House of Payne Fitness Model ExperienceGet your fitness model career started by learning from the experts at House of Payne Personal Training on January 18th. House of Payne will host The Fitness Model Experience, a unique event that will show you how to pose, train and more. Hear from guest speakers including special guest Adam Silver, founder of Silver Model Management in New York. Also learn more from professional fitness models and hear their success stories. $47 per person.

Details: 4656 Lawrenceville Hwy., Lilburn, GA, (678) 641-9188,

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Day 12 of Fitness – Sh’Bam Dance Fitness at Adrenaline Group Xercise

Best Self associate publisher: Patti

Les Mills Sh'Bam classFour o’clock on Sunday afternoon is not exactly my peak fitness hour, but that was the time of the Sh’Bam dance fitness class at Adrenaline Group Xercise yesterday. I headed there for Day 12 of our 30 Days of Fitness, and despite not usually working out at that time, I was looking forward to an upbeat class.

Traffic is light on Peachtree Industrial during the weekend, so getting to AGX was a breeze, as was the parking. The person at the front desk greeted me right away, pointed out where I could grab a towel, and proceeded to show me to the group fitness room. The instructor, Myrna Soraya, gave me a very warm welcome and promised a very athletic, high energy, dance class. I mentioned to her that I had done Zumba classes before, and she said that was good but this class would be even more athletic and a harder workout.

Best Self associate publisher Patti and Sh'Bam instructor Myrna

Best Self associate publisher Patti and Sh'Bam instructor Myrna

The energy of the music and Myrna’s friendly personality quickly got me out of my Sunday afternoon sluggishness, and I was soon smiling and stepping along with her. The music was great, and with each song we learned a different “routine.” The routines were short and not terribly complicated, so it was easy to follow. I know I didn’t make it look as good as Myrna, but I was able to keep up. About halfway through, I realized my knees were feeling the years of abuse and not responding well to the fast twists and turns on the carpet. I made a few adjustments—kicks not so high, not quite as many turns as Myrna—got back on track for a strong finish!

Details: 5251 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Chamblee, GA, (770)458-3859,



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Day 11 of Fitness – The Bar Method

Best Self account executive: Sandy

Jen and Carson from The Bar Method

Jen and Carson, who welcomed me to The Bar Method

For Day 11 of our 30 Days of Fitness, I went to The Bar Method. The workout is a full hour composed of eight to nine strengthening exercises. It’s not Pilates or yoga, but instead combines isometrics, interval training, dance conditioning and sports rehabilitation which can quickly and safely (emphasis on safe) burn fat and carve muscle using your own body weight to sculpt each muscle group. It’s high intensity but no-impact that works you to total exhaustion, followed by stretching. The combination of all of this is meant to create a long, lean, firm, sculpted body. After taking the class, I can totally see how this could change my body!

First timers just need to bring or wear socks along with your usual fitness wear. Your workout bottoms can be ankle or capri length. When you first arrive, grab a locker for your stuff, remove your shoes, bring in water if you want or get some from their water cooler, grab one of the provided towels and two sets of hand weights from the baskets.

Once we had our equipment, Jen began class. She was very detailed in her instructions and personable to everyone there. She notices if you are doing something wrong and nudges you to the right form. She also praises you when you are doing it correctly and would often tell me, “Great job, Sandy,” or “Nice form, Sandy.” How she could keep up with everyone was amazing, as she moved about the class constantly when she wasn’t in front of everyone showing us a new exercise. She was awesome.

For me, holding the ball between my thighs while squatting with my heels lifted off the floor was the toughest part of the class. Other women told me it was a challenge for them at first too, but after that, their challenge is going into deeper squats and lifting their heels even higher.  The workouts never get too easy since you are constantly challenging yourself to do something deeper, higher, adding arms, not using arms and so forth.

Bar Method

I have never done anything like this before and have never used the bar and a ball they way they use it. I loved the variety and never got bored with any one exercise. I thought the hour went by way more quickly than anticipated! I had been slightly intimidated before attending the class since it’s been two years since I’ve actually been on any workout schedule, and because of my age—well, let’s just say I’m in my 50s. I thought there would be nothing but young, hard bodies there. I was wrong; I saw all levels and ages, and it was a relief. Not only that, but I felt alive, invigorated and energetic the rest of the day. I would recommend this class to anyone at any fitness level and at any age.

Details: 1281 Johnson Ferry Rd, Suite 112, Marietta, GA, (770) 578-4655,

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Day 10 of Fitness – Happy Hour TGIF at Sacred Garden Yoga

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Best Self staff member Flannery with Sacred Garden Yoga owner Cindy Olah

Best Self staff member Flannery with Sacred Garden Yoga owner Cindy Olah

In years past, I have fancied myself a yogi. I used to look forward to the calm atmosphere at a yoga studio: the immediate, unintentional lowering of my voice and slowing of my step as I entered the space. I used to love the delicate scents in a yoga studio—even if it was just a regular candle, it became extra special in this place of quiet reflection and self-exploration. But as it tends to do, life got in the way of my practice. I let myself get busy, I convinced myself that the drive to the studio was too long, and I stopped going. Instead, I opted for a more convenient gym with shorter classes that can only be described as yoga-ish. There would be a mat involved, and several of the requisite downward dog poses, but the sacred space was no longer there. I didn’t realize what I was missing until I went to Sacred Garden Yoga for Day 10 of our 30 Days of Fitness. I signed up for this class partly because the owner, Cindy Olah, was voted “Best Yoga Instructor” in our “Best of 2013″ contest so the class was sure to be good, and partly because the class was called “Happy Hour TGIF Yoga.” I thought that sounded upbeat, fast-paced and fun—much like the watered-down yoga classes I have come to expect over the last few years.

When I arrived, the studio was smaller than I expected. Tucked in a residential area of Marietta, this little house has a reception area leading into a yoga room that holds about 12 mats. Chimes tinkled softly as I opened the door, and I was enveloped by that yoga-studio scent that I remembered from years ago. I can’t even name it, but I could feel it: it felt like calmness, safety, strength and happiness all rolled into one deep breath. I rolled out my mat and jumped into the class—I was late, because like so many of us, I had trouble pulling myself away from my desk on time in order to prioritize self-care. As I began listening to Cindy’s instruction, I realized how very different this was from the yoga-ish classes I was used to. The goal was not to get a quick workout in and then head back to our normal lives. She was talking to us about body positioning and what to stretch when, of course, but that was interwoven with talk about living intentionally, learning to trust ourselves on and off the mat, and keeping our inner fires of motivation lit for every facet of our lives. Cindy used the Sanskrit names for many poses, offered variations for the different levels in the class, and walked around to adjust us as needed through the entire 75 minutes.

Sacred Garden YogaI had forgotten this level of engagement that’s found at a dedicated yoga studio. The instructor and students are not just there for the physical benefits: we were there for connection and for the mental and emotional journey of mindful yoga. Even this blog post is different than the other days of fitness! I feel more reflective, slower, calmer than usual. That’s not just due to the movements of yoga (which help, certainly), but more due to the atmosphere, focus and sacred space created at Sacred Garden Yoga. Do yourself a favor and try a yoga class at a studio like Sacred Garden: give yourself permission to take the time, to make the drive, to prioritize yourself. See what a change it will make.

Details: 369 Campbell Hill Street, Marietta, GA, (770) 421-9353,

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Day 9 of Fitness - Stretch and Relax at Concourse Athletic Club

Best Self publisher: Sherri

Best Self publisher Sherri at Stretch and Relax with instructor Linda

Best Self publisher Sherri at Stretch and Relax with instructor Linda

There are three components of fitness: strength, cardio and flexibility. As a former “hard-core” workout person, I have been guilty of overdoing the strength and cardio and neglecting the flexibility part. As I have grown older, I have learned how equally important it is to stay flexible. I feel the impact of my loss of flexibility in almost everything I do. So for Day 9 of our 30 Days of Fitness, I took the 60-minute Stretch and Relax Class at the Concourse Athletic Club. I decided to take this low-intensity class because I am working to regain some of my lost flexibility, and this class was a good start. Linda Schreiber is a veteran instructor and kept the movements very safe, and her instruction was easy to follow. I felt like the class was good for improving flexibility while providing a calm environment to give the body and soul a break. Plenty of other people thought so too–the class was full of men and women of all ages and fitness levels. Another thing I have learned is that exercise doesn’t always have to be hard. Sometimes it’s good to slow down and be kind to our bodies.

Surprisingly, I found I was a little sore after the workout, which proves that despite the relaxing nature of the class, it still helped get my muscles in better shape. I enjoyed feeling the tension in my muscles release as I stretched more deeply than I have in a while. Overall, I was glad this class provided the opportunity for me to give extra attention to that third, equally important component of fitness. It helped my posture, strength, and range of motion and would be a great addition to anyone’s workout routine, whether you’re a beginner, someone who is recuperating from injuries, or someone who just wants to be kinder to yourself in the gym.

Details: 8 Concourse Pkwy NE, Sandy Springs, GA, (770) 698-2000,

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Rabia Vaughns, MMS, PA-C with the Atlanta Center for Holistic and Integrative Medicine, gives tips for stopping smoking this year through diet, exercise and alternative methods.

rabia vaughns atlanta center for holistic and integrative therapyEveryone knows that smoking is harmful to your health. Unfortunately, stopping smoking is tough. But if you are ready to quit, it’s time to follow an integrated approach to give yourself the best chance for success.

Create a plan. List your reasons for quitting. Analyze your smoking triggers and then find alternatives like chewing gum or exercising. Set a “quit date” and stick to it. Tell your friends and family about your plan to quit. Even if you relapse, keep quitting!

Eat clean. Fruits and vegetables have been found to make cigarettes taste less appealing, so loading up on plant-based foods before your quit date can be helpful. Also avoid meats, coffee and alcohol.

Get moving. Moderate to vigorous exercise can help prevent smoking relapses, cravings and moodiness in those trying to kick the habit.

Consider acupuncture. Book a treatment the day you quit or within the first 72 hours to support serotonin production, which can become depleted during smoking cessation.

For 3 more tips, check out the page 55 of this month’s digital issue!


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Day 8 of Fitness – Indoor Rowing at Rowbot Fitness

Best Self staffer: Flannery

Even after a tough workout for Day 7 of our 30 Days of Fitness, I was really looking forward to today’s class: indoor rowing at Rowbot Fitness. Rowing is a very balanced workout that combines weight training and cardio in the same motions, so it’s a very efficient way to both build muscle and improve your overall fitness level. It’s also a great way to sculpt your back muscles, which can be a hard area of your body to work on. For all these reasons, I was pumped to try rowing for a whole hour!

Concept2ModelD rowing machine

Concept2 Model D rowing machine

Once I arrived, I filled out some brief paperwork to set up my account. Rowbot keeps an electronic card in the studio that you insert into your rowing machine each time you come to train. This card logs your distance and all your workout metrics, so you can track your progress with each session. So with paperwork filled out and log card in hand, I headed to the rowing machine to get started. The machine uses air resistance instead of water resistance like some rowing machines, so you can increase the resistance for an even more intense training session. Charles hopped on the machine next to me and demonstrated the technique, explained how to read the metrics on my machine, and got me a complimentary water bottle. Then we were off!

Aubrey, the instructor for the 5:00 p.m. class, led the class through some slow isolation movements to warm up our legs, backs and arms: all parts of the body integral during rowing. Then Aubrey guided us through a variety of intervals, where we sped up our stroke speed to match hers for several minutes, with brief rest breaks in between. The rowing motion felt a little unnatural at first (especially since we weren’t actually in a boat), but I quickly got used to it and didn’t have to think about it as much. The mirrored studio allowed Aubrey and Charles to easily see our form and suggest changes if needed: I kept dropping my “oars” too low and leaning too far forward. All the instruction was given cheerfully and encouragingly, and it was exciting to learn, work hard, and (almost) keep pace with Aubrey even in my first class. Like indoor cycling, though, I was in control of my own speed, so when I started getting tired I was able to slow down and recover a little. This makes rowing a very accessible class for all fitness levels and ages. Before I knew it, our hour was up. This workout passed faster than any I have done before, because in the midst of our intervals, all the class members were chatting and getting to know each other. We finished with more isolations and some stretches, and then we turned in our log cards for next time.

Best Self staff member Flannery with Rowbot instructors Charles and Aubrey

Best Self staff member Flannery with Rowbot instructors Charles and Aubrey

If you’re looking for a multifaceted workout that builds muscle and improves your cardio level, led by encouraging and friendly instructors and alongside dedicated studio members, Rowbot Fitness is it. To try a class for yourself, reserve your spot online and drop in to an orientation and your first class for free!

Details: 2030 Powers Ferry Road
Suite 368, Atlanta, GA


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Alton Brown, The Edible Inevitable Tour in Atlanta



Celebrity chef Alton Brown returns to Atlanta on February 28 with The Edible Inevitable Tour. Spanning every genre, this national tour includes food experimentation, stand-up comedy and even live music from Alton himself. Come prepared for fun at this family-friendly event, but be careful of the seats in the designated “poncho zone,” where Alton’s cooking demonstrations might get messy! Tickets are available through the Fox Theatre or Whole Foods.

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Who needs Glee when we have our own show choir, called Voices Embodied Ensemble (VEE), right here in Atlanta? Featuring talented singers who have physical disabilities and awesome voices, VEE officially began in June 2013 as one of the newest projects from the nonprofit group Abel 2.

This singing group hopes to use music and art to do what Paralympians do through sports: focus on the abilities and not the challenges of talented people. VEE has the enthusiastic support of local and national organizations like the Shepherd Center, Disability Link, Full Radius Dance Company, People First of Atlanta, and Southeast ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), as well as the disability departments of the Smithsonian and National Endowment of the Arts.

Voices Embodied Ensemble casting call, Abel 2The group currently has three singers, and they hope to grow to about nine to 12 members. VEE held their kick-off showcase in November. The ensemble performed some contemporary songs as well as classic songs from a variety of genres. Come out to future concerts and help VEE gain the attention it needs to achieve one of their long-term goals: to be invited to perform at the 2016 Paralympic Games in Brazil. VEE’s next casting call is January 25 from 4 to 7 p.m. at Shepherd Center. If you or someone you know is interested in auditioning, email


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Dr. David Whiteman from Southern Plastic Surgery answers a reader’s question about pre-surgery weight.

Dr. David Whiteman, Southern Plastic SurgeryQ: Do I have to be a certain weight before I can have liposuction or a tummy tuck?

A: I remind my patients that plastic surgery should not be a “quick fix,” but rather should help them reach aesthetic goals, as liposuction and a tummy tuck only enhance the body’s contours. Prior to cosmetic surgery, it’s important to be near your weight goals and to maintain realistic expectations. To prolong long-lasting results after surgery, patients must adopt a healthy diet and exercise routine.


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