Workout Review: Sensazao Dance Fitness in Alexandria

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Sensazao Dance Fitness is a total-body workout that has all the benefits of a long run or your most intense cardio workout, possibly even more. In a 1-hour class, you can burn as many as 800 calories. You’ll also tone nearly every muscle in your body, improve balance, boost brainpower and develop a confidence about your ability to dance gracefully and dance sexy.

I gained over 60 pounds with each of my pregnancies. Having been slender and fit my entire life, I was horrified at the sight of my post pregnant body. I was desperate to find something that would inspire me to get fit and healthy again. Not only was I desperate, I was beginning to develop post-partum depression.

At 38 years old and 5 feet, 7 inches tall, I was clinically obese at 205 pounds and I still looked 9 months pregnant. I joined my nearest gym in Arlington. On my second day at the gym, I noticed a huge line (almost 45 minutes wait before the class began. It was for a class instructed by Gabriela Espinoza. Once inside the class, a woman standing next to me asked me if it was my first class. Of course I answered “yes.” Then, she gently touched my arm and said “Just want to let you know that my first time taking the class, I only lasted 30 minutes and I had to leave. It’s okay if you have to leave early, just have fun!”

A sexy, super lean and sculpted instructor (Gabriela Espinoza) came rushing in and plugged her Ipod into the stereo. The most beautiful Latin music (a song by Pitbull) came on and the warm-up began. I was exhausted, out of breath and ready to crawl out of the class after only 3 minutes! I could barely get thru the warm-up! But, I decided to keep trying. I felt like collapsing on the floor during several songs.  It was intense. The moves were sexy, included tweaking, swaying, sashaying, gyrating, salsa, bachata, samba, hip hop and worked every single muscle in my body. Gabriela’s double jointed and firm body moved so effortlessly. Her passion for dance was electrifying and inspiring. I was in love with this style of aerobic dance fitness and determined to learn the choreography,  have fun and lose weight. This class made me feel like myself again, the “dancing self” before marriage and kids, a girl who once danced beside Channing Tatum in the movie, Step Up. And after only 6 months of attending Sensazao Dance class five nights a week, I lost 50 pounds and went from a “Plus Size 16” to a size 8 without changing my diet or doing any other type of workout.

My instructor Gabriela and her sister Jazmin left that local Arlington gym and opened up their very own studio in Alexandria almost 5 years ago and I’m still a huge fan! Fans come from all over the world to take classes here. Singer/Actress Jordin Sparks has even visited the Alexandria, Virginia studio and has endorsed the workout on her “Things she’s obsessed with” on MTV, in several magazine articles and on her Instagram.

The Sensazao (pronounced SENS-suh-Zow) Dance Fitness workout is perfect for those who enjoy dancing or want to learn how to dance in a very safe and fun environment with others who have the same interest and fitness goals as you do. This is the most fun you’ll ever have while losing weight and keeping fit! Moving to music is stress-free and happy. There’s no counting reps, watching the clock or taking breaks in between circuits.

Sensazao recently began live streaming their dance classes and I had the awesome opportunity to interview one of the founders of Sensazao Dance Fitness, Jazmin Espinoza about their latest endeavor and what’s in store for the future.

CM: When did you decide to pursue fitness as a full-time or part-time career?

Jazmin: Dancing was always part of our lives and we were always pursuing a challenge. Once we saw the interest in dance and fitness we adjusted our dance experience and increased the fitness component in our classes. From there on it became a way of life.

CM: When did you realize you had a bonafide BRAND for your company?

Jazmin: From the beginning, epecially when there was always a long line [of people] waiting for our classes.

CM: Are the new Live Stream videos equivalent to your classes?

Jazmin: Technically no, we are live streaming our classes since we have many online followers who want to join us, but these classes are different than our studio classes. The major difference is that it’s not the real experience, which cannot be replaced unless you are there with us. However, our new service allows you to dance with us in the comfort of your own home/gym/studio and with whomever you want.

 CM: How does it feel when total strangers approach you and applaud you for their fitness results?

Jazmin: It feels incredibly rewarding that we were part of their fitness journey and helped them in any way. But it does not feel like we are talking to strangers at all. We are definitely connected to our clients and share the same happy feeling when we dance together.

 CM: Who among your clients is the best embodiment of the Sensazao brand & why?

Jazmin: Our mother Gaby. She has the best time dancing with us, takes sometimes 2 classes in a row, keeps herself in shape and gives us the best feedback when it comes to routines and songs we choose for class.

 CM: What sets your dance fitness class apart from all the others?

Jazmin: Two things: 1.) We have 3 unique styles when it comes to choreographing and teaching 2.) Our instructors training quality

CM: What amount of classes do you recommend for new moms trying to get fit and fit back into their pre-baby jeans?

Jazmin: We recommend 2 to 3 per week. Considering the high to low impact versatility of our routines, anyone can start their fitness journey with us and reach their goals in the most safe and effective way.

 CM: Where do you see your company ten years from today? Any plan for franchising and studios in other cities?

Jazmin: Franchising is a possibility we have considered. In ten years we plan to see official Sensazao classes worldwide and our own charity organization related to dance and health.

 CM: In addition to your classes, what do you girls do for fun?

Jazmin: We like to surf, take dance classes, attend carnivals and mostly travel all over the world.

CM: What announcements and news would you like to share with the Clarendon Moms readers?

JM: We would like to share our passion for life by means of music and dance. We would like to remind everyone that health is the best investment and that happiness is the journey.

Shimmy, twerk, pop and lock your way to your pre-baby body, Sensazao Dance Studio is located at: 5424 Eisenhower Ave.  
Alexandria, VA 22304. For more information, visit www.sensazao.com

Workout Review: SoulCycle DC

 

©ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan ™Soul Cycle

©ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan ™Soul Cycle

©ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan

©ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan

SoulCycle is a marriage between a cycling boutique, rave, house or hip hop dance party and weight training class. With a cult-ish following, tons of DC residents have been flooding the cycling studio to find out what all the hype is about. I have personally spotted our first lady, Michelle Obama and other local DC celebs tapping into their soul here in DC and have heard Kelly Ripa rave about Soul Cycle countless times. This class promises to burn over 900 calories in one session. Sweating is an understatement for these soul sisters (and brothers).

Upon entering the Soul Cycle studio, a fresh aroma of grapefruit fills your olfactory senses. The light is brighter than the sun. The staff are very attentive and cheerful. I totally understand why this place may be “cultish”. I filled out the liability waiver, rented a pair of “clip ins” and claimed my bike. My instructor was Megan, a pretty and amazingly toned woman with electrifying energy. As the ride began, the music gradually became more energetic. Megan gave the crowd a sort of  fitness/soul affirmation sermon. I definitely felt like I was in the right place of worship! I was inspired more at this moment than I had been at any other fitness studios I had ever visited, especially more than at any other cycling/spinning class. Love at first spin was setting in.

What is Soul Cycle?

Soul Cycle is spinning with handle bar push-ups, crunches, and side-to-side (oblique) dips on the bike while the energy is kept high by receiving little pep during the course of the ride. The class is intense at times, but easily modifiable. There is a weighted arm sequence (on the bikes) towards the end of the class. Mini dumbbells are used to workout the upper body with lots of little, isolated movements reminiscent of barre classes.

The juice:

I have drank the Soul Cycle Kool-Aid and I am truly addicted. However, at $30 a class, I will be taking Soul Cycle only as a “weekly supplement” to my already established fitness routine for 2015.First time riders at SoulCycle get a class for $20, which includes bike + shoes.
After that, individual class: $30 Shoe rental – $3 (frequent riders usually bring their own). Riders are encouraged to bring their own water-bottles. If you forget, they have some for purchase. Regular water – $2 / Large water – $3

Soul Cycle is located at 2301 M Street NW, Washington DC 20037. To learn more about Soul Cycle DC or to register for classes, click HERE.

 

Workout Review: Local Motion Studio in Alexandria

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I love working out! And this year, I will be sharing my favorite workouts in a monthly post called Workout Review. First up is Cardio Sculpt at Local Motion Studio in Alexandria. Cardio Sculpt is an energizing 45 minutes of cardio and strength training. This barefoot training class has Pilates and Yoga influences, but this is no mat class! If you’re looking for a sweat-induced workout, this is the class for you.

I walked into Local Motion Studio after a hectic morning of dropping off my first grade daughter at elementary school, my son at his pre-school and my husband at the metro followed by my bi-weekly grocery shopping. It had just begun to snow for the first time this year and I was wondering if I was going to get a call asking me to return to school to pick up my kids. But, once I walked into the Local Motion Studio, all of the stress that I had in my body and all of those anxious thoughts I had in my head melted away. The studio is modern, minimalistic, spacious and has a calming, yet inspiring energy. I didn’t even feel like I was in Alexandria, let alone the state of Virginia. The studio was reminiscent of my days as a student actor in New York City learning Suzuki Movement and Alexander Technique. My fellow attendees of the Cardio Sculpt class had friendly faces and were just as excited as I was to take the class.

What exactly is Cardio Sculpt? Think high rep low weights and yoga-inspired sculpting. Add in a few leg ups/jogging in place and you will feel moderate intensity. This is the gist of what the class was like: An arm segment that’s longer than I’m used to with 3 and 5-lb weights, leg and glutes segments using your body weight (think 80’s style Jane Fonda ‘on all fours kicking your leg back’ with weights in the back of your knee caps style. OMG! Am I going to get a Kim Kardashian ass doing these donkey kicks?), partner planks and one hand patty cake push-ups with Yoga-like “flows” between each circuit. I really liked our instructor Charissa Mobley. She was super energetic, passionate about fitness and is great at giving cues and encouragement.

About Local Motion: Local Motion Studio offers fun and inclusive movement classes to both adults and children. They offer Ballet, Belly Dance, Pregnancy and Postpartum Fitness, Yoga, Pilates, CrossBarre, Capoeira, Capofit, various forms of dance and cardio classes. Their mission is to bring the joy of movement to everyone– at any stage and any age. My favorite aspect in addition to their brand new, clean facility and techniques offered is that they are very family-friendly and offer onsite childcare and children’s classes.

Local Motion Studio is located at 2377 South Dove Street, Alexandria, VA 22314. For more information, visit www.localmotionstudio.com

 

Kombucha: My Healthy New Addiction

© ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan

© ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan

Kombucha is a fermented tea created by adding probiotics, gut-healthy bacteria, yeast, natural sugars and sometimes fruit juice and vitamins sometimes called “mushroom tea”. I’ve been hearing about Kombucha for almost ten years, but was hesitant to try it because there were some brands that listed “mold” and “bacteria” as the ingredients inside the bottle of kombucha. (What? I’m highly allergic to mold! )

However, after doing some research on the popularity of drinking kombucha, I discovered that it is not just a trendy food that “alternative health foodies” drink, it is a deliciously fascinating drink that has become mainstream and touted as a magic elixir.

I put myself on a “30 Day Kombucha Challenge”. I tried several different brands, but GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha gave me the best results for what I was looking for. I drank one every morning as a snack one hour after breakfast and two hours before lunch. Based on my personal 30 day experience, GT’s Enlightened Organic Raw Kombucha gave me an enormous amount of energy, staved off hunger pains–especially reducing my sugar cravings, improved my digestion, reduced the amount of brain fog I sometimes experience as an over scheduled, exhausted, anxiety prone mom and it quenched my thirst, not to mention I lost five pounds.

I’ll admit that I was skeptical about the benefits of kombucha until I tried it myself. It tastes like a sparkling cider mildly flavored with bursts of ginger, bilberry, citrus and lemon. It’s an addiction of mine now, an expensive one at an average of $3.49 per 16 ounce drink from Whole Foods–but Kombucha is a healthy addiction and one that has changed my life.

{Disclosure: I was not paid or supplied with any samples of this product. All opinions are my own.}

Top 5 Fitness Trends in the DC Area

©ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan ™Soul Cycle

©ClarendonMoms/Angelica Talan ™Soul Cycle

Fitness is a lot like fashion, very trendy. And DC is one of the most fitness friendly cities in the U.S. Whether you want to bulk up like the incredible Hulk or lengthen your muscles to look like a ballerina, DC has something to offer. So, forget the treadmill, ditch your average aerobics class and try one of the hottest classes offered in DC.

1. SoulCycle: SoulCycle is a marriage between a cycling boutique, rave dance party and weight training class. With a cult-ish following, tons of DC residents have been flooding the new cycling studio to find out what all the hype is about. Our first lady, Michelle Obama and celebs such as David Beckham, Lena Dunham, Kelly Ripa and Katie Holmes have been seen tapping into their soul at other locations and now you can too. This class promises to burn over 900 calories in one session, sweat is an understatement for these soul sisters (and brothers).

2. Barre: Based on the movements of ballet but coupled with the burn of cross-fit, Barre is no easy lift. The class is set to upbeat music and consists of a warm up, sequence of upper-body exercises using light free weights, push-ups and planks so participants will surely be put to the test. Slow and targeted movements are the key here. Your biceps, triceps, shoulders, chest and back muscles will feel the burn during a series of ballet barre. There are about a dozen different types of barre available around DC, but my absolute favorites include: Pure Barre, Xtend Barre and Barre Tech.

3. CrossFit: CrossFit is an intense exercise program featuring dynamic exercises like plyometric jumps, and Olympic lifts while using non-traditional weightlifting equipment such as kettlebells, sand-bags, suspension systems or water-filled implements. You will often see cross-fit participants running in the streets drenched in sweat and that’s usually only the warm up. This class is definitely for those looking for a high-intensity, balls to the wall work out.

4. AerialYoga: Aerial yoga mixes together ancient yoga techniques with modern acrobatic exercises in order to create a total body workout that is fun yet challenging. This class is designed for the person who is looking to work out without feeling like they are working out. By utilizing soft, Ariel hammock fabric, this class stretches your body to the ends of the earth. The fabric allows for full support while participants try new positions elevated off of the ground. Think Cirque Du Soleil for beginners, for all those willing to try new things, this class is for you.

5.Tabata: Want to get in shape but don’t have a lot of time to do it? Tabata training is just what you need. Tabata is high intensity interval workout that last for only four minutes. The workout consists of high intensity movements for 20 seconds followed by a rest for 10; participants are expected to repeat this sequence eight times. An example of a high-intensity movement sequence is: burpees, squats, jumping jacks then sit ups. Participants are expected to do their desired sequence for 20 second straight as hard as they can then rest. For anyone who doesn’t have the time or the money to pay the new DC fitness tax, this workout is for you. Do it in your living room, bed room or even office when no one is watching.

6 Ways To Protect Your Eyes This Summer – eye2eye Optometry Corner in Del Ray/Alexandria

Summer is the season for fun in the sun – we all know to wear sunscreen and hats to protect our skin, but what about our eyes? Protecting eyes from UV radiation is essential to life long healthy vision. Because ultraviolet radiation from the sun can cause age-related eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration, protecting your children’s eyes is vital to their long-term eye health (and yours too!). The more exposure to the sun’s harmful UV rays during your lifetime, the more at risk you are to develop sight-threatening conditions.Children tend to spend lots of time outdoors in the summer sun. Because of that, some experts say nearly half of a person’s lifetime exposure to UV radiation can take place by age 18. Fortunately kid’s exposure to UV can be limited with comfortable and durable sunglasses – and Mom’s exposure can be limited with a pair of stylish summer shades. At eye2eye Optometry Corner in Del Ray Alexandria – we offer a wide selection of the best brands for kids and adults. Here are Dr. Adamopoulos’s six tips for summer sun protection:

  • For kids, be sure the lenses are impact resistant & the frames made of a durable material.
  •  Pick a large, close-fitting frame. These are best to help protect children’s eyes during play.
  •  The most important time of day to make sure you wearing sunglasses is between 10am-2pm, when the suns rays are the strongest.
  • Beware of cheap sunglasses. They can pose safety hazards when made of cheap materials and low quality paints. Always purchase high quality acetate frames.
  • Know the percentage of UVA & UVB rays being block by the sun – be wary of the phrase “blocks UV rays”. You want a lens that blocks out 100% of UVA & UVB rays.
  • Wear sunscreen around the eye area to protect your eyelids from burning.

Schedule a an eye exam for you or your little one at eye2eye this summer, they’ll establish your existing vision health as well as get you and your little one fitted for new sunglasses.

About Dr. Adamopoulos:
Dr. Adamopoulos, OD owns eye2eye Optometry Corner in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria. Dr. A is a wife and mother and knows first hand the sometimes crazy balancing act of raising little ones and being a full time business owner. Dr. A has been practicing optometry since 1998 and opened eye2eye Optometry Corner in 2008. She’s an avid supporter of small business and loves her community of Northern Virginia.

For more information about eye2eye Optometry and to schedule an appointment, click here. To follow them on Facebook, click here.

{Disclosure: All content in this post is sponsored by eye2eye Optometry Corner.}

Xtend Barre Grand Opening Tomorrow, June 14th in Old Town Alexandria

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10338585_902823073076882_4089953379944242946_o xtend-barre-pilates-and-dance-old-town-alexandria.jpg Photo Credit: Maria Jose Ovalle (VeryBusyMamaBlog.com)

Photo Credit: Maria Jose Ovalle (VeryBusyMamaBlog.com)

“Meet Us At the Barre, We Will Be Waiting For You”. Xtend Barre is Pilates and Dance…Amplified!

Featured in FITNESS, SHAPE and SELF magazines, Xtend Barre is a high-energy total body workout that combines serious sculpting exercises done at the ballet barre with lively music and cardio where clients can have fun while achieving very serious results in under an hour. Created by former dancer/choreographer and Pilates expert Andrea Rogers, Xtend Barre workout doesn’t stop at pirouettes. Its’a dynamic, no-holds barre (get it?), low-impact/high performance workout packed with isometric exercises that make your guns, buns, abs – and everything else – scream with delight. Exercises at a professional ballet barre with precise concentrated movements and light weight training target small muscle groups while wide reaching motion is designed to lengthen your physique. An array of props like resistance balls, weights, stretch bands and more also keep you on your toes. The result? A strong, sculpted, coveted “dancer-like body” without the unwanted bulk, and increased stamina and flexibility.

I had the most amazing opportunity to attend the fun (yet challenging) sneak preview of Xtend Barre Studio earlier this week where I  met the beautifully sculpted mother of two, my new fitness icon Andrea Rogers and studio owner Natalie Strahorn, who is also beautifully sculpted and inspiring. The Barre workout is phenomenal! I loved everything about it: the stretching, the sculpting, the breathing, the weights, the band, the barre… I especially enjoyed how I felt hours following the workout. I literally glowed and could feel my body improving.  It was so much fun.

Andrea Rogers is full of exhilarating high energy motivating everyone to do their best. The studio itself is brand new, bright, fresh, clean and minimalistic zen. Studio owner Natalie Strahorn discovered Barre while working in Fashion in New York City and decided to bring it to Old Town. I’m so happy she did! The class left me so invigorated I felt like picking up Andrea Rogers after the class. I was pumped up and feeling great! Xtend Barre is the perfect place to get in shape for the summer!

What makes them even more unique is that they offer more than just barre class! Beginning next month, they will be introducing Barrecamp, a hybrid of barre class with added cardio sequences and HIIT (high intensity interval training), which helps to get your heart rate up for extra calorie burning. For all the fabulous mamas out there, they also will be offering Babies on Board, where moms can wear their babies in their carrier while working out at the barre. Share the excitement!

Xtend Barre Old Town Grand Opening is Saturday, June 14th. Classes are at: 8:30 AM, 10 AM and 11:30 AM. Open House from 12:30 PM to 2 PM.Enjoy healthy bites and drinks courtesy of Whole Foods, Flat Iron Steak & Saloon, Barre Protein Bars, Yogurtini and South Block Juice Company. 

 

Business Spotlight: Phoenix Fitness (A New Boutique Fitness Studio in Ballston)

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Photo Courtesy of Stephen Kidd.

 

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Boutique fitness studios are booming right now. And Phoenix Fitness is one of the latest fitness studios to open in Arlington. Phoenix Fitness , located in the Ballston area, offers high intensity interval training without the intimidation factor of big box gyms. The emphasis on small classes and motivating instructors will put fitness newbies at ease while offering up a challenging workout for all fitness levels. My favorite class offered at Phoenix Fitness is Tabata and emphasizes functional exercises, total body toning and high intensity interval training that will whip you into shape in no time.  I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Stephen Kidd, one of the owners of Phoenix Fitness. [Read more…]

Losing the Baby Weight: My Success Story Featured on NBC4 Washington

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Pushing my kids in their double stroller down the streets of Clarendon at a whopping 205 pounds stopping to take a deep breath every couple of minutes while watching all the skinny moms on their morning run with their double strollers was the wake up call I needed. I was exhausted all the time. And I just didn’t feel like I did prior to having my children. I felt fat and heinous, old, ugly and angry. After seeing my doctor, I was diagnosed with a mild case of post-partum depression. My doctor said I had a choice. I could “choose to ‘pop several prescription pills to treat the weight loss and one more to treat the depression’ or I ‘could simply stop eating and restrict my caloric intake to 1200 calories’ or less per day”. Neither one of those options sounded good to me. I am not disciplined enough to give up something I love–food! And even though I realize legalized prescription drugs have helped many people, I just didn’t want that to be my only option. I didn’t have to remain sedentary, I could do something about it! [Read more…]