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Refinery29 x Adidas Greater Every Run Event

I recently had the pleasure of hosting some runs at an event involving two of my favorite companies: Refinery29 and Adidas. It was all to continue the celebration of the release of Adidas Running’s latest shoe created specifically for the female foot- the UltraBoostX.  I’ve spent a lot of time in these shoes the past few months and I love them.  The shoe’s floating arch, boost sole and primeknit upper hug my foot like glue to keep up with my every move.

The event took place in Santa Monica, California in front of the gorgeous adidas 3rd St Promenade store.  There were 3 runs throughout the day- 1 and 2 miles led by Remi Ishizuka and myself and a 3 mile led by my girls Diana Mireles and Mellie Cay.  These three ladies have been at my side since I started sharing my fitness journey last year so this was an especially exciting combination of women 🙂

Throughout the day there were insane performances by treadmill dancers who were once on America’s Got Talent.  As a professional dancer, I tip my hats to those ladies turning, leaping and jumping all while in perfect unison on a moving belt!  Juice Served Here poured delicious runner themed pressed juices and attendees were able to try on the Ultra Boost X and enter a raffle for an Adidas gift card.  Adidas swag, Rx bars and tunes from DJ Lola Langusta kept the energy flowing all afternoon.

Despite the classic ocean-fogged weather, I met SO many new faces full of energy, eager to become #GreaterEveryRun.  Thank you to Adidas Running and Refinery 29 for having me be apart of such an inspiring afternoon and thank you to all of my friends new and old for coming out!

BodyBoss Method 12 Week Fitness Guide Review

I am lucky enough to try new workouts on the regular. Some are trendy, shiny and gimmicky… others like BodyBoss Method, let the work do the talking.  It’s a straight forward, 12 week fitness guide that uses High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) as the basis to reshaping your body.

BodyBoss  explains, “The HIIT technique involves repeated bursts of brief, intense anaerobic exercise performed at maximum effort, alternated with short periods of recovery.”   BodyBoss HIIT days consist of 7-8 exercises done for 7-8 minutes and repeated for 3 rounds.  This is a total workout time of 24 minutes.  When you complete your workout, you continue to burn calories as your body recovers.  This is called afterburn or the #BossEffect.

A typical week with BodyBoss looks like this:

Monday

Your workout week begins with Legs and Booty HIIT.

My favorite BodyBoss Leg and Booty exercise is the squat with side kick.  You kill two birds with one stone lifting your ass while kicking out your aggression.

With your feet slightly wider than shoulder distance apart, do a squat without letting your knees go beyond your toes.  Try to lower yourself back until your thighs are parallel to the ground.

Dig your heels into the ground and press back to vertical, shifting your weight to your left leg.  Kick your right foot as if you’re busting through a doorway with your heel.  Return to squat and repeat.

Tuesday

Tuesdays are about keeping the train in motion with some light exercise.  The BodyBoss schedule reads my body’s mind and creates peaks and valleys in the week so you don’t get burned out.  Bike, swim, go for a walk or take yoga.

Wednesday

Arms, Abs and Core  HIIT days are Wednesday.  I find that working my core always re-energizes my body so hump day is the perfect day for this session.    I love V Sit Ups because they’re simple and there are so many variations to challenge yourself.

Start on your back with your feet and shoulders hovering above the ground,

Exhale while you engage your ab wall to lift your upper body towards your lower body.  You can keep your legs bent, straight or even twist to either side to work your obliques.

Thursday

Thursdays are for Cardio.   I use these days as opportunities to make a fit date.  Running, hiking, cycling and group classes are always more fun with with partner.

Friday

Fridays are the big finale.  Total Body HIIT days.  These days you rotate between only 4 exercises that usually correlate with what you did on Monday and Wednesday.  These days usually require less reps but more energy and explosiveness from you.  The BodyBoss book says, “Think of it as your Friday super power session!”

My favorite BossBody exercise for Full Body days is the Aeroplane Push Up.  A plank alone is a great way to engaged your full body, but with a twist and push up added on you’ll be the best kind of dead by rep 12.

From plank position, lower your upper body towards the ground.

Push your arms straight and shift your body weight onto your right hand.  Lift your left elbow towards the sky, opening your body outward.

Extend your arm and focus to the sky to form a straight line.  Return to starting position and repeat on the left.

My thoughts on BodyBoss

  • Amazing for Beginners. This book teaches you how to work out.  Not only does it tell you what to do, it tells you how to do it.  The back of the book has a full glossary of how to do the most basic to advanced moves.  For someone just beginning their fitness journey who may never have done a squat in their life, they have a 4 week pre-training program to ease you into the motion before fully committing to the 12 week plan.

  • Amazing for hardcore fitness fanatics.  There is an option to increase the intensity of every exercise in the book.  Adding weights, ankle weights, stairs etc, takes each exercise to the next level.

  • BodyBoss budgets time for stretching. I also love that the book budgets time within the workout for stretching.  Long, lean bodies are created by working the muscle then stretching it.  Even as a dancer, I take stretching for granted.  The Body Boss stretches are simple, but seeing them on the page makes stretching before and after your workout a no brainer.

  • Option to pick and choose. BodyBoss is effective whether or not you are following their 12 week plan.  I love to workout at home or while I travel, but I often spend just as much time thinking of exercises as I spend actually doing them.  The Body Boss book gives me a roadmap for my workout, wherever I am in the world.

  • You can travel with it.  Many people skip workouts when they travel because they are away from their local fitness classes, regular running routes, or usual gym equipment.  BodyBoss HIIT days require nothing else but the book.  I like to take photos of the pages  I’ll need while away so all I don’t need to pack anything extra at all!

  • Supplement my group class addiction.  I love group classes with a passion because you show up, do what you’re told and leave in complete exhaustion.  ClassPass has recently limited us to 10 classes per month which is not nearly enough. I supplement these group classes with BodyBoss sessions.

REFORMING MY RUN

I started running recreationally about four years ago.   I laced up, plugged in and worked up a sweat giving little thought to form or function.  This approach to running contrasts to my life as a dancer.  Over the years I have been taught to be aware of what every inch of my body is doing and why.   I have memories of repeating the same movement over and over until it became second nature.  I would never claim to be a perfect dancer, but I do take pride in being an aware dancer.  In January I started to share my workout life online via photos on Instagram, this blog and through my ambassadorship with Adidas Running.  I’ve continued upon my run-to-feel-good ways until I scrolled upon this sponsored ad of me to the right.   Comments read “yikes, that heel strike tho,” and “her hips are gonna be hurting with that stride”.  ……GASP….STOP THE PRESSES… WHAT’S A HEEL STRIKE?  SEND HELP. I will NOT be the Kendall Jenner of running.

Meet Jessie Zapo (@jessiezapo).  Jessie and I met in January at the Adidas PureBOOSTx launch in Santa Monica.  Over the span of seven years Jessie has carved a space for women and new runners in the NYC urban running community.  Named “the first lady of running,” Jessie created and produced programs for organizations like Bridgerunners, The Black Roses NYC and Girls Run NYC.  During a recent trip to New York I was lucky enough to have some one on one sessions with Jessie that opened my eyes and rocked my running world.

Run Revelations

EFFICIENCY

My first revelation on form was understanding how it’s systematically inefficient to lead with your heel.  I used to think that a longer stride was created by reaching my foot/heel further and further in front of me.  My run was low and heavy but my stride was long so I never thought there was a problem.

A stride that leads with your heel (heel strike) involves 4 steps per stride, while a mid foot strike only involves 3:

KNEE

MID FOOT TO GROUND

KICK BACK

      Heel Strike Stride:

  1. KNEE LIFTS
  2. HEEL TO GROUND CONTACT
  3. MID FOOT CONTACT
  4. KICK BACK

       Mid Foot Strike Stride:

  1. KNEE LIFTS
  2. MID FOOT TO GROUNT CONTACT
  3. KICK BACK

HIGH KNEES 

A correct stride is initiated by the knee.   The force of your knee lifting into air sends your body upward and propels forward into your next stride.  Your foot never reaches in front of the knee that’s lifted- it hits the ground directly underneath.

Jessie sent me this video from Competitor Magazine to help understand this concept.

FLEXED FOOT

In dance class I was always taught to jump off the ground heel, ball, toe and land toe, ball, heel to absorb gravity and protect my joints.  This is not the case when you run. Though you will naturally run in this sequence, emphasizing the toe ball heel landing will slow you down.  Lifting your knee with a flexed foot, positions your foot to land directly on the ball when you put it down underneath you.  Your heel will follow.

EMPHASIS

Before our lessons, my run felt heavy.  I put emphasis down/into the ground with every stride.  Jesse encouraged me to think of the action as UP.    Your foot is pushing off the ground rather than hitting the ground with every stride.  Thinking “UP UP UP” immediately made my run lighter and stride longer.  More time in the air gave me more time to propel forward and run faster.

JESSIE’S FORM CUES

  • Eyes up

  • Head up

  • Knees up

  • Shoulders relaxed

  • Neutral spine & pelvis

Photos by Melissa Holtz (@melisinestudio)

Headphone Review: Sudio Sweden

I recently received a gorgeous pair of Sudio VASA Blå wireless headphones from my friends at Sudio Sweden.  At first glance, these headphones are absolutely stunning.  After living with them for the last couple of weeks, here’s my review.

  • Pro: Swedish design is stunning.  Each pair comes with a chic matching leather pouch and rose gold clip to store and secure the headphones.
  • Pro: The sound is great, even my musician boyfriend approves.  Sudio explains the headphones have a “tuned driver and amplifier. The combination of driver and amplifier is able to separate the sound of every instrument in every song, thereby giving the listener a true studio experience.”
  • Pro: Bluetooth/wireless aspect helps streamline my everyday activities.  City walks and airplane rides are less of a mess and I don’t have to make sure my phone is within wire’s distance away.

  • Pro:  The headphones are super light, I forget I’m wearing them.  Sudio claims they are the lightest on the market thus far weighing 14g.
  • Con:  Despite trying all four ear bud sizes that come with the headphones, they fall out when I jog, dance or workout.  This was major for me as I continue my search for a pair of headphones that not only look and sound amazing, but stays secure even with extreme physical activity.

Overall, these headphones are chic and fantastic for all activities except working out.

Check out Sudio Sweden here. Enter discount code “YouKongDoIt” for 15% OFF. 

Adidas Running in MONTAUK

Adidas does it big. Pure Boost X was launched earlier this year and I was lucky to participate in the shoe’s epic three day launch in Santa Monica, CA.  Recently, Adidas Running continued the Pure Boost party but this time in Montauk, NY.  For those who are unfamiliar,  Montauk was once a quiet fishing town past the Hamptons on Long Island, and is now THE summer getaway place to both escape and be seen. The event started with a bang as we boarded three helicopters from NYC to MTK.  One hour later we were at Gurney’s Resort.  We went through hair and makeup glam, picked out our outfits for the weekend, and got the new Pure Boost X.  The two days centered around what adidas Women always stresses- being strong in every sense of the word. We trained- ran in the rain, took a Barre 3 class, examined our gaits and took SUP paddle board yoga.  We also spoke with 3 time Olympian Jennifer Rhines and Barre 3 founder Sadie Lincoln on building our own empires, finding balance and doing it all with positive energy.    The video and photo library below represent it well.  Thank you adidas Running for another epic event.

15 min Full Body Partner Workout

It’s always better together.  I recently teamed up with my girl Michelle Carigma of Modern Fit (@_modernfit) to create a self sufficient workout date.  Assign your partner a number, complete these three exercises, then switch!  Grab some water then do it all again.

EXERCISE #1

Partner 1 (Michelle) – Forearm Plank. Engage your core and glutes. Use your lats to press your forearms into the ground and chest away from the ground.

Partner 2 (Meagan) –  20 Tuck Jumps over Parter 1.  Get your knees up and count the 20 jumps aloud.

Added difficulty: Partner 1- Lift one leg and hold. Switch lifted legs halfway through Partner 2’s set (jump 10).

EXERCISE #2

Partner 2 – Wall Sit.  Sit against a wall with your feet shoulder width apart.  Have your partner check that your bum is even with your knees to make a perfect 90 degree angle.  Roll your shoulders back, engage your lower abs and hold the position as long as it takes for Partner 1 to complete their set below.

Partner 1 – 30 Tricep Dips.  Bend your arms to 90 degrees while holding your partner’s knees.   If this feels awkward, have Partner 2 widen their stance.  Without letting your elbows splay outwards, push up until your arms are nearly straight. Repeat 30 times.

Added Difficulty:  Partner 2- Do 15 dips with right leg lifted parallel to the ground then switch legs for the remainder of the set.

EXERCISE #3

Partner 1-  25 Sit Ups.  Two feet on the ground.  Arms crossed or behind your head.

Partner 2- Mountain Climbers.   Start in plank position while holding Partner 1’s feet.  Draw one knee towards your nose, switch.  Repeat as fast as you can for as long as it takes Partner 1 to completes their sit-up set.

Added Difficulty:  Partner 1- Touch opposite elbow to knee while sitting up. Partner 2- Cross your knees to opposite shoulders.

Photos by Ron Holden 

All clothes: Adidas Women (Jean Jacket- Levi’s)

EAT BETTER

SOCCA: Chickpea Pancakes

I woke up missing the south of France! I once lived in Monaco for 4 months and would go to Nice to eat my favorite street food: SOCCA. Made from chickpea flour, socca is naturally gluten free, vegan and has a bit of protein.  Traditionally you’d eat socca plain, but I like to top it with anything I’m craving to make a pizza/crepe like meal. In the photo below I went with wilted arugula, spicy chicken sausage and sautéed onion and red peppers.

Combine and mix all ingredients well in large bowl.  Coat a hot non-stick pan with oil.  Pour 1/4 cup batter into pan and shift it around until it thinly covers the entire base of the pan evenly.  Cook for 3 min and flip-the edges should be crispy.  Drizzle with oil (I use flax) and salt and pepper.

Yields 4-5  pancakes

  • 2 cups chickpea flour
  • 2 cups water
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cumin

Almond Butter Berry Bowl

In my last blog entry I discuss some brain boosting foods that help you focus fast and sustain your energy throughout the day.

Here is my absolute favorite food for thought, an Almond Butter Berry Bowl.  I originally created this bowl for an article on SimonSAID, but am so obsessed with it I had to share it here.  Unpeel and freeze bananas in a plastic bag or Tupperware in advance. Using frozen opposed to fresh banana and berries will create the thick, satisfying smoothie bowl you are hoping for. Combine all ingredients and blend until smooth.  My favorite post workout meal to date!

 

  • 1 Cup Frozen Mixed Berries

  • 1/2 Frozen Banana (I always keep peeled and bananas in a Ziplock in my freezer!)

  • 1 Scoop Protein Powder

  • 1 T Almond Butter

  • 1 T Chia Seeds

  • 3/4 cup Unsweetened Vanilla Almond milk (1/2 cup for even thicker bowls)

  • Top with your favorite brain foods— I used dark chocolate, blueberries, whole grain granola and shredded coconut.

Photos by Nikki Dalonzo

Wardrobe and kitchen accessories from Simon Malls 

Brain Boosting Foods to Help You Focus

These days your mind is at a constant tug of war with so many worlds. While you can’t tell the world to stop spinning, you can take control by feeding your brain with the nutrients it craves. Using food as fuel you can funnel your focus, harness a sense of control and turn your mind into an ally.  While a venti triple dirty chai sounds like the perfect pick me up to focus fast, you risk a heavy crash. Whether for a meal or on the go, nutrient dense foods with a balance of healthy fats, carbohydrates and protein will sustain your energy level when you need it most.

In creating this balance, there are certain foods you can incorporate that contain especially powerful brain boosting properties:

  • Berries

    Flavonoids are an important component of berries. Not only do the flavonoids give the berries their gorgeous color, they feed the hippocampus which is the portion of your brain responsible for memory and learning. Their antioxidant and anti-inflammatory power helps your blood flow through your body and to your brain without inhibition.

  • Dark Chocolate

    Like coffee, dark chocolate is a natural stimulant but has a fraction of the caffeine so you can get a boost, but avoid the crash. 1 ounce of dark chocolate (5-6 squares) contains ¼ of the caffeine in an 8 ounce cup of coffee. Like berries, dark chocolate contains flavonols and antioxidants which can do the work so your attention span doesn’t have to.

  • Probiotic Foods

    Probiotic foods like yogurt, kefir and kimchee help balance the bacteria in your gut referred to as your gut microbiome. “The key to optimizing our cognitive and physical health lies in the health of our gut. When we feed our gut a healthy diet we are truly fueling maximum health,” explains Bruce Lowell MD of Lowell Metabolics.

  • Leafy Greens.

    The benefit of eating your greens is no new news but, recent studies link the consumption of 2 cups of greens per day with a lower level of cognitive decline*. Greens such as spinach, kale and swiss chard are loaded with Vitamin A, and folic acid which has been shown to improve mental clarity.

  • Nuts and Seeds

    Nuts and seeds are especially high in good fat and vitamin E. Both properties help keep your heart healthy and brain functioning properly, increasing focus and concentration.

  • Click here for my favorite food for thought… an almond butter berry smoothie bowl!

Photos by Nikki Dalonzo 

Wardrobe and kitchenware provides by Simon Malls 

Savory Steel Cut Oats

It’s a chewy nutty bowl of fall comfort.  I am loving changing up my normal breakfast routine with these savory oats.   Anything goes, especially when you dress the final product with flax oil to tie it all together.  I keep it dairy free by use nutritional yeast, but I imagine it being next level with cheddar cheese!  Enjoy.

  • Bring 1 cup of water to a boil

  • Add 1/2 cup of Steel Cut Oats and pinch of salt.  Lower heat to simmer for 5 minutes until water is absorbed.  Stir every minute.

  • Stir in desired amount of  Nutritional Yeast (I added 1 T) or Cheddar Cheese for dairy eaters.

  • In a separate pan, sauté kale with olive oil.  I like to let the kale rest in the pan while on high heat so it chars 🙂

  • Fry an egg, scoop and avocado, throw it all in a bowl.

  • Drizzle with Flax Oil.  This ties the elements together and adds a delicious nutty flavor.  Flax oil is packed with good omegas and fiber.

  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Kiwi Pear Green Shake

It’s really difficult for me to stray from my GO-TO Green Shake.  It’s delicious and every time I think about making something different I get major FOMO.  A recent attempt at #SugarFreeSeptember reintroduced me to some delicious low sugar fruits I had been ignoring.  I worked up the courage to experiment with a new favorite.. kiwi!  I’m super into the low-sugar tropical vibes so blend it up when you need something light and bright.

  • 1 Kiwi Peeled
  • 1/2 Pear
  • 1/2 Frozen Banana
  • 1 Scoop Vanilla Protein Powder
  • 1 Cup Almond Milk
  • 3 Ice Cubes

Dance Snacks with @DailyDancerDiet

Dance rehearsals are long and snacks are essential.  They need be quick bites, easy to eat, non-bloating and energy packed.  I recently teamed up with friend and fellow professional dancer Liana Blackburn to share a dance and a snack.

Liana, fresh off the road touring with Selena Gomez as dance captain, is the creator of a YouTube series called Daily Dancer Diet.  Not only does she share my passion to dance but also to nourish our bodies with delicious, REAL food.   We challenged each other to bring dance snacks that catered to both of our allergies and food intolerances.  Liana: gluten free, dairy free, refined sugar free.  Meagan: allergic to peanuts/nuts (almonds ok) and fish.  We danced and snacked the afternoon away full of energy.  Of course these snacks aren’t just for your dance bag, they’re great for travel, at your desk, pre or post workout.

Meagan’s Dance Snacks

  • BERRIES:  Strawberries, blueberries, blackberries.  Berries are a no brainer- they are are easy to grab on the go, the sugar keeps your energy high and the antioxidants help keep your memory sharp.
  • ALMOND BUTTER FILLED DATES:   Because of my nut allergies, it’s difficult for me to eat protein bars.  Most bars contain a variety of nuts or are processed in a facility containing nuts.  Barney Butter is an almond butter that is processed in a peanut free facility.  That being said, most bars contain a few solid bites of protein, fat and sugar.   This is essentially what these almond butter filled dates provide: The pitted date is packed with natural sugar and the almond butter carries the protein and fat.  You can get creative and sprinkle some coconut flakes, bee pollen, or chocolate chips on top.  The sky is the limit!
  • POPCORN:  I’m addicted to homemade popcorn!  It’s so easy.  Coat the bottom of a pot with high heat oil like sunflower oil, coconut oil, or canola oil.  Pour a layer of kernels to fill the bottom of the pan. Cover and pop until you hear a couple of seconds between kernels popping.  I top mine with Flax Oil, turmeric, cayenne, salt and Nutritional Yeast.  The flax oil and popcorn itself has a lot of fiber to keep you full as you burn calories while sweating.  Turmeric and cayenne are anti-inflammatory and fire up your insides.  The Nutritional Yeast contains the vitamin B12 to keep your energy up.  This popcorn was left over from last nights’s Netflix and chill so I packaged it up and brought it to the studio.

Liana’s Dance Snacks

  • JICAMA WITH LIME:  Jicama is so underrated! It’s a vegetable but its juicy, sweet and crunchy texture is refreshing.  Liana explained that since the flavor is subtle, it takes well to anything you pair with it.  She skinned the jicama, cut it into easy to grab sticks and smothered them with lime juice.. so good!
  • MARY’S GONE CRACKERS:  Mary’s Gone Crackers are gluten free, dairy free and nut free.  They’re jammed with fiber and are super durable so they wont turn into dust in your dance bag.  Once a specialty item available at those niche health stores, these crackers are now on most major grocery store shelves and come in several delicious flavors.

FEEL GOOD

You Kong Do It x MISSBISH

A few months ago I was lucky to sit down with one of my favorite lifestyle blogs, MISSBISH.  

MISSBISH:

Meagan Kong is no stranger to the world of dance but can still acknowledge that it’s never an easy job. She’s danced professionally in the worlds of entertainment and sports for years and yet still experiences pre-audition nerves and the struggle of jumping back onto the fitness grind after a hiatus. Meagan is just like the rest of us, and is living proof that hard work and determination will get you far. From dancing throughout high school as a hobby to gracing stages and TV channels worldwide, to even working with major brands like adidas, Meagan is living her own personal dream. Check out our interview with her to get peek into what it’s like to dance professionally.

 

When was the point that you decided to make dance your career and how did you prep for that?
I decided dance would be a career in Minnesota while in high school. One day I realized how much time and money my parents were putting into allowing me to dance whenever and wherever I wanted. All night after school, away on weekends, in LA during the summer. We’d save and hustle side jobs so I could train with the best. The idea that someday someone could pay ME to do what I loved was mind blowing.

I prepared by training in as many disciplines of dance as possible, even Irish soft shoe. I also went to college and graduated Cum Laude–from Loyola Marymount University–with a double major in Business Marketing and Dance. On one hand, some dancers would say it put me 4 years behind in the industry, but within those four years I matured and gained a larger perspective of the business of entertainment and the context of dance within it.

 

Putting yourself out there through dance requires a lot of confidence, what helps you to become more confident? How do you handle the stress of not always booking the jobs that you want?
It’s definitely rough. Auditions are like interviewing for a new job every week, on a megaphone, while in front of all the other applicants. This never becomes easy, but you develop defense mechanisms to help cope with the fact that despite perhaps being the best dancer in the room, maybe they aren’t looking for a tall, multiethnic, long haired woman that day. I learned to focus on the task at hand rather than fantasize about how amazing the tour, the tv show, or the award show would be. Your drive trumps the fear and speaks louder than any other voice in your head. If you lead with determination, your confidence will follow.

 

What’s a typical day in the life of a professional dancer?
A day as a dancer is completely dependent on whether or not you’re working. While on a job, you wake up, go to work, come home, eat sleep, and do it again. While not on a job you hustle. Take class and go to castings or auditions. You take care of your body and keep your tools sharp so that you’re ready when jobs pick up.

What’s your favorite style of dance and why?
I don’t have a favorite style, but I have a favorite type of job. I dance for, and assist, Emmy-winning choreographer Kathryn Burns. She’s known to work on a lot of comedic television where dancers are used to make a joke kick. For example–in the CW show Crazy Ex Girlfriend, I was in a yoga class scene doing sun salutations as a pregnant woman. The lead actress fantasized about a song and dance production and the entire class broke into a Bollywood-esque routine. It was ridiculous that I was jumping, kicking, and turning while appearing 8 months pregnant, but my job was to dance like it was perfectly normal. Dancing within the context of a script adds another layer to my performance which I love.

What has been a highlight of your career as a dancer?
Dancing on the scripted VH1 series Hit The Floor. As a dancer, it’s your job to make a singer look cooler, a product look sexier, and a joke punch harder. Hit The Floor is about a fictional LA basketball team and their cheerleaders, so us dancers were woven into the storyline. On the show I had a character name, lines, occasionally hosted, and of course danced every episode. Being principal talent and showing up to Paramount Studios to work with the same cast and crew for multiple years in a row was an absolute dream. The fact that my parents at home in Minnesota and my friends in Paris could watch gave me all the motivation I needed to kill it.

 

Any tips for young girls out there trying to get into the professional dance industry?
1. Outlast them all.

2. People don’t care about what you’re doing as much as they care about what they’re doing.

3. Remember to be adaptable – the stage, choreography, singers, and actors are always changing, our job is to make them look flawless no matter what.

 

Being an ambassador for adidas, what’s it like to work with a major sportswear company?
Insane really. It’s rare that the more involved you get with a company, the more you respect it. adidas lives what they sell and genuinely care about the strength of the female athlete. It’s a giant corporation but they project so much trust onto us ambassadors while letting me be me, say me, and do me but with their support.

Favorite sneaker by adidas?
Non-work out: White leather gazelles with gum sole
Workout: Ultraboost X

 

You’re also a worldwide recognized fitness influencer, have you always been so health conscious?
As a dancer, I grew up super active of course. It wasn’t until after college that I understood that I needed to eat right and train outside of the studio to reach my maximum potential in the studio . I was kind of a mess–Dominos accepted our University meal plan and I thought healthy was a Salandwich (a Caesar salad Sandwich). I would go to diet extremes when dance jobs or auditions popped up to whip my body into shape ASAP. I eventually got tired of constantly getting my body “ready” for something and learned to train and eat cleanly everyday so my mind and body were always prepared.

 

What are three hidden gems in LA?
1. Hollywood Reservoir
2. Palette Juice and Food
3. Raggedy Threads

What does MISSBISH mean to you?
MISSBISH represents women who own her craft and live their lives unapologetically.

Who’s your MISSBISH? Tell us who she is and why she’s an inspiration to you.
My MISSBISHes are all the ladies I meet who are finding fitness for the first time. Movement is programmed into me and even still, kicking my fitness game up after a month of LAX is rough. The MISSBISHes that find it in themselves to get up, lace up, and show up for the first time fuel me to keep on pushing.

Photos by Christina Choi

Don’t Sweat the Stress

While unplugging and disconnecting are many people’s go to answer to de-stressing, these days this isn’t always possible.    Online, offline, at home, at work, in the gym, on the road… Stress is inevitable.  As a professional dancer, I’m hyper aware of the fact that a stressed mind a stressed body go hand and hand.

Here are my methods to control the madness and cut the stress.

Tools of Torture.

Mental stress creeps down to my neck and shoulders first, then makes its way down to my mid and lower back.  I keep a bucket of stress relieving fun next to my couch to pick up whenever I have a spare moment.  Trigger points (knots) develop in your muscle tissues from physical, metal or emotional stress.  I use a TheraCane or lie on tennis balls to massage these spots and increase blood flow.  I like to use Rescue Cream on problem areas to moisturize my skin and relax my muscles as I iron out the tension.

Floatation Therapy.

Sitting still and taking 5 deep breathes helps me relax, but when I have time I like to float.  Floatation therapy (sensory deprivation) is gaining popularity among professional athletes and those looking for complete and utter relaxation.  In your hour long session, you float in a pool of water filled with 10K lbs of epson salt.  This pool is enclosed in a pod or room that blocks all light and sound.  Without distraction, you increase relaxation, creativity and clarity while decreasing stress and mind clutter.  Note that the first time I floated, I was a mess.  I was anxious I was doing it wrong and stressing about not de-stressing.  It takes several times to achieve a peaceful Theta state of relaxation.

Aerial Yoga.

While any form of yoga or stretching helps me relax, aerial yoga really changes the game for me.  In an aerial yoga class, you use a silk hammock to maneuver yourself into positions that suspend your body in the air and allow you to hang freely.   There is a tourniquet effect created by wrapping the hammock around your limbs.  Though uncomfortable in the moment, when you dismount the pose, fresh blood travels around your body and through your joints.   This gives you an adrenaline rush and releases “happy” hormones like endorphins, serotonin, dopamine and oxytocin.  All this boosts your mood and makes you feel more energetic, happy and stress free.

Herbal Supplements.

Sometimes it’s hard to pop into a deprivation chamber between meetings and unfortunately, the TheraCane doesn’t fit in my purse.   My portable means of relaxation are herbal supplements like products from Rescue.  Rescue Remedy is made of 5 of Bach’s flower remedies: Rock Rose, Impatiens, Clematis, Start of Bethlehem and Cherry Plum.  I reach for an Elderberry Pastille (hard little gummies) to chill out during Los Angeles traffic from hell, to help focus at an audition or while learning choreography.  I pack the dropper in my yoga bag and add a few drops of Rescue to my water bottle to enhance my relaxation and deepen my practice throughout class.  The Rescue Plus Sleep gummies with melatonin have been key while I travel and adjust to sleeping in new places in new times zones.

This post was sponsored by Rescue, who was kind enough to send me some of their products earlier this year.  I’ve since been able to find them at Whole Foods here in Los Angeles.

Click here to find Rescue near you.

#FINDFOCUS

Adidas recently launched Adidas Athletics and its Z.N.E. line to help you #findfocus off the court or at the start line.  This structured hoodie is thick.  It keeps me warm and muffles the noise with the hood on.   The pants are super stretchy and are loose enough to wear tights or shorts underneath.  I’m a fan of this concept and this line, can’t wait to see more.  I’m wear a small top, bra and pant. Links below.

Hoodie: Adidas Athletics Z.N.E. Hoodie – White

Pants: Adidas Athletics Z.N.E. Pants – White 

Bra: Adidas Women Techfit Bra – White

Shoes: Adidas Running UltraBoost – All White

PHOTOS BY JA TECSON 

Skin Care with Emmy nominated Sarah Hall

Sarah Hall is my girl on so many levels.  I met her while working on VH1 television show Hit The Floor where us 11 dancers were forced to draw straws to decide who got to sit in her makeup chair.  For some perspective- 12 year old boy with severe acne would come out of Sarah’s makeup chair looking like Kim K on a good day.   This Emmy nominated make-up artist is not only a former model, she has a bachelors in Biology, is a certified Nutritional Biochemist and Esthetician, and is also a wife and mother of two insanely beautiful children.  Sarah is my go to on any skin question- what ingredients are good/bad in my products? what make up is ok to sweat in?  will washing my face before AND after my workout dry it out?  how do I get the mountain range on my forehead to flatten by tomorrow?

The number one habit Sarah pushes whether it be about my face or my body— you must exfoliate! “[Exfoliating will] enable the skin to generate new skin cells and open up the surface to allow oils to penetrate and increase nourishment,” Sarah explains.  This makes so much sense- We spend so much money on fancy products, but debris aka dead skin can actually block their effectiveness.  Exfoliating my face twice weekly and body once has made all of the difference.  My skin shines brighter and any eczema flair ups settle quickly.

Sarah created Restoration Skincare and explains, “I believe in eating clean and not putting anything on my body that I wouldn’t put in my mouth. I like to feed my skin vitamins and nutrients to promote a healthy status and balance inside and out.”  Though I love her Hydrating Mist and deodorant dispensed Body Butter Balm, the Sugar Body Scrub is definitely my favorite.  I’m in awe of the simple ingredients: coco butter, coconut oil, raw sugar and vitamin E.   I’ve noticed that after I use the scrub and pat dry, the coconut oil and cocoa butter subtly remains on my skin to moisturize it without feeling oily.

Sarah recently hosted a Restoration Skin event at Soule Spa.  This Sunday Spa Day was equipped with a brow bar, oxygen facials, shoulder massages, and hand treatments.  Naturally, I kicked off the event with a glass of rose accompanied by a plate of brie and brownies.  I experienced a brow revolution with Candy who pointed out that my left brow was round and sloped downwards compared to my perky and pointy right brow.  She evened me out and taught me how to fill my brows in to lift my face (tail end to center, then define the inside corner point).  Candy used Restoration’s lavender hydration spray on a Q-tip to calm my freshly waxed skin which I loved because other calming oils and creams make me break out.  Sarah gave me a hand treatment with her Brown Sugar Scrub which I was already sold on and my garden shoulder massage was heaven accompanied by Restoration clove body butter.  I went home with a mini lavender hydrating spray and roll on body butter which will keep my skin fresh and dewing during a month of heavy travels.

Getting Spiritual with Reiki Master Kelsey Patel

Maybe it’s because I am here in Los Angeles, the epi-center of folks looking for the next wellness trend, but I have been hearing (or feeling rather) the buzz about the healing practice Reiki, on the daily.  Under my own assumptions I put together that Reiki healers use their energy and touch to channel healing powers into a certain ailment plaguing a patient.  I thought the practice was similar to that of acupuncture: you lie down, tune out and let the expert work their magic.

I met Kelsey Patel, a Pure Barre studio owner, wellness coach, Reiki Master, and wife and step mother, aka Wonder Woman, at a menu tasting event at Beaming West Hollywood. After dying in her barre class and showing interest in Reiki, she invited me in for my very own session.

My Session with Kelsey

Kelsey gave me no preparation or warning about what I’d experience so naturally, I upgraded my assumptions about Reiki to truth.  I was excited to lie back, relax and leave with an energy pep in my step.  When I walked in, she placed a stone in each of my hands and told me everything that we discuss in the room would be kept confidential and judgment free *silent panic… ummm come again?

She began to ask me a series of guided questions to understand where I was in my life right now and where exactly I would like to be.  I had to rank how I felt mind, body and spirit on a scale from 0 to 10.  I ranked my mind at a 6, for example.  Kelsey said, “Ok, explain the gap between 0-6 and 6-10.”  I said something like, “Well my mind is super excited lately- I’ve been experiencing so many new things, meeting so many new people and developed a new passion. The gap between 6 and 10 comes from uncertainty about how this new passion will manifest itself career wise…  Oh and I’m also feeling a little anxious today from running around.”

Kelsey looked for gaps and commonalities in what I was saying and challenged the answers I gave her.  This mini therapy session dove deep and was enough to make a grown woman bubble up and cry.  I was proud I was able to articulate genuine and honest responses as reflecting upon every prong of my life is not one of my daily chores.  For some perspective, in high school I had a friend that would sit me down and say anything and everything to try to get me to cry (never worked).  Perhaps this is my emotionally reserved Norwegian side shining.  Once Kelsey zero-ed in on something to focus on, the Reiki began.

I logged on to Reiki.org which explains, “Reiki heals by flowing through the affected parts of the energy field and charging them with positive energy. It raises the vibratory level […] and causes the negative energy to break apart and fall away.” Working with a Reiki master like Kelsey, “allows the student to tap into an unlimited supply of ‘life force energy’ to improve one’s health and enhance the quality of life.”   Kelsey explained that this unlimited energy travels through her and onto me.

So, lights off, candle on, stones gripped tight, I got on board.  Kelsey held her hands near my head and led me through a series of breathing exercises.   I could feel her hands moving around (but not touching) my head and shoulders.  I sat still and listened to what sounded like a soft chant.  I then felt as though she motioned from back to front, above my head.  I felt fresh air and light pour onto me like I just dropped the top on my convertible.  I felt a gust of wind travel into my left ear, loosen my jaw and release through my right ear.  I felt bright and aware like I just popped my ears after a long, muffled flight.

Kelsey then repositioned herself in front of me and began EFTEmotional Freedom Techniques.  EFT uses the Chinese meridian system used mainly for physical ailments in acupuncture.  Instead of using pins, EFT uses finger tapping to awaken the meridian points to focus on emotional issues.  Kelsey told me to repeat after her.  She said a phrase, I repeated, and she double tapped a meridian point.  We repeated the same phrase and double tap for each meridian, then started over with another phrase.  This was no casual Instagram scroll, these double taps got intense. By the end she was shouting things I’d never say aloud and I was shouting them back.  Though it was definitely not the first time conversation has led to yelling “F*ck these bitches,” it felt so good to say it 8 times straight.  I wasn’t prepared for such an intense experience, my session got heavy.  I was glad when the EFT was over but that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t try it again.

Kelsey gently led me back into awareness, turned on the lights and asked me to rank mind, body and spirit again all of which took a tick towards 10.

 Leaving the session, I felt calm and clear and also stunned at the journey I had just experienced.  I definitely didn’t engage in my normal quiet cuss at bad drivers behind my wheel or even pace back and fourth at my casting that was running an hour late. Reiki is meant to bring the feeling of new breath and light and my session did just that.  Did this single session cause a major fix-it shift in my life? No, nothing comes that easy.  It did however make me understand the importance of regular spiritual practice.  Cleansing my insides with certain foods, physical activity and stretching is a priority for me, so why not take care of my spirit?  I’ve since subscribed to Kelsey’s newsletter which includes a guided meditation.   I’ve been using this meditation to begin a regular spiritual practice in combination with her at home exercise below.

An At Home Exercise from Kelsey:

This small monthly practice allows you to take the reigns, clean ‘stuff’ out and to provide room for you to pursue your dreams.

Know that there is no right or wrong to energy work.  Deep respect and acknowledgement of ancient practices is fantastic, but we live in 2016 and need not be scared to honor yourself and adapt practices to your life the way they fit.

When: The new moon and full moon.  This happens every two weeks.  (Next full moon is July 19// New moon is August 2.  Keep track here.)

  • NEW MOON – The new moon is about bringing things into light and calling in what you want or know you need – sit in silence or with relaxing music and get in tune with what you really know you want over the next 30 days. Take a piece of paper and pen, write the date on it and then write 5 new things you want to bring into your life over the next 30 days. Ex: Attract a new beau or get the next job

  • FULL MOON – The moon is full and so is your heart.  Your energy is about to burst.  Concentrate on what you want to release. Write it down.  Sleep with it under your pillow.  Rip or burn in the morning.  Ex: Shitty boyfriend or obsession with  chocolate 

Connect with Kelsey 

www.kelseyjpatel.com

kelsey@kelseyjpatel.com

Pure Barre Beverly Hills

Corporate wellness, workshops, retreats, one on one coaching, 30 day programs, meditation classes.

*all photos from kelseyjpatel.com

MEAGAN KONG

Hi guys! I’m Meagan.  I am a professional dancer based in Los Angeles, by way of Minneapolis.  Using my body for a living is both a blessing and a curse.  It’s great because I get to be active and live out a childhood dream.  It sucks because I never know when I’ll get the call that I booked the job, dancing in a white bikini, on television, for example.  *Actually happened

In situations like this, I used to call 911 and do quick fix crash diets, take water pills, weigh my food, do insane three a day workouts or hot yoga challenges to get it together stat.  Problem is, I would end up looking like a raisin and having no energy to do the job I was hired for.

I consider these hardcore yo-yo diet and exercise years, research.  I’ve learned what aspects of each extreme method my body and brain respond to.  I’ve taken these bits of information and wove them into a manageable way of living.  I am here to share what I eat and how I move so maybe #youkongdoit too.

click here for my DANCE website