Current faves: The Polar Express train ride, a stand-up comedy show, workouts and more

Hi, friend! How are you? How was your week? There are only nine more sleeps until Christmas, if you’re keeping track with a little countdown calendar in your house like we are. If you celebrate this holiday, are you ready for it?

New sweater dress 2022 by A Lady Goes West

(We took this picture before going to a neighbor’s holiday party this past weekend. I’m wearing a new sweater dress, which was so comfy. I’m in a small, and I paired it with my trusty faux leather leggings in a medium.)

I’m over here finishing up a pretty good week. I taught four classes this week, worked a lot, Dave and I went to a holiday show, and today, we’re going to Brady’s end-of-the-year Christmas party and performance at his preschool, so I have a sub for my usual Friday Barbell Strength class. Then, Brady will officially be on holiday break for about two-and-a-half weeks.

This upcoming weekend, we have brunch with Santa, a holiday lights event in Ballantyne, and our besties from Ohio (Grant and Bre and their three kiddos), are coming through to stay the night with us on their drive to Florida. It will be a very full weekend, because I also have some work to do, and I need to prepare to teach my very first EnBarre class next week (which is the new Life Time program I got certified to teach a couple of months ago but haven’t taught yet).

Now, let’s get to the faves …

Current faves


Experiencing The Polar Express in Spencer, North Carolina

Remember when I wrote this coffee chat post back in September and mentioned I bought a few tickets for holiday activities? Well, we’re working our way through them, and The Polar Express train ride may have been the main event for our family.

The Polar Express experience takes place at the North Carolina Transportation Museum in Spencer, North Carolina, which is an hour drive from Charlotte. We had heard great things, and it truly delivered.

I made this little video about our time on The Polar Express, and it’s my favorite reel I’ve ever made, so give it a watch.

Back to the whole experience: We wore our Christmas jammies, because we were told that’s what everyone does — and I would say about 90 percent of families had on their Christmas jammies, so it was totally appropriate.

The drive there was easy, the parking was easy, there were no lines for the bathrooms, the gift shop was amazing, the pre-show entertainer (an elf emcee who had a bubble machine) was super funny, and we loved the actual train ride too. 

Ashley and Brady at Polar Express 2022 by A Lady Goes West

Family at Polar Express 2022 by A Lady Goes West

Brady and Dave at Polar Express 2022 by A Lady Goes West

While I don’t know if we’d go next year, because we went this year, we’d definitely go back the year after that to experience it again. It was really magical for Brady, and I loved every minute of watching his reactions and his wonder from all of the happenings.

Our very, very, very talkative boy had not much to say the whole time, which lets us know he was truly in awe. He talked about it for days later, and he proudly displayed his souvenirs in his room, including his silver bell, his golden ticket and the toy train we bought him at the gift shop after the ride. Because obviously, the train ride lets you out at the gift shop, as any good attraction would.

Polar Express 2022 by A Lady Goes West

Polar Express ride 2022 by A Lady Goes West

(By the way, our Christmas jammies were on major sale this week. Not much is left, except for my top — I’m in a small. And as usual, in the first photo, I’m wearing my favorite sherpa jacket in a small.)

We rode the 4:45 p.m. train, and the actual ride was about an hour, which included getting off the train at The North Pole to see Santa give the first gift of Christmas. During the ride, the “chefs” delivered hot chocolate and cookies to all the passengers, they told the story of “The Polar Express,” and they led us in a sing-along.

Then, to top it off, Santa came through the train toward the end and gave everybody a silver bell from his bag. This was so sweet and special. 

North Pole 2022 by A Lady Goes West

I’ve always loved Christmas, but it’s so much more enjoyable watching it through Brady’s eyes, and we definitely did that while experiencing The Polar Express train ride. Major favorite, and I’d highly recommend it if you have young kids. Also, if you’re interested in going next year, plan to buy your tickets in the summer, because it sells out.


Seeing a Nate Bargatze stand-up comedy show

For Dave’s birthday back in October, I bought us tickets to see “Nate Bargatze: The Raincheck Tour.” Bargatze is a stand-up comedian, who we were introduced to by some friends back in California. We’d seen two of his Netflix specials and absolutely loved them.

Before comedy show by A Lady Goes West

Before the comedy show by A Lady Goes West

(I’m wearing a new belt in these photos, and I’m loving the addition of it to my wardrobe, because I never wear belts.)

Dave and I had never seen much stand-up live, so I knew this would be a great gift. Last Friday night, after my mom came over to hang with Brady, Dave and I headed out and began with dinner in Plaza Midwood at a place called The Warmack. The vibe there was great, the food was mostly good, and we enjoyed some shared plates and drinks, then we made our way to Ovens Auditorium near Uptown Charlotte.

The Warmack meal by A Lady Goes West

The Ovens Auditorium is part of the Bojangles Entertainment Complex, where I took Brady to see Disney on Ice back in October. But the Ovens is a smaller auditorium, and we had some great seats on the side on the lower level not too far from the stage. The whole process of check-in and finding our seats was super simple, and once we sat down, the fun began. There were two opening comedians before the main event, and unlike a concert, the transitions were super quick, which I liked, because there was nothing to swap out on stage.

The first comedian was super funny, the second comedian was averagely funny, and the headliner — Nate Bargatze — was absolutely hilarious. We were laughing non-stop for the whole hour he was on stage.

The thing about this particular comedian is that he doesn’t tell any off-color jokes or use any swear words (not that we’d be against it, just something to point out). Yet, his descriptions of real-life things are so spot on and funny. Dave and I agreed it was even better than we expected to be there in the live audience, and we truly loved this fun night. And we ran into someone Dave knows from work, even though we were way outside our bubble, so that’s always cool.

Nate Bargatze comedy show 2022 by A Lady Goes West

If you’re into comedy, Nate Bargatze has two Netflix specials and a new one coming to Amazon Prime in January, so check him out. This was such a blast!


My workouts from last week

Every week, I like to share a recap of my previous week of workouts. I share this to show you how I try to get diversity of movement in my week, and how I always take a rest day (almost always). But remember, I do a little bit more than the average person, because I’m a group fitness instructor. You absolutely don’t need to compare your movement to mine.

New weekly workouts by A Lady Goes West

Workouts from the week of 12/5

  • Monday: Taught 1-hour barbell class, 9:45 a.m.
  • Tuesday: Taught 1-hour barre class with light weights, 9:30 a.m., taught 1-hour barbell class, 6:30 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Did 35-minute lower-body weights, 9:30 a.m., taught 45-minute barre class with light weights, 5:30 p.m.
  • Thursday: Taught 45-minute combo class, 9:45 a.m., took 1-hour tennis clinic, 11:30 a.m.
  • Friday: Taught 45-minute barbell class, 11:30 a.m.
  • Saturday: Took 90-minute tennis clinic, 11 a.m.
  • Sunday: Took 1-hour slow neighborhood walk, 11:30 a.m.

This past week of workouts was full! I taught six classes, and three of those were barbell classes, so it was a lot of lifting weights. I also did a short solo workout, played tennis twice and took a rest day with nothing but a slow walk. This week of movement was a good one, and I’d be happy to repeat it. Here’s a look at the solo lower-body workout I did:

Lower-body workout by A Lady Goes West

Best read of the week

Here’s a light read that I thought was interesting:

Mindful holiday tips. I like this short and sweet article with some tips on how to be more mindful with your time and resources for the remainder of the holiday season. The best tip? Keep your first 10 days of January totally free of extracurriculars outside of work, so you know you can regroup from the madness of December once the new year arrives. I’m here for that tip, although I think we already have one party on the calendar the first weekend of January already.

Quote of the week

Here’s a thought for you from James Clear on Instagram. If you haven’t read his super-popular self-development book yet, here’s my review of it: “Tips on habits and a book review of ‘Atomic Habits.'”

Atomic Habit quote by A Lady Goes West

Blog archives of the week

Let’s look back at a few posts I recently published:

Popular posts. I found this post super interesting to put together, because the most popular posts aren’t always the one you expect … “The 25 most popular blog posts of 2022 on A Lady Goes West.”

The 25 most popular blog posts of 2022 on A Lady Goes West

Wellness gifts. Are you shopping for a wellness-focused loved one? If so, this list is for you … “The best health and wellness gifts for 2022.”

The best health and wellness gifts for 2022 by A Lady Goes West

Gifts for guys. I think this is a seriously comprehensive gift list for the men in your life, and I hope you think so too … “The best gifts for men for 2022 (gifts for him).”

The best gifts for men for 2022 (gifts for him) by A Lady Goes West

Gifts for ladies. I really enjoyed making this gift guide, and I hope you enjoyed checking it out for ideas for your personal wish list … “The best gifts for women for 2022 (gifts for her).”

The best gifts for women for 2022 (gifts for her) by A Lady Goes West

That’s it for today. As always, thank you for swinging by A Lady Goes West! 🙂

Questions of the day for YOU

What are you up to this weekend?

Is there anything on your list of goals for 2022 that you’re still hoping to achieve by the end of the year?

What’s one good thing going on in your world right now?



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