Super Sonic Health Tonic: Tonica Kombucha

If you haven’t been reading our blog since the good ol’ days, you may not know we are Krazy for Kombucha.  Kombucha, a fermented tea, provides a boost of B vitamins, probiotics to help your tummy, and is rumored to have detoxing and immunity boosting powers.  We tend to go for kombucha when when we have have the digestive downers and are known as kombucha pushers on our friends with colds.

Now that has been cleared up, we have to tell you about a new Kombucha we are loving, Tonica Kombucha.  Tonica comes from our neighbor to the north, Oh Canada.  You may know Canada as the land of yummy things like poutine, ketchup fries, and Makintosh toffee.  Now you can also equate it to something healthy!

Tonica Kombucha was started by Zoey Shamai who, in our opinion, is sort of an Emma Stone doppelganger as well as (more notably) a traveling yoga teacher and home kombucha brewer.  Once she started sharing her home brew, her Canadian crew went crazy too so she expanded into a business.  Her Toronto based Kombrewery pumps out 8 different fuzzy flavors of Kombucha: Ginger Rapture, Green Tea Revival, Nude Brew, Peach Resolution, Mango Passion, Coffee, Vibrant Blueberry and Jasmine Tea.

We were given samples of Jasmine Tea, Coffee and Peach Resolution to try and review.

Coffee:

We were a quite curious to see how this kombucha would taste.  The coffee kombucha had a bubbly texture and light coffee flavor.  It also provided a decent boost of energy that could replace a moderated coffee drinker’s caffeine needs. It had a balance of sweet without being overpowering.

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Jasmine Tea: 

Most of us know that tea is a go to health drink as it has super anti-oxidants and Jasmine tea happens to be a star in the tea world.  The Tonica Jasmine tea has a fresh floral flavor along with the fizz and a sweet fragrant balance.  Jasmine tea also has caffeine (surprise) so you can sub it in for a detoxifying morning jolt!

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Peach Resolution:

If you have a resolution to lose weight or kick a sugary drink habit, try this inspired flavor. Peach resolution has only 30 calories, 4g of sugar and a mix of fermented organic green and black tea, rooibos, which are great for metabolism boosting and halting hunger. It surprises your palate with blackberry leaves, ginger pieces, calendula petals and organic peach extract as well.

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Tonica is only 45 calories for 1 bottle with natural carbonation.  It’s 100% raw and certified organic.  It’s also full of healthy bouncing baby bacteria, the kinds you need to keep a balanced body PH.  Tonica can be purchased in ‘Merica at Whole Foods.

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FINAL FIZZ THOUGHTS:

One kind tip for 1st time kombucha drinkers: Tonica, like most kombuchas, is a fizzy party.  Unless you want to shower in kombucha, DO NOT shake the bottle and for extra precaution, open over a sink so all your delicious kombucha doesn’t escape.  Ready to taste Tonica?  6 flavors are available at our Chicago area Whole Foods or you can check to Tonica locator here!

The Paleo Vegetarian Diet: A Book Review and GIVEAWAY!

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We bet you’re wondering by the title how Paleo and Vegetarian can even be in the same sentence together.  You’re probably also looking at a pack of bacon and wondering: “Is this vegetarian”?  No my friends, bacon isn’t veggie friendly … Continue reading

Be a Natural Beauty with Whole Foods Lincoln Park!

Now is the time to bare shoulders, freckled cheeks (face cheeks silly people) and calves as summer in Chicago has officially begun!  With all that exposed skin, you gotta look your best but wouldn’t it be fab if you could baby your skin with natural products?  Big box stores often have a smattering of natural skin and hair care but Whole Foods Lincoln Park has trumped them by expanding an entire section of the store for your holistic beauty regime.  Men, don’t feel left out!  They have a section for you and your bearded self too.

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Last Thursday, we were giddy to experience a sneak peek of the extension of the department.  First, we indulged in some rooftop yoga with Moksha Yoga, Mamma Chia vitality drinks and Whole Foods staff.

Afterwards, we put on our pink hard hats and toured the new beauty section and sampled holistic products.  Here are some highlights!

Fit and Active:

Looking to protein it up but not ready to commit?  Whole Foods Lincoln Park will offer a new Active Lifestyle section with both plant and whey based proteins that avoid the dreaded artificial sugars, colors or hydrogenated oils.  A superfood bulk (think maca, mangosteen or moringa) and protein powder selection will be available as well so you can taste and try a small amount before shelling out protein bucks.  We tried vegan protein samples from Vega and even got to spin our recovery drink flavors out with a green energy blending bike.

 

Stopping by after a workout?  You can belly up to the new juice and smoothie bar to get a post workout boost or ditch the sports drinks and try Nuun, a fizzy electrolyte filled tablet to enhance your water.

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Let Your Inner and Outer Beauty Shine:

Whole Foods Beauty section doesn’t only include vitamins and supplements.  Check out natural mineral based makeups, paraben-free hair cares and lotions and formaldehyde free nail polishes (among 6 other chemical free ingredients) in the new widened glowing aisles.  Feel like getting some tips on where to start?  A beauty concierge will now be waiting to address your coconut oil curiousness or coral lip color consulting needs.  We smoothed some BB cream from Pacifica while meandering around the store.  Pacifica products are 100% vegan and many use coconut water or milk (can you say “hello, I smell like a heavenly tropical island”?)  We also love that the products aren’t expensive in comparison to department store brands so you can do good things for your body and your wallet if you have a tight budget.

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A Manly Regime:

Men, you have no excuse to not be metro…or just kempt and not dirty…with Whole Foods Lincoln Park’s exclusive men’s section.  No more digging through the aisles to find the sad men’s corner at the end.  This area of the store has face, hair and body care products free of gross chemicals and just for you.

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Ready for Action!

Whole Foods kicks off their beauty celebration with a bag o’ beauty goodies, “Ready for Action” Bags, valued at $50 bucks for only (Wait for It!!) $12!  Packed in a hand printed zipped active clutch (as we like to call it) printed by RIJI Green, a company that works to end human trafficking, you will find your summer survival kit!

  • Toms of Maine Long Lasting Deodorant, Natural Powder Scent (2.25 oz)
  • Aubrey Pure Aloe Vera (4 fl oz)
  • Boiron Arnicare Gel (.5 oz)
  • Amazing Grass Amazing Meal, Vanilla Chai (.88 oz)
  • Goddess Garden Organics Natural Sunscreen SPF 30, Everyday or Kids (1 oz)
  • Garden of Life Perfect Food Raw Organic Green Super Food, Real Raw Chocolate Cacao (.34 oz)
  • Nuun Active Natural Electrolyte Enhanced Drink Tabs, Lemon + Lime (10 tabs)
  • Spectrum Essentials Seed Blends – Orchard Fruit, Savory, Tropical Fruit, or Warrior Vitality (.5-.7oz)

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Ready to become a natural beauty?  Visit Whole Foods Lincoln Park on Saturday June 27th to step into action.

Whole Foods Lincoln Park,1550 N. Kingsbury, Chicago, IL 60642

You can be extra cool like us and shop and do rooftop yoga this Sunday with this special charity event!

YOGA + CHEESE + WINE

SUNDAY, JUNE 28TH
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
ROOFTOP, $30
Experience the lighter side of yoga with YogaQuench!  After a 1-hour relaxing yoga session, sample wines and cheeses while learning about these pairings from our Certified Cheese Professional.

BYOM: Bring your own mat.  Proceeds benefit local nonprofit, Yoga for Recovery.  Register here.

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New! Top Picnic Picks for your Basket

Think fast!  It’s time to go to an outdoor concert with your friends or a park with your kids or a romantic al fresco dinner with your boo.  What do you pack for your picnic?  You need something light, portable, tasty and healthy… and a crowd pleaser cuz you don’t wanna be that person who brought the last minute convenience store cheese curls.

We recently were given some samples of new products guaranteed to liven up your summer adventures and omgee, we had to pack them for our own picnic!

For the sweet tooth:

Get your potassium on while satisfying the sweet cravings with Barnana.  We didn’t really know what to expect but we were pleasantly surprised and happy campers (even Monica liked it since she does not like any banana flavor products).  Simply, they are dehydrated bananas with a twist of treat.  Barnana offers 4 types of munchable banana bites which are Original, Chocolate, Coconut and Peanut Butter.  These are organic, gluten free, non GMO and non-dairy heart healthy snacks.  Barnana consist of minimal ingredients a.k.a you won’t find a mile long list on the side of the bag.

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For the purist, original Barnana is like popping mini banana chunks in your mouth.  The chocolate Barnanas felt decadent, with a coco shell surrounded the soft banana inside.  Tip: mix the chocolate with the peanut butter Barnanas and you will feel like you’re eating an extra healthy peanut butter cup (YES!).  The coconut Barnana seemed more like a homemade energy bite with a chewy texture and flakes of coconut.  We had guests over, ages ranging from 3 to 50, who quickly depleted our precious coconut Barnana supply.  The bites come in a compact package, perfect for backpack carrying.  You can purchase all flavors of Barnana online or search for a local vendor.

For the savory lover:

Ditch the greasy bag of potato chips and get classy with the back-packable Tuscan inspired Pasta Chips.  Made with semolina flour and sprinkled with Italian herbs, Pasta Chips pair well with the picnic classics like hummus, dips or the party favorite of Wisconsinites, CHEESE!

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On our summer picnic to the new Maggie Daley Park, our guests sampled 3 different flavors: Mediterranean Sea Salt, Spicy Tomato Herb and Spinach Broccoli Kale.  Spinach Broccoli Kale will please the veggie lover and go well with an artichoke dip.  The Spicy Tomato Herb wasn’t so much spicy as much as a pop of zesty tomato flavor.  The light flaky texture would be perfect with mozzarella, tomato, basil bites as an appetizer.  The Mediterranean Sea Salt could easily knock a potato chip out of the park with it’s crispy crunch and touch of salt.  Dab it with french onion dip or an olive tapenade to wow a crowd with your master picnic status.  You can purchase Pasta Chips online or we’ve spotted them at Chicagoland Mariano’s.

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Dear audience, you know there’s nothing like a picnic with your fave friends in a park on a warm summer day.  Load up your basket and get ready to Mangia! with Pasta Chips and the seductive yet not sinful Barnana.  Where’s your top spot to stop for a picnic?  We’ll bring the snacks if you bring the blanket and the boombox (or bluetooth speaker…but that’s not as fun *wink*).

Be Bold with Brooklyn Boulders and Luna Bar

It’s FITNESS FRIDAY and if you’re stuck in a fitness rut, we know just the way to climb out!  Try indoor rock climbing!  Being bold on the boulders not only challenges your body, it can also calm stress and amp up your brain.

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Last Wednesday, Luna Bar continued it’s #LUNAChiReveal with their Salted Caramel Protein Bar, Brooklyn Boulders and a host of talented and strong Chicago women to give us a chance to try indoor rock climbing.  Brooklyn Boulders Chicago is one of facilities in the U.S.  Not only can visitors try traditional bouldering, auto belay or rope climbing, but they can also sample fitness classes like Acro-Yoga, weight training or bring a laptop and get some work done in between climbing in the relaxing upstairs meeting space.

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Luna Bar mixed it up with 3 stations for us rookie climbers:

Bouldering

Bouldering is a form of rock climbing sans a harness or ropes.  Ob-v, Brooklyn Boulders loves safety so there’s a crash mat waiting for you in case you can’t find your way down.  There are various routes, called problems in the rock climbing world, with easy level climbing and ultra hard climbing.  First, BKB staff had us practice falling.  We call it the upside bug technique.  Basically, the goal is to land face up with the impact on your cushiony butt and your extremeties curled in like a insect that’s been flicked over.  Next, we scurried our way up the simpler routes.  Monica is a natural as she made her way to the top and back no problem (or maybe she’s part squirrel).

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Auto Belay Certification

The auto belay, an automatic rope connected to a harness that supports the climber, is a daunting yet thrilling. BKB instructors demo-ed the proper way to connect the auto belay to the harness as well as how to descend (although none of us Luna participates did it quite as gracefully).  Once connected, you freely ascend up the problem of your choice and when you feel you can’t move up any longer, you let go.  The auto belay catches and lowers you safely.  Once certified by staff, visitors of BKB are allowed to move about different courses with auto belays.

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Dream Space

We named this ourselves but Luna put together some inspirational crafting, delish new Salted Caramel Protein Bar samplin’, and blogger minglin’ in the upstairs work space.  Postcards with antique style ink stamps were set up in a cute mailboxes and we were encouraged to write encouraging words to our selves!  There was also a colorful chalkboard set up to channel your motivational side by writing when you feel the most strong.

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We highly recommend rising (ahaaa) to the challenge of indoor climbing.  BKB staff are friendly, professional an truly made us feel safe as first timers.  Step up to Brooklyn Boulders with a Salted Caramel Protein bar to replenish yourself after a grueling but rewarding advance!  Has anyone else been to Brooklyn Boulders?  What do you think!?

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Give Some Good with Outshine Frozen Snacks

We have a unique chance to give a little this month with a new first of it’s kind charity effort, the “Give Some Good” campaign, situated at one of our major transportation hubs, Union Station.  Outshine Frozen Snacks, maker of fresh fruit and yogurt bars, is spearheading a creative movement to reduce food deserts.  National attention was drawn to the concept of a food desert in 2006 when Mari Gallagher’s research illuminated a lack of access to healthy and fresh foods in areas of poverty.  The gap is closing but we still have a way to go.  In Chicago alone, over 383,954 Chicagoans were living in a food desert as of 2011.

So how can you help?

A charity promoting billboard (that is secretly a superhero robot…jk), is currently located in the BNSF tunnels of Chicago’s very own Union Station through June 9, encouraging travelers to get involved with reducing hunger!

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It’s easy to give!

  1. Simply do a secure swipe of your credit card straight down the middle of the billboard and $1 is donated to hunger.  That’s a 4th less than your daily latte habit!
  2. Each swipe starts a film sequence on the billboard screen that shows a bounty of fresh produce falling into the hands of a girl (symbolizing your awesome charity efforts)
  3. Each $1 swipe supports Feeding America in donating 9 POUNDS of fresh produce to hungry families.

Outshine Frozen Snacks is teaming up with Feeding America, one of the nation’s top hunger combatants, to help bring produce to those in need, with the goal of donating two million pounds of fruits and vegetables (we kinda feel like Dr. Evil saying “one million dollarsss” but this is for GOOD!!).  Even if you aren’t in Chicago, you can help during June and July by purchasing specially marked boxes of new Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars in stores.  Made of 100% frozen yogurt blended with real fruit like Strawberry Banana, Mango and Pineapple, they are perfect for your next summer BBQ.

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Each time you buy a promo box of Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars, you help the Outshine brand and Feeding America provide one pound of fruit and vegetables to those in need.  Outshine Simply Yogurt Bars are available at major retailers like Target, Mariano’s, Walmart, Jewel and more.

So what are you waiting for, after all Fro-YOLO (fro-you only live once so feel great by helping others)!  Snack or swipe to help Chicagoans get the fresh food they need with the #GiveBrighter campaign.

*Full Disclosure: We are being compensated by Nestle to promote the GiveBrighter campaign*

A Souper Lunch Option: Smart Soups

Forget you, Olive Garden!  We are bringing our own soup and salad to work.  Soup is an awesome option to consume more veggies AND feel full with fewer calories but packaged soups often have too much sodium, weird looking meat pieces, or too many additives.  We were souper (hehe) excited to try some samples of Smart Soups because they are (ehem..be jealous cans o’ soup) none of those things.  Creator, Anne Chong Hill has long history in the prepared food industry and recognized the need for high quality, easy to make food and her recipes are inspired by her international background and travel experiences.

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Smart Soups are:

  • Vegan
  • Vegetarian
  • Gluten Free (Hooray!)
  • Made with REAL FOOD and no preservatives
  • American Heart Association Certified (cholesterol free!)
  • Low Calorie and controlled sodium (as one of our friend with high blood pressure was amazed to notice during our lunch break)

Taste:

With 7 souperb (ha ha ha) flavor options, we had a hard time choosing what to try first.  We received 5 options.

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Greek Minestrone was Kate’s first go to.  Packaged minestrone tends to be bland or have too many noodles in the way.  The Greek Minestrone was packed with veggies and rich in herby flavor, possibly the best Minestrone out there except what your grandma might be able to make (if she can cook).  Pairing tip: Greek Salad with feta, olives, artichokes and mixed greens.

Thai Coconut Curry is Mon’s fave Smart Soup.  Full of coconut water blended with fresh red curry made an amazingly authentic dish, especially tasty on a rainy day.  It includes plenty of baby corn, bamboo shoots and red pepper.  Pair with side of grilled spiced tofu.

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Sante Fe Corn Chowder is vibrant with red peppers, black beans, and corn, balanced with a squeeze of lime.  Dunk a vegan tostada and plenty of avocado in it!

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Vietnamese Carrot Lemongrass is filled with rich tasty Asian flavors and veggies.  Pair the satisfying soup with a Tofu Bahn Mi sandwich.

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French Lentil Soup makes a hearty meal with green and red lentils, leeks and moorish spices.  Mix it up with a baguette and nicolaise salad.

Cooking:

Smart Soup stores easily in the freezer and couldn’t be more simple to make.  You open the bag and pop it on the stove or in the microwave and then you’re done.  You can get creative with Smart Soups too by integrating them into new recipes as well.

What’s the most delicious soup you’ve ever tried?  Maybe you could inspire a new Smart Soup!

Get Soxy with the Strike Out ALS 5K

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Did you know May is ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis) Awareness Month?! We certainly did not until we learned about an awesome charity run on July 14th, the Strike Out ALS 5K.  Go beyond the ice bucket and #challengeALS by raising … Continue reading

New Luna Bar Flavors Revealed!

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As busy American chicks, we’re always on the go.  On the way to yoga, spinning and the odd trapeze class to mix it up, it’s awesome to have a quick snack to boost your energy on the commute.  We’ve always been a fan of Luna Bar but now we have even more cause to nibble on them. Brace yourself for a group of new alluring Luna Bars.  Choosing may be more difficult than picking the next Bachelor.

Meet the contestants!

Contestant No. 1: Chocolate Salted Caramel (for the lady who lunges)

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“Hi, I’m Chocolate Salted Caramel.  You know, salted caramel flavors are sooo in right now.  You should pick me because I’m chewy, filling, and satisfy your sweet tooth”.

New Chocolate Salted Caramel delivers 12 grams of protein with only 170 calories.  We also love its low glycemic load, meaning it won’t leave your blood stream in a tizzy, or leave you crashing down from a sugary high.

Contestant No. 2: Chocolate Cupcake (for dames who like it dark and mysterious)

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(Photo borrowed from Luna Bar)

“Hello lovelies.  I’m Chocolate Cupcake and I know how to make a lady feel right with dark chocolate chips.  Put that flabby cupcake back and get a lean mean version that surprises and satisfies”.

Chocolate Cupcake, where have you been all our lives?  With 8 grams of protein, and 4 grams of fiber, we dug Chocolate Cupcake’s surprisingly decadent taste.

Contestant No. 3: Lemon Zest (sometimes you want something lively and bright!)

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“Aren’t you looking fab today!  Bring the sunshine back into your life with a zesty combo of lemon and vanilla”.

Lemon Zest isn’t a new flavor but did you know all Luna Bars, including the luscious lemon, are gluten free now?  Get reacquainted with your citrus side with 9 grams of protein and 3 grams of fiber.

 

We got to sample all 3 at Luna Bars recent “Try Something New” Chi Reveal Party at Equinox. There, Kate and her friend met up with several bloggers and sampled a TRX max/yoga class at Equinox.  Sweat was pouring as the instructor blended interval training with the TRX ropes, a sandbag and body weight exercises.  We relaxed in the second half with a dynamic yoga flow.  Needless to say, we snacked on Luna Bars to recharge once we finished!

Which contestant will you pick to recharge your fitness life?  What new fitness activity would you like to try with your new Luna Bar experience?

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Conquer your Core at the 3rd Annual Free FusionFest!

Free Core Fusion Classes on May 19th!

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WHO: Women’s Health & Exhale’s Core Fusion

WHAT: Women’s Health magazine and Exhale Spa are proud to celebrate the 3rd annual FusionFest.  Open to the public, the event will include complimentary evening Core Fusion classes, lite bites, goodie bags, giveaways, DJ’s and more at 18 exhale locations nationwide.

In conjunction with the FusionFest events, Women’s Health is kicking off its 3rd annual “Next Fitness Star” (thenextfitnessstar.com) competition with its July/August issue.  After vetting thousands of submissions, Women’s Health has selected the top five finalists who are competing to star in their own DVD series and become a fitness industry leader.  In select cities, the finalists will be in attendance at FusionFest to participate in the Core Fusion workouts and offer health consultations with attendees.

Exhale leads the barre fitness industry with a full suite of transformational classes including Core Fusion Barre, Core Fusion Barre+Cardio, Core Fusion Boot Camp, Core Fusion Cardio, Core Fusion Extreme, Core Fusion Sport and Core Fusion Yoga.  All classes focus on core strength for the ultimate full body workout. Using weights, balls, bands, and your own body weight as resistance, each class keeps you burning calories long after the class is over. Prepare to sweat, shake and melt the fat away as you lengthen and tone your body, and revive and refocus the mind.

WHEN:  Tuesday, May 19, 2015

WHERE: Exhale Chicago 945 North State St., Chicago, IL 60610

PRICE: FREE!

BONUS: Anyone attending the complimentary FusionFest classes will receive a free month subscription to WH Fit Club, the online fitness center that gives access to the hottest, most coveted workout studios and leading fitness experts across the country—including exclusive workouts from exhale co-founders Fred DeVito and Elisabeth Halfpapp and exhale’s National Yoga Director Stefanie Eris.

RSVP: To book your complimentary Core Fusion class at FusionFest, visit info.exhalespa.com/fusionfest.

*Above content and pictures are utilized courtesy of Rodale Publishing*

Our Take: Going to exhale spa makes you feel like you’ve been transported to a tropical vacation.  The lighting and decor of the studio space are smooth and inviting.  Before or after class, you can pamper yourself with exhale blended hot teas. Classes are challenging, mats are cushy and nice to the wrists, and teachers are hands on, supporting and pushing you at the same time.  Women’s Health Magazine is a leader in the fitness mag industry and we love their unabashed covering of “taboo” women’s health topics and up to date research on nutrition and workout topics.  We hope we snag a free mag in our swag bags (yup, rhyming is too cool)!  Come join us next Tuesday for a free fabulous workout class and more at Fusionfest!