Strong Fitness & Performance Center Review: An Essential Workout

The Dallas Fitness Ambassadors rolled into Strong Fitness & Performance Center recently for a group workout in their newly designed Fitness area. The North Dallas gym, which is massive and well-designed, is divided into four Core Programs: Fitness, which we tried out, 24/7 Olympic, Crossfit, and Strength training.

strong fitness dallas review veleisa burrell

Once the DFA team took our time to Instagram and Snapchat the posted workouts – because what is a workout if your followers can’t follow along – the fun began! We split between two groups and handled a low-impact warm-up which had me thinking “Okay, I can do this.”

The lovely trainer, Coach Lizzie, took us to the next level as one group jumped on the spin bikes for intervals of sprints, standing resistance and recovery while the other half worked on lunges, rows, burpees (the worsssttttt) and mountain climbers (the other worsssttttt). Mind you, at this point, I am hungry and trying to work through it, but I was making eyes at the vibrant green selection of juices that Substance Juice had lined up for post-sweat session recovery.

substance juicery dallasEight minutes finished on the first half and it’s time to switch to treadmills and TRX for squat jumps rows, chest press, and knee tucks. I’m a huge fan of TRX so I was actually excited to finish the session on these straps. The self-propelled treadmills…will one day be the death of me.

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Workout finished and it’s time to jump on the healthy snacks provided by Strong Fitness and the yummy green juice mimosas courtesy of Substance Juice. I recommend coming to this Fitness workout fully satiated, since my hunger slightly sapped me of energy that could have gone into lifting heavier or pushing harder. If you get to work with Coach Lizzie, you’re in luck. She managed to be both motivational and funny, which you don’t always get in a trainer.

strong fitness dallas trx workout

strong fitness dallas treadmills

Thank you, Strong Fitness & Performance Center, for a hard workout that hit all the high points of what I need to stay in shape: conditioning, cardio and weighted exercises. Plus I won a beautiful “Millennial pink” Lululemon yoga mat that is already a constant companion in my CorePower classes!

strong fitness review veleisa burrellStrong Fitness & Performance Center provided my workout at no cost. The opinions expressed about the facility and employees are my own and have not been influenced by Strong Fitness & Performance Center. 

Photos provided by Dallas Fitness Ambassadors.

How to Not Be an Absentee Friend When Life Gets Busy

When I was in my mid-20s, I recall reading a magazine article about women who had to schedule their catch-up meetings with friends. I thought to myself “Well maybe you don’t like your friends that much, madam.” Recently it hit me that I am now that friend, and so are my closest confidantes. We are the group that has to open Google Calendar and iCal to scroll through work meetings, appointments with clients and quality time with family and significant others to determine when we can sit down to break bread.

I now give a weak chuckle at my previous ignorance of how life can get busy enough to need to schedule time with friends. Knowing how busy life can get, I am insistent on not becoming the flake of the group. Nearly all of us have that associate or girlfriend that promises to meet up with you soon and never actually confirms a time, place or nail bar to catch up over mani-pedi time. Or, even worse, they agree to grab lunch or book a bike in spin and never show up, offering weak excuses only after being called out. Our time is precious and I have to value my friend’s resources as much as I want them to value mine.

So how do I stay connected?

In this season of launching my own company, here are the ways that work for me to stay accountable to my schedule and keep in touch with friends:

  1. Finding Balance at City Surf FitnessSchedule a sweat session – It is a tried and true rule for me that if I put a workout in my calendar and if I know someone is expecting to meet me there, I won’t miss the class. My sorority sister and I have been known to prep for the week by texting each other on Sunday evening to set up our HIIT class schedule for the week. We may only get 10 words in between stations but it’s a great way to see her smiling face as the sun rises and I’ve completed my workout for the day: two birds, one stone!
  2. Try a new restaurant together – As a plant-based eater, I can be particular about where I meet up for meals. If I know that the group plans include a BBQ joint, I’m likely to flake and miss out on the latest updates. However, for my more open-minded acquaintances, I am quick to suggest a new eatery for a mid-morning coffee or smoothie or a healthy Instagram-worthy lunch. I’d been dying to try Flower Child, a new restaurant that listed delicious sounding salads and wraps on their menu. When a friend called in a raincheck after missing my birthday dinner, I leapt at the chance to catch up over a meal I knew I would love, and I wasn’t disappointed.
  3. Get outdoors – My birthday gift, a Samsung Gear 2, is a blessing and a curse in the way that it tells me I need to get off my booty. Combine inactivity with (often) working alone from home and it’s a recipe for weight gain and losing social skills. I counteract that by extending an invitation to circumnavigate White Rock Lake or people-watch along Katy Trail. It is easy to knock out a couple of miles while plotting a strategic work move, dissect the previous night’s date or simply shooting the breeze.

I’d love to know ways you other busy ladies (and gents!) prioritize your time with friends alongside running the office, your company or figuring out your next side hustle or entrepreneurial enterprise. Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter (@veleisap) or Insta (@veleisapburrell)!

Your Vibe Attracts Your Tribe + February Events

“Your vibe attracts your tribe.”
“What you seek is seeking you.” – Rumi
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”

The end of 2016 was a rocky time for me. Changes, necessary changes, were happening. While I recognized the utility of these developments, they still didn’t feel good. I have been working on feeling comfortable with discomfort, as that is usually a sign that circumstances are changing, but it’s a challenge. In 2016, part of my self-development also included shooting my shot: inviting people to coffee, lunch or drinks and saying “I need your help.” Vulnerability can be scary, but I found that once people know they can help you, they’re more than willing to do so.

As such, I started to notice my network expanding as friends made introductions, acquaintances became advisors and I became comfortable in making requests and subsequently helping to connect others as friends reciprocated with their own needs.

In January of the new year, I am now starting to see the benefits from the connections I made in 2016. The statement that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with is true. As you become the least smart person in the room, you grow and expand your knowledge. Thankfully, this notion applies to both my professional life and my fitness life, as I connect with yoga friends for two events this month!

Feb. 18 – Soul Sistas Yoga Kickoff

Last year, a friend said she looked around and realized she knew several black female yoga teachers and enthusiast, so she brought us together and Soul Sistas Yoga was formed. J, Kawanah, Tam and I are all dedicated to creating sacred spaces for women of color to practice yoga and connect breath, movement and energy.

I’ll be leading two yoga sessions at our debut event on Feb. 18, 12:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the SunstoneFIT Mockingbird Plaza (5400 E. Mockingbird Lane).

Session A – Beginners’ Yoga: 12:30 PM – 1:30 PM

Mental Health and Meditation Workshop: 1:45 PM – 2:15 PM

Session B – All Levels Yoga: 2:30 PM – 3:30 PM

Tickets range from $15 for one class to $40 for the entire day of learning. Get your ticket and then get one for a friend who keeps promising to come to yoga with you but never has made a class.

Feb. 25 – Athleta Namaste After the 5K (Leap of Faith Motivational Run and Yoga)

I’m all about this event because it reminds me of Wanderlust 108, which I’ve been to twice and will be attending this year again on April 15.

I can manage 3.2 miles of jogging and who doesn’t deserve some good stretching and breathing after accomplishing that, right? When Kory, the event organizer who I met at Wanderlust last year, asked me to teach the Namaste After the 5K yoga session, I freaked a bit. I had to remind myself that my vibe, what I’d been cultivating, was bringing me new opportunities. If I run from them, I’m not being true to myself.

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As the yoga teacher for Namaste After the 5K, that means I have to invite, you, your mom and your partner to come out to Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix Lozada Gateway (Continental Avenue Bridge) on Feb. 25. The warm-up starts at 7:30 with Orangetheory Fitness and the 5K kicks off at 8:45 for runners and 9 a.m. for walkers. If you’re coming for the yoga, that starts at 10:45 a.m. Get your ticket today!


These two events in February came because of the tribe I attracted, as well as saying yes, even to actions that were outside my comfort zone at the time. I’d love to know what you gained when what you were seeking found you because of your energy.

 

Congrats to the Leap of Faith 5K + Namaste After the 5K Winners!

Thank you to everyone who entered the contest for a ticket to the Leap of Faith 5K and the post-run Namaste After the 5K yoga session.

I’m happy to announce that Ginger Marie of The Ginger Marie Blog and Stephanie Suire will both be making an investment in themselves on February 25, 2017 at the Leap of Faith 5K! I can’t wait to run alongside both of you and then get in a deep stretch.

leap of faith 5K giveaway winners

If you didn’t win, don’t worry. Tickets for the 5K and yoga event, which will also feature a rousing speaker to inspire you, are still available. Sign up for Leap of Faith 5K today!

Getting Out of My Own Way + Leap of Faith 5K Giveaway

I had a personal realization in the last week. I am exactly that friend that will have you believing you can jump from the rooftop and fly into Never Never Land, but I fail so hard at applying these same “You can do it!” vibes to my own life. Over brunch, I’m leading the band in the parade celebrating my friends’ successes. Over a glass of wine later that night, I’m doubting my own abilities.

It sucks. I’m a Millennial. I’m smart. I’m driven. I’m a feminist! I should know better than this, right?

My "You know better" face.
My “You know better” face.

Wrong.

I get in my own head and in my own way regularly. And then it becomes a cycle, because I should know better, and I feel bad. I feel bad about feeling bad about feeling bad…you get it by now, right?

Time for a reality check.

I had to ask myself: When did I become so afraid of failure? We build structures around ourselves through the expectations we have for our own success. Willingly exiting these structures can cause anxiety because then how will we know whether we’re succeeding?

What does it look like to abandon our structure, to build a new one based on new understandings of what our work looks like? Or, even more frightening, to do away with structures altogether and figure out as we go?

These are the questions that I’m asking myself as I wrap up 2016 and plan for 2017. It’s uncomfortable (we talked about staying strong in discomfort earlier this year) and pushes me and I need it.

One area that I don’t have to ask questions is my fitness. Though cardio continues to fill me with dread, I will be running in the Leap of Faith 5K on Feb. 25, 2017.

leap-of-faith-5knat5 I met the team behind the Dallas event (Kory and Vanessa) through my yoga community, and they’re inspirational and dope people. Exactly the kind of people I need in my life as I ask myself the hard questions. Here is how they describe the spirit behind the Leap of Faith 5K (and the post-event, fantastically-named Namaste After the 5K):

“This event was created with your success in mind. This is your “call to action” to start your own business, to write your autobiography, or to put checkmarks by your incomplete bucket list to-dos. We push you to go forward on the run path with motivational quotes that require you to look down at the ground yet still keep your head held high with all confidence in fulfilling your dreams. After the run, you will get to hear a dynamic motivational speaker who will provide clarity on what it takes to overcome anything tied to retrogression followed by an amazing restorative yoga session. Let’s do this guys, your prime is now! The time is now!”

I don’t know about you, but I’m pumped. So pumped that I’m giving away two tickets to the event. Enter through Dec. 20 via the giveaway form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t want to wait to see if you’ve won? Register now for the Leap of Faith 5K. (Feb. 25, 2017 at the Ronald Kirk Bridge and Felix Lozada gateway in downtown.)

Staying Motivated + Keeping the “Winter Fluff” at Bay

Texas finally decided that fall was in session this past weekend, as temperatures dropped into the low 40s overnight and the wind started blowing leaves around the streets. The cool weather, combined daylight savings having it dark by 5:37 p.m. on the regular, means that no one is very motivated to visit the gym or attend outdoor fitness events.

I learned a harsh lesson recently when I tried to explain to a coworker that I felt uncomfortable lately due to a 5-7 pound weight gain. Apparently, I’m not allowed to feel discomfort about my current weight level since it’s short over overweight/obese.

(insert side eye)

Let me state for the record: Everyone has the freedom to feel how they do about their own body. While I will never advocate for self-loathing, I understand the occasional “Ugh” feeling that accompanies weight gain (or loss), bloating and any other kind of fluctuation. Combine that feeling with cold weather and throw in fewer daylight hours, and you have a recipe for what I call “winter fluff.”

Fluff is whatever you define it as; for me, it’s about 10 pounds that sit around my hips and midsection that are hard to move come spring. I swear, post-30, my body is holding on to weight like dog on a bone!

Self-motivation is going to be key for me (and you, if you have a mission to avoid the winter fluff), and I have some tips and tools about staying motivated when staying seated, wrapped in a blanket, seems like a good move.

Summer bodies are built in the winter

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Whatever your definition of a “summer body,” and there is no one true definition, you work at it year-round. I can’t blame anyone but myself for my winter fluff, so I have to make the best decision every day when it comes to my food choices, workouts and stress levels.

Assemble your workout crew

I’m very fortunate that not only do I have my Dallas Fitness Ambassador group as motivation to attend community events and get inspired to be up and at the gym, I also have my sorority sister Ashley, who is always down for the cause!

Photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher
The DFA ladies (Photo courtesy of Ashley Hatcher)
Sweaty smiles with Ashley!
Sweaty smiles with Ashley!

It can also help to have an accountability partner close to home. Incorporate your partner, roommate, neighbor or coworker in your workout and you’ll be less likely to skip your gym appointment.

Motivated by mom
Motivated by mom

K.I.S.S. (Keep it simple silly)

A good round of exercise doesn’t have to look like a Parkour video from YouTube. Help yourself keep it simple by using apps that put the workout together for you. My current fave is the Nike Training Club. I’m entering week three of the 8-week Gym Strong program which is supposed to “build full-body strength with a focus on weight training over 8 weeks.” All I have to do is make it to the gym, download the day’s regimen and get to work. You can add in your own workouts done outside the app and none of the workouts are longer than 45 minutes. Super simple, right?!

Connect with free/low-cost fitness events

Yes, it is much more fun to do rooftop yoga on your #SundayFunday but we have to deal with the realities of the colder temps. Take advantage of the studios in your city who are looking for folks like you who want to get in a good workout and may be looking for a new studio for 2017.

My favorite plug is Mai Lyn of Deep Fried Fit, who puts out a monthly list of free (or low-price) fitness events in Dallas. Keep your eyes open for her December list.

How do you stay vigilant against the winter fluff?

Making Memories + Camping at Best Day Ever Ranch

True confessions: I’ve never been camping. I’m from Houston, I am a true-blue city girl and I hate bugs. Camping has never been one of the activities I feel like I missed out on and I haven’t had the opportunity in my adulthood.

Thankfully, I roll with an adventurous group called Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, and when they let me know they were planning a glamping trip, I jumped right on it. If you’re unfamiliar with the concept of glamping, it’s glamour + camping. Think fireside wine glasses, luxurious rugs and all plaid everything.

In the true sense of Texas being a state of many landscapes, I didn’t have to go far to get the camping experience. I drove 45 minutes north of Dallas to Whitewright, turned off the freeway and a left and a right later, I’d made it to Best Day Ever Ranch. The Ranch includes event space in the form of a barn – perfect for the bride and groom who want a southern touch – and cabins for rent. Our less structured living space was down by Dream Lake.

View of our lakeside cabins (courtesy of Best Day Ever Ranch website)
View of our lakeside cabins (credit: The Best Day Ever Ranch website)

Though we were only there for a day and a half, I feel like we had all of the adventures. I’m so happy I went with semi-professional campers, who knew that we needed all of the food. Seriously, we had a spread that rivaled the craft services table at a Hollywood movie set, all courtesy of Sprouts Farmer’s Market. 

Our spread, perfect fuel for hiking and walking.
Our spread, perfect fuel for hiking and walking. (photo credit: Ashley of Fit Girl in Flight)

The first night, we indulged in fireside chili made by the lovely Chandler of The H is For and, of course, wine.

Tip for first time campers: It gets COLD, not chilly but actually cold, once the sun goes down. I was not adequately prepared for spending time outdoors after dusk. Bring your thermals, a hat, boots and extra blankets/comforters or an insulated sleeping bag.

The next day arrived bright and lovely, with steam coming off the lake. We did have some nighttime visitors, which brings me to my next tip: make sure you clean up your camp site well before turning in for the night. I was not brave enough to open our tent to see what kind of nocturnal creatures visited us. I’m fairly sure they were disappointed because we did not leave food or drink out for them to scavenge.

After the breakfast of champions – tacos and mimosas – we decided to go explore the Ranch grounds.

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Out here getting browned while walking at @the_best_day_ever_ranch. We #glamp and we exercise out here.

A video posted by Leisa (@veleisapburrell) on


I like goats and other animals from afar, so I stayed outside the pen and watched the other ladies play petting zoo.

From there, we went to see the event barn, which was being set up for a later wedding, and the garden with a gazeebo that is the DIY dream of many a person. We sent good vibes to the couple getting married later that day and set back toward our camping grounds.

We ended our full day with sangria, fajitas and more wine and tucked in for the night.

 

Early the next morning, we packed up our various vehicles and bid goodbye to Best Day Ever Ranch. It’s good to know that if I ever need a quick getaway with the girls, I don’t have to go far to find paradise. Between the quiet nights under a star-filled sky and the lack of cell phone reception, which makes you slow down and have deeper conversations with those around you, I really enjoyed my first camping experience.

Thank you to The Best Day Ever Ranch and Sprouts for their sponsorship of our adventures.

All photos below are courtesy of Ashley of Fit Girl in Flight, who worked with the best artistic directors, Chandler and Stephanie Suire.dsc_7537-1

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Gearing Up for Spin: GRIT Fitness REVOLUTION Cycle Spotlight Party

I have a confession.

I don’t like cardio. Like, at all.

Running: no thanks. Elliptical: puts me to sleep. Stairmaster: torture.

Group fitness is probably the only time that I can get down with cardio. I told you all about the fun I had recently at Jam Box fitness.

One of the best places in DFW to have the group fitness experience is GRIT Fitness. I’ve gotten down to yoga, HIIT and other classes with the ladies of GRIT and it’s always a blast. Plus, the owner, Brittani Rettig, is a total #GirlBoss.

But one group fitness class has always given me angst: SPIN. Remember what I said about running, elliptical and Stairmaster? There is something about the same motion on a stationary machine that elicits dread. But when I heard GRIT Fitness owner Brittani Rettig and her rockstar team of cycling instructors are hosting the REVOLUTION Cycle Spotlight Party on Friday, September 30, I knew I had to be there. GRIT always has the best music and the most pumped-up instructors for the other classes, and I’d expect no less for their Cycle party.

Plus, how COOL is this cycle studio?!
Plus, how COOL is this cycle studio?!

Join me as I work through my “fear” of spin class and sweat out the work week with two free cycling classes, drinks, treats, raffles, a photobooth and a special gift for the first 100 guests.

WHAT: GRIT Fitness REVOLUTION Cycle Spotlight Party

WHEN: Friday, September 30, 5-8PM

Complimentary classes at 5:30 and 6:30PM; Studio tours, shopping and entertainment throughout the evening

WHERE: GRIT Fitness – Design District, 1729 Irving Blvd., #101, Dallas, TX 75207

SIGN UP: Guests can reserve their spot to ride at dallasgritfitness.com/schedule beginning Friday, September 16.

Check out the Facebook event page and share with a friend who will need the stress-busting fun of SPIN class this Friday.

Can’t wait to see you there! I’ll be at 6:30 class but catch me milling around before then. 

Shaking My Groove Thing With Jam Box Fitness and Baileys

If you’ve ever been to a public event with me, you will know that I can and will dance/shimmy/slide with no shame. Impromptu movement is fun for me. Some folks challenge each other to #StopDropandYoga and I just want to do the Electric Slide in the grocery store.

Me in Vegas for my 25th birthday, fist pumping for my life.
Me in Vegas for my 25th birthday, fist pumping for my life.
Wedding action shot of me sliding across the dance floor.
Wedding action shot of me sliding across the dance floor.
I even took on challengers at the wedding!
I even took on challengers at the wedding!

For all the fun I have dancing, choreographed dance has eluded me. Given more than three movements in a row and I turn into Ms. Two Left Feet. I didn’t let the handicap stop me from coming out for the Dallas Fitness Ambassadors fun event at Jam Box Addison. The event, billed as a jam session, had attendees enjoying lovely Baileys cocktails beforehand and then we were going to get funky on the dance floor.

You had me at drinks. Baileys got us started right with a refreshing mix of Baileys Almande, a gluten-free, nondairy (but not vegan) liquer mixed with Vita Coco.

I’ve been putting Vita Coco in my smoothies lately in place of sugary orange juice and plain water and it was great to have it in a mixed drink as well. One (okay, fine, two) rounds of drinks and I was ready to bust a move!

I had not heard of Jam Box Fitness prior to attending, so I had no idea what to expect. The teacher and studio owner, Dominique Lasha’e, told us we’d start with Pound class and then move onto choreographed movements, aka my nemesis.

Dominique, getting us ready to go.
Dominique, getting us ready to go. Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Pound class sounded relatively easy: hold drumsticks and clap them and tap the ground in beat. Verdict: ouch, my obliques. While I blissed out to the amazing Rihanna-driven soundtrack and followed along with the moves, my core was working harder than I knew. You stay in a squat and bend laterally, which fires up all the big, supportive muscles groups along the middle of your body. LOVE the deceptiveness of the fitness aspect.

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Get into that core work. And yes, I’m wearing Chuck Taylors because I forgot my tennis shoes and nothing was going to stop me from working out. Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
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You can literally see my thoughts: “And 1, 2, 3…4” Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Next up: Funk the Fit dance cardio. I took a deep breath, rolled my shoulders back and faced the class with all I had…and I killed it.

Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors
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Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

We grooved our way through class and I felt like Ciara, Janet Jackson and just a touch of Queen Bey, rolled into one sweaty dancing fool. I’d gotten some crappy news earlier in the day and the class took my mood completely in the other direction.

After class, Pollo Tropical came through with the great-smelling fare. I was initially concerned that I wasn’t going to be able to eat after burning all those calories. Thankfully, their beans are vegetarian so I loaded up on salad, beans and rice with some spicy salsa to go alongside. Perfection. And right before I put myself in a food-induced coma, I got a five minute rubdown from Riviera Spa and discovered just how tight my neck and shoulders are. In all, a great Friday night made better by being surrounded by my fitness friends, dancing, drinks and food and a good mini-massage.

Shouts out to Dallas Fitness Ambassadors, Jam Box Fitness and Dominique Lasha’e, Baileys and Vita Coco, Pollo Tropical and Riviera Spa. 

 

 

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Dancing QUEENS! Photo courtesy of Dallas Fitness Ambassadors

Doing It With GRIT: Interview with Brittani Rettig of GRIT Fitness

If there is one thing the internet (ha, no longer have to capitalize that) is never short on, it is profiles of folks who have created their own fitness tribe. You know the folks, the ones who have instantaneous online following, the perfectly curated Instagram photos and never look like they break a sweat to “do it all.”

If you’re like me, reading these stories may leave you wondering how they get it done and if the fitness “guru” is truly genuine? One person I’ve never questioned in the authenticity of dedication to their awesome is Brittani Rettig of GRIT Fitness.

Brit for DFW Style DailyNEW GRIT logo

 

I found out about GRIT Fitness when Brit opened her East Dallas location about five minutes from where I used to live. (Full disclosure: I had my first audition to teach fitness with Brit and she was so kind in her evaluation. Suffice it to say, I was all nerves and it was a mess.) I kept up with her through social media and attended her community classes at Luke’s Locker. Seeing Brit’s growth has been amazing, as she’s added fans, fanatics, members and grown her team of energetic instructors.

Now, just barely a year after the East Dallas location launch, Brit has announced an expansion to the Dallas Design District with a second location! The new location is 5,000 square feet and will offer original music-driven classes like Body Sculpt™, Dance Club Cardio™, Hip Hop, powerbelle™, Flexin’ Flow™ and more. In addition to GRIT’s seven original class offerings, GRIT Fitness will now offer GRIT Revolution, an indoor beat and metrics-based cycling class where the instructor rides with the class rather than leads it on a pedestal.

Last week, Brit and I talked about her new location, what it takes to make it in fitness and her updated approach to entrepreneurship in an inspiring conversation. Check out the highlights.

Continue reading “Doing It With GRIT: Interview with Brittani Rettig of GRIT Fitness”