Interview with a Pilates Instructor and Wellness Lifestyle Consultant

This week's fitness professional is Frances Darnell, a Brooklyn resident and owner of Dynamic Core, her private practice as a Pilates and Wellness Lifestyle Consultant. Fran specializes in prenatal and postpartum fitness and works with women in preparation for pregnancy, through pregnancy, postpartum and beyond. She loves working with women helping them feel empowered in their body. She sees people of all fitness levels to help deepen their connection to their body, rehabilitate the abdominals, balance pelvic strength with Pilates and Yoga for the pelvis, and improve their well being from the inside out. For the past six months, Fran has been working with Jessica during her pregnancy - playing a large role in Jessica's running health as the belly expands and her body changes. Thank you, Fran!

Why do you like working with runners?
I love working with runners because I love helping them tap into their core strength when running. I know from my personal experience how Pilates helped to transform my running. Running puts a lot of impact on your feet, legs and hips. I help my clients unwind tension in their body, increase flexibility, and learn how to engage their abdominals to support themselves on a deeper level. I love supporting my clients in reaching their goals whether they are just discovering their inner athlete, running for cardio or training for their next big race. Pilates is such a supportive practice for running and I love being able to teach my clients tools for feeling better in their body and improving their performance.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Take the time to warm up with dynamic movements before and stretch after running. It is so important to prime your body so that you are able to engage your muscles mindfully and feel more connected with every stride. Also taking the time to stretch and release tension afterwards will keep your body feeling free. In particular make sure to take care of your psoas muscle. The psoas muscle is a deep core muscle that supports your every stride and when you don't take care of it can lead to tension and imbalances in your body. Practice gentle passive stretching and releases - it will make a big difference in your running and how you move through your everday!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Pilates is my go to fitness activity. I can practice the exercises anywhere I bring my mat. I love how my body feels stretched long and balanced after Pilates. It is also a great way for me to stay conditioned for all of the activities I like to do. I am a big fan of doing cross-training and getting outside to workout whenever I can. I love surfing during the summer. Other fitness activities I do to get a good sweat are to run, cycle, swim and practice some yoga. And I always love to go dancing (especially salsa dancing)!

What is your favorite post workout meal?
After a long run I love brunch food like eggs and roasted potatoes and some greens. When it is hot outside I prefer a filling smoothie. I love putting 4 leaves of Kale in the blender along with 1 cup of frozen berries, a banana, a tbsp of peanut butter and 1 tsp chia seeds with either filtered water or almond milk. It is so filling & refreshing and the greens & chia seeds keep me energized.

When did you start running and why?
I started running when I was in high school to train for field hockey and lacrosse. I ran a little bit in college while I was studying dance. I started running half marathons after I graduated college and was looking for a way to stay in shape and get outdoors. This past year my reason to run has changed. My mom has Alzheimer's disease and I began running with the intention to physically express what I am experiencing emotionally seeing my mom's progression with this disease. I am now a member of the Athletes to End Alzheimer's Team and ran the NYC 1/2 Marathon this year in honor of my mom and to raise funds for the programming that the Alzheimer's Association provides. Running helps me clear my head and to face challenging moments on the road as well as in life.

Nutrition for Base Training: Stocking Your Fridge/Pantry

By Caitlin Grams

When taking on something new, you will experience the greatest success if you come prepared. Take running, for example: without shoes or a mapped out running route, a great run would be near impossible. Cleaning up your diet is the same way - you have to come prepared in order to succeed. In order to kick off your base training properly fueled and energized for a successful training season, here are my top 3 tips: 


1. Clean it out. Get rid of anything that might tempt you to stray from a clean diet. Chips, candy, processed foods, ice cream, sodas (even diet sodas), high fat meat and dairy products - avoid most things in packages and with additives. Toss them out, bring them to a food bank, donate to friends - but get it out of your kitchen.


2. Restock. Head to a grocery store or better yet a farmer's market. Choose foods that don't come in a box and that are fresh and in season. Fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, whole grains and healthy fats are the building blocks of a healthy diet. Find healthier replacements for your old unhealthy favorites - make kale chips instead of regular potato chips, frozen yogurt instead of ice cream, sparkling water instead of soda.


3. Prepare! Chop vegetables for salads and snacks, grill or bake enough lean protein for the week, make a large batch of quinoa, black beans or brown rice, and roast vegetables. Pre-portion nuts and fruits for snacks. Keep healthy snacks and meals at the office or in your car so you are never tempted to stray from a clean diet. 


Now that your kitchen is clean and stocked, you are ready to take on your base training and start cooking up some Hot Bird Recipes!

Interview with a Podiatrist

Dr. Ethan Ciment is a Podiatric foot and ankle surgeon in private practice in New York City. He is the founder of Chelsea Foot and Ankle where he treats all aspects of foot and ankle medicine and surgery. Whether it is a simple skin or common nail disorder, sports medicine/sports-related injuries, reconstructive surgery, pediatrics, geriatrics, wound care, or diabetic limb salvage, Dr. Ciment treats the entire spectrum of foot and ankle medicine and surgery.

Why do you like working with runners?
I enjoy working with runners because they tend to be more motivated and determined than the average patient. Sadly, our culture has encouraged a passive approach to wellness. People often seek medical help later than they should. Many people also feel that a doctor should be able to simply write a prescription, give a shot, or administer some other "magic bullet" that immediately fixes the problem. So many people don't see their own critical role in actively participating in their recovery. Runners are just the opposite of this. In my experience, most runners seek help when they should, knowing that to delay this would impact their ability to run. Most runners tend to be proactive, very involved in their recovery, and diligent with home exercises, stretching and physical therapy. Though, as sports go, running can be one of the most negatively impacting on the lower extremity if done incorrectly, runners (in general) tend to be "dream patients" for foot and ankle specialists because they are engaged, determined, committed and they get better faster because of this active involvement and proactive attitude.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Listen to your body. Pain can be a wonderful educator. Very often, people negotiate with themselves about levels of pain that they can tolerate and push through. Please don't push through all types of pain! This is the root of most running injuries. If you are running and suddenly feel pain, this can be an indication that something has been weakened or is at risk of being damaged. This is your body talking to you. Listen to it! Very often, this is an indication that your form is off in some way. I think that some people get a little "too in their head" in these moments; They start negotiating with themselves. Things like "Let's just go another mile and see if it's still hurting." So many folks decide that they need to just push through the pain or else they'll never meet their next level running fitness goal. Honestly, nothing could be further from the truth. Very often, just slowing down, going into a powerwalk for a few minutes, or actually stopping the run in those moments and getting help, is enough to spare you a longer interruption in your running/training cycle. Simply listening to the pain, respecting it and what it is telling you, and getting the help you need when you need it can be a game-changer for all levels of runners.

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
I would have to say that running is my go-to fitness activity because it's flexible and it's portable. I don't need to rely on a gym or health club to do it and I don't need "gear" or some other specialized equipment. I all need is just me, my legs and my sneakers (and preferably some great music and a gorgeous day!).

What is your favorite post workout meal?
I find it difficult to eat a full meal after running. That said, it's important to rehydrate and replace nutrients. I will often have a date shake if my run was in the morning because I can use those calories to power me through my day. If my run was in the evening, then I go lower calorie and lower carbohydrate: a simple salad with a tablespoon of hummus and five or six tempeh strips is ideal for me.

Interview with a Nutrition and Fitness Coach

Stacey Grant MS (clinical nutrition) is a Nutrition and Fitness Coach, a Group Exercise Instructor and an inspiration. Stacey is one of those people you meet and you can't help but NOT smile when you are around her. She just finished competing in the National Physique Committee's April Metropolitan body building competition- Bikini Division (and kicked butt with a 6th place finish!). She works with all levels of athletes and shares why she loves runners below.

Why do you like working with runners?
I like working with runners because they are a dedicated group who understand the importance of training and consistency . Unfortunately, runners also sometimes have very disordered eating patterns so helping them to better fuel and replenish themselves is rewarding because the results are generally immediate.

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Your body tells you what it needs with every ache, twinge and feeling of depletion. Listen to what it's asking for!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Running, of course! Running has been my favorite way to take in the beauty of mother Nature (and Father Industry) since I was a girl. It's also a way for me to perform some introspection and clear my mental space. Running makes me feel powerful, capable and humble before nature all at once.

What is your favorite post workout meal?
I eat A LOT so have a few favorite meals: a big bowl of bold cereal made with almond milk and Kashi "Heart to Heart", baked sweet potato topped with a can of sardines or a grilled chicken breast are a couple "Go To-s."

Interview with a Personal Trainer

Mary Walters is a personal trainer and wellness coach, and founder of Mindful Form. Brooklyn is her home turf (who wouldn't want to live by Prospect Park?!). Her aim is to help others achieve their peak level of wellness, to teach the basics of building a fitness routine and empower them to make health a priority and fitness a part of their lives long-term.

Why do you like working with runners?
Runners are always a step or two ahead of the game. Part of my job is to help clients figure out what physical activities they enjoy doing (so they'll stick with it!)- runners already have it figured out. Rain or shine, hot or cold, inside or out, runners find a way to get it done one way or another. And they're not afraid to sweat!

If you could tell a runner one piece of advice, what would it be?
Spend some quality "down-time" time with your connective tissue! Although an incredible exercise, running is high impact and can be pretty tough on your body. To counter the wear and tear, restorative work must be a priority. Use dynamic stretches for warmup before a run; contract-relax, active-isolated and static stretching are all great options post-run. And be sure to take time during the week for targeted fascial work like MELTing, foam rolling and/or massage. Your body will thank you!

What is your go-to fitness activity and why? 
Any time I can throw in an extra walk or run in-between clients, I will. But I get bored easily, so I need to mix things up as much as possible. I'm always a sucker for a good, creative circuit training session- I grab a few random pieces of equipment (or none at all), choose 2-3 body parts to focus on, throw in a healthy dose of cardio bursts (like jump rope, burpees, or sprints), and I have myself a very efficient, very challenging, and very rewarding workout!

What is your favorite post workout meal?
I'm usually commuting around the city from client to client, so I have to grab things on the go. My favorite pick-me-ups…. low-fat greek yogurt, a banana, and/or a LARA bar. A little fat, a little carb, a little protein. No mysterious ingredients.

Cait's Plate: Turkey Burgers

Every other week, Caitlin Grams of Caitlin Lives Well, brings us delicious recipes inspired by her New Year’s Resolution “to make one new recipe a week”.  This week, Caitlin ventures into the land of meat with some savory sounding turkey burgers!

Turkey Burgers.  I don't eat meat very often - mostly I just don't love the taste or texture, and plant based meals are often much healthier. I've really been trying to be conscious of my protein intake lately, and every once in a while I will decide meat sounds good. Let's be honest, sometimes all you want after an especially hard workout is a burger. Lean ground turkey is SO much healthier for you than ground beef - for about the same amount of protein and B vitamins turkey has so much less fat and cholesterol. These burgers are easy to prepare, pack a great protein punch and taste as good as a beef burger, if not better. 

1 pound lean ground turkey

1/2 small onion, diced

1 egg

2 tbsp barbecue sauce

2 tbsp breadcrumbs

2 tbsp oats

2 tsp sweet & hot mustard

1 tsp Chipotle Tabasco

1 tsp garlic powder

Pinch of salt

Prep:  Combine ingredients in a large mixing bowl and mix until blended (using your hands is kind of gross, but works best - it also works best if you have someone else to do it for you). Separate into 4 medium sized patties - I laid them on top of a sheet of Saran wrap to prevent them from sticking to a plate. 

Cooking Instructions: Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a nonstick skillet and cook each patty for about 3 minutes on each side until lightly browned. Finish patties in oven heated to 350 degrees for an additional 10 minutes. 
Serve with veggies of your choice! I recommend lettuce, tomato, and avocado, with barbecue sauce. 

Cait's Plate: Protein Packed Salads

Every other week, Caitlin Grams of  Caitlin Lives Well, is bringing us delicious recipes inspired from her New Year's Resolution "to make one new recipe a week".  This week she inspires us to make our favorite restaurant dish in our kitchen. Enjoy!

Wheatberry Salad

There are few things in life that make me happier than the Whole Foods salad bar. Tons of different fresh, healthy dishes chock full of veggies - it's heaven. One of my favorite salads that I get every time I treat myself to the Whole Foods salad bar is what they call the Berkley Wheatberry Salad, and last time I was there I realized how simple it must be to make with such few ingredients - I knew I needed to recreate it.

Wheatberries are a whole grain and are packed with fiber, protein and iron. It was my first time preparing them and they are as easy to prepare as rice. They have a chewy, nutty texture, and are great in salads, as a side dish or as a base for breakfast in place of oats.

Wheatberry Salad Recipe:
2 cups cooked wheatberries
1 red pepper
3 stalks of celery
1 apple
3 scallions
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans



1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons honey
1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon paprika
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions: Cook 1 cup of dry wheatberries according to package instructions. They take about an hour. While they are cooking, chop the pepper, apple, scallions and celery. Combine ingredients for dressing and set aside. Drain and rinse the wheatberries. Once they have cooled, add chopped vegetables and fruit, dried cranberries and pecans. Toss salad in dressing and enjoy!

Cait's Plate: Mexican Quinoa Salad

While discussing running goals for 2012 with a friend and fellow runner, Caitlin Grams, Caitlin shared a wonderful 2012 resolution of her own, "To make one new recipe a week."   We loved this resolution so much that we asked if she was interested in choosing a recipe related to running & fitness every other week and share her experiences with us.   Fortunately for all of us, Caitlin loved the idea too and "Cait's Plate" was born.  Please enjoy the first story from Caitlin's cooking adventures this year and if you want to find out more about our dear, miss Caitlin (we highly recommend you do!), check out more of her stories at Caitlin Lives Well

Cait's Plate: Mexican Quinoa Salad

By Caitlin Grams 

Cooking is something that doesn't come naturally to me. When I'm following a recipe it generally goes pretty well, but when I'm trying to come up with something on my own I'm completely out of my comfort zone. This year I'm challenging myself to stretch my cooking muscles. I decided to set a goal of making one meal a week that is new to me - salads, veggie burgers and cereal for dinner don't count! Yikes.

As a runner and mostly vegetarian, I'm always looking for meals that are nutritious and have a good mix of non-animal protein and whole grains to get in some quality carbs. Quinoa is my go-to grain - it is not only high in protein, but is a complete protein, meaning that it has all 9 essential amino acids, including lysine (essential for tissue growth and repair) and riboflavin (necessary for energy production) - aka an athlete's best friend.  Black beans are a great source of protein and fiber, and the olive oil and avocado in this dish add healthy fats. I have almost zero patience, especially in the kitchen, so while I'm still learning I wanted to start with something simple and this salad could not be easier.

Mexican Quinoa Salad


1 cup quinoa, rinsed and prepared according to package directions

1 can black beans, rinsed

1 can corn

1 red pepper, chopped

1 shallot, chopped

2-3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

1 avocado, chopped


1 lemon, juiced

1 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp apple cider vinegar

1 tsp sriracha or hot sauce of your choice

salt and pepper to taste

Directions:  Cook quinoa according to package directions - I always toast it first for a few minutes until it starts turning brown. This gives it a nuttier flavor. After cooking the quinoa, let cool for a few minutes. Add black beans, corn, red pepper, shallot and cilantro. Mix ingredients together for the dressing and add to quinoa. That's it!

I made a huge batch of this and then had it for meals all week - it keeps really well. Plus you can mix it up, add in more peppers, serve it over greens as a salad, wrap it in a whole wheat tortilla as a burrito - go crazy!

Caitlin is a runner, yogi and SoulCycle addict from Seattle who, thanks to Hot Bird, has come to love crushing Harlem Hill repeats. She is an educator at lululemon Soho, a nutrition student, and blogs at Caitlin Lives Well.