Anja Kotar, international musical star, is featured in our streaming videos!

As most of you know, I love music!  It provided the backdrop and inspiration for my decision to become a dancer, and it remains one of the most important components of my fitness method today. 

When I first heard about Anja Kotar, I was initially really impressed by her song, “How to Be Cool.”  I was thrilled when she allowed us to use it for our videos, and I immediately added it to several of my class and private training playlists.  What made me even more impressed with her was her story.  As a Slovenian musician and songwriter, she pushed through all barriers to get her EP funded.  And when she premiered it abroad, she was named Best New Artist in Slovenia!  Her work is personal, and it makes some great statements about being authentic.  Check out the video for her single at the end of this post!

Anja is a determined, wise, and talented artist.  Please read more about her life and work below.  And be sure to check out our new on-demand videos featuring her music here that will be dropping November 1st.  (You’ll be hearing her in future videos, too!).  

Enjoy! We looking forward to sweating and jamming out to great music with you!



Full name: Anja Kotar

Where were you born?  Ljubljana, Slovenia (Europe). 

Where did you grow up?  I lived in Europe until I was 14, then moved to San Jose, CA with my family in 2012. 

What’s your biggest passion?  Music. 

Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? And what brought you to music?
I consider myself very lucky as I’ve always been  naturally drawn to music and can’t remember a time when I would want to do anything else with my life. I would track the beginnings all the way back to when I was six when my parents noticed my passion for music and put me in music school for classical piano. While in Europe, that was my world – I played as a soloist and with a piano trio at festivals and venues such as the Slovenian National Opera House or The Philharmonic. Singing, however, was always my greatest passion but at the time, I just didn’t have an opportunity to really showcase it. It wasn’t until my family moved to the US in 2012 and I started to write my own music, perform in musicals and sing with a jazz band, that I was able to combine all of the musical skills I’ve acquired throughout the years. After I had enough songs written, I decided to put together a Kickstarter campaign for my EP and raised $20,000 to record it. I premiered it back in Europe at festivals and won Best New Artist in Slovenia in 2016. When I came back to the US, I decided to put together a full album NOMAD that came out in May along with opening my own online store that connects music and fashion. 

What has been your biggest hurdle as a musical artist?
I had a fairly unusual obstacle. When my family moved here, we found out that the Visa we were here on didn’t allow me or my brother to work in the US. At first, I was completely devastated because one of the main reasons we moved was to provide new opportunities for me and my brother and to help us pursue our dreams. However, I decided I wouldn’t let this dictate my music career so I started looking for other opportunities to grow, learn, and create. That’s how I decided on my Kickstarter and why I released my EP in Europe. I was able to pursue experiences that I otherwise probably wouldn’t had it not been for this obstacle. It allowed me to find my voice as an artist, so now that I have my Green Card, I can work in the music industry on my own terms and present myself the way I want to. 

I love “How to Be Cool.”  It has such a great beat, and the video uses some really interesting gestures (which of course caught my eye as a dancer!).  Can you tell me the back story of this song?  What inspired you? 
Thank you so much – that means a lot!! All credits for the dance moves go to one of my best friend from high school, Sophie, who is currently at Point Park University studying musical theatre :) 

It was one of the first songs that was complete for the album, both its writing and production. With it, I’m really defining the theme and sonics for the rest of the tracks. It was very much a summary of my experience as a teenager in the 21st century – constantly bombarded with idealization of reckless partying that is branded as “cool”. How to Be Cool is rebelling against those standards and asking whether such behavior is really worth it in the long run. That question is then further resolved and answered throughout the album. 

Before filming the video, Sophie and I had a long FaceTime session where we talked about the meaning of the lyrics and how we can match those up with the movements – she came back with what she called “Lorde meets Vogue” and it was absolutely perfect!

Have you had any interesting or surprising responses to this song?  
I think the responses themselves were very surprising when the album had just come out. In my head, the song was never truly a single – I always viewed it as experimentation with my sound. The fact that people were jamming out and singing along to it was both extremely surprising and gratifying. If anything, it gave me confirmation and motivation to continue to explore and pursue interesting ways to spice up pop music :)

I just have a few more things that make me curious…

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?  
That no moment or decision in life are final. When you’re younger, you get so caught up in and overwhelmed by small problems, viewing them as the single denominator of your future (and the rest of your life) :). As I grow older and experience more, I see that no one decision carries that much weight and that everything has potential of being solved. This, however, is of course no excuse to go around doing dumb things :)

What’s the best piece of musical/career advice you’ve ever gotten?  
This was initially counterintuitive to me but, that the more personal your writing is, the more people will be able to relate to it.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?  
Reading Sci-Fi/horror/crime books (I love Stephen King and Agatha Christie) and gummy candy! I’m like a little kid in that regard, I always have some candy before doing a show and it makes me hyper like nothing else :)

What quality do you really cherish about yourself?  
Probably my determination and stubbornness. These are both very tricky though – only if used properly, they can be greatly beneficial, and I’m constantly learning where that balance lies. 

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)?   
I often start singing random lyrics and making up songs or musicals about whatever I’m doing at the time on the spot. I could be vacuuming the floor and you’d walk on me singing and dancing around with the vacuum cleaner!

At only age five, Anja Kotar entered the music world by embarking on what would become 12 years of training in classical piano. After her first taste of the arts, Anja couldn’t get enough and began delving into jazz dance, ballet and acting. She soon became an unstoppable force in her home country of Slovenia, going on to perform at the Slovenian Philharmonic and National Opera House, win the World Show Dance Championship with her dance team, and act in the critically-acclaimed blockbuster film, Going Our Way. Anja continued to build on this momentum after moving to San Jose, California in 2012 where she became heavily involved in musical theater and jazz. While still in high school, she earned a Voice Certificate from Berklee College of Music and, upon graduating, attended the prestigious Broadway Artist Alliance in New York City. At 17, she completed her widely successful $20,000 Kickstarter project to fund the creation of her first EP.

 After the release of her EP, Anja was invited to perform at the Slovenian Song Festival (DSZG), the longest running festival and most viewed show in the country which features the country’s top talent. After performing her original “Čas je zdaj” (The Time Is Now) and “Too Cool” live, Anja was nominated by RTV for Best Performance, Best Song, and Best New Artist, walking away with 2016’s Best New Artist. She then was nominated for Best Pop Song at the 2016 American Songwriting Awards and was featured on the Slovenian X-Factor.

 Currently, Anja is working to complete her Bachelor’s degree from Berklee College of Music nearly two years early, promoting her brand new full-length album, NOMAD (produced by three–time Grammy nominated producer, Pascal Guyon), and launching her online store, Too Cool, which connects music and fashion.

KMO Studio Photography

Find out how Lauren came back to win our #ShineForSummer challenge!

Photos by KMO Studio
 Body Conceptions
I was thrilled to see that Lauren signed up for our express challenge this summer!  Lauren has been coming to our classes for a while, and seeing her commit to the intensity of this experience made me so happy for her.  I followed her progress from Colorado, and it was thrilling to see her numbers reflect her hard work.
Read about Lauren’s experience and background below.  It’s wonderful to hear how she embraces balance in her life (the way that we do at BoCO!), and I’m so happy that she identifies with the family atmosphere in our classes that we have cultivated.  I look forward to seeing her at future challenges.  Congratulations, Lauren!  We adore you!!
Lauren Hale
Tell us about yourself! I am almost 32 years old (my birthday is August 1st!). I moved to NYC four years ago. I took a risk and took a job up here and have never looked back. I grew up in Baltimore, MD–and yes I love crabcakes and football! 
Describe your career and how you originally got into the industry! I have worked in commercial real estate for 10 years. I moved to Manhattan four years ago to work at a brokerage firm after working for a real estate tech company. I work in our firm’s research department, I am basically a walking encyclopedia of every office property in Manhattan.
How did you find out about Body Conceptions’ challenge? I did my first challenge two summers ago, after my roommate at the time had won and had such huge success in the winter 2015 challenge. I was really proud with my results and the transformation. I had passed on a few challenges in between the first one I did and this one. I saw the email in May and decided I was going to do it and commit to it because I really needed regroup and center myself after a stressful winter.  
KMO Studio Photography
What kept you motivated throughout the 4 weeks? The routine despite being out of town a couple of weekends. After seeing results between week one and two, it reminded me that change can happen in a short time with the right amount of dedication. I competed with myself to try to lose more than I did two years ago. Nicole was very motivating and always positive!! Most of my coworkers and friends were as well, there were a few that had doubts, but that pushed me to work even harder.
How did it feel when you found out you won? Rewarding and extremely excited – I know this sounds cliche. I was actually shocked and surprised and it was extremely rewarding after a lot of hard work.
What are you going to do now that the challenge is over? I just got back from vacation–so I probably could use another challenge :). Just trying to find balance every day without depriving myself of anything. 
What do you do for fun when you’re not working or working out? Spending time with friends, catching a Broadway show, walking and exploring New York, binge watching Bravo, or watching a sporting event.
Lauren Hale
How does BoCo compare to other workouts you’ve tried? What makes it special? I was introduced to BoCo in 2014 and once I got over the initial soreness, I was hooked. I love it because it feels like a family. Every instructor is welcoming and kind–they really make you feel like you are part of something, which is really hard with many of the classes here in NYC. I love the full body workout that you get and even after three years the seat section doesn’t get easier (you just know what to expect). 
What advice do you have for future challengers to succeed? Dedicate yourself to the challenge, I tried to workout or get some sort of activity every day. I cut back or eliminated many guilty pleasures (wine, bread, sweets) during the four weeks – and it really made a difference. The hardest part is saying “No” to happy hours, junk food, and to the snooze button. 
KMO Studio

Samara Goldberg was a former challenger, now a challenge partner!

My connection with Samara actually began with her mother, believe it or not!  Arden Greenspan is a well-known and deeply respected psychologist who partnered with and advised us a few times over the years.  Samara came to BoCo as a challenge participant, and she became one of our most active and hard-core clients.  Her energy is so incredibly positive, and I was excited to learn about her life coaching business since she is also such a great listener and thoughtful advisor.

I am excited to announce that Samara has joined us as one of our challenge partners. (She is offering each of our challengers a free coaching session!)  In this interview, I have asked her to describe her experiences in previous challenges and to tell you a little bit about herself and her coaching philosophy.

Enjoy — and see you (and Samara!) in the challenge!

~ Mahri


Name: Samara Goldberg

Where did you grow up?

I was born in Manhattan, NY but I grew up in a smaller town called New City. I was lucky enough to come into the city many weekends as a child! 

Tell us a little bit about yourself! What do you do, and why did you choose this field?

I have many passions in life including musical theatre performance, teaching children, writing and traveling the world. These four things, along with my positive outlook on life led me to my career as a Life Coach. I was lucky enough to study in the Professional Coaching Program at New York University where I learned all about transformational coaching for sustainable change. My biggest passion involves connecting with people and guiding them to live at their highest potentials. I chose this field because it seamlessly fit into my life as a natural optimist and student of life. I am constantly learning, questioning and appreciating what each day has to offer. My personal belief is that everything in life is either a lesson or a blessing. The decisions and choices we make are all a part of the journey and lead us to our next beautiful beginning. 

You have done our challenges!! Which ones did you do, and what kind of results did you see?

Yes!!! I am a big fan and advocate for Body Conceptions and the challenges just bring that to a whole new level. My first experience at BoCo last summer was a challenge and it really motivated and inspired me. I made new friends and created bonds with the instructors who genuinely cared about my journey during and after the challenge. I have done two challenges and I am so excited to be a part of this summer challenge, as well! My confidence radiates and I always see such amazing physical results! 

What did you like about our challenges?

I mentioned this above, but my favorite part about these challenges are the instructors who really have your back. I feel so supported in every aspect by Mahri and her truly motivating and positive instructors. Everybody is so kind and there is a healthy competition amongst supportive and like-minded women. We all want the best for each other and we are all winners, even though there is always one winner who we are ALL impressed by! This will be my third challenge and I know I will be a part of many, many more as a challenger and as a partner! 

Getting through a challenge can definitely be difficult, especially half-way through. Did you go through any of that? And how did you handle your own obstacles?

Its funny you mention the difficulties considering everything I wrote above. You would never even know that any part of this is actually hard!! Well, physically this is absolutely an unbelievable transformation, and it does take a ton of effort and hard work! As hard as it can be, I’ve realized that the more committed I am to mindful eating and continuing the BoCo classes, the stronger and more toned I become. The classes become second nature and my healthy habits in life become a natural part of who I am and who I want to be. 

What would you tell people who might want to try one of our challenges but who might be scared to go for it?

Any person of any shape, size or gender is capable of doing this challenge. It isn’t easy, but you do become stronger and more confident throughout the process. If you like to dance or move, enjoy being around uplifting people and want to reminisce your partying days yet still get an amazing workout, DO THIS!  You sweat so much but have the most fun throughout the entire workout! 

What is your approach to life coaching? Do you have a philosophy you follow? What do you usually hope to accomplish with your coaching clients?

StayCurious with Samara is my personal life coaching business based in New York City. Coaching is a collaborative relationship between the coach and the client where the focus is to accelerate the positive change desired by the client. My hope is that my clients are people who are curious enough to question their own lives. My philosophy is that if you are motivated, solutions focussed and take your experiences in life and see them as growing and learning opportunities, success personally and professionally will naturally happen. 

Life Coaching is an evidence based practice involving neuroscience and the brain. Our thoughts are contained and expressed in patterns of connections called maps. The brain memorizes or hardwires everything we think and do repeatedly. Through coaching and positive reinforcement, the brain can create new maps that focus on the positive aspects of life. This is what I hope to accomplish with my clients; helping them to see where they can change their negative thoughts into positive ones and create a new mindset and way of viewing the world around them. 

How can people contact you if they want to try your coaching?

Please feel free to contact me for a free consultation at and check out my website for more information: 

Photos by KMO Studio


Why videos? And how can I get the most out of them?

photos by Kathleen O’Neill

At the time we decided to launch a video subscription service, I had been getting requests for videos for a long time. Many of our clients love to travel, but they don’t want to lose momentum with their workouts. They have difficulty finding workouts like ours in other locations, and they also find it difficult to leave their families while on vacation to exercise.

In addition to our travelers, requests for videos come from new mothers who can’t leave home to take fitness classes, from clients who need quick, at-home exercises to fit into the middle of their busy lives, and from people interested in our method who do not live close to our classes or privates (big shoutout to our friends in Japan, Italy, Croatia, Austria, and beyond!).

While creating videos, I had to decide on the best way to approach the project – to create a structure that could satisfy the needs of a range of different kinds of clients and stay true to the essence of Body Conceptions. I wanted an effective and fun workout designed to be part of a larger wellness-driven lifestyle. And I wanted to make sure our subscribers felt engaged and taken care of.

Before committing to a video subscription, how do you know it’s right for you? And how do you get the best out of it without getting bored or burnt out?

I am including some tips below in addition to some information that should help you better explain how our videos work. And as you can see below, we are always open to your thoughts and ideas. We couldn’t be the company we are without YOU!

How is the Body Conceptions Video On Demand Subscription structured?
You can subscribe per month or per year depending on your preference. Videos are organized into bundles that each consist of smaller, 6-10 minute exercises as well as a full 35-40 minute workout that contains all the exercises put together. You can mix and match separate exercises or do a full workout depending on your needs. Video bundles are added every few months.

How should I tackle an at-home workout?
Put aside enough time and materials. Especially the first time, make sure you put aside some time in your schedule to set yourself up in your living, get the video working on your TV or laptop, and have all your materials ready (which include weights and a mat for most of our workouts).

Complete the whole workout. Pick a video and commit from beginning to end. This might sound obvious, but it’s not. Most videos are designed to take you carefully from the beginning to the end of the exercise, and completing it is the best way to experience it fully and correctly. We have made this process easier by designing exercises that can be completed quickly (in just 6 minutes!) – or you can do them together with other exercises.

Invite friends. Ok, you might prefer to try these videos on your own a few times to get the hang of it. But working out is definitely more fun to do with friends. Recruiting a friend to join you – or even a group of friends – can help make the experience better and also help you stay accountable to your workout routine.

Which Body Conceptions videos should I use and when?
Start with Complete Workout #1. Especially if you don’t know our workout, the best way to experience the way we work is to do one of the complete, full-body workouts. The progression of exercises is deliberate, and the first workout contains the best and most complete explanations. You may decide to cut and paste exercises later on, but this will give you the best taste of the method from beginning to end. For all bundles, I recommend trying the full version before committing to shorter favorites.

Think about your preferences. Our philosophy is that the best way to incorporate exercise into your life regularly is to do what you love. This applies to these videos as well. Figure out which ones you prefer, and don’t be shy about using them. We can keep track of the videos that are viewer favorites and create more exercises that are similar. Don’t forgot, however, that the best way to see results is to challenge your limits and introduce your body to variety. Make sure you venture into new and challenging territory as you design your daily workouts.

Make a schedule. As with any exercise routine, it’s incredibly easy to back out when you leave things up to chance. You can easily get distracted in front of your television or decide at the last minute that you’re too tired to exercise. Try making a workout schedule for yourself at the beginning of the week, and do your best to stick with it. Over time, doing workouts at home will become a routine you crave regularly.

Use the videos as supplements. Didn’t get enough abdominal work in your yoga class? No problem! End your evening with a quick 6 and a half minute abdominal workout at home, and consider your fitness night complete!

What’s special about our service?
We will grow a library that will only get bigger and bigger, and we will start introducing specialty workouts over time, which include pregnancy videos, use of props, dance routines, and extra difficulty. We will also create partnerships with different wellness businesses and offer amazing access to those businesses to our subscribers.

Most importantly, we want your thoughts on these videos and will take requests as seriously as possible. We also promise to keep subscribers updated on developments with the videos and with Body Conceptions as a company. We love the Body Conceptions community and want our subscribers to feel included!

What’s coming up?
More and more and more! Stayed tuned for more videos (added this month!), in addition to partnerships with other wellness businesses and ways to connect with our online community.

Enjoy your videos – and be sure to let us know what you think!!

Kathleen O'Neill Photography

Meet Our #BoCoBesties Challenge Winner, Melanie!

Photos by Kathleen O’Neill

Intro by Mahri Relin

As we headed into our Valentine’s Challenge this time around, we decided to focus on friendship. We had seen groups of friend take our challenges together – and we also saw challengers meet each other and become friends during our challenges – but we had never incorporated friendship as the primary theme. We knew it would be a great thing to try, but we never imagined it would bring such great results.

Melanie came to Body Conceptions through her friend and former challenge winner, C. Lo. We saw right away that she poured herself into our classes and took the challenge very seriously. She also had such a lovely energy and fit really beautifully into the rhythm of our classes. In general, our results with the challenge this time around were stunning. For the second time in a row, we saw results across challengers that far surpassed previous challenges, and we saw that friends taking the challenge really motivated each other. Above everyone, however, Melanie achieved the best results by far!

Get to know Melanie below. She’s a superstar student pursuing her PhD in Psychology and Law. And she’s also the nicest person. Hopefully you’ll see her the next time you come to a BoCo class. And feel free to invite your own friends to come to BoCo classes with you. It (obviously) makes such a difference!!

~ Mahri

Kathleen O'Neill Photography

Tell us about yourself! 


I’m 29 and originally from the Boston area. I moved to NYC 10 years ago to go to college at Fordham, and (to my surprise) I never left!


Describe your career and how you originally got into the industry! 


I’m currently in my third year of a Ph.D. program in Psychology and Law at CUNY, where I do research on how implicit biases affect jury decision-making and police interrogations. I studied psychology as an undergraduate with the plan of pursuing a career in early childhood development, but then I took a Psych & Law class during my senior year and was hooked! It’s really gratifying to know that my work has the potential to effect real change.

Body Conceptions Challenge Winner

How did you find out about Body Conceptions’ challenge? 


My friend C. Lo was a challenge winner last summer, and after hearing so many great things about BoCo from her and her friends, I decided I had to try it for myself!


What kept you motivated throughout the 6 weeks?


The people! All the instructors are so motivating and do a great job creating a nonjudgmental environment. I always felt comfortable taking breaks if I needed to, and never felt like I was competing with anyone else. Julia (my team leader) and my challenge teammates were awesome too – everyone was always so enthusiastic and supportive.

How did it feel when you found out you won?


Excited, and surprised! I honestly couldn’t believe when I heard how much I lost. It’s easy not to notice gradual changes – for most of the challenge I felt like nothing was changing, and then suddenly I had lost over 20 inches!

Headshot NYC

What are you going to do now that the challenge is over? 


I definitely want to keep going to BoCo classes regularly. As a busy student, it’s easy to develop bad habits, like ordering take out and skipping workouts. This challenge has reminded me how important it is to invest in my health. Not only does my body feel stronger, but I’m also sleeping better and have more energy.


What do you do for fun when you’re not working or working out? 


I love to eat! My favorite thing about NYC is that there are always new and exciting restaurants to try. I also love traveling and take trips whenever I can – my next destination is Hawaii!


How does BoCo compare to other workouts you’ve tried? What makes it special? 


I love that the workout targets every part of your body and include both cardio and strength training – you really get everything from one class. The instructors are also great at being consistent while still incorporating new and fun exercises into the classes. A lot of exercises are repeated from class to class and all the instructors have signature moves, so I could get comfortable with the exercises and gauge my improvement over time. At the same time, there’s enough variation to keep it fun!

 Kathleen O'Neill Photo

What advice do you have for future challengers to succeed? 


Plan ahead and commit to classes! I know from experience that it’s so easy to come up with excuses not to exercises (drinks with friends always sounds like more fun!). At the beginning of the challenge, I went through my calendar and penciled in all the classes I wanted to take over the six weeks. Sometimes things would come up and I would have to rearrange my schedule, but having committed to it beforehand helped me stay on track and go to at least four classes a week.

Valentine’s Day, How Do I Hate Thee?


We are honored to repost Karen Bigman’s article for our Valentine’s post this year.  I have known Karen for a while now, and I have really enjoyed getting to know her and her business, The Divorcierge.  I know many women who have felt lost after the end of their marriage – or any relationship – and Karen has shaped her career helping newly single women find their footing again.

Being single during Valentine’s Day is rough, and constant reminders of love and relationships can make any of us feel isolated. I personally think of Valentine’s Day as a celebration of connection, and some of my deepest connections lie with my amazing female friendships.  My friends have helped me through all aspects of my life, and I’m not sure I could have survived New York City  – or many of the events last year – without them.

Launching a Valentine’s challenge featuring friendship made perfect sense for us this year.  Doing a challenge with friends can help you work harder, remain more accountable to your fitness schedule, and have more fun in class.  As Karen writes below, leaning on friends can be especially helpful when you are surrounded by the pressures of Valentine’s festivities.  Check out Karen’s website here.  And in the meantime, take some time taking care of yourself over Valentine’s Day.  If you don’t have a Valentine, consider making a special date with friends who make you feel like the great catch you are. And also consider signing up for our challenge. You’ll have a blast, and probably make more friends along the way!




Valentine’s Day, How Do I Hate Thee?

by Karen Bigman, reposted and revised from February 14, 2015

How do I hate Valentine’s Day? Let me count the ways. Every year this ‘Hallmark’ made day takes on the significance of a religious holiday. For those in a relationship, there’s pressure to make it special, to buy roses or make a special meal or get engaged. For those who are single and just beginning to rebuild their life, it’s one of the most depressing days of the year. All you see around you are ads for ‘special menus’ of oysters and champagne or ‘perfect gifts’ that you know he/she’ll love.

I am single and freshly divorced this year. I’d like to crawl into a cave and come out on February 15th. My mother always said there’s Mother’s Day and Father’s Day because every other day is kid’s day. Shouldn’t a relationship be loving and romantic everyday? Why do we only have one special day? Why do we put so much meaning into this made up holiday? And if it’s not that significant to me, why does it hurt so much to be alone?

I got divorced after 25 years hoping to find a partner that would be compatible with me in so many ways. Intelligent, warm, emotionally intelligent, financially successful, kids out of the house, interested in travel, exercise, cooking, restaurants, fashionable, handsome, etc. If you look on dating sites, just about every guy looks exactly like that and likes walks on the beach, making out, romancing you blah blah blah. Why haven’t I found him yet?

There are so many “supposed to’s” when we are dating. We aren’t supposed to respond too quickly or too eagerly. We’re supposed to pretend that we don’t really like the person and that we’re too busy to meet to close to the inquiry. As women, we’re not supposed to ask the men out. With all this feminism you’d think that the male ego might’ve shrunk a bit, but there are still rules.

We want to dress sexy but not too provocative. Enticing enough to get interest but also in a way to show distance. We can never be sure he is who he says he is so we have to ‘google’ him before we go on a date. Then we find out too much information and there’s no mystery since we know everything before the date.

This year, I made sure to make a ‘date’ with my girlfriend for February 14th, she will be my ‘Valentine’. We’re going to go out and have fun, somehow, somewhere. We’ll likely compare notes on failed relationships and crazy dates and have a few drinks and a few laughs and then we’ll go home, alone. No roses, no chocolate, no pressure.

I have some amazing friends and honestly, they are the best company I could have right now. I’m working hard on enjoying Valentine’s day everyday with what should be the most important love of my life-me!

Tips for getting through V-day

 The most important thing to note for any day that is a symbolic in some negative way is that you recognize that it’s going to be difficult so plan accordingly. Waiting for the day to just happen will instill fear and worry in you.

— Plan something to do, ideally with a friend. Try not to go to a restaurant that’s having a special dinner in honor of the holiday.

— If you know you’ll be alone, give yourself a job for that night. Watch an uplifting movie, cook yourself a delicious dinner, do some work you’ve been putting off.

— Go to the gym and take a class. Chances are everyone in the class is in the same boat as you.

— Volunteer at a soup kitchen. It will completely change your focus from you to the people you’re helping.

— Make a list of all the great things about you. Force yourself to write at least 10!

— Take a break from social media. It’s no fun watching everyone you know post about the fun they’re having with their date.

— Take a mirror and smile at yourself for as long as you can. It will make you laugh.

— Have a party with a crazy theme for all your single friends.

If you’re just off a relationship:

— DO NOT go through old photos of you and your former partner or remind yourself of last year when you…While it’s important to let yourself feel your emotions and not stifle them, on this particular day, adding fuel to the fire is not the best idea.

— Create a goodbye ritual for the relationship that’s ended and perform it on that day.

For tips on Dating, join Karen at Dating In A New World, Wednesday, February 22nd. For more information:


Karen Bigman, works with individuals navigating divorce. After a long marriage and subsequent divorce, Karen started The Divorcierge ( to help women struggling with their families and finances during divorce and those trying to build a new life afterwards. Her business has become global and now grown to include men. Karen calls on her business and life coach training to offer her clients a unique perspective. She also has a wealth of professional resources she refers to for their help and expertise along the way.  Her education includes a B.S.B.A. from Boston University, a M.B.A. from Columbia Business School and Martha Beck Life Coach training. Karen is a CDC® Certified Divorce Coach.


Top 5 Physical Therapy Exercises for the Holiday Season!


The holiday season is one of my favorite times of year, but it can also bring lots of stress to your mind and body.  We asked Michael Oakes, PT, DPT at Symbio Physical Therapy to give us some great tips to help you stay strong, injury free, and ready for anything during the holidays.  His tips will also help you keep coming to class with us to celebrate and let off steam.

The Symbio team is amazing! They are smart and caring professionals who look at the body in a wholistic and functional way. We are excited to connect with them and recommend them highly to all of our clients.  Check them out and tell them we sent you. And enjoy Michael’s tips for a better season ahead!!

~ Mahri


1)  Deep Core Activation

The goal of this exercise is to help target and activate the transversus abdominis, the deepest part of your abdominal muscles. No, training this muscle won’t give you 6-pack abs, but having a properly functioning transversus abdominis will go a long way in helping to stabilize and protect your spine!

body conceptions by mahri

Deep Core Activation

– Start on your back, preferably on a firm surface.

– Initiate the posterior pelvic tilt by gently drawing your belly button in towards your spine. You should feel the small of your back come into contact with the surface that you are on. Hold this contraction!

– Bring both knees towards your chest so that they are at a right angle with the ground. Slowly, maintaining good control, lower one leg and gently tap your heel on the surface.

– Return to starting position and repeat with the opposite leg.

– Remember to hold the posterior pelvic tilt throughout the entire exercise. This ensures that we’re targeting the right muscle!

2) Proper Posture

Poor posture- the bane of every office worker in the world- is one of the most common causes of pain and discomfort today. Given how much time we spend sitting in front of a computer screen or looking at our phones, this should come as no real surprise. What might surprise you though is that poor posture itself isn’t technically the main problem. The real problem is when we lose the ability to correct ourselves and begin doing our everyday tasks in this position. We lose movement variability and use the same strategy for a wide range of tasks, which ultimately leads to tissue breakdown and pain. Remember: proper posture prevents pain!

body conceptions by mahri

Proper Posture

– Imagine your head floating up towards the ceiling, thinking of growing tall, as you allow your neck and spine to elongate. You should feel both your head and your upper back straightening.

– Next, bring your shoulders up, back and down.

– Finally, perform a gentle posterior pelvic tilt by drawing your belly button in towards your spine.

– Try performing this exercise once every hour and hold for 2 minutes. Think of this as a “reset” exercise.

3) Hip Strengthening

It’s holiday season, which means lots of amazing food and lots of great company. It also means that you don’t have a lot of time to lose those 10 pounds you said you would back in January! For those of you who’re planning to hit the gym to burn off the extra calories the holiday season brings, keep this hip strengthening exercise in mind. Strong hips provide a firm foundation to help you hit those cardio machines harder, safer, and more efficiently.

body conceptions by mahri

Hip Strengthening

– Start by balancing on one leg (it’s tougher than you think!). Make sure your pelvis stays level and that your trunk stays relatively square.

– Drive the opposite leg up so that your knee and your hip are at the same height. Pause for 2 seconds.

– Extend the same leg back as you lean forward and reach out with your other hand. Try to keep your arm, trunk, and leg all in the same line as best as you can.

– Return to starting position and repeat.

4) Upper Trapezius Stretching

The upper trapezius is a muscle that is located between the shoulder and the base of the neck and, as I’m sure many of you already know, always seems to be tight! For some, dysfunction in this area is more serious and is a source of intense pain that interferes with everyday activities and may even cause severe headaches. Here’s a simple stretch that may alleviate some of the tension you might be feeling in that area. Remember that with any stretch, low-load, prolonged holds have been shown to be the most effective. Think gentle stretches and longer than 30 seconds.

body conceptions by mahri

Upper Trapezius Stretching

– Place one hand underneath your thigh.

– Place the other hand on your head and gently sidebend your neck away from the hand that is under your thigh. Keep going until you feel a comfortable stretch on that side of your neck.

– In this position, slowly flex your head forward and gently rotate your head towards the hand that is under your tight. Again, keep going until you feel a comfortable stretch on that side of your neck.

– Hold this position for at least 30 seconds and slowly return to the start position.

5) Breathe

Uh, what? How can breathing be an exercise?! Well it is and an important one at that! Not only does breathing properly help the body perform better physically, it also helps you perform better mentally. Deep breathing exercises have been shown to improve circulation, stabilize blood pressure levels, improve mental clarity, increase overall energy levels, and much more. Plus, as an added bonus, it’s something that you can do anytime, anywhere! Deep breathing allows the diaphragm to move through its entire range of motion and allows every part of the lung to be utilized to receive oxygen.

– Find a comfortable chair to sit in or a comfortable surface to lie down on. Place both of your hands on your stomach. It might be easier to do this exercise with your eyes closed and in a non-distracting environment.

– Take a deep breath in through your nose for a count of 4. You should feel your stomach expand underneath your hands as you inhale.

– Pause for 2 seconds

– Slowly exhale as if you were blowing into a straw for a count of 8.

– Repeat

Symbio Physio Therapy

Michael H. Oakes, PT, DPT is a Doctor of Physical Therapy and is the Director of Resident Education at Symbio Physiotherapy.  Having taken advanced education courses through the North American Institute of Orthopedic Manual Therapy in conjunction with the completion of the Connect Therapy Series in Vancouver, Michael specializes in helping people of all movement backgrounds move, feel, and live their best.  Firmly believing that nothing in the body works in strict isolation, he utilizes a whole-body approach to treatment and works closely with his patients to train and develop healthy and more optimal strategies for movement.  In addition to his clinical work, Michael is an assistant teacher in the doctor of physical therapy program at Touro College and is currently working towards his orthopedic manual certification.

Interested in getting treatment? Visit Symbio’s website at or call (917) 338-6268!

Meet the Winner of our #LoveYourself #LoveYourBody Challenge!

Meet the Winner of our #LoveYourself #LoveYourBody Challenge!
Interview and Photos by Kathleen O’Neill

Ilana tryptic

Clients embarked on a 6-week challenge, focusing on self-love, intention, and beauty from the inside out. Here’s a recap of what it entailed:

*  6 weeks of unlimited classes from February 14th-March 26th
*  Weekly measurements to monitor progress
*  Weekly nutrition and mindfulness tips from Tovita Nutrition, Body Conceptions, Basq Skincare and Dana Campbell Coaching
*  Class passes provided by MNDFL meditation
*  Free chiropractic consultation from Vivian Giannakakis Chiropractic
*  Free skincare samples and first-time facial from Skin Laundry
Weekly prizes from Basq Skincare
*  Smoothie tastings from Just Salad
*  Perks and partnerships from HickiesSweatStyle,  Perfect BarMy IntentBasq SkincareJust Salad, WTRMLN WTRLolë ClothingTovita Nutrition and Fit for Broadway
*  A slow stretch and meditation class provided by founder Mahri Relin and Dana Campbell
*  Final party and shopping experience at Lolë Soho

Ilana Becker’s strength and perseverance led her to lose 13.6 inches – 5 inches from her waistline alone – and also gain a new perspective on life. There was tough competition, sometimes with herself, but she rose to the top and was our challenge winner. Ilana went home from the challenge party with a long list of gifts from our lovely partners. Get to know Ilana and find out how she really learned how to love herself and her body, below!


Ilana orange jumpsuit with hat photo shoot

Tell us about yourself! I’m a total New Yorker. My Mom is from Brooklyn and my Dad grew up on the Lower East Side. Though I spent my childhood in Bucks County, PA, we spent many, many weekends here visiting family. This gave me the chance to fall firmly in love with the city (I still refer to ‘him’ as my first boyfriend). I moved back here the second I could, to study acting at New York University. The fam followed me back and now we’re all here: my parents, my brother, my sister-in-law, and my two delicious nephews.

Ilana getting put together

Describe your career and how you originally got into the industry! Well, I’m still an actress! I begged my parents to let me audition for Star Search as a kid, but I had to go to college before I pursued anything professionally. I got my first agent through a university showcase while I was attending NYU. I booked the very first audition I went on, and <laughs> became WAY too optimistic that it would always be that easy. It wasn’t, but really I feel very lucky to have the opportunities to maintain a career that I’m proud of. As I grow and continue to experience life, it absolutely informs and cultivates the work I’m doing.

How did you find out about Body Conceptions’ challenge? I met Mahri through my best friend, Allegra Cohen. She had been taking class for quite some time (and she looked AMAZING) and she invited me to come with.

Like most people experience with Mahri, it was love at first sight…and JUMP. It didn’t take long to realize that not only had I found the workout that truly worked for me, but I had found a true and meaningful friendship with its founder. After taking class for a few months, Mahri really encouraged me to embrace and embark on the challenge.

Looking back it’s remarkable how hesitant I was. I really didn’t think there was any way my body could change THAT MUCH, and I certainly didn’t think I had any kind of shot at winning. It’s funny the stories you tell yourself about yourself. I spent my entire childhood in a dance class, yet never identified as being an athlete. I was comfortable in my skin, but I never really felt STRONG. So I decided to continue taking class, with a stepped-up game. I took out the other physical activities I was doing to really see what would happen if I BoCo-ed and ONLY BoCo-ed 6 times a week.

Ilana working out - squat Saturday!

What kept you motivated throughout the 6 weeks? What obstacles did you face and how did you overcome them? I’ll admit, the results are a profound motivator. I lost 3 inches off of my waist in the first 2 weeks. I couldn’t believe it. That second week check-in was really my light bulb moment. All I was doing was taking class and really making a solid effort while I was there, and it just HAPPENED.

From that point on, I made it simple for myself: just plant the seeds of hard work without worrying about how they would pay off. I think after that, it was really just a challenge within myself; how hard could I work while I was there to really execute each workout to the best of my best ability, and not cheat or shortchange myself. Walking away from each class knowing I did the best I could really strengthened my relationship with being self-motivated.

The staff at Body Conceptions was instrumental in all of this. They are such a joyous, lovely group of women and they were so excited about the challenge and all of our individual efforts. I really can’t say enough about Mahri and her team. I wish I could bring them along with me wherever I go.

As far as obstacles, there were many. The challenge dates fell over pilot season, which is the busiest time of year for actors. I grew concerned that I wouldn’t have time to do my best work AND workout. There were moments where I would walk out of a night class to an email with an audition for the next day knowing I only had a few hours to prepare 10 pages. Things were also coming to the surface in my personal life that I hadn’t yet dealt with, and I was quickly becoming overwhelmed with how to balance it all. This is where the challenge really shifted for me. I realized that I owed it to myself to make my insides match my outsides. I was feeling physically strong for the first time, maybe ever, and I knew I had to make some tough decisions to grow and strengthen emotionally as well.

Ilana before and after

There is no showing up and being perfect. There’s just dealing with what is in front of you with the best version of yourself. This is the most longwinded way ever of telling you that the challenge has really helped me to stay present and strike balance in my life. I’m such a talker!

How did it feel when you found out you won? Whatever the results were, I truly already felt like I won for so many reasons. Coming out stronger, with renewed and strengthened relationships and ideals, is more than I could have hoped for.

Ilana laughing in fuzzy coat

What are you going to do now that the challenge is over? Pizza.

<long pause>

Okay, I’m half kidding. I’ve definitely indulged and that is SUPER important. I do hope to maintain these results. The challenge wasn’t about a diet or deprivation but learning to maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle for the long haul.

Ilana in a white dress

What do you do for fun when you’re not working or working out? Well, my work is fun so that’s always there. But I revel in sleeping in, traveling, going to the theatre, comedy, quality time with my boyfriend and my friends & family and throwing dance parties alone in my apartment.

What’s your favorite BoCo exercise? The final song of each class where you’ve worked so hard and you reward yourself with a dance party. See above. :)

How does BoCo compare to other workouts you’ve tried? What makes it special? Mahri’s BoCo slogan is “It works,” and it really does. The sense of community and love that Mahri has built around her studio are unparalleled. When you meet her, you meet this giant network of like-minded individuals in the health, wellness and lifestyle world. She really does want the best for every single person that walks through her doors. What’s more special than that?

What advice do you have for future challengers to succeed? Stay present. Let go. Go easy on yourself.  AND HAVE FUN!

Ilana with gum


If you haven’t seen Ilana in one of her recent commercials or appearances on television or film, go to her website and check her out at

Ilana laughing in the chair

Meet our new instructor and Broadway performer, Ashley Adamek!

It was so exciting to see Ashley Adamek at our instructor audition.  I have known Ashley through the musical theater business and have always admired her as a dancer.  And there she was at BoCo!  I’m thrilled to welcome her as one of the newest additions to our team.

Ashley has had a varied background in show business, including performing in the Broadway production of Spiderman and touring with Chicago.  These credits are impressive of course (and I tell everyone!), but more important to me is Ashley’s sweetness, strength, hard work, and integrity both in and out of the fitness studio.

Find out more about Ashley here – and definitely try one of her challenging classes (especially her Saturday morning BoCo Bootcamp!).  You’ll be in for a treat!




Ashley dances in the studio

Full name: 

Ashley Adamek

Where did you grow up?  

I lived in Vernon, CT until I was 10, and then I moved to Raleigh, NC

What’s your biggest passion? 


Ashley street leap

Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? 

Dancing has always always been what I love to do and always will, but the business of dancing can be tough mentally, physically, and emotionally.  It’s especially hard when you pour your heart and soul into it without any other outlet except for maybe a “survival” job that you hate but that sustains you between dance jobs.  I got into fitness because it provides a great outlet from dancing.  I can have fun with both, and my focus has shifted to splitting my passion between the two.  At the end of the day I think it’s made me have a healthier relationship with the business of dance, too.

Ashley teaches high knees

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?  

Don’t let anyone intimidate you.

What’s your fitness fashion style?  

Funky, edgy, fun!

Ashley arm stretch

What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? 

It’s all about balance.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?  

Cheese…and red wine…

What quality do you really cherish about yourself?  

My drive!

Ashley high punch

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? 

I can move my left bottom eyelid muscle independently of any other muscle.

Anything else about you that I missed?  

Nope!  ;)

Ashley headshot

Broadway Stars Teamed Up With Fitness Professionals at LuluLemon To #FuelHappiness: Find Out What Went Down!

If you’ve seen the blog posts and pics this year, you know that Body Conceptions has created a strong connection with Fit for Broadway and its founder, Jane Jourdan. Jane writes about health and wellness in the Broadway community, and Mahri’s Broadway musical theater background connects perfectly with Jane’s mission.

Mahri’s most recent collaboration with Jane at lululemon in Soho celebrating “Fueling Happiness through Theatre and Dance” with cast members of the Broadway show, On Your Feet, was a huge success. Read Kathleen O’Neill’s piece and check out her pics documenting the fun-filled night. And stay tuned in the next year for even more Broadway events and exciting collaborations!


It was chilly the evening of the #FuelingHappiness event, but the hosts sure brought the heat to lululemon SoHo. Guests were treated to $20 gift cards upon their arrival and perused the endless racks of the highest quality athleisure. Their arms were piled high with clothes, and the super-friendly associates helped them choose the best options.

Fuel Nicole shopping

Once everyone was decked out in lululemon gear, it was time to get the party started. Clothing displays were pushed aside to expose a vast dance floor, and Latin music emitted through the speaker system. Jane, the mastermind behind the Fit For Broadway blog, brought the talented cast of the Broadway show, On Your Feet (Luis Salgado, Hector Maisonet, Brett Sturgis and Nina Larfarga) to lead a fun warm up.

Fuel Luis class

Our own Mahri of Body Conceptions pumped up the energy level with a high intensity cardio workout. Her uplifting tone of voice and encouraging comments kept everyone in the studio – dancers, yogis, and Broadway stars alike – completely motivated.

Fuel Mahri Inspire copy

Even the sales associates couldn’t help but take a break from closing up the registers to get in on the action.

Fuel Lulu guy copy 2

The lights dimmed and the music transitioned to a more calm and soothing sound for the cool down. The room radiated with a sense of relief, satisfaction, and happiness as everyone stretched out their limbs. There’s nothing better than that feeling you experience right after you’ve worked your body to its core and are giving it the nice stretch it deserves. But in this case, it DID get better with the help of Tiny Empire, which had a table of organic, raw, pressed juices set up and ready to be enjoyed.

Fuel Mahri dark copy 2

While the guests sipped on their refreshments, they scanned the displays of My Intent bracelets (handmade pieces that reflect various meaningful intentions) and Hickies (cool shoelace substitutes that turn any sneakers into slip-ons). Everyone was in great spirits, making new friends, and catching up with old ones. The raffle winners were announced, winning prizes that included a personalized shopping experience with LuluLemon SoHo and a gift card to Birch Coffee. No one went home empty handed because goodie bags filled to the brim with treats were handed out at the end of the evening.

Fuel gift bag copy

Liquid IVYuve , Maple WaterPerfect BarHaus Urban SkincareHickiesR.Evolución Latina

Then everyone circled up, and lululemon Soho Manager Erin reinstated the purpose behind the evening: To spread positive energy, kindness, and of course, to fuel happiness. It can be done in a number of ways, including donating your time to R.Evolucion Latina (an affiliate of Broadway Cares and Equity Fights AIDS) by teaching dance lessons to underprivileged artists. Gabriela Garcia was there as a representative, and told the heartwarming story of how the program came to be. She had lived her dream of performing on Broadway but was eager for more, so she decided to give back.

One by one, the cast members of On Your Feet also shared their touching stories. Although everyone faced different struggles, the one commonality was that each of them had experienced something preventing them from pursuing theater and dance as a full time career at one point in their lives. Yet each of them found the courage and strength to persevere. And now they’re all living their dream without regrets. Luis’ adorable son, Hikari, could not contain his excitement, and ran towards his father. Then he prompted Luis to get up and dance– it was absolutely precious!

Fuel Hikari circle copy 2

Jane could not have been more accurate in saying it’s hard to find a sense of community in the vast city of New York. But through theater and fitness, she has been able to find just that. And Mahri’s words also hit close to home. It’s easy to get consumed in a tunnel-vision mindset, only focusing on achieving one serious accomplishment after the next, while letting the world around you pass by. It is not until you take a moment to pick your head up and just look; become aware of the beauty that surrounds you every day and embrace it. Find what makes you truly happy and be fearless in chasing it. That’s what Mahri did, and she’s built not only a fitness empire, but a family. Clients look forward to BoCo classes and personal sessions because the trainers know more than just their names; they know their stories—and they’re actually friends. Fun events like this one are just the cherry on top of the cake.

Fuel huddle  copy 2