Kristen Recommends

I’m happy to announce that I’ve joined forces with Andrea Speir, a talented and seasoned Pilates instructor, to bring you The Pilates Fix.  We know Pilates can be expensive, so we wanted to make it accessible to everyone. The workouts will be available on our Youtube channel, either with Andrea or myself.

Every week we will bring you classical Pilates workouts with a modern twist. Together we have almost 20 years of teaching experience, have worked in top Los Angeles gyms, and hold 600-hour classical Pilates certifications.  We will give you well rounded workouts and exercise tips to help you feel good and look good.

If you enjoy the workouts, please forward them on to your friends. And let us know what you would like to see on The Pilates Fix in the future.  Enjoy!

 

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Curious what I have to say with all things Pilates related including exercise ideas?  Then check out  Pilates Style.

On Pravassa.com, a healthy travel website, you can check out my reviews for Los Angeles based classes and restaurant as well as wellness posts.

MindBodyGreen offers a diverse collection of articles on all things relating to living a healthier and happier life.

Remember to check back often as I contribute every few weeks.

 

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I recently had the chance to speak with Mika Street, owner of Uptown Pilates in NYC and Sag Harbor.  She filled me in on why she loves Pilates, what brought her from New York City to the Hamptons, and why Sag Harbor should be your next vacation spot.  Now I wish I had planned a trip there this summer!

How long have you had your studio in Sag Harbor and what made you choose opening a studio there?

I opened Uptown Pilates Sag Harbor in the summer of 2010. It was in response to years of clients requesting that the studio have a presence in the Hamptons. Sag Harbor was a natural choice because it is the most conveniently located and I personally love the town!

How is running a studio there different than the studios you run in NYC?  And is the clientele different between the two places?

The studio out east has a very casual vibe. Although clients can expect the same level of service, there is a fresh off the beach feel. Clients often come straight from swimming in the ocean with sand still in their hair and mellow music can often be heard when clients request it.

How many teachers do you have on staff, and what kind of Pilates do they teach?

During season we have four full time instructors. They are all classically trained either from Romana’s or from the Boulder Center. Out of season we have one full time instructor.

What makes your studio stand out among other studios in the area?

Uptown Pilates worked hard to earn our clients vote of Best Pilates Studio in NYC for four years in a row! The same dedication to the clients that earned us that reputation is what sets us apart from our competition in Sag Harbor as well.

Why do you love Pilates so much?  What about it do you think draws people towards it?

I love Pilates because you can never conquer it! The stronger you get the harder the practice gets – so you can never get bored with it. I also love the way my body feels after a session!

What advice do you have for someone looking to get into Pilates?

Research the studio and instructor. There is a tremendous difference today in teaching styles and you want to be sure that you work with someone who went through an apprentice program that was at least 600 hours. I also advise committing to at least three lessons. It is hard to wrap your brain around the potential benefits of Pilates in just one session.

Do you have any stories about clients who have transformed either physically or mentally, in a positive way, because of Pilates?

Oh for sure. Countless! One of the best parts of my job is listening to clients share their many stories of how Pilates has transformed their bodies and minds. I wouldn’t know where to start in terms of sharing them!

If someone is trying to decide on a vacation spot, why would you recommend Sag Harbor, besides the amazing Pilates of course?

Ha, of course the Pilates! Sag Harbor is a gem in the Hamptons! It is such a charming, casual and centrally located town with the best restaurants, farmers market and Main Street in all of the Hamptons!

If you could open another studio anywhere in the world, where would it be?

Bali – winter 2013! Jokes aside, probably Santa Monica.

What is the best way for someone to contact you and schedule an appointment?

For Sag Harbor bookings – 631-725-5994 or uptownpilatessag@gmail.com. Or directly through our website www.uptownpilates.com

 

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Last week I wanted a change from my chicken filled dinners, so I looked through some magazines I have at home, remembering I had recently seen some yummy meals in one of them, and I came across a few fish recipes that looked simple enough for me.  I like fish, but not fishy fish, and I’m not a fan of cooking it.  Once I poached salmon, and felt like my place smelled like fish for days.  Anyway, beyond the meals looking easy enough they also are supposed to not make your place smell like fish.  So, I ripped a few out, picked one for that night, and went shopping.

Unfortunately by the time I got to Santa Monica Seafood, they were out of char (the fish the recipe called for).  I asked them to give me something closest to it, which ended up being some type of salmon.  I bought it a bit hesitantly as the last time I cooked with salmon was the time my place smelled like fish.  I just decided to suck it up.  I was determined to make myself something that didn’t consist of chicken, quinoa, and veggies.

It ended up being so easy to prepare, and the salmon only took  12 minutes to roast in the oven.  Seeing as how I found it manageable, and very good, I wanted to share the recipe, which I found in Self magazine.  Next time I’ll have to go to the market early enough to get some char, which is eco-friendly, low-mercury, and less fishy than it’s cousin, salmon.  Luckily, my place didn’t smell like fish at all.  And I had leftovers that I ate for lunch the next day.

Roasted Arctic Char, with orange-lentil salad:

1/4 cup fresh orange juice

1 tsp finely grated orange zest

5 tsp olive oil, divided (if you don’t know what that means, which I didn’t, you use some in the mixture of lentils, and the rest on the fish when you roast it)

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

3/4 tsp kosher salt, divided

1/2 tsp Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper, divided

1 package (17 oz) steamed lentils (or 3 cups canned, rinsed and drained)

1/4 cup chopped mint

2 tbsp finely chopped red onion

4 arctic char fillets (5 oz each), skin removed

Orange slices and mint sprigs for garnish

Heat oven to 400 degrees.  In a bowl, whisk orange juice and zest, 4 tsp oil, vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, mustard and t/4 tsp pepper.  Gently stir in lentils, chopped mint, and onion.  Arrange fillets on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Brush with remaining 1 tsp oil; season with remaining 1/4 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper.  Roast until fish is opaque and just cooked through, 10 minutes.  Spoon lentil salad onto plates; top with fish.  Garnish with orange slices and mint sprigs.

 

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I love January, the beginning of a new year, and a time for reflection. While I’ll forever live in the world of semesters where September is the start of a new year, January is always the time I look at my life, make resolutions, and feel excited about it all. I’ve learned to make my resolutions very specific, and I try to cover different areas of my life like work, health, and relationships. However, even with all my good intentions, I let life get in the way. One day goes by then another, and all of a sudden months have passed without me working towards most of my goals. It happens every year.

In my quest to break this pattern, a friend suggested I check out Livifi, an i-phone app (also available on the web) that helps people set and track goals related to mind, body, and relationships. My curiosity was peaked, first because it sounded exactly like something that could help me, and second because the CEO & Co-founder Lowell Winer, came up with the idea while fighting cancer. I’m always motivated by inspirational stories. With endless questions bouncing around in my head, I decided to call up Lowell and get the 411, not only about the company, but also about his story

In 2006 Lowell was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Disease, a type of blood cancer. Treatments like chemo, stem cell transplants, radiation, and multiple drug trials failed to show positive results. When told he may have only 2 years to live he made the decision that he wasn’t going to accept the status quo, and wanted to be proactive about how he chose to live, which was as healthy and happy as possible. This path helped him discover yoga, become a vegetarian, start meditating, and stop drinking, and also to eat better, get more sleep, and spend more time with family and friends.

Then in 2010 he began taking a drug that on average was giving people 6-7 months of remission. 18 months later he is still in remission himself, and contributes this greatly to the lifestyle changes he made along the way. While Lowell is slowly recovering from his treatments, he has learned to live with the uncertainty about whether the cancer will return, however he says, “I’m not sure I would change anything—cancer has been my guru.”

On Lowell’s path to become a healthier and happier person it wasn’t enough for him to accept that all he had done was good for him. He wanted to know the how and why. And he wanted other people to as well. What came from all his research was the idea of a science based life coach in your hands, to help you take strides to healthy living. Something to keep you accountable, help to create healthy habits, and improve your health and well-being. In his quest to help himself and other people, Livifi was born.

If you’re an i-phone user you can get the app for $4.99. I recommend checking out the reviews on i-tunes. For such a new company, they’re very impressive. The web version is in beta (for the computer illiterate like me that means it’s new and still in testing, and free for now). The site is easy to use with plenty of instructions. There are 40 plus science-based healthy behaviors to choose from for your body, mind, and relationships. Each behavior has a summary of how to achieve your goal, why it’s important, and references. The goals will default to daily or weekly based on scientific research, however you have the ability to change them depending on your needs.

Remember to set realistic goals for yourself so as not to get too overwhelmed or feel defeated. Livifi has plans to add a social feature down the road because according to Lowell, we are social creatures and enjoy the encouragement and support of others as well as the ability to collaborate with one another. While I don’t have an i-phone yet, I’m excited to use the web version to help me track my goals. This is my first step in breaking my pattern of giving up. I highly recommend getting online to read more about Lowell, the company, and all it has to offer. Make yourself a priority this year.

 

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“In my world, in my vision, the hero always defeats the villain, the boy always gets the girl, and cancer is no more.” Laura Ziskin (1950-2011).

When I was younger I may have been unsure about many things, but one thing I was sure about was that I wanted to be someone who made a difference, who inspired people, who got things done. I aspired to be someone like Laura Ziskin. She was a woman who exuded inspiration, and a fighter like no one else I have ever known. Even at her sickest I felt like she would be around for a long time. Maybe that was naïve of me, but it’s what I believed. She had endless determination in everything that she did. Laura’s daughter Julia said it best, “Cancer f-d with the wrong woman.” Even though Laura died following a 7-year battle with breast cancer, she has set the groundwork for great things to come.  The cancer community is lucky to have had Laura on their side.

I was fortunate to have met Laura 3 years ago through her husband Alvin, whom I teach Pilates to. And every now and then she would sneak in a lesson. I did not spend a lot of time with Laura, however Alvin was so proud of her, as he should be, and shared stories about her accomplishments. While I was impressed to hear she produced movies like “Spiderman“ all 3 of them, “Pretty Woman”, and “As Good As It Gets,” what stood out most to me was her involvement with Stand Up To Cancer, a non-profit she co-founded. Their goal is to encourage collaboration, not competition, with the best and brightest in the cancer community. As Laura said in a CNN interview last year “the problem with cancer research in this country is that the scientists are siloed, and the system promotes competition, not collaboration…Stand Up To Cancer’s funding model mandates that the scientists collaborate, and compete against the disease instead of each other.”

Through knowing Laura I learned that 1500 people a day die of cancer. And 1 in every 2 men and 1 in every 3 women will be diagnosed with cancer, which means that either you or someone you know will be affected by the disease. Realizing something different needed to be done, Laura drew from her producing experience to help her with the biggest fight of her life. With her ability to bring the right people together, make a plan and see it through, and knowing what needed to be done to raise money, Laura helped organize two major fundraising telecasts for SU2C that aired in 2008 and 2010. The star studded events raised over $180 million combined. And as long as research continues, so must funding. So please visit the Stand Up To Cancer site to learn more about the organization and consider donating if you can. Every little bit helps.

Laura may have left this world too soon, but she has left an imprint that no one can ever erase.  I have only touched on one part of who Laura was as it’s the part that impacted me the most. However if it’s not obvious from how I spoke about her, there is so much more to know. I suggest googling her, and be prepared to be inspired.

I WROTE THIS FOR LAURA, AND I STAND UP TO CANCER.

 

Photographer Sam Diephius

I am lucky to have photographer, Sam Diephuis, as a friend.  During my photo shoots, Sam captured the essence of Pilates, who I am as a teacher, and what you can expect in a lesson with me. When I looked through the pictures to make my final choices, I liked so many that I had a hard time choosing…certainly a good problem to have.

As a photographer, Sam has experience with stock, travel, and editorial shoots. This work has enabled him to travel around the world to places like Burma (Myanmar), China, South America, and Cuba. While Sam has been able to make a living as a stock photographer he is now focusing more on the travel and editorial aspects.  No matter what his subject is, he captures a moment beautifully. Powerful art brings out many emotions, and Sam’s photos do just that.

Sam has blended his experience as a photographer with his love of Reggae music in an ongoing series on the dancehall music’s culture. Regardless of how you feel about Reggae, you’re bound to enjoy the series given its movement, energy, and color. You can view Sam’s work here.