Pilates & Yoga & Mobility, Oh my!!

Pilates & Yoga & Mobility, Oh my!!

Hey, gang!

Hali and I are going to co-teach a workshop on Tuesday night November 29th 6pm-7:30pm!  Hali is in back town from her new home in Washington stateside-plank to visit family and friends for the Thanksgiving holiday and we thought it could be awesome to combine our superpowers into a fun, inspiring evening practice.  We can guarantee it will be a creative mixture of mobility and strength exercises, Pilates, Yoga, arm balancing drills to improve your Inversion skills and lots of powerful positive energy! All levels are welcome!

Please come play with us! We would love to have you there! Let us know if you are coming ASAP because the room can only hold 20 -tight!

Workshop will be held at Flourish on Colley (previously Hali’s studio, Vim Pilates.)

Cost: $20.00 cash or check (Lisa’s students that have passes with her may use their passes for this class.)

Message Hali or myself to reserve your spot and be sure to get a confirmation from us! Space is SERIOUSLY limited!

And another strong woman from our Brute Yogi Tribe!

And another strong woman from our Brute Yogi Tribe!

Katelyn Bottoms is a fierce one and I am so glad she trusted me to work with her!  She contacted me just before I was tapping out on maternity leave.  I was hesitant at first since I couldn’t really be there for her as much as she needed me to be, but after chatting for a bit, I

Mother & Daughter

Mother & Daughter

could see the commitment in her eyes and her drive to get strong and really become the fierce momma that she could be so I was pumped to help her along!  A full time student, military wife, and full time mom, Katelyn is tenacious but…she hates cardio and especially hates burpees. Her visceral response to any workout I gave her or did with her that had burpees was clearly felt, seen, and heard.  (Too bad I don’t scare that easily!  haha!)  Seriously though, she is a natural strength athlete who can lift some heavy shit and once I taught her to move well, move well she did!

imagesShe had me get her accustomed to strongman implements while working on her base of strength and her…cardio, yes cardio.  She made time in her life to get her ass to the gym for the only two precious hours she had each day while her daughter was in pre-school.  She never gave up or let the demands of school and home life get in the way of her goals.  I could take a page from her book!

Like I’ve said in previous posts, I get attached to some of my clients and Katelyn is definitely one of them!  When baby life got in the way of my working with her, she didn’t miss a beat and is now playing rugby!  I look forward to the day that I can text her and let her know that I will be at the gym and we can do some tire flips (her favorite) and some burpees (my favorite) together again!

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

I first met Lisa in November 2015, I was looking for a personal trainer and had found her on the Brute Strength Gym website. I filled out her questionnaire, emailed it in, and she got back to me pretty quickly. We met up officially a few days later and started working together right after that. I knew immediately that I was going to enjoy working with Lisa. She was warm, personable, and so kind. Being as nervous as I was, she helped me to feel comfortable and calm.

What were your goals? Was she helpful in reaching them?14741675_10207183758022296_1360900881_n

My goals coming in were to get in shape physically and mentally; I was literally starting from square one. Lisa started with the basics and helped build a solid foundation in which to start my fitness journey. Each move was explained in detail from how to do it and why. If she couldn’t show me or clarify in person, she sent articles and videos. She really helped me to build a confidence in what I was doing and in myself.
Although I came to Lisa to for help, I’m just not a huge fan of physical fitness. I’m not one of those that thinks, “lets go to the gym, it’ll be FUN!” Nope. Not me. However, Lisa helped me venture out and discover new avenues that I loved doing. Things like strongman and powerlifting. She made it fun for me and that was so important.

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

Not only has Lisa been my trainer but I’ve also had the opportunity to attend one of her yoga classes and I would absolutely recommend her to anyone. Lisa was not my first rodeo; I previously had a personal trainer at one of those chain store gyms ? The difference with Lisa is her genuine awareness of each one of her clients. I was never just an appointment; she took a real interest in my journey and goals. She also took an interest in me as a person. She listened to me, my body, and my workouts were tailored to fit my needs. In all of our sessions, she was so focused on me and the work I was doing, I knew she was doing her best to make me into the best athlete possible. She always pushed me to my limits and encouraged me to go a step further; I learned through Lisa that I was much stronger than I knew.

14689238_10207183756742264_1501843851_oWhat is your favorite thing about working with Lisa?

Everything! Lisa and I became fast friends and session days were my favorite! I looked forward to them every week. I wish we could see each other everyday! Lisa and Anne-Marie are such unique souls. These two are rare gems, so honest and authentic. I’m beyond blessed and fortunate to be a member of their tribe!


Here’s another tribe member!

Here’s another tribe member!

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


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.


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!


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.


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


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.


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.


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.


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?

Dirty Feet?

Dirty Feet?


Go barefoot!  No, seriously….do it.  Take your shoes off, socks too!  Maybe don’t smell your feet and definitely take the toe jam out first.  This is coming from the Brute Yogi that has some serious foot issues (Anne-Marie, if you haven’t figured it out).  Here’s why barefoot rocks:

  • Foot and Ankle Warm-up.  You have a clear path from your body and its nervous system right to what ever your foot touches.  Without the shoes and socks your feet can feel everything underneath and all of the muscles have the opportunity to work in the way that they were designed to work.  This travels all the way up the chain, the knees and hips will join the party and pretty soon everything will be working in harmony.
  • Proprioception is in its purest form without added distractions.  Shoes and socks can mask underlying structural issues as well as the ability to feel the surrounding environment.
  • You will get stronger.  Your squat, deadlift, presses all will improve in technique alone.  If the technique improves the strength will follow.  The feet are the foundation of any standing movement, strengthen those puppies and you’ll create a trend along your athletic continuum.
  • Posture will improve.  Basically see all of the above.

Here’s the deal –

  • Safety first!  Even with shoes on you wouldn’t want to drop dumbbells, bumpers, iron plates, etc on any part of your body – so be aware of your surrounds and move mindfully.  Likewise, you wouldn’t step on sharp glass or nails with shoes on, so there’s little chance of you doing that without (unless of course you’re in to that).
  • MRSA!  Ok, so it’s a real possibility that the gym floor is gross and thus your feet will also be gross once you’ve walked around barefoot for all of 2 seconds.  If you have open sores or cuts on your feet, FOR THE LOVE don’t put anyone, including yourself, in jeopardy of contracting some kind of nastiness.  Otherwise it should be pretty safe as long as you wash your feet after being in the gym, which you should probably be doing anyway.  Again, coming from the girl who used to get athletes foot from just looking at a bathroom floor, I’ve been nastiness free just from making sure I clean with some good ‘ole fashion soap and water.
  • Take it slow.  Just like the barefoot running craze, you don’t want to go naked for a marathon right out of the gate.  Just do your warm-up, use an empty barbell going through your usual oly routine or squat routine or deadlift routine or whatever it is you do before you hammer out some awesome sweat induced funness in the gym.  Maybe work up to adding some weight to the barbell or doing some light jogging back and forth on the gym floor.  Don’t go and add your 1RM to the barbell and expect to feel amazing afterwards.  There’s potential (not an absolute) that you could injure yourself if you go to heavy, decide to do an entire WOD, go for a 20 minute run or what ever craziness you think up for yourself.  Your feet are likely not used to that type of loading and having a set back is worse than spending a little extra time in the gym preparing the body for work.

Reluctantly I went barefoot in the gym after much pressure from the number 1 Brute Yogi (that’s Lisa of course).  The first day I knew I was converted.  I just owned it, and went full on naked foot for my warm-up and haven’t looked back.  It’s been over a month and I can honestly say that I’ve noticed a difference in my sessions at the gym.  My feet get super dirty but they’re so nice and warm before I start lifting.  I feel like it’s helped increase my over all strength as my joints and muscles feel better as I start adding the weight on the bar and put my shoes back on.  It also seems as though I’m recovering faster as well.  Whether or not this is due 100% to my decision to go naked footed or not, I know I can attribute at least some of this recent gym success to my feet nudity.

Yo’, do you still CrossFit?

Yo’, do you still CrossFit?

This is a guest post from my wife, Crossfittin’ Yogi!


This has been a question I’ve been asked a lot since since shoulder surgery and since recently moving out of the “box” and into arguably the best powerlifting/strongman gym in the area. Yesterday was no different when one of my gym friends asked me if I was still in to CrossFit. She and I met through a mutual friend and in a CrossFit class I was coaching, so this was definitely a very valid question to be asking. We’ve also been training at the same gym (not known to be a CrossFit gym although it is an affiliate) for about a year together and have also competed in a Stongman comp together. Again, valid question since I seem to be all over the map this past year with how I’ve been training. So, what’s the answer?

Occasionally – if you’re talking about the clock ridden metcons that CrossFit is known for (otherwise, what is CrossFit?).

Shoulder surgery was definitely the catalyst that motivated me to be a better athlete all together. And CrossFit has been the gateway drug I needed to introduce me to Olympic Lifting, Power Lifting, and Strongman amongst other modalities. This past year plus I’ve tried my hand at 12 weeks of a hybrid CrossFit/Strongman style programming done by a friend/fellow coach, 12 weeks of Strongman specific programming that felt a little bit more like powerlifting, an attempt to program for myself along with a local box (my wife and I tested all of the WODS that I wrote for the box for over two months), and now I’m finishing the third week of Travis Mash’s “Getting Jacked” programming. I have training/working out ADD I believe. However, I’ve learned quite a few things through this journey.

  1. Leave your fucking ego at the door.  No, seriously.  DO IT.  If you’re not listening to your body and in turn doing something that you KNOW you really shouldn’t be, then WTF?  Now, if you’re getting paid to do this – and I mean that you are sponsored by Reebok, Rogue, Innov8, Again Faster, Progenex etc etc etc and you DO NOT have a day job because you’re getting paid to do this – then by all means, bring that ego to the bar because you gotta make those dolla billz.  Yet, I digress…we’re all adults here, and if 25 reps of something sounds asinine or an extra 10lbs on the bar makes your form go to shit or 30 more seconds of anything is going to make you puke like you were in college again (which you may still be anyway) then grow up, let the drama go, and say “oh, right, I can say no and still know that I just had a great workout despite xyz”.  Now, if you’re a sandbagger and you need your ass kicked responsibly, then shut up and do one more rep…otherwise, grab some water and be ok with the fact that you know your body better than anyone else and it’s ok to do your own workout as long as you’re safe and not harming anyone else.
  2. Find something that you really enjoy and what you’re good at (they will likely be similar).  I have found that I really like Olympic Lifting, I also happen to really like Strongman implements, and I really like gymnastic movements (like pistols, anything on the rings or pull-up bar, jumping, etc).  So, what does that all mean really?  I find ways to put those things in to my programming because that keeps me interested and in the gym.
  3. Figure out what you don’t like, or what you probably shouldn’t do.  I hate pushups, they are a big challenge to me, I curse them, to me they are stupid (really they aren’t, it’s a good bodyweight movement).  So, to that extent I don’t do a ton of them, although I do find ways to work that range of motion and strength because I realize that I can’t avoid it all together if I want to continue to train the way I do.  Powerlifting is boring to me, it doesn’t hold my interest.  I see the purpose of it, but for me it wouldn’t keep me going back to the gym day after day, so as a modality I skip it.  I won’t really ever compete in powerlifting, so other than a general understanding of the modality and its usage I’m ok without it.  I also know that the shape of my shoulders, structurally, isn’t designed to handle tons of overhead movements (presses, pull-ups, etc) – hence one of the reasons I had surgery, though definitely not the only reason.  That being said, I don’t do a lot of arm intensive movements back to back in my daily training sessions.  Unfortunately, it took shoulder surgery for me to realize this.
  4. CrossFit Group WODs are fun, I love CrossFit and what it’s open my eyes to.  They’re fun to coach.  They’re fun (and sometimes scary) to watch.  It’s fun and motivating to workout with a group of people and to share in a similar experience.  There’s definitely something to be said for the cardiovascular aspect of such WODs, too.  Especially for me since training more in a strength bias lately, I realize the importance of keeping the heart pumping and the body moving.  Big bonus, not only did CrossFit introduce me to a healthier lifestyle all together, but it also brought me to a box that I would meet, workout with, and ultimately marry the best WOD partner ever.  That’s worth it’s weight in gold any day.  And without CrossFit, I wouldn’t have been introduced to Olympic Lifting, Strongman, etc.
  5. I’ve never been stronger, and I am continuing to get stronger.  Realizing now that if I stayed in a “box” I likely wouldn’t have increased my strength beyond a certain threshold due to the inherent design of most traditional CrossFit programming.  I had to get out of the box and into a gym with a ton of strong ass mother fuckers to break that ceiling.  I witness people squating over 600lbs, deadlifting over 700lbs, benching over 400lbs and flipping 800+lb tires on a regular basis.  I enjoy the gains, and I enjoy the inspiration that these strong individuals provide.  “Surround yourself with the best to be the best” is the moto of the gym, and it’s true – surround yourself with like minded people who will motivate you to be a better version of yourself and BAM that’s what will happen.
  6. High repetitions can be a recipe for disaster.  Now, before you go and bitch at me about how you just did 100 back roll to supports and you feel amazing, I don’t care.  For me (and likely most of the population) form goes to shit and injury soon follows with high repetitions, especially when the pressure of a time component is added.  Now, if you’ve left your ego at the door, you might be alright because it won’t matter that it took 2 minutes longer to complete your 100 back roll to supports because you executed them all perfectly.  And higher reps equal greater hypertrophic response (google it) which equal great muscular gains (I didn’t say strength because some may disagree with that, although for me it’s definitely worked), but those higher reps are executed at a manageable weight with adequate rest between sets.
  7. Eating food is fucking fantastic.  I LOVE TO EAT.  I’ve done my share of Paleo challenges and have learned how to eat healthier, feel better, stay healthier (I’m WAY less sick), cook more and make better decisions regarding the FUEL that I put in my face.  Now, I am NOT Paleo, and if you are and it works for you I think that’s amazing because it really helps a lot of people.  For me, cutting out dairy caused me to get too skinny and loose strength.  Besides, ice cream is one of my favorite foods.  I added grassfed dairy back in to my diet after my longest Paleo challenge and have had no issues.  I still have a challenge when it comes to sugar, but otherwise I eat what I want, when I want, in the quantities that I feel keep me satiated and strong.  It is still a fight to be ok with the 15# weight gain and the tighter clothes because of the unfortunate conditioning in my past to fit in to a specific mold, but that’s a longer post for another time.
  8. Training the posterior chain and doing accessory work is BRILLIANT.  Prior to shoulder surgery I paid attention to the coaches without doing a ton of my own research.  Then came recovery post surgery – I learned a TON and keep learning as much as possible.  One of the biggest take-a-way’s was that I need to be pulling equal to, or double the amount, of any pushing movements.  I’ve also taken accessory movements seriously and in turn have experienced an increase in overall strength finally pulling more than 235lb in a deadlift, for example (a spot that I was stuck at for YEARS).  Anyone that takes my classes might get annoyed with the constant reminder of how important I feel pre-hab, accessory training, posterior chain activation, core engagement, etc are…but if I reach just one person so they can avoid injury or surgery then I’ve done my job and paid it forward.
  9. Mobility is necessary for increased strength and recovery.  If yoga isn’t your thing, call it something else.  But get your sweaty ass to the mat or park yourself on the carpet in front of the boob tube (that isn’t even a thing any more) and mobilize!  I like yoga, I teach yoga, therefore I encourage it.  But again, refer to #2, find a way to enjoy getting mobile because it really does help.  I rediscovered yoga after an inconsistent at best relationship with it in the past, and discovered that I really enjoy the entire practice – both the mental aspect and the physical aspect.  My strength has improved, my anxiety has decreased, my injuries are less frequent.

I’ll stop at 9.  I really wanted a round 10, but 9 is my favorite number and I think my quota of smart ass comments may be depleted for the day.  If you managed to read this whole thing, go check out Brute Yogi – this is my wife, Lisa’s, brain child.  You might even find me in there too, just sayin.




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!?)




July 14, 2014

July 14, 2014


Brute Yogi Wod

Brute Strength
A. DeadLift (Conventional) 6×3 @ 80%
B. GHR 3×5

C. Work Capacity
4 rounds
(*see First Round below*)
300m Row
12 Box Jumps (average height)
2 Rope Climbs

Brute Yogi Mindful Pre-Wod

Find your flow state:

Don’t be caught ridin’ dirty – get rollin’…

Keep your phone with you and follow along with this warm-up routine – we guarantee you’ll get warm!
Do 10 Dead Bugs on each to fire up that core stability. Go slow and make ’em count!
Do 10 glute bridges
Do 10 Body Weight Single Leg Deadlifts on each leg

Physical Preparation:

A. DeadLift: Set-up is everything!  Set up the SAME WAY every time.  Here’s a little clip from Kelly Starrett worth watching on the set-up.  How do I breathe??  Check this video out for our suggestion on where/when to breathe.  Warm-up = 10 @ bar, 8 @ 40-50%, 6 @ 50-60%, 4 @ 60-70%, 2 @ 70-75% (if needed).  As you can see we feel that it is VERY important to do warm-up sets and really prepare physically by loading slowly to avoid injury.

B. Glute Ham Raises: FANTASTIC way to improve pulling power in the deadlift by strengthening the hamstrings and torso overall.  Some of our favorite bloggers/podcasters over at Barbell Shrugged have a great instructional how to here.  These can be done at the end of your workout, or after the strength portion.  You definitely want to be warm before you do these and very honest about form and capabilities – no hamstrings getting pulled here!

C. Before performing the metcon warm up each movement with a few reps.  Choose a box height that is an average height for most of your work outs.  Step ups, jump up and step down are both acceptable.  Remember to open the hips at the top of each rep and maintain control over each repetition.  If rope climbs are not available or accessible substitute 6 as close to parallel ring rows as possible or 3 strict pull-ups AND 6 knees to elbows, knee ups, or roll-ups.

  • First round: In an effort to load the body and neurological system for the work-out try this – perform the row at a consistent pace, not all out; do 6 step-ups each leg on the box and perform one of the modifications above for your rope climbs.
  • Stay consistent throughout all 4 rounds using the transitions between each movement as your break.

Brute Yogi Integration: