Make Friends With Veggies & Kick Sugar To The Curb


We're already in the second week of the New Year - that's approximately 168 hours you've had to lapse on your New Year Resolutions. So, how's that going?

In the first week of January, I asked my barre class, "IF we were making resolutions, which we're not, what would they be?"


The Vegetable Book Recipes
I was surprised that almost everyone said their resolution was to eat less sugar and more vegetables. Surprised, because I love vegetables and find it easy to incorporate them into my daily meals. I suppose I take it for granted that I don't have any desire for sugar either... I think we can change our palate and what we desire to eat when we change our habits with persistent and dedicated focus. Choice by choice. This doesn't mean a life of no joy at all - and certainly, there's a number of naturally sweet foods that are extremely good for you! Some zealous celebrity trainers and insta-nutritionists will carp on about fruit being detrimental to healthy weight and body but that is absolutely baseless and irresponsible. Any food, in excess, isn't healthy. I hate to be boring, but remember that quote, "Eat, not too much. Mostly plants."

Yes. And I'd add to that, ENJOY what you eat because guilt tastes bitter and toxic and no amount of "clean" eating will eradicate that bitterness. 

So, in the spirit of supporting you to get excited about vegetables, here is a recipe from The Vegetable by Caroline Griffiths & Vicki Valsamis (Simon & Schuster). 
Zucchini mint cheese fritters


Raw Is More Recipes
I also want to recommend another book that I received over the holiday period and that I am VERY excited about. Raw Is More by Eccie and Gini Newton (Simon & Schuster). As some of you know, I'm studying to be a Raw Food Chef with the Raw Food Institute of Australia. I get so excited by the amount of delicious and flavourful food that can be prepared and shared: all raw. Anyone who has been to Ubud, Bali has discovered a world of raw, plant based food menus, where colour, freshness, flavour and nutrition are bursting off the plate morning to evening. Bring a bit of that raw, wild, colourful energy into your daily life here.


Just to keep you inspired and dedicated to adding veggies to your day, I've designed you a 7 Day Vegetable Commitment planner! All you need to do is circle at least three vegetables you've eaten that day. It is also a list that gives you a huge range of ideas for when the only idea that vegetable conjures up is brussel sprouts and lettuce. Free download (PDF).




Beauty & Wellness October Obsessions


Who doesn't need stirrup barre pants, grippy ballet socks, one-piece leotards and flattering, high waisted capri pants in their life? WHO?

I discovered Zakti Activewear via a British Health & Fitness magazine and haven't looked back. Not limited to UK customers, obviously. They have done a brilliant collaboration with dancer Kimberly Wyatt. Ideal for barre, pilates, yoga and dance classes and - bonus! - you won't see 20 women with the same pants as you in class.

Research backs up the many health benefits of fish oil omega 3. It isn't naturally produced by the body and needs to be consumed, either through fatty fish, walnuts (ideal plant based omega 3!) or supplements. BlackMores Fish Oil is my daily joint, skin, heart, gut, muscle and overall wellbeing supplement of choice.

On the path of essential muscle, joint, bone, skin and gut health, did you know elite athletes and ballerinas take collagen supplements? The alternative is bone broth, but a tasteless collagen powder like GelPro Advanced Marine Collagen in your water, nut milk smoothie or even your acai bowl in the morning is an ideal way to boost your protein intake and feed your cells essential nutrients to build and maintain bone, muscle and skin tissue.

Recovery time demands magnesium. This mineral is present in most cell functions within the body so if you are stressed, getting sweaty a lot or post illness, you're likely in need of a magnesium boost. Taking capsules is okay, except that it's likely you're just going to pee them out rather than really benefit. If you apply magnesium as a cream, spray or even soak your feet in a magnesium salt bath, you absorb a great deal more and the massage effect has additional benefits. Go for pure, high grade stuff like Elektra Magnesium Spray & Flakes

Michael Kors Wonderlust because life is too short to stay in one place and also too short to not smell like heaven in a glass bottle. Plus...Christmas Is Imminent. Time to make a wishlist.

BYS Highlight Palette is my key to GLOW - like a beacon of beautiful good health and because a little bit of contouring (not Kardashian level everyday...) will always be welcome.

Sukin Shampoo & Conditioner because this organic company and their products are all about no toxins, no nasties, no animal testing. Also because it's affordable, Australian and gentle on your skin, scalp, hair and the earth.

My Froothie Blender is the B O M B. I can whizz up my protein smoothie in the morning (try roast pumpkin left to cool overnight with cinnamon, almond milk, big spoonful of marine collagen and a little shake of nutmeg) and also make a whole lot of raw food goodies like purees, dips, sauces and even mashed sweet potato and carrot/turmeric soup. Oh the endless possibilities! 900W or go home.

Last, but not least, my bathroom cabinet is a mecca of wonderfulness. At the ready every week is my Medik8 Clay Mask to nix the nasty stress/pollution and sweaty-face spots that occasionally appear. My nails always benefit from a layer of super glam - loving the cult brand Smith & Cult. Because it's a cult thing, and it's the goddess queen that is Kat Von D... on the daily, long lasting lip colour demands Kat Von D Liquid Lipstick (either Lolita or K-Pop).

Ballet Sculpt 1 minute move

Can't make it to class? No worries. Do this pulse move for one minute minimum and ideally keep it going until you can't maintain technique. Squeeze your glutes. I mean it!

Start in plié position, heels raised and pressed together.Squeeze your butt cheeks together, get down, P U L S E.Step forward, pulse. Step to starting position, pulse.Step to 2nd, pulse.Step back, pulse.Keep going.Keep going.Keep...on...pulsing.



Burn at the Barre (or Chair, or Kitchen Bench...)

I'm often asked what resources I recommend for my barre, pilates and yoga participants when they're on extended holidays, travelling or just working irregular hours that mean a consistent class attendance just isn't gonna happen. Without fail, I always recommend Sadie Lincoln from barre3 and the divine, funny, challenging and inspiring Tracey Mallett who posts regular pilates and barre videos that enable you to workout at home.

You don't need a barre - the back of your chair will do the trick. Try this one. If these attitude "in-out-tap" moves don't give you the burn, I will fall onto my barre-toned bum in amazement.


February Gym Bag Loves - The Style, Beauty & Body Gear For Now

fitness fashion beauty body
Hello February!
Exactly a month in my new beachside abode and I've still got so much to explore locally. It's been a struggle trying to build more classes into my schedule but (apart from a few hair-pulling, nail biting evenings of angst) I'm feeling hopeful of making this happen. My other goal is to increase my freelance writing and collaborative work. I'd also really love to schedule some more workshops and encourage people to come together locally to share food, stories, inspirations and ideas about life and living it well, fit and joyfully.
hair body fitness body beauty lululemon

There's a bit of a theme going on with my February gym bag - it must be living so close to the salty air! It's...being naked. Now wait! Don't go pulling your top off and risking mega fines just for the sake of solidarity!
Phew.
lululemon naked align pants

It's naked in regards to an approach to ingredients and elements. The Naked Dry Shampoo from Herbal Essences has none of the nasty chemicals usually associated with both dry shampoos and aerosols generally. It took me a while to get on the dry shampoo bandwagon but as someone who gets oily roots within a day of washing, it prevents overdoing it on the shampooing OR walking around with nasty oilslick hair. Important.
Try the whole Naked range - I'm all about the Naked Volume Shampoo and Conditioner.
The Naked lululemon Align Pants II are designed with no ruffles, frills and bows, literally. They are ideal for wearing independently or pairing up with your favourite booty shorts, jogging shorts, slouchy shirt or T, or even going out in your best 90s style with a pair of ripped denim shorts (man, I LOVED that look at the time.)

It's also a mindset I encourage you to adopt in February.
Get naked.
Strip off all the history. Strip off yesterday. Strip off the labels that have been placed on you, or that you've placed on yourself. Daughter, wife, mother, teacher, Australian, American, Young, Old, Friendly, Rude, Determined, Lazy, Fit, Flexible, Friend, Foe.

This is not to dismiss everything that you are, but to recognise that beneath and beyond all these labels and these ideas you develop about your life, you are so much more than that. Come back to your roots. Your heart beats, your lungs pump air, you exist from one micro-moment to the next in a world where we are all so vulnerable. This is quite wonderful - and it doesn't depend at all on any labels you put on yourself or what you own or what you do.

Once you've had a little smile to yourself, ensure that you hold onto these sunbeams of joy in your very core so that they radiate out through your pores and make your face glow with the beauty of being alive and appreciative of it. Then pack your gym bag and get out there. The gym bag featured in above image is the Lululemon Urban Warrior Duffle Bag. Yes, you can attach your yoga mat.

Post showering, keep the fresh scents lasting all day by applying my absolute, all time favourite body moisturiser, Laura Mercier Souffle. There's a few delicious choices but I'm in love with almond and coconut (it gets SO many compliments!) or pistachio. YUM.

Fresh Fit Food: Which Meal Delivery Services I Recommend


I know how to cook, prepare and serve delicious, nutritious meals.
I can also talk macronutrients, energy, allergies, vitamins and minerals.
In short, I'm not in the dark when it comes to food and how to look after myself. There are other reasons for using a meal delivery service.

Good Reasons To Use Meal Delivery:

  • Being caught up in a hectic, unpredictable time where shopping, planning meals and feeding yourself and your family or housemates just isn't possible (ie. new job, illness in the family)
  • Experiencing injury or illness that can sap you of energy and the physical ability to get out and about to shop and then to do the preparations also.
  • Feeling caught in a rut and eating the same meals over and over again
  • Struggling to find inspiration for new ideas at meal times and wanting a kick in the butt
  • Curiosity
Why I Use Meal Delivery

I am guilty of being caught in eating the same meals all the time because it's easy. I know exactly what I need to buy in advance, I know how long it takes me to prepare and I know I like it. Only, I get so bored and if I'm bored, so is my body! Variety - just as in the classes you do, the friends you have, the places you go - is fuel for the soul. The body also benefits in every way from a variety of flavours, nutrients and just the mental effect of discovering something different and inspiring.

Which Meal Delivery Service To Use

There's already some really great services that deliver around Australia, and there are new ones popping up every week. This is both fabulous and also overwhelming if you're not sure where to start or you've had a bad experience. 
I've used the following and I highly recommend them. None of them require contracts or an ongoing relationship. You can order a one-time-only delivery and never do so again if you want!




This is for the person too busy to shop but not completely inept in the kitchen. This is for people who enjoy the preparation factor, but don't want to walk through supermarket aisles for the sake of a few meals. The box arrived for me on Tuesday morning (delivered silently in the very early hours of morning!) and had each meal packaged in a separate large paper bag.

In the box, recipe cards that described the preparation of each meal including cooking and prep time. I was provided herbs, flavourings, raw ingredients and ultimately, I had to cook and prepare. The great thing about this is that I felt like I had control over the level of flavouring I could add, and I could be a little creative as far as presentation and making any little adjustments like changing the choice of herbs or adding different vegetables.

I heartily recommend the chicken and fish meals as well as the superb Superfoods Veggie Bowl. I did add extra protein to this one but if you didn't, it's ideal for vegans and vegetarians.

Marley Spoon




Kate Save is a clinical dietitian with a true passion for food and it shows in the delicious menu options she offers. She designs meals with a real focus on balanced amounts of protein, carbs, vitamins and micronutrients to ensure hormonal balance, weight control and VERY importantly, flavour. From frittata to curries, chunky soups, chia pods, protein ball snacks through to vegetarian friendly tofu dinners, there is no skimping on quality and yumminess.

Kate has worked with eating disorders, obesity, diabetes, juveniles and adults in her clinical role of dietitian and it was this, combined with her genuine love for preparing healthful, flavourful foods, that acted as the catalyst to start her own business. She has raised her children on these same meals and it is imperative to her that they are well fed, nourished and loved. This comes across in the food that arrives on my doorstep. It is full of flavour, perfectly balanced for a fit and weight-conscious individual, and also full of love and soul. There is nothing dry and boring about Kate's meals and even though they are perfectly measured as far as macronutrients (safe for anyone looking to lose or maintain weight), there is nothing boring about Kate's menu.

You can put in an order as late as Sunday evening and be assured of delivery the following Tuesday - everything is prepared and delivered fresh and clearly labelled.

I totally recommend the chia puddings - in fact, I'd put in an order for these alone! - and the frittata with kale and chickpeas. Delicious. Definitely don't skip the Berry Bliss Chia Pudding and the Blueberry with Chia Seeds.
I also loved the South American Chilli Beef And Beans for lunch on the go.

Be Fit Food


My Muscle Chef was the very first meal delivery service I tried and it is not at all what I feared it might be: tiny portions of NASA-grade food for body sculptors who subsist on a couple of almonds and a lettuce leaf. THANKFULLY these are divinely tasty and the fact they are energy-controlled and designed with the ideal ratio of protein to carbs is an afterthought once you dig the fork in. The meals range from vegetarian through to kangaroo, fish, chicken and beef.
I'm a big fan of the kangaroo with brown rice. It's so easy to overcook and dry out kangaroo meat but this is perfectly prepared and delivered for maximum flavour and texture. I admit, the meals are not nearly as big as I need for dinner. As a lunch option, perfectly portioned. I add nuts, extra rice and loads of vegetables to the dinner portion and occasionally, extra protein depending on my appetite. They deliver weekly to Melbourne and Sydney.

My Muscle Chef

Other delivery services I recommend trying include Aussie Farmers Direct, Woolworths Online and Nourished Life for supplements and healthy meal preparation tools.

Be Truly Well and Truly Fit - Free Download

If you have decided - especially coming up to the end of one year and the beginning of another, that now is the time to overhaul your mindset and to embrace a life of being well and fit, I can't do it for you. But I can give you the tools to make it happen. 
I'll be creating some free workout guides in the coming weeks, but this is the ideal place to start. With reflection and setting your intention.

Difference Makes Us

After reading my last post about the essential appreciation we must have for being connected, I am posting on the celebration of our differences.
I have the symbol for Pi on my shoulder. When I first had it inked about 8 years ago, I did so with a vague but determined understanding that Pi represented the scientific and quantum concept that there are patterns and powers that govern nature and the elements, including human nature. This doesn't mean anything, especially humans, are predictable and acting and feeling according to scientific formulas or rigid systems.
This means there's mystery but magic existing alongside all of us, interconnecting us and nature, the planets, the elements. Though it can be easy for me to fall into believing I am alone when I get down, I also never feel alone for long because I do feel connected. I imagine that beyond my room is my city and my country and beyond that, every country, all oceans, marine life, clouds, planets, dark matter, meteors, ozone... and we are all affected. It is also inherently tied to ideas within Chaos Theory. The most common example given of this is the butterfly that flaps its wings on one side of the planet and a tidal wave eventuates on the other. Everything affects another.

Well, that was a long way of explaining that despite us all being deeply connected on the deepest level, we are all entirely different and beautifully unique in our self-expression. This is being authentic. We express our style and values, our passions and personality,through fashion, makeup, hair style and colour, the way we move and gesture.

One of my favourite marketplaces is running the Difference Makes Us campaign right now. Etsy has a new Australian homeplace with loads of local makers trading their goodies. Here's the bonus.

Post a picture on Instagram of a unique item you own and love and tag it with with the hashtag #DifferenceMakesUs for a chance to win an Etsy gift card valued at $1000

Here are some of my favourite Etsy finds, local and international.

Handmade Ballet Slippers by Antoni at GrandGear (Australian!)
Customised sportswear by Misty at mysticclothing.
Om Lotus Sterling Silver necklace by elisdesigns.
Nike Sneaker Poster set by PigeonStudios.
Ashtanga Bra at AryaClothing
Glow In The Dark Yoga Shorts at UriahClearLight.

Activewear, Yoga Pants and Accessories on Etsy


Are you a natural hunter? Could you be thrown into the wilds of the urban wilderness and hunt your way to coordinated pants, tank top and sneakers with ankle socks thrown in for good measure?

If so, trawling through the stock standard shopping sites for yoga pants is not going to give you the hunter’s high of “I FOUND THIS BEFORE ANYONE ELSE!” which is so good for you!

This is where Etsy kicks in. Not only can you find gear that nobody in your neighbourhood is going to be rocking at the same yoga class, but you can talk directly with the owner/designer/maker and know you’re supporting an entrepreneurial spirit in their business.

Without further ado, my favourite Etsy yoga gear purveyors. Hunting for yoga gear has never been so much fun...

Lily Jara Leggings
Day of the Dead meets yoga pants? Heck, yes.
This is just one of the crazy fine designs from Lily Jara. She also does awesome 80s geometric rainbow patterns, balloon print, donuts and leggings with one side devoted to fries and the other to ketchup. Yup, this is fun and fabulous.
Mermaid leggings for adults AND their mini yoga sprogs? Definitely. Also, Lily is a super babe and if you’re in the Florida area, I’ll be hugely jealous that you might be hanging out and doing yoga in balloon print leggings together.
My pick is the sugarskulls print leggings and while I haven’t yet been to Mexico, I feel like I’m embracing the gothic culture of Dios De Los Muertes (Day Of The Dead) in these.
Lily Jara Shop


Funky Leggzis Clothing
Funky indeed. Peacock print, Mario Brothers, Alice In Wonderland, the Eiffel Tower. If you can dream it, you can wear it on your pins thanks to Angela at Funky Leggzis.
My super strong personal training client rocks the peacock print leggings while she slays some heavy duty deadlifts so these are not only for fashion – they’re totally fitness friendly.
Made in Hobart and shipped internationally. Check them out.
Funky Leggzis Clothing








ArtsyClothing
Another super talented lady with a knack for leggings you’ll love. Ruta makes divine fitness and fashion forward leggings with sweet, hand-detailed designs.
I fell in love with the mini foxes but there are also bicycles, trees, panda bears and bird prints on t-shirts, leggings, baby suits and even decals for your Macbook.
ARTsyClothing

Fashion Jewelry Online
I’m a bit of a sucker for an anklet, and so are the fashion pack judging by the recent spate of sandals and sneakers with built-in ankle chains! If you’re a pilates, yoga, barre regular, you know you are going to spend a lot of time looking at your ankles (ah, blissful forward fold!) so you may want to give them a bit of zazz with the bohemian, yoga and Buddhist-inspired anklets, bracelets and necklaces from the delightful Puspamurti in Western Australia.
Fashion Jewelry Online





Modern Homewares
The lovely Aussie behind ModernHomewares store on Etsy creates cute, covetable pillow covers, ironing board covers and – essentially for me – yoga mat bags. Yes, no longer do you need to wrangle your yoga mat under one arm and your handbag under the other while you attempt to get through the studio door without knocking over the Ganesh statue and upsetting the decorative bamboo by reception.
My pick is the orange and white chevron print bag. A sling-shoulder harness allows you to pack and go. Without the mess!

ModernHomewares

And if you are more about creating and selling than buying - you can sign up and become a shop owner immediately. Get sewing, knitting, crafting and snapping photos stat!

Bring Sally Up Challenge

Core Integrity With Cat Bring Sally Up
I discovered this on YouTube, the place of many fitness discoveries!

What is the Bring Sally Up Challenge?

Press play. Get up, get down and keep it going for the Whole. Track.

Some are going to squat, some will do push ups, some will lunge (good lord...) and WE are going to plie in second for...the...
Whole.
Track.

Here is Suzanne Bowen doing it. I recommend practicing because we'll be doing this in Ballet Sculpt for the next week. See you there.

Is there a particular reason I need to post this? No. Just a whole lot of extremely attractive Euro guys doing push ups for the Bring Sally Up Challenge. Consider it motivation!

June Gym Bag From Skincare To Sweatpants


June is miserably cold here in Melbourne. But even if it isn't shiver-to-your-bones icy where you are, these are excellent items to have in your gym bag, on your home shelf, or even stashed in the car for emergency use. Because if you break down, that's the perfect time to work your biceps as you wait for the repair guy (or girl).

Featured above.

Onzie capri

Made by LA yoga people to move, flex, moisture-wick and maximise your workout whether that's yoga, pilates, barre or weights. This heathered orange shade is the bright antidote to this dreary weather. It's summer in a pant! Get 'em here.

Cotton On handweights

Only 2kg you say? If you do some YouTube and Google time you will discover light handweights can be deadly difficult and totally effective. These are so chic in black and rose gold. Karl definitely would. At Cotton On.

Alpha H Balancing Moisturiser and Gentle Exfoliant

Alpha H does Serious Skincare. This is not your supermarket shelf standard. Anyone I know who has used it RAVES about it, me included. This is not a product I use every day or night as it's quite intense but I always wake up brighter and dewier when I do. At Alpha H.

Mellow Liquid Lip Paint

Sure, you COULD go lip colour free but it's a short life and there's a whole lot of colour in the world. So, with that in mind, don't choose to use lipstick that's going to end up on your chin after you've been sweating it out in BodyPump, barre or Bikram. Liquid lipstick that is super affordable? Yes please. Mellow Liquid Lip Paint right here.

Indermica Eye Treatment Night/Day

This is just so self-explanatory. But the reason I choose this product over the zillion eye products there are out there is because I usually wake up with sore or gluey eyes because even though it promises not to get in my eyes, somehow I react! NOT with this. And the bottle is ingenious. It's an all-in-one with two pumps so you can easily mete out day and night quantity as you need. Get it here.

Last but not least, a moisturiser that doesn't cause a breakout. Hallelujah! BetaMoisturise is a must. I'm not a teenager but get a super rich  moisturiser on my face and bam, spot time. This is tried, tested and terrific. Right here at Medik8 Australia. Oil free and mattifying.

Epic Barre & Ballet Sculpt Moves

I recently gave my advice on the best barre moves to master - and the ones most often cheated in! Wellineux published a home workout guide and combined it with an XTend Barre giveaway. You can find the article on the Wellineux Blog.
Here are the moves and the reasons to do them. Don't belly flop.

Challenging and most importantly effective, these three moves are effective in developing body awareness, good core strength, muscular endurance, timing and postural alignment.
No belly flopping during the diamond push up! No dropping the hips while doing the bridge! Rather than cheat, you could try to make the moves smaller, or reduce the number of reps. Focus on perfect form if you are aiming for results.
The Diamond Push Up.Works: Triceps, shoulders, chest
Here’s how:
  1. From a kneeling position, make a triangle shape between your index fingers and thumbs. Place your hands, in this position, below the chest in a push up position. Engage the core muscles as you would in a plank hold.
  2. Try to maintain your head, neck and spine in alignment rather than dropping your head or straining your chin forward. Lower your chest towards your hands without letting the back arch and the belly slap the mat. This is belly flopping – don’t!
  3. Press hard into the palm of the hands as you raise back to your starting position, fully extending the arms. Repeat. As many as you can.
The Bridge with Heel CarveWorks: Hamstrings, glutes
Here’s how:
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet flat on the mat. Ensure your feet are hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down by your sides.
  2. Tighten and engage your glutes then lift your hips up, feeling your abdominals also bracing gently to stabilise and support your spine.
  3. Keeping your hips lifted, extend your left heel along the mat as far as you can, then imagine carving the floor open with your heel as you drag it back. The foot is flexed to really target the hamstrings. Repeat with the right leg.
  4. Repeat until you need to rest, then gently roll down from the top of the spine until you’re back at the starting position.
The Lying Leg LiftWorks: Quadriceps, Abdominals
Here’s how:
  1. Lie on your back with knees bent and feet hip distance apart. Extend your arms, palms down, by your side.
  2. Extend your left leg to straight, flexing the foot as hard as you can. This is to engage the VMO (vastus medialis oblique) muscle – the quadricep muscle responsible for stabilising your kneecap. Turn the leg out to the side so that you have a slight external rotation.
  3. Make sure you are engaging the abdominals to avoid your back arching as you raise and lower the leg. You should feel this right through the front and sides of the tummy!
  4. Maintaining your foot in flexion and leg perfectly straight, raise the leg straight up – hold for a second – then lower your leg until it hovers just over the mat. Do this 10 – 20 times.
  5. Repeat this on the right side.

How Much Cardio Should I Do and What Type?

With any workout, it depends on what your goals are and where you're at now. It also depends on how much time you are willing to commit to it and what resources you have.

I am breaking my own rules about not doing boring workouts by engaging in steady state cardio that is both a mental and physical grind to get through. Habit.

High intensity interval training wins my vote for all-round strength, cardio and efficiency in a workout. It's short, it's intense and it keeps you focused. With a trainer who is dedicated to your safety and fitness, it's also a great way to pick up technique and ideas for your own workouts. This requires no equipment usually - body weight cardio and strength are very effective when done properly. Classes that are based on this method include CrossFit, F45, Tabata and HIIT.
Try CrossFit Collingwood, F45 Training in Victoria, or talk to a personal trainer about designing one particularly to meet your training goals.

Circuit style training is a similar idea to HIIT, only you don't need to do the short bursts of really intense activity to such a strict time limit. That said, using your phone to time yourself in each activity or even designing your workout playlist around your circuit plan is perfect. I used to spend longer making my running playlist than I did actually running! Carl Cox got me through a lot of endurance distances. What might a circuit look like?
Cardio: Treadmill warmup 10 minutes
Strength: Wide stance push ups for chest; deadlifts and rows with a barbell or dumbells; clean and press
Cardio: Running up and down staircase for 2 minutes
Strength: Plie squats, plank hold (try the medicine ball plank pictured if you're up for a challenge!)
Cardio: Rowing machine or bike for 20 minutes
Try BodyPump, Barre Circuit or any type of hybrid class. My latest Fitness Network article is all about interesting and effective hybrid classes!

Whether your goal is weight loss, cardio fitness or building strength and definition, circuit style training and getting your heart rate up while combining cardio and strength work is going to meet your goals. It is the intensity and duration that you will need to tailor to your needs. Speak to a trainer with experience in working with clients that have similar goals to you.

Beware of overdoing it. Been there, done that. If you end up hating and dreading your workouts, and you're punishing and pushing your body, you will not only end up with injuries but even worse, a feeling of misery, exhaustion and failure. Work with a trainer who recognises your goals and provides realistic guidance and motivation. If you need help with diet and wellbeing, see a dietitian and/or a psychologist with experience working with sportspeople or others with your particular goals and health background.
There are free fact sheets and a list of accredited Sports Dietitians at SDA Australia.

Love Your Valentine's Day

I love Valentine's Day. All the kitschy fluffy things and heart shaped business all over the shops? Fantastic. Watching men racing into the local petrol station and racing out with wilted tulips and a box of Cadbury Favourites? Classic.

What I love most is that it's a licence to show love. In the event that you will not be receiving wilted tulips and Cadbury Favourites from your beloved, here is how you can spend the day giving yourself a reminder of who you really need to show some love for: you!

Sleep in. I swear by my Audrey Hepburn inspired Goodnight Co eye mask. Blocks out all light and distractions. Looks glam (100% pure mulberry silk, tres chic.)
Wake up. Whip up a banana matcha smoothie (recipe and video guide in the link!)
Ingredients ● Zest, rind, juice of 1 lemon ● 1 tbs honey ● 1 /2 tsp ginger juice (grate fresh ginger) ● 3 frozen bananas, halved ● 1tbs Blackmores Matcha Green Tea 

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and process until just smooth (don’t over process or bananas will melt).
Don't rush. Pad around in your pyjamas for a while.

Go to yoga. Or Ballet Sculpt. I'll be teaching at Ivanhoe Aquatic and Leisure Centre. We'll be at the barre, pulsing and plie-ing until we're all shaky and sweaty and strong.

Shower. It's a day of hearts and roses, of course. So you must use White Lily and Damask Rose Body Scrub (mmm...roses) from Sanctuary Spa. Follow with a spritz of Elie Saab Rose Couture (exclusive to Myer) if you're all about roses today. If you're looking for something a little less floral but equally feminine, go for philosophy Amazing Grace (David Jones).

It's all about red or pink. I'm more inclined to pink and purple, but if you're going red, be bold. Loving Rimmel Exaggerate lipliner in Eastend Snob for a pink that flirts with mauve and purple. Flattering on every skin shade.
EITHER go get a manicure, or do it yourself as I prefer. Guess where OPI has just gone? New Orleans. Land of absinthe, graveyards, good food and gothic tales. So the nail colours are surprisingly upbeat for a place I've always associated with vagrants and vampires! Too much Poppy Z Brite and Anne Rice for me I guess. My picks are Let Me Bayou A Drink and Spare Me A French Quarter (OPI)
Go for lunch. Meet up with friends - single, married, not sure, not fussed - and discuss love. Or don't. I prefer to discuss yoga pants and Kanye West's latest releases, personally.

Then go browse some secondhand bookstores. Check out the plays. Nothing is more enjoyable than spending an afternoon drinking good strong coffee and completely losing yourself in the lives and voices of other people in another place and time.

However.
If you do find that you get through the book, or you can't resist pulling out the ipad or iphone, I totally recommend whiling away your time rewarding your diligent efforts in yoga this morning by shopping for activewear. I find it enormously motivating, and satisfying. New ranges out from my favourites: LA-based yogis Onzie, Aussie brand Red Tiger and a new brand I just discovered, Arthletic (art + athletics!) who do awesome ballet wraps for feet as well as activewear.
All your hard work is done. Feeling lovely?
Buy yourself flowers.
Do a face mask.
Sing along to Beyonce and Madonna as loud as you like.
Do a headstand in your undies.
Binge watch House of Cards, The Americans, Deutschland 83, whatever takes your fancy.
Drink green tea.

Remember that beyond everything you own and the relationships you have, the job you do every day, the city you live in, the books you read...beyond all of that, is the real you and you are everything you need. I know it sounds ridiculous if you haven't ever really considered it, but do.

And embracing that essence of who you are means you will recognise it in others. That's love.
Have some Total Giovanni. Happy Valentine's Day.

Geo Print Eco Friendly Yoga, Barre, Gym Gear


Pastel pink has been called the colour of 2016 by Pantone, the great colour gurus. This may be so, but as a Yoga Pants Guru, I'm seeing black and white geo print and I am loving it.
Loving it.
Because it's flattering when the angle and placement of the print aligns with your body shape, it can easily be coordinated with block colours and if you're more adventurous, other patterns. It can dial back the intensity of your more eye-popping colour choices, whether that's neon green tank top or aqua blue hair.

Back to Geo Print though. In particular, eco friendly activewear. The fabric and the manufacturing process have been carefully chosen to ensure least damage to natural resources and climate. I believe it's going to become more and more of a political, cultural and social discussion point for 2016 and onwards in the fashion industry. The ethics of our clothing and the imperative to spend more on clothing that meets a sustainability standard rather than throwing away money on 10 pieces of el cheapo mass manufactured tat that will fall apart, fade and tear within 2 washes.

I've loved Om Shanti Clothing for years. Every single pair of pants still looks and feels EXACTLY as it did when it first arrived. No amount of sweating, gym sessions, laundry and sun exposure has faded or stretched it. And it's still super bright. Cannot speak highly enough of Joel and Jackie Strauss who run Om Shanti and really live the message: be active, be good, be considerate of the earth and your footstep on it.
So hard to narrow down my favourites so lucky I've got a theme: the new Black Chakra print Performance Legging is AH mazing. Agreed?



I'm a new convert to Shift To Nature. This is a Australian brand run by the lovely Sonja. Her entire range is eco friendly from design to delivery. Fits like a glove, looks flattering and withstands hot yoga and CrossFit. There's plenty of pieces you can coordinate too. The prints complement one another and there are several pieces in the same prints so that you can go with full length leggings or hot yoga shorts. Lucky. Some days I haven't defuzzed and fake tanned and as we know, those are NOT hot yoga short days. My new favourites? The GeoTech Hot Yoga Bra, Pyramid Hot Yoga Bra and Geo Tech Eco Leggings. They will be featured on my Instagram. Of course! Stay up to date with new products and offers on Facebook:     Eco Active @ Shift To Nature

And last but not least, of course, make sure you coordinate EVERYTHING because it's the small details that can make you smile mid-class, workout or meeting.
Whether you go all fancy with nail art of some wonderful geometric print or just black, just white or a combo - embrace the spirit. Obsessed with OPI Alpine Snow ($19.95 @ Myer)



Pointe Studio Grip Socks Giveaway

Barre babes rejoice! Christmas may be over, but the gift giving doesn't end for you.

I am thrilled to introduce you to Pointe Studio - a boutique barre, pilates, yoga and dancewear treasure box that also sells the most comprehensive range of patterned and coloured grip socks you can imagine!

From polka dots to stripes, pink, orange, grey and blue...you name it, it's there.
What's the benefit of grip socks?


  • No slip grip - perfect for pilates, yoga, barre and BodyBalance (also, the loungeroom)
  • Protects your feet in the cold and in airconditioned spaces
  • Hides the pedicure you didn't have
  • Ensures that if you moisturised the night before class, you won't be sliding around

I have 8 pairs to give away.

All you need to do is follow my Facebook and Pointe Studio.

Leave a comment here telling me where you'd wear your grip socks.

Cross your fingers!

Competition ONLY open to Melbourne residents. 


How to Stick To Your Workout


  • Dress For It
  • Prepare Tunes To Get You Ready and Keep You Going
  • Be Accountable (Make Friends, Go To Classes)
  • Set a Routine
  • Keep A Class Timetable in Your Bag, On Your Fridge

Pictured: Nike sneakers, Onzie tank top (black), Pointe Studio "Sanity Not Vanity" tank, Pointe Studio grip socks, Om Shanti leggings

Dress For It
Just as you have a wardrobe for your work life and your weekend life, you need one for your workouts. This isn’t something to dread! This is the really fun part. Everyone from Dotti and Supre to Chanel has workout options so you are spoilt for choice. Spend on workout gear that will last through lots of washes, plenty of stretching and sweating without losing colour, elasticity and shape. My favourites are perfect for yoga, pilates, barre, BodyPump and then running around town to meetings and chores.
We can’t all live in sneakers (I try, I really do) but since you’ll be wearing them day in, day out – buy ones you love and that suit your activity. I used to think the Nike Free were a great alternative to thongs but in fact, they are great for low-impact workouts like BodyPump, weights, elliptical trainer, Spin and so on. I order from Eastbay because there’s a zillion options to choose from and if you order two pairs at a time (or hook up with a friend who wants to order too) the postage is worth it. For really flattering fit and eye-grabbing prints, my fave brands for yoga and barre workouts are:
Onzie (LA based yoga brand that is spot on for fit, colour and prints)
Om Shanti (always gets me noticed - can't go out in these without someone asking about them! Great prints, great cut, eco friendly)
Pointe Studio (if you love barre, you need this brand. Grippy socks and cute slogan tank tops are a must - equally good for pilates and yoga)
BrasilFit (some say Italians Do It Better, but when it comes to leggings and bikinis, Brazilians Do It Better By Miles)
DharmaBums (Aussie, Chic, yoga gear for surfer girls)
and DivaFit Sportswear (because who doesn't need sparkly mermaid print leggings in their life?)

Keep an eye out for a Pointe Studio barre/yoga/pilates grippy socks giveaway!

Prepare Tunes To Get You Ready and Keep You Going
I love SoundCloud. As I’m gulping down coffee and responding to emails in the morning, I’m also madly seeking new music to power my own workouts and my classes. I share what I really love on my own SoundCloud profile 
Some mixes you can download, but there’s an endless number of streaming lists and stand alone tracks. You might also subscribe to Spotify or Pandora, Apple Music or Google Music. Whatever your predilection, stock up on tunes that you WANT to listen to. Don’t feel you need to listen to grinding, ear splitting drum n bass just because you think that’s what you’re meant to run to. I have racked up my best times listening to Hole, Faith No More and even ABC Radio National Breakfast.
Attach your music to you. Carrying your phone around is bound to end in either losing it or damaging it. One dropped dumbbell and bam.
While out shopping for a hands-free car kit for my phone (one fine later...), I discovered Belkin ALSO do kickass fitness accessories. I snapped up the new Fitness Belt and Armband for iPhone (what chance did I have of refusal? It comes in pink!). The belt is a good alternative if you don’t like wearing an armband while working out and vice versa. The bonus with the belt is that you can also put your locker key, car keys and ID cards in your belt and feel secure knowing your valuables aren’t vulnerable.
Do you need those fluffy, furry Dolce & Gabbana headphones? Probably not. Find headphones or those behind-the-ear hooks for your earphones to prevent them constantly dropping out (so frustrating mid-run/weights set).
Be Accountable
It took me years of gym time before my curiosity and desire for more diversity drove me into a group fitness class. As someone who prefers to workout alone, it was a revelation to walk into a class (feeling totally intimidated!) and find that about 10 people wanted to help me set up, whispered little tips when I was doing things that were easily fixed, and cheered me on when I got through the tougher tracks. This is what got me addicted to BodyPump and later provided the catalyst for me to train as a BodyPump instructor and become a group fitness devotee.
No matter whether you thrive in communal situations generally or you’re a lone wolf, there’s something really uplifting about being part of a united effort if only for an hour a few times a week. There’s so many options too – from CrossFit to Yin Yoga, Latin Dance to Animal Flow to the classics of Step Aerobics and BodyPump.
Be adventurous – resolve with a friend to try at least 3 new classes in a month. It might be how you discover a class you become hooked on for life.
The other great thing about classes is that if you go regularly for more than 2 weeks, you’re considered a regular and people will wonder where you are if you don’t show.
 Introduce yourself to the teacher. Teachers love knowing your name and your reason for coming.
Feeling really adventurous? What about enrolling in a short course of classes in trapeze, circus skills or martial arts? The beauty of searching on Google!
Set A Routine
There’s no ideal time to go to the gym that applies to every single person everywhere. Just as there is not a single workout style and length that is uniformly effective. That said, establishing a routine is the best way to ensure you maintain your workouts. Especially when you first start out, or you’re returning after a break, having a set time and place helps. How?
You don’t need to wait for that elusive motivation to appear. It doesn’t. You just do it. Sometimes it feels fantastic, sometimes it feels like a grinding horrible never ending lifetime of yuck. But you do it and if nothing else, you’ll feel accomplished afterwards.
You don’t need an expensive Training Diary or 20 Apps to track your workout, calories, mood, sleep, heartbeat, bowel movements and whatever. A simple weekly/monthly calendar where you pencil in the classes you’ll go to is ideal. Put reminders in Google Calendar to pop up an hour or so before your workout or class so you can get your water bottle, your sneakers on and your hair up.
Preparation is key.
Pictured: Goodies from my new obsession, Ricky's NYC - so much makeup. So New York.
Not everyone advocates makeup to the gym. That’s cool. It’s part of my routine for getting ready and having a routine to prepare puts you into the mindset of “this is my routine, whether I feel excited about it or dreading it.”
I get onto Soundcloud, put on whatever I feel like listening to, drink my coffee (make sure you leave half an hour between last coffee and starting your workout – tummy will thank you) and then when I am suitably caffeinated and emails have been responded to, I put on my foundation (very fussy about this – since I’m gonna be sweating, it MUST not make me break out or melt into my clothes!) and lip colour. If I’ve got another 5 minutes to spare, I go all out and brush bronzer and highlighter on too. Life is too short not to make use of all the colours. If you are a makeup junkie too – I recommend mineral makeup and using lip stains or long-lasting rather than goopy gloss. Since it’s likely to blur and go shiny – don’t overdo the bronzer, blusher or highlighter if you’re doing that. Just between you and me, Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse, Dior Star and L’Oreal Lumi Magique are safe bets for no spots and irritation during and post-workout.

Keep A Class Timetable in Your Bag, On Your Fridge
Do I need to explain this? I don’t think so... keep a printed copy on the fridge or pinned up behind your screen at work or at home. Circle the classes you can make. Look up timetables online. Keep links to them on your desktop or phone.
Reward Yourself and Don’t Deprive
Not with food.
I am utterly and entirely against linking workouts to food. It’s just not mentally healthy to “allow” yourself A,B,C foods because you did a certain type or amount of exercise. You will hear people doing this all the time. Don’t buy it.
Working out requires adequate fuel and if you want to feel good generally and look good too, eat a variety of foods in moderation and go for vegetables, fruit and lean meats, seafood or whatever your protein of choice is as your staples. Don’t think you need to give anything up that you really like. Not even the half a bag of jelly snakes at 3.30. Working out and being fit isn’t about depriving yourself and abstaining from anything joyful. Equally, it isn’t license to eat like you’ve been locked up and starved for the past 2 years.
If you’re totally bewildered at how to eat well for your body – see a dietitian. Find an accredited dietitian on the DietitiansAssociation of Australia site. 
Get a manicure – you’ll be seeing those nails a lot while you’re lifting dumbbells.
Get a massage – looking after your body is essential to your wellbeing.
Buy another pair of leggings. Can you ever have enough?
No.



Glad to Be Back From Phuket

I'm back! Or, as the pilot said on landing... "G'day".

I have had the wonderful opportunity to teach barre and flow yoga and also to do some personal training with men and women of all nationalities, ages and abilities.
While I admit, Phuket is not for me as a non-drinker with no interest in seeking massages, beer, manicures and $1 thongs and singlets daily, ever day. If this is your deal on holidays, you will love it. Beer, pedicures, massages until you collapse...perhaps from the heat, perhaps from the drinking.
Anyway, I digress.

Teaching yoga and barre to men who have never done it before and speak only French or Korean is not a piece of cake, but it was a fabulous challenge and one I really rose to. I had my class in perfect wide plies, pilates single leg extensions and Warrior 2 positions daily and it was incredibly satisfying! I was also able to schedule some one-to-one sessions and work on more difficult poses, or even perfecting squat and lunge technique.

I would recommend the opportunity to teach overseas - to challenge your cueing and sequencing, adaptability and demonstration skills - to any and all fitness instructors. It is a deep joy to discover that yoga, dance, barre, pilates and training in general are universal to a degree. Find the right WAY to show and explain - using hands-on and demonstration - and you'll discover new ways to teach and a new appreciation for the body and spirit.

In future, I would do more consideration of WHERE I was teaching and the rules, regulations and approach to classes and teachers. While I appreciated the great respect shown for my style and ability as a teacher, the approach to fitness was "whoever shows up, whatever they're wearing, they're paying guests so they can do the class".
While I was very fortunate to have committed and enthusiastic class members, I also had people wandering in with 4 toddlers "just wanting to watch" or dressed in jean shorts and filling in time before the bar opened.

I would also opt for somewhere I really wanted to explore and feel part of during my stay. I felt in my natural environs when travelling in Ubud and Barcelona recently and I would easily and enthusiastically teach in both cities again. The mix of architecture, artistic and expressive individuals, great food, coffee and vintage clothing and music boutiques, outdoor fresh fruit, veggies and seafood markets and sacred sites all in one big mix was so appealing.

Having said all that, again, the opportunity to teach to international participants and to make use of some very basic French and German (thankyou high school!) skills was fabulous. I also completely ignored my stern note to self: No More Ink. If you're in Phuket, I highly recommend Hanuman Tattoo Studio.

Fab Abs

I'm not going to spruik you bikini bodies or any of that crapola. The truth is, you need strong abs for life. They are essential in good posture, in maintaining your spine and hips and body in safe and optimum alignment for all activities (and at rest!).
The idea of "flat abs" is brilliant marketing, because it's not realistic for most people. That said, if you have a disproportionate amount of fat around the waistline, this can be a risk factor for diabetes, metabolic syndrome, PCOS and more.
No amount of planks or pilates will compensate if you are not eating well - that doesn't mean restriction and dieting (nasty cycle that will only make you feel awful!) but that you are aware of eating a decent serve of veggies (especially green), fruit (so many choices!), legumes, wholegrain carbs (love rye bread or wholegrain pasta) and lean protein (fish, skinless chicken, prawns, tofu).
This time of year it's tempting to overdo everything but try to keep your workout routine. Not just for the sake of your abs, but your sanity.
10 To 2
Lie on your back, pressing your whole spine into it. 
Slightly tuck the chin down to lengthen the neck and press the shoulders to the mat.
Raise both legs, pointing toes with a slight turn-out (like a mini plie) to the roof
Keeping legs pressed together, take them to the 10 o'clock position.
Centre, then direct legs to the 2 o'clock position.
Repeat x 10 each direction

Double Leg Extension
Again, press spine into the mat firmly.
Curl the shoulders up away from the mat and lift the knees over the hips.
Inhale to extend the arms and legs as straight as you can.
Exhale to return knees over hips and arms reaching for toes.
Repeat x 10 - 15
Single Leg Teaser
Lie on your back, knees bent with heels aligned with hips. Raise one leg with thighs parallel.
Inhale to prepare and reach the arms up.
Exhale to curl the shoulders up away from the mat and reach for the toes of the raised leg.
Inhale to curl back down (don't drop!)
Repeat 8 on each side

Plie with Elbow to Knee
Get into a wide plie position, making sure your knees are tracking toward your 2nd toe.
Knees aligned over the ankles.
Maintaining your lower body in perfect stillness, take fingertips to ears. 
Lower the elbow towards the knee then return to centre before reaching to other side.
Repeat 10 on each side

Single Leg Extension
Stand with feet hip distance apart.
Draw the belly button towards the spine and contract the shoulders to open the chest.
Maintaining the hips at the same level (don't hitch up on one side!), extend one leg back as you reach forward.
Hold for a count of 3.
Return to standing on one leg. 
Repeat 10 times each side
Beware: Don't twist at the hips! Think about maintaining the hip bones in the same direction at all times

Tabletop Elbow To Knee
On your hands and knees, with wrists directly under shoulders and knees under hips.
Draw belly button to spine and avoid arching the back or rounding up.
Lengthen the back of the neck and direct the crown of the head forward.
Extend alternate arm and leg to make a long straight line.
Hold for 2 seconds then bring elbow to knee in the centre.
Repeat 10 times each side


Dancer Had Double Hip Surgery at 24


Most of you know I had a mini hip replacement last year. Since then, I have met quite a few women - of all ages - who do my barre class with a hip replacement or post-hip surgery of some nature.

I have been very fortunate to teach Kathryn's mum weekly and when Kathryn came to my class, my first observance was that she obviously had dance training. She is super flexible, elegant and disciplined in her moves. Her alignment and technique are so impressive! Kathryn has had a double hip surgery and she's still in her mid-20s.

The beauty of modern hip replacements is that they are for life. No need to go back for "servicing"! And you can still move like a dream. I hope you find Kathryn's story inspiring and if nothing else, that you consider your hips today and thank them for all the things you can do because they work.


Cat: Can you explain what procedures you've had done on your hips?


Kathryn: I started with a physio at a pilates studio to help strengthen my muscles.
One doctor told me I just needed strength training, another sports doctor told me I would need bolts in my hips and put me on the highest dose of Voltaren for a few weeks. 
image from balletballetballet.tumblr.com
Mum wasn't happy with this, thank god, and found my current physio Amir. He suggested to get key hole surgery to tighten the damaged ligaments. My right hip was done first, and I also had to have a bit of bone shaved because it was protruding into my ligaments. And on my left, just had the tightening. 
After both surgeries, I went through 'rehab' strengthening the muscles in my bum which were extremely weak.


When did you first notice a problem and what was the process of diagnosis?


I used to dance but I stopped during year 12 (2009). I decided to take it up again the next year (2010). I initially thought the pain was just because I hadn't danced in a while but then it got to the point where I couldn't do anything without feeling pain. 


What was your fitness and activity routine like prior to surgery?


I used to dance regularly, and go to the gym on weekends. Not being able to do this was very hard. And being told by earlier doctors and physios that I would never be able to move properly again was horrible.
However when I met my surgeon, he reassured me I would get back to full function and I did :) (minus dancing)


I felt I gained a much greater appreciation for my body and my awareness of muscles and movement. Did you experience this, or were you already very aware?


I have so much more awareness of my body and what it can and can't take. Because I have shallow hip sockets which caused they think caused the damaged, I had a great deal of flexibility which I initially thought was normal. However after surgery, after them tightening my hips, it took me a while to get used to it and realise that it was more normal than what I felt before. 


Are there activities you avoid now as a result of surgery?

I avoid running (although this was part of my recovery), only because I don't like it. However the impact on concrete does effect me eventually.
I don't avoid anything I just may not go 'flat out' or to the full extent. For example, in standing lunges, that really deep bend in my hip as well as having to hold my body weight eventually impacts my hip. 
I still have to be careful and conscious of the muscles I use, because I know I still have a tendency to clench the front of my hip rather than activating my bum muscles.


Favourite places and teachers for yoga and pilates?

I go to One Hot Yoga for hot yoga, reformer pilates, and recently started hot mat pilates. All teachers there are great! 


(Cat's note: Check out One Hot Yoga!)

Favourite 3 yoga poses?

I don't do yoga as much as I used to because I'm loving reformer pilates. In pilates I love all the leg and ab stuff. 
In yoga, I like warrior 2, side plank, and pigeon pose


What would you tell anyone with a very active lifestyle (like us!) who may require this operation and feels fearful or confused about it?
It's such a scary thing to confront, especially being young. But I would recommend it to everyone, but also finding a physio and surgeon that will do what is best for you. I still have some pain sometimes, but no where near what I experienced before surgery. It's worth the few months of surgery then recovery for a future that doesn't involve a hip replacement!!