Tuesday, April 3, 2018

How to get the most Zen out of Zion (plus Horsebend for the side trippers)

Mid-March I had the opportunity to entertain a group of amazing women in the desert. In September of 2018 I was nudged to put together a retreat in Zion even though I’d never thought of hosting there. After doing some research, I found a house right outside the park and booked it in hopes that I’d have enough interest to fill the space. As it turns out I had so much interest I had to rent a second house next door to accommodate my waitlist. I was officially heading back to Zion.

I had the itch to visit Horseshoe Bend on my way to the retreat so I talked my assistant Kelsie and friend (and fellow attendee) Amanda into joining me. It’s about a 9 hour and 54 mile minute drive from Colorado and almost a two-hour drive out of the way from Zion so it was a bit of a side trip. However, I figured if I’m driving 10 hours what’s another 2? We decided to leave on Monday before the retreat started since the lady I was renting from was going to let me in the house early Tuesday. Kelsie had been to Horseshoe Bend before so I relied on her expertise in booking us a spot in Page, Arizona. Much of the land surrounding the area is Indian Reservation so there’s not really opportunities to camp nearby. So Kelsie booked us a hotel in the downtown area that had access to plenty of restaurants and gas stations. I believe the hotel cost us $18 each so you can imagine the quality of the sheets and the rooms but it was better than a tent and that was all that mattered.

From Denver you drive through Moab on your way to Page so we stopped to stretch our legs at Wilson Arch:

I had read online that Horseshoe Bend was better seen at sunrise than sunset due to how the light hit the canyon walls as the sun rose. We left the hotel about 6am and traveled down the road to US Highway 89 where signs off the highway easily point you to right trail head (it’s between milepost 544 and 545). The parking lot was already starting to fill up and at this point the sun was starting to rise so we grabbed our cameras and headed for the overlook. The hike is about 1.3 miles RT and is currently like hiking up a sand pile but that will change come summer of this year as they are paving a way to the overlook. Currently you can see construction along the path as well as the beginnings of a railing they are putting up at the main overlook. There was already quite a set-up of people along the rim, people hopping over rocks, photographers with tripods everywhere and families with coffee and young kids all jockeying for the best spot. We should have arrived earlier but luckily we were there on a random week day in March. We rock hopped away from the crowds, avoiding the most obvious overlook spot and found a little solitude if you can call it that. After the sun rose it started to wash out the canyon walls so we packed it up and headed back to our hotel.
If traveling to Page you can always tack on a trip to Antelope Canyon but you need a permit for this attraction so make sure to secure yours ahead of time. I’ve never been, but personally if you want to see slot canyons without being in a tour group I’d hit up Escalante instead. There’s also the Glen Canyon Dam which you’ll pass on the way to Horseshoe Bend so you could easily combine all three activities into one trip. Rainbow Bridges National Monument and Vermillion Cliffs National Monument are also within the area and, from what I’ve seen in photos, look well worth the trip as well.

On we continued to Zion where we prepped the house and got ready for the retreat that was like no other. I knew going in to this retreat that there would be some challenges of coordinating a large group and having to drive in and out of the park to enjoy the sites. I was not, however, prepared for the snow and the rain that we had which made for a moody few days exploring. We weren’t able to do the Narrows since it was closed both days we went into the park due to flash flooding. We were, however, able to hike to Observation Point, Angel’s Landing (which some of us did twice because the first time we were turned around due to snow and ice), make a day trip to Bryce Canyon, and some of the  girls hiked Emerald Pools as well. Kelsie, Amanda and I did Hidden Canyon on Wednesday before the rest of the retreat group arrived and it was even more magical and less scary than I remembered it from last May.

Our retreat was book-ended by daily yoga sessions, a Japanese Princess beer tasting courtesy of Denver Beer Co, breakfast cooked by my assistants Kelsie and Aaron and grab-and-go lunch which my lovely assistants also helped coordinate. The accommodations were gorgeous and I will certainly be renting there again and bringing another retreat group back next April!

I don’t want to give away all my secrets for my schedule and planning of the retreat so I thought this video I made would speak for itself. If you like what you see I hope you’ll join me next year. I can only say that with this retreat one needs to be especially flexible. Hiking such a varied terrain as what you’ll find in Zion and Bryce and being at the mercy of a shuttle system and slow driving in the parks presents its own set of challenges in addition to varied weather. I will say, every attendee this year was absolutely amazing and I’m so thankful for this willingness of them to trust me with their much needed time to unwind.

Pro tips for Horseshoe Bend:
Arrive early
Bring water if going in the middle of summer
Wear Sturdy Shoes
Bring a Tripod if you want those epic “Looking down on you and the canyon” photos

Pro tips for Zion:
The four main hikes you’ll encounter are Angel’s Landing, Emerald Pools, Observation Point and the Narrows
Rent from Zion Outfitter for your Narrows Gear. If the Narrows is closed you’ll get to use it on a different day and if you don’t get to use it before you leave you’ll get a refund. As a bonus it’s just across the bridge from the parking lot in the park.
Do Angel’s Landing either very early or very late in the day to avoid crowds. You can drive to the trailhead and park if you drive in the park when the shuttle isn’t running. Otherwise the last shuttle pick up is somewhere around 8:25pm for that trailhead so make sure you’re down in time accordingly
Observation View Point, in my opinion, has one of the best views in the park and, at 8-miles, isn’t nearly as crowded.
Hidden Canyon is a great warm-up to Angel’s Landing.

All photos below from my assistant Aaron. Check out his instagram: @aaron_tuleja_

Have fun and enjoy and hopefully I'll see you in 2019!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

You'll start happening too...

“I know so well that look on your face,
but there’s something lucky about this place.
There’s something good coming for you and me,
there’s something good coming there has to be…” Tom Petty

I sit here writing this blog, the first I’ve written in a long time, from the couch of my house in Arvada. I could just as easily be writing it from Bozeman, Montana. You see, in November my husband received a job offer in Montana. I remember the exact spot where I was when he called to tell me the news. I have the photo I was taking at the moment on my Instagram. My heart skipped a beat. I was excited, scared, happy and sad all in one moment. Thoughts about having to rent our house out, what we would do with the goats and chickens, how we would afford a place in Bozeman and how I’d run my business all flooded my mind at once. How could I leave the place I’d called home for almost 14 years and start over?
Photo by Lisa Pummel Photography

He ultimately turned the job down. We never told a lot of people about this because, well, it never came to light. There was an opportunity to move and we decided not to take it. We said no and that ended up being the right answer for us.
Saying no to moving has led to a lot of “yes” and opportunity in my life here. I almost feel as though if we are going to stay here then I really need to dig my heels into this state. I started putting together some winter daycation hikes to keep Yogi Magee Expeditions going through the snowy months. While my turn out the first two hikes wasn’t as many as I had hoped, I kept going out and adventuring. I said yes to friends who wanted to get out and about during the week. I figured the photos alone would sustain my social media presence. This, in turn, has led to people reaching out to me personally to take them on adventures.
Photo by Colorado Kate Photography

Getting paid to hike and take photos. That’s a dream that I had ever since I started hiking 14ers in 2010 when I’d see my friends faces as they reached the top of the mountain. I don’t want to hike people up big mountains anymore, but I do want to get people outdoors. Not everyone can afford a 5 night retreat with me but everyone deserves the chance to escape for the day. One women signed up for my Galentine’s Day Hike next month with the caption that “It’s time to stop saying I want to meet other outdoorsy women and just do it.” I never thought I’d be the person to create a safe space for women to meet others outside the yoga studio. A hobby turned to a passion turned to a business.
The first time anyone paid me to take them on an adventure

I can’t believe Instagram has become my platform to make all this happen.

I said yes to going on a retreat from a girl named Sara who reached out to me on Instagram. When she contacted me, I didn’t know who she was or even what the retreat was about, but I knew I had to go. Never in a million years would I pick a women’s wellness retreat for myself, but this seemed like a good idea. The menu was vegan and plant based, I’d be driving up solo (my choice), and I didn’t know anyone else going. Yet, I knew in my heart, it was time to take advantage of these opportunities floating into my orbit. You can't grow and evolve sitting on the couch or just hiking solo. The retreat turned out to be just what I needed to kick start 2018. The year prior to this was rough for me and most of it was due to circumstances I brought upon myself with horrible choices and bad habits. I don’t want to be the person I was in the past and the only way to do that is to acknowledge the man in the mirror (so to speak) and change.

Photo Credit The Hiking Mermaid

Attending someone else’s retreat also allowed me to experience what it’s like to be on the other side of these events. I looked for the girls that had come solo and made friends with them. I know it can be terrifying to attend an event alone because I was the girl who never went to camp unless my sister went with me. I always had a built in best friend. I grew up not having to do anything alone. When I’d go to parties in college where the friend I came with ditched me, I’d call my sister and leave a long-winded voicemail just to have someone to talk to. For this retreat I allowed myself to be awkward and vulnerable and laugh and shut up and listen. The only way for me to grow as a person, and retreat leader myself, is to take the chance to be on the other side. I’m so grateful for Sara reaching out to me and allowing me to take up space at her event. I can’t wait to pay that kindness forward.

Photo Credit The Hiking Mermaid

So where am I now as I stand in 2018? I’ve been in talks with a few investors who want to join forces and help take my business to the next level. We’ve been looking at properties to buy for our own retreat center. What that looks like and how that will all shake out, I don’t know. What I do know is that it’s the first step in me being able to have a place to bring Yogi Magee Expeditions hOMe. I’ve always wanted to move to the mountains and that’s a step I’m ready to say YES to in the future. I also want to be able to provide retreat spots for free for those who need it most. I don’t know the first thing about setting up a scholarship foundation, but I do know it would be nice if I could afford to have more than just one person attend my retreats that needs me. I’ve had people cancel their spots on my retreats due to death in the family or illness and I’ve had others looking for my retreats after experiencing a loss only to find them sold out. To be able to offer someone, in their time of need, a place to heal….well that would make everything I’m doing in life worth doing.

It’s amazing how saying no can lead to some big yes moments. My husband knew that uprooting our lives here wouldn’t benefit any of us and I’m forever grateful he took it upon himself to say no. He’s the one who introduced me to hiking in Colorado. He’s the one who approves all my crazy ideas and retreats and, often, he’s the one at the events doing the hard task of cooking and taking photos. He’s the person who stays at home with our daughter while I’m out leading Daycations or week-long retreats and he fully supports my dreams of opening a retreat center and taking this business from a hobby to a full time gig. At the Fearless & Fit Retreat one of the speakers talked about following your nudges. She said, “a nudge never comes without a net” and I’ll never forget how that resonated with me. So here’s to following more nudges this year.

As my favorite Dr. Seuss quote says, “When things start to happen, don’t worry, don’t stew. Just go right along and you’ll start happening too.”

Monday, November 6, 2017

A moment to introduce myself

Hi. This is me, @yogimagee otherwise known as Natalie. That's my husband and daughter and vizsla Bebe in the photo you see. Just a friendly reminder that I'm a real person and so are the members of my family. I share my life on this blog and social media and I know by doing so that means I'm taking a risk of opening myself up to criticism. But let me remind you, again, that I'm a real person with real feelings and this blog is for me and my intended audience. If you don't like what you read here I have a handy tip for you, close your browser and move along. I keep my comments open for those who truly value what I have to say and have questions to ask. The comment option on my blog is not so anyone can leave their hate filled comments on my page. So it's really as simple as that - don't like what I say, keep scrolling. Don't want to attend one of my retreats? Then don't sign up. Have your own opinions? Start your own blog. It's really as simple as that.

I don't welcome negativity here and that's not why I started this blog. Again take a good look at the photo above. I'm a real person, this is my real family, and I'd like to keep sharing my life through photos and adventures but I ask that you respect the people in the picture above by keeping any rude or hateful comments to yourself.
Thank you friends!

What Remains: How a Car Wreck Brought us Closer

****This post also appeared on Denver Metro Moms Blog***
At the beginning of August, I was in a car wreck. It was a Friday and Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” was playing on the radio. I was in a good mood because my husband had called to say he was going golfing with a friend and asked if I could bring his clubs to the office. My husband rarely ever makes plans with other friends on a whim, so I was happy he was going to get outside and enjoy the beautiful day. I often feel guilty because I’m home during the day (I work nights) and get to take advantage of the outdoors all the time while he works and our daughter is in school.

Just as I was exiting off I-70 towards downtown on the I-25 interchange, it happened.

Red tail lights. Traffic coming to a complete stop. People slamming on their breaks. Me not being able to stop fast enough. A car in front of me I didn’t see there a moment before. Perhaps he changed lanes at the last minute. I’m not sure, I was singing and happy and that’s the last thing I remember before the impact.
There was smoke in the car. My face hit something and my head flung back. My arm was white hot and I looked over and it was covered in blood. The hood of my car was bent up in some unrecognizable shape. I waited to be hit from behind, but thank goodness that didn’t happen. I sat in the car not knowing what to do. I pulled down the vanity mirror to see if my nose was broken. We had just gotten new brakes, new tires, and I had gotten a car wash and vacuum. I was supposed to sub a barre class at a studio I teach at that evening. I was at a complete loss of what to do next.

My car, as it turns out, was a complete loss.

My husband and I are not a one car family. He works downtown and I’m a flight attendant. Our daughter goes to school and I teach exercise classes. I run yoga retreats all over the state and hike in the mountains in my spare time. My schedule is all over the place and though we live in walking distance of a Walmart and biking distance to some breweries and the Westminster light rail, life is easiest for us with two cars. We didn’t have gap insurance on our car and we had only paid on it for three years, so once it was totaled out, our insurance company made us turn in the rental car. Not having gap insurance means we owe on a car we don’t have anymore, which puts us in a position where we can’t buy another car until the previous wrecked one is paid off. So life after my car wreck has become interesting and frustrating all at one time. One thing I didn’t count on, however, is how having one car has brought our family closer.

We were busy.

Here’s how our afternoons went once upon a time. On the days when I would fly at night, my husband would take our daughter to school in the morning and pick her up after work. I would come home from flying and nap, then in the afternoon go to teach at 4:30pm. Sometimes I’d go straight back to the airport after teaching, which meant I wouldn’t get to see my family for a few days, even though I was technically “home.” If I didn’t have to fly after flying I’d be home around 6pm from teaching, we would eat dinner and then put my daughter to bed. Sometimes I’d be the one to take her to school the next day and my husband would leave for work, then I’d run errands before teaching again. 
Since I’m a part-time flight attendant and have some flexibility in my schedule, I haven’t been flying as much now that we only have one car. Now if I do, my husband has to drop me off at the airport at night and in the morning I have to take the light rail, then the free mall ride downtown to pick up his car at the parking garage near his office. When I don’t fly, he rides his bike to the light rail and takes it downtown, but there are still days when I teach that I have to pick him up first… he drops me off at the yoga studio, I teach while he picks up our daughter, then he comes back and gets me. Sound confusing? It is. Every day we have to plan out our schedules and what make sense and who needs the car for what. To make matters worse, the only car we do have is a big diesel truck that requires a huge amount of space to park and has to be turned off in the Starbucks drive-through so they can hear you order. 

What has become ideal, however, is the amount of time we now spend as a family. Not flying so much has allowed me to stay at home and take my daughter to school, get the laundry done, clean the house, walk the dog, write, go hiking, and everything in-between. My husband’s health has improved because he’s riding his bike to and from work and we spend less money in gas (plus one less car to be insured). Since he drops me off and picks me up from teaching and flying, there’s no guessing on his part where I am and when I’ll be home. Taking the light rail from the airport to downtown has allowed me to get some reading time in and manage my time on my Instagram account, which is an integral part of my small business. We grocery shop together, spend time working on the yard and spend less time apart as a family. My friends have been saints, offering to pick me up to adventure or borrow their car when they are out of town. People really come through with you in times of need and though it’s not perfect, I’m enjoying our time as a family and trying to find the silver lining in the wreckage. 

We won’t always be a one car family.

In time, we’ll have the other paid off and be able to purchase something else. Then I’ll most likely be back to flying and teaching more, and our lives will go back to being busier. However, my car wreck taught me to slow down and enjoy the every day moments – and I won’t forget that. It has brought our family closer, and I’m thankful.
I consider myself fortunate to have no more than a scar on my arm, as my constant reminder of that day. I also feel fortunate that my daughter and dog weren’t in the car, and the person I hit was not hurt.

Sometimes we get in a rush and when we aren’t vigilant with our attention, accidents happen.

I can’t go back and undo what happened, but I consider it a waste if I didn’t learn anything from that day. Not having two cars isn’t the worst thing in the world and, if anything, we’ve realized it is possible to get by on less than you think you need and get closer to the ones you know you need. 

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Why Adventure Costs Money....and why you should be happy to pay it

Let’s be clear about one thing: Yoga is not a hobby.

I recently posted a notice about one of my Yoga and Hiking Retreats next year in a Women’s Outdoor Facebook group. I’ve had several ladies from this group join my retreats before and thought it would be a good way to advertise my trip since this adventure focuses on all things outdoors. At $450 for three nights and four days which includes apres hiking soup, dinner and breakfast, your stay, 4-5 yoga sessions plus guided hikes and swag (because who doesn’t love a free Yogi Magee hat and tank top) it’s one of the most affordable trips I do. Sure, prices have increased from what I was charging a few years ago, but that’s because I’m more experienced now, there’s more of a demand to join my trips, there’s only one of me to lead them and honestly, I have to make a living as well.

So I was a little taken aback by a comment from a girl who scoffed at the price of my retreat in the comment section under my posting. Not only was she complaining the cost was almost as much as her rent (where do you live in Denver btw where rent is less than $1k a month?) but she likened yoga to a hobby that only elitist could participate in.

This coming from someone who’s in an Outdoor Women’s Group where people regularly look for suggestions on $500 (minimum) backcountry ski gear set ups, talk about the merits of ski passes, compare $1k to $4k mountain bikes, etc etc.

I kept my response to her brief but polite. However, part of me was raging on the inside. Since when is fitness, mental and physical health a hobby? Why is it considered bougie to have a yoga studio membership or attend a weekend long retreat to reset your mind and body? This girl went on to say she usually camps alone in dispersed camping areas and hikes because she doesn’t have the money to spend.

Oh but darling, you are spending money.

That food you bought to go camping? That’s spending money. The gas it took to get you out of town to that remote camping spot since you refuse to pay $20 a night at a real site? That’s spending money. The sleeping bag, tent, grill, hiking boots, air pad, maps, backpack, camel bak, water filter, camp stove, propane, camping chair, cooler with beer, tires to get you in the back country, bug spray, (get my point yet?) that you packed up to take with you? That all cost money at some point or another as well. But, like your daily Starbucks, you’re willing to pay because it makes you happy. It makes you feel good to get out in nature and spend $5 on firewood and ice to have a nice fire and spend your time watching the stars over Netflix.

I get it.

So let me explain, what it is you’re paying for when you join a yoga retreat my friend. You’re paying for someone else to plan the trip for you, do the cooking, schedule your day from adventures and hikes to yoga and meditation, secure the location 6 months to a year out and put down a deposit so that you, my friend can decide last minute you want to go somewhere. You’re paying for someone to bring an assistant to make sure you’re safe, to take photos of you on a badass camera so you don’t have to take selfies on your iphone, someone who finds other badass women to join so that you can make friends in a pressure-free environment, someone who tells you what to pack and when to show up so you don’t have to think.

You’re paying for an experience that you wouldn’t otherwise have because maybe your friends aren’t into hiking and back country hut trips and you have no one else to go with. You’re paying for someone to lead you to an alpine lake you wouldn’t have known was there so someday maybe you take your kids or husband back to that spot.

And yes, that’s a luxury.

So if $450, or $600 or $800 or whatever seems too pricey for you and you’d rather go at it alone. Please, by all means, plan your own adventures. But don’t balk at the price and turn others off to an experience just because you’d rather pay money for cable TV than save for a yoga retreat.

You’re not my market anyways….

(but if you are check out yogimagee.com for all my retreats or email info@yogimagee.com to be added to my mailing list!)

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Bash and Dash: Outsourcing my daughter's Birthday party

Last year for my daughter’s birthday I really went above and beyond. I spent an exorbitant amount of money on cake, cookies and blueberry pies in the shape of butterflies. I had a fairy garden made, I hired Tinkerbell to come to the party, bought balloons and even borrowed a bounce house to inflate for the kids. My invitations were custom made and full of glitter and Charlotte had her own look alike Tinkerbell outfit. Even with all my perfect Pinterest party planning the inevitable happened – people cancelled last minute and only 8 kids showed up to the celebration. I’m sure Charlotte wasn’t devastated by I was and I vowed after eating the last of the leftovers by myself I wouldn’t go overboard on her birthday again.

So this year I outsourced.

We hire people to clean our houses, do our dry cleaning, teach our kids how to swim and even walk our dogs. Why shouldn’t we hire someone to do our child’s birthday party for us? When I found out the place she takes gymnastics at on Monday’s offered birthday parties I couldn’t get my credit card out fast enough. I’ll take the Big Birthday Bash please – the one that includes invites, 2 hours of fun, set-up and take-down plus goodie bags. I wasn’t about to have another party at my house where no one showed and I was left to do all the work.
I credit the other mother’s at Charlotte’s preschool for giving me the ideas. The past year she’s been in school she started to get invites to other children’s parties. Seeing these birthday bash’s hosted at places that didn’t include a home address sparked the idea. I vowed I wouldn’t go overboard like I did in the past and that the party would be the gift. I only needed to bring a cake and that’s all I told myself I would buy. A birthday party for less than $500 would make my husband and bank account happy plus no house cleaning before and after. A win/win for all.

Of course, I didn’t exactly follow my plan. I spent $168 on a cake and cupcakes from Valhalla Cakes in the Highlands but the princess castle funfetti cake tasted as good as it looked:

I also had custom cookies made by CookieCoterie, a lady I found on Etsy because, honestly, who doesn’t love a good cookie? The amazing part was, however, I was able to drop off all the treats, decorations, light up wands, noise makers and balloons at the site of the birthday party and they set everything up for me. We arrived to a beautiful party room with a table set up for the kids to eat and the cake and favors on display. I always purchase a book for my daughter on her birthday for people to sign and they made sure it was at the front by the waivers for the parents to fill out. Once all the kids arrived the girls there entertained the kiddos for an hour with games, gymnastics moves and music. We ordered pizza which arrived right on time and the hostesses served all the little ones while the parents chatted and ate. They then brought over the birthday cake, dimmed the light and led the birthday song before cutting it and serving that or cupcakes. We opted not to open presents so after the kids ate the teachers let them play in a giant castle they had created from gym mats. At the end they corralled all the children for a group photo, helped us carry the presents to our car and sent everyone off with a free class and goody-bag.

Much like a wedding coordinator, these party hostesses kept us on schedule and the momentum going throughout the evening. They made Charlotte feel like the special girl that she was by letting her lead the activities but treated the guests with equal kindness. We had a lot of friends there with their second babies so, for them, it was a lifesaver to have someone else dole out the food and beverages to their child. For me, the best part, was not having to clean my house beforehand, getting a chance to talk to all my guests and walking away from the party without leftovers or a destroyed living room. We celebrated with a trip to the brewery afterwards.

My husband, who isn’t much in favor of grand birthday gestures, was sold. He 
made the comment that never again would we have a party at our house. While it was fine for the first three years, it was nice to be able to invite up to 20 children and not worry about the ramifications of everyone showing up. Ironically we had 13 attend this year and I believe there’s something less intimidating for people about showing up at a public place rather than a private residence.

While I know I don’t have to plan anything for another year, I’ve already been online researching where we can hold our next birthday bash. Outsourcing our party planning was the best investment I’ve ever made in our mental sanity and, just like hiring a house cleaner, now I can never go back to my life prior.
Maybe I’ll even actually follow through with not going overboard next year….

Thursday, February 23, 2017

How to avoid adult diapers: a kegel journey

I remember the first time it happened to me. I was about 6 weeks post-partum taking a bootcamp class at the training center where I currently teach. I went to the instructor’s class who was subbing for me while I was on maternity leave in hopes of supporting her and getting my body back. Somewhere in the middle of burpees and jump roping it happened, although I remember not being completely aware. At the end of class I was horrified and glad I was wearing black pants and couldn’t get out of the gym fast enough.

Yes friends, I had peed my pants.

Let’s be clear, I’m not someone who pee’s my pants. Before I was pregnant I could count on my hands the number of times it had happened and most of those incidents were before the age of 8. My doula use to text me when I was pregnant reminding me to do my kegels, which I thought was more to be funny than anything else. I wasn’t even sure what a kegel was, let alone how to do one to be honest. What I experienced in the gym that night I wrote off as a fluke, something that would get better over time.

Only it didn’t.

I didn’t really recognize I had a problem until I found myself wandering the aisle of Walgreen’s one day looking at the “Bladder Control” products. Let me tell you, that’s a lonely aisle to find yourself stranded on. My only options, it appeared, were glorified maxi-pads and oddly shaped tampons unless you count the full on adult diapers. These might be an OK alternative for some, but not for myself who teaches 4 hours of spin classes a week. Let’s just say I tried it all and none of it stayed in place, provided adequate protection or helped the situation. My doctor suggested wearing a pad or surgery as options.
Fabulous. I had one kid and suddenly I’m doomed to pee my pants the rest of my life unless I want painful surgery or embarrassing products.

Then I met Rebecca.

Rebecca came on my yoga retreat in Tulum and the first thing I noticed about her, besides her amazing red hair was her necklace. When I complimented her on the silver bullet looking object hanging around her neck she told me it was a vibrator. This is how I was introduced to her company, Vibrant (bevibrant.com) and all the products they had to offer. She invited me to the warehouse upon our return from the retreat and I accepted this offer with a mix of curiosity and excitement.

Rebecca and her colleagues at Vibrant make you feel so comfortable talking to them that it’s almost like therapy. Within minutes you’re confessing your most intimate secrets in hopes that maybe they have a product that can help. She told me about their variety of kegel strengtheners and offered me two choices: the standard silicone balls or the kGoal. Anyone that knows me knows my phone is pretty much glued to my hand 24/7 so the idea of a new age device that came with Bluetooth and an app was most appealing. Plus, I still wasn’t sure what a kegel was or why I needed to strengthen them. But I was promised I might not pee my pants and better orgasms so it was worth a shot right?

So began my love affair with the kGoal.

The kGoal by Minna is a small blue half-deflated balloon shaped exerciser designed to give one bio-feedback on how your internal muscles are functioning. There’s an app with games, yes I said games, which you download on your phone and sync with reminders on how often you’d like to “work-out.” My
personal favorite is shape shifter, which is a five minute workout where you use your pelvic floor muscles to open up gates to fit shapes through. The app keeps track of your progress and lets you know how you’re doing from one day to the next. How do you know you’re doing it right you ask? It vibrates when you squeeze and stops when you don’t. Having a husband who finds it sexy and encourages you to use the product is an added bonus.

So what was the result? After a month of using the kGoal I feel not only more in touch with myself, but have also noticed more control over my pelvic floor when teaching. The worst part about teaching a cycle class is that, not only are you riding the bike, you’re yelling instructions at the students which means everything down below relaxes. Using the kGoal twice a week has strengthened my pelvic floor as well as my confidence. Using the games, getting text reminders and the bio-feedback from the kGoal has contributed to the success of the product because now I know I’m actually doing my kegels right. I liken it to trying to teach yourself yoga versus going to an instructor and actually having someone show you the correct form.

After I had my baby my focus was on the outside of my body and how it looked. I wasted several years and a lot of time by not bringing focus to the internal parts of my body as well. Will my pelvic floor ever be back to where it was pre-baby? Let’s just say I’m not going out to buy a trampoline anytime soon, but I feel myself getting stronger by the day. My hope is that other women out there realize they aren’t alone in this journey and there is a better alternative than the dreaded bladder control aisle at Walgreen’s. You don’t have to be embarrassed or wear black pants at the gym forever, trust me.

There’s help and there’s hope and it starts with a kegel strengthener!

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