Find out how HealthKick Ambassador, Lesley Stevenson enjoyed her day of meals from Sakara Life!

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How do you motivate yourself to stick with making healthy choices or get back on track when you splurge?
Through high school and into my first year of college, I wasn’t into fitness at all—I didn’t exercise or think too much about what I ate. As a result, I had a lot of extra weight and never truly felt my best. When I got to college, I started thinking about it more, and I managed to lose more than 20 pounds in my first semester at Notre Dame. My main motivation for healthy choices comes from thinking about the way I used to look and feel, coupled with the way I feel now when I eat healthily and maintain an active lifestyle. It is amazing to feel fit and truly be aware of how fitness literally shapes the body and impacts each moment of your life. I carry myself differently and know I am so much stronger than I used to be. That’s a feeling I never want to let go, so I work hard to keep it in my grasp. Now, anyone who knows me knows I do still have a sweet tooth—I LOVE to bake, which is not an easy hobby for health nuts! To balance my splurges, I try to be even more aware of my workouts as well as what I eat for the rest of the day. Luckily, I also love to cook, so cooking veggies and proteins is not too much of a challenge besides finding the time!

Did you do a LIFT private or group class, a Calm session or both? Had you ever used an online platform before fitness or stress management?
I completed both a LIFT class and the Calm seven-day intro challenge. I’ve actually used Calm before so it was not completely foreign to me, but enough time had passed that the intro sessions were quite useful for helping me settle back into it. I’ve also listened to meditation podcasts and used other mindfulness apps to help me ground myself before I start each day. Completing a live fitness class online was totally new to me—I’ve definitely taken advantage of the many YouTube fitness channels like BeFit, Boho Beautiful and Yoga with Adrienne, but I’d never had the experience of an instructor coaching me through my computer! It was so different but honestly pretty amazing to see the other class members in their homes, and I liked that the instructor was able to correct my posture or movement in a way that a YouTube video obviously can’t.

How did you feel after your full day of meals from Sakara? How did it compare to other meal delivery services you’ve tried?
I felt full and content after my day of meals from Sakara! I was totally stress-free, first of all, because I didn’t have to think about cooking for myself and scheduling that time-intensive task into my day. It was a relief to know all three meals, plus a little chocolate for dessert, minerals for water and tea for fun, were ready and waiting when meal time rolled around. The food was so obviously fresh and nutritious, and the expert packing definitely made me feel like someone had personally prepared this for me—not like it came from a factory assembly line. Combined with the notes, explanations and encouragement from the Sakara team, the whole experience felt incredibly personal in a way other meal delivery services never have. I’ve only tried other services that require you to do some cooking, which I enjoy, but the fact of the matter is I don’t always have time. This was much simpler and still left me feeling very full and very satisfied.

What was your favorite meal that you received from Sakara? Would you order again?
I truly enjoyed every dish I tried—something unique stood out in each one. In the Strawberry Maca Shortcake breakfast, I couldn’t believe how light and delicious the “cream” tasted even though it was vegan and much healthier than whipped cream! It was like having dessert for breakfast, so I definitely enjoyed that. For lunch, the Spicy Harissa Chard Abundance Bowl had these amazing winter veggies in a green sauce that was so light and fresh—but what stood out to me the most was that the bowl came on top of a bed of fresh spinach. The spinach wasn’t wilted or old in the slightest—it looked like it came straight from the grocery store. This gave me even more confidence in the healthiness of the food. Finally, the dinner of Revitalizing Risotto with Citrus-Glazed Squash and Balsamic Tomatoes definitely stood out for the clever combination of a cashew “cheese” and quinoa in place of risotto’s typical dairy and rice combination. The whole dish was delicious and so filling that I was able to save some for the next day! I would definitely order any of the meals again and recommend them to friends.

Find out how EPIC trainer, Danielle Midalia rewards herself after a hard workout.

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What made you decide to become a trainer?

I had some excellent trainers throughout different stages of my active life, and I loved the feeling they inspired in me just by giving me their positive energy and commitment. I realized I get that same feeling from helping others with their own health and fitness, and that calling was a lot stronger than any desire to sit behind a desk for a living!

Does your fitness routine change once it (finally) starts to get warmer outside?

The warm weather definitely brings the ability to get outdoors more – I wouldn’t say my training changes, but I’ll get more active with things like hiking or just walking around the city.
After being active for so many years, how do you continue to challenge yourself in the gym?
I make sure I have others to look to who know more than me. If I’m training for something specific or I want a set program I’ll invest in a more experienced coach so that I’m always learning. Coaches need coaching too!
Whether they know it or not, do your trainees ever help you learn something new during a session?
ALWAYS. Every person brings with them different abilities and understanding of movement. Every person will communicate and interpret things differently too, so what works for one won’t work for another. Getting someone from A to B in their training can sometimes be like problem solving, and once you find something that works you can add that to your toolkit of coaching skills, so you’re always learning based on who’s in front of you.
What is your favorite workout to do when you aren’t teaching at EPIC?
I love to lift things! I’m a huge fan of women lifting weights and understanding the major benefits of it (physically and mentally!). I’ve also started appreciating kettlebells more and more for their versatility.
What’s your most rewarding way to relax after a hard workout?
FOOD! Nothing more satisfying than recovering after training with good food. I love food. I think about it all the time, like right now … what was the question again?

 

From Basketball Player, To Tone House instructor.

This week we caught up with Yusuf Jeffers to find out how his basketball career at Rutgers University led him to became a Tone House instructor.

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What made you decide to become a trainer?

I’m an accidental tourist in the fitness field. After many years of working as a research assistant in cancer therapies and diagnostics I became a bit bored and became certified to personal train part time. When my company went through a round of layoffs,  I picked some more clients and began teaching more. Haven’t looked back since.

Does your fitness routine change once it (finally) starts to get warmer outside?

Yes. I do tend to enjoy outdoors workouts a little bit more in the warmer weather as well as playing more sports outside.

After being active for so many years, how do you continue to challenge yourself in the gym?

Maybe it was Aristotle who said “The more you know, the more you know you don’t know.“  It’s the same with fitness. There’s always some aspect to improve upon or learn. When you stop trying to improve is when you’re no longer motivated to face the challenge.

Whether they knew it or not, do your trainees ever help you learn something new during a session?

Absolutely. I’m certainly not the same trainer now that I was when I first began. That’s most directly because of what my trainees have taught me about human movement and maybe more importantly, how crucial mindset and psychology is to improving your physical condition.

What is your favorite workout you to do to switch up your routine?

I usually like to do high intensity workouts, whether it’s Tone House, track sprints, or Olympic lifting. Anything that helps with mobility is my default.
What’s your most rewarding way to relax after a hard workout?
I know it sounds boring, but I never want to take it for granted that there’ll be another hard workout, so I enjoy giving my body a chance to repair, recover, and adapt from the last workout. So you’ll usually find me with my feet up either icing or in compression boots and occasionally getting a massage.
Who’s your pick to win it all this March Madness?
Hate to admit it but Duke is moving up quick in the polls. But right now my money is on Michigan St.
Follow Yusef on instagram @ycoolj

HealthKick Ambassador, Francesca Gentile dishes on Sakara Life!

HealthKick Ambassador Francesca Gentile gave plant-based meal delivery service Sakara Life a try and dishes on her experience.

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How do you motivate yourself to stick with making healthy choices, or get back on track when you splurge? 

I motivate myself to make healthy choices based on how I feel and look when I eat healthy. I have more energy and glowing skin when I cut out sugar and white carbs. I also try my hardest to not bring it into the house so I am not tempted!

How did you feel after your full day of meals from Sakara? How did it compare to other meal delivery services you’ve tried?

I loved the Sakara experience, it felt like a lifestyle. I read the program book and loved beginning my day with the water drops and actively drank the tea instead of snacking. Everything tasted delicious, healthy and very fresh. I do have to admit I was quite hungry between meals and fairly quickly after just because I have a super fast metabolism and work out like crazy! Sitting at a desk all day doesn’t help either! I’ve never tried a meal delivery service before, so this was a great first experience.
What was your favorite meal that you received from Sakara? Would you order again?
I loved it all, but mostly the dinner salad. Love the beauty drops and the chocolate probiotics and tea too!

 

Meet Xtend Barre trainer, Jen De Leon, and learn why she loves to hit the barre!

Jen De Leon came all the way from Australia and has been teaching at Xtend Barre for 6 years. Jen shares with us how living in Australia has changed the way she works out in NYC, especially once it starts to get warm out!

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What made you decide to become a trainer?

I had just moved home from London back to Sydney, a little lost and not knowing what to do with my life! In my travels, I had met the head franchisor and flagship studio owner of Xtend Barre in Australia. Knowing I had a background in dance, she approached me to do the training to become an instructor. I had not much going on and no direction (I also had spent two years in London living a very unhealthy lifestyle!), so I took my first Xtend Barre class and immediately fell in love with the workout. Xtend Barre is a smart, fun, functional, and fast paced workout and I knew instantly I wanted to get involved.
Does your fitness routine change once it (finally) starts to get warmer outside?

YES! When I first moved to the city, I lived a little north of Central Park, so I would run the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Coming from Sydney and living not too far away from the beach where coastal runs are always a must, it’s important for me to get some fresh air and be outdoors.

After being active for so many years, how do you continue to challenge yourself in the gym?

I grew up dancing, and danced professionally in my early 20s. After I decided to hang my dancing shoes, I got in to yoga. I then did a move to London and back to Sydney, which is where I discovered barre. And now I LOVE circuit workouts and running! I think as I enter a new phase in my life, my workout regime changes a little to match! Now I live in a city where there’s a different workout on every corner. I am spoiled! This all keeps me constantly challenged!


Whether they know it or not, do your trainees ever help you learn something new during a session?

Absolutely! I’ve been teaching XTEND for 5.5 years now and with all the review forums, new clients we get into the studio daily, and working in an Xtend Barre studio that’s new to the city, I am constantly learning and being challenged by my clients! New Yorkers are such champions here and work SO HARD! I change my workout all the time to keep our regulars on their toes, while making sure our new Xtenders can follow along as well.

What is your favorite workout to do to switch up your routine?

I am a creature of habit, so I don’t always love doing something new! However, I do miss my yoga practice. So, when I can bring myself to slow down, which is really very hard in New York City, I try and get my booty to a power vinyasa yoga class.

What’s your most rewarding way to relax after a hard workout?

I love good, wholesome, organic food. So cooking/eating a hearty meal to re-fuel feels good to me!
Who’s your pick to win it all this March Madness?
I don’t know! I’m from Australia, and basketball isn’t a big sport back home! You guys are going to have to introduce me to March Madness!

Find out how Master Cycologist, Elena Koshivaki received her title

Kick off March the right way! It’s time to start spring-cleaning, making your March Madness bracket and, more importantly, get back on your workout schedule after a winter slump! We spoke with Cyc instructor,  Elena Koshivaki, this week to hear about her experience as a cycologist, how she continues to push herself in the gym, her March Madness pick and more!

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What made you decide to become an instructor?

I became a trainer because I was so passionate about helping other people find and create fitness goals. I think sending positive and healthy motivation to someone just starting out in their fitness journey is crucial for success.

Does your fitness routine change once it (finally) starts to get warmer outside?

When the weather gets nice I most certainly will spend more time outside going for jogs and utilizing the parks for my workouts.

After being active for so many years, how do you continue to challenge yourself in the gym?

There are so many workouts and moves you can do, so just constantly switching up your routine is crucial for progress. I do a lot of spin and that’s all cardio, so anytime I hit up a work out that’s full body, it instantly helps.

Whether they know it or not, do your trainees ever help you learn something new during a session?

Oh my god my riders are always helping me learn more every single day. I don’t go into class knowing what I’m going to say or really what I’m gonna do, I I look at who’s there and what they might need in this exact moment. Also what I might need is something that someone else might need. I have a lot of realizations in class. Lol

What is your favorite workout to do to switch up your routine?

My most favorite workout routine besides Cyc would be boxing.

What’s your most rewarding way to relax after a hard workout?

My most rewarding way to relax after work out will be an ice bath followed by some food and TV.

Who’s your pick to win it all this March Madness?

University of Kentucky!

 

You can follow Elena on Instagram @ekoshivaki

 

Find Out How Trainer, Erin Nelson Keeps a Healthy Balance!

This week we caught up with SWERVE instructor, Erin Nelson, to find out she is treating herself this Valentine’s Day and where she will be escaping in NYC for some quiet time.

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Do you have any Valentine’s Day plans this year? Staycation! I’m going off the grid to an undisclosed location in NYC for two nights. Best treat for any New Yorker during the frigid winter months, especially if you can’t escape to a beach.

What Valentine’s Day candy is it impossible for you to stay away from? Red Hots will be my forever favorite, especially when they’re shaped like hearts.

What are the best workouts for a couple or two best friends to do together? What workouts/exercises are the best for bonding with your crush or bestie?

Obviously, I’m going to throw SWERVE in the mix immediately. It’s indoor cycling with teams, so you can ride on the same team and work together to win the race or compete against each other on different teams. Who doesn’t love a little friendly competition?Switch Playground pairs people up. Each couple moves around to 20 different stations performing various strength & cardio exercises. The environment is one you’ll never forget! So fun & is over before you know it! Yoga is a great option for couples. It allows you to feel centered and open. Perfect pre-brunch burn on the weekends. Plethora of options in the City, but my favorite is Modo Yoga in the Village.

How do you recommend people stay focused on their fitness goals during the month of chocolate hearts?
Honesty & Grace. You have to be really honest with yourself about what you want to accomplish. Write it down. Things are much more concrete when we have to articulate them into words. THEN share it with someone. Find someone to help hold you accountable to your goals. Make sure that person is someone who will be honest with you, and will help keep you on track. And grace, when you allow that bite of chocolate or glass of wine or entire pizza 😉 Know that you’ve made that choice and it doesn’t eliminate all the work you’ve already done. Own it. Accept it. Move past it.

How have you noticed working out together affects people’s love lives?

I used to teach a very early morning SWERVE Ride that I unofficially dubbed the “couples ride” because so many people showed up with their partner. I think its an awesome way to start the day with your significant other. On the flip side, I’ve noticed couples that meet up after work and sweat together. You connect with each other & you connect with your own body. Plus, it’s sexy to see your partner working hard in a class.

Because Feb. 14 can also be about self-love, what wellness activity (massage, facial, etc) would you most likely treat yourself to for Valentine’s Day?
 I’ve been dying to try cryotherapy and/or infrared treatment. I’m from Texas so heat is my preference, but so many of my colleagues in the fitness industry swear by cryotherapy.
You can follow Erin on Instagram @erin.nelson.nyc