Fit Friday #12: Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

A couple of years ago, I started these fun, online challenges for my fitness class participants. It grew into something I couldn’t even anticipate – friends of fitness class members, friends who live a distance from where I teach, and their friends. I love, love, love sharing my passion for fitness and wellness with the world.

One of my favorite things to train is arms! I feel super strong after a set of push-ups. Naturally, I wanted to share this with others (the curse of a fitness instructor, always wanting to share your tips and tricks).

So, I put together this really fun 15-day Strong, Sexy Arms Challenge.

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Even better, we have an accountability group — we can keep each other motivated, share tips, and more.

You’re so welcome to join! I’ve chosen 15 incredible plank and push-up variations that activate different muscles – shoulders, chest, triceps, and even some full-body moves. Building arm strength was SO important to my personal confidence journey, and why wouldn’t I want to share that with others?!

Here are all of the daily prompts. If you join the group, you’ll also get photos and video explanations and lots of variation tips.

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Any guesses which day is my absolute favorite? I love all of these moves, but there is one that I really credit that helped me build my arm-balancing strength and confidence.

I hope to see you in the group! Let’s build strong, sexy arms and confidence together!

 

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #50

It’s that time! Grab your cup and let’s settle in for a Coffee Talk Tuesday update.

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If we were having coffee this week, I’d say ZOMB let’s talk about Buti Yoga. I went to my very first class this weekend and it was all levels of intense and awesome. I don’t think I have ever sweat or pushed myself so hard in a class. It was also 75 minutes long, oh my! It combines yoga movements with plyometrics and tribal dance. I almost think it’s like insanity-zumba-yoga in one class format. I will definitely return!

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you that we’re 19 days from the ZOOMA half marathon! We ran a 9.5-miler this past weekend, and I’d like to do 10 this weekend (heyyyy Melissa). We have TUTUS for the race. Should probably do a test run in those… I’m really excited! It’s my favorite race of the year. There’s still time to register before the prices INCREASE! Go here and use code AUNDRA2017 for a 10% discount.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you that my birthday is just around the corner! Things I like to do on my birthday (which extends a whole week, thank you very much): pick strawberries, run, hike with the husband, eat yummy food, eat my weight in watermelon, take ‘staycation’ days off work, play in the garden, slowly sip way too much coffee, and get ice cream with rainbow sprinkles.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you that we’re also like 10 days from the Street Party, the kick-off celebration for the Chestertown Tea Party Festival! I’ve been coordinating this event for the past few years, and it’s evolved into a FREE, family-friendly event that features live music and delish food trucks. I can’t wait! Please say you’ll be there? If you’re one of my sponsors or helpers, you da real MVPs!

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you that we spent Mother’s Day honoring my MIL on an adventure trip to St. Michaels! After brunch, we walked around, visited the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (my very first visit there!!) and had a private cruise on the Winnie Estelle. I even got to steer the boat!!!! What a great day.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you that it’s the first week of the NEW summer schedule! I’m teaching 6 classes (sometimes 7) plus a private class each week. It’s SUCH a great schedule, I’m so excited to see everyone. Plus, it gives ME time to workout, which makes me a very happy instructor. Happy instructor = more burpees = EVERYONE WINS.

If we were having coffee this week, I’d tell you that I’m SO STOKED to lead a strong, sexy arms challenge! Arms have become my favorite body part to train, and I love sharing my tips. I specifically chose these moves because they’ve helped me build strength and confidence (to do things like balances and headstands) and I think arms can sometimes be scary for women to train. But they’re SO FUN to train. And we’ll do it together. Join the challenge here – it starts on Wednesday.

That’s what’s in my cup this week! What are youuuu up to this week?!

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #49

It’s Tuesday! Grab your cup and let’s chat.

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If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we’re T-26 days until half marathon #7! My ‘light’ runs are 6 miles and I’m planning a long run each week until the weekend before the race (9, 10, 11). I love this part of the training routine — it’s ON now! (P.S. there’s still time to register! Go here and use code AUNDRA2017 for a 10% discount on any race – 5k, 10k, or half marathon!)

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I hit 6 miles this morning and decided to treat myself to a nice, hot Dunkin’ coffee and walk the last mile home. My hands needed it – there was definitely a chill in the air today! Brrrr.

If we were having coffee today I’d tell you that we’ve reached the part in the year when most people in my profession start to slow the pace — May 1 (Decision Day) has passed, but of course certain populations of students (transfer, international) don’t follow the same deadline. For me, I’m kicking into super high gear to put our school on the radar for sophomores and juniors – encouraging summer visits, sharing the unique and exciting parts of our school, and making connections. It’s the more planning/creative side of my job, and it’s super fun!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m not teaching fitness classes this week! I have taught during ‘exam week’ before, but after the mental exhaustion of ‘am I teaching here, do I have to pay more to rent the space, what’s happening with fitness stuffs’ of this whole year, I decided to give myself a week break. I did teach a free Zumba class last night (holy moly we had a FABULOUS crowd) and I’m still leading a private Zumba class on Wednesday, but I didn’t really want to teach free classes all week (and have to pay to rent the space on top of it). Enter – teacher break! WAHOO! I’m so stoked (though I admit it was super weird to workout at lunchtime yesterday). I have a whole fun plan for the week:

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It’s like happy workout week for meeeee! If you’re super sneaky, you can see a fun challenge in my list that I’ll announce later this week. Weeeeee!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that the husband is working on tiling the kitchen this week! It looks awesome. We chose white subway tiles, and it looks SO fresh. I still can’t believe we have a kitchen with a fully functional sink and dishwasher, countertops, and more! We’re so very close to completion and it’s the sweetest feeling (and then we’ll tackle the back room/dining room area!). Always something fun to look forward to in homeownership! It’s fun dreaming and planning with the husband, and I know he enjoys the work part of it, too (and he’s suuuuper good at it).

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m teaming up with Chestertown Recreation Commission to offer three FREE family fitness classes this summer! You do not have to have children to participate, but you do have to be willing to workout with children!  The idea is that it’s fun for all ages and I hope inspiring to the next generation of athletes/fitness lovers. It will be filled with some dance fitness, fun and easy-to-follow cardio moves and stretches, and a few fun team-oriented circuits. I’m deep into planning mode for this. If you have a family or children and you’re thinking about participating, please let me know! I’d love your ideas and what YOU would want to see happen at these events. I’m doing it for YOU! Drop me a line at fitwithaundra@gmail.com.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m also planning our summer of fun! We’re starting with a birthday hike, then going to Ocean City for a few days with the husband’s family, we’ll likely plan our own DE beach weekend, and our July 4 trip to OBX!

What’s up in your world this week?

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Fit Friday #11: Run ZOOMA Annapolis with me

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

My favorite, favorite, FAVORITE race of all time? The ZOOMA Annapolis race!

This will be year FIVE of me running this course. It’s the one race I always make sure to run.

Why? First, it’s a women’s race – founded and managed by women and mostly run by women (though men can run the race!). Second, the course is challenging and scenic. You start at Navy Stadium, run downtown to the water, by the Naval Academy, over the Naval Academy bridge, and back to Navy Stadium. The scenery is incomparable.

Screen Shot 2017-05-05 at 3.45.18 PM The swag is also killer. A race tech tee that I actually wear (fitted for women!), usually something fun like socks – one year we had a yoga mat and a water bottle, it’s just all so useable and cute.

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The post-race (and pre-race) expos are also super fun. There are vendors with killer gear, massages, sometimes yoga, great speakers, and fun music. This is one race that I actually look forward to the pre- and post-race expos.

The past few years, I’ve been an ambassador for the program. What does that mean for you? You can get a discount to come run the best race ever with me! Use code AUNDRA2017 for 10% off your total price.

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Come earn that happy-post-race-sweaty photo op with me! And Melissa. We will be the one in the super cute rainbow tutus.

There is a 5k course, a 10k, and a half marathon – truly something for every runner. Let’s kill those bridge hills together!

 

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #48

Here we go! Happy Coffee Talk Tuesday. Grab your cup.

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If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you HAPPY MAY! Oh my, I love the month of May. We get to see the fruits of our labor at work, I’m all about being outside every day in the sunshine, and of course, it’s birthday month!!!! Did you know that Johnny and I almost share a birthday? We’re one day apart. How cool is that?

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that per usual, we’re going hiking on my birthday! I love a good birthday hike. We’re heading up to PA for a 10 mile Appalachian Trail hike. I’m so excited!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that my sweet little garden is growing! I’ve added some new plants and planted some seeds as well. We’re growing carrots, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers, radishes, spinach, kale, and zucchini this year. I’ve also planted a couple of varieties of lavender. Check it out! A coworker gifted us some strawberry plants, so I planted those between our raspberry and blueberry plants. We’re creating a fun berry patch!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I spent the weekend doing a few things I love – baking, cooking, prepping, yoga-ing, teaching, and running! A fabulous weekend definitely helps fuel the week. We ran a nice 8-mile course this weekend, in preparation for the upcoming half marathon. T-32 days until the ZOOMA half! There’s still time to register, with a 10% discount (code AUNDRA2017): come join the fun!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I attended another yoga workshop this weekend. This workshop centered on balances and inversions. I love balances, and we worked on a few of my favorites: crow, flying pigeon, eight-angled pose, and firefly. I love learning new strategies and prep movements for these postures, it’s always nice to get a new perspective. We ended the class with shoulder stand, plow, and some on-the-wall handstand work. My shoulders and traps were feeling it yesterday for sure! One unexpected benefit – my hips felt SO open after this workshop, it was amazing. I’m dedicating a little piece of each day this week to work on the movements from the workshop.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that our countertops are installed! While the husband is building an IKEA kitchen, we opted to work with Home Depot for the countertops. We wanted a solid surface countertop, for the durability. They are white and speckled and it’s super surreal to see them in our kitchen. Want a sneak peek? Here you go! So many more pics to come. The husband spent time hooking up the sink and dishwasher this past week (um, crazy skills, yo) and then we’ll move on to the gas stove, the backsplash, and finishing touches.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that it’s the last week of the spring fitness schedule! I like being able to move things around, and change the schedule every so often. I’m only teaching one free class in the park next week, one private class, and then I have an open schedule — which I intend to fill with running, yoga, and trying a new-to-me fitness class (butterflieessssss).

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we’re also counting down to the Street Party on May 26! I have 3 food trucks, one ice cream stand, a beer truck, and a special lemonade stand lined up (in addition to live music by Dell Foxx Company and a caricature artist). It’s sure to be a great time! Did I mention the event is free to attend?! You pay for food and drinks directly at the different vendor stations. What a great deal! Come join the fun and bring the family!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m also planning a pre-orientation program at WAC, for August! I get to host one this year. I’m calling it Shore Fit and we’re going stand-up paddleboarding (maybe yoga too), enjoying a guided yoga flow, going berry and peach picking, learning about healthy living and enjoying smoothies at Tracy’s, hiking at Eastern Neck Island, doing HIIT partner workouts, and sharing the ins and outs of healthy living in Chestertown and Kent County. I’m SO excited to lead this!

Lots and lots of creativity and planning happening here. What’s up in your world?

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Fit Friday #10: Getting Started as a Fitness Instructor

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

This year (in May!), I’m celebrating EIGHT years of being a group fitness instructor. Wow.

I know I’ve shared my personal ‘transformation’ story, but I thought today I’d share my group fitness instructor journey story.

It all started in the fall of 2008. I had just finished college, and found myself in a not-happy place, in a lot of ways. I was pretty depressed, coming off a high of being an “it” student (student leader, always in the know) to just being a bottom-of-the-totem pole administrator at my alma mater. I had gained weight from lack of exercise and mindless eating, and I found myself in a ton of student loan debt.

Feeling stuck, I somehow managed to pull myself to a “Fall into Fitness” challenge that got me to the gym a couple of days a week. (the reality of this spark of motivation comes in the form of something that might be a trigger, so I’m not sharing here, but would be happy to share via real-life conversation). When that got boring (I was really into the treadmill, which makes me shudder to this day), I wanted something more.

Zumba was all the rage at that time on my campus. It was offered 5 times a week. I decided to go. I stood in the back corner, wore SUPER baggy clothes, and stumbled through the steps. But I kept going, slowly moving my way to the front row (never dead center). When the instructor announced that she was planning on moving, I was devastated. But what about ME? And MY workout? What would I dooooo?

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I googled how to become a zumba instructor and signed up for an instructor license course. This was happening. No turning back. At the time, Zumba was super new and I had to drive 6 hours to get to the workshop. But I went. And I worked my booty hard through the program. And then, once I left with my license in hand, I faced a new challenge: actually setting up a class and teaching.

I thought for sure I would get hired by my alma mater to teach the classes that would soon be extinct with the instructor leaving. Nope, didn’t happen right away. I begged (even going to the VP of that department, which I’m actually REALLY proud of to this day) to teach for FREE. The spot they gave me? The 7:00 a.m. classes on Monday and Wednesday.

I was absolutely NOT a morning person at this stage in my life. But I became one because I felt like I had something to prove (which, at the time, was that an overweight but determined person COULD be a successful Zumba teacher). I practiced SO HARD for those first classes, stumbling over steps and being very grateful to my faithful 2-4 students. I learned a lot about myself that summer (this was 2009).

Fast-forward a tiny bit to the fall semester. I was hired, for small pay, to continue teaching the morning Zumba classes. If I had people show up (I was told a solid 8 had to come), I could continue teaching in the spring. I worked SO very hard for those participants. I had some incredibly kind souls who made sure to come, in support of me, since they knew the program could possibly be cut.

And you know what? It started to grow. I chose music that was fun, upbeat, I mixed in some new and old dance moves, and had so much fun teaching and learning with my students. That spring, I got hired to keep teaching and the class exploded. It was amazing to have SO many (consistent) people in an early morning class. I love those students so much, and all of them have graduated and left the College at this point.

I was on such a high from teaching that I got really into fitness overall. I started running (signed up for a half marathon that year, 2010, with zero running experience). I fell in love with running at this point, which only increased all the happiness, fitness love, endorphins.

Want to see a highlight video from one of my early morning Zumba classes wayyyy back in the day? Check it out:

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Then, I caught the teaching bug. I started taking other types of fitness classes, found and fell in love with PiYo and TurboKick, then decided to seek certifications for those classes, too. Eventually, I also found Insanity and just had to teach those classes, too.

It really just starts to roll at this point. I started teaching in different venues, found confidence as an instructor and leader, learned so many instructor tricks (like this list and this list) , and found a happy place as an instructor. Now, I’m teaching so many classes, leading special private classes, fun events, and constantly thinking about the next move.

I love how far I’ve come as an instructor and even more, I love the people who have trusted me to share in their own fitness journeys. I look forward to deep introspection to determine some important next steps in my fitness instruction life. I also look forward to seeing YOU and your smiling face (or stink eyes because hella burpees) in classes. I love what I do!

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #47

Grab your cup! Let’s chat for our weekly Coffee Talk Tuesday.

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Do you like my straw? I’m trying this “refuse the straw” challenge – reducing or eliminating your use of a single-use straw. For funsies, I purchased these stainless steel straws and have a practice of carrying one with me for things like iced coffee. I encourage you to try it!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that today is the DAY! By the end of the day, our kitchen should have countertops! I’ll definitely share pictures. We’re VERY excited for this next phase in the kitchen remodel. We will have so much awesome counter space!!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m very excited for a weekend of yoga! I’m heading to my usual hot yoga class, and then taking a fun inversion workshop on Sunday. It’s an all-levels class, but I hope to walk away with some fun transition ideas!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that it’s almost the end of the semester for the college students. There’s always a flurry of activity around the last couple of weeks. I’ll definitely miss my interns and all the amazing help they give me!!! I’m hosting a fun taco lunch party for my students which is always a fun time (I mean, tacos…).

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that we played in the garden this past weekend and added some fun colors/curb appeal! I’m excited to spend some more time in the garden this weekend. It looks like the weather will be nice and warm, perfect for some garden time and playing in the dirt!!!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m putting the finishing touches on the Street Party! For the past few years, I’ve helped the Chestertown Tea Party Festival by coordinating the kick-off event, the Friday night Street Party. This year, it’s Friday, May 26, and I’d LOVE to see you there! It’s a FREE family event that features delicious food trucks (4 this year — including an ICE CREAM stand what whatttt), a beer & wine booth for the 21+ crowd, live music by Dell Foxx Company, and a children’s activity center. SPECIAL this year — a caricature artist!!! Can’t wait for the fun. Say you’re coming?

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that the countdown is on — ZOOMA Annapolis is just about SIX weeks away. I’m excited to run another half marathon! I updated my running page (finally!) and realized this is actually half marathon number 7! Lucky 7!!! My last half marathon was four years ago, which is crazy to me. Training this time around has been wayyyy different than before–I wasn’t teaching 9-10 classes a week or working through a resistance challenge like I am now. It’s such a fun course, I’m excited for this race event! There’s still time to register (5k, 10k distances, too!) and the code AUNDRA2017 can save you 10% on your total cost. Run with me?

I hope you have a nice treat today! Happy Tuesday!!!

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Fit Friday #9: Tips for Joining Group Fitness Classes

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

Have you ever thought about joining a group fitness class, but ended up NOT doing it because of fear? Think about this: every single person who takes group fitness classes started as a NEW participant. Hear that? Everyone is a beginner!

As a group fitness instructor for almost eight years now, I’ve been encouraged by the community built in our fitness classes. It’s the most uplifting, energy-packed, amazing environment, and I’m on a mission to encourage people to step outside the comfort zone and enter an even more comforting zone.

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With that in mind, I’ve put together a few tips for joining a new-to-you class or classes in general:

Tips for Joining a Group Fitness Class

  1. Show up. On time, or a little early if that’s possible. Showing up is half the battle…bite the bullet and give it a try.
  2. Breathe. It sounds simple, but sometimes the thought of trying something new is enough to make you anxious or get you all tense. Relax! Everyone in class was new at one point, and experienced the same thoughts and emotions as you.
  3. Introduce yourself to the instructor. Don’t hide in the back corner! As a group fitness instructor, I can honestly tell you that I love when new people come up to me before or after class. I love seeing new faces, and it means so much when those new faces come up and say hello. Feel free to also ask about different moves, “How can I improve this” etc. – we’re here to help! Related — if you have any issues or previous injuries, it’s SUPER helpful for the instructor to know. We can help suggest variations to moves, or I’ve even come up with ALL different moves for students to try in certain classes. It can be done, we just need a head’s up from you.
  4. Go at your own pace. You don’t have to try to reach the level of every other person in class. Be safe — you know your abilities, your medical history, etc. – do what’s right for you. Everyone approaches the moves in class a little differently, and I love that aspect of group training. As the instructor, I learn from you, too!
  5. Drink water. And take a break if you need to. You will not be judged for slowing down or stopping…think of the class as a big family!
  6. And, a bonus tip… Have fun. Because fitness is fun! Especially in a group setting. Everyone there wants to workout, have fun, and learn from one another. It’s the neatest environment!

I hope to see you in a class soon! Check out the SUMMER SCHEDULE, which starts May 15 here.

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Coffee Talk Tuesday #46

Grab your cup! It’s time for a coffee chat.

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Coffee is 62% more delicious when enjoyed by a fountain. True fact.

If we were having coffee today I’d tell you that I’m BUZZING through my to-do lists this week, and that makes me nervous. Like, what did I forget? If I write it down, it happens. So…

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m in a good place with my summer schedule. I feel GOOD about the decisions that I made and COME AT ME YO if you don’t agree. Actually, don’t. Unless you have a cookie in each hand and both are for me.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I made these carrot cake balls over the weekend and they were DELISH. I mean, just look at them. I’m not a huge cake fan, but carrot cake, I likes.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I spent most of last night thinking deeply about a professional decision. I’ve been asked to take on some responsibilities that make me uncomfortable, and after lots of thinking and pro/con list making (just like Rory), I’ve come to a conclusion that I’m 100% behind. Gulp.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m partnering with some really cool organizations to offer fitness classes in the months of May and June. I’m very excited for these partnerships! More info to come!!

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m very excited for the student employee of the year event this week. I’ve never submitted a candidate before, and I’m SO anxious/excited/nervous and definitely hope my student (heyyy Caroline) WINS. Even if she doesn’t, she 100% WINS in our office on the daily.

If we were having coffee today, I’d tell you that I’m still on the lookout for running friends who want to come run MY MOST FAVORITE RACE EVER with me on Saturday, June 3! It’s ZOOMA Annapolis and you can run a 5k, a 10k, or a half marathon at a discounted rate. Go here for the race entry and type AUNDRA2017 for 10% off your race total.

That’s what’s up this week. What’s in your cup?

Now I’m off to get some more java…

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Fit Friday #8: Try a Monthly Yoga Challenge

Welcome to a new series on the blog: Fit Friday! We’ll explore topics in fitness and wellness together. Have something you want me to answer or cover? hmu at fitwithaundra@gmail.com. Here’s a collection of all the Fit Friday posts.

Have you ever tried following an online yoga challenge? A variety of different instructors and companies will host a month-long challenge that encourages followers to hit the mats daily with a pre-determined

Yoga challenges actually helped me develop a daily yoga practice! A couple of years ago, I found Kino MacGregor/KinoYoga on instagram and started following her challenges. She eventually teamed up with Kerri Verna/BeachYogaGirl and they started hosting challenges together.

I had the amazing fortune of completing a LIVE yoga class with Kerri Verna just a few weeks ago, and I can’t wait to attend one of Kino’s classes!

I’ve recently started following DoYouYoga, and have enjoyed their monthly challenges! This month’s challenge features common yoga class elements and a few fun challenges. Want to join me?

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I post the daily poses on my Yoga Instagram account (@ctownyogi)

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Yoga challenges are a great way to find new ways to move your body, too! I love seeing a pose that’s not part of my practice. I’ll look up the movements (usually in The Big Book of Yoga) and then find variations of that move. I’ll warm myself up, then try the different variations.

Usually, I’ll take my yoga challenge picture at the end of a workout – so my body is always warmed up before I attempt any movement. I HIGHLY ENCOURAGE THIS. You should always move your body a little first, before attempting a challenge pose.

What do you think, want to give it a try? I’ll post another challenge that I find for the month of May as well! Let’s get to the mats!

 

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