I Started Personal Training. It is Very Hard.

If you’ve been reading the blog for awhile, then you know I’ve upped my fitness game these days. A lot of it has to do with marathon training and other is group fitness via Classpass. In either situation, as much as I hate to admit it, there’s an opportunity do A. do things wrong B. slack off because there are 20 other people in your class or C. not follow the right mix of exercises catered to you.

Long story short: I found a way to fix all of these issues- PERSONAL TRAINING.

I’m about to start in on my 4th week of working 1-on-1 with Ryan Miller aka. RiseUpRyan of Rise Up Fitness. I’ve known Ryan for years and have always admired and been inspired by his enthusiasm, approachability and, most importantly, his expertise. Bonus: he’s always got great music in his zone.

We kicked things off by doing a fitness assessment, which meant taking height, weight and BMI. Ryan warned me that whatever my goals were (and mine were to cross train for my half), I might gain weight in the process at first, but the ultimate end result would be converting fat into lean muscle.

Then with that we were off! Two days a week, I’ve been getting up bright and early to do some really challenging, but very rewarding workouts. I really like Ryan’s approach, which is pilates-based so everything is super core focused. That doesn’t mean that I’m delicately working out my abs doing crunches and whatnot.

Oh no. Quite the opposite.

There’s Bosu Burpees (which involve doing a burpee while balancing my plank on a bosu ball then hoisting the thing over my head).



There’s treadmill running (and sprinting!). There are plyo pushups, which I can eek out just a handful of before dropping down into my level one.

Everybody knows a rowing machine, but did you know that you can turn it into a leg-training reformer of doom? You can. It’s super tough.



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My Half Marathon FAQ’s

Peeps have been hitting me up about this half marathon I ran, so I figured I’d write a little Frequently Asked Questions about the whole thing.

Did you finish?

Sure did! In 2:28, which means I ran about 11 minute miles the whole way.


Did you have a goal time?

Eh, not really. Instead of a time, because this was my first half, I decided that my primary goal would be A. to finish and B. do so without walking. I achieved both of these things.

Were you sore?

Oh heavens, YES! And honestly, that was the most shocking part of the whole experience. I had run two 11 mile runs leading up to the event and was fine the next day after both. I figured with just 2.1 miles more I’d be fine! Boy was I wrong. I almost fell down my stairs in the AM because my quads were so tight. Even sitting was painful. There was no reprieve. I think it’s partly that I didn’t really stretch after–too much finish line excitement and just that…well…13.1 miles is a long run!


Did you listen to music?

Sure did! Before heading into the race, I asked my friends on Facebook to share some tracks I should put on my playlist. Bunches of people, and like *super* random people from random parts of my life alongside my friends an family chimed in. The result was an eclectic list that made me smile because it was like those friends were cheering me on along the way. Check it out for yourself:

Did you get bored?


Do you think I could do one even if I’ve never run one before?

Absolutely. That’s what training is for! I’ve never been much of a runner and I certainly don’t have whatever this elusive “runner’s body” is I keep hearing about. But I got myself on a training program, worked at it and made it happen. I’m confident you can do the same!!! It might take a bit longer to train for, but who cares?! Do you and make it happen.

Would you do it again?

Funny you should ask….YES. In fact, I’m already signed up and just took my first training run tonight for the San Francisco Nike Women’s Half. My co-worker mentioned back in July that I might as well enter the lottery for this race and whaddya know–I ended up getting in! This race is October 18th, so less than two months to go! This time around, I am indeed setting some time goals—now that I know I can do it, I want to do it harder, better, faster, stronger! Woot!

How I’m Training For A Half Marathon

I was always the kid who walked The Mile in gym class, bid my friends adieu while they took off on their daily jogs and generally avoided running like the ol bubonic p. In 2012 I wrote a post called “The Story of a Reluctant Runner” detailing how I got over my distaste for the activity and got myself moving, but the long and short of it is: two years later, I’m a runner.

Now I’m in the throes of doing something I never ever, ever thought I would do: train for the San Francisco Half Marathon. While I once thought I would never go as far as 13.1 miles, part of me remembers that I have biked 570 miles and completed a triathlon. Both of those two feats took training and I figured, I might as well see what this whole half marathon thing was about.

Lots of people have been asking me about how I’m training, so here’s the scoop on how I’m making it happen.

There’s An App For That!

I mean, of course there is, right? Before I even paid for my registration fees, I was hunting down the best apps to develop a half marathon training plan, basically to make sure this was even possible. I settled on MyAsics because it allowed me to customize how many runs I want to do a week (3) and what day I wanted to do my long run on (Saturday) as well as make it super easy to understand the program break down. The distances have been good, my only critique is that there are no voice cues to tell you your splits and pace while you’re running. So now I use MapMyRun while I run for the voice cues and plug all my data into MyAsics to keep me on my plan.

Here's what the app/my plan looks like.

Here’s what the app/my plan looks like.

Having Zero Expectations

I have one goal with this half marathon: TO FINISH. Aside from that, I went into this with no ideal time, pace, weight loss goal or anything. As a result, I’ve put very little pressure on myself and I’m having fun with the whole process! I’d ideally like to not walk, but hey–if that happens, cool. The bottom line is I *get* to do this.

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ClassPass: Barry’s Boot Camp Review

I was very nervous for Barry’s Bootcamp. Very very very nervous. Everything I had heard going into this class made it sound like hell, but also those same people gave if the most rave reviews and kept going back for more. Still, I was nervous and willingly expressed such directly to BBC.

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Their tweet response actually DID make me feel a little better, you know, if I felt like puking on the treadmill then I could always just take it down a notch.

Their Promise: The best workout in the world

The Experience: Upon arrival, the front desk staff was SUPER helpful and before swinging into the lockerroom I noticed none other than a JUICE BAR where you place your order before headed into the gym so that it’s ready when you come out. I ordered up some sort of Vegan shake with a HUGE dose of protein and a healthy amount of calories. I knew I was going to need it after a sprints on a minimal breakfast.

I started off on a treadmill. The flow of the class is that you alternate between treadmill time and floor work. On the treadmills you’re going between runs and sprints, sometimes at an incline. Your recoveries are done at pace, which means you’re still running at about a 6.

I’ve always been a decent sprinter and over the past couple years I found myself enjoying a run here and there, however nothing and I mean NOTHING could have prepared me for this experience. It’s one thing to go for a 4 mile run, quite another to be sprinting at a 10 on an incline followed by calisthenics that involve a step and weights. It was the most difficult workout I’ve had to recent memory, but in one of those ways that leaves you with a sense of accomplishment.

There’s something about working out in a dark, sexily lit room that really gets you in the zone. I honestly don’t think I could have sprinted my ass off if there were lights on. It’s kinda like “what happens in Barry’s stays in Barry’s” and I left it all on that treadmill. 60 minutes later, I was worked out, worked in, worked down and even diagonally.

Chris, the instructor was 6’9” or something and SUPER awesome. I loved his energy and enthusiasm for getting us to MOVE. The weight sessions were hella tough. Nothing was ever a simple bicep curl, everything was layered on top of one and other for max muscle workage. BBC is NOT fucking around when they say it’s the best workout in the world.

Because I worked out before work, I used the facilities to shower and was *delighted* to come face to face with a suite of Malin + Goetz products, towels, and dryers on hand. Paired with that smoothie that was waiting for me, it was a perfect experience start to finish. I mean, save for that part where I almost yuked on a treadmill, but that’s part of it too. I loved that there were a lot of guys in the class too. It’s refreshing to see a gender balance in a group fitness studio

I get while people are addicted to this place. I’ll be back. Specifically 7:50pm next Thursday. EEK!

BBC gets a 10 out of 10 for sure.

ClassPass Review: Mighty Pilates

As I mentioned in my Mint Studio Review, I’m really interested in expanding my pilates repertoire beyond my springboard exposure at BURN. I decided to hit up Mighty Pilates for the sole purpose that it’s incredibly close to my house so a 6:30am class was NBD.

Their Promise: Mighty Pilates offers energetic group classes so you get fit quickly and feel empowered. Be Mighty in Laurel Heights with classes that combine stretching, cardio, and core.

You’ll work out your whole bod head to toe on a mix of the Reformers and the Towers. Power up your powerhouse in this vigorous class that mixes it up. Appropriate for students familiar with the Tower and Reformer.

The Experience: Gorgeous studio. Just gorgeous. Reformers up front, towers in the back. Wish I had given myself more time to explore the space. The instructor Sabrina, was very throrough in asking about my injury (like what vertebrae is my injury on and shame on me for not remembering). I appreciated that. We began the class doing a series of core and arm exercises on the reformers. Since I have some basic knowledge of pilates, it was easy enough to follow along, execution on these tired muscles was a whollllle other story. At first blush, pilates equipment looks straight up like torture equipment (and I guess in a way it is), but Sabrina had excellent cueing and kept us in our exercises for the perfect amount of time. I never felt like anything was *too* hard.

After the reformers, we went into the tower room and began our work there. One thing I did find impossible was our planks on an un-sprung bar. I just could not hang there. Nothing in this class was, easy. At all. But I really appreciated the pace, instruction and flow of this studio.

I give this class a 10 out 10 ten for it’s instruction, experience and space.

Next Up: Barry’s Boot Camp

ClassPass Review: Mint Studios

It’s been years since I’ve taken a classic pilates mat class, but more importantly I have not taken one since I myself became an instructor at BURN, a studio that combines cardio, weights and pilates into one hella hard, but sweattastic 55 minutes. I was particularly excited to check out this genre of class with my more trained eye on pilates and fitness instruction. Mint Studios fell into my lap of course because of ClassPass, but also because it’s one block from the CalTrain, what I use to commute every day.

The Gist: With some of the hardest and most effective classes in San Francisco, Mint’s beautifully designed space is reminiscent of a spa, offering clients an escape from the hustle and bustle of busy city life. Take a Reformer, Mat Pilates, or Barre class and you’ll laugh, shake, and maybe even cry a little! Take a vinyasa flow Yoga class to center your body and mind.

San Franciso’s SOMA neighborhood is definitely not known for its aesthetic charms, so imagine my delight when I open the door of a nondescript building in a block of warehouses and enter into this gorgeous, pristine, refined and welcoming studio space.


I’m not sure what else to say except for: OMFG THAT CLASS WAS TOUGH. We began with what felt like 5 minutes (and i’m actually pretty sure it was 5 minutes) of planking and plank variations. Enough planking to feel the rumble through my core up into my shoulders and down my legs. Following planking we did a variety of floor work involving balls and resistance bands. While most of the exercises focused on the core muscles, I was surprised to discover how the work extended into my arms as well. For example, while holding a V shape (read: CORE WORK), we would wrap a resistance band around our feet and do a shoulder press or bicep curl at the same time, working two different sets of muscles.

The class was only 45 minutes long, but it was more than enough in terms of strengthening exercises. The instructor, Gaby, was very good and provided sufficient cuing, instruction and encouragement. There was one particularly difficult moment in which I’m she caught me silently screaming an expletive that starts with an F. I didn’t break a Yoga Flow-esque sweat or anything, but I certainly felt the workout in every fiber of my soul. It was great.

I give Mint Studios a 9 out of 10 and actively look forward to going back soon!

Next Up: DOONYA a cardio bollywood dance class

ClassPass Review: Doonya – Cardio Bollywood Dance

When I first peeped this class on the ClassPass app, I thought I had struck the motherlode. Three words for you: Cardio. Bollywood. Dance. Sounded like my DREAM.

Their promise: Doonya uses Bollywood songs to get you sweating. The classes feature cardio and strength fitness choreographed to the latest high energy, Bollywood-inspired music. The energy and expressions of Bollywood-inspired music and dance will keep you smiling as you burn up to 800 calories while learning dance and fitness fundamentals.

The Experience: Arrived to a non-descript building in a dark SOMA alley, but found myself in a open, bright dance studio. I was a bit early, my bad for mis-reading the class time, but luckily had some time to chat with the instructor before hand. She explained that “Doonya is not enough cardio if you’re into CrossFit, but not enough dance if you’re a dancer.” Thank heavens I fall right in-between those two extremes myself.

I popped myself into the front row of class, even though I’ve never done it before. I know that I always have a terrible time following a dance class from the back. These routines were fast and pretty simple to follow. The hardest part was definitely the hands and finding alignment.

In terms of workout, you’re basically hopping around for about 55 minutes straight, which will definitely get your heart rate up and a little gloss going. In addition to the straight dance moves, there were also lunges and squats sprinkled in for some more traditional conditioning.

The teacher, Palak was SUPER friendly and easy to follow. She’s been doing Doonya for 6-7 years she explained and even sent a super nice follow up note to all students, which I thought was a nice touch!
Overall I give the class about a 7.5 out of 10, I think she was right that it wasn’t *tough* enough for my liking, but at the same time, whatevs, I got to smile and dance and have a shit ton of fun to some very happy making music!

Next Up: Mighty Pilates – Mighty Mix

Yoga Flow, SF • ClassPass Review

Decided to make an audible today and register for a yoga class after teaching my couple classes at BURN. I told my roommate, a practiced yogini, where I was going and she casually mentioned “oh man…that’s a hot yoga class.”

Welp. Guess I missed that in the fine print.

I tend to avoid hot classes like the g-d plague. I can’t even sleep in hotel rooms that don’t have air circulating within them because I get so sweaty. Considering hot yoga is like that times that by about a million and add in physical exertion, I knew I was just going to be a mess.

But let’s get back to the experience, not my speculation of what it was going to be like.

Their Claim: Flow classes are typically fast paced and set to great music! Our instructors are skilled at catering to all level practitioners by offering modifications for different levels of students. Be prepared to sweat and get a great workout! This class is sometimes set to rock, reggae, hip-hop, blues and worldbeats.

I was able to walk to the studio from my house and was welcomed by a friendly bro at the counter who graciously comped my mat and towel since it was my first class–much appreciated! The studio was already warm upon entering so I braced myself…I was delighted to walk into a gorgeous space complete with skylights and floor to ceiling windows. Looking back I now realize it is basically set up as a yoga green house.


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Fitness in ’15 • ClassPass Reviews

With a new year inevitably brings with it some sort of new dedication to your fitness routine. Even if one is in reasonably good shape, you cannot escape the NEW YEAR NEW ME JUMPSTART YOUR FITNESS GOALS OMFG 2015 IS THE YEAR OF ME!!!!!! Thing is, I personally set my fitness goals back in June 2014, when I realized that I had just one year left in my 20’s. I decided that I was going to lose 30lbs before I turned 30. Six months into the plan, things are right on track: 15 down 15 to go.

So all this New Year New Me stuff, really resonated, because, well this year I’m turning the page into a whole new decade.

Long story short, I decided to sign up for Class Pass. I’ve found myself needing to mix up my workouts and introduce more cardio into my strength training. I also have a lot of friends and co-workers at BURN who are *very* into it, so I figured— WHAT THEY HEY! For $99, I’ll give it a whirl.

Signing up, I was frankly overwhelmed by the amount of classes offered. If I’m going to be really nitpicky, and I will for a second, the filtering options are an effing nightmare. All cities within a 50-mile radius are lumped into one master list by time slot. There are neighborhood filters in San Francisco I’ve never even heard of. BUT, a lot of the classes sounded cool, sounded like things I wanted to get in there and try. We’re talking TRX, yoga, spin, bootcamps, something that involves balls and surfboards, martial arts, kickboxing, dance and so much more. Basically the city has become my little sampling platter. (That is, if I can work around these dang filters).

After a bit of time playing with the interface, I was able to assemble myself a pretty sick little workout schedule for the next week beginning with TODAY. I’ll review the places and spaces I wind up, what I like, don’t like , love, loathe and more.


Their Claim: ”Push and pull yourself into a strong body on Fridays. Indoor class targeting strength and aerobic conditioning using TRX, tubing weights and body-weight exercise.”

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NEW Natural Hair + Skincare Shop: Strands & Company

In the natural hair world, we’re constantly being told about all sorts of products for almost ever different usage you could imagine.  The issue is that when it comes time to buy– where do you go?  And then there’s my main issue: where can a girl just get some good, all-natural LOTION and LIP BALM!?

Enter Strands & Company.  A new online store just for naturalists that offers a curated and refined selection of brands geared towards natural skin and hair care!  When I cruised the site for myself, I was pleasantly surprised to see a lot of new brands that I had never heard of alongside others who I know have great ingredients and value all-natural ingredients.  I’ve been in need of an all-natural (but highly cleansing and non-stripping) shampoo as well as (obviously) some new lotion and lip balm.  I decided on the following items:

Saint Francis Organics Peppermint and Vanilla Shampoo

Carefully formulated to naturally treat dermatological issues, this shampoo gave me everything I wanted and then some.  It cleanses without stripping.  It lathers without needing to use the whole bottle.  And it smells wonderful and fresh!  This was a totally new product line for me and I was excited to check it out!

The Soap Market Creamy Coconut Essential Body Lotion

And now I can OFFICIALLY walk around and feel like summer: without ash and smelling like I’m in the tropics!  The scent is heavenly and I love the pump dispenser.  The creme is thick, silky and doesn’t leave an oily residue.


Orange Thyme Blackberry Lip Tint

Why go plain lip balm when you can get a punch of color?  Well this was my thinking.  Moisture that lasts and just a hint of sheer red hue slicked over my lips.  Pucker up!!


Oh and one of the best parts!!??  All ingredients are listed on the site with links to an internal ingredient-wiki so you know what each thing listed does.  For example: did you know ginger is a skin conditioner?  I didn’t either!  The more you knowwwwww!

I caught up with Strands & Co Founder, Miss Cheryl Rose, to ask a little bit about what inspired her to set up shop (which officially opened less than a month ago! Woohoo!), who explained that the store was inspired by her own personal hair journey: “After years of dealing with my mixed-ethnicity, mixed-textured, constantly dry and splitting hair, I decided to make several changes to take better care of my hair. I stopped chemically-relaxing, I stopped flat ironing daily, and I started reading the ingredients in my hair products to strive for more nature/ less chemicals. After a few months of pampering (instead of abusing) my hair, I noticed that my hair was softer, more manageable, and most importantly – it was starting to grow back in the places where it had gotten thin!”


Next up for Strands & Co is The Co Bundle! . Cheryl explains:

These are products bundles that can be bought as a one-time box, or for a 3-month auto-delivery where a box will be sent once a month for 3 months. What is in The Co. Bundle each month is a surprise, and it will arrive with full-size product goodies from our shop. The Co. Bundle is offered at a discount price – get $20 worth of product for $15. That’s a 25% savings! One-time Bundles are $15, and a 3-month Bundle is $45. It is a great idea for people who want to try products from our shop but aren’t sure where to start, and a Bundle can also be a great gift idea!

Pretty cool indeed!

Through June 21st, NaturalSelectionBlog readers will receive a 10% discount from Strands & Co using the following discount code:


Be sure to check out the site, try some stuff out and let me know whatcha find!

Disclosure statement: this is a Strands & Co sponsored review. However, remember that I only publish reviews of things that I actually like!

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