Friday, September 30, 2016

RVA Fit Gal's Guide: TurnRVA Cardio Jam Studio

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For those of us who typically frequent Cary Town or the Fan, Scott's Addition is an RVA neighborhood full of hidden gems. One of these hidden gems is called TurnRVA Cardio Jam Studio. Don't run away just yet (I know you thought about it when you saw "cardio") trust me!

I'm at the tail end of completing two weeks of classes at Turn. And every single class I've taken has literally made me smile from ear to ear - whether it was a ballet class (!!!!!), Urban Boot Camp, or a taste of DanceTrance - this place is fun as hell. The whole idea behind TURN is that we're more likely to not only work out, but LIKE our workouts if we are part of a community. Each class I went to was full of really cool gals - from VCU grad students to a professional at the Martin Agency, there was a variety of participants of all ages and walks of life that I got to connect with. Read on for what to expect in the classes, how much you'll have to shell out, and to pick up on my general vibe on the place.

Classes I tried: (full schedule HERE)

  • Urban Boot Camp - YES this class is awesome. Seo (the instructor) pushes you without being intimidating or overwhelming - the focus is on doing everything correctly...which makes you get a better workout in the long run. I learned a ton and had a lot of fun - definitely doing a drop-in later this month!
  • SURF FIT - I've always been told, whether or not it's true, that I'm clumsy and not the most athletic. So typically I don't do a whole lot of balance-related sports or workouts - but I def couldn't resist trying a class that is taught entirely on SURF SET boards - basically surfboards mounted on Bosu balls. It was hard af but super awesome because it engaged my muscles in a whole new way. Would totally go back.
  • Urban Ballet - This is another moment when I said screw it to my normal, "I just am super uncoordinated so I'll pass...", type attitude. Even though I know I wasn't the best dancer on the floor, taking the class (and bringing a supportive friend along) made me feel more graceful than I usually do. The class was basically a beginner ballet class with some barre-type moves incorporated, and challenged me mentally as well as physically.
  • DanceTrance - Sandi, the owner of Turn (meet her HERE), called DanceTrance their "bread and butter". Think dancing at a club with all the flashing lights and killer music but with a group of 15 other gals in workout clothes following a super badass instructor. And that's DanceTrance. Not Zumba.
  • Urban Sculpt - This was probably the most challenging class I took - think BodyPump but a hell of a lot more fun and with different exercises all the time. Super good workout and amazing way to start my Saturday before getting my iced latte at Lamplighter!
  • Barre - I would say this was one of the more challenging barre classes I've ever taken. Barre is more about finding muscles you never knew you had than about being pushed to your max, and trust me, you'll be feeling it the next day.

SURF SET boards at TURN


Ah yes. We are recent graduates and unsure about monetary commitment. This is a concept I understand. So I'll break it down for you --
  • Drop in - $15 (approx. 3 vodka sodas with extra lime at District 5) (yes that's my drink of choice)
  • 3-Class Pass - $40 ($5 less than the tassel necklace I just bought at Traveling Chic, dang it)
  • 5-Class Pass - $60 (if you paid the drop-in fee once a week for 5 weeks, you would pay $75)
  • 10-Class Pass - $110 (so you could work out 10 times for the same price of this Rebecca Minkoff )
  • Monthly Rate - $95 (This is probably also my monthly expenditure at Target. So I could quit buying scented candles and cheap sweatpants each month and lose some weight instead!)
  • Also there is a Groupon! Check it out for some savings and maybe a more manageable time commitment :)


Literally this is the easiest question to answer. Normal workout stuff - I often reward myself with fun workout clothes when I've reached a weight loss or lifestyle goal (which I just did and I ordered new Zella leggings to celebrate!). Also, you don't have to pay Lulu prices to look cute when you workout - check out my alternative (AFFORDABLE) options below. Another option - remember when I styled a pair of Spunkwear leggings? I still love them - feel free to revisit my post here!

Since TURN has a really nice new floor, they do ask that you bring your workout shoes in a bag and change into them once you get to class - this keeps dirt and rocks off the floor and also allows you to hang out in your flip flops longer.

So that's it. I'm a fan, and I'm going to try to budget for a pass once I get this job thang figured out. Grab a friend, hit a class, and walk over to Lamplighter for coffee (or beer at one of the 398237 breweries in Scott's Addition instead) right after. Let me know what you think!

P.S. - follow me on Twitter and Instagram for BTS of the #rvafitgalsguide!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

#GirlBoss, Fitness Edition: From Drummer to Dancer

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If you've been around, you might have picked up on the idea that I like to do things in series - like the #GirlBoss series, or the Friday Five, or the brand new Fit Gal's Guide, for example. I'm working on some more #GirlBoss interview installments, but this time, I'm getting to know the ladies who own or work at the amazing fitness studios and gyms that I'll be frequenting over the next few months. I've already met some really cool gals, and I want you to meet them too - so let's get going and start off with Sandi, who owns TURN Cardio Jam Studio in Scott's Addition.

Like what you see? Click HERE for my full review of TURN!

 So without further ado, meet Sandi!

Describe your fitness journey - where did you start, how did you get here?
I was always active as a kid. I danced, played soccer, twirled, and even roller skated. My big thing was marching band. I was a drummer. A lot of people don’t consider that a sport, but they’re mistaken -- It took a lot of strength, stamina and endurance - and in South Texas, the heat is torture. 
I got my degree in Communications, Radio/TV Broadcast and got a job in Corpus Christi. I joined the YMCA, and I started lifting weights and taking group classes to stay in shape for rec soccer. When I moved to Norfolk, I tore my ACL. That sent me back to the gym to rehab my knee, and I fell in love with Step Aerobics. It was setting me up for what would be my next love.
When I moved to Birmingham, the HR woman at work suggested I join her gym. She said, “There’s a dance fitness class there and I think it’s right up your alley.” She was right. It was Dance Trance and I was stalking the instructors and students from the lobby for a few days, watching from the windows before I jumped in. But once I did it, I was hooked. It’s the only fitness program I have consistently maintained. When I moved to Florida I licensed Dance Trance Sarasota - the first expansion of the fitness program. When I moved to Richmond I licensed my second location at Gold’s Gym and then Rigby’s Jig. 
It was never my intention to open a fitness studio, I just wanted to find a place where I could teach Dance Trance that had a great floor and sound system and it happened to be that the best situation was to just go it on my own. I decided on Scott’s Addition not just because it was a cool area that was up and coming, but because it was close to where I worked. I was blessed with great friends, clients and a supportive husband who put in a lot of hard work to help me get the doors open. I’m still in awe every time I walk in that we accomplished something so great in a short amount of time, with next to no money.

What has been your biggest health or fitness challenge, and how did you overcome it?
The most difficult fitness challenge was my ACL injury. I was 23 and naive - I thought I’d have surgery and be good as new again. I had no idea what your anterior cruciate ligament was and how essential it is to your everyday life. I’m constantly working on my muscles in the quad and hamstring to keep my knee stable. And I’ve now developed new issues with it and I’m sure at some point I’ll be back in to the operating room for some repairs. I have the best results with adding yoga and strength training into my workouts to keep it functioning as best as it can.

What does the name of your studio, “Turn”, mean to you?
When it came time to name the studio, people suggested I find a name that could represent other fitness programs along with Dance Trance. I knew I wanted a dance term in there, and when I started listing off terminology I landed on Turn. It’s a literal “turn" like in dance, but it’s also "turn it up" for music, or "turn up" for get crazy, or "turn your life around" or "take your turn". Now, I really feel like I’m at a turning point of my own, with leaving TV news. So it just means so many things to me.

What would you say about the old saying, “don’t quit your day job” in regards to your career path?
I’m nearly a month into my TV news retirement, running Turn full time, and I couldn’t be happier. I’m finally living in the moment and taking in the experience instead of rushing around. I love seeing my clients every day and seeing the happy faces of new visitors. Some have shared personal fitness stories and others are just really happy to be at Turn and part of the community. I love when people are genuinely excited about what they just experienced, and I love working hard for something that I’m so passionate about - but more importantly, I love that I get to see my children every morning and every day after school. I finally feel like I have the best of both worlds and I’m not burning the candle at both ends. 

 If you could give your 23-year old self a pep talk, what would you tell her now?
First, I’d tell that young woman to take care of her knees! LOL I’d also let her know that it’s okay to slow down and enjoy life more because her hard work will pay off. I’d also let her know that she was going to find a great guy, have great kids and touch the lives of many wonderful people and that they would do the same for her too. 

PS: Sandi said I was her hero last week because I tried so many classes at TURN (insert blushing emoji here) 
PPS: In all honesty, I didn't take any classes from Sandi - most of the classes I took were with Seo, who is equally awesome and upbeat and motivational!!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Friday Five: Travel Bloggers You Need to Know

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It doesn't matter if I'm going on a quick weekender, cross-country road trip, or semester abroad - travel blogs have always been my go-to for advice and tips about the journey and my destination.

The worst part of a trip is when it ends - because when you're traveling, all you ever want is to keep going, keep planning, and keep moving. Or at least that's how I usually feel.

I recently came up with a list of weekend trips and excursions I want to take now that I'm in Richmond - in fact, my goal is to get out of RVA one weekend (at least) per month. I'll share my list with you in another post, and you can follow along on the blog and on my Instagram as I work through it.

Meanwhile, I created a #FridayFive list of travel blogs that either really inspire me or have really helped me - check them out for yourself, and enjoy the travel bug when it bites!!

  1. Brunette Jetset. Basically, this chick is a badass - she's been just about everywhere, we agree that Vienna is one of the most livable cities we've visited, and she takes most of her trips solo.
  2. Hepburn and Handbags. Ashley has a great list of weekend trips in her travel section (including Waco, TX, home to everyone's fave HGTV show) and also some really down-to-earth musings about study abroad. Read this article if you've ever been frustrated with a friend who came back from their year or semester in Europe.
  3. Positive Publicity Blog. Camille at Positive Publicity has a ton of quick tip-type articles about visiting various cities - specifically London neighborhoods. Check her out before your next visit across the pond!
  4. Girl x Departure. This one actually might be my fave of today's Friday Five. Laura lives in Berlin and has been across the globe and back - to big cities and small, tried all the foods you can try, curated amazing travel advice, and has the most GORGEOUS photos and website design. Go look - you'll be on an airline website less than 10 minutes later.
  5. Sea Salt Secrets. Go read Shane's About page and try to tell me you aren't inspired. End of story.

So... planning your next trip yet?? Fill me in on your favorite past journeys, upcoming plans, and biggest dreams here in the comments, or find me on Instagram!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Introducing... The RVA Fit Gal's Guide

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College is really easy because everything is right there. Your gym, your food, your living situation, your friends, a pre-set dating pool ... I digress. But the basic concept is that in your college bubble, most things you need are served to you on a silver platter.

Postgrad is different.

Instead of the campus gym, where everyone is on the treadmill in their formal T-Shirts and the only meat heads are "retired" football players, we have gym options that might be cheap, but offer little structure or familiarity. Instead of walking across campus, we drive somewhere new and park and walk into a giant room full of faces we don't know. And for some people, this totally works.

But for other people, this just doesn't cut it.

I've noticed that I've been reluctant to join a gym here in Richmond, even though working out is the best way for me to manage anxiety, keep off excess weight (duh) and clear my mind when I'm stressed. I've noticed that a lot of other girls my age are kind of in the same boat.

So I figured it wouldn't hurt to find out a little more about the fitness scene here in RVA.

What's out there? Who's teaching it? What does it feel like? Where are the studios?

I'm planning on answering all of these questions and more with my latest series, the RVA Fit Gal's Guide. I'll go and do the dirty work - test out studios and gyms and classes - and report back to you on social media and right here at The PDX Belle. I'll also throw in a few #GirlBoss interviews, because it's badass that there are women out there who work out and inspire other people for a living, and we might as well pick up a few tips from them.


Are you a local fitness studio looking for exposure or new clients? Contact me - let's work together! 

Friday, September 16, 2016

Friday Five: Ways to Stay Healthy on Road Trips

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Happy Friday! I've put together and scheduled a few Friday Five posts to get us through the beginning of fall, including this one - all about eating as clean as possible on road trips. The point of the Friday Five series is to provide quick tips to my readers - tips on healthy eating, working out, elevating your personal style, travel... you name it, just a quick fix that will hopefully provide a little motivation without too much of a time commitment.

I just finished driving from Portland to Richmond in order to start my "grownup" life out here - you know, get a job, apartment, all that good stuff (maybe a dog??? LOL I wish). I had major anxiety leading up to the trip specifically regarding food and exercise - I had finally gotten in a great routine, started losing some weight, and was eating good, whole foods. Road trips are usually synonymous with binge eating, candy, drive-thrus, and nasty little snacks all day long.

Somehow, we did a pretty good job at keeping our eating clean this time -- and here's the lowdown on how you can, too.

  1. Avoid overeating. Bring snack food in prepackaged portions or pre-portion snacks yourself in Ziplocs that you can grab easily. 
  2. Skip the drive-thru. Make it your co-pilot's priority to locate and navigate to a local joint about halfway through your day. Sit down at a table and eat slowly. Enjoy your surroundings, and stop when you're full.
  3. Hydrate. Fill up your water bottle each time you stop for gas - skip soda and milk-based drinks that might make you feel uncomfortable and bloated. 
  4. Hide the snacks. Might sound a little drastic, but if your snacks aren't within arms' reach, they won't "disappear" so quickly. When you stop, grab a prepared snack out of the trunk instead of munching all day.
  5. Choose wisely. Instead of packing bags of salty, addictive snack food, bring filling snacks that you won't be tempted to keep stuffing in your mouth. Try small bags of unsalted almonds, lightly salted popcorntrail mix without tons of chocolate, and maybe even dried fruit.

See?? Totally doable. Pack this list for your next road trip, and remember -- preparation is key! 
Interested in learning more about my road trip?? 
Check the tag #twinsxusa on Instagram and follow our Spotify playlist!! 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Fall Transitions

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Booties: Carlos by Carlos Santana // Dress: // Shawl: South Moon Under (similar) // Hat: somewhere in Munich (similar) // Earrings: Sloan Boutique (similar) // Bag: Rebecca Minkoff (on sale!)

WHAT I'm posting an outfit on my blog?? This is something that hasn't happened in a while -- like I've said before, my body image took a beating over the past couple months, and honestly, it's really hard to find someone to take photos for the blog without feeling like you're acting self-absorbed -- when in reality, my blog and my writing is a great tool I can use to get into the job market I'm interested in. Which is... I don't really know. But if I have some writing samples out here, some creativity, and an example of how I can work with brands and digital advertisers, I figure that can't really hurt. right??

ANYWAY here's my outfit and a couple tips on how to make your wardrobe transition into fall weather --

I highly recommend "investing" (in quotes bc they're super affordable) in a Piko dress - there are a couple similar Piko tunics linked below, but the best place to find a HUGE selection of layering pieces in every single color is They seem to have to best prices and largest selection. Throw a summer cardigan or kimono on over that (mine is from South Moon Under, similar linked below) and transitional accessories, and you're set for fall without whipping out your heaviest sweater and riding boots. Also, this isn't a sponsored post (when it is, I say so) - I just actually really think these are good pieces to have.

Tips for taking your layers into fall:

  • Take advantage of heavier, seasonal materials for your accessories - like suede, wool, or felt - to complement light, end-of-summer dresses and layers
  • Pick muted neutrals that can work with most colors - try mauve, cornflower blue, or apricot for a seasonally appropriate and trendy vibe
  • Check discount apps like HauteLook (where I got these booties!) and stores like Nordstrom Rack for lower prices - I got this Rebecca Minkoff for $108 at the Rack a couple weeks ago! 

Monday, August 22, 2016

So I'm Working With a Health Coach...

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why you should try health coaching

I've tried seeing a counselor, I've worked out for my whole life, and I think I know how to eat well, but suddenly I've learned that there's a whole lot more to the concept of HEALTH than those parts of my life.

Enter Jessica Cassity, founder and owner of Deeply Rooted Coaching.

Jessica sent me an email a while back and offered to show me her stuff - a whole 8 sessions/3 months of open & honest conversations, a tiny bit of paperwork, and hopefully some progress. Honestly, Jessica's email couldn't have come at a better time in my life. I'm just starting to gather the pieces (I know, it seems like this has been happening for a while) and taking some tangible steps (with Jessica's support) toward actually starting the next chapter of my adult life.

So far we have had about 2.5 (I add .5 because one of our conversations was cut short by me being disorganized and phone conversations about my goals, a one-year vision, and then discussing ways that I can be moving toward this vision and toward these next things even while I'm in the midst of a chapter that feels a little stagnant.

So let's get real here - I'm going to share my vision with y'all, and talk a little bit about how my conversations with Jessica have made me feel about it.

My one-year vision: I see myself living in Richmond, hopefully in an apartment on my own, with a job that pays the bills and challenges me either intellectually or creatively. Not something where I sit in the same place for 8 hours a day, but something that makes sense for my level and lifestyle. I want a gym membership, a workout routine, and the ability to have control over my surroundings - including diet and lifestyle.

Where I am now: I've been living at home in Portland for almost three months now. I wasn't sure for a while if I would be here for a few years, wasn't sure if I was going to move back to VA, and haven't been totally happy. Impermanence made me feel like I couldn't splurge on a gym membership or get a steady job - I work part time and nanny part time and am probably the most out of shape I've ever been.

How Deeply Rooted Coaching has helped: At the beginning of our relationship, Jessica mentioned that health coaching focuses on a goal and on small daily changes, rather than discussing things that happened in the past and why they're having an impact on my life now. We've had super open talks about my family, my feeling of stuck-ness (or whatever), and certain things that have been causing me anxiety and stress. I left our last talk feeling empowered to make decisions for myself and take small steps (like finding a two-week exercise Groupon and planning the driving route back to VA) that will help put me in the mindset I want to be in when I get back to Richmond.

Stay tuned - I've been tweeting a lot about this journey, and plan on spotlighting Jessica in my #GirlBoss series. If you've been feeling stuck, a health coach (or even the tips I'll share from my experience) could be a great way to get out of your current rut.