By Kristin Boza
Summer is here and COVID-19 restrictions are lifting. It’s time to get out and enjoy the weather while building community with fellow fitness enthusiasts. This edition of the Best of Beverly/Morgan Park series focuses on the best outdoor and online fitness classes to keep you feeling good and getting out and about after a tough year.
Enhanced Body and The Alliance – Yoga for Every Body
North Beverly resident Monica Bright is a yoga teacher/movement educator and owner of Enhanced Body. She developed a members-only online yoga and wellness program called The Alliance aimed at keeping people fit while also helping them build a virtual community.
“I began teaching yoga in 2012; after practicing on and off for 20 years prior and enjoying a career in education, yoga was a natural next step for me,” Bright said. “As an educator at heart, teaching the benefits of yoga is one of my life’s purposes.”
Like all other fitness studios, Bright had to pivot when the COVID-19 lockdown began last year. “While offering virtual classes last year, I realized there was a missing component in the online industry, a lost opportunity to connect, and a missing piece which would allow students to integrate their yoga practices with the rest of their lives,” Bright said. “It’s a space that fills the void of lost community as well as a space to dive deeper into your evolution as a student and as a human.”
The Alliance is an online membership that includes access to live classes, 170+ on-demand classes, monthly goal setting, in-group workshops, masterclasses, and Q&A sessions. There is also an engaged Facebook community where The Alliance members can get to know one another.
There are numerous benefits to yoga, and the practice encompasses much more than just fitness.
“Cultivating a yoga practice gives you a mirror for seeing who you are, developing a deep awareness of your habits, decisions and relationships, and serves as a guide to who you want to become,” Bright said. “It is a self-awareness and it affords you the opportunity to transform your life.”
Practicing yoga online is much different than being in person, but it does present some unique opportunities. Bright’s clients benefit from being able to practice anywhere and at any time, practicing with their camera on or off, and focusing on the practice rather than the people around them. “Other benefits are reducing the likelihood that ‘comparison’ creeps into your practice and finding a community that you enjoy being a part of,” Bright said. She also finds it enlightening that each client can be intentional about creating a practice space in their home, “making this a priority directly reflects the importance you place on yourself and your needs,” she said.
Community is the pinnacle of wellbeing, and necessary for health and wellness. “Having a support system, spaces to express yourself, and people who you can count on when you need or want to gather has a positive effect on your quality of life,” Bright said. “Whether its family, friends, your workout buddies, or colleagues, make finding your community a priority. Be passionate and unapologetic about creating the life you want because you only get to live it once!”
Bright focuses a lot of attention on developing relationships with her students during the practice of yoga. She believes strongly in the Law of Attraction and feels that the right students often find their way to her. “I find that inquisitive students who are looking to learn about their bodies as well as connecting yoga to their habits, relationships, and decision-making skills off the mat have a way of finding me,” she said.
Register for The Alliance at Enhanced-Body.com/The-Alliance-Info.
Running Excels Run Beverly Running Group — Go at Your Pace
For the last 10 years, the weekly running group at Running Excels, 10328 S. Western, has fostered relationships, pushed goals, and supported new and seasoned runners and walkers alike. The group, Run Beverly, meets year-round on Saturday mornings, Memorial Day to Labor Day, 6:30 a.m., and Labor Day to Memorial Day, 7 a.m.
Runners and walkers gather at the northeast corner of 103rd and Western. “The distance we run varies from six to 12 miles, depending on what everyone is training for,” said Bev Lynch, owner of Running Excels. “The route allows you to jump in or out wherever you need. We don’t have strictly structured pace groups; usually our faster runners go first and the rest follow. Running with a group keeps you accountable and motivated; it’s harder to back out of a workout if others are there depending on you to show up.”
The group is not exclusive to Beverly/Morgan Park; in fact, many runners are from outside neighborhoods, giving everyone a chance to meet new people. “Running miles while socializing helps to keep your mind off of the distance,” Lynch said. “Lifelong friendships have developed. We share about our families and experiences we’ve had. Our group meets at a coffee shop after the run and one of our runners hosts a party each year for the group.”
Everyone is welcome, and if intimidated, Lynch recommends bringing a friend. New runners are encouraged to follow Running Excels’ free walk-to-run program, found at their website, RunningExcels.com. “The Run Beverly group is very welcoming. Many of our runners started running 5ks and now have progressed to marathons and ultra-marathons,” Lynch said. “Our group even started the Beverly BQ, an official marathon that takes place along our established Eagle route, which can be found on our website. Participants can run a 10k, half, or full marathon and we all celebrate at a local pub afterwards.”
The Eagle is a 6-mile route and participants are encouraged to download the Strava app to track their runs and earn free gear, ranging from t-shirts and gift cards to a raffle entry for shoes, depending on how many times the route is run.
To find out more, visit RunningExcels.com.
LAB Outdoor Classes — Cardio with Community
Much more than fitness, The LAB Fitness, 2019 W. 95th St., fosters community and encourages complete well-being. “Our whole premise is to create a space where people can connect and get in their workout, but also not feel so alone,” said LAB Fitness owner Morgan Martin. “This is especially important now in this season of life we’re in. Alone can feel even more so now than ever. We’re working hard to get creative and still keep that accountability and connection, even though it may look a little different than it used to.”
The LAB’s outdoor fitness classes began in response to the pandemic, but will continue at Ridge Park tennis courts, Thrive Cardio Dance and HIIT on Saturdays, 9 a.m., and Cardio Drumming on Mondays, 6 p.m.
Shifting to outdoor and virtual classes was an adjustment for instructors and clients alike. “We’re so used to feeding off of the energy of others, and now I had to give all of my energy to a computer screen,” Martin said. “We found that some people really enjoy online classes. Even though we shifted to online out of necessity, it actually has been really accommodating for people who prefer to workout from home or have demanding schedules. Some people didn’t come to our indoor dance cardio classes because they didn’t want to dance in front of others. But now they found confidence in their living rooms and are comfortable coming in person.”
Accountability is a big reason why people love attending The LAB’s classes, as well as finding friendships along the way. “At the end of the day, if we could all do this on our own, we would. The reality is that’s difficult and not as fun,” Martin said. “The women in our groups have developed friendships and engage frequently in our online support groups.”
Martin advises anyone thinking about joining a workout class to just take the leap. “You may not even know that you like yoga or dance cardio or running until you try it,” she said. “Sometimes you are surprised at what you find enjoyable. We offer first timer discounts to help people find what they love.”
For more information, visit WeLiveAndBelieve.com. To sign up for virtual, outdoor, or indoor classes, visit Bit.ly/LabLive.
Do Good Wellness + Warrior Mom Yoga = Holistic Approach to Wellness
Do Good Wellness, co-founded by Erin Stevenson and Kathleen McShane, has partnered with Warrior Mom Yoga, owned by Allie Bowles, for an outdoor summer yoga series geared toward women seeking relaxation, flexibility, and enhanced fitness.
Bowles earned her yoga instruction certification in 2020 and previously worked as a barre instructor. “I started Warrior Mom Yoga during the pandemic via Zoom classes. I have a great following of neighborhood moms who are attracted to the mom and fitness focus of my classes,” she said. “I began seeing on Facebook that many people were looking for local yoga classes, as many were traveling to the suburbs for an in-studio experience. There’s definitely a need for yoga here and there’s so many benefits for your body and mind. Kathleen and I brainstormed how to work together to have an accessible yoga experience in Beverly/Morgan Park.”
McShane and Stevenson founded Do Good Wellness two years ago as a way to address clients in a holistic way. Stevenson ran the yoga side of the business and McShane, a therapist and founder of Begin Within Therapy, took care of the mental and emotional side of their clients as they gather for retreats in places like Costa Rica and Taos, New Mexico.
“A lot of the activities we do incorporates the mind, body, and spirit,” McShane said. “Our retreats focus on yoga, meditation, group wellness therapy, and a service project. We wanted to collaborate with other great yoga providers, like Allie, to offer a version of our wellness retreats locally.” The retreats also engage participants in self-care, journaling, and mindfulness to round out the treatment of the whole person.
“Our classes are for people of all levels. I know it’s intimidating to be outside at a park, especially for those new to yoga. You don’t need to be an expert to receive the benefits of yoga,” Bowles said. “I am here to provide choices for poses depending on age and fitness level, and I’m excited to finally be able to teach in person and offer those variations to my clients. I’m looking forward to rebuilding a sense of community and bring people together in a safe and healthy way.”
“Self-care has fallen by the wayside during COVID,” McShane said. “This is an opportunity to restore. We’ve all been through a lot and I think it’s needed now more than ever to really take time for yourself.”
Warrior Mom Yoga meets at Crescent Park for one hour on Sundays, 9 a.m. The cost per class is $15 and it is pay-as-you-go. Bowles recommends participants bring their own yoga mat and blocks if modifications are needed. The include yoga flow, mindfulness exercises, and meditation. Sign up at DoGoodWellness.com.