Celebrating 7 Years of Teaching Fitness

Today marks 7 years of teaching group fitness classes. SEVEN YEARS!

I can’t believe I’ve been leading fitness classes for that long. It seems like just yesterday that I registered for my Zumba Fitness training.

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On May 2, 2009, I received my first group fitness license, to teach Zumba Fitness, and I’ve been adding ever since!

Here’s a line-up of my group fitness licenses and certifications:

2009 – Zumba Basics I license
2010 – Zumba Toning
2011 – Zumba Basics II license
2012 – PiYo (Strength) Live certification
2012 – TurboKick certification
2013 – Insanity certification
2016 – NASM Group Fitness Primary certification (in the works)

Leading group fitness classes is a HUGE part of my life and I don’t know what I’d do without it!

I estimate that I’ve taught nearly 2,200 live classes and special sessions. That’s insane!

I teach 9-10 classes each week currently, and look forward to stepping into the studio, seeing bright, eager faces with huge smiles, and challenging people to perform their best.

I love continuing to challenge myself as an instructor. In addition to live classes in the studio, I introduced the idea of an online challenge group last fall, shorter monthly fitness challenges, special events like Zumba in the Park, fundraiser events like Zumba for the Butterfly Nest, and more.

What’s next? I’m working on my Primary Group Fitness certification through NASM, which will open doors to more training possibilities. I’ve also started a Yoga Basics online seminar, which I hope will eventually lead to full-blown yoga teacher training.

Maybe even personal training will be added at some point? I love the dynamic of group training, but also see the value in working with an individual on his or her fitness story.

I adore boot camp and lifting exercises personally, so maybe something along those lines will make it into my teaching repertoire.

I’m constantly on the lookout for better music, better moves, better techniques, better tips, and better opportunities for my clients. The best instructors are students, too, always ready to learn and share and grow.

I can’t wait for the next fit chapter to evolve, and I hope you will join me for the ride.

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Fitness Friday #51: My first Pure Barre Experience

I had my first Pure Barre experience!

While in Austin, Texas, for work, I looked up a local Pure Barre class and found an early bird 6 a.m. class that suited my schedule.

What is Pure Barre? It’s absolutely an experience. The class runs about 55 minutes, and this class is taught in a carpeted studio.

You start with a warm-up, then move to arms, legs/thighs, seat/bum, abs, and then a cool down. From what I’ve gathered, all PB classes follow this same formula, but the exercises and the music will change.

Pure Barre follows this special technique that promotes small, controlled movements. You might move an inch up and down, and most of the moves have some kind of resistance added. There’s a lot of stress placed on tucking the hips with all of the movements, too.

What to expect: Your legs will shake. It’s NOT a ballet class. You will sweat. If you don’t wear the special sticky socks, your feet will slide. The floor is carpeted. You use the barre for balance and resistance. And, sometimes, you BARELY touch the barre. The instructor will likely match the music volume and the lights in the studio during class, so be prepared for dimming lights and softer music at some points.

hope this is a shared experience at Pure Barre studios – my instructor was super friendly, and when she learned I was new to the class, she personally took me around the studio to show me all the equipment needed and gave me two tips:

  1. She will tell the class to grab two different size hand weights, but new people should only grab one. REALLY. Do this.
  2. If possible, grab a space by the mirror. As a new person, it’s helpful to see your form with the movements.

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I knew I was going to take a Pure Barre class during my Texas trip, so I purchased these socks in advance (via Amazon, like I do). They were great! The instructor seemed surprised that I brought my own…

I found this “New to Pure Barre” page super helpful before attending a class. The movement descriptions were nice, and the ‘wear snug but breathable clothing’ warning was good, too. Also, arrive EARLY so you can get a good spot and so the instructor can do a quick run-down of what to expect with you.

Pure Barre uses special equipment, which was available for use at the studio where I took my class. There are a few sizes of hand weights, double bands and single bands, a ball, and a mat.

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This class was like nothing else I’ve ever taken or taught. The movements are small, focused, and the class moves at a pretty fast pace.

Like ANY class you might take, remember that YOU are in control and can modify movements as you need. BUT the best thing about group fitness is the atmosphere, the encouragement to push just a little harder, hold just a little longer, move just a little faster is real. And I love that.

I practiced a few moves for fun at a local park after I took the class. This was one of my favorites–there was a slight tucking of the hips and a small movement of the elevated foot.

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My tips: Aside from what I’ve mentioned already (get there early, use the smallest weights for the first class, wear the socks, wear snug but breathable clothing), I’d mostly recommend keeping an open mind. Not every fitness class is about high-cardio, high-impact, burn ALL the calories, jump all the things.

Pure Barre is more of a focused fitness class, and more about the technique than the crazy high heart rate or calorie-burning. You’ll move in ways that maybe you haven’t before, and feel soreness all over the body the next day.

If you’re thinking even a little bit about attending a barre class, I highly recommend it! It was a fun experience and I think I’d enjoy trying another studio, or even looking into basic barre classes, not necessarily just the Pure Barre method.

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One month to go: 30 before 30 project

Let’s explore the ‘goals’ I have accomplished for my 30 before 30 plan!

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In one month, I turn the big 3-0. SO much amazingness has happened in the past year, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to accomplish THIS much. With a month left to go, I’m making priorities and planning to knock a few more of these off my list (and LOVE the process of doing so).

Aundra’s 30 by 30 List

  1. get married. totally counts. YAY! October 31, 2015.
  2. visit 2 new states. No new states are in the plans, this one gets bumped.
  3. read 30 books 17 books to go… But hey, 13 books is pretty awesome…
  4. hike part of the AT We hiked to McAfee Knob during our mini-moon
  5. go zip lining Still want to do this! Looking to go to Lums Pond in DE, it’s so close to us! 
  6. take a new-to-me fitness class. acro yoga? belly dance? I took a pure barre class when I traveled to Austin, TX for work!
  7. complete our kitchen project (oh man that’s a challenge!!) We bought most of the the things needed for the kitchen, and the project is well underway. It’s so exciting!!!
  8. make a backyard planting plan Early greens and flowers are planted, we’re measuring our yard and dreaming of future plans. Next step is to get it into a drawing program. 
  9. plant more flowers by the mailbox! In front of the house! By the vegetable boxes and our wedding archway!
  10. knit a scarf. maybe I can just knit all my bookmarks together… LOLOL. I did dig out my yarn so I could make a string for Phoebe to play with, so mayyyyybe we’ll see some action here.
  11. run 1,000 miles. I did it during my 27th year! LOLOL again. This past year has been all about yoga and strength training for me. A race that I’m an ambassador for is coming up soon, so I’m in race training mode for a 5k, but not like my 2013 runner self. 15+ races per year is not in my immediate future by any means.
  12. host a backyard dinner party We had most of our wedding party over for a backyard dinner this summer!
  13. take a pottery class. Haven’t put much effort into this one. Looked up a place to paint pottery!
  14. take yoga classes – YES! I’ve been taking hot yoga classes at Serenity Yoga in Middletown, DE and LOVING it.
  15. host a month-long fitness challenge The push-up challenge.
  16. visit a vineyard in another state We visited Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock, VA
  17. get a pet. puppy. kitty. puppy. We adopted a senior kitty!!!!! SO cuddly and loveable.
  18. see a Ballet performance. Still aiming to do this. Thinking something in June, just after the 30 by 30 deadline challenge, but still counts.
  19. plant a fruit tree. I want a cherry tree. And a pear tree. We’re going to at least plant berry bushes!
  20. run a race in a new state ran a 5k in California during travel season!
  21. send birthday cards I sent 100 thank you cards and almost 100 xmas cards. Counts.
  22. get a new fitness certification. NASM home program is underway and I signed up for a Yoga basics class!
  23. make and share kombucha. Makes note to dig out scoby and brew some tea for it this weekend…
  24. host a tea & cupcakes party. So I didn’t host it, but my ladies gave me a tea party as a bridal shower. Counts.
  25. host online challenge fitness groups Hosted my first group in Sept/Oct while I traveled for work!
  26. teach or team teach a fitness class in a new area Got to teach some Zumba while I traveled to CO!
  27. publish an article. Does blogging count? Seriously, though…
  28. host a photo a day challenge Starts May 1! Read all about it here.
  29. visit every local store in my town. Ambitious. Also, have I mentioned that in-store shopping makes me anxious? Love amazon. And all the online buying of things.
  30. plan a fabulous 30th birthday trip. Pretty certain we’ve settled on a camping/hiking trip to the ‘PA Grand Canyon.’ I’m excited to breath the fresh forest air and stretch my hiking legs!
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May Photo A Day Challenge

May is my favorite month.

It’s still spring, but almost summer, the flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, and you know…my birthday happens to fall in there somewhere.

What better way to CELEBRATE all things May than a fun Photo a Day Challenge competition?

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To make it even more interesting, I’m making it a competition with TWO prizes. Why not GIVE things away for my birthday month?!

Each winner gets a travel Aladdin mason jar with a handle FILLED with a sparkly soul headband, a Zumba bracelet, Essie nail polish, a FREE single fitness class pass, peppermint tea, and a pumpkin candle.

You guessed it…these are a few of my favorite things.

How does it work?

Each day, for the first 14 days in May, I’ve chosen a prompt for the day. Share your favorite of that prompt!

So, the first day is ‘Color.’ The idea is to snap a photo of something that represents your favorite color and SHARE it either in the facebook event, on instagram, or twitter.

If sharing on instagram or twitter, you have to use the hashtag #mayfavorites AND tag me @fitwithaundra and your insta or twitter account has to be public or else I can’t see it.

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How to win:

  1. Tell me you’re playing via the facebook group OR via email (fitwithaundra@gmail.com) so I know to watch for your photos!
  2. Snap a photo for at least 7/14 days
  3. Share photos in the facebook event OR share on instagram or twitter with #mayfavorites AND by tagging me @fitwithaundra

Winners will be announced on Monday, May 16.

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Fitness Friday #50: April Plank Challenge

We’re right in the middle of this fun plank challenge! 10 days. 5 plank styles.

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How does it work?

On the first day, we perform 5 each of the 5 planks listed. On the next day, we perform 6 reps each of the 5 planks listed. Moving forward, we add one plank a day until we reach 14 reps of each move.

By the last day of the challenge, we will perform 14 reps of each plank style.

And for added FUN, I’ve included a bonus day on the 11th day – 15 reps of each plank style!

Join the challenge on facebook for daily reminders, a chance to post that you’ve completed each day’s challenge, videos of each move, and more.

I love sharing fun fitness challenges with you! Let me know if you’re participating in this one!

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Motivation Monday: Marina’s Story

A new series on the blog, Motivation Monday will share YOUR stories. Have you made a change in your life? Want to share your progress? Send me a message at fitwithaundra@gmail.com and let’s tell your story!

Read previous Motivation Monday posts.

Marina’s Story

My name is Marina and I am 32-year-old mom of two (3 and 1 years old).

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The New Year (2016) got me started on my fitness journey. I was tired of constantly feeling tired, sluggish, overwhelmed and unbalanced as a mother, wife, and a professional. Just like other women today, we have so much on our plates that we can lose our balance. And that is what happened with me.

I lost my balance or perhaps I hadn’t found it yet! I longed for that happy, 30 pounds lighter, bubbly confident woman I used to be. I saw the New Year as a new opportunity to get her back. It was time to take care of me.

It was time to spring to action. I created a fitness plan —  try to do an hour of exercise each day – realistically at least 5 days a week. I am not a fan of major diets as they have not worked for me in the past, however I am a fan of eating everything in moderation and having a well balanced diet (that includes chocolate).

My fitness plan is really a life change. My goal is to move, be active and have energy. To achieve this, also because I am a visual person, I make a list of all the exercise classes I would like to attend each week. I print it out and cross off as I accomplish the exercise goal. I can’t deny that my fitness plan is nothing without support. I have gotten amazing support from friends who check in regularly to see how I am doing with my daily goal.

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I am in week 5 of this current fitness method and I feel more energized, slimmer, and have noticed more muscles in my body. I am now more organized and confident in my ability to multitask life. I feel like I found me again. Most importantly I am a happier, patient and active MOM.

What continues to motivate me? 1) My children – (happy mom =happy kids),  2) when a sweet jam comes on and you can’t help but move your body 3) that incredible feeling when you accomplish something you set out to do.

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What’s next? Having a fitness routine has allowed me to try different types of exercises. I no longer fear the term “insanity” because in some shape and form I am doing it. I now seek to get stronger, build more endurance and just have fun being active. Also, not going to lie, my fitter body feels good too!

Looking to create your own fitness goals? What I hope is for people to realize that wellness and fitness doesn’t have to be about weight loss or the pounds on the scale but rather how one feels–physically, emotionally and spiritually! Make a list and stick with it!

Thanks so much to Marina for sharing her story!

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Two months to go: 30 before 30 project

Let’s explore the ‘goals’ I have accomplished for my 30 before 30 plan!

30

In two months, I turn the big 3-0. SO much amazingness has happened in the past year, I’m thrilled that I’ve been able to accomplish THIS much. With a couple of months left to go, I’m making priorities and planning to knock a few more of these off my list (and LOVE the process of doing so).

 

Aundra’s 30 by 30 List

  1. get married. totally counts. YAY! October 31, 2015.
  2. visit 2 new states. No new states are in the plans, this one gets bumped.
  3. read 30 books 20 books to go… WOMP.
  4. hike part of the AT We hiked to McAfee Knob during our mini-moon
  5. go zip lining Still want to do this!
  6. take a new-to-me fitness class. acro yoga? belly dance? I’m thinking a barre class would be fun.
  7. complete our kitchen project (oh man that’s a challenge!!) WE BOUGHT THE THINGS FOR THE KITCHEN. SO ESSITE!
  8. make a backyard planting plan Early greens go into the outdoor boxes this weekend! We have two boxes and continue to dream about adding more.
  9. plant more flowers by the mailbox! Round 2 happening this spring, too.
  10. knit a scarf. maybe I can just knit all my bookmarks together… LOLOL. Nope.
  11. run 1,000 miles. I did it during my 27th year! LOLOL again. This past year has been all about yoga and strength training for me. A race that I’m an ambassador for is coming up soon, so I will be race training, but not like my 2013 runner self. 15+ races per year is not in my immediate future by any means.
  12. host a backyard dinner party We had most of our wedding party over for a backyard dinner this summer!
  13. take a pottery class. Halp? Where can I do this?
  14. take yoga classes – YES! I’ve been taking hot yoga classes at Serenity Yoga in Middletown, DE and LOVING it.
  15. host a month-long fitness challenge The push-up challenge.
  16. visit a vineyard in another state We visited Blue Ridge Vineyard in Eagle Rock, VA
  17. get a pet. puppy. kitty. puppy. We adopted a senior kitty!!!!! SO cuddly and loveable.
  18. see a Ballet performance. Still aiming to do this.
  19. plant a fruit tree. I want a cherry tree. And a pear tree.
  20. run a race in a new state ran a 5k in California during travel season!
  21. send birthday cards I sent 100 thank you cards and almost 100 xmas cards. Counts.
  22. get a new fitness certification. NASM home program is underway and I signed up for a Yoga basics class!
  23. make and share kombucha. Warm weather is here, so my SCOBY will be seeing some action! As soon as kitchen project is mostly tucked away…
  24. host a tea & cupcakes party. So I didn’t host it, but my ladies gave me a tea party as a bridal shower. Counts.
  25. host online challenge fitness groups Hosted my first group in Sept/Oct while I traveled for work!
  26. teach or team teach a fitness class in a new area Got to teach some Zumba while I traveled to CO!
  27. publish an article. So vague. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but maybe this bumps.
  28. host a photo a day challenge Getting on board to do this for May, leading up to my birthday!
  29. visit every local store in my town. Ambitious. Also, have I mentioned that in-store shopping makes me anxious? Love amazon. And all the online buying of things.
  30. plan a fabulous 30th birthday trip. Lots of thoughts for this one, but no concrete plans just yet. Charlotte? Pittsburgh? Appalachian Trail hiking?
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Sunday Meal Prep

I know I’m going to have a more productive week if I do two things on Sunday:

  1. Pack my fitness bag for my looooong Monday and Tuesday classes and training
  2. Plan my breakfast and lunch meals for the week

Let’s talk about #2.

With my schedule as NUTS as it is (especially for the month of March with 2-3 late nights of working/teaching during the week), I desperately need to sit down on Sundays and work out my eating plan. Food is essential in general, but especially when you teach 10-11 fitness classes a week (<– hangry instructor alert).

I’m fortunate to have a husband who LOVES to cook and always makes dinner for us. Most of our dinners even allow extra for leftovers — for future dinners or lunches.

But for the other meals? Enter MEAL PREP MODE:

IMG_9395 We do our big weekly grocery shopping trip on Saturday nights (lately it’s been a grocery-shop-plus-let’s-see-a-movie kinda date), so we always plan our meals on Saturday.

On Sunday, we’ve gotten into the pattern of prepping breakfast and lunch, too.

I love these protein boxes, an idea I got from WaWa (hail to the WaWa!). I mix it up, but the boxes generally include cheese, lots of fruit, and something that combines protein and carbs. Last week, I made a batch of banana protein bread in muffin form, and this week I made energy balls.

We both love smoothies, so I plan to make those 2-3 times a week, plus I’ll make bags of cut veggies (carrots and celery this week), which are easy to grab and go.

For fun, I also made some peanut butter-filled dates this week, too. I LOVE snacking on dates in between teaching classes.

I find that when I plan my meals for the week, it’s one less thing to worry about, which gives me time to be productive elsewhere. This is the same reason I plan my outfits in advance–I even hang the next day’s clothes on a hook next to my closet–so I don’t have to think about it, I just get dressed.

Do you meal prep? How about outfit prep? Think you might start?!

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Fitness Friday #49: March MADNESS

I’m SO excited to make this announcement today.

Each week, I teach 9-11 fitness classes, various levels to various groups. I love being able to offer my skills to my students, encouraging them to reach new heights, to give it their all, to try harder, and to come back for more the next class.

Since it’s ‘Spring Break’ on campus (for students of course), and since it’s March, I’m offering ONE WEEK of FREE CLASSES to all!

This will be from March 14-17.

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For fun, I’m calling it my version of March Madness.

How does it work? Just show up for classes! There are 9 CLASSES available that will be offered free to all. This is a great opportunity to try a class, to come back after a short time away, and to introduce a new friend to classes!

If you’re local, I hope to see you on the floor next week!

Notes: We don’t have our usual Friday night Zumba this week, since the College is actually closed that day (staff gets one day for spring break), and I do teach a Saturday class at Aquafit which will not be included in this free class offering.

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My Practice this Week

Oftentimes, when I tell people how many classes I teach a week (10, but who is counting), they’ll say wow, that’s great to get to workout all the time!

Well…not so much. When I instruct a class, it’s not my workout. I do participate in the class, but I never give 100% to myself, because I’m worried about making sure participants are practicing correct form, that people are having fun, and that people are working their best and hardest.

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That means I have to workout beyond the classes I teach.

WEIGHT TRAINING – Twice a week, that means morning lift sessions, with my workout buddy Natalie, where we challenge ourselves with full-body movements and increased weights each week.

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RUNNING – I also like to run for my own training, though I’ve been doing less of that during the winter months. I’m an ambassador for a race on June 4 (ZOOMA Annapolis  — get 10% off if you use AUNDRA16), so running will gear up soon, especially now that the weather is looking more and more fabulous in my area.

YOGA – I practice a little each day. Lately, I’m into hip and chest opening sequences, and I’m back in the headstand practicing game. <– gearing up for beach headstands!

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What does it mean to practice yoga? For me, it could take 5-30 minutes of my day. Sometimes, I have a particular movement in mind, or a flow I’m itching to try. Sometimes, it means researching new postures to use in class, and it could also mean trying new tools or methods to share with others, to help their training.

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Occasionally, I’ll work on new, funky balance ideas. I LOVE arm balances, and the feeling of being strong enough to hoist myself up and hold it.

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Want a sneak peek at one of my practice flows? Here’s a hip stretching sequence I did one morning before teaching a class. This followed 2 minutes of jumping jacks, to get the body warm beforehand. Click this link or the photo to see the full video.

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TEACHER TRAINING – In addition to teaching classes and fitting in my own training, I also do extensive prep for classes. Some weeks, I teach a full new set for Insanity, or a new block. Other times, I choreograph new songs for Zumba. I also work on new material for PiYo classes. With teaching three formats, it’s a never-ending process of learning, trying, teaching, and adjusting. I’m also in love with identifying NEW ways to present material.

Beyond prep for classes, I’m also working on new certifications, through NASM/AFAA. This helps ensure that I can offer the BEST for my students. A great teacher is one who continues to learn! I learn SO MUCH from teaching my awesome students, and feel inspired and excited to gain knowledge in new areas, so we can continue to challenge and encourage each other.

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