Leta Stevens

FITNESS

4 Things Every Beginner Yogi Should Have

September is National Yoga Month, so I thought it would be fitting to share some of the essentials that every yogi should own if they’re really interested in delving into their own yoga practice.

If yoga has been on your to-do list, now is the time! Many yoga studios have discounted passes this month. If you’re ready to get started, here’s what you’ll need:

1. Yoga Mat

As if this isn’t the most obvious yoga essential! While many gyms and studios may have mats for members to use, if you’re really going to devote some time on the mat… it’s worth the investment to just buy your own. This way, you can practice at home, and when you aren’t at home you don’t have to worry about using a (potentially dirty) mat that’s been used countless times by others at your gym/yoga studio.

One yoga brand I really love is Gaiam. Gaiam has everything a yogi needs, for any and all levels of yoga or meditation.

Gaiam mats come in a wide variety of thickness, material, and patterns. Of course, you can just go for a basic mat, but again, if you’re going to start spending more time on a yoga mat, you might as well buy one that you like to look at! Mine is reversible: pink on one side and navy on the other. I’m very minimalistic in style, but a fun pop of color sold me on my mat. Gaiam also has lots of mats with beautiful designs.

Tip for beginners: the “basic” thickness of a yoga mat is ⅛ of an inch (2-3mm). However, the thicker the mat, the more comfort/cushion that you have. Consider this when purchasing. But also take into consideration that the thicker the mat, the harder some poses that require balance can be as the cushion can affect your equilibrium in certain asanas. If you’re looking for a little extra cushion go for a 4-5mm, but any higher than a 5 and you risk having too much cushion to successfully balance in your poses.

2. Bag/Sling

If there’s one awesome thing about yoga, it is that you really only need YOU and your mat. You just roll it on up and head to class. You don’t have to carry around a big gym back when you’re heading to yoga, you can simply opt for a sling to wrap around your mat so it doesn’t unroll when stored or when in transport.

However, if you’re like me, you could be ever-attached to your phone and need a little more than a sling. I just bought the Gaiam On-The-Go Mat bag, so I have an option outside of my gym bag to take to yoga class and yoga teacher training with me. It’s not a big bag, but more functional that a basic sling as it has a pocket for my keys, gym card, cell phone, etc.

Gaiam also offers gym bags with compartments to hold your yoga mat, depending on your needs.

3. Yoga Block

Yoga blocks are perfect for all levels of yogis! Yoga blocks have many different uses. They can be used as a seat for meditation, for stability purposes in standing poses, and can also be used as an extension of the floor when your flexibility just doesn’t allow you to touch the ground.

4. Yoga Strap

Yoga straps are used to increase flexibility and further your stretch into poses. They can also be used to aid in stamina, as you’ll be able to hold poses longer with the assistance of a strap. Check out this tutorial from YogiApproved to see how a yoga strap is used.

These are my four yoga must-haves!

Gaiam even put together their own Yoga for Beginners Set, where you can purchase a mat + block + strap + beginners yoga DVD for less than $25! Complete steal! Add in a sling/bag and you could be getting all four of my yoga essentials for less than $40!

OR — you can just do what I did and pull together all of your favorites and curate your own yoga kit. Right now, you can Save 20% Off All Yoga Mats & Accessories At Gaiam.com! THANK YOU NATIONAL YOGA MONTH! But, this sale ends 9/13 — so don’t pass up this chance for a great savings!

 

Are you a practicing yogi? What are your must-haves? If you’re just starting out, why are you starting yoga? I’d love to know! Let’s chat in the comments below.

 

Xo,

Leta

Fun Fitness Classes to Try

How do you commit to a healthy lifestyle and stick with it? Many people fall out of their routine because it starts to bore them or they plateau and stop seeing changes. The best way to combat this? Try something new and change up your training!

For the last year and a half that I have been competing, my training splits have consistently changed. I love to switch up the way that I approach my lifts (i.e. high reps with lower weight, heavy weight with lower reps, AMRAP, 1RM, etc). Despite the constant changes in the way I go about my weightlifting training, one thing I haven’t really done is branch out past the weight room. While I am in my off season, I’d love to get some exposure to different types of workouts. There are quite a few that I have seen people trying (and subsequently loving) that I would love to try out.

Interested in changing up your workouts and trying something new, too? Check out my list!

 

Pure Barre

Pure Barre is something I have seen a lot of my friends from college fall in love with. Classes incorporate a ballet barre along with isometric movements to give you a total body workout. But do not think that just because you won’t be in the weight room that you won’t be feeling the burn! Bodyweight and lightweight exercises, along with stretching and core work can be a great addition to any exercise regimen. Pure Barre boasts that classes burn fat and sculpt lean muscles with five different class options ranging in length from 55-75 minutes. Each class offers a different focus, including: technique or toning up one of the three big problem areas for most women: the abs, thighs, or seat (the booty). I really want to try out a class or two (even though the bodybuilder in me dislikes that they use the word “toning”, because that is not a real thing).

If Pure Barre sounds like your cup of tea, check out their website to find a studio near you — they offer a whole month of unlimited classes to new clients!

 

Orangetheory Fitness

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Orangetheory Fitness offers hour long classes of HIIT (High-Intensity Interval Training) that incorporate the use of rowing machines, treadmills, weight training, and TRX suspension training. The workouts are designed to keep you in a fat-burning zone to maximize calorie burn. Orangetheory is open to all fitness levels. Estimated calorie burn in just one class? 500-1000 calories! One hour of HIIT sounds tough, but SIGN ME UP! I love a good challenge.

You can find an Orangetheory Fitness studio near you here.

 

Boxing

After seeing the movie Creed (and absolutely loving it! If you haven’t seen it I highly recommend it!) I immediately wanted to hop in the ring. When you think of boxers, what comes to mind? For me, it’s one word… badass. So naturally, I want to be a badass, too! Title Boxing Club offers boxing and kickboxing classes, depending on your preference. The boxing class involves the heavy bags and learning different drills that involve various punches like jabs, hooks, and upper cuts! Boxing and kickboxing are great alternatives to get in a cardio workout without it feeling like you are doing cardio. The constant movement and variation of drills will keep your heart rate up and keep the sweat pouring. The kickboxing classes incorporate the punching techniques and also introduce kicks (obviously, it’s kickboxing) like front kicks and roundhouse kicks. Both the boxing and kickboxing classes are one-hour workouts, in which you can burn up to 1000 calories. Did I mention you get to wrap your hands and wear boxing gloves (AKA look like a badass)? That alone is enough to peak my interest.

Find a Title Boxing club here.

 

Yoga

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I have done one yoga class in my 26 years of existence and it was SO much fun. I’m not sure why I have not done another class, but it is something that is on my to-do list. Yoga incorporates different moves and poses (asanas) to strengthen your core and increase your flexibility and stamina. Yoga can also help alleviate stress as the practice also focuses on calming breathing patterns and mindfulness. Yoga is a great addition to any lifting and cardio regimen as it can aid in better sleep, relief from both muscle pain and stiffness, and improve circulation (better blood flow means faster muscle repair).

Most gyms offer free yoga classes (I workout at Lifetime Fitness and most yoga classes are free along with the other group exercise classes), so check your gym’s group exercise class schedule to see if any are offered to you for free! If not, you can check out CorePower Yoga to see if there is a yoga studio near you.

Those are the four fitness classes that I want to try — and I’ll be sure to update you as I try them out.

If you have done any one of these before — let me know in the comments below! I would love to hear about your experience!

Xo,

Leta

Coming Soon

Hi all! Welcome!

Thank you so much for visiting my website. I am spending a lot of my time making sure that the site is ready to officially launch in the upcoming months, and that when it does… it is absolutely perfect! I have so much to say and share. My blog finally has an official launch date, March 29th, 2016!

I really cannot wait! The site will encompass everything that’s near and dear to my heart: fitness, food, fashion, and so much more!

I want to share with all of you how a healthy, balanced lifestyle has changed my life for the better… and how it can changes yours, too!

Thank you all for the continued support.

Xo,

Leta