In 2018, I turned over a new philosophy as a fitness columnist: don’t want to be me, want to be around me. It is never my goal to be someone’s envy, but rather be a person to inspire those around me.
Each one of us is unique, and that includes the genetics we’re dealt. I’ve been humbled, honored even, to hear from countless readers on the ways my words have been resonating with them. On the other end, the things I write about might be irrelevant to many of you, or not work the same way they do for me. However, there’s one thing we all have in common: commitment to being a healthier, happier, stronger version of ourselves.
What matters to you? In this week’s Daily Fitness rather than serving you up some fitness facts or trends, I’m imploring my readers to reach out to me with your comments and concerns. What do you want to read about? How can I better inform you?
Is there an instructor that’s inspiring those around them? Does someone have a personal transformation story that could motivate others? Is a certain ailment you’re curious about? What about a local business that could use some help staying afloat or getting things started? Is there a workout you’re nervous to try before hearing about? Or a product you’d like to learn more? If it has to do with fitness, nutrition, wellness and overall health, let me know.
This is more than my column on health and wellness, it’s a community resource on bettering us all from the inside out.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics dubbed March National Nutrition Month, a time to educate and focus on the importance of our daily eating and physical habits. Originating in 1973 as a weeklong campaign, it proved so popular that by 1980 it expanded into a month long celebration. That means 31 days, chances, to highlight what everyone is doing to celebrate a healthier lifestyle. Got a recipe? Send it in!
In addition to the above, I’m seeking residents/businesses who deserve a week-long highlight throughout National Nutrition month.
What makes you feel empowered? Growing up I idolized the fictional characters of Lara Croft (Angelina Jolie), Catwoman (Michelle Pfeiffer) — which were reflected several times in my Halloween costumes — and All-American Girls Professional Baseball League catcher Dottie Hinson, a character who was played by Geena Davis in A League of Their Own.
Their characters broke the mold of what it meant to be a woman. They were equal to a man in strength and power while maintaining the underlying sex appeal of a female. In short, they were badasses who could conquer the world (and sometimes did it in heels). More important, they taught me that being fit meant being fearless.
Being fit is a state of mind for me. When I work out I feel happier, confident and stronger. I sing louder, smile wider, and dance with attitude. I’m unstoppable.
To capture this mentality, I reached out to a friend and professional photographer requesting to do a fitness lifestyle photo shoot. A week later, I was in Astoria Park amid 30-degree weather taking pictures in a sports bra (anything for a picture, right?).
I never did a photo shoot of this nature before. I was completely unaware of how to pose properly or convey the right facial expression without looking constipated or, worse, unnatural. Rather than worry about expectations, I decided to wear what made me feel unstoppable. One look, baggy sweatpants, fingerless gloves and a beanie; another, tights, weights in hand, and a ball cap. The two looks were different, but showed the range within my own personality. Still frames weren’t poses, they were insights. Despite the frigid cold, I found an inner peace.
Andrea Klerides Pellegrino, my photographer at Andrea Kay Images, braced the weather with each click. She informed me, “Your enthusiasm for getting these shots made me even more excited and pushed me to try different angles and lighting and poses that I haven’t done before. We both felt comfortable enough for me to get close so I could get some of those more emotional and powerful shots. We both knew we wanted to capture this new beginning and you had a powerful presence so once we started shooting that translated very easily through the lens.”
True, I was nervous going into it. After all, it was a completely new experience. Yet, being photographed released a self-assurance I hadn’t noticed before. All the self-doubt and self-criticism faded away once the camera was on me. It was my moment, my time, and it’s captured forever.
Pellegrino relayed, “I love to capture all of life’s amazing moments. I’ve always seen the world in frames, so to be able to document anything makes me feel like I am able to give people a chance to freeze their fast paced lives and live in the moment.”
I broke the mold of expectations by being true to myself, and I dare my readers to do the same. Book a photo shoot, unleash your inner strength. Rid the body shaming, stereotyping, and judging by embracing every part of who you are. Plus, it makes for the perfect Valentine’s Day gift — to yourself or hint it to that special someone.
Visit www.akayimages.com, call Andrea at 631-678-3771 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article first appeared in the December 20, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper.
I’d like to start by thanking all of you. As a long-time writer, it was rather risky to begin a fitness column. After all, who am I? Why would you want to read what I have to say about health and wellness? Even without fully knowing who I am, you have embraced me and all I have brought to DailyFitness.
Allow me to officially introduce myself. I’m Nicole, aka Nikki On The Daily, a 28-year-old living on the South Shore of Long Island. I enjoy being active, trying new things, and surrounding myself with positive, open-minded people.
Initially, writing this column was a way to interact with the wellness community — likeminded individuals form stronger bonds. Although that mission has been accomplished, as the weeks progressed so have I. This undertaking has become a continuous life lesson. Now, it has turned into the best part of my week.
In January, I dubbed 2017 as “The Year of My Fittest Self.” As I approach 30, there are many in my age group starting to already see the latent effects of their decisions — excess drinking, late nights, and other unhealthy habits. Having always been more health-conscious, I wanted to see what my body could do if I dedicated myself to truly toning it up and taking care of myself.
I wanted to look like the girls in the fitness magazines, true, but my overall goal was to stop wanting to look like someone else and to be the best Nicole I could be.
My fitness journey this year has fluctuated between the best shape I could possibly be (around July) to going weeks — yes, weeks — without working out and overindulging in foods that were way too tempting to turn away.
While I’ve always had a slender appearance, I literally eat everything — I’m an equal opportunity eater. Which is why the hashtag #FitnessFoodie has become synonymous with my fitness endeavors. Part of it is genetics, another part going through health kicks to combat certain toxins, and the final part is working out. Another hashtag, almost a mantra, has been #StrongNotSkinny.
Being unhealthy on the inside, both mentally and physically, isn’t based on appearance. Health issues aren’t biased if you’re a size two or 12. I might wear a size four, but in January I couldn’t last an hour in spin class. Today, I make cardio a priority for my heart in addition to lifting weights to maintain a physical strength. I am strong, not skinny.
Above all, this year I finally understood that feeling my best was far more important than looking it.
I’m proud to say that I have rid myself of all self-hate and self-loathing, a lifelong goal. Rather, I have learned to completely accept my body in its every version. Whether I can fit into my favorite outfit or not, I still love the person reflecting back at me despite what I wear.
A lot of that has to do with the countless fitness articles I have written. By making fitness fun it has opened up a world of new experiences in addition to seeing a personal transformation.
But that’s not even the best part. The best part is walking through town, from Manhattan to Montauk, and being approached by somebody who recognizes my face from the column. Hearing that they tried one of the exercises I wrote about, or how they discovered something new, is almost like having a wellness buddy without the commitment but all the motivation.
That’s what all of my readers are. You are the motivation behind every step of what I do, not only for myself but for everyone else in our community. While my personal goals have been accomplished and then re-accomplished after falling off the wagon for a few weeks, 2017 has made me happier, healthier, and more motivated than ever.
To all of the companies that have been on my journey with me, from business owners to personal trainers, wellness companies and all those in between, I want to thank all of you for inspiring me to inspire others.
As I write my last column for the year in my first year as a columnist I cannot promise where the next year will bring us. But I can promise you this. As long as you believe in yourself, I will believe in you. Because I believe in this ever growing community and that no matter what age, shape, or size, we are all strong together. In Omnia Paratus (prepared for anything)!
You can follow more stories from me on Instagram and Facebook @NikkiOnTheDaily
(This article first appeared in the December 6, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
Wellness retreats were once thought of as a trendy niche but have earned their right as a permanent travel category. Individuals and groups alike are looking to escape the day-to-day routine for an extended weekend, or week, of revitalization. Virtuoso is the travel industry’s leading luxury network with over 9000 travel advisors across 26 countries. As a former advisor myself back in 2016, I decided to go straight to the source for what’s ahead in wellness travel. Here are five wellness trends to watch for in the upcoming year.
1. Learning from the best. Humans are constantly seeking self-improvement and what better way to accomplish such a task than learning from the top in the fields? Wellness retreat hosts are offering opportunities to interact and find educational resources from CEOs, masters, gurus, and beyond.
2. Sugar detox. Entire itineraries are planned around ridding the body of what 2017 was perhaps most fearful of — sugar. Sugary foods will be replaced with those that are rich in nutrients to fight that cupcake craving. By eliminating sugar in its many forms the end goal promises increased energy, better digestion, and clear skin.
3. Healing retreats. Those seeking solace after a divorce, loss of a loved one, or other life-altering event can find stress management and emotional healing therapies.
4. Sleep recovery. Between the everyday stresses of life and society’s over-connectedness, sleeping seems to have taken a backseat. Next year, travelers can expect to see a leap of sleep enhancement retreats to jump start your entire life. Through diagnostic techniques and holistic treatments the end goal is to slow the mind to rest the body.
5. Silence. If you’re someone who looks to truly disconnect while away, welcome to the increasing trend where silence is golden, complete with WiFi blockers and noise-free zones. Entire luxury destinations are reconstructing to implement noise-reducing walls, and silent retreats are no longer for just the penitent faithful.
(This article was first published in the September 20, 2017 issue of The Independent Newspaper)
Move over Zumba, there’s a new dance class in town. Pulse, at JABS in Cutchogue, is a fitness class that is reminiscent of those dance classes so many us loved taking as kids. Hip-hop, pop, Latin all fused together with cardio training and even some boxing moves.
Studio owner Jill Schroeder began with Zumba in 2007 but moved in a different direction.
“Two years ago I started to move away from the Latin style of things and wanted to create my own choreography and incorporate the music that I like. So I coined it ‘Pulse.’ The fitness elements break it up. It’s a great work out but you’re having fun as well.”
If Pulse doesn’t get your heart rate going, JABS — an acronym for Joining Active Bodies Studios — offers numerous classes daily including yoga, spin, barre, TRX, and more. The studio is going into its seventh year running, originally starting in Mattituck but calling Cutchogue home for four and a half years. Schroeder opened up a dual location in Riverhead.
With the motto ‘Fueled by enthusiasm, motivated by passion,’ JABS inspires members to constantly push their physical limits, all with a smile on their faces, which is exactly what Schroeder has always dreamed of doing. “There’s a lot of passion that I’ve put into this business and the programs that I’ve developed. And it’s really cool to see the enthusiasm from others partaking in it and being here,” she relayed.
JABS’s current location boasts 5000 square feet of space and Riverhead matches that size. 10,000 total square feet? That’s a rather large upgrade from the mere 1500 sq. ft. space at the original studio.
“I guess you never really know where things are going to take you,” Schroeder admitted. “I opened up the first location, I had just finished some schooling … I opened up the doors and I packed out.” She always wanted to have more than one location, she said. “I did want more.”
Classes are $25 each, with other options for class packs or unlimited memberships. Now, in anticipation for the grand opening in Riverhead, there are special promo packs (redeemable at both locations) going through October 1. Choose between 5, 10, 20 or 40 class packs.
Join this active bodies studio by finding out more online at http://www.jabsny.com, call them at 631-315-5227 or follow them on Instagram and Facebook @JabsNY.