Keeping Our Daughters Safe: Six Questions for Sally Cadoux of Athena Personal Safety

Sally Cadoux, the founder of Athena Personal Safety in Westport, CT, has one of those handshakes that says: “I’m a super friendly person, but I could throw a mean strike to the carotid if I had to.” She’s warm and engaging and on a mission to provide perhaps the most critical aspect of wellness there is: personal safety.

EZ: Can you explain how personal safety fits into the overall definition of wellness?

SC: Personal safety awareness impacts and enhances the quality of our wellbeing in every way, from our confidence to our productivity, self-esteem, courage and wisdom.

Athena Personal Safety aims to redefine “wellness” by giving women concrete and practical Personal Safety Training. Our programs contain integral components that are vital to our overall wellness; self defense techniques, breath control, and most importantly, mind-body awareness. We provide a comprehensive program that not only enhances life-saving skills, but also the ability to set healthier boundaries, manage stress, make decisions, gain confidence and take charge of conflicts when personal safety is at risk.

EZ: Who is your target audience and why?

SC: Although violence and abuse can happen to anyone at any time, women are at far greater risk of experiencing sexual assault in their lifetime. The Athena Warrior training educates and inspires women of all ages to live courageously by being present, socially conscious, and knowledgeable about self-care. By preparing women with the strength, techniques and confidence they need to become resilient and live fearlessly, they will be more apt to take responsibility for themselves and others around them.

EZ: What’s your background and how did you come to create Athena Personal Safety?

SC: I’m a Self Defense Instructor, Martial Artist, Yoga Practitioner and Fitness Trainer with more than 20 years of experience. I launched Athena Personal Safety to empower women of all ages to embrace their well being through personal safety education. I devoted the last several years to developing a modern-day approach to personal safety, supported by awareness and prevention strategies. Athena’s method integrates “The Power of Presence” in our everyday lives to help identify, assess, reduce, and react to today’s threats. I deeply understand the challenges and joys that come with living genuinely and with purpose. While balancing the demands of managing a family of eight, my home and my husband’s architecture firm, I found little time for my own self-care. I noticed I had a decreased attention span, general malaise and a short fuse. So I decided it was time to reset my own path to health and wellness and made it a personal and professional goal to establish myself as a role model for women today.

Moving through our daily tasks with little attention to or notice of what’s happening around us create a greater chance of risk or harm to yourself and those you love. Once you acknowledge awareness and the power of presence, you naturally experience increased self-confidence, which in turn reduces your risk of being victimized.

EZ: What are the most critical takeaways you want your clients to leave your course with?

SC: I want them to:

  • Set solid boundaries
  • Trust their intuition
  • Gain strength and confidence
  • Learn how to prevent and become more aware of dangerous situations
  • Learn stress management methods
  • Increase their self empowerment and leadership skills
  • Learn self defense techniques

EZ: It’s a terrible question to have to ask, but one we now face: Do you train people in how to respond when there is an active shooter? Are there guidelines or tips that can maximize your chance of surviving an incident like the recent events in Orlando and Turkey?

SC: The recent tragic events in Orlando and Turkey are unbearably difficult to translate. My best response to these appalling confrontations is to remind everyone that being aware and being prepared can support your survival outcome. Although the victims could not have foreseen the threats, there are personal safety observations that can account for saving lives. The Athena Mantra is “if it doesn’t feel right, it’s not right.” It’s about trusting your intuition and acting accordingly. Although no one knows what the victims of these tragedies felt or thought up until the horrendous moment, perhaps doing exactly that saved someone. My favorite awareness tip is very simple and should be practiced every day: Upon entering any establishment, look for the exits, count them, make a mental note of where you are in relation to them. In the event of an emergency or threat, you can quickly assess which outlet will get you to safety the quickest. There are numerous tragedies where people ran for the door that they entered through, not realizing there were other, safer means to exit. Situational and environmental awareness is about being present and mindful.

EZ: Do you address on-campus safety, and if so, what are the biggest issues related to personal safety for college students?

SC: Absolutely! Our program for young women transitioning to new living environments is based on Prevention and Confidence building. It introduces core principles of personal safety and effective self-defense techniques. We empower students to take better care of themselves, to set solid boundaries, to listen and trust their intuition, and successfully respond to bystanders at risk.

College students tend to be overwhelmed with their new living environment, new freedoms, new friends, and experimenting with substances that impair judgment. In essence they’re moving at warp speed. They let their guard down, so to speak, and unknowingly find themselves in unsavory or risky situations. The “it won’t happen to me” mentality is, unfortunately, the common thread in stories of survivors of sexual and verbal abuse on campus. Through the Athena training, we impart the “Sisterhood of Safety,” advocating safety, support, inclusion, non-judgment action and awareness. We want our clients to live courageously, become resilient and live fearlessly.

CoreMotion will be partnering with Sally on a series of workshops aimed at empowering young women in transition (for example, those going off to college, the Peace Corps, a job in a new city or boarding school), to stay safe. Call (203) 292-5073 for more information or email me at



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They Were Just Dancing

They were just dancing. Or starting their day with their classmates and teachers. Or celebrating the holidays with colleagues. Or watching a movie. They were doing the things that we take for granted in our democratic society.

And in an instant, they were gone.

When are we going to demand an end to mass murder? When are we going to hold our leaders and would-be leaders accountable for the steady drumbeat of senseless killings that take beautiful, young lives and destroy families? I think thoughts and prayers are important. Pray if you pray. Send loving energy into the world. Set an example for others.

But if gun violence is going end, we must do more.

I’m putting it out there. Here’s my list of common sense steps to help put an end to these brutal killings:

  • Stand up to the hateful, alienating rhetoric of some of our leaders and would-be leaders. It creates a tug-of-war of intolerance. Nobody wins and innocents get caught in the middle.
  • Mental illness is universal. Show me a family who hasn’t been touched by it. The stigma attached to it must go. Acceptance will lead to more people getting the help they need for themselves, and more family members offering loving support when they do so. Let’s talk openly about mental illness.
  • People who are on a terrorist watch list shouldn’t be able to purchase weapons. It’s just insane that they can.
  • Nobody needs a gun capable of killing dozens of people in minutes to defend their home and property.
  • The hunters I know are responsible gun owners. Imagine if hunters started wildly spraying bullets in the forest using assault-style rifles. Exactly.

Whether you agree with me or not, the conversation about gun violence must continue long after the last memorial bouquets crumble to dust in Orlando. The victims of mass murder and their loved ones deserve this. The shell-shocked survivors deserve this. And our country needs it. Wake up, America. Don’t let yourself become inured to images of young people fleeing in horror, to dozens of funerals happening within in a week in one community. We are better than that.




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Have You Ever Been Lonely? A Quiz

True or False:

  • I have felt untethered from my spouse or partner, like a rock climber whose belayer just took a call and started peeling a banana at the same time during my descent.
  • I have felt alienated from my immediate family because I was the only one without a partner/child/job/advanced degree/smile on my face.
  • I have said something out loud at a party that I thought I was just thinking and everyone in my circle drifted away as if pulled by a giant magnet to the crab dip.
  • After a couple of four glasses of rosé, I have said something to the effect of: “I understand child abuse. I don’t do it or condone it, but I get how it could happen.”
  • I recently decided that all of the qualifications I listed on my online dating profile are up for negotiation. Even the one about a prior criminal history.

If you answered true to any of the above questions, keep reading. If not, click here for a great cupcake decorating blog.

I thought so.lonely

It’s ironic that we feel so isolated and alone when probably the only thing that binds the 7 billion souls on this planet is that we all get lonely sometimes. Which leads me to this: Friendship and community are integral to fitness.

Friendship is the immune system in your body’s fight against loneliness. Community is the micronutrients and antioxidants you take to defend against it in the first place.

Your first line of defense is a best friend. You must have one. If you don’t, then get one right now.

When you are paralyzed with grief, a best friend will ride in like the Calvary with pizza boxes and a nice pinot noir, then give your kid a bath and clean your kitchen. They will let you say the same thing to them over and over again, every time you need to say it, even though they disagree with you. A best friend knows your quirks and weaknesses and respects them. A best friend has your back. When you are lost in space, your best friend is Houston.

But your best friend also has a life and because you are a best friend right back, you know that you must spread your need for connection across a wider group. And maybe your best friend hates horses, or doesn’t like to work out or has a social phobia. That’s where community comes in.

Being part of a group of like-minded people engaged in whatever it is that makes your heart sing (and hey, no judgments here, as long as it’s legal in the Northeast) is a great way to keep from getting lonely in the first place. After that phone call with your mother, or that fight with your partner, or that day when your own dear child’s voice is like a jackhammer in your ears, you need a place to go that feels like it exists just for you.

A place full of people whose cell numbers may not be stored in your phone, but who would offer to go get coffee if you looked upset. Or give you a high five for accomplishing something that you both know is really hard, but most people (including your family) are oblivious to. A place where you know you will always find acceptance and encouragement.

As the owner of CoreMotion, a fitness studio, I’ve found that what I am most passionate about isn’t building muscles or a brand. It’s creating community. When familiar faces become friendly ones, when strangers waiting for class find common ground and start to chat, when the room is buzzing with positive energy and a common purpose, I feel like all the risk and work involved in starting a new business was worth it. I feel like I’m right where I belong.


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Dude, Your Wife Is Stronger Than You: 10 Reasons You Need CoreMotion Now


CoreMotion is unlike any other workout because it’s a challenging, strengthening, cardio workout without any impact on the joints. Here are 10 more reasons to do it. Now.

  1. Muscles. Need we say more? 600 of them, all fired up and working to effective muscle failure to get you fit and toned. You will start asking for the Italian cut. You’ll look great in a white t-shirt. More importantly, you will be stronger. And you need to get stronger, because your wife is in the studio three times a week and she can probably lift you over her head by now.
  2. Bone density. Maybe bones don’t have the same sex appeal as muscles, but when you increase bone density, you decrease the risk of fractures from that Sunday rugby game you’re still in, or the pick-up basketball habit you can’t drop.
  3. The Afterburn. Our slow controlled movements with minimal rest between sets keeps your heart rate up to maximize excess post-exercise oxygen consumption (EPOC). This metabolic boost is even greater in the beginning, giving you an awesome jumpstart to your sleek new physique.
  4. Up your game. Our workout constantly challenges your core stability, which teaches your body how to react in sports performance or any situation that requires a quick reaction. Improve your golf game, streak to the top of those paddle tennis rankings. You won’t believe how much you can increase your athleticism with core stabilization.
  5. Live longer. Cardio fitness combats heart disease, stroke, obesity and diabetes.
  6. Get a promotion. A workout during the day like our 40-minute HardCore class at noon amps up your productivity. You’ll be more focused, less stressed and better at your job—all in less time than it takes to go eat a burrito.
  7. Get high. On endorphins. Exercise reduces anxiety and boosts your mood.
  8. Get tantric. At CoreMotion, you will gain greater flexibility and mobility in your hips, shoulders and inner thighs. Yeah, baby.
  9. Gain endurance. We train slow twitch muscle fibers. These are more efficient at using oxygen to generate fuel for continuous, extended muscle contractions over a long time. In other words, these muscles can go for a long time before they fatigue. Think marathons, long bike rides. (And see tantric, above.)
  10. Your aching back! Prevent back pain and relieve those aches by strengthening and improving the mobility of your back, glutes, hips and thighs. The posture gains you’ll make will put less compression on the back and also help you breathe more easily and efficiently. (Ladies aren’t necessarily turned on by panting. Again, see tantric.)


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6 Wedding Tips You Need Now from Your Virtual Fairy GodMaidofHonor


You’re engaged and in charge. With the unabashed delight of an 8-year-old chosen to captain her dodge ball team, you’ve selected your squad of bridesmaids with care. Even as you read this, they are searching online for a size 8 lime green dress that won’t make them look like a bag of guavas.

You are convinced that lime is the it bridal color this season, although you can’t remember where you read that.

You need help.

It’s an insane feature of our culture that a bride-to-be chooses a contemporary to guide her through her choices as she prepares for her wedding day. In many cases, you have the blind leading the blind without any critical analysis of the preparations whatsoever. (Except from your future mother-in-law, and let’s face it, her voice just sounds like a grown-up in a Charlie Brown cartoon. Whaa –ah- whaa -ah whaa-ah.)

Your mother is as caught up as you are in the table centerpieces and your wedding party is focused on planning the bachelorette and fitting into their lime green dresses. No one is hitting the pause button to make you think about a few critical items. Which brings you to me.

I was a bride who chose a song from the original Batman Movie soundtrack for her slow dance. I had a team of horses carry me to the wedding. And I ended up divorced. I am older than you and wiser, just by virtue of the number of mistakes I have piled up like jeans I’ll never wear again in my closet. So I thought I’d share some thoughts for you from your Virtual Fairy GodMaidofHonor.

All of these little pensées fall into one overriding giant piece of advice: Don’t plan for a day. Plan for a lifetime. You can make wise choices on the way to the wedding that will serve you and your beloved until the day comes when you’re the cutest couple in the old age home. To that end:

  • Don’t starve yourself into a dress. The effects of a very low calorie diet can include fatigue, depression, nausea, gallstones, heart problems, electrolyte imbalances and loss of lean muscle mass. Do you want to feel great in a dress? Find a workout that will safely shift your body composition into a lean, mean bridal machine. Something that will become a healthy habit for you long after you’ve written your last thank you note.
  • You are already beautiful. And you will stay beautiful as you age. Nonetheless, if you start healthy habits now with caring for your hair, skin and teeth, you will reap the benefits over a lifetime. What if one day Instagram did away with their filters? Think about it. Don’t be beholden to Silicon Valley filter-makers. They seem like a fickle bunch to me.
  • When you’re thinking about your bridal registry, think long term. Start planning your home, not just making a list of things you want right this minute. Today you love anything with a bird on it. Will you still feel that way 3 years from now? Three months from now? Think neutral for big-ticket items and save the trendy pantones for accents. I say this as a woman who painted her walls red one year, then Tiffany blue the next.
  • Who are you marrying? That’s right. Your beloved. Not the rest of your beloved’s family. Learn some boundaries. Quickly.
  • Find a wedding photographer you love and trust who will grow with you and your family. Trust me, once you have children, you will never be in a photograph again. Find someone who can take gorgeous headshots for your grown-up social media accounts and regular family portraits that will feature you with whatever family you create, all artfully scattered around YOU.
  • Dare to be different on your Big Day. It should reflect you as a couple and set the tone for the rest of your life. Want to register for a pair of mountain bikes instead of bone china? Go for it. Look at your wedding as a way to announce who you are as a couple. We crave adventure! We make good health a priority! We like peanut butter frosting! The day will pass in the click of a wedding photographer’s shutter, but the habits you create on the way to the wedding will last a lifetime.

Want more help? Lucky for you, I’ve gathered a host of local experts who want to share their wisdom and wedding tips with you for free. Come visit us on May 15 from 2 to 5 p.m. at Your Wedding Day and Beyond: A Bridal/Lifestyle Expo. It will take place at CoreMotion studios, including a free CoreMotion Bridal Party Express Class to get you started on those sleeveless-wedding-dress delts. Click here to sign up for your free class and an afternoon of treats, advice, raffles and fun! REGISTER HERE

Bring your groom, your wedding party, your mother. And maybe rethink the lime.




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Get the Glow

I’ve had lots of time to think about exercise now that I’ve been sidelined with an injury. I know myself and I would never take the time to reflect on working out if I were able to just do it instead.

I’ve become grateful for this opportunity. Even if it comes with a torn hamstring, I also got a big Aha moment out of it.

For years, I said and truly believed that I loved to exercise. Now, from my perch on the couch high atop an ice pack, I can see that I felt compelled to exercise. It was a box that I checked in my frenetic daily life, the thing I did between dropping a kid at school and grocery shopping. Can you truly love doing something when you feel guilty if you miss a day? When you feel pushed to do it by factors outside yourself, like the secret yoga pants consortium that meets in a Masonic Temple and spends billions of dollars each year researching how to hypnotize female consumers into wearing them every single day?

I made that up about the yoga pants.

Still, there were plenty of days when I should have skipped the workout and didn’t think I could. What was I so afraid of? That I would instantly gain weight, lose muscle mass, have an acute heart issue, lose my yoga pants license?

I get it now. I wasn’t exercising out of love for it (or me), but out of some vague fear of not doing it. And as a result, I wasn’t paying attention to what I was doing. Or why. Now that I can’t move my leg in certain ways, I get to think about it.

I suspect I’m not the only one.

I talk to lots of people about their workouts and most of my conversations go something like this:

Me: So what’s your workout routine?

Other person: I run. I snorkel or ski on vacay. I go to the [big box gym up or down] the road.

Me: What do you do there?

Other person: Stuff, you know, like classes, the elliptical, some free weights. I had a trainer, but, you know, now that I think about it, I haven’t seen my trainer lately. Maybe my trainer went missing? I don’t know. I tried yoga. Hated the smell.

Me: So what do you do to balance your body?

Other person: Balance my checkbook?

Me: No, your body. How do you make sure you work out in a balanced way? You run, right? So what do you do for your upper body and core?

Other person: [Blank stare] I workout every day, so yeah, I’m good.

Me: Okay, so do you like your body? Are you happy with it?

Other person: Like my body? I like wine. I put it out there on Facebook all the time. I really like wine.

Me: Okay, but how about your body?

Other person: [Pointing to themselves] This?

Me: The thing under your head.

Other person: I don’t know. I’d like to lose a few pounds. I’d like more definition. I’m tired. I’ve got this thing here [pinching a little flesh in their midsection, bottom or outer thigh]. I’d like to lose that.

Me: How long have you felt that way?

Other person: Hmm. Probably since college. Like 1993.

Look, we all have limited time, whether because we’re parents or working or just because we’re mortal. And the time we dedicate to fitness is precious. We need to make it count and be efficient and cost-effective. We want to see and feel the benefits of the time, money and effort we’re putting in. And there’s an easy way to make this happen: Just be mindful.

What’s not working right in your body? Are you addressing that? If you have lower back pain, are you working your core? If your hips are tight from running or cycling, what are you doing to open them? Have you hit a plateau with your favorite workout? How’s your eating? What are you doing to ensure you maintain good posture and balance as you (gracefully) age?

Maybe it’s time to do an inventory of your body and look for ways to change up your routine so you get the results you want. There are so many fun, great options out there. Do some investigating. Try a new workout, preferably with a good buddy who makes you laugh. Think about what you need. Talk to fitness professionals. We love to chat.

When you exercise with purpose and intention, you get results. Which makes you feel successful. Which makes you happy. Which gives you that sunny glow people in commercials always have.

Get the glow. Fall in love again with exercise.


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What happens when you tell a fitness instructor she can’t exercise?

What happens when you’re told in no uncertain terms you need to stop exercising for weeks, maybe months?

My first reaction was total panic. Normally, I’m in a constant state of motion. A great white shark will die from lack of oxygen if it stops swimming. I feel like that. Stop me from moving and I won’t be able to breathe. I won’t be able to live. At least, not in the way I want to live.

I own a fitness studio and I love to teach. What would happen to me professionally if my clients saw me unable to demonstrate a lunge or plank series? How would I justify pushing them beyond their limits when I was suddenly so limited myself?

And what about all that hard work I’d done to get strong? Would my muscles atrophy into little piles of mashed potatoes? I envisioned myself blowing up like somebody attached a bicycle pump to my mouth, a Macy Day Parade balloon in the shape of me.

Then there’s the mental side of exercise—the endorphin rush, the sense of accomplishment, the stress release. Where would that come from now?

My pity party was short, but intense, playing out mostly in the parking lot of my orthopedic surgeon’s office. I cried shamelessly while I walked around in circles, looking for my car in a sea of other dark-colored Subarus. I had lost my car. My mind. My fitness. My sense of self. This was a disaster.

But of course, it wasn’t a disaster. If I wanted to see a real disaster, I could turn on CNN. Or go back to the surgeon’s waiting room where people had injuries that would keep them from ever being able to walk again or locked in chronic pain for the rest of their lives.

No, this was an opportunity.

When I confided in a client that I might need surgery, she didn’t say: But what if you no longer have well-defined deltoids? She said: “If you’re on crutches, will you still teach?” Yes, I told her. Nothing would stop me. I could still use my imagination to plan new routines. Finally I had more time to focus on marketing and the kind of day-dreaming that helped me move us forward as a company.

And in the interim, I had just found about ten extra hours a week. I could eke out some time for those projects that have been on hold since I opened CoreMotion. My over-stuffed closets. A novel I’ve been trying to finish writing for three years. The books stacked up on my bedside table. Movies!

Instead of wasting time worrying about blowing up, I could really focus on nutrition. I could read up on the latest research and conduct my own little experiment on just how important eating is to overall health and wellness. (My hypothesis: Very!)

We have many clients at CoreMotion who have undergone major surgeries or faced life-threatening illnesses. Every day I see them fighting to regain their strength, balance, and power. I have such respect for them. They will inspire me when I start to regain my own strength. In the meantime, I have new empathy for anyone who has an injury or illness.

And I’ve discovered that endorphins and happiness are everywhere, like Easter eggs waiting to be found. I’ve come to appreciate my time with the kids in a new way. I can’t play baseball with them or jump on the trampoline, but I can bake muffins with the 8-year-old when we’re the first ones awake in the morning. Or finally attack the crystal-making kit the 6-year-old begged for (and is seriously more science than I ever thought I could handle.) I can grab those increasingly rare moments when the teenager wants to just hang out with us and laugh.

I can even sit still long enough to marvel at this gift I’ve been given, all wrapped up in the form of an injury.



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Overdeveloped Quads and Confidence Spell Trouble

Those who know me well might say I have a tendency to leap first and look later—over my shoulder, from, say, the bottom of a shark tank or the scratchy and unforgiving belly of a rope net. These are true stories.

I also have an overdeveloped confidence in what my body can do—despite the uneven way I’ve trained it for the past 40ish years.

And now the chickens have come home to roost. I may be facing surgery to repair a substantial tear of my right hamstring tendon. I don’t want this to happen to you. Ever. So here’s my cautionary tale:

First, until very recently, I ignored my hamstrings.

In my defense, I couldn’t see them. Quadriceps are so pretty. I liked doing leg extensions at the gym because I got the immediate satisfaction of seeing my quad look like a big loaf of bread every time I extended my leg. Rarely did I flop face down on my belly to knock out a set of hamstring curls. Too awkward and uncomfortable and the machine smelled funny.

During decades of barre classes, I focused intently on the muscles I could see in the mirror. When the instructor said, “This is for the hamstrings,” I heard a little “La la la” sound in my head. Break time. Let’s get back to those thighs!

I had quads of steel. I had hamstrings of udon.

Then, a couple of years ago, I went skiing and in my typical fashion, I allowed an 11-year-old to lead me up a mountain. And up. And up. We were both green skiers and after our third trip on a gondola, we finally settled on a windswept peak that looked like the place people go heli-skiing.

“I don’t think this is where my instructor took me,” the 11-year-old finally acknowledged tearfully. Because I love her and because we were all alone and had nowhere to go but down, I put on a brave face and led the way.

She made it down just fine. I didn’t do a cartwheel while wearing alpine skis on purpose. For months afterwards, I was in agony, unable to sit in a car or at a desk. I did a lot of standing. I didn’t see a doctor or a physical therapist. After about a year, I slowly regained the use of the back of my right leg.

I discovered the Megaformer and got stronger. It was a heady feeling. After a few classes, I literally felt like I could lift a pick-up truck over my head! I started training with the idea (again, leaping, not looking) of opening a studio of my own.

One day I was training with Natasha, a master trainer of the method we use in our studio, the Lagree Method. I complained that my quads were sore. She looked horrified.

“Why?” she asked.

“All those lunges,” I replied. We were putting in 12 hours a day on a Megaformer. What did she expect?

“You should be keeping the weight in the forward heel. You should feel it in your glutes and hamstrings.” Natasha looked worried.

Aha! We were training our hamstrings. I started to feel it where I should. I became a hamstring evangelist. Hamstrings are critical for two things: (1) Running, which requires knee flexion and hip extension and (2) Deceleration, the ability to stop, change direction and move again. And those hamstrings are critical knee stabilizers.

I talk a lot about “intelligent fitness,” and intelligent fitness includes (drumroll) training the back of the legs as well as the front. But it means being smart about your activity level compared to your training, expertise and how you’re feeling on a particular day. In other words, even when your workout is intelligent, you may not have your thinking cap on.

So about a month ago, a friend asked me to play squash. I hadn’t played in 25 years. He was ranked number 1 in his division. It had been a long day and I was dehydrated and tired. So of course I said, “Yes!”

On the first point, as I lunged for the ball, I heard a pop and felt something unpleasant in my right glute. I played for another 40 minutes. Yes, it hurt, but I wasn’t paying attention to my body. There was a game going on. In the ensuing weeks, I went to spin class, took CoreMotion classes when I could, modifying to accommodate the pain in my right leg. Sitting became excruciating. I was spending so much time perched on a heating pad, I felt like a hen trying to hatch an egg. This time, I went to an orthopedist.

When he showed me my MRI results, where a thin white squiggle was all that connected my hamstring tendon to the bone at the site of insertion, called “hamstring tendinopathy,” I began to faint. I spent the rest of our time together with my legs propped over my head while he explained my options to me: Experimental therapy where they will inject my own plasma into the injury, rest and physical therapy. If that doesn’t work, then I’m having a gnarly surgery.

So here’s my takeaway from this literal pain in the ashcan situation in which I find myself:

  • Train your hamstrings if you’re planning to run fast, stop, and change direction anytime soon.
  • Listen to your instructors during the classes you take. They are giving you those cues for a reason. A good reason.
  • Even if you’re working out intelligently now, you may have years of not-so-smart training to overcome.
  • Listen to your body. Know your limits. If you’re tired or dehydrated, skip the 10-mile-run or the highly competitive game of squash. Go home, drink a liter of water and read a good book.

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How I Got People To Stop Asking Me When My Baby’s Due

Henry was in his last year of nursery school when I climbed into a cab on my way to the gym.

“This is a miracle!” said the cabdriver as I fastened my seatbelt. He looked at me from the rearview mirror. “I’m retiring today, and every single one of my passengers has been a pregnant woman!”

He went on to list the five pregnant women who had been his passengers since early that morning, ending with me.

I didn’t want to burst his bubble, so I wished him the best in his retirement and disembarked at my local big box fitness emporium, determined to work off the post-baby belly that had plagued me for years.

When I stopped at the juice bar after my workout for a smoothie, the young woman behind the counter congratulated me.

“Thanks!” I replied, thinking I had won a free smoothie.

“When are you due?” she persisted.

“Four years ago,” I mumbled.

I tried to accept that as a mother, I had a different body. I tried to see my tummy as cute. Look at babies. Look at pandas. They have tummies and they’re so cute. But put a panda in a bathing suit? Exactly. And although “tummy” rhymes with “yummy,” in the end, it’s really just another word for excess abdominal fat, the visceral fat that surrounds your organs and is a predictor of heart disease, insulin resistance, type 2 diabetes and even some cancers.

Not cute at all.

I had been doing a lot of running. I think running is great and has amazing physical and psychological benefits when you do it properly and cross-train. But that’s not how I had been doing it. Hamsters have a brain the size of a grape, and yet I was training like one, putting in about 8 miles a day, usually on a human Habitrail that went round and round while I watched the E! Channel. I lost weight, but eventually I gave myself bursitis in both my heels, ending both my running career and my relationship with the Kardashians. And while the rest of me shrank, my belly looked even more prominent.

So I started really focusing on the belly in my workouts. Crunch, crunch, crunch. Squeeze, squeeze, squeeze. My post-baby bump remained.

Why? Because I was exercising my core as if its primary job was crunching. And guess what: Once you’re born, you really don’t need to be good at the fetal position anymore.

In fact, the core is a marvelous, complex series of muscles that go far beyond the rectus abdominis (the six pack) to almost everything except the arms and legs, including the pelvic floor muscles, transversus abdominis, multifidus, internal and external obliques, erector spinae, and the diaphragm. Many of the core muscles are hidden beneath the muscles we all typically train.

Most often, our core acts as an isometric or dynamic stabilizer for movement or transfers force from your lower extremities to your upper extremities. Have you ever heard a kick-boxing instructor say that a kick comes from the core, not the legs? The power behind a punch comes from the core too. Think about a golf swing. It originates from the ground up. So does a baseball swing.

Core strength is the ability to produce force and control the force we’re creating. No matter how strong we are, or how far we can run, without core strength we’re prone to injury and ineffective and inefficient in our movements. We’re also failing to protect our spines.

If you’re like me, you might also keep that early-second-trimester-look into your child’s first day of kindergarten.

Exercise physiologists agree that the hard and fast crunches we see so often in the gym are not effective. Slow, controlled movements work better, especially when we incorporate other muscles, like the shoulders and glutes. Great moves for the core include planks and crawls, twists and side balances. To work the smaller, hidden muscles, we need more subtle moves, like pulling the navel toward the spine and engaging the pelvic floor. Lunges and squats are fantastic core stabilizing exercises.

It wasn’t until I started to work the entire core that I started to see real changes in my post-baby, forty-something body. And it’s been months since a stranger offered me his seat on the subway. I see that as a very good sign.

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What the heck is CoreMotion?

CoreMotion is the workout that will finally transform your body. It’s challenging, satisfying, and like nothing you’ve ever experienced before.

Because the machine we use, the Megaformer, was inspired by the Pilates reformer, some people like to call our workout “Pilates on steroids,” or even “Pilates on crack.” Crack and steroids have no place in a fitness studio, but you get the drift: this is a core-based workout, but one that will have you shaking in places your grandmother never said aloud. Your core will be engaged for the entire duration of the class, but your legs will be wobbling and your arms will be throbbing too. We take each muscle group to effective muscle stimulation.

What does that mean? It means we work you to the point of effective intensity without impact so that you build muscle, increase endurance, change your body composition, find your balance and gain flexibility — all while treating your joints, spine and connective tissue with the loving care they so richly deserve.

What should you expect from your first class? Everyone’s experience is different based on their fitness level and also their capacity for leaving their ego in the bin where we store the boots and purses.

Personally, I am not good at just rolling with a new experience and understanding that I won’t be great at it the first time I try it. During my first Megaformer class, I just wanted to curl up in the fetal position on the carriage and suck my thumb. The second time I tried it, I went in like a Marine and came out like a humbled 40-something. By the third class, I was addicted. By the fourth, I had the brilliant idea that I should open a Megaformer studio in Fairfield.

Understand this: I love spin class. When I clip my shoes into my pedals, I feel like Ironman putting on his suit. I like my seat in the back row with its view of a sea of pumping legs and hearts. It’s a rave on wheels, and honey, I need to rave.

I love dance class too. There’s nothing like learning a new choreography and getting your groove on, making the dance your own and at the same time, being part of an organism bigger than yourself.

Like those kinds of group fitness classes, we have pumping music and synchronized movements. There’s certainly sweat and an increased heart rate. But that’s where the comparisons end, and why CoreMotion is such a great complement to other workouts.

In a CoreMotion class, the movements are slow and deliberate, almost balletic. Form is paramount. The intensity is constant. The key to our workout is the core, the most critical and probably least-understood area of the body. We’re not talking just about the six-pack region. We’re talking about the area from your pelvic floor on the bottom to the diaphragm on top. From the transverse abdominals, internal and external obliques and rectus abdominis in the front to the erector spinae muscles and multifidus in the back. In other words, your trunk, which plays a critical role in all of those great movements you’re making when you’re dancing, spinning, running, swimming, playing tennis, or doing any other activity you love.

We say go for it. Just let us help you do the things you love longer, better, and with fewer injuries. Give us a try. If you don’t like your results, we’ll give you your old body back.
Check Out the Drop Dead Plank To Pike

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