Photos by Kathleen O’Neill
Brittany teaches her classes with the biggest smile — and you can’t help but become carried along by her energy and enthusiasm!
We struck gold again with an instructor like Brittany Hillyer. A sweet and modest person, she barely mentions her impressive background as a former New York City Ballet dancer (unless you ask!). But you can see her pedigree in the care she takes with her classes and the love she brings to movement. You will enjoy finding out more about her life and background below — and be sure to check out her next 7am Wednesday Power 45 class!
Full name: Brittany Alana Hillyer
Where did you grow up? Monroe, GA
What’s your biggest passion? I would say performing, whether it’s on a stage, in a studio or teaching a class, that amazing adrenaline rush is still the same.
Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? I have! I moved here at 16 to attend the School of American Ballet and went on to perform with the New York City Ballet for four years. That was my first career and a lifelong goal. I was extremely one track minded which was great! I realized as you have more experiences with age it’s tough to suppress curiosity for other interests. I decided to transition into another career and enrolled full time at Hunter College to study film and media.
Fitness was a natural progression for me. I can still express myself the way I know best, through dance and music while also finishing my bachelors degree.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger? Have more fun and take a step outside your bubble every once in a while! It’s not going to kill you
What’s your fitness fashion style? I’m really in to the high waisted leggings and crop tops!
What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? 90% of the things you worry about never happen. Drink water!
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? Ridiculous amounts of frozen yogurt and or Levain cookies.
What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I would say my positivity, I truly feel there is a positive side and something to learn from everything that happens.
What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? I can move my ears up and down on their own.
Anything else about you that I missed? Nope! Just come take my class at 7am every Wednesday!! It’s early, but I promise you’ll have a better day!
Photos by Kathleen O’Neill
Note from Mahri~
When you are near Sarah Beymer, you can’t help but feel her energy, warmth and positivity. She embodies the spirit of encouragement that is so important to me at Body Conceptions, and she brings so much fun to her classes as well. If you haven’t tried one of them yet — run, before they sell out!! We are lucky to have her, and you will feel lucky to experience her joyful and challenging workout.
*Sarah Beymer teaches BoCo Bootcamp every Wednesday night at 6pm. Look out for her guest subbing appearances as well.
Where did you grow up? I’m a proud Pacific Northwester that grew up in the Seattle area.
What’s your biggest passion? My two greatest passions include performing and bringing joy to others.
Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? I always knew I was going to pursue dancing professionally while growing up. Conversely, my education was also very important to me, so I made the decision after high school to attend college first and soon graduated with a degree in Global Business from the University of Redlands in southern California. While in college, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Milan, Italy for both semesters of my junior year, which in turn has been one of my most valued experiences to date!
After college, I wasted no time and made the permanent move to Los Angeles to begin pursuing my dream full time. All in all, the City of Angels did not disappoint! The talent, creativity, and drive within the city gave me a great place to continue training and begin my career. I began traveling and performing company work throughout the country, and made my debut on the big screen in Fox’s Glee, Disney Channel’s Shake it Up, and the remake of Annie. While I’m so grateful for all the talented dancers I met in the commercial dance world of Los Angeles, I’m excited to experience the different flare that New York City brings to the industry. NYC has always been a place I wanted to explore, and I knew it would be an instant regret later in life if I didn’t take the time to experience it now. There’s just no other place like it!
As I have always lived an active lifestyle, transitioning into a fitness career has been on the back of my mind in recent years. It’s been a matter of finding the right method with the appropriate supportive and encouraging environment. With that said, I fell in love with Body Conceptions after my first class! I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of this incredible team of individuals with such an aspiring mission behind its practice.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger? I wish I realized I didn’t have to drive myself crazy trying achieve an ‘A’ on every project and test in school.
What’s your fitness fashion style? I love bright colors!! My staples include a pair of high-waste leggings, fun sports bra, loose fitting tank top, and the ‘dancer’ in me tends to have a flannel close by to layer on and off.
What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? Listen to your body!! This has been crucial for longevity as a professional dancer. When your body is faced with something that doesn’t feel right, there is most likely a reason for it. It’s important to make adjustments and modifications as needed. Your body is continually changing, growing, and yes, aging too, and every day is different from the one before.
Consequently, your BRAIN will often tell you that your body is weaker than it actually is….it’s all about pushing yourself beyond what your brain thinks it can do, but honoring your body when it believes it has reached its limit.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? SWEET TREATS!!! I have always had the BIGGEST sweet tooth! I tend to have at least one piece of chocolate after breakfast, lunch, and dinner….life’s short, right? :)
What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I’ve always been one to appreciate the little things in life.
What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? I have an obsession with dough…..cookie dough, pizza dough, cake batter, pastry dough….its quite bizarre
Anything else about you that I missed? Favorite things include sunflowers, parks, outdoor markets, biking along the beach, festivals, live music, DANCING, tailgating, quality time with friends and family, traveling, hiking, learning and experiencing new things, and a cold beer on a Friday night :)
Note from Mahri~
I love running challenges because they give me such great opportunities to meet new people and also witness some amazing accomplishments. I exercise for a living (so it’s easy for me to make it happen every day), but I am always so impressed when I see our challengers truly commit to their workouts with us and get stronger and stronger with each passing week.
We have not traditionally named our second place winners, but I felt that BOTH C. Lo and Natasha put in a tremendous amount of work and saw beautiful results. And they were both such wonderful people to have in our classes. I feel so happy to consider both of them parts of our BoCo family – for this challenge and beyond!
Meet our amazing winner, C. Lo!
Tell us about yourself! I’m the real C.Lo even though I can’t sing as well. I’m originally from the South Shore in Massachusetts (yes, I pronounce my “r’s” and yes, I pronounce “room” like “rum”) and have been in NYC for about four years. I love my bunny Herman (www.instagram.com/professor.herman), animation (watching and creating), and putting an egg on food.
Describe your career and how you originally got into the industry! I manage operations and accounts in the printing industry – we print just about anything on paper from invitations to menus to napkins to art reproductions. I moved to NYC unemployed and applied to as many jobs as I could. I was hired as a project manager and have been in the industry ever since. I am also launching an Etsy shop soon with my friend Meredith (http://www.mgniles.com/) that will combine our love of print, graphic design, and illustration. Keep your eyes open for it!
How did you find out about Body Conceptions’ challenge? I go to Julia’s Monday class every week, and she initially told me about the #LoveYourself #LoveYourBody Challenge, but I was traveling a lot and also was admittedly a little intimidated. When this challenge came up, she again encouraged me to try it, and I am so glad I did!
What kept you motivated throughout the 4 weeks? My biggest motivator was my teammates and all the BoCo trainers (especially my team leader Julia!) I’m pretty shy in workout classes but all the trainers try to meet everyone and make you feel part of the group immediately. I also got to know some of the girls in the challenge, and they really motivated me to take more classes when I didn’t want to (like doubling up on classes in one day, ugh!), or to keep those weights up when my arms were drooping. I wouldn’t have done as much without their support, and I’m grateful for BoCo for building such a great community.
My friends, employees, and family were amazing too. Everyone was giving me a lot of support and as cheesy as this sounds, their enthusiasm really energized me to go to class when I had a long work day.
How did it feel when you found out you won? Incredible and really shocking. I don’t ever win anything that involves physical exertion or self control, ha! I knew a lot of girls were working very hard, so I wasn’t even thinking about winning. I was most surprised at the amount of inches I lost. I guess I wasn’t paying enough attention during my weekly measurements, but I was stunned when I heard the final numbers. I kept thinking I must have heard the results wrong!
What are you going to do now that the challenge is over? Start eating cheese again! But I am still going to continue BoCo, although I might go three times a week instead of five or six. Now that I know I can get stronger and lose inches with this workout, I don’t want to stop!
What do you do for fun when you’re not working or working out? I love reading, drawing, playing video games, checking out new restaurants with friends, watching Netflix – pretty much anything that involves sitting on my butt and not moving, haha!
What’s your favorite BoCo exercise? Arms and legs! I think these exercises are really fun, and I love the burn. The movements are always very interesting – who knew moving your leg in and out on a small slider could hurt so good?!
How does BoCo compare to other workouts you’ve tried? What makes it special? I’ve tried so many workouts (and diets and all the “fads” that come out), but I got hooked on BoCo after my first class, which, perhaps fatefully, was also the first class my Team Leader Julia taught! The trainers are all so nice and really try to get to know you. I truly feel like they are there to help you with your goals instead of just going through the motions of teaching a class. It motivates you to give it your all versus just doing the minimum. Also I love how the classes are structured. Not only are the workouts just the length of one song, but they are broken up so you’re not doing all the cardio or toning at once. It’s the only class I’ve taken so far that is fun and works out my whole body. Everywhere burns – even muscles I didn’t know I had!
What advice do you have for future challengers to succeed? Here are the four things that helped me!
Firstly, it’s important to get a comfortable, fun outfit to wear and nice sneakers! This seems really obvious, but I never really believed it until I did it. It seems silly to spend money on that, but I could not get into my workouts when I was wearing things that didn’t fit or move right and had sneakers with no support. You’ll be working out a lot so it’s worth the investment.
My second piece of advice would be to really push yourself and think in increments. When you’re doing the seat section and think you can’t possibly lift your leg up anymore, keep telling yourself you’ll do just five more, and soon you’ll start hearing the count down. And anyone can do 8 lifts!
As far as dieting, I didn’t want to go all out because I wanted to keep sane during the month, so I told myself I would just cut one thing out. I chose my biggest weakness: CHEESE! I did not realize how much cheese I ate until I stopped eating it. Now I am very happy it’s back in my life, but I am trying not go crazy with it as I used to.
Lastly, really take advantage of the community. My team joked that we saw each other more than our own friends. But it will be true, so get to know the others. It’s not only nice to have personal cheerleaders in class but also people to commiserate with!
Thank you, C Lo!!
Now meet our impressive, close runner up, Natasha!
What kept you motivated throughout the 4 weeks? What motivated me was my big Vegas trip coming up in September and the support of my teammates.
What’s your favorite BoCo exercise? I love all the classes, but if I had to pick one, I would say the Sculpting class was my favorite.
What do you do for fun in your free time? I love going to the beach, outdoor activities, and enjoying the weather..
Note from Mahri~
Sarah Fink is one of the sweetest, loveliest people you will meet – and we were lucky to nab her for our instructor team. She’s smart and extremely concerned about how she can help others and be the best she can be in everything she does. Needless to say, I’m a huge admirer!!
*Don’t miss Sarah Fink’s debut as a BoCo Group Class Instructor tomorrow morning, Friday July 8th at 9:30am at Adelante Studios!
Full name: Sarah Kaye Fink
Where did you grow up? Philadelphia!
What’s your biggest passion? Being active, whether that means dancing improv in my shower, dancing onstage, or going for a hike or run outside when I’m traveling.
Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? Dance has always been my first love, I think partly because music is so visceral for me, and I continue to do freelance dance work now. Fitness was a natural extension of my dance career and my perpetual desire to move. So I wouldn’t really say my career has changed directions so much as shifted focus. One of the biggest differences for me has been the change in emphasis from myself as an artist to helping other people. As a performer, by necessity you spend so much time concentrating on details and asking yourself questions like “Did I do that step correctly? Am I communicating this story effectively? Am I human or am I dancer?” When you’re a trainer you have to look at a bigger picture, and your questions change a bit: “What can I do to help my clients have a better understanding and awareness of their own bodies? Am I helping them to feel like they are becoming the strongest and healthiest versions of themselves?” It’s so wonderful to be a facilitator and witness to that happening for a person.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger? Most people are more interested in seeing you as a person than whether you are some arbitrary version of “perfect.”
What’s your fitness fashion style? I like a balanced silhouette that plays a little bit with textures. Function and comfort come first but it’s always fun to throw in a mesh top or leggings with a strip of surprising material like a faux leather. Also, I tend to run around a lot in the city, so I value an ensemble that wears equally well with sneakers and nonathletic accessories so I can transition easily between fitness and other activities.
What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? You cannot solve a problem by worrying about it. I have to remind myself of this one all the time!
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? I don’t like to associate guilt with pleasure! The way I see it, when you make a choice that’s not considered the better one you’ve already made the choice so don’t feel bad about it, just enjoy! Pleasure is an important part of life. Two of my favorite pleasures in moderation are a medium rare cheeseburger and a chocolate milkshake.
What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I try to be a caring and observant listener as a friend. It’s important to me that my friends and family know they can count me among their network of support. I also think it’s worth mentioning that part of having these qualities is knowing how to be available while still giving someone their space. I think I generally have good judgment about when to do that.
What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? I have a thing for aquariums and zoos. The way animals move and behave is fascinating to me! At times it may inspire my own dance movement…
Anything else about you that I missed? Yes, you missed that I am a budding gardener and I have a tendency to make bad puns.
Note from Mahri~
When Emily Kammeyer comes to class, you notice her. Not just because of her statuesque physique and confidence that emenates from her at all times (it does), but she dresses – and accessorizes – amazingly well! It’s no surprise that she specializes in accessories, from blogging (www.accessoriesgal.com) to crafting her own jewelry and headpieces (E.Kammeyer Accessories). Her work is uniquely stunning– I have a necklace of hers that’s earned compliments every time I’ve worn it!
Emily brought so much athleticism and energy to our #StrongForSummer challenge. I’m especially thrilled that her training with us helped prepare her for the adventurous rock climbing experience she had at Joshua Tree. Read about her experience below — and check out her beautiful work, too!
Words from Emily~
What drives you? For me, it’s the thrill of a new adventure. I live for trying new things, pushing my limits and feeling the rush of adrenaline. On my recent trip to Palm Springs I decided to spend a day rock climbing in Joshua Tree with my husband. Now, I’ve rock climbed many times before, but nothing quite like these conditions.
As prep for our trip I decided to try out a new workout called Body Conceptions. BoCo, as many call it, is a workout designed to create a lean and sculpted body like a dancer. What I fell in love with was the complete muscle exhaustion, serious sculpting, and overflowing positivity you find in every class.
There are a few different classes you can take at BoCo, but my favorite is the classic. It was great prep for rock climbing because it mixes cardio and sculpting into one perfect hour long class. The best/worst part is called the seat section. It’s 15 minutes of exhausting backside work that leave you feeling like you may never lift your legs again. But let me tell you, it really helped with my rock climbing skills. Your legs and butt are what propel you up the rock, and thanks to that exhausting seat section, I was ready.
Now a bit about our climb. Joshua Tree is composed of granite rock formations. What I learned to love about this, is your rock climbing shoes really stick to a granite surface. Most of the climbing I’d done previously involved leisurely climbs with lots of hand holds. Well, this was a bit different. I came to the shocking realization on these climbs that there weren’t many hand holds at all. This is where I learned how to smear, a technique used in slab climbing. Smearing is where you press your shoe into the rock to propel yourself up. Most of the time on these climbs my hands were just flat against the rock and you had to trust your feet to keep you ascending. It was an amazing experience, terrifying and exhilarating experience.
If you’re thinking about heading to Joshua Tree for a rock climbing trip, I highly recommend our guide Castle Rock Climbing School. We learned so much on this trip and left with fatigued muscles and smiles on our faces.
Words and (select) photos provided by Emily Kammeyer.
It is a universal human desire to be healthy and happy; and essentially “live well.” However, it is easy to allow everyday stresses to interfere with our efforts to achieve “wellness.” This is the spirit through which Global Wellness Day was born. On the second Saturday of June each year, groups of people throughout the world dedicate this day to motivating one another to take action in the pursuit of a healthy lifestyle.
Global Wellness Day is a non-profit social project dedicated to encouraging people to pause and ask themselves the question, even if for just one day of the year, “How can I live a healthier and better life?” This ultimately steers people towards living well and making peace on both individual and societal levels.
Launched in Turkey in 2012, this special day was already officially celebrated in 73 countries by 2015. It has grown to include worldwide fitness, dance and spa/hotel participation, including Body Conceptions, and Mahri is excited to be a “Key Supporter.”
The #BoCoTribe celebrated this morning with a BoCo Classic class that had an international flair, led by Julia at Stepping Out Studios. After the dance-cardio jams, arm sculpting exercises, a killer seat series, and a final stretch, we enjoyed refreshments provided by Just Salad and Bare Snacks. These smoothies and apple chips made for the perfect healthy post-workout snack!
If you missed out on the BoCo Global Wellness Day fun today, don’t worry! You can watch the morning unfold on our Snapchat at @BodyConceptions. And remember to say, “yes,” to living well!
Words and Photos by Kathleen O’Neill
I get it – and I support anyone’s quest to achieve the best version of themselves on any level. I ask, though – How many of us ever feel like we have truly “arrived?” That we REALLY feel good in our bathing suit or are fully ready to hit the summer streets confident and truly beautiful in our skin? Sadly, so many of us don’t get there. And it has nothing to do with our bodies.
I have been open about my own journey this past year to find my own path and embrace changes that were true to me. I pushed back more than ever to protect my needs in the business (and personal life incidentally), and it felt amazing. From a fitness perspective, protecting my physical needs was another lesson learned. I dove so deeply into our client training and events that I developed some new and uncharacteristic injuries. I realized very quickly that I needed to put my body and myself first to be the best trainer and (injury-free) instructor I could be. This was not natural for me since I had always had a stoic “show-must-go-on” mentality. But in truth, there wouldn’t be a show without a strong body!
So what do I mean by strong? I mean finding your groove, reaching new heights with your body, feeling capable and beautiful, and protecting your health and personal balance. And it’s my hope that a challenge like ours can help all of us go into the summer with the strength to reject the notion of the “perfect” summer body — to stand up for ourselves in more way than one, and shine from knowing that we are all capable of amazing things.
Get to know Ashley Nelson – and our wellness morning at Bandier!
Photos by Kathleen O’Neill
Ashley Nelson came into my life during our Valentine’s #LoveYourBody #LoveYourSelf challenge. She entered the challenge full-force, diving into the classes and tackling the method with so much positive energy and enthusiasm. Even with her tiny frame, Ashley saw incredible results and now has the kind of ab definition you can’t help but compliment. She’s a big champion of our challenges and will be jumping right back into the next one coming up in June.
Ashley authors the blog, Impossibly Imperfect (www.impossiblyimperfect.com), a mix of travel, fashion, and lifestyle adventures from around the country and world – capturing images and stories that are exciting, effortless, stylish, and of-the-moment. I was excited when she suggested that we partner together to host a wellness event at Bandier.
Below are moments caught by our photographer, Kathleen O’Neill, at our early-morning event on May 11th. Studio B at Bandier was the perfect location for our class with its huge, light-filled room, plus plenty of space for post-class mingling and eating. We had incredible gift bags, snacks, and life-saving coffee. And the girls at Bandier couldn’t have been sweeter. This was a morning I won’t forget for a long time.
Class started with a full-body warmup, pumping music, and lots of jumping.
It was amazing how much everyone in the room focused and went deeper into their form despite the early hour.
Our thighs were screaming in our deep lunges and squat jumps.
The class ended with a stretch and breathing series.
Our acrobatic Nicole hit her mark after class!
We let loose, fueled by caffeine!
I couldn’t have been happier, surrounded by great energy, great friends, and my amazing instructors. Shown here with my dear friend, Allegra Cohen, and my new (and also dear!) friend, Ashley Nelson!
This was quite a group. I would do it all again any time!
Wanna join our next challenge? Here are the deets!!
BoCo’s #StrongforSummer Express Challenge
a focused, 4-week program designed to help you get healthy, strong and confident for the summer.
What Is It??
• Unlimited classes for 4 weeks — June 1st -June 28th
• Measurement of your progress
• A 90-minute BoCo intensive to kick you into high gear!
• Weekly wellness tips
• Triple points with our favorite local rewards partners
• Weekly featured wellness services and prizes
• A shopping party at Lolë’s Soho store
• Grand Prizes for our winner!
Last season’s winner lost over 13 inches — 5 inches off her waist alone!!
$320 (Only $290 if you sign up by 5/20!)
Here are some great posts from Ashley documenting her challenge experience:
Words & photos by Kathleen O’Neill
In the spirit of Mother’s Day, we teamed up with Randi Zinn of Beyond Mom to celebrate female relationships on Sunday, May 1st at 10:00 AM.
Guests brought their mothers, sisters and/or girlfriends for a morning of fitness and empowerment at Athleta’s Flatiron studio.
Mahri taught a killer BoCo class that got everyone sweating and smiling together, followed by a discussion led by Randi about the importance of women in our lives.
Overall, it was the perfect affair that allowed guests to take a step back from their busy lives and appreciate the value of the special women in their lives.
Julia is the nicest person. When you meet her, you feel instantly comfortable and happy to be around her. This is a quality I seek in all of my instructors, and I felt so lucky to have found this in Julia. What most people don’t realize, however, is that she teaches an extremely challenging and exciting class. She will push you hard and give you something different each time you step into her classroom. In addition to her talent as a teacher, Julia has a keen understanding of the body and how to challenge it safely – even during pregnancy – which makes her such a strong trainer.
I am extremely proud to welcome Julia to our Body Conceptions team and to introduce her to you here. (You’ll learn lots of things you might have never expected.) Be sure to try one of her wonderful classes, and get to know her a bit, too — she’s fantastic!
Full name: Julia Catherine Neto
Where did you grow up? Attleboro, MA
What’s your biggest passion? Dancing and choreographing
Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? I’m still in the beginning phases of my career, but starting a career in fitness was not something I originally intended. I had always planned to focus on dancing first, but as my passion for fitness grew, I discovered Body Conceptions and it was the perfect blend of both! My work with Body Conceptions is definitely my focus right now, but I am lucky to be able to keep up my dancing at the same time.
What do you wish you knew when you were younger? I wish that I knew that people are generally nicer and more accepting than you might think, and you don’t have to be afraid to be yourself and show who you really are.
What’s your fitness fashion style? I tend to go for form fitting clothes that I feel accentuate my best features. I also like to look neat and put together, because I believe the better you look, the better you feel!
What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? One of my favorite pieces of advice was actually a quote that hung on the wall of the studio I grew up dancing in, that read, “Some succeed because they are destined to, but most succeed because they are determined to.” This quote has stuck with me through so many phases of my life, because it reminds me that dedication and determination are all that you need to achieve your dreams.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure? That would have to be nachos! My friends know me as a nacho connoisseur, and they are definitely my favorite treat!
What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I think that I am a very driven person, and I am always pushing myself to take on new challenges and accomplish new goals. I try to encourage the people around me to be the same way, and I support them as best I can.
What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? One thing people should probably know about me is that I am obsessed with my cat named Jimi! I am always sharing photos of him and other cats, and I’m just a major cat person in general.
Anything else about you that I missed? My family is absolutely everything to me. I am super close with my parents and I know that I would be nowhere without their endless love and support.