TRX Suspension Trainer Classes!

April 24, 2012 by Emily

Class Times:

Mon/Wed – 8am, 8:30am, 9am


Health Spa Napa Valley – Main Street St. Helena


These classes are considered small group training with a maximum of 3-4 people in a class. It’s more personal and you will receive more attention from me than in large group classes, but less money than private one-on-one training! Classes run twice per week for 4 weeks = 8 classes total. Member rate is $20/class = $160. Non-member rate is $25/class = $200 total.

Contact me or Health Spa Napa Valley to reserve your spot!!

TRX classes at Health Spa Napa Valley!

March 15, 2012 by Emily

The current series of TRX classes started on April 2nd!

Mon/Wed 8am – 2 open spots!

Mon/Wed 8:30am – 2 open spots!

Mon/Wed 9am – FULL!

Mon/Wed 12:30pm – 1 open spot!

Tues/Thurs 3:15 – 1 open spot!

Classes run twice per week for 4 weeks (8 classes total). $160 for members, $200 for non-members. We can pro-rate the price since the classes have already began. If you are interested, please call Health Spa Napa Valley and reserve your time slot. 707.967.8800

Click here to check out a clip of what your class could look like!

Terilynn Gives up Lounging for Lunging and Loses Inches!

February 20, 2012 by Emily


I met Terilynn when I joined a bocce team in April 2010 soon after I moved to Napa. She was (and still is) fun and happy and loved to talk… to everyone! We had a great time playing bocce, eating amazing foods, drinking wonderful wines and we always chatted about many of our daily happenings except her weight-loss and nutrition attempts.

The summer of 2011 rolled around and a new season of bocce had commenced. Terilynn showed up that first evening 20 pounds lighter with a dish of bacon-sausage something to share and started telling me all about this high protein/no carb diet she was on.  That’s when our love/hate relationship truly began. :)

Terilynn had done an amazing job losing weight on her own between January 2011 and May of that year; however, she admitted that she was experimenting with fad diets and not really focusing on exercise. She told me that she started taking yoga and Zumba classes once per week, but she did not really know a whole lot about strength training or how to increase her cardiovascular exercise. It was another three months talking with Terilynn about her nutrition and exercise plans before she decided to invest in her health. We started training that August and she has overcome some pretty big plateaus!

This is (the beginning of) Terilynn’s story, in her own words:

“Exercise?! Sure, I exercise. By walking to dinner.”

“RUN??!! NO WAY!! You have got to be kidding me!”

“Of course I eat healthy! Beans, tacos, tortilla chips, LOTs of veggies and no sugar!”

These were the things I used to say before I became serious about my health and fitness.  January 2011, I was looking through photos from my ladies New Year’s weekend and I did not like what I saw.  I resolved to make a change.  Ever since I decided to make that change, I have seen results. There have been days which are easier to workout and other times it is just SO hard to stay motivated.  My challenge is making the time and not letting anything get in the way of a workout.  With Emily’s help I have set up a program and when I follow it, I feel great! I keep my weight down and my clothes fit FANTASTICALLY!

Now, let’s be clear… I am not thrilled that I must workout or do challenging moves like squats and lunges.  I’d much rather lounge around. Well, at least until I begin to miss how I feel after a workout.  It still feels odd when I think about how I miss feeling sore!  When there is not a little ache somewhere in my body, just to prove that I worked out, I crave exercise. It is truly strange to hear myself say that!

How did I go from a NON-believer & exercise AVOID-ER to an activist & ACTION-ist?

Emily made it easy! When I met Emily, I was starting my second “diet.”   The first one did give me results and I was happy to have lost 20 pounds and not be a saggy mess of skin.  I will not lie; it was HELL!  The diet I chose & paid for the supplements to torture myself with, was NOT fun! As I began the second “diet” to continue losing, Emily asked me when I was going to get serious about making a change.

 “What?! I am serious! Look at me, I am not eating the bread, just the bacon!!”

While I was not enthusiastic to start an exercise routine, Emily was right.  I needed a nutrition & exercise plan to meet my health and fitness goals.  She has guided me to a varied exercise plan; mine was too predictable & not nearly strenuous enough.  I have also learned more about the food balance I need to help me stay fed, yet not over-fed. I have found that if I focus on 2 cups of greens at each meal, I can make better choices.

Today, I feel better and look better.  I LOVE getting compliments from others who tell me I look great.  I owe it all to Emily, because without her support I would lounge instead of lunge!

Emily has been the one to help me make this change. There were three people who went on that first diet with me back in January 2011 & today they are putting themselves through the torture again.  I made a gradual change with Emily. She started me out slow, without pushing me to do the things I hate. However, when she showed me how many inches I had lost and body fat percentage I had shaved off, I asked for more exercise.  ME, the exercise AVOID-ER! I have realized that my health must come first! It’s not about FINDING the time, I must MAKE the time & prioritize my responsibilities. Emily has been great in helping me understand that. She has inspired me without making me miserable.  We have a good time and there have been less than a handful of times I could not walk without wincing!

Thanks Emily for not giving up on me and continuing to ask me about my health before we started working out together. Thanks for your patience & reminders during my birthday celebrations & holiday season. And, yes Emily, you’re right. Birthdays & holidays are just ONE day (not an entire month of celebrating). I will keep saying that to myself and make a change.

“OK body of mine, time to get serious & continue to follow that plan.”

Em, when did you say my next appointment with you is?



Length Adjustment Rules for the TRX Suspension Trainer

February 8, 2012 by Emily

For some reason, I have a pet peeve when I see people using the TRX Suspension Trainer at the incorrect lengths for certain exercises. So, here is the breakdown:

There are 4 length conventions of the Suspension Trainer: 1. “Length Short” 2. “Mid Length” 3. “Length Mid Calf” 4. “Length Long.”

Length Short



Length Short: The yellow adjustment tabs are at their highest position on the Suspension Trainer. They will line up with the single hash mark on both straps. The Suspension Trainer is used at Length Short position to perform all variation of rows. For example: TRX High Row, TRX Mid Row and TRX Low Row.






Mid Length



Mid-Length: The yellow adjustment tabs align with the double hash marks in the middle of the main straps. ALL standing exercises (except for rows and 3 others which are performed at length long and will be discussed momentarily) are done at mid-length.





Length Mid Calf



Length Mid Calf: Handles are at knee height/foot cradles are at calves. TRX Lunge is done at this length and any exercise that you perform on the floor: Plank, Mountain Climbers, Atomic Push-ups and Hamstring Curls to name a few.





Length Long



Length Long: When the adjustment tabs are at their lowest point on the straps, the foot cradles should be 3″- 4″ off the floor. The chest press, sprinter’s start and front squats are the only exercises using the Suspension Trainer at “Length Long” when discussing basic exercises. There are other exercises that are performed at this length once you progress into the more advanced exercises which I will discuss in a future blog.





If you have never felt what the Suspension Trainer can do for your body, umm, hello! What are you waiting for?! Napa Valley locals – call me! I can bring a TRX to you, we can meet in a park or you can meet me at Health Spa Napa Valley in Saint Helena. People not near me, click here to find a TRX-pert near you or heck, just call me!

Click the ad below to check out the TRX store!

Climbing Out of the Resolution Rut!

February 2, 2012 by Emily

Happy (belated) New Year!

The holidays are over. We ate, we drank, we may have put on, hmm… 4 pounds? (I swear I didn’t peer over your shoulder when you were on the scale a couple of weeks ago). That is the average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve. “Yikes!” is right!

So, January 1st hits, and..

“Oh my gosh! It’s a new year! No more parties. I need to lose this weight!”

The guilt sets in and the resolutions are set; drink more water, lose 10 pounds, firm up my butt, tone my arms, start taking Zumba classes, eat more veggies…!

Many people I speak with in January typically resolve to “be healthier” or become “more fit.” I hear, “I’m going to workout every single day,” “I’m giving up alcohol for the month of January” or, “I’m giving up sugar.” OK, so then what? What happens if you get sick the second week in January and cannot workout? What happens in February when you start having drinks again? Are you really going to say “NO” to having a piece of your child’s birthday cake? People set these goals with the best of intentions, only to set the same goals again the following year. We try to follow healthy lifestyle habits like getting enough sleep (8 hours, by the way), eating a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise, yet we may not have the time in our schedule or have a strong enough will-power to implement a balanced and healthy lifestyle. Becoming “healthier” or “fitter” isn’t going to happen in one month or even in three months!

My words of wisdom: Be realistic! Set an achievable goal for yourself. Do NOT stress about it! We have enough stress in our lives as it is, stress causes weight gain and that would be well, quite the contradiction, now wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, by February every year, about 90% of people have given up their good intentions to finally lose weight and get healthy.

My challenge to you is this: even if you have broken your resolution, don’t give up on it! Get back in the saddle and re-focus. Set some new goals (or, reset the same goal) and figure out how you’re going to achieve those goals. Having clear and concise fitness goals makes it easier to achieve your healthiest you!

I have officially challenged you, but here’s the catch; I am going to give you some tools to help you succeed at this challenge! Following the well-known and simple, S.M.A.R.T. techniques of goal setting, here is how you are going to do it:
1. Be Specific About Your Fitness Goal and ask yourself these questions:

Who is involved? (hint: YOU! and, possibly your trainer?) :)

What do I want to accomplish? Be specific! “I want to lose 5 pounds in one month.”

How are you going to do this? “I need to eat at least one serving of veggies per meal, drink 10 glasses of water per day, eat lean proteins, exercise 60 minutes per day, 5 days per week.”

Why is this important to you? Give specific reasons, purposes or benefits of accomplishing the goal. “So I can turn 45 feeling energetic, fit and beautiful!”

2. Make Your Goal Measurable:

There are many ways to measure and track your progress once setting fitness goals. Weight, body fat %, BMI and circumference measurements are some of the most commonly used forms of measurement. Some others I tell clients to be aware of is how their favorite pair of jeans are fitting, how they feel when carrying grocery bags from the car into the house or how they feel after walking up a flight of stairs.

When you can see all of your hard work paying off, you will feel the excitement of staying on track and being successful and will, in turn, stay motivated to work toward a new goal each month!

3. Set Attainable Goals:

Like I mentioned earlier, and very important to remember while goal setting, is to not set goals that are unattainable or too long-term. For example; “I want to lose 20 pounds in 1 month” is not only unattainable, but you are already setting yourself up for failure.

4. The Goal Should be Relevant, or Realistic:

Start where you are, and increase your goals accordingly. Set attainable goals, but not goals that are so easy, you won’t feel any satisfaction once hitting them. You may not be able to lose 20 lbs in one month, but you could set a goal to lose 20 lbs in 4 months as long as your plan to get there is realistic (ie: losing 4-5lbs/month). Only you truly know what is realistic for you.

5. Set Time-Based Goals:

No goal makes much sense unless you attach a timeframe to it. This is the “…in one month” part of the goal statement. Without a time line there is a tendency to procrastinate or get bored. Limiting the time you have to accomplish a goal will spark a sense of urgency for you that will keep you on track.

Finally, after your health/fitness goal is set and you have laid out how you are going to achieve that goal, write it ALL down! Hang it somewhere you will see it every single day; on the bathroom mirror, on your bulletin board in your office and/or on the fridge. For many of my clients, I create a monthly calendar showing what their measurements were at the beginning of the month, what each day looks like for exercise/rest, when our sessions are scheduled, what their fitness goal is and a reminder that measurements will be re-taken at the end of the month (so no slacking!) Sample Fitness Goal Calendar

Don’t worry if you fell into the “Resolution Rut!” Climb on out of there and set some S.M.A.R.T goals this time! Good luck and stay focused!

Healthy Salmon Dinner with Collard Greens and Quinoa-Based Tabouleh Salad

January 8, 2012 by Emily

Salmon: A protein source high in omega-3 fatty acids and high in vitamin D.

Collard greens: a good source of vitamin C and soluble fiber, and contains multiple nutrients with potent anticancer properties.

Quinoa: a sprouted seed high in protein, containing essential amino acids and dietary fiber. Quinoa is also gluten free.

The dinner I made tonight contained all of the above, with a bit of sprucing up, of course!

First, I put 1 cup quinoa into a saucepan with 2 cups water. As it came to a boil, I turned it down to simmer for 10 minutes (or, until all of the water was absorbed).

I preheated the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and splashed the inside of a Pyrex casserole dish with a bit of olive oil and placed the pieces of salmon skin-side down. I salt and peppered the fish along with a spritz of lemon juice and a sprinkle of sesame seeds. In the oven it went for 30 minutes.

I cut off the thick part of the stem from the collard greens, roughly chopped the leaves and threw them into a pot of boiling water for about 5 minutes, then blanched the leaves in ice water. I put about a tablespoon of olive oil into a large frying pan and added some chopped garlic and white onion. When the onion turned translucent, I added the collard greens and sprinkled them with a bit of salt and pepper. I allowed them to saute in the frying pan for another 8-10 minutes.

In the meantime, I had chopped 3 tomatoes, about a 1/4 of a white onion and an entire bunch of fresh parsley. When the quinoa finished, I added lemon juice, a bit of olive oil, the chopped tomatoes, onions and parsley. I also added about a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar (I LOVE a.c.v.)!! Salt and pepper to taste. This is my quinoa version of Tabloueh Salad that I have been making for the last 4 years. We ate it warm tonight, but it’s awesome cold especially once it has sat in the juices for 24 hours!

Once plated, everything was spritzed with a bit of lemon juice and served with a TALL glass of water! Colorful, filling, healthy and super tasty! Yuummm!!

P.s. Because of the high level of protein within the quinoa, the tabouleh salad is a great mid-day snack option!

TRX Suspension Trainer – Don’t Be a Sinner

December 8, 2011 by Emily


Most everyone has at least heard of TRX by now.

Those black and yellow straps that hang from the ceiling at the gym and people twist around in them and stuff, right?

Well, kind of…

TRX is the brand of a couple different products; the Suspension Trainer which is the most common and has been around for about 6 years, and the Rip Trainer which was released in March 2011. Both products allow some of the greatest functionality of movement, core engagement and balance within exercises. What’s even more awesome is that the TRX products can be used for people of all ages, shapes and sizes. The clients I have using The Suspension Trainer range from 16 years old to 80 years old, people that have back pain to people that want sports-specific training. The Suspension Trainer even helps overweight clientele perform squats correctly without pain in their hips, knees or feet! Bottom line: I am a huge advocate!

Because I love the Suspension Trainer SO much and I want everyone to experience it safely and correctly (and since I can’t be with you all day, every day), I am going to give you some basic, ground rules:

Every part of the Suspension Trainer has a name. 

Every “TRXpert”/instructor should be using the universal language of TRX. I’ve included a picture for your viewing pleasure. Referring to this picture will help you throughout this article. Note: During exercise set-up, the closer your feet are placed to the anchor point, the more challenging the exercise will be due to the vector of your body (Physics 101, my friends!)

There are 6 “Deadly” Sins to remember when using The Suspension Trainer:

1. Starting incorrectly 2. Sawing 3. Slacking 4. Sagging 5. Scraping 6. Stopping. (They’re not really “deadly.” You won’t die if you accidentally start incorrectly, but you could hurt yourself, so pay attention!)

Starting Incorrectly:  Be sure to start where you want to finish. For example: Biceps curl – start with your hands next to your temples and THEN adjust your feet to set your body at a shallow angle (shallow angle = easy; deep angle = hard). Wherever you decide to place your feet, your body should be in a straight, plank position. From there, keeping your core engaged and your body stabilized, fully extend the elbows allowing your body to lower back/down. Then, using only the biceps, bend at the elbows, pulling your body up and your hands returning next to your temples in the same position you started.

Correct - Body is in a straight plank position

Incorrect - "Sagging" while performing a Triceps Pres

Incorrect - "Sagging" while performing Triceps Press

Sagging:  Never let your body “sag” through the mid-section. I see a lot of people sag through theirbellies and pelvis during triceps press and also a lot of people who don’t “take their butt with them” when doing rows and chest presses. Remember: core engagement, stabilization and maintain great posture when doing standing exercises to decrease your risk of injury.

Mountain Climbers - Keeping the foot cradles level

Sawing:  Do not let the straps “saw” back and forth through the top stabilizing loop. For example: When doing Mountian Climbers, start on the floor in a plank position with your toes suspended in the foot cradles. Pull your right knee into your chest, leaving your left leg straight. Next, extend your right  leg back and pull the left knee into your chest. Repeat, quickly. It is very easy to put more pressure into one foot cradle making the handles shift back and forth. Be aware of the pressure you are putting into both foot cradles and keep them level throughout the entire range of motion.

Slacking:  Be sure to always keep the straps nice and tight. I see people allow slack when they are setting themselves up for a row or at the top of the range of motion during a row. That means their starting position was probably incorrect. If your starting position is correct, you have a greater chance of keeping the Suspension Trainer from slacking.

Scraping:  Be aware of how close the straps are to your body during movement. Never allow the straps to scrape against your body. Best example of this is while doing chest presses. It is very easy to let the straps scrape along the tops of your arms while lowering and pressing. If that happens, raise the arms slightly to lift the straps off the arms and continue with the chest presses.

Stopping:  Never stop moving! If the exercise is too difficult, move your feet (or, pivot point) away from the anchor point to reduce your body angle. You should be able to go from one exercise to the next without stopping – maybe a quick change of length on the straps, but it should be pretty fluid.


Annalena Eats Clean (so can you)!

December 3, 2011 by Emily

One of my all-time favorite clients in NYC is a self-proclaimed (major) foodie/wino who writes an awesome, little blog about cooking. The writing style is completely entertaining and charismatic and the prelude to the actual recipe will undoubtedly suck you in! You can just hear the NYC attitude of Annalena coming out of your computer screen at you while you read.

Anyway, one of the most recent blogs was an “eating clean” recipe with a little shout out to yours truly. The recipe sounds delish and is super healthy so I had to share! Enjoy and welcome to Annalena’s Kitchen!

Benefits of (or lack thereof) an Exercise “Routine”

November 29, 2011 by Emily

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Albert Einstein(attributed)
US (German-born) physicist (1879 – 1955)

Over the past few weeks, I have had people contact me and ask, “Can you plan out a routine for me to follow.”  (Talk about creatures of habit…)

And, my thought process is as follows: Well, yes. Yes, I CAN write out a plan for you to follow but are you going to get much out of it? Probably not. If you happen to remember the correct form to each exercise; how to hold your shoulders, where to place your feet in relation to your hips and as long as you can check that your cervical spine is held in a neutral position, that’s a start! You could definitely gain something with my writing a routine for you to follow.

Now, in addition to that, if you can carry out all 2-3 sets of the 8-15 exercises I write down for you and finish all 12-15 repetitions that I also write down for you, that’s impressive because by the last 2-3 repetitions your muscles should be so fatigued that you may actually need help getting through those last repetitions. But hey, if you can do all of that, you can definitely gain a lot from a written-out routine.

The tricky part is remembering the names of the exercises (and figuring out the abbreviations): “Squat w/ bi curl/sh. press.” OK, that’s pretty self explanatory – most people will remember that one. What about “Squat w/ Core Ball Low -> High Woodchopper” or “Bosu Sngl-Leg Squat w/ Sngl-Arm Sh. Press?”

Crap. Where do I place my feet? How do I bend my knees? Is it same arm/leg or opposite? Do I start up or down? Ow! This hurts my knee! When do I BREATHE?!

Even if you DO master all 15 exercises I have written down and you finish all 3 sets of 15 repetitions and you follow that for 4 weeks, then what? How do you progress? How do you challenge your body? How do you modify a certain exercise if it is indeed, bothering your knee?

I cannot stress enough the importance of VARIETY and correct posture within an exercise “routine.” The body is SMART! It adapts! If you hop on the elliptical for 30 minutes 5 days a week, guess what? Your body gets used to doing the same thing for the same amount of time 5 days a week. You will, without fail, hit a plateau not to mention, eventually bore yourself out of your mind! Change up your routine! Do a different workout every time you’re in the gym. Mix up full body exercises with core/abdominal exercises and cardio intervals. Balance your workouts between cardio, strength and mind/body/flexibility. If you go through exercises with your feet out of place or you forget to pull your navel toward your spine, you are setting yourself up for injury and eventually will create postural imbalances that will be very hard to correct. Be sure you are in proper position/posture before moving a load!

The routines I bring clients through are complex and calculated. I joke with clients that there is a “method to my madness” while putting them through certain exercises. I am constantly reminding the client when and how to breathe, how to hold their posture, what angle their knee should be placed or how to position the hands. I like to teach and create body awareness for all of my clients. If you aren’t sure where you are supposed to be feeling an exercise, that could pose a huge problem! If you have been doing lat pulldowns for the past year and have never felt your back muscles engage, only your biceps working? Red flag! If you are going through a set of push-ups and never feel your core engage? Problem. If you are working with a trainer and he/she never explains proper movement patterns, range of motion, tempo and what muscles to focus on, I highly recommend reassessing your trainer/client relationship.

If you are thinking about starting an exercise program, or if you are currently following an exercise program and feel like you’re going nowhere, do me, and yourself, a favor – change it up! Add variety! Ask a professional how to spice up your workout or just come to the realization that you may need to invest in yourself, hire a trainer and really feel the difference!

Join me at Health Spa Napa Valley in St. Helena!

November 1, 2011 by Emily

I am currently personal training and teaching TRX classes at Health Spa Napa Valley!


New round of TRX classes start the week of November 14th!

My classes: Mon/Wed – 8am, 9:30am and 12:30pm.

Classes run in 4-week blocks, 2 classes per week (8 weeks total) and costs $160 for members ($200 for non-members). Contact me directly or the front desk at HSNV to confirm your spot.  Act now because space is limited!