Quick Fix: Knee Injury

Wouldn't it be fun to come off a Vespa and have it land on my knee? Said Nobody, Ever.

Including me.

However, in the interests of not living a boring, unchallenging life, I headed off to learn how to ride a scooter. Seems, it had plans for me, which involved reminding me that a quick moving, heavy chunk of metal atop an engine can be extraordinarily heavy especially when it lands on your limbs.

The abridged version of the whole story is that I had a Vespa land on my knee and over the coming week, I continued to attempt to move on it and only made it more intensely sore and tender. Thankfully, I booked in with a physiotherapist near home and she went through a variety of tests to ensure nothing really dramatic had occurred. It was a lateral ligament stretched and my hyper-flexible right shoulder had sub-luxated. Apparently, due to a yoga injury over a decade ago, I regularly engage in sub-luxing my shoulder and my body awareness and ability to compensate ensures that it doesn't create impingement.

No wonder I go on and on about shoulder stability in classes.

Within two appointments, I've gone from walking and sitting in pain to being able to return to BodyPump (with plenty of modifications!), walking without issues and the bruising and swelling has gone down immensely. I am doing All The Things. In case you're wondering what All The Things are, here's my guide.

Fix My Injury STAT. I have no time or patience for this: the checklist.
Flexofytol


  • Book in with a physiotherapist. Make sure you feel confident with the person you're seeing though - if there's any doubts that they can help you, perhaps you'd be best to seek a referral to another practitioner either within the same practice or outside it. Don't be afraid to sever a relationship that doesn't feel right. I'm fortunate to have found a physiotherapist I really trust - knowing she has worked with elite athletes in the fields of football, gymnastics and dance really wins me over too. 
  • Do the at-home work. I know foam rolling and spiky ball and self-massage and the soda crystals and bandages are boring, but they're going to fix you. So just do it.
  • Use an all natural muscle rub. Sure, you could use highly medicated, expensive stuff like Voltaren and Nurofen gel but I assure you, I have had much better results with an all-natural, plant-based product my physiotherapist recommended and used in treatment. It's called Relievamed and it's made in Australia. It smells like eucalyptus and ginger. Totally calming.
  • Take curcumin supplements to prevent and treat inflammation. There's clinical evidence that supports the regular intake of curcumin supplements, especially in the treatment of arthritic pain. Any injury that results in muscle and joint swelling and pain, or even digestive bloating and discomfort, can be alleviated and prevented with good quality supplements. I take Flexofytol, which is high strength, fast absorbing and Australian made. Totally clean and pure, and leaves zero after-taste. Two  a day is perfectly enough.
  • Find other ways to move and train that don't further inflame your injury. I love to move. It is my physical and my mental health therapy! While it isn't ideal to have an injury, of course, in fact it can push you to get creative and find other ways to train that don't involve your usual routine methods. This is good. Embrace it.

Hair And Scalp Health: Preventing thinning, Repairing Damage. The Tried & Tested Products

hair health scalp health coloured hair damage repair

I've always had a wild mane of LOTS of hair, but it's quite thin and prone to breakage. I'm also prone to an itchy, irritated scalp. Training daily, putting my head on foreign yoga mats and a habit of touching and playing with my hair all make it much worse!

There's a zillion and two hair brands and products all on the shelves right now that claim to treat dandruff, soothe a sensitive scalp, make hair grow longer, halt thinning and more. But how many of them are legit? I can't honestly answer, because I don't have the time or funds to trial a zillion and two things. But I do try a lot of hair products and I only stick with what I genuinely find works for my hair. I have naturally red-brown brunette hair, curly and dry. It's a pain in the butt to style and I insist on dyeing it all the colours (that's my latest "do" below) so it's even more in need of conditioning treatments and care than most.

VIVISCAL

For the past year, I've been taking Viviscal supplements daily. I tend to notice a much greater impact on my nails than my hair, but I have certainly noticed considerably less split ends and the strands appear to be a little thicker than before. Jennifer Aniston swears by it and it has multiple clinical trials to back up its effectiveness so it certainly can't do any harm to try it.

DIET

healthy hair diet plant based
The key to a healthy hair and scalp is much more internal than external. In addition to any supplements, you need to ensure you're consuming adequate quality proteins like beans, legumes, tofu and tempeh if you're vegan or organic beef, fish and eggs if you're not. A rainbow of vegetables and fruits, plus B vitamin rich carbs will also feed your hair, scalp and skin generally.

I eat a super colourful, varied vegan diet with plenty of healthy fats and proteins (tempeh, tofu and veggie burgers plus a vegan protein powder in my smoothies). I have also been washing my hair every 3 to 4 days because too often strips the hair of its natural oils and leaves it damaged and prone to further breakage. I also try to leave it out when I'm not training so that I don't pull it at the roots constantly (traction damage).

TREATMENTS

There's four brands I recommend and their particular ranges that work for my hair. I tried each for several weeks to be sure I saw measured improvement in my hair. The products you don't see listed made a lot of promises and yet, they left my hair greasy, or my scalp was itchy a day later, or they stripped my hair of any moisture and left it brittle. Here's the gold medallists.

alfaparf hair scalp hair growth reconstruction

Alfaparf Milano Reconstruction Range

The whole goal of the Reconstruction range was to protect hair against environmental damage, including pollution and harsh styling regimes. It's perfect for my hair because it also enhances coloured hair and prevents fading. The whole range is formulated with bamboo marrow to strengthen the hair fiber. I won't lie - the deep marine green colour is super chic and displaying it on my bathroom shelf makes me happy. Thankfully it also smells divine and actually leaves my hair really smooth and shiny. It's much easier to dry and straighten and so far, my purple and pink colour has stayed strong. I use the shampoo followed by the masque and one ampoule of the treatment every week. I also use the leave-in serum after styling.
Find the range here.

After using the shampoo and hair mask, my bright purple colour was exactly as bright as it was on the first day. My hair dried smooth and soft too, as opposed to the Kramer-like fuzz I sometimes deal with.


green people vegan organic haircare cruelty free

Green People Organic Irritated Scalp Range


Quinoa in my shampoo? Sure. If Green People says it's the way to go, I'm all for it. It makes sense. It's rich in protein, vitamins and minerals which are all elements the hair needs. I swear by the Irritated Scalp Shampoo and Conditioner. They're certified organic, vegan and cruelty free. Lavender and rosemary naturally soothe an itchy scalp and there's no toxic scents or preservatives. It's perfect for adults but also really good for kids, especially if typical hair products cause scalp irritation or itchiness.

Less Is More organic haircare scalp protein natural hair

Less Is More (Organic and Natural)

Just like Green People, Less Is More is all about a natural, gentle approach to scalp and hair care. The products are all organic, with gorgeous minimal packaging. The big selling point, apart from how genuinely good they are for my hair, is how divine the scents are! I use Chitinspray daily - it smells like a citrus garden with hints of rose and aloe vera. Totally heavenly. Flower Whip is a mix of orange, rose, ylang ylang and aloe - a styling cream that I work into my hair when it's wet and just leave to dry. Perfect for warmer weather. The Herbal Tonic and Protein Spray are ideal for both soothing my scalp and the Protein Spray in particular for after I've had my hair bleached and coloured. 


Beauty Treatments To Heal Summer Skin Breakouts & Make Your Skin Glow

heal breakouts summer skin glow
Did you go hard with the partying, drinking, merriment over New Years? I didn't. But nonetheless, here I am in this ridiculous 30 degrees and upward heat of Melbourne, not idling in air conditioned office space but happily trundling off to Hot Yoga or walking instead of taking the tram.

All of this has an impact on the skin. Fortunately, much research has proven that at any age, exercise strengthens and fortifies the skin from the very deepest layer of the dermis to essentially create "young", naturally radiant skin. There is a catch though - not all exercise is beneficial. Just like healthy food is good for you, even too much of it is...too much. So, while short bursts of high intensity training are good, doing over 45 minutes of intensive training on regular occasions will deplete the skin and body. Especially if that training is outdoors in the elements.

Some people like to get a manicure as their luxury treat-to-self but I'm much more into having my face kneaded with delicious smelling things or having all the nasties sucked right out of it with high powered machines. If it's going to make my skin clear and glowy, bring it on! I've done the hard work for you and tried and tested stuff. Here's the essential treatments in Melbourne and skincare to know now.
natural beauty therapist melbourne

Belinda Hughes is an award-winning organic beauty therapist. She is an absolute master face massager. I was sceptical, to be honest, the first time I saw her over a year ago. Could natural, organic skin products applied gently without a whole lot of high powered lights and lasers and harshness really impact my skin? Turns out, yes.
There's not many occasions when I'm totally bare-faced but after Belinda massaged and cleansed and masked me, my skin was so dewy and fresh and there was zero puffiness around my eyes: I felt absolutely confident with not a skerrick of concealer. I mean, for the rest of the day! I have a tendency to get spots after a facial too, but nothing. Total clarity and dewiness. The key is that Belinda doesn't apply the same treatment and products to everyone. She is an expert at analysing, suggesting and then making the magic happen. Her latest development is the Matcha Treatment. I have used a matcha face mask in the past and nothing tightens my skin like that fabulous green powder. It's like an antioxidant powerhouse. If you are conscientious of sustainable, ethical skincare and products and you have concerns around your skin, I cannot recommend Belinda enough. You can find her via her website, Facebook and Instagram.

claire francoise microhydrodermabrasion

If you have never had Microbrasion with the added benefit of water (hydrabrasion), you have never known the joy of a magic wand exfoliating all the dead skin cells and blockages right off your face, literally. It's fantastic. I have seen Claire for infrared laser and also for skin needling in the past. To meet Claire, with her radiant, clear skin and cut-glass cheekbones, is to know you are in expert hands. This is a woman who takes her skin, and your skin, very seriously. Microhydrabrasion is painless and quite relaxing. The skin is thoroughly cleansed before the wand is applied over the face. Two days later, my skin looks and feels 100% smoother. A few spots I had before the treatment have cleared up too.
Claire Francoise clinic is based on High Street, Prahran and fortunately, you're a simple walk from several amazing cafes, plus a great fruit and veggie store and a whole lot of vintage clothing places. What's not to love? Make a booking via the website, Facebook and Instagram.

makeup to get the glow

Time to glow. After the facial, the microdermabrasion, the skincare that is going to keep your pores clean and clear... that's when the makeup comes into play. As a teenager with terrible acne for a few years, I relied on makeup to conceal, cover, hide. Now, I respect that makeup can be used to enhance great skin and features. Rather than rely on makeup to hide, focus much more on skincare and establishing routines and a lifestyle that protect and nourish your skin. I always find that a diet rich in protein and exercise that is moderate without being excessive and tiresome is the best way to master a natural glow. I'm completely loving the lavender, fresh, pink-based tones right now. Could it be that Valentine's Day is approaching? Or just that I love a fresh, playful pink any time of the year?
Both.
Any excuse.
I'm loving the new MAC Next To Nothing foundation, which gives a sheer coverage so that your natural skin just looks smoother and more even with a dewy glow. If you've got a few post-hot-yoga spots (a small price to pay for enlightenment!) then dot on some MAC Studio Waterweight concealer.
Contour your cheeks (aim for the centre of the cheek, right under the pupil of each eye and brush upwards towards the top of the ear) with shades of blossom but keep a light touch. You want to look a little flushed, not as if you've been slapped. I am loving ZOEVA Blush Palette in Pink Spectrum. Try a combination of MAC Lavender Jade (purple/pink) with nude, coffee coloured ZOEVA Pure Lacquer in Strong Career.I like to use the darker shade as a base with a pop of deeper pink that allows the outline of beige to remain. 

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).




The Free Apps & Tools I Use

Free Apps For Content Makers

There is no debate over this. If you don't have a digital space where you communicate your work, your ideas, your services and how to get in contact with you, then you aren't being realistic about what it takes to run your own business. If you think you don't HAVE a business, then you're wrong. As long as you have knowledge, experience and something to express, teach or offer, then you have a business.

It took me much longer than I desired it to, but I finally organised my own website last year. My site CatWoods.me is home to information on Ballet Sculpt, my writing portfolio, my blog, my business as a content creator and my podcast. It also enables people to communicate directly with me and also links to my social media platforms. I designed it using Squarespace, which is super simple to use and enables you to embed existing content from blogs to podcasts, YouTube and so on. It makes the process of choosing a domain name and publishing your site simple for non tech people.

I use Canva to edit and create images for my website, social media, blog and and events. It is an easy-to-use layout with drag and drop function. Again, you don't need to be a whizz to choose a template then add your own elements. Canva has a new function in enabling video editing (great for Instagram short videos!).

I use Mailchimp to create email newsletters. Like Canva, this is a simple template-based site where you can choose how you want your end product to look and then take your own images and content (video, audio, text) and drop it in the right places. When you're done, you can track how people interact with it from how many people open it, to how many people click on the links and also, how many people unsubscribe! You can also choose whether to send the newsletter to a select group from your email contacts or to an entire list. You can have multiple lists. So perhaps, you have a list for the yoga participants who you want to update about your workshops for the month, and you also have a list of friends and family who you need to update about your travel plans.

I use Audacity and Voice Recorder to make my podcasts and my music comes from Creative Commons, where artists specify how they'd like their work to be credited when you use it and whether there are any limitations or restrictions around how their work is used (ie. only for personal use, or only for commercial use where they are openly credited).

I use Issuu to publish my work as PDFs that are readable online and this is also a great way to ensure your articles are stored somewhere beyond your hard drive.

Need a fancy new font and Helvetica just isn't rocking your boat any more? I go to DaFont. Icons are at DryIcons

When you need some creative inspiration or a tutorial, try Creative Bloq

If you would like me to set up your website for you, assisting with content creation, or even setting up your podcast or YouTube channel, let's talk. You can reach me via the form on my website.




Cut The Caffeine - Why & How

You get up, you have a coffee. Maybe two.
Midway through the working morning, everyone else is having one so why not? It's the communal thing to do. Then maybe one with lunch or even mid afternoon to fight the fuzzy head.

Ultimately, by early evening, you have had anything from 3 to 6 coffees and if you're like me, you feel totally normal, but this is your body on caffeine. It adapts, despite this being a natural drug. A stimulant.

Look, I'm not big on New Year resolutions, but anything that wakes us up and makes us change a habit that is long overdue for change is very welcome. For me, the coffee dependency has to be challenged. Mind you, I'm not going cold turkey! That morning coffee is my kickstart and I'm keeping it. It's the afternoon or even post-dinner coffee (guilty) that really has to go.

I'm not being cruel here - I'm not saying DON'T DRINK COFFEE, WATER IS GOOD. Even though is is. I'm saying, cut the coffee down to one or two a day as a challenge for two weeks. Line up your alternatives and have them at the ready for when you get antsy for a coffee fix. Here's the alternatives and also the reasons you want to join me on the #TwoWeekCoffeeCut


  1. You'll save money. Whatever arguments you come up with (but it's free at work, I buy in bulk, etc, you will still come out on top)
  2. You'll prove to yourself you can break a habit. This is powerful. You build muscles to resist habits and you can flex these muscles again and again
  3. Your hormonal regulation and balance will reset. Caffeine amps up your cortisol level, which not only makes you feel flighty and stressed, but also plays a part in weight gain, anxiety and overall energy. For all that caffeine makes you feel like you can fly, there's an inevitable falling.
  4. Your sleep will improve. This isn't a quick-fix! It will take time for your body to flush the caffeine and adapt to your new habits. Even if you fall asleep at 10pm like a baby, if your caffeine habit is regular, chances are that you wake up throughout the night or feel restless in the early hours.
  5. Lower blood pressure. Your heart won't be working on the double, drugged up on coffee, so your blood pressure will naturally lower. You'll feel calmer.
  6. Weight maintenance. If your coffee comes with a few sugars and milk (or any other fancy flavour additions), these add up if you're doing it several times a day. Studies have proven that sugar & caffeine together make for a potent addiction. 
  7. Cutting preservatives and toxins. Not so much in the organic, fair trade java you buy from your bearded barista each day, but if you have a lust for energy drinks, be aware that they are choc-full of nasty chemicals for flavour and the energy kick (whether it's the full or diet version). Carbonated caffeinated drinks will leave you both anxious, buzzing and also bloated and lethargic.
  8. Happy teeth. A constant coffee habit will inevitably stain your teeth and weaken the enamel. Even if you have an expensive dental whitening, then return to coffee, you'll only be weakening your enamel with a whole load of chemicals and caffeine in unison. Lay off the coffee and amp up your water and milk intake (whatever type of milk you're into).
  9. Happy kidneys and happy bones. Calcium is leached from your bones when you drink caffeine and your kidneys work overtime to flush it out of your system. Not only is calcium vital for strong bones but it is also vital in muscular contractions, enabling you to lift strong, run hard and build muscle.
  10. Discover healthy ways to up your vitamin and minerals & get a natural glow. If you have a green juice or a watermelon juice, or herbal tea instead of coffee, over time you'll find your complexion is much clearer and your hair and skin respond to less caffeine and thus less hormonal and physiological stress. Do it for your face.

  1. Organic herbal tea. My pick is Melbourne based tea gurus, The Loose Lips Tea Co. Everything from sencha green tea to special blends to aid in anxiety, sleeplessness and skin trouble. In the heat of Melbourne summer, I like to make a strong brew then allow it to cool and refrigerate for iced tea. 
  2. Watermelon juice. Throw some chunks of watermelon into a blender and whizz into pink, juicy yumness. Perfect to put into a large thermos for hot days, whether you're on the beach or in the office.
  3. Ginger Beer. Need I say more? If you have a tendency, like I do, to not stop at one, you might want to take my lead and buy the diet version. Keep in mind though, all carbonated drinks are going to make you bloated and damage tooth enamel so keep it to the occasional indulgence!
  4. Vegetable smoothies/juice. An ideal way to get a solid vitamin dose while also staying hydrated, I recommend adding as many greens as possible. I'm not a big fan of kale, but spinach, cucumber, celery with a sweetness hit from carrot and beetroot are always a winner. Add a big chunk of ginger if you like a bit of a zing (who doesn't?)
  5. Kombucha. Whether you make it yourself or buy it (and there's loads of great options in health food stores and at markets), kombucha is a fermented drink that strengthens your gut lining and aids in promoting good bacteria for immune and digestive health.
  6. Milk. Dairy, almond, soy, oat, coconut...whatever you fancy. Ultimately, I recommend going for a milk that has high calcium because your bones and muscles need it. Some almond milks are calcium enhanced - you can always do comparisons using the nutrition table on the back of bottles or cartons. Dairy milk has the highest calcium, and almond and soy milk with higher calcium are good options, but everything else is pretty unimpressive. 
What's are your tips for laying off the coffee? Can you commit to a maximum of two coffees a day before 2pm? Join me - share your tips on instagram, twitter and facebook using #TwoWeekCoffeeCut
The Loose Lips Tea Co Sencha Tea




Music For Yoga Practice

I am an unashamed lover of Om Aloha on Soundcloud. By the way, are you following me? Do It Now.
In the meantime, have a listen to Dances of Unity - sure, it's an  ideal soundtrack for practicing your headstand, but it also doubles nicely for writing articles (everyday), tuning out your co-workers (occasionally) or responding to emails (every hour!)

Nourish - Two Superfood Salads to Love

From my new cookbook of choice, Nourish by Amber Locke (published by Mitchell Beazley, $24.99), two recipes that you can add to your lunch or dinner repertoire. Excellent for a solo meal or make it for family, friends or the workmate who has the same, boring ham and cheese sanga every day. 

Edamame Bean Salad Vegan

Edamame beans are young soya beans that are picked before they start to harden so they’re tender and fresh – a bit like young broad beans. They’re a great source of protein and are a general all-round nutritional super-food, and are particularly beneficial in a vegan diet.
They’re combined here with poppy seed-specked avocado and served on a bed of matchstick carrots (I’ve used purple, orange and yellow carrots).

Any citrus or creamy dressing, or the spicy Rose Harissa Dressing would work well with this salad.

  • 3–4 large carrots, scrubbed or peeled
  • 1–2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons poppy seeds
  • 300g (10½oz) shelled edamame beans
  • dressing of choice

Cut the carrots into fine matchsticks (there’s no need to peel them if they are organic) using a mandolin or julienne peeler, or coarsely grate them – they’ll taste just as good. Place them in a serving bowl.
Halve, peel and remove the stones of the avocados, then cut the flesh into large chunks. Put the avocado chunks in a bowl and lightly coat in the poppy seeds.
Place the edamame and avocado on top of the carrots, pour over the dressing of your choice and mix well to combine.

Protein boost...
Seared, poached or barbecued salmon goes well with this salad. Cooked, shredded tofu also an option.

Mango Beetroot Kale Radish Salad

For this salad you can either chop the kale finely or break it into pieces and massage it in the mango dressing. It can get a bit messy, but tastes delicious! I’ve cut the yellow beetroot and pink watermelon radishes into decorative shapes for the photograph, but slice, grate or shave them as you prefer. If you’d like to serve a dressing with this salad then I recommend the Orange Vinaigrette (see page 127).

  • 2 large bunches of kale
  • 2 teaspoons cold-pressed extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 ripe mangoes
  • 1 large raw yellow beetroot, scrubbed or peeled
  • 1 large watermelon radish or 5–6 regular radishes, trimmed
  • Orange Vinaigrette (optional)

Tear the leafy parts of the kale away from the stems (save these for juicing) and remove any tough veins in the leaves. Tear the leaves into 2.5–5cm (1–2in) pieces and place in a large bowl.
Anoint the kale leaves in the olive oil and start to massage and scrunch them with your fingers. It will take a while for the leaves to yield but they will gradually start to soften and become more pliable and tender. They’re done when they feel silky soft.
Peel and stone the mangoes. If the mangoes are really ripe it’s a good idea to massage them into the kale as they may be difficult to cut up neatly. Simply mush them up with your hands and get going.
Slice, grate or shave the beetroot and watermelon radish, or cut into decorative shapes and scatter them over the salad just before serving.
Pour over the orange vinaigrette, if using.





Winter Wellbeing: Body, Hair & Face

As you know - or will come to know - I get excited at anything that sparkles, glows, emanates colour, smells beautiful, looks amazing... whether it's eyeshadow, yoga pants, organic coconut oil, if it's divinely presented and a joy to use, I'm all for it.

Now that Winter Is Here, it's time to ease up on the self tanning if you're so inclined and instead to slather on moisturiser under your socks and sleeves. If, like me, heavily over heated rooms and shops really play havoc with your sinuses, I totally recommend Xlear. I discovered it at a health foods store but it's also in Priceline and other pharmacies. No steroids, no nasties, all natural and it clears up and moisturises at the same time. Alternatively, saline spray might be your best friend.

Life is short, and you only get one, so use all the good things and indulge yourself in beauty and wellness rituals that revive your body and your spirit. Sometimes it's the tiniest luxuries that remind you there are simple joys to be had every single day.

Eminence Coconut Body Firming Lotion is a richly scented, creamy lotion that is perfect for winter. Rather than disguising your scaly little limbs under full length leggings all winter, get out of your steamy shower and smear this all over. Then go forth into your day or night, knowing you are channelling some tropical summer vibes of your own.

I've just had my hair lightened to a very pale blonde ombre at the ends so it is super sensitive and dry. Because I refuse to give up on sleek, smooth and straight, I have to do all the things. Here's my advice regardless of whether you have coloured hair or not:
  • Use a heat-protection spray or leave-in product
  • Don't use the same old straightening irons you've been using for years (they're too hot!)
  • Invest in quality hair care and high tech stylers if you use them regularly (I have recently discovered 100% Australian EVY iQ styler. Never going back - this is the best!)
  • Wash twice a week and use a masque once a fortnight or more often if needed

My Muscle Chef Food Delivery for Fitness Foodies

I'm no stranger to food delivery services and I've had the good, the bad and the ugly (ahem, see last post on food delivery experience!). My Muscle Chef is one I've returned to twice since my initial order and the only one I've actually returned to wholeheartedly. I can honestly affirm that they are always bang on time with delivery, notifying the night before via SMS to remind us forgetful types, and every single meal tastes freakin' amazing.

Since they began, the plant based and vegan options for meals has expanded and I can swear by the green curry tofu and brown rice. I could eat that at every meal for weeks and not crave anything else. There's a real misconception that if you want to maintain a fit, lean, athletic body you need to restrict and retreat from anything enjoyable. That's about as old-school as leotards, legwarmers and headbands in an aerobics class.

What joy would there be in living to 100, strong, fit and flexible, if you were counting out the almonds and turning down invitations to dinner and dessert? Food is not purely a fuel. It's a source of nourishment the same way that movement, nature, studying, work and relationships nourish. And just as any relationship comes down to quality over quantity, finding the right balance and knowing what works for you, so you need to find foods that you love to eat, have the nutrients that keep your body energised and satiated, that are available and affordable.
plant based muscle food

I'm a big fan of having staple meals that you can always rely on - even if you only learn to make 4 things in your life - there's always small ways to vary those meals by adding herbs or changing the condiments you use or the brand of rice or fish or lentils!

The real beauty of a meal delivery service - beyond having every meal perfectly portion controlled (for those who could easily polish off three servings without pause... ahem!) - is that I'm challenged to try new flavours and combinations I wouldn't necessarily put the time and effort into creating myself. Salmon and brown rice with a mushroom sauce, for example. Vegetarian frittata. Tofu curry. I'm inspired to crack open one of the zillion recipe books I own and keep on turning my meals into a rainbow of colours and flavours.

If you're thinking that food delivery is a luxury you can't possibly justify, then see it more as an investment in expanding your flavour and taste repertoire for life. Think of this as one week where you readjust your palate to desire and crave nutritious foods like tofu and brown rice, to anticipate the spicy curry sauce or veggie stew you'd never bother to make for yourself. Think about what you normally spend on all the raw, unprocessed ingredients throughout a week and how many snacks or wasted food you throw money at. Then decide whether having portion-controlled, easy to heat-and-serve meals for one week is actually not such an indulgence at all.
Check out My Muscle Chef.

Blonde - the magazine

I'm in the midst of my blonde ombre transformation via hairdresser extraordinaire, Mariah at Hairhouse Warehouse. My barre and yoga classes have been lucky enough to see the various stages of yellowness on the way to being a clean blonde. I'm definitely keeping my dark roots though - this is how this look becomes sustainable without constant bleaching and maintenance. Even when my hair has grown out in a few years, I'll still have super light ends. To maintain, lots of hair masks and definitely use a purple-based shampoo and conditioner (Redken Blonde Idol) to avoid brassiness from pollution and tap water. I imagined up the magazine I'd want to read for inspo. What do you think? Could it be the new Vogue?
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre
platinum blonde ombre

Instructing Versus Teaching: Delivering Lessons That Last Beyond Class

In over 12 years of group fitness training and personal training, I have come to recognise the vital role an instructor can play in delivering lessons that go beyond the hour you spend with students. It is the difference between instructing while holding attention for a single class, and delivering knowledge that lasts a lifetime.
A teacher has many opportunities throughout class, and via social media, newsletters, online videos and digital channels, where they can sow a seed of curiosity, build a relationship with students and instil appreciation for our bodies. Instructors can also play a part in cultivating mental strength and resilience, the ability to take ownership of our fitness, and our cognitive processes around movement, mobility and endurance.

After two recent classes, the highly skilled and highly respected teachers admitted to me that they worried they may have spoken too much or used anatomical terms or energetic cues that might be “too much” for participants. In fact, I have learned that many – perhaps all – students attend group fitness classes because they ARE curious about their own bodies, they ARE passionate about movement and fitness; they want to know more. People don’t necessarily need to understand the myofascial system or the insertion and origin of muscles to fully appreciate when you tell them to work the full range of a muscle or give a cue regarding physical or energetic systems of the body (ie: in yoga, relating the breath or areas of the body to their spiritual or traditionally held beliefs around where emotions are held or the spiritual aspects of breath relating to movement).

Spark curiosity.

Sow a seed that enables the curious students to consider. Don’t be afraid to share what you know and to do so confidently and invite interest.
There will always be instructors who have 10 years more experience than you. There will always be instructors who are labelled “Master” instructors in what they do, but that doesn’t mean your experience and knowledge and particular approach is not relevant, meaningful and impactful. When you enter the room as an instructor, you are charged with the responsibility and credibility to teach what you believe is right and valid. Just as in any discipline from quantum physics to medicine to sculpture, there are constant discoveries and developments so it is only natural that there are differences between teachers as to approach and ideas.  As long as you can explain the what, how and why, you are doing your job.
fitness instruction inspiration

What: The movement, sequence or pose (ie. Wide squat)
How: The cues, alignment and technique (ie. Stand with heels outside hips, sit weight back and down with knees wide)
Why: The purpose and benefit of the move (ie. To work the glutes, postural chain of muscles, engage strong thighs and challenge core strength and raise the heart rate)
Think about your role as a value proposition. There are thousands of instructors who could teach under the same label (yoga, pilates, BodyPump, step, etc) but what experiences have you had, and what particular strengths and interests can you share and communicate with your class? Have you rehabilititated your body after an injury? Have you found a particular cue or mental focus during exercise really invigorates and motivates your own activity? Share that. Students want to connect with you. Let them!

Think of different classes as being like different languages. While each language, from Japanese to Inuit, has its own rhythm, sound, cadence and calibre there are universal laws of communication. Listen to the people you’re speaking to, measure your expression and delivery for your audience, consider what your body language says just as much as what you’re saying, and pay attention to the timing, volume and message of your words and actions.

Find the right balance though and take into consideration the different venues and classes you take. There is definitely no place for “over-sharing” or giving lectures as if it’s an Anatomy 101 class, unless of course you are taking a specific workshop or advanced class that is prepared and open to this sort of teaching. Consider context and circumstances, always.
There is a balance to be found between giving the standard instructions (timing, direction, alignment) and then building the blocks that really deepen the effectiveness of your teaching and the actual structure and sequence of your class.

This is where you develop your teaching beyond the a) What; and
b) How;
to explain the essential Why.

Why does a particular pose or sequence work? Which muscles are being activated and what role do they play both in the class and then in life? Why does it matter to have strong glutes?
Armature Pilates owner, Pilates teacher trainer and herself an instructor, Stephanie Glickman identifies an “ability to keep a large and diverse group  moving and in good form with attentive and individual correction” as a skill key to memorable and inspiring instructors.
“It’s important that an instructor is able to give constructive feedback and cueing because they have a good eye, not just saying “good work” all the time...but giving corrections that the client wouldn’t get elsewhere,” she elaborates.

The key to having a good eye can come back to having a strong commitment to your job but also, importantly, your own personal practice and experience.
Good instructors “have their own solid personal practice and commitment to what they are teaching; they truly know and understand the work in their bodies themselves,” Glickman says.

She nominates the following qualities as those that make a teacher stand out from the rest:
  • relates to clients personally - knows everyone's names, asks how they are, remembers their "issues" and injuries and is attentive to them; goes up to clients they don't know and talks to them, finds out about who they are and what they need
  • technically clear and accurate cueing, not too complex to be confusing but still challenging exercises
  • considered pace and control of exercises throughout class
  • programming that considers participants' weaknesses, make them do things they need but may not like
  • a mix of giving the clients what they need and what they want
  • making clients feel good about themselves and excited to come back to class
  • friendly, nice, humble, not rude, pretentious or precious

Glickman also emphasises the importance of knowing your own strengths and interests so that you can master what you’re especially good at rather than trying to cover all the bases or mimic other instructors. Her essential lessons for instructors seeking to elevate their “instructor” role to “Teacher” as follows:
  • Find your own "thing"/style/way of teaching and just stick to that and keep improving on that; don't be pressured to follow fads or trends
  • err on the side of solid basics rather than high complexity and try to extract the best from your clients without over cueing or correcting them or making them feel overwhelmed
  • have your "set" things that you know work that you can always draw on and then add to that more creative  or different things
  • have some jokes up your sleeve
  • don't wear low waist leggings and demonstrate cat stretch - embarrassing wardrobe malfunction!




Fit Fuel Home Delivery : Thr1ve meals

fit food home delivery Thr1ve

This isn't the first time I've explored meal delivery services to support and encourage eating portion controlled and nutritionally balanced meals.
Why would a trainer and instructor, with thorough knowledge of how to buy, prepare and plan healthy, delicious meals opt to have them delivered to me? For several reasons.
Despite having enough recipe books to build a small community library, and also having the time to prepare meals, I often find that I fall into routines of eating the same meals, day after day after day. It's boring.
It can also be easy to opt for making the same, boring meals I know when I don't have the incentive of preparing meals for anyone other than myself!
lean protein no gluten thr1ve vegetarian meals

Here is where Thr1ve has come to my rescue. I first saw the promotions for Thr1ve at the fitness centre I work at. Curious and dreading the inevitable dinner that would be exactly the same dinner I ate lastnight and the night before, I looked up the website. The founder of Thr1ve is the entrepreneurial fitness and fashion industry veteran, Josh Spark. This is a man who knows how to move, live and eat fit. Goal. I also looked through the menu and thought, I WANT to eat that, and that...and definitely that. Goal two. It could all be delivered to my door without fuss. Triple goals. Sold!

Now, there are various plans to opt for but here is the approach I took. I have ordered a 7-day week of meals along with probiotic water to support digestion. My prime goals are:
balanced macronutrients with wholefoods, plants and lean protein as the prime ingredients!



  • flavour rich, simple meals that I can be inspired to recreate in my own kitchen on an ongoing basis
  • well proportioned meals - tiny frozen blocks that are masquerading as lunch and dinner are a no go. I won't be sitting around watching netflix all day so I need food that fuels my active life
  • FRESH, non-frozen meals ready to eat (Thr1ve is one of the rare meal delivery services that delivers food freshly made, non-frozen so that if you don't get through it in the 7 days from delivery, you can choose to freeze it yourself)

My Thr1ve options are also intended to maintain my weight but for anyone who has a tendency to eat high-carb, multi-servings or excessive portions or desserts, you'll lose weight on these meals (if you're not eating extra meals between the planned meals!).

The Thr1ve meals are paleo and ketogenic friendly.

What's a ketogenic diet? High in protein and fats, low in carbohydrates and gluten free.

As you all well know, I do not advocate for strict diets of any nature. While I see the health benefits of kickstarting a healthy approach to meal planning and nutritious eating with a low-sugar, minimally processed food approach, it is not ideal to maintain a high-protein, low carbohydrate diet in the long term. While some fitness and bodybuilding fanatics will swear black and blue the ketogenic diet is the ultimate way to eat, the high protein and fat content is violently unhealthy on the liver and kidneys and the extreme lack of complex carbohydrates (brown rice, wholewheat bread or pasta, fruits) can cause fatigue, lethargy, poor function of the nervous and hormonal system.
Thr1ve vegetable frittata meal delivery
Fortunately, Thr1ve meals are well balanced to include smart, wholefood carbohydrates with thorough nutritional density (brown rice, quinoa, root vegetables, potato) and even the classic Atkins' diet advocated eating sweet potato, moderate servings of fruit and complex carbs after the initial week or so of high protein meals. The meals I've opted for, and the meals generally, are moderate carbohydrates, lean and moderate protein and low-fat. As a healthy-fats advocate (they promote vitamin absorption, hormonal balance and appetite fulfilment!) I have been adding sweet potato and raw cashews and almonds to my meals but you must read your own appetite and decide what you want to add. Unless you're trying to shed weight, you'll want to be adding smart snacks between meals as they are small serves.

Disclaimer: Of 14 meals (over a 7 day trial) FOUR meals went rancid by the fourth day and had to be thrown out. The "fresh greens" in two more also went bitter, flaccid and were inedible. I let Thr1Ve know and they made the excuse they were new to the meal delivery business and offered no remedy. Hopefully this issue is resolved but be warned.

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.

Plant Based Food Melbourne

Plant Based Food Melbourne

There's so many places for great food and great vibes in Melbourne. If you're vegan, vegetarian, gluten, lactose intolerant, paleo, raw, any and all of the above or NONE of the above, you will find options that cater to you and do so with flavour, joy and generosity.

Herewith, and I must confess I haven't tried all of them, are some great finds in Melbourne. Some I have dined at, some I am YET to dine in, but all of them come highly recommended by friends, colleagues and fellow Melburnians.

I'm also going to give a shout-out to my raw food workshop on February 7 at Kotch Lane Cafe in St Kilda. For $45 you get a handbook, goodie bag of products, entry to a doorprize, hands-on raw food meal making, and the fun of being in a group of curious, inspired people.
Plant Based Food Melbourne

Fed Up Project
South Melbourne


Good food, local produce. This relative new-comer is a haven of nutritious and yummy offerings located right near the South Melbourne market so you can dine and then be inspired to go and buy your own ingredients. OR you can walk in circles around the market to build up an appetite and then go nourish your body and soul. Visit Fed Up Project.

Uncle & Jak
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

Easy parking, yes please. This is a menu that doesn't turn into a novel, which is promising. Doing the menu options you offer WELL with fresh, carefully selected produce is worthy of respect. Pretty easy to park this end of Johnston Street, especially on weekdays. A brunch or lunch post yoga is easily catered to. I can vouch their coffee is excellent and George is a sucker for the turmeric latte here (I can vouch it LOOKS cool.) Visit Uncle & Jak.

Fourth Chapter Cafe
Prahran

Plant Based Food Melbourne
All day breakfast menu? Yes, please! Lunch available from 11am. There's meat for your carnivorously inclined friends and fam. There's some absolutely belly loving bounty on the menu here and like most things in Prahran, the venue is super chic. Environment is vital! Visit Fourth Chapter Cafe.

Vegie Bar
Fitzroy

Plant Based Food Melbourne

This is a stalwart of Fitzroy and you simply must. Their raw food offering is genuinely divine. Raw Pad Thai, tacos, cheesecake. This is an offering that goes beyond superfood salads and proves raw food is creative, expansive and exciting. Visit Vegie Bar.

TRENDING FOR 2017: Fit fashion, Body Piercing, Wellness Cafes, Travel Fit and Eat Superfoods

TRAVEL FIT

There's a big trend towards travelling for fitness and holistic wellbeing experiences. Did it kick off with Eat, Pray, Love? Who knows...but it continues apace and the offerings get more and more intriguing, exciting and sometimes, ridiculous, every year. The beautiful thing is that whether you're travelling with a group of friends, your partner or family or you're a solo traveller, you'll find events, customised itineraries and experiences that appeal to your need for learning, seeing, doing and being all over the world.

Look for the Angkor Empire Full and Half Marathon in August 2017 for a road race around the Angkor temples that has previously attracted between 500 and 1000 participants. There's a Marathon Half Marathon, 10km and 3km Family Run to choose from.

Alongside local offerings including the Canberra Yoga Festival (#Canberrasana !) and Byron Spirit Fest, there is also Wanderlust Festival offering yoga, wellness and lifestyle inspiration all over the world year-round. Try New Zealand in and Oahu, Hawaii in February for a start. See wanderlust.com/festivals The Byron Spirit Festival takes place in March 2017 offering tantra, dance, music and yoga.

Consider travelling to learn as well. Many people do their initial and ongoing Yoga Teacher Training overseas and this gives an excellent perspective on how yoga is a universal language. Perhaps you could do a language or cooking course also.
In Ubud, Bali (my favourite!) you can do Raw Food workshops and courses. You can even do your Raw Chef qualification if you schedule ahead. The school gets rave reviews on social media and Trip Advisor. Check out Raw Food Bali.
Find ways to travel and really immerse yourself in the local culture for the time you're there, whether it's a week or a year.


BODY PIERCING

Multi-ear piercing is still trending. Thanks to the celebrity and fashion editor's favourite body piercer, Maria Tash, the trend continues for chic and neat piercings that sparkle up the ear, in and around it. Her choice of jewellery, as well as her finesse in placing it to best highlight facial features, is highly refined and speaks to the trends of 2017. Spiked rings say "I'm a little bit punk rock" but delicate and in gold, they also say "I'm also a businesswoman, a blogger-author-globetrotting fashionista".
Melbourne's own Sammah Chehade is a piercing guru and has a particular eye for knowing which jewellery size, style and placement on the ear or face will best bring out their features. She advises according to facial structure, hair and skin tone and your style preferences. I have entrusted her with both needle and gun piercings (see my article Can I Work Out After A Piercing? )and she is divinely comforting, calm and radiates joy and passion for her work. She's available for consultations on multiple ear piercings, facial and body piercings. You can reach her via email or on Instagram.


ACTIVE WEAR AND FITNESS FASHION

There is a growing trend in consumers wanting to know the ethical credo of their fashion. This extends to athletic wear and fit fashion. Is it fair trade? Is the cotton sustainably farmed? Are the conditions for manufacturers and workers involved in production overseen and audited by an ethics and fairness body?

Expect, as far as colours and style, to see more wild patterns, bold colours and plenty of green and pink if the Pantone colour predictions for 2017 are a reliable guide (and they are relied upon by fashion and design industry internationally so I'd be buying stocks!)

In that spirit, brands like Onzie that are proudly LA made and owned still float my boat. Their designs, campaigns and ethos are all about loving yoga, loving movement, loving fashion and being a traveller of the world. See their instagram for international ambassadors and global "Take Me There" inspirations.
Canada-originated yoga brand Lululemon ALWAYS brings it's top game to design. Sure, it's not going to attract your budget bargain bin buyer but this is gear that goes the distance and it is designed for performance. It is not just for yoga either - the customer service staff are thoroughly trained so if you go in and talk to them about what you do for training and lifestyle, your preferences around style and colour, you can be pretty sure they'll know exactly where to direct you. They also have a fantastic initiative which is weekly community classes where teachers provide a class at no cost in-store. A great way for teachers to connect with their local community and also for people to trial a class without the commitment of studio or gym fees. Pictured is the new Energy Print bra and leggings. Add to cart.


RAW FOOD, VEGAN DIET, SEAWEED & TURMERIC

The rise of "vegan" as a key Search Engine Optimisation term will continue apace. Cassie Cross from Unique Health Products confirms "Australia's packaged vegan food market is set to grow over $60 million in value to reach $215 million by 2020. In fact, "vegan" is googled more in Australia than anywhere else in the world." Still, I am not vegan and while I think it has a very strong ethical basis, I fear that people are adopting a dietary approach that cuts entire food groups in the misguided belief that cutting entire these is a weight loss method that works longer than a week. The vegan approach to a diet rich in legumes, soy and plant proteins, grains and vegetables will hopefully inspire people in their approach rather than dictate it. While there are many foods which increase in nutritional value when heated (tomatoes, for example), I believe that raw, unprocessed and organic foods have a high "prana" value and this elevates my spirit when I'm preparing, sharing and eating my food. What's that mean, you ask? Prana is the "life force". Think about it. That gorgeous, ripe, organic kiwi fruit and big bowl of raw, organic walnuts are now sitting in front of you because they came from a seed, got rained on, absorbed sunshine and minerals and vitamins from the earth, and they were nurtured into ripeness right up until the moment that you picked them (even if i was out of a box at the market!). They have a story, an energy to them that fuels your body and your soul. As often as possible, try to eat raw, unprocessed foods daily. This might be a handful of almonds, or a bowl of cherries, or a fresh, green salad. As often as possible, grow your own herbs, veggies and fruit and go to local markets and organic grocers. Find a connection with your food.
"Seaweed is predicted to be the next big superfood," explains Cassie Cross. "It's full of vitamins, minerals, protein, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties."
The Whole Foodies is a locally based provider of good, nourishing foods including oils, nut spreads and a whole range of seaweed based products. Their site is an excellent source of recipes too.Check out The Whole Foodies.
I'm a total kelp noodle addict. Get on board that train STAT!

Turmeric shows no sign of abating as the herb du jour. This is as it should be - it is excellent as an immune booster, makes a sunshine coloured latte, and acts as a powerful flavour for rice, roast vegetables, curries and soups.

If you're at a total loss as to how to prepare meals beyond a poached egg and a pack of noodles, try a cooking school. Many local markets run workshops and on-site cooking schools by chefs and nutritionists now. A google search for "raw food" or "healthy food workshops" in your city should give you an idea of what's happening. You could also consider travelling to do a course overseas.


WELLNESS CENTRES

In Ubud, the divine Yoga Barn (loved by yogis and travellers worldwide) incorporates yoga studios, ayurvedic health practitioners, a restaurant, juice bar, dance space and overnight accommodation options all in the one mega-space. It does so in a beautifully integrated way that doesn't feel like you are trekking between one separate business and the next. This is an entire lifestyle offering in the once place. Just as health practitioners have become savvy and many doctors combine forces within one medical practice, so it will keep serving wellness businesses and individuals to combine forces and create easily accessible places that are holistic in nature. Myotherapy followed by pilates, shopping for  organic coffee and a pair of locally made yoga pants should be all happening under one roof. Will existing stores merge with local wellness practitioners and cafe owners/juice bars to run pop-ups before taking the leap? Let's hope so. I'd love to be able to do a Community Class at Lululemon and then sit around in a dedicated cafe space drinking juice and talking to the local fashionista yogis!



Basic Health Hacks


No matter how healthy, well, fit or fully spiritually evolved you are. there can always be little tips and ideas you haven't considered or that you ONCE practiced and forgot about. Without further ado, some basic health hacks you may already be aware of (applause for you!) and some extra ideas you can keep in your arsenal for Living 101.

Keep frozen veggies stocked up
This one is so simple. Mixed vegetables, diced up and ready for cooking. They bulk up any meal from simple steak and veggies to a hearty soup or stew. It's not always convenient to go shopping for fresh veggies and fruit when you're under time pressures. Fail safe!

Flavour with organic herbs and spices instead of chemical laden, sugar and MSG rich stuff
It can be easy to reach for those cheap bottles of "Thai" "Indian" "Moroccan" flavourings in the supermarket, but if you read the ingredients list, chances are they are full of sugar and random ingredients like "chicken flavour" (what IS that?!).
My favourite find is Australian made, ALL NATURAL, gluten free, no additives and preservatives Pinch Spices. The Hunter Valley Rub is delicious on meat dishes and the Spicy Caribbean Rub is amazing with eggs and veggies, pulses and rice based meals. And fish. And pretty much anything really. Yum.

Look for free gym trials and yoga/pilates/dance studio special offers

Try a Google search for local gyms and studios and if they don't list trial offers, don't be afraid to ask. Many studios and gyms understand that you don't want to sign up for a membership or even a month of visits unless you get a good feel for their offerings on the initial visit. 



Keep teabags in your handbag

Found yourself stuck in a meeting or the office for a deadline-based issue and stomach rumbling? Is your colleague offering you Instant Coffee as the only option? You will thank me for this! I take them on flights too. It's like a little bit of home you can indulge in anywhere. 

Stock up on long-life milk and  basics like tinned tuna and salmon, brown rice and quinoa
The best way to avoid indulging in the 2-minute noodles your flatmate has conveniently stocked up on in case of armageddon or even eating Cornflakes for dinner (guilty - but Special K, surely that's a TAD better?) is to ensure you have some basic staples that are adaptable. Since you've already got a cupboard full of Pinch Spices now, any rice and fish, or chickpea and quinoa meal is going to taste delish.
Coles does a range of 2-serve rice, quinoa options. These are genius for the pantry at home and at work. I swear by brown rice/quinoa combo. Zap it in the microwave (or don't, if you're me) and combine it with whatever pulses, veggies, proteins you love and voila! 

Use Facebook groups to buy, sell and swap fitness gear 

There's plenty of location and product/services based Facebook groups where you can buy, swap and sell. This is a convenient and affordable way to pick up new fitness gear, from DVDs and sneakers to leggings and fitness trackers, while also being able to swap or sell what you no longer use.

Learn how to create some basic, healthy meals so that you're confident to cook for yourself

This may be watching YouTube or it may be asking a friend or family member to share recipes and cooking tips with you. For some of us, boiling an egg is a complete mystery. If you're feeling a bit braver and want to make your cooking lesson a bit more of a social affair, see if your local market runs cooking courses. Some councils, food stores and natural health stores run classes too. As per any major life decision, Google is your friend. I love these zucchini fritters with smoked salmon and poached eggs.

Use a meal delivery service for a week to introduce new flavours and recipes to your palate

I can wholeheartedly attest to the quality and reliability of My Muscle Chef. I became addicted to the kangaroo-based meals but the basa fish fillets and chicken were also fabulous. They come in different sizes but all labelled and securely packaged in separate trays ready for the fridge. Pick your meals for a week or longer, and you can take some to work, keep some for home and know that you don't have to worry about shopping or preparing food if you're under enough pressure with work, family or personal issues. Also fabulous if you're injured or post surgery or just unwell. Everything is done for you! These are also ideal if you can't manage to get beyond the same old ritualistic meals - egg and lettuce roll from the cafeteria every day? Steak and potatoes every night? Change it up!

A new player is Marley Spoon. I'm about to give this a whirl as they are releasing a whole new super healthy range of meal options. Their current options look fab too though so go check it out. Never hurts to try something new.


Melbourne Yoga Teachers

In the many years I've lived in Melbourne and been doing yoga - mostly around the inner, northern and eastern suburbs, I've had the great privilege of meeting and learning from a diverse and divine variety of Melbourne's finest yoga instructors.
Naturally, the teachers we are most drawn to is a subjective matter and this is not a "Best 10" or "Top Rated" style post. Instead, these are some of the teachers that have inspired me to think, study and appreciate yoga philosophy, culture and physical poses. I would recommend seeking them out and making time to do a class. If time and location doesn't permit that though, perhaps their recommended reading, clothing and cafes will encourage you to connect with them beyond the mat!

Name: Joel Hill

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: My favourite pose for as long as I can remember is Utthita Trikonasana, it always seems to hit the right spots.

Must Read Yoga Book: If I had to choose one book it would be Light on Yoga by BKS Iyengar , I always find new inspiration from it and things I've previously missed, even twenty years after I first layed eyes on it.

Teacher Who Inspires Me: The Iyengars are always a source of inspiration as is my teacher Glenn Ceresoli. Their teaching inspires the way I approach my practice heavily. In the last eighteen months I have been following the American yoga teacher and Sanskrit scholar Christopher Tompkins work very closely. His scholarship has very much revitalised my interest in yoga philosophy and history, I highly recommend anyone interested in these areas to check out his online offerings.

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne: For me these days it's any cafe that is kid friendly, I'm very much out of the loop on this.

Currently Teaching at: Currently I'm taking classes at Gateway Osteopathy and Pilates in Eltham and am also teaching Anatomy for The Yoga Social YTT programs.

Name: Gena Kenny

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week : I’ll begin by sharing my favourite translation of ‘Asana’ which is “To find a comfortable seat within, so that no matter what is happening without, you can remain at peace in your home.”

Yoga for me is exactly that, it is finding ‘my seat’ within.  How I do that is different from day to day; some days it requires simple and mindful breath work, other days it requires more physical movement.  Over the years my work with the physical Asana has become more refined and more subtle.  I have moved into a very different practice that is not necessarily broad gross movement but instead has it’s very foundation in the more subtle realms.  I have found that through sustained and regular practice I have learned how to move into the stillness that is in between, inside and throughout all movement.    This movement into stillness helps me to deal with my day to day life interactions and circumstances with more grace and more ease.  So not a favourite yoga pose, but a favourite way to utilize yoga for a more graceful life.

Must Read Yoga Book :  Wow.. this is a difficult question for me to answer as I love so many different yoga books; some for the anatomical information, some for philosophical learning, others for delving more deeply into the ‘Self’.  So I’ll share one of each with you . J

Anatomical:
“Yoga Anatomy” by Leslie Kaminoff

Philosophical:
“Bringing Yoga to Life” by Donna Farhi

“Self-work”
“The Untethered Soul” by Michael Singer

 Teacher Who Inspires Me : I am most inspired by Donna Farhi, who has been teaching teacher’s for close to 30 years. I highly recommend any yoga teacher who has not either read Donna’s books or delved into her teachings with the Yoga Teacher intensive programs, teacher training courses or retreats that Donna runs.. to do so!!
What inspires me most about Donna is her embodiment of the practices that she shares.  She has ‘lived’ her practices and embodies them in how she teaches, lives and moves through the world.   I share a quote for you here from her book “Yoga Mind, Body and Spirit”.

“If you go deeply enough inside yourself, you will find not something small but something immensely spacious”.

I had read Donna’s books for many years, but hadn’t actually been to any of her teaching intensives until I suffered a debilitating back injury whilst working as a Firefighter in the Melbourne Fire Brigade.  At that point, I didn’t know if I could ever work as a firefighter again or even complete a yoga practice without pain ever again.  But through Donna’s in depth teachings on the structure, the nervous system and movement patterns, I am now pain free and teaching yoga for spinal care.

 Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne : My favourite new café is in Albert Park and is called Zea Food Journey on Victoria Avenue (just next to Jocks Ice cream).  For those who know me, you will know that I have a sweet tooth and Zea meets that sweet tooth with a fusion between France and Greece. French style crepes with a Greek style yumminess packed inside!!  Plus they have amazing coffee and real love packed into whatever they do.

Currently Teaching at: I have my own yoga studio which is in Port Melbourne and is called Ohana Yoga.  “Ohana” is a Hawaiian word which is translated to mean ‘connections’ and that is what Ohana Yoga is about.  We  have an incredible community of students and teachers who get to know each other through classes, coffee/tea after class and different events that we offer; which include free talks on different subjects to share knowledge, insight and just simply those moments of being able to connect with others who are in the community.

We also offer a really fair teacher rate which is $10 to encourage teachers to take time for themselves and give back to themselves .. we all know that being of service can lead to the ‘sharing, caring’ people in our world sharing a bit too much, so we like to encourage teachers to give back to themselves through restorative and mindful practices.  I feel very grateful to have had the opportunity, inclination and energy to be able to create a studio that offers an enriching daily yoga practice, yoga teacher training’s and most importantly a space that is real community hub for those who have found us.

Name: Andrew Mournehis

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Savasana (Corpse pose) / Yoga Nidra.
In my eyes, THE MOST IMPORTANT ( yet often neglected) POSE in our yoga practice.
As my Ayurveda teacher and mentor would say... you WILL practice Savasana and yoga nidra for 5 mins every day for the rest of your life... the teaching has stuck!

Must Read Yoga Book: The Bhagavad Gita ... favourite translation by Stephen Mitchell. A must read for any yoga practitioner or teacher on learning how to live, love and serve.

Teacher Who Inspires Me: Elena Brower... for her courage to face her shadows, live with integrity and congruence ..:and be willing to live a life of Forgiveness, Light, Love and Truth.

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne: Oooohhh, so many, but my current fave is Merri Cafe at Ceres ... beautiful community.


Currently Teaching at:

  • Pranahouse in Thornbury Mon and Wed mornings 930am-11am
  • Workshops and intensives from "Breathing space yoga" in Prahran
  • Teacher and facilitator for TT at Academy of Yoga Learning since 2003 
  • Retreats both nationally and internationally since 2003

Details at Divine Grace



Name: William Wong

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Handstand!!!

Must Read Yoga Book: Not specifically a yoga book but The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle

Teacher Who Inspires Me: Claudia Whitney

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne: Pana Chocolate or Raw Trader

Currently Teaching at: Power Living Fitzroy, Yoga 37, Virgin Active and Fitness First



Name: Amanda Pittard

Favorite Yoga Pose this Week: Natarajasana | Dancer Pose as it allows me to open up my body, clear my mind and breathe evenly so that I can unlock truly profound discoveries about myself, physically my flexibility and balance, energetically opens my sacral, solar plexus & heart chakra allowing me to find balance in the realm of sensuality, personal power and love & compassion, Spiritually allowing me to notice where I get unstuck, so I can release my samsara.

Must Read Yoga book: "Your Body, Your Yoga" by Bernie Clark

Teacher Who Inspires Me : Sarah Cresswell at Teacher & owner at KX Yoga Malvern. When I'm on my mat I love listening to her kind thoughts, mindful manner & positive reinforcements of how wonderful we all are & what we bring to ourselves each & every time we come to practice.

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne : The Bakers Wife in Burke Road, Glen Iris, the menu is amazing & fresh.

Styles of Yoga I teach : Vinyasa Flow, Slow flow, Yin, Yin Yang, Kids & Teens

Currently teaching at : Endless Lifestyle Balwyn, KX Yoga Malvern (assisting) Goodlife Camberwell, ReCreation Malvern, South Pacific Chadstone, Swift Fitness (kids/teens), Genesis Caulfield, Firbank Grammar Brighton (kids), Prana House Thornbury. Will commence shortly at the Habitat Space Malvern & Daya Wellbeing Hawthorn.

Name: Tania Perry

My Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Humble Warrior. I named my business after this pose and tend to incorporate it into most of my classes. It reminds me to stay strong and grounded, to surrender and let go of that which no longer serves, with grace and humility. Humble Warrior symbolises for me the strength and beauty of yoga. It requires a balance of effort, ease and courage.

Must Read Yoga Book: The complete Guide to Yin Yoga by Bernie Clarke. I have always been a Yang Yogi, this book has taught me how to find stillness and to yield in my practice, to take time in transitions and to be more mindful. I am a convert to Yin Yoga. I always try to find a balance in life, and yin Yoga brings me closer to this. Yin makes me a better Yoga teacher. This a wholistic approach, nurtures the body and softens me both on and off the mat.

Teacher Who Inspires Me: There have been so many over the years, but any teacher who connects with me personally, gets to know my practice, offers adjustments, inspires me and makes me a better yogi. I love Nicky Hanley (AYA Prahran), for her free spirit and creative sequencing. For my own professional development I attend classes with Zoltan - Swami Gopal (Yoga in Daily Life/ Fitness First), he has an authentic, calm nature and his classes always challenge and inspire.

My go to cafe in Melbourne: Combi in Ormond Rd, Elwood. The best raw treats, tumeric lattes, organic, healthy....food to make you glow, from the inside out. The raw caramel slice (sugar free/vegan) is to die for!!

Currently teaching at Om Yoga Sth Yarra, Fitness First, Sth Pacific Gyms and Humble Warrior Yoga and Wellness.
I also teach Meditation, Pranyama  and Chair Yoga at Salts of the Earth Prahran.


Name: Jennifer Crescenzo

Favourite Yoga Pose This Week: Elephant Pose - it's a dynamic variation of a wide leg forward fold that involves keeping your legs strong and feet grounded while playfully twisting your trunk!

Must Read Yoga Book: Yoga: Fascia, Anatomy, and Movement by Joanne Avison

Teacher Who Inspires Me: Paul and Suzee Grilley - I have studied with them for nearly 8 years now and through the years they have changed the way I understand and experience my own body in movement and meditation.  Whether they are teaching functional anatomy or the Bhagavad Gita, Paul teaches with great precision, passion, and humor and Suzee's boundless curiosity about movement makes the asana practice both practical and playful .  I just returned from studying Patanjali's Yoga Sutras with them and when I arrived we hugged and then they immediately started quizzing me about my Olympic Lifting and how it was influencing my body and the way I'm teaching yoga.  The way they engage with their students makes for a really dynamic and creative training environment and I always leave their company feeling simultaneously grounded and charged!

Cafe Must Visit in Melbourne:  I live and teach south side so locally I like Magic for coffee and Urban Projuice for healthy, nourishing food.

Currently Teaching at: For the past few years I've been writing and co-facilitating 200 Hour Hatha Yoga TT's at The Yoga Social and MOVE Yoga and developing and facilitating Yin Teacher Training in Australia and internationally.  I teach weekly Yin, Yin/Yang, and Flow classes at MOVE Yoga, Ohana Yoga, and Yoke Yoga.  And I'm about to rejoin the team at Yoga Flame at their new Windsor studio!  My schedule of classes and events is available at yoga.jencrescenzo.com



I'm 100% sure I'm still to meet many fantastic Melbourne yoga instructors. Come and let me know whose class you absolutely wouldn't miss on Core Integrity With Cat Facebook.



Yoga Emojis Made In Melbourne

That's right! When you can't say it in words and only a downward dog followed by a trikonasana and crow will fully express your intentions, the only answer is a full library of yoga emojis.
There's over 400 icons to choose from, handily sorted into categories with both English and Sanksrit names. You just copy and paste the icons into your texts and voila! Yog-emotions all laid out for friends and family to acknowledge and appreciate.
For teachers, the great benefit of Yogoji is being able to grab icons for each pose and create sequences with a tap-and-go approach. Rather than draw funny sketches or write lengthy lists, plan your class with easy icons. Genius!
Made by a yogi in Melbourne, the fabulous Heidi Ireland. After a back injury in 2011, Heidi discovered the restorative and uplifting life of yoga - starting with a hip hop yoga habit! She then completed her Yoga Teacher Training and made the segue from marketing and strategy towards yoga instruction and lifestyle.
Yogoji is the ideal result of a yogi teacher awareness with digital marketing and media appreciation. Fun and useful for teachers, and enormous fun for yoga students, the mildly curious and the casual "whenever I can find the time" yoga participant!
RELEASE DATE:  09 August 2016
PLATFORM:  iOS9+ iPhone 5 and above
PRICE:  AUD $2.99 /  USD $1.99 / GBP £1.49 

Get it here.


All New Les Mills Classes Launch in Australia

What would it take to drag me back into a cycle room? The promise of a totally new world. 

Literally.

So Les Mills' The Trip has more than delivered. This is the future of cycling - pedalling through planetary landscapes, high over the cities of London and New York where you can peer down and see the laneways, feel the nerves of being on a bridge, veering around a tight corner...

Melbourne is about to experience The Trip 4 at the Melbourne Convention Centre for Filex 2016. This is set in a planetary wonderland. You'll be pedalling hard to Major Lazer, Hudson Mohawke and A Tribe Called Quest to name a few.

As you'll discover in my interview with Matt Spandow from Les Mills Asia Pacific, the technology behind The Trip isn't cheap and it's likely to be offered at premium clubs as a beginning point. BUT. There's another Les Mills offering and it comes at you with a different proposition.

Sprint is a 30-minute (short, sharp!) HIIT workout that is scientifically tested and developed in collaboration with Penn State University to ensure the intervals are timed EXACTLY to maximise EPOC (your post-exercise calorie burn). All this set to bass-heavy beats, choreographed to align perfectly with the intervals. This has already been launched in Australia - if your gym doesn't have it but they do have Les Mills, ask about it. 

See the videos, read more about The Trip.

Meet Matt Spandow, Les Mills Asia Pacific Marketing & Sales Director. Here's what he shared with me about Sprint and The Trip.

Sprint and The Trip are both new products. We know the international trend for HIIT and previously we’ve hit that segment with GRIT. Cycling studios are sitting empty half the time. We worked with Penn State University to create the science behind a HIIT 30 minute class, and the science and the results of the EPOC burn, people get around a 900 calorie burn throughout the rest of the day.
It is recommended you do HIIT workouts twice a week to avoid diminishing results. Ideally, Sprint is designed to be done twice a week. This is the same for any HIIT workout – including GRIT.

The Trip is immersive fitness. There’s never been one showcased in Australia before. Multiple projectors and screens are involved and the instructor takes you through virtual worlds and it’s so realistic, it feels like you’re moving. The instructor faces away from you as if you’re riding in a peloton.
It’s amazing how people become immersed in that world. This is just normal interval training, not HIIT. It’s normally about 45 minutes.

One of the problems we see in these spaces is that there’s only RPM on the timetable. There’s all this space and a lack of great programming so that’s where these two new programs meet the new global trends: HIIT and the interaction with technology. People want to work out short, sharp and get bang for their buck. With The Trip, it’s about really using principles of gaming with fitness science.

The hormonal and EPOC levels have to be timed to the exact intervals. Because we use choreography and music as well as the Penn State science, we’ve brought that into Sprint and GRIT.

The Trip really attracts a lot of people who have never done cycling before. It’s more about people wanting to experience the virtual world. Our company mission is to create a fitter planet. It doesn’t help if we bring out a program for people that are already there.  We want people to say this looks cool, it looks like a lot of fun so they come in to try it.

The Trip is so new it has never been seen in Australia before so we’ll be debuting it at FILEX. Whether clubs decide to charge in clubs or not is up to them. Our recommendation is to use it to attract new members, but we wouldn’t recommend charging extra. With Sprint, you’ll find people [instructors] just need to do the training, but there’s no extra equipment needed.

Not every gym can afford the technology fee for The Trip. For now, I’d imagine you’d see it in more affluent clubs. Your bigger chains, it would make sense for a couple of these to take it on. Premium clubs are more likely to invest in the technology and some chains will decide to put it on in their centrally located clubs where members are willing to travel for the experience.

Training [for instructors] in Australia will be available as soon as clubs decide they want to go with it. It will be different as we’ll actually do site-specific training. Sprint training is available across the country right now.

The instructor creates a whole experience by narrating the training.
A couple of studios in Hong Kong, London, Santa Monica, Stockholm and Newmarket, NZ have The Trip operating right now. All the content and testing has been centrally developed in New Zealand. To create this 3D virtual world, a lot of work has gone in.
The Trip One is the very first one we did recreates TRON – like the digital world of the movie.
I did The Trip Four in Hong Kong and it was virtual cities. The screen wrapped 270 degrees and we could look down through landscapes like New York and Tokyo, London and city to city.

The one we’re showcasing in Melbourne, you go through planets for about five or six planets. I haven’t heard the music, only seen the visuals so far. I imagine a lot of it will be generated by our studio in New Zealand, and they’re driven by heavy beats just like GRIT.  Music is designed to take people on a journey, to bring heart rates up and down. Chris Richardson in New Zealand listens to something like 3000 songs a quarter for one release to select the right music. There’s no rules, so if they want a track, we go out there and we purchase those.

Read more about The Trip and Les Mills Immersive Fitness.

Members of the public can attend Sprint classes at Melbourne Convention Centre during FILEX.