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Beautiful Fitness’ Best of 2009


Beautiful Readers,

What a spectacular year! There have been ups and downs, but then, isn’t every year just like that! After much deliberation, Beautiful Fitness would like to share with you what it considers to be the best of all things fitness and wellness 2009!

Best small space total workout: Boxing -If you think about it it makes sense that boxing would be such awesome indoor exercise. Boxers work with very little equipment, often in small spaces, and in order not to get walloped in the ring they have to be firm and fast. That means premium cardio, flexibility, balance and strength. Try it for yourself at home (or with a friend) with one of our Golden Gloves instructors (really!) You’ll be in fighting shape in no time.

Best healthy snack: Nuts in their shells - High in calories you say! True enough, but really, how many of these guys can you eat in one sitting without tiring of all the cracking?. The reason we love them? All the right kind of fat. Plus, nuts that need to be extracted from their shells, will put you in touch with your food in a great, mindful, way. Loads of protein too. Yet not so sexy that you’ll be tempted to eat a bowlful (unless you are really really hungry, in which case maybe you should! Just this once.) Good for guests. Pretty in the bowl.

Best outdoor group exercise: Frisbee – Why Frisbee? Who even owns a Frisbee anymore? We do. and we love it for many good reasons. Frisbee is a game that everyone can play (sure, people, claimthat they can’t-but they can), it offers a great non-competitive group dynamic, which is particularly helpful if you are playing with a mix of ages. Frisbee can involve a lot (or a little) running around, Frisbees are cheap, lightweight, and portable. Frisbee can be played in any weather and with any number of people. Perfect.

Best fast food: Subway – This one was easy. Unless you live on the west coast where you can buy freshly made tacos (perhaps the finest fast food on the planet ) Subway is the best place to buy cheap, reasonably wholesome (skip the chips and soda) grub that tastes good and is good enough for you. All the doctors from the hospital near where I live eat there and so do I. Not only do they have a simple yet elegant formula of, deli meat and cheese, lettuce and tomato, and a few delightfully familiar choices of condiments, but they also have hot peppers, green peppers, onions, and whole wheat hero rolls. And they’ll heat your sandwich up if you ask. Plus they make a much better salad than most fancy restarants for only 5 dollars. What a deal!

Best way to relax: Sleep – this may seem obvious, but for many of us, it’s not. You have no idea how many clients who think they need help with relaxation, find themselves instantly more relaxed with brighter outlooks, once they start getting enough sleep. Now if only we could charge them for that…

Second best way to relax: Yoga- For people who’s  bodies are calling out for exercise–but are also looking for a time to connect with their deeper selves-yoga, (as opposed to meditation) is still the best option. Yoga done right offers a perfect blend of mindfulness, healing, positive self-focus, and just the right amount of exercise to help you get in shape and get you out of your head.

Best fitness magazine: Men’s Health – Darn it. For years they’ve been the best. And it kills me. Why on earth is the only truly perfect combination of candy-like popular magazine copy (How to Make All Women Fall in Love With You) plus actually worthwhile advice, plus truly well researched fitness tips and techniques, plus a good looking easy to read layout, in a men’s magazine? Harrumph.

Best at-home fitness device: Fitness Ball – Ask what you can do with one of those over-sized inflated balls? Tell me what you can’t do with them! Fitness balls do double duty as benches for weight training, they offer great options for all kinds of stability work (you can imagine, right?), they are the perfect platform for sit-ups, and with just a little rolling around-they can offer a superb variety of flexibility exercises. Strong enough for larger people and the varieties filled with sand can help folks who need a little extra help with balance.

Best sports drink: Coconut water – Perhaps the best beverage on earth. Full of electrolytes, low in calories, sweet and appealing taste with minimal sugar content. Coconut water also has fantastic sex appeal and reminds us of going to the beach even in the dead of winter.

I could go on….there are so many fabulous fitness-y things out there. What’s on your list?

All the best,

Alix Florio; President Beautiful Fitness

Breathe, rejoice, and repeat.


Beautiful Readers,

Lately I have become totally preoccupied with meditation and Buddhist philosophy. It began a few weeks ago with a visit to a meditation center near my house in Brooklyn after interviewing instructors for Beautiful Fitness. I went to the Buddhist center nearby instead of signing up for a less philosophical meditation class or hiring one of the instructors I had met with, because, when I googled meditation in my neighborhood, it just happened to be the first place to come up.  And now I am hooked.

I can’t say that I accept Buddhist teachings in their entirety (though, believe me, I want to drink this particular Kool Aid). There’s the usual set of seeming inconsistencies that I have trouble getting past, plus a healthy dose of my natural skepticism– but there is no denying the almost inherent appeal of Buddhist philosophy.  I am deeply moved by its unique combination of healthily un-uptight self-discipline and impulsive kindness. And if it were not for the vastly inequitable treatment of Buddhist nuns versus priests in so many countries, which rightly, or wrongly, I hold Buddhism accountable for, I swear, I really would be inclined to start identifying myself as a Buddhist right now. Learn the secret handshake, carry the card, and wear the t-shirt.

Learning to meditate is amazing. Meditation is very profound (does that sound stupidly obvious?). I have really only succeeded in finding my way into that blissful meditative space a couple of times now, but boy, the experience feels as close to something supernatural as anything I have ever done. I mean, I had been told for years that meditation was great, but I had no idea that it was great in so many ways.

Afterall, what’s not to like? Pulse slows down. Freedom from anxiety. Resetting your brain by forgetting about everything for a little while. Sounds great, right? But it gets even better– no one ever explained the psychadelic part of meditating. The part that’s like the early posters for Hair, or something from a classic rock album cover. The flood of images and ideas before you reach the meditative state is intense. The awesome problem solving ability just prior to getting there is astounding. It’s like ’sleeping on something’ and then waking up with the perfect answer, but it’s way faster, and the process is a lot more dynamic than sleeping.

So in an effort to pursuade you to try it yourself, here are some tips that have helped me, a total novice meditator, with no special ability, to enjoy the fruits of this remarkable art:

Sit comfortably with your back straight. If you are new to this, I advise you get comfortable on a chair with your feet on the ground, or sitting on a cushion, or towel on the floor with your legs crossed.

Now, close your eyes, and take a moment to soften your face, be sure your jaw is not clenched (your teeth will likely be slightly apart in your closed mouth), and that your eyes are softly closed, not squeezed.

Begin to focus on the feeling of your breath leaving your nostrils and returning. At this point I like to try to elongate the breaths slightly so that I can become aware of the pause at the end of the inhale and the beginning of the exhale. But maybe that’s just me. It helps me gain focus.

It is likely that once you have relaxed with your eyes closed that you will start to think of things other than your breathing…sounds in the room will seem loud, thoughts about what you did today will distract you…how you are feeling physcially may take your attention….all kinds of things will enter your mind. For me, the hardest thoughts to move away from are the self-conscious awareness of the experience of meditating. ”Look at me meditating-isn’t this cool.” and ”I wonder if I’m going to be able to meditate properly.” are the things that tend to distract me most. The object now is to try to label everything and I mean everything in the biggest way possible, as just superfluous noise for the time while you choose to meditate, and to remain interested only in the feeling of the breath in and out of your nostrils.

If you do happen to be distracted, be easy on yourself, try not to think ”damn. I screwed up meditating”, just accept that your gently bringing your focus back to your breath again and again is part of the process. If you do however think “damn. I screwed up meditating.”, just accept that ex[eriencing some level of self-criticism  is fine too, and then let that go as well. You may find yourself flooded with all kinds of mixed up emotions while you go through this process. All totally normal. All totally fine. Blissed out is just how it looks on the outside at first–blissed out on the inside takes some practice.

It sounds simple enough, I know, and in a certain way, it kind of is. But I guarantee you that if you can succeed in really doing it for any amount of time you will find that you have enjoyed some combination of the worlds best power nap, and an experience that could only be had otherwise on narcotics.

Enjoy the holidays however you want to!

All the best,

Alix Florio                   CEO; Beautiful Fitness

Healthy, sane, and feeling good is the new rich.


Beautiful Readers,

Recently I have had the privilege of interviewing tons and tons and superb Personal Trainers, Meditation instructors, Boxers, and Massage Therapists. Next week it’s more boxers, and later in the week, Tai Chi instructors. Sounds awful, right?!? Hardly. It’s awesome. Amazing.

I seriously can’t imagine an industry I’d rather be working in than fitness and wellness.It’s literally almost embarrassing sometimes how personally gratifying it is. When I interview I get to talk all day long to one after another person I learn from and admire–and, for the most part, even the people who for one reason or another I think it is unlikely we will work with,  they all impress me with their selflessness and sincerity.   

The caliber of folks showing up at these interviews, held in a little studio space on the Upper West Side, sometimes requiring a long-ish wait in a small waiting area, is shockingly high. Perhaps  it’s our higher-than-average pay scale, our famously demanding requirements (onlythe best need apply and we mean it), or the weirder-than-ever economy, but the wellness industry is full of pretty much everyone I would ever want to hang out with right now. They’re smart. They’re sincere. They’re super professional.

They’re also not making a lot of money.  And without knowing much about them personally, despite their “material poverty” as one particularly engaging meditation instructor referred to her financial situation, I gathered they feel more grateful and gratified in their lives than most people do. But then of course they do.

The talented people I have been meeting with are doing what they do because they feel that they were either  ”chosen” to help and heal people, or just because they love the thing they do so much, they couldn’t bring themselves to do something else. And they are no fools. Every one of them knows that overall white collar jobs pay more and offer a lot more security (well, they used to–and likely will again). Nearly every one of them has considered throwing in the towel  and going back to dental school or prettying up their resume. Some of them have held huge jobs in the professional world and left them voluntarily to help people in these ways  instead.

So what’s not to like? The people who make up the professional world of fitness and the “healing arts” are  just as you would hope they would be. The people I meet are remarkably sincere, non-competitive with each other (you have no idea how many staffers  have brought me their better-qualified friends to meet with me after they have interviewed.), secure in themselves, bright, eager to improve our client’s lives with thier knowledge and experience, and feeling on the whole pretty good about life as it is. Could we all be so fortunate?


Alix Florio

President; Beautiful Fitness