Philly’s Own Women’s Summer Camp!

I remember it like it was yesterday…

Imagine one week to focus on yourself. A better body, confidence, lessons learned, fabulous food and fitness, inches and pounds lost (without going hungry), and unparalleled results.

The first time I ever seriously considered a “Wellness Retreat” was through the former Golden Child of the Philadelphia fitness scene, Lithe Method, their “lithe escape“. It sounded great… until I saw the price point.


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Not including the flight there, the time taken off work for a week vacation, etc….


Having only recently finished grad school, my bank account (and accrued vacation time) could NOT handle that.

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Luckily, the gang from Rise Gatherings knows that, though luxurious, these week-long tropical yoga- or fitness-retreats are NOT for everyone. And they managed to bring the best parts about a retreat (i.e. gorgeous natural scenery,  healthy foods, opportunities for fitness, workshops focused on body and mind) and pack it into 42 hours just down the road from Philadelphia (well, about 120 miles down the road, but no flights required!)

Rise Gathering is a summer-camp-for-women experience “designed to promote personal growth, enhance overall well-being, inspire collective connection and share some serious fun.”

Sounds good, right? Well, there’s more.

What’s got me excited about Rise Gatherings?

  • 305 Fitness – This insane NYC-based dance fitness class is 90% cardio, 10% toning and stretching, and looks 100% badass. Like Zumba turned up to 11. I’M IN! (especially since the class hasn’t yet made it’s way to Philly)
  • Kayaking and Waterfall Hike – Since Rise takes place at Camp Canadensis, we’re actually going to be able to do things as if we were at summer camp. HECK YES.
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  • Bonfire – The night you arrive is kicked off with a bonfire celebration to welcome everyone. I only pray they have enough s’mores for the rest of the women….
  • Options – I like yoga, but I’m not obsessed with it. I could use some more mindfulness in my life, but I don’t want to spend the whole weekend focusing on it. Plant-based cooking is a part of my life, but not a HUGE one. Rise Gatherings is offering you the chance to make this weekend exactly what you want. By bringing in a number of women all focused on different practices and specialties, it’s like a “Choose-your-own-adventure” book.
  • Connections.

According to one of the producers:

Rise Gatherings is much more than a one time event.  We are launching a community of empowered women of all ages who want to raise their voices, spirits and hands.

There are few things more inspiring than a community of empowered women of all ages. This is why I’ve already convinced my mom and sister to join me May 12-14 (That’s right, it’s Mother’s Day! Bring your mom!)

AND because I’m slightly obsessed with the concept and wanted to share it with everyone, I reached out to Rise Gatherings and got a special code in case you’d like to come along.

Use code: food_sweat_beer at Checkout for a $50 discount off your ticket OR a double ticket for you and a friend/mother/sister/soul-sister.

I can’t guarantee there will be enough s’mores to go around after I get a crack at ’em, but I can pretty much guarantee it’s going to be an amazing weekend!

Free Fitness in Philly All Summer Long

Philly is really blossoming lately, isn’t it? And I’m not just talking about the revolting trees that make me feel ill when I get a whiff of them. Nope, Philly has become a social butterfly’s dream, from street festivals to beer gardens to outdoor parties and al fresco dining, it’s clear that we’re all out of our cocoons.

Unfortunately, if I simply enjoyed every single one of these events willy-nilly, I could end up like a chubby butterfly who can’t get too far on her wings. Like our dear friend Heimlich, the star of A Bug’s Life.

Not getting too far on those wings, Heimlich.

Not getting too far on those wings, Heimlich.

Luckily, I’ve been squirreling away some information and compiling it into a list that’s perfect for anyone. ESPECIALLY:

  1. Folks who wanna save their hard earned dollars to spend on those super fun summer parties.
  2. Folks who wanna fit into their sexy summer swimsuits down the shore (or even just at North Shore).

I’ve been working on a Free Summer Fitness in Philly spreadsheet (that is definitely a work-in-progress) listing all the recurring summer workouts that you can join in for free (or, for a low, low, “pay what you can” cost) that hopefully can help all of you stay fit AND ball on a budget in your bitty bikini!!

Sure it’s a little run and yoga heavy…. but don’t we all wanna get sweaty and stretchy in the summer?

Weekday options are plentiful:

Click image for hyperlinked version

Click image for hyperlinked version

And, on the weekends, when you’re not playing dramatic games of beach volleyball in cut-off jorts and dog tags, you can check out a few of these:

Happily welcoming any more suggestions

Happily welcoming any more suggestions

Also, if you’d like to hit up a few workouts in the meantime, I’ve assembled a little pu pu platter of free introductory classes or trials at local gyms to investigate (I’m pretty sure most of them come with air conditioning, a bonus.)

Free Class and Trial Memberships

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That sauna at Weston is so clutch.

I invite y’all to share this list with your friends and family that’s trying to stay fit this summer, and welcome input from anyone that knows of run clubs, bootcamps, free intro classes, or anything of that nature. I’ll update the post if I hear anything from you. So, ya know, if you’d like to shoot me a suggestion or invite me to join your sweaty beach volleyball team, hit me up in the comments or Twitter!

See you on the sand, SUCKAS!

Every Iceman needs his Elsa, right?

Every Iceman needs his Elsa, right?

Two-a-Days and the Results

The past two days, I’ve doubled up on my workouts.

Zumba + yoga on Tuesday had me feeling like this:

So Zen, so happy.

Zumba + Pilates yesterday had me feeling the burn in my thighs. But, at the time of the class, I was feeling long and lean and lovely. Like this:

Am I the only one that thinks all this equipment looks like some sort of crazy Fifty Shades kinda sex room?

However, this morning, I’m pretty sure my legs feel like this:

So heavy. Not Zen.

In case you’re not as interested in piping as I am, those are lead pipes.

Oh walking, you’re gonna be tough today.

Do you ever double up on workouts? 

I was feeling like a champ…. until I got outta bed this morning. Oy VAY!

Salutation Nation 2011: Durham, NC

Happy Sunday, Yogi Bears!!

As I tweeted bright and early, yesterday morning:

I was lucky enough to spend the day before 9/11 in a most peaceful setting, and that setting was at the infamous Durham Bull’s Athletic Park during Salutation Nation, a never ending ommmmmm!

Bright and early, I drove into downtown Durham, NC to park and head over to join my fellow Yogis for some Salutation Nation.

Described by Lululemon, Salutation Nation is:

· An annual, international day of yoga
· Complimentary
· Open to all levels
· Led by local yoga ambassadors
· In the Triangle, led by Jill Sockman (Raleigh), Christine Wall (Durham), Tina Ventrella (Cary), and Lori Burgwyn (Chapel Hill).

Invited by my friend Patty, we were pretty sure that the yoga was going to be a class perfect for a newbie like myself. I think that I’ve been to about 5-7 yoga classes before this but hey, outdoor yoga, why the heck not?!

I wasn’t sure if I was definitely going to the right place. Then, I saw this in front of me.

Oh, wait, definitely in the right direction.

I parked and headed over to my first true visit to the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Only I never thought I’d be going to do yoga….

Take me out to the ballpark!

A little early for beer, even for me.

The event started at 9 am, so I wanted to make sure I was there to get a good spot.

All set up, and ready for action!

Good spots were at a premium, as some folks came with giant crews of fellow yogis!


I’ll admit, I may have talked a little smack re: my past experiences with yoga not being very enjoyable or, very hardcore, and the fellow next to me was getting a little sassy. I mentioned that it was very rare that I ever had broken a sweat in a yoga class.

“Clearly, she hasn’t been to any of my yoga classes.”


The Lulus, as I’ll affectionately call them, were the lululemon gals and instructors who were in the front of the crowd with loudspeakers blaring. They got us all organized and ready to pose.

Little Lu-whos!

The first instructor had a pretty wordy intro during which we were supposed to find a partner. Well, I guess the karma gods of yoga got back at me by making sure that I was one of the only single gals in the crowd.


Luckily, a dear woman, Martha, scampered over and was my yogi-buddy, joining me on my mat to share an experience pairing our breath together as we were all told the point of Salutation Nation was for all of us to realize we’re brothers and sisters on this planet. It was a nice way to start the practice.

I was thankful for my Toe Sox initially, as the morning dew left me a little slippery.

Slipping is a no-no for this balanceless yogi.

I’ll admit, while I loved doing yoga outdoors, maybe more than I have in any other environment, the North Carolina early autumn quickly heated up.  Definitely got rid of those sox a little early in the game.

The poses were challenging, and although several women and men confessed to having never been to a yoga class in their lives, the instructors went through them very fast and, most of the time, without explanation.

Thankfully, Mr. Sassy Yoga Instructor was right next to me, and he knew everything from Warrior Two to Happy Baby.’

He looked exactly like this. (Click for Source)

I definitely broke a sweat in this 1.5 hour practice, and REALLY stretched out. I held poses longer than I have in the past, my triceps are super sore today, and the sun beat down on me reminding me that, yes, I was out in the elements, being one with nature.

It was pretty fantastic to wear sunglasses during yoga, it was great to hear “Oms” vibrating through the ballpark, and the attitude of everyone was great. We even enjoyed a moment of careful thought about those affected by 9/11, which meant a lot to me, to just relax and think and be both alone and together in my thoughts.

It’s events like these that remind me why I love being part of a community like the Triangle, and Durham more specifically. Afterwards, we headed over to the Durham Farmer’s Market for pizza from Pie Pushers and muffins from Scratch Bakery. It was the perfect way to start my weekend, and the best way to be part of an amazing community event.

Oh, and I got to tree pose with Wool E. Bull.

So flexible, that Bull.

Did you participate in Salutation Nation anywhere near you? 

Have you ever done yoga outdoors?



Wake-Up Call


Wow.  So once, going through pictures and trying to find the one of me doing yoga at all, I found this one.  Taken in Las Vegas, right as I was coming off of a summer of sloth following a wicked lame pre-summer foot break that incapacitated me, right outta college graduation, the caption on facebook of this was “My dream wedding.”

I think, in my mind, the joke was not only “wow, she just got married in the middle of the day, in vegas, in a full wedding gown, and is playing penny slots” but “and also, she is fat.”

However, reflecting on this picture (this was probably the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life) I am blown away by my own appearance.  Because, after losing almost 50 lbs, I look at this and think “there are two people in this picture that are overweight, not just one.”

Talk about your belated wake up call…

I have to say, this isn’t a post to call anyone fat (even though I did just say that I considered both people in this image overweight), more to evaluate the change in my thought process.  Because honestly, while I was happy as a clam that weekend, I can’t help but think I’d have had such a better time if I were my current weight.  And while I didn’t THINK I was overweight at all at this time in my life, it’s like…. wow.  Now that I see it having lost the weight, I can’t believe I just allowed myself to have all those extra pounds on my body.  I remember once, at a UNC football game, I was loudly cheering for my team, waving my pom poms around like a locopop (GO HEELS!!! TAR HEEL BORN AND TAR HEEL BRED!!) when a random viewer at the game mentioned, off hand to her friend, that I should “calm my fat ass down because it was jiggling in [her] face”.  That hurt.  That hurt, so friggin’ much (I’d say another f word, but I’m unsure if wordpress monitors these supah hard.)  I think that was the first time I thought to myself, “Wow.  This whole ‘being overweight’ thing is miserable, horrible, and people mock you for it.”  At the time, I was a happy, fun-loving UNC student, who got hit on a lot (just saying, for a while, that’s how I measured my self-worth) and looked sexy in clothes (in my opinion at the time.)  How the HELL could some girl call me a fat ass?  Well, now, looking back, I see it, and I believe I might think the same thing about old me now a-days.  That’s harsh, right?  Jeez.  But I’m… just being honest. (Andre 3000, 2003).

The change is monumental. And my life has just changed so much.

I think about my health, my weight, my diet, my fitness…. so much. Like, constantly.  Everything I put in my mouth, everything that comes out of me (TMI? whatevz), everything I do with my body, every activity I plan…

I was talking with my beau about how, despite the fact that we’ve both lost over 25 lbs since we initially decided to get healthified, we think about our weight/fitness more than we ever did when we had those extra lbs on our body.  I guess it’s just part of adapting your awareness regarding your body.

Tomorrow, I’ll be heading to Ocean City, New Jersey.  It’s my home away from home, and my favorite place on the face of this planet.  And once, 2 years ago, my grandma mentioned to my mother how terrible I looked on the beach.  It’s stuff like that which make me so so happy to have decided to make the change, not because of her, not because of what anyone has ever said, but because I knew that if I wanted to live a long/healthy life, I couldn’t continue living the way that I was. And because of the changes I’ve made, I’ll be able to spend time indulging in my favorite treats, while enjoying my mornings being more active than I used to be.  It’s all about balance and, as evident by that earlier picture, I’m all about balance (except for the fact that my balance is HORRIBLE due to breaking both my feet at different points in my life.  I’m basically on a constant teeter totter.)

To sum it up: I’m so excited for this weekend.  And I won’t feel guilty about anything I do.  I will go to the gym tomorrow, I will enjoy strolling/powerwalking on the boards the rest of the days, and I know that I won’t look back on pictures from this weekend and think negative thoughts about myself.

It’s all because of a little wake-up call.


Have you ever had a wake-up call to health?  Regardless of your answer, what boosted you into a healthy lifestyle?

Do you wish that you could snuggle with me?  (duh.)