Here’s another tribe member!

Here’s another tribe member!

Here we have another one of my favorite people, Sandy Livsey!  

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If you’ve been reading along and meeting our tribe, you may have noticed that my clients do become like family to me – to Anne-Marie and I both really.  Sandy is one of those people that doesn’t hold back with sharing her feelings and opinions, for better or worse, and is never stingy with how deeply she loves.  She is a fighter – for her family, for her friends, for her health and for whatever it is that she is passionate about.  When I first met her, I thought she was going to be a student that would test me at every turn…and she was!…but she’s proven to be one of my best teachers.  She showed up in my classes ready for peace in her heart and in her body and any time she had a question or came to me with a physical road block, it gave me a chance to find ways to meet her where she was at.  

Super Mom and Super Grandma!

Super Mom and Super Grandma!

When I ask Sandy how she feels after a class, or a workout, or a new move, I can count on her to be brutally honest which helpful when I need to know how something is working or not working.  I know she will be my barometer for most anything.  She’s also been such a dedicated student in yoga that she can step in when I need help with new students – showing them the ropes and making them feel welcome.  

It is obvious to me that somewhere along the way Sandy made the decision to show up – to truly show up for life…for all of it.  A favorite memory for me is her coming to our bachelorette party – it made my night to hang out with her!  She loves her tequila and loves to celebrate life.  And we love that she shares this passion for life with all of us!

Even though her back was on the fritz, she showed up anyway to cheer us on for this first adventure in yoga and SUP!

Even though her back was on the fritz, she showed up anyway to cheer us on for this first adventure in yoga and SUP!

 

 

How did you meet Lisa, and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I first met Lisa, as a yoga teacher, in late September 2010. My neighbor had suggested yoga with Lisa and her assistant, Brian Dunning. I took Yoga 101 once a week for a year before deciding that I would never get better at yoga if I did not go twice a week!!! I began going on Sunday mornings and then Lisa invited me to her Yoga For Athletes class. This is a sweaty, challenging, one hour class. I convinced some other people to try the class, and I did use the phrase, “You can do anything for an hour!”. The truth is that Lisa gave me the encouragement to stick with the class and the knowledge to adjust certain things to my body issues. I loved yoga with Lisa as she was obsessed with form and function. She is hands on, makes corrections and always gives options for those of us with “issues”. My issues were being overweight, arthritic knees, and a “bad back”. Lisa has helped me through all of these issues. I never stopped Yoga 101 class; with Lisa, I continued to learn the basics for years!!! When I discovered Lisa was a massage therapist, I had my first massage ever with her! Massage was life changing for me; I would have thought it a frivolous expenditure, but it is a healthy luxury (emphasis on the healthy part!). I decided to try the strength training at Brute with Lisa because of Dolores Little. Dolores nagged me for about 2 or 3 months after she began with Lisa. I was very nervous about getting injured and being too slow. And, yes, I have worked though some injuries (once again, Lisa and I learned about my body’s limitations!) and made adjustments. And I am still too slow, but Dolores and Lisa (and some other super nice ladies) have made me feel welcome and are patient with me and my adjustments! Lisa is great to work with simply because she understands my body with all of its limitations and strengths.

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What were your goals? Was she helpful at reaching them?

My goals with strength training were simply to get strong and not get hurt. I wanted to be able to do yard work, house work, and other necessary repairs/chores at my house (without constantly pulling out my back!). As a widow and a woman in my 50s, I felt the need to get strong and stay that way! Lisa has helped me continue to improve, even after surgery. I have become stronger, and, knock on wood, my body is doing great right now!

Sandy's lovely family.

Sandy’s lovely family.

Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer, massage therapist, or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

I would, and have, and will continue to sing my praises for Lisa for yoga, massage, and strength training. I feel all of Lisa’s knowledge of the body, combined with her life experience (and she’s still young!), have made her an excellent teacher. She really listens to you, encourages you to listen to your body, and tells you when it’s ok to push yourself. I have had other coaches (I was a competitive swimmer from age 10 -20), and I have coached swimming. Her knowledge of form and function is priceless. A good coach listens, adjusts, pushes, encourages, and helps you achieve your goals. Good coaches and teachers are a rare treasure; Lisa is a truly a treasure!

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Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer, massage therapist, or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

My favorite thing about working with Lisa at the gym is that the workout is never the same! This is also something that frustrated me at the beginning (and maybe even some now!). In my former years (decades ago) as a swimmer, I lifted weights. We did the same weight workout, 3 days a week, and the only thing that changed was when you went up in weight. I was so accustomed to judging my improvement with the same workout each time. Now, it’s more difficult to judge my progress, but I am working so much harder. Lisa’s workouts are never boring!

Meet another Brute Yoga Tribe member!

Meet another Brute Yoga Tribe member!

Let us introduce you to another one of our tribe members!  We would like you to meet Dolores “Yogi D” Little.  She is the OG of the Brute Ladies, as they’ve become known at Brute Strength Gym.

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Dolores has had a knack for talking her yoga buddies into joining her in the gym. “You can do anything for an hour!” Sandy, is OG #2!

I’ve been a trainer since Summer 2009, and even from the beginning, I’ve had a soft spot for working with regular folks – those just looking to be better versions of themselves, to be out of pain, to have a better quality of life.  Another population that inspires me as a trainer and a coach is yogis seeking a more balanced movement practice – one that would get them out the pain caused from “asana overuse syndrome” (as I call it) or help them learn to find more stability in their bodies.  Dolores fit the bill on both counts!  I was just as shocked as her husband was that she wanted to strength train with me and…I was excited to see what would come of it all!  It has been quite an inspired 2 years.  Dolores has barely missed a workout in these two years and when she is at the gym she is ALL IN!  Her drive and work ethic are unbelievable! So are her math skills!  But…grace isn’t her middle name!  hahahahahaha!  Just ask any of her workout buddies – Dolores needs orange cones and safety equipment to move about the gym.  We love her and we love giving her shit!  Ask her about her bench press incident!!

brute-yoga-3It has been my sincerest pleasure to work with Dolores and to watch her get stronger, more confident, and even more sassy! She’s grown herself a booty and some mighty fine guns!

How did you meet Lisa, and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I first met Lisa in Nov 2011, when she was co-owner of a yoga studio in Norfolk. Within a few months, I learned she was also a massage therapist and a personal trainer; but it wasn’t until 2014, that I decided I wanted to hire her services as a personal trainer. All my life, I have mastered the art of being an Olympic-class Couch Potato; I’ve never been athletic, I never participated in school sports, and I had never lifted weights. By the age of 53, I started to see how weak my body had become (e.g., couldn’t walk one flight of stairs without becoming winded, couldn’t open jars, could barely carry groceries from car-to-kitchen, etc). It was at this point that I KNEW I needed to do something … and hiring Lisa was my first & only choice. (You should have seen the look on my husband’s face when I told him I’d hired a trainer – “YOU?!?” It was nice to see I could still shock him after 23 years together). Whenever possible, I like to conduct business with women – especially when that business involves my body; who better to understand how a woman’s body works than another woman, right?!? Case in point: why would a woman go to a male gynecologist, and why would a man go to a female urologist?

What were your goals? Was she helpful at reaching them?

50ish years strong

50ish years strong

My original goals were to get strong enough to perform simple tasks around the house, and lose a little weight. Poor Lisa – she had no idea what she was getting herself into. That first day at Brute Strength Gym I was a HOT MESS!!! I couldn’t do 10 sit-ups without cheating. She pulled out a crossfit box and asked if I could jump on it … and I just laughed. Then she asked me to step up on the box; I could do it with my right leg, but notlake-yoga-1 with my left leg … then Lisa laughed. So my step-ups that day were done on the smallest step in the gym – 12″. Through patience, constant encouragement, and a little tough love (every now and then), Lisa has not only helped me reach my initial goals, she has pushed me farther than I ever thought imaginable. I’ve learned that you can never be strong enough; there is always a next level to attain. I now climb stairs two at a time, without ever getting winded; I no longer need my husband to open jars for me; I can even stir the oil in

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Namaste Strong, Yogi D!

to a jar of natural peanut butter without needing to take a nap afterwards (it’s the little things in life that bring us joy!) … and I can bench press, dead lift and squat.

 

Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer, massage therapist, or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?
A big YES to all three!! As a trainer, Lisa’s number one concern is your safety; she is constantly watchful of your form in any type of functional movement, and she manages to correct you without making you feel like you have an inadequate brain. As a massage therapist, she is The Bomb!!! I started getting monthly massage in 1995; over the years, I’ve been to 30+ massage therapists – none of them knows the muscular structure of human body like Lisa does (circle back to why she’s such a great trainer). Her massage style is slow & deep, and she always knows how work whatever needs special attention. Her yoga classes are peaceful, challenging and fun – all at the same time (except for when we’re doing frog – that’s just plain torture!). She welcomes all level students, and makes everyone laugh at least once during each class; each and every one of us walks away with a feeling of peace – it doesn’t get any better than that.

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What is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?
Where do I begin???? There are so many reasons …
– She is a no-nonsense woman who treats me like a grown-ass woman!
– She reminds me of my mother – there is love, and friendship, and respect – but she’s not afraid to call you on your crap (I believe this is referred to as a ‘bitch-slap’ in certain circles), and that’s exactly why I hired her as a trainer. I need that accountability.
– She knows me better than I know them myself. Favorite Lisa quote: “You’re stronger than you think!”
– You get absolutely no sympathy when it comes to complaining about a workout; when you tell her, “Damn, that was HARD!”, her usual reply is “It was supposed to be!”
– Oh – and the work is SO MUCH FUN!! Yes, I said it – FUN … even that damn prowler.

We are baaaaack!

We are baaaaack!

Hey, hey, HEY!  It’s been almost two years since we’ve posted here on this blog. WTH, right??!!  It’s been a ghost town up in here for lots of reasons – the biggest being my trying to get pregnant…failing after many tries…trying to figure out why…then having major surgery to feather the nest and make it ready to hold a human…then trying again to make a human…then having said human in all of her uniqueness and down right cute-as-hellness (yet still a baby and kicking her moms’ asses.)  If you care to read about the last two years, you can read all about it on our personal blog.

The Night Before Skylar Joined Us!

The Night Before Skylar Joined Us!

And now, back to business! We wanted to get ourselves back in the swing of writing and sharing and stimulating discussion here on this blog by first simply introducing you to some of our favorite Brute Yogis.  The Brute Yogi Tribe is tight and we couldn’t love what we do as much as we do without them!

Last class before maternity leave!

Last Brute Yoga class before maternity leave!

Our first victim is Rana Parham.  Rana is something special and one of our favorite faces to see in the gym.  Really, when you meet her, the brightness of her light is obvious. She gives really good resting bitch face, but it’s all a front.  Rana is powerful beyond her own comprehension and even though she complains about every single damn thing the entire time she is at the gym, she always finishes with a smile.  She’s usually up for anything – just no planks in Brute Yoga.  What I especially love about Rana is that she can stroll into the gym with nails done, hair on point, and skin glowing – and then still look that way when the workout is over!

Meet Rana!

14358893_10209675204572457_825402651084452541_nHow did you meet Lisa and how did you decide she was worth working with?

I met Lisa at Brute Strength Gym one morning after a Crossfit workout and observing her working with a client and asking her some random questions about improvement of my horrible squat movements and mobility. She was sooooooo nice and I could tell she knew what she was talking about and her methodology sounded completely feasible for where I currently was. I had signed up for my first Powerlifting meet and knew that I had some work to do and needed a movement coat in order to get there.

What were your goals? Was she helpful in reaching them?

My goals were at that time to gain depth in my squat, plain and simple. After working with Lisa, those goals actually expanded because I began to see how many other areas of my mobility needed work and I could no longer ignore and expect improvement. I have to say without question working with her has been the sole reason I have any depth in my squat at this time and many of my other movements have improved and are steadily improving. I am not currently competing but as I continue to train she has helped me to get some clarity of expectations for how an athlete my age should prep, train, and compete. It has been extremely valuable.

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Would you recommend Lisa as a trainer – massage therapist or yoga teacher? What makes her so special?

I have had the benefit of having Lisa as a trainer, and massage therapist (she has literally put me back together before meets), and as a yoga teacher. Without question I would and do recommend her every opportunity I can. Prior to meeting Lisa I had one yoga experience in my life and I can assure you it was frustrating and uncomfortable. When I attended Lisa’s first class I felt welcomed and I really felt she wanted me to be successful at the level I was at. There is no question when I attend class I am her problem child, but she creates such an environment of acceptance that I cannot help but find some success in the movements I am attempting.

As a trainer she disguises her toughness under that nice sweet spirit. She pushes me past what I think my limits are and I always feel so much better after the training session. She has taught me not compare myself to the progress of others around me because I am uniquely me and that I can do much more than I give myself credit for.

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What is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?

I have many, but one of them is that she lets me fuss and complain, yet still pushes me to do more and to be better. She gets me! That is always important to me when I am training in any capacity because I know I can be a handful and I appreciate that she let’s me be who I am (LOL) yet doesn’t take any stuff from me.

 

Do you want to work with us?  Head over here and see what we do!

Keeping a Neutral Pelvis – what does that mean?

Keeping a Neutral Pelvis – what does that mean?

In my work, I spend a large part of my time educating or re-educating people about feeling and holding a neutral pelvis.  Whether it’s in asana, bodyweight movements in the gym or Olympic or power lifting movements, the neutral pelvis is a fundamental structural position for healthy movement and a strong stable core.  Although the cue to “tuck your tailbone” makes my hackles go up – it’s a blunt explanation that gets most of you there – one of my BFFs, Amber Karnes from Body Positive Yoga did this blog post awhile back and I loved it for it’s simplicity.  Enjoy!  And, as most of my clients will hear me say before they squat, “Brace!”

 

Here’s a quickie on alignment! We had a question on the Body Positive Yoga Facebook page today about what “keeping the pelvis in a neutral position” means. You probably will hear that in a yoga class and … yeah – what the heck does it mean?! I found this picture online which shows positions for someone riding a horse, but I love the depiction of a “pelvic bucket of water” as it’s a visualization I use myself. 

A pencil drawing of an equestrian rider with the pelvis shown in three positions. The pelvis is illustrated as a bucket of water. First, the lower back is arched with the water spilling forward. Second, the bucket is neutral and the spine retains its natural curves. Third, the pelvis is tucked, the back flattened, and water spills out the back.

To find a neutral pelvic position, think about your pelvis like a bowl of water. Instead of having sassy, Beyoncé-butt, booty-tootch butt where you stick your butt out and arch your low back (spilling the water forward onto your lap), bring the front hip points (hip bones) up and make space in the low back. You can even place your hands like handles on each of your hips (wrap the fingers toward the hip bones and the thumbs toward the sacrum), and move the pelvis around. Try both positions – tucking and tilting until you find neutral.

To find neutral, tuck the tailbone slightly and lift the pubic bone. Don’t tuck your tailbone so much that “water” spills out the back – just let the tailbone be heavy and move toward the heels.

Level the pelvis so your “bowl of water” doesn’t spill. This retains the natural curves in your spine. Make sense?

Headspace

Headspace

So, I had surgery.  It was unexpected, unplanned, and unwanted, but necessary if I hope to conceive.  Anne-Marie and I have been trying since January only to find out that I was full of fibroids and one especially large one that matched the size of my uterus itself.  These past 9 months have tested me and my will while also bringing some pretty amazing and selfless people into my life.  Yes, I’ve had physical pain, but I never contributed it to anything with my lady parts since my periods were fine and never painful.  Anyway, I was a candidate for a robotic myomectomy because of the size and number of fibroids.  I ended up with four holes instead of the three which left my insides rattled and shredded from my ribs down and my recovery way more painful than I expected based on a previous laproscopic procedure I had had years ago.  This much longer than expected forced time off and alone, still and quiet, has given me time to rest and truly reflect.  That sounds so hokey and weird, but after the first 4 days or so of lying in bed drugged and unable to do much more than sleep and watch TV,  I was then faced with forced time at home – not sick per say, so still able to think and feel and functional basically which over the next 7 days has really been something I realized that I truly needed.

This is my "the drugs are working" face pre-surgery.  I need this much relaxation more often!  LOL!

This is my “the drugs are working” face pre-surgery. I need this much relaxation more often! LOL!

For those of you that don’t know, I work for myself as a massage therapist taking clients for bodywork and I am a Crossfit coach (but currently on a hiatus from coaching to refocus my energies on things that are more financially lucrative.  it pains me to admit it, but i do need to put food in my fridge and coaching although fed my passion for fitness and helping people, it was causing me to suffer in other ways.)  I’ve switched over to working privately with athletes and the general public on how to move more efficiently for their life or their sport.  I also own a yoga studio and teach several asana classes.

Owning a yoga studio is a bittersweet reality – it is a business that I give most of my attention to and receive no salary from – for 7 years.  It fills my heart to provide the space to the community and at the same time it strips away at my ability to provide for myself and my family.  All of this leaves me hanging on the razor’s edge of a cliff of anxiety at all times hustling to fill my book, keep my classes full, and keep the doors open at the studio.  That low tremor of anxiety has been so bad that yoga couldn’t even bring ease and I had to be medicated for awhile – ironic for a yogi of almost 20 years.  The hum of the worry and the tension is always there and only from this forced house arrest have I been able to step away from it and really feel how bad it was and how much better it is.  Even at about day 4 or 5 of this when I was starting to get my wits about me, I could feel the tension, anxiety and sick-to-my-stomach feelings rise up a bit as I thought about what was needing to be done and what wasn’t getting tended to.  Thank Ganesha I have the most amazing studio manager, mother, and wife who were all there and all in in easing my mind!  I would have to say to myself, out freaking loud, that it is all taken care of and I didn’t even have to think twice about it or rush into Norfolk or drive all over town to meet the needs of my clients.  I had no choice but to stay put and trust my support system – and they were rock stars!  Now, the sensation is tangible of that ever-present knot slowly unraveled.

So, here I am with almost 2 weeks at home, relearning new movement patterns, retraining my brain to be present, reminding myself to move slower.  In relearning how to move again, I had to go back to square one on how to get out of bed, stand up, sit down (oh, the toilet), go up and down the stairs.  Every single breathe I took for almost 7 days felt calculated to be sure that I didn’t cough or laugh since my diaphragm just couldn’t fully expand – even talking was a mindful and sometimes labored process.  In retraining my brain, I chose to reform thought patterns and create practices that gave me some headspace.  I rekindled my meditation practice and made a promise to myself to write more often.  I’ve had to slow way down and take my time which may mean I work less and make less when I’m back which terrifies me, but I really have to find the balance.

All of this being said, Anne-Marie and I are also going to make a concerted effort to get back to posting on Brute Yogi WOD for you all.  If you don’t have a blog of your own, let me tell you that this rodeo of writing and editing and organizing and re-reading and re-writing and then finding images, is no friggin’ joke!  There are many in my life that make it look effortless and they are my heroes.

Stay tuned and Namaste Strong (see what we did there!?)