Posts Tagged ‘yoga’

The Misfitstudio

Today I am the owner and creator of MISFITSTUDIO. It’s a unique Pilates, fusion and yoga studio in Toronto. My interests lay in building awareness, love and building a community with like minded healthy individuals. My current projects on the go, beside running a studio, managing a full and amazing staff, creating classes, playlists and running an Art Collective; I am writing a fusion teacher training program.

I am grateful to have been raised in a loving and artistically supportive environment. From an early age I showed a deep interest in art and dance, and that was never questioned. Following both through my childhood and teen years, I continue to this day. It  has always been celebrated. Health has always been a priority in my home; eating well, then rushing off to ballet, rhythmic gymnastics and expressive movement classes were a part of most evenings. I have always been physically active. I actually didn’t think about it, other than I needed to move every day; that was just a beautiful given and amen for it. My life has organically flowed from dance to yoga, to Pilates, to teaching, to studio owner.

Movement as meditation is my mantra.

I believe we could all benefit from a little endorphin kick everyday; a reconnect to yourself; an untangling and a quieting that happens when we focus on just one thing. I value this so much. It is what I encourage every student to attempt to do knowing the positive affects on my body, mind and spirit. I see my physical practice as my faith. I have an innate desire to move, to breathe and to flow with grace.


I am thankful that I have the most incredibly supportive system around me. My family and friends have been with me on this journey from the very beginning. They constantly remind me of love in the world; of devotion and pure support. I am grateful every day for them and their true belief in me and my vision. Everyday is a lesson; an unknown. The surprise of it keeps me guessing and I have acquired skills that I never would have imagined. I take it all in stride and see it as an opportunity to learn and grow and be a better version of myself. I see each day as an accomplishment and take great pride in what my body can do as opposed to what it can’t.

I wake up and meditate to set my day. Then I practice a little on the floor beside my bed; yoga; stretching and breathing; then I’m good to go for the day! My morning shake is seasonal fruit, a scoop of protein powder and a handful of Bcomplex, omega 369. I take a high performance multivitamin and I drink magnesium before bed. I eat tons of fresh vegetables, delicious salads, quinoa, seeds and nuts. I love me some good dark chocolate!


What if today is it?  What if today was the last day? I would like to learn more about the aging body. It’s my current focus. As my mother grows older I want to know how to offer a positive support for her and her generation so I’ll keep working toward this effort. I learned a very difficult lesson as a young girl and it taught me that you just never know when life will end. So I urge you to make the most of each day. Feel good, smile and glow from the inside. The only way to be inspired is to feel inspired, and moving every day contributes to that in a tremendous way.

Community is a massively important part of my life. I would like to take this time to thank friends, fellow teachers, mentors, students and family for contributing to the endless supply of positive energy in the Pilates, dance and Yoga community in Toronto!

I believe anyone can achieve their dreams! I am living mine and each day I am grateful for the love, lesson and unknown. The journey can be up and down, yet full of beauty and inspiration. Follow your dreams!

I am a Body of Work in Progress

My life is a happy balance ~ Stephanie Joanne

My life is a happy balance ~ Stephanie Joanne

Describing myself and what I do is always the most challenging task. To be very honest, the simple truth is I am a personal trainer. I have been blessed with some great exposure and tv/media opportunities which have opened up some doors for me. The one thing I’m not afraid of is walking towards those doors and making things happen. I really believe that there are no chance meetings. Keeping this in mind, I am always thinking of ways to collaborate with those around me. Currently I am working with a few companies in marketing and the exposure side of their business. Aligning myself with key organizations such as The Treadmill Factory has my time tied up these days.

I was brought up in Europe. Sports and play were daily activities. I did it all. My parents pretty much encouraged me to play and do as much as my spare time could allow. Following a full extracurricular program my memories are of my father playing games outside with me that he played during his childhood. My big brother Jonathan always included me in games that he played with his friends and I played OBA (Ontario Basketball) until I was seventeen. In retrospect, I’m pretty sure that it’s because of this early interaction that I turned into quite the tomboy and sport fanatic. I also joined a gym with my Mom at thirteen years of age and I’ve been in love with fitness ever since. It’s like brushing my teeth. Something feels terribly wrong if I don’t move.

The hardest obstacle for me thus far has been trying to figure out who I am in this role as a “fitness expert”. I spend most of my time with media related obligations and in meetings. Yet somehow all I want to do is wear my tights and workout. Finding balance and making sure I enjoy the process of creating my brand has been my primary focus. My boyfriend frequently reminds me to stop and be grateful for all that I have already accomplished before looking at what is next. I need to be constantly reminded of this.

I keep my workout routine and supplements simple. I box twice a week, hot yoga twice a week and train at the gym three times. I take Cygen Powergreens21 and Cygen Fish Oil. I am obsessed with the new victory bars, my OhYeah and Quest bars have always been a staple. I am in love with this new Yoga place I found. The girl teaching is the best I have come across in YEARS!! Her name is Karin (from YogaTree) and she has me determined to get into all these poses I would have never thought possible. Bending legs behind my head, balance and hand/head stands…all that good stuff!

I have a great team of individuals cheering me on! My Dad offers a welcomed thumbs up and tells his little girl he is proud at times when I feel like I am still that 7 year old girl who does not have a clue what she is doing or where she is going. In reality this is the truth. The older I get the more I realize that “adults” as we knew it when we were kids, don’t quite have it all together like we thought they did. My brother is that guy who will always take care of his little sis; pick me up when and if I fall kind of brother. It sure makes life a lot easier knowing that even when the rest of the world thinks “you’ve made it” on the inside you still need to know that if time ever came and you’re about to fall, that someone’s going to catch you. That person would be my brother, hands down. My best friend Sabrina is the one I literally speak to for at least an hour a day. She is the one who knows all the details. It’s like a very attractive human diary. Then the man behind the woman is Sheldan. Most days after I’m finished running my business and taking on the world, he gets the cranky version of me. The version most would not believe existed. The big joke is that the Stephanie Joanne turns back into the Stephanie Beekhuysen (which is my real name) and all I want to do is sulk and get back rubs. He deals with me and he supports me, which gets him major points all day long. Life really is all about relationships. As long as I value my relationships and the time I spend with the people I love, everything else will fall into place…. I hope!

I'm always going to be Daddy's little girl ~ Stephanie Joanne

I’m always going to be Daddy’s little girl ~ Stephanie Joanne

If remaining committed to fitness is a challenge for you and you’re trying to figure out what’s the best path to success I really think it’s time to start looking inward for the solution. Too often people trust what “experts” have to say and they get caught up in a war of conflicting information. When I get stuck I turn off my cell phone; I turn away from the computer and I sit with a pen and paper. It may take me 5 minutes or it may (and often does) take me all day and night; but I take that much needed time to re-group and journal what it is that I want and more so why I want it. I take the time to answer the important questions, “What does it mean to me? What do I have to do to make my goals happen?” Then I act on it. I strongly suggest that you do the same.

Throughout this entire journey I have found that there really is nothing more important than my time and energy. I have had the fancy job and the fancy title and I reached a place in life where I had to let it go. No regrets! Now, I have the energy to do everything that I am passionate about in my own time.

My message is simple, take control of your life.

Twitter @stefjoanne or

Running and Dancing to the Beat of my own Drummer

A young Cory Pagett

It seems fitting to me to be interviewed by a blog called Socially Fit as a large part of my physical activity these days involves social engagement, while also seeking to stay fit.

This past year my main focus was training for the ING NYC Marathon, on behalf of Team for Kids, a program run by the New York Road Runners to help underprivileged children gain access to running programs and nutritional information. As many of you know, the marathon itself was cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy, but that didn’t negate my fundraising efforts, nor stop me from completing a marathon, albeit under very different circumstances. But then again, my fitness journey has not always taken a very linear path. As a child, sports were more of a source of tension for me than excitement. Struggling through a few seasons of T-ball, I never progressed to Little League, instead joining the less popular and perhaps less physically-demanding Youth Bowling Council. While I would go on to successfully compete at the provincial level, let’s just say the trophies failed to gain much attention on the playground.

Indeed, I was the proverbial last one to be picked for dodgeball, the one tripping over his own skates at school outings to the local rink and the one too scared to jump into the pool until the threat of a failing grade outweighed that fear. Given my recent venture, it’s interesting that it was on the track where I first exhibited a strength that also impressed my classmates. Literally bypassing them all during practice, I was selected to represent the school in a series of short distance sprints and as part of a relay at regional meets.  But the pride I took in these accomplishments was short-lived after choosing dance as my next venture. While neither of my parents batted an eye at their son entering this female-dominated sport – and make no mistake, it IS a sport – my schoolmates were quick to rib me. While I enjoyed some success in competition, the bullying was overwhelming, and I abandoned lessons after three short years.

Dance, however, would continue to play an important role in my life on so many levels. Despite having given up on classes, I auditioned for the Stratford Festival and was fortunate to be chosen to perform in Gypsy. This experience exposed me to the discipline (physical, mental, etc) required to be in the arts and influenced me to apply for a local performing arts high school. For the next four years, I devoted all of my energy to exploring dance, music and theatre. Pushing myself to my physical limits, I was accustomed to pain, exhaustion and leaving my heart on the stage. In many ways, it was the world of dance where I experienced the most growth through learning a variety of styles and eventually choreographing my own works. I continued this journey even during a year abroad in France on exchange, but stopped abruptly when I got back to Canada and began university in Toronto.

The many shades of Cory (the dancer, the runner, the yogi, the fitness fiend)

As I began to gain exposure to a certain segment of gay urban life, I realized that a gym membership was going to be necessary. While my years of dance had served to keep me fit, I suddenly found myself bombarded with the “bigger is better” aesthetic.  I immersed myself in books, magazines, websites, a personal trainer and jumped from gym to gym, all in pursuit of an elusive ideal. Elusive, because it was imposed by external influences and therefore subject to change. A membership at a boutique gym led me to reconnect with the dance world I had left behind. Stepping into a ballet bootcamp run by Jennifer Nichols at 99 Sudbury, I was faced with the initial “Are you sure you’re in the right place?” After the first class, however, Jenn attempted to recruit me to dust off my dancing shoes and perform with her company, Hit and Run Productions.  I initially resisted, but when the opportunity came up to perform at Fashion sCares I agreed, assuming that it would be a matter of a few chassés down the runway. Arriving at the rehearsal, I quickly learned that it would involve partnering, lifts, etc. – much more work than just werq. While that was a one-night only return to the stage, I’ve continued with classes, following Jenn from one studio to the next and using her approach to movement to motivate my muscles.

My fitness path had also led me back to running. My first race was for the Pride and Remembrance Run in 2008 and in preparation for the 5k distance I joined the Toronto Frontrunners, an LGBT running group. An interesting mix of the social and the physical, the Saturday morning training runs allowed me to meet other members of the community and get tips on form, gear, nutrition etc.  From that initial run, I chose to add a charity aspect to my races, raising funds for causes such as prostate cancer, children’s arthritis, leukemia and lymphoma and various disabilities, while gradually increasing the distance to 8k, 10k, a half-marathon and 30k. When I felt like giving up, I simply remembered who I was running for.

While I enjoyed my time with Frontrunners, and later joined Team in Training, even becoming a mentor with them this season, running also became a time that I could dedicate to me and my thoughts. Alone with my iPod or iPhone, I find myself able to focus and reflect in a unique way. In fact, it was on a solo run in Washington, D.C. where I found the spot to propose to my partner.

During the summer of 2009, though, I hit a major roadblock to all physical activity. While vacationing in New York City, I experienced what was later diagnosed as an acute psychotic episode. After an attempt on my own life and hospitalization, I would go on to face severe depression and anxiety that quite literally paralyzed me and forced me onto short-term disability and caused me to retreat from almost all social interaction for several months.  Due to medications required during my treatment and literally not leaving my bed, I suddenly encountered a problem for the first time in my life: weight gain. Fortunately, I have not been on this path alone. Through the support of my husband, my family and friends, I have moved past this dark moment in my life and actually feel stronger to have gone through the experience and come out the other side.

I had established the goal for myself of running a marathon prior to my 30th birthday, but because of this setback, I didn’t feel prepared when the time came. So earlier this year, I decided to once again look at the possibility. I chose to participate in the New York City Marathon as a way of reclaiming the city that I hadn’t returned to in three years and to truly close the chapter on the mental health crisis that began there. During my training and fundraising, few knew the true importance of the event. In fact, this is the first time I have publicly shared this part of my story.

Cory Pagett – Fashion Cares – Toronto

As I said before, my fitness journey hasn’t always followed the course I laid out for myself. Three weeks prior to the marathon, I developed walking pneumonia, but after a round of antibiotics and stocking up on puffers, I got medical clearance to run. I then arrived in New York City on the Friday of the marathon and picked up my race kit, only to learn of the cancellation an hour later. Having overcome the mental hurdle of heading back to New York, I also decided that the cancellation wouldn’t stop me from keeping my commitment to those who had encouraged me and supported me over the past year.

So, the final chapter of this story took place on November 11. Some critics accused those looking to continue with the marathon in the aftermath of Sandy as being purely interested in a parade of ego. Personally, I chose to set out alone, on a 42.2-kilometre course that I had mapped out across Toronto. Without any bands, water stations or onlookers, I ran the entire distance, keeping in mind the importance of Remembrance Day, stopping at 11 am for a moment of silence. And when my iPhone ran out of energy before I did, I simply listened to my heart, grateful for the ability to continue running and dancing to the beat of my own drummer.



Live With Intention. Train With Purpose.

William and his wife Rhonda (before weight loss)

I am a husband, a father (to a teenage daughter), an employee at a great company and a business owner.  My interests are reading (about a variety of topics such as true crime, history, business) traveling and relaxing at home with my family.

My back story starts at the age of two when I was diagnosed with “Wilms” tumor – a kidney cancer that a low percentage of toddlers develop.  In order to save my life,  I had to have my right kidney removed.  Surgery at that age,  meant an incision to half of my body instead of the small area that most adults experience. There began my uphill battle with health and fitness. I had to go through chemo which caused me to lose a drastic amount of weight. Then, as I got better I began to gain weight rapidly.  I was considered “husky” throughout my childhood, straight into JR High.  It was during my preteen years that I began to notice that I had above average strength for my age.  My dad had weights around and I would lift them every once in a while.  When I hit 7th grade, I was able to bench 185lbs, 8th grade 230lbs and 9th grade I hit 275lbs without any serious training.  At the age of 15 however, my best friend and I both lost our fathers. It was then that we turned to lifting weights seriously and it was a great outlet for our grief.   My weight at that time was around 225lbs.  As I moved through high school my weight climbed to 275lbs.  I played football and competed in a few high school weightlifting meets which I won.   After high school I continued to lift weights and compete in power lifting meets while in College.  Just before I graduated College, I weighed 300lbs. That realization sparked my first successful  journey with weight loss. I dropped down to 242lbs which I maintained  for almost two years.

A young William

Around this time I met my former wife and I started to relax. By the time we were married I proceeded to gain the 50+ lbs that I had lost. Shortly after  this my daughter was born. With the passage of time I continued my descent into a “relaxed” state of being, with poor eating habits, and eating out. That period lasted thirteen years. In 2002 my former wife and I went through a stressful divorce, and I became a single father.  My priority then (as it is now)  was to provide my daughter with a stable home environment. Sadly, I paid little attention to my health.  I still lifted weights off and on and that proved to be the saving grace in preventing the onset of diabetes.  After meeting and marrying my current wife, we both just kind of woke up one day and spoke candidly about our physical conditions. We looked in the mirror, didn’t like what we saw and decided then and there to make changes.  We prayed about it and started taking immediate steps the next day. I weighed in at 335lbs when we started. Fortunately for us I read a lot of muscle magazines. Between that information and the knowledge gained while  training with a few national/pro bodybuilders and power lifters, I was able to experiment with a variety of diet and training approaches. Through trial and error a low carb meal plan is what worked best. We both lost over 100lbs each by the following year, while weight training, practicing Bikram Yoga, and doing various cardio activities.

William 335lbs

Being able to experience this journey together with my wife has been the ultimate blessing through out all of this. Sometimes, couples can be on a different page as it pertains to health goals. In our situation, we approached it as a team.  When I’m feeling lazy, she inspires me and vice versa.  It has created a stronger spiritual bond between us, and we both feel more confident, stronger and happier. We give all thanks and glory to God for giving us the strength to get through the times when we might have wanted to quit.  Our journey started with a prayer; God answered, and we are forever thankful.

That we are on the same page nutritionally, is also a plus.  We’re so in tune with each other that we can go grocery shopping individually and  practically mimic each others selections for the week. We subscribe to the KISS principle of keeping it simple;  meaning, protein, veggie, good fats, fruits and some starches depending on training day. We never have problems maintaining our eating plan because  our motto is “Always keep a protein source ready for use!”  No really, just having a protein source readily available makes it easy to prepare a meal around it.  This is where most people run into problems. When you have nothing prepared to eat, and you’re hungry – bad things happen. The other thing that remains a constant (because I have one kidney) I must manage the amount of protein that I consume; as well as watch my sodium closely or I’ll retain a lot of water. The surgery that I went through as a child altered the circulation in my left leg, and ultimately this led to my calf swelling (because of a blood clot) back in 2011. I had to be hospitalized for five days, and that was enough of a reminder for me to stay in tune with my body.

We currently train three days a week in our garage gym,  On a Push/Legs/Pull rotation, the other  3 days we do cardio/interval cardio/ heavy bag, cross fit/circuit type training & rest 1 day a week.  The supplements we take are Omega’s, COQ10 and Nitrean protein powder. BCAA’s are also a staple for me and a great alternative to high protein intake because it doesn’t have to be broken down and digested, it goes straight to my muscle. I can’t recall any setbacks to being fit thankfully. We have been able to maintain our weight loss by utilizing one cheat day per week to eat items we don’t normally consume during the week.  Knowing that we have one day to “relax” a little keeps us from cutting loose on the other days.

Now that we’ve achieved our target weight (my current weight is 222-226lbs) I’d like to continue to lower my body fat and improve my overall body composition.  When you lose this much weight, no matter how hard you try, you’re going to lose strength. Who knew? So now that my strength levels are coming back  I’m starting to get the itch to start competing in a couple of bench press, power lifting meets again, just for fun.

To the naysayers out there perceived and real that would love for us to fail, to gain our weight back, we see you. You fuel us daily. Many of our friends have been supportive, however we have taken note of a handful that exist that would love for nothing more than for us to backslide. This truth, along with being a good role model for our daughter, is a great point of focus, and we’d like to show her that anything can be done with God and putting her mind to it.

Before you start your fitness journey pray first. Then set out to gain as much knowledge as you can about nutrition and exercise. Once you have that knowledge, if you ever find the need to lose weight, you already know what you need to do. Find support, seek motivation.  We started as a site for those who are seeking guidance, inspiration, and connectivity to someone who has gone through what they’re going through now.  There are over 50 success stories on the site, with various ways & means used to achieve results. Find a story that’s close to your own and seek to duplicate some of the steps that person used to achieve  great results. Remember every choice that you make has an end result.

William on vacation most recently, with his wife Rhonda. Together they’ve lost over 200 pounds!

Thanks for reading and please feel free to follow our journey:

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How I Found My Breath

My life is living yoga on and off the mat. On the mat, I practice ashtanga/vinyasa flow yoga 5 times a week, and meditate almost daily. I have completed several 10-day silent Vipassana meditation retreats. I teach yoga (Vinyasa flow, Ashtanga, and restorative) daily to adults, and teach kids yoga in different studios and schools. Yoga seems to be my life.  Off the mat, I have become somewhat of a yoga-preneur. I’ve established 2 companies. One is a kids’ yoga company, Stellar Kids Yoga, where I send hand-picked teachers to schools and studios to share the magic of yoga and meditation through FUN activities and games. I also established Prana Retreats, infusing raw food and yoga into retreats to help educate people in how they can lead healthier lives. Along with Raw food, there will be juice detox retreats and specific retreats to help people living with diseases. My dream is to empower people to take their health into their own hands, and have accessible tools/knowledge to be part of their own healing. My retreats will focus on detoxification, HIV/AIDS, Cancer, obesity and allergies. My first retreat was a huge success. I see a big need for this as people are looking for healthier and more holistic ways to lead life and deal with ailments.

I am also currently part of Yoga Unite, a local yoga initiative that supports local organizations with yoga based events to not only raise money, but also increase awareness. Our first event to support ACT (Aids Committee of Toronto) got a great response. Our next event on November 3rd will celebrate the body, supporting people who have experienced trauma in the body (eating disorders). The beneficiary will be Sheena’s Place that offers a wide range of programs for people suffering with eating disorders.

My childhood is different from most. I was born in Moscow, Russia. My parents divorced when I was 6, and shortly after my mother left Moscow with my sister and myself. We lived a gypsy life in Israel and Greece before making our way to Canada. There was stress at home from physical and emotional abuse from my mother and her boyfriends, which overtime had a real effect on me. I was a withdrawn child. These were very challenging years in my life. At the age of 12 due to some extreme events my sister and I were put into foster care. I practically stopped talking at this point. After several months with my first foster home I got in trouble with the law and had to move to a new family. I had three foster homes in total. Due to being a trauma survivor and not coping well with all the changes, Child Services thought nature and animals would be good for me. I feel so blessed that not only was I given a home with nature and horses, but a man and woman who opened their arms and heart to help me move out of my shell and towards being a “normal teenager”. It was the beginning of the healing. I was an equestrian jumper, and spent a lot of time with horses, as I trained several times a week and competed equestrian jumping on the weekends. I didn’t play sports as my time was spent training for equestrian competitions throughout high school.

My foster-mother was very much into exercise and dieting, so I remember watching my weight and going on diets in my teens. I stopped riding horses when I was 17 and soon after started aerobics and weight training. This started the next chapter of my life in fitness. I weight trained 5 times a week through university and was an aerobics, step and spinning instructor throughout my twenties, and an avid runner. When I wasn’t studying or teaching fitness, I was training. It was a great release and aided in giving me mental clarity as I went through university and worked.

I feel yoga was always meant to come into my life. I always thought about trying a yoga class back in the 90’s, but was living overseas after university so it was challenging to fit yoga into my life. I was still a runner and weight trainer in my 30’s. I was a school teacher working overseas, so when I returned to Canada for the summers I had a regular yoga practice, and had a home practice when overseas. When I returned to Toronto in 2007 I started a regular Ashtanga practice under the guidance of Ron Reid, Marla Meenakshi Joy and Diane Bruni. Along with my regular yoga practice I taught grade 3, and taught yoga in the evenings. It was a very busy time. In 2009 I became a full-time yogi!! It was not an easy transition, but now I could not imagine my life any other way.

It is safe to say that yoga transformed and saved me. It is different from running or weight training, it gives you a pathway to etch through to the depth of who you are, and gain awareness of patterns and thoughts that may not have been serving you. With movement, breath and meditation, I was able to see things so clearly and really see who I was. Yoga helped me to be more compassionate, patient and loving towards myself. It gave me strength to face my fears and shadows from the past. I felt freer and freer as time passed. I am more spiritual than I have ever been before. The more I uncover the truth of who I really am, and all I am capable of, the more I align with my true authentic path. Almost like I am being guided, supported and provided for. It is a pretty wonderful discovery.

What gets me to the mat every day is the connection between my body, heart and mind. I get on the mat because it is a time for me, to breathe, to observe and to be open. Living the busy life that I live and the challenges that I face, it is my time on the mat that gets me back to that place of union. The tools I get on the mat, have completely transformed how I am in relationships, how I lead my day, and most importantly how I am with myself. My growing love for myself has opened me up to love those around me more freely. I now have healthier and more supportive relationships in my life. Because I know myself better, I am able to see the bigger picture, as it comes from a place of being grounded and centered. It is also through the challenges in my life that I saw these benefits (tools) and understood the power of yoga, of getting on the mat.

My foster parents have always supported whatever path I chose, and were fine when I became a full-time yogi. I have actually inspired my foster-mother who has had both knees replaced to start taking gentle yoga classes. I am guiding her to be kind to herself as she cannot do as much as once did, as she was a very active woman when she was younger. I have had many obstacles in my life. The main one in recent years was being diagnosed with an incurable disease just over three years ago. It shook my world, and safe to say, made me crumble. I had to rise again and not sure if I would have if it wasn’t for my time on the mat, where I was able to feel the anger, pain and grief. It was a wake-up call. There is nothing deeper than being faced with your own mortality. Now, after 3 years, I feel stronger than ever. I feel like I could face my fears, that this is my time. I am healthy now, but my health is something I will have to manage in my life, so it keeps things in perspective. Makes me stay present, appreciate every day and take steps to making my dreams a reality. It is through yoga that I learned to soften, be kinder to myself, and find a balance when I do things. That is what I learned through yoga. I can talk about the physical accomplishments of the postures, but the accomplishments I am most proud of are of how it transformed me off the mat. How yoga gave me space to connect, to feel and to let go of what I held for so long. Through this accomplishment, I can face fears, I know who I am, and my path is clearer than ever before. It is taking that time for me to breathe, to be still, to delve deeper within the body and heart, and truly understand the pain/trauma that still lives there, and give it space to heal. By confronting my pain, by allowing myself to feel and be vulnerable, I was able to transform it into possibility and courageous actions of my true path.

I am beginning to see more and more men in my classes, and I see them enjoying yoga. My words of guidance for both men and women would be to release all expectations on the mat. Come on the mat for these reasons; to breathe, move, be challenged as you move to your edge, and feel whatever is coming up. I think the important factor is how people feel after a class that keeps them coming back. More relaxed in the body and clear in the mind. Take the first step. Let go of what you should be able to do, and just get on the mat and breathe. Find a yoga instructor you resonate with. Having a connection with an instructor and genuine support will keep you motivated and coming back. If it feels intimidating to go on your own, bring a buddy.  It’s better together!

I have a deep sense of gratitude for getting this opportunity to share. I am more open about my story, not because I am carrying it around with me, but because I want people to know that no matter what obstacles and challenges they have encountered in their life, there is always hope, and there is always a way to get past it.

Let your challenges make you stronger. If not with yoga, then choose your fitness path to empower you to look within, let go, and become better than you ever imagined. It is ALL possible! I know first hand. Make a plan, set a goal (an intention), and take the first step. Face your fears, reunite with your truth, and be a catalyst for change.

“Without personal transformation, there cannot be social transformation” Deepak Chopra. or  twitter @Yogini_Ella

Silence the Call of the Couch

There’s a totally legit reason you always seem to fall off the workout wagon: The conventional approach to exercise almost forces you to bail out. So we did a  little research, and we found an article where the experts who specialize in the science of motivation explain how to keep your butt in gear. As it happens, just a few simple behavioral tweaks can silence the call of the couch.

Why People Quit
Research shows that 50% of people who start a new workout program drop out within six months. That’s because the most common reasons given for exercising— have very little to do with you, says Edward Deci, Ph. D., a professor of psychology at the University of Rochester, who has studied motivation for decades. In fact, working out to make others happy is the least successful way to compel you to break a sweat. One study found that people who signed up for exercise classes because they wanted to feel good were more likely to attend than those who did it to look good.

Curing the motivation problem is at the crux of a theory developed by Deci and his colleagues called Self Determination Theory (SDT ). It boils down to this: The more you do stuff you like to do and not what you think you should do, the more you’ll keep doing it. The benefits of this intrinsic motivation have been proven in studies across the board, from education to health care to parenting. In exercise research, intrinsically motivated exercisers were more likely to continue than those who were nagged by friends or family to continue working out for six months or more.

Experts say three subtle shifts in your outlook can keep you on track and here are their fitness tips:

Step 1: Take charge
Appoint yourself CEO of your fitness decisions. Don’t let well-meaning friends (or mothers or spouses) force you into another gym membership you won’t use. Psychologists call this autonomy, and it’s one thing you must develop if you want to harness intrinsic motivation. “People who feel as if they’re making their own decisions report feeling higher levels of self-worth,” says Philip Wilson, Ph. D., an associate professor of psychology at Brock University in Ontario who studies SDT and exercise. “And that leaves them feeling more motivated.”

How do you take the wheel? Start by asking yourself why you want to exercise at all. If the answer is that your partner casually dropped the phrase “muffin top” when you were jeans shopping, your efforts are probably doomed. But if you decide to get fit because you want to feel stronger or healthier, you’re more likely to be successful, because the end result means something to you.

Next, find a form of exercise you enjoy so much you’d do it even if it weren’t good for you. If the mellow vibe of Hatha yoga brings you bliss, light up some incense and roll out a mat. If slamming a tennis ball is more your thing, join a league or sign up for lessons. Perhaps most important: If you truly despise running on the treadmill (or doing crunches or taking spin class), don’t! If you’re invested in what you’re doing, your performance will improve—and that will feed your desire to go back for more.

If you honestly can’t equate exercise with fun, flex your take-charge muscle by setting specific personal goals. Working your way up to three no-cheating-allowed pullups? Finishing your first 5-K? Whatever your goal, it can help you stay motivated for the short-term and the long.

“People thrive on feedback, and having goals provides that,” says WH contributor Rachel Cosgrove, co-owner of Results Fitness, a Santa Clarita, California-based gym. Eighty percent of the clients there renew their memberships every year— double the industry standard.

Cosgrove helps clients create meaningful goals by getting them to focus on tangible accomplishments, like completing an hour-long workout twice a week, doing five pullups or 10 pushups. At the same time, she discourages them from stepping on the scale.

“Goals should be based on feeling good—that’s what keeps people coming back to the gym,” she says. Deci’s research supports Cosgrove’s approach. Physical accomplishments give you positive feelings about yourself and increase motivation because they’re intrinsic; looking for validation via external motivators, like the scale parked in your bathroom, does not.

Step 2: Give yourself props for progress
How many times have you said to yourself during a workout, “I’m getting nowhere”? Nothing evaporates motivation faster than feeling like you’re not making any noticeable improvement.

The problem: When it comes to working out, people are notorious for seeking a comfort zone. Once we master a new skill (like holding plank position for 60 seconds or running at a 10-minute mile pace), we stick with it because, hey, we know we can do it. But it also impedes progress and breeds big-time boredom.

“The less interesting something is, the less motivated we are,” Wilson says. Some of his earliest SDT studies showed that humans have a basic need to feel engaged—take away the novelty, and motivation vanishes. And Groundhog Day-style monotony isn’t just bad for your head; eventually your muscles stop responding and you really hit a wall.

The solutions: Mixing things up and pushing yourself. “Changing the intensity and type of exercise trains the muscles differently, and you’ll start to see improvements more quickly,” Wilson says. For example, increase the weight you’re lifting and the number of reps and sets by 10 percent every week. The same goes for your cardio—increase the amount in 10 percent increments each week. Do this for three weeks, and then drop back down to where you started on week four to let your body rest, Cosgrove says.

Next, write everything down. A workout log functions not only as an exercise checklist but as a concrete record of how far you’ve come—a way to motivate yourself if you become frustrated. In researcher-speak, this is called establishing competence, and it’s at the core of the second step in fueling motivation that lasts. To make it work, keep the focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t, Wilson says. And don’t compare yourself to anyone else. Once you start focusing on you, your confidence will grow and ignite a cycle of positive reinforcement that will keep you hooked.

Step 3: Make it social
Besides the dirty martinis, there’s a reason you go to happy hour every week. You get to socialize, laugh, and hang with friends. It makes you feel connected. According to the principles of SDT, making your workouts more like happy hour will put you well on your way to stoking your inner motivator.

Start by finding like-minded workout buddies. A study by Canadian researchers found that a congenial atmosphere, rather than a competitive one, helps people stay motivated by providing a source of encouragement. In Cosgrove’s gym, clients work out in small groups of three to five people with similar fitness goals. “The group provides built-in support, and its way more fun than working out alone,” Cosgrove says. Members push each other to reach goals and cheer each other on. And when someone has a bad day, the group is there to lift spirits and sympathize.

If you go to a gym, get to know a few trainers—even if your relationship is limited to their giving you pointers on form. If you don’t love gyms, Wilson recommends hooking up with a friend with a similar fitness level or searching the message boards of local leagues or clubs to find people who share your definition of fun. If you’re a lone ranger at heart, don’t sweat it. Just focus more on taking charge of your fitness and feeling good about your progress, Wilson says.

The ability to stick to a workout—and get the body that makes you happy—isn’t the sole domain of professional athletes and Type A exercisers. You already have what you need within you: It’s just a matter of tweaking your perspective so you can tap into what really gets you going. Find your focus.

Your friends at Socially Fit

Another Four Letter Word

Gym rats love to workout as much as possible. They love the burn and look forward to training hard everyday. One word they do not like to hear is “rest”. As important as it is, once we get into a routine, we do not like to break our cycle. Even though we enjoy the physical challenge, we need to give our bodies time to recuperate.

Resting your body has huge advantages. It gives your body time to build the muscle that you’ve been working so hard on. This also gives your body an opportunity  to repair any damaged tissues and replenish energy. Choosing to ignore your body when it tells you that it needs a rest can have some very unpleasant results. Over-training can be very dangerous. If you do not allow your body to restore the energy that you use and repair itself, you risk injuries that could be avoided with proper rest. These injuries can be serious and mean that you are missing workouts for a longer period of time.

Though it is hard for the dedicated gym rat to take time off without feeling guilty, it is for lack of a better phrase, a necessary evil. Time away from training allows us to grow stronger mentally and physically. Your body will thank you for it.

Arthur’s Inspirational Transformation

If you have not seen this video, please take a moment to view.

Arthur Boorman was a disabled veteran of the Gulf War for 15 years, and was told by his doctors that he would never be able to walk on his own, ever again.

He stumbled upon an article about Diamond Dallas Page doing Yoga and decided to give it a try — he couldn’t do traditional, higher impact exercise, so he tried DDP YOGA and sent an email to Dallas telling him his story.

Dallas was so moved by his story, he began emailing and speaking on the phone with Arthur throughout his journey – he encouraged Arthur to keep going and to believe that anything was possible. Even though doctors told him walking would never happen, Arthur was persistent. He fell many times, but kept going.

Arthur was getting stronger rapidly, and he was losing weight at an incredible rate! Because of DDP’s specialized workout, he gained tremendous balance and flexibility — which gave him hope that maybe someday, he’d be able to walk again.

His story is proof, that we cannot place limits on what we are capable of doing, because we often do not know our own potential. Neither Arthur, nor Dallas knew what he would go on to accomplish, but this video speaks for itself. In less than a year, Arthur completely transformed his life.

The true message ~ Believe in yourself, and anything is possible!

 Make It Happen

Everyone has a distinct view of his or herself. We may not look the same to those around us, but in our head that vision is always there. Whether good or bad we all have it. There are some out there that love what they see and how they feel. For most, they always see room for improvement. If you are a part of the latter, I pose these two questions:

  1. How do you view yourself in the mirror?
  2. What are you doing to get yourself closer to what you consider ideal?

If you truly want to change, really think about your answers to these two questions. Once you can answer them honestly, you will find a way to change your life for the better.

Your body is a very accurate food diary.


Everyone Has Their Own Reason

We all have our own justifications for working out. To be quite honest, there is never a bad reason to start. Today’s post is a simple question: Why do YOU workout? What was it that got you to put that thought into action? Please feel free to share as your answer may be the one to inspire our readers to change their lives today!

A day that includes a workout is a day well lived.