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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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.

 

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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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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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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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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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Paris Food 2017

Although the US has great healthy options (salads, smoothies, greens, etc…), Paris ultimately has my favorite food, which we enjoyed last week at the Paris Marathon. We had great luck with the restaurants we chose and couldn’t have been happier (well, our stomachs are a little bigger, but C’EST LA VIE!).

 

Sunday Brunch: Our favorite, Cafe Charlot. Not many restaurants are open on Sundays (and Mondays), but this is a classic French bistro where all the cool kids go to brunch for seven hours. We ate and drank for hours on end. The food is delicious, the sun was shining, life was (is) good.

 

This burger was the best thing I have ever eaten. And this was AFTER my huge caesar salad with smoked salmon. The waiter looked at my crazy when I ordered two main courses, but hey, you only run a marathon every so often, so when in Rome......

This burger was the best thing I have ever eaten. And this was AFTER my huge caesar salad with smoked salmon. The waiter looked at me crazy when I ordered two main courses, but hey, you only run a marathon every so often.

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Paris Marathon 2017

I just returned from a quick trip to Paris where I completed by 4th Paris Marathon (7th marathon total). It was great fun — both the trip itself and the run, and now I am looking forward to not traveling, not doing long runs, and staying put….. at least for the next couple of months (I have already planned my next two marathons…). Here are pictures of the weekend! (And what day is it today?)

 

Crazy as it was, we landed at 2 pm on Saturday. Which meant, the only thing we could do that day was go to the Expo to pick up our bibs and get settled for the race next morning. YUP. The race at 8:20 am the next morning! Here is my feast that morning pre-race.

We landed at 2 pm on Saturday, 16 hours before race time. So the only thing we could do that day was go to the Expo to pick up our bibs and get settled for the race next morning. YUP. The race at 8:20 am the next morning! Here is our feast pre-race.

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Spring Break 2017 Sunriver

We are now full swing back to reality with school, tutoring, responsibilities, etc…so it seems hard to think that we were just in Oregon a couple of days ago — it seems like an eternity. I already miss my parents, the fresh air, the fir trees, the crisp delicious water, and everything Oregon. Here are some pictures of our week skiing in Sunriver, Oregon. Enjoy!

 

Ken is the downhill teacher. He did an amazing job each day spending half the day with one kid, and then the other half with the other kid. They made huge improvements!

Ken is the downhill teacher. He did an amazing job each day spending half the day with one kid, and then the other half with the other kid. They made huge improvements!

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22 INTERIORS – Guide to the Perfect Bedroom

We are so fortunate to have a lot of great friends, many of whom are incredibly talented in their field. One of these peeps is Lucie Ayres, a dear friend of Ken’s from his junior year study abroad program in Prague. Lucie is an interior designer for her company 22 Interiors based in Los Angeles. She has a beautiful eye, incredible taste, and great style. If you ever need a designer, I highly recommend her. And even if you want some inspiration, subscribe to her blog and follow her on instagram. In the meantime, here she is for a guide to the perfect bedroom!!!! Thank you, Lucie!  Take it away!

 

The perfect bedroom, styled by 22 Interiors. Photo

The perfect bedroom, styled by 22 Interiors.

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Rawmantic Chocolate

Happy Friday! Before I post an indulging (yet delicious) food item, I want everyone to read the article written by our good friend, Sasha Blair-Goldensohn. Eight years ago, Sasha was hit by a tree in Central Park, and is wheelchair bound. His op-ed in the NYTimes from Wednesday is an eye opener, so please do so. I also highly recommend watching the video that accompanies it. Thanks in advance for reading it.

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I am constantly on the search for a “healthy” dessert.  While I am well aware of the effects of sugar …..I still love nibbling on something sweet at the end of my meals. Call it an addiction, or a vice, but it is a habit that I can’t stop. So these raw chocolate energy bars are perfect. Raw chocolate, sweet, nutty, gooey, and great.

 

Romantic rawmantic.

Romantic rawmantic, yes, handcrafted with love.

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