Happy muscles = happy, stronger body

You work hard all day long; going from work, to the gym, to home and maybe even chasing your kids around.  You push your body every day, sometimes to its limit.  Do you want to keep your body going strong and feeling great? Incorporating regular massage sessions into your routine is one way to ensure you will be at your best, always. Whether you sit at a desk all day,exercise regularly or are an elite athlete, regular massages will keep you bringing your A-game!

Research continues to show that regular massage therapy improves range of motion, reduces recovery time and increases muscle tone and flexibility.  Since massage acts as an “auxiliary heart” by increasing circulation, it gets rid of toxins and other metabolic wastes generated as a by-product of strength training. Not only will you feel better, but you will also recover quicker after workouts and keep your joints healthy and happy- for the long haul!

Here are a few other surprising ways massage can help:massage athletes

  1. Corrects posture ofdaily sitting
  2. Eases muscle pain
  3. Soothes anxiety and depression
  4. Improves sleep
  5. Boots immunity
  6. Relieves headaches

Click here to read about the massage types we offer!



As well, massage can be great for women who are trying to get pregnant, are pregnant or who have recently given birth. However, there are things to consider, especially during pregnancy.  It is highly recommended that a woman consult with her physician prior to getting a massage.

There are several key benefits of massage for a client who is pregnant or postpartum:

  • Lowers blood pressure, which helps the client to relax…and every new mom or mom-to-be definitely needs this!
  • Helps to move lymph through the body and increases circulation. The movement of lymph assists in the processing of toxins and shuttling vital nutrients to the different parts of the body.
  • Helps to ease muscle aches and decreases the time of recovery from strenuous activities.
  • Help alleviate much of the discomfort that can occur with pregnancy such as: low back pain, leg cramps and discomfort, difficulty sleeping, depression or anxiety, water retention and weight gain.

Interested in scheduling a massage with one of our therapists? Click here for more information or call (616) 451.9000 to schedule.

Motivation on the days when we just aren’t feeling it


motivation 1Written by Coach Kendra. 

We all have days when we just don’t feel like exercising, including myself. But we all need to exercise regularly. Exercise makes you more productive, happier, nicer, more creative, your body feels better and you can move easier. Alas, we all have days when we just don’t feel like it.  So how do you stick with it and get over that “stuck-ness?”

First, set yourself up for success.  I know this sounds obvious, but so many people set themselves up for failure.  They put these huge demands, deadlines and expectations on themselves; things not even possible to accomplish in a 24-hours.  If you want to lose weight or get fit, here are some simple suggestions.

Clean up your environment.

This means your pantry cleaned, organized and filled with healthy foods.  Get rid of trigger foods.   There are certain foods that I just don’t even buy.  If they make their way into the home, I won’t rest until they are gone.  Can you relate?

Set yourself up for success in terms of how you structure your day.

You need to clear something off your calendar that is LESS important in order to exercise, go to the grocery store and plan your meals. Even if it means you feel you are letting someone down.  It needs to be part of your routine.

Get it done before your brain figures out what you are doing.

This is our 5:30 am crowd at Allegro.  And there is something pretty significant with having a morning ritual.  Exercising first thing in the morning sets the tone for your day, gives you incredible energy and is one less excuse mid-afternoon when you just aren’t “feeling” that evening workout.

If my exercise is planned midday or later, create a GO TO playlist. 

Create a playlist to PUMP you up! It automatically hypes you up and makes you happy! This is not the playlist WHILE you work out, but BEFORE.  Dying to know what’s on my playlist?  Comment below and I’ll give you some fun suggestions!

Just do five minutes. 

Begin your workout. Set your timer on your phone and after five minutes if you are not feeling it, give yourself permission to throw in the towel.  But after my first five minutes of exercise all my hormones, endorphins and blood are flowing into my muscles and I feel GREAT! I can pretty much guarantee the first five minutes is the toughest part.  So stick with it and just START.

Add accountability. 

It’s never too late to add accountability to your goals.  Especially when you feel like you have failed at your goal, add to it…layers of it.  It works.  It gets teenagers to show up to a big brick building and study every night; if we can get teenagers to be accountable then we can certainly do it as adults!  First, find an accountability partner, someone who won’t let you off the hook on the days when you don’t feel like it. It can be your spouse, your kids, your best friend. Give them permission to keep you accountable.

Focus five feet out in front of you.

I remember last fall when I trained for my half marathon.  I love running, I really do.  But as the weeks went by, knowing I had a 12 mile or 14 mile run ahead of me was daunting; even overwhelming.  It reminded me of my high school track coach telling me to “just focus five feet out in front of you.”  The same is true with your fitness goals.  Just keep looking a little further ahead of you rather than think about how big and arduous this goal is.  Think about the next five.  The next five pounds, next five days, next five workouts. And just keep going.

Focus on your mindset.

It is unbelievable how much power you have over your life, your attitude and whatever you hope to accomplish.  A favorite quote of mine by Brian Tracy explains, “The law of concentration states that whatever you dwell upon, it grows.  The more you think about something the more it becomes part of your reality.”  If you decide that you are low on energy and feel lethargic, you will continue to feel more tired all day long.

People always ask me, “Kendra how do you get your energy?”  The truth is I get my energy from my mindset.  I will think about something that I am looking forward to and that gives me physical energy.  I think of things that make me happy and make me feel I can do anything.  And then I just tell myself over and over that I have a lot of energy.  And that just becomes my reality.

For more tips on mindset, check out our podcast “Ready, Mindset, GO!” on iTunes.

Now, ready, set GO – towards reaching your goals and becoming a better YOU in 2016.


Why personal training?

Written by Ryan Pender: B.S., M.S., NSCA-CPT, CSCS

pt1 If you are reading this blog you must fall into one of these three groups; you are fit, you are trying (or in the process of) getting fit, or you’ve thought about getting fit. No matter which demographic you fall into, I’m glad that you’re reading this because it means you have some bit of curiosity about personal training on your mind. At the very least, you want to find out how it is beneficial and why not only you but everybody should participate in some degree of personal training. I’ll address the three aforementioned groups, hopefully making that spark in your mind ignite a fire under your butt to get started and see that personal training is an incredibly wise investment in your health.

So you’re ready to get your fitness journey started, or at least want to find out how someone can help you? Note the word I used: journey. This means that your path will not be a start-and-stop trip which has a destination. Instead, it will be an ever-changing adventure with new turns, bumps, hills and challenges along the way. If you try to go on this big journey without knowing what to do or why to do it, you will unfortunately meet some failures and disappointments. Correct me if I’m wrong, but you wouldn’t start that journey if you knew you’d fail, would you? I didn’t think so. By meeting with a personal trainer, you are not only meeting with somebody that knows all (and I mean ALL) about what is needed for your journey, but they are on a journey themselves. Fitness, nutrition and wellness is what we live and breathe for. We know when we started our journeys, we have done what works, what doesn’t and we have educated ourselves about all of this so you don’t have to. You’re going on a journey and we are well along the same path with the experience and treachery of our own. We’ve made a road map of what works, let us share that with you to ensure you have the greatest physical and mental success you’ve ever had in your life.

That group is done, now onto you guys and gals who are either on the way to or are already in shape and fit. You go to classes, you may train in a small group, and you may even practice great nutrition to some extent. Now let’s put you into a scenario or two some of you may have been in or will be in at some point in time. Scenario one: you have a really busy schedule (with work, kids, etc.) and you miss classes this week. One week turns into two. Now you’re off the bandwagon altogether. Scenario two: you’re working you butt off doing 2 to 3 classes per day. You’re not really getting the results you (whether it’s weight loss, muscle gain, etc.) want and you get frustrated.

So here we go fit people, no matter who you are, we all need accountability from one or more people. For you individuals in the first scenario, your personal trainer will make sure you stay on track and you catch yourself when you trip and stumble from life’s twists and turns. Time with your trainer will almost be like a break from your crazy and stressful schedule. Fitness works so much better when you don’t get off track, so why not make sure you have a professional to hold you accountable and keep you motivated?pt2

Scenario number two, you fit people who are (supposedly) doing everything right. You’ll hear me say a couple things that will be hard to accept, but are true nonetheless. There’s nothing wrong with you and chances are you’re not a genetic anomaly which prevents you from losing weight or building muscle. This may be hard to hear especially if you’ve been working out for a long time, but you might be doing something wrong. Without getting into specifics, if you’ve been working out for a LONG time and you haven’t hit the goals you set out a LONG time ago, you NEED to change something. That something will not be found in a class or small group format. You need specific work with someone who knows your body better than you do. Personal trainers know how to get your body to move the way it’s supposed to, build muscle the way it’s supposed to, and have you feed it the foods you’re supposed to feed yourself to help everything we just mentioned. Not only that, but they will challenge you at everything you need to get better, stronger and pain free so your classes and small group sessions become that much more fun and enjoyable.

There you have it, folks. In a nutshell, your personal trainer is the person and professional who helps you along your long journey, but is also your accountability and expert partner. We are all educated adults (or on our way to becoming such), so we understand the importance of learning, growing and needing people for all of those steps to occur. Your personal trainer can and will be the person you need to improve your physical and mental well-being. Don’t just think of it as a monetary investment, but a personal investment in yourself. Now do yourself a favor…get off your butt and set up an appointment with your trainer!

Don’t have a trainer? Don’t worry! We have many trainers available and can help match you with the right person, if you don’t know who to go with. Call 616.451.9000 for more information or click here to see pricing.

Three poses to balance the athlete in all of us

Written By: Coach Brandie

Athletes of all levels can utilize the practice of yoga to help strengthen their mind and body, prevent or recover more quickly from injury and increase their breath capacity. The following is a brief discussion of three poses (or asanas) that can help increase core strength, improve flexibility and steady the mind – a perfect balance for the strenuous work many athletes encounter in their daily training.



Pose 1 – Anjaneyasana (low lunge)

This pose is amazing for the opening the hip flexors (front of the hip), for engaging the core to stabilize the pose and for focusing the breath and mind (drishti – your focal point is in an upward direction).






Pose 2 – Ardha Chandrasana (half moon)

Another full-body pose that works on strength, balance, breath and mental focus. This pose literally has every part of your body engaged and is so powerful. One of my favorite poses, half moon makes for an amazing addition to any yoga practice.









Pose 3 – Viparita Karani (legs up the wall)

This gentle inversion should definitely be a part of every athletes tool bag (heck every person – athlete or not – should practice this pose). This pose uses gravity to help reverse the stress of being on our feet all day. Legs up the wall is calming to the nervous system and helps to relax a tense body and mind.




No matter what sport or athletic pursuit you practice, adding yoga into the mix is beneficial on so many levels. If you want to experience the strength, balance and calmness of yoga, feel free to stop by the studio on Thursday evenings at 7:30pm for the Yoga for Athletes class taught by yours truly – I’d love to see you there.


Five fitness games to incorporate with your kids!

On Sunday night Coach Kendra hosts Kid/Parent Urban Adventure Training. Classes include intervals of cardio and strength appropriate for ages 5 - 12 years old!

On Sunday night Coach Kendra teaches Kid/Parent Urban Adventure Training at Wilcox Park in Grand Rapids. Classes include intervals of cardio and strength appropriate for ages 5 – 12 years old! Sign up at under “mindbody” to reserve your spot!

There never is a dull moment, especially when you are a parent. No matter the stage of your children, you are constantly preparing dinners, doing laundry, taxiing them from one event to the next, helping with homework and the list goes on. To fit exercise in on TOP of all this can feel a bit daunting. For most parents, we don’t have the extra time to get to the gym. Instead of making it be an excuse, consider doing your exercise program WITH your kids. Yes, I said it and will say it again…..workout with your kids! No matter the age of your children, the most valuable gift you can give them is the gift of time. Exercise doesn’t have to be fancy and it doesn’t have to be planned out, just get outside and start moving!

Every summer we run a FREE Family Bootcamp at Wilcox Park in Eastown. All you have to do is sign up on Mindbody. The kids range anywhere from 5 – 12 years old it is always a blast! It’s been scorching hot out but that hasn’t stopped us from having fun! I wanted to share five of my favorite workout games so you too can get your kids outdoors and enjoy these last few weeks of summer.


*Extreme Duck-Duck Goose: Yes, extreme means more movement, so here’s how it works! Everyone stands in a large circle, facing outside. The person who is “it” goes around the circle and taps everyone’s head, saying “DUCK”. When you get tagged, you can make that person do 5 squats (or 5 push-ups). When they choose the “GOOSE”, the person who is tagged will run in the opposite direction as the person who tagged them, rushing to see who can get to the open spot faster. To make it even more extreme, have everyone hold a plank position until they get tagged!

*Hungry Hungry Hippos: Who doesn’t love this loud and obnoxious game? Best if run in a large open space/backyard and you just need 5 small buckets and 20-40 small balls. Set the bucket with all the balls in the center of the field and divide the family into 4 equal teams. (If you have a smaller family, just do 2-3 teams). Make sure the distance between the teams and the center bucket is equal. When the game starts, the first person on each team sprints to the bucket, takes out 1 ball, and brings it back to their home base (bucket). The game keeps playing until all the balls are gone; the team with the most balls wins! Talk about some cardio competition!

*Blob Tag: By far, the most popular game requested by kids this summer! This is a great game to do at the park, at the beach or in your backyard! (But you definitely want to invite the neighbor kids over!) Groups of two link arms to become “one” unit. The team that is “IT” tries to tag all the other groups. When a group gets tagged, they must link arms with the “IT” and continues to grow into a “blob”. This is a fun game to teach teamwork and communication!

*Animal Pentathlon: This game can be played indoors or outside, you just need to be creative!

Choose 4-5 animal moves and create a relay-race style event, where each kid must complete all 5 moves and run back to the starting line first. Depending on the age of your children, you can have them do a smaller number of reps or added rounds to complete. For example, older kids could do this 3-4 rounds through, from start to finish. Here are five animal moves you can use at home: bear crawl, crabwalk, donkey kicks, gorilla walks and penguin waddles are just a few ideas to try!

*Summer Olympics: This is a great game to play year round, indoors or outdoors! Plus, if your kids are competitive, this is a great way to rally up the energy. Come up with 4-5 stations…long jump, hurdles, sprints, dribbling, shooting/passing, anything works! Have each child choose a country to represent and then have them go through each station at least once to practice. For the next round, kids are competing to see who is the fastest or who can get the most reps in over a period of time. Feel free to add basic movements in, such as push-ups, crunches on the stability ball or bicep curls. At the end, have a final awards ceremony for the team that earns GOLD!

As parents, one of the most critical roles is to instill healthy habits with our children. This means anything from serving vegetables at every meal (the colored kind), rewarding behavior with non-food options, setting healthy technology boundaries or getting our kids to exercise. Plus, it’s a way for YOU to be healthy and lead by example….the best form of learning there is!

Try out these workouts soon and let us know how they went!

Running…Made EASY!

Running! Everyone’s doing it, and there’s good reason why. This awesome cardiovascular exercise reduces your risk of heart disease, boosts your immunity, improves concentration, creativity, and memory, and is a fantastic way to shed unwanted pounds. Here’s the best part: it doesn’t have to be difficult, painful, or boring! Here are some tips for rocking a good run, and enjoying it too:

1. The right pair of shoes

This is something fundamental to having success as a runner. Everyone’s feet are different, and everyone needs a particular shoe. Having the correct footwear will prevent injury, allowing you to enjoy your run without damaging your feet, knees, and hips. Check out a running specialty store to get properly fitted with the shoe for you (I like Gazelle Sports).

2. Good socks

Nobody likes hot, burning feet, and blisters aren’t usually that fun either. Getting the right socks can make all the difference when it comes to your feet. Say NO to cotton. It holds onto moisture and doesn’t breathe well. Opt for a sock made from a synthetic blend or merino. Both these will wick sweat away from your skin and reduce friction, keeping you happy!

3. No shorts, no shirt, no good.

Just like socks, your clothing is important in keeping you dry, cool, and comfortable. Again, leave the cotton at home and instead choose synthetic or merino threads. They wick, breathe, and will leave you the better for it.

4. Find a friend…or two!

Running with another person or a group will give you accountability, a sense of community, and build new relationships. You can set goals together, work towards them together, and achieve them together.

Now, think Chariots of Fire and give running a try!