Tammy Stokes Lifestyle line of infused waters

Tammy Stokes, owner of local West Coast Workout fitness studios, has branched out of the gym to improve your wellness in the kitchen. She recently launched the Tammy Stokes Lifestyle line of infused waters, nourishing tonics, soups and salads. These organic products are made from scratch using powerhouse health foods and can be delivered right to your door. After you fuel your body with these carefully crafted meals, you’ll be ready to try the Tammy Stokes Lifestyle workout videos available for free online.

Details: tammystokeslifestyle.com

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Day 12 of Fitness – Atlanta School of Burlesque at Core Dance Studio 

Best Self publisher Sherri Adair 

Rachel Payne, Flame Cynders, Sherri Adair

Rachel Payne, Flame Cynders, Sherri Adair

So my good friend Rachel Payne invited me to a class last night. She said, “Sherri, this is a different kind of workout, but I think you will like it.” Rachel should know – she and I have worked together for many years in the fitness industry and later both incorporated dance (ballroom style) into our fitness repertoires. But I really didn’t know much more than that when she invited me to join her for a Burlesque class.

I later learned that Burlesque is alive and well in Atlanta, and there is a thriving culture of dancers, entertainers, instructors, troupes and schools around the city. This class was held at Core Dance Studio in Decatur and was taught by an instructor from The Atlanta School of Burlesque. Burlesque is and artistic and sometimes seductive dance often accompanied with sequins, feathers, fans and other over-the-top costumes and makeup to tell a story.

Flame Cynders

Flame Cynders

The beginner class I attended for Day 12 of Fitness was taught by Flame Cynders, who had to immediately leave from teaching my class for a performance at Smith’s Old Bar. She was dressed in heels, fishnets and a body hugging dress with a flirty skirt, which she says can really put you in the right mood for the dance. All of the students wore heels (dance shoes) and were encouraged to take our outfits to the next level for the next class since most of us were wearing yoga pants and baggy shirts.

The class itself started with a warm-up and fairly traditional stretch exercises, except much more challenging to do in heels. Flame turned the music on, and we practiced the “walk.” This slow, deliberate, seductive walk across the room involved dragging the toe as we took each step, making sure our arms and hands looked soft, floaty and sexy…it was HARD to do.

Every movement we learned was done in half or quarter time. For example, a grapevine move is pretty basic and easy. However, if you try it in a quarter time with careful attention to your arm and hand position, then throw yourself into a pose and bend over while completing a leg or glove peel, I promise your muscles will be quivering.

This is a deceptively tough workout. But what a great way to exercise, smile, lose your inhibitions and tap into your sexy, beautiful self.

Each class is included as a series, and at the end you have your own 30-second choreographed routine you can perfect and practice.

Details: 133 Sycamore Street, Decatur, GA, (404) 373-4154, www.coredance.orgwww.atlantaburlesqueschool.com

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Rhonda Barnett Tingle from the J.M. Tull Gwinett Family YMCA and Christy Fennessy from Torq Cycle Atlanta answer readers’ questions about fitness.

Rhonda Tingle

Rhonda Tingle

Q: I just joined a gym to work on my New Year’s resolution. Can I just hop on a machine and get started?

A: Have a certified trainer or fitness professional show you how to use the equipment properly and safely. There are specific criteria involved in alignment, proper range of motion, proper progression and volume of weight lifted. Using the machines properly provides the most effective and safest strength training gains.

Christy Fennessy

Christy Fennessy

Q: Can I really get a solid workout done in half an hour?

A: Absolutely. Studies show that moderately overweight people who exercise for 30 minutes and break a sweat can lose more weight over three months than those who do similar workouts for 60 minutes a day.Why? When you know there’s a shorter workout on tap, you might be more likely to give it your all. Use intense intervals to make your 30 minutes count.

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Honeybee_on_a_flowerThanks to the convenience of grocery stores, many of us don’t need to make our own cheese or keep bees for our honey. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fun! Turn traditional skills into modern-day hobbies by signing up for workshops through The Homestead Atlanta. On January 17, this organization offers a beekeeping workshop with biologist Veronique Perrot at Wylde Center’s Oakhurst Gardens. On January 18, learn to cultivate your own shiitake mushrooms, and on January 24, cheese lovers can make their favorite dairy product with a nationally renowned cheese maker. For prices around $30, you can register online today and start mastering a new favorite hobby.

Details: thehomesteadatl.com

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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, www.optwellnessatl.com/index.html

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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, www.midtown.com/clubs/atlanta-athletic-tennis-club

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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, www.got2dance.net.

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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 childrensmuseumatlanta.org 


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, childrensmuseumatlanta.org

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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, www.facebook.com/SpartanFitnessAtlanta

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