, it’s very simple.  Make sure you have a protein source, a healthy fat source, and a carbohydrate source.  That combination will help to stabilize your blood sugar. So that’ what we want to operate on if you can do one thing, is eat PFC.   

Most people eat way too much carbohydrate and not enough protein and definitely not enough healthy fats. That’s one simple thing that I follow and tell everyone to do that is super effective and is going to go a long way towards making it a part of your lifestyle. And for helping you with narrowing your fitness course but also your health course. The reality is, diets don’t work. It’s why we have new diets all the time and that’s why we’re more active than ever and yet we are more obese and unhealthier than ever because diets don’t work. People need to find a way to eat balanced portions on their plates and stabilize their blood sugar.

We’re going to be healthier, fitter, and happier if we can keep that basic thing-PFC.

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Self-love

I’ve learned so much and I’m also, of course, a certified personal trainer but I’ve learned so much for myself from my own experiencing with battling life-threatening illness with overcoming so many injuries that I know what it feels like  to process, I knew what it feels like to start  from ground zero, I know how it can seem impossible to get from point from A to Z. But what I know is that the human body and the human spirit has no limits. But it can overcome even the most insurmountable odds and that it starts with us believing in ourselves knowing that we are capable of all things, our bodies are capable of all things no matter where our starting point is.

I’ve started over time and time again and I know scary the human body can be and I know how incredible it can be and that is what drives me. Like I said before, our bodies are our greatest gifts. And what drives me is helping people to have that internal transformation, of healing their relationships with their body, and food and exercise and coming to approach a healthy life from a place of self-love and that is where the real changes happen, that is when the lasting changes happen. It is when greater peace and happiness and joy and gratitude enter their lives.

That is my greatest passion, it’s not only just helping women to get fitter and healthier but helping them to truly achieve self-love towards themselves their body in removing stress and ending the diet cycle forever.  That’s all that drives my passion behind developing the New Thin.  And we are a part of a Facebook group The New Thin Nation which is for all the women in the program and it’s so incredible to see them every day interacting with each other, show their frustrations, share what they’re struggling with but also share their successes and support each other.   I’m in that group every day supporting them, motivating them, giving them tips and tricks. I don’t want to just create a program about women that I had nothing to do with.  I want to be part of their journey because it is something so much bigger than just working out and eating healthy.

And that’s why also with my program I wrote The Food Freedom Playbook which is completely devoted to helping women cure their relationships with food and ending the diet cycle forever and that has been such an incredible journey to really see women finally cure their relationship with food address the role food plays in their lives so that they can heal it and they can fix it and they can get off from the diet cycle. This is a transformation program and it’s been so many ways my life’s work and my greatest passion and I feel privileged every day to be alive and to move my body and to have a chance no matter how many times I have to start over. And I hope to show people how incredible they are and how incredible their bodies can be and to start seeing it as their greatest gift.

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Ashleigh De Lello

@ashleighdilello

RyanandAshleigh.com

Why Your Breathing Plays One Of The Biggest Roles in Your Fitness

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When you’re sitting at your desk working, breathing is probably one of the last things that you’re thinking of. Often we’re so occupied with other thoughts, that we don’t want to take time thinking about things that we think we don’t absolutely need to work on. Besides, it looks like we’ve made it pretty far breathing the way we’re breathing now, right?  I mean, you’re alive – I’m alive…. Although, that’s no reason to neglect proper breathing. According to most studies we’re doing it wrong. We often don’t think that breathing is the most direct way to nurture our body, and that with each breath we are sending oxygen to different parts of our body – and of course, our brain to be able to function. Isn’t our body amazing?? So, why don’t we always treat it like that? Yes – neglecting proper breathing techniques can actually be harmful to your health and especially your workouts. It can create your body to work overtime and can restrict your ability to relax, thus stopping neurological signals being sent from your brain to preform specific tasks, such as healing a part of your body with oxygen or relaxing your muscles when practicing an intensified stretch or heavy lifting. So the question is now – how do you know when you’re breathing wrong? Well, we cover that and how to optimize your breathing in your workouts to preform at your fullest potential – so keep on reading.

 

How Am I Breathing Wrong?

Studies find that there are actually many ways that you could be breathing completely wrong. It seems a little thinking that you could be doing something completely normal, and something we do naturally – completely wrong, but there’s a reason behind that. We are beings of habit, meaning that when something we feel comfortable doing, we actually preform this habit more and more until it becomes accustom to our routine – or until our body doesn’t know any better. Our body will always make sure it’s doing the best of it’s ability to take care of ourselves, but it does not always imply that our emotions don’t overtake the best practises for our body. What I mean by this is that if we adapt an abnormal breathing pattern, such as shallow breathing – than our bodies will automatically get accustom to this, since our brain is sending neurological signals to our body to breath about 20,000 times a day. If we are sending signals to breath shallowly, our body will not know the difference and preform this action. Here are the ways that your mind might be telling your body to breath “wrong”

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  1. Shallow breathing

When we are unable to take deep breaths, due to our posture, we cannot breathe properly. Deep breathing consists of breathing through our diaphragm, which means you need to be able to maximum the amount of air going in and out at a slow pace through your diaphragm to your lungs and out through your mouth. Things such as bad posture, stress in our neck, shoulders or upper back cause us to tense up around our chests, and therefore hunch over. When we’re hunched over we are not optimizing the amount of air that enter our diaphragm, therefore probably preforming shallow breathing.

  1. Short Breathing

Short breathing, similar to shallow breathing limits the ability of air transferring to our lungs. This typically causes shortness of breath and if you have problems with your lungs or heart it is more likely to occur. Although, if you have no health problems and this is still occurring for you, it is because you are simply not breathing from your diaphragm.

  1. Mouth Breathing

This type of breathing occurs when breathing in is orchestrated through the month rather than the noise. It is definitely important to have the ability to breath through both your nose and mouth, but typically you will be able to inhale more deeply when breath is inhaled through the noise, and exhaled through the mouth. By doing this, it is likely that you’ll be able to get deeper breaths that reach down to your diaphragm, rather than stay in your lungs.

 

How To Optimize Your Workouts With Breathing        

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Now that we’ve stated the wrong types of breathing, it is important to adapt a way that is likely to fit in your regular routine, in addition to avoiding shallow or short breathing. The first concept to overcome when changing your breathing is your awareness. It’s quite easy to focus on your breathing for 5 minutes, 10 minutes or even a 30 minute window. But, as your day goes on, tasks pile up on your to-do list, it’s very likely breathing is not going to be at the top. So, to overcome this, giving attention and daily awareness to your breath will improve your overall breathing. What dose this mean for your workout? Less huffing and puffing as your lifting weights or doing HITT. This is because we as humans, ironically enough, have a tendency to stop breathing when put under pressure or tension. So, when you’re lifting your weights or trying to finish the set, it’s possible that your body automatically tenses, thus diminishing your breathing.

 

If you have awareness of your breath during your workouts, then you’re likely to breath properly, and circulate airflow when stretching or building muscle – i.e. something that is extremely critical for muscle growth or healing via stretching. Once you are aware of your breath, it becomes easier for you to account for it in your workout routine. For example, if you notice yourself short breathing, then you can take a deep breath, adjust and continue with your routine. If you notice that you are breathing properly, you can even draw more attention to your breath as a focus when your workout really starts to tire you out.

 

Although it seems quite simple “pay attention to your breath,” doing this, in junction with the 4-7-8 breathing technique can actually elevate your workout to new extremes! Firstly – what is the 4-7-8 breathing technique? Basically, you inhale through your nose for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds and exhale for 8 seconds and repeat directly after. This technique is known to improve your stress levels because it balances your neuro-transmitter essential for brain function and the central nervous system. Why does this make a difference in your workout routine? When you go into a workout with a neutral level of stress and no tensions in your muscles and joints, you’ll be able to preform much better considering your body will physically move easier, and with a less likely probability for injury. In addition to performance, you’ll be able to overcome the mental aspect of going into yet another workout session on a cold winter day. Just practise this technique for 5 minutes and you’ll be right there, ready to go – mentally and physically.

 

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Crossed Paths with CrossFit | Katrina Leone

Crossed Paths with CrossFit | Katrina Leone

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Imagine walking down the streets of LA and boom you pass a crossfit gym. Well that’s where the journey began for Katrina Leone and now crossfit has become a part of her everyday life. “I’ve been an athlete in the CrossFit community for the past 8 years. I was actually just walking by a crossfit gym in downtown Los Angeles. I thought they were doing some kind of MMA training because of all the tires and the gritty look. I did their intro workout and was hooked,” Katrina exclaims!

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Fitness Meets Fashion

Katrina has a love for fitness, but she did not want to leave behind her second passion of fashion. “I wanted to find a way to merge my loves of fitness and fashion. I felt there wasn’t enough options for serious female athletes who also wanted to look good and feel comfortable in their training,” Katrina says.

This lead Katrina to put some thought into how she could change that. And that’s how Vull Sport was born. “ I started this line because I personally was having a hard time finding pieces that I felt completely comfortable training in. Everything I make is high impact and made for dynamic training. Before I launched the line, I was finding myself section off my training clothes by what movements I could or could not do in them. I had this tiny stack of bras and bottoms that I felt comfortable enough in to do absolutely anything. If I wanted to meet up with friends and join in on their programming, I would go to these clothing items. I wanted to be covered for full range of motion and not be worrying about my clothes at ALL while training. So I started Vull with that concept. We don’t do anything low-impact, no plunging necklines, do thin bottom bands, no questionable sheer areas, no plastic hardware or zippers. You can wear the pieces for yoga, but they’re made for high intensity workouts,” Katrina explains.

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Obstacles

Crossfit is a very demanding practice both physically and mentally. So, it’s expected that Katrina has had a few hoops to jump through. “I’ve been through my fair share of injuries and mentally challenging training. I’ve gone through the loss of a parent, parting with significant others and legal stuff with businesses I own. I am not a full time coach or gym owner so I do need to really manage my time between work and training. To be competitive in this sport pretty much requires constant juggling of priorities and setbacks. Anytime you are doing something that is body AND mind connected, you’re going to have points when those 2 things don’t always match up. And you’re going to need to be resilient during times when general life makes it even harder to get those 2 things in line. There’s no getting around obstacles. You have to move right through them. And you need to do that while still being incredibly consistent with your training, nutrition and recovery,” Katrina says.

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Rewards

Despite the obstacles, Katrina has had a very rewarding experience. She had learned so much from her training and that’s the biggest reward of all! “Being a competitive athlete has really taught me about perseverance, dedication and basically that nothing is going to go to plan. The journey is going to be messy and twisted, but if you keep moving forward, you will keep moving forward. It’s not always perfect. When you’re on a good one, ride that wave as far as it will take you. When you’re struggling, just keep putting on foot in front of the other and believe it will be enough.

Sport has taught me so much about myself and the characteristics I admire in others. Anything you love is worth trying for. Even if you ‘fail’ it will still take you to the place you’re meant to be.

Oh and all the amazing people I now have in my life as a direct result of CrossFit is also pretty amazing 🙂 I have a great group of friends and fellow business owners that are incredibly supportive,” Katrina shares.

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What advice would you give to a young person today who wanted to ditch a sedentary lifestyle and become more fit and healthy?

I’d say do it! Right now, right this moment. Just do ANYTHING. You don’t need to ‘losse weight’ before you start. And you certainly don’t need to ‘get fit’ before you make your way into a CrossFit gym. Whatever is calling to you, go, sign up, show up. We ALL started somewhere.

Where should they focus most of their energy to get the most bang for their proverbial buck?

Focus on performance. Set performance goals. Decide what barbell and dumbell weights you want to be able to use for certain exercises. Set goals of how many reps you want to be able to do in each workout. And don’t even look at the scale. First you move your body. Then you can figure out diet. Once you start using your body, you’ll actually want to fuel it in a better way. If you focus on diet first, it’s really easy to go back to old habits. Start new physical habits and let the rest follow.    

Think about the 80/20 rule: If you get 80% of your impact from 20% of what you do, what is that 20% for someone just starting?

Be intense in your 20%. Whether it fitness, work, friends, whatever! Give all of yourself when you have the opportunity to. Try hard. I hate that ‘I don’t even care’ mentality. I care so much about all the things that I do. Because I do things that are worth it to me.

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Katrina Leone

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@JustKatLeone

@VullSport  

Twitter:

@KatLeone

@VullSport  

Compound Effect leads to Big Gains | Christmas Abbott

Compound Effect leads to Big Gains | Christmas Abbott

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Christmas Abbott is a crossfit pro & fitness enthusiast that encourages others to use fitness as a means to turn their lives around. She does this through as many channels as she can find: she’s written books, started fitness programs, she tours, does motivational speaking, and nutrition consulting.

I’m using my personal turbulence I’ve experienced through life and applying it to the wellness and fitness industry. I want to help people wake up and realize that they have the opportunity to change their lives every day,” Christmas says.

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Start

Growing up Christmas had many challenges through life. By the age of 13, she was drinking, smoking and doing drugs. By 21, her habits lead to her doing meth and becoming an alcoholic. She didn’t really consider the damage she was doing to her body at the time. It wasn’t until she took a trip to Iraq as a civilian consultant that she had an epiphany. “I realized I was continuing to make bad decisions and continuing to put myself in compromising situations. I was going to end up killing myself because of the decisions I was making. I decided to make a better decision. I decided to quit smoking. I decided to work out and I discovered fitness and health and wellness. That became my new addiction,” Christmas explains.

The moment that Christmas realized she was capable of achieving a state of health; she started with the realization that she had positive power. She was able to commit herself to a 30 day regimen. For 20 minutes a day, three times a week, Christmas would work out on an elliptical. “This was like my gateway drug to fitness. It was a very subtle transition into fitness but by the third week, I noticed a difference in myself. It wasn’t necessarily physically fit, but I just felt better. I felt proud of myself for the first time in my life. That’s when I caught the bug of positive reinforcement,” Christmas says. Since then Christmas admits it’s still been a bit of a struggle. However through her transitioning she has gained self-worth and confidence. “I love myself fully and I want to enrich my life with positivity,” Christmas declares.

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Childhood

Christmas grew up in a poor household, however her parents loved her very much. Her mother named her Christmas Joy because she brought joy to her mom’s world when she was born.  Christmas’ father was the epitome of a biker. And the biker lifestyle that the family lived, while very exciting is what lead Christmas to picking up some of the habits that she felt was taking away from her life.

Of course, Christmas doesn’t blame her parents. They just didn’t know of a healthier way of living. “For me, when I saw that I had an option to change that, I felt more empowered,” Christmas says. However Christmas still remains very close to her family. “I wasn’t a product of a healthy lifestyle growing up. And I want people to know regardless of what upbringing you have, you can still change your future,” Christmas says.

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Obstacles

Christmas had to overcome a lot of obstacles in her journey to being as fit as she is now. For her, the hardest one was to find self-worth. “I had to believe that I was capable and had to believe that I was worth something more. Once we find ways to feel proud of ourselves, that’s when we get on a path to loving ourselves. As soon as I started to love myself, that’s when the opportunities starting presenting themselves,” Christmas says.

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Wellness Wheel

According to Christmas, the keys to living a happy, healthy lifestyle comes from within. “I tell people you have five fingers and you usually have five obligations that you can commit to before it becomes overwhelming. You have to take care of yourself.

Sleep well, eat well, exercise, and meditate.

All of this comes into play. You can be eating well and be stressed out at work and still gain weight. So when one thing is out of whack, it has a ripple effect. Living a perfectly balanced life is pretty much unheard of, but you can get pretty close to it when you create this balance. It is a mental fortitude of tenacity. When bad things happen, you can actually navigate through them in a faster and more efficient way,” Christmas says.

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Christmas Abbott

Website

Instagram

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Undeterred | Sirena Alise

Undeterred

J Keith Hall

Sirena Alise Williams isn’t easily discouraged…. That’s an understatement!

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When it comes to un-deterred determination and a knock-down, drag out work ethic Sirena Alise is hard to beat.  Just jotting down her titles is a chore.  Sirena, who goes by Sirena Alise to limit the confusion between her and the “other Sirena Williams” does so many things.  She is of course a professional track & field athlete, running the 60 meter hurdles (indoor) and 100 meter hurdles (outdoor) she was a 2015 Nationals Finalist both Indoors and Outdoors.   Sirena is also a blogger, app developer, and the lead marketer of her finance’s (pro soccer player Quincy Amarikwa) book ‘The Perfect Soccer Player Blueprint‘.  

Of course most of her seemingly endless energy is concentrated on training to improve her performance on the track.  Like so many athletes, Sirena’s start in her chosen field came because her family had been involved in track and field as a youth as well. “I first started running track and field in middle school because it’s the sport my mom did as a youth”, Sirena says.  

But Sirena’s athletic journey didn’t start in track.  “I grew up competing in gymnastics.  It was the foundation of the attitude I have towards sports.”  Sirena tells me that gymnastics taught her that if you work hard you’ll get results. “I competed up to level 10 and after that I was forced to stop because I tore some ligaments in my lower back. My nickname was baby Dawes. I was at the point in my gymnastics career where the next level was Elite level gymnastics or Olympic level. After my doctor told me the news he said if I decided to continue to compete that there would be a chance that by the time I was 16 that I wouldn’t be able to play in any other sports like normal high school student.”

At the very young age of 11 Sirena decided to end her gymnastics career due to the risk of further injury.   “That was devastating for me because it’s something that I grew up doing.” Sirena recalls, “So after the news I decided that I would just try each and every sport that I could.  I tried soccer, softball, volleyball, basketball, cheerleading, you name it.   I pretty much tried everything when it came to sports.”

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“What inspired me the most was the story my uncle told me about my mom running track. which is why I think I love track and field the most because it was something that her and I could have conversations about.  She would tell me her experiences and how far she made it.   I could see how happy she was watching me run track, competing, and just having fun.”

“Gymnastics drove her crazy.  She worried about me getting hurt all the time when I was in gymnastics.   I could tell that she was more relaxed watching me run.”  

After being told that she could no longer do a sport that she fell in love with, Sirena appreciates every opportunity that much more.  “It was my life. It was what I did after school it’s something that I literally spent hours perfecting. To be told at that age that you can no longer do something you love is really hard and I think that’s why I put so much heart into everything that I do because to have something taken away from you it’s just really hard.” So when given the opportunity at something else to succeed, Sirena is going to make sure that she gives it everything that she has. 

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For someone that is so determined and focused, I always wonder if they have ever considered quitting.  Most of the time people (even the most successful of people) can quickly come up with a story about when they were considering quitting.  For Sirena, it’s a struggle to come up with a story about contemplating quitting.  

“When it comes to thinking about quitting I don’t necessarily think about if I’m going to quit.  It’s more so wondering why you’re doing something or why I’m not necessarily taking action on something I’m thinking about.  Everyone has their down phases where they’re questioning why they’re doing something. When it comes to questioning why you’re doing something, that is when you need to remember why you started.”  

“I have to say that I placed more pressure on myself, this Olympic year to qualify because it’s something that I have been training for for the past 3 years and dedicated all of my time towards. This year, I felt, was a defining year. Where all the hard work that I have been doing over the past several years would flourish and that’s exactly what I was on pace for.

“At any time where I was feeling doubtful, I didn’t quit because I reminded myself why I started. That’s how I feel about anything that you start.   You need to understand why you’re doing it because that is what’s going to keep you sane, grounded, and focused when those times come when you’re feeling doubtful.”

The affirmation for me was when I ran 13.24 really early in the season and that kind of let me know that this was going to be a great year.  I was on the right track.  

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Advice to your younger self

“Trust the journey.” – the advice that Sirena would give her younger self

“The only advice I would give myself if I had to do it all over again is to do it the exact same way. Trust that things are going to go well.  I think I can say that because I understood why I started and I took all the necessary steps that I needed to take in order to achieve the goals that I set before I even started the journey.”

Advice to someone starting on a similar journey

Focus on a healthy mental mindset. My coach always says track and field is 90% physical and 10% mental.  What controls the 90%?

The Impact of being in a relationship with another professional athlete 

It most definitely helps to have someone who is on the same page as you when it comes to athletics.  I have someone who understands how it can be after a tough workout, before a major competition, after a major competition and just understands the athlete mindset.  Quincy has been huge in the amount of success I have achieved by being extremely motivating, uplifting and supportive of any and all decisions I choose to make.  Good or bad. I couldn’t have asked for a more supportive partner and best friend.

Training off the track

My off the track training regimen just includes long runs, pool workout, yoga, bike work and pretty much any other cross-training that you could possibly think of.

Beliefs on performance diets

When it comes to dieting I don’t really have a philosophy. I naturally eat pretty healthy. I eat a lot of fish, baked chicken, and noodles.  I try to cook vegetarian meals every now and then.   Eggplant lasagna is one of my favorite.  

I’m not super strict about my diet.  Sometimes I go for those viral food videos and every now and then I’ll find one I like, I’ll make it, and it usually turns out amazing.  

So yeah, I guess that’s my take on diet. Put good in and get good out.

I don’t eat fast food.

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Sirena Alise

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SnapChat: Sirena Alise

Yoga Revamped| Dean Pohlman

Yoga Revamped| Dean Pohlman

A new take on the yoga movement.
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“My first time was completely on accident,” says Dean Pohlman, founder of ‘Body by Yoga,’. Dean was referring to his first time trying yoga. Imagine. One minute you’re walking down the street looking for a tailor; the next you’re drenched in sweat from the hardest workout of your life. That’s saying alot coming from a former lacrosse player. “Like most people, I was skeptical of yoga [at first]. I had always been interested, but had never taken a yoga class before that day. Two hours later, drenched in sweat from head to toe, feeling like I had just exited the pool, and utterly exhausted……. I had just completed my first yoga class. From that point on, I was sold.”

Yoga Revival

Dean’s first adventure with yoga lead him to an unexpected change in career path. He along with his partner, Paul Bolotovsky, set out to give yoga a little revival and give a new spin to it. “I saw a total void in yoga. Nobody was teaching yoga as a form of fitness; everyone was doing it as a lifestyle,” Dean says. More specifically, they set out to create a form of yoga tailored to men. Dean and Paul show us that yoga doesn’t have to be a big lifestyle change with spiritual connections. Yoga can be strictly for the benefit of your health and body. “We talk about yoga in terms that people interested in their fitness would want to hear. This is a workout that will make you better at anything you do. Whether you’re into functional fitness, lifting, or a runner, yoga will help with that. We break down the anatomy of every exercise to help you understand why it’s good for you. Our program helps you understand how it can help you achieve your fitness goals.”

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Beyond that, the two dropped some of the more uncomfortable yoga positions that men may find in local mixed gender yoga classes. “Men and women have traditionally focused on different aspects of fitness. We also have different anatomies. This creates a situation in which some of the poses men encounter in class can be intimidating, if not outright dangerous. We provide explanations and modifications so that men can experience the intended benefit out of every pose.”

The Message

Dean and Paul use their yoga workout program to send the message that; Yes, yoga can be a workout and a highly beneficial one at that. “We created Body by Yoga because nobody was making yoga accessible to people who wanted the workout without the frills.” And that’s exactly what Dean and Paul has provided. In comparison to other workouts, yoga can be far more challenging. Not only that but it can further extend the results of any other workout you put it in combination with. “Most forms of fitness emphasize strength and faster movements. Yoga actually slows you down so you can work on the other stuff and pay attention to what you’re doing, instead of rushing through the movement.” This leaves you really feeling the burn.

Dean and Paul also sends the message that yoga is no longer just for the spiritual person who has turned over a new life. A regular yoga practice can be such a useful aid for so many different types of people, fitness levels, and goals.” Thus so, Dean and Paul created ‘Body by Yoga’ to be for a variety of people. The athlete that wants to be nimble and quick will find benefits in yoga. So will the dancer that wants to increase flexibility and the body builder that wants to increase definition in their muscles. Most importantly, the average person that wants to increase their health will also find great benefit in the ‘Body by Yoga’ fitness plan. “We try to explain the anatomy and purpose for every exercise and explain how it can benefit the rest of your fitness goals.”

Where do you see yourself & your brand in 10 years?

Body by Yoga is going to be the way that most people get started with fitness-centric yoga. We will have instructors trained in body by yoga, lots of diverse workouts to cater to many audiences, and a strong commitment to doing what we started out doing – yoga for fitness.

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What’s the next frontier in building your tribe?

Releasing our DVDs. 🙂 From there, establishing ourselves as the non-weird yoga that most people won’t be afraid of trying.

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What’s next? & why?

After Guyoga, we’re releasing more difficult and more specific workout programs. Guyoga is all about teaching people the basics. After that, we are releasing DVDs focused on yoga for athletes, yoga for back care, and yoga extreme workouts.

Body By Yoga

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SnapChat: ManFlowYoga

All Smiles

Jera Foster-Fell inspires with an “All smiles all the time” attitude

All Smiles

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Twenty Seven year old New Yorker Jera Foster-Fell, also known as the @WorkOutBean radiates with personality and positivity that excites and inspires others to reach their potential.  Jera is anything but shy and her triumphs as well as her trials are on display for her following.

Jera, who is a graphic designer by training is super psyched to “finally be doing something that I feel passionate about, that makes me happy, and gives me a sense of fulfillment. Through movement, sweat, social media, and hard work, I’ve created a brand for myself that allows me to not only feel good about myself, but have a positive impact on other people’s lives. ”  I wouldn’t take this to mean that Jera doesn’t love graphic design but to say that fitness has struck a special cord with her.

When did you first start on your Fitness Journey?

Everything began for me in April 2015. I woke up one morning and it was like a lightbulb went off. I had followed some fitness accounts on instagram for about a year and I always had the urge to get healthier, but never did. But something changed that morning. I got out of bed with purpose, I bought Kayla Itsines’s Bikini Body Guide twelve week workout program, went to the gym, and began. That same day, I created a fitness Instagram account, @workoutbean, to hold myself accountable. I had no idea at the time that it would turn into what it currently is today.

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It’s always so interesting to look back on certain times in your life and realizing things about your situation that you weren’t aware of at the time. Back in April 2015 when fitness first became an essential part of my life, I had just come out of a few challenging months. I don’t think I consciously realized that I needed some sort of an outlet, but clearly I did, and I found that through exercise. Working out allowed me to create the space I needed to focus on myself, and the social media aspect of it created a space where I was able to make connections and friendships with other women.

First, when I initially began working out consistently back in April 2015 with BBG by Kayla Itsines (a twelve week program), twelve weeks seemed like forever! I had never come close to working out consistently for that length of time. Despite that, I finished the twelve weeks and was incredibly proud of myself. Once I completed that guide, I felt confident that I could do anything else that I set my mind to.

When did you first know you were going to become a ‘Fitness Influencer’?

I think it took quite some time to realize that I was a “fitness influencer” and to be honest, I still have a hard time saying that phrase.

I feel like a normal person doin’ normal thangs!

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But I do remember fairly early on, perhaps just a month or so after making exercise a priority and creating my instagram account, girls would message or or comment on my photos telling me that I motivated them to workout that particular morning. Or that they used my recipe to make dinner. Or that simply, I inspire them. I’ll never forget that feeling of realizing that however small it was, I was impacting people in a positive way. That made me feel so good. I realized that it was a feeling that I had never gotten before as a graphic designer, and that feeling made me want to seriously consider leaving my job as a graphic designer and transitioning over to fitness full time.

Is there anything about your upbringing that you can link to your inspiration and success thus far?

My parents always allowed me to explore creativity as I pleased. Whether it was stomping in the mud as a toddler, wearing pink zinc and blue sparkles on my lips as a kid, creative writing as a teen, or graphic design in college, I was always encouraged to try new things and do as I pleased. I think being given the flexibility to test the waters of new interests was huge for me and absolutely was a major factor in leading me to where I am today.

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Jera Foster-Fell is @WorkOutBean

What’s the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome in your fitness journey?

I don’t think there has been one single significant obstacle that I’ve overcome in my fitness journey thus far.

I would say that there is the more general day to day  challenge of staying consistent with physical exercise.

Everyone always asks about motivation, and that’s such an interesting subject because motivation is so fleeting. Most days, I don’t wake up and say, “I can’t wait to work out today!”, that’s just not how it works. But a few things get me past that moment of hesitation:

1. Routine.  Creating a routine for yourself forces you to create a habit. Once you have a habit formed, you do it no matter what, regardless of if you feel motivated.

2. Workout buddies. Having someone with similar goals as you, whether they’re with you physically or not, is incredibly helpful for keeping yourself accountable.

3. That post workout feeling. No one ever regretted a workout!

Why did you choose to start your fitness journey with BBG?

Close to two years ago, I was scrolling through Instagram’s explore page and I came across the instagram account, @kayla_itsines. I wasn’t into fitness at all at the time, it was probably the least active phase of my life, but I was enthralled by the transformations that I saw on her account.

When I decided to bite the bullet and try it myself about a year later, it seemed like the only logical step to take in terms of getting into a fitness routine. Besides going for a run or using the elliptical, I was clueless in terms of what to do in the gym. Following BBG laid everything out exactly as I needed to do it and gave me the confidence to walk into the gym and get my workout done.

BBG is an exercise program on the surface level, but underneath that, it’s so much more.

There is a huge community of mostly women on instagram who do BBG, and it’s such an incredibly supportive and empowering community. Where else in the world do you see strangers, particularly women, coming together to cheer each other on in such a genuine way? When I first created my fitness account back in April 2015, it was simply a way to hold myself accountable to consistently working out, but I quickly realized that it had way more potential than that. I started connecting with other women, many of whom have become my real life friends.

So is BBG a workout program? Yes, definitely. But is it also a revolutionary movement bringing women together from all across the globe to get healthy and support each other in the process? Absolutely.

What else did you try?

I did about two and a half rounds of BBG before switching to PPCG aka Progress Pure’s Curve Guide. The creator, Molly, was my very first instagram friend. Her guide is based around lifting. I was one of the first people able to test out her guide, and I loved it because it allowed me to explore the weight room which I was always a little intimidated by.

Was there ever a time when you were contemplating quitting?

I’ve been on a mission for close to a year now to become a SoulCycle instructor. As soon as I got my heart set on it, there was no turning back. It was probably good that at the time of this decision, I didn’t quite fully understand how difficult it is to become an instructor!

Part of the process is auditions, and this was absolutely terrifying for me. Up until that point, I was a graphic designer and I had zero fitness instructions experience. On top of that, I had a fear of public speaking. I went into that first audition with all odds against me, but I somehow pushed through and survived. And I thought I did a decent job!

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A week later, I got an email saying that I did not make it to the next round. I was heartbroken. I felt like I put my heart and soul into the audition, and to have them say no hit me at my very core. It made me question if I was good enough, or if I would ever be good enough. Though I allowed myself to wallow in self doubt for a day or so, I was able to turn those feelings around and used them as extra fuel for the fire to prepare for the next audition. Getting a “no” made me work that much harder to eventually get a “yes”.

I didn’t quit because a “no” right now doesn’t necessarily mean it won’t be a yes down the line. I think that sometimes, not getting what we want is important. Not only does it build character, but it makes us figure out how badly we want something. If we get a no and then quit, well, maybe that wasn’t the right path.

“It’s not failure until you give up.”

What’s been the most rewarding part of all of this so far?

The most rewarding part of my journey so far has absolutely been hearing that I’ve had some sort of positive impact on people’s lives. When I hear that my instagram post motivated someone to get out of bed that morning, or that sharing my own personal challenges has helped others tackle their own difficult times, I can’t tell you how good that makes me feel.

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Jera is a certified personal trainer & a SoulCycle instructor

It’s an interesting cycle- I workout, feel good, share bits and pieces of my life, post about it, and in turn other people see it and feel motivated, feel good themselves, and tell me about, which makes me feel good. Though it’s not always glitter and unicorns, it’s this crazy positivity train of empowerment, and people just being real with each other.

What advice would you give to a person that wanted to follow a similar path?

If you want to commit to a healthy lifestyle, there are a few things that need to happen. First, you need to make a solid decision that this is not something that you’re just going to say that you want. It’s not something that you’re simply going to wish for. It’s something that you’re making a firm decision to do. No one else is going to make a change for you. Realize that you are the only one responsible for your body, your mind, and your health, and you are responsible for taking care of it.

Next, I think that when you want to start exercising consistently, it’s best to have some sort of a program to follow. It can be really confusing at first to walk into a gym, and I think a lot of people resort to the cardio machines as a default. Everyone needs to do cardio, but there are so many other ways to break a sweat, and it’s essential to keep your body moving in a new ways. By signing up for a workout program, you’ll feel confident about what to do, and you’ll have an easy plan to stick to.

Another great tool is having a workout buddy to hold you accountable. Whether that’s your significant other or someone you met on instagram, find someone who is going to make sure that you get your butt moving each day!

Lastly, don’t be too hard on yourself. Allow yourself to have rest days. Indulge in a dessert now and then. Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a workout.

A huge part of a healthy lifestyle is balance.

Sometimes we get crazy at the gym, and sometimes we netflix and chill.

Who do you consider the icons in health & fitness?

I think that the everyday girl is quickly becoming the next icon in fitness. Social media makes everything so much more accessible and connected, and because of social media, people are able to have a voice in such a way that wasn’t possible just a few years ago. Models are gorgeous, athletes are powerful…. But they’re not relatable. Now, more so than ever, women want to look up to other women that they can find some common ground with.

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What’s the next frontier in building your fitness tribe?

I would love to start creating video content! I grew up with my mom who is in film, so I learned how to edit from her. Every single project I did growing up involved video and editing, and currently, video is becoming more and more popular. Whether it’s workout videos, sharing about my life, or something more on the creative side, I’m really looking forward to diving into video this upcoming year.

Where did the name ‘WorkOut Bean’ come from?

My parents have had all kinds of nicknames for me growing up!

Bean, Jera Bean, JB, among many others (don’t ask why my dad calls me “Rabbit Brains”!) I’ve always loved Bean, so any time I’ve needed to make an instagram handle, I’ve used that.

My first account was my art and handlettering account, @bean_robin, and when it came time to make a fitness account, @workoutbean was the first thing that popped into my head.

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@WorkOutBean is an inspiration for women that are exploring and wanting to make healthy changes

What do you feel is the most important element for a personal just starting or struggling in a fitness program?

For someone who is just starting off in a fitness program or for someone who is trying to be more active, it’s crucial to create a routine for yourself. When you’re first starting out, everything is so new, it can be easy to get sidetracked. If you build a schedule for yourself and make a promise to yourself to stick to it. And  you will set yourself up for success.

Something else to keep in mind though is not to try and change too much at once. You don’t have to simultaneously start working out six days a week. Then drinking a gallon of water a day, getting 8 hours of sleep each night, and never eating dessert. Instead, try to slowly incorporate healthy habits one by one so.  This you can adjust to each change with the time that you need to get used to it.

“For anyone who starts to doubt themselves. Otherwise, feels themselves struggling, remember that you didn’t come this far to only come this far.” – Jera

Whether it’s focusing specifically on our fitness journey or taking a step back and examining our lives, remember that the ups and downs are inevitable.

Fall seven times, stand up eight.

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Jera Foster-Fell (@WorkOutBean)

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