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You kicked off 2019 full steam ahead! January and February were all about getting clear on your intentions and working towards your goals with unwavering ambition. Now, as we enter a new month with Mercury retrograde in our spiritual wheelhouse, you are being asked to slow down a bit and reconnect with your inner world.
Wait, did someone say slow down? You heard (or read) me right. March is your time to rest, reflect, and refresh. Just as an effective fitness regimen calls for rest days in order to gain the most from your physical workouts, so does your mind.
How can Mercury retrograde give your mental being that much-needed rest day? Mercury—the planet that rules your mind—goes into retrograde in the sign of Pisces throughout the month of March. This is when you need to take a step back in order to stay aligned with your 2019 intentions. Think of this month as your personal check-in time for your mind, body, and soul.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of my favorite tips and spots around Denver to help you embrace rest—and this month’s retrograde:
Yin Yoga is the complement to the traditional vinyasa style “flow” yoga we love so much. It is a more meditative approach to yoga in which you are holding restorative poses for longer periods of time to release the tension in your mind and body. Try an evening Yin Yoga class at Karma Yoga. Or if you can’t yet break away from the flow, try a Vin-Yin class at Oasis—which infuses both a vinyasa and yin style class in 60 relaxing minutes.
When your mind is overstimulated your ability to relax and stabilize your emotions does not function effectively. That can create a “flight or fight” response to even the smallest trigger. Denver traffic, maybe? In order to break this mental-emotional pattern, you must reduce the amount of stimulation around you and focus on stillness. For ultimate calm, try a float tank session at A New Spirit, where you can learn about (and experience) a revolutionary scientific approach to deep relaxation called Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique (or R.E.S.T.). If floating isn’t your thing, try VibroAcoustic Sound Therapy (VAT) at Vive Float Studio. This innovative approach to reducing stress uses mild sound and gentle vibrations to create harmony within the mind and body so that you may ease into a deep meditative space.
Many of you are hustling these days—hustling to achieve your goals, to grow your business, expand your network, or just taking care of your daily responsibilities. But, as you know, when you hustle too much you can compromise your diet, your immune system, and your well-being. Give yourself a real rest with an acupuncture session at Harmony Healing. Acupuncture uses specific points along the meridians of your body to enhance your recuperative power and immunity, support your physical and emotional health, and improve your overall function. I use acupuncture monthly to keep my hustle in check!
...to a massage that is! The benefits of getting a massage can’t be ignored, but many of you are not getting them on the regular. Well, this is the month to treat yourself and get one (or maybe three). Take the time to truly enjoy the hands-on healing that comes with a massage. My favorites? The ah-mazing Aromatherapy Massage w/ Paavani Body Oils at White Lotus Therapeutics. Or the Balinese Massage at Botanica Wellness, which combines acupressure, skin rolling, kneading and percussion. Either way, you can’t go wrong!
Whatever modality appeals to you, do that this month. Find the time to slow down and reconnect with every element of your being, especially during Mercury retrograde. Take that much-needed break so when April comes around, you will have a renewed sense of direction and passion for your life, your goals, and yourself.
Have you ever come across a fitness class on Instagram and thought, that looks so fun, only to scroll on by knowing you’d never in a million years actually sign up for it? Because, same.
For me, it’s always been dance. Pole dancing, twerking, salsa, ballet, Zumba... I don’t even think twice about booking. There is no way in hell I’m heading into a studio with a bunch of strangers and attempting to follow along to some moves I’ve never tried before.
...and then there was COVID.
When studios everywhere started to shut down, virtual fitness started to blow up—and all of the sudden, I had the opportunity to try basically anything without leaving my house (or feeling at all embarrassed). It was a silver lining and a kick in the ass all wrapped into one.
I started small, doing the classes I was most comfortable with. Once I had perfected my online yoga routine, I needed a little more oomph, so, I stepped it up to HIIT. I was proud of myself for getting back into the swing of things after a long the-world-is-ending-so-I-don't-need-to-work-out break. But still, I hadn’t fully gotten out of my comfort zone. I had taken in-person yoga and HIIT classes before, so even though I had tried out some new studios online, I had a general idea of what to expect.
Then, my coworkers told me about Rachel Vickhouse and MVP Dance Fit. Rachel and some other badass, beautiful ladies coined the phrase “Lift Your Booty, Love Your Body ™,” and that’s what MVP Dance Fit is all about. They told me this studio offered twerk fitness classes, and that right now, they’re not only offering virtual, but they’re giving one free class to all newbies, too.
I was curious.
Without really looking into it much further, I trusted my coworkers and signed up for the signature “Swerk” class (Sweat, Work, Twerk) to take after work one day.
Or so I thought...
My first mistake was not checking the time zone before booking. I thought I was signing up for a class at 5:30 PM, but turns out, the studio is in Ohio. Seeing that I live in California, my timing was all off. Luckily, I realized my mistake when I received the link to join the class in my inbox, and I had time to get ready to twerk in the middle of my workday (whoops).
I usually exercise out on my deck, but there was no way I was going to give my neighbors a free show (although I’m sure it would’ve spiced up their Monday). So, there I was—at 2:30 PM on a Monday afternoon, dragging my coffee table to the side, shutting my blinds and curtains, filling up my water bottle, and getting ready to dance like no one was watching.
When I logged on, I saw lots of faces on the screen. One woman was dancing while doing her laundry, another was rocking to the beat in her living room, and another had a prime weight room setup I was pretty jealous of. About half of the participants had their cameras turned on and were starting to warm up (AKA dance around) to the Drake song that was playing, while the other half kept their videos off. Because these women looked like seasoned pros, and I was a total newbie, I opted to keep mine off. (Yes, this is 100% an excuse. I know you see right through me.)
Then, Rachel herself appeared onscreen with French braids and bright pink lipstick. I’ve never seen someone with more energy—I swear, I think she was drinking Diet Coke out of her tumbler, but I can’t be sure. She let everyone know there were a bunch of first-timers in class, and they’d all have to show us how it’s done (no pressure). She asked if anyone had any song requests, and the chat started popping off.
After that, there was no messing around. The first song started playing, and she got right to it. Right about now, I was so glad I had my camera off because I must’ve looked ridiculous. She was moving so fast, and I was stumbling trying to keep up.
She went from sliding left to right, to dropping low, to lifting a leg and landing in a squat, to hands-on-the-floor-ass-in-the-air, all in the span of a song.
But after just a few minutes, I started getting the hang of it. The choreography repeated, with different moves for different parts of the song, and once I figured them out, I was able to keep up.
As soon as I got the hang of song #1, we were onto the next. And I love a challenge, so I was ready. Throughout class, we switched from more cardio-intensive songs to leg-focused dances involving squats and lunges. Halfway through, I was sweating. I couldn’t believe how much fun I was having, while also getting such a good workout at the same time.
At the end, I was so proud of myself for getting out of my comfort zone, and I definitely felt the high of a great workout on a day when I was feeling some serious Monday energy (or lack of energy) beforehand. I’m so thankful virtual was an option, because, without it, I don’t know if I ever would’ve tried a class like this.
During class, I knew I’d end up being sore, and over the next few days, I proved myself right. The next morning, I stood up out of bed and I felt it in my quads and glutes. Thinking I’d be good by the weekend, I planned an eight-mile hike for Saturday morning with some friends. I was so sore I thought they were going to have to leave me on the mountain. Thanks, Rachel.
1. Check the time zone.
Luckily, I figured it out just in time, but if I didn’t check my email, I easily could’ve missed my class. The beauty of online fitness classes is you can book them at studios all over the world. But, with that, comes time differences. Whenever you’re booking a virtual class, make sure you check the time zone and figure out where the studio is located, so you don’t have to ditch your afternoon meetings. (Unless that’s what you’re going for. Then, more power to you.)
2. Wear shoes.
This might seem obvious, but to me, it wasn’t. When I was getting ready to start class, I wasn’t sure if I needed to wear shoes or if I should have a yoga mat, towel, or weights ready. I wasn’t really sure of anything, to be honest. So, after I made some space in my living room, I looked up MVP Dance Fit on Instagram to see if I could find some answers. From the looks of it, no equipment was necessary, and shoes were probably a good idea. So, if you’re reading this, I hope I saved you some trouble. All you need is some shoes and a little bit of space.
3. Know that no one’s watching you.
Camera or not, no one can really see what you’re doing. And no one cares. I started off the class in gallery mode so I could see everyone, but to follow along with Rachel’s movements, I had to have her on full screen, and I couldn’t pay attention to anyone else in class. Having the camera on just gives everyone the sense that you’re in class together, just like you would be in person. So, maybe next time, I’ll toughen up and leave it on.
4. Maybe have some caffeine.
Should I be encouraging that? I don’t know. But man, that girl had a lot of energy. And dancing takes a lot out of you. About halfway through, when I started getting tired, I wished I’d had something caffeinated before to get me through. But maybe that’s just me. The good music and Rachel’s encouragement definitely got me going, and I had a lot of fun with it.
5. Try it with friends.
Distracting or helpful? I’m not sure. But I do know it would’ve been so fun to have seen all my friends dancing around in little boxes on the screen from their respective houses. And since the first class is free, it probably wouldn’t have been too hard to convince them. So, if you’re planning on trying it out, get some friends to join! I’m sure it’ll be fun to talk about after.
I’d recommend this class to anyone who likes hip-hop and wants to spice up their routine. If you’ve thought about trying a twerk fitness class, just do it already. There are literally no more excuses (coming from someone who would literally never set foot in a dance studio for real).
Maybe pole dancing is more up your alley, or maybe you’ve never tried a HIIT class before. Whatever it is, just know that it's the perfect time to get over your exercise embarrassment and try something new.