This year we launched our very first National Fitness Day Awards, nominated and chosen by YOU to represent People's Choice for what's new, exciting, and inspiring in the fitness world today.

Check out and join us in congratulating the 2018 winners below!


1. Best New Studio: Pilates BKLYN

We're excited to recognize local newcomer, Pilates BKLYN, for Best New Studio this National Fitness Day!

Located on the 3rd floor of the Brooklyn Athletic Club, the studio opened their doors just last year, but the community that founder Kaseedee Jermain has fostered in just a few months is impressive. And it's no surprise when you learn that Kaseedee has an incredibly inspiring story of her own, shedding over 100 pounds and now on a mission to help other women going through the same struggles she's experienced first-hand.

That's not the only appeal - the studio also hosts special classes and happy hours that open out onto the club's roof deck for the summer. So yeah, we're pretty into that.

Want to check Pilates BKLYN out? Head over to pilatesbklyn.com, or visit for their free National Fitness Day Sculpt & Sip event and top your rooftop class off with some drinks!

Credit: Brooklyn Athletic Club


2. Most Inspiring Instructor: Kira Stokes

Kira Stokes may be a celebrity trainer (remember those #NationalFitnessDay push-ups on the set of Fuller House last year?), but she doesn't miss an opportunity to share her tips, routines, and "Stoked Move of the Day" each and every day with her fans across social media.

Her signature Stoked Method incorporates a little bit of everything - from strength training to sports drills, yoga and pilates. But the most notable thing about Kira is her one-on-one relationships with her clients. She knows exactly how to push each and every one to the next level on an individual basis, and also never forgets a birthday, wedding, or weight loss story those that make up her hyper-dedicated Stoked tribe.

You can follow Kira on Instagram at @kirastokesfit, or catch a class with her next time you're in New York at the New York Sports Club Lab.

Credit: @kirastokesfit


3. Most Inspirational Athlete: Serena Williams

Superstar tennis player Serena Williams was only the second black woman to win a Grand Slam, has more Grand Slam titles than any man, and is an athlete so awarded she had the "Serena Slam" named after her. But more than her skills on the court, for years Serena has served as a role model for women in sports, speaking out about positive body image, racial equality, equal pay, and women supporting one another.

"My new saying for the past few years has been, 'The success of one woman should be the inspiration for the next.'"

Just stepping back into tennis after giving birth to her first daughter and taking a leave from the game, Serena has recently given fans a unique opportunity to follow her personal journey as a wife and new mother, as well as her pursuit of the ultimate comeback.

Her documentary series ' Being Serena' just landed this month on HBO. Check it out Wednesdays at 10pm.

Credit: CBS Sports


4. Favorite Fitness Blog: The Sweat Life

Aly Teich transitioned from a 10-year career in television and media to focus on health and wellness after her mother was diagnosed with Stage IV ovarian cancer. She started out simply wanting a way to help others navigate the world of fitness under the belief that there's no best workout, body, or diet, but that people needed a way to find what works best for them.

Each week the Sweat Life team brings followers a new video showcasing a workout or health trend so that fans can experience it firsthand before trying (and paying) themselves. The blog also features contributing articles from leaders across the industry to everyday people, alike. 

Check out The Sweat Life at sweatlifenyc.com and on Instagram at @sweatlife_nyc.

Credit: The Sweat Life


5. Most Influential Book: You Are a Badass

Jen Sincero's You Are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life continues to grow in popularity and make waves in health and wellness circles, as it's the kind of  book that everyone who reads immediately wraps up as a gift for their friend's next birthday, or quarter life crisis. 

And you'll quickly understand why. Jen does a powerful job at helping you change your way of thinking - diving into the unwarranted beliefs that hold us back, practices in self-love and self-acceptance, and offering a much-needed push to go after a life you utterly love. But, as compared with other self-help books you may have embarrassedly  buried under your bed, Jen gives a very millennial, no bullsh*t, laugh-out-loud, and sometimes even crass twist to the traditional genre. She starts the book by telling her reader that she beat a pillow with a baseball bat, ceremoniously "married herself," and even wrote a letter to her uterus all so that he or she doesn't doesn't have to.

You can find You Are A Badass and the newest addition, You Are a Badass at Making Money, on Jen's site at jensincero.com.

Credit: Becoming Superhuman


6. America's Favorite Run: The New York City Marathon

It's not uncommon to hear someone say they were inspired to start running after witnessing a major race like The New York City Marathon. And it's truly hard not to be moved by the rows of posters from the sidelines, tears and cheers at the finish line, and sense of pure camaraderie from people across the city all weekend long.

Today The New York City Marathon holds title to the largest marathon in the world, with over 50,000 finishers a year. And it's not a bad way to experience the Big Apple, either, as the course literally makes its way through all five boroughs of New York. Ferry after ferry bring participants to the starting point in Staten Island, from which an iconic mob of runners cross over to Brooklyn, and eventually make their way down to the finish line in Central Park.

The New York Marathon is a unparalleled cultural experience, to say the least. Find out more, or sign up for your spot in the 2018 race at tcsnycmarathon.org.

Credit: ABC 7 New York


7. Hottest New Fitness Trend: Livestream Workouts

Following the rise of at-home Peloton cycling classes since 2012, new livestream workout platforms have been popping up across the map. Those with crazy schedules now have the flexibility to work out on their time, fitness fans can take class with their social media icons, and let's not forget the luxury of avoiding rush hour locker rooms and getting to shower in the comfort of your own home.

At a fraction of the price, the trend is also further expanding access to today's popular but often pricey boutique fitness trends. Recently launched ClassPass Live, for example, is a mere $15 a month for new members and $10 for existing ClassPass members. It's also enabled instructors and studios, such as Jani Roberts' RED Warrior Nation - which leveraged the trend in its very early years - to more quickly and affordably increase their presence across the country.

Some are skeptical of sticking with the trend long-term, as for many it can be hard to maintain accountability without a teacher or set of peers pushing you in-person. But many are finding that technology, such as the Peloton bike or ClassPass's new heart rate monitor, can offer real-time stats as a powerful way to keep users motivated throughout class.

Have you tried livestream workouts? What did you think? Let us know what you think in the comments below! 

Credit: ClassPass

Kim Bielak
5 Reasons To Work Out That Have Nothing To Do With A Bikini Body

by Kim Bielak, founder of National Fitness Day

This post was originally published in Breaking Muscle

In 2015 I ran my first half marathon. I went through the literal blood, sweat and tears that one does in such a test of willpower, and when I came out the other side, absolutely amazed at what I had just been through, I knew that the power of fitness was something I needed to share.

I soon came to realize that while people had dedicated many a national holiday to things as holy as the potato chip, despite the increase in half marathoners, boutique fitness-goers, and athleisure aficionados alongside me, no one had yet thought to put National Fitness Day on the calendar. So I took it upon myself, and started the very first as a single day to celebrate strength and empowerment through fitness just last year.

Yet, now having been thrown into the deep-end of the fitness industry, I can’t help but notice that today, rather than talking about fitness as a means of getting harder, better, faster, stronger, many of the trends in the industry continue to center around either bulking up or achieving the perfect bikini body.

You can hardly scroll through Instagram without being subjected to a fitness celebrity six-pack, or transformation photo from someone who’s gone through his or her program. Most worrisome, is that research has shown that photos like these are actually making us feel just as bad, if not worse than images of traditionally thin fashion models in the media.

And so while images like these are meant to show certain results, I want to start to ask, what “results” are we really going for?

When we focus so much on working out as a way to lose weight or look good for someone else in bed, we overlook some of remarkable mental, emotional, and long-term benefits of fitness. So here are just 5 reasons you should care about fitness today that have absolutely nothing to do with your thigh gap.


1. It makes you happier

When you work out, your body naturally increases the release of serotonin, dopamine, and endorphins – chemicals that are quite literally responsible for producing the same euphoric feelings as morphine in your brain. Just a short jog can instantly boost your mood, increase your energy, and even give you a newfound sense of perspective.

But above and beyond a quick runner’s high, exercise has proven in study after study to reduce long-term depression and anxiety as, if not more, effectively than drugs and other forms of therapy. In 2000, a team of researchers at Duke University found that not only was exercise just as effective as drugs in relieving depressive symptoms in the short-term, but patients who exercised were also significantly less likely to see their depression return than those on anti-depressants after six months.

Somehow we’ve managed to give our workouts a terrible reputation as a sort of chore, or punishment for how we ate over the weekend. So I don’t care if it’s Zumba, surfing, or dancing around in your underwear, find a workout you love. Because at the end of the day, it should be making you smile.


2. It makes you smarter

 Aerobic exercise increases the flow of blood – and consequently oxygen – directly to the brain, and increases activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for executive processes such as planning, decision-making, problem-solving, and attention. Essentially why at some point you may have experienced firsthand how just getting your heart rate up can do wonders to boost your sense of focus and straighten out your thinking.

What’s more, aerobic exercise literally changes the structure of the brain, increasing overall gray matter, and producing new neurons through a process called neurogenesis – something that until relatively recently was widely believed stopped by a certain age.

So the next time you’re working through a problem, stuck on a creative task, or just need a boost in focus, get your blood flowing. After all, as legend has it, even Albert Einstein thought of the theory of general relatively while riding his bicycle.


3. Your older self will thank you

Today over one third of Americans have obesity, a 2X and 3X increase among adults and children, respectively, since the 1980s. And spending the majority of our day stationary at a desk or in front of our smartphones isn’t helping either.

When it comes to long-term health, research has proposed that the right type of physical activity can help reduce your risk of almost two dozen chronic health conditions including but not limited to heart disease, diabetes, stroke, certain types of cancer, arthritis, osteoporosis, and, for the guys out there, erectile dysfunction.

And exercise doesn’t just help preserve your physical health. It’s undeniably connected to long-term mental health, too. A study from 2014 found that running 15 miles per week decreased the risk of Alzheimer’s by 40%. Even more remarkable? Recent research has shown that a high level of physical activity could decrease the risk of dementia in women almost 90%.


4. It makes you stronger

The hashtag #strongnotskinny has been used on Instagram over 6 million times to-date. But when you look closely, more often than not these posts continue to serve as little more than a new way to suggest how your body should look, only this time it has muscles.

I want to get away from the idea of looking strong, and start focusing on fitness as a way to feel strong.

If you’re anything like me before I started training for my half marathon, then you probably couldn’t run to save your life. After about 4 minutes you’d start running out of breath, and from there you would be on your way to a slow and unpleasant death.

But, it’s also because you wouldn’t have run since your traumatic experiences with the middle school mile, and your legs and your lungs are simply weak AF. Once you start building strength in the right places, run after run you start getting just a bit faster and going incrementally farther.

The human body is more amazing than you might realize. Scientists theorize that we were built for long-distance running as an evolutionary advantage, citing enduring indigenous cultures such as the Tarahumara in Mexico, who often run over 100 miles in a day.

Now, I’m not proposing we all need to add ultra marathons to our regular workout routines, but you know the feeling when you finish something, like carry your groceries up a 4th floor walkup, and feel like you could keep going? I think we all could use a little more of that. By looking at fitness as a way to strengthen our bodies, and celebrate what they can do, fitness can be a remarkable source of empowerment.

As they say, it never gets easier, you just get stronger.


5. It will grow you in more ways than you thought possible

The residual effects of fitness are vast. Charles Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, goes as far as to call exercise a “ keystone habit,” given its ability to positively influence so many other areas of your life, such as better eating, and even higher productivity at work.

And when we work out, we don’t just strengthen our bodies. We strengthen our sense of growth and resilience.

Stanford University professor Carol Dweck has studied children’s attitudes about failure for over 30 years, and concludes that there are two types of mindsets we see the world through: a fixed mindset (“I’m naturally smart,” “I’m not a runner,”) and a growth mindset (“If I work at it, I can get better.”)

Because fitness provides an observable and often quantifiable way of measuring our progress each time we run a bit farther or find that we add a bit more weight, we learn that when things get hard, we don’t just quit, or believe it’s because we can’t do it. We keep working at it, because we believe that we are strong, and we are just as capable as the next person.


So today I want to call for us to stop selling fitness through the promise of a bikini body, and to start working out to be good to our bodies, feel strong and empowered in our bodies, and to be grateful for what our bodies can do.

This May 5, we’ll celebrate our second annual National Fitness Day in the US. I hope you’ll join us in getting some endorphins in, sharing your own journey with #NationalFitnessDay, and spreading the word about what fitness can really do for you.


Kim Bielak founded National Fitness Day in 2017 as a platform to inspire and empower others through the power of fitness. For more information on how you can get involved in National Fitness Day, visit nationalfitnessday.org.

Kim Bielak
Top Yoga Destinations to Visit in March

Itching for a getaway this month? Check out the following recommendations from our friends at BookYogaRetreats.com!

By Cris Puscas

March is a lovely month to explore the world. In the Northern Hemisphere, winter starts to loosen its grip and the first signs of spring can be visible; while in the Southern Hemisphere, summer is drawing to an end, leaving room for colorful fall.

But regardless of where you plan to go, March is “shoulder season”, that time between the low season and high season when traveling is inexpensive no matter your style (and budget), making it the perfect time to book an affordable yoga retreat.

In this post, I’m talking about five countries to consider visiting in March if you are planning to join a yoga retreat (or not). They have been chosen based on real data: number of people who have already inquired about and booked a yoga retreat in these places.


March is a great time to visit India. Winter is drawing to an end making room for pleasant temperatures during the day. Thanks to how vast the country is, choosing what places to visit can be quite hard. Taj Mahal is the most iconic monument in the country and if you are after a spiritual experience, then Varanasi should be on your list. If you want to do some wildlife sightseeing than head to on one of the national parks, while if you fancy a trip with your loved one, head to Udaipur, the country’s most romantic city.

There are many places to consider visiting in India in March to attend a yoga retreat. Kerala is one of the most visited places in India both for travelers seeking a getaway and for those seeking to improve their yoga practice. Goa is also really popular, whether you want to enjoy the beaches or enroll in yoga classes.

India is a large country but, in general, the dry season lasts between March and June. Around this time, the temperatures start to increase, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen. The mornings are misty and just perfect for a walk. In Udaipur, the average high temperate is 32.6 C with almost no rain, while in Agra the average is 31.9C.


We recommend:  Bodhi Ayurveda and Yoga Retreat

The organizer promotes and provides yoga classes and Ayurveda treatments and uses a holistic approach to purify the body and mind. Choose one of the five retreats they organize, all taking place in Kerala. Whether you fancy a yoga and meditation retreat or a detox and weight loss retreat, you won’t be disappointed.


March is a great time to visit almost every place in Europe and especially the Mediterranean area. The temperatures are starting to go up and you’ll feel spring in the area. Remember that spring in Europe is quite unpredictable so pack a waterproof jacket.

There are a lot of places to consider visiting in Spain in March. Andalusia is the warmest region in the country so if you’d had enough of winter, a yoga retreat in Andalusia is a great choice. Else, consider Valencia and join the Fallas festival (Mar 15-19, each year) if you are into fiestas. Make sure to add Barcelona to your itinerary, too, as it’s Spain’s cultural capital. While the capital of Madrid will entice you with the many museums, Seville, on the other hand, charms you with its romantic allure.

Spain is a large country and the weather depends on the area you are visiting. March means the end of winter and the country is warming up but it’s not hot yet. It’s a great time to mix a yoga retreat with some sightseeing in the major cities. The further south you go in Spain, the hotter it will get. In Malaga, expect an average high temperature of 19.1C, while it is a bit colder in Madrid (15.7C average high) and Barcelona. Valencia’s average is close to the one in Malaga.


We recommend:  Yoga Sutra Shala

The organizer provides you with excellence at every level during your yoga retreat stay in terms of knowledge, nutrition, yoga, views, and teaching. Choose one of their eight retreats, all taking place in Valencia. If you want to mix walking with meditation and yoga, this organizer is a great choice for you.



March is not Thailand’s hottest month, but it’s not cool by any means. Tourists are heading to the islands to get a respite from the heat.

Since the north of the country is agricultural and the land is prepared for the next season, you may want to avoid Chiang Mai during this time of the year. Bangkok can be very hot, which may not be to your liking. Instead, head to coastal areas such as Krabi or mountainous areas such as Khao Sok.

Due to its location just north of the equator, Thailand’s climate is tropical, marked by high temperatures year-round. March is blessed with a lot of sun and few spots of rain. The most popular island, Ko Samui, sees average high temperatures of 30.7C. If you are heading to the capital of Bangkok, expect higher temperatures (30.7C average).


We recommend:   Wonderland Healing Center

The organizer offers a serene, relaxing, and lush tropical environment to enjoy the ancient practices of yoga, meditation, detoxing and fasting. Choose among the nine retreats offered, all taking place in Ko Pha Ngan. Whether you prefer a yoga and meditation retreat or a detox and yoga retreat, there are plenty of options to choose from.



Winter is slowly ending but that doesn’t mean there isn’t rain falling still and the weather is not yet perfect, either. It is, however, the best time to secure some bargains.

If you want to avoid the rain, Lombok and Flores are better bets than Bali. Gili Islands are the most commonly accessed from Lombok and offer things to do for every taste. Sumba is an even better choice for your vacation as a light breeze can cool things down. Sumatra is another good choice as the area starts to move out of rain season. Komodo Island is a unique place where you can see the largest lizard in the world in its natural habitat.

Indonesia’s climate is almost entirely tropical with March being the last month of the monsoon. High temperatures in Bali average 30C but there are 14 days with precipitation.


We recommend:   Serenity Eco Guesthouse and Yoga

The organizer offers eco-lodge housing, yoga retreats, and yoga teaching and training to guests around the world. Choose among their 13 retreats taking place in Bali and Canggu. Whether you want to mix yoga with surfing or want to embark on a yoga teacher training course, there are plenty of choices for you from this organizer.



Portugal is blessed with mild weather year-round but when March rolls in, you get a chance to experience the country without the crowds and not having to spend much either. Yes, it may rain and it may not be very warm, but it’s the perfect time to go sightseeing.

The Algarve has the warmest and driest weather in March so you may want to consider a yoga retreat in the area. While you cannot swim yet in the ocean, it’s really nice to have the beaches all for yourself. Fancy some wine tasting? Head to Douro Valley, near Porto. Thanks to the shoulder season, it won’t be as crowded as during summer. And why not, mix in some sightseeing in Porto while you are at it. March is also great to explore Lisbon (without the crowds) and the nearby Sintra Castle.

The country is characterized by a Mediterranean climate, with a distinct wet season in winter. If you are heading to Lisbon, expect a balmy 18.2C average high temperature. The temperature is the same in Faro and slightly colder further north in Porto (16.8C average high).


We recommend:   The Salty Pelican Yoga & Surf Retreat

The organizer offers a perfect place for you to just be happy and feel at home through sunrise beach yoga, stand up paddle boarding, climbing, and hiking. Choose one of the five retreats, all taking place in Cascais. Whether you want to mix stand up paddling with yoga or enjoy a yoga, meditation, and massage retreat, you won’t be disappointed with your choice.

Cris Puscas

Cris Puscas is a contributing writer at BookYogaRetreats.com. She is a travel and lifestyle blogger, as well as a budget traveler passionate about helping others find and book memorable vacations.

Kim Bielak
Rachel Tavel: Following the Ola

I've always loved a good sweat-fest, but my deeper connection to the health and wellness world began when I joined the crew team in college. I spent most of college waking up at 5am to row under the Maine sunrise. I competed as a lightweight rower until I injured my back during my senior spring while carrying a heavy boat down a frosty dock. It was then that I discovered physical therapy. 

I instantly realized a desire to learn more about becoming a PT, but found out I had none of the 12 pre-requisite courses needed to apply to Doctor of Physical Therapy programs. I also had a passion for food, travel and writing, and landed a dream job working at Food&Wine and Travel+Leisure magazines. So, I temporarily put aside the interest in healthcare to pursue travel writing. My travels eventually brought me around the world, and eventually to Ecuador, where I worked and lived for 7 months. 

While I was there, my interest in healthcare only grew. After some incredible adventures, I quit my job working for a travel guidebook in Quito, moved back to NYC, took the GREs, applied to post-baccalaureate pre-med programs, and spent the next 5.5 yrs working non-stop towards my degree. I earned my Doctor of Physical Therapy degree from NYU and am now working at an integrative, holistic health, wellness and movement studio in Downtown Brooklyn. 

While in grad school, I rediscovered running. I hadn't been able to run for 3 years because of a knee injury, but I "treated myself" and began running more than ever. It became my escape and my therapy during the most stressful experience of my life. Running has helped me challenge myself as a person and as a practitioner. Through it, I've met amazing, inspiring people and discovered new things about NYC and about myself. 

I've also learned about the power of group fitness. When I joined The Rise NYC during grad school, I realized how much joy could come from getting people together to sweat. I recently decided to launch my own website, combining my passions for travel and exploration with my newfound expertise in health and fitness. It's called "Ola" ( http://followtheola.com). My goal is to create a sort of travel guide to health and wellness options in NYC. In doing so, I would love to bring attention to all the amazing workouts, products, and events run by like-minded people that are constantly happening in and around NYC. Ola is also about finding joy in the little things every day.

As much as I have always loved running, it has recently taken on a new role. Sadly, my dad passed away just before Thanksgiving of this year. I feel closest to him when I run, which has led me to want to run more than ever. I'm excited to take on my first marathon in 2018 and challenge my mind and body in new ways. 

Because writing was my first love, I also freelance as a health/fitness/wellness writer, frequently contributing to the Huffington Post and Bustle. My goal is and always will be to LIVE THE DREAM, no matter what that dream is. Sometimes the dream changes, so you adapt. If I've learned anything about life, it's that there are always twists and turns. So, I'm just following the ola (Spanish for "wave") and riding it into the new and exciting unknown. I hope you will all join me!

Rachel Tavel is a National Fitness Day Ambassador. For more inspiration, NYC fitness recommendations, and "weekly happy" digests, follow her blog at followtheola.com!

Kim Bielak
Jen Cook: On How I Found, and Fell in Love With, Yoga.


Today we're sharing National Fitness Day Ambassador Jen Cook's journey into yoga. Find out what inspired her to get her certification, and check out her own blog for more inspo! 

I'm often asked how long I've been practicing yoga and how I got into it enough to dedicate a large portion of my last fall to teacher training. And I always wish I had a simple answer. For me, there was never a moment that I knew yoga was "the one", and to be fair, I still don't necessarily feel that way. I didn't take a class and walk out thinking that it was what I needed to do with my life. I took classes, then stopped, then started again, then found a different style, then stopped, then started again at a new studio, and so the story continues. 

I originally started practicing Bikram yoga when I was living in Arizona. I had recently moved to Scottsdale, knew essentially no one, and was looking for a way to meet people. Unfortunately I didn't find too many friends through the studio, but I did develop a deep love for the rigidness, challenge and stability of the Bikram practice*. If you're not familiar with Bikram, it's a 90 minute practice in a heated room (around 108 Fahrenheit) that travels through a set sequence of postures. The class is meant to be exactly the same in whatever studio you practice, and because of this, you always know what you're going to get. Although it's definitely not for everyone, I found myself comforted by the stability of the class - I always knew what I was getting myself into, I knew what was coming next, I could see from class to class the ways in which I was either improving or struggling.  There was comfort in the familiar, especially as I was going through a particularly unstable period of my life. Just days after ending a long term relationship in Denver I found myself driving to a place I had never been, embarking on a journey I had no idea would ever be in my path. Although in the end those six months I spent in AZ gave me some of the best times, best friends and best adventures - the grounding found through stability was something I was needing there more than ever. 

After my brief six month stint in Scottsdale, I embarked on a new adventure and moved to Paris to pursue a Master's degree. I'll be honest, I think I can count on one hand the number of times I did any sort of physical activity while I was living there (approximately 4 runs around Parc Monceau)**. Yoga was definitely not high on my list of things to do. That list, instead, included eating all of the food, drinking all of the wine, having all of the fun, and doing some of the studying. It was amazing and glorious and exciting and challenging and fun and crazy and hard and incredible. But after a year, it ended, and I came back to find work in New York City.

Moving to New York was huge. Since the first time I visited at age 17 I knew it would end up my home. The energy, the people, the diversity, the opportunity, the excitement - what's not to love? Turns out, a lot. As amazing as it is, it's also expensive, stress inducing, exhausting, overwhelming, angering and just all around difficult at times. Although it took me a couple of years to get back into the whole "working out" thing, once I started again I realized that it served as an excellent coping mechanism. Going with what I knew, I started practicing Bikram a few years ago, again finding comfort in the stability of the practice. After a colleague suggested I try this new fitness boxing gym ( Shadowbox, it's great, go), I finally started to branch out of my comfort zone. Between finding boxing, getting back into running, and yoga, I realized that a large part of my happiness in New York was due to being active. But it wasn't just that. The community I found from not just yoga, but fitness in general, was incredible. It was inspiring. It was fun. It was a great way to relieve stress. I found myself craving that feeling you get after a great sweat session, especially as after a couple of rough years and crazy jobs and even crazier travel schedules and still crazier party schedules, life started to take a toll. An overnight visit to the ER not too long ago ( see previous post), served as the wake up call I needed to try to reset a bit of my life. It was then that I decided to finally take the leap and complete my 200 hour teacher training. Although the idea of giving up my weekends (literally, 9-6, Saturday and Sunday, for 12 weekends) was not super ideal - being able to do something that I enjoyed, meeting a whole new group of people, and pushing myself to further break out of my comfort zone was enough to get me through. Those 12 weekends with that group of amazing humans was such an incredible experience. What we went through together and shared with each other could fill books, but it won't, and the bond that we will now all carry together will inevitably last a lifetime. Which really is one of the beautiful things about a yoga practice. You break out of your shell, challenge yourself mentally and physically, leave it on the mat, and carry it with you forever. So although it definitely may not be my one true love, it's been a journey, and the journey to finding it is often just as much fun as the journey of practicing it.

*Yes, I know Bikram himself is a major creep. It's unfortunate, and I struggle with continuing to enjoy the practice because of it.

**No, there is not really a "fitness" scene in Paris. Although it's starting to gain a little momentum, when I was there just six years ago I'm not 100% sure they even had a yoga studio.

Kim Bielak
Fitness & Wellness Holiday Gift Guide


Wondering what to get the fitness enthusiast in your life for the holidays? Look no further than National Fitness Day Ambassador Connie Kulczycki's gift guide below!

With the holidays quickly approaching, it seemed appropriate to release a Fitness & Wellness Holiday Gift Guide! Combined with some of my favorite products I’ve used over the past year and a few things I’ve been dying to get, you’re sure to find the perfect present for your runner, yogi, or all around fitness & wellness fanatic. And just FYI, I’m about to link to a lot of products, so bear with me, please and thank you.

1. Let’s start with something easy, shall we? A homemade Hydration Pack complete with a Nalgene Water Bottle ($10.99),  NUUN tablets ($7.00), and a Mission Athlete Vaporactive Cooling Towel ($9.99). I know this may seem silly but I hear all the time how people say one of their goals is to drink more water and what an easy way to get that started by supplying them with a bottle that is big enough you don’t have to refill it a million times throughout the day. If you know me, I always have my Nalgene with me – I may have even cried a little when I dropped mine in Vegas and it shattered (I know I’m confused too, it must have been from over-excessive dishwashing and the extreme heat) so this is a perfect thing to pair with NUUN tablets that provide all of the electrolytes with less sugar and a cooling towel perfect for post-hot yoga or hot run.

2. Let’s keep it rolling with the drink theme and go for the Ninja Fit Single Serve Blender ($59.99). Why is this so cool? Because while shakes have always been a thing, Kelly LeVeque made them sexy with her book Body Love ($17.99). Speaking about the benefits of the “Fab Four,” she provides the best of the best smoothie recipes to feel and look great by eating well.

3. Want your fitness fanatic to always feel 110% post-workout, throw some Magnesium their way. Fueling your energy, bone health, and recovery, magnesium is essential for runners because it is lost through sweating. Pair this with other supplements such as Celadrin to reduce inflammation and L-Glutamine to aid in muscle growth and athletic performance, and you’re sure to see some PRs coming out of your athlete. *Note while there are thousands of vitamin brands out there, make sure you do your research before purchasing because they are not all created equal. My personal favorite is Wonder Labs, thank you Grandma and Mom

4. More post-workout recovery needed? Roll it on out with the Intelliroll ($49.99). This is my favorite roller because it is actually shaped to fit all of your curves, even your spine. Best part is, use code CKULL for 10% off your entire purchase.

5. So your fitness fanatic isn’t concerned about their physical performance but rather their mental health? Introduce them to “ Crystal Muse: Everyday Rituals to Tune in to the Real You” (Amazon: $15.55) a crystal healing book. I may have gotten some eye rolls there and while normally I would say that’s cool, this time I’m going to say don’t knock it until you try it. Self-love has been a big thing this year and a great way to start on that journey is by introducing some simple everyday rituals. This book has got your back. And while you’re at it, get the Rose Quartz Stone ($5.50), the ultimate love crystal that will open your heart up to every type of love possible.

6. Continuing down that mental health road? Essential oils are a must. Not only to they provide instant relief but they also smell great. Not sure which ones to get? Go with the Pocket Farmacy Oil Blend Convenience Kit ($59.99), hitting all of the favorites.

7. Okay now that we’re feeling good mentally and physically, let’s look good too. Any two piece outfit is a yes. There are so many options, it’s actually hard to choose but here are a few I have my eye on:

8. More look good gifts, it’s a silly one but I’m so serious about it. Socks. Runners love good running socks. My personal favorite are Swiftwick No Shows ($12.99). Want to do a little more? Get your butt to Etsy and make a personalized shoelace charm. This will be sure to pull on the heart strings of your runner.

9. Want to go big for your runner?  Go Garmin ($119.99-899.99). Prices obviously vary quite a bit with this one so make sure you find out exactly what your runner needs out of a watch. If it’s just for time, you can go with a simpler model but if they want smart notifications, heartrate and all the bells and whistles, it might be a little pricier. 

10. Already have the Garmin, try getting some new watch bands because we know I absolutely love matching my watch to my outfit of the day. Head on over to Amazon, type in Garmin Watch Bands and have yourself a field day picking out the new colors.

11. Already have a Garmin but want to go big? The Aftershokz Wireless Headphones ($129.95-169.95) are the way to go. I cannot say enough amazing things about these headphones: they are bluetooth, lightweight, sit over your ears so you can still hear your music yet also everything around you so you feel safe, and they’re waterproof! If you don’t want to get them for your fitness fanatic, just do yourself a favor and get them for yourself.

12. And last but certainly not least, my absolute favorite book of 2017, “ Not Afraid of the Fall” ($15.99). A true account of one couple’s adventures across the globe, it will force you to reflect and maybe make an adventure of your own.


For more tips, reviews and musings from Connie check out her blog here!

Kim Bielak gift guide, review Comment
6 Goals to National Fitness Day 2018

By Rachel Goldman, Ph.D.

With National Fitness Day 2018 (May 5, 2018) only 6 months away, this is a great time to think about setting goals and what you hope to accomplish in the next 6 months. It is always good to have goals, but several things are important to keep in mind when setting goals because you don’t want to end up like the majority of people who continue to set the same goals without ever accomplishing them.  

The first thing to remember is to always PLAN and set S.M.A.R.T goals. Your goals need to be:

Specific. For example, instead of saying “I will run more this week”, say “I will run 4 days this week.”

Measurable. Goals need to be something you can measure. The above example also pertains to this. At the end of the week, you know if you ran 4 days or not.

Action-Oriented and Achievable. Instead of saying what you won’t do, say what you WILL do. Additionally, the goal needs to be able to be achieved.

Realistic. Is your goal realistic? Are you willing AND able to do it? For example, instead of “I will never eat fried foods,” say “I will only eat fried foods one time this week.” Also, is your goal realistic to achieve at this time? Maybe you can not go to the gym 5 days this week because of other commitments, so maybe your goal for this week is 3 days.

Timely. A goal needs a time frame. If you want to run a marathon, when do you want to run it? Someday  won’t work and someday may never come.

Planning is important in order to achieve your goals. For example, if you say “I will run 4 days this week,” and you don’t plan, then Monday comes and goes, Tuesday you don’t feel like running…and before you know it there aren’t even 4 days of the week left. I always recommend picking one day per week, maybe Sunday night, look at your calendar, set your goals, and PLAN for that week. Know that your plan for this week may be different than next week.

Weekly goals or short-term goals are very important. Long-term goals are great to have, but they can be overwhelming and when things are scary they tend to not get accomplished. Therefore, if you have never run more than a 5K and your long-term goal is to run a marathon, then break down that goal. Start with smaller, more realistic, more easily attainable goals. Once you have accomplished a short-term goal, you have a sense of accomplishment and have the motivation to continue. If you only set a long-term goal, for example, of running a marathon and that takes months of training, then you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything for months and that can be very discouraging.

Now, remember life happens and sometimes your plan may not work. Maybe you got stuck at work and couldn’t leave early enough to get your run in, or maybe you had plans to run outside, but now you can’t due to horrible weather, or maybe you had plans to run with a friend and they cancelled on you. It happens- life happens. So, you need to be able to be flexible, think outside the box, and come up with a new plan at times in order to accomplish your goals. You could easily give up and say something to the extent of “it’s raining and cold”, “I can’t run by myself”, or “tomorrow is another day”, but instead re-examine your goals and find another option. It’s NOT what you CAN'T do, but rather what you CAN DO. Some times things get in the way, some times there are road blocks, but that is not an excuse to not accomplish your goals. Next time you find yourself at a road block ask yourself what you CAN do….plan, be flexible, tweak your plan, and you WILL accomplish your goal!

So, don’t keep setting unrealistic goals that you have probably tried to accomplish for years, instead think about what you want to accomplish and how you will accomplish it. Think about some short and long-term goals for yourself, make sure they are SMART goals and PLAN how you will be successful now….don’t wait. Today can be the first day of the rest of your healthy and new life. I challenge YOU to set 6 SMART goals today that you hope to accomplish by National Fitness Day 2018 (May 5, 2018). You got this!! Good luck and let me know if you have questions or comments.

Rachel Goldman, Ph.D., FTOS is a National Fitness Day ambassador and licensed psychologist in New York City specializing in health and wellness. Follow her on Instagram at @drrachelnyc or visit her at drrachelnyc.com.


Join our National Fitness Day Countdown Challenge by sharing your 6 goals for the next 6 months on Instagram! Tag @NationalFitnessDay and we'll be sharing our favorites!

Kim Bielak Comment
5 Steps to Fearless

Have you ever taken a moment to reflect on just how much "fear" affects your decisions? Think about the last few times you were nervous, anxious, or confronted with a big decision. Did any of the following play a role when you think deep down?

  • The fear of rejection, or what other people will think.
  • The fear of failing, or - sometimes even harder - the fear of not 'dropping the ball' when you're succeeding.
  • The fear of not making enough, having enough, or being enough.

The most incredible part about fear is it's not actually real . It's something we build up in our heads, based on pure assumption, and even though those assumptions can often be completely off, they can hold us back from some of the most interesting, fulfilling things in life.

Below are 5 ways to reframe your thinking so you can start taking fear out of the equation.

1. Before you even ask yourself, 'what's the worst that could happen' ask yourself, 'what's the best that could happen?'

Don't just weigh your decision based on how tolerable the worst case scenario is. Factor in just how much you have to gain. How could your entire life, from your career and relationships and down to how you feel every day, be different if you just told your fear to f*** off?  

2. Then remind yourself, 'what's the 'worst that can happen?'

Then stop dwelling on it. Realistically even if you fail, you're going to end up much better off than your worst case scenario, so chop it in half to make it feel less daunting. And don't forget, even if things don't turn out as planned, it's never permanent. You can almost always go back to where you were. You almost always have other options. It's never all or nothing

3. Ask yourself, is your fear based on your values, or someone else's?

Are you afraid of disappointing someone else, or that you won't meet certain expectations society has defined for you? Don't try to keep up with the Joneses - they're the most miserable people in America. Take the time to define what you  want, value and believe, and let that guide your decisions, rather than the fear of not living up to someone else's idea of what you should be doing.

4. Reframe fear and failure as good things

If you're afraid of something, you probably have a pretty clear sign that it's something that's going to help you grow. If you're failing, you're on the path to much bigger and better successes. The more you expose yourself to your fears and opportunities to fail, the smaller and easier they become. Do it often and not only will you find you exponentially increase your rate of growth, but you just might start to find it a little fun.

5. Remember the 50/50 principle

Finally, you might be asking yourself, isn't fear there for a reason and aren't you sometimes right? For argument's sake let's just say that 50% of the time, yes, your fear is right - you totally shouldn't have taken that leap, texted that person, or quit that job. But then 50% of the time you're wrong - by going for it you got the career, significant other, or opportunity of a lifetime. If it's 50/50 either way, would you rather go around feeling small, anxious and scared by the world all day, or calm, confident, and like the world is your goddamn oyster? It's all a matter of mindset at the end of the day. Choose the one you want.

This week challenge yourself to go just one week without fear. Make believe you were blessed at birth as one of those freaks without the gene to feel it and just notice even the smallest things that might be surfacing from an underlying fear. Discover what you would do differently.

Special thanks to our friend and National Fitness Day ambassador Shanna Tyler for hosting an amazing conversation around the topic of fear to inspire this piece. Check out some of her own uber-motivational thoughts and musings on her blog here

Kim Bielak fear
Celebrate Body Empowerment With Us This October

By Kim Bielak, Founder of National Fitness Day

We're excited to announce that this month National Fitness Day is partnering with BollyX to celebrate Body Empowerment! 

I started National Fitness Day because I wanted to celebrate and share the way fitness personally made me feel: stronger, more confident, and more empowered. But as I dove further into the industry, I was reminded that this isn’t everyone’s experience with fitness, nor is it in fact most. Despite the explosion of new wellness trends, between programs that continue to promise bikini bodies, transformation photos running through our Instagram feeds, and influencers with bodies that still aren’t realistic for most people, we continue to surround ourselves with media that has us comparing our bodies to others’. So as the health & wellness movement continues to grow – and I wholeheartedly believe to a mostly positive impact – there is no more important time to have a more open conversation about body positivity.

When it comes to body positivity, I want to offer breaking it down into two parts: body acceptance and body empowerment. Working on both can be equally important.

Body acceptance is exactly what it sounds like - accepting your body as it is. But it’s hard work. It takes undoing years of negative perceptions or unfair standards you’ve placed on your body. And it takes patience and often an overall reframing of how you look at your goals.

As I mentioned, I started National Fitness Day not to celebrate the body builders or the fastest runners of the world, but to simply celebrate how fitness makes us feel. Many of us believe we’ll be happy once we have a certain body, and while this isn’t usually true – yes, even models continue to be plagued with insecurities and dissatisfaction with their own bodies – it becomes clear that the end goal is not actually the body, but being happy and feeling good.

Do you feel better when you’re in shape? Sure! But, just like your body is different from everyone else’s, what makes you feel good is also going to be unique. To one person it might be about getting stronger, while to another it might just be about releasing some stress after a hard day. For one it might be losing 10 pounds to get to a healthy weight, while for another it may actually be about eating well without so much anxiety around the scale. You have to accept that your body is different, and therefore your goals should be different. If we’re being honest, pursuing the same goals as the person you follow on Instagram more often than not makes you feel like crap, so stop comparing your goals to theirs start pursuing goals that make you feel good.

Lastly, the most important part about body acceptance is learning how to feel good every day, regardless of where you are in our journey, and that means loving and accepting your body where it is now. Goals are important, but we tend to get into the mindset that we’ll only be happy once we’ve reached them. But if we just agreed that the ultimate goal is simply to feel good or be happy, why can’t you be happy today? Just because you had a cheat day doesn’t mean you need to punish yourself with guilt until you get back on track. Give yourself a break because you’re going to travel and eat a bunch of crazy food, and you’re going to go out for a friend’s birthday and have a little too much to drink, and you’re going to live your life because there are other things beside your body that should make you happy, too. One of my favorite quotes is “don’t miss 95% of your life just to weigh 5% less,” so learn to love your body through the up’s and down’s and don’t forget to give yourself a break.

Don’t miss 95% of your life just to weigh 5% less

Then, when it comes to body empowerment, I want to start by breaking down what empowerment means in the first place. We often think of feeling empowered the same way we think about feeling inspired: we do something like work out and suddenly this feeling just happens to us. But it’s interesting to note that by definition the word “empower” means “to give” strength or power. It’s incredibly active, and it’s in your hands to give, whether it’s in the words that you say to yourself or the choices that you make about what you do with your body.

Body empowerment is taking it one step beyond just loving your body, and loving it enough to treat it well and give it strength. This means giving it good food and working out. Getting your blood flowing, sweating the toxins out, and strengthening your heart. Taking steps to strengthen your body is the ultimate way to feel good, because you’ll find that when you give your body the fuel it needs, you’ll do things like regulate your blood sugar and feel less moody. When you build strength or endurance, you’ll become more confident, and feel empowered to take on new challenges. And when you treat your body well, you set it up to keep working for you for years to come.

At National Fitness Day, we believe that rather than focusing on what our bodies look like, we should celebrate what they can do. You are strong enough to run faster, lift more, or stretch farther than you could a month ago. Your body is capable of absolutely more than you know. And if you’ve ever been injured or known someone who has lost the ability to use his or her body the same way as you, you know that sometimes even simply walking is a gift in and of itself.

Together, we can change the conversation about our bodies. We can create a world where our daughters’ self-esteem is not defined by what they look like, and where we redefine our own goals to be simply be happy, and simply be healthy. Join me in thanking your body today for all it does for you, in loving it for all its jiggles, scars, and birthmarks, and in making taking care of it a priority – it’s with you for life.

Check out BollyX for more updates on how we're celebrating this month, including free classes, giveaways, and more!