Day 11 of Fitness – OPT Wellness 

Best Self staffer: Chela Counts 

OPT Wellness Fitness Facility

OPT Wellness Fitness Facility

Most recently, I’ve found that one of the best methods to help me achieve any of my goals is through inviting friends and family to hold me accountable. These accountability partners remind me that consistency truly is key—especially true for health and wellness.

For Day 11 of Fitness, I enrolled in the OPT Wellness one-hour 808 conditioning class led by celebrity trainer Derek Taylor. This particular total body conditioning class involves more than 800 reps of Olympic lifts with light weights for cardio conditioning, resulting in more than 1,000 calories burned within the hour!

Prior to this session, I was quite intimidated by the number of reps I would have to complete, but once the workout began, Derek assured me that I could and would be able to  complete his class! From there, I was placed in one of four groups of three, where the day’s main fitness goal revolved around the body’s hamstrings. This 30-minute rotation of dead lifts, squats and weights was only the precursor to our next set of workout routines that then focused primarily on the body’s glutes, abdomen, legs, and still our hamstrings. Just as quick as I felt the class had begun, it was then soon over. I burned more than 1,000 calories within an hour!

Derek Taylor, Chela Counts

Derek Taylor, Chela Counts

As a previous track and field athlete, I felt great knowing that my body has the potential to recondition itself back to its toned and fit state. And although the hardest part of Derek’s workout was the correct execution of leg curls, the most enjoyable part was knowing that even as first timer, I was enthusiastically welcomed and encouraged to return. I found that my accountability partners expand further than within my home but also within the community. Derek’s expertise also expands farther than fitness but also to nutrition. Once the workout was complete, he advised me on the correct foods to eat in order to stay lean—such as oatmeal, a protein shake or fruit. OPT Wellness is by far one of the best facilities in Atlanta.

Details: OPT Wellness, 2997 Cumberland Blvd SE Atlanta, GA, (770) 333. 7991,

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Day 10 of Fitness – Midtown Athletic Club 

Best Self staffer: Aubrey Campbell 

Dan Duran and Aubrey Campbell

Dan Duran and Aubrey Campbell

Personal trainers serve as the perfect guiding hand at any given moment in your workout regimen. Not only do they provide sound fitness advice in an intimate setting, but they truly want to see you accomplish your fitness goals as well.

For Day 10 of Fitness, I took a one-hour personal training session with Dan Duran, Fitness Director of Midtown Athletic Club. Prior to my session, I had an initial meeting to discuss my fitness goals and what I truly wanted to achieve from this workout. I believe this was perfect simply because Dan and I both had the opportunity to decide on which exercise routines would be best for me.

While I’ve taken many other personal training classes before, my personal training session with Dan has been the best thus far! This is because he expressed care to see me obtain my goals throughout the workout routine. I was truly impressed with his customer service and glad to know that Midtown Athletic Club has recently implemented the PTA Global accreditation program in order to better serve their clients. Through their questionnaire, or PDQ (Program Design Questionnaire), I received the best workout for myself. I am used to more traditional routines, but through my PDQ, Dan found that I could still implement traditional moves with a more progressive workout.

Prior to my session, Dan reminded me to eat something before I came in.  He reminded me that in order to get the most out of my training session, it was important to fuel my body. He also suggested that I drink plenty of water. During, I found my workout to be fun because I never knew what we would be doing next! But the most enjoyable part was the partner workouts Dan incorporated into my session. For instance, we did a workout where Dan held a weighted bar and I had to push back on the bar to try to push him over.  He jokingly called this workout “wrastling.” Not only was I working my abs and core, but also a great way to get out any built-up stress! The hardest part of my workout was an exercise we did with the training rope. While Dan stood at one end of the rope, I had to use my upper body to pull the rope in while he added resistance to the other end. I used my legs, core and abs to pull in the rest of the rope.

Overall, Dan and Midtown Athletic Club are extremely thorough at keeping the client first, which I found to be great. Through their effective PDQ, they identify behavioral and neurosciences. The gym is extremely clean and they have ALL types of equipment—both old and new—to give their members a variety.

Details: 135 Interstate N. Parkway NW, Atlanta, GA, (770) 953- 1100,

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Day 9 of Fitness – Gotta Dance Atlanta 

Best Self staffer: Bethany Newlin

Bethany Newlin at Gotta Dance Atlanta Studio

Bethany Newlin at Gotta Dance Atlanta Studio

Many experts say that dance is one of the best ways to get and stay healthy—I couldn’t agree more! For Day 9 of Fitness, I enrolled in Gotta Dance Atlanta’s hour-long beginner pop jazz class led by Peter Poulos.

This workout began promptly at 6:30 p.m. with a quick warm-up to loosen the body’s muscles. Once warm, Peter jumped right into the night’s dance routine which featured up-tempo music from Top 40 artist T-Pain. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced dancer, I found that the most wonderful thing about this class is the range in age. If you choose to take the class with your daughter or best friend, you can do it!

Another awesome trait that I found within Gotta Dance Atlanta’s studio is that each week brings with it a set of new routines. If you are unable to make a particular class during the week, no worries…you will start fresh next class! I most definitely recommend beginner pop jazz to any person looking to get fit and have fun. You will want to show your dance skills to friends and family once your class ends!

Details: Gotta Dance Atlanta, 1178 Ellsworth Industrial Drive NW Atlanta, GA, 404-352-0420,

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Spinach Alfredo Chicken Pie 1_cred Will Tucker colon Tucker Vision ProductionsIn addition to being a simple weeknight recipe, this spinach alfredo chicken pie can help get your young eaters interested in cooking. Chef Tanisha Mott teaches this recipe, among others, at the Children’s Museum of Atlanta “Cooking with Colors” class series for kids. Using ingredients that require minimal prep work and result in a tasty, colorful meal, this dish can foster children’s independence and awareness of a healthy diet. Join your kids in Chef Mott’s next round of “Cooking with Colors” classes on Mondays at 10:30 a.m., starting on January 26 and continuing through March 30. For more details, visit 


1 cup medium diced cooked chicken breast

1 cup frozen chopped collard greens thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1 cup frozen spinach thawed, drained and squeezed dry

1/2 cup frozen edamame

1/2 cup julienned zucchini

1/2  cup julienned carrots

1/2 cup julienned red pepper

2 tsps lemon juice

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

2 ready-to-bake pie dough, cut each into 6 pieces

1/2 cup light Alfredo sauce

3/4 cup (3 oz) small cubed Fontina cheese


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Combine first eight ingredients; toss well. Combine Alfredo sauce with chicken mixture. Place pie squares in a muffin pan. Add chicken mixture and cheese. Bake for 12 minutes or until crust is crisp. Serve with fresh fruit or spring mix

–Courtesy of Chef Tanisha Mott, Children’s Museum of Atlanta,

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Dr, Hugh Flax from Flax Dentistry answers a reader’s question about laser dentistry.

Flax, DDS, Hugh_cred Brian Crumb

Q: Is laser dentistry really pain free?

A: Unlike drills, which require patients to have anesthesia, most patients don’t need anesthesia and experience no pain with laser dentistry. In fact, most patients don’t feel anything when having a dental procedure done with a laser. New advancements in laser dentistry, such as the new Solea CO2 laser, mean that lasers are more precise than ever before. The precision of the CO2 laser prevents nerve damage and allows more of the natural tooth to be preserved.

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Day 8 of Fitness – Spartan Fitness 

Best Self staffer: Bethany Newlin

Spartan Fitness Atlanta Logo FRONT-blackFor Day 8 of Fitness, I enrolled in a personal training class with Bobby Fournier from Spartan Fitness Atlanta in order to evaluate my physical strength. Not only does an assessment and measurement guide the trainer to know where he or she should begin, but it also helps them to know how they can help you reach your fitness goal. Today’s goal was to simply work on both my legs and abdomen.

Edy Ganem at Spartan Fitness Atlanta

Edy Ganem at Spartan Fitness Atlanta

As a previous athlete, I was sure to notify Bobby of the changes that have occurred in my joints and tendons so that my muscles would not feel overworked. Since I was a first-timer to personal training with Bobby, it felt wonderful to know that Bobby made sure to ease me into each of the different routines from plyometrics to calisthenics, free weights and machines…Bobby does it all!

During the workout my heart rate was up and I was sweating profusely! And although I could feel my muscles burning, there was never any sense of pain. Once my personal training session ended, I felt relieved knowing that I had just had a killer workout where I felt energized rather than exhausted.

The hardest part of my workout was keeping the correct form throughout each entire rep. For example, during one of today’s drills I added an extra hop which made the rep quite easy to do. Bobby instantly corrected my form , and I could barely do 12. The most enjoyable part of my workout was the core work and stretching toward the end. Stretching not only prevents injury, helps with soreness and brings your heart rate down properly, but it also gives you time to relax and breathe before you have to get back to the rest of your day. A personal training session with Bobby is the way to go! If nothing else, be sure to set up an initial consultation to assess where you are physically!

Details: 920 Glenwood Ave Atlanta, GA,

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Lisa Tanker-Potts from Boutique Body Fitness Studio is here to share her positive life changes as a result of her 2014 New Year’s resolution!

Tanker-Potts, Lisa_cred Janet Howard PhotographyWhat was your resolution? 

When I was 32, I decided to make healthy living a lifestyle because of my weight gain and my family history of high blood pressure and diabetes.

When did you achieve your resolution?

Within three months, I lost 25 pounds and was working out four times a week.  Over the next six months, I achieved the goal of keeping sweets (my former weakness) to a minimum of once a month.  Eight years later, fitness and healthy eating are simply a part of my life.

What helped you achieve your goal?

Discipline. I realized that I had to be 150 percent dedicated to my fitness and nutrition program and use the same discipline that I used in my career and personal life.

After conquering this goal, what’s your resolution for 2015? 

My goal is to touch as many women’s lives as possible as a fitness coach and trainer at my studio. I truly love seeing the joy women have when they get fit and healthier!

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by Laura Carson Miller 

Looking Polished

Photo courtesy of 1143 H20 Nail Polish Are your nails crying out for mercy after one too many polish color changes? It might be time to switch to a more nail-friendly polish like 1143 H20 Nail Polish. This vegan polish formula is free of chemical solvents and requires no base coat or topcoat with application, so your nails can still breathe. And the best part? Removing this polish only takes water! Simply soak your nails and peel the polish of to reveal healthy nails for the new year.


Heat Lounge Opens at Lenox Square


We know you already love to hit up Lenox Square for the fabulous shopping and dining. Now you can add beautifying to that list with the opening of The Heat Lounge Blowdry and Makeup Bar. This sleek spot offers a fun and relaxing atmosphere providing blowouts, up ’dos, braids, and even your own clip-in extensions. Don’t miss their makeup, lash and facial services, either.

Details: 3393 Peachtree Road NE, Unit #3142A, Atlanta, GA,



I’m very much a fan of oil and vinegar on my salad, and oils of all kinds – olive, coconut, argan and sea buckthorn – have been stealing the health and beauty spotlights of late. One behind-the-scenes star is apple cider vinegar. I love using Bragg Organic Raw Apple Cider Vinegar. Try adding ACV to your routine in one of these ways:

  • Clarifying hair rinse – Did you know that conditioner and other hair products can build up on your hair and rob you of gleaming shine? Put a stop to that with ACV, which can help break down that build-up. Mix some in a cup with water and pour over your hair after your normal shampoo and conditioner routine, or add a bit directly to your shampoo.
  • Facial toner – Mix a small amount of ACV in a full spray bottle of distilled water to make your own facial toner. Shake well and squirt a little on a cotton ball. Apply on areas of discoloration, on overly oily areas or all over. (Start with just a dab and keep an eye out for any skin irritations.)
  • Teeth brightener – Rub ACV on teeth to help remove surface stains. Rinse with lots of water and grin at everyone you meet!


Top Hair Tips for 2015

January Best Beauty Top Hair Tip Image 1-7Angela Castel, a senior colorist at Atlanta’s Sassoon Salon, offers three tips for starting the new year off with the perfect hair color.

1. Start out fresh. Before your color service, book a clarifying treatment to remove any mineral deposits or product build-up from your hair and scalp. Think exfoliation for your hair.

2. Add some depth. Blondes can add tawny lowlights for a more neutral look or various shades of beige or golden tones to add dimension. Brunettes can enrich their color by adding well-blended shades of wine, caramel or chestnut.

3. Finish with finesse. Always finish your color service with a moisturizing masque for maximum hydration. It will keep your hair looking healthy and shiny.

Details: Sassoon Salon, 3393 Peachtree Road, NE, Atlanta, GA,

Brown is the New Black

Photo courtesy of Fadil Berisha

Photo courtesy of Fadil Berisha

Break free from your black smoky eye beauty rut! Atlanta’s (PLA) Beauty says brown is the new black. “The black smoky eye is classic, sexy and fabulous, but brown suits most skin tones and can look just as captivating,” shares Stephanie Green Bass, adding that blending creates a seamless finish.

Create the sultry brown smoky eye in two easy steps:

1. Blend (PLĀ) eye shadow in “Smoke” and “Hot Pants” shades all over the lid

2. Add a smudge of “Mother Earth” on the center of the lid

Details: Available at Woo Atlanta, Michele Coulter Salon, Skin IQ,

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Day 7 of Fitness – Sculpted Body Pilates

Best Self editor: Flannery Keck

Kathy Carroll (instructor), Flannery Keck, Kathy Dickson (owner)

Kathy Carroll (instructor), Flannery Keck, Kathy Dickson (owner)

For Day 7 of Fitness, I went to a Pilates Megaformer class at Sculpted Body Pilates. When a workout takes places on something called a “Megaformer,” you can bet that it’s going to be intense. Sculpted Body Pilates certainly delivered!

I arrived at the East Cobb studio for the 6:15 class last night and slipped my shoes and socks off. I put them and my other belongings in a cubby, which sat right at the entrance. The whole studio consists of one long room, making it a very comfortable and non-intimidating space. Kathy Dickson, the owner, greeted me at the desk and introduced me to the class instructor—also named Kathy! She gave me a tutorial on the Megaformer equipment, which I had never used before. As intimidating as it may look, the machine actually is pretty straightforward to use. It consists of a stable platform at the front and the back, two sets of handlebars, a sliding “carriage” in the middle and straps in various places. There are also springs that attach underneath the carriage that can increase stability or change the challenge level of your workout.



After that introduction, Kathy put us to work. We started with our hands on the handlebars and our feet on the carriage, sliding slowly back to a plank position and then slowly back up. It’s very tough to cheat with this type of workout, I quickly realized, because if you don’t activate your core and hold yourself up, your carriage will just keep sliding your feet further away from you! (Or your knees, or one foot, etc—the body part on the carriage changes with different postures.) This is true of most of the movements we did. You’re really forced to activate your core, legs, and arms in order to keep the right position. The hardest position for me was when we worked our inner thighs from a standing position. With one foot on the stable platform and one foot on the sliding carriage, I had to fight with my own flexibility to keep my legs together and my movements controlled. It was tough, but I certainly can feel the benefit in my legs today.

Standing inner thigh workout with rings

Standing inner thigh workout with rings

Kathy was great about walking through the room, adjusting people’s springs as needed and correcting form for the maximum benefit in each posture. With some postures, we added arm weights, rings (pictured) or stabilizing poles to get the best position. By the end of the class, all of us were shaking in our legs and cores from the muscle fatigue, which was the goal! During some of the movements, I definitely felt my heart rate spiking because of the muscle challenges, so I even got some cardio benefit from this workout. We had worked every major muscle group and then ended with a few stretches to work out some of the soreness that was already setting in. If you’re looking for a lot of benefit from a relatively short class, this is a great option! Don’t be afraid of the unfamiliar equipment—with a great tutorial and personal attention, you’ll be feeling toned in no time.

Details: First class is $10, eight-visit pass for new members is $119, 1205 Johnson Ferry Road, Suite 133, Marietta, GA,

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This local organization believes that caring for others is a top priority.

walking with new leg

Wheelchairs, walkers and crutches are an incredible help to those who need them. But Embraced, a local nonprofit founded in 2008, knows that too often, people go without the equipment they need for mobility. Founder Lauren O’Brien says, “I saw a need when I was interning in both a for profit and nonprofit heath clinic. On the for profit side, people were asking the doctor, ‘What do I do with these crutches since I am finished with them?’ On the nonprofit side, people needed this medical equipment and often went without it.”

After seeing this need, O’Brien wanted to meet it. Since founding Embraced, she and the organization have helped almost 5,000 people – both in Atlanta and globally – attain the medical equipment they need for mobility. Recipients are “beyond grateful and relieved,” O’Brien says, when they finally become mobile. “It impacts them on so many levels. When mobility is compromised, it leaves someone feeling vulnerable. Combine that with the fact that they don’t have the funds to get equipment to help them, and you can imagine what they are faced with. Embraced solves a huge problem for them.”

Embraced relies on donations, accepting everything from wheelchairs, canes, crutches and braces to prosthetic limbs. Donations are left in 61 collection bins at offices such as Resurgens Orthopaedics, Peachtree Orthopaedics and many more around Atlanta. If you have any equipment to donate, simply visit their website to find the drop off bin nearest you.

Supporters of Embraced can also “adopt” a bin, which simply means picking up a designated bin each month and delivering it to the Embraced facility. “This is very helpful, and we really need more Atlantans to adopt a bin,” O’Brien says. You can also join in at monthly “Saturday Sort Day” events, which happens on January 10 this month. “Volunteers come and help us to sort, barcode and inventory all of the medical equipment that has been collected that month. The more the merrier!” Your efforts will help restore mobility to people from Atlanta all the way to Haiti, Kenya and beyond. To learn more, visit

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