By Ansley Bourn

Walking into my Level 2 class at The Bar Method East Cobb, I was really excited. I had been taking Mixed classes at the studio for a few months now, but this was my first Level 2 class. I was ready for a new challenge! As always, Carson Simonton, our instructor, welcomed me at the front with a smile and checked me into class.

The Bar Method East Cobb

Talking with Carson before this class, she gave me the run-down of what differentiates a Level 2 class from a Mixed class. Mixed classes are really “mixed” level, meaning that anyone is eligible. They are made up of people brand new to barre and clients who have been taking classes for years. Level 2 is “the next level up.” You have to have taken at least 25 mixed classes before taking a Level 2.

I felt great during the warm-up and noticed my muscles firing up a little earlier with the extra plank. Since all of my classmates were a little more advanced, the energy in the room was exhilarating. It was like we were all challenging each other to try the advanced options and hold positions longer for the extra shake!

Throughout the class, Carson made sure we were all in the correct positions and would help us each make small adjustments to keep our alignment safe. All instructors at The Bar Method go through extensive training before they can teach and are all very well versed in physical therapy. In addition to their auditions,  they also much complete a full week of seven hours per day training, lead community classes and certification videos, and take a manual and anatomy test.

My favorite part of the class was back dancing, and not because it was at the end of class either! During back dancing, you are laying on the mat lifting your seat up and down to the beat. This really sends a great stretch to your glutes and thighs, and for me it was a sign of success that my lower half had gotten a great workout!

If you haven’t been to The Bar Method yet, now is the time to check them out! They have a location in East Cobb and will be opening a new studio off of Lenox Road in Buckhead at the beginning of February (official date TBA)!

Details: 1281 Johnson Ferry Rd #112, Marietta, GA 30068, atlanta-eastcobb.barmethod.com

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By Carmen Koehler

It is 5:15 a.m. on a Monday as I pull into the parking lot of Gold’s Gym of Woodstock, headed to Jenny Piacente’s 5:30 a.m. RPM class.  I am still amazed at how active the world is at this early of an hour.  Stepping into the RPM room, as a newcomer, I could definitely notice the easy camaraderie between the bikers and the instructor.

Instructor Jenny Piacente

Instructor Jenny Piacente

The lights dim, the music starts, and class begins.  During our warm-up, Jenny is sure to share with us the importance of correctly positioning ourselves on the bike. She then leads us through pace, hill and mixed terrain riding experiences – explaining the physical goals and health benefits of each tract.  She does this while riding hard herself, and singing, and bantering, and cueing and counting.  Oh, and don’t forget sweating!  The class responds in kind.  It is a beautiful thing when 25 people move in unison and sway to the rhythm of a powerful beat.  This strong syncopation of movement to music is truly the strength of this Les Mills designed fitness class.

RPM class is in session.

RPM class is in session.

Time for interval training – the cardio peak of class.  Now is when you will really begin to burn calories  and continue to burn them all day.  Jenny reminds us “your body will continue to work long after your mind says quit.”  It is one of the things I enjoy most about RPM – your mind can disengage but your body keeps responding, to the music, to your instructor, to your teammates. Then we are on to  the speed track, and finally the mountain climb.

It is then time to cool down – or as they say, the ride home.  Some stretching and we are done.  I feel great – calm, energized, ready to start the day.

Details: 301 Gold Creek Trail, Woodstock, GA 30188, goldsgym.com

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By Chela Counts

This particular #30DaysOfFitness class was extra special for me because I took the class with my mom. Taking the Intro to Pole class at Pole La Teaz is something we have been talking about doing for the past year, and it was a great bonding experience.

Chela Counts, Angela Edwards, Greta Counts

Chela Counts, Angela Edwards, Greta Counts

Before jumping right into the class, Angela Edwards, our instructor invited each student to gather in a circle, introduce ourselves and state our reason for attending the class. While each student’s reasons varied, the overall objective for me to take the class was to leave feeling invigorated and tap into my inner sexy while getting a good workout in. For my mom, the purpose of the class was to engage her upper body strength and try a new fun exercise class that didn’t feel like your average everyday workout.

We began on the yoga mat and performed some lower body exercises: hip rolls, planks and a light total body workout. When it came time to began the pole portion, Angela first reminded us that much of pole dancing is upper body strength. So, to tap into our upper body strength, we were shown where to properly place our hands on the pole, told to step close to the pole and hold both of our legs in the air for as long as we could. My mom was up first, and man did she make it look easier than it was. When it was my turn, I could barely hold both legs up for a millisecond. After a few tries and tips from my mom and Angela – per their observation, I was able to hold both legs up for at least five seconds.

Angela demonstrates a move.

Angela demonstrates a move.

Once pole training concluded, we jumped right into learning the fireman spin. Angela made sure to help each class attendant perfect their spins before putting each step to up-tempo music. Along with the fireman spin, Angela also taught us a floor routine that I’m sure would have seemed to teaz any audience.

I’ve never done anything like this workout before. Compared to my intense athletic training for track and field and cross country, it was much more laid back, less intense, fun, yet still involving all muscles to be worked and used.

Angela was a wonderful instructor. She was warm, inviting, informative and very encouraging. Great instructor and class to say the least!

Details: 2148 Hills Ave NW, Atlanta, GA 30318, polelateaz.com

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By Sherri Adair

The Sivananda Yoga class at Concourse Athletic Club is perfect for a Sunday, and I am not the only one who thinks so. Get there early if you plan to go, because it seems to always be full. All you have to bring is water and yourself — mats, blocks and towels are all provided.

The room where the class takes place, Studio B, is the perfect size. The architecture of the room is semicircular in shape, with windows that open up and provide a calming view of the surrounding nature. Mirrors help you to check your form in your postures and reflect the natural light from outside.

Instructor Akshak

Instructor Akshak

Sivananda yoga is an old and widely practiced form of yoga. This steady and firm, but relaxed form of yoga is built around preserving the health and wellness of the practitioner. For me, it is a class where I can really find internal focus and work on my personal flexibility with more depth than I normally would. I believe flexibility is youth. Aging brings the loss of flexibility, and we need to make a conscious effort to maintain it.

The instructor, Akshak Alexander, guides you through poses gently and confidently. Her peaceful presence and attention help keep you in the moment throughout the hour and fifteen minute experience.

It is great for beginners and more advanced yoga lovers. This is one of those classes I take just for me and it always makes me feel good.

At the end of the class you will like you have worked out and relaxed at the same time.

Details:  8 Concourse Parkway, Sandy Springs, GA 30328, wellbridge.com

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By Jennifer Prins

BOSU at Thrive Beyond Fitness Wellness Studio

(Top) Instructor Richard
(Bottom: Left to Right) Keiffer, Liz, Jennifer and Patricia

I have used the BOSU ball for ab work, but I had never taken a full hour-long BOSU class before. So, I was excited to try the BOSU class at Thrive Beyond Fitness  and learn just what damage (Ha! Ha!) this ball can do.

The instructors, Pam and Richard prepare the class for you and have everything including towels, water, mats and the ball. All you have to do is be prepared to work!

This class works so many muscles all at once – some you don’t even realize you are working until the next day…possibly even two days later.  It was a challenging class with some exercises easier for me than others. The class has a lot to do with balance, and of course, core strength, which you are working on the entire class.

BOSU 1 at Thrive Beyond Fitness Wellness Studio

Some moves are on the dome of the ball and the other use the flip side.  From warming-up and running on top of the BOSU, to push-ups, squats, balancing moves and – my least favorite – the dead bug exercise for abs – this is a total body workout.

Richard laughed with us as we complained, and his energy kept us pushing forward to the next exercise.  He was a great motivator from move to move.  Some moves are very tough the first time, but over time your strength will build and you will be able to perform more reps.

Think you would be bored only using this one piece of equipment – think again.  The BOSU is amazing and offers so many balance and strength-training moves.  You will totally walk out of this class feeling you had a complete, total body workout.

Details: 5 Mountain Street SE  Atlanta, GA 30339, thrivebeyondfitness.com

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By Ansley Bourn

Walking into my STRONG class at Westside Yoga, I was welcomed by several contagious smiles, one of them belonging to the instructor and founder, Amber Barry. This was my second time at the studio, and I was excited to see just as many friendly faces as I did at the grand opening a few months back.

(Left to right)  Instructors Sara Liberatore, Kelsey Reed Armbruster, Amber Barry, Amanda Kingsmith, Rebecca Galla-Jones, and Best Self Atlanta's Ansley Bourn.

(Left to right)
Instructors Sara Liberatore, Kelsey Reed Armbruster,
Amber Barry,
Amanda Kingsmith,
Rebecca Galla-Jones, and Best Self Atlanta’s Ansley Bourn.

The studio is one huge open space, which made it super easy for new-comers to find the cubbies, bathrooms, water fountains, blocks and blankets. I made some room for myself on the second row and began to stretch. Honestly, I had walked in carrying the day’s stress on my shoulders, but the happiness in the room quickly melted my stress away. On the wall in front of me, there was a quote painted: “There is no way to happiness. Happiness is the way.” This quote could not be more perfectly placed than on a wall at Westside Yoga. Amber and her instructors have done an excellent job of creating a positive and welcoming atmosphere to yogis of all levels. Whether you’ve been practicing yoga since you could walk or have no idea what a downward facing dog is, you will leave here happier.

Westside Yoga 2

Before the class started, Amber told us the focus for the night was tapas — building heat for the purpose of refinement. The goal was to strengthen and lengthen our entire bodies. Starting out in child’s pose, my joints and muscles felt a little tight. We repeated different poses several times throughout the class, and I was surprised by how quickly my flexibility improved. By the end of class, I didn’t need to use the balancing blocks at all! (YAY!) I have no doubt this was a direct result of Amber’s inspiring instruction and constant encouragement. There were times we were holding poses for so long I thought I might fall, and Amber, sensing this, would remind us all to smile and laugh because yoga is supposed to be fun! For me, the hardest part of yoga is calming my busy mind to focus on the pose in front of me. By creating a positive and playful environment completely void of judgement, Amber made it much easier for me to conquer each pose and move through to the next with ease. I left the class feeling accomplished and rejuvenated. No doubt about it… Westside Yoga is THE#happyplace, and I will definitely be going back for more!

Details:1891 Howell Mill Road, Suite D Atlanta, GA 30318, westsideyoga.net

 

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As we gear up for our 6th annual Over 40 & Fabulous! contest, we have decided to check-in with our previous winners to see what they are up to now.

Nominations for this year’s Over 40 & Fabulous! contest open February 1. So, mark your calendars and start thinking about who you would like to nominate! In the meantime, enjoy our updates on previous winners. 

Image: Facebook

Image: Facebook

Our 2015 winner, Michelle Fabulich Hodgson, has worked tirelessly to continue helping the organization she founded, Children Helping Children, flourish. CHC aims to inspire children to embrace, celebrate and share with others the unique gifts, or as CHC calls it — light, inside of them through art, music and play therapy at their  ”Light and Love Loft (L3)” and “Cloud9″ (C9) wellness centers.

If you didn’t have a chance to attend CHC’s signature Cocktails in the Clouds or Little hands…big LOVE FEST events in 2015, you can still support the organization, and catch up with Michelle herself, during CHC Skate Day on January 24 from 10 a.m. to 12 a.m. Using promo code CHC, Park Tavern is donating 50 percent of all skate ticket sales to Children Helping Children.

To learn more about Michelle Fabulich Hodgson and our other 2015 Over 40 & Fabulous! winners check out our June 2015 issue.

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By Carmen Koehler

Many moons ago I was an avid LES MILLS™ BODYPUMP™ class attendee, but over the years my attendance took a nosedive. When I noticed my once beloved fitness class was offered at Onelife Atlanta Fitness, I decided to give it another try.

BODYPUMP One Life Atlanta Fitness CrabbApple 1

If you’ve never taken this class, be sure to let your instructor know so they can correct any issues with your form. Our instructor, Tammy Gottlieb, has been apart of the fitness industry for over 35 years, so she definitely knows what she is talking about when it comes to proper form.

Like all workouts, the level of effectiveness BODYPUMP™ has on your body will all depend on what you put into it; i.e., amount of weights, your resistance, good form, etc. This class is a full body workout, so be careful when choosing your weights. Don’t try to do too much, too soon. The last thing you want is to be so sore you can barely walk!

Carmen Koehler with instructor Tammy Gottlieb

Carmen Koehler with instructor Tammy Gottlieb

For me, the hardest part of this strength training class are the upper body exercises, since my power comes from my legs. Even though some moves are more difficult than others, I always leave this class feeling invigorated.

Something I also really enjoyed, were the extra tips Tammy gave us for continuing our healthy lifestyle outside of the classroom; i.e. eat the gram equivalent of your body weight in protein, and increasing the weights you work out with won’t make you bulk up like a guy, but will help you develop lean muscle tissue.

To see the full Onelife Atlanta Fitness class schedule visit atlantafitness.com

Details: 12315 Crabapple Rd Alpharetta, Georgia

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By Alexandra McCray

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to work out with TRX Suspension Training straps. If you’ve never seen TRX straps before, they are long black and yellow straps that are anchored to the ceiling, with hand and foot cradles at the bottom.

Photo courtesy of Brookhaven Fitness Studio

Photo courtesy of Brookhaven Fitness Studio

The TRX Strength & Mobility class at Brookhaven Fitness Studio is a great foray into this work out world. When I arrived for class all I had to do was check-in and sign a liability waiver. Mauro Moncayo, a co-owner of the studio, gave me a tour and pointed out where I could go to get changed and where cubbies were to place my things.

I had a chance to talk with our instructor, Joe Cruz, before we got started. When I explained to Joe that my TRX experience was nonexistent he took the time to go over basic movements and phrases he would use throughout class with me. He also helped adjust my TRX straps for my height, and explained proper hand and feet placement so I would not injure my wrists. After the brief overview, I felt comfortable with my straps and was good to go.

Alexandra McCray with instructor Joe Cruz

Alexandra McCray with instructor Joe Cruz

Our class focused mainly on upper body and core. My abs were definitely feeling it! What I particularly enjoyed about whole experience was learning new ways to do traditional moves, like bicep curls for example. This involved us facing our straps, leaning back, angling our bodies and then curling our arms forward while bringing our forehands to our hands.  The straps provide endless versatility and options for you to get a true full body workout. Joe made sure to give me extra attention and make sure my form was correct while doing all the moves, which was very helpful.

The straps are also amazing to stretch with. As someone that gets sore quite easily, I take my stretching very seriously. The light resistance of the straps during our end of class stretching session really helped to provide a good stretch for those hard to reach spots.

To learn see a full class schedule and learn more about TRX at Brookhaven Fitness Studio visit brookhavenfitness.com.

Details: 2669 Osborne Rd. NE, Atlanta, GA 30319,

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By Dona Halliday

Dona with The Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta team. (Left to right) Shawn Sims,  manager |  Ivy Edwin, receptionist | Mat Kroezen, manager | Candice Manibog, instructor | Simone Maccarrone, instructor | Dona Halliday, Best Self Atlanta magazine | Austin Aldridge, instructor | Edgar Walker, instructor | Leah Boresow, instructor (not pictured)

Dona with The Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta team.
(Left to right) Shawn Sims, manager | Ivy Edwin, receptionist | Mat Kroezen, manager | Candice Manibog, instructor | Simone Maccarrone, instructor | Dona Halliday, Best Self Atlanta magazine | Austin Aldridge, instructor | Edgar Walker, instructor | Leah Boresow, instructor (not pictured)

I’ve always been at home on the dance floor, but I’m sort of “organic” with my dance moves. I am apt to take the opposite route of any quick, quick, slow or side together side dance routine. However, I have always wanted to learn to dance beautifully — with elegance and poise. So I headed to Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta for a private lesson. I felt a little apprehensive, but also very excited. I was finally doing something I had wanted to do for a long, long time — learn ballroom dancing.

When I arrived I was given a tour of the studio. I also filled out some paperwork and talked briefly with my instructor about the social dances I wanted to learn.

My instructor was Simone Maccarrone. I fell in love with his energy, his obvious passion for dance and the easy manner in which he explained and led me through each step. After several minutes with him I felt like Jack Nicholson in “As Good As It Gets.”

Before I knew it, 25 minutes had slipped by. I had stepped on his toes only once, and I had learned the basic steps for four social dances—the Foxtrot, the Waltz, Rumba and the Cha-Cha.

My first lesson was on a Thursday night, but the experience had only just begun. Upon Simone’s invitation, I decided to be brave and return the following evening for a group class and their weekly beginners practice party that takes place every Friday night.

The atmosphere is inviting and relaxed — the lights are dimmed, the disco lights are turned on and the music is turned up. On one side of the room there are chairs and tables and the open dance floor. Before the party starts the group has a chance to get acquainted while the instructors receive dance cards with the names of each student and guest. It was so much fun! We had the opportunity to practice different dances with all of the amazing instructors and with some of the students as well …then what a treat it was to sit and enjoy a performance by Candice Manibog and Austin Aldridge, two of the instructors.

To find out more about Ballroom Dance Clubs of Atlanta visit them at myballroomdanceclub.com

Details: 887 West Marietta Street, Suite J-105, Atlanta, GA 30318

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