Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Gift Guide for the Beauty Junkie

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Have a special person in your life who goes crazy over beauty products and makeup?
I've compiled a holiday wishlist of things just for her - take a look!

Studio Gear Prime Objective Skin Perfecting Face Primer would be a great stocking stuffer!
Best Stocking Stuffer: Prime Objective Perfecting Face Primer by Studio Gear. This stuff goes on so smoothly and makes it so that my makeup blends perfectly on top - especially in the winter, when my skin starts to get dry and weird, it helps to use a primer before anything else. Use code "BB" for 10% off your online purchase!

Best Eyeshadow Palette: Anything neutral. I'm really obsessed with this Tarte palette lately - it's also linked below - and you know you can't go wrong with any of the Naked palettes. I would stick to something warm and gold/brown based if you're unsure about picking colors, plus golds are perfect for the holiday season.

Best Mascara: I personally swear by Benefit They're Real - they have a really good brown, and with my blue eyes and blonde hair, brown is the best shade for me. It stays on through hot yoga and all my other Fit Gal's Guide endeavors so I really can't complain. I've also linked a few other options that either I've liked in the past or my friends wear regularly.

Best Blush/Highlighter: I use Benefit's Shy Beam highlighter myself with a shimmery MAC blush on top. I love what strobing can do for a person's bone structure, and I think using highlighter is a really fun way to dress up your makeup.

Clearly I kept this gift guide down to the basics - I think that beauty products are perfect stocking stuffers and a great addition to a holiday gift basket - gift baskets are one of my favorite ways to give during the season! I also tried to choose products that I know and love myself, or that I'm positive one of my friends (they all have great taste in makeup!) uses regularly and loves, as well. 
Have any questions or suggestions of your own?! Chime in on the comments!

this post was powered by BrandBacker, but all opinions are my own :)

Monday, November 28, 2016

The RVA Fit Gal's Guide to Diva Bootcamp

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I mentioned last week that I've had the privilege of getting to know Kiara, who runs Diva Bootcamp. You may have actually seen her around town before in a Subaru with a cute Diva logo on the side, or maybe you've spotted groups of women at Mary Munford or University of Richmond running laps around the block or cheering each other on during workouts. There's something to be said for working out outdoors - I've always loved the feeling of fresh air, and it can be tough to find a gym or studio that's quite the right fit. Working out outside can present a challenge when it's cold, but when I tried a chilly 5:30 AM class at Mary Munford, Kiara brought warm lavender scented washcloths that we got to put over our eyes after the workout was finished. That was a really amazing way to start my week - feeling the cool air on my face and watching the sun come up as I left the workout. 

Sounds like fun, right?? It is - read on for more information!

Classes I Tried:

So this is where things get a little different. Diva Bootcamp is offered three days a week (MWF) at three different times - 5:30 AM, 9:15 AM, and 6:30 PM. Although you aren't bound to one class time for your entire membership, it seemed to me that most members ended up sticking to one group or another, and different groups had different vibes. I attended the 5:30 AM class, where about half the participants had just run the Richmond Half Marathon, and I also went to the 6:30 PM class - where there was a wide variety of ages and fitness levels represented.


One really important emphasis at Diva Bootcamp is on team, family, and community. During workouts, the women chatted with one another and cheered encouragingly. Kiara offered constructive feedback and helped people perfect their form. This type of atmosphere existed partially because all of the members were committed to coming and had been for a while (some for more than 5 years). 

Because of this, you can usually only join Diva Bootcamp for a commitment of at least one month at a time. One month is $105. 
For a limited time only, you have the option to purchase drop-in passes at varying price points. 

 What Do I Wear?!

Well, since it's outside, I would recommend layers. My dad always taught me not to wear cotton next to my skin when I might sweat, and to always put something on my head if I'm outside in the cold. I linked some good layering pieces below, plus a few headbands and glove sets that would help take the edge off. Otherwise, you do need to bring your own dumbbells (I got 8 lb ones from Target) and a yoga mat - but one that you don't mind getting dirty!

I think that Diva Bootcamp is a really good place to start if you aren't sure about beginning a fitness routine. The environment is super supportive, and there's going to be someone at all fitness and health levels in all of the programs - everyone starts somewhere! Plus, the small groups enable Kiara to give a ton of individual feedback, so if you worry about not being able to do a move right, this is a great (and accepting) place to learn. 

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Meet Kiara, the Diva Behind Diva Bootcamp!

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My latest fitness endeavor was a little different.  I shook off the confines of studios and beautiful refinished buildings to get some fresh air with Kiara Fuentes and the divas of Diva Bootcamp - a local outdoor fitness program for women in RVA. I'm currently working on my review of the program, but I can tell you that it's a really cool and personal experience to take part in one of Kiara's workouts. I love, love, love the message behind Diva Bootcamp - it's exactly what a lot of us need to hear these days. Get to know Kiara, and come back later this week to find out more!

What is your personal wellness background? How did fitness become your career?
My personal wellness background is massage therapy! I became a massage therapist 5 years ago and fell in love with how the body moves, taking care of your body, and taking care of yourself mentally and emotionally. I took over Diva Bootcamp in 2014. I had been a member under the original owner, Sherma Francis, and loved it! I loved feeling strong, fast, capable of tackling anything. Sherma eventually moved away to become a Physician's Assistant and I was given the opportunity to become the new owner and operator. I was excited (and still am) to make fitness my lifestyle, to encourage women to make fitness their lifestyle, to encourage women to see fitness as something beyond just numbers on a scale, and to reach out to women about taking care of themselves both physically and mentally.

Does Diva Bootcamp have a mission statement? What’s your mission for the program?

We do not have an "official" mission statement but I do have a mission and philosophy for the program. I whole-heartedly believe that fitness should be more than reaching a certain dress size, rather, fitness should be a celebration of movement, of what our bodies can do for us. I also believe that by empowering women to feel stronger, faster, more energetic, we empower communities. Lastly, our mission is to encourage women to shift their mindset from only having fat loss or weight loss goals to enjoying fitness, to setting practical, sustainable and positive health and wellness goals. Too many women equate their worth to size, shape, and outward appearances--I'd like to help shift that societal messaging and internal dialogue. I'd like to see the fitness industry as a whole move away from the shaming and weight loss messages that are directed at women!

What would you say to women who are reluctant to starting a fitness routine or don’t know where to begin?

Everyone has to start somewhere! I hear a lot of reluctance from newbies and I always gently remind them that everyone has to start somewhere. Start with what brings you joy--walking, dancing, hiking, etc. Starting a new fitness routine can be uncomfortable, intimidating, and challenging. Start off slow with activities you like. And then celebrate every victory, no matter how small! It's easy to compare yourself to others or say mean things to yourself when you are first starting out. Talk to yourself gently, be proud of your efforts, and have fun with it.

Who are the divas of Diva Bootcamp? How would you describe the women who participate in workouts?

The Divas of Diva Bootcamp are strong, empowered women!! We have women in their 20's and a member in her late 60's. The Divas have varying fitness abilities and varying fitness interests. Some women run half marathons, others go for nature walks, while others practice yoga. The two things we all have in common: we love being part of a supportive team and we love being outside!

What is the most rewarding aspect of owning a business?

I suppose it sounds cheesy, it's what all entrepreneurs say: But I get to do what I love. I love building relationships with people, nurturing people, encouraging people to be their best, healthiest selves. Knowing that I'm able to make a positive impact on people---that's the most rewarding aspect of owning a business. On the business side of things: I love that I have freedom and flexibility in my schedule, that no two days are ever the same, that I get to work on the daily tasks while also crafting the bigger vision, and I love that in my business I get to be outside

Feeling empowered yet?! Take a look at our other fitness-inspired GirlBosses - Sandi Cauley of TURN and Audrey Bonafe of Fighting Gravity Fitness

Monday, November 21, 2016

Let's Get Real About Our Early 20s

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I think it's pretty normal for bloggers not to "get real" too often. After all, most of us make at least a little bit of money off our platforms, put a ton of time into developing and editing content, and put forth a carefully crafted brand for our readers. I typically toe the line on this branding concept, which might be a bit of a detriment when it comes to sponsored opportunities and readership - but I would rather be open with those of you who stop by here than pretend my life is perfect. It's not. 
Read this post if you need proof.

This fall, I've devoted myself to a lot of things. To working on this blog, which is my passion project and little creative baby, to getting a new job and doing well at it, to getting ANOTHER new job coaching JV high school swimming, to getting as much girl time as possible, to being present in the lives of family members here in Richmond, to staying in touch with my family far away. Granted, I chose a lot of this. But at the same time, it feels like there wasn't much choice.

These are some tough things to balance. People don't tell you that the period of time after graduating from college is one of the most anxiety-inducing times you'll ever face. We're supposed to hit the ground running, get a 9-5 job and a place to live within months, start making the big bucks, and get rid of our junky college cars. That part of it, combined with the increasing pressure to either be ~super happy~ as a single gal or be ~super serious~ with a boyfriend makes life a little challenging right now. 

All we hear at our age is that we're at a selfish time of life and we only care about our fun and friends and ourselves -- how can this be true when the majority of young women I know are struggling to stay sane while balancing a desk job they aren't passionate about, car or student loan payments, the pressure to care for oneself through fitness and wellness, and the desire to have some type of social and romantic life? Many of us are navigating life without people we had thought would be around or we're adding new friends and relationships to the mix. This shit is hard, and don't excuse my language because it truly is. 

I had to get a little rant out, because some people make it look and sound easy. The truth is, this is an exciting time - but also one that makes me second-guess a whole lot of things. 

Anyway, back to cooking healthy meals, writing swim practices for middle schoolers, and my fruitless pursuit of love through swiping right. See you on the other side!

Friday, November 18, 2016

5 Ways to Make the Holidays a Little More Joyful

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This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #GladeHolidayJoy #CollectiveBias

Seriously, is anything better than lighting a pine-scented candle in your home once November starts to wane? Something about Christmas decor just makes everything feel so homey and cozy - but Christmas comes with its fair share of stressors, too. I partnered up with Glade to share a few easy ways to spread joy this holiday season - after all, when you work 9-5, start paying bills, and don't always have the time to make elaborate holiday gifts and plans, we need things to be nice and simple.

I got these products at my local Kroger, which, like most other stores in the area, has started to put Christmas and holiday displays out in full force. I'm resistant to Christmas carols, but I love the smell of pine needles (reminds me of home) so no complaints here!  

So now that we're grownups, we need to be thinking about things like holiday dinner parties, gift exchanges, hostess gifts, and decorating our own little apartments - all on a fairly tight budget. I think Glade products are an easy way to knock some of those out in one fell swoop - keep reading for 5 ways to easily make the holidays just a little more joyful.

  1. Adults bring hostess gifts when they attend parties. If you're heading to a holiday party in the near future, it would be incredibly easy to swing by your local Kroger (or affiliate like Fred Meyer's), grab a Glade 3.4 oz. Small Jar Candle, and throw it in a cute gift bag. I think air freshener might be a little presumptive as a gift, so stick with the candle for this one!
  2. Have people stopping by? Use a Glade 8 oz. Room Spray to quickly spritz your place and make it smell like a Christmas tree farm in under 5 minutes.
  3. I always think that the best gifts are things people would enjoy but never would purchase for themselves. Glade Wax Melts featured above falls into that category for me - I love having it, but it's the type of thing I wouldn't have necessarily grabbed for myself. Great idea for a gift exchange with the girls!
  4. Care packages are an amazing way to show loved ones that you care about them during the holidays. One of my girlfriends sent me a little care package last spring when I was going through a rough time, and she included a little spruce-scented air freshener in it. I'm not sure if this was the idea, but it reminded me of home. Putting a candle or air freshener in a box with a couple other simple goodies is a quick way to mail a box of love to a friend in another state.
  5. On a more personal note, this spruce scent really reminds me of home. My apartment is too small for a live Christmas tree, and I'll only be able to go back to Portland for a couple days this season - it's so nice to bring the comforting feeling of my childhood home into my "big girl" place.

You can see from these photos that Glade has a special holiday display in Kroger and Kroger banner stores, making it easy to find products and also making the atmosphere a little more festive. Have some awesome ideas of your own? Share them with me in the comments!

For more info, find GladeⓇ on Youtube here and Pinterest here!

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Why "Fat Jeans" Are a Good Thing

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Friday, November 11, 2016

The RVA Fit Gal's Guide to Fighting Gravity

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How cool is this installment of the Fit Gal's Guide?? I mentioned Fighting Gravity Fitness when I featured the owner, Audrey, a couple weeks ago. I've posted a couple times on my personal instagram about the classes I've taken, and I've been in and out of the studio for almost a month now. As I leave work, people ask if I'm heading to go "hang upside down" for my workout. 

Well - yeah. Hanging upside down releases endorphins, makes you a little bit taller, and fills capillaries in your face that improve your complexion - not to mention, those hammocks can get you deeper into stretches and aid in "normal" workout routines. I truly had a blast at Fighting Gravity - the instructors encourage laughter, communication, and trying new things, PLUS they're always down to get that shot for Instagram. All jokes aside, I had a great talk with Audrey on Thursday about how growth can't happen inside one's comfort zone. You never know what your true purpose is going to be, and you won't know if you're settling or not until you step out of that bubble and find out for yourself. Wise words from a woman who has been through a lot and found a career doing something she adores. And can wear yoga pants to. Win-win in my book.

Other things to note - the hammocks can hold over 1,000 lbs (!!) and one time a baby elephant. Also, classes will be cancelled in Studio B if there aren't enough participants, so be sure to check the schedule before heading into the studio.

Classes I Tried (full schedule HERE):

  • AntiGravity FUNdamentals 1 - I took this class a couple times to get a feel for the hammocks and learn some basic moves. It's required at FGF to take FUNdamentals 1-3 times before progressing to more specialized classes - and I can see why, because the first time going upside down is a feeling of completely letting go. It's super lighthearted and fun, and you get to do super cool stuff that looks insane but actually isn't as challenging as you'd think. 
  • AntiGravity AirBarre - This class took some traditional barre practices (think pulsing, small movements) and made everything a little more fluid and graceful through the use of the hammocks. The hammocks were a tool for me to jump higher, stretch further, and lean on for stability in a way that truly engaged my core. Highly recommend for anyone who likes barre classes and especially if you enjoy dance.
  • AntiGravity Sculpt and Tone - This class is challenging, but fun (I was pretty sore the next day!). Think a sculpt-type workout combining strength, flexibility, and cardio, but using the hammocks as a tool. Like the AirBarre class, the hammocks proved to be an amazing tool in helping me engage my core and stretch muscles further than I normally could. Plus, warming up for a class by hanging upside down is totally fine with me.
  • Barre Tone - Fighting Gravity Fitness has two studios. One is designated for AntiGravity classes, and one offers a really wide variety of "normal" fitness options like barre, yoga, zumba, and much more. I tried two barre classes with two different instructors, and enjoyed both. The class sizes were small and I felt like I was able to challenge myself to an appropriate ability without wondering if I was going to walk out looking like a drowned rat. If you are newish to barre (which is a recent love of mine) I would absolutely recommend starting out at FGF because of these small class sizes and the ability to communicate with the instructor.


Here we are again. Money. The breakdown of prices at FGF is as follows:
  • Drop in - 
    • Studio A (AntiGravity) $24
    • Studio B (other classes) $18 
  • 5 Class Pass - $95 (this breaks down to $19/class)
  • 10 Class Pass - $185 (breaks down to $18.50/class)
  • New Student Unlimited Month - $75 (definitely less than you spend at Target each month)
  • One Month Unlimited - $110
  • 12-month Annual Membership - $99/month
FGF also offers personal training.
 Check their website for more info! 

What Do I Wear?!

For classes on the AntiGravity side, you are required to wear a top with either short or long sleeves, no tank tops. The reasoning behind this is that in certain poses, the hammock can feel uncomfortable against your armpits if you don't have sleeves on. It's also important to wear shirts that don't have zippers or other hardware so that they don't catch on the hammock while you're doing flips and other cool stuff. I'd also recommend wearing leggings. I've linked some athletic wear below that fits the bill, take a look!

It's impossible not to have fun with Audrey at Fighting Gravity. This isn't a place that you should be intimidated to attend by yourself or for the first time - the atmosphere is welcoming and easygoing, and there are FUNdamentals classes for a reason! I highly recommend trying a drop-in at Studio A when you have the chance - it makes for a fun evening, and a great Instagram photo too ;)