10 Things to Consider When Joining a Yoga Studio

If you’re looking to increase your physical fitness and overall health, then yoga is right for you. Yoga is a great way to help with stress relief, increases flexibility, balance, and build both physical and mental strength.

In a culture where we rush from one day to the next, constantly trying to change our health, our body, or our emotions, or to plan our future, yoga opens up the possibility of connecting to what we already have and to who we already are. So why not give it a try?

No time like the present to add yoga into your workout regimen.

When choosing a yoga studio that is right for you, here are some things that you should consider.

1. Where is the studio located?  Choose a studio that is convenient to where you live. If it’s too far, the likelihood of you committing to a regular practice is decreased.

2. What type of yoga is it? There are many different types of yoga, so you may have to try a few types before deciding what feels right to you.  If you are looking for a more athletic based practice, going to a studio that offers power or vinyasa flow classes is great. Looking for something more restorative, consider a yin class.

3. What are the class offerings & times? Does the studio offer a variety of classes to try- i.e. Power, Restorative, Heated. What are the lengths of the classes? 60 min., 75 min., or 90 min.? Are the classes held at times that can accommodate your needs? Are there early am classes? Mid day? Night classes? Do they offer classes for beginners?

4. Do you have to sign up for classes in advance? Each studio can only accommodate a certain number of students. Classes held at prime times  (I.e. evenings and weekend mornings) can become crowded and even sell out, so knowing in advance in important so you can sign up and reserve your spot.

5. What is the studio’s core values? Are the core values listed and followed? Do you have similar values? You want to find an environment that is authentic and truly believes in and lives by their mission and values. Find a place whose values resonates with your own.

6. Are the teachers Yoga Alliance certified? Yoga Alliance provides the minimum standard for which a Yoga Alliance registered yoga teacher training must meet. The Yoga Alliance outlines a minimum number of hours to be spent on each topic: philosophy, anatomy, practicum, methodology, etc. You want an instructor who is Yoga Alliance certified and is well trained and versed in what they are teaching.

7. Where is the teacher in the room? When taking a class, is the teacher in the front doing the class with you or walking around ensuring that everyone is safe and using proper form and alignment?  Remember, the yoga class is about YOU, your experience and your safety. The teacher should be monitoring the class and not teaching from his/her mat.

8. Do the teachers offer variations? You need someone who is going to help you modify a pose (especially if you’re newer or injured) as well as help you enhance a pose (if you are  more of an advanced practitioners or looking to advance your practice). Either way, having options is always a good thing. Everyday is different. How a pose feels may be different so listen to your body and take what you need.

9. Is the studio clean? If they don’t properly care for the facility or aren’t mindfult to what has to be done, than how will they properly care for you?

10. Is the studio fun? Most importantly, if you aren’t enjoying yourself or having fun, why bother. Find a place that you can connect with. People who you enjoy being around and a community that will support you and your practice.

Namaste 

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Yoga For Endurance Athletes

Yoga can be a very effective tool to help endurance athletes make huge performance and recovery gains by adding yoga to their training.

One of the best forms of yoga for athletes is vinyasa yoga. Vinyasa yoga is a type of moving meditation that links movement (asana) and breath (pranayama). Through breathwork alone, taught in a yoga class, athletes can begin to increase their cardiovascular and physical endurance, help them lower their heart rate, decrease anxiety, create more mental alertness, and even better proprioceptive balance.

When most people think about yoga, they think about a bunch of boring stretches. However, yoga is more than that and can be very fun.

Endurance athletes, such as triathletes, should consider adding yoga to their weekly training schedule.  Yoga is a great way to help triathletes prevent injuries to settling pre-race jitters. Yoga can help you achieve a sense of balance, allow you to become more intune with your body, increase flexibility, balance, strength, prevent injuries, as well as help with mental toughness.

HERE’S HOW:

Flexibility:

Flexibility is a big part of yoga because practicing the different postures will help to stretch tight muscles and encourage use of your full range of motion. Tight muscles are more prone to acute injury, (i.e. muscle strains and tears), so loosening up those tight spots will help prevent such injuries.

Beyond physical flexibility, yoga also helps increase flexibility of the mind. The poses, breath exercises, and meditation practices all encourage focus on the present moment which is a great benefit during a race.

Strength:

Yoga helps create whole-body functional strength and encourages greater awareness of the body and the breath.

Yoga helps promote joint stability and trains the muscles and tendons to stabilize the joints, which will help greater power and fluidity in sports.

Yoga also increase core strength, not just in poses that specifically target the core, but also in standing and balancing poses.

Holding challenging poses also teaches mental strength. On the mat, you will observe your mental and emotional reactions to your physical situation and learn ways to manage intensity. When you encounter similarly intense situations on race day or in life, you’ll have experience with using your breath and your form to find strength.

Balance:

Yoga helps with balance of the body and the mind. There are many balancing poses that help strengthen your body, but also make you more aware of your body’s center of gravity and how to move as a unit. Yoga helps you move through different planes and through dimensional balance, rather than just in a linear pattern. Yoga also teaches you to find stillness, quiet your mind, and be more present. This can help build the mental strength athletes need to reach their goals.

Injury Prevention:

A regular and well-rounded yoga practice will help bring the body into symmetrical alignment, correcting flexibility and strength imbalances in the soft tissues. Yoga poses also facilitate a self-awareness that can help you notice your own skeletal misalignments.

Yoga can do wonders in addressing underlying unbalances and instabilities that lead to overuse injuries. When we train a lot, our body become stressed and this can over take the sympathetic nervous system (which prepares you for fight or flight) and the adrenal glands. Instead, yoga can help you engage the parasympathetic nervous system (which allows you to relax and save energy) and restore balance to the body. This in turn will help you to sleep better & recover faster.

Mental Training:

Yoga teaches you to remain calm and breathe in intense situations/poses i.e. heart opening or hip opening poses. It helps you to bring your awareness to your form and your breath to make the situation manageable. This skill is invaluable when you encounter a similar intensity in training. Yoga will help teach you to cope and manage difficult tasks.

What are you waiting for?

With a small commitment to yoga, you can increase your flexibility, strength, focus and, most importantly your balance. There are many ways in which creating balance in your every day, as well as in your training, can help you as an athlete.

Ready to take a class?

Visit Empower Yoga!

Empower yoga is hot vinyasa style studio. During our vigorous flow, students will move with breath and begin to build muscle tone, core strength, and increase their endurance. It is very strengthening and detoxifying. Each class is set to inspiring, fun, and upbeat playlist. You’ll leave feeling stronger, empowered, and renewed.  We make all of our classes challenging, fun and accessible!

 

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Transformation

This idea of transformations has been on my mind over the last week.

Each day we make changes and transformations both big and small. We learn, we grow, and we discover more about who we are. We are never still or stagnant. We are always moving, breathing and therefore changing.

In the past year, my life has changed dramatically. Through it all, I have changed. I have transformed. Some of these changes I wanted for myself, but some changes were forced upon me and out of my control. Regardless of the whether the changes are in our control or out, we need to continue to move forward and learn from the experiences that change us.

Probably the biggest change I went through this past year was out of my control, losing my dad. Learning how to live without him was incredibly challenging, but over time, I have adapted to the change. I will always be his daughter, but now I am also a person who lost a parent. I had to learn how to deal with his death, and rather than feel despair, I needed to find hope and strength.

Something that is in my control is that I have started to train for an Ironman which is both mentally and physically challenging. Through the training process I am stronger than before and in the best shape of my life. I have also had to learn how to balance running my yoga studio while being able to complete the high volume training.

“Transformation is a process, and as life happens there are tons of ups and downs. It’s a journey of discovery- there are moments of mountaintops and moments of deep valleys of despair.”- Rick Warren

Even though change can be hard, we need to remember to take the good with the bad because sometimes while transformations aren’t easy, once we complete them we come out stronger on the other side. So don’t be afraid or back down, move forward excited to see the person you are becoming. Open your arms to all that the universe has to offer and trust that’s it’s got your back.

If you’re ever unsure or start to second guess if you’re on the right path, start to look for clues. The universe is always talking to you, but you have to be awake to listen and receive the messages it is sending.

I have been reminded of this over the last few days- there has been a black crow that keeps visiting the studio. I am convinced that it’s my dad coming to deliver me a message, so I started to do a little research about what black crows represent and this is what I found…

Crows are messengers from beyond. They often come to reassure us that we are on the right path.  If you see a crow, it’s because it understands that you’re going through a huge transformation and questions if you are stopping your personal abundance due to fear and anxiety. The crow has magic that can help aide you in your quest. The crows medicine is a reminder that you are on the verge of manifesting whatever it is you have been creating in your mind. Allow your positive thoughts to guide you.

Crows are tenacious and never give up, so transform and shift into your confident self.

Crows are a reminder that magic is all around us and maybe those who have passed are not too far.  

Tap into the magic of the crow today and get ready to transform and to awaken, discovering your most powerful self.  

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Belize in Yourself!

One of my goals for my first year of opening Empower Yoga was to lead a Fitness Retreat. There is nothing that makes me feel more alive than working out & traveling. My husband and I travel often and one of our favorite things to do is to explore different CrossFit boxes and yoga studios while we are away. As a result, we decided to plan a Fitness Retreat and invited some like minded and adventure seeking people along for the ride. We always wanted to go to San Pedro, Belize and we felt this would be a perfect spot to host our first retreat!!

We stayed at Sun Breeze right near the heart of the town. What a perfect spot. It was close to town and all of the restaurants, coffee shops, and bars. However, once inside the walls of the hotel it was like a hidden oasis, it was very peaceful and quiet. It was  the perfect vibe for our trip. I would definitely recommend this hotel if you’re looking to visit San Pedro. We actually learned about this spot from our friend Tauni of Lean Power Yoga. She had visited Belize and was incredibly helpful with the planning and organizing of the trip since she knew about the country and all it’s hot spots!

Being home for almost a week now, I am still on a high. I am still processing the magic of those days and it’s been hard to put it into words. The trip really surpassed my expectations. It was an incredible week filled with lots of fitness, friendships, food and fun!!

The yoga was incredible. I got to teach in a beautiful outdoor setting overlooking the ocean. The ambiance was just perfect. It was so lovely and every class offered something different from the previous one giving the yoga aspect excitement and diversity.

The CrossFit was a challenge. CrossFit Wolf hosted us for the week. It was an awesome facility with expert coaches and workouts that were lots of fun and pushed your limits!

The food was fresh and down-right tasty too. We didn’t have a single bad meal- from salads to fish tacos to the tamali street food. Oh and the coffee… nothing better than early morning coffee talk before we started our day or our after workout iced coffee that was so delicious and refreshing!

The folks that joined were so perfect too. Everyone got along well and became fast friends by the time the week was over. The rich conversation, laughter and authenticity made being around each other refreshing and energizing. I’m so honored that my circle of friends grew from this.

Honestly, thinking back, I couldn’t think of a more perfect getaway. I feel so incredibly thankful for all the people who attended. I am confident our experience in Belize just would not have been the same without each of them! Traveling can be hard, but stepping outside your comfort zone and joining other folks you don’t know on an international adventure, even more so. However, this group jumped right in from the moment they arrived and held nothing back. Everyone worked hard, supported each other & challenged their limits. Looking back over the pictures and reliving these moments makes me smile and feel so happy. I cannot wait to do it again!

Check out our itinerary from the trip:
Honestly, there was a great deal of fear involved with planning and hosting my first retreat, because the thought looming in the back of my mind was: What if no one signs up or what if they don’t have a good time?

It’s scary to put yourself out there, but believing in yourself or “Belizing in Yourself”( which was the theme of our trip) is important  we decided to go for it. The Universe definitely had my back because not only did people start signing up, they were a fun, easy going, and incredibly kind group of individuals. I knew that no matter what, we would have a good time, and we did!!

Monday-
My husband, Dan and I flew down a day early to get our bearings and prepare for our guests. To get there we took three planes, I know it sounds like a lot but it really wasn’t bad. We left from Newark, flew to Fort Lauderdale and then Belize City. From Belize City we opted to fly Mayan Air to San Pedro instead of the water taxi. Now, at first I was a little scared about being on the small plane where you actually had to crawl to your seat, but once we were in the air, I really loved it. The views were breathtaking. I was so happy I had the opportunity to see Belize form the air. Once we landed, we headed to the hotel to check-in.  After, we walked around searching for hot spots and sampling some local cuisine, we rented a golf cart so that could be our mode of transportation around the island for the week. We also visited crossfit and our yoga spot. We tried to make sure we were well prepared to show our guests around and answer any questions they had upon their arrival.

Tuesday-
Our guests arrived that afternoon between 1:30-3:30pm. This gave them an opportunity to check-in, recieve their welcome bag, go to their room to unpack and lounge a little before yoga and our welcome dinner that evening. Yoga took place from 4:30-6:00pm , which included a nice 30 min. meditation and our Welcome Dinner was at 7:30pm at the Blue Water Grill!

That first night, we made it clear to everyone that it was their vacation. Yes, we had a schedule, but absolutely everything on that schedule was optional and they were free to do what they wanted.

Wednesday-
We were a group of early risers. Each morning we met outside around 6-6:15am for coffee. We got to chat, see the sun rise, and look out on the beautiful ocean. Around 7am we left for Crossfit. After CrossFit we found a delicious coffee spot (which we visited each day following) called The Baker. It was the best iced coffee I have ever had. The ice cubes were even made of coffee which was an awesome touch. Afterward, we returned to the hotel for breakfast before spending the day relaxing by the pool and walking around the city. We ended the day with a yoga class and meditation before dinner at El Fogon.

Thursday-
Thursday was similar to Wednesday, coffee at 6am, CrossFit at 7:30, coffee from The Baker, and breakfast at the hotel. In the afternoon we visited Science and Soul Wellness Center for SUP yoga. This was a beautiful facility with a beautiful beach. They just opened this past December and I am super excited for them. It is worth checking out!! That night we ate at Romand’s restaurant, Pineapple on the Beach. It was delicious. A must try especially if you love pineapple as much as I do.

Friday-
Friday was a lot of fun. We started the day with yoga on the beach, to stretch out and warm-up before our Crossfit beach workout. It sure was sandy, but a lot of fun. Afterwards we went for coffee of course and had breakfast. If having breakfast in Belize, I highly recommend the fry jacks, they are incredibly tasty!! After breakfast we lounged before heading to the reef and shark alley to snorkel. For dinner that evening we went to Rain and watched the sunset. This by far had the best view and ambience.

Saturday-
Coffee, yoga, and CrossFit to start this day before heading to Secret Beach for the afternoon. Secret Beach was on the other side of San Pedro, so it was a little bit of a hike to get to. The beach was beautiful but the scene was not really for us. There were lots of bars and loud music. We hung out for a little bit and had a taco snack but then left to head back to resort to lounge and relax before our farewell dinner at Blue Water Grill that evening.

Sunday-
On sunday, because everyone was leaving early, we didn’t work out. We gave people the opportunity to sleep in or pack before our coffee talk and breakfast. Then everyone departed. I am glad that everyone arrived back to the states safely and in high spirits, having loved the trip and talking about the next one.

Hosting this retreat was one of the best experiences of my life. I feel full, energized, rested and ready to plan the next one so I can connect with more individuals who are looking for adventure. Thinking about Mexico or Nicaragua for our next trip 😉 Stay tuned!!

For more pics from our retreat, please visit Empower Yoga’s FB page

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Change is in the Air

Have you noticed that constant change is the one sure thing in life? Yet, so many of us fear and resist change. Have you ever wondered why we are so afraid of change? What can we do to embrace it?

Just as the seasons change and the leaves change color, every cell in our bodies change.  We grow up, grow old, grow apart… Change is all around us. So why haven’t we gotten used to it by now.

Spring is a reminder of change- it’s about rebirth, renewal, and regrowth. Since change is inevitable, why not take the opportunity to embrace it.  Maybe if we can better understand that, than we can accept changes more easily as they take place.

I’ll be the first to admit that change is hard for me. I am very type A. I like plans, routines, consistency… so when changes occur, they throw me off and I have difficulty managing.

Over the years, I have spent a lot of time trying to get better at embracing changes; not dwelling or hanging on, but letting go.  This idea continues to show up on my mat and in my teaching recently, as I have gone through some pretty major changes.

For me, yoga has been a tremendous gift.  Practicing for over a decade has helped me to continue to cope with some major changes and hardships in my life. Yoga has taught me some valuable lessons of embracing change. Every time I get on my mat, something new arrives- I observe it, accept it and work with it. It may be a physical discomfort from holding a challenging pose, or maybe it’s finally mastering a pose I’ve been working on. Whatever it is, I remember to breathe and embraces the feelings and sensations that come along with the changes I am noticing.

Through my yoga practice, I’ve noticed that the more I try to resist change, the more it persists. This happens because we’re putting too much emphasis and energy on the things we should be getting rid of; instead of the things that are trying to manifest in our lives. When we dwell, the thing we need the least stays around longer and takes up a more substantial part of our life, until we allow ourselves to let whatever it is go and move on.

When we embrace change, whether in our body, life, work or relationships, we allow the energy to flow on its own accord. Even if it creates some discomfort in our lives for the time being, the sooner we accept it, the sooner it shall pass.  When we get rid of things that are weighing us down, when we release negative energy and toxins in our lives that hold us back, we can start to open ourselves up for all that the universe has to offer us and better embrace the path we are on. We don’t’ always see what is ahead of us because we are being blocked, but when we let go amazing things can happen and new doors will begin to open.

No one ever said life was easy and sometimes you have to take the good with the bad. Well, let’s not dwell in the bad. Let’s keep moving forward. When looking in the rearview mirror of life, watch the past drift away and move forward with open eyes and an open heart to all that the future holds.  

If you have a regular yoga practice, or even if you just started, you too can enjoy enjoy some of the valuable lessons that yoga has to offer.

Hope to see you on your mat soon!

Namaste.

 

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Renew Your Practice

Spring brings a heightened awareness of new life. Flowers begin to bloom and trees begin to grow. It’s the perfect time for renewal and new beginnings. It could mean taking a new direction or following a new path in life, so let your creative juices flow!

With spring comes a time of fresh starts and it’s not just about spring cleaning your home. It’s also internal cleaning. It’s time to get rid of stuck energy, release anything that isn’t serving you anymore and get ready to embrace what is to come.  Spring is the season of beginnings so it’s a perfect time to try something new or revitalizing something you’ve done a lot. Maybe you’ve fallen into a habit and routine and are looking to make a change. Perhaps it’s time to spice things up.

If you’ve been interested in taking a yoga class or are looking for ways to renew your practice, we can help.

Here are some ways to break old habits, get a fresh start, and a new perspective.  Let us help you find your most powerful self.

Try a new type of yoga class.

If you’ve never taken a yoga class or have only ever practiced flow yoga, then you’re probably pretty comfortable in down dog. But when was the last time you stayed in pigeon for more than five breaths? Alternatively, if you always attend the yin and restorative yoga classes, why not challenge yourself to try out a flow class?

Trying a different style can be as challenging as going to yoga for the first time. You will move your body in new ways and explore yoga from a different angle. At Empower Yoga we have a variety of styles to choose from. Whether it is Slow Flow, Yoga Nidra, Yoga Sculpt, Hip Hop Yoga or somethings else, a new style can truly renew your yoga practice.

Try a class with a new teachers.

No two Power Hour or Power Flow classes at the studio are the same. While we follow a similar sequence, each teacher brings their own unique personality, training, and experience into the class.  The more teachers you learn from, the more variety you are going to get. This can help you discover new poses, challenges, and ways of moving.

Schedule a private session.

One way to renew your yoga practice is to schedule a one-on-one session. Private classes obviously cost more money than a group class, but they are worth every penny. You get to work with a skilled yoga teacher who can help you explore and deepen your yoga practice and test your limits. Private classes are also a great way to learn how to go deeper into poses or learn modifications to poses. Modifications, can be critical to know, expecialyl if you have an injury or health impairment.  

Sign up for a Retreat.

One of the best ways to get a fresh start is to get away from it all entirely. When you leave your routine you’re forced to break habits. You begin to look at and do things differently. A yoga retreat can be the perfect way to do this. This May Empower Yoga is heading to Belize for our first ever retreat. Stay tuned for future retreat opportunities.

New practice, new attitude.

Having a fresh start is about more than doing something differently. It’s also about the attitude you do it with. Spring is the perfect opportunity to embrace change, so keep an open mind and an adventurer’s spirit. Awaken your mind to all the opportunities available to you and trust what the universe has in store.  You’ll probably be pleasantly surprised as to what new beginnings can do 🙂

Wishing you a wonderful Spring.  We look forward to helping you grow your yoga practice this season!

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Dear Yogis…

Dear Yogis,

Tomorrow is Empower Yoga’s one year anniversary and I wanted to take an opportunity to reflect and share some of the thoughts I have going into year two.  I opened Empower Yoga a year ago for a few reasons. First, to have a heated power studio in Central Jersey because there wasn’t one before now, but more importantly to create a safe place that people could come to learn and grow- physically, emotionally, & spiritually. I named this space Empower Yoga because I want you to feel empowered every time you walk out the door. I want you to know that you are so much more than what you sometimes believe and I hope through our classes at the studio, you truly start to see that and you begin to discover your most powerful self.

I started teaching yoga as a way to give back to a community that gave me so much. I believe that we all have the capacity to feel healthy and strong, and I want to help you feel that too. When we allow our bodies and minds to move freely, when we let go of our ego, when we quiet the chatter in our heads, and join together in community and breath, we begin to experience a profound sense of being truly awake and alive.

We live in a crazy world and sometimes all of life’s circumstances can weigh us down and hold us back. We are constantly bombarded with information about how we should live or what we should do. It can be intimidating and very overwhelming, but I hope that through your yoga practice, you can get a glimpse into the space beyond your busy mind; where you’re already calm, clear and where all your answers lie. A place where you can let go of some of the emotional baggage and just be.

Now being a yoga teacher does not make me an expert on life and all things spiritual. I can only authentically share what I have learned from my own experience. It’s your job to put your yoga into practice in a way that fits with your daily life. I can instruct and inspire, but you must do the work.

Just remember, the days you feel like skipping your practice are the days you need it the most. Keeping yoga a consistent part of your day and/or weekly routine will help you to thrive both on and off your mat. Yoga will help you in those challenging moments you face. Once you’ve been practicing a while, you’ll notice a calmer, happier, and less anxious version of you. I can promise that I will always be here to support you in anyway I can. Come sweat, move, and breathe with me! Come discover what you’re truly capable of.

Thank you for being a part of this amazing Empower Yoga community and allowing me to guide and instruct you.

Much love,

Keri

 

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5 Reasons To Check Out Empower Yoga

If you’re new to yoga or you’ve been practicing for many years, welcome home.

Our studio provides a space where students can connect, learn, support, hold one another accountable, and celebrate each other. It’s a place you can call home.

Here are just a few of the things that make Empower Yoga so special!

Community vibe-

I think that one of the most important things Empower Yoga has to offer is it’s community. Community defined simply is a place for gathering. But Empower Yoga is more than that. It’s a place where hearts can connect, where people can come share their passion for yoga, where positive interactions can take place and where relationships can develop.

At Empower Yoga everyone works together to support, encourage, and nurture one another. From sharing the big moments, falling out of poses, laughing, joking, etc. we all know that “we’re in this together.”

A place to learn-

Empower Yoga is a great place to grow your practice. Each student has an opportunity to move deeper into their practice both mentally and physically.  Through our focus on alignment, adjustments, and meaningful meditations, students can can gain great insight from our experienced teachers.

While each teacher comes from a different background or experience, we all share our love of teaching. With each teacher’s special talents, gifts, & unique teaching style, tremendous growth and development can take place.

Accountability-

Empower Yoga offers accountability and camaraderie in sticking with goals. For example, our January Challenge- 21 yoga classes in 31 days!

Where transformation occurs-

A community of yogis creates a powerful energy in the room.  When the lights are dim, and the music is playing, a transition to an intimate encounter within yourself takes place.  It’s easy to turn off the noise in your head, responsibilities, and instead focusing on your breath and well being while experiencing an elated state of gratitude.

We learn, we grow, we breathe, & we become!

The little things make Empower Yoga-

The staff takes the time to learn people’s names, the teachers “mix it up” in their routines so no two classes or playlists are exactly alike, and the studio is always nice and clean. Plus we give out cool eucalyptus towels at the end of class!

We hope you’ll come visit us soon. We know you won’t be disappointed.

To learn more about the studio, please visit: empoweryoganj.com 

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The Best of The World Marathon Majors!

Thinking of running a World Marathon Major (WMM)? Have you ever wondered which of the Abbott World Marathon Majors (Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago & NYC) has the best crowds, best finisher medal, crowd support, food, or the best course?

As someone who has completed all 6 of the World Marathon Majors, I’ve been asked questions like: “Which course was your favorite?” or “Which marathon was the hardest?” Well I have answered some of the popular questions below. This is strictly my opinion. When deciding on what Major you want to tackle, there is no right or wrong answer, but here some info. that may help you to decide!!

Enjoy!

Which WMM was the easiest to get into?

CHICAGO

For ways to gain entry into the Chicago Marathon you can either qualify, enter the lottery, or run for charity. I got in through the lottery, along with many others. There are lots of spots available.

Which WMM had the best Expo?

NEW YORK CITY &  BOSTON

These expos have the best set up, are well staffed and well organized, offer great presenters, lots of great vendors, knowledgeable and supportive staff, and limited wait time.

Which Marathon Major had the BEST race shirt?

BOSTON

Definitely Boston. The shirt is a long sleeved, v-neck and has the awesome logo on the entire back.  Plus at the expo you can also purchase the cool, one of a kind iconic jacket. Great for bragging rights.

It definitely couldn’t be Berlin- they don’t even give you a shirt.

Which WMM was the most organized?

TOKYO

Japan is known for its technology, organization and efficiency. The Japanese take promptness very seriously, which was nice because it meant everything started right on time. Their time management also meant that they strictly enforce a time cap that has checkpoints every 5 kilometers, the time cap is around 7 hours, so the average marathoners doesn’t need to be too concerned about this.

Which WMM had the best crowds?

BOSTON

All of the majors have great crowds, but to me, Boston just stands out. For me it was the Wellesley girls that I loved hearing the most. On Marathon Monday, it’s tradition for students to cheer on Boston Marathoners who race past campus near mile 13. Thousands of women line about a quarter mile of the course, motivating runners with hoots, hollers, high-fives … even kisses. This is referred to as the Wellesley Scream Tunnel because it is so loud, you can hear it from a mile away.

Which WMM had the best course (considering sights and scenery)?

NEW YORK CITY

This was tough- I have enjoyed every course. I loved running across the Tower Bridge during the London Marathon, near Wrigley Field in Chicago, and down Beacon Street in Boston. However, starting on the Verrazano Bridge in NYC and running through all the boroughs was pretty awesome, each is very unique and has its own charm.

Which WMM had the best finisher medal?

BOSTON and TOKYO

Boston because anything with a unicorn is super special, it’s also what it represent- being Boston Strong.

I really like Tokyo too, I love the GOLD!!

Which WMM had the best after party?

CHICAGO

The Chicago Marathon 27th Mile Post Race Party is a blast! This event takes place at the famous Grant Park and offers live entertainment, free massages, and free beer.

Which WMM had the best race swag?

NEW YORK CITY

In the pre-race packet I received lots of goodies in addition to my cool long sleeve race shirt. The finisher poncho is probably my favorite though. This fleece lined poncho keeps you super warm post race, way warmer than the metal heat blankets most races provide.


Which WMM had the best race beer?

BERLIN

Runners love their post race beer and Germans know beer!! Germany offers the widest selections. And since the marathon takes place during Oktoberfest, it just adds to the party.

Which WMM had the best travel experience?

BOSTON and LONDON

Boston just holds a special place in my heart. I love this city- I lived there and fell in love with my husband there, so going back is always a lot of fun. I love the food- visiting the North End and Beacon Hill, shopping down Newbury Street,  and walking along the Charles River. Boston is an awesome city and a place I call home.

London was a lot of fun to visit too- getting to see Buckingham Palace, the changing of the guard,  visiting Kensington Palace, this list goes on and on… plus my mom and sister joined me for this trip which made it extra special. I truly appreciated their support!

Which WMM had the best pre/post race food?

CHICAGO

Chicago has deep dish pizza, Tokyo has sushi and ramen, NYC has NY style thin crust pizza, Berlin has bratwurst and pretzels.

I think my husband and my food tour around Chicago topped the charts.

Which WMM was the most emotional?

BOSTON & TOKYO

It’s incredibly emotional to cross the finish line at Boston. Boston was like a dream come true and having my dad right there at the finish line, cheering me on was very special. This was the last race he saw of mine. Tokyo was also emotional because it was when I received my 6th star and ended my 4 year pursuit to finish the world’s majors!

Which WMM would I recommend for first timers?

CHICAGO

The Chicago Marathon is the easiest of the Majors to get into. Plus this course is easy to navigate, it’s flat & fast, offers great crowd support and manageable logistics. The start and finish are close to each other and the race is well organized. It would be an ideal race for someone wanting to run their first marathon.

Which WMM would I recommend to someone who only wants to run 1?

NEW YORK CITY

New York City has it all. It’s also the largest marathon in the world. Running through all 5 boroughs is exciting. It’s fun to see how different each borough is and how the entertainment varies. Starting on the Verrazano Bridge is pretty awesome.

If I could do 1 WMM over what would it be?

BOSTON

Boston is the oldest, most historic and most popular marathon in the world. Plus, it’s so near and dear to my heart. If I could run it every year, I would.

Which WMM would I not want to run again?

NEW YORK CITY

Race logistics are a nightmare. Getting to start requires a car, train, and ferry! You need to get up super early to ensure you make it to on time. As a result, you end up waiting a long time before your race actually begins.  Each time I ran, I arrived by 8am & started around 11 am. The weather by the start is usually cold, so be prepared and dress warm.

In conclusion:

Each WMM is unique and has its own appeal. I have enjoyed my experience running each of these. I challenge you to consider running one if you haven’t already. Throw your name into the lottery and let fate decide. You never know what could happen.

Happy Running!

 

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Tokyo Marathon Recap

This past weekend I completed my 10 marathon and checked off my 6th and final World Marathon Major (Tokyo) off the list. This perhaps was the most life-changing experience of them all. But through training for and running each marathon, I’ve learned a lot about myself and have discovered what I am truly capable of.

Here’s a look back on the race, my trip and running over the years.

To start, I wanted to explain a little about the significance of the World Marathon Majors. This will help put into perspective why I set this as a goal and why I wanted to complete this series/challenge.

What is the World Marathon Majors (WMM)?

The Abbott World Marathon Majors is a series consisting of six of the largest and most renowned marathons in the world. The races take place in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin, Chicago and New York City. The organizers of these events are united in their effort to advance the sport and increase the level of interest in racing among running enthusiasts.

What does it mean to complete the WMM?

Completing all 6 races makes you part of a special group of runners that have actually stepped up to the challenge, it’s a
significant accomplishment. To date, only 3,000 runners have completed all 6- how cool is that? I knew I needed to do this, not only to travel and for the cool medal, but for the bragging rights also.

Why run a marathon major?

The marathon majors are wonderful races and events.  They are a great addition to your race bucket list. Each major offers something unique and a little different. In my opinion, everyone should run at least one of the majors, especially if it’s the only 26.2 you ever run, the crowd support is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced at any other races, and the race swag is usually pretty good.

Traveling with Marathon Tours:

The 6 majors are incredibly hard to get into, particularly the oversees races. I was unable to get in to Tokyo via the race lottery so I signed up with Marathon Tours to gain entry. Marathon Tours and Travel works closely with the Abbott World Marathon Majors team and the individual race teams to enhance a runners experience while pursuing their aspirational running goals. In this case completing the WMM and earning my 6th star. Marathon Tours provides guaranteed entry to each of the races (with the exception of Boston), convenient hotels and activities customized for each location including tours and logistical details surrounding the race.

This trip was my first experience with Marathon Tours and I couldn’t be happier. They helped plan and organize everything, which made travel stress free. Included with the trip was a city tour as well as a pre race dinner and post race celebration. It was a lot of fun. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I signed up, but I am so happy that I did. The cost of travel may have been a little more than what I would have spent on my own, but it was money well spent. My favorite part was meeting new people, hearing their stories, and sharing this unique experience with them. I plan to keep in touch with my new friends and have already started to plan our next trip/race together!

Overall, visiting Japan has been an amazing vacation and tremendous adventure. This was truly the journey of a lifetime. It was fun to try the local cuisine, explore the city, see Mt. Fuji and visit various temples and shrines. Japan is a city filled with lots of culture.   There is lots to do and many places to visit.

The Tokyo Marathon:

Race day was a mix of emotions- both excitement and nerves. Leading up to the race I had gotten sick with bronchitis and then a stomach bug. On top of that, my running had been limited due to an injury- heel spur and plantar fasciitis. I hadn’t run over 18 miles (and it was on the treadmill) and I was only running 2-3 days per weeks, logging no more than 30 miles at the peak of my training. This was nowhere close to where I have been for previous races (running a few 20 milers, running 5-6 days per week, and logging 60+ miles a week- but probably over training- I am currently trying to find a healthy balance) so I was a little nervous to see what the race would bring. This was the first marathon that I have ever run without a goal in mind. I just wanted to finish feeling good and get my 6th star. I had decided right away that I was going to enjoy the race, take in the sites, take it easy & not beat myself up physically by pushing too hard.  

I was staying at the Tokyo Hilton which was just a short walk to the start line. This was very nice because it helped alleviate the stress of getting to the start on time. It also meant I could sleep in a little and hang at the hotel a little longer, not not having to wait outside in the cold for the race to begin. I had originally hoped and planned for the temps to be in the mid 40s to low 50s. However, on race day, the temperature was around 32.

The course takes in many sights including the Tokyo Government building, Tokyo Tower and Imperial Palace. The marathon incorporated some downhills, wide roads and flat surfaces, but also some nasty little inclines and bridges which kept it interesting. Along the course, there was also a few sections of out and backs where you crossover, getting to see many runners ahead of you and behind you. I even got to see the elites run by a few times which was cool to see. These crossovers also allowed for ample opportunities to see my husband cheering along the course, which was nice!

The locals are fantastic, providing many high fives and cheers which sure helped the morale. They also offered everything from menthol ice spray for sore muscles to bananas, tomatoes, oranges, cookies, candy and even chocolate on the course. While I don’t recommend trying new foods on a run it was still amusing to see it all! It was a very enthusiastic crowd that was estimated to be around 1.6 million.

The first half of the race went well and I felt pretty good. It wasn’t as crowded as I expected and the race started on a downhill which was nice. I had my fuel plan in place and was excited to start my 26.2 mile journey through the city and take in the sites that Japan had to offer.  

At around mile 6, I ran into a friend I met who was also a part of the Marathon Tours group, Michael. Michael and I decided to stick together during the race. I  don’t typically like to run with anyone during a race, but if I learned anything from past marathons, having a friend nearby comes in handy (i.e. NYC with Ann and Berlin w/ Calvin). I was very happy to have Michael by my side and really enjoyed his company. We checked in with each other frequently to ensure that we were each doing ok.

After the halfway point, we both started to feel a little tired and fatigued. Michael too had been dealing with injuries and hadn’t trained as he had hoped so we decided to not push the pace and back off a little. At around mile 16 we implemented a run/walk strategy- 8 min. running/2 min. walking. This was the first time I have ever done this in a race. Typically asking a runner to stop running is like asking a shark to stop swimming, it doesn’t happen. However,  as much as I didn’t want to at first, I knew that if I wanted to finish and feel good, it is probably the best thing for me. Run/walking is something I started to train recently as suggested by my Ironman coach to help prepare me for my upcoming Ironman. A lot of the time when a runner walks, they feel defeated and like their race is over, however when this strategy is implemented appropriately; run/walking is a great way to allow yourself to maintain a consistent running pace because you’re allowing short bouts of recovery between running efforts. In other words, it extends your energy stores. I probably should have done this from the very beginning, but was being a little stubborn.

Michael and I ran/walked up until the last mile and a half and then decided to run it in. We both crossed the finish line together with big smiles and a sense of accomplishment! The race took us well over 4 hours, but we didn’t care. We were in Tokyo and were feeling incredibly grateful to just be there. After the race, we made our way to the exit and to collect our medals. The Abbott tent was first. Michael waited while I got my special 6 Star medal and took pics before we carried on to get his medal, pick up his checked bag, and then head to the family meeting area. In all, it was a great race, a huge sense of accomplishment for me, and an overall incredible experience I will not soon forget.

Race Highlights:
  • The race was so clean and organized. For every 1 runner there were 4 volunteers.
  • Race started on time. Japanese are nothing if not punctual.
  • Tons of crowd support.
  • Tons of water and aide available at each water station.
  • Lots of volunteers holding garbage bags to ensure there wasn’t any trash in the streets.
  • Lots of lights, music, views, and entertainment along the way.
  • People were incredibly polite. If you got bumped they apologized several times.
  • The heated foot bath at the end of the race.
  • Cool finisher towel.
Draw backs:
  • Picking up the bib at the expo took a long time- by the time you got scanned, had your pic taken, got your wristband, race shirt etc. it took forever.
  • Everything at the expo was in Japanese. It was tough to figure out what a few items in your bag were. The selection of items for sale at the expo were different than you find at American races, I was disappointed they didn’t have as good a selection of compression socks, designer racing glasses, nutrition etc. The expo felt more like a gameshow then a running event (I did have a lot of fun at some of the booths though).
  • Using the porta pottie was a challenge, no western seats so squatting over a low hole in the ground made for an extra challenge.
  • The electrolyte beverage they had was Pocari Sweat- this is an acquired taste and took some time getting used to. Wouldn’t drink it if there was another option.
  • The race was marked in kilometers and not miles, thank god for my watch. I’m not too great at doing the kilometers to mile conversions while I run.
  • The last 1k was the longest ever. It didn’t help that there were multiple 1k signs so you really didn’t know what to believe. I had no clue as to how far I actually had left  to go. When you thought you were done, it kept going. I kept looking at my watch and Michael like “when will this end”.
  • No blue line to follow on the road to ensure you were running your targets well. I ran 26.78 miles according to my Garmin.
  • The walk after the finish to get your medal and to get the buses back to the start was about 2 miles long. It took over an hour to get out.
  • Took 30 min to even get your heat blankets. It was very windy and cold at the finish so that wasn’t fun.
Running over the years and why I do what I do:

I was someone who went from “I hate running” to “I can’t live without it”. If you asked me 6 years ago if I’d ever run a marathon, I would have thought you were crazy for even asking. I never thought I had a “runner’s body” and therefore could never truly run longer distances. When I first started running, it was miserable! I had blisters on my heels and toes from my shoes, I was tired and sore from run/walking barely 3 miles, I couldn’t run a mile without feeling like my lungs were on fire.  It was terrible. I wanted to give up and put myself out of my own misery, but I stuck with it and honestly, it got better. When my lungs stopped burning, when I became a little faster, and when I could run 3 miles without stopping, I actually started enjoying it. It started to feel good and I became proud of myself for what I was able to accomplish, so I kept going.

In 2012 when I moved to NJ from Boston, I joined a running group, Run Around Princeton. When I first started with the group on Saturday mornings, I couldn’t keep up with the group, felt embarrassed and wanted to quit.  However, I stuck with it & continued to run with the group every Saturday morning, trying my best to keep up. Then one day, I actually did and felt so thankful that I didn’t give up on myself. In 2013 I signed up for my very first marathon- The Philadelphia Marathon. When I crossed that finish line, I cried. I felt invincible and unstoppable and couldn’t believe what I was able to accomplish. I didn’t just want to do it again, I needed to do it again. I knew, in that moment, I would never say that I couldn’t do something. I started to believe that anything is truly possible, it’s just a question of how bad you want it and I wanted it bad. My next marathon was the Chicago Marathon in 2014. From there, I had the running bug and knew I wanted to keep running and made it my goal to complete all of the World’s Major Marathons.

It had become my mission over the last 4 years to finish the majors. Training and preparing for the races wasn’t always easy. Battling several injuries (which left me unable to run for most of 2017) and saving money to be able to travel is a huge commitment that takes dedication, hard work, and lot of sacrifices.  So when I finally completed the Tokyo Marathon, it meant so much. Crossing that finish line and achieving this goal brought tears to my eyes. 

Traveling the world, exploring new cities, and getting to run is  a truly awesome privilege. I feel so blessed.  It’s been an amazing experience and something I couldn’t have done without the love, support, & encouragement from my husband, my family, and my close friends. It’s been a remarkable journey and I can’t wait to see what’s next. I hear there’s something called the Seven Continents Club and I think that’s right up my ally!!

Until next time 😉 Happy Running!

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