Guest Post: What’s Black & Grey and Tough All Over?

Hi Fitness & Feta readers!  My name is Monique, and I blog over at Burpees to Bubbly.  I first met Athena back in my days living in Oak Square and going to her 6am Thursday class (oh, how I miss that class!) and she is the one to thank for me starting my own blog!  I am so excited that she asked me to post for her while she is away in Atlanta because it finally gave me the push to finish my Dynamax post.  Dynamax?, you may ask?  What is that all about?  Well, for one thing, it is my FAVORITE gym tool (well, that and TRX bands and BOSU balls… what can I say?  I have fun when I workout!).  And, if you’ve never used one, you might have a better idea of what Dynamax is if I say it’s the big black and grey “soft” medicine balls.  Know what I am talking about now?

Me & Monique - Dynamax Bootcamp

Anyways, I was totally new to the Dynamax world too, up until September when Athena asked if I would be interested in teaching a fee-based class at the Oak Square Y.  I had no idea what I was doing, but I did a little research and then got creative with ways that I could teach a class with just these six pound balls and body weight.  It didn’t take me long to realize how incredibly versatile these Dynamax balls were!  They added a really unique aspect to lots of typical moves: squats, pushups, lunges, sit ups, burpees, etc., and I was loving how receptive my class members were to this format.

Dynamax with Monique

Recently, though, I decided I should do a little more research to try to use these balls for how they were intended:  partner work, throws, and agility.  Athena turned me on to watching YouTube videos of the different Wheel of the Week (WOW), and I was instantly hooked!  These people were so fast, efficient, and powerful and I realized that while my drills with using the balls as added intensity (squats with holding the ball overhead, pushups with the ball under your hand, jumping jacks with an overhead press with the ball, etc.) were challenging and productive in building strength, they were not really using the Dynamax balls in the real way that they were intended.  I decided it was time to change that.


For the past two sessions, I decided to create a benchmark workout to be performed at the first class, midway through, and the last class, so the members could measure their progress.  On top of this, I would use the Dynamax ball in the way that it was designed to be used.  We would be doing a WOW every week and lots of passing drills.  I was not sure how this would go over at first, but everyone still seems to love the class and the workout, so I guess it was a good decision.

Athena comes to class sometimes too, and is my go-to sub when I’m away!

Dynamax Workout

Here is the benchmark workout we did last session.  It was awesome to see how they progressed each week, but I am even more excited to see how they progress this session since they are all more familiar with the format and WOW’s and working with partners.

Dynamax Benchmark Workout

If you have never used a Dynamax ball, I HIGHLY suggest that you pick one up the next time you’re at the gym.  You may be thinking “we don’t have those at my gym,” which could be right, but I’ve been to a lot of gyms and always seem to spot them, so I urge you to take a second look.

Dynamax Medicine Balls

Anyways, I could go on and on about how much I love these balls (yeah, there’s no way around making that NOT sound dirty), but what I am trying to say is go out and try adding these to your normal workout.  I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised with all the neat moves you do with them.

Again, big thanks to Athena for letting me share my latest gym passion with all of you wonderful readers.  I hope you’ll swing over to Burpees to Bubbly and check out what I’ve got going on over there!

Questions for you:  Ever heard of a Dynamax ball?  What’s your favorite workout “tool?”

Thanks, Monique, for your guest post while I’m away!  One more thing — if any local readers are intrigued and want to sign up for Monique’s Dynamax Bootcamp class, you still can!  She teaches at the Oak Square Y where I coordinate group exercise from 7-8pm on Monday nights.  We offer pro-rated rates for this fee-based specialty class, so you can definitely sign up mid-session if you want.  Email me at if you are interested, and I will get you in touch with the right people. 

Sunday Stuff and Weekly Workouts

Monday, must you come so soon?  Wah.

Yesterday’s quilting session at Shannon‘s apartment was very fun!  She had a little Panini bar set out for Missy and I, and I brought over a salad.  She also made butterscotch blondies, which were unreal.  Love me some cheat day.

Panini Bar

We spent the afternoon catching up while cutting up all our Providence College t-shirts.  All my squares are ready to go, and we ordered the black sweatshirt fabric online.  Shannon also taught me how to use her sewing machine.  I have a long way to go, but I’m excited for our next session.  Shannon’s a good teacher, and it’s nice to do something different!

Missy Sewing

Me Sewing

After the quilting bee was over, I spent too much money dilly dallied in Target and then stopped by Slesh’s to give her and Will the biggest hug ever, a card, and see the ring!  I got all the details on their wonderful engagement weekend, then came home and did my usual Sunday night food prep for the week ahead.

Sunday Night Food Prep


  • Low-fat cottage cheese with blueberries, slivered almonds, and cinnamon (my go to workday breakfast)
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Sliced strawberries
  • Unsalted cashews
  • Sliced oranges (STILL leftover from the Spin A Thon)
  • Hard boiled eggs
  • Paleo banana walnut muffins (Dawn’s recipe!)
  • Beef stew in the crock pot

Crock Pot Beef Stew

I love feeling ready for the week!  Anyone else as crazy as me and prep this much stuff ahead of time?  It helps!

Weekly Workouts

Last Week’s Workouts

Hour of power at Prana Power Yoga with Slesh

yoga 2

Took Monique‘s Dynamax class

Dynamax Workout

Two A Day – took Liz’s Kickboxing class, then taught a very sweaty class with a Best Body Bootcamp workout

Off day

Taught my morning class with another sweaty Best Body Bootcamp workout


Off day

Burpee date with Ashley!


This Week’s Workouts

  • Sunday:  Off day
  • Monday:  Cardio + abs after work
  • Tuesday:  Liz’s Kickboxing + teaching a bodyweight class.  My class is being featured this week as part of Boston Moves for Health free fitness offerings, so for any Boston readers — come on by and take my class!  That would make me a happy instructor.
  • Wednesday:  Off day
  • Thursday:  Teaching my morning class.  Requests for class format?!
  • Friday:  Workout TBD
  • Saturday:  Deck of cards!

What did you guys do this weekend?  Anything fun?  How did your workouts go last week?  What’s in store for this week? 

One other thing I want to mention is that on Wednesday evening, the Oak Square Y is hosting a healthy eating workshop.  It’s at 6:30pm with a certified health and wellness coach who will be raffling off free wellness coaching sessions during the event.  If you are interested or want more details, shoot me an email at  I’d love to have more people sign up!

Healthy Eating

Have a great start to the week, everyone!

2012 Reflections Part 1: Goals & Accomplishments

I feel like every other blogger on the planet had his or her “2012 recap” posts up the second the clocks struck midnight on New Year’s.  I am typically all about these types of things, but this year I just wasn’t feeling it at the start of January.  I was trying to relax after a very busy December, and I wanted to wait a bit before reflecting on 2012.  I was feeling a little pressured into doing the looking back thing and making new goals thing and mapping out every single thing I want to do in 2013 thing.  Doing that just because “everyone else was” certainly wouldn’t be doing it for the right reasons!  That being said, now that I’m back into my groove, I am ready to reflect on 2012 – it was quite the big year for me in terms of my achievements.

2012 Major Accomplishments

I accomplished a lot last year, but these are what stand out as the biggies:

Passing my ASCM exam and becoming an ASCM Certified Personal Trainer…

ACSM Personal Trainer Certificate

Figuring out what I want to do with my life…

do what you love

Quitting my marketing job and starting my new full-time position

career and passion

Becoming the Group Exercise Coordinator at the Y…

Oak Scare 5k

And last but not least, moving in with Tim!

Steph & Brett's Wedding:  Me & Tim

2012 Goals In Review

In 2012, I set SO many goals for myself.  I wrote a huge post on setting S.M.A.R.T. goals instead of New Year’s Resolutions, and apparently I tried to apply the S.M.A.R.T. goal philosophy to every aspect of my life!

In terms of my personal goals (besides the career stuff)…

I wanted to get in a better place financially.

  • I said I would save money at the grocery store by evaluating what I have in my apartment ahead of time, comparing prices between grocery stores, planning meals ahead of time, cutting coupons, and making grocery shopping a weekly event.  With the exception of comparing prices regularly between grocery stores, I do all these things now.
  • I said I would open an IRA account, and I didn’t.  Wah wuhhh.
  • I said I would consider buying stock in my company, which I did.
  • And I said I would realize it’s okay to say no to social events and pick and choose which things meant the most to me.  I am definitely better at this now.

grocery shopping

I wanted to de-clutter.
I said that I would pick on “space” or “area” to clean at least every other week.  I would say that I definitely didn’t do this every other week, but more like once a month.  Also, I somehow managed to turn into a crazy OCD person when it comes to having a clean space.  I pretty much have to clean/organize SOMETHING the second I get home.  And I just went through a massive “out with the old” de-cluttering spree over New Year’s weekend.  Maybe that’s what I was doing instead of recapping 2012.

Organized Closet

I wanted to improve on my mental health.
Not sure if there is a real cut and dry on this one, but I think I did.  While I didn’t go to church more or use all those spa gift certificates that have piled up over the years, I took some necessary steps to distance myself from people who bring stress to my life and continue to work on not feeling so anxious all the time.



In terms of my health & wellness goals…

I wanted to drink more water.  I still have my one cup of coffee in the morning, but bringing my large water bottle to work definitely helped me drink more water this year.  I also have pretty much completely cut out soda.  I used to drink diet coke at least a couple of afternoons a week, but no more!

I wanted to consume less cheese.  Was that a sick joke?  Why would I ever tell myself I wanted to do that?

I wanted to take (and pass) the ACSM Personal Trainer Certification Exam by Spring 2012.   The second part of that goal was to train my first real personal training client.  Done and done!!

Personal Training Outfit

I wanted to successfully complete the Wellcoaches Coach Training Program.  I completed the class, but have yet to go through my exam process.  My time is running out, so that will be what’s up for the next couple of months!

I wanted to take ballet classes.  Fail.

I wanted to try at least one new type of group exercise class or group fitness program.  Dynamax!


And in terms of blogging goals…

I wanted to increase my blog readership.  I wanted to double all my stats, which I pretty much did!

  • My goal was to reach 47,000 total F&F page views, and I’m at 189,474 hits.  Boo ya.
  • I wanted to get up to 950 total followers, and I’m at 1,009.
  • I wanted to reach 186 email / WordPress followers, and I’m at 263.
    Note, you can see do this by subscribing to get my posts to your inbox.  Just click the “Sign Me Up” button on the right hand side of my page!
  • The goal was to hit 542 Facebook followers, which I came close to!  I’m at 511.
    Note you can do this by clicking here for my Facebook page, and clicking the Like button!
  • And finally, I wanted 170 Twitter followers and I did hit 239.
    You can do this too by clicking here for my Twitter account, and clicking the Follow button!

Monetizing the blog and self-hosting didn’t happen, but taking a space upgrade did.  I think that’s okay, considering the career changes that distracted me from achieving these.

While I didn’t do everything I set for myself (I am human after all), I think I accomplished a lot and am proud of myself.  I can’t wait to see what 2013 has in store!  Stay tuned for my 2012 goals and reflections part 2 – all the fun trips, adventures, and events to remember!

What was your biggest accomplishment in 2012?  Did you reach the goals you set for yourself?

It’s Friday!  I am trying to get myself to the gym (don’t forget today’s Ab Challenge!!) and then Tim and I are having a date night tonight.  Have a great weekend everyone… it’s a three day one for me!