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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!

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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Our Newest Superstar Instructor: Nicole Picard

We noticed Nicole right away when she auditioned for us.  Her technique was fabulous, and she had a resumé that was spot-on.  But what really sold us was her sweetness, charisma, musicality – and ENERGY!  She’s the one jumping the highest in the room, and her movement style is funky, cool, and fun.

Nicole agreed to answer my questions for this interview.  Her answers give you some great insight into her background and what makes her such a great BoCo trainer.  Make sure you find her on the schedule, and run to her class.  You’ll have a blast!

~Mahri

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Full name: Nicole Picard

Where were you born?  Hartford, CT

Where did you grow up?  Suffield, CT

What’s your biggest passion?  This one’s pretty obvious but… DANCING! It’s been a constant throughout my entire life, and for me, it’s the best shortcut to happiness. Whether it be dancing around in my tiny living room, or performing in front of thousands, I always feel like the best and truest version of myself when I’m dancing.

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Tell me about your career. Have you changed directions? If so, why? Although my career is just in the beginning phases (I graduated from college just a year and half ago), I have shifted directions a little. After graduation, I decided I wanted to pursue dance professionally, and immediately landed a job dancing for the Brooklynettes, the dance team for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets. I loved performing center court at the Barclays Center throughout the 2014-15 season home games and had a blast interacting with fans! When the season ended, I got involved working in fitness and found that the immediate positive feedback I received from clients was so rewarding. Although I had so much fun working in entertainment and am still dancing professionally on the side, my career has shifted more towards working in fitness because the feeling of helping others become healthier and happier is even more rewarding to me. I especially love working for Body Conceptions because I am able to combine my utmost passions of dancing, fitness, and helping others!

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What do you wish you knew when you were younger?
I wish I knew to really trust the timing of my life. I have found that when one door closes, three more open, and life always hands you exactly what you are ready for.

What’s your fitness fashion style?  My fitness fashion style is all over the place. Similar to my every day style, I have LOTS of black but also have a million vibrant tank tops and sports bras!!! I prefer solid colors and don’t own too many patterned items, but I love cutouts, mesh and lots of straps.  My favorite brands are Beyond Yoga, Alo, and Lolë!

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What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten?  The best piece of advice I’ve ever gotten was to find a balance that makes your body and soul happy. There are some days where going on a 10-mile run and drinking a green juice is exactly what I need, and others when resting my body and catching up with an old friend is more important. You look and feel your best when you listen to both your body and your soul equally.

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What’s your guiltiest pleasure?  Chocolate. Every day. Honestly can’t remember the last day that passed when I didn’t have any!

What quality do you really cherish about yourself?  One of my most cherished qualities is that I love to learn and grow. The minute I feel too comfortable in anything, I always strive to find a way to push myself! I think it’s so important to keep moving forward and to constantly learn more about yourself and the people and places around you.

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What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)?  One of my first jobs was dancing in a magic show! I know how to levitate, disappear, and was even cut in half several times ;)

Anything else about you that I missed?  My junior year in college, I studied abroad in Australia and have been obsessed with everything (and everyone) Australian ever since! I still keep in touch with all of my friends over there and many have come to visit me in New York City.

Select photography by Kathleen O’Neill

Meet Our Fit For Fall Challenge Winner & The Instructor Who Motivated Her!

The Fit for Fall Challenge included six weeks of unlimited classes, weekly measurements, tons of wellness tips and fun prizes. Instructors worked very closely with the challengers and encouraged them to work hard and stay focused. Our 2015 Fit for Fall winner, Jackie Kinneary, lost the highest percentage of total body inches – an impressive accomplishment! This was Jackie’s second challenge. Her team leader for the Spring Into Summer challenge just a few months before was Lauren Rodriquez. Lauren remained a huge motivator for her the second time around. Below, get both of their perspectives on how they faced this challenge and came out on top!

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Meet Challenge Winner, Jackie Kinneary

Jackie grew up on Long Island and attended college in Boston. After graduating with a business degree in accounting and finance, she moved back home to New York. Now she lives in Manhattan and works at PwC, in the Real Estate advisory practice. She loves trying out new fitness classes, drinking red wine, eating ice cream, watching ridiculous reality TV shows and documentaries, and spending her summers in the Hamptons.

What is your fitness background?

I was an athletically challenged child who wasn’t great at team based sports, but I took ballet class through middle school and was a member of my high school dance team, which performed at the football and basketball games. During college, dance wasn’t a big part of my life, but since moving to the city, I’ve found that I gravitate towards dance-based fitness classes. To my family’s surprise, I have become a very fitness-focused person!

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How did you find out about Body Conceptions and what is it about Lauren’s class that’s so fun?

I found BoCo through ClassPass while exploring different dance-based studios. I started going to more and more classes because of how intense the sculpting part of class is. I saw immediate changes in my legs and arms, which can get addicting! Furthermore, all of the instructors are amazing!!

Lauren and I started working together when I participated in the Spring into Summer Challenge in June and July. She was my team leader and helped me track my progress and stay focused over the eight weeks. I love taking her classes because of the great energy she brings, fun dance moves, and the killer burn in her Power Sculpt classes!

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How do you make fitness a priority when you’re busy with your day job? Were there any moments where you wanted to give up?

Due to the nature of my job, I sit at a desk for the majority of my day, staring at a computer screen. I need an outlet to get up and move, so I always make fitness a priority! I’ll alternate working out before and after work. During crazier months at work, where days can be long, it’s definitely hard to find time for class. However, I’ve found that working out with coworkers is a great way to stay motivated!

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What piece of advice would you give to other young professionals trying to achieve their fitness goals while balancing a day job?

I like to plan out my workouts the week before. If I’m already signed up for a class, it’s less likely I’ll bail on it! In addition, it was important for me to communicate my fitness goals with my coworkers. They have been really supportive!

Favorite song to work out to?

I love my Kygo station on Pandora!

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Team Leader, Lauren

Lauren is originally from Charlotte, NC and trained at Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater. She has been teaching dance and fitness for 13 years and has been a Body Conceptions trainer for 2.5 years.

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Were there any moments when you thought Jackie wanted to give up?

Similar to most of our challengers, Jackie started to struggle at the halfway point. The first couple of weeks were filled with excitement and adrenaline, but by week three everyone’s body started to feel a bit fatigued. I was able to encourage them to persevere by reminding them of the many improvements they had made thus far and how much stronger they had become in just a few short weeks.

You train countless clients on a daily basis. What makes Jackie special?

Jackie’s positive attitude allowed her to overcome obstacles with a smile and have fun while working out. It also helped that she had competed in previous BoCo challenges that gave her a strong technical foundation. This allowed instructors to give her more refined modifications and really push her to the next level of her fitness journey.

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What advice would you give to newer personal trainers about keeping clients motivated?

I think the best way to keep clients motivated is to give them a specific attainable goal. Whether it’s fitting into an old pair of jeans or something as simple as being able to hold a plank 5 seconds longer. Having small goals set on a monthly or even weekly basis really helps to keep them motivated and gives them a sense of accomplishment

What’s your favorite song to work out to?

There are so many choices! But right now I’m loving “How Deep Is Your Love” by Calvin Harris.

Interview and photography by Kathleen O’Neill

 

Our New Jersey Superstar, Kerry Clarke!

When we were looking for great instructors based in NJ, I never thought we would find someone as skilled, experienced, and PERFECT for BoCo as Kerry Clarke.  Having recently moved from NYC to NJ, Kerry has an extensive background in fitness in addition to her previous life as a dancer. And her workouts are amazing.  Dream come true!

Even more importantly, Kerry is a warm, cool person with tons of charisma. We love her sense of humor, and she also has such real and grounded energy.  We have asked her to talk a little bit about herself here, and you will learn some fun tidbits.  Thanks, Kerry, for a great interview – and welcome to Body Conceptions!

~Mahri

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Full Name:  Kerry Joyce Clarke

Where were you born, and where did you grow up?  Edison, New Jersey

What’s your biggest passion?  Probably traveling.  I feel most alive when I am out of my comfort zone and seeing/experiencing something new.  There’s nothing like a good trip to put your life into perspective and see things a bit clearer.

Tell me about your career.  Have you changed direction?  If so, why?   I was a dance major in college, and had intended to pursue dance for a living.  Life got in the way, and soon after graduation I sold my soul to corporate America.  After a few years, I really craved more creativity and movement in my life and I started teaching barre in my spare time as well as logging hours for my 200 RYT training.  I followed my heart, and with the support of my husband, started teaching fitness for a living.  It has been a really rewarding experience…it energizes me, keeps me in shape, and perhaps most important, has introduced me to some of my best friends.  It connected me with like-minded, strong people who cherish their health and love inspiring others to be the best versions of themselves.

JoyceYoung Dancer

What do you wish you knew when you were younger?  How precious free time and sleep is.  Now that I have NONE with two toddlers ruling my household, I miss those moments of downtime where it was just me and my thoughts.  Many nights when I’m tucking my kids into bed, I wish so badly that the roles were reversed and someone were tucking me in!

What’s your fitness fashion style?  To be honest, my fitness style is definitely a bit more bold and daring than my day to day style.  It also changes with the workout.  I wear totally different apparel for dance cardio, versus spinning or barre.  For a tough BoCo class, I tend to choose a layered look on top….usually a strappy and bright sports bra as the base…and baggier capris.

What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten?  To “listen to your body!’  I know how many classes I can teach without crashing.  I know my breaking point.  I know when I need a great massage, a day to sleep in, more water in my system, etc.  I try to avoid burning out at all costs.  It’s important to stay healthy and stay energized.

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)?  I have two fears….#1. the dentist and #2. flying (yes, which is challenging when you love to travel.  Picture the plane scene from bridesmaids)

What’s your guiltiest pleasure?  These days…..veggie straws.  I buy them “for my kids” and eat the bag!  Doh!

What quality do you really cherish about yourself?  I consider myself to be a pretty good “connector.”  I’m most definitely a people person and I really pride myself on keeping up my relationships.

Anything else about you that I missed?  I am a total unabashed snob when it comes to both coffee and chocolate.

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Photo by Kathleen O’Neill

Sneak Peek Behind The Scenes of BoCo’s Photo Shoot

It was a sunny Fall afternoon when the Body Conceptions team gathered together in Queens for their annual photo shoot. Veterans and newbies alike were dolled up and looking fierce as ever with winged eyeliner, loose waves, and abs of steel. Matthew Simpkins’ home photography studio was alive with excitement and nerves while chic athletic apparel by Saucony, Sweaty Betty, Lolë, and Michi scattered the sectional couch.

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The instructors tried on the clothing, looking more fabulous in every consecutive piece. Despite this, the inevitable “I’m so bloated today” and “I’m so pale” comments came out of just about everyone’s mouths. But each statement was followed by a fellow instructor’s reaffirmation of “Stop it, you’re ripped!” and “You’re rocking the porcelain look!” The level of support amongst the team was refreshing to see and was so representative of the Body Conceptions vibe.

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The day began with solo shots of Mahri, the Founder of Body Conceptions. Her Public Relations sidekick, Ashley, fixed her hair and ensured all her clothing labels were visible as Matthew pressed the shutter at each perfect moment. Bright white lights illuminated Mahri’s defined triceps as she posed like a pro in front of a deep blue backdrop. Pop music vibrated throughout the room, creating a fun, energetic vibe. When “What Do You Mean” by Justin Bieber came on, half of the group shrieked with delight while the other half jokingly rolled their eyes. Matthew quickly changed the song, causing laughter to fill the space. Their occasional differences in music taste didn’t prevent the BoCo tribe from achieving a successful photo shoot, however.

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The next scene was in a cobblestone alleyway around the corner from the apartment. Nicole, Melody, Allie, Lauren and Mahri lined up, wearing sexy black unitards by Lolë. The spaghetti straps and sheer double stripe detail created the perfect “Workout Barbie” look. From a lineup of planks to staggered lunges, the girls looked fabulous in every formation they created. Passerby’s couldn’t help but stop and ask what the commotion was, and the BoCo team soon developed a bit of an audience!

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After a quick wardrobe change, the entire crew headed to an underpass, chatting and giggling along the way. It was soon realized that rush hour was probably not the best time to have a photo shoot in the street, but the team persevered nonetheless. (Hey, the show must go on, am I right?)  Don’t worry, all the fitness gurus returned home safe and sound! :)

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Every time the traffic stopped, the group ran into position, like seasoned professionals. They donned bold patterned leggings by Sweaty Betty paired with bright colored sports bras and grey and black hoodies. Naturally, drivers honked their horns in admiration as they rolled by, but the instructors didn’t let it distract them for a minute.

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The girls started with badass posed photos, followed by intense action shots. Mahri led the group through some classic BoCo exercises, their hair whipping back and forth in unison. Then it was time for the group jump shot, and Mahri counted them in: “Five, six, prepare seven, jump eight!” After each attempt, the girls crowded around Matthew’s camera to see if they nailed it, and after a few quick tries, they did!

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Next, everyone took turns defying gravity for solo jump photos. Matthew utilized his experience dancing in West-Side story (where he and Mahri met) to provide unique ideas– and even demonstrated quite impressively! Each dancer’s jump choice did a great job expressing their individual style and fitness technique.

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For the grand finale, the girls headed back to the studio and it was time to get sweaty. After re-energizing with a handful (or five!) of trail mix, they lathered their bodies in oil, wet their hair, and intensified their smokey eyes. One by one, they entered the studio, and gave it everything they had left in them for those striking final frames.

GroupChatStay tuned for the release of the official photos!

Written by Kathleen O’Neill

Instructors: Mahri, Lauren, Erin, Melody, Allie, Kerry and Nicole

Sneakers: Saucony

Leggings: Sweaty Betty

Sports Bras and Mahri’s Leggings: Michi

Unitards:  Lolë

Photographer: Matthew Simpkins

Behind The Scenes Photography: Kathleen O’Neill

You Have to Meet Our Challenge Winner: Lauren Burbank

From the beginning to the end of our Spring Into Summer Challenge, it has been an honor getting to know Lauren Burbank.  She is an incredibly talented, focused and sweet person who won the challenge in a group that was our largest to date.  (She lost an incredible 9.5 inches, 3.5 inches off her waist alone!) As you can see, it wasn’t easy!  But she did an amazing job and became such a great part of the BoCo community in the process.

Learn more about Lauren here, and read all about her life and background as a performer.  We love Lauren and can’t wait to keep seeing her in our classes!

~Mahri

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Where did you grow up?

I was very lucky to grow up in New Hampshire! It’s a small but beautiful state that offers the ocean, gorgeous lakes and mountains and all four seasons. I’m definitely a New England girl at heart ☺

Tell us a little bit about your background as a performer. What is it like to have that kind of life in the city?

I started singing at a very young age, my Mom is a beautiful singer and some of my earliest memories are of us belting it out with recordings of Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey in the living room together. I come from a very musical family, my brother Chris Burbank is an incredibly talented and accomplished trumpet player and we were lucky to have so much music in our day-to-day lives growing up. I fell in love with musicals in 4th grade when I learned about Phantom of the Opera and was hooked! I obtained my Bachelor’s Degree in Musical Theatre and moved to New York right after finishing up a season of summer stock.

The life of a performer in New York can be exhausting when you’re running from one class to the next class to a meeting to your survival job to who knows what other responsibility BUT when it’s good, it’s phenomenal. I’ve had the pleasure of singing with Essential Voices USA and The New York Pops under the direction of Judith Clurman over the past year and was honored to have shared the stage with Kelli O’Hara last December at Carnegie Hall. It was dream come true!

You were such a superstar in our challenge! Why did you decide to do it, and what was your experience like?

Lauren Before After

Thank you so much! I came to Body Conceptions for the first time in February to Erin’s Monday morning class. The class left me sweating buckets and sore in muscles that I pretty much never knew I had, ha! The fact that each class ends with a really fun dance portion was also right up my alley; it’s one of my favorite parts of class to this day. Erin’s uplifting energy, passion for teaching and willingness to listen struck a chord with me. I shared some of my physical struggles with her and she recommended trying the BoCo Challenge the next time the opportunity came around and I’m so happy I did it!

I decided to do it for my career (to have a more competitive edge physically) but more importantly because I was tired of being upset over certain parts of my body. It is sad to admit that since about high school I have been unhappy physically and I was ready to make a conscious effort to make things different.

My experience overall was life changing. It was so good not to be in it alone by having a community of other women who were also looking to achieve their fitness goals. Attending a class where you actually know the other class members makes for a great sense of camaraderie and having weekly measurements kept me accountable, which made all the difference for me.

There were times when it was extremely difficult, about 2 and a half weeks in it was particularly tough because I wanted to see the results of my hard work right away and I didn’t feel like I was seeing any big progress. This is when I would usually give up on a new workout routine. I’ve given up at this point in the past and the Body Conceptions challenge helped me to break that mold. Even on the days that I didn’t push as hard as I could have or eaten as cleanly as I originally intended there was still going to be another measurement session of my body on Monday and there were still going to be my fellow teammates the following morning sweating it out in class. The sense of community in BoCo had a huge effect on my progress. I am closer to attaining my fitness goals now than I ever have been!

Have you noticed any changes in the way you think about fitness after the challenge? And how has it affected your approach to your career?

Absolutely. I came into the challenge trying to do something for my body for my career and I’m leaving it with an entirely new way of thinking. Instead of only wanting a better looking body for casting directors to see I’m much more interested in being a stronger person for myself and that has been a huge shift. I find that on days that I don’t work out I feel sluggish. I really crave getting a morning sweat on before I attack my day.

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you,” was something I heard from an instructor and it stuck with me. When you push yourself to go beyond what you think you can do there is an incredible sense of accomplishment and confidence you gain that I hadn’t felt before the challenge and it is addictive!

“Why isn’t anyone smiling? You guys, it’s just exercise!” This was another great idea from an instructor that made a shift in my thought process about fitness. Working out is a gift, not a chore. It is your opportunity to check all the other crap you have going on in your life at the door and focus on your incredible body. It is also so important to find a workout that you love and inspires you! BoCo is hands down the most fun workout I have ever done and it keeps me coming back to challenge myself. I can’t wait to see how the whole process will effect my audition season which is about a month away from now!

If you could only pick 3 things to tell them, what would you say to young aspiring performers moving to the city for the first time?

Lauren performing

1- Make friends and a strong sense of community for yourself! When I first moved to the city I was so gung-ho about auditioning and doing all the things I was “supposed” to do right after undergrad that I didn’t take care of myself as well emotionally which leaked into my career process. It is going to be tough but if you have a group of positive people with similar goals that you surround yourself with it will make a HUGE difference.

2- “Don’t forget your art” is something one of my professors in college, Dr. Santore used to tell us before we would be off for the summer. He didn’t want us to become so distracted in our “time off” that we didn’t prioritize our singing or dancing or playing of an instrument or acting. The city can sweep you up in distractions. Don’t let your survival job or your other responsibilities stop you from investing in yourself and your art. Yes, auditioning is important but don’t let it be the only place you practice your art. Find a positive creative outlet that allows you to remember why you do what you do in the first place.

3- Get familiar fast and take advantage of this place! Use apps on your smartphone to get cheap Broadway tickets and see everything you can! Nothing is more inspiring than watching people do exactly what it is you want to do. NYC offers so much art, go see as much of it as you can and stay inspired!

Ok, time for fun! What is something funny or unusual about you that most people don’t know?

I really enjoy making hideous faces. Sometimes I put grapes underneath my upper lip and attempt to sing a la Cindy Loo Who, “Fah-who for-aze, Dah who dor-aze, welcome Christmas, Christmas Day!” Basically any time there are grapes around, it happens. My Dad never takes himself too seriously and is one of the funniest men I know and always embraces silliness, it was such an awesome way to grow up.

What are your favorite things to do in the city?

I love going to see live performances! I try to take advantage of having Broadway and Off-Broadway theaters, the Metropolitan Opera, City Center and many other performance venues in my city as often as I possibly can. I also love trying out new restaurants with my boyfriend and watching him perform with his band, Della Grove. I am so blessed to have his support, he really understands what it is like to be a performer here and is an all-around crazy talented person and the kindest man. There is so much to experience in NYC! Getting my nails done is another favorite, which sounds silly but I absolutely love it when I’m not in a show and I can take advantage of being able to paint my nails bright colors again, ha!

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Our Newest Addition: The Talented Melody Davi!

Melody is one of those people you can never forget.  From her unique style to her huge bursts of energy in her fitness classes to her warmth and positivity, she is a true gem.  I met her several months ago and was excited to welcome her to the Body Conceptions team this summer.  You will drip with sweat when you take her classes (I did!), so I recommend running to sign up for them before they fill up.  You might even be lucky enough to become one of her private clients!

I was excited to learn more about Melody – and find out some really interesting and different tidbits about her life.  Check her out!

~Mahri

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Full Name:  Melody Kathleen Davi

Where were you born?  Aurora, Colorado

Where did you grow up?  Colorado and Northern California (Nor Cal!)


What’s your biggest passion?  Health and wellness, but specifically the use of movement to better one’s daily outlook and quality of life. And my dog, Skooter. Actually, he may come first!

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Tell me about your career. Have you changed direction? If so, why?  As a kid, I dreamed of becoming the first theatre actress/astronaut to perform a musical on the moon. The closest I got to this was traveling internationally for many years as an entertainer. (Though some destinations felt like another planet!) The love for health and wellness that dance instilled in me prompted a transition into my current line of work. Maybe now I will teach the first dance cardio class in outer space?

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What do you wish you knew when you were younger?  One should work to live, not live to work. I had spent a great deal of my life focusing solely on the “next step” as far as my career was concerned. In doing so, I ended up not truly enjoying some amazing experiences. Letting my priorities shift to what’s really important in life has brought me greater joy on a daily basis!

What’s your fitness style?  With this summertime humidity? Headgear, headgear, headgear! My lovely (not) Italian locks frizz up like a lion’s mane, especially when drenched from dancing. If I’m not rocking a hat, you’d better believe I’m sporting a headband from the stash in my bag. And I own a closet full of Brooks sneakers!

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What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? Strangely enough, “do everything in moderation”. I am an all or nothing kind of gal. If I love a workout, I want to do it 7 days a week for months straight. If I’m into a new food craze or “diet” (Paleo much?), it is all I swear by. In both cases, you can either get burnt out, injured, or just plain defeated. When I learned how to enjoy small indulgences, some rest days, and allow myself to not be “perfect”, I discovered my healthiest self!

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)?  I played recreational basketball as a young teen. Though I couldn’t shoot a hoop to save my life, I was the most down-n-dirty defender out there on the court, and ended up being nicknamed “The Harasser” by my coach. Watch out for old school training drills (fast feet! jump squats! lateral shuffles!) that always pop up in my classes.

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What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
  Cheese. Just any and every kind. The stinkier, the better! (Although my heart will always belong to good old fashioned Parmesan. Again, I’m Italian…)

What quality do you really cherish about yourself?  I truly enjoy listening to and helping others. (Maybe I should have added therapist to possible occupations?) Being a personal trainer allows me assist others in finding a physically healthy self, but in general I truly enjoy supporting people as they talk out life’s issues. Want to grab a coffee and vent to an open ear? I’m your girl.

Anything else about you that I missed?  Oh, just one more guilty pleasure: lying out on any and every beach. Some day down the line, my old bag o’bones will retire to the Amalfi coast, drinking Prosecco and eating cheese every day!

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Fabulous Trainer (and recent performer!): Erin West

Many of the trainers who work for Body Conceptions are performers who can be seen on stages around the world  – and Erin is no exception.  We are excited to welcome her back after her amazing run as Maggie in an Indianapolis production of Lend Me a Tenor.  Anyone who trains with Erin knows how infectiously enthusiastic and hard-working she is.  She will make you laugh while simultaneously work you harder than ever in your life.  Erin will be teaching class again at Stepping Out Studios – so be sure to come check her out!!

~Mahri

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Full Name: Erin Phyllis West

Where were you born? I was born at Fitzsimmons Army Medical Hospital in Aurora, CO. My dad was in the Air Force at the time.

Where did you grow up? My Dad was transferred to the Little Rock Air Force Base when I was five and soon after retired. He decided we should stay in Arkansas, so I grew up there.

What’s your biggest passion? Oh that’s easy–Music. I grew up listening to my parents’ records, I made up dances in the living room to my favorite songs, I started singing and my heart just LOVED it. I got my degree in music from Oklahoma City University. But aside from all that, I just think that music has the power to evoke feeling from people in the most incredibly special way. I could go on and on about it, but it will suffice to say that music is my passion.

Tell me about your career.  Have you changed direction?  If so, why? Oh man, my career as a performer has brought some awesome opportunities. I have performed in Japan and China. I got to do the Radio City Christmas Spectacular. I have performed in shows around the U.S. with some really talented and wonderful peopleI’ve been very lucky! I think there comes a time in every performer’s life where they ask themselves, “What is next for me? What is the career that I can turn to when I’m not performing anymore?” I started asking myself that seriously about a year ago, which lead me to pursue fitness. I don’t consider it a change of direction, I consider it more of a logical transition. That’s not to say I’ve given up on performing, but I’ve just allowed myself another path to travel, and I’m loving it!

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What do you wish you knew when you were younger? I wish I had known that it doesn’t matter what other people say about you.

What’s your fitness style? Haha, well I think my clients and the people who take my class would say it’s BALLS TO THE WALL ENERGY. And, I think I’d probably agree. I can’t hide my excitement for exercise and I love that I get to work out along WITH my clients. It’s exhilarating! AND I pick music that gets me really excited

What’s the best piece of health/wellness/dance advice you’ve ever gotten? Well, the dance program at my college  used to weigh us in every month and our weight would affect our grade. Later on, someone told me that it doesn’t matter what the numbers say–it matters how you FEEL. That, to me, was a much more positive notion. I think it’s easy to get caught up in the numbers instead of staying off the scale and listening to our bodies.

What’s something most people don’t know about you (that’s maybe a little funny or weird)? I don’t often tell people that I used to do pageants as a teenager. It was my idea (not my mom’s) and I did it mostly so I could perform. The highest I ever placed was first runner-up in the Miss Mount Nebo Chicken Fry pageant. (I’m not kidding about the title.) I quit pageants after that.

What’s your guiltiest pleasure? I really love those little chocolate donuts that you can buy at the gas station in a six-pack. Oh man…. And put them in the refrigerator? Forget about it!

What quality do you really cherish about yourself? I think this is a tough question because it’s not something you get asked often…. Something I really cherish is the wonderful friends I have. Every one of them is just so kind and inspiring and smart and I feel so lucky to have such incredible people that care about me. So, whatever quality I have that makes them treasure me–that’s one that I cherish.

Anything else about you that I missed? Yes–you missed the time I introduced myself to L.L. Cool J on a flight from New York to Atlanta and then realized an hour later that my fly was completely open.

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“But What If I Can’t Dance??”

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“But What If I Can’t Dance??”

I get asked that question all the time. Many people who hear that Body Conceptions is a “dance-based” fitness class immediately worry that they’ll be walking into a room full of skinny dancer girls who spend the next hour twirling, leaping, and kicking their faces with perfect dance form.

Nope – that’s not us at all! For us, the concept of connecting our fitness approach with dance means that we are using some of the same principles dancers use – like connecting the core with the movement, finding length through the muscles, and paying close attention to posture and lift in the body . Using these principles often leads to the creation of a physique that resembles a dancer. But, heck no – No one in the room needs to know even a tiny bit of dance to be successful!

So How Should I Approach a Body Conceptions Class if I Think I’m Uncoordinated?

First of all, don’t worry! Most people coming to a new class feel a little anxious. We have compiled a few tips for you, though, to help you have the best experience the first time you come to our class:

1) Arrive early. Give yourself enough time to get a lay of the land, claim your space in the room, and talk to the instructor about the workout. We are extremely concerned about helping everyone experience their first class in the best way possible, so please don’t ever worry about talking to us or asking questions before everything starts!

2) Tell us if you have any injuries or special conditions that could affect your workout. First of all, we want our class to make you feel strong, healthy, and safe. We can’t give you modifications or suggestions during the class unless you let us know what you need. Believe it or not, we can also slightly alter our exercises during the class to accommodate your situation.

3) Get your instructor’s attention during class. We are very concerned about making sure that you do our exercises correctly. We will pay attention to you, but don’t be shy if our direction doesn’t make sense to you or if something feels uncomfortable or incorrect.

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4) Don’t be shy about following up. We are here for you, and we also love answering questions about your experience in our classes. We will truly listen to you if you have strong feelings about the class – positive or negative – and we are always looking for ways to be a better company.

5) Keep coming back! It’s amazing how quickly you’ll start feeling comfortable with the movement and see some serious change in your body. We mix things up in our classes all the time, so you won’t get bored or feel like you’ve “seen it all.” And you’ll see that each and every class will challenge you in a different way.

We want to meet and get to know you. Shoot me an email, come try our classes, give me your thoughts. Above all, we want our clients to have the best experience and most effective results. And to feel like every class is a fun and welcoming space.

First Post:
Starting Body Conceptions

From 32 Cute Little Girl in Pink Dances photos set (uncropped) k

Photo by Michael L. Baird

I’m about to get wordy!  Sorry for the essay here – but I thought I’d share a little bit about my beginnings.  Several people have asked me, so here goes!

Women and Their Bodies – Why Do We Hate Ourselves So Much?

One of my earliest “body-image” memories with my mother revolved around the kids in my school who made fun of me.  They called me “shrimp” ALL THE TIME- and in fact I was a good foot shorter and 15 pounds lighter than many of my peers.  My mother told me, “This may feel bad now, but you’ll be happy you’re small when you get older.  Just you wait.”

Sure enough, my genes for small stature served me well as a dancer and as an adult.  But I couldn’t help but wonder, What if it had gone the other way?  What if I had been born with the propensity to be overweight?  Many of my peers had family members who were larger, and many of them struggled with their weight for many years if not their whole lives.  We were all dealt certain cards in our families, and why was I any better because I was small?

Heading into the world of dance and fitness, I have always had very strong feelings about the way we’re treated as women and about the way we as women feel about ourselves in a world of such extreme body messages.  We’re told that skinny women are more beautiful, that overweight women are slothful or messy, that the skinnier we are, the more lovable we’ll become.  I saw dancers hospitalized for developing bulimia after being told to lose ridiculous amounts of weight by their dance schools, and I knew many fellow dancers who engaged in some of the most extreme and bizarre eating disorders I had ever seen.  All in all, they were trying to fit an external vision of what they people wanted to see, and they gained their sense of selves from their successes or failures at controlling their appearance.  I became angry about these body pressures and sad for them all at the same time.  I wanted to tell them to find things in their lives – especially dance and movement! – that made them feel better about themselves.  And to forgive themselves for eating.  Because after all, we ALL have to eat!

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The Fitness Journey Begins

I came to fitness through dance.  A great friend recruited me to work for Tracy Anderson, and the discovery at her studio that dance-inspired movement could also serve as great exercise was one of the biggest revelations I ever had.  I had not completely understood the value of fitness until then (since I had honestly only gotten exercise from dance classes and shows).  I have since developed my own system for strengthening and toning the whole body, but I’m grateful that such a huge, great fitness world opened up to me at that time.

Despite my excitement at discovering dance-fitness, my awareness of body image issues in women became all the more apparent to me – even more than in the dance world!  In many fitness classes I took and taught, I saw some intense peer pressure, self-loathing, and exercise bulimia, and I saw so many women who couldn’t manage to feel good about themselves because they were so critical of their bodies.  And many overweight women I knew never wanted to step into a fitness class at all because of their fear of being judged.  And lots of times, they were right to be worried.

I knew what my own mission needed to be

My decision to start Body Conceptions came out of my observations of different fitness studios and the ways I realized I wanted to run my own business differently.  I worked on different approaches to exercise with my own private clients, and I observed how they got the best results.  Most importantly, I realized that my strong feelings about how to support and encourage all women of different ages and sizes required me to break out on my own to create my own place, my own environment.  I wanted to give the best workout possible, no question.  But I wanted to make every different woman with every different body, life stage, and fitness level feel like they were welcomed, accepted and encouraged.  This mission is an ideal that needs constant work and constant self-examination — but I’m willing to take the challenge.