Pilates with Ashlee

Although I have never met IRL Ashlee Carignan, she is the new hot pilates teacher in LA. Strong, cool, motivated, interesting, and fun, we were put in touch when Ashlee agreed to participate in Natori Caftan Day (thanks Mary!). Always interested in health, wellness, fitness, and cool, I had the chance to interview sweetheart Ashlee, so take a look. Thanks so much, Ashlee, and I can’t wait to come to Los Angeles and take a class from you!

 

Beauty Ashlee of PWA (Pilates With Ashlee)

Beauty Ashlee of PWA (Pilates With Ashlee)

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What led you to become a pilates teacher?

 

I grew up playing competitive soccer so I’ve always been active. After being in and out of gyms through my early 20s, I needed something different more stimulating, where I could lengthen and tone, not bulk. A close friend told me about Pilates (about 13 years ago, this December will be my 10th year training and will be considered a “Master Trainer”,) saw a local studio, signed up, and knew from my first class this is what I wanted to do!

 

Ashlee in her caftan for Natori Caftan Day.

Ashlee in her caftan for Natori Caftan Day.

 

Where are your classes held in LA?

 

I recently expanded my new boutique studio this past January 2017 located in the heart of Beverlywood, Los Angeles. In just 6 short months PWA’s success has been exceptional! Our studio offers a warm environment for clients to come and feel comfortable, confident, and achieve and maintain their workout goals.

 

Long and lean.

Long and lean.

How do you find that pilates benefits / enhances / helps the body?
Pilates has endless benefits, really! Out of any other workout practice, and of course I’m a bit bias, I feel Pilates really encompasses so many benefits to match any clients needs. It’s incredible for rehabbing injuries, helps correct posture and especially front forward posture ( when your head is pushed out further than your spine allows) which is extremely common these days from looking down at our phones, computers, iPads etc! Pilates helps and maintains balance issues and/or vertigo, great for RA and osteoporosis, and of course it’s great to keep your body looking and feeling strong as well as long and lean.

 

In Josie!

In Josie!

 

Do you practice pilates on your own time / is it your exercise of choice?

 

100% This is what I love to do in my spare time! I’ve been doing pilates 13 years, teaching for 10, and Pilates has consistently maintained my body’s shape the exact same way, it’s incredible. Of course there’s been peak times where I can workout more than others but when I’m not consistently practicing Pilates, my body feels it!

 

Feeling good and looking good!

Feeling good and looking good!

 

Do you teach mat pilates or reformer pilates? Which do you prefer and why?

 

Yes, I’m certified in both and I can’t say whether I prefer one over the other since they both have their benefits. Mat Pilates uses your body weight, activating different muscles, whereas the reformer is resistance training using 5-6 differently weighted springs. Currently I’m teaching at ALO Yoga’s flagship store in Beverly Hills as their first and only Pilates instructor which is an enormous honor! Every last Sunday of the month I host a “Mat Pilates Party,” which is more of a destination event for my clients to come get a great workout while having a blast. We don’t take it too seriously, it’s more of an event to showcase and support new collaborations happening at PWA while also creating a PWA community. It’s really quite beautiful to see 20-30 of your clients all coming together, I definitely look forward to my monthly classes 🙂

 

On the reformer.

On the reformer.

 

Why is it important to have a strong core (speaking from someone who has a weak core and doesn’t do pilates…)

 

Core strength is so important because it helps support the entire body and one of the 2 main things that gives you balance, CORE and FEET. A stronger, tighter core alleviates back pain because your whole body is balanced better, if your abdominal muscle aren’t being used then your body will compensate elsewhere usually the low back, glutes and neck/shoulder area. Also a common misconception is that the core is just made up of abs, it’s not, its everything associated with your midsection i.e. back and glutes. So within every Pilates exercise we’re trying to connect that movement to your “core.”

 

Ashlee, strong core, strong mind.

Ashlee, strong core, strong mind.

 

Do people sweat in your class?

 

Oh YES they do! I guess you could consider me a “cardio” Pilates trainer, meaning I have a strategy to my workouts/workout flows. I tend to use less weight and more reps to build up the exercise to the point of muscle fatigue! When you’re legs are uncontrollably shaking that’s because we’ve broken and beaten down the muscle in a healthy way so it’s only choice is to grow back stronger. Depending on my client male or female by nature our bodily makeup is different, so for woman I like to do a lot of leg work because the quadriceps is our largest muscle, by working that you increase your heart rate thus burning more calories. Men I do the opposite, lots of upper body to get them breaking a sweat 🙂

 

Sweaty, but looking good in Natori!

Sweaty, but looking good in Natori!

 

What type of music do you play in your class? What are your current top 5 favorite songs to work out to?

 

Most people wouldn’t assume this about me, but I LOVE hip hop and rap! I love all music, lately I’ve been rocking the classic 90’s hip hop songs we all know and love. Top 5’s at the current moment are:
1. Humble- Kendrick Lamar
2. PnB Rock- There She go
3. Dj Kahled- I’m The One
4. Kid Ink- Time Of You Life
5. Anything Future and Drake

 

What do you love most about living and working in LA?

 

LA is such a special place and definitely what I call home, I’ve been living here almost 11 years! There’s so many things to love about SoCal one of which of course is the weather. It never gets old waking up to sunshine and palm trees, everyone’s always in a good mood lol. LA is so close to multiple little getaways like Vegas, Palm Springs, Mexico, Big Bear mountain so whenever you wanna jet town you don’t have to go very far and you feel  like you’re in a completely different part of the world.

 

Working in LA as a Pilates instructor has definitely had its share of struggles because there’s just so much competition, there’s some sort of studio on every block! I apprenticed and was mentored doing privates so that’s where my heart is, but I had to join studios for extra money while growing my personal business and found myself not enjoying the 10+ group class training. I’m so happy I decided to finally take the leap of faith and trust myself when I opened PWA earlier this year. Of course I went back and forth and wanted a plan B, what if it failed?? All these questions kept circling my head but one thing always stayed the same, I knew in my heart and soul that there was no way for me to fail! The success of the studio is unbelievable and I really feel like we’ve hit our stride and are making PWA a known name in LA. I like to look a challenge straight in the eye and wink at it!

 

High five.

High five.

 

Thank you so much, Ashlee! To follow her on instagram, go here. To see her website and book an appointment and class, go here.

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Kid’s Jewelry Hanger- Woonwinkel

Last Fall when I visited Portland, Oregon for my sister’s wedding, I came across the hippest, cutest modern home decor store, Woonwinkel. Even though we were in the midst of our massive renovation, I wanted to buy everything in the store for the new house.  I couldn’t justify buying a lot of the items (where to store them for 8 months?) but I couldn’t pass up this necklace holder for my daughter’s room. I lugged it around for several months, and finally got around to hanging it up. And I couldn’t be any happier!

 

So fun and whimsical.

So fun and whimsical.

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10 Year Anniversary!

With a blink of an eye, Ken and I are celebrating our 10 year anniversary.  Together, we have gone through a lot (fertility treatments, family dynamics, crazy New York, major home renovation, and all of the other normal life stuff), and through these ups and downs, we are constantly working together trying to try to become better people and a stronger couple. Ken is my favorite companion, and I love him up to the sky, down again, around the world and back again. I anticipate that there will continue to be other obstacles and challenges in our life, but I am also confident that we will work together as a team to get through anything in our way. To celebrate, here are some photos to walk down memory lane (and notice how young, thin, and carefree we once were! And how little we knew back then!)

 

BTS: the first and only time I have ever had curlers in my hair. Here is Oliver Echaudemaison, the creative director of Guerlain (and also a good friend of my mother in law's) who came from Paris to do my make up. Let me tell you, my make up has never been so nice as that day.

BTS: the first and only time I have ever had curlers in my hair. Here is Olivier Echaudemaison, the creative director of Guerlain (and also a good friend of my mother in law’s) who came from Paris for the wedding and was kind enough to do my make-up.

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Pamela Gold’s New Book

There you go; you set a goal, you work towards it, and you make it happen. I guess I try to do that as much as possible, but there are always roadblocks or excuses….which is why I am so intrigued by my good friend, Pamela Gold, who sets her mind to something and actually makes it happen. No ifs, ands, or buts. Pamela is Wonder Woman, and GETS THINGS DONE!!!! This year, Pamela wrote her own book — YUP — her own book. I am lucky to have read it in its first draft and have bought several copies of it now that it’s out (highly recommend it — buy it here). Here is an interview with the one and only Pamela Gold, enjoy!

 

Pamela

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1509 Perfume

And yet again…another essential oil to add to my list of favorite scents! This scent, 1509 Baby Breath Bud, is subtle, clean, and comforting. Each bottle of 100% pure fragrance oil is hand packaged and created.  The healing oils (amber) are free of synthetic material and safe for your body. The smell is rich and soothing at the same time — a must for summertime.

 

Also comes in a travel size. Just as cute (with baby breath, too).

Also comes in a travel size. Just as cute (with baby breath, too).

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CFDA Awards, June 5th, 2017

On Monday, I had the privilege of attending the CFDA Fashion Awards. Although I am not a designer, celebrity, socialite, or someone that anyone cares about seeing, it was fun to get dressed up and attend. The CFDA Awards is basically the Oscars for the Fashion World. My mother in law, Josie Natori, has been a member for forever, but due to her travel schedule, Ken and I went instead. It was a fun evening with great people watching, flowing champagne, and an opportunity to get all dolled up.

 

My favorite celebrity sightings of the night were Heidi Klum (striking! Amazing) and Gigi Hadid (beautiful -- resembles my daughter!)

My favorite celebrity sightings of the night were Heidi Klum (striking! Amazing) and Gigi Hadid (beautiful — resembles my daughter!)

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Dear Evan Hansen

I have always categorized myself as “sensitive” and “emotional,” and for whatever reason, I am currently even more so this past week. During these phases, I am prone to feeling like an outsider… overlooked, unseen, and forgotten. At times, I have let those irrational feelings get me down. So yes, I am trying to look at the silver linings, and realize what is important (or not important), and to feel grateful for what I have and who I am. So it is no surprise that when I saw the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen” this week, it struck a chord… a number of them.

 

screen-shot-2017-05-31-at-12-45-07-pm

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Currently Loving May 2017

With a blink of an eye, school is almost finished, summer is here, and we are 1/3 done with 2017. So here is what I am currently loving for May 2017!

 

1. Brunch / Lunch at Russ and Daughters at the Jewish Museum

 

Salad! Yes please!

Salad! Yes please! Delicious. And maybe I like it because it looks like a colorful rainbow.

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Governors Island

I have found my new favorite place: Governors Island. What is it? I had no idea before 3 weeks ago when a friend mentioned to me that she went with her family. Since Ken has been traveling due to work, I decided to take the kids to Governors Island for Mother’s Day. It was such a huge hit that we went back this weekend.

 

Governors Island.

Governors Island.

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Broken Tart Cakes

In one of those cant-sleep-instagram-frenzy-rabbit-holes, I came across a bakery in Brooklyn with the most beautiful cakes; Broken Tart. I knew the minute I saw the cakes that (a) I needed to follow Broken Tart on instagram (b) I had to have a cake for Tusia’s 5th birthday party. The cakes are not only beautiful, magical, whimsical, and unique, but they are tasty and delicious. The perfect duo (pretty AND yummy).

 

The cake arrives in the perfect package.

The cake arrived in the perfect package. Who says not to judge a book by its cover?

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Interview with Maisonette

Maisonette, founded by Sylvana Ward Durrett and Luisana Mendoza Roccia, two (beautiful) alums from Vogue, is the new (online) hot destination to buy anything KID. Everything on their site is perfectly curated and tasteful… it makes you want Sylvana and Luisana to be your new BFFs. They are certainly smart, creative, fashionable, gorgeous tastemakers, and their website offers the best of the best of children’s brands — think Net-a-porter for kids. I had the opportunity to interview them, so take a look.

 

Sylvana

Sylvana and Luisana, and their kids.

 

How did you come up with the idea for an e-commerce kids site? What was the inspiration?

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Happy Birthday, Josie Natori!

Today is a special day… the 70th birthday of my fabulous and wonderful mother-in-law, Josie Natori! I used to think that 70 meant old age, but she makes 70 look chic, young, energetic, and fashionable — more than anyone else I know. My mother in law is incredibly talented, bright, smart, with-it, creative, accomplished, successful, caring, and wonderful. Here is a look at her throughout the decades — and happy birthday to such a lovely lady, I love you.

 

Here is the beautiful Josie Natori as a young girl. I love her bangs!

Here is the beautiful Josie Natori as a young girl. I love her bangs!

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Peanut Butter Pretzel Truffles

Thanks to Instagram, I saw a recipe for a peanut butter pretzel truffle from Minimalist Baker and knew I had to make it. The recipe is simple, easy, and a huge win.

 

How good does this look?

How good does this look?

 

Ingredients:

* 1/2 cup pitted medjool  dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes then drained

* 1/2 cup salted natural peanut butter

* 3/4 cup raw almonds

* 1/2 cup mini pretzels

* 1.25 cup chocolate chips

* 1 tsp coconut oil

 

Directions:

 

Before and after dipped. I DIP YOU DIP WE DIP

Before and after dipped. I DIP YOU DIP WE DIP

 

* Place almonds in the food processor and process until you reach the consistency of a meal.

 

* Then add in pretzels and  soaked dates in the food processor and process until small bits remain and/or it forms into a ball.

 

* Next, add the peanut butter and mix until well combined. You don”t have to do this in a food processor, and can really just mix it in with a spoon.

 

* Once you have a dough that’s easy to form into balls, scoop out 1 Tablespoon amounts and roll/carefully form into balls. Set on parchment paper and place in freezer to chill.

 

*  In a double boiler, melt the chocolate and add the coconut oil (which helps thin out the chocolate).

 

* Remove truffles from freezer and, one at a time, dip them into the melted chocolate. Transfer back onto parchment paper and place in to the freezer.

 

* Store them in the freezer until you eat them (or else they will melt — they will still be delicious, but they will melt).

 

They will not last long, mainly because you will eat them because they are so good.

They will not last long, mainly because you will want to eat them right away.

 

Happy weekend! Spring here we are, thank goodness!

Anika Yael Natori, aka, The Josie Girl

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Kid Clothing

I have a range of favorite kid clothing: from beautiful-fancy-pants-super-expensive Bonpoint, to cheap-and-trendy Zara. In addition to those retailers, here are some more obscure brands for kids clothes that I currently love and shop. (And sorry in advance for the photos….although I think my kids are super cute, they are not models, so no judgements).

 

Chaser

 

Hip, California cool style. What is not to love? Fun summer clothing for the kids.

 

This shirt is currently Cruzzie's favorite shirt. It is super soft and comfortable with a good message.

This shirt is currently Cruzzie’s favorite. It is super soft and comfortable with a good message.

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Ilary Perfume

The other day, I was walking down the street with a good friend and was entranced by her smell. It was divine, amazing, luscious, and beautiful, and I knew I needed to know more about the scent ASAP! Luckily, she put me in touch with the creator of the perfume who happens to be a good friend of hers. This incredible scent, ILARY, is created by Hillary. Hillary currently lives in Chicago with her husband and 2 young sons. and is busy building her perfume empire. I had the opportunity to interview her about her company. Take a look! And Thank you Hillary!

 

ILARY

 

How did you start your own perfume?

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Interview with Lucie Ayres- Interiors 22

I recently posted tips from our friend Lucie Ayres of 22 Interiors on how to make a great master bedroom. Read below for more insight into her interior decorating and her business.  Thanks Lucie!

 

When and how did you decide to become a designer?

 

I’ve wanted to be a designer ever since I was a little girl and rearranged the furniture in my room constantly.

 

Lucie at age 8.

Lucie at age 8.

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Zara Candle

As mentioned Friday, I have a newfound love for Zara Home. When in Paris a couple of weeks ago, I bought a simple candle that made me happy. Most candles these days seem to cost 40 dollars plus, so when I found this pretty (and beautiful smelling) candle for 17 euros, I knew I had to buy it.

 

Pink and green box.

Pink and green box. Tuberose smell — sweet and perfect. (Minorly crushed in my carry-on… apologies)

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Zara Home

I love Zara — both the adult and kids’ clothes are my go tos for shopping. And now, I am in love with Zara Home. Although there are no stores currently in the United States, Zara Home is all over Europe and online. Think home decor at Zara prices — a win win for everyone! They have a terrific selection of linens, bedding, tabletop, accessories, and more. Recently, on my quick trip to Paris, I went in and oohed and ahhed at the selection (and prices).

 

Zara Home.

Zara Home.

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