Learning through Movement …Teaching by Listening

I was not a sit still kind of kid. Thankfully I had young, energetic parents that allowed me to literally climb walls, walk on my hands and jump off furniture. I remember the first time I saw older girls doing perfectly straight cartwheels. I tried and fell. Instinctually I knew I had to break it into smaller steps.

First I would just place my hands down. Then I would itsy -bitsy swoop my feet around. I told myself its ok if its not perfect, each one will get better, straighter, than the next. Then I will practice with my other hand first. Then I will practice with one hand. Then I will place down pillows and practice with no hands.


I am an auto-didactic learner. This my younger sister told me last year and so I looked it up and why yes I am ( self taught, self education).

Of course being 14 years younger than me she watched my road less taken life that from the outside looks serendipitous and magical but truthfully I just learn differently and at my own pace. My education in body movement started as soon as I could walk which was at nine months my mom will tell you. My obsession and education with exercise was in full force by age 14. I told all of my teachers that I would be a fitness instructor for a career while they encouraged me to not aim so low -after all I could be a doctor or scientist.

My parents bought me a Reebok step and I did the same video over and over every day until I began to make up my own routines. I video taped Olympic Gymnastics routines studying the balance beam movements until my father bought me a plank of wood from home depot to practice on in the basement where I taught myself advanced back bends, handstands walkovers. I had my mom video tape my favorite show: Body Electric on public television so I could do the mat exercises as soon as I got home from school.

I was easily bored in school if I was not studying a subject that interested me. In college I studied dancing and writing and got certified in personal training. Learning what my body could do was not the same as teaching others how to move their bodies. Quickly I saw that to help others I had to put myself in their place and start with incremental movements.

My first month as a personal trainer at a franchise gym, I was assigned to train a young woman with cerebral palsy. She  could walk but had less movement with the left side of her body and would sort of drag her foot as she walked. She was getting married in three months and wanted to be able to walk down the aisle without drawing attention to her left side.

I listened to what she had to say about how her body felt, her emotions. I thought back to  when I would teach my younger siblings to walk.I asked questions. Lots of questions. I listened intently. I imagined I was her and mimicked movements. How can we improve posture. Pace the stepping. Where should the eyes be focused when walking. How long was the aisle? Together we came up with exercises that would help her reach her goal. Walking down the aisle with confidence!

My personal training managers encouraged me to carry a clip board and pre- write out workouts. How could I even write out a workout when I don’t know how the person is feeling? Each workout had to come from listening in the moment.

I often got my pay docked by not following directions such as selling supplements. After a few years at the franchise gym I found an amazing studio with a coterie of trainers the best Chicago had to offer. Everyone was an independent contractor and excelled in their area of study. I was quickly be-friended by a trainer with 15 years more experience than me. He was a professional dancer and had MS. At the studio was also a Doctor of Chiropractic work and physical therapy who had taught my friend how to move again. Quickly I was taken under the wing so to speak where I learned things you just  don’t learn in books.

Again I asked questions and I listened. I observed how the Doctor would work with clients. I saw people go from wheel chairs to canes to walking. I saw people leaving smiling. I saw pain. Healing. Pain. I learned that being present and listening is the best way to design workouts and through my gift of body movement I could help others listen to their own bodies.

I am grateful for each person I have been able to work with passing on what I may learn to the next.



Lower Fat Fast Food Options!

Similar to balancing a check book, taking the time to look up lunch choices can save you fat grams by simply being aware of what your options are.  Sure, it’s not fun, but once you get the hang of it you may find that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor or fun!

I made a list of a few of the fast food places I frequent  and my fave choices along with a link to the very user friendly nutrition pages with each restaurant!


My goal for the month is water before coffee!

Starbucks Faves!

Egg and Cheddar Breakfast 

280 calories, 13 grams fat, 12 grams protein

Thai Style Chicken Wrap

430 calories, 20 grams fat, 11 grams protein



Tuna Salad Sandwich, avocado, no cheese, hot peppers

532 calories, 19 grams fat, 32 grams protein

Chocolate Banana Smoothie (not the malt or shake-the malt has over 30 grams of fat)

573 calories, 2 grams of fat, 14 grams protein



Sofrito Bowl with brown rice, corn salsa, lettuce-no cheese

565 calories, 18 grams of fat, 23 grams of protein

with cheese:

665 calories, 25 grams of fat, 29 grams protein



Grilled Chicken t.b.m. lighter side

443 calories, 16.4 grams fat, 38.2 grams protein


Protein Bar

Buffalo Barrito with avocado no cheese

480 calories, 17 grams fat, 43 grams protein


Balanced Beauty

DSC02281 (2)Yes, I have a six pack. I also have stretch marks.

Yes, I smile when I look in the mirror. I also smile when the wind is blowing against my face and the sun is shining.Working in the fitness industry I find it very important to have a balanced perspective on beauty. It is so easy to be influenced by others’ perception of beauty – be it from family,friends, or the media.

Raising my son at the gym since birth, I always felt proud of the “healthy” environment I provided him. At age six, one of the male trainers jokingly told him he jumped like a girl.He quickly came back with, I don’t get it. The trainer hemmed and hawed trying to explain the joke and my son continued: My mom’s calves are bigger than yours. What’s wrong with jumping like a girl? Everyone laughed and we quickly turned the joke into a calf contest, which I won. The real victory, though, was my son’s wit and confidence.

By the time my son was ten, I realized his perception of the world was influenced by his environment (the gym) – this small Chicago microcosm of societal beauty defined by the most fashionable and fit, with a sprinkle of plastic surgery. Now he asked me, Mom when are you getting breast implants? He observed many women at the gym going from “no boobs” to BIG boobs. Boob jobs in our world were as common as dental visits and vacations.

I was shocked… I’m NOT getting a boob job, it’s not my thing. I like to run and dance – I’m more of an athlete-dancer not a bikini model.


Already feeling l said wayyy too much (and completely freaked out by this conversation with my ten-year-old son), I wondered how time passed so quickly. How did he go from my mom’s calves are bigger than yours to hey mom when are you getting a boob job? What would his perception of women and beauty be in another five years? Would he expect women to be the media’s definition of beautiful-flawless-and-ageless and get surgery if a body part wasn’t up to par? Was I doing my job as a parent to encourage self-esteem and confidence?

I thought back to when I was five and ten and fifteen and how my parents had such a balanced view of beauty. I pulled from my parents’ example to determine how I would parent my son to find his own healthy self-confidence. Fast forward and my son is now16. These are the rules we live by.

Balanced beauty is healthy and feels good.

There is nothing wrong with feeling beautiful or admiring beauty. Accept what you were born with and do your best to accentuate what you have – shake what yo mama gave ya!

We are souls living in a body.

My parents encouraged us to define ourselves based on what made us laugh and smile and what we worked hard for. If strangers commented on “how beautiful” us kids were,my father would say thank you and then throw in a non-appearance based achievement. Rebekah is also good at gymnastics.

Be a flower in a bouquet.

A single flower is beautiful, but in a bouquet of flowers each flower compliments the other and they are beautiful TOGETHER. There is never a reason to be jealous of another person’s beauty. Appreciate others and also yourself, like a bouquet of flowers.

Meanies are ugly.

I never once in my life heard my parents criticize anyone’s appearance, yet I heard many other adults saying mean things about other people’s appearance. This always baffled me. The most beautiful person saying mean things about anotherperson’s appearance becomes very ugly.

Unconditional love is totally better than beauty queen (or king) titles.

During my teen years I went through puberty and gained 30 pounds, which came along with stretch marks and hormonal acne. I couldn’t bear to look in the mirror. Dressing rooms were equivalent to torture chambers.  My poor mother endured many tantrums with me crying how fat and ugly I was and how she didn’t understand because she was so thin and pretty. My parents constantly told me how strong I was athletically, how I had muscle not just fat, and took me to the doctor for acne creams. My father got me books on nutrition and took me on jogs.The unconditional love I was given by my parents, plus constant care and attention, was the most important gift and guide in shaping my values on beauty in a world where it can sometimes be out of balance. Surely my son will be okay if I can pass on even half of what my parents taught me.

Get FLAVOR Out of Your Fuel!

photo 1 Many people don’t know that I actually struggled with my weight for many years. I began yo-yo dieting at a young age which lead not to weight loss but instead weight GAIN and emotional frustration. How could I eat so little and keep gaining weight?

(click below for weight loss story)


Research and putting into effect healthy lifestyle changes allowed me to get my metabolism back, and increased energy leading me to a career in fitness!


While I don’t promote dieting, I do encourage research, and healthy lifestyle choices that serve each individuals best self.  I have developed a class with Christina Fischer on How to FUEL your body with FLAVOR!

Week one we will cover:

  • What is our process for choosing meals?
  • Why we eat what we eat
  • What FUEL will give us nutrients and energy
  • How to make practical flavorful choices with fast food and on the go!

I am super excited to provide balanced information that can help others reach their health and fitness goals and GET FLAVOR out of FUEL!

define your GOAL. define your BODY. define your LIFE.


FOUNDATION flow- Inner Thighs and CORE!

Building the right foundation is key to any workout program. It is important to understand your body by knowing when to push further to fatigue and when to modify as your body gains strength and range of motion.

Here is an exercise from our FOUNDATION FLOW  class showing three different modifications for inner thighs and core!

Seated knee tap 

muscles worked: inner thighs, core, triceps

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