Sunday, November 18, 2012

What the heck is Fascia? And what does it have to do with Fitness?

  This is Part One of a three part series based on my Interview with Sue Hitzmann, the founder of the MELT Method.I first met Sue Hitzmann at the TSI Summit back in 2003. I took two workshops with her at that conference, in which I was introduced to advanced concepts on fascia. I was so totally blown away by what Sue had to say, that I went on to take two full weekend workshops with her the following year, in what was the beginnings of the MELT Method. At that time, I was recovering from a pretty severe knee injury and had not only been unable to return to dancing fully, but was still experiencing a lot of pain. At those workshops, I began to recognize the value of bodywork in compliment to traditional exercise-based physical therapy as a method of rehabilitating the body after injury and also as a method for maintaining balance, and preventing future injury. I went to a physical therapist, who Sue introduced me to, who used cranio-sacral therapy with profound effects on my body. I credit the cranio-sacral work with helping me recover from an injury that I had suffered from with little result for over a year, ultimately allowing me to get my dance career back on track. Earlier this year, Sue sat down with me and generously gave a full hour of her time for me to interview her about fascia, the MELT Method and trends in the fitness industry. This series is the product of that interview.

Can you talk about your journey into the world of fascia?  How you first learned about it, what it is and why it’s important.

Fascia – Image from
Well it’s actually not that hard to understand.  I think the problem is understanding thatconnective tissue plays multiple roles in our overall wellness and longevity. For years it was defined as a passive packing material as if it were a non-living, accessory tissue in the body.
Over the last 50 years there’s been advances in connective tissue and fascial research.  See, the majority of connective tissue is called fascia. And just so you know, not all connective tissue is fascia.  But all fascia is connective tissue.  So blood could be considered a connective tissue.  But the difference between blood and fascia is that there’s hemoglobin in it.  And so that’s what defines it as blood. Although bones and even blood can be considered connective tissue, what I talk about is the fascial aspects.
What we’re recognizing about connective tissue is that it’s a seamless, integrated system, not just a support tissue.  The connective tissue is a continuous, 3-dimensional system that supports, protects, and stabilizes all aspects of our body.  So it’s kind of amazing that the most abundant material in the body would be so disregarded for so long.  Very little research focused on this tissue until recently. But fascia’s been discussed from the beginning of anatomical research.  It’s not like as if we didn’t know fascia existed.
Fascia is connective tissue. A complex system that supports, protects and stabilizes all aspects of the body.

My first introduction to fascia was in the early and mid ‘90s doing neuromuscular therapy.  The focus was always on the myofascial layer and how the fascia provided head to toe connection and created tensional support throughout the entire muscle system.  It was about how it supported muscles and enhanced my understanding of dynamic movement.
What I’ve learned about connective tissue over the years, is that connective tissue is in fact a renewable resource. Advancements in technology have allowed us to look at connective tissue on a molecular level.  It’s actually a very active system.  There are many active cellular components in connective tissue.  In the early 2000’s, I met Gil Hedley and did dissections with him and he had this concept of doing a layer by layer approach.  Removing the skin and then looking at the superficial fascia and focused on how things connected rather than defining the parts.  I had never seen the superficial layer as a cohesive system nor did I ever consider it to be important, let alone an active system.
When I said, “What is that?”  He said, “It’s the superficial fascia.”  And I said, “What is it doing there?”  And he said, “That’s the system that supports, protects and stabilizes the body” and my head whipped around and I said, “Did you just call it a system? It’s a tissue, right? I mean, it’s not a system. That would mean there are active elements to it.”  And he smiled at me and said, “Oh my, yes there are very active components in connective tissue. It’s a three dimensional matrix that vibrates, translates, and adapts to your movements, emotions… everything.”  And then there it was, a complete shift for me out of the concept that muscles were the dictator of structural deformities and that the connective tissue played a significant role outside of the myofascial layer.
Connective tissue is made up of about 80 percent water.  And the primary components are collagen and elastin. You could even call the connective tissue system the collagen matrix. And the fluids aren’t just water.  It’s hyaluronic acid, macrophages, proteoglycans, andglycosaminoglycans or what’s considered the “ground substance” of connective tissue.  There’s a lot of fancy terms defining the molecular components in connective tissue, however, what’s most important are the primary cells of connective tissue called fibroblasts.  Fibroblasts are the cells that create all of the fluids and all of the fibers that ultimately define the extra cellular matrix – the system outside of all of our cells.  This  is the connective tissue system. And these fibroblasts are very relevant to not only healing and repair, but also how your immune system operates.
And what my education and my understanding of connective tissue has been, at the forefront of research is that when connective tissue is hydrated, it’s flexible, it’s glidable, it’s resilient, it does its job. It’s able to transport nutrients, and most importantly, waste – but only if it’s hydrated.  So when our connective tissue is dehydrated, it gets very inflexible and what could be considered toxic.  It gets stiff like a dried out sponge.  I would say it’s kind of like if you think of connective tissue as being like billions of bubbles, when it lacks fluid, it sort of loses its buoyancy and the bubbles lose their shape and space.  It inhibits other tissues from gliding easily.  It inhibits muscles, organs, and joints to glide and move around each other.  When this occurs – and it is occurring daily for most of us, the architectural supportiveness of this tissue declines.  There is a term called Tensegrity or Biotensegrity that we use to define this dynamic, whole-body architecture the connective tissue provides. When the tissue is hydrated, it manages tension and compression in a balanced way. When we sit at a desk all day long or do repetitive movements, we strain regions of the architecture so the body has to compensate to sustain balance. If you let the compensation persist, imbalance between tension and compression becomes a body-wide issue.  It deforms, misaligns, and compresses joints.  It causes pain.  And ultimately it accelerates the aging process and gives you all the negative effects you would associate with aging.

You mentioned myofascia as being separate from fascia.  Are they two different things?  Are there multiple kinds of fascia?

No, there’s only one type, connective tissue is connective tissue.  The same exact molecular components are literally present from skin to bone in every definable layer.  It is literally a cohesive collagen matrix, like a 3-dimensional mesh suit. It’s like as if you opened up on orange and as you peeled it back, you saw the white that was still on the orange. That’s the superficial fascia.  And then as you start to try to pull that away, you realize that those fibrous elements are actually piercing the orange itself.  And then when you open the orange, you get the pieces of the orange.  And then when you break that piece apart, you see that inside the orange, there are tiny, little bubbles that make little air pockets, you can break them and “pew” water pulls out.
It is literally a cohesive collagen matrix like a 3-dimensional a mesh suit. It’s like as if you opened up on orange and as you peeled it back, you saw the white that was still on the orange.  And then as you start to try to pull that away, you realize that those fibrous elements are actually piercing the orange itself.  And then when you open the orange, you get the pieces of the orange.  And then when you break that piece apart, you see that inside the orange, there are tiny, little bubbles that make little air pockets, you can break them and “pew” water pulls out.
Fascia – Image from
So the connective tissue system is absolutely cohesive.  It’s absolutely seamless.  And again, the molecular components are 100 percent the same throughout the entire structure of our body.  However, in different areas of the body, connective tissue is formed in different ways where there’s a higher or lower deposit of particular molecules or particular fibers.  Like, for example, just under your skin, in dissection, you can actually see the superficial fascia tends to be thick and very spongy.  It has a lot of fatty tissue in it. It’s very dense.  And then as you go into the next layer, we call that deep fascia.  And the deep fascia is a thinner, more fibrous-y layer.  And then you get into the myofascia layers.  And myofascia is more like a grid.  And myofascia is the term to define at what level of the body you are describing the connective tissue.  So myofascia is the tissue that is both around and within muscles that defines muscle shape and gives each muscle its definition so that we can define it through science.
But, you know, something I love that Tom Myers says is “you can think of the entire body as being one muscle with 700 compartments.”  And instead of thinking of it as 700 unique muscles, you really have just one muscle separated by 700 distinct compartments.  The reality is, the brain doesn’t know about your biceps.  It doesn’t know about your gluteus maximus.  When it signals information for muscle contractility to occur, it’s actually a signal that goes through the entire muscle system through the connective tissue.  In other words, connective tissue provides the gateway for that sensory to motor communication to occur on a neurological level.  It’s actually the support neural structures that allow the information to get through our bodies very fast. The connective tissue is the environment our nerves live in. So accurate muscle contraction isn’t just about nerve impulse, the connective tissue does play a role in it’s accuracy.
Bottom line here is, all fascia is connective tissue.  It’s the same molecular components, but we just define connective tissue in different regions of the body so that we know where we are.  Like we can call it visceral fascia to define the region around organs.  We could call it thoracic fascia to define the region around the lungs or ribs.  We could call it, cranial fascia to talk about the skull.  It’s like any anatomy. We define layers or regions so we know where we are in the body.  But fascia is fascia.  It’s absolutely the same tissue – and it’s everywhere.

People always refer to connective tissue when they’re describing ligaments, which are generally talked about as being not vascular and not able to repair easily.

Right.  And that’s the same thing with tendonous structures.  Like they used to say that, tendons were avascular and that theory held sway for many years.  But as surgeries have gotten more refined, Dr. Jean Claude Guimberteau shows a flexor tendon surgery where they released the garret off of the tendon and the tendon bled, which was completely against the avascular theory.  It really depends upon the extent of damage that occurs.  You know, if you were to tear your Achilles tendon and you literally ruptured it, it snaps like a rubber band and coils itself up into your calve.  That then requires a surgical procedure of somebody going in, fishing it out, and then pulling it back down and reattaching it. But that’s an extreme case.
Many of us strain tissue or sprain ligaments but they do repair without surgery.  Connective tissue’s pretty tough and resilient. It can tear, but actually it resists tearing quite aggressively.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

How to Get Results From Barre Class


Updated Oct 15 2012 - 10:17am · Posted  by  · 1 Comment
Barre class is a highly effective workout and can burn up to 500 calories per session. On top of torching calories, you should have a longer body from barre in no time — that is, if you're doing it right. Many people who take barre class report seeing few to no changes in their body and can't understand why. Here are the top six mistakes people make in barre class to miss out on those results.
  • No focus: If you're daydreaming or zoning out in class, you aren't getting the full benefits from the exercises. It's similar to eating mindlessly in front of the TV; when you're distracted, the activity you're doing holds less value.
  • Eating habits: Since this workout can exert so much energy, you'll notice an increase in metabolism and your body may need certain foods — like protein — more. While replenishing your body is a must, take careful notice to what you're refueling your bodywith. Steer clear of foods that are high in caloric value so that they don't creep up on you. Remember the mantra "calories in, calories out."
  • No cardio: Barre classes tone your muscles to make you look cut, but cardio is essential in helping zap fat. If you've stopped walking as much or aren't doing any type of cardio, you won't be able to see the tone you're putting into your physique. Try to incorporate at least 30 minutes, ideally after this strength-training workout.
Keep reading. There are a few more reasons after the break.
  • Cutting class: In order to see the results from any strength-training exercise, you need to do it multiple times a week. While you may think you have been attending class often, it's easy to slip up. You can check your attendance by the week or month by asking the someone at the front desk of your studio. To track it yourself, mark it on your personal calendar. This will not only make you stick to a routine, but it will also give you a realistic idea of how often you attend.
  • Slacking off: One of the things that surprises people when they become barre enthusiasts is that the class progressively gets more difficult. It isn't necessarily the moves that are changing, but you're understanding your body more to make efficient use of your time. If you don't feel constantly challenged, try to take the more challenging option when your instructor suggests it.
  • Not accepting help: By listening to an instructor's corrections during class, you can get more out of each movement. Since barre is so specific, you need to set up properly in order to reap the benefits. Pay close attention to the adjustments around you and try to learn from mistakes so you can correct your form. Also pay attention to the corrections other students are getting in class — it may relate to your own form!

Friday, September 21, 2012

Thank you, Denise!

"I have always been lucky with the gene pool, and was very active as a young woman-I could eat and do whatever I wanted. Once I hit 40, that all changed. On top of that, years of working on my feet and doing awkward lifting and positioning conspired against me; leading to increasing joint and back pain. I have tried the usual route-diet, gyms etc with limited success and total 
boredom. I came to Ashley for private classes to learn how to do the Pilates techniques the RIGHT way; I didn't want to hurt myself, and I want to maximize the benefits. I also want a real person, familiar with the changing female body and challenges of injury-not some young girl in booty shorts. Ashley adapts the workout to my body, focusing on important "need" areas and avoid critical stress areas. She uses great imagery techniques and explains the purpose behind each particular exercise or movement-this really keeps me engaged. I can't get this from a video. I have seen a tremendous health benefits from my sessions, with a nice side effect of compliments on my improved muscles tone. I feel better, and that is the important goal for me."

Denise Altman RN, IBCLC, LCCE
All The Best

Thursday, September 20, 2012


 Greetings! And a big welcome to Fall! 

·     We now have a class register link… no more Cut and Paste! Just go to the schedule tab and click … easy breezy!  Two main reasons for having online sign–up is that I want to prevent over-crowding of classes and possibly turning people away, and to also be able to notify people if a class gets cancelled.

·     Please be aware that class cards have a two-month expiration date. Exceptions are made with injuries and emergencies.

·     Groupon people please be aware that the Groupon cards expire on October 31st. You may also use your Groupon for the yoga classes.

·     For a class to be held, we must have at least two people signed up. If only one person is signed up, I’m letting the teacher have the option of cancelling the class (some of my teachers have a 30 minute commute and I want to honor their time and gas expense.) So please make sure that you have your email and phone number on file with us in case we need to notify you of a cancellation.

·     FRIDAY MAT CLASS! Several folks have requested another Pilates mat class. Jennifer will be teaching an October “workshop” to jumpstart this new morning edition. We need at least six people to pre-register and commit to the four Fridays in October. If you miss one of these classes you can always make it up in her Wednesday class. So, it’s a Win-Win deal! Please go online and click “workshop” on the sign-in page to pre-pay or you can always pre-pay at the studio.  The theme for this workshop? Arms and Tush. Jennifer will be adding some fusion moves with the 3lb. weights.

·     New Mats are here! No more jigsaw, coming-apart-piecing-it-together bit, and, they are cushy!

Thank you all for your support. I welcome any comments or suggestions that would enhance your experience at the studio.


Friday, August 17, 2012

Found this great info on the web!

Neutral spine vs. Flat back

No, this isn’t a debate between contemporary and classical Pilates – I actually teach both spinal positions in my classes! I had a colleague ask me about pressing their back into the floor during Single Leg Stretch and Obliques, and another colleague ask me why she could only feel the Ab Series in her upper rectus rather than in her lower abs, and I think this may explain why you should choose one over the other.
It is much easier to perform a crunch with the lower back pressed into the floor rather than with the tailbone anchored and abs supported in a neutral spine, leaving space under the low back even in the top end of the crunch. Try it – but if your lower back grips up, it means you’re doing it wrong
Our bodies are designed to go in neutral spine. Our spines are curved to help us absorb shock, and learning to support your abdominals and spine without changing those curves is extremely beneficial. However, it’s also very difficult – the low back wants to grip up and arch further if you don’t keep your abs firmly pulled in!
I like to tell my clients that the initial ab engagement feels somewhat like the way you pull in your tummy when you’re trying to put on your “skinny” jeans that are a size or two too small for you to really fit into. It’s not extreme; in fact, it’s a fairly gentle contraction. This pulling in, or corset, feeling, comes from engaging your transversus abdominus, the second-deepest layer of your abdominals (after the pubococcygeus and levator ani in your pelvic floor). Once they’re engaged, they provide stabilization while your obliques and rectus work to counter your head, shoulders, and legs as they work against gravity.
If you’re new to exercise, start with a flat back. BUT, do that by pulling in and up on your abs, creating a scoop so deep that it causes your pelvis to tilt. Don’t get your glutes involved by squeezing them into a pelvic tilt. Then do your ab exercises. But when you’re ready to take it up a step, try working in a neutral spine. If your back starts to grip, start all over again – and really think hard about those skinny jeans!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

              "WHAT IS BARRE DYNAMICS?" 

Typically, classes are just under an hour long and include a 5-10 minute cardio warm up, 10-15 minutes of light weights (upper body), 20-30 minutes of barre exercises (targeting legs, rear and hips with micro-movements or "pulsing"), 10 minutes of floor work that includes abdominals and lower body exercises. Most classes end with a final stretch.
The props used in each class vary, but most will use a playground ball, light hand weights, stretch bands, and yoga straps as workout tools.
Like yoga and Pilates classes, you generally won't wear shoes or socks during a barre workout, but some people like to wear special "grippy" socks.
The classes are designed to really give you a burn and to challenge your stamina, but I always encourage form and body mechanics. I also ask people to listen to their body and to pause when they need a moment.


There are 3 ways to get to studio:

1) ROOF TOP. Enter roof top from Beltline (like you are going to the movie theater.) Entrance is right by gas station. Take a left following Belk’s sign, not theater sign. Weave to the right, and you will see this glass house-like structure. Park there. Go inside and down escalator. Studio will be on your right. Note: Bobby’s Barber Shop is to the left and Belk’s is directly in front.

2) FOREST DRIVE. Enter from Forest Drive and go into parking garage. Go to 2nd level and take a left. Drive all the way down to the end (LOOK FOR SIGN 2A.) You will see a covered ramp that takes you inside the mall. Studio is on your right, just before you enter Belk’s.

3) BARNES AND NOBLE. Park at B &N. Go through store and exit into mall. Take escalator up to second level. When you get off escalator, turn left and head towards Belk’s. Studio will be on your right, just after Lens Crafters.


Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Core Stability: The transversus and the multifidi

Core-stability training begins with learning to co-contract the TA and MF muscles effectively as this has been identified as key to the lumbar-support mechanism. To perform the TA and MF co-contraction, you must perform the "abdominal hollowing" technique with the spine in the neutral position.
To do this use the following guidelines:
• Start by lying on your back with knees bent
• Your lumbar spine should be neither arched up nor flattened against the floor, but aligned normally with a small gap between the floor and your back. This is the "neutral" lumbar position you should learn to achieve
• Breathe in deeply and relax all your stomach muscles
• Breathe out and, as you do so, draw your lower abdomen inwards as if your belly button is going back towards the floor. Pilates teachers describe this as "zipping up", as if you are fastening up a pair of tight jeans
• Hold the contraction for 10 seconds and stay relaxed, allowing yourself to breathe in and out as you hold the tension in your lower stomach area
• Repeat 5-10 times
It is vital that you perform this abdominal hollowing exercise correctly otherwise you will not recruit the TA and MF effectively. Bear in mind the following points:
• Visualize the deep abdominal muscles as a corset that wraps round the abdomen
• Place one hand above the umbilicus (belly button) and one below
• Slowly draw in the lower abdomen, below the umbilicus, without drawing in the upper abdomen
• Hold the contraction whilst breathing normally
• Aim for a 10 second contraction, repeating it 10 times
• Do not let the whole stomach tense up or your upper abdominals bulge outwards, as this means you have cheated by using the large rectus abdominal muscle (the six-pack) instead of TA
• Do not brace your TA muscle too hard; just a gentle contraction is enough. Remember it's endurance not max strength your are trying to improve
• Do not tilt your pelvis nor flatten your back, as this means you have lost the neutral position you are trying to learn to stabilize
• Do not hold your breath, as this means you are not relaxed. You must learn to breathe normally and maintain the co-contraction of TA and MF
• Use your fingers for biofeedback on either side of your lower abdomen (below the umbilicus) to feel the tension in the TA muscle
Once you have mastered the abdominal hollowing lying on your back, practice it lying on your front, four-point kneeling, sitting and standing. In each position, get your lumbar spine into neutral before you perform the hollowing movement.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

As far as fitness...

"... what should I do…?”

People have been asking me what they should do in terms of staying fit, what classes should they take, how many privates, etc. I’ve been thinking about it and realized that I also need to consider the wallet aspect as well. So here goes:

I would recommend at least one private session a week combined with two classes. In my one-on-one private sessions I help keep you in tune with your body mechanics and to learn what works for you and what does not work for you. Or you may need therapeutic sessions to help with an injury. The type of classes you take would depend on what your goals are. We offer three types of classes. Do you want to get in shape and need a little more cardio? Try the Barre Dynamics class. Do you want to relax a little more? Try the Yoga class. Do you want to focus mainly on your core? I’d suggest the Pilates mat class. Or mix it up each week!

You would then be doing something for your health three times a week. And the total price? Under $80 a week. That would be $50 for the private and $30 for the classes. I hear most trainers charge $40 for an hour session. So, there!
Now if you do a duet with another person, that would be $35 each, and if you bought class packages, approximately $12 per class, you’d be looking at $59 a week. So, double there!

But what about Gold’s for $20-30 a month? Have at it, baby! Now, don’t get me wrong. I am a member of Gold’s gym. I go once or twice a week to Yoga because I loooooove Brenda Way’s yoga class. And that is THE only reason I joined the gym. And I told them just that upon joining. And those of you who know me, well, you know I like to voice my opinion.

I am so excited about all the options! I truly believe in variety for many reasons (personally I’d get burnt out doing only Pilates!) My big move and expansion of the business is to offer these possibilities for everyone.

I hope this helps!


Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Studio update: March 20th.

I’m just gonna “bullet” all this…

• My regulars from two years ago, please note new prices on packages for new studio on website.

• Duet person needed for Mondays at 8:30am, starting in April. The client needing duet partner is fit but also has some old injuries. She likes to work out hard but also wants a little therapeutic stuff before we “fire the guns.” Let me know if you want to do duets with her. Cost is $70 split between two people, $35 per person.

• Barre Dynamics people. I have a request for a 4:30 Barre class. Please email me if you are interested in that time. Would probably be on Tuesdays.

• Another DEMO WEEK for Barre class! Gotta get it perfect before I start chargin’…

Schedule for Demo Barre class (week 3/26-3/29):

Tuesday and Thursday 9:30 am.
Monday 4:30pm
Wed 6:30pm

• Saturday class? Anyone interested in a fitness class, combining cardio, light weights and Pilates Mat? Email me.

Friday, March 16, 2012

First Week of Free Classes & Class Time Change


Ashley Barre Dynamics: Mon 6:30, Tuesday 4:30

Jessica Pilates Mat: Wed 5:30
Gentle Yoga: Fri 8:30

Rikki Yoga: Tuesday/Thur 12:00

Carol Pilates Mat: Thursday 5:00.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

"Where is it located?"


There are 3 ways to get there:

1) ROOF TOP. Enter roof top from Beltline (like you are going to the movie theater.) Entrance is right by gas station. Take a left following Belk’s sign, not theater sign. Weave to the right, and you will see this glass house-like structure. Park there. Go inside and down escalator. Studio will be on your right. Note: Bobby’s Barber Shop is to the left and Belk’s is directly in front.
2) FOREST DRIVE. Enter from Forest Drive and go into parking garage. Go to 2nd level and take a left. Drive all the way down to the end (LOOK FOR SIGN 2A.) You will see a covered ramp that takes you inside the mall. Studio is on your right, just before you enter Belk’s.
3) BARNES AND NOBLE. Park at B &N. Go through store and exit into mall. Take escalator up to second level. When you get off escalator, turn left and head towards Belk’s. Studio will be on your right, just after Lens Crafters.


Sunday, March 11, 2012

Kristy and the bathroom wall...

Kristy gets free classes.

Gary hard at work.


Studio Update

Things are moving along, and on top of rescuing yet two more dogs (it rains, it pours!!) I feel good about the big picture. The studio is shaping up and the class studio floors are being put in this coming week.
I will digress here for a moment to express gratitude… my brother, Gary. He has really stepped up to the plate. Yes, I am paying him for his work, but I couldn’t have asked for a better dream Contractor. He shows up when he says he will, he is organized and cleans up at the end of each day. He remembers every detail. And when putting up that half-wall partition (which was an octagonal B! +@#,) I said it didn’t have to be perfect. He firmly replied, “Yes, Ashley, it does. That is how I do things.” The list goes on, but you get the picture.

Anyway, this process got me to thinking about why I moved back home after living in California the last 15 years. I moved back for several reasons: I wanted to buy a house and work for myself, I wanted to rescue dogs, I wanted to be with my long-term friends (side note: God, I love CA, but it’s very transient!) and I wanted to be close to my family, to try and connect with them and bring us together as a family. After five years, I can honestly say, I have met my goals. I have the home and a wonderful clientele. I have my rescue (Oh, and Universe? You can ease up in that area… how ‘bout a spay/neuter law??) I have developed some strong bonds with people here in just 5 years; people who have been there for me on many levels. So with my brother Gary, helping me build my studio (with perfection!) and my mother and stepfather, Earl giving me support as well, I have to say, I am grateful. I am blessed.

Can I mention some more? I am blessed to have some awesome folks who will be teaching in the studio. Carol Britton. She is an incredible teacher. I overhear her with her clients and she is Johnny-on-the-spot with her clients. And she works. Them. HARD. Carol is also responsible for finding this new space in Richland Mall. So all you old-timers can thank her later for this as the expansion gives us so much more variety.
Jessica Trotter Shand. I don’t know her very well, but I picked up that “Good People” vibe from the moment I met her and I’ve only heard great things from other folks. She has this calm, gentle manner about her. Now, Carol and I tend to be pistols, so Jessica will be a nice balance, especially with that Yoga stuff!
Rikki Donahue will also be teaching Yoga. I met Rikki at our yoga teacher training several years ago. Rikki is VERY passionate about Yoga. She volunteers at the women’s prison and is so committed to her practice and to her teaching.

Okay! I’m done. I feel good about the studio and the people in my life. Oh! And thanks to my demo class Barre Dynamics people for coming out today and for your feedback as well.
Interested in being in a demo class? Text me. Call me. Email me.
Interested in two cute, fluffy doggies? CALL ME.

PS) One more thing… I have the BEST neighbors in the world!! Studio bathroom painted, courtesy of Kristy Mills Woodward.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Big Move!

Well of course I'm not opening the doors on March 1st like I said... we have a two week delay, looking more like mid-March. Things are moving along. I've got the mirrors up and now I have a small partition to build, walls to paint, carpet to clean and drapes to hang.
However, the class schedule is shaping up. Thus far we have:

Barre Dynamics on Monday and Wednesday at 9:30 and 6:30, and on Friday at 9:30.

Slow Stretch Yoga class taught by Jessica Shand on Monday and Friday at 8am.

Power Mat Pilates class taught by Jessica Shand on Monday and Wednesday from 5-5:45.

I'll also teach a Core/Stretch class on Tuesday at 8am and a noon Pilates Mat class on Thursday.

There will be Reformer classes in the mornings and evenings. I'll get back with the definite times.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Fructose, is it evil? Read on...

By Dr. Mercola

Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are a complex group of compounds formed when sugar reacts with amino acids.

This can occur both in the food you eat, and inside your body.

It's is a fitting acronym because – along with oxidation – it's one of the major molecular mechanisms whereby damage accrues in your body, which leads to disease, aging, and eventually, death.

For example, there is mounting evidence that AGEs may be implicated in the development of the chronic degenerative diseases associated with aging, including but not limited to:

Cardiovascular disease
Alzheimer's disease, and
Several studies have shown that restricting the consumption of AGEs can lead to an increased lifespan in animal models.

According to a paper that summarizes recent research on AGEsi:

"... [T]he data are supportive that endogenous AGEs are associated with declining organ functioning. It appears that dietary AGEs may also be related.

... As of today, restriction of dietary intake of AGEs and exercise has been shown to safely reduce circulating AGEs, with further reduction in oxidative stress and inflammatory markers."

Why Limiting Sugar is Key for Longevity

Limiting sugar in your diet is a well-known key to longevity, because of all the molecules capable of inflicting damage in your body, sugar molecules are probably the most damaging of all. Fructose in particular is an extremely potent pro-inflammatory agent that creates AGEs and speeds up the aging process. It also promotes the kind of dangerous growth of fat cells around your vital organs that are the hallmark of diabetes and heart disease. In one study on fructose, 16 volunteers on a controlled diet including high levels of fructose produced new fat cells around their heart, liver and other digestive organs in just 10 weeks!

Sugar/fructose also increases your insulin and leptin levels and decreases receptor sensitivity for both of these vital hormones, and this is another major factor of premature aging and age-related chronic degenerative diseases such as heart disease. Keep in mind that while it's perfectly normal for your blood sugar levels to rise slightly after every meal, it is not natural or healthy when your blood sugar levels become excessively elevated and stay that way.

Unfortunately, that's exactly what will happen if you're eating like the stereotypical American, who consumes a staggering 2.5 pounds of sugar a week on average!

And when you add in other low-quality carb foods such as white bread, sugar, pasta, pastries, cookies, and candy, which also break down to sugar in your body, it's not so difficult to see why so many Americans are in such poor health.

This type of high-sugar (high-carb) diet is also what's driving the obesity epidemic—not diets high in fat. An infographic created by Column Five for Massive Health, based on Why We Get Fat by science writer Gary Taubes, explains why. In short, carbs, like fructose and other sugars, destroy your insulin and leptin sensitivity, which in turn causes your cells to accumulate more fat, and makes it more difficult to get rid of the extra weight as well. So, the bottom line is this: If you want to look and feel younger longer, avoid all forms of sugar (including grains) as much as possible!


Glycation 101

Fructose adversely affects your body in a number of ways, but one of the mechanisms that causes significant damage is glycation. As already mentioned, glycation is the process in which sugar bonds with protein to form advanced glycation end products, or AGEs.

This process creates inflammation, which can activate your immune system.

Macrophages are scavenger cells that are part of your immune defense system, and as such they have special receptors for AGEs, aptly called RAGEs (think: raging inflammation). These RAGEs bind to the AGEs in your body and get rid of them. Unfortunately, this defensive process can also cause its fair share of damage. Inside your arteries, for example, the scar tissue created from this process is called plaque.

You really want to limit the AGEs in your body as much as possible, so your immune system won't have to work so hard to defend against them. As a standard recommendation to limit glycation, I strongly advise keeping your TOTAL fructose consumption below 25 grams per day.

However, most people would be wise to limit their fructose to 15 grams or less, particularly if you have elevated uric acid levels, which can be used as a predictor for fructose toxicity. (For more information on this, please see this previous article.) This includes keeping track of your fructose intake from whole fruits. For additional information about the fructose content of common fruits, please see this helpful fructose chart. I recommend this lower level simply because if you consume processed foods or sweet beverages at all, you're virtually guaranteed to consume "hidden" sources of fructose.

Fructose Metabolism Basics

Anyone who still insists that "sugar is sugar" is way behind the times... There are in fact major differences in how your body processes different sugars, and it's important to understand that when you consume fructose, your body packs on pounds at a much higher rate than it does when you consume glucose. The following summary details the main metabolic differences between fructose and glucose to help you understand how fructose can wreak such havoc with your health, and why it's considerably worse for you than glucose:

After eating fructose, nearly all of the metabolic burden rests on your liver. But with glucose, your liver has to break down only 20 percent.
Every cell in your body, including your brain, utilizes glucose. Therefore, much of it is "burned up" immediately after you consume it. By contrast, fructose is primarily converted into free fatty acids (FFAs), VLDL (the damaging form of cholesterol), and triglycerides, which get stored as fat.
The fatty acids created during fructose metabolism accumulate as fat droplets in your liver and skeletal muscle tissues, causing insulin resistance and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Insulin resistance progresses to metabolic syndrome and type II diabetes.
Fructose is the most lipophilic carbohydrate. In other words, fructose converts to activated glycerol (g-3-p), which is directly used to turn FFAs into triglycerides. The more g-3-p you have, the more fat you store. Glucose does not do this.
When you eat 120 calories of glucose, less than one calorie is stored as fat. 120 calories of fructose results in 40 calories being stored as fat. Fructose is essentially largely converted into fat!
The metabolism of fructose by your liver creates a long list of waste products and toxins, including a large amount of uric acid, which triggers your "fat switch," causing you to gain more weight.
Glucose does not do this, as it suppresses the hunger hormone ghrelin and stimulates leptin, which suppresses your appetite. Fructose has no effect on ghrelin and interferes with your brain's communication with leptin, resulting in overeating.
How to Tame Your Sugar Cravings

As mentioned earlier, I recommend that you avoid as much sugar as possible. Do your best to keep your fructose consumption below 15-25 grams a day. This is especially important if you are overweight or have diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure.

Sugar is highly addictive, so cutting down can be a real challenge for some, especially if you're consuming very high amounts. If you're struggling with sugar addiction, I highly recommend trying an energy psychology technique called Turbo Tapping, which has helped many "soda addicts" kick their sweet habit. If you still want to use a sweetener occasionally, here's what I recommend in lieu of sugar:

Use the sweet herb stevia.
Use organic cane sugar in moderation.
Use organic raw honey in moderation.
Avoid ALL artificial sweeteners, which can damage your health even more quickly than fructose.
Avoid agave syrup since it is a highly processed sap that is almost all fructose. Your blood sugar will spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS. Agave's meteoric rise in popularity is due to a great marketing campaign, but any health benefits present in the original agave plant are processed out.
The Anti-Aging Lifestyle

Of all the healthy lifestyle strategies I know of that can have a significant impact on your longevity, normalizing your insulin and leptin levels is probably the most important. Cutting out sugar and grains and increasing exercise are two effective ways to accomplish that.

But to truly optimize your longevity and slow down the clock, your entire lifestyle needs to be taken into account. So, here are the rest of my top "anti-aging" recommendations. Incorporating these healthy lifestyle guidelines will help set you squarely on the path to optimal health and give you the best shot at living a much longer life:

Learn how to effectively cope with stress – Stress has a direct impact on inflammation, which in turn underlies many of the chronic diseases that kill people prematurely every day, so developing effective coping mechanisms is a major longevity-promoting factor.
Meditation, prayer, physical activity and exercise are all viable options that can help you maintain emotional and mental equilibrium. I also strongly believe in using energy psychology tools such as the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) to address deeper, oftentimes hidden emotional problems.

Eat a healthy diet focused on whole, ideally organic, foods – My nutrition plan, based on natural whole foods, is your first step toward increasing your chances of living a longer, healthier life.
Optimize Your Vitamin D Levels. This is another very powerful and inexpensive intervention that can have profound benefits on your health. In the summer you can do this for free by careful and safe sun exposure. In the winter a therapeutic level of oral vitamin D can be achieved with an oral supplement (around 8,000 units of vitamin D3 a day for most adults)
Animal based omega-3 fats – Correcting the ratio of omega-3 to healthful omega-6 fats is a strong factor in helping you live longer. This typically means increasing your intake of animal based omega-3 fats, such as krill oil, while decreasing your intake of damaged omega-6 fats (think trans fats).
I do not, however, recommend the new prescription strength fish oil medication, sold under the name Lovaza. Don't be fooled by their "all-natural" PR campaign. This is actually a drug to treat very high triglyceride levels. However, as with most other drugs, Lovaza comes with potentially dangerous side effects that you would not experience with a natural fish oil or krill oil supplement. Side effects include flu-like symptoms, infections, back pain, skin rashes, upset stomach, taste changes, digestive issues, chest pain, migraines and respiratory problems!

Additionally, new research strongly suggests that 500 mg of krill oil is more potent and far less expensive.

Get your antioxidants from foods –Good sources include blueberries, cranberries, blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, cherries, beans, and artichokes.
Use coconut oil – Another excellent anti-aging food is coconut oil, known to reduce your risk of heart disease and lower your cholesterol, among other things. In fact, it's doubly beneficial because it can be both eaten and applied directly to your skin. Coconut oil can be used in place of other oils, margarine, butter, or shortening, and can be used for all your cooking needs.
Get your resveratrol naturally – Resveratrol is one of the forerunners in the anti-aging pill race, but more than likely, by the time they've manipulated it into a synthetic pill (like the fish oil discussed above), it won't be healthy for you.
Although resveratrol is the antioxidant found in red wine, I can't recommend drinking wine in the hopes of extending your life because alcohol is a neurotoxin that can poison your brain and harm your body's delicate hormonal balance. Instead, get your resveratrol from natural sources, such as whole grape skins and seeds, raspberries, mulberries, and peanuts.

Exercise regularly and smartly -- Studies repeatedly show that regular, moderate-to-vigorous exercise can help prevent or delay your onset of hypertension, obesity, heart disease, osteoporosis, and the falls that lead to hip fracture. Although a lifetime of regular exercise is ideal, it's never too late to start. It's been shown that even individuals in their 70's can substantially increase both strength and endurance with exercise.
High-intensity, interval training can also increase longevity as this specific style of training promotes human growth hormone production – yet another aspect of the longevity puzzle.

Avoid as many chemicals, toxins, and pollutants as possible – This includes tossing out your toxic household cleaners, soaps, personal hygiene products, air fresheners, bug sprays, lawn pesticides, and insecticides, just to name a few, and replacing them with non-toxic alternatives.
Avoid pharmaceutical drugs – Pharmaceutical drugs kill thousands of people prematurely every year – as an expected side effect of the action of the drug. And, if you adhere to a healthy lifestyle, you most likely will never need any of them in the first place.