Does anyone else feel like March flew by? All of the sudden I woke up and it was April but still as cold as a brisk day in February. Maybe that’s why I can’t comprehend that March has come and gone and more goals can be checked off – or that I’m just getting to this post and it’s already the 18th. (I promise a new goal is to write these for you sooner!)
It was admittedly a mixed month of goal crushing and, well, not crushing. I managed to try out a new recipe and TWO new studios, but unfortunately my book of the month rolled over a little into April. While I’m bummed that I didn’t finish it in March, I’m happy that I was able to start another amazing read and that I’m pushing myself to finish it so I can get on to something new for April. While I may not have hit my true goal, I’m still doing things that help me become a better person and push me to do things that I previously wouldn’t have, and in my book (pun intended) that’s a win.
This book changed the way I make decisions. Mel Robbins is quickly able to explain the concept of making 5 second decisions, and how acting within those first 5 allows us to say yes to things or accomplish things we normally struggle to. The biggest example – getting out of bed in the morning. And this is where the book has had the most impact on me. I was an habitual snoozer. But Mel explains how when your alarm first goes off, before you can reach for the phone or think about all of the feelings that are forcing you to go back to sleep you can say in your head “5-4-3-2-1” and as soon as you hit 1 you get up. By counting down you have nothing left to do after 1 than act, and therefore you propel yourself forward. While this is not the only application, it is the one Mel encourages you to start with first.
While I love the takeaways from this book, and cannot be more grateful for the lessons it provides, I did get frustrated while reading it. The book uses an abundance of clips from social media showing ways real life people have used these lessons to transform their lives. While I enjoyed the real life experiences, it became overwhelming to have to read a social post on almost every page, sometimes multiple per page. A few per chapter, or at the end of the chapter would have been sufficient to prove the points, without making it feel more like a scrapbook than a book.
In March I got a chance to try out two studios: Bikram Yoga West Loop and Barry’s River North. Let’s start with Barry’s.
Kelly, the boss babe behind SZ by Kelly, brought me with her to Barry’s on a Thursday for their abs class with Spencer. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Barry’s so I was excited to give it a try.
The River North studio is in a gorgeous space just down the street from True Food Kitchen. When you first arrive you’re on the main floor with a smoothie bar where you can pre-order something to be ready to go for you when you leave class (perfect for morning workouts before class so you can quickly be on your way to the office). From there, you head upstairs to the studio. If you’re a newbie like me and not sure where to go the smoothie bar staff are super welcoming and happy to show you where to head. Huge props to those guys for the warm studio welcome!
Once upstairs they have everything you need to get ready for class – from friendly front desk staff to lockers (no combination lock required) to fully stocked locker rooms you’ll be good to go before and after class.They also have a few spots for some killer photo ops, though I decided to mentally prepare for the workout instead of getting caught up with the ring light.
Class was ass-kicking (well I guess ab-kicking on Thursdays). You switch between treadmill rounds and floor exercises that coincide with what day it is (every day is dedicated to a workout type whether its abs, total body, legs or arms) unless you’re one of the few reserved double floor spots. I, however, had the treadmill mixed into mine. Both the floor and treadmill were intense workouts, but I loved how Spencer was able to give modifications for those who needed it. He was also super encouraging and his energy made me push myself even harder on the treadmill. Even in the peak of my marathon training I max out at a miserable mile on the treadmill (it’s a mental thing for me) so having a workout partially on a treadmill and feeling like it was tolerable was huge for me. I also really liked how they have you switch between floor and treadmill a few times rather than everyone doing one full half of class on the floor then switching for the other half to the treadmill. It makes running on the treadmill a lot more tolerable for us treadmill adverse people.
While I loved my workout and will continue to do the occasional drop in, I can’t personally see myself shelling out enough to pay for a full membership (spoiler alert: Barry’s is expensive). Don’t get me wrong – the workout is fantastic and the staff is great, but for me personally it’s just too high for my budget. I also felt a little out-of-place there next to some – well many – people working out in full makeup and with blowouts. You do you honey and if you love to workout in a full face then more power to you, I’m not here to judge! But I personally enjoy being somewhere where everyone’s there to break a sweat and kick some ass and not flirting with the instructor the whole time. Where my sweaty, red-faced workout peeps at?! I’ll come find you in April!
Now on to Bikram Yoga West Loop. I came here to try out a great intro deal they had going for $49 for 30 days of unlimited class. Alex, or more commonly known as I Seafood And Eat It, encouraged me to join him for a Saturday morning class so I decided to join.
The first class we went to I loved. It was a 90 minute beginner’s Bikram Yoga Class and my first experience ever with Bikram. I’d done hot yoga before where you just do a typical flow in a hot room, so I wasn’t sure what to expect, but our instructor was very nice and went above and beyond to explain poses to me. I believe his name was James. He was super friendly before class, spent time explaining things during class, and when I was incorrectly in a posture he would let me know or explain why the way I was attempting was wrong without feeling like he was trying to call me out or embarrass me. It felt like a safe space to practice and grow within my Bikram practice.
After class we showered at the studio before heading to lunch. They have towels that you can rent, or you can bring your own from home. They also have some body wash/shampoo, but no conditioner which is totally fine. I wasn’t expecting them to have anything, so the body wash was a welcomed surprise. One thing to note if you shower there – try to grab one of the showers on the ends. I didn’t notice until I was in the shower that the drain for all showers was in mine, so everyone’s dirty water was coming into my shower. Since the drains were going slow I was in an ankle-deep puddle of everyone’s dirty shower water. Once I finished showering I rinsed my feet off and it wasn’t an issue, but it’s something worth trying to avoid if possible. Also, if you want to keep your things locked up during class you need to bring a combination lock, but they do have small lockers that can fit your purse so that your keys, phone and wallet are secure during class.
After my first experience in class I was excited to try out the studio again, but unfortunately the other teacher I practiced with was not as nice as James had been. My first class with Naveed wasn’t bad, but it was definitely not as welcoming as my class with James. I assumed it was just an off day, so I didn’t think too much about it. My schedule got crazy and I hurt my eye and was in and out of doctors, so I didn’t have a chance to get back to the studio. Then, I got an email from them offering to extend my intro month an extra two weeks so that I could come in more. I thought this was extremely nice and followed up thanking them and letting them know I’d love to extend my offer.
In my next class I had Naveed as my instructor again, and didn’t think twice because I’d practiced with him once before.
In this class, again a 90 minute Beginner’s Bikram Yoga class, it seemed like there were a few other brand new or relatively new people in class. We all happened to be near one another in a corner of the room. During the warm-up I was so disappointed that I almost walked out.
Shortly into our breathing exercises a girl was standing behind instead of on her mat. Loudly in front of the whole class she was called out with “Don’t stand off your mat. Don’t stand off your mat. Don’t stand off your mat. EXCUSE ME DO YOU KNOW WHAT A MAT IS?!” While I understand you want her on her mat, she didn’t realize where she was standing. She also happened to be about 10 steps away from where he was instructing, so it would have been easy to walk over and politely ask her to move onto her mat. The fact that she was called out loudly in front of everyone felt very aggressive in what is supposed to be a safe place to practice. Shortly after that a few people needed water. Now I understand there are times when you are supposed to take water, but when you’re in a 105 degree room and feel dehydrated or light-headed you should be able to take water without being called out in front of the class. Everyone who grabbed water was loudly told that we should not be drinking and that this wasn’t the time to get water yet. In every other beginner’s class we were told to not overdo it and if we feel lightheaded to sit or lay down and take water if needed, so this seemed very contradictory. While I fully understand that there is a need for corrections and there are times when you should be waiting for to take water, there are still polite, non-aggressive ways to correct behavior Overall it set a tense tone for the next hour and fifteen minutes of the evening.
While I enjoyed getting to try out a new style of yoga, it felt like beginners weren’t actually welcomed or wanted in some of the beginners classes. I definitely recommend starting with a few classes with James or another instructor until you’re more comfortable with all of the postures.
The Recipe: Peach + Berry Smoothie Bowl
Let me start by saying I’m slowly trying to master the art of the smoothie bowl – and while my March recipe was a decent start, I by no means recommend rushing home to make this exact concoction yourself. My measurements were out of whack because I was experimenting, and overall it was a little bland. But it’s a start and I’m sticking with it! (In fact, I’ve already gotten better at them)
The thing I love about my new food obsession is that they can be made a million different ways with a wide variety of ingredients, so you could eat a smoothie bowl for every meal this week and not repeat the same flavor twice. It’s also a great way to add fruit and veggies to your diet in a quick and easy to eat way. And, with my Nutribullet RX, it’s easy for me to make and clean-up in a snap so I can throw my smoothie in a to-go cup and head to work if I didn’t have time to sit for a full on smoothie bowl.
As mentioned, I’m still learning to master the art of the smoothie bowl, so while I think this was a great attempt I am not going to include a full recipe with measurements, but I will include what went into this guy in case the flavor combinations sound delish to you too! Really, you can’t go wrong with any combo of fruits and veggies + some of your favorite toppings!
- Frozen peaches
- Frozen dark sweet cherries
- Unsweetened almond milk
- Vanilla extract
- Vital Proteins Collagen Peptides (unflavored)
- Chia Seeds
- Fresh dragonfruit
- Cocoa nibs
What are some of your favorite smoothie bowl combos?