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5 Things Dads Teach Us

Do you pay attention to the things your dad says?

What rolls off your tongue when a “my dad always says” memory is prompted?

What do you quietly laugh to yourself about when you think of your Dad’s habits or sayings?

During this week of Father’s Day,  I have wanted to sit down and write to several of the fathers I know and get to spend time with.  The little things I hear and see them doing makes my heart swell.   As a coach and personal trainer, the hour I spend with my clients is all about them. This means, I listen a lot and I learn a lot. To celebrate dads we see and dads we don’t see, dads who are with us and dads who are not, all of our like-a-dads and all of the first-time dads, here are a few of the things I have learned from dads!

5 things I’ve learned from Dads just doing their Dad thing:

  1. Bob reminds me that the real joy is in giving!  I can’t tell you how much joy I see on his face when I hear him talk about his grandkids and being able to contribute to their lives.  His pride, love and commitment to do anything it takes and give all he can to support his family and kids and grandkids makes me smile!  He reminds me of my dad and the pride my dad always took in our activities and accomplishments.
  2. Eric is confident in everything he does. And yet, he is so humble.  He shows that the secret of life is not determined by what others think or are doing, but by doing what is right for him and his family. He is one of the most genuine and compassionate people I know.
  3. I love seeing the humility and trust in Hugh’s voice when he defers to his adult daughter’s opinion.  It reminds me of numerous times my dad would ask me about exercises or nutrition and really try to take my advice to heart. Hugh also honors his past and maintains strong connections with his roots – I always learn something when I listen to him, just like my dad’s stories and memories.  
  4. Chris lights up when he talks about his kids and their accomplishments. It is so cool to see the capacity of love shown in subtle ways!  He reminds me a dad is never too busy to talk about his kids!
  5. It never ceases to amaze me how comfortably Sean can carry on conversations whether it be about gardening or college rivals or hockey. He’s just like my dad with his numbers and awareness of everything going on in sports.  He reminds me how important it is to go with the flow and enjoy the little things in life.

Plus 3  “And then somes” when it comes to dads and reminders of my dad:

  1.  Lucianna who clips newspaper articles to share with me. It’s such a comfortable and reassuring feeling.  It gives me hope that we will not lose touch of books and papers and learning, along with the power of community.
  2. My two kids…Brendan and his skin that tans just like my Dad’s did and his awareness of other people’s needs. He really surprises me with this one, but is so like my dad, it’s weird!  Natalie and her sense of humor and super sharp mind. She and my dad were buddies, but she only got to know him for 5 years….they would have been kindred spirits. They remind me how lucky we are to see our loved ones carried on in each other!
  3. This could not be complete without acknowledging the bond that exists with all of my cousins and friends who also have said “until we meet again” to our dads in heaven and the stars. We remember the times of year, months and sometimes even exact days that are the anniversaries of the deaths. The way we reach out to each other and mutually support has taught me so much about the power of the human heart and soul and our connectivity to each other.

“Hi, I’m Cliff. Drop over sometime” was one of the funny things that always made me laugh when my dad said it (except for when I was 13 and then I probably wanted to run!) Anytime I meet someone named Cliff, it almost rolls off my tongue, I have to stop myself!

Happy Father’s Day to the dads I watch, learn from and love who are doing their dad thing!  We appreciate you!

#7 When Health is a Family Affair

From my original drafts for “10 Stories of Strong Living”;                Wake up! Your Life is Now

 

For all the women who were on my mind when I thought about what Strong Living meant to me; they found ways to make time for themselves to stay healthy. They inspired others along the way. They model healthy living to their families, and even when it is hard, they stay positive and do their best; knowing that they are both enough, and that they are a piece of a much bigger picture!

When Health is a Family Affair. It is so cool to see families looking out for each other. To see generations perpetuating and instilling values of self-care and hard work into future generations. I think of my Grandma, who is 90. For her 90th birthday I sent her a gift card to purchase some workout clothes. Because that is what she does; yoga stretching and her weights. I loved getting the picture back from her, wearing what she purchased. I think of my Mom who turned 70 this year and sits in my Pilates classes with me after she has been for her 5am swim session. Every once in a while, she disappears and we hear that she completed her thirtieth-something triathlon, and oh, by the way, placed in her age group. My daughter, who I am not allowed to instruct on moving more or eating better, (because of who I am and what I do) squeezed my heart the most when she proudly told me about her commitment, inspired by her High School Anatomy teacher to start a new habit, and she took the dogs for a run, as she plans on doing three days a week.

It truly melts my heart when those we love so deeply take care of themselves. It is love in action. Taking care of one’s body is one of the most selfless acts there is.

I remember my client, BJ, deciding that for her 50th birthday, she was going to begin training sessions with me. Eight years later and we are still going strong. She does it because she cares about being around for her family, about being able to keep up with them. And when it is hard, she is reminded by her daughter who has followed her lead to keep going. Her daughter is her biggest cheerleader, and their love is unmistakable.

There are several families that I have had the honor to train through generations and together with generations, side-by-side. The joy and pride in each other, cherishing successes, cheering through challenges, and lifting each other up after defeats is one of the most beautiful acts of human love and kindness.

We don’t know at the time the value of the memories we are creating. And then one day, we talk about those memories and it all comes flooding back.  Remember when: the little ones hula hooped with us because we couldn’t find a babysitter? When they asked to join our session to work on strength for their high school sport? When they came home from college and wanted to spend time with us and they joined our workout? When they were frustrated with their health and energy as they began their own families?  To see mothers and daughters, generations, sisters, sisters-in-law and friends-who-become-family support each other and  plan their workouts as time to spend together is a very special view into a life well lived.

 

Lesson #7 on Family Affair. We will never be in this same place, time or moment again. When it is over, it is gone forever. Unless we keep it in our hearts, we hand it down, we create traditions and we recognize its value. Time. High-fives. Smiles. Laughter. Hugs. And a reason deeper than any other to be strong. I see health and fitness as two of the most selfless acts. In taking care of ourselves, we are able to take care of our families. We are creating a world where we are strong enough to lift others up. We reduce the burden on society and we contribute positive energy to the world.  It becomes a family affair because we model it, not as a burden, but as an outlet for being alive and feeling a heightened sense of energy, joy, euphoria. Life courses through us, and in turn, it courses through our families.

 

“The greatest wealth is health” ~ Virgil. Pass it on, let it be part of your legacy to your family.

#8 The Garage Days

We All Start as Strangers

When I first started training, I worked out of my garage. Many of my early clients from my “garage days,” have stayed with me or have stayed connected across the miles. Why? How did I get so lucky? What is it that makes them come back? Together, we discovered exercise as an outlet to reduce stress and claim an hour of time for ourselves.

What keeps us close now is empathy and understanding. We have looked each other in the eye again and again. We have aged together and been through a period in our lives where we are okay in our own skin. The idea of looking a certain way has been replaced with health being our goal. The things we thought we were looking for are not as important as they once seemed. They never were. Bina, one of my “garage days” clients, narrowed it down like this, “All things we are seeking are nothing compared to what we already possess. We are thankful for the skin we are in.” Yes, we are.  Why? Because it holds our gift to the world. And more than that, it signifies that we are each right where we are meant to be.  The quote attributed to Plato, “Be kind; everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle” is my guide when I am with my clients. 

Isn’t it the most wonderful compensation in life that we all start as strangers and leave as friends? That is a life well lived. To leave those whose lives we touched, better, is one of the greatest gifts of life. During my “garage days,” when I did not know my future, and was unaware of my potential, I was surrounded by these beautiful people. It reminds me, “Keep the ones who heard you when you never said a word.”~unknown. Their trust in me is humbling, and I am beyond grateful to have them by my side, then, now and, if we are so lucky, tomorrow. I am also thankful for their authenticity. They are my tribe, my heartbeat, my people who exemplify, “real.” Our relationship has withstood the test of time, and we know that “the skin we are in” is just right.

Thank you for letting me be a part of your story. As you read this chapter, we connect and are no longer strangers. Your story has become mine, and mine, yours.  I hope the effect we have had on each other is mutual. I challenge you to continue to connect, to serve, and to love. Love hard. Care deeply. Share your stories. Use your love to reach out and help others. Weave these threads of life together and you will live a purposeful, meaningful, and incredibly strong life.

Pre-release, early access glimpse into Wake Up! Your Life is Now! from 10 Stories of Strong Living (June 7, 2017 release date, Scriptor Publishing Group)

Are you thankful for the “skin you are in”? Has gratitude replaced comparison in your life?  Do you see how perfectly you are made?  Who has stood by your side, and how have your journeys ebbed and flowed? What tests of time have you stood up to and what does that mean in your life?

“Be Courageous” artwork by Samantha Stewart

Where is the Love?

Have you heard it? The song that you find yourself leaning in to to catch every word.

“Where is the love?”

The Black Eyed Peas nailed it.

“Madness is what you demonstrate
And that’s exactly how anger works and operates
Man, you gotta have love just to set it straight
Take control of your mind and meditate
Let your soul gravitate to the love, y’all, y’all

People killin’, people dyin’
Children hurt and you hear them cryin’
Can you practice what you preach?
Or would you turn the other cheek?

Father, Father, Father help us
Send some guidance from above
‘Cause people got me, got me questionin’
Where is the love (Love)”

I had to think hard before I put this song on a cycling playlist for a Race Day experience we had at my fitness studio this morning. Typically you want something to ride to that is fast and non-stop upbeat. But I can’t help but get people focused and thinking and digging for that deeper meaning that exists in their WHY.

I put “Where is the Love?” on our playlist for today’s class to evoke emotion.

And where there is emotion, there is power. And where there is power, we can change the world.

And then, what happened today? The world changed for many people; like it has too many times before. Life flashes before us and in an instant it is different forever.  I spent my high school years in Highland, CA, having moved from the wonderfully small, sleepy town of Lafayette, New Jersey where I grew up. Highland, CA is next door to San Bernardino, CA. My mom was a second grade teacher at North Park Elementary School in San Bernardino, CA for all of our California living until she retired.

Today, that school, North Park Elementary in San Bernardino, CA, was broken as shots rung, lives were lost and life changed. I don’t know the details of what happened, but I know that as I shouted the words to “Where’s the Love?” to my class this morning, telling my friend Don who was working so hard to picture his entire kindergarten class on the top of that hill looking on at him with pride and love and cheering their hearts out for their teacher who was cycling his heart out for them, someone a few towns away from us was taking their emotions in a different direction.

It hurts and I want so badly for everyone to know that they are, that we are, a part of the solution. If we choose to learn how to be strong.  When I teach, I want so much for every person who hears me to hear that they are the love. It starts with self-love. Self-love is self-respect, esteem, strength, confidence. Not everyone wants to know that. Sometimes it is easier to be numb to the world around us. But the truth is, we cannot hide. If we have the courage to develop the strength to spread the feelings that self-love evokes – joy, optimism, respect for fellow human beings, then we have to share that.

We have to infect the world around us with the love. We have to be carriers of contagious hope, we have to CARE MORE.

It starts with us. When I asked my class this morning, “Where is the Love?” by adding it to our ride, at a point where emotions have the opportunity to hit home and to move us in a powerful direction, I was reminding them that they are the love. By their actions of showing up and bravely doing what some consider to be “hard work”, when what we are really doing is just a workout done conscientiously and towards a goal much bigger than ourselves and much bigger than most people want to dream, we are the love. And the world needs more of that. More of us. More of you.

My heart pours for those families whose lives have been changed forever today. When a piece of the world around us changes, our world changes too. It is the simple ripple effect. We can do something about that ripple, we can move it in a positive direction. But it will take everyone. It will take showing up, even when it is hard. It will take courage, even when we don’t feel we have any. It will take channeling our emotions into love.

What will Pilates with Jill Teach You?

Pilates

Pilates at The Energy Lab is not your typical Pilates. Our body becomes the machine, the vehicle to explore, to listen to, and to discover its lines, connections and anatomical reference points.  It is a form of meditation, education, and always includes an element of play, release, laughter, relaxation, and permission to “simply be”. Sometimes that means to do nothing. Sometimes that means to rest. Sometimes that means to trust. Always that means to leave our mats feeling better than when we arrived.

  1. It will teach you to listen to your body. One of the greatest gifts of simply being with you on your mat is the opportunity to be still and to listen.starts-on-the-mat
  2. It will teach you the basics of the MELT Method. We begin each practice with either a MELT hand- or foot-treatment. This is against the grain in that there is no additional fee; just learning, education and knowledge. With the MELT Method, you discover your body’s areas of “stuck stress”; that is congestion in the body, connective tissue that has adhesions and may not have the tensegrity and elasticity to allow you to move freely (PRE-PAIN SYMPTOMS and SIGNALS- kind of a big deal if you like to be injury-free and yet active!) Knowing this before you begin any practice will greatly change the way you approach your movement. You would not jump into an activity with tense, dried up “play-doh” as it were; you would first have to understand its form and then give it an opportunity to become hydrated and allow seamless energy vs. segmented energy. One energy type (seamless) will allow you to move freely, the other (segmented) restrains your movement, which often leads to compensation, which will leameltd to a compromised pattern, and most likely, result in chronic pain. All of which will be blamed on a joint or joint complex that had nothing to do with the original cause – the noise, chaos, tension of stuck stress, left unattended in the body. The MELT experience will leave you feeling the vibrations under your skin and alert to your starting point of practice.
  3. It will teach you what you look like under your skin. You will be asked to drop your gaze inward and to scan your body from the inside out. You will learn from Jill’s experiences with three different donors at the Laboratories for Anatomical Enlightenment, where she received the gift of understanding what is truly underneath the skin, in a “see for yourself (autopsy) experience” laboratory. The donor bodies that Jill  had the opportunity to dissect were “as is”, nothing had been removed or added or changed, the donors were frozen, and all fluids intact so that an accurate-as-possible-understanding of movement and fascia and lines and connections could be obtained. The question you will be asked is this: “Are you living a life that you would invite someone a glance into what is under your skin, much like you would invite someone over for dinner, and you tidy up your house, maybe even deep clean before you are satisfied with the presentability of your home?” Can you say the same of your body?blog jackie chopra quote
  4. It will teach you breath. To inspire, which literally means “breathe life into”.  Breath practice of both the para-sympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems, understanding of the diaphragm and its location, attachments and function in breathing, and how vagal tone, gut health and the vagus nerve all serve our most basic of human functioning. Jill reminds us that in the U.S. only pregnant women are given courses on breathing. Stirred by the words and writings of Max Strom, author of “A Life Worth Breathing”, we are reminded that accessing our breath is accessing a life where our capabilities are beyond anything we could ever imagine. How much better would our world be at coping with stress if more people knew how to breathe?breathe
  5. It will teach you alignment, balance, and coordination.
  6. It will teach  you humility and acceptance.
  7. It will teach you how to stretch appropriately; by shifting one of your “big rocks” (either the feet or the hips or the shoulders) ever so slightly to affect the stretch in the fascia and muscle desired.
  8. It will teach you the layers and the directions and the values of the muscles you are affecting.
  9. It will teach you the interdependence of your system and that everything is truly connected.
  10. It will teach you YOU. Your state of mind. Your defenses and excuses. Your celebrations and accomplishments. Your calm and your clarity OR your noise and your blinders. You can choose to diligently practice or you can choose to show up once in awhile. What you learn, how you benefit, and what you get out of your practice is what you put into it. You are a direct result of what you do day-in and day-out. pilates-said

5 ways a HEALTH COACH Can Keep You Healthy Through The Holidays!

The clocks are about to turn back.

The nights are cool and HOLIDAY is in the air!

Now and NOVEMBER, more than ever, is a crucial time to BUILD UP!

What do I mean by that? We all know how to “break ourselves down”, to workout hard, to put a lot on our plates and to rush through life sometimes. When we look back, we often do not even remember where we have been or what we accomplished because we are already on to the next thing.

What I am suggesting NOW is to take the opportunity to work with a Health Coach and LEARN HOW TO BUILD UP!  Building up will:

  • Increase your energy
  • Support your immune system
  • Help you to stay healthy through the weeks ahead and the holidays
  • It will let you move through life with more ease and less “dis-ease”
  • Provide a sense of gratitude and calm in your life
  • Promote clarity and good decision making
  • And, you will thank yourself for emerging into a New Year, not as the run-down-version of you, but as the READY TO CHANGE THE WORLD VERSION OF YOU!

Consider these 5 ways a HEALTH COACH can help you to thrive through the holidays and BUILD yourself UP now:

  1. Let’s talk about SLEEP. The #1 place the body repairs itself. A good health coach will ask the right questions, discuss quality of sleep and quantity, falling-asleep habits and what and how to handle those waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night moments.  We will guide you towards what might work best for YOU!
  2. NUTRITION. It has not changed. The truth still exists that we are a direct reflection of what we put into our bodies. To keep it simple, ideally we are eating foods from the earth that are not and have not been processed, packaged or prepared. There is no one-size-fits-all answer and a good health coach will guide you towards what is not only attainable and realistic for you, but also what will support your activities and lifestyle. Nutrition should be a key piece of your lifestyle. We can help you to discover ways to look at food differently and to enjoy nourishing your body well!
  3. Life is not easy, is it? We all have STRESS. Stress is good when applied to the right places and in the right amounts. It keeps us motivated and moving and growing and changing. But stress that we do not know how to handle is what gets to us. Stress is the cause of 99% of all illness. And I would break that statement down even more to say that how we deal with stress (or don’t) is the cause of 99% of all illness and disease.  A good health coach will be ready to suggest meditation and relaxation techniques; to provide you with mindfulness practices and stretching routines, and to even give you things to punch (a boxing bag) or throw (sandbags) when all else fails. Exercise is one of the #1 ways to combat stress. In the moments we are exercising intentionally and connected to ourselves, time stands still and we can temporarily be free of the aging and debilating effects of stress.
  4. Just like all living things, once something ceases to move, it deteriorates RAPIDLY. As health coaches, we will be there to ensure that your MOVEMENT is SMART. To help you move with ease, to move without pain, to move efficiently and then take that new movement pattern and be able to apply it better to your everyday life. We can help you realize that climbing up a flight of stairs has more to do with your core than it does your legs. And in doing so, help to make everyday activities easy!
  5. Surround yourself with those on the same mission as you. BUILDING yourself up is only accelerated by surrounding yourself with like-minded individuals. COMMUNITY is so important when it comes to reaching your goals in a time of year when we tend to stray from taking care of ourselves.  “Find your tribe and love them hard!” The benefits will be enormous!

I believe in you and in your potential!  Visit me at The Energy Lab in Redlands, CA, where we specialize in health coaching, or send me an email to discuss how I can help you!

Yours in Health, and your Health Coach if you choose!

Jill

jill@energylabfitness.com

Health STARTS with PMA

spakling

As I was sharing this picture, I was thinking about all the ways we sparkle.

When you sparkle, you shine, and when you shine, health radiates out of you and through you!

But where does the sparkle really come from?

This morning in our Breakthrough class at The Energy Lab, I was standing across from one of our members; we were tossing sandbags back and forth while standing on a beam in lunge position. Not bad to keep all of that straight at 5:30 in the morning! But as I suggested we add the lunge up and down, she quickly said, “oh no, I can’t do that.”

I didn’t have to say what came next, the guy next to her said it for me, “with that attitude, of course you can’t do that.” He said it nicely and joking with her, o but it was a great reminder of our PMA Code!

We have this “rule” at The Energy Lab, it’s a code called PMA. It means Positive Mental Attitude.  So even if there is something we can’t do today or at a given moment, we recognize it as something we can work towards over-coming and doing another day if it is meant to be for us!

So, where does the sparkle really come from again?    I think the sparkle comes from health and I think health comes from having a positive mental attitude. PMA.

So maybe the question is; where and how do you get PMA? The answer is inside of you. It is already there. It is simply a SHIFT in your way of thinking. There are many days I could walk out of my door before 5am to head in to my “job” (I never call it a job, it is my work, and actually it is my “life’s work”) knowing I will be at my “job” until about 9pm, miserable before I even get there.  I could let my attitude focus on how long a day it will be, on all of the things I have to do, on all of the decisions I will have to make and all of the energy I will have to encounter. It could be exhausting just to think about. Instead, I don’t even question it anymore; I have trained my attitude to know it is something that I just do. That I have chosen to do and that I will learn a lot more in that day than most people learn in a week, in a month, in a lifetime. Suddenly, this day is a gift and I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the world in some small way. To feel health radiate from me and also sustain me, simply because I have chosen an attitude that is positive. To sparkle.

surround-yourself-same-missionDon’t get me wrong, not all days sparkle as much as other days. We all have those days, but we are in control of deciding how we will handle them. The people I see greeting life with PMA tend to last longer, get sick far less often, and they are the people others want to be around. We gravitate towards what attracts us. Like attracts like and soon we find ourselves surrounded by others on the same mission as ourselves.