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My Go-To Spot for Workout Wear: Atlanta Activewear

Edgy lace print capris. Sports bras and tops in every hue of the rainbow. And Ms. Danielle Burke — queen of the activewear stylists (although her sister Donna of Yoga and Heels fame is right up there, too). Welcome to a trip to Atlanta Activewear.

Located in Virginia Highlands (but if you’re not in the ATL, no worries — there’s an online store, too), this shop has become my go-to spot for workout wear.

I discovered the boutique and its owner, Danielle, a little over a year ago. On my first trip, I realized what a gem this it is. (Actually, I’m wearing the Elisabetta Rogiani black leggings I purchased on that trip as I type this blog.) The prices are what you would expect to spend at Lululemon or Athleta, but the personalized styling, courtesy of Danielle, is what really sets this shopping experience apart. (And bonus, if you're a fitness instructor, you get a discount!)

It had been quite awhile since I’d invested in some new threads, so a few weeks ago, I decided to pay Danielle a visit. I told her that I was looking for a few new pairs of capris and/or leggings and a new sports bra or top — and then I set her lose.

That’s the awesome part of this shopping experience: Danielle knows the brands and styles she sells inside and out. She knows if certain things run small or big, and she knows what size will work best on you. (I like to call her my activewear fairy godmother.)

Also, I let her suggest certain looks — ehem, floral capris — that I would never pick out for myself. (The capris are pictured in the second photo, along with two items I had to put back — but will likely be back to buy later!) But once I’ve got them on, I always end up thinking, “Hey, this rocks!” By the end of my hour-long clothes tryonathon, here’s what I walked away with: 

  • RESE Rebecca Tank:  I settled on the hot pink and black — but I would have also bought the emerald and black and solid black versions had funds permitted.
  • RESE Eva Bra: Comfy, sleek looking, and holds the girls in place.
  • MPG Simha Capri: The snug fit ensures that these babies aren’t going anywhere during a run.
  • BodyRock Sport Lux CapriYes, I bought the floral capris. And you know what? I love them!
  • RESE Andrea Jacket: Stylish and functional. Would work at the yoga studio or at brunch with the girls.

And yes, everything is absolutely a “fit!” (Literally!)  

Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous! And keep up with my FWABulous adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram.


A Fit Belle in Paris: Facial Love at Le Meurice

It was the pièce de résistance of my year of spa visits. I experienced a facial at the hotel of kings and queens across from the Tuileries in Paris — Le Meurice.

Prior to my Thanksgiving visit, I’d reached out to a handful of high-end hotel spas in the city. And I was lucky enough to receive an invite to visit Le Meurice (and time for my disclaimer, the normally 150 euro treatment I received was comped — I’m a very lucky belle). So on a Friday afternoon during my visit, I walked down Rue de Rivoli to the exquisite old hotel.

Le Spa Valmont at the hotel was tucked away on an upper floor and was decorated in whites, bronzes, and celadon greens. I was greeted at the front desk and whisked away to a cozy locker room area where I changed into my slippers and robe.

Had the weather been warmer, I could have enjoyed the courtyard area. I also had access to the state-of-the-art fitness center, a sauna, and two hammams (think the Middle Eastern wet relative of the sauna). But on this day, since my sweet mama and I had a jam-packed sched of sightseeing planned, I only had a chance to pop in for my Bulle Emotionnelle — one of the spa’s signature facials.

After enjoying a cup of hot tea and a bit of fresh fruit, I was escorted to my treatment room. With soft music playing in the background, my esthetician massaged my face with all sorts of solutions and moisturizers for an hour.

And there were portions of the treatment where I could feel ice cubes — or something dipped in ice — being applied to my skin. (Of course, that’s the fun part of facials. You never know exactly what’s going on, because your eyes are covered. But my technician did an excellent job of explaining what she was going to do prior to the facial.)

I’m not going to lie — there were some moments where one of the potions applied to my face made it feel slightly irritated. (My technician did warn me that I might feel a bit of “burning.”) But the discomfort was worth it. I emerged from the treatment with glowing and refreshed skin, a miracle given how dry it had gotten from the plane trip and cold weather.

My first international spa adventure — a definite “fit” for this belle who is now eager to book the next one!

Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous! And keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Staying in 'the Zone' at Orangetheory Fitness

It was me vs. the color by my name on the giant TV monitor looming above my treadmill. And I was going to win.

Over my blog break, I had a chance to try out Orangetheory Fitness, a national group training studio that has sprouted locations across Atlanta since fall 2013. (Points North, one of the regional magazines that I write for, recently assigned me an article about the fit spot.)

The idea behind the colors on the TV monitor is that classes are designed around the concept of heart rate monitor training, so every participant wears a monitor during class. The heart rate maximum percents are displayed on the screens, so you know if you’re working too hard (you’re in the red) — or not hard enough (green, blue, or white). Where you want to be is in the orange zone.

According to Orangetheory’s website, the goal is for you to spend 12-20 minutes of training at 84 percent or higher of your maximum heart rate. The program is designed to produce an “after-burn” effect, meaning that the interval training design produces a 200-400 calorie increase to your metabolism 24-36 hours after your workout.

On a recent Saturday, I headed over to the Howell Mill location for the noon class. The great news is that the first class is free to anyone willing to take it. When I arrived, I was provided with a strap-on heart rate monitor that I was told to put on underneath my sports bra.

I was also introduced to the trainer (I’m pretty sure his name was Chris) who explained what we’d be doing throughout the workout and how to use the rowing machines. I appreciated that he took the time to chat with myself and the other woman who was new to the class before things got going.

I started on a rowing machine (half the class starts here and the other starts on the treadmills, where they do interval training for the first half of the class) to warm up for a few minutes. Next, the rowers headed to the strength training area where we went through about 3-4 circuits of 3-4 exercises like bicep curls using the TRX, lunges with free weights, and crunches using the ab rollers.

You are encouraged to repeat each circuit as many times as possible in an under-10-minute (the time varied) period. At this point, I was competing less with my heart rate and more with the clock. (In the strength training area, your heart rate doesn’t get as high as when you’re in the cardio portion of the class.) Chris walked around and checked on form a bit, which I thought was good. But sometimes I felt like I could have used a more challenging version of the exercises. (For example, adding free weights to lunges, instead of doing them sans weights.)

Halfway through the one-hour class the folks on the treadmills moved to the weights and vice versa. Once on my treadmill, I began interval training — which means you increase your incline and/or speed for a period of time and then return to a recovery incline/speed, which depends on whether you’re running, jogging, or walking. (During the cardio portion of class, you also use the rower briefly.)

As I jogged and ran, my eyes kept returning to the screen with my heart rate listed on it. I kept inching toward the orange but couldn’t quite get there. (Apparently, although I was sweating like a pig and my legs were worn out, I still wasn’t working hard enough.) But finally, after increasing my speed and incline a bit, it happened. I got in the zone. (See the photo for my final stats.) I finished the hour feeling like I'd gotten an excellent workout in.

I'd say that my Orangetheory experience was a partial “fit” for me, but in this case, it’s just personal preference (the workout is similar to what I would do for free in my apartment gym). Regardless, I do think that it is a program that would be excellent for people trying to get back into exercise or advanced exercisers who like to compete (self included — that screen with your heart rate on it is a motivator!) or are looking for a may to mix things up.

Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous! And keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


Time for a Winter Break to Recuperate

You know those people who never seem to use their vacation time at work? I've told you before — I'm not one of them.

I'm a firm believer in taking time off to clear my brain and reenergize. It doesn't matter if it's a weekend staycation or a lengthy trip to an exotic destination — breaks are a necessity for any person's mental and physical wellness.

With that said, the Fit and Well Atlanta Belle is going on winter holiday for the rest of December. I'll be busy baking holiday cookies, teaching my new RealRyder class at Cre8fit, and fixing the potato dumplings that my dad always used to make for Christmas dinner (I'm rolling them out in the photo above.)

While I'm away, you can keep up with my holiday adventures on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram. And on Jan. 7, the blog will be back with a FWABulous new post for the new year.

Are there any fitness or wellness trends you'd like the belle to write about? Share your thoughts in the blog's "Comment" section or on the FWAB Facebook page. Until Jan. 7 — have a happy holiday, and stay FWABulous, folks!


Hydration Rituals and Raw Oysters in San Antonio: Part II

Losing my raw oyster virginity at Ostra — that’s where I left you last week.

You should know by now that food is way more than sustenance for me. However, as I grow older, I’ve also learned how a balanced approach to eating is a key element to my wellness. For example, I often cook with olive oil instead of butter, try to eat a salad as one meal each day, and almost always have my spinach and fruit smoothie for breakfast. But I don’t deprive myself of things like cheese, wine, and the occasional chips and salsa. Which brings me to my Ostra experience.

During our recent trip to Texas, Mark suggested that we try out a restaurant that he’d discovered during a visit to San Antonio. So I did my homework, and decided that Ostra would be worth the $50 one-way cab ride into town (from the Hyatt Hill Country Resort and Spa where we were spending the weekend).

Ostra is located in the Mokara Hotel & Spa, smack dab on the River Walk. (And here’s my disclaimer — Ostra paid for our food, while Mark and I footed the bill for booze, gratuity, and tax.) This location is especially wonderful in the summer months when SAT can become a miserable hot box. That’s part of why Ostra left Mark so charmed during a June visit.

From the moment we arrived, the service was spot on, so much so that I was talked into trying the oysters — one of the items that this seafood spot does especially well. Our waiter, George, guided me through the assembly process: the oyster goes on top of the saltine, then a bit of Ostra's special sauces, a squeeze of lemon, dash of Tobasco, and a little salt and pepper.

I popped the bite into my mouth and was delighted with the flavor and texture. The nice thing about this nosh spot is that it’s not challenging to eat relatively health, since the menu features a number of lighter seafood options.

I’m going to let the pictures that accompany this blog do most of the talking. But I will say that every bite we ate made our mouths very happy. Between the two of us, Mark and I put away the miniature tuna tacos, the ceviche, and heirloom tomato salad, the jumbo scallops — and an order of the not-to-be-missed sweet potato tater tots. We. Were Stuffed. (In case you’re curious, starters usually ranged from about $10-20, and the entrees were about $25-45.)

Needless to say, this spot was a “fit” that my taste buds would gladly return to.

Until next Tuesday — stay FWABulous! And keep up with my FWABulous adventures on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.