Tagged "fitness"

Our Williamsburg Guide: Where to Workout & Refuel

Posted by Amina AlTai on

It feels like the last decade of my life has been an odyssey of amazing fitness locals, healthy eateries and game-changing healers.  But what's the point of frequenting awesome fitness studios and watering-holes if we're not going to share them, right?  SO...we're going to start sharing our happiest and healthiest spots around the neighborhood, city and country!  Starting with my very own 'hood, Williamsburg.  For volume one, it's all about where to sweat and then refuel.  

Favorite Studios:

Modo Yoga for Hot Yoga: If you're looking for an epic sweat sesh in a room that is as pristine and architectural as it is Zen, head to Modo Williamsburg.  Brighter, bigger and, well, fancier than their West Village outpost, hoards of hungover Brooklynites head to this heated wellness bastion every day to sweat out their toxins, and we think you should too.  Our fave?  The 60-minute class with music is always a good time.  Get there early though, the rooms have a tendency to get packed.  
The Living Room Brooklyn for highly personalized small group workouts that pack a punch: Founder, Erica Romano, wanted to create an atmosphere where local fitness-seekers could get their workout on but in a small group setting.  As a result, you can expect tons of personal attention to ensure you're form is on-point and that you're getting the most out of your workout.  A one-stop-shop for all your wellness needs, The Living Room Brooklyn offers a variety of classes from pilates, to HIIT, to "coredio" so there really is something for everyone.  And if that wasn't awesome enough, you can also get massage and nutrition coaching on site.  Hell yeah!  We love the "Inner Olympian" and "Not Your Momas Pilates" for quality toning and shaping that also gets your heart rate up.  
Sync Studio—Spin.  HIIT. Yoga. Repeat:  Sync Studio really has figured out the perfect workout trifecta.  Need good cardio?  Come spin with us!  Hips are tight from spin? Come to yoga with us! Need full-body toning?  We've got HIIT for that.  A neighborhood vibe with seriously forward-thinking classes, this local boutique fitness center is definitely one I frequent often.  We love interval circuit with Geneva Simms.  It's the perfect balance of "so hard I know I'm getting a good workout" but "not so hard I never want to come back" and all delivered in the kindest and most supportive way thanks to Geneva. 
CKO Kickboxing—For a calorie torching workout: This no-frills kickboxing gym will seriously kick you a$$. I made the mistake of brining a few fitness newbies to their Saturday morning class and won't do that again.  With hour-long classes of bag work coupled with floor exercises ranging from the dreaded burpee, to jump squats and crunches, it's no wonder you reportedly burn up to 800 calories an hour.  We love that every class starts with jump rope to get your heart rate up from the get-go.
Healthy Places to Eat:
Bliss Cafe—For veggie bowls piled high with goodness and flavor: This is one of my favorite spots on the rapidly changing Bedford and if I'm ordering in, it's usually from this place.  Their hand-written menu and hole-in-the-wall vibe are part of their charm, but it's their clean plates of decadent veggies and sauces that keep me coming back.  My favorite is the bliss bowl (steamed veggies, seaweed, sweet potato & brown rice with the most delicious dressings around) usually served up with a side of sass, but it's worth it for their epic plant-based yummies.  
Champs—For healthy bites and healthy cheats: A Brooklyn institution, this healthy spot serves up incredible salads and bowls for the vegans and non-vegans in the area.  Jonesing for an awesome salad or veggie bowl? They've got you covered!  Got your kids in tow and need something of the pancake variety?  They've got that too.  Want a pre or post workout smoothie loaded with goodness?  Yup!  We're partial to the Kitchen Sink Salad and Breakfast Burrito.  
The Bean—For creative smoothies & smoothie bowls:  I might be partial to this place because it's so conveniently close to my apartment, but their smoothies and bowls seriously rock.  Packed full of vegan protein, these bad boys are as creative in flavor as they are in name.  We love the Smooth and the Naughty and their ability to customize for us food allergy folks.  Plus, if you're ever in need of a quick nosh, they also serve up healthy vegan treats like bliss balls and protein bites.  Yes, please!
El Beit—For their turmeric lattes and homemade mylks:  Perhaps the friendliest spot Billyburg has to offer, I've never been greeted with anything other than the biggest most sincere welcome.  Plus, for those of us that are sensitive to caffeine or lovers of all things healthy, their Golden Milk Chai is spectacular.  It's served with their homemade nut mylks which are unsweetened and smooth as silk.  This is one of our favorite spots to hang out with a laptop in one hand and delicious beverage in the other.  
Modern Love—For beautifully presented vegan comfort food:   This relatively new (September '16) eatery is serving up all our childhood faves but with a clean and elegant twist.  Think mac and cheese, BBQ ribs and Caesar salads gone vegan but with all the flavor and flair of something much less healthy. Service is spectacular and you can even get seasonal kombucha on tap or a glass full of your fave wine—pick your poison.   This is our new go-to for an impressive healthy spot you can wow your health-cynic-friends with.  
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5 Wellness Trends to Get Behind in 2017

Posted by Julia McVeigh on

In the world of wellness, trends can be so ephemeral it’s almost impossible to keep up. This doesn’t prevent us from trying, particularly when they promote a more active lifestyle, encourage holistic health, drive sustainable living, and encourage getting super-duper cozy. (Hint, hint.) Read on for our take on the five wellness trends you should be watching in 2017.


Mushroom Magic

Mushrooms are arguably the OG super-food, loaded in everything from anti-inflammatory agents to immune system-boosting antioxidants. In 2017, watch out for the continued explosive growth of ‘shrooms, with brands like Four Sigmatic leading the charge. From reishi coffee to lion’s mane elixirs, Four Sigmatic’s entire line features the mighty mushroom packaged in unexpected ways: Hot cocoa cordyceps, anyone?


Adaptogens Everywhere

From ashwagandha to amla, adaptogens are everywhere. But what the heck are they?! In short, adaptogens are herbs that help your body better “adapt” – whether that’s boosting a depressed immune response, regulating your hormone response, or helping the body cope with stress. Given their versatility, it’s no wonder that adaptogens are so popular. We recommend Sun Potion as a quality resource for not only purchasing an adaptogen, but for researching them, too!


Zero Food Waste Movement

According to the website ReFed, food waste represents a $218 billion loss annually in the United States plus occupies 21% of our total landfill volume (!). Encouragingly, there’s a crop of new companies and initiatives that are tackling this crisis head-on. MISFIT Juicery, a Washington, D.C.-based food brand, is reusing “ugly” produce and scrap food waste to create cold-pressed juice while Blue Hill’s Dan Barber has launched the wastED initative, which encourages top chefs to create menus using food that would traditionally get tossed. Consider this one not a trend but an enduring philosophy we all should be supporting in 2017 and beyond.


Athleisure Gone Totally Mainstream

Leandre Medine (aka the force behind The Man Repeller) recently argued that cropped gym leggings can be worn everywhere – including to a wedding. While we’re not quite ready to embrace that viewpoint, it’s clear that athleisure wear is here to stay in a big way in 2017. Continue to watch the oh-so-cool Outdoor Voices, keep an eye on the gym-to-office (seriously!) brand ADAY, and grab yourself some trendy Allbirds while you’re at it. Being active has never looked so good – or been so easy.



Everyone is freaking out over hygge, the Danish word for “cozy.” It’s a part lifestyle, part philosophy that is arguably the driving force behind the Denmark’s status as the happiest country in the world. A welcome respite from the “go-go-go” lifestyle of the Western world, hygge instructs participants to get comfortable (ideally with plenty of blankets), light some candles, eat wholesome and nourishing Scandinavian food (i.e. porridge), and connect with close friends. In short, it sounds like good old-fashioned self-care, so we’re all about it.


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6 Reasons Why You’re Not Losing That Weight

Posted by Amina AlTai on

Eating clean, lifting weights and running all the way from here to Timbuktu but still can’t lose weight?  It’s a common problem in my coaching practice.  Time after time, I encounter dedicated gym bunnies that are checking off all the boxes and seemingly doing it all “right,” but the number on their scale just won’t budge; even more demoralizing, sometimes the number goes in the opposite direction. What’s that about?! 

First, let’s have a little lesson in what the number on the scale really means.

Our weight is a compilation of body fat, muscle mass, water weight and more.  So when you see the numbers on the scales increase, it doesn't necessarily mean you’ve gained fat.  To dig more into this, let's have a little biology lesson, shall we?

Body Fat percentage & Body Fat Mass:

  • Body Fat Percentage is the proportion of fat to the total body weight.
  • Body Fat Mass is the actual weight of fat in your body.

Visceral Fat:

  • Visceral fat is located deep in the core abdominal area, surrounding and protecting the vital organs. This tends to increase with age and can cause more fat around the abdomen. 

Muscle Mass:

  • The predicted weight of muscle in your body. This includes the skeletal muscles, smooth muscles such as cardiac and digestive muscles and the water contained in these muscles. Muscles act as an engine in consuming energy.  Often, when we exercise more, our muscle mass increases.  Since muscle weighs more than fat, it can often cause the scale number to shift in the other direction. 

Total Body Water:

  • Total Body Water is the total amount of fluid in the body expressed as a percentage of total weight. Over half of our body weight is water and it helps to regulate temperature and eliminate waste.  The amount each of us needs varies from day-to-day, depending on the climate we live in and the amount of physical activity we’re doing. 

 Yes, it’s true that increased muscle mass can make us weigh in a little more, but if you have a smart scale, you’ll see that that isn’t the case.  There could be more at play.  Like what, you’re wondering? Here are some weight-gaining culprits:


We all have a ton of stress in our lives.  But if we don't manage it properly, it can lead to an over-production of cortisol, the stress hormone.  Cortisol also causes higher insulin levels, which can impact your food choices.  It often leads to craving fatty and sugary foods which contribute to weight gain specifically in the stomach area.  Managing stress through breathing exercises, meditation and relaxing activities is a great way to reduce cortisol. 


 Many of us type A's are busting our a$$es at the gym, thinking it will lead to increased muscle mass and lower percentage body fat… but the numbers often go the other way.  The reason being is that when we exercise with great intensity, we often overestimate calories burned and then overeat calories needed for recovery.  Additionally, intense exercise also produces cortisol which can cause weight gain and encourage overeating.  So pull back on the seven days of intense workouts and vary your exercises incorporating gentle yoga practice, long walks and leisurely bike rides. 

Bad Bacteria

Our microbiome is a delicate balance of bacteria and occasionally, some bad bacteria can work its way in there.  Recent studies have repeatedly demonstrated that the makeup and variety of our flora can have a big impact on our weight. The most current literature suggests that obesogenic bacteria can exacerbate weight gain and trigger metabolic dysfunction.  If you suspect this may be the cause, speak to your health care provider about a stool analysis test to better understand the bacteria at play in your gut. 


 Overgrowth of Candida Albicans or yeast as a result of overuse of antibiotics, birth control pills or just the standard American Diet can lead to weight gain and stubborn pounds that just won’t budge.  Candida is fed by sugar and carbohydrates so a diet rich in both can perpetuate weight gain.  Some health care practitioners even believe that yeast overgrowth can even cause thyroid imbalances which only further perpetuate metabolic challenges.  A stool analysis will identify the role of yeast in your weight challenges. 

Food Sensitivities

Food sensitivities, overgrowth of bad bacteria and candida can all greatly affect the gut and lead to widespread inflammation.  Digested food particles can leak into the bloodstream causing your immune system to react to the perceived toxins and triggering inflammation, weight gain, joint pain and more.  So if you're eating foods the leave you bloated and achy, it might be time for an elimination diet to understand which foods might be taking you down.  

PH Levels

The optimum PH level is between 7.2-7.4.  Very specific, I know.  Symptoms of PH imbalance including everything ranging from heart burn, constipation, slow metabolism, hormonal imbalances, brain fog, low blood sugar, sore muscles and more.  How do we become too acidic, you ask?  Even if you’re eating somewhat clean, years of less-than-perfect eating could be contributing.  Meats, sugar, caffeine, dairy, beans and grains are all acid forming.  The remedy?  More greens, please!  Swap your morning coffee for green juice, eat more raw veggies and scale back on meat. 


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Pound the Pavement: Teamwork and The NYC Marathon Effect

Posted by Amina AlTai on

You didn’t have to be a runner (or even know someone participating) to get into the NYC Marathon this year. The energy surging through the city streets was palpable. Perfectly crisp autumn weather beckoned inspired people far and wide, who came out to join in on the athletic revelry or cheer on the flurry of fitness-focused individuals. 

Especially amidst all the divisive political turmoil in the city following the election, what resonated with us most that day (and now) was the overwhelming sense of unity it created-- a healthy reason to celebrate, come together, and feel motivated to achieve something personal, but also as a group, sharing the common goal of self-improvement. 

It was a most perfectly sporty reminder that we're stronger when we're united, encouraging each other with well-timed words of moral support. It's an often invoked cliché for a reason: team work makes the dream work. Right?! 

Whatever goal you set your mind to, rally your best support group. For those who've embarked on our 28 day cleanse, the overwhelming response has been that sharing the experience with fellow cleansers has kept everyone on track, laughing their way through cooking mishaps and snacking missteps (nobody's perfect, after all). 

A common plight, passion for wellness, and desire for change binds us, inspires us, and keeps us heading back to the grocery store with our list of balanced eats to tote home. The group calls have been key, where we check in with one another, exchange tips, and laugh about what's been most difficult (like avoiding that post-election Ben & Jerry's binge, that's for sure). 

There's no better time than right now to remember that we're stronger when we embark on journeys together. The power of community, friendship, and positivity is what it's all about! 

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Weekly Wellness Roundup: June 29, 2016

Posted by Amina AlTai on

It's been a great week in the world of wellness.  From the US Supreme Court's decision on abortion rights, to a surprising report on corporate wellness, here's our roundup of all things well-being related.  

US Supreme Court Firmly Backs Abortion Rights

A women's right to choose gets backing from the Supreme Court!

The First Wellness-Focused Co-working Space 

Wellness-centric start-ups now have a place to call home in NYC complete with yoga, wellness lounges and more!

Surprise, Surpise: Smoking May Hinder Breast Cancer Treatment

A recent study finds that smoking may inhibit some breast cancer treatments.  One more reason to quit.  

WSJ Reports: Companies Are Over Corporate Wellness Programs! 

Flu shots, health coaching and other perks declined over the past year, human-resources study finds. 

More Veggie, Less Meat Could Reduce Risk of Type 2 Diabetes 

Not surprisingly, a plate full of colorful veggies has far-reaching health benefits, including reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes.  So load up that plate!  

How You Fight With Your Spouse May Effect Different Body Parts

Over 15 years of research correlates couples' fighting styles to particular ailments.  

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