Friday Favorites: prAna, a watch, tea and more

Do you look forward to “Friday Favorites” as much as I do? This is my favorite post to write each week, because it gives me a chance to share with you totally unrelated things that are making me smile. I do these posts to end every week, so you can have something fairly mindless to peruse on what is hopefully your last day of work for a bit. 

Before I get started, let me just tell you that last night Dave and I attended a touring Cirque du Soleil show, and it was the greatest thing ever. If you have the chance to see Kurios, jump on it. I’ve seen four different Cirque shows, and this one was by far my favorite — not an easy feat.

And today, after some morning blogging, I have a lot of fitness planned, including some training and some teaching of BODYPUMP. As usual, tomorrow morning, I’m teaching BODYATTACK. The rest of the weekend should be fairly low-key, and that’s okay with me, because next week is a short one before Dave and I travel to Southern California for the holiday.

Now, let’s get to the favorites. And I warn you: This one is long, but I have a lot to say.

My favorite well-intentioned activewear: prAna

With so much workout attire to choose from, why not select what you wear from a clothing company that strives to do a little more than just make money? Enter prAna. Not only is prAna designed “for people who live life fully, play long, and travel well,” but much of the clothing is made with sustainable materials and methods aimed at reducing the brand’s impact on the planet. And even the company name is empowering — the word prAna means “breath, life and vitality of the spirit” in ancient Sanskrit.

Through my ambassadorship with Fit Approach and Sweat Pink, I was introduced to the prAna lifestyle brand and was sent a complimentary outfit to test out. In addition to the fact that both the top and bottoms fit me perfectly, this outfit also provided some inspiration for me. As a fitness professional who works out a lot, what I really need more of in my life is stretching, lengthening, breathing and yoga. So I took prAna up on it’s namesake and wore my fancy new and sustainable get-up to a brand new yoga studio this week, and I worked very hard in that class. I also took a moment to take some shots in the outfit on top of the parking garage of my building, so please enjoy these awkward beauties …

Ashley in prAna via A Lady Goes WestShown above: Me posing in my new prAna attire, including the Kira Top and the Misty Leggings.

I received the Kira Top in Winter color ($65) and the Misty Leggings in Blue Twilight Diamond ($75), both in size small. And as you can see, this outfit is so very yoga, yet also cute. I love the way it fits, feels and moves. Both items have great details, as the Kira Top has a mesh twist-back and a shelf bra, and is made from stretchy quick-dry material. The Misty Leggings are made from performance knit and meet high standards of environmentally friendly production. So there you go, clothing that’s good for the Earth.

I felt comfortable, free and ready to do some good to my body when I slipped on these pieces. Something about environmentally friendly activewear just makes me want to be healthy when I’m wearing it. Wouldn’t you agree?

If you’ve never heard of prAna before, this 22-year old company has five flagship stores in the U.S., and its products are sold in other specialty stores throughout the U.S., Canada, Europe and Asia, as well. And you can take a look around the prAna site to find yourself the perfect well-made item from the early winter collection. If you choose to buy something, use this code “pspf14algw” to get 15 percent off your order. And don’t forget to breathe!

My favorite fitness gadget: G-Shock watch

Now that I’ve started to create and teach bootcamp classes and branch out from just delivering pre-choreographed Les Mills programs, I realized I was in need of a good time-keeper. On Saturday night, before teaching a Sunday morning bootcamp, I popped down to Macy’s for this little number …

G-Shock watchThat’s a look at the first wear of my new G-Shock Metallic White Resin Mirror watch on my arm right before instructing an outdoor bootcamp on Sunday in a park.

With some online research, I knew what I wanted and this white G-Shock watch did the trick. Armed with a coupon, I snagged this little gem for less than $100, and I’d like to guarantee it will be on my wrist every day from here until eternity. I just love a good chunky watch, so I can see myself wearing this even when I’m not keeping tabs on intervals. By the way, this watch also comes in a larger version for $130, which I tried on, but because these G-Shocks are unisex, it was far too big for my wrist. This one is perfect. And can you say tax deductible? All in my line of work, you see.

My favorite drink and gift idea: DAVIDsTEA

Sometimes you don’t know what you’re missing out on in life until you experience it for the first time. For me, that’s fancy and high-quality tea. This week, I was invited to attend a holiday tea tasting at DAVIDsTEA store in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco. I thought I was showing up to taste a hot beverage or two, but in fact, I showed up to an eye-opening experience.

You see, I’m a tea drinker. I gave up coffee when Dave and I moved to San Francisco, because we didn’t have a coffee machine for the first few weeks. I started buying tea bags and never looked back. Well, thanks to DAVIDsTEA, I now realize there is a world of super amazingly-awesome tea out there, and it doesn’t come in little baggies from the grocery store. It’s loose-leaf. 

David's Tea via A Lady Goes WestShown above from top left to right: Inside the Marina neighborhood DAVIDsTEA store, the Nordic mug, some loose leaf Forever Nuts tea, and a selection of tea tins at the store.

I had never heard of DAVIDsTEA before, but apparently there are 115 stores in Canada, where the company started, and 21 stores in the U.S. DAVIDsTEA sells more than 150 varieties of tea ranging from white, to green, too herbal, to rooibos, to oolong and a bunch of other fun stuff. 

When I arrived at DAVIDsTEA, I was greeted by the friendly team and immediately introduced to one of the brand’s founders, who was visiting just for the event. She walked me around the store, showing me the adorable gift sets, variety packs of tea and tea accessories. My first thought was: This is the place to get really good Christmas or hostess gifts for people who are hard to shop for. There was even Christmas bark (yummy!) and cute little tea sets. I was in awe. 

But what really blew me away was the tea itself. I had the pleasure of smelling about a dozen different teas and trying some as well. These flavors are nothing short of deliciously warm and oh-so-wonderful. I can hardly describe them, because they are like dessert, mixed with the best Yankee Candles you could possibly ask for. I came away with a little gift bag, including one of the bestselling mugs, the Nordic mug, as well as a variety pack of tea and a pot of Forever Nuts, which is to-die-for.

Honestly, I get nothing out of telling you to check out DAVIDsTEA, other than the pleasure that I may have introduced a new fan, because this stuff is truly fabulous. And as a real world example, I had Dave smell the tea I came home with and he was blown away. And he doesn’t even like tea. I think he could definitely get on board with a mug of this stuff though, so I’ll keep you updated if that ever happens. I feel like I may need to write a whole post about tea, because now we’re getting out of “Friday Favorites” territory here and I need to reign things in. Nonetheless, DAVIDsTEA is what I like to call the “BDC” — And that’s the Bomb Dot Com, for those of you who aren’t up on the lingo. Use it.

My favorite healthy treat: Coconut jam

Any Whole Foods shoppers out there? While I’m a big Whole Foods fan, I get the majority of my groceries from other stores these days. However, I love to browse Whole Foods and have been stopping in more and more. Have you ever had their quinoa sushi rolls? Now that’s the stuff. 

I recently found out that Whole Foods has a new program in which every month they bring in local products with a theme. In Northern California during the month of October, the theme was healthy desserts. I popped into one of the big new Whole Foods on Market Street in San Francisco and came away with this Organic Coconut Jam and a huge caramel-covered pear, which had a bit of a tragedy, so is not pictured.

Organic coconut jam from Whole FoodsA little tub of Organic Coconut Jam goodness, which doesn’t even need to be refrigerated after opening.

This stuff is so good. I would compare it to apple butter, but with a coconut flavor, of course. I put it in my overnight oats and have livened up a few other dishes with it. I could also see adding it to a banana split or putting it on fruit for a sweet treat. Next time you’re in your local Whole Foods, pop over and check out the monthly specials, because you might find something good like this. Oh, and don’t forget to check out the quinoa sushi.

My favorite links of the week

While “Friday Favorites” is always super fun to look forward to at the end of each week, there are also some good posts going up Monday through Thursday here on A Lady Goes West. Hope you didn’t miss any of these:

Hey, want to keep in touch over the weekend? Check out my Instagram, where I tend to check in while out-and-about in the City. Now go off and have a good one!

More fun Friday Favorites 

Do you like these “Friday Favorites”? If so, see below for previous editions or visit the the link-up hostesses, Heather, Clare and Katie

  1. A snack, a purse and a ritual
  2. A delivery, a bra and a guy
  3. A sweet, a wine and a read
  4. A drink, a gadget and a plan 
  5. A time, a bottle and a powder
  6. San Francisco edition
  7. Beauty edition
  8. Beach vacation edition
  9. Hidden meanings
  10. Kicks, a book and a bowl
  11. The very best sweatshirts
  12. Party hosting and froyo
  13. Fourth of July daytime activity
  14. Beauty basics edition
  15. Workplace edition
  16. Shopping, sales and a show
  17. The foods I always buy
  18. Sushi, a game and pants
  19. Fitness apps
  20. Delicious and healthy products
  21. Comfort, fitness and function
  22. Beauty, buddha and blog events
  23. Dining, the city and gift ideas
  24. POPSUGAR, sweets and such
  25. A bunch of fun stuff
  26. e-book, food, picnic and tunes
  27. A link, a superfood and a mask
  28. Pants, shoes, food and links
  29. Dining, protein and goodies
  30. Shopping, events and a book
  31. A gym bag, pumpkin and juices 
  32. Workout gear, a top and a massage

Questions of the day

Do you have a favorite from the week to share? What’s up for your weekend?

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Two very different fitness class experiences

Hello friends, and a very happy Thursday going out to you. This time next week, we’ll all be changing into our stretchy pants and hopefully preparing for a day of togetherness and feasting. And I for one am quite excited. On Wednesday, Dave and I are driving all the way south to San Diego from San Francisco to stay with his parents, and it will be our maiden voyage that far down the coast together. (His parents relocated there this year from Florida, and although Dave has visited, I haven’t yet.) I’m looking forward to the new scenery. 

Checking out the class scene in San Francisco

But today, let’s talk about being healthy and active. I love to go to new group fitness classes and often recap what I think about each right here on A Lady Goes West. If you’d like to see some of my thoughts on several nationally-branded classes, as well as local San Francisco studios, visit the Fitness page. 

That being said, as a fitness professional who also teaches group classes, I’m in full of support of companies, start-ups and trends that get more people moving. And one such program that everybody is talking about around San Francisco these days is fitmob, and with good reason. fitmob is taking over the Bay Area fitness scene by giving people a chance to try tons of workouts whenever they want. I’ve had the opportunity to take several yoga classes, a barre class and an outdoor bootcamp using the fitmob service, as there’s quite a bit of variety available to choose from. Every time I’ve booked a class, I’ve gone on the easy-to-use website and found what I wanted, at the time I wanted, and in the neighborhood I wanted, with no issues at all.

And currently, if you sign up for fitmob within the month of November, you can get your first month for only $1. That means you get access to unlimited classes at tons of studios and gyms around San Francisco and beyond, which is way less than the normal price of $99 per month for the Passport program. Quite the deal.

Now, let’s get to two very different class experiences I’ve had as of late using fitmob. Because I already teach and do a high-impact cardio class, BODYATTACK, and a muscular endurance class, BODYPUMP, a couple times a week, the other workouts I do each week need to give me a different kind of challenge. And these two did just that …

Class review: Raise the Barre at fitmob headquarters

Okay, super fun. If you sign up for fitmob, you must attend “Raise the Barre,” taught by Andre, which is a fitmob exclusive class. It was challenging, but doable, fun, but effective, and fast-paced, yet at the same time easy to follow. While the class is rooted in a “barre” workout, which means there is a lot of tucking of your butt, pulsing and small movements using light weights, a squishy ball between your thighs and a ballet barre, it also let us branch out a bit and included some more freestyle-dancey moments (which is the official term for what we did, of course).

Raise the Barre equipmentYou need a lot of stuff for Raise the Barre, but it’s all nicely provided to you by the folks at the fitmob headquarters.

Andre comes from a Zumba background, and he added that Zumba flare into the class. We did a lot of aerobic-type dancing, big arm movements and leg movements, which are not usually part of a traditional and stuffy barre class. And we even used a Pilates ring for a little ab work at the end. I was smiling the whole time, even when my legs were burning, because Andre’s enthusiasm was infectious. Not to mention, the class took place in the fitmob headquarters in the SoMa neighborhood of San Francisco on 5th Street, so there were people at their desks doing work just a few feet away, and that made the whole thing that much more entertaining. So very San Francisco, is what I kept thinking …

fitmob headquartersI knew I liked fitmob, but I then I decided I loved the company, once I was introduced to the wall of foam rollers available over there under the sign.

I attended the class on a Thursday night, when I wasn’t very enthused about getting a workout in, being that I was sore from teaching a double the day before. But this class had me working, sweating and feeling great in no time. I’d definitely go again.

Raise the Barre class at fitmob headquarters

  • Length: 55 minutes
  • Format: Short warm-up, followed by arm work using small weights, dance moves using small weights, bodyweight cardio work, balance work on a yoga block, ball work for legs and glutes at the barre, ab work using a Pilates ring and a short cool-down
  • Equipment: Ball, weights, mat, ring, yoga block and barre provided; bring your own towel
  • Suggested outfit: Tight tops and pants, bare feet or socks
  • Difficulty: On a 1 to 10 scale, probably a 6
  • Pros: Entertaining instructor, variety of moves and equipment, fun dancey vibe and a good combination of cardio and strength

Switching gears to experience number two …

Class review: Power 60 yoga at Body Temp Yoga

If you are a regular around here and read my post yesterday, you know that I wasn’t aware that I was showing up to a hot yoga class when I arrived at Body Temp Yoga, a new studio in the Marina neighborhood of San Francisco on Chestnut Street. 

Outside of Body Temp Yoga SFBody Temp Yoga is in a nice neighborhood, just up those stairs above a laundromat.

Maybe the name should have clued me in? But for some reason, I thought because I wasn’t going to one of the studio’s traditional Bikram classes, that I was in for a regular yoga experience. I wasn’t. When I arrived, people were walking out of the last class super sweaty, there was coconut water available for purchase, and there was a sign asking people not to sit on the couch when wet. Don’t get me wrong, this was a very clean, well-done and inviting yoga studio, but it was definitely catering to a clientele that would be drenched when done, i.e. hot yoga.

Body Temp Yoga in SFEven the logo should have given me a hint. I really missed the mark here.

The Power 60 class that I attended was a full 60 minutes, and the instructor, Panithi, taught the class by walking around and instructing via voice only, because it was way too packed for him to have a spot. The room was heated to just above 90 degrees, which makes for a very intense session. This class was not for beginners, and we moved very quickly through the poses. I will say I had the most clothing on of anyone there, and I was wearing long pants and a tank (a brand new get-up I plan to tell you about tomorrow!). Had I known I would be entering a heated room, I may have opted for shorts instead.

The actual content of the class was good. We didn’t stay in any pose too long, and we worked all parts of our body equally. But it was hot. I mean super hot. Nonetheless, I felt so loose, worked and refreshed after walking out of that steaming yoga session. The heat really helps your muscles loosen up.

Body Temp Yoga offers a great class, definitely worthy of checking out if you’re in the Bay Area. And I’d know, because I’ve hopped around to many-a-yoga studio over the past few months to adhere to my goal of going to yoga at least once a week. Would I return to Body Temp Yoga? Yes. But I’d hydrate, wear something different and mentally prepare myself to be soaked and exhausted, because you just need to be ready for that kind of thing. Good stuff.

Power 60 yoga class at Body Temp Yoga

  • Length: 60 minutes
  • Format: Deep breathing, seated stretches, repeated sequences using holds, arm strength, core strength, balance and a ton of Chatarunga to Upward-dog flows for the majority of class, ending with some bicycle crunches and a very short Savasana — all taking place in a packed room just above 90 degrees
  • Equipment: Mat rental available, bring your own large towel and plenty of water
  • Suggested outfit: Tight tops and shorts, bare feet and maybe consider bringing a change of clothes to go home in
  • Difficulty: On a 1 to 10 scale, probably an 8
  • Pros: Very challenging, provides a cleansing sweat, moves fast and utilizes the entire hour for a full-body stretching, lengthening and strengthening session

Two very different classes, yet both provided me with exactly what my body needed at the time. And both can be accessed via a membership to fitmob. Pretty good deal, I’d say.

Alrighty friends, please be sure to come back tomorrow for another fun edition of “Friday Favorites,” because I have some good ones to share! I promise! Today, I’ve got some work to do, will be sneaking in a lunch-time Barry’s Bootcamp class, and then Dave and I are going to see a traveling Cirque du Soleil show tonight. Yes, I’ll be sporting my latest LE TOTE dress in style. Have a great day!

* Disclaimer: I received the opportunity to take part in the fitmob campaign through my ambassadorship with Fit Approach. While I was compensated for my participation in this campaign, all thoughts and words, of course, are my own.

Questions of the day

Have you ever taken a hot yoga class? What was your experience? When’s the last time you tried something new workout or food-wise? Do you ever do anything fun on Thursday nights?

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