Mizuno Running recently released the Wave Prophecy 3, a new running shoe with full-length cushioning and support. This lightweight shoe follows the natural shape of your foot to encourage a long, comforatble run. MizunoThe price makes it an investment, but it’s well worth the bucks to help you go the distance. $209.99

Details: Big Peach Running Company, www.bigpeachrunningco.com, www.mizunousa.com .

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Join these heart health awareness events in celebration of National Heart Month. Heart Health

February 7: Wear red and show your support of heart disease research for National Wear Red Day. 

February 7: Fresh Produce and WomenHeart will be hosting a special event at the Mall of Georgia with cardiologist Dr. Nanette Wenger. There will be a presentation about the risks for heart disease and an in-store fashion show.

February 8: The Go Red for Women movement is hosting a Go Red Connect event to educate women about their health and get everyone involved in the cause.

February 15: Head over to the Healthy Heart Fair at Piedmont Heart-Sharpsburg and take advantage of the complimentary screenings for blood pressure, body mass index and cholesterol. To register, call (877) 527-3712.

February 18: Tenecia Allen, MD, a DeKalb Medical cardiologist, will share tips for improving your heart health and safeguarding against many heart issues. Call (404) 501-9355.

February 25: Emory-Adventist Hospital at Smyrna will present a talk on chest pain and coronary artery disease at 7 p.m., given by Jacob Levy, MD. Levy will touch on the importance of a heart healthy diet, exercise and changing poor health habits. Call (770) 319-2025.

Details: www.goredforwomen.org, www.heart.org/atlanta, www.piedmont.org


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Learn more about custom prescriptions and compounding pharmacies. These days, savvy shoppers are often steering clear of one-size-fits-all food, and instead heading for the diverse, local options like a farmers market and community supported agricultural (CSA) programs. Compounding Pharmacy Now you can make a similar choice with your medications. In addition to your typical commercial pharmacy, there is another choice: a compounding pharmacy.

What is a compounding pharmacy?

It’s just what it sounds like: a pharmacy that compounds or combines ingredients to make individualized medicine. By combining the ingredients themselves rather than simply ordering complete medicines from a large brand name company, a compounding pharmacy can tailor medicines like hormone replacements, pain relievers and scar treatments to you exact needs. The compounds are nor FDA-approved, but not because they are unsafe. Casey Gaetano, vice-president of P3 Compounding Pharmacy, explains that FDA approval takes million of dollars and years of testing, and since each compound is specific to you, there’s no realistic way for each medicine to go through the approval process. If you’re with a doctor you trust, theirs is likely all the approval you need to put your mind at ease.

How do you find one?

It starts with consulting your doctor – this might be your primary care physician, your orthopedist or your OB/GYN. Instead of your doctor writing out your typical prescription, you can ask them to write a prescription for compounding, which is like a recipe for the pharmacist that is based on your exact needs. If your doctor doesn’t feel comfortable writing a prescription for compounding, you may have to be more proactive and call other doctors to find one who will. Once you secure the correct type of prescription, you can then take it to your local compounding pharmacy, like the newly opened P3 Compounding Pharmacy, where they can fill it and send your medicine to you overnight. You can also pick up your medicines and chat with your pharmacists at their office in Sandy Springs.

What are the advantages?

First, you can be sure that your prescription is personalized rather than generically prepared, which means fewer fillers. Second, it may allow you to avoid unwanted side effects. For example, you can apply topical cream to a sore knee instead of taking an oral pain reliever and involving unrelated parts of your body, like your stomach, liver and kidneys. A compounding pharmacy can even combine multiple medicines into one easy pill for you to take, which often means you can spend less on your medicines overall, though cost varies depending on the prescription. Like most medicines, insurance coverage for compounds varies based on your plan, so be sure to check with your provider for more information.

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Day 27 of Fitness – Fitness Firm Studio

Best Self account executive: Aubrey

As Best Self Atlanta’s 30 Days of Fitness nears its end, I was excited for my last workout at Fitness Firm Studio in Sandy Springs. This workout with Randy Nicholson, who has a background as a professional kickboxer and trainer, was unlike any other workout I’ve done before. First off, Fitness Firm has a very “community” feel to it. It seemed like everyone in the class had known each other and Randy for years—some of them have!—and that is something I really enjoyed. Some fitness classes it can feel like you’re just a number, but at Fitness Firm Studio, the personal interaction was something I thought that really set it apart from other workouts.

Another unique aspect was a gadget Randy created about nine years ago: the Active Health Roller. The Active Health Roller allows you to strategically “roll out” trigger and pain points which cause limitations to the body. It is used to eliminate pain and maintain a healthy body by increasing blood flow and releasing toxins from heavily used muscles. I used the roller on both my calves and thighs. The feeling was a good pain to my muscles, almost like a deep tissue massage.

Best Self staffer Aubrey and Fitness Firm Studio trainer Randy

Best Self staffer Aubrey and Fitness Firm Studio trainer Randy

The Active Health Roller gives you a good idea of what to expect on the inside of Fitness Firm Studio. Randy has taken his own spin on traditional exercises, with lots of gadgets he’s created himself! There is everything from PVC pipes, foot scrubs (the covering that doctors would wear on their feet), cut-up foam rollers, and even a beer keg that was incorporated into this workout. This class was small compared to Randy’s other classes, but was nice because he focused a lot on my form and what I needed to fix to get the most out of my workout. Every person was at a station where we did timed interval training.  There was a buzzer in the gym that guided us through a workout for 30 seconds, then a 10 second break. We did three rounds of each station that worked all muscle groups and cardio. I was never bored, and the exercises went by really quickly! I was always interested in what my next station would be, since this gym is so non-traditional.

The hardest part of the workout for me was an exercise Randy called “The Running Man.”  You put your body in a raised plank position by putting your forearms on an aerobics step platform. From there, your feet are on the foot scrubs which slide on the rubber floor. When the buzzer goes off, you bring your knees to your inner elbows to get a incredible core workout.  I’ve done many planks in other classes, but this felt like a plank times 10! My abs were on fire!

The most enjoyable part of the workout was exercise we did to work the hamstrings.  I was laying on my back and put my heels into a swinging piece of PCV pipe that was attached from the roof.  I then lifted my hips off the ground, straightened my legs, then brought my knees in to work both of my hamstrings. Typically,  I do my hamstring workouts on the stability ball at the gym, but this workout I could feel I was solely worked my hamstrings instead of engaging other muscles groups to stabilize on the ball.

If you are looking for a non-traditional workout, but with an emphasis on exercises for pain-management, go see Randy at Fitness Firm Studio!  The clientele ranges from Olympic-trained athletes to men and women who are over 60. 

Details: 209 Hilderbrand Drive, Sandy Springs, GA, (678) 427-9603, www.fitnessfirmstudio.com 

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Day 26 of Fitness – Blast900

Best Self staffers: Aubrey and Flannery

Now that we’ve nearly reached the end of our 30 Days of Fitness, we’re feeling extra fit around the office. Aubrey and I decided to see how our new and improved selves would do at a Blast900 class in Buckhead. It was every bit as intense as we expected, but what we didn’t expect was how much we would also enjoy it!

Blast900 weights and treamills

Blast900 weights and treadmills

We arrived for the Sunday class, led by four-year Blast900 instructor Paige Castor, who made us feel welcome right off the bat by introducing herself and showing us around the room. The workout room was cozy, with a handful of treadmills along two walls and several personal stations of dumbbells and weighted bars in the middle. The weight stations were already set up for us, which was very convenient and made it easy for us newcomers to see what equipment we would be using.

Aubrey and I began class on the floor with weights, following along as Paige led us through exercises with the dumbbells and a weighted bar. Because of the nature of the workout, we didn’t stay at this weight station for long. Blast900 keeps you moving consistently between the weights area and the treadmills every few minutes, so you stay challenged with cardio and muscle toning evenly throughout the entire hour. So once we did a few warm-ups with the weights, we switched places with the class members who had started on the treadmills. Paige called out our speed and incline options, and we transitioned smoothly into those intervals. Paige was clearly a seasoned teacher because she had no trouble making the instructions easy to hear and easy to follow, even though some people were on treadmills and some were using weights. Aubrey and I were thankful she was such a good guide—our bodies were already working so hard, we didn’t have a lot of extra energy to think!

And we definitely were working hard. The intervals on the treadmills are no joke—at times, we would spend a minute or two climbing up a 24 percent incline or sprinting on a flat treadmill for 90 seconds. Blast900 makes it easy to really push yourself, though, because those intervals really are short and manageable. You can do anything for 90 seconds! That’s what I kept telling myself as I was gasping for air, at least. But after each seemingly impossible interval, I got to hop back off and do weights on the floor, so the built-in recovery time was a real perk to this class. Plus, the treadmills each had a motivational quote printed on the mirror above them, which really helps keep you focused during the intense parts. As for the weights section, we completed every exercise from bicep curls and side planks to leg and butt workouts using resistance bands around our feet. This part of the workout really kept us guessing and, by the end of the hour, had worked every muscle group.

Blast900 instructor Paige Castor and Best Self account executive Aubrey Campbell

Blast900 instructor Paige Castor and Best Self account executive Aubrey Campbell

By the end, Aubrey and I had both gotten fantastic workouts, due in large part to the great arrangement of this class. The intervals and the consistent rotation allowed for just enough recovery time and just enough added interest that we didn’t get overly exhausted, nor did we get bored. It was a great mix that kept us motivated and working at our max the entire hour. Neither of us were wearing a heart monitor, but I would bet that we blasted 900 calories, easily! To try it for yourself either in Buckhead, Dunwoody, or their soon-to-be-open Midtown location, just go to their website and reserve a spot in your first complimentary class.

Details: 56 E Andrews Dr NW #11, Atlanta, GA, (404) 841-5430, www.blast900.com

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One in every three women in the world will be raped or beaten in her lifetime. When you do the math, that comes out to about one billions women. In response to this appalling statistic, playwright, activist and V-Day founder Eve Ensler initiated the One Billion Rising movement last year. One Billion Rising

Building on the momentum from her 15-year V-Day movement, Ensler’s goal with One Billion Rising was to involve at least one billion people worldwide in dancing, marching and speaking out against violence. And on February 14, 2013, the world met that goal. More than one billion people in over 207 countries participated in local events as part of the movement. In Atlanta alone, 100 partner organizations and 7,000 people gathered in Woodruff Park to dance in a One Billion Rising flash mob. As the initiative states, “One billion women violated is an atrocity. One billion women dancing is a revolution.”

This year efforts are escalating, and the theme has evolved slightly to be “Rise, Release and Dance for Justice.” One Billion Rising for Justice is a global call for women and those who love them “to gather safely in community outside places where they are entitled to justice [...] where women deserve to feel safe but too often do not.” These places may be courthouses, school administration buildings, work places, places of worship, homes or simply public gathering places. The idea is to dance, march or speak to bring awareness to the problem of violence and end the impunity associated with it.

The main event of Atlanta’s One Billion Rising for 2014 will be a march called “Stop Traffic.” Participants will march through city streets, literally stopping traffic in an effort to draw attention to the issue of sexual exploitation and human trafficking in Atlanta. Atlanta was names by the FBI as one of 14 U.S. cities with the highest rate of children used in prostitution, so the theme of this march is especially critical to our city. The march will end in Freedom Park with a flash mob dance called “Break the Chain,” which is open to the community. Dance in the flash mob, participate in the march or simply spread the word about these important events, and you can count yourself among the one billion who are rising for justice.

Get Involved Now: Stop Traffic March & Break the Chain Flash Mob- February 14, 2014 at 11:30 p.m.- March from Ebenezer Baptist Church and processes to Grant Park. Flash mob to follow in Grant Park. Don’t forget to wear red. www.onebillionrising.org.

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Day 25 of Fitness – Zumba at Dance Stop Studios

Best Self publisher: Sherri

Since 1974, Dance Stop Studios has been recognized as one of our city’s largest and most successful dance schools. The 13,000-square-foot facility is located on Upper Roswell Road in the East Cobb area of Marietta. The school is known all over the country for its award-winning dance program, but Dance Stop’s curriculum offers classes beyond dance. They also offer fitness classes like yoga, Barre Sculpt and Zumba, so on Saturday morning, I went to try out one of their Zumba classes for 30 Days of Fitness. I have taken Zumba a couple of times, but it has been a while, so I can say with certainty that I am a beginner.

Dance Stop Studios Zumba instructor Kristi and Best Self publisher Sherri

Dance Stop Studios Zumba instructor Kristi Hickman and Best Self publisher Sherri

I was so impressed with the studio from the minute I walked in the door. The friendly greeting from the front desk and my Zumba instructor, Kristi Hickman, immediately put me at ease. I was feeling welcome and ready to start my class. The class started right on time with upbeat music and consisted of several routines (one per song).  Plus, each song worked the body from head to toe, both toning our muscles and improving our cardio abilities. The lights were turned down low to simulate a party environment, and I soon found myself doing “my” version of the moves. Kristi was very positive and motivating. Her smiling face and incredible energy were contagious. I found myself smiling, and occasionally laughing at my interesting interpretations of the Zumba dances. But that’s the great thing about Zumba—the instructor dances along with you the entire class and you simply follow along, so there’s no dance experience required! I also found myself thinking about Shakira as we danced to her music, and I thought to myself, “My hips do lie!”—they weren’t quite moving the way Kristi’s were. But it didn’t matter because I was getting a great workout and having a blast!

Zumba Class participants Regina, instructor Kristi, Casey and Tanya

Zumba Class participants Regina, instructor Kristi, Casey and Tanya

At one point in the class, the seasoned participants jumped on the stage with Kristi. I loved that because it felt very inclusive and made it easy for me to lose my inhibitions about my “style” and just enjoy the workout. And the workout went by so fast! I now understand why so many love Zumba workouts. For people who love to work out to upbeat music and enjoy the camaraderie of others, this is the class. The workout style is fun and liberating and makes you smile while still burning plenty of calories.

Details: 4400 Roswell Road, Suite 128, Marietta, GA, www.dancestopstudios.com


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Day 24 of Fitness – Fet-ness at Roc House Women’s Fitness Spa

Best Self account executive: Aubrey

For today’s 30 Days of Fitness workout, I went to Roc House Women’s Fitness Spa for their hour-long Fet-ness class. Our instructor, Keisha, is from Trinidad & Tobago, and she explained the word “fete” means an extravagant party in French, which perfectly describes the extravagant Caribbean party feel of this class. The basis of this class is about taking high-energy Caribbean music and combining it with toning, resistance and strengthening exercises. Fet-ness reminded me of a Zumba class, but with strong Caribbean and reggae influences with the music and moves.

Fet-ness instructor Keisha and Best Self staffer Aubrey

Fet-ness instructor Keisha and Best Self staffer Aubrey

When I arrived, I signed a waiver and they helped set me up with a locker. First off, this gym is beautiful and offers a variety of group classes. Not only are they a gym designed for women, but also offer spa services, a hair and nail salon, retail boutique, and an all-natural café. It really is a one-stop shop for health, wellness, and beauty! As for the class, I was excited to try it but didn’t know what to expect. Once class began, though, I felt like I was at a dance party! Everyone was smiling and the music was upbeat, so sometimes it didn’t feel like I was working out at all. We never stopped moving and the moves incorporated resistance training, so even though it didn’t feel like it, I knew I was getting exercise in. The hardest part of the workout was when we were doing the moves that required squats. My legs have been pretty sore from the other workouts I’ve done this week, so I was really feeling the burn when we were doing squats.

Not only was the workout fun and effective, but Keisha was great. She had so much energy and was having a great time, which was infectious throughout the class. Keisha had a smile on her face the entire time, and I could tell the music and dances moves were close to her and the culture of Trinidad & Tobago. Overall, the entire workout was enjoyable from start to finish! It was a super fun class that I would love to take again. 

Details: Fet-ness is offered on Thursdays at 7 p.m. 3402 Piedmont Road, Atlanta, GA, (404) 500-1621, www.rochousefitnessspa.com

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Day 23 of Fitness – Intro to CrossFit at CrossFit Atlanta

Best Self account executive: Sandy

Best Self account executive Sandy and CrossFit Atlanta owner Dan McDougald

Best Self account executive Sandy and CrossFit Atlanta owner Dan MacDougald

When we began our 30 Days of Fitness series, I knew I wanted to try CrossFit. When I went to sign up for a class at CrossFit Atlanta, though, they said the first step was to take a free trial/introductory class and fitness evaluation since I had never done CrossFit before. This hour and 15 minute introduction to CrossFit is so you can make an informed decision about joining CrossFit Atlanta.

Dan MacDougald, the owner and my instructor, asked me about my goals, my experience in fitness, exercise, and sport, my injuries and limitations, and assessed my mobility and flexibility. Then he began class by telling me the history of CrossFit, who started it and the science behind it. I learned that there are ten recognized fitness domains: cardiovascular and respiratory endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance and accuracy. I think this is really valuable information to have before you embark on this fitness program. Knowledge is power, and it actually motivated me! He explained how a machine-based gym does not give you the overall rounded workout that CrossFit does. You can actually be good at everything and not just one or two things when you do CrossFit.

Then we began the true workout portion. I was nervous since I thought the gym would be full of just guys who didn’t look like they needed to work out one bit! I thought they’d all be in there pumping iron. I was wrong; there were quite a few young women and older women, some guys who were super fit and some who were still on their journey of fitness. There was every age and every body type and fitness level.  I was relieved.

CrossFit Atlanta

CrossFit Atlanta - for people of all ages and fitness levels!

Dan began by instructing me on basic movements like the proper way to do a pushup, pull up, sit up, squats, rowing and why I should do them that way. So many injuries are because of not doing an exercise the proper way. You don’t have to worry about that here, because they will make sure you are doing it correctly. Dan would stop me and make sure I got it right before doing any more. I felt safe and I knew I would not hurt myself with this type of personal training by my side. I learned that I can’t just keep doing “girl” pushups and think I can graduate to “men” pushups! Dan showed me a way to do them using my toes and very slowly coming down to the mat, touching the mat with my body, and then worming my way back up. He said that I would learn how to do a standard pushup faster by doing that than by keeping on my knees. I never knew that. He had me doing squats over and over until I got the form correct so that I would not hurt my knees. He prompted me in every exercise to think about where I felt the burn—if it was not in the right muscles, then I wasn’t doing it correctly. So I did them until I got the burn in the muscles I was supposed to feel it in…success! Plus, some of the exercises were fun, too, particularly the rowing – I pretended I was on the Potomac where I was brought up and the sun was rising and the wind was blowing in my face. I liked seeing the meters rack up to my set goals!

These may seem like small hurdles to some, but it’s all relative. That’s the great thing about CrossFit—each person can do their own max, be it lifting 20 pounds or 200 pounds, and you’re all still working out in a group together despite your different levels. After the workout I felt totally accomplished and excited for my Level One class next Wednesday!

This free trial is definitely worth giving a go – you will not be sorry. No matter if you are a Mr. Olympia look-alike or a grandmother of 10, they will help you understand how to reach your personal goals.

Details: 200 Permalume Place, Atlanta GA  30318, (404) 862-6580, www.crossfitatlanta.com

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Day 22 of Fitness – FITin45 at Buckhead Jiu-Jitsu

Best Self account executive: Aubrey

Buckhead Jiu-Jitsu FITin45 class

Buckhead Jiu-Jitsu FITin45 class

Today’s 30 Days of Fitness workout was a class called FITin45 at the newly opened Buckhead Jiu-Jitsu. When I first arrived, I filled out a waiver and dropped my things in the women’s locker room. Sam Joseph, the owner, told me to remove my shoes, which I wasn’t expecting! The workout was done completely barefoot. Once I put my things away and took off my shoes, we got right to it. The FITin45 workout was broken up into four stations.

  1. Battle rope training (30 seconds of rope, 30 seconds rest)
  2. Lunges with kettle bells (15), mountain climbers (15)
  3. Box jumps (15), isolated crunches (15)
  4. Jumping burpees (10), Supermans (10)

We started with a quick warm-up to high-energy music, and then Sam instructed us to whichever station we wanted first. I chose Station 2 with the lunges and mountain climbers. The first couple minutes into the workout, I started to feel the burn. I alternated between the 15 kettle bell lunges and 15 mountain climbers until time was up.

We look a short, one-minute break to grab water, and then I was onto my next station: the battle rope. This is a great upper-body workout that I could feel in my biceps, triceps and shoulders immediately. For 30 seconds, you swing your arms up and down as quick as you can, making the rope do a “wave.” Not only was it working my muscles, but this interval workout had me breathing heavy and getting a cardio workout as well. Out of all the stations, this was probably the hardest for me because I don’t have a ton of upper body strength, which is something I’m working on for the new year!

After time was up for the round two, we took another quick break for water and went to our third station. My third station was the box jumps and isolated crunches. Once time began, I started with the box jumps. Form is very important in all of these workouts, so Sam helped me and told me it was important to control my jumps. He was very motivating at this station and throughout the workout. His demeanor was fun and encouraging. After my 15 jumps, I laid on the mat and did 15 crunches. Again, I alternated between these two workouts until time was up.

The final station I completed was the Station 4, jumping burpees and Supermans. I’ve done burpees with other trainers and have always had a love/hate relationship with this exercise. They are tough, but you are working your entire body (core, legs and arms), so it makes for an awesome workout. After the jumping burpees, I laid on the mat and did 10 Supermans. A Superman is a back workout where you lay on your stomach and raise your legs and arms simultaneously. I did probably four or five rounds of the station until time was up, and we were done with FITin45!

After the workout, we grabbed water and did a quick cool-down and stretch.  I was amazed how quickly time went by, but I still got a great workout!  For anyone who uses the excuse they don’t have enough time to work out, I highly suggest you go see Sam at Buckhead Jiu-Jitsu! You are warmed-up, worked out and cooled down all in 45 minutes. Not only was it fast, but you are also getting a total body workout with both strength and conditioning exercises.

Details: 2144 Hills Ave, Suite C, Atlanta, GA 30318, (678) 515-0472, www.buckheadjj.com

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