6-Pack Spotlight: Modern Barre Founder & Instructor, Julia Williamson

Modern BarreLet’s get one thing straight. I’m not the most graceful person in the world.

I took ballet from age 3 – 6 (maybe older … Mom, can I get a confirmation?) and then I took a pretty hard nose dive into sports. I’m talking basketball, lacrosse, field hockey, soccer, tennis … you name it, I did it.

And after trading in my tights and slippers for rolled soffe shorts and cleats, there was no looking back … until now.

A few weeks ago — pre-chaotic mess — I had the incredible opportunity to take Julia Williamson’s Ultimate Modern Barre class at her very own studio, Modern Barre in Chestnut Hill.

To say I was nervous is an understatement. However, I went with my energetic friend Allison who knew Williamson from their days at Hamilton College.

Class was incredible. And while I did not revert back to my days as a ‘gum drop’ wearing oversized purple tights that bunched around my knobby knees, I did manage to break a significant sweat — and more importantly have a blast doing it.

So let’s get to know this barre owner, who instead of slinging drinks is sporting sticky socks and crafting a killer total-body fitness class.

Caroline Earle: Do you remember the first barre class you took?

Julia Williamson: I do remember the first barre class I took, very clearly, almost down to the exact exercises we did. I was doing personal training at the time and one of my clients told me about barre. I’m not going to lie, I was a little hesitant to try a class. My first reaction was that my classical ballet days were behind me and my lifting and running routines were working pretty well; however, I thought I would give it a try.

Expecting to encounter a low intensity dance class, I was quite surprised to find it was in fact a fitness class (a very HARD fitness class!) and wondered if I was the only one shaking out of control from total muscle fatigue. I tried a few more classes at a smaller boutique style studio and realized how much I loved the concept of a workout that combined strength, endurance, grace and mind body integration.

Each class left me feeling completely energized and inspired and I really started feeling and seeing results in a short amount of time.

CE: Before opening Modern Barre, what were you doing for work? What made change careers?

JW: Before opening the studio I was working in outside sales for a start up company based in Kendall Square. Although I had been in sales for a number of years, it wasn’t exactly what I wanted to do. I was also doing personal training part-time as well as teaching barre and dance classes because those were the things I was truly passionate about.

I really wanted to blend my experience in both the business and fitness worlds and create something that would help and inspire other people. I had so many ideas for what I wanted to do and I wanted to be able to bring a lot of creative energy to my work without the constraints that you can sometimes encounter in the corporate world.

It took me about a year from when I decided that I wanted to open my own studio to actually leaving my job and opening Modern Barre. That year was a really exciting time for me and included a lot of brainstorming, planning, and learning … which still happens every single day when you own and operate your own business.

CE: Aside from teaching, what is your favorite way to stay in shape?Julia R. Class

JW: I love running in any form – long runs, interval runs, track sprints, outside, inside, road races, you name it. I played soccer, basketball, and lacrosse in high school and lacrosse and cross country in college so running was always what I did to get in shape for the season.

It is very meditative for me and allows me to both clear my head and get a lot of thinking done. No matter how I feel when I start, I always feel better after I run.

CE: Favorite pre-class go-to snack — go!

JW: My favorite go to snack before class would have to be rice cakes with peanut butter and jelly. However, I do eat like an adult throughout the rest of the day. And I almost always have an apple and Kind Bar in my bag.

CE: If you could teach anywhere in the world (at any venue) where would it be?

JW: I’ve been really into Outlander lately so I would say the Scottish Highlands circa 1740. But seriously. I would love to go to Europe and do a huge pop up class in one of the big cities — plan it on a really nice day, in the middle of city, when everyone is getting out of work — flash mob style so everyone walking by just jumps in and starts working out. I think that would be pretty cool.

CE: What’s up next for Modern Barre? Studio 2?

JW: We have a lot of exciting things in the works. We are in midst of filming some short online videos for our new blog that will launch at the end of the summer.

We are also going to start offering live virtual classes so people from all over can join a class from the comfort of home. We’ve had some amazing clients who have moved to other states or out of the country and we are excited to be able to reconnect with them, as well as with new clients, through this new program.

Another offering that we are really looking forward to is our teen and kids’ dance and fitness program that will launch this Fall.

As far as a second location, it is certainly on my mind. Since 18th Century Scotland isn’t in the cards, it will have to be sometime in the future … probably around the Boston area.

Be sure to check out Modern Barre’s array of classes and try their new client 3 for $30 deal. They are also offering a summer special; unlimited classes for $145 per month using promo code ‘summer15′. 

It’s All About Time, Y’all

unnamed

Have you ever been to Charleston, SC in July? Imagine stepping into a sauna wearing all of your clothes. Talk about heat and humidity … thank goodness for air conditioning. Phew!

This past weekend I was blessed to be able to visit my family that lives down south. For 3 days I unplugged (for the most part), enjoyed being outside and most significantly I took time to be with my family.

11227056_10100529872682938_3850994008165002883_n

So rarely do we savor these moments. Most of our days are spent running errands, glued to our phones and dragging ourselves to each and every obligation we’ve penciled in our At-A-Glance. Am I the only one still using one of those??

When was the last time you truly just had time and did something you really wanted to do? Think about it.

Well, for me, this past weekend was a reminder that the element of time is not only relaxing and enjoyable — it is also extremely vital. My girl Becky recently wrote about ‘The Value of Time‘ stating,

The most valuable gift we can give anyone in our lifetime isn’t money or possessions … It is the gift of TIME. Time is our most important, yet finite, resource and every minute you spend away from your loved ones or doing something you love is a minute that is gone forever.

Time. If you had a full day with nothing planned, how would you spend it? Time to chat it up in the comments below :) 

-TTT

 

On Trust

Let’s play a game.

22ef277769deda90a35ae33a154a6c8c

What is one large commonality between relationships and jobs? Gah, if you read my headline you already know it … 

Trust.

Both require you to entrust some degree of yourself within them. Whether it be financial, emotional, sexual — ultimately it doesn’t really matter. It’s trust. And if you’ve ever held a job or had a connection with someone, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

When certain aspects of my life came crumbling down almost two weeks agotrust was the one singular wound I was nervous would ultimately scar. I was fearful it would leave me with an inability to fully feel vulnerable in either situation.

Would I be able to let my guard down with another guy? Could I entrust my bills, expenses and future on another company? These were all valid questions … and ones I really wasn’t able to fully answer until now.

All I can say is THANK GOD FOR MARATHON TRAINING. Listen, running for an hour and a half … alone … with your own thoughts … now that’s an effing therapy session (sorry mom, salty language). But really though, the Chicago 26.2-miler could not have come at a better time.

Most of my days have been spent doing the following things (not necessarily in this order):

– Eating

– Sleeping

– Reading

– Running

– Teaching spin

– Eating

– Running

– On hold with Mass Health

– Teaching spin

– On hold with Mass Health

– Eating

What? Stop judging me. 

I had a real ‘come to Jesus meeting’ with myself during one of my long Sunday runs.

Trust is a non-physical, non-tangible thing. It’s fucking weird (oops, sorry mom). It is most certainly scary. And — in my experience — when you lose it, it makes you feel like a complete hormonal catastrophe.

However, regardless of how painful it is to lose, the moments in which you have it are precious. They’re significant. They are raw. And honestly, they should be cherished a-heck-of-a-whole-lot more.

So take a moment. Evaluate. Are your relationships and the trust-encompassing interactions you face on a daily basis being given the value they deserve? Or are they merely being taken for granted. I truly believe that once and a while taking a deep dive such as this is necessary — heck, it’s vital.

And no, you certainly don’t need to be marathon training in order to spend some time in your own head. But pounding the pavement and zoning out the pain of double-digit miles doesn’t hurt ;)

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below … share away :) 

-TTT

Star Spangled & Healthy: 5 Tips to Stay on Track this 4th of July Weekend

11702675_755013979057_6894037285604425244_n

Just a little #tbt in honor of the holiday weekend! Ps: I’m thoroughly enjoying that frosting …

I get it, holiday weekends are toughies when it comes to staying on a healthy track — nutritionally and with regards to working out.

I am certainly not here to be the food police stating, “avoid the BBQ, beers and red, white and blue layer cake” … however … I am writing to help provide you with options that ultimately prevent a full-on star-spangled hangover.

With regards to junk food, I mean. Sorry, can’t help you in the alcohol department …

1. Schedule your weekend workout NOW

Booking with a boutique studio or alternate fitness facility that has a 24-hr cancellation policy will prevent you from skimping out on your workout come Sunday. Sure you may be tired and perhaps a bit — ahem — dehydrated, but sweating it out after a long weekend will prevent you from feeling like ultimate crap come Monday.

2. Bring goodies of your own

Invited to a BBQ this weekend? Good, me too. Instead of popping into CVS and grabbing a bag of chips, spend 10 minutes whipping up this patter, chips or even a healthier dip alternative.

Chances are it’ll be a party hit — And shhhhhhhh … we don’t need to tell anyone they’re healthy.

3. Get creative with your cocktail Miloby_PomegranateSangria

Last night I went over to my sister’s apartment for what we call a “Sister Date’.

Aside from the plethora of girl talk (Sorry to her BF Danny who had to drown us out by watching episodes of South Park), she made me a super easy and delicious sangria.

 

Polar Pomegranate Sangria + Red wine blend = Easy peasy (and 1/2 the calories) sangria.

This was obviously a great option for us, but if you’re not a fan of red, try mixing some Sav Blanc with their Champagne Strawberry flavor and add some chopped up fruit! Honestly, with these summer seltzer flavors, the possibilities are endless.

4. Get the games going

If you’re a New Englander like me the time is NOW to be outside. We are literally held hostage in our homes all winter long. So, during this long weekend full of patriotic goodness, get outdoors and PLAY!

Start a flag football game, get the bocce balls out — heck, play some ring toss! The point is, keep your body moving and avoid sitting on your tush while tossing back a few cold ones.

5. Hydrate & lather up

Even though you’re frolicking in the ocean or pool and feel nice a cool, doesn’t mean your body is properly hydrated. Remember: Once you become thirsty, you’re body is already dehydrated.

Be sure to guzzle some H20 this weekend and generously apply the SPF. While these two factors may not feel as satisfying as a 45-minute sweat sesh, your body will certainly thank you later on.

Have a happy and safe 4th!!
-TTT 

3 Boston Fitness Studios I’m Loving Lately

6ccc81ddf397ff4d9163f88a36b65575

It’s no secret I’ve hit a few bumps in the road recently. But, unlike my current mental state, my body feels fitter and stronger than ever.

Here’s why. I’ve decided to channel any anger, frustration and sadness into a positive direction: The betterment of my overall health and fitness.

I know what you’re thinking … ‘Caroline, staying fit is your job! What makes this any different?/Can you really workout more??’ 

Well folks, the answer is yes. Instead of using the word more I am choosing to be more productive with my fitness, give my body what it craves (hello, yoga) and feed it with the optimal nutrition … and perhaps a bottle glass of wine.

Aside from my beloved Turnstyle Cycle where I teach 7x/week, there are a few Boston (and Boston-area) hot spots I’m loving lately … and here’s why:

1. CorePower Yoga

Locations: Newton, Medford, Cambridge (Alewife)

Parking: Yes. Medford and Cambridge have large-and-in-charge lots.

Cost: Drop-in rate, $23 | 5-Pack, $105 | 10-Pack, $195

Cool perk: If you’ve never been to the studio before, you get your entire first week for free!!

Why I love it: Something you should know about me … I am not a picky yogi. I enjoy a flow just as much as a structured class. To me, yoga is about breathe and finding space to practice without judgement or expectation. CPY is it for me. Plus the parking is a HUGE plus :)

2. Barry’s Bootcamp

Locations: Downtown Crossing

Parking: No, however, it is across the street from the MBTA (Orange Line) Downtown Crossing station.

Cost: Drop-in rate, $28 | 5-Pack, $135 | 10-Pack, $260

Cool perk: They offer ‘Academies’, ‘Memberships’ and ‘Hell Weeks’ every month. This allows members to save a few bucks if you’re planning on taking a plethora of classes!

Why I love it: This is one of the HARDEST workouts I’ve ever endured. Normally, I would never push myself so hard on a treadmill (sprints, heck no … incline sprints, you’re crazy) but with Barry’s I find myself challenging every muscle in my body. As well as improving my speed!

3. RX Strength Training

Locations: Somerville

Parking: Yes! Medium-sized lot.

Cost: Drop-in rate, $20 | 1x/week, $70 | 2x/week, $125

Cool perk: Personally, I’ll take the rough and tumble gyms over the she-she ones any day. Dirt on the floor? Yes. Chalk on the equipment? I’ll take it. If you’re not willing to get a little grimy, this gym may not be for you.

Why I love it: See above :)

 

Have you tried any of the above fitness facilities? If so, tell me what YOU thought? I’d love to know :)

-TTT

The Week I Got Laid Off & My Relationship Ended

DisclaimerAs my mom calls it, ‘salty language’ will be heavily distributed throughout this post. I am not ashamed nor apologizing, however, I am warning you. Grab a cocktail, you may need it. 

Saturday evening my boyfriend and I broke up. Wednesday at 2 p.m. I was laid off from my job.

The problem is, they were both extremely unexpected and painfully close together. Did I see either coming at me? Not entirely. However, as is life, chances are taken and people and places are  trusted. Ultimately curve balls are thrown your way. And it is up to you to decide how you’d like to deal with the pain.

A.) Be knocked out cold. B.) Put an ice pack on your bruises. Or, C.) Dust yourself off and stand the fuck up.

I told you, salty language. Sorry, mom.

So while I am not going to give you a play-by-play of this week’s events, I will offer you a synopsis as well as how I’ve decided to handle it all. Wine in hand, obviously.

Would I love to go ‘Eat, Pray, Love’ or ‘Under the Tuscan Sun’ the shit out of this situation? Of course I would. But the reality is I am 28 and my bank account is looking a little scary. So these days a Margherita pizza from Piazza Novello in Florence paired with a glass of Chianti from a small Tuscan village is more realistically Dominos thin crust with a side of Carlo Rosso.

Let’s take it back …

By Wednesday at 2:45 p.m. my world had been rattled. I felt sad, angry, frustrated, embarrassed and most certainly alone. Two stable aspects of my life had been pulled out from underneath me like a tablecloth covered in dish ware. Except, this was no magic trick and the perfectly placed table settings came crashing down in slow motion, radially shattering all around me.

After the initial shock subsided, I packed my book bag and joined my astonished co-workers at a nearby bar for a large-and-in-charge glass of wine. Reminiscing over the past year and a half made me laugh uncontrollably while tears of sadness rolled down my cheeks. This was one huge reason I’d miss my job — these individuals are both talented and real and even in my darkest state we able to make me crack a smile.

I made my way home — via the train I might add — and spent about 45 minutes crying in my bed before I made a decision. I could lay here, alone, sobbing into my West Elm pillowcase or I could get up and be with the people who loved and cared about me.

So I did.

3 miles and 25 minutes later I was in the presence of some of the most supportive people I know. Hugs were embraced, F bombs thrown and tears shed (again). I knew in that moment, I was with my people. I was where I was supposed to be. And I was proud of myself for not staying in bed.

It’s been a few days since the layoff and over a week since the breakup. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t still really sad. I am. While I am not defined by my job or relationship status, two incredible pieces of my puzzle are now gone.

There’s a new word in my vocabulary I’ve been using quite a bit lately: Perspective.

In any situation at any moment you always have a choice. You can view the dilemma as positive, negative, a life lesson or merely a bump in the road. It’s all about perspective. Instead of honing in on this week of complete chaos, I am choosing to see a larger picture. One that includes every single incredible human that has held me up this week.

Because at the end of the day I could easily be consumed by all the negative. I could lay in my bed watching Netflix with a heavy pour of Savignon Blanc and a Cosco-sized bottle of ZzzQuill nestled on my side table.

Instead, I am selecting a vantage point that includes new opportunities both within my career and my personal life.

It’s my perspective. And from where I stand I am choosing to see it as vast and limitless.

-TTT

Holy Sriracha

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Blue Diamond Almonds. As always, all opinions and commentary are my own.200

If there is one thing I love in this world, it’s condiments.

BBQ, low-sodium soy, Franks Buffalo sauce … and most definitely sriracha. Just this morning I doused that spicy chili goodness all over my hard boiled eggs [kisses fingers to hand and pretends to be Italian in her mannerisms]. 

Don’t get me wrong I don’t mask ALL my foods in condiments, however, when the cravings hit I find that adding a bit of dipping sauce — as I like to call it — gives whatever food I’m eating exactly what I desire.

Enter: Sriracha Blue Diamond Almonds.

No, you don’t need to adjust you screen, glasses or contacts. You read that correctly. Blue Diamonds has just released a brand new flavor of almonds and they are lip-smacking good. A kick of heat, packed with flavor and of course a protein punch.

IMG_3609

So far I’ve sprinkled them on salads, had them as a side dish with dinner (yes, almonds were my side dish), and eaten them by the handful.IMG_3610

Worried about overindulging like you might with a big bag of Doritos? Well, you won’t. These snackers are so loaded with flavor it’s really hard to overdue it. Take it from someone who loves her nuts — peanuts, almonds, Brazil, pistachios, you name it — one portion of these and you’re set.

Cravings quenched and taste buds satisfied. Now that’s a snack worth seeking out.

-TTT

PB & J Ice Pops [Recipe]

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by Almond Breeze Almondmilk. As always, all opinions and commentary are my own. 

IMG_3533For the love of peanut butter and jelly.

Seriously though, if I could eat one meal for the rest of my life I’m IMG_348899.9% sure it would involve one if not both of those ingredients.

So, with the warmer months of summer approaching (and some days already here) I decided to whip up some lip-smaking, salty/sweet, ice cold, refreshing ice pops … dairy-free and with no refined sugars, of course.

Feel free to swap around the layers, change up the fruit or replace the peanut butter for a nut spread that tickles your fancy. Because, after all, summer is a time for kicking back and enjoying a sweet treat.

PB & J Ice Pops [Vegan, GF]IMG_3534

Ingredients:

1 1/2 C Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original, divided

1/2 C Strawberries, fresh

2 TBSP Honey

2 TBSP Peanut Butter, divided

Directions: 

In a blender or food processor combine 1/2 C Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original and 1/2 C strawberries. Pour evenly into ice pop molds. Gently place mold sticks into place. Freeze for an hour.

Wash blender/food processor and blend 1 C Almond Breeze Almondmilk Original and 2 TBSP of honey. Jiggle mold sticks out and pour milk/honey evenly into molds — 2/3 of the way. Replace mold sticks and freeze for an hour.

Finally, time for PB.

Wiggle/jiggle out mold sticks and spoon PB evenly over the honey almond milk layer. Replace sticks (for the last time, I promise), freeze and enjoy!!

** I made my layers this way, however, if your molds are like mine it might be better to place the PB in the center later. Just a thought :)

- TTT

Don’t F*ck with Body Pumpers

09a7e869d4d9c02b44df2bb1c6689a43

Let’s get one thing immensely clear. I love Body Pump.

I aim to take it a few times a month at local gyms through ClassPass because — well — I enjoy the structure. I like knowing I won’t be doing cardio (since I teach 1,389,439,855 spinning classes per week). I always push myself with heavier weights. I completely fatigue the body parts we work on and then move on.

Bottom line: It’s fun for me and I don’t have to think for 60 minutes … which is refreshing when I enter the four walls of a gym.

Also, I have friends (I’m looking at you Katie and Becky!!) that teach it, so I have a heck-of-a-lot of respect for them. Have you ever tried to follow an 8-count … for 60 minutes?? Hard.

Which leads me to today. 10:30 – 11:30 a.m. Body Pump … the instructor was a no-show.

In a packed class of nearly 25 members — all set up with risers, benches and bars no less — the fitness director had to come in and announce there would be no Body Pump. Instead, she was replacing the class with a traditional muscle conditioning circuit. Dumbbells would replace barbells and reps, counts.

To my surprise, no one left the room. But — and this is a pretty large but — it was clear people were significantly pissed off. The instructor, from what I could gauge had more of a background in personal training than group fitness, gave it her all. She told jokes, motivated us and consistently asked us how we were feeling.

Not a single person so much as cracked a smile. I’m certain the overused and under appreciated Bosus sitting in the corner of the classroom were having a better time than most individuals working out.

As an instructor and someone who has had to fill in last minute, I know this was painful for her to teach. I truly felt for her. With each set and repetition you could tell gym-goers were getting a great workout. But, it still wasn’t Body Pump … and to many that meant it wasn’t good enough.

From lunges to squats, curls to pushups I was adequately fatigued by the end. Some of my surrounding sweat-ers broke down their barbell boundaries by the very end of class, which was both refreshing and relieving to me.

This entire situation got me to thinking …

A squat is a squat is a squat. So why were people SO bent out of shape about the structure of the workout? Was it because they’re so familiar with routine? Comfortable? Afraid of change even though that is the very thing that will change their bodies?

D, all of the above.

Lesson for today: Do something this week that is outside of your comfort zone. Throw a wrench in your routine. Practice yoga, go for a run, find a hiking path, go kayaking, try a new class. Because at the end of the day you never know if you love it until — well — you try it.

Even if that means you’re being force fed muscle conditioning when you were expecting Body Pump. And just in case you were wondering the workout itself was awesome. ‘On fleek’ as the kids say these days.

So yah, after all that huffing and puffing from members it really didn’t matter at all.

They still exercised.

-TTT

21 Things I Want to do This Summer

IMG_2657

With the dog days of summer quickly approaching, I figured, why not whip up a list of the top favorites I want to do (read: eat, drink, visit, meet) over the next few months.

I’ll both use this as a wish list — cause let’s be honest, some things might not happen — but also as a checklist.

Lather on the sunscreen my trendy friends, it’s time to start listing …

1. Visit at least 3 different beaches. Multiple times.

2. Go to the SoWa Markets.

3. Go camping.

4. StandUp Paddleboat in the Charles River.

5. Go kayaking.

6. Eat FroYo at least once/month.

7. Go to a drive-in movie.

8. Swim in the ocean. Brr.

9. Buy myself fresh flowers once/month.

10. Make fresh iced tea.

11. Experiment with grilling different fruits/veggies.

12. Go on a road trip.

13. Watch the sunrise.

14. Hike Mount Monadnock.

15. Host a backyard BBQ with friends.

16. Visit my parents in Maine.

17. Read more.

18. Attend an outdoor concert.

19. Go on a bike ride (not indoors).

20. DIY projects in my new apartment.

21. Donate 1/3 of my clothes and shoes.

And this is just the beginning … What’s on your summer wish list?

-TTT