Download your free Self-Kindness journal!

Comment

Download your free Self-Kindness journal!

Have you ever felt frustrated or confused when you want to lose weight, gain muscle, get more toned, or really… make any kind of body change?

I don’t blame you!

There’s a lot of confusing information out there.

Here's a video with 7 different mental shifts + practical approaches that you can use to practice kindness while you’re focusing on a body change. 

PLUS below there's a printable Sparkes Wellness Self-Kindness Journalette with questions for YOU to answer for each step!

Watch...

Read + Write...

This section is designed to act as journaling prompts for you!

I recommend writing in a stream-of-consciousness fashion - write as much as you can without picking up your pen and let whatever comes up for you come onto the page.

Click here to get your 14 page journal delivered to your inbox! 

After you answer these journaling questions, I'd love to hear from you! 

Send me a message or leave a comment below to tell me what you discovered. 

With love and body kindness, 

xoxo elyse

 

PS - Know someone who might need to hear this today? Send them this page! 


                              Hiya, I'm elyse!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day + Sparkes Wellness Library program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


 

 

Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

How can I stay fit while I travel? 7 things to prep before you go.

Comment

How can I stay fit while I travel? 7 things to prep before you go.

Staying fit while you’re traveling can feel like a challenge.

You might be on vacation and get in “time off” mode or just can’t figure out how to keep your fitness life going when you’re out of your regular routine.

Prep with these tips before you go so you stay active and healthy while you’re on the road!

 

1. RESEARCH BEFOREHAND

Once you know where you’re headed, look up local studios, gyms, or classes in that area. A simple google search will do the trick!

Find your location on the map and then type a keyword like ‘yoga’, ‘pilates’, ‘gym’ or wherever you’d like to go, into the search function. Look up the studio schedule and call/email beforehand so you have an idea of which days and times they offer classes or daily memberships.

*Many studios + gyms have free trial offers or 3 for 1 deals, so take advantage of that! 

 

 

2. CREATE A (FLEXIBLE) SCHEDULE

Even if you have researched beforehand, missed trains, housing reservations that can change at the last minute, and the natural spirit of travel adventure and spontaneity might create a wrench in your previously well thought out plan. Go into it knowing that you probably won’t have a reliable schedule and be flexible and able to go with the flow of changes that come up.

If that class that you researched beforehand falls through, have a backup plan in place. If you’re unable to go today, be gentle and kind with yourself. Instead of beating yourself up, do some stretches before bed and then create a new plan for tomorrow.  

 

 

3. GRAB A FRIEND

Traveling with your friends/family/colleagues/partner?

Ask them to workout with you! You’ll be more likely to go if you have all your peeps involved.

Traveling solo?

Find group classes or activities so you can make new friends while you’re moving your body.

 

 

4. COMMUNICATE YOUR NEEDS

To your travel buddies:

If you ARE traveling with other people but they DON’T want to exercise with you, make sure you clearly communicate that carving out this time for movement is important to you while you’re on this trip. Ask them to support you and help you fit in fitness while you’re away.

To teachers, class instructors, or trainers:

If you have any injuries or special conditions, make sure you tell the teacher or trainer beforehand. If you’re traveling to another country with a different language, look up the essential words beforehand so you can let them know exactly what’s going on in your body.

 

 

5. PREP YOUR BAGS

Remember to pack a few exercise outfits and sneakers in your suitcase before you go.

Traveling light? Pack shirts, shorts, or sweats that could function both as active day-wear and for an hour at the gym.

Select a few pieces of equipment that aren’t hefty to carry around. A travel yoga mat goes a long way! 

Take a look into my travel bag here! 

 
 

For larger equipment - especially if you’re in one location for an extended stay - look for places where buy used equipment or rent (surfboards, bikes, etc).

 

 

6. HAVE YOUR FAV ONLINE WORKOUT READY TO GO

As long as you have a phone, laptop, or tablet, you can really get a full body workout in anywhere with online programs!

Members of my Sparkes Wellness Workout Library program get new videos every month (plus a growing Library of over 30+ videos) that they can download or stream and do with very little equipment - all in 30 min or less.

If your class falls through or you just want to wake up and immediately workout before you start your day, have these videos prepped on your device so you can roll out of bed, do some movement, and go on with your day.

*Start with me for $35! You'll get a structured 21 Day program, a super supportive community, plus a brand new video every month.

 

 

7. TURN YOUR TOURISM ACTIVE

There are so many ways to get moving AND discover a new city! You could:

  • take a bike tour,

  • learn a new dance form native to the culture you’re visiting,

  • map a running route throughout the city,

  • find the local pool,

  • research a unique class in the area, or

  • get a surfing lesson!

 

 

What about you? Have any fitness travel tips? 

How do you stay fit while you're on the road?

Leave your tips + tricks in a comment below! 

 

To road trip squats + sun salutations, 

xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online programs. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

What is Self-Kindness?

4 Comments

What is Self-Kindness?

When I first glanced at this picture I loved it. 

then I zoomed in. 

"Ugh!" I thought to myself. "Why the fat rolls!?!" 

 
 

This type of thought used to completely spin-tail me into FIX ME MODE. 

  • Okay, tomorrow it starts again - No! Sugar!
  • I'll go to the gym tonight, tomorrow morning, AND tomorrow night. 
  • Where do I sign up for the next 100 crunches a day challenge? 

This time though (after cycling through a feeeew more mean girl thoughts), I changed my tune. 

Instead of rushing to FIX, I thought,

"Woah sister, hold up a sec. What's the truth about this moment?"

1. I have skin.

It folds when I sit. Especially when I'm not "holding it in" (And thank goodness for NOT holding it in, amiright!?). 

2. I have fat.

It helps insulate me, it protects my organs, it keeps my period regular.

3. I felt bloated on this day.

Common when traveling. (Wrote about that here, so... yeah... that). 

4. I'm #bodypositive, promote Body Kindness, would 100% say I LOVE my body, and I teach people how to drop the guilt/shame game around exercise...

AND I still have negative thoughts about my body sometimes. 

That's okay. 

Those negative thoughts no longer rule my universe.

 

I Grabbed my journal and scribbled:

What is self-kindness anyway? 

For me, it's LESS about an uninspired "I love myself" in the mirror. 

It's about being CURIOUS - especially in the face of un-kindness, disappointment, discouragement, discomfort, self-nagging, self flagellation.

1. Something happens + you place judgement on yourself. 

2. Your brain says "Doh!"

3. You punish yourself in order to learn how to NOT do that again OR to confirm that you suck OR you rush for a quick fix.

And the cycle continues.

What if instead we got curious:

  • Hmm, what's happening there?
  • What's triggering these thoughts? 
  • How can I nourish myself right now?
  • What do I want?

Forgive yourself. 

Tell yourself that you're okay. 

Release the judgement. 

Talk to yourself with gentleness. 

Take an inspired, compassionate action.*

 

*Self-kindness isn't an excuse to keep yourself in an unhealthy state. Taking inspired, compassionate action towards something that will help your health might be the KINDEST thing you can do for yourself. Self love and wanting to change aren't mutually exclusive.

 

When we show kindness to strangers and friends and family and lovers, we're calling upon skills like: 

  • LISTENING
  • EMPATHY
  • COMPASSION
  • AFFECTION
  • GENEROSITY
  • CONNECTION

Are those things we can show ourselves?

 
 

 

Then I got even more curious and wondered what YOU thought about self-kindness.

I asked, and you brilliantly said...

 

In a way I think about it from a mindfulness perspective. I can not control my thoughts but I can control my reaction to them and I try to make it a point to choose the most generous approach to myself.
— Eric R.
Being in my body and accepting where I am emotionally, physically, spiritually.
— Lydia M.
Ignoring all of my self-unkind thoughts.
— Allegra KS
Sipping tea, meditating, positive self-talk (“I am a warrior goddess”) coloring, avoiding chemicals, yoga, and..... Netflix
— Amy B.
I would say NOT ignoring unkind thoughts. I notice them then become tender and gentle and kind toward that part of me that was feeling xyz feeling or core belief that produced the unkind thought. Turning again and again toward the feelings and thoughts that hurt and giving it/them tenderness and lovingkindness. Also, throughout the day doing breath in for me, breath out for you. Also, getting enough rest, nutritious food and moving my body regularly. Meditating every day. Hand on heart.
— Vanessa P.
When I started focusing on eating healthy (I had switched to a vegan diet 5 yrs ago) all my concerns about body image vanished. Now, I just love myself as I am, however I am, and cheer myself on for doing the best I can, whatever it is. Also...It’s so much easier to have compassion for someone outside of yourself. But, then I remind myself, what makes me different from others? (Nothing.) So, if others are kind and compassionate toward me, why can’t I have that toward myself? We really are all one, so let’s love all as one (including ourselves). ❤
— Amie A.
Self-forgiveness.
— Sara AK
Improving my involvement in the world. What we feel is, so often, what we exude.
— Diane S.
Giving yourself a big giant break on all the little things you criticize yourself for all day. I guess that’s the whole “don’t sweat the small stuff” thang. That!
— Deb H.
Staying in bed when my body needs the rest. And not beating myself for doing it. Which is ultimately about taking advantage of the flexibility I’ve designed into my life.
— Karen W.
Putting kind, value-neutral attention on my body and my internal state
— Marissa W.
Living inside my body.
— Duba
Allowing yourself to have negative emotions, do things you feel you shouldn’t, but always forgive yourself. Realizing that if you’re not on your own side, you’re missing the whole point of life, which is to enjoy it, and be kind to everything around you. When I have a disagreement with someone I realize that the problem is my need to be right. Slay the ego, and self-kindness comes naturally, because you can be in the wrong or in the right and it doesn’t matter.
— Rich L.
 
 

 

What do you think? 

What does self-kindness mean to you? 

Leave a comment - I'd love to hear your experience and your perspective! 

 

With love and body kindness, 

xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day + Sparkes Wellness Library program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


4 Comments

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

4 moves to keep your digestion system "flowing" while you travel

Comment

4 moves to keep your digestion system "flowing" while you travel

Does your digestive system get clogged while you're traveling?

Some of the best parts of traveling - seeing new terrain by plane, train, bus, or car; changing your diet in order to try new foods from different cultural cuisines; and living in an entirely new place (possibly unsure of where you’ll find your next pit stop)  - are unfortunately also some of the things that can leave you with a clogged digestive system while you’re away.

The gut is sometimes referred to as the ‘second brain’, aka the enteric nervous system, which is said to be able to control your gut independently of your brain.

Your tummy can tell when you’re away from home and if that creates constipation and bloating, soon you can start to feel increased stress and depression too.

I’m sure that’s not the way you want to spend your vacation!

Yoga, simple self-abdominal massage and understanding your digestive anatomy (along with plenty of water and fiber!) can help your digestive system stay on track.

Read this article + follow the moves I created for mindbodygreen.com to help keep you flowing while you’re traveling.

4 moves to keep things "flowing" while you're away from home.

After you've read this article, tell me what you think!

Do you get a little 'clogged' when you travel? 

Do these moves help? 

What are your tips to keep your digestive system flowing? 

Leave a comment to let me know! 

With love and getting everything moving, 

xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

Win these prizes!

Comment

Win these prizes!

 

GET SWEATY = WIN PRESENTS!!

Just by entering in this *live* round of the Fast Track to Fit & Flexible you'll be entered to win a gift.

(A little friendly bribery never hurt anyone, right? ;)

It’s in the name of accountability and keeping you healthy you'll be entered to win these amazing give-a-ways from my favorite health & wellness pro's!!

 
Samples of all-natural, Brooklyn made deodorant from Lymph Candy! 

Samples of all-natural, Brooklyn made deodorant from Lymph Candy

A copy of Rebekah Borucki's new book You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life!

A copy of Rebekah Borucki's new book You Have 4 Minutes to Change Your Life!

Sweet Talk Tats from The Taste Exchange.

Sweet Talk Tats from The Taste Exchange.

A night of DIY home facials with friends, PLUS skincare + nutrition goodies from Arbonne with Katie Bland

A night of DIY home facials with friends, PLUS skincare + nutrition goodies from Arbonne with Katie Bland

A YEAR membership to the Sparkes Wellness Workout Library with Elyse Sparkes  

A YEAR membership to the Sparkes Wellness Workout Library with Elyse Sparkes
 

A Recipe and Meal Planning Strategy Session with Ali Fitzpatrick  

A Recipe and Meal Planning Strategy Session with Ali Fitzpatrick
 

A spot in Brittany Kriger's Fed Up Fellowship!

A spot in Brittany Kriger's Fed Up Fellowship!

1-hour coaching session with Life and Business Coach, Elani Nicole

1-hour coaching session with Life and Business Coach, Elani Nicole

More Than Mom online course from Kelsey Fox Bennett. 

More Than Mom online course from Kelsey Fox Bennett. 

 

Here's how you play:  

1. Enter your name + email here.

2. Use hashtag #FT2FFchallenge on Facebook + Instagram + in our community throughout the 14 days. 

3. You'll be entered to win a gift! 

 

We start on Tuesday, so join in with us NOW!

Can't wait to get fit & flexible with you, 

XOXO ELYSE

 

PS - Are we meeting for the first time? Let me introduce myself...

Hiya, I'm Elyse! 

I'm a fitness coach, personal trainer, and yoga teacher. 

Back in the days of my professional dance career I was stuck in a never-ending under-eating → over-exercising → binging cycle. And worse, I was beating myself up about it every second of the day. 

Then I started studying mindfulness and yoga, and I became determined to approach my body and staying fit with balance, ease, and kindness. Now I work 1:1 with clients and develop online video programs to help other people blend fitness + mindfulness to live in their most joyful, confident bodies!

You can read more about my personal story here

Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

Skinny Doesn't Equal Happy

Comment

Skinny Doesn't Equal Happy

When I ended this call I curled up on my couch, pulled a blanket over my face, and felt the immediate dizzying effects of a Vulnerability Hangover. 

*Vulnerability Hangover = Dr. Brené Brown speak for "the feeling that sweeps over us after we feel the need to connect… and we share something deeply meaningful. Minutes, hours, or days later, we begin to feel regret sweep over us like a warm wave of nausea.”

(Somebody hand me the ibuprofen!)

The marvelous Dr. Valerie Baker had just had me on her podcast, the #INCHARGE Show, and I shared more than EVER about my personal story + struggles with body image, unsustainable lifestyle, and health issues that led me to be so passionate about the work I do today.

Like:

  • the time I was cast as a hippo in a ballet about the circus, I was sure I was typecast + the body shame really set in (are there even hippo's in the circus!?!)
  • how in my upbringing "you look healthy" was an insult
  • when my body was so out of whack I didn't get my period for 7 years. Seven. 

I've kept some of these things to myself, my 1:1 clients, my besties, my family, my coaches or therapists for years.

But recently I've been feeling a pull to speak to larger audiences about my own recovery from body shame in order to help others on their path. 

So here goes...

After you have a listen here, I'd love to know what resonated with you. 

Did this conversation bring up anything for you about your own experience?
Do you have a story you'd like to share with me? 

Join in our group and leave a comment there. 

With love and shedding body shame, 
xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

6 ways to befriend your body right NOW

Comment

6 ways to befriend your body right NOW

The brain is the organ that learns, so it is designed to be changed by your experiences…whatever we repeatedly send and feel and want and think is slowly but surely sculpting neural structure.
— Hardwiring Happiness by Rick Hanson, Ph. D.

So then, what do you want to teach your brain? 

And how can your daily experiences - what you repeatedly send and feel and want and think - inform that learning? 

I want PLAY, JOY, LOVE, GROWTH experiences. 

I want to befriend my body, rather than feeling like my body and I are in a constant struggle.

I want to show up with confidence, with optimal health, and with vibrancy to the things I'm passionate about. 

(Just to name a few) ;)

 

What about you? 

 

The beauty is, it only takes a few simple changes – done consistently – to start creating thoughts and behaviors that will help you feel better in your body. 

I wrote an article for Sivana East about 6 of my favorite ways to use mindfulness throughout the day to start to respect, honor, and feel better in your body.

They might not seem like *such* big deal things to do each day, but these changes have had huge impacts on sculpting those good 'ol neural structures of mine, so I hope they're helpful to you too. 

 

 
 

Read it here! 

 

*Spoiler: My favorite is #5. 

Can you guess what it is? 

That's right, the #JOYworkout. 

In my online programs, we talk about a JOY workout as something that gets you moving, but feels like SO MUCH MORE than a "workout" just for the sake of squats + push-ups.

It could be something like:

  • blasting your favorite music for 10 minutes and having a dance party at home,
  • going out for a nature walk or bike ride,
  • heading to the pool for a swim,
  • or playing hopscotch!

Most importantly, you’re getting your body moving in a way that feels good and finding a type of movement that you really truly enjoy!

Taking a little time to PLAY is Mar del Plata, Argentina!

Taking a little time to PLAY is Mar del Plata, Argentina!

Moving your body does wonders for your physical health as it increases your cardiovascular endurance, strengthens your muscles, helps with balance, creates better sleep, aids in digestion, decreases stress, and much more.

It also gives your mental health a boost. You get a dose of warm fuzzy positive endorphins leading to a natural boost of confidence, as well as feelings of happiness and joy.

A few minutes of a JOY workout and BOOM, usually feeling better already!

So, two questions for you:

 

1. What is your JOY workout?

(I'll go ahead and answer the most commonly asked question... YES, sex counts!)

2. What helps you feel good in your body (right here, right now, today)?

 

Leave me a comment and let me know!

With love and blending fitness + mindfulness! 

xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

Stay fit while you travel - 6 things to pack!

4 Comments

Stay fit while you travel - 6 things to pack!

What a great adventure the last month has been!

*If you missed the news, I was honeymoon-ing and visiting my South American family + friends in Argentina.

I learned a lot about my own patterns for what works and doesn't work for my fitness life while living abroad.

It wasn't always easy.

Like when:

  • I missed a Pilates class I was going to take just because google maps sent me to f*%$^ train tracks and I couldn't figure out how to walk across them. Doh!
  • I planned to do a video at home, but the internet went out (happened often) and I hadn't pre-downloaded so I had to pull up my yoga pants and design the workout as I went along. 
  • My digestive system and I became frenemies and I was bedridden for a few days (but really, what's traveling to another country without a hospital visit!?!?!).

There were also plenty of things that worked well... like these 6 pieces of equipment I packed in my bags.

Having these in my backpack ready to go at anytime helped me focus on keeping true to what I knew I needed for my own body and carving out the space and time to make that happen -even if it didn't always go as planned- while I was away from my normal routine.

1. PonyBabe Multi-Use Wrap

"Multi-Use" is an understatement! This was one of my most valuable pieces because it's so extraordinarily versatile (and soft + cozy!).

I used PonyBabe's wrap as:

  • a 'yoga strap' for stretches after long travel days
  • a scarf for unexpectedly cold winds
  • a sun cover up for beach days!
  • a blanket on a chilly plane
  • a head wrap to shadow my face when I forgot my hat
  • a folded for a meditation cushion
  • and for feeling like Super Woman ;)

Plus, everything from PonyBabe is ethically produced and made in Brooklyn, NY. It feels good for body/mind/soul to wear the comfy clothes from this company. 

2. Gaiam Travel Mat 

This gal has been my sidekick since 2012. We've been together in Thailand, Cambodia, Dominican Republic, Argentina, Uruguay, all over the US, and we're constantly together in Prospect Park, Brooklyn.

This mat rolls up to about the size of a small handbag and is super light. It's been a life saver, especially when traveling, for doing on-the-go workouts in tight spaces, for setting up yoga space on the (questionably clean?) floors of hostels, or joining in a class abroad when you have to bring your own mat.

We filmed about 8 new videos for the Sparkes Wellness Workout Library on this trip, and they all feature my Gaiam travel mat!

3. The Stick

If you've ever been on a long plan, train, bus, or car ride (or heck! even if you're at your desk all day) you know what sitting for that long does to your body. 

Stiff. Sore. Achey. Tired... just to name a few. 

Having a really simple massage tool along for the ride, can make a 10+ hour flight feel a-okay on your body. I used this after our long car rides to the beach and to they country, and after my at-home workouts. 

I even showed mis suegros how to use The Stick after their legs were sore from all the walking we did in Uruguay. They were impressed! 

4. 2 Balls + A Sock Trick

Speaking of self-massage, another very simple and effective tool is this DIY trick. All you need are 2 balls (I use tennis balls) and a sock. You can use the balls together along your back and around your neck and shoulders, as demo-ed in this video:

OR you can use one at a time for around your hips: 

  • Take one ball and stand near a wall. 
  • Place the ball in the center of your butt and lean in toward the wall. 
  • Bend your knees and angle your body as you need to massage your tender spots. 
  • Repeat on the other side. 

 

5. Tempur-pedic Travel Neck Pillow

When you're on the road, you never know what kind of mattress or pillow you'll be sleeping on. Having this travel pillow allows me to relax knowing I'll always have a comfortable night of rest. 

Plus I use this for lumbar (low back) support and/or behind my neck for cervical support when I'm on a long flight or car ride. I love it so much I use it as a regular pillow when I'm at home too! 

My ma-in-law made me this cute removable cover for it! ;) 

 

6. Thera-Band Exercise Resistance Bands

I've been experiencing pain in my hip for almost 9 months now. Ugh! I didn't want to drop my physical therapy exercises just because I was on the road, so I took a Thera-Band, wrote down my PT exercises and made sure I did them 2-3x per week.

Resistance bands are great to add into any fitness routine (not just for PT) to add resistance, get creative, and add variety to your exercises. They take up virtually no space and don't add any weight to your luggage.

I find that they can break easily, so I recommend taking more than one - I packed 2 different bands in my bags!

 

What about you? What fitness equipment do you bring with you when you travel? 

I'd love to know! Leave me a comment with your recommendations. 

 

With love, packing light, and keeping fit on the road! 

xoxo elyse

 

PS - Just fyi - I'm not getting paid by any of these companies to tell you about them. I just found that these helped me and I believe in the products, so I want to share them with you! 


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


 

 

4 Comments

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

How to stretch with your partner - A Guide

Comment

How to stretch with your partner - A Guide

Ever wish your partner could stretch you out after a long day? 

In this guide, you’ll find outlines of simple partnered assisted stretching and Thai massage* techniques to help you and your partner reduce body aches and pains, relieve tension, relax, and improve your body alignment.

Plus, you’ll get to connect with your partner and feel great in your body afterwards. Win win! 

*What is Thai massage?

It sounds a little mysterious, but not to fear!

It’s an ancient healing art form that combines pressure points, reflexology, assisted yoga poses, and massage. It is commonly done on a mat on the floor and the receiver is fully clothed and completely passive. It’s sometimes referred to as “the lazy man’s yoga” because it’s like getting the benefits of doing yoga (minus the balance and strength aspects) without having to do much of anything.

This makes it super accessible and easy to do at home with your partner, family, and friends!

Pretty good deal, right!?!

Before you start

1. Gather your materials.

You’ll need:

  • a yoga mat, blanket or towel for your partner to lie down on,
  • an *optional* extra blanket, towel, or small pillow to support your partner’s head if needed,
  • a folded blanket or towel to support your knees while kneeling to work on your partner.

2. Set up the space.

You can:  

  • make it comfy - make sure the temperature in the room is comfortable and that your partner feels okay on the floor,
  • make it quiet - make sure you have a quiet space (silence your phones + devices, put pets into another room, etc),
  • create the mood - go classic romantic with candles and dim lights (or take the time to create any mood you like!).

3. Prep your partner. 

make sure to:

  • communicate with you about injuries, skin bruises, or sensitive areas,
  • be passive and relaxed as you’re working on them.

 

Self Care Always Comes First!

Make sure that you prep your own body to feel centered, grounded, and thoroughly warmed up before you work on your partner.

Follow along below with video #1 to warm up and learn three important techniques to use while working with your partner.

Warm Up + 3 Important Techniques

1. MITTEN HANDS

Spread your fingers wide and then bring your fingers together like you have mittens on (your thumbs will stay separated from your fingers).

Sequence:

  • Press your palms together.

  • Inhale your arms straight up overhead.

  • Exhale fold forward over your legs.  

  • Keep your knees slightly bent and bring your palms to the top of your thighs as your round your back.

  • Inhale to arch your back, lifting your chest up toward the ceiling. Keep your hands on your thighs as you do this.

  • Exhale round back, draw your belly button up toward your spine and relax the back of your neck.

  • Inhale come through a flat back to come all the way up to stand.

  • Exhale fold over your legs again, and this time place your hands on the floor.

  • Step your left leg behind you to a low lunge.  

 

2. ½ LUNGE POSITION

Lower your back knee down to the floor.  *Make sure your knee has support underneath it (like a yoga mat, blanket, or folded towel). Bring your hands to your top thigh. Your shoulders will be directly over your hips and you hip directly over your knee.

Sequence:

  • Inhale here.  

  • Exhale move your hips forward.  

  • Inhale back to the ½ lunge position.

  • Exhale to move your hips forward. Since your back knee is stable on the floor, it's okay that your front knee moves beyond your front ankle. When you exhale forward give a little bit of pressure with your palms down into your top thigh.

Try this ½ lunge on the other side.

 

3. PALMING

Come onto all 4’s - on your hands and your knees.

Shift your weight onto your right hand. Lift your left hand off the floor. Stack your weight, so your right shoulder is directly over your elbow, your elbow is directly over your wrist. Keep your arm straight and feel your body weight go directly down into the floor.

Sequence:

  • Alternate like this a few times by switching your weight from your right arm to your left arm

  • Come back to the center on all 4’s

  • Tuck your toes and lift your hips up to come into downward facing dog

  • Walk your feet all the way forward to your hands and roll all the way up to stand.


 

Well done! Now you’re ready to begin with your partner.

 

Follow along below with video #2 to be guided through a full body sequence with your partner.

Full Body Sequence

1. THE WAVE

(mobilizes foot and ankle joints, stretches the intrinsic components of the foot)

Hold your partner's foot with both hands, with your fingers underneath and thumbs on top of their foot. Mobilize the ankle joint by lifting your fingers up and moving your thumbs down as you gently squeeze the foot. Move from the base of the foot to the toes in a wavelike motion.

2. FLEX & POINT

(mobilizes ankle joint, stretches muscles around the calf)

Take one hand to your partner's heel and one hand to the ball of their foot. To flex their foot, bring their heel towards you and the ball of their foot away from you, towards your partner's shin. To point, switch your hand (the one near their toes) to the top of their foot and guide the upper part of their foot toward you. 

3. HIP CIRCLES

(mobilizes hip joint)

Hold underneath your partner's knee and ankle to bring her leg up as you transition into a ½ lounge position (move #2 from the warm up) to the side of your partner. Instruct her to give you "dead weight" (aka completely relaxed leg without trying to hold it up herself). Use the motion of your ½ lounge to create circles in her hip joint. *Remember that this movement is coming from your HIPS, not your arms. 

4. INNER THIGH PALMING

(stretches adductors of hip and hip flexors of opposite hip)

Next time your partner's knee is to the side, rest her foot in the crease of your hip. Place your outside hand lightly to inside of her knee.  Place your inside hand on her inner thigh. Keep your inside arm straight and use the shifting of your pelvis forward to give light pressure from your arm straight down to her leg. Release. Turn your foot out, move your hand to the middle of her thigh. Move your pelvis forward again in the 1/2 lunge position. Release and repeat this again and move your hand another time to closer to her upper inner thigh. This is done in 3 places along her inner thigh.

5. PALM PRESS ON CHEST

(mobilizes shoulder joint & relaxes chest)

Support your partner's leg again at their knee and ankle. Guide their leg across their body until they're in a side lying position. Kneel in ½ lunge behind them. Rest their arm on your thigh or hold it up as you gently palm their chest with your other hand. Remember that the tissue in this area is very sensitive, so make sure you're gentle and check in with your partner to see how they feel. *(For a review of "palming" go back to move #3 from the warm up)

6. SPINAL TWIST FROM BACK

(increases spinal mobility & stretches multiple tissues in back)

Guide your partner's arm down to the floor to open them up into spinal twist. Take one hand to their chest and one hand to their outer thigh. On your next exhale, let your body weight drop down to the floor to deepen their twist. On your inhale, release. Follow your breath like that at least 3 times. 

7. SPINAL TWIST FROM FRONT

(same as above & massages glutes)

Now, walk to the front side of their body. Place one hand to their chest and your other elbow to the back of their pelvis towards the center of their hip. Move your hand away from you so that their shoulder moves down closer to the floor. Simultaneously draw your elbow towards you, so you guide their hip toward you as well. 

8. HAMSTRING w/FOREARM PRESS

(stretches hamstring, calf, achilles)

Support at your partner's knee and ankle again and roll them onto their back. Keep holding their leg as you stand up. Rest their extended leg on your torso (or on your thigh if your partner has tight hamstrings). Take one hand to the front of their ankle to hold their leg in place and bring your other forearm to the bottom of their foot. Move your chest forward as you gently lean on their foot. Press with your forearm on various spots on their foot(make sure you're directly in the center, on the meaty part of your forearm). Roll your forearm on the bottom of the foot from your heel to your toes (pressure on the big toe feels especially good!).


9. LEG TRACTION

(creates traction in the hip joint, relaxes the leg)

Hold your partner's ankle with both legs and slowly lower it down to the floor. Lean back slightly to create traction in their hip joint. 

 

Now compare both sides. 

Does the side that you worked on feel longer than the other? 

More relaxed? 

Resting closer to the floor? 

 

Repeat this entire sequence on the other side!

 

Have any questions or comments? Leave me a comment below! 

To relaxing and stretching it out - partner style :) 

xoxo elyse

 

PS - Did you like this? Get more! 

Sign up at stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com to the free stretchbreak series and ongoing videos sent to your inbox. 

 

**Photography by Samantha Lawton


Hiya, I'm elyse! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

Upper Body Stretch Sequence to De-Stress from Sitting

Comment

Upper Body Stretch Sequence to De-Stress from Sitting

Shoulders feeling stiff from the winter cold? 

A long travel weekend?

Sitting all day at your desk?

This kind of tension usually creates elevated shoulders, a rounded forward chest, and a 'holding' in your upper back. De-stress (from any/all of the above) with me in this #stretchbreakwithelyse - you can do in a train, plane, or office chair. :)

Follow along with me in this 4 min video.

 

 Try these moves out and let me know how they go! 

Want even more moves you can do while sitting or at your desk? Get the whole series here. 

With love and upper body stretching, 

XOXO ELYSE

PS - I'll be back at the airport tomorrow doing this too! Latin Lover and I are going on a delayed honeymoon and we're starting it off with a 10+ hour flight, soooo yeah, I'll definitely be doing this at the airport. Want to see some of our adventures? Follow along with us on instagram

PPS - What are your favorite ways to stay fit while you travel? I'm going to be writing more about this coming up, so I'd love to incorporate your tips! Post them in the comments below! 


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

If you're exhausted by writing 'lose 5lbs' on your to-do list, read this

Comment

If you're exhausted by writing 'lose 5lbs' on your to-do list, read this

There is SO MUCH more to life than weight loss. 

And yet... 

I spent many many New Year's Days writing out my target weight goals and devising complex systems for my exercise and meal plan in order to lose that 'final 5lbs'.

Finally, THIS will be it!

Then throughout the year I would stare at the scale every morning (sometimes noon and night too) to loose that weight OR to make sure I wasn't gaining.

Ironically, those years were the most UN-healthy times of my life.

I felt like there was always weight I couldn't shed, I had anxiety attacks, loss of my period, had severe skin and digestive problems, and so much mental stress that I could never relax at a meal with friends. I always had to be moving to 'burn calories' (I even took up knitting so I could move my hands while I watched a movie)!

Studying mindfulness flipped that lifestyle on it's head and now I feel connected with my body (how it is, right here, today) and exercise and eat for altogether different reasons.

If you're exhausted by writing LOSE 5 POUNDS on your resolution list (yet again), follow these steps for a new approach. 

*Pssst... You can write your own answers in (click here), with this interactive worksheet!

Find your WHY

One thing that helped me was shifting my focus from "Skinny=Happy" to "Healthy=Happy". Instead of my one and only goal being to maintain a certain weight, I concentrated on using food and exercise to heal my health. 

I see huge shifts in my clients and program participants when I encourage them to dig deep and discover the true WHY behind their health and wellness goals.

What is it for you?

  • increased energy,
  • more sound sleep,
  • building flexibility/stability/mobility,
  • practicing balance,
  • being able to lift your kids/grandkids,
  • improving your posture,
  • reducing stiffness, aches and pains,
  • preventing diabetes and high blood pressure,
  • preventing frail bones,
  • improving your digestion, 
  • decreasing mental stress, 
  • feeling confident in your clothes?

1. Write out ALL of the reasons being fit is important to you.

2. Keep it somewhere you can see it everyday and look it over when you need a friendly reminder. :)

Take an action towards how you want to FEEL

If the number goals (lose 5 pounds, have a 29 inch waist, etc.) ARE really important to you, go deeper into the WHY behind that as well.

Ask yourself:

  • WHY is this important to me?
  • What will be available to me when I reach this goal?
  • What will I do differently when I've gotten there? 

3. Write out the answers to the questions above. 

  • Will you buy yourself a new outfit? 
  • Go to a group yoga class?
  • Start dating again? 
  • Apply for a new job? 
  • Finally think you look good? 
  • Make a YouTube video for your business? 
  • Take a selfie? 

4. Choose something you can do TODAY to treat yourself like you're ALREADY there.

  • Buy yourself an outfit you like!
  • Go to a class!
  • Set up a date!
  • Compliment your body (to yourself or to a friend!). 

I know, I know!

This might feel uncomfortable.

You might want to deprive yourself from the get-go and say, 'but I'm NOT there yet!'

So I'm going to step up on my soap box for this one.

Listen up:

You've got ONE life to live and the living starts NOW.

From my personal experience and from working with hundreds of people over the past 12+ years, those magical five pounds are NOT the catalyst for change. 

The catalyst for change starts in shifting your thoughts and your actions.

By,

A) Talking to yourself and about yourself with respect and honor.

B) Moving from product based goals (ie: lose 10 lbs by May) to PROCESS based goals ("I move my body - in a way that's exciting to me - for 30 minutes 3x a week. I text a friend when I need support").

C) Recognizing that,

  • your body is with you for the long run, so this whole health/fitness/wellness stuff is an ongoing, continual process, and
  • gifting your body exercise and nutritious food is something that's important to do at ANY + ALL body sizes, shapes, and ages.

D) Treating yourself like your most precious possession.

 

Ready to really take action on this?

Click HERE for an interactive worksheet to record your answers and go deeper into this process!

 

After you go through the worksheet, I'd love to hear about your answer to #3!  

Comment below and let me know what is the thing you're going to commit to do TODAY?

With love and shifting thoughts and actions, 

xoxo elyse

 

PS - After last week's post, many people expressed interest in starting one of my programs and we've had great new members joining in!

If you're interested in getting fit and healthy in a way that's holistic, body positive, and achievable, you can start the 21 Day program with us this coming Monday! 

Click here to sign up! 


Hiya, I'm elyse!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

holiday body grogginess

Comment

holiday body grogginess

Holidays + parties + house guests + overflowing amounts of food/drink + long car travels + out of the daily routine + plenty of movies to be watched =

A whole lot of body grogginess. 

[Raise your hand if you're feeling it] 

I am! 

I can feel my mind tipping toward what I like to call 'calculation mode': 

  • "Starting tomorrow only salads until New Year's Eve!" 
  • "January 2nd I'll start with a clean slate."
  • "If I do 5 hardcore workouts this week, it'll make up for the past two weeks!"
  • "There's 3 weeks until my honeymoon on the beach, can I get in shape in that amount of time!?!" 

But after years of thinking like that (especially around New Year's!) I know now what that does for me in the long run.

It takes me out of the current moment and backfires with bingeing/starving and over/under exercising cycles. All while increasing my anxiety with a constant feeling of chasing after something I can never achieve.

And it's not particularly motivating. 

Can you relate? 

I still have these thoughts, sometimes on the daily! 

Here's the difference: 

Instead of convincing myself to follow through with those things when the thoughts come up, now it clues me in to say to myself:

"Woooooooah, SLOW DOWN there sista!

How about we back up, take a deep breath, and ask the question that really wants to be answered:

What does my body truly need right NOW?"

Not on January 1st.

Or tomorrow.

Or the tomorrow after tomorrow.

Not the master complex plan.

What do I need right here, right now? 

For me, after I taken a long(ish) period of rest, my body is asking for movement.

Easing into it usually feels like the right thing to do.

Some simple moves that connect me to my breath and move my spine.

If that's you too, here are some sequences that can help: 

If your body came up with a different answer, I'm curious... what did it say?

Can you gift yourself that today?

Comment below and tell me what your body is asking for and what you're going to do to give it that today!

With love and bringing your attention to the now, 

xoxo elyse

 

PS - I'm looking for 8 more people to become founding members of the *brand new* Sparkes Wellness Library!

Is that you?!

The Library is great for you if you:

  • want to focus on getting fit in 2017 in a way that feels holistic, balanced, and full of support
  • have a tight schedule and want to find a way that you can get a good quality workout in at home
  • want to have personal trainer-style training, but hiring a private trainer isn't in your budget this year
  • want to be surrounded by a fabulous group of people who understand that losing weight is not the ONLY reason to exercise and are focused on overall health & wellness 

You'll get: 

  • access to a full library of my workout videos, ranging from 30 min full body workouts to 5-15 min sequences focusing on balance, strength, flexibility, meditation, and more. 
  • brand new videos every month so you always stay interested and add variation into your workouts
  • new calendars each month so you don't have to waste time wondering what to do next (you can print calendar's out OR fill them in online)
  • a monthly video chat where our intimate group gets together to share and encourage each other on

 If you're interested, click here to contact me and say "I'm interested!"


HIYA, I'M ELYSE! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

3 moves to strengthen your core while sitting

Comment

3 moves to strengthen your core while sitting

When you aren't able to move as much as you want to, even a tiny bit of connection to your breath and movement can keep your body feeling stronger and less stiff.

Maybe you're: 

  • traveling
  • at your desk all day
  • unable to get up and down from the floor
  • just need a quick break

Use these 3 moves to strengthen your core, bring your attention to your breath, and practice moving your spine in flexion/extension, side bending, and rotation.

You don't even have to leave your chair! 

*Case in point: I filmed this in an (empty!) airport during a layover on Thanksgiving Day. We almost missed our connection because we were so focused on filming, but we got the shot! ;) 

Try these moves out and let me know how they go! 

Want even more moves you can do while sitting or at your desk? Get the whole series here. 

With love and core strengthening even while you sit, 

xoxo elyse


Hiya, I'm elyse! 

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

shaken to your core

Comment

shaken to your core

Many people have told me they’re feeling shaken to the core.

Unsteady and distraught.

Extremely anxious.

Full of “what’s next?”.

This could be true for you no matter which way you voted in the election or where you live in the world.

This could be your experience just from scrolling your Facebook feed!

This could be true for you if you strongly disagree with your family, friends, or colleagues, and you have/will find yourself in intense conversations (Oh hey there Thanksgiving dinner).

This could be true if you don’t understand the “other” side.

This could be true if you feel helpless in any area of your life right now.

I’ve posted comments + videos in the past two weeks, usually leading with “I don’t have the right words. I don’t know what to do.”

But that’s not entirely true.

Here’s what I know:

This week a woman in one of my private group classes said to me, 

Thank you for guiding us last week. You knew just what to do and it was extremely helpful.

This was in reference to the class we had the week prior, on Nov. 9th, when in the beginning of class 6 women were shaken to the core - talking non-stop, not understanding, unable to focus, taking quick shallow breaths.

Instead of our usual moves focused on building strength and stability, we switched to a focus on BREATH, locating sensations in our bodies, foam rolling, and relaxation.

They left feeling more clear, more calm, more settled.

I know that the wonderful group of people I’m leading through my 21 Day program, many of whom have felt emotionally drained this week, have told me that moving their bodies at home with the videos has given them some structure, helped them process, and/or that they’ve really appreciated having our intimate community centered around kindness + compassion.

[Doing the workouts] helped me accept things as they are, right now.
— 21 Day participant

This post isn’t about testimonials though, it’s the deeper connection.

Here’s what I know:

YOUR BODY IS WISE.

Pay attention to

...that uneasy feeling in your gut

...stifling sadness in your chest

...overwhelming tightness in your throat

...the holding of your breath

and sit with it for a moment.

Feel it.

Let yourself REALLY feel it.

Shake.

Cry.

Get hot.

Get cold.

Notice what your body is telling you.

ASK your body what it’s telling you.

For real. Ask your body,

  1. “What are you telling me?”
  2. “What’s important about this?”
  3. “What do you (I) need right now?”
  4. “How can I give that to you (me)?”

Here’s what I know:

When you quiet and tune in to your body, you can sift the outside noise.

Eventually the shaking/crying/heat/cold will shift and your solid, sturdy center will remain.

Your center of KNOWING will be revealed.

To KNOW what you believe in.

To KNOW you matter.

To KNOW your body is wise and here to help you.

To KNOW what your very next step will be.

Practice strengthening that place.

Here's a sequence to get this concept out of your head and into your body. 

It's 6 min of core and stability work. It will strengthen your center, and you might just end up shaking your in core from all that strength building. ;) 

*I'm doing this with a 6lb ball for extra challenge, but that's optional. You can also do these same moves without equipment. 

Extra credit: 

Strengthen your centering of KNOW-ing by listing the things that you know to be true in the current moment while you're doing this workout. 

Say them out loud or silently to yourself.  

Over to you... 

In the comments I'd love to hear what you know to be true when you sincerely LISTEN to your body and ask what it needs. 

What comes up for you? 

With love and connecting to your center, 

xoxo elyse


HIYA, I'M ELYSE!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

Ease your election anxiety

Comment

Ease your election anxiety

Whether you live in the US or not, we can all probably agree that the 2016 election season has taken us on quite a stressful whirlwind! 

This post isn't about politics per se, but it IS about how politics and current events in the world in general has upped our collective anxiety. 

A survey by the American Psychological Association said that 52% of people in the US have said this election is causing them significant stress.

That was reported a few weeks ago, so by now I'm willing to bet that percentage is even higher! 

Almost every in-person training client has told me that they're feeling super stressed about this election and I've absolutely been feeling it too (after the 3rd debate I had a full blown anxiety attack!).

One thing you can do to slow down racing thoughts and feel more calm, relaxed, and grounded is to do some restful movement with a focus on your breath and your body in THIS present moment. 

Will this have a huge impact on this national election and global political atmosphere? Probably not before Nov 8th. ;) In the long run though, it will start to shift how we collectively approach any stressful situation - including crazy elections. 

Let's just start on ourselves with a few moments of inner peace today, shall we? 

*I hadn't filmed this video in order to share it - I was just documenting the sequence for myself!... It's off centered, I had just woken up (note the morning hair ;), and I didn't even have a mat.

I'm sharing it with you anyway, because if it can help even ONE person feel more calm and relaxed for just 7 minutes in the next few days, I feel like I'm helping to ease the collective anxiety! 

I always like to hear what you think: 

How do you reduce your anxiety when stressful things are happening all around you?

Please keep your feedback positive, kind, and focused on helping to ease tension and anxiety. Thanks! 

Try this out and then leave me a comment to tell me how you feel afterwards!

With love and starting with a simple step to less stress, 

xoxo elyse


Hiya, I'm elyse!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

To lose weight (or NOT) before your wedding

2 Comments

To lose weight (or NOT) before your wedding

I'm the bride in this scenario.

Yup, for real - I got married 3 months ago!

To my surprise, one of the most challenging parts of the whole wedding planning process was finding THE ONE.

Not the life partner.

THE DRESS.

I wasn't expecting that this would be a struggle.  I didn't grow up fantasizing about this day and I'm pretty low key fashion-wise (read: stretchy yoga pants on the daily). 

Who knew that finding a dress that:

  1. looks good and feels like “me”,

  2. is comfortable for a full day of wedding fun,

  3. is NOT a million (okay, thousands) of dollars,

...would be so challenging.

Not just that, but every single bridal shop employee assumed that I was going to lose weight before the wedding.

One even asked -albeit tactfully- if it’s probable that I’ll be gaining weight.

If I had had this experience a few years ago my body shame and insecurities would have skyrocketed with so many people commenting and having opinions about my weight.

Plus, with dissecting every curve of my own body in the mirror… having my girlfriends, mom, and sis watching me change… and poking and prodding at the places to “highlight” and the areas to strategically “hide”...

I would have fallen into a swirl of stress about my body.

And then I would’ve buckled down:

  • “For the next 4 months I’ll go to the gym every day and double my treadmill time!”

  • “No more sugar!”

  • “Take measurements and lose 3” around my waist!”

Inevitably going about it in this way would always lead to counterproductive bingeing and bleary eyed exhaustion.

Not only that, but I would struggle silently and feel isolated and alone in this “lose weight and get in shape for this special event” race.

And then at the event, even after going to extremes, I’d still try to strategically hide my stomach or my arms when the camera came around.

But here’s the thing: on my wedding day I knew all eyes were going to be on me and naturally, I WANTED TO LOOK + FEEL MY BEST!

Yes, of course, I want to rock toned arms in my strapless gown!

Yes, of course, I want to look healthy, vibrant, and bright in my wedding photos!

Yes, of course, I want to stand up in front of my closest family and friends and say sweet things and make commitments to my partner.

...and holding in my stomach is the last thing I want to be thinking about during those moments.

 

Have you ever experienced something like this?

This isn’t really about wedding prep or dresses.

This is about anytime you have a special event, a beach vacation, or tank top season on the horizon and you start to freak out about our body.

This is about anytime you’ve said, “I have one month to lose 10 pounds!” and started a strict diet + workout plan, only to stop at day #3 and beat yourself up about it.

You don’t have to beat yourself up to get in shape and your life doesn’t have to revolve around calories in/calories out.

When I started studying mindfulness and yoga, I became determined to find a BALANCED approach to fitness.

I began to create a system with workouts and mindfulness practices that would build strength and flexibility, release body anxiety, and feel manageable for a busy schedule.

This system became the 21 day program and it's supported over hundreds of people from all over the world find EASE + KINDNESS in their fitness lives.

People who have been through the program say things like:
 

I’m actually DOING this thing. A year ago, I had my 3rd baby and zero time for myself. Now he’s one… and here I am, in probably the best shape of my adult life making ‘me time’ happen. I’ve got lots of KG/lbs’s to shed but it’s not even about that anymore.
— Jody
Your exercise videos have a PROFOUND effect on my happiness and well-being. Because of both the artful way you put them together, and your warm, encouraging voiceovers, I feel motivated and excited to do them. I feel so good about my body - not because of how it looks but because of how it feels and what it is capable of. You are a HUGE part of that.
— Marsha
It’s definitely more than exercise - you provide something much more holistic. It’s fantastic.
— Anna

Latin Lover (my now husband) and I did the 21 day program with everyone last Spring so we could kickstart our "wedding fitness" and feel our best (and most sane) ;) at our nuptials this summer.

My husband and I, fairly excited about this whole wedding day thing.  Wedding Photography: Lexi Lowell Photography The DRESS: ARIA Los Angeles Shoes: Chelsea Crew LL's suit: Zara

My husband and I, fairly excited about this whole wedding day thing. 

Wedding Photography: Lexi Lowell Photography

The DRESS: ARIA Los Angeles

Shoes: Chelsea Crew

LL's suit: Zara

It was a blessing!

Want to join in with us to build your strength + confidence (and to leave the body anxiety behind)?

Sign up here by Sunday, October 30th (cart closes at 6pm ET) to start day #1 with us on Monday.

 

To proud, confident, strong, flexible bodies! ;)

xoxo elyse

 

 

PS - tl;dr...

The quickie version: In the end, I did find a great wedding gown and I wasn't stressed about losing/gaining weight because I practice what I preach in the 21 Day program.

I'm inviting you to do this program along with me, so you can get stronger and more fit in way that is manageable in your schedule and puts an end to this 'beating yourself up' cycle.

I'll be doing it along with you starting this Monday!

Join in with us here!


Hiya, I'm elyse!

Lexi Lowell Photography

Lexi Lowell Photography

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com

 

 




 


2 Comments

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

How Do I Stay Consistent With Exercise!?

2 Comments

How Do I Stay Consistent With Exercise!?

Every few minutes I glanced up to the upper right corner of my screen.

(4:44pm) I’ll put on my sneakers at 5pm.

(4:59pm) I’ll close my inbox + head out the door at 5:15pm.

(5:25pm) Can still make it to the 5:30 class if I run! But… I don’t want to rush, I don’t want to walk in late. Uggh.

I could feel my eyes starting to well up with tears. I had been sitting behind my desk for hours, and hadn’t worked out in days. My knees were aching and my shoulders were tight.

I was this close to saying, "Forget it! It’s not going to happen today. I’ll start tomorrow!" But I knew that the only way I was going to get out of this body funk and mental fogginess was to get on my mat.

So I took myself outside and started with these two grounding moves:

Sounds like a good place to end this story, but after I did these two moves I got attacked by mosquitos in my backyard. Oy vey!

Sometimes it feels like the odds are just not in your favor, and shouting FINE, I'LL START TOMORROW! is the only option.

This time with determination (read: frustration), I packed my mat up again and came inside. I was down to a final 20 minutes before I had to leave home to meet a friend and I KNEW I had to move.

I turned on a video from my Fast Track to Fit & Flexible mini-course so that I could get a quick effective workout in without wasting any more time on what to do and where and how to do it.

This happens to all of us from time to time, right?

Like when you planned to go to a class, but you forgot to bring your yoga pants to work [face palm].

Or you say you’re going to start tomorrow, and then a dinner with friends comes up and you’ll say OK, I’ll start the tomorrow after tomorrow!

If that ever happens to you here are some tips to help you take the stress out of the who/what/where/how of staying consistent with your fitness routine.

5 tips to stay consistent with your workout routine

1. Pre-schedule

Take a look at your calendar right now. What are the days + times you can carve out the space to move? Can you go online and pre-book a class at a studio? Can you schedule with your personal trainer? Can you put an alarm on your phone to remind you when it’s time to work out at home? When it's already booked and scheduled, you know you have to show up and you'll create the time to get there. 

2. Have a plan B

If that plan does happen to fall through, what will your back up be? It might turn out that it IS starting fresh tomorrow and that’s okay. But maybe you can also add some bedtime stretches in tonight? Or squeeze in a 6min workout right now?

3. Get your buddies involved

When you have accountability to someone beyond yourself you are much more likely to follow through! Call a friend and schedule a time to go for a walk together, turn your kiddos play date into a parent/baby workout, or post in your favorite online community for encouragement (join in our Fit & Flexible community here). Now other people will help you stick to your word!

4. Have an at-home option on board

For rainy days or last minute meetings or anytime unexpected chaos comes up, have a go-to system for creating effective at-home workouts. In my FT2FF mini-course I teach people how to break down the essential elements of creating a well-rounded workout with minimal equipment, so that you always have an option to do at home!

5. Be nice to yourself, even when it all goes to sh*^!

Know that life will always throw curve balls your way. Be KIND to yourself if things don’t go as planned. It’s almost a guarantee that at some point your plans will foil! If you miss a day it’s NOT the end of the word, it’s a chance to learn from what happened and use that information to prep yourself going forward. Self-kindness always wins in my book. :)

What about you?

What do you do to take the scheduling guessing game out of the equation?

Have any tips or ideas? I’d love to hear about them.

Leave a comment below!

With love and consistent self-kindness, 

xoxo elyse


HI, I'M ELYSE!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


2 Comments

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

3 simple things to calm your mind

Comment

3 simple things to calm your mind

I was tossing, I was turning, my mind was going a mile a minute, and most importantly it was 1am and I wasn’t sleeping.

This was the eve of Labor day here in the US, the unofficial end of summer, the week of ‘back to school’ mentality, and I was up all night worrying about every single tiny detail of my life.

Ever happen to you?

Here are 3 simple things to do when your mind is on overdrive:

1. Breathe

When your thoughts are going a mile a minute, your breathing is probably speeding up as well and increasing your anxiety. Zone in on your breath to focus your attention and heighten your experience of this present moment.

Try this:

  • Lightly close your lips
  • Breathe in and out through your nose
  • Count how long it takes you to inhale
  • Match that count to the count of your exhale

Ex: Inhale for 1-2-3-4, Exhale for 1-2-3-4.

Continue for at least 8 breath cycles. 

2. Write it out + be curious about the struggle

Remind yourself of this: The one thing we can count on? Impermanence.

Things will always change. So what you're struggling with right now? It may be monumental* or it may be minute, but no matter what it WILL shift, change, and make you grow over time.

Maybe it will be a catalyst for saying No to an unhealthy relationship, maybe it will be the brick wall forcing you to follow a different career, maybe it will be the injury that urges you to listen more deeply to your body.

This moment always changes.

What if instead of rushing to figure out all the details, you had patience and curiosity around where you are right now?

My favorite tool for being curious is simple pen and paper.

Get your pen to the page and write out all your questions (and perhaps some answers will pop up too).

  • What’s bothering me right now?
  • What is this really about?
  • What’s important about this?
  • What do I truly want?
  • What’s the next step I need to take to get closer to what I want?
  • What do I KNOW about this?
  • What don’t I know about this?
  • Where do I feel this in my body right now?
  • And now?... And now?

You might find that after writing it out, it’s already shifted.

*I’m referring to ‘struggles’ that are not putting you in danger, abuse, or extreme risk. If you are experiencing that, please seek professional help to change your situation as soon as possible.

3. MOVE

Get up and move your body! Gentle, slow, and steady movements can help relax your nervous system, help relieve places in your body where you’re holding onto tension, and get you from feeling stuck and frustrated to creative and inspired!

My favorite quote from Julia Cameron speaks to this,

Exercise is often the going that moves us from stagnation to inspiration, from problem to solution, from self-pity to self-respect.

We do learn by going. We learn we are stronger than we thought. We learn to look at things with a new perspective.

We learn to solve our problems by tapping our own inner resources and listening for inspiration, not only from others but from ourselves.

Seemingly without effort, our answers come while we swim or stride or ride or run.

By definition, this is one of the fruits of exercise: ‘exercise: the act of bringing into play or realizing in action’ (Webster’s Ninth).

Follow along with me in these short videos to join me in moving your body:

Over to you... 

Tell me, which one of these resonates with you the most? 

Do you have go-to simple tricks you do when you need to calm your racing mind? 

I'd love to hear about them in the comments below! 

With love and a calm mind, 

xoxo elyse


Hi, I'm elyse!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

ask yourself this when you're not feeling up to an intense workout

Comment

ask yourself this when you're not feeling up to an intense workout

Are you feeling that sticky, end-o-summer feeling?

Because of the heat, maybe. But also just the transition of seasons and that "back to school" energy right around the corner?

*Even if you live in a place where you're in a cool season, you might feel this transitional energy!

It's made me feel irritable, fatigued and for weeks kept me from doing any intense workouts.

Which of course, just made me feel more irritable and more lethargic. 

BUT.

I know that when I force myself to do strenuous workouts when my body realllllllly doesn't want to (which is different from never challenging myself at all) I start to avoid working out altogether and it creates an even more vicious cycle.

Instead of beating myself up or shaming myself into lifting heavy weights, I paused and asked myself what kind of movement would feel good right now?

What came to me was: 

Flow

Ease

Cool

Simple

So for a few weeks I've been doing gentle yoga, mixing it up with slow strength moves, and going swimming.

And low and behold, after weeks of more restful movement, yesterday I went to a group weight lifting class AND did a 32 miles bike ride!!

This is what I looked like by the end of the day, more on that another time! ;)

This is what I looked like by the end of the day, more on that another time! ;)

Over to you.

When you just can't get yourself to go for an intense workout, close your eyes, ask yourself this question:

What kind of movement would feel really good right now?

...and then wait to see what comes up.

If you truly need/want to challenge yourself, lift up those heavy weights! 

If it's more on the flow, ease, cool, simple side of things, I've got a few things for you to try: 

Wherever you're at, LISTEN to what your body is telling you. You might need to speed up, you might need to slow down, you might need a mix of both and that's ALL okay.

Be gentle, be kind, and practice what you need.

I'm always curious to hear where you're at, so leave a comment below to tell me how you feel like moving this week!

With love and listening to your body, 

xoxo elyse

 

PS - I'm creating brand new videos with yoga-inspired workouts. Is there anything specific you'd like to see included in that? Hit reply to let me know! 


I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


Comment

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!

the truth about when I was 'skinny'

19 Comments

the truth about when I was 'skinny'

I grew up believing HAPPY = SKINNY.

As an aspiring ballerina (and frankly, just as a woman in our society) it’s kinda hard to avoid that message, amiright?

By age 11, I was in at least 6 dance classes/week, counting calories like it was my JOB, and religiously including 100 sit-ups into my bedtime routine.

Throughout my dance career I was stuck in a never-ending under-eating → binging →  over-exercising cycle. And WORSE, I was beating myself up about it every second of the day.

If I missed an extra workout, I felt like a failure. If I got it in, I was on a treadmill for hours - literally running my body down, depleting my energy, and going nowhere fast.

People classified me as a “naturally skinny” person. Which felt like a pat on the back - a secret handshake - part of the club!

Yet every time I received a comment like that I secretly wished that they could see how HARD I was working to be where I was.

It took A LOT of discipline to live my life!

The daily weighing in, counting food points, measuring my waist, following the latest “lose 5” fad, tripling reps of the best fat burning exercises, restricting, depriving, and covering up my health problems.

There was never a day my stomach didn’t hurt. 

My skin was a mess and my eczema was out of control.

My menstrual cycle disappeared, and the amount of anxiety I felt was overwhelming.

Then when I was 26, my grandmother died from tongue cancer and my perspective started to shift.

In the last few years of her life she had many surgeries and treatments.

With my Gram on the dance floor in 2002, feeling stuck in an unhealthy cycle I felt I couldn't control.

With my Gram on the dance floor in 2002, feeling stuck in an unhealthy cycle I felt I couldn't control.

As an always-looking-on-the-bright-side kind of a person, she said she was so happy in these years because she physically couldn’t eat that much and she finally lost the weight she had wanted to lose for her entire life.

She had ⅓ of a tongue and was ecstatic because she was a “skinny person”.

 

This turned my whole idea of HAPPY = SKINNY on it’s head.

During this time I studied yoga and mindfulness, and came across this life-changing quote (in the video below) in my readings about death and impermanence. 

I became determined to find BALANCE in my approach to how exercise fit into my life in a way that I could maintain and feel GOOD about.

In ways that freed me up to focus my thoughts on my other passions, my career, what I want to create in the world.

In ways that kept me strong.
In ways that kept me centered.
In ways that were exciting and fun.
In ways that felt full of EASE.

In ways where HAPPY = HEALTHY.

Over the years, I've incorporated practices into my life that allow me to truly appreciate my body, feel in tune, aligned, and treat it well.

I want to share this lifestyle with as many people as possible, which is why I do the work I do!

It's about fusing mindfulness into your fitness life, and:

  • starting right here, right now, exactly where you are in this very moment,
  • heightening your awareness around your daily thought + action patterns so you can make mini adjustments that have large impacts,
  • shifting your perspective of "balance" so you're no longer beating yourself up over perfectionism and actually feeling a sense of peace with your body, 
  • getting on the self KINDNESS wagon, so you actually feel like you LIKE yourself and you enjoy being in your body.

When you follow these steps, which I layout in greater details in my online programs and coaching sessions, you will start to find greater strength, confidence, ease and balance in your body.

If you're ready to do this too, watch this video, and leave me a comment with the ONE thing you're going to do today to get started.

How does this sit with you? Leave me a comment below with the ONE thing you're going to do for body today.

I'd absolutely love to hear from you.

With ALL my love and happy balanced healthiness,

xoxo elyse

 


hi, i'm elyse!

I'm a personal trainer, fitness coach, and yoga teacher who gets people moving with in-person training and my signature online 21 day workout program. I want to help people drop the guilt/shame game around exercise and start working out with ease and kindness. When I'm not doing squats and sun salutations, I'm dressed up in vintage lindy hop dancing or gathering other Lovely Lady Entrepreneurs to talk about their careers and living their most passionate lives. Start moving with me today with these FREE stretch breaks you can do to feel more energized and aligned during your day! - stretchbreak.elysesparkes.com


19 Comments

Want to be more kind to yourself as you get fit?

Enter your name + email to get this 14 page printable Self-Kindness journal delivered to your inbox!