What Koh taught me.

I hope you guys had a great Thanksgiving.  I went to Charlotte to have Thanksgiving dinner at my mother-in-law’s house, and spent a few days hanging out.  I’m actually writing now from the kitchen table in her house!

So, Thanksgiving day, I manged to not do a ton of damage – I ate a good bit, but broke up the day with a lot of walking, so I didn’t feel AS slobby as I could have, but nevertheless, I went ahead and poked around on some of the local Y sites to see what classes they were running on Black Friday.  I stumbled across a super familiar name – Koh – for Zumba, and immediately set my alarm so I could go to hear class on Friday morning.


If you sorta remember that name, it’s because I ran into Koh at DCAC, and she was the first person in the history of the world that I ever took Zumba with. I went Zumba->get licensed->teach at State->teach at camp->decide I wanted to do something with my life that involved group fitness->the Y, which I love, so as I planned to go to this class, the weight sort of started to hit me, that all of this was coming full circle.

I got to the Harris Y, about 30 minutes from Sharon’s house, about 10 minutes before class started.

First, as an aside, the Harris Y is the most monstrously huge Y I have ever seen in my life. And I’m very familiar with Siskey. But this Y had a separate building for youth programs, and the grownup side kinda seemed like a small city. But in a good way, because the guy in membership who helped me come in and get settled was absolutely as sweet as pie.

Anyhoo, I got to class, and once we got started, I felt completely in my element. Koh really likes to pump her music, so once you got into each of the songs (that she ended on a pose, mind you), it was sort of like being lost in your own fitnessy world. I smiled, clapped, and at one point when we were dancing salsa, she pulled me to the front of the room with a few folks, smack-dab in the middle, to dance, while she attended to the other side of the studio.

I left that class sweaty, happy, and ready to go for a little longer. In fact, we were able to convince her to let us repeat a Michael Buble song because we’d all enjoyed it so much and felt like we could do it better than we had the first time. So she obliged!

I think the cool thing about returning to a teacher that you went to way back is that you begin to remember how it feels to be a student, and you remember the subtle nuances that you’d like to incorporate into classes to make people feel as good as your instructor is making you .

Koh Taught (still teaches!) me:

  • Be happy.  Every movement she hits, Koh acts as if it’s the most wonderful thing she has ever done.  This spreads to the class.  Maybe it’s a complex movement.  Maybe not.  Maybe it’s really really silly and might look a little funny.  She still executes it with the best attitude ever.
  • Keep it simple.  Koh is great.  BUT, she waves her wand over the classes, and it lets you know that you don’t have to be the best dancer for this class to work its magic on you.  But just in case you do want to be the best, she communicates through really really simple movements.  Things are logical – a move for the verse, a move for the chorus, and a move for the bridge.  No real rocket science there.  But it works!  So no one feels like an idiot in class because things are SO ridiculously easy to follow!
  • It’s not about you.  I’ve phrased this 60 million different ways irl and on the blog.  And I’ll say it some more.  But there is no one on earth more entitled to a big fat head than someone like Koh, who was a master presenter for Zumba® Fitness for a long time.  Her classes are consistently packed.  She could regard it as the Koh Experience.  But instead, she has made it so that you leave the class feeling like you were the star.  She’ll dance with students.  Point out when someone is doing awesome.  Allow the veterans to lead class for a little while.  Mingle during.  And generally, make it an unspoken point to communicate that she’s here for your workout, not her own.

Of course, I totally wanted more after because I was just buzzing with excitement, but I checked the schedules of the 3 Ys around, and there’s nothing super interesting going on.  Which means I’ll have to bite it and actually pay for a class and run tomorrow instead of getting into a class at the Y.

And with all that sweating, I’m not absolutely terrified to look at a scale sideways on Monday.

How did you stay fit this Thanksgiving?

You know you went to Elon if….

Elon’s been in the news a good bit.  Remember  the camels out on the yard?  Anyone?  Yep, that was us.

I will never stop talking about what a fantastic school Elon University was/continues to be.  If you’re reading and you’re thinking of attending or sending your kids, do NOT pass go, just do it.  I’m literally not even kidding.  DO ITTTT.  And now, here is my incredible list!


  • You can’t think of a single ugly person you went to school with.  Even that girl that shows up to your 8am in dirty sweatpants who smells like cigarettes and alcohol?  Have you seen her all cleaned up?  She looks amazing.
  • You know what SURF day is. 
  • Winter Term.  You go to class all day for a month, then go to the bar at night and practice your dance moves for spring break with the help of most of the football team.
  • Instead of being a responsible, global citizen, you spent a SURF Day or a reading day eve out until 4am.  Then you went to a presentation really early. 
  • You had a job on-campus.  In fact, you had like 3.  
  • Overcommitted was your middle name.  You went from meeting to meeting, then to a training and then to dinner with friends.
  • Speaking of dinner, despite the fact that you and all of your friends were disgustingly attractive, you gained like 40 pounds from eating constantly.  Food you ate was not limited to Cookout, Chic-Fil-A sandwiches, and sketchy food from Red Bowl place that’s on special.
  • You’ve been in the line at Cookout at 3am and seen like 40 friends there. 
  • You side-eye High Point University.  It may look like a resort, but we are a botanical garden, dammit!
  • You once (or twice) skipped class to lay out on the “boobs” in a bikini and yet…
  • Somehow, your grades are amazing…
  • Even though the weekend starts on Wednesday night.
  • Ain’t no party like a PiKapp party cause a PiKapp party don’t stop!  Now someone pass the Busch Light!
  • Nike shorts + Big nasty t-shirt + boat shoe = your new uniform.  This will only change on days that you have a presentation.
  • Global citizen?  Thaaat’s me!  Seriously, you studied abroad and found your new outlook on life like three times while you were here.

  • And finally.  You, like everyone else entered college as kind of an asswipe.  Until some amazing professor bitch-slapped you into reality with your first 79 on a paper.  You’re now a successfully working adult because of it.

Thanks, Elon ❤ !!!

Also, just cause I’m nosy, where’d you go to school?

-I went to Elon, my sister went to Duke, and my other sister went to Auburn.  My brother is gearing up for his first year at NC State which means he will be over at our house doing laundry for the next 4 years.

If this were Elon…

I came to Elon Univeristy, about an hour from Raleigh, in the Fall of 2005, when my father read an article about this up-and-coming school in North Carolina that I just had to apply to.

I was the first of my parents’ four to apply/go to college, so not really knowing any better, I applied to 10 schools.

  • UNC
  • UNC Asheville
  • NC State
  • Brown University
  • Carnegie Mellon
  • University of Pittsburgh
  • Ithaca College
  • Cornell University
  • Brown College

And finally, at the last minute, I applied to Elon University.  Long story short, on the way back from a beautiful visit to Pitt, my dad pulled us over and stopped us at Elon, at which point, we decided I would go to this beautiful place that was sunny, where the swans were walking around and where it wasn’t snowing (At that point, in April, it was snowing in Pittsburgh as we left).

So I went, and it literally changed my life.  You would not be getting this absolutely phenomenal blog if I hadn’t gone there, I can guarantee you that ;). So it’s gorgeous out, and it got me thinking about Elon (plus it’s Elon’s 125th anniversary so Happy Birthday, beautiful school!)

If this were Elon…


  • I would be sunbathing, similarly to the way I’m doing above, except I’d be in a bikini. 
  • I’d  be pretending to sunbathe, but I’d really be watching these cute boys play volleyball.  I was always too scared to talk to them.
  • I would have napped at least once by now, because of the fact that I stayed up til 2 am doing homework the night before instead of using my time efficiently.
  • I would have run into our handsome President, Dr. Leo Lambert on the sidewalk, and gotten really flustered, too much to do anything but utter an unintelligible greeting. 
  • I would have Twisted Measure practice that evening, that usually would consist of us doing actually singing for an hour and a half or so, with half an hour of us pulling pranks on each other or singing things in the wrong key on purpose to peels of laughter.
  • After practice, I’d go get a grilled cheese from Varsity with these greasy chip things, and chase it with a coffee from Acorn, our local sandwich shop.  At this point, I was just starting my coffee addiction, but I’d adopted the awful practice of drinking coffee at night, and a 5-hour energy mixed with a Sunkist in the morning a lot of times.  Quite obviously, I took my health quite seriously.
  • I would have hit Belk Library to “study”, which really means socialize with boys and kinda work on stuff.  When I got sick of that, or when I felt like walking home by myself would be too creepy, I’d leave, watch Nancy Grace, and come home.

What was the culture at your school like?  

Oh, and Long Live Elon!


Bull City Race Fest: A Review

I think today actually feels like the first day of fall I’ve felt since fall started almost a month ago.  I write to you from my apartment, zipped into a jacket, toes freezing, with that weird burny smell coming from the heat because I’ve barely used it yet.

Today, I participated in the Bull City Race Fest, Endurance Magazine’s race festival.  It was a fun way to get in a few miles in before next week’s 26.2 (eek) which looms at just about 5 days away now.

I was terrified.  I haven’t raced since the spring, and even though this was a 5-miler, nothing scary, and nothing I haven’ t done before, but getting back into it felt kind of like I was running a first race all over again.


The race featured a 1-miler, a 5-miler, and a 13.1, all winding through Durham, about 25 minutes from where I live in Raleigh.

  • The Improvements:  I don’t want to say “the bad” because there was really nothing bad about this race, especially for an inaugural year, which usually is a mess.  The only thing that kind of caught me off-guard, which could have been my fault, was that I was not 100% clear that the 5-miler didn’t finish where we started.  So, when I finished, I wasn’t aware to tell friends that I’d finished and I was on Duke University’s campus.  No big deal.
  • The traffic.  Almost 6,000 folks ran, and it created some congestion on the course.  I’m a little concerned for next year, which I’m sure will be bigger, especially if they keep it up with all the food trucks.

The Awesome:

  • The race was extremely well-organized.  The expo, the refreshments, the buses to transport us from the 5-miler line back to the start, everything seemed to come together pretty well.
  • The food trucks.  The race ended with a food truck rodeo that was pretty cool.  By the time we got to the trucks, literally every single truck was out of coffee, which would have been nice, especially considering the cold, but my breakfast biscuit and hash brown patty was tasting so right to my senses.
  • Packet pick-up.  Nice.  No complaints here.
  • And unrelated, it was good to see a ton of friends at the race from Raleigh and Durham, and I felt super lucky to run into some coworkers, one of whom won the whole dang thing, and two of whom were running their first half-marathons. How cool to witness that experience for someone else!

Wedding Venue Teaser!

I think I may have found a wedding venue.  But sorry guys, no pictures in this post, at least not until my fiancé sees it.  But let me bring you on this journey I’ve been on for the last few weeks or so.

Austin and I got engaged in July, and very soon after, my grandmother died, and my mom was very ill, so we really just not have begun some of the planning we need to do before we get married next year.

So you do the thing.  You go to all the venues you’ve seen folks getting married at, you take suggestions, and you visit all the venues on your list.

The photos.

The pictures of the place on the website will almost always be deceiving.  Beautifully lit, a white couple dancing happily while all of their white friends dance about.  And then you pull up to the venue.  “This….is it? Are you sure we’re at the right place hon?”

The visits. 

We visited a few venues.  There was the venue where the chain-smoking coordinator pranced out of the women’s bathroom with still-wet hands.  Declining to shake my hand, she gestured grandly to the room, which looked like a high-school auditorium, and she referred to it as having a “country-club feel”.  There was a stain on the carpet.  A large, mysterious stain.  This perhaps, was a country club in hell.  But not for our wedding.

I spoke with a woman who was nonchalant about the $20,000 food minimum we’d have to hit on a Saturday evening.

visited a restaurant where I’m pretty sure the guy I was speaking with was high as a kite.  Didn’t do a whole lot to make my comfortable about our big day.

And I visited a place where the woman, a “close-talker” breathed her cigarette-breath in my face the entire meeting.  Would should be breathing on my guests in this same manner?

Last night. 

I pulled up to the venue.  The venue actually looked like the pictures.  (Point)  This was new!  I toured the facility, where I was greeted by a jolly guy with a southern accent.  (Another point)  He was playing John Legend’s new album over the speakers.  (Yet another point) And I began to visualize myself getting married there.  Bingo.  Just to make sure, I drove to Elon and went for a run around campus to make sure I still loved it, to mull it over.  I still did.  And Elon’s campus was gorgeous, even despite the fact that it was dark.  Next step?  Get approval from the fiancé, and make this thing official! Pics to come!

Taking my show on the road – Charlotte Runnings.

Having a sick parent totally blows.

My mom’s been sick since about March, and I had to make one of my first real grown-up decisions, leave my job for a few weeks, and come home to take care of bidness.  A lot of the care-taking was falling on my dad, and that’s a lot for one person to deal with.

I packed up my stuff yesterday, and hit the road to Charlotte, a place I haven’t really live-lived since the end of high school.  So I’m taking this time to take my running thing on the road, try a few new classes, meet up with some old friends, and document the whole tour! (All the while taking care of my mama!)  Can I do it?  Ya darn tootin’!

So after I peeled myself away from this face…


…and I headed back to the neighborhood where I spent the majority of middle school, and some of high school, Willowmere in Matthews, NC, for a little tempo run, and to go see my childhood home.  I wish I’d snapped a pic, but I felt like a neighbor would come and beat me if they caught me taking a picture of a home where children dwelled.  I had to play it safe.

So I ran down memory lane.

I ran down the strip of grass where two little douchenozzles on the school bus held my bookbag, and I flailed around, turtle style, as I missed my stop.

I ran down where the bus would usually let me off and I had to carry my bass clarinet allllll the way home in 7th grade. (I was a weird kid.  I literally get embarrassed when I see people from my childhood because I don’t want them to recall how strange I was.)

I ran past the house where the late Fred Lane, a football player for the Panthers, was murdered during a dispute with his wife, a less happy memory.

I ran down the cul-de-sac where we lived, and tried to steal a peek to see if our playground was still up.

I ran past the kid’s house who I had a crush on, but who moved away to like Ohio in 8th grade.

And I ran down to the track where my Daddy, no lie, woke up early for freezing morning track workouts so I’d make the track team.

What a weird and cool feeling to literally run down memory lane.

I went to a pole fitness class. My review.

So we know that exercise is important for everyone, right?  But how to we get everyone addicted to it (in a healthy way, not a scary way), like, how do we get folks started?  I think you have to take what you really enjoy, and use that to jump you into working out.  Am I making sense?

Case in point.  I started going to Zumba classes with my younger sister when I was like 16.  I was instantly hooked.  We went every Tuesday afternoon that we could.  And I fell off of the Zumba boat when I went to college.  Toward the end of college, when I started feeling a little self-conscious about my body (I wasn’t working out or eating well at all)  I picked up going to classes again, and decided that I was going to get licensed.  And the decision to get licensed completely changed the trajectory of my life.  Zumba was my “gateway drug,” and I explored different class formats that I may not have even considered.  I yoga, I run, I run, I run, I cycle, I zumba, I dance, I lift, and I wouldn’t have begun to do any of it without Zumba.    

Pole fitness is the same for a lot of women.

I teach off-the-pole classes at a local pole fitness studio, Aradia Fitness in Cary, NC.  On this particular day last week, I was supposed to teach a Zumba class, and it was a perfect storm.  My classes are normally pretty packed, but no one showed up.  Not a soul.  It happens.  I’m not offended.  Heather, an extremely experienced pole dancer and teacher, invited me to stay at the studio and jump in on her Pole 1 class, an intro of sorts to pole fitness.  I was apprehensive.  I don’t know how to do any of that stuff, and what if the other girls laughed at me and told their friends that their Zumba instructor had transformed into a buffalo and crashed around the room, breathing heavily, and sweating all over everything?  But I figured it was nice of Heather to invite me, and instead of being a weirdo, I’d take her up.

First things first?  Heather is an incredible teacher.  I’m gonna toot my own horn here.  I’m a good teacher.  And it’s only because I learned from the absolute best.  I had Koh Herlong, I had Lindsay Gilvin, I had Austin Samples.  All great teachers.  Good teachers recognize it in others.  Heather had it.  We started with a cute warm-up, and as the class progressed, the workout turned a little more sexy.  Sexy walks, hip circles, hamstring stretches.  We took it to the floor.  Push-ups, more hip-flexor warm-ups, warm ups for our wrists, for our necks.  It was funny, everything Heather did and taught looked really sexy, especially when she did it, but everything had a purpose.

Next, we got on the poles.


We started with a little dance, and each move was cued by Heather. Then, we did some pole work. Spins, climbs, and even some more advanced work. My poor knees were so banged up, but on the pole, my arms, my quads, and my legs were getting an awesome workout.  And the next day, my abs, my arms, and my legs were sore.  In a great way.

So my review?  If you’re having trouble getting motivated?  And you have the funds?  Try a pole fitness class.  It’s a great confidence builder.  Unlike other group fitness classes, there are no mirrors in the studios, and the classes are much smaller.  Where some of my classes have held upwards of 100 people, there were  about 6 of us girls, which allowed for individual time with the teacher, and if you’re feeling awkward, you don’t have to stare at yourself in the mirror.  Heather, speaking of, was so talented, and obviously had benefited from her time in pole fitness.  She was jacked!

So this place gets at A+ from me.  Facility is gorgeous, classes are great, and I felt so pretty after!  And if you’re feeling apprehensive, like you feel like you’re just going to some skanky stripping class, think again.  Every single move in the class had a purpose.  There wasn’t a dance, there wasn’t a spin, there wasn’t a move that didn’t have a specific purpose, which I only picked up on because I teach.  But to the untrained bod, you may just think you’re dancing around.  And hey, if you can burn calories just thinking you’re dancing around with 6 of your friends around a pole, then more power to your workout, right?