Guest Post from Yogi Cara Smith

Why I Love Yoga 🙂

Why yoga and stretch if you already get a kick ass work out with barre? There are many reasons, to say the least. Read my top five reasons for why I love yoga below to see why you should get stretchy and limber too!

  1. Cross Training: Our bodies sure do show off all the hard work we do getting our butts kicked in barre, but in order to stay in this shape and keep doing barre (or any physical activity), we must keep our bodies balanced. Yoga is the answer to balance in our physical bodies and is seen by many as a necessity to keep the longevity of our muscles going strong. Rodney Yee, a yogi expert featured often on Gaiam, says, “I was a ballet dancer and gymnast. Yoga helped me heal old injuries and prevent new ones. It helps with range of motion in every joint, and keeps the muscles supple but strong. It doesn’t just build a body for a specific activity, but brings us back into balance so our body can adapt to any movement. Yoga is cross-training.”
  2. Peace of Mind: We don’t truly offer ourselves the chance to “tune out and tune in”, in our everyday lives. Yoga offers us an opportunity to do this, to tune out any outer circumstances or happenings and tune INTO what is really all that matters: what’s going on inside our hearts and souls. And while we’re tuned in, we’re able to learn and work with what we find there so we can better handle ourselves in the outside world.
  3. Relaxation: Rarely do we give ourselves permission to do absolutely nothing and just RELAX! Sure, we can flick on the T.V. or have a glass of wine, but in those situations our minds are still going a mile a minute and unable to truly be calm, quiet and relaxed. When we practice yoga, we offer ourselves time and space to have true relaxation time, where we worry about nothing else and just let everything be as is.
  4. Love: It is rare to find something that will immensely help you on the journey to loving and accepting your body and yoga does just that. It breaks down all of those unnecessary barriers and experiences that take away from the sheer importance of loving your beautiful self! Every time I practice, I feel the love just a little more and if you’re open to that experience, then you can too.
  5. Overall Health… for your body, mind and soul! Sure, we get all the aforementioned physical benefits of yoga, but what about the other aspects of yoga? Yoga has the ability to begin positive transformations in the way we think, feel, and act. With focus on the breath during yoga practice, we are given the opportunity to link our physical body with our mind and soul. The theory of what we think, we become comes into play – if we are thinking negatively, then it will have a negative affect on our bodies and souls. So if we can transform our thoughts, we can transform our bodies.

I hope to experience the growth of our hearts and the balancing of our bodies through yoga with you. See you in class soon, beautiful Barre Mates and Yogis!

Tips for Success by Elizabeth Lowham

Guest Blog by Assets Instructor Elizabeth Lowham

You can read more about Elizabeth HERE


Elizabeth’s Tips for Success:

1. Find your habits and break them.

I struggled for a long time to lose any weight; I was working hard but nothing was really happening. Then, I was teaching in Rome for the summer. Being outside my comfort zone and being forced to change patterns and habits opened my eyes to the choices I was making and helped me recognize ways I could make different decisions. I was in a situation where I had to make a million little decisions differently and it helped me realize the bad habits I had set myself. Certainly, we can’t all get outside of lives for six weeks, but, we can start to observe ourselves and be mindful of habits and patterns.

2. Challenge yourself to find what works for you.

It turns out I’m a bit competitive, and I figured ways to turn that competitiveness inward. I challenged myself to drink a gallon (128oz) of water every day. At first it seemed like a lot; now it seems normal. I wanted to run a faster mile without feeling like it was the end of the world; I wanted to work to a three minute plank. I’m still working on enjoying the last one. I found that if I set myself smart challenges, I had something positive to work for.

3. Stop focusing on one number and cut yourself some slack.

Someone really smart once told me that the scale is just one indicator of health. And sometimes, it’s not the most important one. When I focused on the scale, nothing seemed to happen. But, when I focused on something I wanted my body to do for me (running, planking, etc), the weight seemed to come off even when I wasn’t focused on it. I also found that if I was focused on building up to something, every time I tried it, it was progress. I may not have been perfect; but I was trying and giving it my all each time. And when things didn’t quite go perfectly, it was still progress that I could improve on.

The Other New Year’s Resolution

Smell that? That’s the sweet smell of renewal as our kids begin another year of school and we feel as if we are starting fresh again and getting back on schedule. Even if you do not have children, with summer coming to an end (hard to believe with this heat) we all seem to be feeling the new start feeling. It’s not January but September always seems to offer that opportunity to “get back on track”. Whether you’ve been enjoying plenty of Sangrias or indulging in cold treat like popsicles and ice cream or maybe just too much celebrating in general, you can start over once again on a new schedule with a fresh approach to your daily choices. The real “News” is that you can do this any time, daily or even hourly. There doesn’t have to be a special day or time to start over again, start with your next decision. Remember that goals are most successful when you make them realistic and more successful if you create a plan to reach them. If your plan is thoughtfully prepared and systematically laid out and organized success is easy. No discipline needed. Think of it this way: if you choose to go a month without sweets, then get all the sweets out of the house, office and car. If it’s not readily available to you, you won’t be able to fail. At the same time, what can you offer yourself instead of a sweet when the craving comes? How about some delicious fresh fruit?! The plan is your security and you helper but you must make sure you have it fully thought out and laid out.

Is your goal one of exercise pursuits? Make these realistic. If you’ve been to the gym once in the last month then planning on going everyday after Sept 1 is a bit unrealistic but if your goal is to run 4 times per week by Oct 1, then you can build up to it, deal with soreness and schedule conflicts as they surely will arise. The week of 9/1 you get in 2 easy runs and maybe the next week as well, not you’re building a routine and can throw a third day in. By 10/1 it is now second nature to get 4 runs in.

And if you’re goal is exercise, your calendar becomes a very important training tool. If you do not schedule in your workouts and hold to them like you would with any other appointment, they will get continually pushed back till they don’t happen at all and then another day goes by. Make your health a priority and schedule your workouts/exercise sessions. It’s one of the best gifts you can give yourself and I’d argue even more important than investing in your retirement account. When you invest in your health and wellness you are investing in your future and your future ability to enjoy your future with travel and playing with grand kids.

So go get started on your fall resolutions. Create your goal, plan it out and then prepare your environment to make reaching your goal a success.

Why Barre

I’ve been wanting to write about this for a long time. The concept of “barre” seems so exciting and mystifying and the workout itself is just that. The word barre is both a noun; the french version of the bar we use in ballet and the “product” name we give this new workout as in yoga, and now a verb; like yoga, you can both go to barre and “do” barre. Although one might argue the idea of “I barre”, the idea is still there not unlike “googling”something. But what is barre?

Without tracing it’s roots all the way back to 1959 and an amazing woman named Lotte Berk, let’s just look at what barre is in today’s world. A barre workout is a fusion fitness class that includes ballet warm up exercises, some ballet stretches, some yoga stretches and some minor Pilates moves. The workout utilizes small weights or no weights at all and all with the tiniest movements you can imagine. It targets the endurance quality of your muscles helping to tone the body without building bulk. Due to the stretching elements in a class, the results become long, lean muscles. The workout is postural first, meaning that the class targets the muscles that support the back and spine first as well as throughout the whole class. Because of this changes can be seen in the posture within the first 3 classes. The class is also very efficient as, unlike most fitness classes, this one works the entire body while “focusing” on one area. For example, while “working” the biceps (the front part of your upper arm) the calves, quads, hamstrings and glutes, abs and back muscles are all engaged and working delivering a full body workout that burns almost twice as many calories as some traditional style workouts. All of this leads to quick results that can be seen in your silhouette in as few as 10 classes.

It’s a workout that is sweeping the nation! 10 years ago you could only find barre classes in small boutique fitness studios like Assets but due to it’s growing popularity big box gyms, yoga studios and even spin studios are offering their version of a barre class. Is all barre alike? No. Most boutique fitness studios have their roots in Lotte Berk and understand the basic techniques but it’s easy to find people creating their own version of a barre workout with the focus on either the bar itself and/or the ballet elements that are attached to it. Actually, many studios do not even use a bar in their barre classes. But my personal pet peeve is all those that miss the whole point of the basis of a good barre class. It has been said (because Lotte Berk and her followers said so) that it is the safest workout you can do. Since it’s true origins are in therapy and recovery and support for the spine, the movements were originally combinations of ballet and orthopedic exercises. But one can not just “do” the exercises and be safe. One, meaning you, has to be in correct form and the only way you can be in correct form is if someone is paying attention to you. Traditional fitness classes are “lead” by an instructor at the front of the classroom who is doing the class themselves and giving the participants cues for their positioning and movements but without being next to each participant you can not control, or even know, whether they are in proper form. If you can not make sure they are where they should be, you can not keep them safe from improper alignment or poor and dangerous movements. And it’s not just the safety feature, for the class to be truly efficient and effective, constant attention to the participants (we like to call them students) gets them to their goals much more quickly. It is our teacher’s responsibility to make sure that every move you do is performed properly and challenges you beyond what you think you are capable of.

So get out there and barre to your heart’s content, find your shake, but most importantly do it where someone is paying attention to you, helping you, encouraging you and making your barre experience transformational.

A Better Belly

Do you Instagram? I do. I like the artistic side of it. I guess there’s a business side as well and I like to be able to post pictures and motivational statements on it to keep my clients inspired. I recently came across a trainer who likes to post pictures of her amazing (albeit 20 something year old) body in hopes of inspiring others. Some people are motivated by images of bodies that they aspire to look like so it’s a good thing. Recently, however, she has been posting on how to get better abs and all the workouts you can do to get them. I take issue with that as most of us already have a nice six pack underneath a fair amount of fat. Have you ever heard the saying “abs are built in the kitchen”? Well it’s true. A body builder can build abs, literally increase the size and definition of them with some significant abdominal specific exercises. Their goal is to actually increase the size, build the muscle. My assumption is that most of you want a nice trim and flatter stomach, not a super muscular belly. To be clear, at Assets we focus on exercises that strengthen the abdominal and core muscles that give support to the spine. We do this to improve your spinal support, improve your posture and keep you safe from injury as well as fight declining stature as happens with age. Ultimately, if you want a flat belly and a trim midsection, you will want to pay attention to what you put into your belly more than the abdominal exercises you do to the muscles that lie on top. How determined you are to get to that slimmer belly will determine how many fat building culprits you’re willing to take out of your diet. Consider cutting out the following right away:

Sugar, in all it’s forms
Alcohol, which includes both of the above
Non fat milk products – yep full fat is better for you

Consider more of these:
Leafy greens and non starchy veggies
Coconut and local olive oils
Berries – make this your sweet tooth substitute
Apple cider vinegar
Cold water fish

And eat local and pesticide, hormone free. Buy your food where you know how it’s grown or treated. Eat in season.

There is a lot of information out there on foods for weight loss and better health. We are offering an upcoming New You thru Food seminar where you will learn a bit about what to put in your body for better health and a lot about how to make those changes happen and stick. It takes more than knowing what to eat, it takes knowing how to get to the food, find it, shop the right places and prepare for your week so you get caught hungry. We’re going to arm you with all the tools to make you successful on your progress to a better, more healthy you. Find out more Here.

Sacrifice – Week 6

imagesWe’re on the home stretch now! It’s time to start thinking about what else we can cut from our diet to lose those last pesky pounds. This one can be a bit tough but the payoff will be grand and you’ll spend your summer with a glorious toned body. It’s time to cut out the alcohol. Yep, that’s right, no more beer, wine or cocktails. Remind yourself that this is a short duration and that the rewards will be great. If you must, you can have a glass of red wine if a social or business occassion calls for it. A glass of bubbly Perrier with a squeeze of lime looks an awful lot like a vodka tonic if you want to feel like you’re fitting in. At this point if you are still consuming the quantity of water you are supposed to be you shouldn’t feel any need for that evening drink.

This is also a good time to try some sunless tanning lotion. Best results come when you use a body scrub or loofah in the shower before applying the lotion. Try adding regular moisturizer on top to keep the coverage even and wash your hands with soap after you’ve covered half your body then again when you are finished to help keep your hands from turning orange. A little color on your skin will help hide the uneveness of color on your body as well as it always makes you look a little thinner. This is also a great time to up your cardio output. Consider taking a cardio class right after a regular BarreFitness class or add a long run or bike ride into your weekend schedule.

Keep up the great work and stay focused on those summer goals.

Halfway Thru – Week 5

We’re halfway thru our challenge. How is everyone doing? Have you been keeping up on your water intake? With all the white, especially salt and sugar out of your diet and the increase in water you should be feeling pretty good about now. This is a good week to pamper yourself. We are going to focus on the amount of sleep you are getting. Start adding this to your log, both the time you wake and close your eyes but also your total hours for the night and any naps you are lucky enough to grab. Sleep is a very important part of your weight maintenance and management program. Lack of sleep not only makes us crave unhealthy foods but increases cortisol production in the body which leads to fat storage, especially around the mid section.

Here are some helpful sleep tips:

– Give yourself a little protein snack within the hour before bed (yogury with bananas, protein shake, or  cereal with fruit). The protein helps you sleep as well as helps build lean muscle throughout the night.
– No alcohol at night. Alcohol interupts sleep during the night.
– No tv or internet in the hour before bed. Research shows electronics stimulate the brain and make it difficult to fall asleep (hard for me to believe based on all the movies I fall asleep to).
– While you brush your teeth tell yourself happy, healthy thoughts like how good you feel eating healthy foods or how proud you are of yourself for taking on this challenge and being strong. Positive energy will push all the work and stressful thoughts out of your mind to free you for restful sleep.

This is also a great week to get a massage or maybe even a wrap. With the toxins pushing out of your body this is a great time to tighten the body and skin with outside efforts. I love Savvi Skin Spa on Monterey or French Touch Parisian Skincare Salon on Nippomo across from the Children’s Museum. Check them out and treat yourself to extra sleep and pampering.

This is the week to get back on the scale at the studio. Julia is out of town but your chart is at the front desk as well as the scale. Get a weight check and we can do inches next week.

As heard in class this morning, “Don’t make decisions on how you feel now, make decisions for what you want in the future.” This wise sage also said “Your muscles need determination to change.” So keep working hard, persevere and let’s all win together.

No White – Week 4

no_whiteThe week has come to begin to lay down the law. This is when we start getting serious. We’ve been slowly building up to this and if you have truly been following the guidelines from the 3 weeks this week will not feel too harsh. But this is a crucial week. You will now be taking everything “white” out of your diet: sugar, salt, bread, rice, pasta, mayonaise, butter, ice cream, milk, even yogurt. It’s actually easier than you think and will really make you mindful about what you are putting into your diet. The more you miss the above, the more of it you actually had in your diet before. If you heed the above, you will see some drastic results. Make sure to keep your water intake up and adding lots of fresh fruit and vegies along with lean meats. Use spices to add flavor and reach for fresh fruit when you are craving sweets. There is also reseach out there that shows what you start your day with is linked to what you crave throughout the day. So make yourself a big, healthy, high protein breakfast to get you going. Think about eggs, avocado, fruit, even some leftover steak or chicken from dinner will go a long way in keeping your blood sugar level throughout the day. Also make sure to keep eating small meals all day long to maintain your blood sugar.


Clean, Set, Log – Week 3

It’s time to get serious. We are two weeks into our Beach Body challenge and so far our focus has been on purifying our bodies. Besides frequent trips to the bathroom, are you feeling better, more energetic? Begining this week we tighten the strings. It’s time to really focus on our true motives and goals.


* Clean out the pantry. We all have families but our goal to a healthier body will be healthier for the whole family. Get rid of ALL processed foods, all sugary treats or anything that has been pre-sweeten, cookies, crackers, ice cream, etc. It’s time to focus on eating foods as they come into the world, meaning fresh fruits, vegies and natural meats. Remove what tempts you and reach towards fresh, natural and preferably organic foods. Think about it being temporary but work to make this a life long focus.


* Set your goals and put them in writing. What is it that you hope to accomplish over these 8 weeks? What does “beach body” mean to you? How do you hope to feel at the end of this challenge? Your goals and motivation will help you “set” your workout schedule. If you are trying to maintain what you have, then working out twice per week will keep you there. If you’d like to make changes to your body, then think about adding additional workouts. If your goals are lofty then you’re workout schedule needs to be lofty. We suggest 6 workouts per week, 2-3 toning workouts, at least 2 cardio workouts and 1 day per week that is “fun fitness”. Think about getting a game of volleyball in, hiking one of the “sisters” or playing a game of frisbee.


* It’s time to record EVERYTHING. Get yourself a simple notebook or a great smart phone app and record every sip of water, every bite of food and schedule your workouts in. Record your sleep as well, as rest is an important part of your health and fitness. Stop by the front desk before or after your next class to get your original numbers too as you should know what those are and use them to motivate you forward.

This week is harder but not impossible. Focus on the end results and know that this is short term at the least with the hope that the results will motivate a permanent change.

8 Weeks to Your New Beach Body – Week 2

imgresThis week we will focus on what we need to start eating more of. We are not going to take anything out of your diet…for now, but focus on eating more of the following:

– Leafy Greens and Cruciferous Veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, bok choy, kale, brussel sprouts, cabbage, radish and arugula): full of phytochemicals, fiber, vitamins and nutrients.

– Berries: the antioxidants in berries fight free radicals and oxidative stress.

– Coconut Oil and Cocount Milk: increases metabolism, reduces hunger and used as a quick fuel source from the liver.

– Apple Cider vinegar: helps to detox the body and increase energy

– Lemon Water: helps clease and detox the body, increase energy, aids digestion and reduces hunger cravings

– Cold Water Fish (tuna, salmon, mackeral, sardines): good source of vitamin D and Omega 3 fatty acids, helps to build stronger bones and fight hunger

– Plant Based Protein (nuts and legumes): helps build and sustain muscle, alkaline-forming and rich in antioxidants

– Chicken (free-range, organic and antibiotic free): a good source of protein

– Teas (green, peppermint, white, yerba mate and oolong): Increases metabolism and satiety, reducing hunger and reving the fuel burning engine.

Build your shopping list and meal plan around these key ingredients and you’ll not only begin to see pounds disappear but detoxify your body in the process. Choose organic as much as possible. Make sure to keep drinking your water as in our first week.

Wonderful instructors. Top quality facility - simply gorgeous! Always a great workout and a pleasure to come to the studio.
Amaya W.