Crossed Paths with CrossFit | Katrina Leone

Crossed Paths with CrossFit | Katrina Leone

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

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Fitness Meets Fashion

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

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

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Obstacles

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

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Rewards

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Katrina Leone

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Sparked The Fire | Courtney Ustrzycki

Sparked The Fire | Courtney Ustrzycki

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SWEAT by SlimClip Case yH5BAEAAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAIBRAA7 Sparked The Fire | Courtney Ustrzycki workout women fitness
“For years I had been resistance training and what I deemed to be ‘eating clean’ yet wasn’t really seeing much changes in my body. I always felt a little soft and was missing desired muscle definition that I knew I should have had. When I went for my very first session in the Bod Pod (which is an air displacement measurement system) I was extremely shocked to know that my body was 30% fat (and that’s a lot for my body!) That was by no means acceptable for myself, and that was Day 1 of change.” -Courtney Ustrzycki

A wake up call sparked a little fire in Courtney and the flame hasn’t dimed ever since. Her approach to fitness is simple, yet very effective. It has helped her to achieve her desired results and maintain it over time.

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Training

Courtney’s approach to fitness shows that you don’t have to kill yourself in the gym to achieve results. Fitness is more so about learning your body and finding what is effective for you. “I find my training methods to be simple: stick to the movements that are effective and build up weak areas. I don’t partake in those “new and improved” fitness scams or booty-builder leg press pyramids. Squats, deadlifts, bench press, pull ups; those are the guts of my training programming and I build from there,” Courtney says.

However don’t get me wrong, Courtney can definitely turn up the heat if she wants. While the core is always simplistic, there are many variations that can provide you with more of a challenge if that’s what you are looking for. “As a powerlifter, I focus on squat, bench press and deadlift as my primary movements. To improve those three lifts I will incorporate variations of those exercises in order to compliment and crank up the intensity. But ultimately I stick to the foundation. As I always say, K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple, stupid),” Courtney explains.

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Mind

Working out isn’t the only element in Courtney’s fitness routine. Keeping a strong mindset is also very important. “Mindset is everything. Mindset is what can make or break a person, whether it’s in the gym, in the kitchen, or in the office. Your body can push through anything; your mind will give up before your body does. It’s so easy to talk ourselves out of anything that we really don’t want to do. But we need to remember WHY we chose to do this. WHY we need to lose weight or improve our nutrition. There’s always an underlying factor that forces us to make this ultimate decision to start. It takes time to build up the motivation and the dedication, that’s not going to show up at your door every morning. You need to develop that on your own. It starts in your mind,” Courtney declares.

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Advice

Courtney has had much success on her own and she seeks to inspire others as well. I think we all could learn something from Courtney, so I had to ask if she could give me or anyone else looking to make some healthy changes to their life. And of course, she delivered. “To someone just starting to improve their overall quality of life through nutrition and exercise, I would always recommend to start small. Start with small changes over time, because those are the ones that are going to be most impactful and you can adhere to. Going all-out on Day 1 is usually grounds for an overload and usually a crash and burn, and we never want that. For example, when I begin guided programming with clients, we take their current nutrition plan (or what they usually eat on a regular basis) and make small modifications to a few different things. Keeping it simple and sticking to things that the beginner likes will make the changes much more appealing and likely to stick to in the long term. I always say that nutrition is going to trump training when it comes to starting and trying to make a change. The workouts are the easy part, it’s the nutrition that’s crucial for any success. What we put into our bodies is what we can expect to get out of it. To me, it’s not 80% nutrition and 20% training; it’s 100% of each. You need to commit your entirety into your nutrition and training. So even if you only go for a 10 minute walk at the end of the day, don’t only do 9 minutes. Do the whole 10, do the 100%. Commit and follow through,” Courtney advises.

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In your opinion, what are the most overrated and underrated exercises?

In my opinion, the most overrated exercise is the burpee. How many people actually benefit from it? The burpee was originally created as a testing method and was only to be performed about 4 times in total. So when I see people being programmed to do 20, 50, 100, at once, I just shake my head. Why does someone who has a desk job need to do burpees? How will that improve their quality of life? I always consider my own programming and programming for my clients with the best intentions; I will create based on their needs and goals, not just how much I can make them sweat or feel like they’re dying. I think the most underrated exercise is the deadlift, and I think that’s because most people do it wrong (hurt their back), which deters people from performing it. It’s one of the most fundamentally sound exercises that requires your entire body to output energy. And in my opinion, it’s one of the most empowering yet humbling for women. Because who wouldn’t want to be able to lift three times their body weight?

What are your go-to snacks when you’re on the run?

My go-to snacks on the run are either Canadian Protein sample protein packs or Bounce Balls! Both so very healthy, nutrient-packed and satisfying!

What’s your beliefs on performance diet like?    Do you prescribe to a particular philosophy on diet (example: Paleo, Gluten free, etc…)?

I believe that everyone is individual in terms of nutrition. There’s no one best way that I would ever recommend. I follow a flexible dieting approach where I can really eat what I want while achieving specific macronutrient ranges on a daily basis. I fuel my body for performance and my workouts. I don’t put foods off limits because having that ‘good food versus bad food’ mindset I find to be very unhealthy. I do avoid foods that I have been tested to be sensitive too (cow’s milk, wheat, peanuts, almonds), but other than that, I think it’s all about a healthy balance that works for each unique person. When I work with clients, I customize their nutritional goals based on both their past and current lifestyle, nutritional needs, goals, any limiting factors like digestion issues, and habits. The single most important bit of advice I can give for the ‘best’ diet is: whatever truly makes the person feel good.

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Courtney Ustrzycki

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Walk the Walk

Walk the Walk

Drew Manning Walks the Walk to better understand the struggle of his fitness clients
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Health and fitness coach Drew Manning doesn’t ‘Talk the Talk’. When it comes to finding out what it’s like to be out of shape, unhealthy, and to struggle to make fitness gains he has taken extreme measures to ‘Walk the Walk’. Drew actually decided to get fat (that’s likely not the most politically correct term for it, so “overweight” or “unhealthy weight”) on purpose to experience what it was like to be overweight. “I was overweight for the first time in my life so I could better relate to my clients” Drew says ‘and so I wrote a book about my humbling experience and it’s now a TV show.

Drew started his journey of Fit2Fat2Fit (Fit to Fat to Fit) on May 7, 2011

The whole purpose of this journey was for Drew to gain a better understanding of what it was like to be overweight. He wanted to better relate to his overweight fitness clients.Drew says he didn’t know what this experience was going to lead to but. “Once I was asked to come on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is where it finally felt “real” and that this idea wasn’t just some stupid idea that no one would pay attention to” Drew says.

The ‘Fit to Fat to Fit’ Journey

“I decided to get fat to better empathize with my clients. I grew up my entire life in shape and never knew any different. I had no idea how hard it really was for my clients so I decided to completely let myself go for 6 months and gained 75 lbs in 6 months. I also wanted to inspire people in a totally different way by doing something so completely different. I didn’t do it to disrespect anyone or to pretend to know exactly what it was like for people who are overweight and have been overweight for years or even decades, but at least I can say I have more empathy and a better understanding for having done this.”

“I grew up in a very strict/black and white culture of either ‘You do or do not’ and there were no excuses” Drew tells me, “So it helped to be strong and push past any pain or weaknesses. We were a very large family of 11 siblings. I learned how to work hard and my parents instilled us with great discipline. That discipline really was essential in this journey.”

“When I started gaining weight there was no way for me to know how poorly it would make me feel. I wanted to quit when I hit the 70 lb mark. I felt so horrible and disgusting at that point. I also wanted to quit when I saw my first stretch marks come in because I still cared way too much about my physical appearance at that time. What kept me going was knowing that there were people watching me and were counting on me. So that accountability helped me push past those hard times.”

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“The whole process helped me realize that transformation is much more mental and emotional than people think. It’s not so much about the meal plans and the workouts and the diets, etc. It’s about loving who we are and knowing that we are more than what our bodies look like.”

In the end, Drew says he’s most proud when people come up to him and thank him. “People tell me their life story of obstacles that they’ve overcome in their past. Seeing how many people have been inspired by this crazy journey. It’s so touching and rewarding to see people so inspired and motivated to transform their lives.”

Focus on the Process

“After going through this process and looking back on what were the most important elements of a successful comeback.” Drew says “I advise people to stop worrying about what other people think. You must let go of your ego and to stop attaching yourself to outcomes. Instead just focus on the process and the growth that comes from putting in the effort no matter what the outcome is. In the end, if you keep that focus, the results will come.

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Drew stays busy with his television show but there’s even more to his busy life

A Day in the Life

Morning

I wake up and meditate and do positive affirmations. I drink my water with lemon juice and apple cider vinegar. Then I brew my coffee and add in butter and mct oil or coconut oil sometimes. Then I’ll work for a couple hours and get ready for my workout and I’ll take my exogenous ketones an hour before I workout.

Afternoon

I’ll get my workout in and come home and get my first meal in, which will usually consist of eggs, sausage/bacon, butter, cheese sauteed with some spinach and broccoli. Then it’s a shower and back to work.

Evening

This is where I’ll have my second meal of the day and usually this will be around 7-8pm. This will consist of maybe a couple beef patties with some avocado and cheese on top and I’ll sautee some cauliflower in 100% full fat coconut milk.

Night

I’ll wind down by watching an episode of Game of Thrones and then I’ll read one of my books before bed.

Workouts

Most recently I’ve been training for a Spartan Race and doing a mix of HIIT / Crossfit style workouts 3 days a week. I’ve been running, sprinting and climbing hills 3 days a week and one rest day. When that’s over, I might get back to Crossfit / Super Set Style body building lifting. I like mixing those two up.

Diet & Nutrition

Currently, I’ve been loving Ketosis and not for the reasons people might think. I’m not doing Keto to get leaner or to lose weight, but for the improvement in cognitive function, mental clarity, focus and energy. I’ve done Paleo and Whole30 in the past and still think those are great. Most people will benefit from Paleo and Whole30 for sure. I do think different diets work differently for different people and I preach all the time to find whatever works for you and make it a lifestyle change. I just love not being a slave to food, only eating twice per day and never feeling like I’m starving or ‘hangry’ all the time if I don’t have food.

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Change & Mindset

When people are trying to make healthy changes and become physically fit when they haven’t been so before, they need to make major lifestyle changes. That being said, establishing inroads to attaining a fit body is going to be different for each person depending on their goals and their past history. Finding a support system is probably the first step. Even before that, you have to be mentally and emotionally ready for the lifestyle transformation. Finding either a trainer, nutritionist, a group fitness class would be a good place for people that have no idea where to start and need their hand held for the first little bit.

Once you’ve gotten started and established new habits is where accountability comes into play.

I advise people to keep yourself accountable to friends, family, or an online community to help you in these moments. It’s not a magic pill, but it’s easier to get through setbacks if you have a support system to help keep you accountable. No matter who you are, you’re going to have setbacks and that’s why it’s so important to have this support system to keep you accountable during these hard times.

When setbacks come, one thing is to remind yourself that you are progressing whether you see that progress or not. Also, you’ll be so much happier if you detach yourself from outcomes and focus on the work and habits you’re developing during the process.

Life is too short to define yourself with weight, body fat percentage, etc.

I think measuring is fine, but I don’t believe that the scale is the best way to do that. The best ways to measure results are bloodworm (try Everly Well for at home convenient and affordable testing if you are too busy to make doctors appointments), Dexa Body scan or Bod Pod for body fat percentages, and improvements in fitness (i.e. doing the same workout 2-4 weeks apart to measure progress in time/efficiency/recovery)

The Future

I’d love to see myself still doing what I’m doing. I feel that the Fit2Fat2Fit brand could eventually become a household brand with many more seasons of Fit2Fat2Fit on television. I’m working on building Fit2Fat2Fit join up groups in some small areas across the nation. I’d love to have “an army” of Fit2Fat2Fit trainers that come from a place of empathy and caring first before helping their clients.

Who knows though…the sky is the limit!

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Drew Manning

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No Tummy Mommy | Trisha Enriquez

No Tummy Mommy | Trisha Enriquez

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This one is for the ladies with the babies. That’s right; I’m talking about all the mothers out there. Trisha Enriquez is helping mothers all over the world to get healthy and stay fit.  

“I started a small business that focuses on providing fitness and nutrition coaching for mothers – all done virtually – essentially helping women to be healthier and happier mamas,” Trisha says.

Inspiration

Having a baby is one of the world’s greatest gifts. Holding your little miracle for the first time not only makes everything you have endured in life so far worthwhile, but it can also spark you to want to go above and beyond from that point. Babies are truly inspiring and are also the world’s greatest supporters.

Inspired by the birth of her own child, Trisha dove deep into the world of fitness. While health and fitness has always been a part of Trisha’s life, having a child sparked an even deeper interest for Trisha. She not only wanted to keep herself fit, but she also wanted to begin to help others. Hence, “No Tummy Mommy” was born. Not only does Trisha get to train and advise moms all over the world and help them reach their fitness goals. She also gets to bring her daughter along for the ride too! “Having my daughter involved in the No Tummy Mommy brand makes the journey way more fun and rewarding,” Trisha exclaims.

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Motherhood

As I said earlier, motherhood is an amazing gift, but it definitely comes with a lot of changes. This even includes how you maintain your health and fitness. A lot of times when people hear about personal training for mothers, they assume it is just for mothers who have to previous background in fitness. That is completely wrong! Whether you have never been to a gym in your life or you were one of the top female body builders in the world, having a baby sort of resets any previous (or lack thereof) workout plans you have already established. You have to learn to adjust your workouts to the way your “mommy life” works now. “Motherhood has really changed how I stay fit and healthy. Of course, there is a lot of time management skills required, but it’s also a lot about our mindset. I schedule workouts in my calendar and stick to them like I would a meeting. Also, as a mother you are so tired most days so the last thing you want to do is work out; I also suggest recruiting another mommy friend who has the same goals in mind as you do. This helps so much,” Trisha advises.

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Mindset

Just as it is important to stay mentally strong as a mother, health and fitness require that same mentality. It’s not just enough to do the workouts and try a diet or two. If you really want to see results, you have to make it up in your mind that you can achieve them AND maintain them!

As a strong and entrepreneurial mother, Trish knows a thing or two about being mentally tough. She does her best to guide all of her clients in the same direction. Her number one rule when training? “The mind is everything. What we believe, we become. For someone starting out – if they truly believe they can make a change in their lifestyle, they will do it!” And she’s totally right! That’s why before starting any workout plans or diets or even hopping on the scale, Trisha always suggests one thing as the first steps to health and fitness. “Focus your energy on setting a plan for yourself (ie. Times you will work out, prep meals, recruit a friend, decide on a workout routine, etc). I believe that if you spend time up front planning and organizing how you are going to implement your routine, you will be that much more successful,” Trisha explains.

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What three pieces of fitness equipment should everyone have?

A skipping rope

A kettlebell

A yoga mat

In your opinion, what are the most overrated and underrated exercises?

The most overrated exercise is the bench press. The most underrated exercise is the pull up!

What are your go-to snacks when you’re on the run?

I love almonds or almond butter mixed in Greek yogurt!

What are your beliefs on performance diet like?    Do you prescribe to a particular philosophy on diet (example: Paleo, Gluten free, etc…)?

In my opinion, there is not one best diet because every person is different and each dietary protocol has its pros and cons.  Plus, something that worked great for one mother might not work as well for you. Ultimately it’s finding a nutrition routine that suits your individuality and of course, one that includes foods you will actually eat and enjoy.

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Trisha Enriquez

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Functional Fitness | Alex Ho

Functional Fitness | Alex Ho

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I was in the middle of a “Year of Yes,” where I was saying yes to trying out more things, and my friend asked if I wanted to do a month of unlimited bootcamp. After only 2 classes I was completely sold and spent the next half year getting in the best shape of my life while falling in love with running. 6 months later I had studied for and passed my personal training certification course and started teaching classes before and after my day job. One year after teaching and working in construction management I decided to quit my job to become a full time trainer,” Alex Ho says. And that it where it all began!

Functional Fitness

Alex Ho is a personal trainer and fitness enthusiast. His training program is taking the city of San Francisco by storm. He does everything from one on one sessions to large group sessions. His specialty is focusing on what he refers to as functional fitness. “To me functional fitness is a way to train your body so that it can do what you want when you want in daily life. Yes, people have different functions in their life than others but there is a base functionality of being able to push, pull, twist, bend, crawl, and climb that humans should be able to perform,” Alex says.

Needless to say, you won’t be stuck in the gym while training with Alex. Not only will he push you to get a workout in, but also a great adventure around the city. “I think that most people in a gym are stuck in their routines of using the machines that only move in one plane of motion. There are some really strong men and women who can bench press a ton of weight but put them on a stability ball where they have to fire up their full body to balance and they’ll be thrown off completely. Functional fitness means that you can adjust your body to differing conditions under stress. That could mean moving a weight around while running, changing directions quickly, or catching a medicine ball while balancing on one foot. The key is to think of exercising in a 3 dimensions instead of 2,” Alex explains.

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Courage

Everyone faces obstacles as they pursue their career, but according to Alex his biggest obstacle was a little different from most. Alex had already had a successful career in the construction and engineering field. However, his true passion was in fitness. He was forced with the decision to either stick with his well-paying job or take a risk and pursue his passion. “Leaving a stable career with a steady paycheck, benefits, retirement plan, etc. for a career where I would be working hourly and have to figure out how to sell my services in order to make a living was frightening. Thankfully I had the support of a lot of friends and family who helped me through the process and encouraged me to follow my passion,” Alex says.

Luckily, the risk paid off big time! And it came along with benefits that Alex never thought of. “The most rewarding part of the journey has been changing people’s lives in a positive way. I have some clients who I have been working with for a while and to see the change in them is incredible. Some have lost weight, some have conquered a new goal, and others have taken on their fears and adjusted their look on life to live happier. It’s not only the physical changes but the mental ones that really make a difference.”

Future

Alex has plans to continue on this career path and expand in the future. “I see myself still training one on one but instead of leading a lot of group classes I would be leading more seminars teaching people about how to structure classes and how to connect with and help clients in more ways than fitness. I hope that Revision Athletics is known as a go-to company for the highest quality info about how to live a healthy life,” Alex details.

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What three pieces of fitness equipment should everyone have?

1) TRX

2) Resistance Band

3) Kettle Bell

In your opinion, what are the most overrated and underrated exercises?

I’d say the most overrated exercise is the bench press. Unless you’re a bodybuilder or just looking to build up your pecs you can get a lot more bang for your buck from doing a pushup.  

The most underrated exercise may be a pullup. Most people are scared of pullups because they are so hard but it requires a lot of core strength and upperbody strength. It’s also very useful for climbing!

What motivational/inspirational books have you found to be most helpful?

I read a lot of books about running (mainly because it’s my passion) so I’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from ‘Born to Run’ and ‘The Cool Impossible’. Born to Run has a great story while the Cool Impossible has a lot of great exercises for runners. I also really enjoy Kelly Starrett’s book ‘Ready to Run’ for how much he goes into the importance of mobility for athletic performance.

What are your go-to snacks when you’re on the run?

I typically bring an apple and a snack bar (Clif, perfect bar, Kind bar, etc.) when I’m out and about. If I’m going to do workout between clients I’ll bring some protein powder for a post workout recovery.

What’s your beliefs on performance diet like?    Do you prescribe to a particular philosophy on diet (example: Paleo, Gluten free, etc…)?

I don’t follow any certain type of philosophy on diet because everybody has a different diet requirement. For myself, I really focus on eating organic non-processed foods as much as possible, drinking a lot of water, and staying away from processed sugars. The reason why most diets work is because people become more aware of what they are eating instead of just going for whatever is easiest or fastest.  

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Alex Ho

Website

Instagram: @revisionathletics, @sub6, @chasethelightssf

Twitter: @revisionathltcs, @sub_6@chasethelghts

Compound Effect leads to Big Gains | Christmas Abbott

Compound Effect leads to Big Gains | Christmas Abbott

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

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

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Start

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

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

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Childhood

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

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

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Obstacles

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

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Wellness Wheel

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

Sleep well, eat well, exercise, and meditate.

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

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Christmas Abbott

Website

Instagram

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All Smiles

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

All Smiles

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

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

When did you first start on your Fitness Journey?

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

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

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

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

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

I feel like a normal person doin’ normal thangs!

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

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

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

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Jera Foster-Fell is @WorkOutBean

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What else did you try?

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

Was there ever a time when you were contemplating quitting?

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

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

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

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

“It’s not failure until you give up.”

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

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

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Jera is a certified personal trainer & a SoulCycle instructor

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

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

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

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

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

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

A huge part of a healthy lifestyle is balance.

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

Who do you consider the icons in health & fitness?

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

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

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

Where did the name ‘WorkOut Bean’ come from?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fall seven times, stand up eight.

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Jera Foster-Fell (@WorkOutBean)

Website

Instagram

Twitter

SnapChat: WorkOutBean