#FEARLESSFRIDAY: I Tried It – Ice Skating

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I have no problem admitting the things I’m good at. I’m a good teacher. I’m a good writer. I’m a good listener. I’m a good friend. I have good style. And, I can crush most fitness classes.

On the other hand, I also have no problem admitting things I’m terrible at. This include driving, math, relaxing, making Excel spreadsheets, and remaining calm in stressful situations (you don’t want me next to you on a plane. Promise).

Additionally, there are things in life I simply avoid (falling into neither the good or bad category). This is either because I have no interest in trying these things, or I’m just scared. Things that fall into this bucket include swimming, watching any scary movie with my eyes open, trying on clothes before I buy them, or – the subject of today’s post – ice skating.

Let me give you a little BTS on this fitness queen: I HATE the outdoors. In fact, I’ll go so far to say I hate weather, in general. Rain, snow, wind, mugginess. I’m simply not the type of girl who appreciates seasons or enjoys a hot day at the beach. When I was little, my Mom tried to force me to play outside and I would cry until she’d let me back in. Sure, I like warm weather, but that doesn’t mean I like to play any outdoor SPORTS like volleyball or…whatever else you play in nature. This is especially true for anything I have to do in cold weather circumstances, so skiing is completely out (as is anything related to skiing). I don’t even like “a walk in the snow” (miserable). Which brings me to the ONE TIME my parents tried to put me in ice skates, I was five years old and lasted five minutes (and that didn’t include getting ON the ice).

I have a confession to make. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve had some serious regret about things I never learned (or avoided). Life is too damn short and there’s no time like the present.

Enter the lovely Sarah Kamenetz (or Coach Sarah, if you’re nasty). I met Sarah while taking a class at Power Studios (check out her schedule) and while we were chatting, she mentioned she has a full-time gig as a professional ice skating coach at City Ice Pavilion in Long Island City. I laughed and told her I’d never tried skating. Before I knew it, I was on my way to Queens to give it a go.

Let’s get real for a second: Learning to do something as an adult is hard. There are numerous articles to back me up on this, but in short, it’s all about how our brains are more malleable to new information when we’re young, and not so much as we get older. So, I’d be lying if I told you I didn’t have a bit of anxiety going into this. But, once I laced myself into the skates (with Sarah’s help) and hit the ice, something changed.

I suddenly didn’t care.

Sure, little kids were whizzing by me and I looked like a gorilla attempting not to step on ants, but in 30 short minutes, Sarah taught me how to glide forwards and backwards, stop, and make a little figure eight. I mean, I wasn’t good by any standards. I was awkward and sloppy, and certainly not graceful like Sarah, but it didn’t matter. I did something new. At 34 years old. And I gotta tell you something. I was damn proud of myself.

It’s funny. When we’re kids, we want to try everything (unless you’re me, because well, read above). We are fearless. As we age, even though we may consider ourselves “adventurous”, we are more fearful than our younger selves. We are more hesitant to break free from our comfort zone because we may fail or look silly. We don’t try new things because we are unsure and self conscious. This is especially true with workouts. I hear from so many people about how they could “never” do a workout I tried. Well, I didn’t think I could skate without falling on my face, either. And it happened. Trying out new classes or workouts shouldn’t be scary. It should be a welcome challenge to become stronger, better versions of ourselves. So, next time you’re hesitant, just say yes. Trying something once will never hurt you, it will only help you grow. And plus, who knows? You may end up having a Nancy Kerrigan moment, like me.

Follow all my fitness adventures on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit

 

 

2017: The Best (and Worst) Year of My Life

Every December 31st morning, I make a handwritten list of resolutions. Don’t ask why – possibly because of my Type-A, perfectionist personality – the list must be on construction paper and in colored marker. Once satisfied with the finished product, I keep the list on my fridge for the next 365 days and cross them off when accomplished.

This morning, I find myself staring at this list like it’s public enemy number one. It’s approximately 360 days since I made this list and not one thing is crossed off. In fact, not one was attempted. Now, before you all start with the “but you’ve done so much this year!” talk, allow me to explain why this particular list is such a big deal.

I’m staring at this list in anger not because I didn’t achieve anything on it. I’m staring at it in anger because this year, I realized I’m 34 years old and haven’t begun to reach my potential, because I’ve been letting so many things hold me back. Things no one sees, but can absolutely relate to.

On the last day of last year, this list was created with grotesque assumptions that I would be the same person I was in 2016. It assumed I’d still be a people pleaser, fake happy when I truly felt no joy, and putting everyone else’s needs above mine. Additionally, the list assumed I would still have Fear of Missing Out Syndrome (FOMO), care about what everyone thought of me, and a possess a truly stifled voice (this began in elementary-school, by the way. With three mean girls who will remain unnamed but hope #karma gave it to them). This list also assumed I’d still be the person to always be reaching out to friends to hang out, making the plans, or giving 3,000 percent when I’m only getting 10 in return.

The title of this post couldn’t be truer: This year has been the best and worst year of my life. Pre-blog, the bubble I’d been living in – holding it all together – finally popped. The beginning of 2017 was spent at a variety of doctor’s offices, trying to figure out why I was having debilitating panic attacks in public for no apparent reason (one of which happened while teaching a class; that was fun). I then spent the next few months trying (and erroring) cocktails of medication to get it all under control, which left me weak and super sick.  All the while, I was suffering in silence, carefully sucking it up to be the best teacher possible, the best writer possible, the best friend possible, and the best multitasker possible. I had a reputation to uphold: Thou must always look like they have it together. It was not only exhausting, but lonely.

This time of internal pain was compounded by life events. I lost friends I should have lost years ago. I also lost friends I thought I’d have for the rest of my life. I was used and taken for granted, so hurt and disappointed by others I sometimes couldn’t get out of bed. I experienced the awful trifecta of sexism, ageism, and harassment; being knocked down so hard I didn’t know if I could get back up. I became so afraid of conflict, it was simply easier to remain silent. I started telling people what they wanted to hear, instead of what was in my heart. I became unable to make decisions for myself, so I began to look to others to make them for me.  I never felt heard, so sometimes, I just cried.

You may have experienced similar feelings at some point in your own lives. Maybe you’ve experienced them all. It’s funny: We have all these friends and/or family members, but when shit hits the fan, we sometimes don’t know who to call, or “bother” with our problems. More importantly, we feel like no one will understand, so we just bury it deeper. Or, that no one will truly listen. Or care. So, we just push through. We keep moving.

I am not writing this to make anyone feel bad. In fact, We all are guilty of getting wrapped up in our own lives and not checking in with those we love. We’ve even started relying on social media to tell us how people are, so we don’t feel so guilty about not putting in the effort (i.e., oh, look at how happy they are in that pic! They are fine!). But, I don’t think it was until this year I realized just how wrong this whole thought process is.  We – as humans – take so much for granted. We take the people in our lives for granted. We take ourselves for granted.

And it’s got. to. stop.

Enter fitness. Fitness has always been a huge part of my life. I was a dancer for 15 years (competitive for 10). All through high school, I was captain of the cross country, winter, and spring track teams. I’ve been a lover of the gym for as long as I can remember. But, halfway through this year, fitness took a different role: It became a job. And in this job, I produce content. And this content gave me a renewed sense of purpose; a light at the end of a long, dark tunnel. Sure, I was always big into exercise before, but now, I’m part of a community of people who lift me up and in turn, I take that energy to lift others.

Thanks to all of you, I have this amazing platform to help others become their best selves. But what you may not see on the other side of the Instagram handle is that I’m still trying to become my best self along the way. I’m learning how to love myself unconditionally, be my own best friend, the art of self care, and making decisions that put me first, even if it doesn’t make me popular. Telling my readers to do all these things has suddenly held me accountable – in the best way possible – to keep working on myself.

And, #realtalk, it’s fucking hard. But, just like foam rolling, sometimes you must sit on that spot of pain until you want to cry before it starts feeling better (ya’ll KNEW I’d throw in a fitness metaphor. CMON).

I have big thoughts for 2018. I purposely did not use the word resolutions because I no longer believe in them. “Resolutions” have a finality to them; if you don’t achieve them, you feel like you let yourself down. You failed. You’re mad at YOU. If you have big thoughts, however, you can’t fall short. You can’t fail. You can’t be disappointed. Because thoughts, unlike resolutions, are fluid; they are in progress. Just like all of us.

Here are my big thoughts for the New Year. I hope some of them inspire you, too.

  • Make Your Own Decisions: You may think you need to ask 20 different opinions on a matter before you decide on it, but honestly, it’s a waste of your time. You are the only person who can hear that tiny voice inside, telling you what’s right. Listen to it. It will never steer you wrong.
  • One Day a Week is “You” Day: Choose one half or one full day every week dedicated to celebrating you, and everything you love. Turn off your phone. Order only Seamless. Don’t get out of your PJs. Read a book. Binge on Netflix. Take a few fitness classes alone. Stretch. Meditate. Whatever it is, you need the time to not only rest and rejuvenate, but to hear your own thoughts (letting them marinate, grow, and eventually, hatch).
  • Be Your Own Best Friend: You can’t depend on others to make you happy. You also can’t expect everyone to act like you do, or meet your needs and wants like you’d like them to be met. Once you finally realize this, you are immediately less sensitive to how people act towards you, because you are hit over the head with the fact you can’t control other people’s actions; you can only control your own. People are unpredictable. You know yourself. You are the only one that can truly make you happy. Pause. Repeat.
  • Let It Go: When you spend so much time being angry about something, it consumes you. It takes over any positive energy you have. Life is unpredictable, and in this, you can’t always understand why things happen to you. You can’t always have closure (or think you deserve it). You also can’t always understand why you fight with people you love or why relationships change for the better or worse. Sure, you can spend time thinking you’re right, or being stubborn. But how much nicer would your life be if you can replace those feelings with all the love you have to give? Fights are moments in time, and anger only takes over when someone truly wasn’t meant to be in your life to begin with. Otherwise, you’d let it go and move on, because all the good outweighs the bad. Being angry or upset doesn’t do anything except hurt you. Life is way too short to take any day for granted, or spend it being anything but grateful and happy for something; anything and anyone who matters.
  • Find Your Happy Place(s): You don’t need to be everywhere and be everything (to everybody). You need to live and breathe in spaces where you feel safe, confident, and secure; and with people who make you feel the same way. You don’t have to go to every party. You don’t have to go to every wedding. You don’t need to remember every birthday. You don’t have to hang out with anyone you don’t genuinely enjoy sharing time with. Your time is valuable. And there’s no time to spread yourself thin with those who don’t make you better, simply by being around them.
  • Be the Bigger Person: Did you know being the bigger person isn’t just about saying “I’m sorry” first? It also means being the human who’s nice when someone else isn’t; staying calm when someone is angry; being empathetic when someone is being irrational. It means getting out of your own head and putting your feelings aside to truly understand what it’s like to be in someone else’s shoes. Let me be clear: This doesn’t mean allowing people to walk all over you, or not sticking up for what you know to be right. It means spending arguments and drama like money: Sparingly and with purpose. If it’s really worth it to you bring an issue up with someone, by all means. But I challenge you to take a moment and think about if it’s worth it. If you decide it is, you need to understand you can’t expect the recipient to not feel a certain way about it. It may alter your relationship; or you may say something you can’t take back (or the other person can’t forget). Remember, it takes a lot more effort to let someone else react than it does for you to match the reaction. Be the better human. You’ll win in the end; I promise.
  • Live Your Own Life: This is easier said than done. It seems everyone has an opinion about how you should be living your life. You either are doing too much of something, too little of something, or should be doing something else all together. Remember this: Unless you specifically ask for an opinion from someone who’s advice you’re going to take, it means nothing. Zero. At the end of the day, you’re the only person you need to answer to, so live your own life. Also, living your own life doesn’t mean following one path. Through the years, you’ll need different things at different times. Your personality will change. You’ll grow and morph. Not everyone is going to be along for the ride; in fact, only a few will stay aboard. And that’s OK. As you move through, you’ll slowly but shirley see who your true friends are. True friends are those who morph with you, accept you for who you are (in whatever stage), and put in the effort along the way. The friends that don’t? Well, maybe they weren’t supposed to be in your life for the long term to begin with.
  • Move Every Day: The problem with making a fitness “resolution” is all the pressure you put on yourself to achieve it (and typically, you’ve been overly ambitious in setting). Instead, think about how you enjoy exercise – in any way – and focus on how you can fit that type of moment into your daily routine. Whether it be a yoga class twice a week and the rest of the days, a 15-minute walk; or a dance party in the kitchen plus a few tap lessons at a studio, you need to make your fitness regimen work for YOU, not the other way around. And for goodness sake, do not let someone else’s fitness goals influence you. Everyone is different and every BODY is different. Sign up for things that don’t feel like work, and make your heart happy, as well as your health. Movement is a form of me time, and even if you hate exercise, you need to change your mindset to how it will benefit you long term.

Happy Holidays, #fitfam. I look forward to so many more adventures with you all in the New Year. Thanks for being along for my ride.

I love your feedback. Please leave a comment and follow me on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit.

#FridayFeels – Holiday Help from Laura Hopkins, @LivesandForks

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Oh, the holidays. So many pies, so little time. Not to mention the cookies, stuffing, appetizers, cocktails…the list goes on. This may sound exciting and amazing for some, but for people like me (who battled anorexia for almost 10 years…and almost lost twice), the holidays bring about food anxiety not many can understand. But, you don’t have to be recovering from anything to have food anxiety. Whether it’s a fear of eating too much or eating the wrong things, or having too many choices, the feelings are real and can sometimes hinder what’s supposed to be merry and bright.

Laura Hopkins, an NYC and Southampton-based health coach, is the founder of @livesandforks, an on-and-offline platform dedicated to helping use food and cooking to get healthier. Believing one of the best ways to get healthy is know your way around a kitchen, Hopkins is passionate about people’s relationship with food, and creating an alliance instead of an enemy.

With Thanksgiving less than a week away, I had the chance to chat with this amazing human about choosing wisely, stocking the kitchen better, and forgiving yourself.

Kerry: Laura, thanks so much for taking the time. What you do is so important, and I’m thrilled you can help us get set up for success without the stress. So, let’s get this show on the road! The holidays are synonymous with poor eating choices. Why do you think most of us have this sense of…hopelessness that we can eat mindfully over the holidays?

Laura: I think that most people get a little nervous thinking about their food consumption over the holidays, which is totally normal! Lots of traditional families center celebrations around food almost more than the occasion itself, which is daunting to those of us trying to make conscious eating choices. I mean, let’s be real: No one wants to get yelled at by their Aunt Linda for not eating the food she spent a week preparing. Some of us might think it is hopeless to eat mindfully over the holidays because maybe it’s never been something we have been able to do. But with the right tools and a good attitude it can be a piece of cake (did someone just say cake??).

Kerry: I see what you did there. Yes tools! We are ready. To that point, what steps can we make during the holidays to make ‘better choices’, yet not feel deprived?

Laura: One of the best tips I can give you before going into a big holiday meal is…. EAT BEFORE. Now, don’t ruin your whole appetite because where’s the fun in that? But, it’s never good to go into a holiday meal famished; similar to grocery shopping, right? Portion size is also really important. If you want to try everything, great! Just make sure to serve yourself smaller portions of the unhealthier foods and big portions of salads and veggies to fill up on first. Same thing with dessert. Serve yourself a small sliver of cake instead of everyone else’s serving size. This way, no one will give you a hard time about missing out on dessert and you can satisfy that sweet tooth without overdoing it. In terms of alcohol, steer clear of the sugary cocktails. Instead, sip on some red wine (high in antioxidants) or a vodka/tequila with club soda with fresh fruit to flavor it.

Kerry: That alcohol tip is everything, especially because my family is big on the sangria (hellooooo sugar). Now, many of us do the cooking and entertaining (blogger’s note: And those that don’t…lucky you). What’s one piece of advice you can give to help stock our kitchens better, so we use the best ingredients, instead of the easiest?

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Laura: Two words. Whole Foods (blogger’s note: Organic endorsement). Try to stock your pantry and refrigerator with things that actually resemble food; not packets, boxes, and cans. If you take pride in entertaining (which I totally do!), take the time to prepare. If you try to do everything at once, you can overwhelm yourself. Make a list of what you will need in terms of ingredients, beverages etc. Leading up to the occasion, chip away at a few things at a time; evaluate what food you can wash/cut/prep before hand. Pour yourself a glass of wine, put some music on, and get cooking! If you look at cooking as something therapeutic, you won’t be searching for the quick and easy option.

Kerry: That is such good advice! I have one more, and it’s a big one. I don’t know about my readers, but I beat myself up pretty hard when I overindulge. Any tips on how to forgive yourself, move on, and reset?

Laura: Even if we put everything in place perfectly, we are only human and overindulging can definitely still happen. A big part of being healthy is not just what you eat but HOW. I mean how you feel when you are eating something, where you are eating it, and who you are eating it with. If you indulged on a special occasion on some homemade food shared with loved ones, good for you! I personally think that is a healthier meal than eating a salad at your desk. It has been shown that eating with others is actually highly beneficial to our health. And, if you feel like crap the next day, start fresh. Wake up, enjoy some warm water with lemon to kick start your digestion, eat something packed with fresh veggies, read something that inspires you, and RESET. There will always be a new day to start over and remember, stressing out about it can actually be worse for you than the food itself!

I don’t know about you guys, but I feel better already.

Follow all of Laura’s food adventures @livesandforks on Instagram, and learn about her customized programs, retreats, and cooking classes here. 

I love your feedback! Leave a comment and follow me on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit.

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#FollowFriday – Symone Gates

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She’s feisty. She’s cute. And she’s a beauty guru, to boot. She’s Symone Gates, basically the triple threat of fitness. Not only is she an inspiration when it comes to strength and conditioning through her personal brand, @bodyambitions (Instagram), but she’s also a 305 Fitness instructor and the CEO BOSS-ASS BITCH of post-workout body care line, The Bade Collection. I mean, nbd, right? Just conquering the universe, one day at a time. I had the chance to chat with this Wonder Woman-like creature about health, wellness, food, and what keeps her dancing.

Kerry: Girl, YES! I’m so excited for this! You know how we start: How do you live your #fitlife?

Symone: YES! OK, so I’m a trainer @305 Fitness. I’m also a trainer with @Exuberancy, which allows me to serve as a personal trainer at the @spotify headquarters. I’m also a NY liasion for a personal concierge company @chloejohnston Experiences, and the founder and CEO of Bädé Collection, a post-workout body care line.

Kerry: I seriously can’t with you. We’ll talk about how you keep all that energy up in a bit. My sleeping bag at 305 Fitness is no secret, so we’ll start there. How did you start out at 305 Fitness? How did that magic happen?

Symone: I had just moved to NYC and was perusing craigslist for fitness jobs. I stumbled upon the 305 audition and had to take a class beforehand. I was in love from the moment the lights went out and the warm-up began!

Kerry: What do you love most about teaching at 305?

Symone: I’m blessed to be in a position of motivating others to push themselves. I work out because I enjoy the feeling of strength, and I think that’s a healthier focus then simply weight loss. I try to instill messages of strength into each person who takes my classes. I love the opportunity to inspire and teach clients ways to challenge and strengthen their bodies.

Kerry: Um. And you do, because your class is no joke (I can say that from experience). So, #realtalk: You ain’t just a fitness queen. Tell me about Bädé Collection. What’s it all about and how did it come to fruition?

Symone: Bädé Collection is my newly launched post-workout body care line. When I started thinking about it a year ago, I was teaching 20 classes a week and suffering horrible insomnia because my legs were so inflammed from all the training. I couldn’t find anything pampering that was completely natural, organic, AND convenient that relieved my post-workout aches. I had always been interested in natural remedies and after doing extensive research, I found many plant-based ingredients that can be safely used on the body. My experiments eventually led me to the current Bädé product line.

Kerry: That’s so amazing. The whole concept is amazing. What product are you most proud of (and why should everyone try it)?

Symone: I’m most proud of my Bädé melts. They’re moisturizing body scrub in solid form. It’s a game changer because you can exfoliate and moisturize your body while also tending to sore muscles all within a quick five-minute shower. It’s no mess and convenient. I made it with the post-workout shower in mind.

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Kerry: They are also aesthetically beautiful, so let’s not forget that part. Where do you get your love of fitness and beauty? Does it come from somewhere special?

Symone: I’ve always been active, I’m slightly competitive, so pushing my body physically is a healthy way for me to challenge myself. My love for beauty stems from my interest in self-care. Since moving to the city, it’s become so crucial for me to slow down and practice more self-care or it affects all aspects of my life. Creating beauty products is oddly relaxing and stimulating for me. I love being able to share my self-care remedies with others who may live a similarly crazy lifestyle.

Kerry: Which brings me to my next question. You know more than most, it’s all about the NYC HUSTLE. What’s your top tip to keep it moving?

Symone: EAT! I end every single training session by reminding my clients to eat. I’m so happy when I’m eating, especially after an intense workout. Our bodies get us through so much — think about how much we push it daily just by living in this crazy city! We’re constantly running somewhere, staying up late, and working too much. But, the one thing we can all do to keep it going is by feeding it good food and enjoying a few quiet moments throughout the day.

Kerry: We’ll end with a fun one. What song can you not stop dancing to right now?

Symone: I LITERALLY fell in love with a new song today, “Don’t Sleep On Me” by Ty Dolla $ign. It embodies my current #HustlethenChill mentality I’m going through right now, trying to grow the business!

Learn more about Symone’s fit life at @bodyambitions and @thebadecollection, and check out her blog thebadecollection.com for extended content.
ATTENTION NYC: Symone’s will be at the Gap 34th Fitness Meet-and-Greet on Saturday, November 11 from 2 p.m. – 5 p.m.! Check her out and snatch up some amazing holiday gifts for your friends and family. Check out my Instagram for deets: @kerryleeinthecityfit.

Girl, You Mad? Because You’re Acting a Fool in this Fitness Studio

About six months ago, I hit up a 305 Fitness class during a snowstorm. A girl approached me and asked why I always stand in the same spot. Surprised (and annoyed), I told her I didn’t. Her response: “I go to both the Village and Midtown locations and I see you all the time. You def always stand in the same spot.”

Over the summer, I took a Y7 class where it quickly became clear no one appreciated I have no yoga talent (yielding lots of evil looks at my flailing arms and lack of flow coordination).

Three weeks ago, I finished a Rumble Boxing class, only to be greeted by a line 15 deep waiting for the shower. I had no idea it wasn’t common knowledge that taking a long lather in communal places is a pretty asshole move (I was late for work and have non-normal hours; I can’t imagine what it did to the schedules of others).

Last week, I booked a spot at Crunch’s SweatShed. My friend booked the spot next to me; 12 and 13. When we arrived, 13 was taken…by someone else. I gently tapped the offender on the shoulder: “Hey! Just wondering if you had 13? My friend was sup—“. Girl cuts me off, with a look to kill: “It doesn’t matter what spot you have. I take this class every week.”

The same girl, a 30 minutes later, during a circuit transition, asked if my weights were 10 pounds and could she have them. I said sure; but they were 7.5 each. An exaggerated “ugh” and a stank face followed.

There is not a week that goes by that I don’t enter a fitness class where someone’s put their water bottle, phone, or towel to hold a spot while they go change, primp, or pull up their laptop.

I’m sorry. But, WTF?

I’m going to coin a term, and it’s not going to make me popular: #entitlefit.

Definition: Just because you pay (sometimes a lot) of money for a membership somewhere, and you go often, you believe you are above all others who attend the same facility. I’m going to take that one step further (because it’s my blog, and I can): You think you’re beyond rules and/or common courtesy or etiquette. In fact, you’re pretty judgmental of others, too.

Taking a look in the mirror RN? Yeah. I would, too.

Here’s the deal: NYC is expensive. Rent is expensive. Food is expensive. Your social life is expensive. This, of course, means how you live your #fitlife is expensive.

I get it. I really do (writers don’t get everything for free. I know. I just blew your mind). When you pay money for something, you want to feel like royalty. You want to be able to act and do whatever you want. You want to complain about every single thing that makes you unhappy. You want to be the exception to every rule.

Here’s reality, tho: You’re not a Kardashian. You’re not even Kathy Griffin (on the D-List). You’re a regular NYC Joe or Joanna, taking a fitness class. And, I don’t really care how much you’re paying. We all pay or we wouldn’t be here (if you take for free, I’m not talking to you). You need to take yourself down a notch and realize a fitness class isn’t your kingdom; it’s a community. And in that, you are an equal, whether you like it, or not. You’re the only one who thinks you’re doing amazing, sweetie. No one else does. Here are some common behavioral patters you may need to check yourself with:

  • Need to always be in the front? No one’s watching you, boo. Everyone’s focused on their own workout. Go as hard as you want, but no one’s impressed. Prom.
  • Calling every instructor your “friend” or “bestie”? Newsflash: Good instructors engage with their clients – especially their regulars – because you’re a reason their class runs, and that’s huge for them. They appreciate you. This doesn’t mean you’re besties and it certainly doesn’t mean you are privileged in that class just because you think the instructor is “friends” with you. If your fitness instructor turns into an actual friend of yours, that’s fab, but that would mean you have a relationship outside of class. Otherwise, calm down.
  • You have a designated “Spot”?: No one has a spot. If you had a spot, it would have your name on it. They are all up for grabs. This isn’t City rent: Your monthly bill doesn’t include a parking space.
  • Pissed Someone Doesn’t “Get It?” (isn’t on the right count, beat, rep): Do you remember your first time in this class? Do you remember what a hot mess you were? Probably not, because you’re so obsessed with where you are now. I highly encourage you take a walk down memory lane and think about how you would have felt if someone acted a fool towards you.
  • Taking your time in the locker room? Sorry, sister, but everybody’s got somewhere to go, and this isn’t your apartment. Get in and out of the shower, be quick with the blow-dryer, and share the freakin’ mirror space. I literally can’t with your 20-minute showers, 12-plug take-ups for all electronic devices, and needing SPECIFIC lighting for your eyeliner application.

Now, I’m going to take some of the blame off the #entitlefit for a second and put it on the studios, because much of the time, they help encourage this kind of behavior (#realtalk). Specifically, I mean giving cute little nicknames to those who complete a certain number of classes, “ambassadorships” if you know someone is obsessed with your brand (especially bad if you have some sort of audition process to accompany; there’s nothing that says “I’m better than other people” than being “chosen” for something based on your loyalty. If you want people to work for you, pay them, or at least comp their classes), and achieving certain levels of distinction after so many years at one place.  Listen – I get it. You want to “honor” your loyal customers. You want to make them feel special. You want these people to be your word-of-mouth. I totally support that. But, you don’t need to push exclusivity to accomplish this. What gets you ahead is to be inclusive.

I’m not one for feedback without solutions, so allow me to present some examples:

  • Why not send a personal email (not by your assistant or front desk staff)? Let us know how much you appreciate our business? (generic emails or passing us off to others does not a happy customer make).
  • Why not reach out every once in a while just to see how our experience is? Just to say hey?
  • Why not send discounts or special offers on future packages or memberships? Not all the time, but a wow, you’ve been with us a few years now: Let me throw you a bone because we heart you.
  • Why not engage with us on social media and make us feel like real humans you care about, not just a headcount to keep your doors open? Answer us when we tag you (and NOT with an emoji. Good Lord). Say hey girl (or guy), I see you and appreciate you.
  • Why not call loyalists first to test out new classes, and provide candid feedback based on our experience (because we’ve been with you for a bit and you value our opinion?)
  • Why not do a rotation with regulars in marketing materials or promotions to speak (organically) about your brand (or feature them on your social media so other people can learn about you from them?)

These are all meaningful, resonating ways to engage, without the exclusiveness that encourages bad behavior.

I’d also like to talk about complaints from this top tier. You know what I’m talking about: They’re mad because there’s a sub. It was too hot in the room. They didn’t like the class today and want a refund. You made a change to the schedule and it’s not OK with them. The #entitlefits complain A LOT because they feel like they can “for the money and time they’re spending.” Here’s an idea: Instead of thinking the customer is always right, put your foot down. Put a limit on that shower time, make a case for raising your prices, and explain why that sub is so amazing, instead of simply giving them an out to cancel if they aren’t happy with the replacement instructor. And, for goodness sake, make rules about holding spots, taking multiple classes per day (taking space from others who haven’t had the chance to take the class yet), and overall sneers, glares, and judgement. Making these changes will not only create a more amicable environment, but will put the self-nominated elite back in their place (and trust me, they need it).

I love your feedback; please leave a comment. Also, follow all my fitness adventures on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit

 

 

#FollowFriday – Jana Brooke

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Have you ever met someone and thought, if my favorite comfort food was a human, this person is it? That’s Jana Brooke in a nutshell. This may seem like a strange way to kick-off a #followfriday, but this southern belle is the perfect mix of your bff and a superhero: Sweet, strong, and spectacular. With homebase in Lexington, Kentucky, this “Bombshell” is a petite powerhouse of energy, spunk, and sass — and, I can say from personal experience — one of the most fun humans EVER. As a trainer, her cheerleader attitude is second-to-none, but, don’t let her sweet face fool you: She will kick your ass; pushing your limits while keeping a smile on your face the whole time.

Dumbbell Bombshell, her fitness brand, emulates her personality. Its focus is encouragement, inspiration, and energizing your personal journey, no matter your goals. At the end of any session or class, she wants you to feel beautiful and confident (that’s where the “Bombshell” comes in!). I had the chance to chat with this amazing person about her accomplishments, the southern fitness scene, and how perfection is really anything you want it to be.

Kerry: OMG I LOVE YOU SO MUCH. OK, I just needed to get that out of the way. Now, I can properly interview. First thing’s first: How You Live Your #FitLife?

Jana: As a fitness professional, I’ve dedicated 9+ years in the health and wellness industry. I’ve acquired a multitude of certifications in group fitness and personal training — coupled with a M.S. in Exercise Science — I’ve been able to teach group fitness classes, conduct one-on-one training, and create content online for a broader audience. I love sharing the #FitLife with others every day!

Kerry: Girl, you are seriously everywhere! How did you start in the fitness industry?

Jana: I like to say fitness found me! I was fresh out of college with a business degree I had no clear idea what I was going to do with. Then, I got a job to fill the interim at a small, local gym in town. As time progressed, I was introduced and lead into the group fitness room, and my fitness career and fit life evolved from there. I had some great mentors that really encouraged me, and helped draw the bigger picture of what group fitness could really be about: Connection, creativity, and accountability. I realized it truly was an opportunity to help shed a positive light on fitness, and what it can do for others. I’ve witnessed so many lives change by the classes I’ve taught; the ripple of healthy living that comes from the contagious energy within the group setting. It’s just awesome to see.

Kerry: That makes my heart so warm and fuzzy (just like you do). If you could describe your fitness brand in a few words, how would you? What makes your brand so unique?

Jana: Dumbbell Bombshell is sassy and a bit bad-assy!! I love inspiring workouts that are achievable, yet challenging. I want all my clients to feel empowered to be a total bad-ass in the gym.

Kerry: Speaking of inspirational, you and I met when you were a finalist for Women’s Health’s Next Fitness Star (that’s when I fell madly in love with you). What was that experience like?

Jana: Kerry!!! Love you too, girl!! (Author’s Note: Pause. Sorry. LOVE FEST HAPPENING).

The Women’s Health Next Fitness Star experience was unparalleled! When I reflect on the trips to New York City for the photo shoots; being styled, getting make-up and hair, and being fussed over, lol, it was just all so unreal at the time. There were so many amazing, and strong women that I met, and still hold dear to me. Shout out to the other ladies that went through the process!

Kerry: So true. I loved getting to know all you strong, amazing, kick-ass women during that time! Did you learn anything from that experience you take with you, every day?

Jana: To be true to who you are, and never hold back! I like this question!

Kerry: So, southern hospitality is a THANG, and we should discuss as it relates to the fitness scene. What is the best part about the fitness down south? We run things a little different up here in NYC!

Jana: The best part about the fitness scene in the south is probably earning those calories through our love of sporting events (i.e. tailgating, the bourbon trail, and deep-fried everything!). Lol, we all know what we are in the trenches for!

Kerry: I’m literally obsessed with that answer! You are seriously the most energetic, uplifting person. What’s your secret?

Jana: First of all, THANK YOU! I would say that I want to represent the many other people that have invested in me, inspired me, and knowing I want to continue that same legacy in others. It’s really an internal motivator to be the best that I can be, as much as I can be. And sugar-free Redbull.

Kerry: Yes caffeine! One of the many things I love about you is your honesty and openness about body image, life struggles, and life’s achievements. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Jana: In the fitness world, we’re exposed to beautiful faces, aesthetically pleasing bodies, or “perfection” via social media, and day-to-day life. I applaud and celebrate each and every one. My advice is to savor in the differences in each one of us, magnify the good; minimize the negative. Being different builds character, and takes heart…rise to your occasions. 🙂

Kerry: We’ll end with a fun one. If Bravo made a “Real Housewives of Kentucky,” what would your tagline be?

Jana: Southern belle with a touch of redneck…”I go to church on Sunday, but I cuss a little.”

Author’s Note: I’M DEAD. 
Want to learn more about Jana? Follow her fitness adventures!
 INSTAGRAM: @JANABROOKEFITNESS
 YOUTUBE: DUMBBELLBOMBSHELLFITNESS
 SNAPCHAT: @JANABSPARKLES
I love your comments! Please leave me a note, and follow me on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit
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#FollowFriday – Eliza Shirazi

unnamed (1)Have you never met someone, but just by email correspondence, know you’ll be friends? That’s how I feel about Eliza Shirazi, Founder and Creator of Kick It By Eliza®. This Sarah Jessica Parker look-alike (the irony won’t be lost after reading this post) is as sweet as she is powerful, and her workout as powerful as it is empowering. We also went to the same college (go UMass!), so when I heard her workout was coming to NYC (I KNOW), I jumped at the chance for some serious girl talk.

Kerry: K, so, you have no idea how excited I am for this interview. Let’s get right to it: How You Live Your #FitLife?

Eliza: I am the Founder and Creator of Kick It By Eliza®. Kick It is a 13-round fitness method that is music-driven and kickboxing inspired. The class is broken down into 13 specific rounds that leads the Kick It Crew through choreographed cardio and strength challenges. As our message is to empower the Fempire™, we partner up half way through the class for interactive partner drills, and end class with a restorative and meditative round.

Kerry: I’m OBSESSED with the idea of Fempire™, and partner drills. Seriously, this workout sounds killer; pumped you’re coming to NYC. Why should everyone try this workout?

Eliza: Thank you! We are excited, too. Kick It is a vehicle to get people to connect with other people in the class, and empower each other. This full-body class caters to all fitness levels, but aside from the physical part, we really press people to take what they want from the choreography, make it their own, and feel GOOD. Everyone can do it; everyone should do it.

Kerry: No pressure, no problem. I love it. The story about how you started your business is amazing, especially because the story begins where we both went to college. How did the dream happen?

Eliza: I started Kick it when I was student at UMass-Amherst. I danced competitively for years leading up to college, and when I got to school and stopped dancing, there weren’t any group fitness classes that I left feeling like, wow that was AWESOME. So I made my own. I built a following, and when I graduated and moved to Boston, the momentum for Kick It kept rising. I had so many requests for the class, I literally couldn’t be at two places at once, and also saw other girls could teach the class, so I created a certification program. The certification is actually more than just learning how to teach Kick It; it’s a process of self-empowerment, confidence building, and joining a family of women who are on a mission to better themselves and others via Kick it.

Kerry: You make that all sound like it’s NBD. You’re an inspiration. What excites you most about opening in NYC?

Eliza: Ah, well simple answer: The women are there. The market is there. We provide people, in classes and certifications, with the tools to find connection, leadership, and empowerment in a really friendly and approachable way. Building our family in NYC is another step closer to creating a national presence.

Kerry: It takes so much to start a business (read: physically and emotionally). Who or what inspires you every day?

Eliza: Thank you for recognizing that; it does take a lot. My family is filled with entrepreneurs – primarily in the food business – so they are a great source of inspiration. But, the 80+ women who have gone through the certification are true heroes for me. The growing team is a testament of the power of Kick It. Can’t wait to see where we are next year!

Kerry: Girl, you are BIZZY. How do you keep your energy up?

Eliza: I am learning to turn it (business) off at least one day per week, which doesn’t always happen, but it’s a work in progress. Quick fixes: I listen to NPR: “How I Built This” or Oprah’s podcasts while I’m commuting.

Kerry: That’s fab advice. When you have downtime, whats your favorite way to relax?

Eliza: I’ll let you know the next time I have downtime…. ha! Honestly though, I love to travel, so when I know I have a weekend off, I try to get out of the city. I spent last weekend in DC with my best friend totally disconnected and it was GREAT.

Kerry: We’ll end with a fun one. If you could workout with any celebrity, who would it be and why?

Eliza: Sarah Jessica Parker (I’m a wannabe)

I TOLD YOU. IRONY.

Follow all Eliza’s fitness adventures on Instagram @kickitbyeliza and to find all current class offerings, click here.

I love your feedback! Please leave me a comment and follow me on Instagram @kerryleeinthecityfit