Body Image, Misc, Motivation

Judge, Favorably


This week was super-duper busy. November, (pre-pandemic) used to be one of my busiest months. This week even exceeded my busiest pre-pandmic months. It amazes and pleases me that people are back to valuing themselves, experiences, and their health. I’m grateful to all of you who took a class or booked a session for keeping my schedule full and keeping me growing professionally and able to be of service.

Being a trainer means the people I meet often confide in me about their health. Meeting many people means many more stories come out. This past week, one such story came full circle. I lost an acquaintance who never became my client but did become a friend and it taught me an important lesson about judging others favorably.

Nazi, my neighbor, was 52; just two years older than me, so it hit me harder than expected to learn of her sudden passing. She was Persian, and a Mom of 3. She’s probably still on this email list. To be honest,  I really didn’t like Nazi all that much when I first met her. She parked in my driveway, and sometimes also parked her car in the middle of the whole darned street. (We had a chat about that and fortunately she did change and find a proper parking spot). I didn’t understand how someone could be so rude and inconsiderate. She also talked to me about wanting to start training etc. but never actually booked a session.

One day, she recognized me in the locker room at Equinox. She told me she meant to start training with me, but in the meantime at Equinox signed up with one of my colleagues- and didn’t know I worked there too [I left in Aug]. Her trainer (a tall Black man who resembled a super-hero) I assured her, was a fabulous professional and she was in good hands. I wasn’t hurt and I was happy for her that if she found he was a good match to stick it out and she would get good results. We talked about other things- her love for her children etc and I started to feel compassion and warmth for her. 

Many weeks later she confided that she was battling lung Cancer and her weight had gone up and down and she was feeling hopeless. I tried to assure her that I knew many people who had beaten different forms of Cancer and that we know exercise has an affect on the body even if we don’t always see a result on the scale and that there are many studies which show exercise during treatment -if done at a proper intensity even if its a low intensity can be beneficial both for mood and metabolically. In fact, an ultrasound technician explained to me once that when you exercise, your body makes extra capillaries in the legs and these extra pathways for blood can help sustain a person in the event of a cardiac event because it offers alternative pathways.. so she should be assured that good changes are happening even if the clothes fit the same. I offered to pray for her.

Moments later, one of my own clients approached me and made disparaging comments about how Nazi’s weight fluctuated. Meanwhile, this client wasn’t consistent in her own workout routine. Though her own weight may have been consistent, it wasn’t clear if that was due to healthy or unhealthy eating choices or whether her response to stress (which she also had her fair share of) was loss of appetite. I tried to explain that you don’t always know from the outside what’s going on with someone on the inside. There can be many reasons someone gains or loses weight aside from a lack of discipline.

What I didn’t know was that Nazi was battling cancer for 4 years already and the doctors had given her 1 year. This past week, Nazi passed away. I called her trainer to let him know the sad news and encourage him to attend the shiva or memorial. He was heartbroken and as incredulous as I that she was here one moment and she’s not here anymore and it just doesn’t seem real. He asked me, “Kayla, since you are Jewish, what do I wear or what should I expect at the memorial service”. Um, I explained that even though I’m an Orthodox Jew, I have actually never been to a Persian memorial service. In fact, this isn’t an Ashkenazi custom and although we’re both Jewish, this is a custom with which I’m unfamiliar but I would ask a few friends. 

So during the week where sports stars and comedians were all saying things about what you are and aren’t allowed to say about “The Jews” (as if we’re all the same), I found out about a Jewish custom for the first time after living my whole life as a Jew. I learned that sometimes following a Persian memorial they serve a lavish dinner, whereas communal eating wasn’t allowed during the week I sat shiva for my Father…THAT different. Attending her memorial helped me find closure and gave me perspective about my own perceptions of right practice in Judaism.  [I think her trainer and I were simultaneously the lightest and darkest skinned folks in the room too and despite my own insecurity about that, nobody seemed particularly bothered by it.] 

Reflecting back, I had assumed years ago that Nazi was rude and self-centered by parking in my driveway or in the middle of the street. Now I wonder if she was just exhausted from Cancer or its treatment, and needed to park there but didn’t want to tell me all about her woes. I hope my client understands Nazi maybe wasn’t lacking self-discipline in her weight loss. Maybe she was also battling stresses and fears like of dying, or years of a slower metabolism from yoyo dieting? What if the client who was being so disparaging of Nazi really was projecting outside to someone else, her own self-criticism and insecurities? 

This was sort of the theme of the week… assumptions and learning to be kind. One of my new clients trains in her own home. She apologized to me for what she saw as her messy home. She assumed my home was neater. In fact, I had two sink loads of dishes piled way higher than hers when I left to go train her. Another client complained about how difficult it was for her to follow left hand from right hand. Yet another looked pregnant and was not, and another did not look pregnant and was. One woman talked of how her sister recently divorced and as close as they were, she never knew the problems she was having. Another friend told of how she could live with a certain thing and someone else said they could not. One woman appeared to have it all- kids, wealth etc.. and she confided that her husband may not be as religiously committed as it appears.

Bottom line is – be kind. People are more than they appear. Many times they are doing inner battles we know nothing about. We all have insecurities. The creator didn’t make any of us perfect. If we saw the things truly someone else is dealing with, with the skills and flaws they have with which to cope with those things, we might not be able to do it any better. Do the things..the best things you know how, in the best way you can. Even if it seems like it may not be making a big difference on the outside, you may be still making micro changes inside which will ultimately be worthwhile. Its normal to judge- ourselves and others. ..and I’m trying to take this weeks’ experiences as a reminder to try and judge favorably.

General Health, Misc


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Recent studies indicate gratitude can help strengthen your immune system, lower your blood pressure, reduce symptoms of illness, and even reduce your everyday aches and pains. So during this season of joy and giving, I’m wishing everyone more joy and gratitude attitude with 5 suggestions to help incorporate more gratitude into your life:

1. Start saying blessings over your food, over nature or have more intention and focus when you are saying them.

2. Have a gratitude journal where you write about someone or something that you encountered each day which was good. Use these things as affirmations or mantras when you may be feeling down.

3. Volunteer

4. Pay it forward– offer to pay for something for someone else that you have abundance in that they are lacking in (even if its paying their parking meter) or handing out a snack to a homeless person.

5. Take a walk in nature and focus on all the sights and smells you are appreciating.

Gratitude makes for improved physical health, happiness, enhanced sleep, improves self-esteem and better relationships. Gratitude is self-care

What are the ways you incorporate gratitude into your daily life? Tell me about it in the comments below.

I’m grateful for all my wonderful clients and the many ways they enrich my life by bringing their best to session and sometimes by bringing their worst but showing up anyway. Thanks for sharing the journey.

Exercise, Misc

Exercise and Emotional Trauma

One out of three women will experience a sexual assault, domestic violence, attempted assault in her lifetime! 3d002060-3ed0-4c3a-9011-79812960e2c2

As a fitness professional who works primarily with women, I understand the sense of helplessness, depression and other symptoms that can linger and hold you back from achieving your optimal health and well-being.  April is sexual assault awareness month and I’d like to talk a little more about how exercise can help in the healing process.

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder triggered by witnessing or experiencing a traumatic event. Although it is commonly associated with combat veterans, it also frequently affects survivors of violent personal assaults (rape, mugging or domestic violence), childhood abuse, natural disasters, accidents and life-threatening illnesses.

Exercise can play an important role in helping clients with PTSD or who experienced a trauma recover and regain confidence. Exercise also addresses many of the health problems commonly associated with chronic PTSD, including cardiovascular disease and depression or other bodily manifestations of the emotional after-effects of trauma.

Mind-body exercises like yoga, low-intensity aerobic exercise, in addition to the sense of accomplishment provided by feeling stronger through resistance exercise are valuable components of a comprehensive treatment plan.(Tsatsoulis & Fountoulakis 2006)(Cohen & Shamus 2009)(Cohen & Shamus 2009).

Diaphragmatic breathing, muscle relaxation exercises and stretching are an essential component of all my training programs. Abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing has been shown to improve immune function, hypertension, asthma, autonomic nervous system imbalances and psychological or stress-related disorders (Jerath et al. 2006).

Symptoms of PTSD can vary from day to day and may be triggered by seemingly innocuous situations, such as loud noises or crowds. The bootcamp drill sergeant approach may really trigger someone for whom being pushed or yelled at was part of their traumatic experience. This is another reason why I think touching a client without asking permission or standing  too close to a client in general is inappropriate.

Sufferers of trauma often need a sense of control which they lack in other aspects of their lives. There is a risk these clients could develop unhealthy or unsafe approaches to exercise. It is my job to show my clients how to make sure that exercise does not become an excessive behavior.

I would welcome the opportunity to assist you in your journey to wellness, wholeness, health, fitness and peace.


Six Super Safety Tips


Earlier this month we were treated to a fantastic self-defense workshop from Leslie Bockian.

Although you might have missed the opportunity for hands-on practice and entertaining, but practical self defense with everyday objects (including a pen, a toilet tank lid, and a flashlight), you can still up your odds of successfully avoiding being a victim by studying these Six Super Safety Tips!

Follow these easy strategies from Leslie Bockian to increase your security:


The single most important idea for personal safety is awareness of your environment.  Every attacker, regardless of the type of crime, looks for the easiest possible target, and being able to take you by surprise gives the assailant a huge advantage.  The more alert and aware you are, the less likely a criminal will even try to target you.


Trust your instinct.  If something just feels wrong – with a person, a location, a situation, etc. – something IS wrong.  You’re not imagining it, and you’re not being “paranoid.”  Don’t waste time trying to analyze exactly why you feel uneasy, just change the situation:  leave the area, move away from the individual, reschedule an appointment – whatever it takes to make the uncomfortable feeling go away.


Make it a conscious practice to move with an air of confidence and a sense of purpose.  Attackers look for people whose body language looks weak, confused, off-balance, or distracted – in other words, an “easy target.”  Don’t let that be you.


As much as possible, keep a cushion of open space around yourself. If an assailant can’t reach you or your belongings (cell phone, laptop, jewelry, purse, etc.), you are much safer. Keep in mind that attackers OFTEN use tricks to try to get too close to you, usually asking you for some kind of help (“Please, have you seen my missing child?  Here’s a picture!”).  Don’t let them use the fact that you’re a nice person as a way to harm you.  It’s OK to refuse to help if doing so will put you in danger.


Your voice is a wonderful self-defense tool.  You can yell “Fire!” to get attention; you can give the assailant a direct order (“Stop right there!”); you can yell a name to make the attacker think someone will be coming out to help you; you can even outwit an assailant.  You’ll hear amazing stories of these kinds of strategies in every self-defense workshop.


Being the victim of a violent crime disrupts someone’s life in a truly devastating way, and to a staggering degree.  Take a fun and convenient one-day women’s self-defense workshop!  Send Leslie your email address to be notified of the dates and times of upcoming classes (


8 Great Gift Ideas for Aerobics Instructors, Personal Trainers & other Fitness Fanatics

8 Great Gift Ideas for Aerobics Instructors, Personal Trainers & other Fitness Fanatics on your Holiday Shopping List

These gifts are appropriate for you to give as an individual or if a group of people pool together to make a nice gift…I’ve tried to list a variety of things at various price points.

A Watch or a Heart Rate Monitor Receiver ($100-$150) Fitness pros are hard on their watches. A nice waterproof watch with a second hand for taking pulse rates or a heart rate monitor calorie counter watch is a lovely thoughtful and functional gift.  A Nike sportband or similar would also fit the bill. How about an interval timer from ($25) for your Bootcamp Sergeant?

A Gym Bag– ($40-$120) You can stuff this with a monogrammed white towel if you want to be fancy, and some power bars, a hair brush and some hair accessories and notepad or reusable water bottle..or simply give a nice bag. Yogis might appreciate a special mat strap or mat bag. Some great bargains on gym bags can be had at places like Ross, TJ Maxx, and Marshall’s.

Spa Basket ($20-$60) Aromatherapy bath salts, a soothing CD with relaxing music, a fitness magazine and a bath poof for washing off sweaty muscles. Sephora sometimes even has some holiday bath products from Philosophy that might make a nice gift.

Massage Gift Certificate ($40-$80)

Jewelry ($25+) Barbell earrings, or dumbbell necklace or weight plate bracelet are all nifty.  I found some great stuff on ebay, overstock and

Athletic apparel ($25+) Gift certificates to stores like Lululemon, Athleta or Big 5 Sporting Goods. If there’s a charity close to their heart you may also find t-shirts and sports apparel supporting them like breast cancer awareness fitness gear. A sweatshirt to put on after a hot class on a cold day is a nice touch.

Tunes ($10+) ITunes Gift cards fit everyone. Other ideas for aerobics instructors include specially designed and licensed music for instructors and gyms  such as that found on or

Cook Books ($15-$20) Canyon Ranch Cookbook, Eat Clean Diet Cookbook..and many other healthy natural food cookbooks.