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I remember hearing my mom tiptoe out of the house at 5 AM to run to the gym. She would return home by 6:30, wake my sister and I up at 7, get us ready for school, have breakfast and leave for school by 8:30. For as long as I can remember, that was my mom’s routine which was my first taste into the importance and dedication of exercise.

Before I knew it, my mom starting enrolling me into gymnastics, ballet, track and field, swimming, karate, and the list goes on. This was over the course of many years, but the point is she knew how important physical activity was in our lives and wanted to make sure I embraced it too.

My first workout video

Then that famous day came when I was introduced to Alyssa Milano’s workout video. You might be laughing or maybe rolling your eyes as to how much I mention this moment in my writing, but it was a real turning point in my life. Just like my mom, I woke up at the crack of down, did the video, then got ready for school.

If I wasn’t doing that video, it was a Jane Fonda video, or a Kathy Smith video, or whatever video my mom would buy and I would just pop it into the VCR (yes, you heard right, a VCR) and have the most enjoyable 45-minutes of  sweating and movement.

When I went away to university, I’m not going to lie, but I spent most of my time out dancing and not really working out. I became completely obsessed with music and dancing and that became my form of exercise. Don’t get me wrong, I did a workout video every now and again or went to the gym, but for a couple of years there, it was all about dancing.

After university, I lived two more years in Montreal to work, then moved back to Toronto with my parents and worked there for a year. But before I knew it, I was off to the Big Apple!

My first gym membership

When I got to New York, I literally had two duffel bags, my green card and $1000 USD. I stayed with a friend in Soho and grabbed whatever job I could to start generating money. I quickly realized there would be no way I could afford a gym membership, so I went back to doing my workout videos.

At the time when I met my hubby, Todd (who was also very much into working out), I finally was making enough money to pay for a gym membership. As I was spending most of my time at Todd’s place at 26th Street and 7th Avenue, I got a membership at the Equinox gym located at 19th Street and Broadway. I know what you’re thinking, I went from workout videos at home to getting a membership at Equinox, but I could afford it, so I was going for it!

There was one class I became completely obsessed with. I can’t remember the name of the class, but I sure remember who taught it, Brett Hoebel. It was a mix of Capoeira, the Brazilian martial art technique, and kick-boxing. I think I did that class three to four times a week. It was such a blast!

When we moved to Los Angeles, Todd and I both got memberships at 24-Hour Fitness. When we moved to Reno, we had a fabulous gym in our community, so that’s where we worked out. Then before we moved to Brazil, we spent a couple more years back in LA and went back to 24-Hour Fitness.

My introduction to high intensity interval training

Upon moving to Brazil we had a major wake-up call, because the gym memberships were crazy expensive. They wanted you to pay an initial registration fee, which was anywhere from R$200 – R$400, then the monthly membership, which ranged from R$300 – R$1000 depending upon which gym you went to. So that was not happening!

For the time being I would run to Ibirapuera Park, which was the Central Park of Sao Paulo, and did some simple exercises at home.

One day when Todd was surfing the net, he came across this attractive Czechoslovakian woman by the name of Zuzka Light. Originally from, she now has her own site and brand name of training called ZGym. Obviously what caught his attention was her awesome figure, but what caught my attention was her workouts. And that was the beginning of my obsession with high intensity, interval training.

I was so amazed at the kind of workout I got in just fifteen minutes! And who doesn’t have fifteen minutes to get a good workout in?

For the next four years I was hooked. If I wasn’t doing the workouts at home, I was doing them in Ibirapuera. I was in the best shape of my life and I was in my late thirties.

My introduction to hot yoga

You’re probably wondering where yoga fits in to all of this? I probably checked out a couple of yoga classes here and there over the years, but never made it part of my workout routine. Then in 2013 when I was spending time with a couple of girlfriends, I was checking out their bodies, yes, I really was, because they were ripped. So I had to ask what they were doing and they said only yoga. I thought, only yoga? It couldn’t be true. One of them said she only does hot yoga. I was familiar with Bikram yoga, but she said no, just hot power yoga.

Upon returning to the U.S. I finally tried a hot power yoga class. I have to tell you, for someone that’s pretty healthy and regularly exercises, hot yoga kicked my butt. Almost every part of my body was sore and I was dripping in sweat. That’s when it finally dawned on me why you can stick to doing only yoga, have an amazing workout and have an awesome body. Granted, you need to also eat well and all the rest, but yoga really gives you an incredible workout.

For most of last year I was doing yoga once a week and two to three other days continuing with my high intensity, interval training. In October, I actually made the switch to doing yoga (hot or regular) three times a week.

Why everyone needs to do yoga

The point of why I am saying everyone needs to do yoga is for a myriad of reasons. Of course it’s a fantastic workout, but it’s actually so much more than that. It’s 20, 45 or 60 minutes of turning off the world and stresses around you. It’s meditative, particularly at the end when you’re in the Shavasana position, you close your eyes and drift away into silence and relaxation. For me it’s the most enjoyable part of the yoga class, because you feel accomplished and fulfilled at the same time.

Whether you’re an avid workout person or not, give yourself the gift of yoga. I think in this crazy world we live in, with our crazy schedules, we desperately need this kind of time to ourselves to focus on nothing else but our mind, body and soul. It’s one thing to invest in yourself for your career, it’s another thing to invest in yourself for your health and not just eating well and exercising, but for the health of your soul. Sometimes regular exercise can be stressful, but that’s not the case with yoga. Start incorporating it into your life today.

For more information on the benefits of yoga –

The Benefits of Yoga – American Osteopathic Association

38 Health Benefits of Yoga – Yoga Journal

For more information on the difference between Bikram yoga and hot Vinyasa flow yoga –

Heated Vinyasa Flow Yoga vs Bikram Yoga – The Houston Chronicle 

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