This weekend’s creative project has been to start organizing my photos. I have a new camera and I’m learning the basics of photography, but I don’t want to have a thousand pictures on my camera and never figure out how to share or display them. I think a digital picture display thingy (technical term!) is on my list, but in the meantime, I’ve started a 500px.com account. I chose them because they got solid reviews and also seem to be targeted at artistic photographers. I’m not one yet, but it gives me something a wee bit higher to aspire to than, say Google+.

Here’s one of my early favorites. Which, I just learned, doesn’t look great as a thumbnail….. lesson learned!

Why GISHWHES Matters


In August, I participated for the first time in GISHWHES – aka The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt the World Has Ever Seen! Led by the fearless and slightly crazy Misha Collins.

I wasn’t going to do it (“Too busy!,” thought I. “Who has the time for scavenger hunts? Young people, that’s who!”), but my intention for 2014 was to stay open to fun. Very last minute, I watched the video on the above page, and thought, “Damn it, that does look like fun. Now I have to do it.”

I am so glad I did! Since I have become a full-time fitness pro, what used to be my fun/hobby has become work. I mean, it’s still fun… but it’s work. So it’s been a struggle to make myself have fun, and GISHWHES definitely took me above and beyond the playtime I had managed so far in the year!

Yes, I must admit, taking pictures in a hot tub wearing an ice cream hat dripping down my forehead was way more delightful than I had ever imagined. (Even whilst trying to not get ice cream in the water and thus spend the week repaying your friend’s kindness with a deep-clean scrubbing.)


Also fun? Posing in front of monuments, and making duct tape heads of John Barrowman after work (though that nearly broke me, to be honest), and made this goofy picture (epic battle between Elopus and the Wooster):

My team was brilliant. They got a car to do a backspin in a junk yard. They got 3D printings of pen and ink. They got bestselling authors to make fools of themselves.

But this post isn’t just about how silly fun GISHWHES is. (It’s VERY silly fun.) I’ve been mulling over this post since William Shatner (yes, he had a team! Here’s his post about it.) asked his Twitter followers how much their team spent. Most people estimated a couple hundred. Some said a thousand or more. (Totally unneccessary, but okay.) Then someone said the money would be better spent on a charity.

That has really been bugging me ever since I read it. And here’s one reason: Charitable acts are inherent in GISHWHES. On our team alone, we had people volunteer at food banks, bring hot lunch to the homeless, and become bone marrow donors and CPR certified. There was a nursing home in Maryland that got a ton of visitors that otherwise wouldn’t have.

But okay, let’s say there weren’t charitable acts, or that those aren’t such a big deal. (I think they are a huge deal, but let’s just say.)

What mattered most to me is that it got me out into the world. I have lived in this city all my life, and had no idea how much I missed every day: how much I drove or walked by without really seeing. A bingo hall in the middle of the city? Packed on a Tuesday night. Sure, we shook things up by walking in as a superhero family, but it was just as big a deal for me. Every time I drive by the building now (it’s right off the highway), I think, “People play Bingo there!” I know that sounds silly, but it’s completely delightful to me. I had seen the building before, but now I see it.

The park across the street from work? I avoided it because of all the homeless people. For GISHWHES, I walked up to one of them and we got to know each other a little. I see them as individual human beings now, not just “homeless people.” (Yes, it embarrasses me to admit that’s how I was in the first place!)

Then I think, you multiply this by the hundreds of teams and thousands of people? That must have a massive impact on the world!

People write checks to charitable organizations, and that’s all well and good. Non-profits do such great work in the world, and I am not discounting that at all. But the impact of something like GISHWHES? Getting people out there, engaged with other people and with the world around them?

That’s way better than writing a check, if you ask me.


New Look


Building on the last post, I have a brand-new title, tagline and theme (Matala). I am pretty excited by the new look and feel!

It’s so much homier, and I love the Julia Cameron quote.


If we stop trying to improve ourselves and start trying to delight ourselves, we get further as artists.

That’s so true about so much in life, and a great reminder for myself every time I come to share on this blog from now on. Keep it fun!

One thing I’m looking forward to in coming weeks is working through the assignments in Tony Northrup’s DSLR Book: How to Create Stunning Digital Photography. I just bought myself a brand-new, gorgeous Nikon with manual features, and I’m looking forward to using it right! I’ve already had some success with the automatic mode, and am considering submitting to the employee art show.

So, while this won’t be exclusively a photography blog, photography will play a much bigger role in the future!

Blogging 101


I signed up for WordPress’ Blogging 101, because I want to start over without deleting my blog and starting over. I’ve been blogging since the dawn of blogging. I remember a time when my friends would ask me exactly what a “blog” was. This particular blog has been around for years. It started as a writing blog, then became a fitness blog, and now… I’m not sure what it is!

My favorite blog was probably my first, “The Continuing Adventures of Marian”. It was just a life blog, and helped me to keep an eye out for things I enjoyed, or made me laugh, or touched me but I wasn’t sure why. I had a fairly strong readership until I shut down the blog – following an incident with a stalker. I’d made myself too vulnerable, sharing too many of the details of my life – so I went immediately to sharing none.

Frankly, I am not only tired of writing about fitness, I’m tired of reading about it. There are so many opinions out there, and people trying to sell their fitness agenda. It’s not really that hard, you know? I started this blog when I was new to fitness as a profession, and it was exciting. But once living an active lifestyle is a daily habit, it starts to feel like writing about bathing, or sleep routines, or your drive to work. It’s just what you do.

I love my job as a fitness professional, don’t get me wrong. I love talking to people who are on a path of self-betterment, and acting in a coaching role to help them get there. I love creating safe, effective, fun fitness classes. It’s a good life! But at the end of the day – as I imagine many people feel about their jobs – I want to leave my work behind.

So I think a more interesting blog for me would be a lot more well-rounded. You’ve probably noticed it started going in that direction lately, anyway. I think I would like to talk more about creativity, whether that is in enjoyment of theater, books, writing and photography, or about the struggle of being a woman in modern society trying to balance professional and personal needs. (Have no doubt, that is a creative effort!)

I just spent a weekend at Wizard World Comic Con, and am going to World Fantasy Convention in November. I love fitness, but my life is so much more than fitness. If I could have my ideal blog, it would be like the one I started out with – a space to talk about my continuing adventures.

Watch this space. :)

On missing the obvious cover story: welcome to the new Yoga Journal


Originally posted on Home Yoga Practice:

Screen Shot 2014-09-04 at 2.52.50 PM

I have to admit I haven’t picked up an issue of Yoga Journal since the early 2000s. Those were the days when it was still as semi-serious publication for those interested in furthering their yogic knowledge. My how times have changed…

Yoga Journal recently switched to a new Editor-in-chief from Self magazine. And it has become what one would expect: a yoga-themed Self magazine. The first issue had Hilaria Baldwin on the cover in a corrupted variation of Eka Pada Rajakapotasna. The yoga blogs and social media took the magazine to task about everything from body issues, to over-glorification of yoga celebrities.

This is the latest issue’s cover which shows a fuller-figured practitioner in a oddly timed Vrksasana, like the photo was taken during an earthquake. So now it seems that the new YJ is pandering to its critics and showing what people are saying they would rather see. Except…

View original 284 more words

Cup Holders (and other glamour)


Back when I was first mulling over being a fitness professional, I tried finding role models – people who had found a full-time fitness job, and what their lives were really like. I have to say, I never really found what I was looking for out there in blogland. I found plenty of know-it-alls, and people selling their businesses, or their perfect way of exercising. (Man, people are opinionated!)

So, if you’re like me, here’s a little insight to what daily life is like in fitness-pro central. My typical day is a blend of typical corporate life (answering e-mails, reading e-mails, repeat) and teaching classes, with a few personal training sessions. I work in a corporate environment, so my job is primarily making sure employees have the resources and plans they need to live active, healthy lifestyles.

I help design fitness and wellness challenges. I actually love the fact that I’m not “just” the fitness chick. I have a lot of variety in the 3 to 4 fitness (including yoga) classes I teach every day, but I also lead a guided meditation once a week. This month employees are following a 30-Day Meditation Challenge I designed. Wellness is truly welcomed here as a whole-person practice. In the old days, they would have called it “holistic.”

Lest you think it’s all glamour, however, if you’re looking forward to a future in fitness, get ready to clean a lot of equipment! It varies depending on where you land. In some gyms, the personal-trainers-in-training (“PT assistants”) are the ones stuck with most of the cleaning. In most, the PTs are expected to clean in between clients, supposedly to be more accessible to potential clients. (Though, in all honesty, how often have you been working out and thought, “Oh, hey, I need that guy who’s deep-cleaning the elliptical to be my trainer!”? Right.)

In my case, I’m a one-woman shop, so I try to rotate through all the cardio equipment once a week, and all the circuit training equipment once a month. The cardio equipment gets more attention because it gets icky, fast. (“Icky” is the technical term, if you’re taking notes.)

I don’t know why they don’t cover equipment cleaning in personal training certification, since most any professional will end up doing it – and it’s important! Germs spread like crazy in the gym. So I’ve figured out my own technique, which involves a spray bottle, a towel, and wipes for the sensitive electronic parts.


A freshly-cleaned treadmill!

There are particularly grimy areas, like the cupholder. Isn’t that a pretty thought? They aren’t easy to get into, either, usually deep and narrow. I do my best. Then you have the base of any piece of equipment. It gets dismally dusty very quickly, and any crevices build up an unsightly grime. It’s only a matter of days before I bring the Q-tips in for a deep cleaning.


Whoever designed this is a sadist.

As mentioned in the previous post, we’re about to get group cycle bikes at the facility. I’m putting my cleaning plan into place for these right now. Ask participants to bring a towel, and to wipe down their bikes after class as well as the floor around the bike. It’s not as important on certain floors, but in our setup (see picture below), I think it’s going to be pretty important to keep on top of it.


So, that’s a little glimpse into my exciting life. What are your personal favorite equipment-cleaning tips? Any other questions about fitness-pro life? I’d love to hear from you!