From Stressed to Stretched

I took a deep breath before entering the building. I have said this before and nothing has changed I am always nervous to try a new workout. Classes in New York have an even greater level of intimidation to me, but there really is no reason, I have had only one uncomfortable experience when I was told by two incredibly skinny 6 foot model types that I was doing an exercise wrong and I have been scared ever since.

This day I was trying Lastics, a class designed by Donna Flagg, that consisted of various stretching techniques. I’ll be honest, I chose this workout because I thought I would breeze through with little sweat and exertion, I was wrong.

Within moments of the first stretch I was shaking, it was as if all of a sudden my legs were plugged in to an electrical outlet somewhere. We were seated on the floor, legs stretched out in front of us,  instructed to push our legs down until they were flush to the floor, no matter how hard I tried to push the back of my wobbly knees to the floor I couldn’t. Donna was very in tune to what everyone in the class was doing so I couldn’t hide. She came over and pushed gently on my knees helping them to finally touch the floor, she told me to keep them there and when she let go they popped back up, I had no control.

At one point we were instructed to pull our leg up behind us with our heel touching our butt, I struggled, leaning against a wall trying to grab at my ankle. I know from plenty of workout classes that I am one of a few who can’t successfully do this without holding on to a wall or kicking my leg up behind me and praying that my hand connects with my shoe laces so I can hold on to something other than my actual foot to do this stretch. What makes this move so difficult for me? I have no clue, could be extra padding, could be lack of flexibility, it’s definitely a lack of coordination.

There were plenty of other moves that were equally as challenging for me but in the end I left feeling good, my muscles were awake, I had exerted plenty of energy and had learned a new form of exercise.

Donna is a no nonsense instructor who calls you out when you aren’t hitting the perfect form, needless to say I got a lot of attention. I normally would have been embarrassed by so much attention but I was not alone and while direct, Donna is very friendly.

The workout is meant to aide your body in creating lean, limber and elongated muscles. I knew that taking one class wouldn’t get me to a dancer’s body but I am definitely intrigued. If you have interest in learning more about Lastics you should check out Donna’s collection of books and dvds for home practice.

The images below were taken from









100% Fitness & Chiropractic

If my slow blogging hasn’t been an indicator I will tell you now that I have been struggling in my focus on “Losing Weight Off the Interstate”. I lost my drive a bit while home for the holidays and I have slowly been trying to recapture the steam I had for the first half of my trip. I have reached out to a handful of people with little response but that changed when I posted pictures to Instagram while in Nashville. A woman with the handle @abbyrex liked several of my images and when I looked at her profile I saw she was a personal trainer in the Nashville area, I reached out to her and we agreed to meet in nearby Franklin, Tennessee.

We met at a small coffee shop within a mile from where I was staying with my cousin and his family. I was nervous as I had seen some pretty impressive pictures of Abby Rorex and her incredibly in shape figure. This would not be the first or last time I found myself nervous to meet someone, Abby was quick to put me at ease with her friendly smile.  Abby was joined by her boyfriend Dr. Travis Owens and together they are combining their practices to bring a holistic approach to fitness and health, it was like I got a two for one with my meeting. :)

Abby is training clients through 100% Fitness while Travis is working with clients through 100% Chiropractic. They are currently in the process of creating a combined space in downtown Franklin, right across the street from one of the areas largest Farmer’s Markets.  The two were chosen by the Owners of 100% Chiropractic to create the first “whole body healthy centers” in the Nation. There are other 100% Chiropractic centers in the nation but Abby was chosen as the first 100% Fitness instructors, once the model has been proven they will start to add fitness to their services.

It was great spending the morning chatting with Abby and Travis and after a quick interview Abby and I went to a local park to do a light strength training workout. I was pretty proud of myself because she asked if I had time and I considered bagging out after the interview but I was happy to have met her for the workout. We did a handful of strength moves using hand weights and our body weight, it was definitely enough to ensure my body was sufficiently sore the next few days. :)

As I continue on my journey, if I ever need inspiration I just need to look to Abby’s pictures to keep striving towards my goal! A huge thanks to Abby and Travis for taking the time to meet me! What great people!





Exceed Physical Culture

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I almost didn’t recognize myself, I purposefully and willingly signed up for a Sunday morning workout. I took the Summit Class at Exceed Physical Culture which had us doing 45 second intervals with a ten second rest in between each set. It had been awhile since I had trained like this and I have to say I missed it a bit. I was reunited with my friend the TRX and while I still struggled through each set I was struggling less, hopping off the floor and transitioning between stations easier.

Exceed’s website brags that it was chosen in 2013 by NY Magazine as one of the best gyms in the city and that it was “for deadly serious athletes who like to, you know, sweat.” I am not going to lie this intimidated me a bit. I don’t necessarily like to sweat and I am definitely not a deadly serious athlete. I was however able to do the majority of the exercises and I definitely found myself sweating.

My trainer was Gabe Blanco, who has his own weight loss story, was a patient and motivating instructor. He was very attentive without being over bearing, checking in with me frequently to ensure that I was using the correct form and that my trick knee was holding up to the challenge. Several years ago after graduating from college he found himself overweight and ready to make a change, he started altering his diet and working out and lost 70lbs! Quite an inspiration. He decided he wanted to help other people share in this experience so he became a certified personal trainer. In addition to training at Exceed he also trains clients one-on-one through his personal business Never Stop Improving.

I usually enjoy the end of a class as it signifies the pain is over but this class ended with Gabe standing at the door handing out hugs. If you know me, you will know I am a sucker for a good hug. I left Exceed Physical Culture smiling, having just received an inspirational hug and feeling proud of my accomplishments thus far.

If you are in the NYC area and are looking for a trainer or gym check out Gabe and Exceed Physical Culture.

Gabe Blanco  – or 917-678-2583

Exceed Physical Culture

Gabriel Blanco, Personal Trainer

Exceed 2

Cleveland Still Rocks!

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The second half of my trip to Cleveland rivaled the first in friendly hosts and fun times.  I had met John and Michelle several years back at a friend’s wedding and decided immediately that they were my new best friends. When I let them know I was coming to town they invited me to stay with them and I am so glad that I did!

The first evening we had dinner at their restaurant; John Palmers Bistro 44 is located in Northeast Ohio. I had heard about the restaurant and was excited to try the cuisine. I dined on a perfectly cooked filet mignon with a side of brussels sprouts and gorgonzola redskins which are a heavenly cheesy potato side. I was also encouraged to try the tater tots which were unlike anything I had ever had and amazing. If you are thinking this doesn’t sound like the cuisine to lose weight…you may be right sometimes you have to bite the bullet or the steak rather.

The next day they played tour guide and we went downtown for some good old fashion casino gaming. I skipped the slot machines, hovering around the black jack tables before settling down at a table for an hour or so and making about $500! Fresh off a good run I was tempted to map out all the casinos on my upcoming path to help bankroll this trip but decided that was probably not my best idea.

The next morning John and Michelle hooked me up with their personal trainer for a session. I met with Troy, Owner of Body Physicans at his studio in Concord Ohio. Upon walking in to his studio you can see that it is not your typical gym. Troy has developed and created all of his own equipment. The pieces look like an average piece of equipment you might find in your gym but at a closer look you can tell there is something different. After a good stretch Troy had me hop on one and the range of movement was different than any I had ever tried before. He has been working for years on developing his machines and has sold them to other trainers and football teams in the past. When my workout was complete Troy asked if he could pray for me. It caught me completely off guard. I don’t want to get into religion here, just as I won’t be speaking to you about politics but regardless of what you believe it is nice for someone to take a moment, put his hand on your shoulder and pray for your safe journey.

Troy’s studio is located at 9853 Johnnycake Ridge Road in Concord Ohio, his number is 440-853-8472 if you want to contact him.

Cleveland was amazing for me, mostly because of the people but also because of the cool city. It was common to hear “why would you go there” from people when I listed Milwaukee, Detroit and Cleveland but all provided me great experiences and I truly enjoyed what they had to offer.

Sadly I didn’t take any pictures. I need to stop having so much fun and start photo journaling my journey!

An Introduction to Stacy Fisher of Fisher Fitness


I was lucky enough to connect with Stacy Fisher of Fisher Fitness ( for one of her Melt Method classes ( while in Jackson, Wyoming.  I had never heard of Melt Method and was eager to experience something new.  I arrived to the studio to find people sitting on the floor on their yoga mats and a long body roller beside them.  As is my usual reaction I started getting anxious.

When I was working out with my trainer David he had us roll ourselves on foam rollers, something that I always thought looked awkward and difficult, I always opted for the Tiger Tail Massage stick.  I let those other people roll around on the ground while I quickly rolled myself out while standing. Looks like I was going to finally have to get down and dirty and actually foam roller.

Stacy started the class with a warm welcome and instructed us to do a self assessment of our bodies.  This involved us getting a sense of how our feet were grounded as well as laying down and getting an idea of how our bodies pressed against the floor.  She then asked us to grab two small rubber balls, one about the size of a bouncy ball and hard, the other essentially a softer tennis ball.  We ran through various pressure points with the balls underneath our feet, many people had extreme discomfort, I actually tolerated the pressure quite well.  I have struggled with Plantar Fascitis in the past and felt for those who were feeling the pain.  We then moved on to our hands and retested our connection and flexibility, it was amazing how much difference those simple movements made in my stance and finger flexibility.

We then moved to the floor to do the body work.  When I did my self assessment the weight of my left side against the floor in comparison to my right was the most notable.  Stacy instructed us to sit on the foam roller and to be honest my first concern was I was going to squash my roller flat, thankfully that didn’t happen and my anxiety lessened. We started rolling ourselves every which way on this roller, closing our eyes and focusing on our movement.  I was surprised that I wasn’t embarrassed about rolling around on the floor and I actually found it quite relaxing.  Once we were done rolling ourselves we reassessed our bodies and it was a remarkable improvement, my body laid more evenly, more natural.

The entire class was an hour and I enjoyed every moment in the room.  I look forward to learning more about Melt Method and I hope to incorporate this into my own routine.

Stacy offers both private training as well as group Melt Method and Belly up to the Barre.

Stacy Fisher, Founder
120 West Pearl Avenue
Jackson, WY 83001
(1st/2nd Floor- South Side)

Mobile: 307.690.8906

Stacy was kind enough to answer my personal trainer questionnaire:

Q. Why did you become a strength coach?

A. I was actually on the career path to becoming a Physical Therapist. I went to the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire and majored in Kinesiology-Exercise Science. As our final Senior semester, we were assigned real clients to train three times a week. I immediately fell in love with personal training, although I did not like getting up early in the morning! It also helped that my first client was a total gem…an overweight yet flexible, positive and strong willed man. He did whatever I asked and he actually became healthier and I became confident in my abilities as a trainer. I was amazed that I could have that positively affect another human’s life. That was 2004 and I have continued to evolve as a trainer, always keeping in mind the excitement I felt working with him.

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels?

A. Every session is customized to my clients, every day. I adjust not only for different fitness levels, but also based on how they are feeling that day, what activities they did in the days prior, etc. There are many factors that go into creating a workout. People are dynamic and therefore it is impossible to plan a workout too far in advance. Living in a very healthy, active community like Jackson I usually have to work around my clients’ outdoor pursuits. This means I spend more time trying to correct dysfunctions caused by their sports. I feel fortunate that I can focus on corrective exercise and less on motivating my clients to stay healthy on the days I am not working with them. Mostly I pick a theme…say posterior chain strength and length or scapular stabilization, etc. I work in little a different manner than most personal trainers. I share space with Excel Physical Therapy and therefore I work in a rehabilitative manner, but also incorporating more functional full-body movements than physical therapy allows.

Q. What do you do in your community to stay in shape outside of the gym?

A. Run, bike, hike, walk my doggie, MELT, Yoga and downhill skiing

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. No. I feel that I have little mini-successes each day, either with my own professional development or when a client achieves a small or large goal. The last four years I have dedicated a majority of my work toward getting my clients to “Restore More”. We exercise a lot in Jackson, some people bordering on exercise addiction. I strive to get people to focus on restoring and hydrating their bodies through a new self-care technique called The Melt Method. I first discovered it at a fitness conference and it completely changed my outlook on the human body. It created profound changes not only in my body, but in my clients as well. I became the first Melt Method Instructor in Wyoming in 2009, so I guess that is one title I hold with pride.

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. I have a Spotify account, which is fantastic, albeit a bit overwhelming with all the choices out there. I make countless playlists for my classes…my clients say they like my music. I hope they are not just being nice! I try to incorporate all genres, because my clients range from 25-80 years old. I cannot play Beyonce all day as my older crowd gets tired of that pretty quickly! We had our first live DJ Belly up to the Barre Party recently. Working out with a live DJ was unbelievably motivating! I know I was working harder than ever before because I was SORE the next day! I am already looking forward to our next party in a few weeks.

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. I am truly a clutz. I hit my head on everything. I am not sure how I can be so balanced while working out and yet have terrible spatial awareness. They say that most accidents in the gym happen when you are not actually doing an exercise. I can confirm that is true. I have almost knocked myself out on the squat rack (a few times) by bending over to pick something up and whack! stood up right into the side bars. I have also been hit in the head by a medicine ball (my client threw it at me when I was not looking).  I cannot say I was embarrassed because I was too busy seeing stars.

Heather Erson Jackson Hole Photography

Heather Erson Jackson Hole Photography

An Introduction: Fitness Instructor Hannah Reisman

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I was preparing for my trip to Missoula and I asked my friend and host Erin if she knew of a local personal trainer.  It turns out her nanny is a fitness instructor who is preparing to take the test to become a personal trainer.  Perfect!

Hannah met me at a coffee shop to chat about her passion for fitness and why she wanted to further her certification and become a personal trainer.  She enjoys teaching classes in a group setting but is interested in working one on one with individuals to help them create their own specific exercise prescription.

Currently as a fitness instructor, Hannah does 15-20 classes a week, she teaches Spinning, Cross Core, Pilates, Boot Camp, Muscle Pump and Zumba. I am tired just typing all of these classes, I can’t imagine teaching them all!

I asked Hannah what he would bring with her if she was on a road trip like mine, I was proud to tell her I had most of the items and the two I didn’t were on my shopping list already!

Jump Rope (She says 10 minutes is equal to 30 minutes of running!), Resistance Bands, Mat, Fitness DVDs

I also asked Hannah what she would have in her cooler for food and snacks;

Apples, Baby Carrots, Celery, Peanut Butter, Milk, Luna Bars, Think Thin bars and a lot of water.  She would NOT have pretzels or chips as it is too easy to eat the whole bag.

As we finished our conversation in true trainer form she said “I will see you at my afternoon Zumba class right?” I just nodded my head and said, “Right!”  The next thing I know I was shaking my hips to some Latin music and getting a good cardio burn.

Hannah Reisman is a fitness instructor as well as a Beach Body Coach.  She teaches classes throughout Missoula including the Zumba class I took at Peak Fitness (

You may contact her at

Hannah’s answers to the Trainer questions:

Q. How long have you been training?

A. 5 years

Q. What is your fitness philosophy?

A. Healthy choices for a healthy life.

Q. Why did you become a fitness coach?

A. It is important to inspire others to be healthy and to lead by example. 

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels?

A. If someone is just starting exercise you stay low impact and basic. One muscle group at a time, once they progress you can add an arm movement with the squat.  Start basic and then progress. Show them they can do it and how strong they are.  I practice constant coaching, if people are doing something incorrect I stop the class and correct the form, I don’t want anyone getting hurt in my classes.

Q. What do you do in Missoula to stay in shape outside of the gym?

A. I love to go for runs and hikes outside, love to hike and wakeboarding. I am a definite gym goer, whatever I do outside is extra to my routine in the gym.

Q. What do you do to continue your fitness education?

A. Take classes, read a lot, takes workshops. I also go to other people’s classes, not enough people do that.  I always search for new things to show my clients. 

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. I have a lot of ladies that I have worked with that have made a lot of improvements.  One lady I adore, she glows, she is always smiling.  She is so thankful for the instruction.  I always want to be the instructor that people look forward to working out with.  One of my ladies hasn’t had a potato chip in 4 weeks, to see her feel so good is amazing. You have to celebrate the little things.

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. I make fun mixes, I work out to top 40s. I build my playlist in a curve, I start it mellow, then I amp it up for a while then taper it down.  I like to workout to my Zumba music. Anything with a nice beat.

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. This happened just a couple of months ago. I was on the turf at the gym, the exercise ball slipped out from underneath me and I hit the ground really hard, I looked around and everyone was looking at me, one trainer came by to check on me and then commented that all he saw was a flash of pink, the color of my workout top. 

An Introduction: Farm Girl Fit

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I was headed to my old stomping grounds of Spokane to spend some time with my family and friends prior to hitting the Interstate.  I knew I wanted to find a trainer in the area however, having not lived there for so long I had no connections.  I hopped online and almost immediately found Farm Girl Fit (  The website was engaging and I was interested in what an all woman gym would provide in terms of a workout.  I sent an email explaining my project and received a response within a day from the Founder,  Jenni Niemann.  She was enthusiastic and excited to help me kick off my journey.

I showed up on Monday afternoon to meet with Jenni, tour the facility and participate in my first Grind. I knew from the website that this was not going to be a typical all women’s gym feel.  There were weights, rings, ropes, weighted balls and a plethora of kettle bells throughout the space.

I positioned the Farm Girl Fit headband that she had given me as a gift on my head and stretched in preparation for my Grind.  The class was full of women of all ages, shapes and sizes.  Per usual,  I started the class with a fairly high level of anxiety however as the class progressed I couldn’t think of anything other than breathing as I was being worked….hard!

As I lay on the ground panting in recovery Jenni introduced me and my blog to the class.   The support from the women there was incredible.  It felt good to have worked side by side with these women, inspired by their strength and then lifted up by their encouragement and support.

I unfortunately did not get to meet the Co-Founder of Farm Girl Fit, Jaunessa Walsh and for that I am sorry, I would have loved to spend time with each of their trainers.

If you are a woman and looking for a trainer in Spokane you should seriously consider Farm Girl Fit. I know if I was living in the area I would have already signed up and had a handful of Grind workouts under my belt.

Here is a link to a summarized version of Jenni’s answers:

Q. How long have you been training?

A. I received my B.S. in Exercise Science in 2004 and I’ve trained since 2008. I began my own training in this particular style as a way to get fit for my wedding in August of 2008. I knew I needed to take the additional steps in becoming a trainer after I was initially inspired by my own results.

Q. What is your fitness philosophy?

A. Fitness should be a way of life and not seen as a chore or punishment. I want to be fit and capable of any task- weight lifting, running, biking, swimming, tennis, moving boxes up and down the stairs with ease, squatting with my baby on my hip or whatever it is! Your fitness should increase your standard of living, your health, your perspective on life. Fitness has a direct correlation to your health and longevity (which is SO IMPORTANT for a happy life!)….and workouts should be fun and social!

Q. Why did you become a strength coach?

A. Strength is extremely key to fitness! I find it my personal goal each day to inspire more women to lift and be strong. This issue of “strong” vs. “skinny” comes up almost daily at Farmgirlfit and we handle the question with ease. Although more women are beginning to understand that being strong translates to being lean, fit and all around better at any sport, there are many that are intimated by weights. At Farmgirlfit we have created a unique, safe, and unassuming atmosphere for women of all ages to learn (and perfect) their lifting skills that increase their overall strength. It is so important to be a strong woman and for our future generations to have strong female idols.

Q. How do you customize your program to adapt to different fitness levels?

A. Every movement, exercise, and lift we do is functional and can be broken down or modified for people off all levels. We can also vary the timing, repetitions, rounds, or intensity (weight) for each level. Our programming is based off our experience in training over the years, and therefore adaptable. Although the levels in the “Grinds” are preset, they allow for a very diverse population to work-out together and create a unique camaraderie. With our training, nobody is good at everything and everyone has a skill or weakness to improve on. Just because you do Level 2 one day doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t do Level 3 or 4 the next. It’s very motivating to work out with women of all sizes, shapes, and abilities each day.

Q. What do you do in Seattle to stay in shape outside of the gym? [Did you mean Spokane?]

A. Outside of the gym I enjoy playing just about every sport- basketball, tennis, volleyball, softball or whatever is going on at the time. I also enjoy running, water sports, yoga, and speed shopping J Specifically in Spokane- there are tons of trails and stairs to challenge yourself with.

Q. What do you do to continue your fitness education?

A. I like to read books and articles that are relevant to our members, trainers, and training style. There is a lot of information out there so I tend to lean toward the ones that avoid the “quick fix” approach to fitness. As I mentioned, I believe fitness is a lifestyle and a dedication to increased health so I look for information that reiterates that belief – instead of fitness trends or fads. I’m always trying to think ahead and consider what our members need to know. There are a few more certifications that I’m interested in accomplishing  in the near future that I believe would benefit my own training as well as our members.

Q. Do you have a success story you are most proud of?

A. I believe my recent pregnancy was quite a success. I completely enjoyed being pregnant and at no time felt sick or debilitated. In fact, I felt very strong and fit during my pregnancy and competed in many running and fitness events. I worked out through the entire pregnancy…doing the same work outs that I do now because it felt good and I knew it was good for me and the baby. I also attribute my pre-baby fitness to my ability to lose the weight very fast after he was born. I got back in the gym 10 days after having Jack and I was able to climb a 20 ft. rope and do double unders (jump rope). He is 7 months old now and very healthy, happy, big and strong baby

Q. What is your favorite workout soundtrack or song?

A. My music preference changes daily, like my work-outs! I really like to work out to older music with a good beat- like Outkast! I also really like Macklemore right now too!

Q. What is your most embarrassing gym moment?

A. I don’t really have one that comes to mind but I totally get embarrassed or anxious at traditional gyms with lots of machines and little space. I don’t know how to use the machines…one time I got super pissed because my treadmill (I hate treadmills) wouldn’t work and the guy next to me reached over and put in the safety pin thing that stops it if you fall on your face. Oops!

Q. Do you have any specials that you offer your new clients?

A. We always offer 1 free trial day! We like women to come in and meet us and get a better feel for what our gym is all about, since half the battle can be walking through the door!

All of our new members are required to participate in a Foundations class. This class goes over the basics of most of the lifts and exercises we do and reiterates the importance of form first, then intensity. It’s also a great one on one time with a trainer to ask questions and get a better understanding of Farmgirlfit.   We also offer Student, Teacher, Military Discounts…as well as the occasional promotion!