Day 16 of Fitness – Gravity Studio Sandy Springs 

Best Self staffer: Bethany Newlin

Gravity Studios Sandy Springs

Gravity Studios Sandy Springs

More likely than not, many of you probably still remember actor Chuck Norris—the Texas Ranger—who we now see on infomercials promoting the total gym. Well, now you don’t have to complete this workout alone.

For Day 16 of Fitness, I took Gravity Studio’s Ride N’ Glide class at their Sandy Springs location. While this workout requires no equipment, be sure to bring a bottle of water! I’ve never done both cycling and a machine workout simultaneously, but this workout was awesome! Paige Castor was my class instructor and made sure each workout participant displayed the correct body positions, along with a level of comfortability on their machine.

Prior to arriving to this class I was quite nervous because I had never completed such a workout or been to this facility, but I was excited because I was finally able to give it a try. During, I was surprised at how effective it was because I only used my own body weight. The transitions to change positions were smooth, and afterward I felt sweaty and worked! I could really feel the workout in my arms which was perfect because that is always one of my target areas when working out.

Gravity Studios Sandy Springs Ride N' Glide Class

Gravity Studios Sandy Springs Ride N’ Glide Class

The hardest part of this workout was nothing! I was able to move at my own pace, which encouraged invited me to feel even more comfortable staying fit. But don’t get me wrong, I was still being pushed and my muscles burned for sure, but not the point where I felt as though I couldn’t complete the exercise.

The best part of this workout is knowing that any and everyone can truly do it! It suits all fitness levels, all ages and all body types. In addition, they even have heart-rate monitors for you to wear and track your own progress and pace. My workout was truly catered to my level and body.

For any first-timer like myself, I do suggest arriving ten minutes before class begins in order to sign-in, put your things away, set-up your heart-rate monitor, and ask any questions you may have. Doing these things will only aid in centering your mind and focusing yourself on the task at hand which is to enjoy the transformation of your body.

Details: 227 Sandy Springs Pl, Atlanta, GA, (678) 515.4006, www.gravitystudio.com/atlanta/

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Day 15 of Fitness – X3 Sports West Midtown 

Best Self staffer: Aubrey Campbell 

Morgan, Christina, Joe (our trainer), and Aubrey Campbell

Morgan, Christina, Joe (our trainer), and Aubrey Campbell

Often times, in order to get a different result, you must first try something new! For Day 15 of Fitness, I took X3 Sports’ one-hour power track weight lifting class at their West Midtown location.

Pulling into this fitness facility, I couldn’t help but notice how packed the parking lot was. I knew right then that I was in for a great workout! Once greeted by Randi and shown to the women’s locker room, I was then introduced to Joe, my instructor for the day. From there, he immediately split the class into groups to begin our workout. I was placed in a group with Morgan and Christina (pictured above). For Morgan, this was her second time taking the class, but Christina is a veteran. It was great to have her show us the ropes.

Although this class was different from any other class I’ve ever taken, my goal for 30 Days of Fitness was to become more comfortable with lifting weights in order to help increase muscle mass and strength.

Workout description on the white board

Workout description on the white board

Prior to the workout, Joe did an excellent job visually showcasing our workout for the day on a dry erase board. On the board, the workout was separated into A, B and C, all of which we did for three rounds. Our A1 and A2 workout included a Nordic raise and a supinated barbell row. Our second workout—B1 and B2—was the Nordic raise again with a bench press. And our third workout—C1, C2 and C3—were goblet squats, hammer curls with dumbbells and a table press. Morgan, Christina and I encouraged each other along the way!

During the workout, I became more comfortable with each repetition. After, I felt great and KNEW I was going to be nice and sore the next day. Power track is a full body workout!

If you are looking to build muscle, tone, burn fat and get stronger, I highly advise taking the power track class at X3 Sports. This class suits all fitness levels and will truly break down any fear you have of using weights.

Details: 1092 Huff Road NW, Atlanta, GA, (678) 903-0100, www.x3sports.com

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James, Madison 2_cred Ben Robi Photography

If your New Year’s resolution is to get in shape and eat healthy, the first stage is planning. For busy, active women like you and me, our plans have to include our trips to the gym as well as our healthy food for the day. And thanks to Six Pack Fitness, the days of the boring lunch bags are over. Their women’s collection ranges from $59.99 to $399.99. I have the Expert Renee Tote in Sienna, and I absolutely love it. So if your job requires you to travel or you’re a busy mom on the go, this bag is perfect to help you stay on track with a hidden compartment for all your meals, plus hidden icepacks and storage for days. Check out the many different sizes and colors that Six Pack Fitness offers, and find the right bag for you. Reach your goals for 2015 by taking your meals with you in style.

Details: sixpackbags.com

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Day 14 of Fitness – Pink Barre Sandy Springs 

Best Self staffer: Bethany Newlin 

Maureen Chatelain  teaching at Pink Barre Sandy Springs

Maureen Chatelain (instructor) teaching a barre class at Pink Barre Sandy Springs

We’ve all heard the saying, “When you look good, you feel good!” The same rings true for fitness. For Day 14 of Best Self Atlanta Magazine’s 30 Days of Fitness blog series, I visited Pink Barre Sandy Springs. Their 60-minute barre class required me to bring nothing more than myself and a pair of socks if I pleased.

So what exactly is “barre” you may ask? Barre is a ballet-inspired workout whose moves are very methodical yet intense all at the same time. You take the time to focus on tucking your tummy, protecting your spine and controlling each movement as well as your breathing.

Rie Oishi, Heather Chesser, Amy Liefer, Bethany Newlin

Rie Oishi, Heather Chesser, Amy Liefer, Bethany Newlin

Maureen Chatelain was my class instructor and made sure that each movement I completed was done with the correct posture. During the workout, my muscles and abs were burning. The hardest part of this workout was working my hamstrings. I am usually never able to get a really good targeted hamstring workout, but this did the trick! The most enjoyable part was our stretching and breathing exercise toward the end. Being able to close my eyes and focus on what I had just completed felt amazing. After, I felt refreshed, tight and ready for the rest of the day.

Overall, every barre studio is different. If you’ve tried a barre class but haven’t visited Pink Barre Sandy Springs, you are missing out!

Details: 230 Hammond Drive Suite 388, City Walk Shopping Center, Sandy Springs, GA, (404) 578-5198, www.pink-barre.com

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Day 13 of Fitness – Boutique Body Fitness

Best Self staffer: Aubrey Campbell

Aubrey Campbell, Lisa Tanker-Potts

Aubrey Campbell, Lisa Tanker-Potts

Just as quickly as winter has arrived, spring will be here before you know it! So why wait for bikini season to tone my body? For Day 13 of Fitness, I participated in Lisa Tanker-Potts’ bikini body boot camp held at Boutique Body Fitness studio.

This series-based boot camp hosted 30 other women whose main goal for several weeks has been to get and stay fit. Toward the beginning of class, Lisa spoke with each workout participant in order to gauge the success of their customized meal plans. Once that was complete, the warm-up began quickly with a light jog to get our muscles ready for a great class.

To begin the day’s workout we were each separated into groups of four, where there were seven stations set-up across the floor. Lisa then demonstrated each stations’ routine, and immediately began the music to get us moving!

My station start point was an aerobics platform with lateral step workouts to increase the heart rate. From there, I moved to doing lunges, wall push-ups, squats and isolated crunches with a medicine ball. Each of the seven stations were repeated twice, and during the second round we did a minute of squat jumps and high-knees.

During the workout I felt energized and excited. Lisa was awesome! Her positive energy pushed each and every girl to give it their all at each station. I found it to be really special that she knew everyone by name and was so encouraging the entire time!

The hardest part of the workout was the hamstring curl machine. My most enjoyable part was actually getting to talk to the other women in class once the workout was complete. Lisa’s expertise and warm spirit has encouraged several women to live healthy lifestyles and work for their desired physique.

Lisa is a fitness guru who is in amazing shape herself! She competes in physique competitions, and I really love when fitness professionals truly practice what they preach.

Details: 650 Hamilton Ave SE, Atlanta, GA, (678) 568-9217, www.boutiquebodyfitness.com

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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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