How do you enter a time warp?

I lament the seemingly quick passage of time often, like writing a check and thinking, “where did December go and how did it become 2016?!”  but I found a time warp this holiday season and it was in Terlingua, Texas….

Every mom who has brought her family elsewhere for Christmas knows that it takes much more effort to make happen than staying home so when Chad decided that our family and each of our bikes were going to Terlingua, Texas for Christmas, my mind immediately raced (read stressed) through the logistics of this endeavor, and got after the preparations in November.  This middle of nowhere place, we affectionately refer to as the Lazy KZ Ranch is the home my in-laws, Kevin and Zoey.  Lazy they are not, the lifestyle they’ve created is nothing but lazy. With no prior building experience, they have built an artful abode by hand over the last 16 years amidst 200 acres surrounded by mountains of red, orange, yellow, tan and brown 

I’ll provide a few facts to clarify the extent of middle of nowhere  and unlazy lifestyle to set the picture in your minds eye. It is 450 miles from San Antonio, 360 from El Paso, and 82 to the closest town of over 2000 people.  It is on the edge of the Big Bend National Park where STUNNING BEAUTY is everywhere.  The energy for electricity at LKZR is provided by the sun, the heat, from propane space heaters and the minimal water that falls from the sky, (14”/year, US average is 37”) is consciously caught from broad rooflines and stored to be used for bathing and washing. There is not a flushable toilet and I won’t extrapolate on that but to say that I am happy that I have flexible hips and a good understanding of hydrodynamics to keep splash off my boots. Washing clothes with the 1945 Maytag is more labor intensive (and you run the risk of losing a fingernail if you are a curious 5.5 year old boy) but has a certain joy about it.

 Before the trip, I had a list of ideas on the special bike rides and hikes we’d squeeze in and outdoor adventures we’d have and our trip WAS full of daily hikes, rides and adventures but nothing was ever squeezed in.  We entered a space where time was determined by the sun and no one had to be anywhere at any particular time and I quit keeping track of time.  We had our work-rest-energy ratios all dialed in; we flowed.  My phone didn’t work as anything but a camera and time piece there but I mostly didn’t know or care where it was but to capture a photo opp.

 In addition to biking and hiking our strength was volunteered to haul a 100 pound piece of petrified wood out of the desert, pick axe and transplant various thorny succulents, dig fire pits and move rocks of all shapes and sizes,  and to place the granite that was once our front desk to its new kitchen home.  Working felt good.  I brought a TRX and a Rip but chopping, digging, hauling, squatting, hiking and climbing made it almost unnecessary to work out. I was applying functional movement to functional tasks and my spirit filled with joy, and I built up my energetic fire through these tasks.  To give creative effort and kinesthetic effort to transform the land where I plan to spend down time for the rest of my life was a fulfilling and ironically erased time. My tasks had purpose, and soul.

Time is a construct for productivity and I love being productive…. It too often overrides my need for creativity but in the creativity is where the heart sings and time ceases to exist. It builds your energy and vitality. Even if you aren’t exactly a member of the cult of Getting Things Done, you probably have a schedule, calendar and a couple lists of things to do, but how well do you manage your energy? While each of us has 24 hours in the day, our capacity for energy isn’t measurable in minutes.  It ebbs and flows. We fuel it and suck it by our choices.

In regular life, how do we balance productivity and creativity and infuse it all with love? How do we keep our ENERGY to stay on track to our current PURPOSE.  We often need a plan to begin, but once we attach purpose to it has a whole new life. Then we choose to be present to the moment at hand, truly embody our body, breathe deeply and enjoy the people in our presence.  We get after it.  We do.

 Are there people who suck your energy? Build you up? Are their foods or activities that make you sluggish or invigorated? Athletes understand that effective training comes from a combination of exercise and rest. By getting better control over your own energy cycles and capacity, you can do far more for your productivity making a To Do List.

Working constantly and resting constantly are both suboptimal. Being acquainted with our energy cycles can help us stay balanced.  We all have to do lists, daily goals are great but a goal with purpose has soul.  Don’t simply set a goal, meditate the process and attach meaning and spirit to that goal.  It will provide inspiration and can make mundane tasks seem fun. It can even make your awareness that time exists melt away.


TRX TRAINING: Move better. Train better. Coach better

The pursuit of better

I left the TRX Trainer Summit proud to be part of such an innovative, smart and GENUINELY functional movement centered organization- and really sore. Last year I felt the same- these are my people, they are speaking my language and hold my same beliefs. I felt compelled to share just 3 things that spoke to my heart.  The pursuit of better was ever present.

I believe deep in my soul that we are ALWAYS learning and live my life in that way. I believe in teaching movement and while it is not a sexy motto, I know that when you teach movement properly people get infinitely stronger and don't get hurt. After returning from the TRX TRAINER SUMMIT over the past weekend, not only am I inspired but I have affirmation that we, at Iron & Grace are on the right path. You can invest in any number of new fangled, trendy pieces of equipment but if your teaching skills are not on point it doesn't really matter... which brings me to my first point that is always driven home by Chris Frankel.

I have been to dozens of professional trade shows and they always provide inspiration and new pieces of information AND they always have a tagline. I have never been to a educational conference that so consistently delivered the message of the tagline than this recent TRX Trainer Summit. From the first informal talk the owner of the company, Randy Hetrick gave at our CORE Happy Hour, it was clear that the truly amazing team of fitness professionals representing TRX were there to support the mission of making us better coaches. My first profound experience with exercise and movement outside of a youth filled with sport came through yoga and Pilates. For years while teaching other professionals as an Instructor Trainer for STOTT PILATES, I developed so much appreciation for a system that makes you pause, values the importance of a starting position and holds focus as always present value in movement. We apply these concepts to the TRX, the kettlebell etc.- always have.  I came away from this conference (last time) feeling affirmed that I'm on the same page as the organization as a whole. Recently, I'm energized because  they've figured out how to create curriculum to help trainers better express what it means TO ACTUALLY TEACH MOVEMENT FUNCTIONALLY.   The TRX educational courses' revamping gives participants more systems (and acronyms) to become better coaches. I've had some frustration (and I must admit a little vindication) with the countless amount of people who come into our studio after having taken TRX somewhere else in town but are just learning how to properly plank in our walls. WTF? So what were they doing in the TRX I wonder....?!? I do however, have faith, as the TRX educational courses have been revamped recently to give participants more systems (and acronyms) to become better coaches. While our whole staff is credentialed and trained in both the TRX and Rip Trainer we will ALL be taking the new generation of the courses that we have already taken because there is always more to learn.  I have a lot of respect for the way they have grown.

This conference also symbolically marked a partnership with TRX and Under Armour. They hosted it at their AMAZING World headquarters, gave us great shwag and opened my eyes to its goodness- truly goodness. For this girl who lives in a no TV household and is dumb to pop culture, I didn't really understand Under Armour's message. After listening to the founder/ CEO of Under Armour speak to us and getting some more clarity, I went online to learn more. Maybe you already saw this, 9.4 million people have seen it on youtube but it was fresh to me...

Misty Copeland

Rule yourself

I will what I want- it is so American but really about empowering yourself, taking responsibility for the shape and form of your life. Will trumps fate. You rule yourself. I especially love it as a woman, it speaks to women who do not wait for permission, advice or affirmation from others in order to go after what they want. They are using strong, fierce, atypical women athletes to deliver the message that their will to tune out society’s standards to achieve their dreams is valid and works. It is what I love about the transformative process of helping people get stronger and seeing their whole lives get better. Anyone can rule themselves. I believe it.

More clearly, education and expression and application of that education is the most innovative tool in the fitness industry- maybe any industry. I tapped into this in my first topic but I thought I'd extrapolate the genius of TRX TRAINING as an organization. It started with education and some nylon webbing. Randy Hetrick, a Stanford MBA and former Navy SEAL invented and made the straps, and then with a team of driven, smart fitness pros, they designed the courses for fitness pros. Until recently, the only way to buy them were through their website and affiliate studios. They put the knowledge in the hands of the people on the ground; created their soldiers, so to speak. As I've seen the education system and the support materials broaden in the last couple years, I will admit it tapped into a fear of making the professional obsolete. But au contraire.... The professional market is relatively small. The consumer market is enormous and now that the foundation is laid, pop! into the consumer market with the troops of enthusiastic fitness professionals leading the charge. Today, you could go to an Under Armour brand house (store) and buy one- another stroke of brilliance- and in the very near future, you will be able to buy one in Dick's sporting goods around the country. Of course, those who are buying them are mostly going to go home and disregard the advice to seek a professional TRX Trainer but, in theory, it is beautiful and starts with the idea that WE (TRX Trainers) are a valuable asset to the company.

Some of my favorite TRXisms:
If you are training movement, results will follow
HIIT is built on focused simple strong movements
Meet the standards, then change the conditions- focus, learn, apply then challenge

Sure TRXisms were re-enforced, reminders of the acronyms and the importance of the plank were laid out there in addition to many, many new coaching tools/skills but more than anything else the spirit of my unencumbered 22 your old self who was bound to change the world one healthier sphere of influence at a time was reinvigorated. I was reminded that all the education and my commitment to the value of education is the most solid investment I can make. I now have another fitness family of likeminded individuals all trying to pursue their better and help others bring out their best.




Recently my great uncle Ted died.  On my dad's side, we have Hawaiian ancestry and uncle Ted was a big part of the oral tradition of our family culture; our connection to all that was universal and our connection to the Waipio Valley and our Hawaiian culture.  He loved to talk story.  Storytelling is healing, entertaining, expressive and most importantly, uniting.  Stories help us understand and build value, and in this modern world, and are wonderful to help all people understand each other.  His were mostly funny, but insightful and folktale-ish. They belonged in our family and in many ways, could be interpreted as universally transformative and inspirational.  

Everyone has a story and everyone's story has  meaning so this helped me think of a relevant way to have our clients testimonials take form in more than a soundbite. Our students are AMAZING!!! In our Iron & Grace family, there are lots of good stories and those who are willing to share theirs on our blog will hopefully provide you with inspiration and help you weave your story of consciously creating better health. I open with a tale of Shannon….. IMG_1095

"My strength journey began a few years ago when Iron and Grace moved to Lynchburg. Their timing was perfect, since I was going through a busy phase in life and had let myself go, so to speak – little exercise, poor diet, put on 10 pounds, etc. – I was always an exerciser, so I just felt yucky and not very healthy. I started with CORE DYNAMIX and proceeded to have my butt handed to me on Monday mornings by women 10+ years my senior – facts are facts, and they know who they are! Alaya suggested that I try kettlebells. WOW @ the learning curve - but they are FUN and I am so glad I stuck with it.

I spent a couple years learning to move well and building a base of strength in core classes, TRX, kettlebells, and power barre. Later, I began private sessions in order to focus more on strength goals specific to me. This is when my progress, strength AND physique wise, really took off. Chad has helped me with GOAL setting and to see strength as a skill – he pushes me when I need it, and pulls in the reigns when necessary. Before, I was really just going through the motions – but Chad insisted that I set specific strength based goals. My initial goal was met, and subsequent goals have been falling like dominos – feats of strength that I never dreamed I would be able to achieve. Now, I can’t imagine training without specific goals – they are what drive every session.

I now own a TRX and FIVE kettlebells (WTF!). I expect to use these tools for the rest of my life. The workouts are fast, effective, and FUN. The equipment does not take up room in my house, and I can take it with me anywhere I want. By the way, those 10 pounds of fat are long gone and I have visible abs, deltoids, etc. It is weird to think that I have actually SHRUNK while at the same time, I feel like such a muscle-y beast. ALL of this, and I do not feel drained or as though I even worked particularly hard to achieve it. Don’t get me wrong – when I am working out, I work hard - BUT the methods I have learned at Iron and Grace are SUSTAINABLE over a lifetime - such a far cry from my past of long cardio sessions, runs, and the nagging pains / discomfort which came with that. I never spend hours on end working out and I take at least 2 days of rest weekly. I have suffered no injury or pain and I feel great.

I can lift almost anything I want, safely – and usually by myself (this is a very useful skill). It’s really nothing crazy but CONSISTENCY is key. For me, that meant not being in a big rush for any of it, but maintaining a consistent effort over time. I don’t show up because I want to look like “X”. I will never look like someone else no matter what I do. Whatever I wind up looking like when I can do a pull up with a 24kg kettlebell hanging from my waist will look pretty damn good in my mind.

Iron and Grace will introduce you to the tools and show you the way. YOU have to do the work, and that does not mean being perfect BUT it does mean showing up and eating like a reasonable adult 80+% of the time. Just get started. Give it some time and it will become second nature ☺ "


SPRING CLEANING: The new and improved spring cleanse & detox

Alaya & Chad's experiment with a new variation on the Spring Cleanse
DAY ONE 5:56am

Spring is upon us! I've been playing with the idea of cleansing for awhile but there is something about this weekend's exposure to sunshine that popped the idea into action. I'm always learning healthy, new recipes, reading articles and research on new ideas on all things health, fitness and wellness. Over the years I've experienced a variety of cleanses either as a participant or an onlooker. The variation that I have been loving for the past few years was co-developed by myself and acupuncturist and digestive health guru, Senia Tuominen. Like often happens in our lives, I THOUGHT I had tweeked and retweeked the "metabolism retraining program" that it is born of, to perfection. At the time Senia and I were collaborating on a program integrating exercise and traditional chinese medecine to help people lose weight so I gave her the former (and much longer…) version of this program to critique and she did. She elucidated me on dampness and digestive fire and made some suggestions. I also had a toddler, was running my own business and had to be practical about eliminating time and labor. I laugh when I think about the complexities (sprouting of grains and seeds), expense (prepackaged juices and supplements) and craziness (bentonite clay and daily pH tests) various cleanses over the years. With subsequent cleanses, not only do I need to make it work for me but I want others with rich lives to make this work! The content of this cleanse has, as one of the goals, eliminating dampness. Disclaimer- only a doctor of chinese medicine or acupuncturist can craft something specific for your health and healing needs, this is just affected by Senia's wisdom and our collective experiences. Dampness is the most common problem in a typical American diet.

Why would you want to cleanse/detox? Well, I'm deferring this to experts like Megan Telpher and the ladies at Blondes Eat Clean for the answer. I actually took inspiration to try this before we put the whole thing online and available for our students from Mary Cope who recently finished a juice cleanse herself. Afterwards she posted all her insights on to those who may consider the same juice cleanse. We will give you daily insight and make changes so that all ya'all can decide.  I figured after spring break a detox may be in order... 

I'm practical (to a fault sometimes) this is indeed a detox/cleanse and has limited calories but my HOPE is that like me, you expand your culinary horizons in the process and grab some of the recipes for future use- open your mind and you might be wowed, like I was this morning. I'm just going to go right out there and say it. I STRONGLY DISLIKE CHIA SEEDS. This cleanse has lots of them and I reluctantly tried a recipe as a kickoff this morning that I would normally never eat for breakfast and was pleasantly surprised except for the fact that I am still picking chia seeds out of my teeth! I'm normally an eggs-and-green-smoothie-for-breakfast-girl but today I had a YUMMY beet bowl laden with apples, chia seeds and sprouted almonds. Our initial reaction was that it was remarkably yummy and satisfying. There is so much green in my day today I thought I'd diversify and beets are a great indicator of your body's ability to process. I've been concious of making this doable and creating complete proteins and I think that was the key to this morning's satisfaction. Since Chad's workouts are intense and he outweighs me by 100 pounds, he is adding more protein in the form of eggs and chicken this week. I'm going vegan. There are things I'm doing that you do not need to do but may want to consider. We will both check back in this evening with a little insight on day one.

8:27pm Alaya's day
So the satisfying beet bowl left me hungry in about 2 hours so the almonds that I intended to bring with me as a snack were nearly eaten by the time we left at 7:50, my eggs usually hold me just as long but I tend to sip my smoothie into the morning.  I had little pockets of time with which to eat today so around 11:40 I ate some of my ginger carrot watercress and beet salad and finished it after 1:00. Knowing I had a barre class to teach, I broke the vegan-ness around 4:00 and had an egg AND a Raw Rev 100 snack. I felt like I needed fat so I also had 10 more almonds and began thinking about my dinner waiting at home.... I was looking forward to it, so imagine my surprise when Chad told me that we were going to FunQuest before I would get home- yes, FunQuest where a very hungry person could eat chili cheese fries.  LUCKILY, I had my emergency hemp protein powder (20 g worth of protein baby) so in my state I went to Fresh Market and grabbed a Suja green drink WITHOUT looking at the back.  The juice fiends I happened to be travelling with, gladly drank about 25 g of the 40 g of sugar that was in said juice.  I had half a lemon to squeeze in about 8 oz of water and topped it off with about 4oz of the juice stirred and enjoyed!  I joke about the "emergency" hemp protein in the cabinet but this was the ideal situation to use it and I was pleasantly surprised that it was creamy and tasty.  I still needed some of the aparagus and quinoa that Chad made when I returned home.  So I learned 3 valuable things on day one of the cleanse. 1, Beet bowls and hemp protein will be part of my life.  2, I need more than 800-1000 calories on a workout day,even if cleansing.  3, Nothing stops a man with new inline skates (on the verge of roller hockey games) from going to FunQuest!

9:01 Chad's day
So I forgot my lunch, LUCKILY Alaya brought it in addition to more snacks to hold me throughout the day.   I drank about 24oz of coffee but apparently coffee is "not on the cleanse", so.....none tomorrow? I was definitely hungry when I got home around 4:00.  Stella was eating potato chips and while I had less than one serving, I still could not resist.  I got to work making dinner and found it to be the perfect pre-skating meal. By the end of the day I came to know that I eat unconsciously and this directed cleanse is really helpful to keep me on track. Today I ate about half the amount of food than normal and I felt satisfied, but it was also a rest day in my workout schedule. I ate about 5x the vegetables than normal. I'm energized

DAY 2  Alaya
I decided that I would consume more water before my first caffeine in general and this cleanse kicked it off.  I never got around to eating my lunch OR drinking tea until 2:30 so I was DRAGGING. I had to work hard to not eating something I'd regret.  I must say that I am not made to be vegan.  I had about 2 oz of beef and 20 oz of kombucha tonight and I was a totally different state 30 minutes later. I was completely energized. I'm so glad that I am doing this in advance and have been making notes on exceptions in the directions ;)

DAY 2 Chad
I felt like an angel today.  I felt stronger in my workout.  Alaya and I are making the same opposite discoveries.  I thrive on veggies and she needs meat.  I had less coffee but it IS in MY cleanse, so those of you who are afraid of needing to quit it, I say you don't need to quit it during the cleanse.  I LOVE coffee and if you have love for it, why quit it?

DAY 3 Alaya
While I did not get nearly enough sleep, my morning workout (the toughest of the week) went SO WELL.  It had actually been 2 weeks since I did that workout and I felt like a super hero, as a matter of fact I used a heavier kettlebell for my 3rd and 4th round.  My detox began and it felt good to have my body releasing what it didn't need. My lack of sleep caught up to me and I was totally out of it by 7:30. While I have found a need for meat and eggs, a small amount has been enough.

DAY 3 Chad
I'm enjoying eating like this. I feel SO good.  I just need more sleep to feel like I can apply my new found energy to my workouts.

DAY 4 Alaya
Another awesome workout! I feel like my waist may be smaller.... My GI has been working and I feel great, underslept, but great.  Chad feels the same.  We are both thinking that we want to do this for 7, instead of 5 days.

DAY 5 Alaya
I had my first MINOR deviation today as I was not as well prepared as I have been today. I had a Raw Rev Glo bar.  Very clean ingredients and low in sugar but it has added rice syrup and I did not want anything packaged or processed.  It didn't seem to make a difference... I still feel like an angel.   I had a reception and awards ceremony for my daughter and becuase of my tight schedule, I did not eat as much as I had planned to eat prior to the event. I went there and only grazed on a few pieces of fresh fruit and I ate the garnishes (parsley and fresh mint).  We celebrated afterwards by taking her to Isabella's and we were hungry.  There were a few options that were 90% cleanse and detox-worthy, so there is the 2nd slip of the day. I chose the eggplant stack and got a side of sauteed spinach.  There is minimal goat and buffalo cheese on this dish and the eggplant is breaded but all good.  It is possible to keep it clean eating in Lynchburg.  You just have to make the right choices.

DAY 6 Alaya
Yet another busy day for the Sexton family. I had a great breakfast, brought some (but not enough) healthy snacks and survived extreme hunger with an iron will while I was at Science Fest for 4 hours.  I had another event where food likely to not be on the cleanse was served, so I pre-ate and resigned myself to do 90%.  I broke down and told Chad that hoppy beer was bitter and therefore a gray area in the cleanse.  His input for today? "Bitter is on the cleanse? coffee and hoppy beer? Now this is a cleanse  I can get behind."

We really did not do this EXACTLY by the directions but I think that it is an important thing to note.  We will refine it and make changes (again) so that by the time it is in your hands, it is easy to follow and comprehensive. I consider myself a healthy eater but my body DEFINITELY benefitted from this cleanse and I feel GREAT and inspired. A 3 week cleanse is truly optimal with the first 2 weeks being a cleanse and detox and the third about strengthening your system.  I plan to keep many of these recipes in my life. Keep your eyes peeled for its official release.  We will put it in our newsletter and can send you the directions upon your request.