An Open Letter to 5:30am


Dear 5:30am:

Thank you for this quiet house when I first wake up.  For the inclination to tip-toe through my wake up ritual (scoop my pile of clothes off the dresser in the dark—laid out with care the night before so I don’t need the light), float up the stairs and walk like a sleepy ninja through the house, preserving the peace and my own solitude.

Thank you for a bowl of cereal to get the juices flowing, and thanks even for the stiffness in my spine—this discomfort makes me present in my own skin and reminds me to take care of myself—-that I am not superwoman and my body is a treasure to be cared for and nurtured—that I only have this one body and I better make sure the warranty never expires–even with weight that fluctuates and places that are beginning to show the effects of gravity after nearly 40 years.

Thank you for the chill of fall that greets me only a few minutes after waking.  Time to go to work.

Thank you, 5:30am, for the others that know you intimately and who trudge into the studio to do something healthy.  I love the community you create before sunrise.  The sleepy smiles, (or sometimes the zombie stares) the quiet routine of assembling mats and equipment—everyone still peaceful and also resigned to the tasks at hand.  Thanks for the trust these folks place in me to rev them up and into their day safely, with challenge and encouragement and camaraderie.

Thank you, 5:30am for the movement of our bodies.  You remind us to be extra gentle and that we all need a little extra time to get moving during this hour.  You let us know that if we ask instead of forcing—if we listen instead of order, our bodies will thank us and we will have an amazing experience with this movement.  We will sweat, we will lift, we will work, and finally, we will relax, now ready to move ahead into the rest of a busy day.  We’ve created anew this inner relationship and affirmed the same in a few others who think alike.

Thank you 5:30am, as your hour begins to wane, for the reward of the taste of sunrise, coloring the sky in hints of purple, orange, and red—belying the potential of the daylight, underlining the possibilities of this day.  Now our foundation is built…..what will we construct on top?  Which layers will be laid next?  The house?  The Spouse?  The Children?  They will all benefit from the relationship that you and I have, 5:30am.

Thank you, 5:30am, for the ticking clock breaking the silence as I tap out these words—-just a few more precious moments to fill my cup.  I know you will always be here for me, waiting and available, accepting me unconditionally and ready to walk with me unfailingly.  You are perhaps the only thing that is constant and completely abiding.  I thought I would hate you when  we first met.  I never imagined this relationship could be a gift, after all.

I’m so glad to know you, 5:30am.  See you again very soon.



Keep your friends close and your trainer closer…..


IMG_20140730_135309So, I had a brilliant plan. Work first-and-foremost on building my class numbers and student base, THEN focus in on personal training. Linear, clean, purposeful, focused, right? It’s the way I always think I work the best. Why, then, does it work out that all my plans pile up on each other and everything happens at once? I’m sure I engineer it that way, just like we all do with our lives. One of my favorite quotes is “We plan, God laughs.”

I find myself currently working with 3 private clients all at once. One of which has me scheduled every morning at 5:30am. (Thank God I liked her immediately and she’s very dedicated—-plus she does everything I tell her to do—the two very best qualities in a student.)

Ergo, this post is about How To Choose A (Great) Trainer. This is everything you need to know before committing your body, your time, and your money to someone who is in charge of your wellness and/or torture for the next however long. Having worked 20+ years as a hiring manager for fitness teams both large and small, these are the criteria I used to make hiring decisions and these are the standards I use on myself to stay qualified and current with my skills and practices.

1. Find someone who is certified. Like, really certified. From somewhere other than the internet. Some of the best orgs out there are the following: NSCA (National Strength and Conditioning Association) NASM (National Academy of Sports Medicine), ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), Cooper Institute, ACE(American Council on Exercise). These companies require rigorous study and extensive examinations in order to hold a cert. They also require lots (at least 15 hours per year) of continuing education in order to remain certified. Which brings us to……

2. Ask your potential trainer what was the last continuing ed course or event he/she attended. This will give you some insight into the interest and passion of your trainer and help you decide if her interests are going to mesh with your goals.

3. Ask about procedure and paperwork. If the trainer is willing to throw down a workout for you on the spot without asking a ton of questions about your history, injuries, illnesses, meds, etc, you are dealing with an amateur. Professional trainers should give you a medical history questionnaire, a release/waiver of liability, and have some kind of session tracking form with which to catalog the exercises he/she chooses for you. It’s okay if it’s all online, but you should see what everything looks like. Attention to this kind of detail means the trainer will also likely be attentive to YOU and care that you are getting great service.  A non-exercise consult is where most of this info should be covered.  And, generally most trainers should offer a consult with little to no fee.  (If you got a great consult and want to compensate an independent trainer for their time, it is certainly appreciated, though.)

4.  Experience is key!  New trainers need clients, of course, in order to gain experience.  But, do you YOU want to be the guinea pig for a first-time trainer?  If you are considering hiring someone new to the biz, find out if they have at least done some shadowing/apprenticing under an experienced trainer.  Even an internship can provide valuable OTJ training for the burgeoning young (or old!) trainer.  Check out your trainer’s background before you let him tell you what to do.  If you are heading to a big gym with a large trainer team and you are hiring an inexperienced trainer, ask if another trainer can participate in the first couple sessions and provide feedback or double-check the workout plan that the newbie has created for safety and efficacy.

5. Personality, personality, personality.  Are you quiet?  Outgoing?  Shy? Self-conscious?  Energized?  Introspective?  Crazy?  Interview enough trainers to find the one or few with whom you click.  There must be some chemistry and FUN going on in order for you to get the best result and for your trainer to really look forward to working with and FOR you.  If you’re going to work hard and make tough lifestyle changes, don’t you at least want to look forward to the couple of hours per week you spend with your coach?  Your PT appointments, though challenging, should be a bright spot in your week because of the relationship you create together.  (Which, it goes without saying, should NOT cross professional boundaries or feel yucky, creepy, too flirtatious,  or unsafe.)  Of course, we hear about trainers dating clients, etc.  Hard to regulate, and you can’t dictate love, certainly.  You CAN, however, choose the timing of your actions.  Any flirting or dating should only take place after the professional relationship has ended, if at all.

Alrighty!  You are now equipped to go out there and start interviewing the trainer who will truly help you change your life.  The highest compliment I have ever received as a trainer is this:  “Leah, you have become the voice in my head exactly when I need it.”  Good trainers stay with you long after you have stopped paying them for their services.  Find someone who will educate, inspire, and support you as you learn good tools to manage ON YOUR OWN, eventually.  Keep that person in your life for as long as you can.  You will not regret it.

Take care, and Wobble On!



Wobbling with your community


Evenin’ folks. I’m sitting here enjoying the sunshine-after-rain smell tonight. I love how summer days in Minnesota last until around 10pm.

Know what I also love? Doing things that make a difference. This post has only one point: to get you to take a yoga class tomorrow and support your community.

Why not be honest right from the get-go?  I want people in my studio on mats tomorrow, and I want you to pay to come.  We have a cool project going on.  Each month at Embrace The Wobble Yoga from here until forever, we are selecting a local non-profit to highlight and assist.  Half of the per-head profits made from all Tuesday classes for July will be split with……drumroll please……

Dinner at Your Door of Robbinsdale, MN!

Here’s some of the low-down from Julie, a woman who serves on their board: 

Northwest Dinner At Your Door, a non-profit affiliate of Meals on Wheels, delivers nutritious, hot midday meals Monday through Friday to the elderly, shut-ins, and infirm in Robbinsdale, Crystal, New Hope, Golden Valley, and eastern Plymouth.  Our mission is to allow those who cannot cook for themselves to remain independent and healthy as long as they can. Dinner At Your Door  was awarded the Robbinsdale Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award in 2012.  All our drivers are volunteers.  For more information about Dinner At Your Door or to become a volunteer driver, please call 763-531-1183.

Why are we partnering with Dinner At Your Door?  Because the foundation of this yoga studio is community.  Community with yourself, community with your class, and community in your community.  (How ’bout I use the word “community” about 700 more times?)

Being part of something larger than yourself is very “yoga”.   There’s a whole limb of the practice dedicated to service.  Mostly, we don’t care about the yoga-ness of this collaboration–we love the fact that it just feels good to do it. 

I would like nothing better than to hand these great, selfless, dedicated folks a nice big check at the end of the month, but I need your help to do it.  Please share this post with your network and on your facebook page.  All Tuesday profits for July get split with this org.  You have FOUR chances to make it happen!

Class registrations can be made at  Walk-ins are welcome, and you can pay in cash at the door or in advance online. 

Who knows?  Perhaps next month I will be writing this post about a charity near and dear to your heart.  We are still taking suggestions/requests for orgs for the remainder of the year. 

Here is another reason we are doing this.  Meet Bailey—one of our young Wobblers.  She likes to have her birthday parties at places where she can volunteer her time.  She is a terrific example of what big things we can accomplish together when we all sign up for a small part. 


Thanks, everyone.  See you tomorrow.


A Wobble Tribute…..for Luella.


Tonight  I am honoring my grandmother who passed away this weekend,  at the very tender old age of 93.  Keep reading, because this post is not about her dying process (though that was an honor to be part of), or tearfully recounting all the special memories I had with her (though there are more than I could ever list.)

This post is to serve as a how-to method for living your life the way you want to until the very, very end.

Grandma exercised. 

I grew up doing tons of active things with my active grandma.  She watched me a lot while my folks were working, and she took me along to everything that she was part of.  I was her sidekick for all of the following at some point in my young life: 

  • bowling league
  • cross-country skiing
  • walks to get ice cream
  • 1980’s-living-room-exercise-sessions-performed-to-a-record-on-the-turn-table-complete-with-leotards-and-pantyhose-with-all-the-neighbor-ladies
  • endless rounds being her golf caddy, (she had this little stool-thingy that folded down on her golf bag for me to sit on during the putting, and we NEVER rode in a cart) 

and of course, let’s not forget the–

  • weekends of dancing to Bobby Arrow and his polka band at the Elbow Room Lounge—starting when I was 5. 

Are you starting to get the picture?  Grandma Luella liked moving. A lot.  Her weight-lifting regime included a 900-pound Electrolux upright vacuum that she sometimes asked me to push around as well.  We baked.  We cleaned.  We played cards.  We went to church.  We hiked and picnicked.  We tooled up and down the California coast on foot and in the car for one special trip.

She even trekked around Nepal earlier in her life…..I mean, what DIDN”T this woman do? 

Anyway, because of her active approach to life, my grandma lived independently up until the end.  Sure, she had a few setbacks here and there—her vision started to go in her last few years, and she had to stop golfing around age 85 or so.  She used a cane, and later a walker to help her get around these last several years.  However, she still went to the fitness center in her apartment building at LEAST 3 times per week unless she was ill or injured.  (She tended to fall and bump her head a bunch, but she was so short that she bounced fairly well–ask me sometime for more stories…….) 

The most impressive recent (and relevant) memory I have of her is from Easter Sunday this year.   We had to park on the lower entrance of our church because were a little late getting to the service.  I was preparing to have to piggy-back her (or something) up a short flight of stairs to get to the elevator to the sanctuary.  I had taken her walker up and shouted back to her to wait for me to give her a hand.  When I turned back around, she had climbed almost all the way up the stairs under her own steam.  If there were ever a time I saw the benefit of consistent exercise, that memory holds the number-one spot. 

At 93,  Luella’s heart was getting a little tired (you think?) and she was starting to lose more of her balance and not be able to get up if she fell.  Not to mention her deteriorating eyesight.  Even so, she continued to attend symphony concerts, movies, and dinner outings with friends and family, charging around and knocking aside anyone in her way with her dexterous use of the walker.

I had asked her, several months ago how her health was.  She replied “They tell me I may live another 10 years.  I don’t know that I want to stick around that long.”  I totally get it.  She had done pretty much everything.  She raised 4 amazing kids (love you Dad and Uncles and Auntie!) she cavorted with 8 amazing grandkids and 11 great grandkids.  She made countless Christmas cookies and sank hundreds, if not thousands of puts (“keep your darn head DOWN” was her favorite mantra on the links.)

My Grandma has been one of my mort important role models for my personal health and wellness, my career, and how I want to live out the rest of my life.  That is perhaps the greatest gift of all.  I hope that I am her when I grow up. 

 The moral of the story is this:  Grandma MOVED it, and so therefore she didn’t ever LOSE it.

Cheers to you, Grandma Luella.   Perhaps the best Wobbler I’ve ever met.



The 5 yoga poses you should absolutely do.


Morning Wobblers!

I’ve been advised by my marketing team to showcase my “skills” and become a “thought leader” with my blog.  I guess I DO have a fair bit of experience (21 years!) of training folks and teaching classes that get results.  So, I thought I give you all the skinny on what I tell every student as they are getting started on their journey—I even have how-to photos!  So read, do, and enjoy!

(Oh, and also check with your Doctor before starting this or any exercise program, as well as walk around or dance or walk your dog or ferret or something for 5-10 minutes before diving right into these moves. If something hurts, STOP doing it!)

1.  Plank.  Here’s what it looks like:

This pose is amazing for several reasons.  Doing it properly means that you strengthen practically the entire front of your body, with special emphasis on the abdominals, quadriceps (front of your thighs), chest, and shoulders.  Notice how our model’s back is so flat you could balance a glass of water up there?  Yeah, so pull your belly button in and up a little more!  Hold for as long as you can and remember to breathe! 

2.  Bridge

This move is a great strengthener for the REAR of the body.  Most people can do it comfortably.  When your tail is up in the air, try squeezing those cheek muscles together.  Be sure to keep a comfortable range of motion for the lower spine.  You should feel a muscle squeeze in the back—NOT pain or strain.  Hold as long as you can, or lower and lift a few times like the picture.  Breathe. (notice a common theme here?  Breathing is important!)

3. Warrior II  (yeah, even pregnant mamas can do this one!) (And, no, that’s not a current photo.)

This exercise is great for leg strength.  Notice how the knee is lined up right over the foot?  Right, make sure to do that.  Bend your front knee a lot for intensity/strength, or a little for a gentle experience and a little inner thigh stretch.  The back leg remains straight and supportive.  Also, pull your tushy in and under as much as you can.  (Harder to do if carrying a bowling ball in your tummy, but still worth the effort.)  And now class, everyone say it together:  “breathe!”

4.  Twists.

Don’t worry about pronouncing the name.  Just do the pose.  Why?  Because generally your spine and your abdominals like this one, as well as your internal organs.  Twists “wring” everything out, promote regularity and core muscle (abs and back) flexibility.  Yes, you still have to breathe in this pose.  Notice how your breathing changes though…..your lungs are getting squeezed a bit here.  Hold for as long as your care to.

5.  Balance

Here’s pregnant me again doing tree pose.

Balance is, of course, the essence of The Wobble.  We fire all those little supporting muscles in our pelvic joints when standing on one leg.  We also force ourselves to focus on the task at hand which improves our mental acuity and our brain-body connection.  Our belly muscles tighten (even pregnant ones) and get stronger from the inside out.  (Did you know that you have 4 layers of abdominal muscles?)  Arms can do lots of variations.  If it hurts to have them reaching overhead, try holding them at your sides or parked on your hips.

So, there you go, Wobblers.  A basic practice you can do everyday and strengthen just about every muscle, as well as improve your balance, stress level and mental clarity.  What more could you ask for in one blog post? 

Take care!




Why Wobble?


Hey team. 

I thought I’d write tonight’s post about Embrace The Wobble’s beginnings.  Many of you who are new to the Wobble family may have some great ideas about your own Wobbles and what the name means to you–that’s awesome!  That’s exactly what I want people to think about as they experience our classes and our philosophy.  However,  many of you have come to class with the question “Where did you come up with Embrace the Wobble?”

So, here is our story:

I was teaching some yoga classes at Marathon Fitness in the 12 South neighborhood of  Nashville,TN.  This club is owned by an amazing trainer (Joe Johnson) and he had asked me to come in and provide some much-needed stretching and relaxation coaching to his student base of boot-campers, weekend warriors, and professional athletes.  Many of these folks had never experienced yoga and had no idea what to expect that first summer Saturday at 10am.

The first question I asked them was “what hurts?”  All six of them gave me weird looks and proceeded to catalog their aches and pains from the previous week for me.  We crafted a yoga practice on the spot based around their needs and challenges.  They had a pretty good time, I think.  (Especially after the Savasana, (relaxation time at the end of class) where students enjoy optional therapeutic touch and hands-on relaxation assistance.) 

Over the next several weeks, we sort of became a Saturday gang attempting to stretch and strengthen whatever gaps remained after their intense weekly workouts with Joe and his amazing staff.   After a few classes, I noticed that balance was an issue with almost everyone in class.  Whenever we would stand on one leg, or attempt to balance on our hands or arms, everyone was wavering all over the place and feeling self-conscious and unsuccessful, often saying out loud how terrible they were at these types of poses.

At one point, I asked them all to simply “Embrace The Wobble.”  When we Wobble physically—like when standing on one foot and fighting to maintain our balance by waving our arms or shifting around on the foot, event hopping a little to stay upright—our muscles wake up!  The little stabilizing muscles around our shoulders, knees, hips, and ankles come alive and get a workout–not to mention the infamous “core” muscles in our abdominal and lower back region.  This creates a phenomenon called “overload”—something that occurs when our muscles are asked to do more than they are used to–and the result is stronger, more responsive muscle fibers and a new connection created between brain and body through our nerve pathways. 

Wobbling, therefore, is NOT a failure–far from it!  Wobbling is actually a necessary part of improving our strength and stillness.  I very much wanted to communicate to my students that they were doing exactly what they should be doing and their bodies were responding naturally and learning a new skill–even these bodies that were used to performing at very high levels all week long.  This is something to rejoice about!  Ergo, the message “Embrace The Wobble!”  became the mantra for that class. 

One of my students asked me to print it on a t-shirt and promised me she had 10 friends who would buy them.  I called her bluff and actually did it!  And, several weeks and t-shirt orders later, I had a growing sustainable apparel business as well as a very fun yoga class.

Fast forward a few months later.  My husband and I were starting to put out feelers to move to Minnesota.  I grew up in Duluth, and with our kiddos growing up fast, we wanted to be closer to family.  We thought moving would be a two-year project at least.    The universe did not agree.  My accountant husband began looking for work up here and within two weeks had TWO pretty good job offers!  In order to be able to make it happen, I needed a “real” job with a steady paycheck, and so I signed on with a big-box gym in Minneapolis and then we could make the whole deal a reality. 

We got up here just fine and I was enjoying my new position.  Still, whenever I would talk about Embrace The Wobble and my amazing experience in Nashville, everyone said my voice picked up a couple of notches and my eyes were brighter.   It took some time and several of my own professional Wobbles for the right situation to float up to the surface, but when it did, I jumped, and now Embrace The Wobble Yoga is a brick-and-mortar reality.  In just over 2 months! 

I still can’t really believe I am doing this.  And I can’t really believe the incredible amount of support I have in making it all happen.  Where would any of us be without our teams?  My instructors are amazing—I totally lucked out and I can’t wait to grow with them.  My family is awesome—even though none of this has been easy, they have all been very patient and willing to help.  We have the best students ever and we want to show everyone how amazing it feels to Embrace Your Wobble.   The benefits of yoga have a funny way of spilling over into the rest of your life whether you like it or not.  It is a transformational practice—certainly one of many ways to change your life for the better.  We think it is definitely the most fun and we invite you to let us show you how we make it that way.

The picture tonight is great representation of what the Wobble looks like.  Please share your Wobbles with us and enjoy your week!  We will enjoy Wobbling with you.

Take care,


Because you got to have friends…..


I’m crying a little in my one allowed adult beverage this evening.  I wrote a post I really liked a couple of days ago, and just before I hit the send key, my connection totally bailed and I lost everything.  This is attempt number 2, so I hope it comes out okay–however, I’m still grieving the loss, so a little grace, please, on tonight’s content.  I hope that, regardless of the words written, you will find a few things with which to relate.

I’m here tonight to talk about friends.  One friend in particular.  I’m calling her Adriane—largely because that is her name. 

This whole small-business-launch process would not have been possible without the help of my inner circle.  Many shout-outs to those of you who crowd-funded me, offered your support on facebook, and just in general assured me I was brave-not-crazy for opening up my studio. 

Let me now talk about Adriane.  Here is a woman who you absolutely want in your corner when you embark on a project.  She has joined the ranks of the few examples in my life of true inner-circle friendship.  Really when it comes down to it, I think we should only have a few of these people around—it takes a LOT of energy, love and trust to sustain this kind of connection.  I have a handful of amazing women who I hold very dear.  Do you?  If I could wish anything for my fellow readers, students, neighbors, etc, it would be someone like Adriane.  

She crowd funded. She shared and promoted my crowd fund.  Then she painted, removed closet doors, filmed, photographed, donated some more, attended classes, brought her preschooler to class, showed me her favorite budget-friendly stores for project supplies, taught me how be crafty while wielding a power drill, and assured me over and over that this whole thing was going to work.  She loaned me her husband for an afternoon while mine was watching our kids and I needed to get the closet doors re-hung in the studio– a twenty minute project that lasted for 3 hours due to the space-after-new-floors being shorter than the space-before-new-floors. Oh, and I almost forgot the itunes gift card for my birthday.

I love this woman.  Not because of what she’s done, but because of how generous she is in general and because she is awe-inspiring with how much she knows how to do and how willing she is to share.  This kind of thing is what the most productive communities are built on.  You can bet I would campaign my ass off for her should she ever decide to run for office.

Anyway, suffice it to say, I hope I can pay her kindness both back and forward over time.  My hope for you as well, dear reader, is that you have found this kind of connection in your life.  Once for sure, and more than once if you are incredibly lucky.  Take a moment tonight and give thanks for your friends.  The ones who don’t screen their phone calls when its you asking for help moving to New Jersey.  Then call, email, or text them your gratitude just for hanging around in your life.

I don’t know how Adriane feels about me plastering her image all over the internet, so instead, I leave you with a shot she took of me painting the first couple of brush strokes at Embrace The Wobble Yoga.  What a cool moment to share with a good best girlfriend. 

Take care, everyone. xoxo.