If you Think you can do “Anything” for Five Minutes… Try this…

Recently, Javin added a little challenge at the end of class.  It’s only five minutes long… Five minutes of planks!

We do one minute at a time with a little  break after each minute. It may not sound like much, but believe me… we feel all 300 seconds of it!

If you’re not familiar, a plank is an excellent core exercise. A basic plank is like a push up position- you just stay at the top of it. I works your arms, shoulders, back, abdominal muscles, booty, and legs. As with a push up, if being up on your toes is too challenging, or doesn’t feel good on your lower back, just drop to your knees.

There are many ways to change up your plank to work even harder. If your core isn’t screaming with straight arms, you can drop to your forearms by bringing your elbows down to the floor. Or, to make it even more challenging, switch between straight arms and forearms continuously for a minute by moving one arm at a time- up, up, down, down, up, up, down, down…. it’s killer.

You can add more challenge to your lower body by walking your feet out  wide then in narrow, or alternate tapping them up near your hand. Or alternate lifting your legs straight up toward the ceiling to work your booty more.

To work your obliques, keep one arm and foot on the floor and roll to balance on them. Be sure to lift your hips up away from the floor. Or, stay in that basic plank position and dip your hips toward the floor to the left then right- continue for a minute.

Javin’s plank challenge is a great example of how little changes make a big difference. We’re all busy, but if we can make five extra minutes a couple times a week, we can strengthen and tone our whole body with this one simple exercise.




Photo: The Super Analyst


Renee’s Basic Granola Recipe

Granola is a staple in my house.  I make it lots of different ways, using this basic recipe as sort of a template.  I’ll share lots of variations with you, but please- have some fun with your granola!  If you don’t like something or don’t have it on hand, substitute it out with something similar.  For instance- instead of applesauce you could use pumpkin puree or a mashed banana.  You can adjust the seasonings to your taste, and add or omit any of the nuts and dried fruits you want, too!  It’s super easy- you can’t mess it up!  It’s delicious by itself- I keep a jar on my desk at work for a quick snack.  I also love it for breakfast with almond milk and banana slices.  Enjoy!


·    3 cups whole oats
·    1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
·    1/2 cup maple syrup
·    1 cup ground flax seeds
·    1 cup sliced almonds
·    1 tablespoon vanilla
·    1 teaspoon sea salt
·    2 teaspoons cinnamon
·    chia seeds
·    pecan pieces
·    dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 250* and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.  Combine wet ingredients, salt, and cinnamon.  Add dry ingredients, mixing well.  Spread onto prepared pan.  Sprinkle with chia seeds and pecan pieces.  Bake approximately 1 hour, stirring after about 30 minutes.  When granola is golden brown, remove from oven.  Sprinkle with cranberries- or any dried fruit.  Cool completely.  Store in air tight container.

How to Make Big Changes that Last

Knowing that I had 100 pounds to lose was absolutely overwhelming.  It seemed impossible.  Hopeless.  Daunting.

I never believed that I could do something so big. It was a mountain I never thought I would climb. And, really, if I hadn’t found a way to get my head around it, I would still be looking at it as the impossible thing that I could never do.

I stopped thinking about the whole 100 pounds, and started thinking about 10 pounds at a time. 100 pounds sounded impossible, but ten sounded believable- maybe even easy.

Sometimes I have to just stop, take a deep breath, and remind myself that it took me 13 years to gain the 100 pounds.  It’s going to take some time to lose it the healthy way!

Once in a precious while, something amazing happens, and I am reminded that seventy pounds ago, I was not the woman I am today. It’s so important not just to focus on my goal, but also remember where I came from.

When I started losing my weight, I had Type II Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, and constant pain in my feet, legs, and back. I could barely walk around the grocery store. I was depressed. I spent most of my days on the couch in front of the television.

My life today couldn’t be more different! I can’t believe how strong and healthy I feel . My health problems have resolved. I don’t take medication anymore. I don’t live with chronic pain or depression. I feel good- I have tons of energy, I’m more confident, and my outlook on life is much more optimistic.

When I think about the progress I’ve made- those last few pounds don’t seem so big. I know that I will lose them the same way I gained them– one day at a time.

The truth is, maintaining our weight is a daily process.  It’s making healthy choices, being active, and choosing to put our health at the top of our priority list. It’s letting all the little choices we make every day add up to better health, and when we are consistent- it doesn’t take long to see big results.

So, go ahead!  Dream big for yourself! Make that big goal that sounds impossible. Then, break it down in little chunks that feel, perhaps, a bit more possible. Then, make little steps towards those goals every day.

Get ready to celebrate those milestones– you totally got this!

Written by: Renee Dubeau
Photo: Tanay Mondal

Julia’s Breakfast Turkey Sausage


  • 1 pound lean ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried rubbed sage
  • 1 teaspoon light or dark brown sugar, packed (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional

Combine all ingredients in a bowl mixing with your hands until well blended.

Shape into eight 2-ounce patties. Pan fry the patties in a nonstick skillet, brown both sides, for about 8 to 10 minutes.


Recipe and photo: Julia McKinley


Renee’s Vegan Protein Bars

These are a perfect grab and go breakfast or snack! I am a big fan of the hemp protein in the photo, but any protein powder you enjoy will work just fine! protein bars.jpg

2 bananas, mashed
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup honey
1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
4 scoops protein powder
3 Tablespoons flax seed
3 Tablespoons chia seed
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
3 cups whole oats
1 cup coconut
1 cup dried cranberries
1 cup dark chocolate chips

Line a 9×13 pan with plastic wrap. Combine all ingredients well and press into pan. Freeze until firm (I usually leave it overnight) and cut into 16 servings. Wrap individually and store in freezer.

This is more a method than a recipe- you can replace the peanut butter with any kind of nut butter, replace honey with agave or maple syrup, use any combination of dried fruits, nuts, and other additions that you enjoy!




Article and photo: Renee Dubeau




How To Dance Like Nobody is Watching…

Dancing can be really intimidating for people. Many times, people are too afraid to even try because they think they will look silly. Any of my students would probably tell you that they felt silly when they first started taking classes. It’s normal to be a little self-conscious, especially if you’ve never danced before!

It’s amazing for me to watch my students grow. As they learn the moves and routines, that self-consciousness fades. They stop taking themselves so seriously. They start having fun. They start to put their own style into their moves. And, somehow- as if by magic- they stop worrying about what anyone else thinks about what they are doing.  They are just there, in the zone, doing something they love- and that is all that matters in that moment.

When we do what we want to do without fear of judgement from others- that is freedom.

To dance like no one is watching means to let go of our fear. It means we appreciate our body for the miracle it is. We let go of the idea that we have to be perfect. We allow ourselves to experience joy without hesitation or inhibition. We feel the music and we move, and it never even crosses our minds that someone might be looking- it doesn’t matter at all.

The best part is, this confidence that we feel when we are dancing spills over into the rest of our lives. When we feel good in our skin- it shows! We don’t just feel that way in class- it goes everywhere with us. Increased self-confidence is one of the biggest benefits of dancing- one that most students experience after just a few classes.

So, go ahead! Salsa, Tango, Cha-cha… or just shake it!  Don’t think about it, just do it. Smile, let your fears go, and dance like nobody is watching. Be free. Be well. Be confident, beautiful, amazing YOU.



Written by: Renee Dubeau
Photo credit: Miracosta College/ Flickr





The Moment That Changed Everything

I was at the gym one day working out.  I wasn’t there to teach- I was just there to exercise and get in the sauna for a little while. I ran into one of my students that day.  She asked me what I was doing there. When I told her, she said something that has stayed with me ever since.

“It’s really great that you’re doing that for yourself, Javin. You’re always taking care of everyone else- you have to do something nice for yourself once in a while.”

I was so surprised. I never thought about myself in that way. I was just doing what I wanted to do. Dancing and teaching were things that I chose to do because I love them. I thought I was doing them for me. It never occurred to me that what I was doing was helping people. Hearing her say that changed the way I saw myself- I realized that I had found my purpose.

I’m so grateful for moments like this one. Knowing that I’m able to help others achieve better health, become more confident, and enjoy their lives a little  more is the joy of my life. There is no greater satisfaction for me than seeing my students succeed. I love the way they all come together to encourage and support each other. It’s been amazing to watch them all grow- in the studio and in their lives.

I’ve learned that it’s important for us to tell people how they impact our lives. If we don’t tell people what they mean to us, they may never know what a difference they are making in the world. None of us get through our journeys alone- we are blessed with many friends, teachers, and helpers along the way. Expressing gratitude to those who travel with us helps them to see their worth, and may even help them discover their purpose.

~ Javin Bay