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!!

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: https://thedivorcierge.com/looking-to-start-dating-again/


Karen Bigman, works with individuals navigating divorce. After a long marriage and subsequent divorce, Karen started The Divorcierge (TheDivorcierge.com) 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 www.symbiopt.com or call (917) 338-6268!

Slow And Steady Wins The Race! Find Out How BoCo Trainers Stick to New Year’s Resolutions

Setting New Year’s resolutions for yourself is easy, but sticking to them long-term is anything but. We’ve all seen gyms become overcrowded in January, only to trickle back down to normal a few short weeks later. How do we solve this problem?
BoCo trainers, Mahri, Lauren and Nicole, have become experts in resolutions.  They have seen what works and what doesn’t for themselves and their clients, and we’ve asked them to share their secrets here on how to make resolutions and keep them long-term!
Mahri serious
What’s your resolution? My biggest resolution is to listen to my gut and to be as true to what I hear as possible.
What steps do you plan to take to achieve this? I plan to take as much time as possible really thinking about what’s good for me personally and what really inspires me about Body Conceptions.
What advice to you have for sticking to resolutions long-term? It’s extremely important to choose resolutions that are achievable for you. I would also recommend setting things up in your life that help you succeed. This might include rewarding yourself for staying focused, telling your friends what you are hoping to achieve, and breaking down your goals into as small, achievable parts as possible. Also recognize the things in your life that have a tendency to derail you.
What’s your resolution? This year I am aiming to be a little more self-assured and less self-critical. A lot of us, and many times women in particular, are so judgmental of ourselves but yet can be wonderfully encouraging and supportive of the people we love. My goal is to direct some of that kindness and compassion inwards.
What steps do you plan to take to achieve this?  The biggest thing for me will be reminding myself that I don’t have to be perfect. I also need to allow myself to say no to (or potentially disappoint) other people if it means giving myself needed “me time” to either do something I’m passionate about or to rest and recharge. Those little nagging voices in our own heads tend to disappear when we are rested and have created space for the things, and people, we love.
What advice do you have for sticking to resolutions long-term?  I think the best way to sick to a resolution long-term is start to with one goal at a time. Once you’ve conquered that one you can then move on to the next. Don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to accomplish too many things at once.
Did you have a resolution that you achieved in 2015?  Last year I challenged myself to eat vegan or vegetarian 4-5 days a week.
How did you achieve this? For me the key was going shopping at the beginning of the week and cooking at home. When I have food in the fridge I’m less likely to order out. Which is especially helpful after my long days when I’m more prone to ordering a burger and fries than walking to the grocery store to buy some fresh veggies. I still love my splurges but my body has been very happy getting a more plant-based diet. I plan on trying to stick to that regimen this year too.
What are your resolutions? My biggest resolution this year is to gain more perspective and try to focus on the big picture. I find that sometimes I sweat the small stuff too frequently and occasionally let little hiccups and bumps in the road upset me more than they should. Other resolutions I have are to schedule more “me” time, and to stay in better touch with old friends!
What steps do you plan to take to achieve them? My first resolution is all about just keeping peace of mind and trying to view life with less stress. I think it’s important to always have something to look forward to and channel your energy towards when things go less-than-perfectly or not as you planned. I also plan to go to one hot yoga class a week for more “me” time, and to reach out to a different old friend every weekend to catch up!
What advice to you have for sticking to resolutions long-term? Finding a sustainable schedule for your resolutions is KEY! So often we go all out when we set our minds to something, then we crash and burn or get sick of it. Taking a more gradual and practical approach is so important to maintaining a balanced life (and sanity!) as we strive for self-improvement.  I think having physical reminders are very effective – whether it’s a note on your refrigerator that reminds you to do something every time you walk past it, or an hour blocked off in your calendar devoted to your resolution.  Seeing something concrete helps to keep you motivated and prevents you from finding excuses!
Did you have any resolutions that you achieved in 2015? My resolutions last year were to expand my dance and fitness careers! I definitely reached this goal over the course of 2015.
How did you achieve these? I expanded my dance and fitness career by really putting myself out there. I was constantly applying to different jobs and gigs and attending auditions while keeping myself in shape and learning from professionals in the field. Eventually, some of my submissions turned into several jobs and amazing opportunities and experiences!

Are you overdoing it already? Stop!!

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Are You Overdoing It Already? Stop!!

Ok – you’re in it. Full-fledged. Back from your vacations and New Year’s parties and fully engulfed in your resolution activities. High-impact daily exercise, no carbs, no alcohol, full-restriction/maximum pain. Full-on!!

Are you seeing results? Chances are you’ve already seen some change. Are you sore, starving, craving sweets, a little bit cranky? Probably yes. Give yourself another few weeks of this pace, and something will need to give. And chances are that more will go with it.

I am not a naturally pessimistic person, and I truly believe in the power of will and conviction in most people. It’s great to commit to healthy change, especially after an especially indulgent holiday season.

The pitfall here, though, is the sheer intensity and breadth of the changes that many people try to make this time of year. It’s all about doing everything at peak intensity. All at once. And once one thing begins to crumble – maybe one or two little cupcakes at work look way too wonderful to resist – the thoughts creep in…”I might as well abandon this whole crazy thing.”

sweaty girl

Photo Credit

“I’m an all or nothing person.”

If you are the kind of person who needs to jump headlong into change to make it happen, take a minute to ask – “Am I the kind of person who needs to be strict with myself to get anything done?” “Will I feel like a failure if I cheat or miss one day of my new exercise schedule?”

If you say yes to either of these questions, you are likely in danger of halting everything if one thing goes wrong. Is this your pattern? Going full-on and then finding a month or two later that it all went by the wayside eventually?

You can do this!

Research has proven that habits don’t become habits until they have been repeated for enough time to become automatic. And your thought process is a major factor in your ability to overcome obstacles and stick with change for the long-term. If you’re in the midst of desperately trying to change but know it will eventually derail, don’t give up!! There are ways to adjust your approach and make this a New Year, New You for real!!

1) Pick a schedule that’s realistic. Chances are you can’t keep exercising 2 hours every day if that wasn’t your previous routine. Look at the week ahead, chart your exercise routine, and give yourself days of rest. See whether the schedule you set is something you would actually look forward to continuing every week.

2) Ask yourself whether your exercise and nutrition regimen makes you happy.  Do you look forward to your new routine? How do you feel afterwards? Soreness and physical struggle during the exercise and soreness can turn people away from their exercise routines before they see the positive benefits. Make sure you are taking classes or doing exercise that actually feels fun. Perhaps add amazing music to your running playlist. Look for instructors that inspire you. Choose classes that engage you and make you feel energized and happy when you leave!

3) Embrace failure.  Instead of berating yourself for “falling off the wagon,” welcome these moments as chances to learn more about yourself. Do you have the worst will-power in the middle of the day? Make sure you bring your own snacks for those 3pm cravings. Maybe re-examine your sleep schedule if you notice that you’re most hungry when you haven’t had enough sleep. And do you really hate eating salads every day? Stop forcing them down and look for other, tastier ways to get a healthy fix for lunch. The goal is to help you stay more health- focused in a way that truly works for you and no one else.

4) Plan ahead – and don’t forget the rewards!  All work and no play is a recipe for disaster. You need to build benchmarks and rewards for yourself that keep you motivated and help you see and measure your progress. Have trouble being consistent? Give yourself a spa day if you have managed to stick with your fitness schedule for two weeks. Finally kept process food out of your diet all week? Buy yourself a great fitness outfit. You don’t necessarily need to spend money — Even just allow yourself to relax or do an activity you absolutely love to do to celebrate all of your focus and dedication. After a while, the results of your dedication will become incentive enough!

In light of resolution season, we are so excited to be offering a New Year, New a You 6-week challenge this month. Our last challenge was an amazing success with some incredible results (think average 6.5 inches lost!) and we’re offering even more perks for our challengers this time around.

Since it’s clear that fulfilling your resolutions can be tricky, we believe that our challenge program provides a great way for our challengers to get into the habit of exercising regularly, see amazing results, and have fun in the process. Challengers also make great friends and connections within the Body Conceptions community.

Check us out, and sign up for the challenge at www.bodyconceptions.com. When you get to the scheduling program, click on the Events tab.

Sent from my iPhone

How to Stay Fit in the Winter Whether You’re Pregnant Or Not

When I first met Kelli and Lauren, the founders of Basq Skincare, I was impressed by their passion, expertise and thoughtfulness.  I was also immediately drawn to their high-quality skincare, which they originally developed for new and expecting mothers.  Their products smell amazing and make your skin feel silky, and I suggest using them well beyond pregnancy.  (Can you tell that I’m hooked?)

I was honored when Kelli and Lauren asked me to be part of their “People We Love” program.  I sent them some tips on how to stay fit in the colder months during pregnancy, and I found that many of those tips applied to women whether they were pregnant or not.  Check out the repost of my article below, and be sure to check out the range of Basq products while you’re at it!




How to Stay Fit in the Winter Whether You’re Pregnant Or Not

Whether you are pregnant or not, the changing seasons can require lots of change in your fitness routine. You may not be able to go outside as much, and the shortening days might affect your daily routine and make you feel a little less motivated to get up and exercise. You might need to seek new ways to exercise and not quite know where to begin. And on top of that, your body responds differently to cold weather than to warm weather.

So what do you do? The exciting reality is that new fitness classes and methods are popping up every day, and many of them are both safe and highly recommended during pregnancy. And whether you’re hard-core or looking for something more relaxing, there is some thing out there for everyone. Here are a few great tips to help you make the transition more smoothly and safely.

Drink More Water: Just because the weather feels colder and you don’t sweat as easily, you NEED to stay hydrated. Make sure you drink water before, during, and after you exercise. If you’re worried about needing a bathroom, try scoping about your surroundings beforehand (which you might want to do anyway!).

You Can Exercise Outside: Unless the air is extremely cold, you should be fine exercising outside. Most pregnant women’s bodies run hotter than before pregnancy, and they feel more comfortable in the cooler air. As mentioned earlier, make sure to continue drinking water, and dress in layers so that you can manage cold in addition to the warmth your body will generate as you exercise. Also be extra wary of navigating ice or snow since your center of gravity has changed, and know that it may be harder to navigate obstacles when it starts to get darker earlier in the day.

Warm Up Your Joints: Your joints can feel extra stiff in cold weather, which can lead to poor technique and injury if you don’t warm them up properly. If you are exercising outdoors, try doing a quick indoor warm-up first.   Avoid holding extreme or static stretches and instead move through your joints with a softer version of the exercise you’re about to do (like lifting each knee up and down, doing some gentle-side-to-side lunging, or circling your arms). You want to take your joints through their range of motion while increasing circulation and warmth in the muscles.

 If You Decide to Try Indoor Fitness Classes, Find Instructors Who Are Prenatal Certified: This seems like a no-brainer, but it could go such a long way for you. Many women who get general exercise guidelines from their doctors don’t know what specific exercises or positions they should avoid (or do!)during their pregnancy. And they don’t know what to expect from trimester to trimester. Take some time to consult with a fitness professional who’s an expert. Ask him or her what to avoid and also what kinds of exercise is the safest for you. You can use this information to help guide you across a range of classes and also make you feel more at ease when making fitness choices. And if you take a class from an instructor who is prenatal-educated, you will feel more comfortable pushing yourself knowing that your instructor will be looking out for you. Of course, make sure you get full clearance from your doctor before you exercise, and always tell your instructor’s that you’re pregnant!

Listen to YOUR Body and No One Else’s: Every woman has a different experience, and some exercises that work for some women can feel very uncomfortable for others. If you are looking for new indoor classes, make your choices based on YOUR history. Stick to the kinds of things you have done before, and don’t try something radically different for the first time during pregnancy. Don’t push yourself in a class if something feels wrong to you just because the pregnant person next to you seems to be fine. And perhaps you can push much harder than she can in other exercises. (I have a pregnant trainer in her third trimester who still loves teaching our dance cardio, while one of my private clients in the same stage stopped jumping up and down several months ago.) Your body tells you everything, and your best bet when diving into fitness classes is to do what your body craves and has experienced before.

Marissa Vicario: Teaching Her Clients to be “Holistically Hot…”

Through my work with Body Conceptions, I spend lots of time getting to know the wellness community in the city. I’m always looking for ways to connect our Body Conceptions clients with the best and most respected wellness professionals around (and I’m also always looking for ways to broaden my own horizons!).

Marissa Vicario was one of the first such people I met when I launched Body Conceptions 2 ½ years ago. She caught my attention because she had made a big change in her professional life from working in Public Relations to becoming a health coach. Similarly, I had left a graduate program in clinical neuropsychology to dance in the musical theater world many years ago — and I had never wanted to go back.

Marissa has become known for her articulate advice for women on achieving healthy relationships with food. She works with at-risk families, and she’s a great inspiration to other women looking to change their careers. She’s also a major force in the city’s female entrepreneur community.

It’s my pleasure to introduce Marissa to you now. Enjoy!!


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1) Could you talk a little bit about your work as a health coach? What do you do on a daily basis?

I’m a board-certified health and nutrition coach who helps women change their relationship with food. Through blogging, speaking, my online programs and one on one coaching, I inspire women to deliciously fuel their bodies to turbocharge their health and look their best without resorting to starvation, diets or calorie-counting.

2) Do you only talk to women about food? If not, what else?

Yes, I primarily work with women in the areas of food and nutrition. I also mentor women who want to make career changes like I did. I help them get on the right track to making that change.

3) You are so busy, and you’ve been featured in so many great articles and blogs. How do you find the time to be healthy?

Being healthy is a priority for me. If I don’t take care of myself then I won’t have the energy to do it all. I think there’s a misconception that being healthy has to take a lot of time. It doesn’t; only a commitment. When the commitment is there, you make it happen.

4) What made you decide to get into health coaching?

I’ve always loved fitness and I got to a point where I realized that if I wanted to be fit and healthy, it meant changing how I ate. So I started eating a whole foods diet and it changed everything for me. I was working full time in Public Relations for a tech start-up at the time and everyone on the office was around my age. They were all more interested in what I was eating for lunch everyday than my PR strategy. When I discovered health coaching, I knew that I had found my calling and dream job.

Marissa making smoothies

5) What’s your favorite part of your job?

I love speaking to groups about nutrition and inspiring as many women as possible to make healthy changes. It’s the best feeling in the world to make healthy living accessible to someone who is feeling overwhelmed or offer a new perspective to someone who may be struggling. I also love bringing this work to charity. I work with families in the most at-risk areas of NYC to teach them to make healthier choices.

6) What do you think makes you different from other health coaches?

The honest answer is that I’m me.

7) I always enjoy asking: Is there anything fun or interesting about you that most people don’t know?

At 13, I declared myself a vegetarian. I was a little activist and little did I know was paving my way in the world of food and nutrition early on!

8) How does someone get in touch with you if they want to use your services?

There’s an online form on my web site or email me at .


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Founder of Marissa’s Well-being and Health, Marissa Vicario is a NYC-based board certified health coach and healthy living expert who helps women transform their relationship with food. She shares her health secrets, get-fit tips and the cooking expertise that has inspired countless women to ditch the diet mentality and turbocharge their health to become holistically hot in a way that’s fun and fearless. Click here to download her e-magazine, How to Be Holistically Hot: A 30-Day Guide to Making Men Swoon and Your Friends Want What You Have.

Exercising Through Your Pregnancy: What to Do on the Lighter Days

This entry also appeared on FitBump360.com this week.  I am so honored to be connected with the FitBump community as one of their fitness experts.


It’s a fantastic idea to exercise during pregnancy. As long as you listen closely to your body, you might find that challenging yourself in your exercise helps you feel happier, more energetic, and more refreshed in your pregnancy.

It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you will need to honor your lighter days. Perhaps you’re feeling a little more tired, or you engaged in a heavy workout the day before and need to let yourself recover.

There are still things you can do on your slower days! As long as you have been cleared by your doctor and you know your body well, there are several great things that still help you strengthen your muscles and exercise your heart on a slightly slower and smaller scale.


Short Walks:

Walking is a great low-impact way to get some exercise, raise your heart rate a bit, and get some fresh air. Many of us don’t have the time to walk for 20-30 minutes at a time, but breaking up the time into two 10-15-minute walks can be equally effective. Just be sure to drink water, especially if the weather is warm.

Easy Planks:

If your body still feels okay doing planks, this is a great full-body exercise you can do at home – or anywhere! One of my favorite versions of a low plank (on your forearms) is starting with both knees down and lifting both knees together to the beat of music. You can also alternate touching each knee to the ground. Take breaks whenever you need!


Your hips can get pretty tight as your pregnancy progresses. I am personally a big fan of stretching while watching my favorite TV show. Next time you’re in your living room, try sitting on the ground with your feet together and your knees falling to each side. Lift up in your spine, then lean forward while coaxing your knees down to the ground. If you put your hands on your feet, try pushing each knee down with your elbows (gently!).

Arm Exercises:

Even if you are tired, there are some great arm exercises you can do while sitting down. Start by grabbing two full water bottles or even two larger soup cans. Hold one in each hand and reach your arms out to each side. Keeping your chest lifted, abs pulled in, and your shoulders anchored down the back, try these easy arm exercises:

  • Circle your arms back 20x, then circle them forward 20x
  • Keeping your arms outstretched to the sides with your palms facing forward, pulse the arms up and down 20x
  • Lean forward and reach both arms behind your body with your palms facing the ceiling. (Keep your chest reaching forward so that you’re not hunching your shoulders.) Keeping your arms straight and lifted behind you, pulse them up and down 40x.

Rest and Breathe:

Sometimes rest is the best thing you can do when you’re pregnant. Your body will tell you when to slow down, and it’s a good idea to listen. As you get farther along in your pregnancy, you might find that your breathing becomes a little restricted, and you might even feel a little dizzy sometimes. Use your down-time as a chance to sit quietly and focus on taking some deep and wide breaths. Imagine filling a balloon all the way down to the base of your back. Imagine that this balloon fills out wide to each side of your low back like wings.

Enjoy these exercises, and remember: always listen to what your body needs!

How Do I Get the Most Out of Private Training?

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How Do I Get the Most Out of Private Training?

When you decide to start private training, you can – and should – spend a lot of time seeking out the fitness method and the trainer that work best for you. Admittedly, these are big decisions and shouldn’t be taken lightly. There are a lot of factors that go into determining what kind of training method and training style work best for you. In the end, it’s all about finding the right personal fit regardless of what friends or popular media tell you to do.

But what if you’ve found what you’re looking for? What if you’ve chosen the right method and the right trainer? Is your work finished? What could possibly go wrong?

There’s no secret that the effort you put into your training leads to the results you see. Ok fine. But can you heighten those results even more? How can you get the most out of your trainer and the most out of each session? Are there questions or preparations you should consider? Or should you just show up and see what your trainer can do for you?

The tips I am providing here are based on my own experiences working with a range of great clients over the years. I definitely notice that there are ways my clients can get the best out of me, and I think it’s important to explore how and why this can happen.

So how can I make my training sessions more efficient and effective?

Here goes…


1) Start with an open mind. It’s very possible that you’ve had other trainers in your life. You may have focused on certain things with those trainers that worked for you at the time. Our bodies, life stages, and needs change over the years, and it’s possible that your next trainer will have a perspective and approach that’s completely new to you. Try to embrace this and see how your body feels with your new workouts. Never be afraid to stop training if it doesn’t work for you — but being completely open to someone and something new could be an amazing experience for you.

2) Ask questions. Getting to the bottom of your trainer’s philosophy will help you understand why he or she has created your program. These questions might also help you understand the philosophy behind the workout and how the muscles are being targeted. The answers you hear might change the way you approach your sessions, and they might even help you pay more attention to the way your body is responding.

3) Think about your energy. It’s amazing how the energy I receive from a client feeds the energy I put back into a session. Even without realizing it, I can move in less energetic or inspired ways with someone who is dragging. As a trainer, I totally understand that we all have those days, but try approaching your sessions with more energy and see how you it changes your experience. You attitude will make such a difference, and your trainer will also relate to you surprisingly differently.

4) Speak up! Your trainer can’t read your mind. Always tell your trainer when you feel any kind of sharp pain or when you experience anything that alarms you. Also be sure to give your trainer feedback on the exercises that don’t suit your body (and also on the exercises you love). Your trainer needs to learn over time what to avoid and also what to emphasize with you to get the best results.

5) Let your trainer be the expert. Once you are vocal about the kinds of exercises that don’t feel right for your body, also try to recognize that your trainer is there to push you beyond your limits. We all know how hard it is to go to the gym and motivate ourselves. Let your trainer be that motivating voice – and also the expert on what will change your body.

6) With time, don’t be afraid to ask for something new. You can get very comfortable with your trainer. Your body can start getting too used to your weekly workouts, and your results can plateau. You need to shake things up and surprise your muscles (and your mind!). Don’t be afraid to ask for new things from your trainer, and be specific about the new goals you’re hoping to achieve. I believe that variety is key, and I love being challenged by the changing needs and requests of my clients. Change can breathe new life into your sessions and lead to some surprising new results.


At the end of the day, private training is your opportunity to get amazing, individualized fitness attention. Know that you have every right to ask for what you need, and also know that you are asking an expert to come to you and do what he or she does best.

Private training has been my favorite part of my business, and I am grateful for the wonderful connections and lifelong friends I have made. I also want to continue growing and improving, and it’s the feedback I’ve gotten from my clients – both in and out of our sessions together – that has helped me do so. Never underestimate the roll you play in your private training relationship!

Simple Form Fixes that can Prevent Injury and Increase Results

When people ask me about excellent trainers in the city, Brooke Marrone comes to mind over and over.  Brooke has a huge roster of private clients in the city, and she is incredibly thoughtful in her approach to each person.  She is exceptionally good at addressing injury and is known for her injury-prevention expertise.

Like Brooke, I am also obsessed with injury-prevention.  I felt like a great way to approach injury prevention in my blog was to ask Brooke for her thoughts on the best ways to execute some basic exercises more safely and effectively.  You’ll see many versions of these exercises in my own classes and in many others across the city.  Hopefully Brooke’s suggestions will help you approach them with more knowledge and care – and will help you get the most out of your overall fitness routines, wherever you go.





Simple form fixes that can prevent injury and increase results

– by Brooke Marrone

Proper form is vital to staying injury-free and keeping your body fit – not just for right now but for the rest of your life. Working hard will not get you as far if you’re not working intelligently. Some of the most basic exercises are often the ones most commonly done wrong.

Here are some simple form fixes that can help prevent injury and allow you to get the most out of your fitness routine.


One of the best ways to tone your lower body. I am a big fan of both the front and back lunge. A proper lunge engages everything from your glutes, quads, and hamstrings to your core.  It increases hip flexibility and can also improve your balance. Unfortunately, when done wrong, the knees, neck and low back can sustain unnecessary stress. Try doing a set in front of the mirror or with a friend to see if you are doing the exercise correctly.

  1. Think 90-degree angles! Step forward or back with one leg, lowering your hips until both knees are bent at about 90 degrees
  2. Make sure that you look forward, keeping your shoulders back and abs pulled in while maintaining a straight spine
  3. In a front lunge, make sure not to lean your upper body forward.  This causes the front knee to go beyond the toes and puts strain on your knee, low back and neck. While performing a back lunge, follow a similar protocol. Make sure you step back far enough to allow your hips to get a proper stretch and avoid straining the knee

Tricep Dips:

Tricep dips are a great way to work your triceps that you can do just about anywhere! Common mistakes with the tricep dip include bending the elbows beyond a 90-degree angle and also bending the elbows out to the side rather than behind the body. Doing this puts strain on your elbows, causes your shoulders to rotate forward, and ultimately takes the work away from the muscles you are targeting.

  1. Place your hands shoulder-width apart on a chair or bench
  2. Extend your legs out in front of you with both feet on the floor (or if more advanced, with the legs out straight)
  3. Slide your butt slightly off the chair, slowly bending your elbows to about a 90-degree angle. Keep your shoulders down and back throughout the exercise, and make sure to keep your elbows straight back instead of angling out to the side
  4. Straighten your elbows, and return to the starting position. If you have trouble maintaining proper form, begin with a more shallow angle and work your way into the 90-degree bend


My favorite exercise! Planks are one of the most effective ways to strengthen your core, and they can also help reduce back pain when done properly. The most common mistakes include shifting your body weight forward, putting too much work on your already overworked shoulders, keeping your hips too high or too low, and bringing your elbows too wide (which puts a great deal of stress on your rotator cuff muscles).

  1. Think belly button to spine! Make sure to always keep a straight line from your head to your toes
  2. Keep your elbows directly under your shoulders with your weight shifted out of your neck and back into your heels
  3. Keep your legs strong and straight with your head a natural extension of your spine
  4. Form first always! Work your way into your plank starting with 30 seconds and gradually increasing your time as you become stronger

* One of my favorite tricks is the water bottle plank. Have a friend place a water bottle on your low back in line with your spine. If you keep the bottle from falling you are most likely maintaining proper form.


I am not sure how this rumor got started, but it’s widely believed that a proper push up means that you need to get your body as close as you can to the floor… period. The truth is that a proper push-up involves going as close to the floor as you can WHILE MAINTAINING GOOD FORM. Push-ups are meant to work your chest, shoulders, triceps and core. They are not meant to hurt your neck, low back and shoulders. Push-ups can be an amazingly effective exercise to tone your upper body, but they can also do serious damage when done wrong.

  1. Work your way into your perfect push-up, and begin on your knees if you need to. Start by going a few inches towards the floor while maintaining proper form until you feel strong enough to go a little further
  2. Remember when the kid from Jerry Maguire said the human head weights 8 lbs? Well you don’t need those 8 lbs stressing your low back! Make sure you keep your body in a straight line for the duration of your push up
  3. Similar to the plank, you want to make sure that you don’t drop your hips or pop them too high up to the sky. Sagging your hips will stop working your core and will directly stress your low back. Popping your hips will take the work out of your core and will put too much strain on your shoulders. In a proper push up, your weight should be evenly distributed
  4. Make sure to keep your hands slightly wider than your shoulders right outside your chest, keeping your shoulders down and back
  5. Inhale as you go down, and exhale as you come back up



Brooke Marrone launched her highly regarded private training studio in 2008.  She is known for creating unconventional fitness programs that are fun and manageable.  In fact, Vogue.com has noted that Brooke can “cure gym junkies of treadmill addiction.”  Brooke has an extensive knowledge of musculoskeletal health and injury prevention.  She collaborates with New York City’s top physical therapists to develop sustainable systematic approaches that allow her to train clients recovering from injuries that would otherwise impede the ability for exercise.  Brooke also “understands how to keep clients from injuring themselves while encouraging them to do more than they ever thought possible.”

Brooke hails from Worcester, Massachusetts. She was a three sport Varsity athlete, played Division 1 NCAA field hockey at the University of Rhode Island, and served as a group instructor at Arizona State University. She also trained under one of Boston’s most acclaimed personal trainers. Brooke’s certifications include Personal Training, Pilates and Group Fitness.