Sunday, November 27, 2016

The Why Behind What I Do

One Wednesday morning, I was riding an endurance bout after my Core classes and one of my favorite songs came on ("All the Same" by Sick Puppies). It's a song about hurt and forgiveness and purposefully living the moments you have with someone you love. I reached over to the sound board and turned it up...LOUD. As I rode, I added more resistance and picked up my pace. I felt powerful, like a badass running from something and winning. The lyrics are pretty intense and I was belting them out until each word became more and more of an effort. My heart was pounding in my chest and there was a fire in my heavy legs but I just started pushing harder. That's when it hit love this.

I. Love. This. 

Cycle, in its most natural form is incredibly moving. It allows you to dig into a part of you that rarely gets tapped. There's no coordination needed, just raw and driving power. 

I really started to spin a lot when my mother was diagnosed with Glioblastoma Multiforme, an aggressive form of brain cancer. I could drop into a class undetected and sit for an hour without talking to anyone. Nobody was judging me. Nobody knew if I was faking the funk. I could close my eyes and coast and in my mind build my grocery list and work through my schedule so I could be there for Mom's chemo or take her the caramel macchiato that she loved so much. It was an hour that was about me feeling whatever it was I was feeling without judgement or explanation.

But then something happened....I allowed it to get physical. I allowed it.

I stopped thinking about brain scans and cancer and stopped coasting by. I started to turn it up. I began to play a little with my boundaries and then slowly push beyond them. I learned to quiet the sadness in my mind and heart by feeling the work in my legs and lungs. I loved the sweat and the bike but I really loved the music. I loved being able to feel the song and give it a physical form with my ride. On the spin bike, with little distraction, I was able to take the feeling poured into the words and turn that feeling into strength for my body. It became about me for that one hour. The world outside went away, cancer went away and it was just me. I had to face my demons alone and learn how to deal with them. 

All physical movement holds within its arms the ability to create within all of us a beast that can face anything. It took me a while to find my beast because, like most people, I looked at exercise as "work" and something I "did" rather than actually living it.

People worry about stats and think that if they don't finish first that they're not "good enough". Nothing could be further from the truth. I learned to never look at any ride as defeat or a waste of time because in each ride I would find a little more of who I was. I think it helped me learn to look at stress and pain as a building blocks of strength rather than tools of destruction.

It's not about the bike or the weight loss. It's not about how many watts you can push or how fast your legs move. It's not about jumps or presses or even the music. It's about giving everything you could give to that day's ride...heart, mind and body. It's about never settling and not letting the yuck dominate you. Ever. That is why I love cycle and why one of the first things I did when Mom died was get my Spinning certification. I wanted to teach others to love it, to connect to it, to own it.

You live like you ride. 

Mind. Blown.

Ride on.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Shift Your Mindset

I've had more than one person tell me I'm "mean" or that I "expect too much from myself" and worse I "expect too much from others".
I recently read an email from a studio owner about a spin class that said something like (and I'm paraphrasing) "The worst thing we could do is calculate "power." You might hear that term used as an advanced form of performance tracking, but in reality it alienates the average rider from feeling successful. It focuses on the negative."
False. It focuses on a baseline and once a person has a baseline they can outline measurable goals on how to progress. It's a measurable. It’s not mean, it's not negative, it is a logical way to train the human body. A body that has responded to proper training since the beginning of mankind.

The fact is, a rider is only "average" if they allow themselves to be and worse, if YOU as a coach encourage them to be. As a coach, it’s important for us to encourage, to educate and to expect the best out of our team. Using metrics to define where a person is starting is not a bad gig. As a matter of fact, people who track their success will feel more and more satisfied with their movement and commit at a higher level to their goals. Let’s start focusing on something other than whether or not the scale is fluctuating.
Call it a shift in mindset…measuring performance and success based on something other than how we look.

Look, everyone wants to be successful and learning to accept that we all have our own 100% is an important part of actualizing success. Allow people to identify and accept their starting point. If they are ready to move, this will be an empowering moment (for them and you). If they are not ready to move, defining their “power” isn’t going to be a game changer for them either way. Keep working until they’re ready. Educate, encourage and expect the best. It’s that simple.

I'm not sorry for being "mean" or "too hard" or for expecting people to be accountable. The fact is we all have greatness, we all have talent and we all have the RIGHT to identify that in ourselves and even more – to expect it from others. 

John Buchan said, "The task of leadership is not to put greatness into humanity, but to elicit it, for the greatness is already there."
Raise your game. Be great. Be a leader in your community, in your gym, in your spin studio, and in your home. Expect more from yourself and don't be ashamed to expect others to do the same.

Let's do this.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Snooze or Cruise?

Yeah yeah I know, we've all been there. You set the alarm before heading off to bed with every intention of rising early and getting in that "killer" workout. You're excited as you drift off to sleep and look forward to the early morning wake-up.

Then it happens...the alarm starts buzzing and as you reach over to silence it, you begin to reason with yourself as to why you should stay in bed. It's way too early. It's way too cold. You're way too tired. You find that glorious little snooze button, and press it down hard. Silence returns to your bedroom and as you close your eyes and feel that comfortable sleep come over you again, you tell yourself "five more minutes".

After a few minutes, the alarm sounds and again you hit snooze. You repeat this a couple more times until finally you give in and turn it off all together. It's too late to get up and exercise now but there's always tomorrow.

At the time, hitting the snooze sure feels like a good idea. After all there are some mornings where all you need is just another 30 minutes of sleep. But I'm going to urge you to start to look at your snooze button differently. Think about it this way - every time you hit "snooze", you delay action. You stay in the same place, in the same moment and make the statement that you're not ready to move forward. All good intentions and good planning are wiped away with one sweep of the hand and press of that little button.

Dramatic? OK - maybe a little.

Take a second and write down one thing that you would do if you knew that you could not fail. Now look at what you wrote and imagine how quickly you'd get there if you hit snooze every time you started on your journey. Any successful person will tell you that there is one constant in realizing success and that is ACTION. When we force ourselves to take action, especially in those instances when we really just don't feel like it, we call on ourselves at a higher level and THAT is where great things start to happen. Just think about the massive initial push that it takes to get a stalled car moving again. Once the wheels are put into motion, the pushing gets a lot easier.

I challenge you to commit to find YOUR power through action. Tomorrow morning, as the alarm rings loud to wake you out of your slumber, throw back the cover, put your feet fast to the floor, stand up and take charge of the day. Don't give yourself a second to think about it. Silence the voice that is begging you for just five more minutes and just make it happen. Don't wait until you "feel like it" to take action - that time may never come. Attack the day with a warriors heart. It is with that heart, my friends, that you will discover how great you can really be.

Catch you in the cycle room!
Ride on!

Visit to register for your next Morning Cycle Class. I mean, who wouldn't want to crush all of those calories before anyone else even gets out of bed?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Safe and warm at home!

As the roads begin to ice over, take advantage of this time to heat up your body! Below is an at-home body weight workout that should take you about 45 minutes to do. Do your best to stay moving the entire time. Remember to stretch when you finish. To progress the movements, grab a Kettlebell or a set of Dumbbells.

Warm-up (10 min as many rounds as possible (AMRAP)

  • 25x Body Weight Squat
  • 12x Alternate lunge (each leg)
  • 10x Jumping Jack

 8 Rounds (do these two things 8x)

  • 8x Push-up (Strict Form)
  • Plank Hold (60 sec)

 4 Rounds (do these three things 4x)

  • 12x Jump Lunge
  • 12x Burpee
  • 12x Jump Squats


  • 100 basic step ups (50 each side you can choose the height but make it challenging and don't forget to write down how long it takes you and what the height of your step/bench is.) 

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Pilates is for Chicks

"If Pilates is a chick's workout, then women are a lot tougher than we think." Out of the mouths of babes ( hubby is a babe). This was something he said to me after I ran him through one of my Pilates Equipment sessions.

Most men chuckle when I ask them to come to the studio to work with me. Like I'm going to sit cross-legged with them on the floor and chant and meditate. It's comical. I wanted to sit down and write a blog about WHY men should be doing Pilates when I remembered reading an article quite some time ago. Thank God (or Al Gore) for the internet, because a simple Google dig and I found that very article. It gives a little insight from the perspective of a man, who is a self-proclaimed "Meathead". Check it out then come back and finish reading.

I know guys who can do crunches or weighted sit-ups until they're blue in the face but start to whimper after 15 seconds in a plank hold. So what? Why is it important to train your core musculature? The most basic answer I can give you is "every move you make originates from your core. Train those muscles and you will have a strong foundation from which to move."

Burpees, overhead squats, wall balls, wall climbs, running, jumping, and the list goes on....all need core strength to reduce the chance of injury.

Look - our bodies are amazing creations that can handle extreme conditions. This doesn't mean you should torture yourself every day with high intensity cardio workouts.You're totally ripping yourself off if you train one way, the same way, every day, all the time.

Something to think about.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

FitBodies, Inc. Awesome Instructor Award

I'm super humbled and excited to be the recipient of the first "Awesome Instructor" award offered by FitBodies, Inc.

Additionally, I was featured by Indoor Cycle Instructor Pro....check-out the podcast. It's about 25 minutes long....and it talks about my full-time position as CEO and Head Coach and Mentor for Park Journeys, Inc. an out of the classroom learning experience for rural and urban teens.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

A Whole-lotta F Words - One for the Coaches

During a recent Kettlebell class, one of my peeps made a simple statement that made me super happy. She said, "I'd rather focus on the basics and increase my weight than do some crazy stuff that makes no sense."

Amen sister.

In the never-ending quest to "entertain" our clients, have we as fitness professionals lost our minds? When fun foils function and form (that's a whole-lotta F words) we begin to lose control over why we do what we do. Are you there for your people or have you become an entertaining distraction? You're cool and fun but are you effective enough to get your people where they need to go? Once they leave your presence, are they still thinking about what you've taught them?

Simply - are you making a difference beyond the spotlight?

Maybe it's time to re-set, take control and remember that you're here for furthering functional fitness not for fleeting fame. (Yeah I went there - it's my blog - I do what I want).

Here are four things to keep in mind:
  1. With regard to your peeps, if you don't take their fitness seriously, how can they? News flash - you're not a rock star and you're not in a popularity contest, you're their coach or their trainer. Get your head on straight and make the goals of your client more important than feeding your ego.
  2. A workout can be fun without being a freak show of circus moves. Recognize that your clients do not have A.D.D. and they don't need to be entertained (ok most of them don't). Having your client put their legs in the air stretched out at a 45 degree angle, head and neck resting on the floor while engaging in a chest press will accomplish what? If you guessed lumbar strain, you're right and you've won one of two prizes. Modification of every other exercise because your client can't move or losing that client all together because exercise "hurts my lower back." THINK about what you're giving your people. Which brings me to my next point...
  3. Youtube is not an educational reference manual for safe and effective exercises. Educate yourself. No I mean REALLY educate yourself. Imjustsayin.
  4. Finally, talk to your peeps and find out what they need, then work to give it to them. If you have someone who really wants to see, feel and think differently about themselves and their bodies, take that stuff seriously. The more you care about them and the less you care about you, the bigger your ripple will be.
By no means am I the Messiah of Fitness (far from it) and I'm not saying that it's either my way or the highway. All I'm asking is that we take a minute and pay attention to what we're doing. As a fitness coach, personal trainer, group fitness instructor, etc. yours is not a casual relationship with fitness. Some people just want to exercise, and that's cool but most people are there for a reason; weight loss, increased cardio endurance, or training for a specific event. Whatever their reason for being in the room, you should feel lucky they chose you to share their journey with them. Be a good co-pilot and learn to inspire.

Be Happy. Be Healthy. beSTRONG.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Why Pilates? Why not!

People have asked me "why should I do Pilates" but my answer "because it's awesome" usually isn't good enough though! So here are some complete answers that may help you understand Pilates a little more. Scroll down for a special promotion at Core Pilates and Yoga! Their website is
What is "the Core"
Functional movements are highly dependent on the core, the area where all movement is generated. The muscles of the body are the deep muscles of the back, abdomen, and pelvic floor. These are the muscles we rely on to support a strong, supple back, good posture, and efficient movement patterns. When the core is strong, the frame of the body is supported. This means the neck and shoulders can relax, and the rest of the muscles and joints are freed to do their jobs. You'll find yourself standing stronger and taller than you did before starting Pilates.
Oh...and that gorgeous stomach that we all covet....yeah that's a nice side effect.
A Pilates Workout is a Full Body Workout
Unlike some forms of exercise, Pilates will not over-develop some parts of the body and neglect others. Pilates training does focus on core strength by training the body as an integrated whole. This discipline promotes strength and balanced muscle development as well as increasing flexibility and range of motion for the joints.
Adaptable to Most Fitness Levels
It doesn't matter if you're a couch potato now, a Crossfitter, or an elite athlete, the foundations of Pilates movement apply to you. There are thousands of possible exercises that include modifications and progressions to tailor any routine to your individual needs and goals.
Strength Without Bulk
You've heard of long, lean muscles. Pilates will build toned muscles that will not only look good but help you move through life easily!
Increased Flexibility
We train functional range of motion while highlighting correct body alignment leading to an increase spinal and peripheral joint flexibility without stress.
Take some time and do a little research on Pilates and if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to me. If your mind is already committed, take advantage of the special offered now through June 1 at Core Pilates and Yoga in Wexford/Sewickly (near Baierl YMCA).

Sunday, May 12, 2013

This One Goes Out to the Moms

Earlier this year, as I sat in the Starbucks wondering what I was going to write for a sponsorship application, my friend asked me where I found my inspiration over the years. She sat and listened as a smile spread across my face and I told her about my beautiful mother. At the end of my precious walk down memory lane, she looked at me and said, “That’s it Dundee, that’s your story, you are your mother's legacy.”  The thought was humbling.
The days following that meeting, I reflected on my mom’s life and on her impact in this world. She was a woman who walked the walk and people would solicit her input. The subsequent guidance she shared always seemed to be exactly what they needed, whether it was in the form of words, a hug, or the simple touch of her hand on their cheek. I wondered how it was that she could impart such wisdom; how did she know just what to do or say? Then it hit me – she always listened before she spoke. It was through her complete understanding, that she could give the best advice.
Throughout my life, I witnessed the strength she exhibited; as a mom, as a wife, as a professional and as a friend. Her love was all-encompassing and her gentleness palpable. As my sisters and I grew, my mother shed light on our strengths and encouraged us to make the right decisions and reach beyond what we thought was possible. She fueled our interest and through discipline she honed our work ethic. She expected us to set bold goals and work hard to reach them. She gave us and those she touched, the tools to believe that there are no barriers, there are no walls. More than anything, she encouraged us to identify what was important and challenge anything that got in the way.
Taking risk is the hardest thing you'll ever do but imagine how amazing our world would be if we were all unafraid of what might happen if we walk out on that ledge. Are you fulfilling your life's work or have you taken a wrong turn along the way? It's never too late to step into the unknown and shake things up. What is holding you back from reaching your goals; whatever they may be? Get in the driver's seat of your life and change your course if needed. Risky? You know it is...but what's the worst that can happen?
Know one are never promised tomorrow but you have the moment NOW to make a change in your life and be a part of something bigger than you.
In 2005, my mother was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Over the next two years, she would go through the biggest fight of her life, one we would ultimately lose her to on October 8, 2007. Throughout that fight, even when that very cancer robbed her of her ability to move and communicate, she still displayed grace and beauty.
As we celebrate amazing mom's everywhere, I write today’s blog post in remembrance of a loving woman who touched the lives of many. I wish she could meet the people who have come into my life over the last five years. I truly believe that they came into my life at the right time, each uncovering a different dimension of me and inspiring me in a different way. I love these people and the role they hold in my life. They inspire me to dig deeper and become a better person.....the person she always believed I could be.

Thanks Mom for sending them all my way, you did good. ~ Happy Mother’s Day.
"Don't be superficial. Take time to really listen, to store away, to really hear. Don’t be so eager to speak, to draw attention to yourself, that you don’t savor the moment with the person you’re with. Moments are few and pass quickly. Take time – make time – to be real." ~ from my mother's journal September 9, 2003
Be Happy. Be Healthy. beSTRONG©

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Slow Death by Excuses

Well, some of you have been waiting for the infamous beSTRONG© New Year’s Resolution post. So here it is. Nothing short of spectacular as always so brace yourselves because it’s a slippery slope.

Let's start out with the obvious - resolutions suck. There I said it. Now let's move on.

I'd like to talk about something that always makes me smile - my weekday morning people. I love all of the people I work with at the gym but I want to make a shout out to the 5:30 AM crew. They are mostly women. They don't take any crap. They work like they mean it. The dynamic of this group never ceases to amaze me. Their ages range from 27 to 55. Their fitness levels vary as well. They have different sizes, different hairstyles and they respond to challenges differently. With all of their differences however, they have one thing in common - a strong conviction to their reason for being there.
For those of you who don’t “get it”, you’re probably going to stop reading now, and if that’s the case, shoot me an email in March when your Resolution Circa 2013 is just a memory and you’ve perfected the art form that I like to call “Slow Death by Excuses”. Come on, you know what I’m talking about.

“The kids are sick.”
“I’m just so tired.”
“I’m just so busy.”
“I think I’m starting to get sick”
“I’m just so out of shape.” (Really? You’re using that?)

I get it. There are just those days when you feel like you need to step back from the gym. Rather than going into a tail spin, deal with those days as they come. Get outside for a walk, play with the kids, or accept that you need a break. Whatever you decide, stop attaching an excuse to it. Make the decision and own it. Do not allow your excuses to begin to override any rational thinking you may have. Otherwise, hold on tight because it’s a slippery slope. One excuse leads to another and rather than looking the problem in the face you start to believe that it is really the kids' sickness or the fact that you have to work late.  (Eh hem...the problem is you by the way.)

So how do you change it up? Maybe it’s time to take look at exercise from a different perspective. Rather than focusing on the scale, focus on the fact that you want to still be able to move unassisted when you're a geezer. Rather than focusing on the size of your jeans, focus on sledding with your kids (or nephews) and not needing to stop because you can't climb that hill one more time.
Yoga, Pilates, TRX, Indoor Cycling, Running, Crossfit, Kettlebells - whatever you choose has got to become a part of you; a way of life. It's NOT something that you do to get an end result. It IS the end result.
Realign and prioritize what matters. YOU. The rest will fall into place - I promise.
Call it a resolution, call it a change of heart, call it the moon in the first house of Leo - I don't give a crap - just get over yourself, get over your excuses and GET IT DONE. One hour is 4% of your day. That is not a huge commitment of your time, but it is a huge commitment of your will. Kids are sick? Spouse working late? You’re planning on being at the office late? Get up early and get to the gym to start your day. Boom - done.

If it matters to you, you’ll figure it out.

My morning crew? Most of them, ok all of them, have bed head and sleepy eyes when they walk through the door. It’s not pretty but it’s a welcome site. They figure out a way to make it happen every Tuesday and Thursday at 5:30 AM. Why? I like to think that it's my magnetic personality and the fact that I am so good looking. The reality of it is that they stopped feeling sorry for themselves and decided to make a change. They recognize that sometimes a Tabata Sandwich with a side of Kettlebells is going to suck. They accept it, then they own their workout and when they're done, they're satisfied. To quote my good friend Joe Vennare "You have to start doing things that suck if you want to stop sucking."

Stop sucking.

Until you decide to commit, your decisions and your excuses will continually make a statement (to you and those around you) about how you feel about yourself and what you think you’re worth. Really friends, you’re worth more than that.

It doesn’t take January 1 of a new year to figure that one out.

Be Healthy, Be Real and beSTRONG!