Happy 4th of July!  I have to say, the 4th is one of my favorite holidays.  Not only do I love the smell of hamburgers cooking on the grill and the goofy grins on the faces of even the manliest men while watching the fireworks, but I love what this day represents.  Independence.  I think we really take for granted how fortunate we are to live in this great nation.  It is easy to overlook when the economy is in the tank and the job market is a scary place.  Even with all of that, we have more opportunities than most people on this planet.  Independence.  What a wonderful concept.

In my usual fashion, I’m going to digress from my topic (sort of) for a bit.  My dad served in the Navy during Vietnam and while he rarely talks about his days at war, I know it was an extremely difficult time full of loss and sacrifice.  I am in awe of all the soldiers that risked their lives during such a dark time.  My mom remarried when I was 11 and my step-dad was in the Army.  So I guess that makes me a step-Army Brat.  We had to move away from Alaska – where I grew up – just a few short months after my mom remarried.  At the time it was a tragedy.  Looking back – it afforded me so many opportunities.  Not only to go to a great in-state university, but also to meet my husband and all of my wonderful friends.  I suddenly found myself living in a military family.  We shopped at the Commissary and the P/X – if any of you are familiar with the military you will get this.  But more importantly, I witnessed firsthand the amazing sacrifices our soldiers make.  When my little sister was only 3 months old, my step-dad had to deploy for 6 months.  Not only did he miss watching his newborn daughter grow, but my mom had to say goodbye to her husband with her infant in her arms.  Over the years there were many instances of the sacrifices that my mom and step-dad made.  What I didn’t realize at the time, but know now, is that there are thousands of families making those same sacrifices.  Why?  Who would knowingly sign up for the hardship of being away from loved ones?  Who would go into a job knowing there is a very real possibility they could be injured or worse?  I’ll tell you who: the very bravest of the brave.  So take the time to really think about the men and women that sacrifice so much so that we can be free.

Alright, back to my point: Independence.  It doesn’t just have to refer to the state of our nation.  How about independence from criticism, self loathing and negative self talk?  One of the biggest issues I face with many clients is moving past these things.  We all have ideas of what our “perfect” body would look like.  Whether that is a number we want to see on the scale, a certain size we want to wear or certain skills we feel we need to have, we all have that “ideal” body in our minds.  I am all for making changes in our lives to achieve goals and to maintain our health.  I AM NOT in the business of making people look better.  It is a wonderful by-product of what I do.  My job is to fight for independence.  I fight for my clients and their right to look in the mirror and be happy with where they are today.  Truly happy.  Not just satisfied that they are doing alright “in spite of” or “considering” their circumstances, but honestly proud of the person they are.  That body they are looking at might look different in six months, or it might not, but each of us has something to be proud of at any given time.  One of the biggest roadblocks in the road to health and wellness is the idea that we are starting at the bottom and have nothing to be proud of in the beginning.  What an overwhelming thought.  I challenge each of you to take a moment and think of something you can be proud of.  This doesn’t have to be a physical attribute or skill, just something that makes you uniquely you.  Now, I want you to replace that negative self talk you may be employing with this new thought.  Next time you look in the mirror and think “Ugh, if I could just lose that weight” or “I look awful today”, take a moment to tell yourself why you are proud of yourself.  We tend to have the same thoughts over and over.  If all of those are negative, how can we ever expect to be happy?  Change the way you talk to yourself.  It is a sure bet you are your own worst critic.

How about freeing yourself from the pressures you place on yourself?  This especially goes for you moms out there.  As a mother, it is expected that you will put your own needs last to take care of those around you.  This seems like a noble act, but is it really?  Can you really be the best caretaker you can be if you never take the time to do something for yourself?  Are you doing your children or loved ones any good by neglecting your own health and well being?  Give yourself the gift of Independence this year.  The freedom to take an hour for yourself each week.  Whether you decide to spend that hour here in the studio; getting a massage; going out with friends or just enjoying a bit of solitude, give yourself permission to take that time.  A client of mine shared with me something her massage therapist shared with her: Don’t be selfish, be self-full.

So go out there and claim your Independence this 4th of July!  I look forward to hearing the positive results!

A special thank you to the soldiers and veterans in my life and yours, especially:

Steve Kalmes

Lane Kjellsen

Dana Kjellsen

Bob Sharp

Jim Dixon


Video: Pilates One Minute Roll Down


Use this exercise to strengthen your abdominal muscles while stretching your back.

Bumps in the Road

I have been training for a marathon for the past 4 weeks.  I still have about 14 weeks of training left, but last week I hit a bump in the road.  After running a quick 4 miles on my treadmill at home, I started to feel a pretty intense pain in my left foot.  I have suffered from Plantar Fasciitis for about 15 years but haven’t had a flare up since my pregnancy two years ago.  It is back with a vengeance!  I decided to lay off my runs for the rest of the week meaning I was missing 13 miles of training.

I have talked a lot about finding my inspiration in this blog.  I have talked about people and events that have helped me along my journey.  Well, this week I am definitely in the dark.  I am in need of that inspiration.  Before my foot started hurting, I was in a very positive place on my journey.  I was mentally and physically prepared for the grueling workouts I was getting ready to put myself through in order to run this race.  As I realized I wasn’t going to be able to run my long run over the weekend, I found myself in one of the worst funks I’ve been in.  I basically sat on the couch and ate my way through my pain.  Yes, even those of us who are in the fitness industry sometimes use food as comfort.  Not a proud moment.  I sat there blaming myself for my what I saw as a failure.  I must have done something wrong to be dealing with this issue again.  It took a conversation with my mom to realize not only how untrue this was, but also that I would NEVER let one of my clients get away with that same self talk.  I am always working with my clients on both a physical and a psychological level.  Whether or not they realize it, I see it as my job to make sure they are treating themselves well in all aspects of their lives.  Why couldn’t I do this for myself?  I had two options as I saw it:  get myself to the doctor to figure this out, or keep wallowing on the couch.

I showed up at the doctor’s office yesterday morning with a knot of dread in my stomach.  I just knew they were going to tell me to lay off the running and maybe even refer me to a physical therapist.  As I sat in the waiting room for the next hour (yes an hour with my two year old!) I resigned myself to the fact that I would just have to accept whatever the doctor would tell me and move on.

We finally made it into the examination room and got to speak to the doctor.  After listening to my list of symptoms she confirmed that I have a classic case of Plantar Fasciitis.  My heart sank.  What I never in a million years expected her to say was “keep running”.  That’s what she said though.  She told me I need to rotate out three different pairs of running shoes and to give myself ice baths for 15 minutes after every run.  I sat there in silence for a few seconds and then said, “I really thought you were going to tell me not to run”.  This was her response: “Would you be happy if you couldn’t run?”  We all know the answer to that!  So in her mind, I need to figure out a way to manage my pain but still do what I love.  So we discussed some techniques and I left the office with a spring in my step – figuratively speaking.  Literally I was still limping a bit.

I have yet to run since I saw the doctor.  Life has gotten in the way and I haven’t had time to hop on the treadmill.  My plan is to get in a couple of miles tonight and see how I feel.  While I’m hopeful that everything will go well, I am also trying to be realistic.  I just might not be able to run long distances right now.  So I think I will be able to at least run to maintain my level of fitness even if I have to postpone my marathon aspirations for now.

So what is the moral of this long winded story?  Wallowing in a vat of ice cream only works for so long.  After a bit, you have to take matters into your own hands and do what is right for your body and mind.  You might not get the answer you want, but you will never know until you ask.  Is there something that has been stopping you from doing what you love?  Or from starting something new?  Now is the time to take action.  There are always bumps in the road and it is up to us to find a way around them.  Sometimes we have to accept that our path might have a few detours but in the end, we can reach our destination.

Have a great week everyone and keep your fingers crossed for a few good runs this week!

Pilates Abdominal Series

Learn the Pilates Abdominal Series with Sarah Spivey, Owner of Balance Through Movement Pilates located in Lafayette, Colorado.

Coming soon: Video Blogs!

Summer is here!  And so are family vacations, barbeques and days spent by the pool.  For those of you with children, this also means a time when your schedule is completely thrown off.  The workouts you were able to get in relatively easily may be taking a back seat to those swimming lessons or t-ball games.  Never fear!  There are still plenty of things you can do at home to maintain at least a baseline level of fitness during these months.  Balance Through Movement will be coming out with bi-weekly (hopefully) video blogs to help you through some Pilates mat work that you can do in a few minutes at home.  Keep you eyes peeled for the first video of the series soon.  I will be covering the Pilates Abdominal Series.  This is a series of 5 exercises that target you entire abdominal area including those pesky lower abdominal muscles!

For those of you that are currently, or were previously a client of mine, let me know what exercises or stretches you want to see featured.  These could be things you want to do at home or just something you need some clarification on.  I will also be including some segments on the equipment as the summer progresses.

I look forward to hearing from all of you with your ideas!  Enjoy the summer and all it brings!

Credit where credit is due


Sunday  was my sixth wedding anniversary.  It’s hard to believe we’ve been married that long, but I guess time flies when you’re having fun.  I got married very young – I was just 22 – but there are certain things in life you just have to go for.  I have never, not once, regretted my decision.  Why am I talking about my marriage here on my blog?  Well, for one thing, it is one of the most defining things in my life.  My partnership with a great man and our adventures together have shaped my life in ways that are very relevant to my career.  For another thing, it’s nice to give credit where credit is due.

I’m going to veer off the “fitness” path for a bit and tell you how Rob and I met.  Are you ready?  It’s a pretty romantic story.  Okay, so it was the summer before my senior year of college and I was busy working at home in Pinehurst during the week at a day care center and going back to Durham on the weekends to wait tables.  Toward the end of the summer I got to work one Friday night and all the girls at the restaurant (an On the Border by the way) were talking about the new guy and how “hot” he was.  Now you have to understand that restaurants are really just a place where everyone “hooks up” with everyone else.  I had never been into dating anyone at work so I sort of ignored all this and went about my business.  Until I saw him.  Here was this guy who clearly wasn’t interested in socializing with the other servers and pretty much kept to himself.  And yes, he was “hot”.  I was definitely interested.  How could I get him to talk to me?  So my roommate and I cooked up a scheme to get him to come over to our apartment – which happened to be the after work hangout.  We hounded him enough and he eventually came to hang out with all of us one night.  Talk about butterflies!  My stomach was in knots and we spent the next week or so flirting and talking for hours (well, mostly me talking for hours).  We eventually started dating, but there was a catch.  His plan was to move to California in the fall.  I figured, no big deal this probably won’t amount to anything anyway.  Well, over the next two months, I found myself smitten.  As moving day got closer, I got more and more miserable.  I begged him not to go.  I mean, I really begged with tears and everything.  Moving day did come and by golly he left.  He set off on his great adventure across the country and I headed to bed to hide under the covers and cry.  We talked most nights and vowed to make a long distance relationship work.  I bought a plane ticket to L.A. for fall break.  Ok, ready for the romantic part?  I never used that ticket.  Rob drove back to North Carolina from California in just three days and showed up at my door at 4:00 in the morning.  He realized that there was no greater adventure than being with me.  Well, he probably didn’t use those words, but the gesture said it all.  We were engaged a year later and married six months after that.

Alright, back to the matter at hand.  You all know that I struggled with fitness and the idea of working out.  You also know that I eventually figured all of that out.  You even know that Rob played a pretty big role in that.  What you may not know – and what I hate to admit – is that without the push I got from Rob, I most definitely would not be where I am today.  He not only convinced me to join the gym all those years ago, but he has held my hand through every single fitness venture I have taken on.  When I decided I liked Pilates enough to get my mat certification he was supportive.  When I came home from that weekend telling him we needed to spend thousands of dollars on my equipment training he was supportive…eventually.  After a lot of time spent discussing our financial situation and the amount of time I would spend working a full time job and putting in 40 hours a week for my training, he gave me his blessing.  The 10 weeks I spent in training were not only difficult for me, they were a sacrifice on Rob’s part.  I no longer had any time to spend with him and my ability to help out around the house was non-existent.  He was always there to listen to me whine about how hard it was or how unsure I was of this huge thing I had gotten myself into.  For those of you who know Rob, you know that he is a man of few words. It might seem to a lot of people that our relationship might be one sided – with me doing all the talking – and you are right.  But what you may not get is that when I need to talk, he is the best listener.  He knows that I can’t process things quietly and no matter how many times I have talked to him about the same thing, he is always there offering to listen and maybe even pointing out things I haven’t thought of yet.  Pretty sappy right?  Well, there’s more.

I decided after opening my first studio with my friend Brooke that I needed to get myself into better shape.  I might have been able to do any Pilates exercise out there, but if you asked me to do any type of cardio I absolutely shut down.  So I started talking to Rob about it.  I told him I needed to do something to be a better role model for my clients.  He suggested I start running.  Then he listened some more while I listed all the reasons I could never be a runner.  Guess what?  He suggested I start running.  So we went out and got me a fancy – and very expensive – pair of running shoes (a girl has to have the right accessories!) and we decided to start with a jog around the block.  You better believe Rob listened to every gripe and moan I had in me and even a few refusals.  He was persistent and, finally, we made it out the door.  On that first “jog”, Rob became more than an ear for me to bend.  He became my coach, my mentor and my inspiration.  He kept pace with me while we jogged for 30 seconds and then had to walk for 2 minutes.  Seriously.  He kept encouraging, and pushing me until I could manage a mile without walking.  Then he stayed by my side as I decided to run my first race – a 10k.  He was right next to me as I ran each weekend and when I finally hit 5 miles I think he was just as excited as I was.  I don’t think I’ll ever forget that day.  We crossed the finish line of that 10k together.  Rob was also beside me every step of my half marathon last October.  My husband is 6’3″ and has been running since he was 12 and he still manages to stick with me at my pace.  Now we are training for our first marathon.  We don’t run together as much anymore because one of us usually watches Sophie while the other gets their run in.  I miss our talks (mostly me talking and him listening of course!) on those runs, but I know that if I am struggling with a run he will be there when I’m done to listen to me talk it out.  I am excited that Rob hasn’t run a marathon yet because we will be able to cross that finish line together having both achieved one of our bucket list items at the same time.  I also know that over the course of that 26.2 miles we will both play the role of listener and the role of coach.  

Ok, so that was REALLY sappy.  And you know what?  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Summer is Coming

“Get your body beach ready”, “Swimsuit season is almost here”, “Slim down for summer”.  Have you heard any of these things or something similar recently?  As soon as the weather turns warmer and the trees start to bloom the fitness industry starts buzzing about getting fit for summer.  While I am always a proponent of getting fit, is summer really that motivational?  Do we go around during the rest of the year thinking “no need to get fit, it isn’t summer yet!”? Well, maybe some of us do.  Summer is just another time to tap into to the guilt most people feel about not working out or eating right.  Just like January 1st, summertime is a great ploy to get people to sign up for a fitness program.  Well, guess what?  I am taking a stand.

I will not get your body beach ready by June 1st.  It is already almost the middle of May.  Really?  You think you can do any type of program and be ready to hit the beach my Memorial Day?  Nope.  You might start feeling better by then.  You might have recognized some of the poor choices you have been making and taking steps to do better.  But will you go from frumpy to fabulous in two weeks?  Absolutely not.  There is nothing worse than having a client come in with tons of unrealistic expectations.  It makes my job nearly impossible.

So if it is unrealistic to expect overnight miracles, what is it realistic to expect?  Well, first it is necessary to sit down with any fitness professional you are working with to talk about your goals and health history.  If you have any history of illness or any previous injuries, it may affect the results you can expect to obtain.  If you have a history of knee problems then you probably won’t be able to spend a ton of time doing lunges to get that bikini backside you’ve been dreaming of.  You can expect that if you are taking on a Pilates program you will start to work on your alignment and strengthening the muscles around your knee.  What does this do?  It will help to alleviate future knee pain.  That may not sound as glamorous as dropping 10 pounds in 2 days, but in the long run it will have a much bigger impact in your life.  After your consultation with your fitness professional, you can expect to spend some time learning about proper bio-mechanics and form.  Again, this will help alleviate any stress you put your body under while working out, or even moving through your day to day life.  You will also begin to learn about core strength and support.  This is a big one.  Without proper core awareness and strength you will not be able to progress to more advanced exercises.  If you are looking for improved muscle tone and definition, you will ultimately have to progress to more advanced exercises for that to happen.

So if you are looking to get your body ready for the beach, I suggest the following:  find a bathing suit that makes you feel comfortable.  No matter what your body looks like, confidence is the key to being a bombshell on the beach.  By all means schedule that appointment at your local gym, Pilates or Yoga studio or for that Bootcamp class.  Just make sure you are signing up for the right reason.  Do you want to get and stay healthy?  Great!  There is never a “right” time, so stop waiting for summer, or New Year’s or a major event.  Start today because the rest of your life starts right now!