Day 23 of Fitness – Sacred  Thread Yoga

Atlanta Home Improvement staffer: David Leonard

Sacred Thread Yoga

Sacred Thread Yoga

January is the month that I usually bring my workouts indoors to try different things. And with my body in its mid-40s, for day 23 of Best Self Atlanta’s 30 Days of Fitness blog series, my fitness goal for the day was to work on developing my flexibility. I switched my fitness gear to Yoga and had the opportunity to experience a Vinyasa flow class with Shonali Banerjee at Sacred Thread Yoga in Old Fourth Ward.

Shonali Banerjee

Shonali Banerjee

Parking is easy, but be sure to give yourself some extra time to get in the door since you will have to be buzzed into the building. After a quick registration, you will then take your shoes off, and place your belongings inside the provided studio cubbies. Remember to turn off your cell phone.

All levels are welcome to this 75-minute class, but remember to bring a yoga mat, a water bottle and wear loose fitting clothes.  This workout also includes light chanting.

Because I took this class on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, to commemorate his life, Shonali gave us the opportunity to reconnect with our past dreams while playing truly inspiring music from Mahalia Jackson, Nina Simone and Mavis Staples. My soul and body were truly moved.

The workout itself began with chanting, which then awakened us, and I then soon found myself sweating from holding each pose. My favorite part of the workout was holding a handstand (this was optional, and she had a lot of options if this is not where you are) and seeing the world from another perspective.

As she closed our practice, I found the most enjoyable part of this workout was listening to Shonali’s amazingly warm voice sing as we rested in Shavasana.  I ended the practice feeling grateful, especially since I was reconnected to a past dream of my own mine on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. -Namaste

Details: 828 Ralph McGill Blvd Suite W2, Atlanta, GA, (404) 500-6762,

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Day 22 of Fitness – Cowart Family/Ashford-Dunwoody Family YMCA 

Best Self associate publisher Patti Stephens 

Ashford Dunwoody YMCA

Ashford Dunwoody YMCA Pool

One of the many advantages to getting and staying fit is the sense of community that physical activity encourages. So for day 22 of fitness, I chose to enroll in the morning aqua Zumba class at the Cowart Family Ashford-Dunwoody Family YMCA.

While I’ve been a member of this specific YMCA for several years, I must admit that I hadn’t been in several months. The building has been under construction for quite some time, but renovations are almost complete, and I must say that they were really worth the wait! Once I checked in, I headed to the women’s locker room to change and store my belongings before heading to the pool, which has also gone through a major transformation and now includes a steam room around the deck!

Aqua Zumba instructor Anyanna

Aqua Zumba instructor Anyanna Torres

For a 9 a.m. workout, I was quite surprised by how many participants were in the class, and I was thankful to have invited my friend Ellen to this fun party atmosphere! Our class instructor, Anyanna Torres, instructed the class from the upper deck of the pool and also began the class by checking the music’s sound level. Aqua Zumba is exactly how it is described: fun fitness in the water through dance. For an early midweek January morning, it felt wonderful to jump in the pool. The music included was a mix of 80′s dance, reggae, a little latin and more. Regulars to this class clearly had their favorite tunes they danced to, like B52′s bang bang on the door baby!

Anyanna was fantastic! She was upbeat and never stopped encouraging us to have fun in the water, and she even made sure to grab a hat decorated with fruit when it was time to dance to the island tunes. This 60-minute class is wonderful for any fitness level and definitely a fun way to mix up the routine!

Details: 3692 Ashford Dunwoody Road, Atlanta, GA, 30319, (770) 451-9622,

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Day 21 of Fitness – Studio Lotus Emory

Best Self staffer: Aubrey Campbell 

Aubrey Campbell with Studio Lotus Instructor Anne

Aubrey Campbell with Studio Lotus Instructor Anne

I’ve recently been in search of more effective fitness routines that not only give me strength, but also improve my body’s physique. For Day 21 of fitness, I enrolled in Studio Lotus Emory’s hybrid redcord and kettlebell personal training class. I was excited to see what was in store, especially since I had never heard of or worked with redcords or kettlebells.

Upon arriving to Studio Lotus’ Emory location, I was greeted by Joanna Williams who helped me put my things away and then introduced me to my instructor for the night named Anne. Anne then led me to the redcord training workout area where I was immediately reminded me of TRX suspension training. Redcord was developed in Norway around 1991 and is an exercise technique that addresses muscle imbalances and improves core stability by activating the correct muscles—at the correct time—in the correct amount. Redcord is unique in its ability to position the body in a controlled, unstable and pain-free environment by utilizing a system of ropes and slings suspended from the ceiling. Anne and I did a variety of suspension workouts in the plank and side plank position to work my core and my gluteus medius muscle.

Anne, Aubrey Campbell, Joanna Williams

Anne, Aubrey Campbell, Joanna Williams

After the redcord workout was complete, I went to the back room to complete the kettlebell portion of the workout and train on each set of training ropes. Anne and I both completed a variety of different motions to get my heart rate up and work my upper body. From there, my kettlebell routine had began.

For me, the hardest part of this workout was the 15-minute completion of the training ropes. The most enjoyable part of was the kettlebell portion. I’ve never worked with kettlebells so I loved learning the proper technique. I’ve always grouped kettlebells and free-weights in the same category, but they are two totally different workouts. Kettlebells are meant to be swung away from the body using natural momentum because they provide a low-impact, total body workout that can be complete in under an hour.

Studio Lotus is a wonderful facility to visit and build lean muscle! The facility is clean, quaint and the staff are extremely knowledgeable!

Details: 1145 Zonolite Rd, Suite 13, Atlanta, GA, (404) 817-0900,

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January 2015 - Best Health ADHD Blog ImageWhen it comes to attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), sometimes parents and caregivers have more questions than answers. ADHD isn’t something that can be diagnosed with a blood test or a brain scan, nor is it certain what role lifestyle factors play in ADHD symptoms. But local experts Dr. Regina Robbins and Dr. Jacqueline Kiefel agree that some parts of ADHD diagnosis and treatment come standard.

Dr. Robbins, who practices at WellStar Medical Group’s Kenmar Pediatrics, breaks down the details of diagnosis. “The common symptoms are hyperactivity, inattention, and/or impulsivity,” she says. In order for a child to be diagnosed with ADHD, there must be documented instances of those symptoms in two or more settings (such as home and school) for at least six months. These symptoms must appear before age 12 and cause impairment of academic or social activities. If a diagnosis of ADHD is reached, controlling some basic lifestyle factors can be helpful.

Diet – Dr. Kiefel, a pediatric neuropsychologist at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, says some parents report a worsening of their child’s symptoms whenever they consume more sugar. To be safe, she says parents should “monitor sugar intake in their children and modify diet and daily habits accordingly,” opting for more fresh vegetables, healthy dips and nuts to avoid exacerbating symptoms.

Sleep – Ample sleep each night is key for every child. Citing research conducted by Dr. Dean Beebe with the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Dr. Kiefel says there exists “a large association between a childhood sleep problem and the development of an attention problem over time.” Plus, ADHD can make a child more prone to sleep problems and daytime fatigue, making it even more important to emphasize a good night’s sleep.

Exercise – Research shows that children with ADHD who exercise struggle less with impulsivity and perform better on tests of attention. “Researchers believe that exercise increases blood flow to certain areas of the brain that play a role in regulating emotions and behavior,” Dr. Kiefel explains, so at least 20 minutes a day outside is a good idea.

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Craft Box Girls Website ScreenshotNeed a new dinner recipe , home decor piece or some party ideas? Instead of heading to Pinterest, try the website of Craft Box Girls. This platform will look familiar to you Pinterest users — it still centers on photo-sharing – but unlike Pinterest, the posts are not created by just anyone online. Instead, each post is carefully chosen by the Craft Box Girls national blogger team. These women have their fingers on the pulse of the trends, and many of them are lifestyle bloggers, chefs and fashionistas from right here in Atlanta. Log on today to meet the girls and get inspired!


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SBATL_FACES_CassConnBellaBag_Seated1_August2014Bella Bag, founded by Cassandra Connors, has been selling authenticated luxury handbags to their customers online for almost a decade. The company now has a brick-and-mortar store in the Buckhead Atlanta retail complex. Visit them at 3063 Peachtree Road NE, Suite B209, Atlanta, GA to find the highest quality pre-owned brands such as Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Gucci and more.

The Buckhead Atlanta shops have also welcomed another new tenant: Bonobos Guideshop. This new menswear store offers a unique shopping experience that allows shoppers to make an appointment, enjoy personal attention and leave without baggage because the purchases are shipped directly to a home or office. Walk-ins are also welcome.

Exhale Midtown Atlanta recently launched a new class: Core Fusion Extreme. It is an hour-long, circuit-style workout that utilizes TRX bands, medicine balls, free weights and plyometric movements to push you in the areas of cardio and strength training simultaneously. Try this class in Midtown or at their second Atlanta location, which opens on February 2 in Alpharetta’s Avalon complex.

Shannon Sliger - Business News PicA third Dtox Juice location is now open at 1531 Piedmont Avenue. This 2,500-square-foot space is close to Piedmont Park and includes a new kitchen and a spacious bar. Owner Shannon Sliger plans to open a fourth location early this year at Westside Provisions.

The Atlanta Institute of Medicine and Research has moved its offices to Alpharetta and changed its name to The Institute for Advanced Medical Research. Medical director Dr. Angelo Sambunaris and his team conduct neurological research into depression, Alzheimer’s disease, ADHD, anxiety and more.


Pink Barre shoot in studio.Pink Barre, an Atlanta barre studio franchise launched by former physical therapist Tara Joiner, has expanded its fourth location. Joiner owns and operates their Buckhead and Emory Point locations, which opened last year. The Sandy Springs location is owned by Maureen Chatelain, and now Amy Hoffman has opened the fourth location in Gainesville.

Whole Foods Market has expanded to its eighth location in the Atlanta area, now open in Alpharetta. It is located in Alpharetta’s 86-acre Avalon shopping plaza, which is also home to new locations of ITP favorites like Flywheel, DryBar and more.

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Bircoll, Lawrence_cred neededDr. Lawrence Bircoll from Resurgens Orthopaedics answers a reader’s question about running on hard surfaces.

Q: I recently heard some friends talking about the dangers of running on hard surfaces. Is this really a risk? What should I do to protect myself? 

A: Running on hard surfaces like asphalt does place a slightly higher level of stress on your bones and joints compared to running on grass or unpaved trails. However, running is inherently stressful on these parts of the body regardless of the surface you’re on. The key to protecting yourself against stress injuries is to give your body a break from running. Biking, swimming and hiking are great alternatives to help mix up your routine.

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Day 20 of Fitness – House of Payne Personal Training 

Atlanta Home Improvement staffer: Jeret Adair 

Jeret Adair, Rachel Payne, Steve Payne

Jeret Adair, Rachel Payne, Steve Payne

Yesterday, Jennifer Prins, account executive from Atlanta Home Improvement magazinetook a class to participate in Best Self Atlanta’s 30 Days of Fitness blog series. Today, I decided to hop on the fitness bandwagon and join in on the fun.

For Day 20 of Fitness, I took my workout regimen to the next level through a bodybuilding competition posing class at House of Payne’s Personal Training facility. While it may sound easy to flex and hold a pose for close to a minute at a time, to my surprise it was quite strenuous—especially as a first-timer.

Once arriving to the House of Payne Personal Training gym, I was greeted by co-owner Steve Payne, who then instructed me to remove my shirt and follow him to the competition stage. From there, I stood on a stage shirtless surrounded by a giant mirror. In the background of my reflection was the looming presence of competition bodybuilders flipping over monster truck tires and taping up their quads before hitting the squat rack. I felt intimidated at first but then noticed that no one was even looking at me. Everyone there was completely focused on their own body and their own progress.

Steve then joined me on stage and guided me through five main poses that builders are normally judged on. After completing those five poses, I noticed how sweaty I had become. Steve then explained that one of the most common misconceptions about exercise and muscle-building is the use of weights. He explained that the most important thing to remember when building a competitive and aesthetically pleasing physique is the mind-muscle connection. This is the process of your brain telling your body exactly which muscles to engage and how to engage them. I took this newfound knowledge off the stage and down to the back weight room.

In the weight room, Steve handed me a 25 pound dumbbell and told me to perform a dumbbell press motion. I normally do more than twice this weight, but Steve insisted I slow my motions down to a ten seconds up, ten seconds down routine. I then immediately felt an increase in my mind-muscle connection and noticed that my chest muscles were flexing and engaging like never before!

I was completely surprised by how slowing down and thinking hard about which muscles you are using can affect the workout. We then did this same routine with legs, back and triceps—low weight, high-concentration and powerful flexing and holding. The last 30 minutes turned into an extremely effective and exhausting workout. I went into this workout slightly intimidated and skeptical. I left with an inspired plan for training and an awesome pump.

Details: 4565 Lawrenceville Highway, Lilburn, GA, (678) 641-9188,

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Jennifer Acuff, Jennifer Prins

Jennifer Acuff, Jennifer Prins

Day 19 of Fitness – World Gym Smyrna

Today, the Best Self staff took a day off from fitness while Jennifer Prins, an account executive from our sister magazine Atlanta Home Improvement magazine, took a class at World Gym Smyrna.

If you’ve ever thought that running on a treadmill was boring, you must first try this one-hour TreadworX class! Imagine for a second, an inspiring fitness instructor guiding you to meet your fitness goals all while in a class set to music videos in a special full-movie screen media room. Instead of taking a seat in a chair, you are working out on a treadmill.

If you are a first-timer, it is good to note that these classes do fill up quite fast—especially in January. To reserve your spot be sure to arrive 15 to 20 minutes ahead of time to sign in at the front desk. Also, if you begin your warm up on the treadmill before class begins, be sure to restart it once the instructor starts showing the videos. Otherwise, your treadmill may go into a cool-down mode before the actual class is finished.

This is fun and energetic workout is for walkers, joggers  and runners alike. I can truly say that because of TreadworX my endurance and speed on the open road has increased tremendously. Jennifer—my class instructor—is a great motivator who orchestrates the run varieties to the beat of the music. When music’s tempo begins to increase, you know it’s time to prepare for a sprint! And once the class is over, you will be amazed at how far you were able to run. Also, to keep the class fresh, Jennifer and the other instructors are sure to change the videos often.

Before the workout I am usually a little tired since Jennifer teaches this class at 5:30 a.m. on Friday mornings, but once you are warm it is off to the races! The most enjoyable part of this workout is how you feel once the class is complete. Overall, this class is for anyone who hates the treadmill but loves to walk, jog or run. It will change your mind and your outside run. If you’re ready to burn some calories, have fun and increase your endurance, TreadworX is for you!

Details: 4425 South Cobb Dr SE, Smyrna, GA, 30080, (770) 801-0006,

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Day 18 of Fitness – Cyc Fitness Atlanta – Buckhead 

Best Self editor: Flannery Keck 

Keoni Hudoba

Keoni Hudoba, Cyc Founder

For today’s workout, I took a class at the newly opened Cyc. This cycling studio is located in the Forum Athletic Club, tucked in Lenox Mall by the Macy’s package pickup entrance. Our ride was about 45 minutes and taught by Keoni Hudoba, who founded the Cyc method.

Like many dedicated cycling studios, Cyc provided clip-in cycling shoes for a more solid ride on the pedals. There are open cubbies available outside the studio, and the Forum has lockers available too. I changed my shoes, tucked my belongings in a cubby and hopped on my designated bike.

Flannery Keck and fellow Cyc rider Amelia Pavlik

Flannery Keck and fellow Cyc rider Amelia Pavlik

The workout got underway with some upbeat songs and a pedal pace that matched the beat. I always love when an instructor matches their ride to great music—it helps me stay motivated better than almost anything else! After we warmed up for a few songs, we spent the entire middle of the class adding upper body strength training to the mix. We slowed down our pace a bit and picked up a small, two-pound weight in each hand. Keoni worked out our arms with a variety of boxing moves such as upper cuts and jabs and even some swimming movements such as backstrokes and freestyle strokes. For anyone who is brand new to cycling, you may want to stick to a studio that focuses solely on the cycling itself, but for cyclists who want to add some variety to their rides, Cyc is a great choice.

Since I’ve cycled a lot before, I did enjoy the change of pace with so much added upper body work. I was surprised at how tough it was! I had to drop the weights pretty quickly because my body weight was plenty to challenge my muscles. Thankfully, Keoni kept all our movements right on the beat of each song, so even when I was getting tired, I was having fun. Overall, I liked that the studio was in a central location with plenty of parking, and I loved the high energy of the class. And really, you can’t go wrong with a studio whose T-shirts say, “I told my Cycologist about you!”

Details: 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Suite #2100, Atlanta, GA, (678) 904-1940,

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