Trainer Blog

‘Tis the Season for Maintenance and Moderation

Katie’s Corner
We’re in the middle of the holiday season and things are getting overwhelming. Chances are, your thoughts consist largely of lists and lists of things you have to complete over the next four weeks, like shopping, hosting and/or attending parties, volunteering extra time or getting together donations, and prepping the house for extra guests-not to mention all of the normal daily tasks you have to carry, like work, family, and your own personal care. How is it even possible for fitness and nutrition to fit in to your life at such a stressful time?

The fact of the matter is, it doesn’t. I get it. Trust me. Even though I spend sun-up to sun-down in a fitness studio, it can be difficult to get my own workouts in. It is tough to plan out my meals, especially at this time of year. Some days are more successful than others, and that’s ok with me. I find that working on a day-to-day basis, rather than trying to tackle the world helps me to stay focused and on-task. Having overall weekly or monthly goals and breaking them down into smaller daily chunks makes them much less daunting and overwhelming. Then, amid all the busyness, I make myself sprinkle in 25 pushups and 50 squats into my activity so I can stay on track.
You may not be able to do everything (like attend 5 classes per week and eat healthy for every meal), but you can do something every single day to keep you in alignment with reaching your goal. Laying the foundation for achieving your fitness and nutrition goals a step or a day at a time will ultimately turn into miles and marathons. You may diverge from the path occasionally, but the cool thing is, you can step right back on at any time. So, this week, break things down for yourself and take things one step at a time.

There’s No Place Like Home

Katie’s Corner

There’s No Place Like Home 

Vacation is a time to relax and rejuvenate from the stressors of life, and for many, that means sipping strawberry daiquiris on a beach while lying in the sun. Don’t get me wrong, getting sun-kissed and eating the famous local dessert are two of my favorite pastimes, though I usually research the closest gyms and running trails and pack a few sets of workout gear when I visit a place as well. Because much of my work is demonstration  and I’m constantly on the move, I often neglect my own full 45 minute workouts, and taking exercise classes while I’m away re-centers me and allows me to embrace the role of a student, rather than that of a teacher. And, with the studio not far from my brain at any given moment, I take the opportunity to do my homework on what other gyms are doing to facilitate their own classes and workouts.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of taking a trip to Brooklyn to take three spin classes at various spots throughout the city. The first two classes I took were at larger, very popular spin studios with several locations across the country. Their operations systems of shuffling people in and out of classes by a team of 10-15 staff members was impressive, and their classes amp up students to the equivalent level of three energy drinks. I felt as if I were in a dance club, which was fun, though I missed the sense of alliance that I’m so used to at 50/50.
The third studio was similar to ours in that it was a small business operated by an owner, a manager, and several staff members and instructors. Located in the heart of Brooklyn, it had an urban buzz, but as soon as I walked in, they welcomed me as a new student and acclimated me to the space. I immediately felt at ease and had an excellent spin class where I could ride to the beat of the music and push myself like I hadn’t in a while. I truly appreciated the fact this local business recognized the value of personalization, even in a city of near anonymity.
I had a blast at each of the classes I attended, and I am eager to share tips and tricks I gathered with the staff here at 50/50. There are an abundant amount of notable business models in the fitness world, and it’s exciting to think about the hordes of people who are actually enjoying exercise on a daily basis. Above all, though, my trip helped reinforce that we are doing things right at 50/50. We have a strong, community-centered studio with top-notch instructors and trainers who are committed to building the best experience possible for our clients. How exhilarating to have the 50/50 studio right in our own backyard, and to be a part of such a health-conscious movement! See you in class, y’all.

The End of an Era

Energia 2012
The True Essence of Community.
In March of 2010, Energia opened it’s doors as a first of it’s kind fitness facility in Western Mass, focusing solely on Spinning and yoga. Jennifer Siddall, of Amherst, founded the studio with a strong passion for health & wellness. She carried this passion and vision for a true mind-body connection through, year-after-year, making consistent changes and ultimately building the foundation for a successful business. She showed everyone that in one small room, truly remarkable things could happen.

Early in 2012, a nervous, awkward 22-year old UMass graduate stumbled across the facility, while job searching in the area.

He strongly disliked his current job, especially after this happened:


But, he at least continued to keep himself entertained…

And, so the story continues:

Jennifer hired Justin as a personal trainer, and he got started with his first clients, a young couple from Granby, several weeks later. On the side, he began Pioneer Valley Fitness, an in-home personal training business, with a small office in Sunderland. Justin quickly quit his Raggedy Ann position, to focus solely on personal training. As Justin matured (many would say that’s debatable), he began to take on more responsibility…both within Energia, and his own business venture, as well.  Without the expertise, guidance, and wholehearted faith his clients continued to exude on him, the journey would have stopped there.

Several months later, while walking through the UMass Dining Commons, I received a phone call from Jennifer. Robert (shown below), was going to be traveling for work and she needed a new spin instructor. “Uhhhmm, let me think about it”, is all I remember. For days, I deliberated. Me, a spin instructor? I had barely gotten over the broccoli days, which damn near sent me to therapy. How could I get in front of a huge group (by huge, I mean 12) people? But, this was my chance. I needed to branch out, to make a name for myself. Shortly after my certification class, I was put on the schedule for a Saturday Spin class. Ironically, it’s the same class I teach to this day, now four years later. Anyways, Friday night rolled around and I went to Dick’s to buy a new outfit (awwww). I returned home to find that my roommate had invited about 15 people over, music blasting, drinks everywhere. Horrified, I left and rented a room at the hotel up the road. 6 hours later, I had crafted (what I believed to be) the perfect workout. By crafted, I mean I went to Michael’s to buy a poster board, Popsicle sticks, and markers (you can’t make this stuff up). My goal was to write the entire workout onto the poster board and bring it with me onto the bike. How could I screw up if I wrote down all of my lines on the sheet? Oh, and don’t worry, just in case the sheet were to bend, I bought the Popsicle sticks for extra security.

Within about 4 minutes on the bike, while I was introducing myself and going over the positions, my sweat must’ve continuously dripped down onto the poster board…because when I looked down to start my cueing, all I could see was a bigggg old smear of magic markers. At this point, all I could do was smile. “Really Justin? You buy yourself an outfit, you remember the damn Popsicle sticks that look ridiculous taped to the back of this page, but you couldn’t think to laminate the sheet”.

So there you have it Jennifer, there’s the true story of what happened that day!

Oh yeah, and here’s Robert, back in the old studio! If Robert didn’t go away, I wouldn’t be here today. I still don’t know where you went, but THANKS Robert!

Needless to say, I survived. My success was SO wild and apparent, the next day I bought the business. KIDDING!

Before that could happen, there was a whole lot of this:

And this:  

 
Don’t worry, don’t worry, that isn’t the true story either. The true story is… I, we, all of you, couldn’t be here without Katie. Her energy and passion, her raw and uncanny emotion, are truly second to none. With Katie, our second location came to light. And with Pat, Jay, Lindsay, Jamie, Ryan, Pam, Ali, Sarah, Mindy, Ashley, and Brittany, our third location now comes to light.  

So without further ado…
We are Moving!

251 Russell Street, about 3 minutes down the road from Energia

We expect to move early in July, once our renovation is complete. With this move, comes the end of an era. We’ll be saying goodbye to the Energia name and starting anew. Moving forward, we’ll represent one brand, one name, and one identity!

I know, I know, you guys are full of questions! Don’t worry, we are taking the same experience you have all grown to love, and improving it ten-fold! The new space will house a state of the art sound system, 14′ high ceilings with central air, two spacious bathrooms, one spacious shower room, permanent lockers for all monthly members, and much, much more.

The bikes will be adequately spaced, with brand new mats for Spin & Strength. We’ll have an information station with info on all of your favorite class offerings, and a retail room as well.

Lastly, we’ll have an incredible outdoor space with room for obstacle courses, killer boot camps, TRX and all of your favorite programming, all Summer long (and beyond!).

We’ll be keeping our original 50/50 space for Pilates, personal training, and some of your favorite nightly classes.

Stay tuned for further updates on schedule additions and our grand opening celebration, announced in the weeks to come.

If you have any questions at all, and I mean anything, please direct them to katie@5050fitnessnutrition.com. Okay, okay, I promise that was the last joke!

My email is info@5050fitnessnutrition.com

I would love to hear from you…questions, comments, suggestions…I’m here!

FINALLY, thank you, thank you, thank you to all of the amazing people I’ve been so fortunate to meet along the way. I know I can speak on behalf of the entire 50/50 team when I say, you all have been more than any business, any staff could ever ask for. Change is scary, sad, and inspiring at the same time, but we’re in this together. Here’s to an exciting, fun and sweat-filled future. 

“All is connected … no one thing can change by itself.”

The Future Begins Now

Katie’s Corner
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Have you seen the new studio yet?! If you have, we are thrilled that you have shared in the infectious energy that is filling the space. If you haven’t been able to make it just yet, know that we are looking forward to welcoming you to your first class and (hopefully) seeing your face light up when you walk through the door. Justin and I have wanted to bring you a bigger, fancier version of Energia for a long time-a gym that has more room, more options, and more function. And that time is now.
With the transition, there is change. (I feel the need to insert the colloquial “obvi” here.) Most of it will be very positive, as we are adding new waves of classes in the mornings at 7:30am and 8:00am, as well as the afternoons at 4:30pm and 5:00pm. We have redesigned the outdoor programs, bringing you obstacles and profiles that will keep you challenged and on track with your fitness goals. And of course, we are keeping most of the classes you and your body have grown to love. In order to have the best experience possible, we encourage you to sign up for consultations with us to discuss your new schedule, new plan, andall of our offerings.
Finally, on behalf of the 50/50 Fitness staff, I want to take a minute to thank each and every one of our fabulous members who pitched in and helped out with the move, whether you moved bikes, helped construct the outdoor equipment in our spacious backyard, assembled furniture, etc., know that we appreciate your efforts in making the soft opening such a rewarding experience for everyone, now and in the future. There is no question how strong of a community we’ve all built together, and this weekend was a tangible testament to that. I must have pinched myself over 500 times in the past week, reflecting on how very lucky I am to be a part of this experience-this community.
Now let’s forge ahead, together.

Set your intention

Katie’s Corner
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My goal as an instructor in every class is to provide an avenue for students to actively participate mentally and physically in their workouts, rather than to passively go through the motions. Physical exercise is often viewed as a chore, when it has the potential to be extremely gratifying and uplifting. One of the best ways I’ve found to cultivate this frame of mind is to encourage the act of setting an intention at the beginning of class. In doing this, the person is immediately mindful of the present moment and can begin to weigh what is meaningful and relevant in their lives.

There are many ways to go about setting an intention, but one of the methods that works best for me is to think about what I’ve been experiencing, enjoying, or stressing about in my own life. I look for themes and let that help guide my focus. For (probably the most conspicuous) example, work can be a big stressor for me. As many of you know, I am at the studio much of the day. Don’t get me wrong and let me be clear, I am living my dream and would not change what I do for the world, but it’s easy to get caught up in the little details of making the studio run smoothly. And so, if I’m feeling erratic, I may approach my workout with an intention of sharp focus and attention to my form. If I’ve had a less productive day than I wanted, I may set a measurable goal of reaching a specific number of watts on the bike. Even on the days when I experience extra positive feelings of creativity or contentment, I will set an intention of sustaining that positivity in my workout.

My challenge for you this week is to set an intention in each of your workouts, whether it’s in a spin class or in Outdoor Fit Camp. Fully “embrace the shake” in a barre class or do one entire Tabata set to completion without stopping. In my experience, the benefits are considerable, with feelings of purpose, direction, and centeredness being the frontrunners. And as always, if you are having trouble figuring out how to set your own intentions, let me or any one of our other Health & Wellness Specialists help you, as we realize this activity may not come naturally to everyone. Meanwhile, move with intention, ya’ll!

Meet your Health & Fitness Specialist

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

There’s no denying that we are creatures of habit. We are efficient and effective when we put  routine systems in place for ourselves, at work and in everyday life. I have talked (sometimes incessantly) about the importance of setting goals, planning ahead, and following through by method of practice. The desire to put routines in place is natural and healthy, for sure, but it’s also important to remember that these routines get interrupted all the time. One thing that is constant in our lives is change, and over the past week, particularly, I’ve been contemplating what I’ve dubbed as “certain uncertainty”—the knowing and accepting of the inevitable transitions we endure. I was sifting through Katie’s Corners of yore and realized that I have never solely addressed the topic of change. Probably because it can be so effin’ scary.

Change is standard and tenacious, and yet, we can be so resistant to it. In my view, there are two types of change: that which we expect, such as a change in weather, and that which we don’t, such as getting into a car accident. And then there are those changes we expect but are still incredibly averse to, such as a decline in a loved one who has a terminal disease.

For all the many reasons we have for being resistant to change, our ability to adapt makes us beautifully human. And once we adapt, we become more equipped to mentally accept the changes present in our lives, no matter how daunting or overwhelming they may seem. We often think of change negatively, which is natural, as it “interferes with” the ability to accomplish our everyday tasks efficiently. But this negative view is not especially growthful.

My challenges for you this week are twofold. The first is to find small ways in which you can alter the environment around you. Choose the front row in spin class rather than the back, or try that new recipe you pinned on Pinterest last week instead of making meatloaf for the thousandth time. Note how these controlled, seemingly insignificant acts affect you. See if they vary your perspective and/or encourage you to learn something. Simple practices like these can help prepare you subconsciously for those big changes that are sure to come your way every now and again.

The second is to recognize and understand your patterns when dealing with change. Do you immediately get overwhelmed? Or maybe you become indecisive. Maybe you’re doing a helluva lot better than the rest of us, and you are flexible and easily adaptable. Whatever your specific pattern, gathering this knowledge will only help you to know yourself better and how to move forward.

Of course, it’s much easier to accept change when those things are new and exciting. Hint, hint, nudge, nudge—stay tuned, ya’ll!

Just Breathe

In an age where we are consumed by and inundated with stimulation from ads, text messages, social media, news, (I mean, I could go on), we rarely take time to be fully present in a given moment. We don’t have time to do everything the day calls for, and many times we don’t take a second to look up from the whirlwind that is our life. Many of you might not know that I graduated with a degree in Religious Studies and took to meditation pretty eagerly during my college years. Vipassana meditation, in which the practitioner focuses on the breath, has helped me immensely with being in the present moment and to manage general anxiety, and it’s something I still practice today. I encourage you to take a break one or two times over the next week and quiet your mind in an effort to deal with daily stressors and general goings-on in your life by following this meditation guide below.

  • Wearing loose-fitting clothing, find a comfortable, quiet place to sit with good posture, either on the floor or in a chair. Decide the length of time you want to set aside, and maybe even set a low-level timer for yourself. For your first session, I would recommend 5-10 minutes max.
  • Once you have established a comfortable sitting position, begin to notice your breath, not forcing it in or out.
  • The practice is simple: notice the rising and falling of the breath. That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.
  • Try to avoid expectation of yourself. Especially when you’re new to meditation, your mind will wander. You will think about—and maybe even worry about—the laundry list of tasks you have to accomplish. Stressors, conversations with others, memories, etc., will enter your mind. And that’s ok. Notice that your mind has wandered, actively let go of whatever your mind is focused on, and refocus the mind on the breath.

Chances are, you will feel lighter, taller, freer, and/or more aware than when you started!

Inside Katie’s Kitchen

Many times, people will ask us what we eat during the day to get an idea of foods that might be healthy for them. Verging slightly from my regular routine of Katie’s Corner, I thought I would bring to you one of the most vulnerable parts of my house-my kitchen! So I sifted through items in my own refrigerator and pantry and am presenting them to you here in hopes that you are able to get an idea of items that might be great for you to eat for meals and snacks. This is not intended to be a guideline for your own diet, but I do think it’s helpful to get an inside view of someone else’s kitchen. I’ve made notes here and there, but if you have specific questions, please reach out to me in the studio or by emailing me at katie@energiastudios.com.

Staples:
Ziploc or Tupperware Storage Containers in various sizes
Olive Oil
Spices
Mozzarella Cheese
Goat Cheese- I like cheese.
Sliced Almonds
Spicy Mustard
Real Maple Syrup- I’m from the South, so I feel the need to clarify the “real” part.

Most of these items you’ll want to use sparingly, as they can be high in calories, but they can provide bursts of flavor even when used sparingly. Healthy food does not equal bland food!Items that you don’t want to use sparingly in this list, however, are the storage containers. Plan your meals in advance and portion them into these, so that you have grab-and-go options for lunches or snacks during the day. I cannot stress this point enough-planning and preparing your meals in advance are the keys to staying on track and in your ultimate success. You will spend less time planning and prepping your meals in advance than if you wing every meal.

Breakfast:
Berries
Fage 0% or 2% Greek Yogurt
Go Lean Crunch

This breakfast combination is what I have most every day for breakfast. I can carry it with me to the studio when I have an early-morning training and not feel like I have to wolf down my breakfast before I leave for the day. When I have more time and am feeling a little fancy, I will have two of the three proteins listed below with half an avocado and salsa. And pepper. Lots of freshly cracked pepper.Smoked Salmon
Eggs
Lentils
Avocados
Salsa
Lunch:
Lentil or Split Pea Soup
Egg White Salad prepared with Greek Yogurt and Mustard
Curried Chicken Salad with Greek Yogurt, Curry powder, Halved Grapes, Sliced Almonds, Cracked pepper
Wheatberry Salad
Loaded Sweet Potato
Many of these things, I get pre-prepared at my grocery store of choice, Trader Joe’s, though sometimes, I will make lunches ahead of time, i.e. the Curried Chicken Salad. I cook the sweet potato in advance and will load it with any combination of chicken breast, cheese, avocado, black beans, or sautéed veggies.
Dinner:
Chicken Breast
SalmonBrussels Sprouts
Heirloom or Cherry Tomatoes
Spinach
Mushrooms
Beets
Quinoa
Quinoa and Brown Rice Pasta
Black Beans
Chick PeasI make the side items in bulk at the beginning of the week and portion them into those storage containers I have been speaking so highly about. That way, I can pop home, cook my protein and heat up the sides in the meantime. And I have a healthy, nourishing meal to eat at the end of a long day.
Frozen Staples:
Turkey and Bison Burgers
Mixed VeggiesSnacks:
Hummus
Cauliflower, Carrots, and Broccoli
KIND Bars
Almond Butter
Apple/Pear
Air-popped PopcornSnacks are such a necessary thing to prepare in advance, and again, grab-and-go options are essential so that you don’t find yourself at the vending machine in the middle of the day.

Desserts:
Dark Chocolate
Greek Yogurt Sorbet with a teaspoon of honey

Yes, I eat desserts! Just in moderation.
Drinks:
Unsweetened Vanilla Almond Milk
This is a low-calorie option for something other than water.
Your challenge this week: Plan, prepare, and portion your meals ahead of time, and ask us for help if you need it!

Beginning to Heal

Last week, I wrote about motivation versus commitment. This week, let’s take a step back and delve into what brought about these goals you have set for yourself, whether it be because of the New Year, or because you simply wanted to make a change. Maybe something was lacking or you may have felt disappointed, embarrassed, worried, or angry about a certain event or situation taking place in your life. It is important to note here that’s it’s wonderful that you have the desire to set a goal for yourself, but you must first acknowledge why you wanted to make a change rather than simply what you wanted to change. Identifying and coming to terms with those difficult feelings instead of brushing them all pain under the rug will help you immensely in your success and will keep you from repeating the same mistakes again.

For example, you have decided that you want to drop a pants size in the next two months. You’ve figured out all the logistical steps you need to take to do it: you’ve planned your meals, you’ve got a workout routine in place, you have set a specific time to wake up and go to bed. Good job! Now it’s time to focus on your feelings around your goal, rather than just creating plans for success. Reflect on the way you felt before you decided to change. Why did you decide set your goal of losing a pants size, for instance? Maybe you didn’t like the way you looked, or you felt sluggish during the day. Maybe you don’t want to put yourself at a greater risk of heart disease, or you know that you feel alive and active at a smaller size. You may have to make it a practice once a week to call to mind the reasons let led you to set your goals because, many times, once isn’t enough. Dwelling on the past won’t help you move forward, but understanding the reasons for your motivations will.

Many times, I speak about health and fitness in my Corners, but this could pertain to anything you have goals for. Other examples could be to laugh more in the new year, to forgive yourself or another person, to cut down on spending, etc. Your challenge this week is to think about why you’ve decided that there was a need for change. Because sometimes, in order to move forward, we must go backward first. And once you acknowledge why you finally decided to change your mindset, beautiful things will happen: you will begin to heal and get one step closer toward success.

 

Your Success is our Success,

Justin, Katie, and the entire 50/50 team!

The True Test Starts Now

As we approach the month of February, many of us find ourselves falling into a pattern, a routine, one that may ultimately define our “new year”. Inevitably, many will struggle with continuing to progress and persevere as time ticks on. It’s something about the month of February that really presents a whole new slew of challenges to us all. Momentum wanes and the cold weather takes it’s toll. So how do we make this year different? How do we not fade off into 2016 with our sights forever set on new beginnings? I write this now, because we see it every year. It’s not at all about deciding to make change; it’s about continuing to make change. And the latter takes a lot more work, dedication, and commitment. So we challenge you to forget the last month, throw it away…the good, the bad, the ugly. The real challenge starts now. Your year, your life, all of it.

So here it is, the secret to your sustained success: accountability.

It means keeping food journals so you can monitor your diet consciously. It means setting up a reminder on your phone to notify you every day to take some time to exercise. It means fighting every inclination to drive straight home after work or to take that seat on that couch.

Accountability is EVERYTHING.

If you’re not working towards a specific goal, how likely are you to find success? Where does the passion come from? …the motivation?…the drive? And how can you realistically expect to overcome the obstacles that are constantly thrown your way?

Unfortunately, there’s no easy answer. But, we can help. We are here to hold you accountable. To work through obstacles, excuses, and insecurities. To challenge and support you in ways you never thought possible.

So what’s your biggest downfall? Ask yourself why you can’t exercise on a consistent basis. Or maybe ask yourself why your diet is in pieces. Have the two ever really come together for you?

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