Girl Boss Guide ft. Jessica Walton of barre3

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When I took my first barre3 class with Jessica, not only was I hooked on the format of the workout but thought to myself how amazing of an instructor she was. From the second I walked into the studio, she made me feel extremely welcome and at home in a studio I had never even set foot into before. I was so excited when this bombshell agreed to sit down with me (over hummus, pita and veggies, mind you) and let me pick her brain on all things health, fitness, food and more.

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Yes Girl: So tell me a little bit more about your role at barre3 and what you love about working there!

Jessica Walton: My official title is Client Relations Manager, so with that role I basically handle anything client-related –from welcoming people who are new to the studio to making sure our members are always happy. It’s important that I’m supportive and act as a friend to our members. I’m also in charge of managing any outside partnerships – with another business, a charity, etc. – so I plan any community classes, private bridal classes, outside events or anything across that spectrum. It’s super fun – I love getting to organize and plan our events! I also run our Instagram so that helps to incorporate my love of photography in with my job as well.

YG: I feel like fitness studios have to be active on social media these days. How have you seen that evolve and what has been the role of social media in continuing to develop the business?

JW: We’ll have people come in to the studio just because they saw something on Instagram or Facebook. Without those platforms, we wouldn’t have those people walking through our doors so it’s really interesting. We’re always trying to find ways to make our social handles entertaining for our clients for potential clients, too.

YG: What is so different about the barre3 method?

JW: The good thing with barre3 is that it’s celebrated to take care of your body and to modify where you need. It’s low impact, but it is so incredibly effective! Even if I’m feeling depleted and fatigued, I’m comfortable with modifying in any barre3 class, and we have some amazing instructors who offer personal attention to everyone in class. Barre3 has online workouts where they post a new workout every week that you can do right at home. They really take the time to make the workouts totally fresh and interactive, and the instructor that teaches the class will do live chats about the class if you have any questions or anything like that. Barre3 is constantly doing research to find out what’s going to work best for our clients. Sadie Lincoln (founder) has always said if she finds out one day barres are not best for our clients, then she’ll rip out all the barres in the studios! Also, company-wide we really focus on off-the-scale victories like “I had to have my clothes tailored down a size.” We celebrate those accomplishments, whether they take a week or a year.

We don’t support counting calories or obsessing over the scale.

 

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YG: You look amazing! What is your workout schedule like?

JW: I try to take three barre3 classes each week. I’ve learned that that works really well for my body. I also really love yoga so I try to get a class in once per week. My favorite studio is Tough Love Yoga! I also love spin classes, specifically Cyc Fitness who we’ve done a few events with (spin and barre are such good complements to each other!)

YG: How do you maintain motivation in your workouts? 

JW: I’ve tried everything from belly dancing to bootcamp. I think you have to find something you love and that you’ll keep gravitating toward. I see so many people fall out of love with a workout, and then they just can’t get themselves to make it happen. I think consistency is also key. If you can get yourself to move for ten minutes a day, it makes such a difference verses doing nothing.

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YG: What does a usual day of eating look like in your world?

JW: I have never had to fuel my body like I do now with teaching – As soon as I started training, I was ravenous! I eat an hour before any class I teach, and I usually like to start the day with something substantial, so I’ll do a protein with a healthy fat. I love sprouted grain bread with almond butter and banana slices or avocado toast. If I skip breakfast, my whole day is shot so I’m pretty consistent with my breakfast routine. I snack a ton, so I always have bananas, almonds, nut butters, and Kind Bars or Perfect Bars on hand. I’m on the move a lot, so bringing a lunch isn’t that feasible for me. I’d rather take a break during my day and get a salad at Zoe’s or an Unwich at Jimmy John’s, or one of my other go-tos. I definitely eat really intuitively and just try to get what I’m craving that day. Dinner is kind of the same thing!

YG: What’s your food philosophy and how did you get there?

JW: When I’m craving a sandwich, I just eat a sandwich. I’ve finally figured out that my body craves certain things for a reason, so I give my body what it needs. With time and becoming more mature and learning more about nutrition, it just kind of happened naturally. A lot of that came once I started with barre3 because they really help to guide you nutrition-wise. Learning from binge-eating mistakes combined with gaining the right knowledge helped me to figure out what works for me. I love dessert, I have a huge sweet tooth! And I love wine, too. If you don’t overdo anything, I think you can enjoy the things you love. Your body just kind of adjusts once you start to listen to it.

I don’t punish myself for eating things that aren’t necessarily the most nutritious, but I’m also careful about making healthy decisions most of the time so that I never have to feel guilty. 

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YG: How do you deal with society’s version of ‘perfection’?

JW: I could make a list of things about my body that I want to fix, and it’s just kind of crazy that we still think that way. I will say though, there was a time I would carry that list with me and now I’ve learned to ignore it. I’m so impressed by the rise of the body positivity movement and I think we’re really headed in the right direction. There are so many amazing women out there being brave and putting themselves out there to create something positive.

YG: What are some actionable items you do to combat negative self-talk or body image issues?

JW: I honestly think the best thing to get me out of a slump is moving. It’s not moving to look better, but to feel better. I measure how much activity I need by how I feel, not by how many calories I need to burn or pounds I need to lose. I think the fact that I don’t punish myself keeps me from having those down days all together. It’s more like down moments and, to combat those moments, I’ll usually get up and do a 10-minute online workout, take my dog for a walk, etc. I try not to let myself stay stuck in that slump.

With all the tragedy and unpredictability in the world, I would much rather just choose to be happy every day. I would much rather connect with people that I love and not really be worried about what my ass looks like in my jeans.

 

Girl Boss Guide ft. Katherine Mason of SculptHouse

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Fitness guru Katherine Mason is part ‘Southern Belle’, part ‘Tough New Yorker’ – and she’s a serious girl boss. Her new concept SculptHouse features one of the most unique workouts in the world along with an expansive athleisure boutique endowed with top-of-the-line fitness wear. I sat down with the founder & CEO of this Buckhead fitness haven to learn more about the fitness model turned studio owner.

Yes Girl: Tell me about your background and how you got started with SculptHouse.

Katherine Mason: When I moved to New York to pursue a career in fitness, I didn’t know exactly what that was, but I knew New York was the place to go to figure it out. Growing up as an athlete, I knew I wanted to do something in the sports industry, so I started working in sports marketing. But, after spending some time in the PR and marketing world, I knew that I wanted to do something more active, so the fitness industry was the perfect way to do that. I worked in a few different top fitness studio and did fitness modeling. Through my experiences, I realized that I had an idea that was going to change fitness in the South. I saw what New York had to offer and I wondered to myself “why does the South not have anything as cutting-edge as New York does?” That’s how the idea of SculptHouse came together. I wanted to do something that combined my passion for fitness and workout wear that had come about from my time in New York. At a Shape Magazine photoshoot, I realized that the fitness wear space was changing to be a more boutique feel and moving away from the big box names, so I wanted to bring that to Atlanta. In terms of the workout, I absolutely fell in love with the Megaformer because it was so different than anything I’d done before. Back when I was playing sports, it was so fast-paced, but the Megaformer was so challenging in such a great, unusual way and it changed my body to be longer, leaner and stronger. People from lots of different backgrounds can do this workout and feel good. I knew I wanted to combine the Megaformer with some type of cardio because I kept hearing people in New York saying they felt like they needed a cardio aspect. I discovered the Woodway Curve and, through pairing it with the Megaformer, I created a workout that provides extremely low impact and high efficiency. So, in 50 minutes, you get as much work as some people do in an hour and a half to two hours.

YG: Strong is the new skinny, and we all want to build long, lean muscles. How does your workout achieve that?

KM: I definitely think women need to be involved in some kind of resistance training. You get strength and resistance on the Megaformer, because it has the capability to go from about 8 pounds to 180 pounds. It’s all about how many springs you have on or off. One of our members has osteoporosis, and seeing the strength she’s acquired over time just from doing this workout is so inspiring. We need to lift weights to strengthen our bones and muscles surrounding them. The cables and pulleys on the Megaformer make it so that you have tension throughout your whole exercise, verses it releasing, for example, if you’re doing bicep curls with free weights where the tension releases at the bottom of the curl.

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On the SculptHouse workout: “We have a combination that’s different than anywhere else in the world.”

YG: As a studio owner, what would you say a typical day looks like for you?

KM: I usually get into the studio no later than 8:30 and stay until about 9pm. A lot of my day-to-day is working in the boutique, since I have a lot of experience in that realm from being in New York. Megan Armstrong [SculptHouse’s Creative Director & Lead Trainer] helps me make sure the studio is in check, because we have a lot going on under one roof! My day can involve anything from re-stocking the shelves to talking with our vendors to helping style our customers. I like to help them find workout clothes that compliment their skin tone or fit their body in a flattering way. Whether they’re actually working out or going to brunch with friends, I want our customers to feel comfortable and prepared. I like to take them out of their comfort zone and challenge them a little bit, too!

YG: Talk to me about the athleisure trend and your personal style.

KM: I like to dress up my workout clothes with fun accessories like cute sneaker wedges or a big, chunky necklace. A lot of times I’ll go to dinner with friends in my workout leggings and throw on a cool sweater for a put-together look. New York is a few years ahead with the athleisure trend so I’m really excited to see it coming here to Atlanta.

YG: What does a normal day of eating look like for you?

KM: I usually start my days with a smoothie. Then, for lunch, it’s almost embarrassing how much I go to Souper Jenny or Juicy Jenny! It’s easy, quick and convenient and I can still keep my day going. New York has a ton of healthy places to eat and everyone there is usually eating out at places like that, so I’m excited to see places like Kale Me Crazy opening up here! I usually cook for dinner if I have time, so I’ll run to Whole Foods and pick up ingredients to cook but it’s always something quick and easy! In New York, I was cooking a ton but I also had a very different schedule. Now, I’ve just kind of accepted that it’s not as easy for me to grocery shop and meal prep, so I make the healthiest choices I can while eating out.

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On starting your own business: “It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but if you want it bad enough, you won’t care.”

YG: Since a lot of meals need to be out for you, what are some of your favorite healthy spots in Atlanta?

KM: I love True Food Kitchen, Café Sunflower and The Optimist! Umi and O-Ku are always great for sushi. It’s really just all about making smart choices wherever you go. You can always find something healthy on the menu.

YG: Let’s talk about the balance between staying healthy and letting your self indulge occasionally.

KM: I think I’m pretty balanced because you just have to be in life, otherwise you drive yourself crazy. At Souper Jenny the other day, I was craving a Roast Beef Sandwich for some reason, and I usually never even eat roast beef! For whatever reason, that’s what my body was craving at the time. I definitely let myself indulge and I think the key is not to feel guilty. If you’re gonna do it, then do it and move on! It’s not the end of the world – that’s why you exercise! Your body’s cravings are not accidental, so I think it’s important to pay attention to them.

YG: What’s your favorite indulgent meal?

KM: I would definitely say pizza and Mexican, or a great cheese board. Queso and a skinny margarita are a must at any Mexican joint or I also like making my own pizza at Mellow Mushroom!

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“Just like we go shopping to find a dress for a special occasion, that’s becoming the everyday with workout clothes.”

YG: Being so much in the public eye, how do you keep a positive body image?

KM: First off, you just have to be confident in what your body type is. In the modeling world, I was constantly surrounded by beautiful models who were tall and thin, and I just had to accept my athletic body type and do what was best for me specifically. I’ve definitely had moments of insecurity, but the key is to find your inner confidence – because people can read it all over your face if you’re not. You really just have to own who you are and work hard to achieve your best body. Whatever you are good at, play to your strengths and be proud. Find friends that support what you’re good at, and who will laugh with you about what you’re not so good at.

YG: What advice do you have for female entreprenuers?

KM: Don’t be scared – I’ve had people ask me if I’m nervous or scared, but I don’t think I’ve ever said ‘yes’. I believe so much in my product, my services and my team that I just don’t care what other people think. I think you just have to find that confidence in whatever it is you’re doing and own it. Make sure you create a business plan because it will help you strategize. After building a business, you just learn to let everything roll off your back. I’ve definitely developed some toughness from this process! If you believe in what you’re doing, it doesn’t matter what other people are saying. You’re going to have people that doubt you, but you have to let that slide. It’s going to be the hardest thing you’ve ever done, but if you want it bad enough, you won’t care.

Want to learn more about SculptHouse? Check them out at www.sculpthouse.com. Your first class is only $15!

 

Buckhead Fitness Week Recap

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At just $50 for 5 classes at some of Buckhead’s top boutique fitness studios, I knew Buckhead Fitness Week was an opportunity I could not miss out on! As a serial fitness studio jumper, I always love trying new studios or even a different type of class at the studios I’ve grown to love. For me, group fitness is my happy place when it comes to exercise.

To give you some more background on this event, Cyc (one of my favorite Buckhead spin studios) partnered up with Barre3, West Coast Workout, Stellar Bodies and Thunderbolt Power Yoga to offer 5 classes (one at each studio) over the course of 7 days and give group exercise lovers in Buckhead an amazing boutique fitness experience.

A little recap of my week:

I started off my Monday morning of BFW with a bright and early Barre3 class. As a first timer, I didn’t know what to expect but they made me feel right at home! I will definitely be back.

On Wednesday morning I tried out a new Cyc instructor and it turns out, they are ALL fantastic. Even at 6:30am, the energy in the room was killer!

I ‘celebrated’ St. Patrick’s Day on Thursday evening with West Coast Workout‘s signature Best of the West class. This high-intensity interval-based class is perfect for breaking a sweat and feeling accomplished afterwards! And I didn’t even crave a green beer after. #WIN

Pre-#GirlTalkSeries brunch (blog post to come!), I died a little at Stellar Bodies’ signature full-body class. For those of you who haven’t tried the Megaformer, it’s a must-try. Burns so good.

I closed out BFW with a rejuvenating hot power yoga class at Thunderbolt. There’s just something about sweating it all out in a hot yoga class on Sunday that makes me feel zen and centered for the week ahead.

All in all, I am so glad I got to try Buckhead Fitness Week and will definitely be doing it again next year! Did anyone else sweat it out during BFW with me?

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Thank you to Cyc Fitness for the opportunity to try out Buckhead Fitness Week! While my BFW pass was complimentary, all opinions are my own.