Rise & Grind: This Free Outdoor Fitness Class Is The Lehigh Valley’s Best Kept Secret

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By Stephanie Eckelkamp

Do you smell that? It’s that weirdly intoxicating combination of dirt, new plants, and rain hitting warm pavement. And it can only mean one thing: Spring is coming!

For me, that’s the smell that puts an extra pep in my step after a long winter and what motivates me to get my butt outside -- and far, far away from the stuffy gym.

But, if you’re anything like me, motivating yourself to get up and go on an early morning bike ride or jog can still be difficult, even when the weather is glorious. There’s no one to hold me accountable, so I’m never quite as consistent as I want to be.

That’s why Lehigh Valley Rise & Grind is so awesome. This free outdoor fitness group meets every Wednesday morning (rain, snow, or shine) in Allentown’s scenic Trexler Memorial Park -- and its members seem like they'd be the best accountability partners, cheerleaders, and workout buddies you've ever had.

I chatted with LV Rise & Grind founder Alexa M. Huzela to find out what makes this group so special -- and why you should be a part of it.

SE: What exactly is Lehigh Valley Rise and Grind, and what are the workouts like?  

AH: LV Rise & Grind is a free fitness movement that I started in October 2016. We meet at 5:45 a.m. every Wednesday in the main parking lot of Trexler Park. We started with just seven people and soared from there.

It’s a place where anyone can come to workout for free, have fun, and leave to start their day feeling better about themselves despite what’s going on in their lives.

Our workouts incorporate running and cardio using just your body weight – no props required! Every week the workout is a little different, but many of our workouts include intervals of different moves like these:

Burpees
Planks
Squats
Sit-ups
Jumping jacks
Jogs and sprints
Mountain climbers
Push-ups

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SE: Do you guys really meet year-round?

AH: We are #WeatherProof! And on the rare occasion that we do need to cancel, it’s announced in advance in the Lehigh Valley Rise & Grind Facebook group.

SE: Do you have a background in fitness?

AH: I've played sports my whole life and I recently got my personal training certificate for extra knowledge and the safety component. 

SE: I have a bad knee. Do you make accommodations for people who have minor injuries or aren't super fit?

AH: We’re open to all age groups and fitness levels. For each workout movement or skill set, a modification is offered. I try to ask before we start if anyone has any injuries or needs modifications so that I can keep an eye on them during the workout. There's also a big focus on stretching to prevent injuries.

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SE: What's the vibe? Competitive, supportive, a little of both?

AH: The vibe is definitely supportive! When we do partner workouts, everyone is always encouraging each other; and when we do individual workouts, I make sure to tell everyone that no one cares how fast you are or how quickly you do a burpee – you should only be competing against yourself.

One time we were doing partner sprints and I overheard someone say, “I’m sorry I’m so slow.” I caught it and said, “No one cares how slow you are, you’re out here pushing yourself and doing this for YOU.”

We do throw in a little competition when we do burpees to the Bring Sally Up, Bring Sally Down song. The goal is to stick together as a tribe to complete the challenge. We also do plank challenges.

SE: It can be tough to get any new project off the ground. How did you make your dream a reality?

AH: My inspiration to start LV Rise & Grind came from a similar free fitness group called November Project, which takes place in various cities across the country. They came to Bethlehem two years ago for the Runner’s World Half Marathon & Festival and I attended their 6 a.m. outdoor class.

Afterwards, I thought, I CAN DO THIS! I can start a movement in the Lehigh Valley that is totally free, inclusive, fun, and makes a difference. And now, here we are celebrating almost a year and a half of Lehigh Valley Rise & Grind.

I keep myself motivated from the feedback I get. When people come up to me and say that this one-hour weekly sweat session has changed their lives and their outlook on fitness, or simply helped them form new friendships, it makes me feel amazing. That’s exactly what my goal was, and I can't wait to make an impact on even more lives.

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SE: How has starting LV Rise & Grind changed you personally?

AH: It has shown me that I can actually make a difference in other peoples lives. I never thought in a million years that I could create my own workout, stand in front of 35 people, coach them, and be a fun mentor.

It’s also made me so appreciative of our community and the continuous kick-ass turnout that we get each Wednesday. Sometimes I drive there and wonder if anyone will even be there. But sure enough, all of the car headlights turn off, the doors open, and people are ready to sweat and have fun!

Our motto is #JustShowUp!

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For more information on Lehigh Valley Rise & Grind, request to join their Facebook group. Or you could #JustShowUp and see what happens :) 

 

This Kick-Ass October Race is Still Open for Registration

By Heather Mayer Irvine

The Lehigh Valley is home to hundreds of miles trails (including the 165-mile long Delaware and Lehigh Canal Trail) and dozens of parks, with no shortage of local races, ranging from mile fun runs to full marathons. 

Runner's World magazine (based in Emmaus) will host its sixth annual Runner's World Half Marathon Festival in Bethlehem on October 20-22. It's currently open for registration and early-bird prices are good until August 30. Not ready to run 13.1 miles just yet? Runner's World has you covered with other running events that weekend, including kids races, a 3.8 trail run, 1-mile dog run, and a 5K and 10K. 

The weekend is full of non-running events as well, including seminars with the editors and experts, and a pasta dinner. Check out all the details here

 
 

6 Summer Events That Combine Fitness, Booze, And Awesome Food In The Lehigh Valley

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by Stephanie Eckelkamp

Sure, we all love how we feel after a great workout, but sometimes getting our butts out of bed and into gym clothes requires a little extra motivation. And if that motivation includes a strong cocktail or some killer farm fresh food, then you bet your ass we’ll be squeezing into our most flattering yoga pants faster than you can say mimosa. 

Lucky for all of us, local Lehigh Valley businesses have fully embraced trend of combining fitness classes (think: yoga, barre, crossfit) and a stiff drink, beer, or tasty nibbles. Squats and sangria, anyone? Burpees and beer? Pigeon and pinot grigio? I could go on...

Here, we’ve rounded up some awesome ways to detox and retox that are happening soon.

 

1) Sunday Morning Sweat: CrossFit at Weyerbacher
When: Sundays, June 25th, July 23rd, and August 20th, 10am
Where: Weyerbacher Brewery
Price: $10

Join South Mountain CrossFit instructors for a fun and interactive intro to CrossFit followed by a nice, cold 12 oz glass of the best recovery drink we can think of: beer! Haven’t mastered the art of the deadlift or the burpee? That’s fine. This event is perfectly suitable for CrossFit newbies. For more info and to purchase tickets, click here

2) Barre3 in the Vineyard
When: Sundays, July 2nd and August 6th, 9am
Where: Vynecrest Vineyards & Winery
Price: Free

Grab your yoga mat and a friend and join Barre3 instructors for a complementary sweat session followed by delicious mimosas and food by BlendLife Food Truck. No need to register; just show up! Want more details? Click here for the July event and here for the August event.

3) Yoga Happy Hour at Triple Sun Spirits
When: Wednesday, July 12th, 6pm
Where: Triple Sun Spirits
Price: $20

Work got you feeling blah? Grab a fellow disgruntled coworker and bust through the mid-week blues with an invigorating yoga flow followed by a hand made Triple Sun Spirits cocktail. To purchase tickets, click here

4) Farm Food Flow
When: Saturdays, July 15th and August 19th, 5-8pm
Where: Kreeky Tree Farm
Price: $75

Join yoga instructors Melanie Smith and Britt Tag for an outdoor vinyasa yoga class at Kreeky Tree Farm followed by a cooking demo and tasting with ingredients grown/raised on site by owners Allan Schanbacher and Chris Gangi. Bonus: You get to hang out with loads of cute farm animals while you’re there, including goats, donkeys, horses, chickens, and ducks. To enroll, email kreekytreefarm@gmail.com or call 610-442-2719. Click here for more details. 

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5) Yoga + Brunch with Greenmouth Table and Easton Yoga
When: Sunday, July 16th, 8am
Where: Easton Public Market
Price: $18

Join Alicia Rambo Wozniak of Easton Yoga and Sarah Hinsch of Greenmouth Table at the Easton Public Market for a healthy and delicious start to your Sunday. Alicia will guide a one-hour gentle morning flow to wake your body up and Sarah will prepare a nutritious breakfast to enjoy at the end of class. To register, click here

6) Pints and Poses: Yoga at Weyerbacher Brewery
When: Sunday, July 16th, August 6th, 10am
Where: Weyerbacher Brewery
Price: $20

Grab a mat and join guest instructor Stephanie Riggs in front of the brewhouse for a fun, adventurous sequence linking basic and advanced yoga poses, followed by a beer cocktail and some tasty snacks. To purchase tickets, click here

Got an event we should add? Holler at us below and we'll be sure to include it!

Local Gym Spotlight: Steel Fitness Premier

By Siobhan DeRemer

I have a confession: Gyms aren’t always my jam. I only started embracing the idea of strength training semi-recently (within the last few years) and though I feel like I read something every day about how good it is, especially for women over 30, it’s not my go-to for a workout.

You see us post all the time on our Instagram about barre and yoga classes, but today, I’m here to throw you a curveball. The Lehigh Valley has some great gyms that are locally owned and when Steel Fitness contacted LWLV to check out their facilities (they've got Steel Fitness Premier in Allentown and Steel Fitness Riverport in Bethlehem), I figured I should bite the bullet and suppress my disdain for grunting bros doing deadlifts (a fitness move I've now come to really love!) in front of a mirror. At least for a few weeks. 

I’ve been trying to get in my 30 minutes of daily movement since the beginning of the year, and though I’ve slacked a bit on this promise, I figured a gym membership might keep me motivated and perhaps even more energized. I was a semi-devoted member of Planet Fitness back in the day so I thought I knew what to expect (the bros), but I was given a lesson in full-service gym membership almost immediately.


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The Facilities
There are great facilities if you’re a solo fitness enthusiast (weight room, cardio equipment, pool, indoor running track) and some kick-ass group classes and personal training opportunities if you need a little extra push to get on that TRX or pick up a kettlebell. I never had to wait for an elliptical or even a set of weights I needed. The locker rooms were enormous and provided locking storage, hair dryers, and decent shower facilities. Though it wasn’t something I utilized, the childcare facility seemed like it would allow you to focus on your workout while your little one is given a chance to move, too. The steam rooms and sauna don’t hurt either!

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The Classes
What’s great about Steel Fitness Premier is that you have tons of options to choose from. I took a few of the barre classes, and while I’m still a barre3 girl at heart it was great to jump into a slightly less intense barre class with people of all ages and then follow that up with a quick run on the treadmill afterward for some extra cardio. I know the yoga and Pulse X classes are super popular there, too, and would be on my list when I return. (Check out their class schedule here.)
 

Personal Training
So let’s get to my absolute favorite part of my time at Steel Fitness. Sarah Campbell, my personal trainer for all of 3 sessions, was the best. Not only did she whip me into shape with some killer workout suggestions and take me through them with just the amount of drive and motivation I needed, I wanted her to be my BFF.

 This is Sarah. She will kick your ass—in the best way possible.

This is Sarah. She will kick your ass—in the best way possible.

In the midst of my squats, kettlebell swings, and my ungodly quest for the ability to do more than 3 push-ups in a row (someday!!), we would chat about local LV weekend activities and how to integrate my workouts into an outdoor setting come summer and how to do things at home. I am no stranger to gyms even though they’re not my favorite, but Sarah really allowed me to feel confident about striding up to the TRX straps and getting a workout in. Of course, it helps that she’s a super confident redheaded female somewhat like me.

I’ve been focusing on my yoga practice, barre classes, and getting outdoors more lately, but hands down, I’d return to Steel Fitness in a heartbeat to have Sarah push a kettlebell back at me.

Bottom Line

If you’re looking for a great local gym with a competent staff, fun class opportunities, and some sweet (but kick-ass) personal trainers, and minimal bro sightings, then give Steel Fitness a visit.
They have locations in both Allentown and Bethlehem.

Not in the position to splurge on a membership? We recommend dropping in for the day. A day pass is just $17 and grants you all-day access to their classes, the pool, gym equipment, the track, and more.

Check with Steel Fitness for full membership options. They’re a great local option to help you find your gym confidence (or get it back like I did) and keep you accountable in the process. Lehigh Valley Gym Nerds unite!

Got a favorite Lehigh Valley gym? Tell us why it's worth checking out in the comments below!

Moving Well in 2017

By Siobhan DeRemer

This is the first in a series of our individual promises and journeys for Living Well in 2017 from all of us at Live Well Lehigh Valley. Stay tuned for updates to this and other journeys from Steph and Nina as we continue to commit to Living Well in 2017 (follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for pictures, too!) and be sure to let us know what steps you’re taking to move into the new year with intention and purpose. Perhaps you want to shop locally more, join a CSA or a yoga studio, or even just keep on being your amazing self—we can help you do all of those things (and we’ll cheer you on, too)!

Shout-out to all my desk-job workers out there! Full disclosure: I am actually standing at work while I write this. If you have a desk job and even have the remote ability to request or use a standing desk, I highly recommend it. It really keeps you accountable and even though I still do a fair amount of sitting throughout the day, I love having the option to get up and stretch without missing an email (though let’s be fair, a break from email isn’t a bad thing!).

Even with my standing desk, at the end of 2016 I was feeling like a lazy bum. The holidays just have that way of reminding you that there are 500 things to do and your motivation just struggles to keep up (you know, and that cookies are basically the best therapy when you put off wrapping presents for the 1,000th time). My days are usually filled with 8-9 hours (or more) of work and time with my cat, husband, friends, and our vast collection of board games. I am perhaps what you’d call a fairweather exerciser. I have dabbled in strength-training programs, yoga, Pilates, taken a barre class or two (see my adventures with that here)—but none of them on a regular basis. I’d hit up a yoga class every 3 weeks or go to the gym at work once every month...and then when winter hit, I just stopped altogether. I knew I needed a change and so, as many people do, I decided to make a promise to myself for 2017: I’d integrate at least 30 minutes of movement into my day. Every day. Not for weight loss, not even really for the perfect beach body come summer (though if it works out, awesome), but because I just know my body is aching to move and DO something. And the extra energy that comes with moving regularly could be a bonus, too.

So we’re only 11 days into 2017 and I’ve basically turned this into a yoga challenge since that’s the easiest movement I can manage at home when it’s freezing outside. This might change come spring and I’m desperate for fresh air, which is why I made this about movement and not any one exercise—it’s all about freedom and giving myself the options so I won’t make excuses. Right now, I make time at the end of the day (or the morning if I’m brave) to get to my mat and move for about 25-30 minutes. I’m not new to yoga, but so far I’ve noticed muscles I haven’t used in a while waking up and my love for yoga reinvigorated (not to mention my digestion is totally on track. TMI?). The practice can be anything you make it: soothing, energizing, meditative. I’m certainly not a yoga master, but I love that I can feel any type of way and bring that to my practice. I’m also waking up in the morning with more drive and feel a bit less in need of caffeine in the afternoon (except that’s not going anywhere; I’m trying move, not lose my sanity). Maybe I falter a little on my Standing Split (or fall down completely, it happens!) or I roll my eyes at that 10th Chaturanga or I completely cry out with joy when we get to Pigeon—no matter what, I’m there. Moving into 2017. Maybe moving with grace will come in 2018…

Event Spotlight: All-Day Yoga & Spin-A-Thon!

By Stephanie Eckelkamp

 Jess Yusko and Sue Amato, co-founders of Yukato Yoga and hosts of the Lehigh Valley's first ever yoga + spin-a-thon on January 14, 2017.

Jess Yusko and Sue Amato, co-founders of Yukato Yoga and hosts of the Lehigh Valley's first ever yoga + spin-a-thon on January 14, 2017.

What could be better than a day full of yoga and spinning classes with intermittent breaks to sip on local cold-pressed juice, kombucha, and craft beer? Not much. Especially when the money raised from those classes goes toward cancer research AND gets you entered to win some seriously kick-ass prizes.

Enticed? Then mark your calendars for the Yoga + Spin-A-Thon Against Cancer presented by Yukato Yoga / Sole Artisan Ales Cycling Club on January 14th at Yukato Yoga in Bethlehem. (Sign up for classes here to reserve your spot!)

Spearheaded by Yukato Yoga co-founders, Sue Amato and Jess Yusko, the event will feature 12 hours of yoga and spin classes (8 AM to 8 PM), each of which are about an hour long.

"You can come and go as you please, and take as many classes as you'd like," says Amato. "We'll also have a local vendors serving up snacks and drinks, including Stark Juices, Lehigh Valley Kombucha, Funk Brewing, and Subway Madison Farms. And local doctors Matt Conroy and Mackenzie Hubert will be on site offering chiropractic bodywork."

(Full disclosure: Between yoga classes, you'll probably find us double-fisting Funk Citrus and LV Kombucha while perusing Yukato Yoga's selection of handmade jewelry. Come say hi!)

The event, which suggests a $10 donation per class (a pretty sweet deal), is raising money for three members of the Yukato Yoga/ Sole Artisan Ales Cycling Club to participate in the Pennsylvania Perimeter Ride Against Cancer (PPRAC) this July. This intense, 6-day cycling event begins in the White Mountains of New Hampshire and ends in Palmerton, PA. Each rider must raise $2,000, all of which is donated to the Lehigh Valley Chapter of the American Cancer Society and Dream Come True, an organization that helps fulfill the dreams of kids in the Lehigh Valley with serious health issues.

Amato came up with the idea for the yoga + spin-a-thon as a way to support her husband, Nat, and friend, Erin Mascelli, both of whom are riding PPRAC in honor of family members who were taken by cancer far too soon. "We have a studio, and we know so many local businesses and people in the cycling industry, so it just made sense," she says. 

One of the event's many selling points is that classes will not only be taught by Yukato Yoga teachers, but also by teachers from other Lehigh Valley studios such as The Yoga Loft. "It was so nice to see how many people in the community wanted to donate their time and skills for a good cause," says Mascelli, who's helping coordinate the event.  

In addition to going toward a seriously worthy cause, each of you $10-per-class donations gets you two raffle tickets for over $3,000 worth of wellness-oriented prizes donated by local businesses (full list of prizes and sponsors below). Personally, our fingers are crossed for the SUP yoga class. You can also donate $100 for an all-access class pass and 30 raffle tickets. 

For more information on the event and details on specific classes, click here.

We hope to see you there! 

RAFFLE PRIZES

  • Giant Bicycles (Escape disc bike $650)
  • ASSOS Cycling Apparel (USA Cycling jersey, bib shorts, cap, socks $480)
  • Jade Yoga (Travel yoga mat + cork blocks $88)
  • OOFOS (5 drawings of Recovery sandals $55 each)
  • Saucon Valley Bikes (Gift card $100)
  • Lille Syster (Custom Bouquet $100)
  • Fringe Sytlz Salon (Gift Card and cosmetics $95)
  • Bicycling Magazine (Prize Pack - Magazine subscription, cycling jerseys, calendar $200)
  • Swiftwick Socks (Prize Pack - 14 pairs of cycling and running socks $150)
  • Thule (Prize Pack - Subterra  25L backpack + swag $150)
  • Shimano (2 drawings of pedals - $75 each)
  • Selene Yeager (Prize Pack - authored and co-authored books $75)
  • Miss Melanie Yoga (SUP yoga class $45)
  • Dave Pryor (Monkey Knife Fight Entry x 2 $40)
  • Greenmouth Cafe (Gift Card)
  • Kids Co-op (Birthday Party $325)
  • Bodacious Hair and Body (Gift Card and product)
  • Two Rivers Brewing & Cosmic Cup (gift cards)
  • Lululemon (2 drawings of a yoga mat + top)
  • Conroy Chiropractic & Wellness (New Patient Package (1st visit + 2 follow-ups), foam roller and Rocktape, $200)
  • Linda White Health Coach (One coaching session & DoTerra essential oil)
  • Young’s Pharmacy (Gift Card)
  • Genesis Bicycles (Gift Card $100)
  • Cannondale/Sugoi (Men and women’s running & cycling apparel)
  • Unity Bank ($50 Visa Gift Card + Organic Cotton Pullover Hoodie)

EVENT SPONSORS

10 Healthy (Last-Minute!) Holiday Gifts To Buy In The Lehigh Valley

By Nina Elias & Stephanie Eckelkamp

Attention! There's less than a week until Christmas and the start of Chanukah. Which means you need to get your butt in gear with the gift shopping. Luckily, we've got a short and sweet curated list of our favorite gifts for foodies, yogis, health nuts, and enlightenment seekers. The best part? All are from local retailers. So you can feel good about supporting the little guy and spend zero time waiting for packages to arrive. Now go do some shopping!

Sato Salon Organics Rose Facial Scrub & Lemon Sage Body Scrub ($14)
During winter, my skin is inevitably rough, dry, and flaky. My new go-to solution: Sato Salon Organic's sugar scrubs. They combine sugar to slough off dead skin, coconut oil to rehydrate and nourish, and specific ingredients with anti-aging and antioxidant properties such as rose petals, lemon zest, and sage. -SE

Reflexology and Float Package from Metta Relaxation Co. ($100--holiday special!)
Give your Groupon addiction a rest and give that health nut in your life a new kind of relaxation: a reflexology session and float from Metta Relaxation Co. in Bethlehem. Floating, according to Metta's website, "is pure relaxation in nine hundred pounds of pharmaceutical-grade Epsom salt dissolved in ten inches of water warmed to skin temperature." Without gravity, the outside world, or your body's processes keeping you down, you can relax and meditate on a whole new level. I love that you can pair it with reflexology for a truly detoxifying day. -NE

House of Metalworks Lotus Flower Friendship Bracelet ($20)
I'm totally in love with House of Metalworks, a new handmade jewelry shop in Emmaus, located right under Armetta's Pizza. This piece in particular caught my eye. Probably because it has such cool meaning behind it: "The Lotus Flower grows in muddy water, and it is this environment that gives forth the flower's first and most literal meaning: rising and blooming above the murk to achieve enlightenment." -SE

Easton Public Market Gift Card
If you have a lot of foodie friends, you can't go wrong with a gift card to Easton Public Market. It's accepted at each of their vendors (Mister Lee's Noodles, Tolino Vineyards, and Chocodiem just to name a few) and can even be used for the cooking classes that take place at their on-site kitchen. -SE

Social Still Spiced Rum 
Okay, okay, we get it. Spiced rum isn't exactly a "healthy" holiday gift. But when combined with some hot apple cider, this stuff is seriously life changing. Bring one to your next holiday party and you're sure to make a few new friends. Pick up a bottle at Social Still or at your local Fine Wine & Good Spirits store in the PA section. -SE

Monocacy Coffee Co. "Jolly" Holiday Coffee Blend ($13)
The perfect gift for coffee lovers? Coffee, of course. But be sure to make it this festive roast with notes of fruit, sweetness, and molasses from local Bethlehem roaster Monocacy Coffee Co. Bags are available for purchase online, and are often sold at Greenmouth Juice Bar & Cafe, but shoot them an email (info@monocacycoffee.com) for the location nearest you that carries them. -SE

Soy Candle from Loose Threads Boutique ($12.99)
I used to think candles were the lamest gifts in the WORLD. Now, they are near the top of my wish list. I don't mean your every day, run-of-the-mill candle—I'm talking about healthy, naturally scented candles that fill your home with an authentic aroma that won't exacerbate asthma or disrupt your body's natural processes like artificial fragrances do. They're hard to find and they're often expensive. These handmade, 100% soy candles fit the bill. Beyond using natural fragrances, these soy candles burn cleaner than paraffin, making them a safer snag for you and your family (including pets!). -NE

Holiday Breakfast Sampler from the Granola Factory ($35)
I spent many years as a sluggish, foggy no-breakfast gal—now, I can't live without the magical, superhuman powers a high energy, whole food breakfast gives me. And how lucky are we to have an artisanal granola bakery right here in the LV?! This gift is perfect for the person in your life that insists on breaking their fast with bagels and donuts...or nothing at all! Plus, the gorgeous aroma of this ethically-sourced coffee is strong enough to wake up even the deepest of sleepers. -NE

Yukato Yoga 6-Pack of Classes + Yoga Mat Bag (or 30-Min Massage) ($100--holiday special!)
This yoga studio in Bethlehem Township (which just celebrated its 1st anniversary) is offering two delightful holiday packages: 6 yoga classes + the choice of a gorgeous yoga mat bag designed by LV local Emily Moore, or a 30-minute massage. While you're waiting for your class to start, lounge on one of the comfy couches, browse their selection of hand-crafted yogi jewelry, or sip on some locally brewed kombucha. -SE

Lehigh Valley Kombucha ($75 for 12 wine bottles--holiday special!)
I'm a little kombucha obsessed. So I was pumped to discover that Gary of Lehigh Valley Kombucha is offering a kick-ass reduced holiday rate when you buy 12 bottles (normally $120!). So grab a couple for yourself and some of your closest friends, and give the gift of health and awesome taste this year. The best part: Their seasonal flavor is cranberry! -SE

 

 

How Barre Kicked My Booty (And I Loved It)

By Siobhan DeRemer

First off let me say (if you couldn't tell by my other stories here at LWLV), you are much more likely to find me at a bar than at barre class. Don't get me wrong, I do love a good exercise challenge and I've been known to dabble in various studio classes when I'm able, but my idea of an exciting time usually involves something shaken and served to me, not my whole body shaking from exhaustion. But when a barre3 class was organized at my day job, I jumped at the chance to participate. And from that point on, my life (and my quads) would never be the same.

A mix of yoga, Pilates, and energetic (and constant) motion, barre3 gets your heart moving and WAKES your legs the hell UP with the smallest of movements. I'm not a stranger to ballet conditioning classes (though it's been a while) and I'd like to think I'm a pretty flexible person, but my God this was a wake-up call. I realized I was working muscles I didn't even know existed and decided to show themselves through what barre3 instructors lovingly name "earthquakes." When I wasn't concerned about my leg seizures, I was dreadfully sad that I had forgotten water since I was thinking this class would just be a leisurely start to my afternoon. I was mistaken, but in the best way possible.

I did have to stop part way through many of the holds and movements to confirm I didn't have tachycardia, but it made me want it even more! And having the upbeat instructor's words in my ear were way more motivating than frustrating as time went on. I'd love to think we were at an advanced level, though something tells me that I was struggling with the beginners' class, but let me have my day, OK?! Either way, I am hungry for more, and once my legs stop me from using the stairs like a normal human, I'm totally down for a class at one of the studios in the Valley. Come join me (or, if you're a seasoned professional, maybe let me know when you're going so you don't need to be seen with me until I have a few classes under my belt...) and we can quake together and live up to the challenge!

barre3 Allentown

3900 Hamilton Blvd (across from Dorney Park)
Drop in/single class: $22 / New clients get 1 month unlimited for $99 or 3 classes for $40

Pure Barre Bethlehem

4773 Freemansburg Avenue (in the Shop Rite shopping center)
Drop in/single class: $23 / New clients get 1 month unlimited for $99

Yoga Studio Spotlight: West End Yoga

By Siobhan DeRemer

 Image courtesy of West End Yoga

Image courtesy of West End Yoga

Location: 2313 W Highland St, Allentown / Schedule

Class Prices: First class is free! $10 drop-in, no pre-registration required (our fave for the casual yogi is $95 for 10 classes with no expiration or 1-month unlimited)

Class Recommendation: WE Flow Lvl 2-3 with Leah, Sunday at 10am (expect to work!) For those who’d like a little bit of an easier time, check out WE Flow Lvl 1-2 with Laura, Sunday at 11:30am.

This small two-room studio in West Allentown appeals to all levels of yoga, from kids/prenatal to Level 2-3 (including warm and hot yoga as well as teacher training). There’s also a great Yoga for Athletes class that focusing on stretching, strengthening, and body conditioning. They also have a number of totally free breathing, meditation, and yoga nidra classes available throughout the week. The schedule does have a fair amount for those working a typical 9am-5pm day and a variety of weekend classes for the yoga weekend warriors among us. We’ve never met an instructor we didn’t like at the studio (quirks and all!) and it’s been really fun trying out different levels based on what our yoga needs are (sometimes you just can’t hold a plank position at the end of a busy day, am I right?), especially with the low cost for classes. The website is also really helpful, guiding you through West End’s explanation of yoga levels, class descriptions, instructor profiles, and yoga inspiration. Go get your flow on at a class today and let them know you heard about them through Live Well Lehigh Valley!

 Image courtesy of West End Yoga

Image courtesy of West End Yoga

Step Into What the Valley Has to Offer

By Siobhan DeRemer

Now that it’s sweater weather, what better time is there for a nice stroll through some greenery (orange-ry)? Good for your heart and the best way to view the seasonal change, there are some top notch walking and running trails in the Valley to keep you moving (and motivate you to get out there). If you’re itching to make your 10,000 steps for the day, training for that 10K, or just looking for a way to get out of the house, let these trails be your guide.

Running/Walking 

For those in Emmaus or closer to the Macungie area, it can be hard to run on streets without safe sidewalks and in the midst of busy roads. However, you’re in for some great hills and terrific scenery if you know where to go. South Mountain is great, even for experienced trail runners and newbies looking for a challenge (and has great biking and hiking trails, too). The loop is a well-marked about 8.5 mile moderate terrain wooded setting, with additional loops to choose from for an easier or more difficult run.

Are you in the Christmas City or downtown A-town and need inspiration for parks near you but unsure of their locations? Check out Bethlehem Parks / Allentown Parks Finder for a map view of parks. Bethlehem’s Monocacy Park has wonderful walking and mild hiking opportunities, not to mention the chance to fish or simply sit and enjoy nature, while sitting only 10 minutes from downtown Main Street. In Allentown, the Lil’-Le-Hi Trout Nursery on Fish Hatchery Road provides some quiet-ish pavement running on sidewalks and trails with wooded views and river scenery––and you can stop and feed the fish if you’d like! Lehigh Parkway’s 6-mile loop is great for social runners (there are always people on this one, but check the event calendar; you never know what’s going on in the area!) and has a few hills to add a bit of a terrain change. Some of this area is paved as well, so you can utilize both trail and pavement running options.

The D&L Rail Trail (which is about 165 miles total) section running from Allentown to Easton is a great path for runners looking for a long-distance trek or shorter, well-kept trails. Broken into sections (that all average about 3.5 miles each), the flat concrete path is shaded and turns to gravel/dirt when closer to Palmer. Easy for an out-and-back trip, less crowded, and perfect if you’d like to avoid the hills of other trails in the Valley. Another section of this trail, running from the Northampton area to Lehighton, is a quiet, flat offshoot made primarily of cinders, with other paved options in the Walnutport area and a series of rocky trails closer to Lehighton. Also in Northampton is the 5.1 mile (10 mile out-and-back) Nor-Bath Trail perfect for solo (or tandem) runs as it’s not heavily traversed.

In the Coplay/Whitehall area, the Ironton Rail Trail provides a 5.3 mile loop that is mostly paved, well-traveled, and easy to traverse. This would be a great spot to join a friend for a run or easy walk. Great for a small run (and perhaps for intervals, sprints, or run/walk training) in North Whitehall is Kolapechka Park trail, wrapped around a kids’ park, clocked in just under a mile. This one could be perfect if you’re transitioning from city/pavement running to trail and you’d like to test your strength on a cinder trail. In Schnecksville, the Trexler Nature Preserve (this one has awesome hiking options too - see below for more on that!) has great running trails, suitable for all levels and ages. Mostly packed dirt trails, there is an outer 8.5-mile path and a mixture of shorter paved/dirt trails to choose from. Since it surrounds the Lehigh Valley Zoo, it’s a great spot for meetups, team/family runs, or just a friendly, scenic stroll.

Also within the northern reaches of the Valley in Bangor is Columcille Megalith Park, which is perfect for outdoor meditation, simple walking, perhaps a bit of trail running, and just enjoying nature (Side note: Their illustrated park map is enough to awaken the fantasy nerd in all of us). Self-titled as an “outdoor sanctuary,” this park’s collection of large stone structures provides spiritual and inspiring scenery. 

Are you a social runner or just looking to meet others who share in your love of hitting the pavement or might give you the boost you need to start running on a more regular basis? Maybe you love running on your own but would like an ear to the ground about local races. Check out these running clubs and running opportunities in the Lehigh Valley and lace up your sneakers and go! 
Lehigh Valley Road Runners
Group Run with Run Inns (Nazareth/Emmaus)
LV Running Scene
Run Lehigh Valley

Hiking

One of the best parts of living in (or visiting) the Lehigh Valley is the great mix of the outdoors and city life. You can head out for a morning hike or afternoon trek and then find a multitude of happy hour options when you return. Check out some of our picks for hiking trails/parks (for all levels) to try today and then get together with friends, family, or the friendly people in the meetup options around the Valley to fuel what will most likely become a need for nature once you see the local beauty that’s only minutes away.

Mentioned above for its stellar running trails, Trexler Nature Preserve (Schnecksville) has a ton of hiking options of varying degrees of difficulty as well. The extensive Trail map provides information about the just over a dozen trails that the Preserve offers. There are spaces for mountain biking, picnics, bird viewing, fishing and kayaking in the Jordan Creek, and camping as well. While the Trexler Border trail can be a tough one, the views make the trek more than worthwhile. 

Hawk Mountain, which is about a 30-minute drive immediately to the west of the Lehigh Valley area, has five trails that are mostly short but have some elevation changes. This site is a Sanctuary for local raptor and hawk populations and serves as a model for conservation of these birds of prey worldwide. There is a minor fee to hike here, but be rest assured that the small price is helping to improve conservation and protection efforts.

For the experienced hikers (or casual hikers looking for a challenge), the section of the Appalachian Trail from Bake Oven Knob to the Lehigh Gap, stretching about 9.5 miles, is one of the highest rated in the area––both for scenery and bragging rights. The trail’s great for a day trip or overnight and takes you over the Lehigh Tunnel. Just beware that this one isn’t for beginners and while it’s moderate at times, it’s exposed and you should be prepared for the elements. If you want all the views but a bit less of the length and the work, hike the teeny 0.4 mile trail from Bake Oven Road to the top of Bake Oven Knob.   

If you’re closer to Nazareth, then you can check out the 18.5 miles of trails in Jacobsburg State Park (also known as Jacobsburg Environmental Education Center). The attractive area in Henrys Woods (part of the Center) has wooded scenery, streams, Bushkill Creek, and community events and education opportunities for visitors of all ages. Just a note of caution: Part of the Center’s land is used for hunting, so if you’re planning to wander the area during hunting season, plan to grab yourself some blaze orange or super bright apparel to bring along.

For group meetings and chances to explore hiking trails you may not want to try on your own, check out the Allentown Hiking Club or the Greater Lehigh Valley Outdoor Adventures Meetup (and check out their site for even more meetup options in the area). TrailLink is also a great resource for more running/walking/hiking trail options in your area!

Do you have a favorite walking, running, or hiking trail in the Lehigh Valley that you’d like to share? Be sure to let us know in the comments!