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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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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Renovation Post #5

OK, so this is the LAST renovation post because SOON, OH SO SOON, there will be a REVEAL POST which shows the apartment. So here are the latest photos of what is going on. Yes, still not liveable, still not a lot of lighting (and 3/4 of our belongings are still packed), so there is a lot to do. But here are the latest pics!

 

One wall in Cruzzie's room is this whole world map -- it is where eventually his bunkbed will go.

One wall in Cruzzie’s room is this whole world map — it is where eventually his bunkbed will go.

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Renovation Post #4

Drum roll……This is our last official night living with my inlaws.  Spring break starts tomorrow and when we return, we will be in OUR NEW APARTMENT! We have been living in temporary digs since June 2016, so the return home will be that much better and sweeter. Our home! Here are some pictures of the current state of our apartment…not everything is done, like wallpaper, and lights, etc…but that will take place in the next two weeks (or so we hope!).

 

This is our future dining room and living room. I love the new floors (they are the same floors just sanded down and stained light vs the original dark color).

This is our future dining room and living room. I love the new floors (they are the same floors just sanded down and stained light vs the original dark color).

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Sugarwish Candy Delivery

Last week I received a present that made me smile! A box of candy! But not just any candy, it was an email saying that I was given a box of goodies from Sugarwish, and that I needed to pick out what I wanted.

 

It comes in a slick little box.

First, you receive an email saying that you were gifted some sweets, then you select what you want. Everything I picked arrived in a slick little box.

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Bloomingdale’s Pop-Up, Party

To celebrate its 40th anniversary, Natori designed an amazing ready-to-wear collection exclusively at Bloomingdale’s and on Bloomingdales.com. The collection is on display in a pop-up in New York (third floor), Short Hills, Aventura, and Century City. Amazing island-inspired prints, fun handbags, and accessories, and all at a more accessible price point than the high-end Josie Natori collection. LOVE, LOVE LOVE!!!!  (And read through the post for info on the launch party this Thursday).

 

screen-shot-2017-03-11-at-7-03-48-am

In between the escalators at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street. Prime location!

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Val D’Isere

We just returned from a special 40th birthday party of a very dear friend in the French Alps. It was a weekend of snow, ski, rose, fondue, meat, relaxation, and lots of fun. An incredible experience that we will never forget.

 

Val D'Isere is located in the French Alps, a three hour drive from Geneva. We landed early morning in Geneva, took a bus to our chalet, got fitted for skis, and went straight to the mountain. No wasted time on this trip!

Val D’Isere is located in the French Alps, a three hour drive from Geneva. We landed early morning in Geneva, took a bus to our chalet, got fitted for skis, and went straight to the mountain. No wasted time!

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Currently Loving February 2017

Here we are in the final stretch of February…a little odd because we are just in the middle of February, but because of the short month, it is near the end (#MathTeacher). Here is what I am currently loving this month.

 

1. Katy Perry ‘Chained to the Rhythm’

 

I first heard this song at the Grammy’s where she performed live with Skip Marley, and it instantly got stuck in my head. Now, we play it on repeat and everyone in the family dances along.

 

Katy Perry.

Katy Perry. What is not to love about this song? Everything about it — the lyrics, the beat, the tune, everything just makes me so happy and makes me want to dance, dance, dance to the distortion.

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