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July 2014
July 2014

Does anyone feel like her life--or at least her summer--is careening by at warp speed? Me too!

 

Maybe it's time for a slowdown. I myself am trying to take my own advice to chill out. Slow my roll. Cool my jets. It's pretty simple stuff but there's truth here: life gets better when you just take a minute to relax and stop stressing. The universe tends to provide all the answers that get lost in the shuffle of "busy." The onset of August is the perfect time for that.

 

That said, one place "slow down" doesn't always have to apply is your workouts (even on vacation!). I recently led a one-day retreat to Long Beach with some amazing Uplift ladies (next one is on August 9th!), and the trip inspired me to come up with a simple-yet-crazy-effective beach circuit, all thanks to your best summertime fitness friend, sand.

 

So suit up. Sweat it out. THEN slow it down!

 

Uplift's Booty-Busting Beach Workout

Warmup: jog to the water's edge and back ten times.

Circuit #1:

*20 pushups

*20 jump squats

*20 tricep dips in table top position

*20 walking lunges

*20 scorpion planks

 

Circuit #2:

*20 pushup-to-sideplanks

*20 roundhouse kick-to-squats, alternating legs

*100 arm circles standing on one leg (switch legs at circle 50 seconds through)

*20 walking backward lunges

*In reverse plank position, draw alternating knees into chest

 

Bonus: run five minutes down the beach and then five minute back to finish up!


July 2014
July 2014

I was very excited (and honored!) to be included in Shape magazine's recent article, "13 successful, fit women share how to turn your love of exercise into a career."

I found myself in very illustrious company with the other women entrepreneurs featured in the piece; and all of THEIR advice reminded me that no matter how unique our paths are, we all face many similar issues, joys, and growing pains. There is really never a "me" in life; it's always "we."

I decided to share the full interview I did with the author of the story here because I think it offers some deeper insight into the things Katie, Helena and I have experienced in opening and growing Uplift, and how many facets of entrepreneurship can translate into life in general.

 

First of all, tell me a little about your background. What did you do before opening Uplift?

Before Uplift, I was a full-time writer! I'd published two books, and was freelancing for a whole variety of magazines and newspapers (eg, The New York Times, The Nation, etc). Similarly, my two business partners were doing things totally outside the realm of the fitness world, too (My partner Helena was a lawyer and my other partner Katie directed corporate events for a large bank). Needless to say, since it was so far off from what I had been doing professionally for years, opening a women-only fitness studio was more along the lines of a calling, rather than a job.
What drew you to this workout method in the first place? (And/or how did you develop it?)

The biggest thing about Uplift, and the reason why I co-founded it in the first place, is that while we offer very intense workouts, centering in cardio and strength (via group classes and personal training), a huge part of our business and brand is the social and community aspect we also offer. Uplift is a place for women to come and work out for sure; but we also built a bar/communal area where they can hang out pre- and post-workout, make friends and workout buddies, network and just relax in an environment that really engenders camaraderie. That in my mind has been what has been missing in the boutique fitness scene, and integral to what we have built.
Why did you decide to turn your passion for fitness into a career?

I loved writing professionally, but it's a very solitary job. After a while, the urge to get out there in the world and help people became stronger and stronger until I couldn't ignore it any more. I have said since the beginning that Uplift has been almost like a calling for me: I couldn't have done the fitness/personal training thing "on the side" (which is how I started doing it while still a writer) even if I wanted to--the doors leading to Uplift kept opening and opening right in front of me.  I got some good press as a trainer, my business partners found me that way, and other pieces just kept falling into place. What we have done at Uplift goes beyond just physical fitness: we really REACH women in a bigger way. When I am working out with a client in the studio, or running with them on the roads of Central Park, I feel like I am able to help/impact/advise on other areas of their lives, too. At the end of the work day, I walk home satisfied that the little niche we have carved out has improved the lives of women.
How is working in the fitness industry different than previous jobs you've had? How is it similar? Are there any business lessons you learned in other jobs that you were able to apply to opening Uplift?

Being a writer and opening a fitness studio do actually have similarities. There is, of course, a sales aspect: I am pretty sure everything in life is sales in one form or another. I don't mean the pushy, in-your-face-on-the-street kind of sales, but sales in the sense that as a writer and as an entrepreneur, I've had to hone my ability to sell my vision to the public at large, to clients, to my partners. Similarly, communication in both of my careers has been key. it is, of course, the centerpiece to writing. But at Uplift, it is an absolute necessity as well: communicating well with my partners has kept us a solid trifecta with hardly any problems or issues; communicating openly and honestly and with authenticity to our clients keeps them coming back for more--we have built Uplift ENTIRELY on word of mouth, and I feel that our open and communicative vibe is very responsible for that. Creativity is another piece: no writer, and certainly no entrepreneur, can exist without it. Every day, we have to form creative solutions to problems, find creative ways of expressing our identity as a brand--creativity keeps our business growing and is the aspect to entrepreneurship that is so much fun: ultimately, I (along with my partners) am entirely responsible for what is put out there into the world.
What did you learn about developing and marketing a brand? Looking back, were there any "rookie mistakes" you made along the way?

I am still making rookie mistakes--starting a business is an evolution! Just when you think you know what you're doing, some new aspect of the business or the brand shows up, and you have to adapt. That simply means learning from (the myriad) mistakes you inevitably make, and improving for the next go-around. Just like personal development and developing your own self-awareness, developing and marketing a brand is an evolution, too. There are no absolutes. It's a matter of starting with something: the germ of an idea, even--and just growing it, inch by inch. For example, you come up with a name, logo, and tagline at the beginning, but a year later, when your brand has organically evolved, those may change a little or a lot, and that's okay. I think a common denominator with those of us who start business is a willingness to embrace change. Marketing is similar: we have grown Uplift entirely on word of mouth, so based on that, I believe a brand starts and grows with client/customer experience. All the slick ads and billboards and marketing campaigns in the world won't do a bit of good if the product itself is not top notch. And in our case, I am not talking about just the workouts we offer: it's the whole experience at Uplift, from the beautiful locker rooms to the friendly staff to the the community and camaraderie we have painstakingly cultivated--we spend so much more time on those aspects of our business than we ever have on "marketing," per se.
What is your number-one piece of advice for other female entrepreneurs interesting in starting their own studios or franchises?

Move forward without fear. I think fear holds people back in so many ways. It's not like I am without it at all times, of course. However, so many women worry about leaving the "stability" of a job they hate to start something of their own; but I believe that when you walk through the right door, things fall into place and you are provided for. That said, I don't want to underestimate the hard--no, not hard--HERCULEAN work ahead. There are negatives and stresses but if you can be brave and are willing to work your butt off, it will pay off.
What has been your greatest joy as a studio owner?

Watching women change for the better and improve their lives right before my eyes. Countless clients have told or written to me about how Uplift has literally changed their lives. And again, while many of them have lost a lot of weight and look and feel fantastic, I believe they mean more than that--there is an X factor in our business that helps shepherd women into real well-being, the kind that has very little to do with being "skinny." That makes the 16+ hour workdays well worth it!
What's one common misconception people have about running a fitness studio?

Just because I am in workout clothes all day doesn't mean I get a chance to work out myself :) But seriously, some people may have the impression that it's all fun, all the time. It IS truly the most rewarding and exciting thing I have ever done, but it is a tremendous amount of work, and a big leap of faith. That's why we focus so much of our efforts on creating workouts geared toward heavy lifting and strength training--in this world, only the strong survive!
What are your plans/hopes/goals for Uplift moving forward?

We are definitely planning on opening more studios, first in the NYC area and then beyond. I've been saying that the only way to grow, is to grow! The more women we can reach, the better.

June 2014
June 2014

Okay, I will come out and say it. You know what I am getting a tiny bit sick of? Something my mom calls the "funge face." I don't know where she got this term, but I know what it means: people who walk around with their faces screwed up in a big fat frown.

In other words, straight-up negativity.

At Uplift, we encourage strength both in the studio (pick up those 12- and 15-pound weights, please!) but also outside. Caveat: strength does not mean NOT having bad days, never being in a bad mood, never being negative--we all have those days, of course. I have had more than my fair share of them recently, in fact.

However, one little thing those darks days taught me is that strength IS forging ahead in whatever small ways you can. It literally might seem impossible to pick yourself up but it's actually not for most people. Putting one foot in front of the other and a smile on your face is a great start. There are lots of options and roads if you can do that.

This song ("The Fighter") and its corresponding VIDEO is my recent favorite running jam. Watch it, pay particular attention to the lyrics, and remind yourself that most likely life is pretty good for you, especially when you think of everything else going on out there in the world:

And if I can last thirty rounds/There's no reason you should ever have your head down/Six foot five, two hundred and twenty pounds/Hailing from rock bottom, loserville, nothing town/Text book version of a kid going nowhere fast/And now I'm yelling, "Kiss my ass"/It's gonna take a couple right hooks, a few left jabs/For you to recognize you really ain't got it bad.

...and keep in mind, the opposite of being a fighter isn't a bad day or momentary weakess or pain, it's simply defeat.


June 2014
June 2014

At our most recent Uplift Workout & Wine book club, we were visited by the incomparable Dr. Sonya Rhodes, author of The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today's Strong Women Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling.

As our book clubs tend to do, this amazing event turned into a two-hour therapy session and boy, did we learn a lot.
First, there is the QUIZ to determine where you are on the Alpha/Beta spectrum (everyone, according to Dr. Rhodes, is a mixture of both). Your significant other can take it, too, to determine how you both match up or if you're single, you can use the results to figure out the type of person you should link up with romantically!
Then there was our discussion, which struck serious chords with every woman in the room.
Many of us women--even the strongest, most outgoing, most ambitious--sometimes have trouble inserting some Alpha into our lives and interactions with others, be they a partner, co-workers, bosses, or family members.
I'm a good example of this: I recently had to end a relationship with a guy (who I was madly in love) with because I finally realized that I had lost my voice in our interactions. I was so scared of losing him that I never asserted my needs or objected to the crappy things he said and did. Lesson learned: I should've been way more Alpha from the beginning and maybe I wouldn't have wasted as much time as I did with him.
According to Dr. Rhodes, gender roles are shifting and women are gaining more and more power. Now it's time for us to put it to good use.
Here's how to inject some Alpha for positive change and forward motion in your life (please note: this is my take/translation on some of Dr. Rhodes' key points. Read the BOOK for more!):

*Negotiate: Practice saying what YOU want and need in work, love and life. As Katy Perry sings, "I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath. Scared to rock the boat and make a mess. So I stood quietly. Agreed Politely." You can still ROAR reasonably (and even politely!) when necessary.
*Set boundaries: Don't roll over or think something is okay when it isn't. Instincts never lie and you need to establish your strength and your do's/don'ts right from the beginning.
*Date or marry outside the box: This was the toughest one for me to swallow, yet it makes sense. We women really love us some Alpha males and I am no different (He's strong! He protects me! He wears the pants and I love being taken care of!) but Dr. Rhodes suggests giving the Betas a chance. Just because a guy might not be the life of the party or take over a room doesn't mean he's not strong; Plus, Betas tend to be better partners, more caring and are more equitable with the house and kids!

April 2014
April 2014

At the risk of sounding new age-y or pseudo-guru-ish...this week we're focused on the power of attention and abundance.

The other night, I was doing some work upstairs in our office at Uplift while the studio bustled below me. Our amazing trainer Denise Harris popped up there to drop her bag before her client session started. We engaged in a little small talk before she said to me, sort of out of the blue, "I've been really stressed about various things, but this morning I decided to shift my focus."

Intrigued, not least because I'd been similarly stressed about a few things in my own life, I asked her to elaborate.

"I awakened to the phrase 'shift your focus,'' she told me. "I heard it over and over ringing in my ears. Then I picked up my Daily Word and the daily devotional for the day said something along the lines of, 'Sometimes we place so much focus on how complicated a situation is. Then things become more complex and we sometimes create more problems and obstacles. But if we change our focus and practice a little more faith - good begins to unfold in your life.'"

Denise continued, "I don't know why, but I took the repeated thought 'shift your focus' and the daily devotional for that day as a sign and figured it doesn't hurt to try to shift my focus into more positive thoughts and walk in faith and know that it's all gonna be ok. I also decided to play the gratitude game - during the day, at night or whenever my thoughts turned to negative ones. I would just start listing all the things I felt grateful for little or big - whatever. That game definitely helped shift my focus and made me smile if nothing else. I've read about doing that in several books and more recently read a snippet Gabrielle Bernstein wrote and she mentioned it too. The last thing I decided to do (but am still trying to be successful at!) is just stay silent - turn the problems over to whoever or whatever you believe in and pray or mediate and ask for guidance."

I thought about this conversation so much and emailed Denise to thank her for her inspiration (and to ask permission to retell this story in a blog post!) and she wrote to me, "I consider myself a spiritual person, not heavily into organized religion or anything, but I didn't mention it because you never know what people believe and its can sometimes be a sensitive topic. Since you asked, though, I don't mind sharing. Not to sound cheesy, but I think we are all meant to live amazing lives and feel amazing while doing it. I want that for myself (and you too)! Work in progress!"

I just want to repeat what Denise said so beautifully: I think we are all meant to live amazing lives and feel amazing while doing it. I want that for myself (and you too)! It's hard sometimes in the confines of daily life, stress and pressures, but somewhere in there focus from a place of abundance, not lack. And there's our gratitude for today (and for Denise!).


April 2014
April 2014

You know her, you LOVE her, you have to book 2 weeks out to get into class with her - check out our interview with general manager, personal trainer, strength creator/instructor, and amazing new mom Michelle!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"? I was working long hours behind a desk in advertising when I decided to start working out more and eating healthier in order to lose some weight and manage stress. I quickly noticed how much better I felt after starting my day with a workout, and I really wanted to help other people feel the same way. I wasn't fulfilled by my job, and so I became certified and started doing personal training and teaching classes on the side, which was so much more rewarding for me. I randomly came across Uplift (before it was Uplift - formerly Rogue Female Fitness) on Twitter, tweeted at them that I loved what they were doing for women, and met with them. It was a match made in heaven, and so I left my old job and I've been with them ever since!

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes? I love seeing women get stronger each week. Watching the woman who used to grab five-pound dumbbells go for the twelve-pounders one week, or seeing someone who used to struggle with modified push-ups doing 15 regular push-ups in a row is the most amazing thing to be a part of. I believe strength is contagious and it really inspires everyone around them! I also love the energy that people bring to the room, which motivates me to push my classes even harder.


What’s your favorite song to work out to right now? I am loving "This Head I Hold" by Electric Guest and "The Way We Touch" by We Are Twin. And anyone who's ever been to my classes knows that I love a good mash-up and some 80s and 90s throwbacks, too!

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently? I've been adding the halo squat to a lot of my workouts lately. The squat is hands-down my favorite exercise, and this variation also works the arms, shoulders and core so it gives you a lot of bang for your buck.

Guilty Pleasure? My standard answers here always have been, and always will be a good piece of quality dark chocolate (like Mast Brothers) and a delicious craft beer (I love Six Point, Captain Lawrence and Southern Tier especially). However, as a new mom, I will say that lately my favorite guilty pleasure has been stealing a few minutes out of a busy day to take a nap with my baby boy. He is growing up so fast and I know he won't let me snuggle him for much longer, so I'm taking advantage of it while I can! Plus, I can always use the extra sleep!


April 2014
April 2014

This week we caught up with strength instructor Shannon!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"?
I was still dancing professionally when I started to transition into the fitness and outdoor industries. It started with a Pilates certification, then I started working for the Manhattan Kayak Company teaching kayaking and stand up paddle boarding on the Hudson, and then my cousin, who trained with Leanne, introduced me to Uplift! I took a workout and wine with Leanne in Central Park and was totally sold. I started teaching and training for Uplift when it first opened and have absolutely loved it. 

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes?
I love the community here, both when I'm teaching and training. Everyone is game to come in and work as hard as they can, no matter what kind of day they have been having. It's really inspiring for me. 

What’s your favorite song to work out to right now?
Get Busy Living, featuring Emily Bruce, by Goldfish....played it in class this week. LOVE this song!

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently?
Rows! Of all kinds. We are in paddling season prep mode right now so currently I've been working on exercises that are both upper body and core strengtheners. I'm a huge fan of the push-up row as it hits core, chest and back muscles. 

Guilty Pleasure?
I make really yummy gluten-free pumpkin muffins....definitely makes a chilly dark morning a lot cozier!


April 2014
April 2014

"You make plans, and God laughs." --Yiddish proverb

I have been thinking about a question as it relates to myself and others: what do you do when things don't go as planned?

Because literally nothing in life tends to go "as planned." I've actually come to the conclusion that no matter how much I anticipate something with excitement, or dread it with every fiber of my being, the fantasy tends to never gel with the reality of the situation. 

My mom sent me a card and on the front was a picture of a happy woman with the inscription above her saying, "She Who Never Gives Up!" and I think she was referring to when things don't go as planned in my life. Some of this of course has to do with the idea ofperseverance, which I have written about before.

But I also think it has to do with reaction. As another old adage goes, the only thing in life a person can control is how she reacts to whatever life throws her way.

Some people throw temper tantrums. Some people get bitter. Some people fall apart. Some people stay positive and roll with it. What type of person are YOU?


March 2014
March 2014

This week we caught up with the amazing Liz Barnet - strength instructor & challenge coach winner!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"?
As a teenager I played basketball competitively, which kept me fit and busy. In college, I kept it up through intramurals, but needed another fitness challenge. At Boston, the gym offered group fitness classes. I figured, "I can get up there and do that!" So I got certified in Pilates mat and group fitness and started teaching in 2005. 
After college, I spent a couple of years working in branding and advertising in a "Devil Wears Prada" role working for someone who was voted one of the worst bosses in NYC. (Seriously.) The experience was challenging and rewarding, and enabled me to see that fitness was my true passion and calling. I began working as a personal trainer at Equinox as I continued to add to my certifications and experience. I walked into Uplift in January of 2013 and fell in love with the ladies and the atmosphere and haven't looked back!

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes?

I love being able to share my passion for making fitness fun and accessible. As someone who has suffered from injuries over the years, I try to create classes that are both challenging but safe and efficient. I'd prefer my clients to execute a move correctly and get the most out of it than do a million with poor form. 

What’s your favorite song to work out to right now?
Fancy by Iggy Azalea and Charli XCX

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently?
Lateral lunge/shoulder front raise with a reverse lunge/forward shoulder raise. It works all parts of the lower body plus the shoulder and core. I love a good multi-tasker!

Guilty Pleasure?
Cheese and carbs - which is why I try to follow the paleo diet most of the time!

Congrats on your team winning the Strengthen Up(lift) Team Challenge! How was the experience for you?
The Uplift Challenge was a blast for me - I got to work 1 v 1 with ladies who often come to my classes, as well as others I've never worked with before. It was so inspiring to see everyone come together to reach a common goal in a friendly, competitive way without ever being unsupportive of other teams. It's amazing to see what they accomplished with a little hard work and dedication!


February 2014
February 2014

This week we caught up with Strength instructor Tara Gillfillan!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"?
Growing up, my family was very active. Our vacations always involved some sort of adventure or sport (snowboarding, waterskiing, hiking, etc.), I started dancing at age 3 and I started going to the gym with my parents when I was in high school (if you want an experience, take your first Zumba class with your mom...let's just say I now know where I got my "twerking" skills from...or lack thereof...). Needless to say, fitness has always been a huge part of my life. --My passion for theatre was what brought me to New York, and for the first few years out of school I did the whole "starving artist" thing: working retail and restaurant jobs while trying to audition and live in New York at the same time...and I mean literally starving. To the point where I would sneak spoonfuls of my roommate's peanut butter late at night while she was asleep. (Alyssa, if you're reading this, I owe you a few jars of Skippy). I got so frustrated with having to work passionless jobs to survive while I pursued my dream, that I yearned to find something more fulfilling. After a bit of research, I found out Equinox had an in-house university program for Personal Training, and I almost instantaneously signed up for the next semester. After what I like to call "Anatomy/Kinesiology Bootcamp," not only did I feel like my head was going to explode, but I realized how fascinating this new realm was to me and I couldn't wait to dive head first into the industry. --And just how all wonderful things in life pan out the way they're supposed to, one of my clients referred me to Uplift and everything just fell into place from there. I was instantly enamored with, not only the phenomenal women behind the "Uplift Empire," but the entire essence of the studio and their mission. I consider myself a bit of a "closeted feminist," so I pretty much become obsessed with anything having to do with strengthening and empowering women. In other words, I am definitely gettin' drunk on the Uplift Kool-aid, and I'm not mad about it.

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes?
Even though I might see some of my students for only that one hour of the week, if they leave my class feeling like they did something good for themselves, then I have done my job. I've come to realize that all I want in life is to be able to make a positive impact on as many people as I can, and inspire them to be the best version of themselves. I go into every class with this in mind, and hope that whatever happens in the studio in that 55-minutes will motivate and inspire what happens outside of the studio.

What’s your favorite song to work out to right now?
I'm running the Brooklyn Half Marathon in May (my first EVER), and I don't know what it is but 80s music is the BEST music to run to. Anything from classic rock, to funky pop, something about it just makes me feel like an unstoppable champion. Especially, when I throw my first into the air mid-run in tribute to a Breakfast Club freeze-frame. You think I'm joking.

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently?
I'm obsessed with calisthenic ab workouts on the pull up bar. My favorite is holding yourself up in a pull-up position and alternating kicking your legs as you twist your core. It just as crazy and challenging as it sounds, but its so much dang fun, and makes your obliques SCREAM.

Rumor has it that you're a VEGAN?
Yes and proud of it! And yes, I'm ready for the inevitable next question (that I get asked at least 3 times a day) "How do you get enough protein?" I won't go on a typical vegan rant about how we're completely misinformed about protein sources and meat is murder and PETA this and that and whatnot, because that's just not my thing. I'm not a "born-again vegan," if you will. It's my choice, and I'm not here to shove any sort of beliefs down anyone's throat. What I will say is, yes, I get plenty of protein, don't you worry (Vega Sport is my JAM they make killer vegan protein powders and supplements, and I love me some tofu). But I also want to point out how incredibly important it is that we know exactly what it is we are putting in our bodies. I think EVERYONE should be concerned with, not only our protein intake, but what type of fuel we are giving ourselves to run off of. After all, washboard abs aren't made in the gym, they're made in the kitchen.

Guilty Pleasure?
In my utopia, I could eat an entire jar of Justin's Maple Almond Butter and watch endless episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Yes, I am an adult.


February 2014
February 2014

per·se·ver·ance [pur-suh-veer-uhns]
noun
1.steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement.
2.(Theology) Continuance in a state of grace to the end, leading to eternal salvation.


It's the old "know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em" conundrum, and is the question that a lot of people, including me, grapple with. 

Sticking with something (or someone) is really, really hard. Even when said something or someone is that which you really, really love. There are so many roadblocks when it comes to hanging on. Giving up is just so much easier.

But there are also the times when giving up is the hardest, yet most necessary, thing to do.

Most people have been on either side of this equation--perhaps saying TOO long on either side--many times. 

The question is: how do we know when to stay, keep working, keep grasping, keep striving, versus letting go, moving on, acquiring some freedom and wisdom?

I'd like to say I have the formula down pat, but I don't. Just like everyone else, I on many occasions find myself in that murky, gray area where the past, present and future mingle into one foggy cloud, and the path is not clear.

I was talking to my amazing friend and Uplift colleague Chelsea about this very topic. I asked her, "When nothing seems clear--when your head and heart and body are competing, or worse, rebelling, how does a person figure out how to proceed in a given situation?"

Chelsea patted her stomach and said simply, "Right here. The gut always knows. The head and the heart can overwhelm it sometimes, making us lie to ourselves, but it always knows the right direction."

-Leanne


February 2014
February 2014

This week we got to know Strength & Sculpt Fusion instructor Laura!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"?
A three time NYC Marathoner and three sport varsity athlete, I have always loved fitness. While I was working at CNN as a news producer, and then again later on when I was working for the NYPD as an intelligence analyst, I read and studied the whole ACE Group Fitness and Personal Training book but never took the test. The timing hadn't felt right. But then, when I got pregnant with my daughter, Sophia (born March 2012) I was frustrated by all the misinformation out there regarding fitness and pregnancy that I started writing articles. At that point, I became determined to make fitness into my career. In August 2012, I was presented with the opportunity to take over Fit 4 Mom Manhattan. I wasn't ready to take over the business, but I was ready to get my certification to start teaching classes. I loved it. I decided to take over Fit 4 Mom Manhattan in March 2013 and have not turned back. Fit 4 Mom is a way for moms to get a killer workout without feeling "guilty" or "pressure" because they can bring their little one along with them if they want to. It is also a way for them to meet other moms who may be going through similar issues. In a city as big as New York, through Fit 4 Mom we've built a community which not only helps moms feel supported but it also keeps them motivated to come to class and stay fit with one another. Uplift has this exact sense of community that I have built through Fit 4 Mom. I first heard of Uplift through a family friend of mine who knows Leanne; she introduced us. I came to my first Uplift class in September 2012 and KNEW I wanted to work here someday. The classes are smart, well thought out, and the energy is totally captivating. Not only have I taken every instructor here and have first hand experienced the diversity and awesome energy, but our clients truly make it extra special. It is an honor to teach at Uplift and be a part of this community. 

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes?
There is nothing better than seeing the progress people make and how genuinely happy they feel afterwards. I have had clients who started not running at all, then with dedication and hard work, they are sprinting stairs in Central Park; I've had clients who couldn't do a push-up and now are doing burpees with ease. They often thank me for these changes which is great to hear, but it truly is the work that they have done that has made this transformation possible. 

What’s your favorite song to work out to right now?
Ode to Relax (TJR x FGTH x Salt n Pepa) 

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently?
For body weight: I love the dolphin push-up with leg lifts. A great way to get the shoulders, hamstrings, and of course the core. I'm also really into leg and weight work on the block; stepping back into a lunge with your front foot on the block, or bicep curls standing on the block. It's a great way to nail those stabilizing muscles and engage your core more while working on balance. For a cardio blast, keeping it simple with high knees into burpees. 

Guilty Pleasure?
Soft-serve chocolate based frozen yogurt with chocolate toppings. Yes, I am one of those who still likes Tasti-d-lite and wished I didn't.


February 2014
February 2014

"In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility." --Eleanor Roosevelt

The scary and upsetting thing about life is that one cannot control anything that happens to her--there are a zillion factors operating upon a person's day-to-day life and experiences and each one of them could potentially offer a challenge or negative impact.

Similarly, previous choices we have made could be doing the same thing.

The only thing we can control at any given moment is our reaction to things from that very second. We have a choice, every single time. Even when it seems like we are stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, there is always a small space through which we can squeeze out into the open air.

The last hurdle? Choice requires action. 

In order to make things better, you MUST act. I am as guilty as anyone at procrastination. I absolutely loathe--and dread--facing unpleasant or or painful in some way or even boring tasks or conversations. But sooner rather than later (or just later!), I steel myself, and move forward. How often do I regret taking action? NEVER.

What action are YOU taking today?

--Leanne


February 2014
February 2014

This week we caught up with Cardio instructor Andi Schpok!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"?
I was a dancer and swimmer throughout childhood but tapped into a new ferocity of my athletic side in high school when I got hooked on kickboxing and Zumba. I loved the classes and the instructors. My favorite kickboxing instructor, Marlyn, encouraged me and made me feel like I could push my fitness to the next level. I got certified as an instructor in college and taught a cardio dance class that became a campus-wide phenomenon starting with my best friends and gaining popularity to warrant visits from football players to a fraternity pledge class. My final year in Boston, I lived in the medical school dorm while studying Public Health and Nutrition at Tufts Medical School and Tufts Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy. I believe firmly that in order to advocate to others to live a healthy lifestyle, I should lead by example. To balance my rigorous study schedule, I taught 6 Zumba classes each week around Boston. Even on my most stressful days, I knew that the rush of endorphins post-workout would put problems in perspective and keep me focused and on track. When I moved to NYC, it wasn’t long before I found and fell in love with Uplift. This studio is unlike any other; you get the BEST workouts but you also get so much more. One thing studying public health has taught me is that there are three factors within our control that will most affect your long-term health: diet, exercise, and relationships. Relationships are not a typical benefit that come from a typical place to workout, but Uplift is anything but typical. I was introduced to the fabulous developer of Uplifting Cardio, Steph Nieman, had the opportunity to audition for her and the rest is history. I love the women who work and workout here.

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes?
I love to see my clients get stronger mentally and physically. Sometimes, this is just a strength in determination and willpower that comes from one workout. Other times, when I have the privilege with working with someone over time, I love seeing a client reach new fitness heights and gain unmistakable new confidence.

What’s your favorite song to work out to right now?
Right now, I’m digging “Cowboy” by Omar LinX from the album City of Ommz. It was song I stumbled on from Spotify (I’m andis11 if you’re on).

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently?
Really into cross-body “wood choppers” right now. If you’re up for something super intense, I also LOVE to combine Star Jumps with Burpees… should we call it a “Sturpee”? They are explosively energetic and fun.

Guilty Pleasure?
Trader Joes “Inner Peas.” Actually not a bad snack but I tend to eat the whole bag at once because they are can’t-stop, won’t-stop delicious. Try to be a good sharer with your friends so you can enjoy without wolfing the bagful. (Tip: it's easier said than done.) I also sometimes spend a bit too much time on twitter eavesdropping on the world (@andreaschpok).


January 2014
January 2014

This week we caught up with Cardio and Strength instructor Leslie Duner!

How did you find your way into fitness and eventually get "Uplifted"? I have always been very active. As soon as I could walk, my mother put me in dance class because I was full of energy and loved boogying to music. My mom was always very conscience to make sure her girls (my sisters and I) were active and healthy. Don't get me wrong, there were special occasions where we ate french fries and ice cream, but we went to dance class after to work it off. Throughout school I most often took dance and taught dance but I always enjoyed taking personal training sessions with my mom, aerobics classes with my friends, circuit training at the gym and practicing yoga and Pilates. Taking Pilates and learning about the mind body connection needed to succeed in a long lean muscular body, inspired me to get my certification. After getting my certification I saw a notice for an all woman gym looking for a fitness instructor with great rhythm and fitness knowledge. I thought to myself… “ Self, this is the perfect job for you… GO!’ After auditions, demos and training I was on my way to what has become an AMAZING lifestyle. Not only do I get to combine my love for dance, teaching and fitness, but I get to workout with some of the strongest and most powerful women I've ever known. Every time I teach at Uplift I am impressed and uplifted by the women who join me in a journey of pushing our bodies and our minds to extremes.

What’s your favorite part about teaching fitness classes?
I love helping people achieve their goals by challenging them to go beyond what they think they can do (our bodies are stronger than we think). My clients trust me with their physical well-being and that is something I take very seriously. It excites me to show our ladies how to create their ideal, beautiful body by understanding the importance of proper alignment, use of modifications and variations, as well as smiling while you work out (because that makes it more fun and a lot easier). The relationships I have made with my clients is also one of my favorite parts about teaching fitness, especially at Uplift. There is a constant give and take between instructor and client to keep creating, innovating and motivating one another. We are all truly a great community of powerful women who can both physically and mentally push each other to new and exciting levels of fitness and life. 

What’s your favorite song to work out to right now? For cardio I am totally loving Dance Again by Jennifer Lopez. The beat and rhythm are a driving force to keep you moving and grooving. When I am lifting heavy weights I am all about Azealia Banks’s song 212. This song is so hardcore and I feel like I can power through my last few reps with it playing in the background. 

What’s the work-out move you’re loving recently? My favorite cardio move is one jumping jack into a plank and back up again. This total body variation of a burpie is a great high intensity interval to get your heart pumping, your blood flowing and your body toned and fit. 
Helpful Hint- Try to make the move as seamless as possible, AND adding a push up when you drop it to plank is a fierce way to strengthen your upper body while keeping the heart rate elevated. 

Guilty Pleasure? I love Disney and Pixar films. Sometimes I even go see them in theaters by myself. I also really like NCIS: LA. I can't really explain this one but it's definitely become part of my weekly routine. I get home, make a delicious healthy dinner and watch it every Tuesday.